Posts Tagged 'salvation'

Powerful Conversions

JESUS SPEAKING

          “While I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.  And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me, saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?  It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’  “So I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’  And he said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.  I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by their faith in me’” (Acts 26: 12-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          There was once a very angry young man named Saul who passionately hated Christians; after Jesus ascended into heaven, Saul traveled from synagogue to synagogue, beating, harassing, and even killing those Jews who openly professed a faith in Jesus Christ.  One day, while traveling to Damascus to persecute believers, God intervened in Saul’s life.  Jesus appeared to him and said, ‘it is hard for you to kick against the goads.’  [Oxen were trained to pull heavy plows; an untrained ox would often try to kick itself free.  In turn, farmers attached sharp pieces of metal to the plow (otherwise known as ‘goads.’)  When the ox kicked the plow, it would stab itself in the leg; the harder the kick, the more painful the sensation.  After a short time the animal would learn to accept its position.]  Like an untrained beast, Saul had been struggling against the call of God.  After his visitation, Saul finally quit fighting; he accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior; he also changed his name to Paul, and went on to write many of the letters in the New Testament.  Throughout history, some of the greatest Christian leaders have often been those who were once devout enemies of God.

          Sir William Ramsay was one of the most influential scientific minds of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  He taught at Oxford, and is credited with discovering several new elements; he also received numerous scientific awards and honors.  Ramsay had been raised as a non-believer; his parents were atheists (a disposition he also clung to for most of his life.)  He had little respect for Christianity; in fact he claimed that the bible was nothing more than “a book of fables.”  He began to study archaeology and eventually he traveled to the Middle East in hopes of disproving the historical accuracy of the bible.  After 25 years of travel and research, he was forced to concede that even the most minuscule details of the New Testament were accurate.  Instead of writing a book disproving the validity of scripture, Ramsay wrote a book entitled “St. Paul, the Traveler and Roman Citizen.”  In it, he presented his findings; all of which supported the reliability of the bible.  Convinced by the evidence, Ramsay shocked his colleagues and fellow intellectuals by announcing that he had converted to Christianity.

          Like Paul, and like Sir William Ramsay, there are many today who are kicking “against the goads.”  God however, is still actively intervening in the lives of atheists, agnostics and nonbelievers the world around.  If you are raging against the call of God, stop struggling; give up, and give in.  Let the Lord into your heart; He will replace your pain with peace; your hatred will give way to love, and your sorrow will turn to joy; if you would only surrender to Him, you would know true freedom; for you would come to know the eternal and everlasting God.

          “Lord Father, may Your perfect will be done in our lives.  We pray for those who “kick against the goads.”  Soften their hearts and cleanse their minds, that they may come to believe in Your Son, and in the redemption he has offered through his sacrifice.  May they embrace and receive Your free gift of salvation through 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.

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.

Look to the cross

JESUS SPEAKING    

                “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to myself.”  This he said signifying by what death he would die.  The people answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you.  Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” (John 12: 32-36.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                While addressing his followers, Jesus prophesied concerning the manner in which he would die.  He would be crucified, and the cross would come to symbolize healing, forgiveness and reconciliation with God.  Those who look to it in faith receive everlasting life and the free gift of salvation; those who refuse to accept Christ’s sacrifice continue under condemnation, and will eventually face eternal judgment.                     

                In the Old Testament, God lead the children of Israel out of slavery and bondage in Egypt.  They passed through the Red sea unharmed, and they entered the desert.  While in the desert many Hebrews rebelled against God and the authority of Moses.  Angered by their arrogance, God sent poisonous snakes into their midst to bite them.  Moses fervently approached the Lord and begged Him to show mercy.  Moved with compassion, God told Moses to sculpt a brass snake and fasten it to a long pole; he was then told to raise the pole up in the middle of the camp so everyone could see it.  The Israelites were instructed that if they looked upon the snake in faith, they would be healed from their venomous bites (simply put:  look at the snake and you will live; refuse to look and you will die.)  Jesus Christ was also lifted up on the cross for everyone to see; those who look to him in faith receive eternal life; those who refuse, experience judgment and eternal separation from God.  Jesus said in John 3: 14-16, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.”

                The cross has always been a powerful symbol.  It has the power to bring light into the lives of those who walk in darkness.  It has the power to heal and the power to reconcile sinful man with a pure and Holy God; it has the power to grant eternal life to those who would but look to it in faith.  May you look upon the cross and receive the free gift of salvation.  May you receive the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins.  May you be ‘reborn’ and may God guide you as you travel toward His eternal kingdom.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we praise You for Your wonderful plan of salvation.  As we look to the cross in faith, we receive Your sacrifice and we embrace our new lives with You.  Forgive us of our sins through the blood of Christ Jesus.  Grant us eternal life.  Heal our hearts and minds; help us to be ‘children of light;’ that others might see our good works and honor You.  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 messengers of God

JESUS SPEAKING

                While journeying through Samaria, Jesus became tired and sat down next to a well; as he rested, he began speaking with a Samaritan woman who had come to draw water; during their conversation he revealed to her the intimate details of her life; details that only God Himself could know.  Amazed and astonished, ‘the woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet […] I know that the messiah is coming (who is called Christ.)  When he comes he will tell us all things.”  Jesus answered her saying, “I who speak to you am he.” […] The woman then left her water-pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?” […] And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in him because of the word of the woman who testified saying, “He told me all that I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans had come to him, they urged him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his own word” (John 4: 19 – 41.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus Christ chose to reveal himself to an immoral woman who had ventured to the well to find water; completely unaware that on that day she would find the Son of God and receive salvation and eternal life.  After the Lord disclosed to her the intimate details of her existence, she was overwhelmed with joy; the astonished woman left her water-pot behind, and ventured in to the city to seek others she might lead to Jesus; many who eagerly followed her came to receive the free gift of God.  All individuals who place their faith in Jesus Christ become his messengers.  Having been redeemed they make every effort to lead those who are sick to the ‘Great Physician;’ the one person who can mend their wounds and heal their broken hearts.

                Like the ‘Great Physician’, there was once a missionary physician who was working in one of China’s many hospitals; in his efforts to alleviate the suffering of his fellows, he surgically cured a man of cataracts (a clouding of the lens of the eye that causes blindness.)  A few weeks later 48 blind men arrived from the wilds of china (each one seeking the same incredible procedure.)  All 48 were holding on to a rope guided by the man who had been cured.  These men had walked in chain for 250 miles until they had safely reached the hospital.

                There are so many people in this world who have been blinded by sin and death.  People who need someone to guide them to the ‘Great Physician.’  Like the Samaritan woman and the blind man, all those who have been enlightened are given the task of leading others to Jesus Christ.  As ‘re-born’ believers we are instruments in the hands of the Almighty.  He uses us to reach out to our family members, co-workers, and friends.  Our task is to testify of the wonderful things He has done and will do in the lives of all those who believe in Him.

               “Lord Heavenly Father, fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  May we be amazed anew every day by Your miracles and wonders.  May we continue to embrace our duty to lead others to Your Son.  Provide us with opportunities to witness to our family members, co-workers, and friends; that they would hear our words and deeply desire the gift of eternal life.  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 Gift of the Holy Spirit

JESUS SPEAKING

                “I still have numerous things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  However, when He, the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you in all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.  He will glorify me, for He will take of what is mine and declare it to you.  All things that the Father has are mine.  Therefore I said that He will take of mine and declare it to you” (John 16: 12-15.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Shortly before Jesus was crucified, he foretold of the arrival of a mysterious entity known as the ‘Holy Spirit;’ after the resurrection he ascended in to heaven; and he fulfilled his promise to every believer by sending “the Spirit of Truth.”  For nearly 2000 years, Jesus has been seated in glory at the right hand of God; and for 2000 years there have been countless true confessions of faith.  With every confession received, a gift has been given; the faithful obtain the indwelling of the fullness of God’s Spirit.  (Through the Holy Spirit) The desires of Christ become intuition; his path becomes transparent; evil (unable to hide) is exposed by the divine light of the living God.  Finally able to discern what is true from what is false, the new born child of God recognizes counterfeit prophets and artificial religions; the inner Spirit boldly declares the authority and authenticity of a single book; the Holy Bible.  Ignorance is no longer an excuse as God Himself directs the steps of His Faithful followers.    

                Many years ago, I was invited to attend a church service.  Near the end of the service, there was an opportunity to walk to the front of the stage and publicly profess a faith in Jesus Christ; I went forward.  Afterwards, I was given a bible; however I was afraid that the church might be a cult.  I didn’t trust the accuracy of the bible they had given me.  So, I made my way to the local bookstore.  I asked one of the employees where I could find the “original bible.”  With a confused look she replied, ‘Let me get another employee who is a Christian; she will know more about this than I will.’  When the Christian girl returned, I explained my situation to her; “I want the original bible.”  She replied, ‘Well it doesn’t really work that way.  The original is in a different language’ (a language I did not understand.)  [Note:  she did impress upon me that the English translations were very accurate.]  After our discussion I had one of my first experiences with the Holy Spirit.  A voice spoke from my heart; a voice I didn’t hear with my ears; yet my mind perfectly comprehended what was said; the voice said, “You’ve always been too smart for your own good; just read the bible I gave you.”  Through the Holy Spirit, God had spoken to me.  I began reading the bible He wanted me to read; the bible I had received at my conversion (it was easy to read and understand; and it proved to be exactly what I needed.)  With every turn of the page, my heart turned more fully toward God.  Without the Holy Spirit I might have fallen victim to my own pride and arrogance.

                The Holy Spirit is essential; without it we are blind, ignorant and lost.  But God in His great wisdom has said, “I will not leave you orphans.”  The Spirit proclaims God’s desires; He testifies of what is true; He helps us to choose what is good and to avoid what is evil.  Believe in Jesus Christ, and you will fellowship with the living God.  Receive His Holy Spirit and you will share in the knowledge, power, and love of your Eternal Father, and His beloved Son.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we love Your Son, and we thank You for sending us Your Holy Spirit.  Continue to speak to us and to guide us in the ways of righteousness.  With every breath, we desire to draw nearer to You.  Lead us, that we might do Your will in this place, and bring glory and honor to You and to 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. 

You are never alone

JESUS SPEAKING

                Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe?  Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and will leave me alone.  And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16: 31 – 32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus, knowing that he would soon be detained and crucified, informed his disciples that they would abandon him in his time of greatest need.  Sure enough, upon being arrested, his closest friends fled in terror; preferring self preservation over fearless fidelity.  In solitude he endured a gruesome ordeal; being interrogated, beaten, flogged, spit upon, and mocked; he was pierced by thorns, by a spear, and by nails.  Weakened and maimed, he struggled to carry his cross through the streets of Jerusalem (and through the angry mobs who hurled insults at him.)  Half naked and covered in blood, the Son of God finally reached his destination.  At mount Calvary he was raised up under the hot sun to experience a slow grueling death by exposure, dehydration, and suffocation.  Jesus Christ endured this pain willingly; but he did not endure it alone; for God was with him.  He was strengthened, consoled, and comforted by our loving Father.  We, like Jesus will struggle through painful trials.  Life is filled with obstacles and challenges.  Yet those whom God has chosen will never struggle in isolation.  The elect will always have a perpetual helper; an eternal friend; and a constant companion.

                Many years ago I experienced a period of extreme suffering; I lived a life of selfishness and depravity.  I actively abused drugs, my body, and other people.  In a downward spiral of self-destruction, I managed to push away nearly every human being.  I lived alone in an apartment.  Isolated from the world and plagued with paranoia, I struggled to survive (using drugs in excess, I often stayed awake for weeks on end.)  One dark day, in the depths of my addiction, I overdosed.  As I lay in bed, my body began to shut down.  A feeling of death slowly crept up my fingers and toes; as if my limbs were turning to concrete; I recall thinking, “This must be what it feels like to be a wall, or a stone; or some other dead, inanimate object.”  Fearing my own demise, I mustered all of the strength I had left to speak; and out of my mouth came the words, “Jesus help me…Jesus help me…Jesus help me.”  As I continually repeated this phrase, the dead feeling began to recede back down my limbs (the life returned to my body and I recovered fully.)  Jesus Christ saved me from the jaws of death and eternal condemnation.  Although I had abandoned God, God had not abandoned me; despite my belief that I was alone in that apartment I was not; for God was present with me.  Sometime later I gave my life to the Lord, and I now know that He has always been with me; protecting and preventing; guiding and directing; watching and waiting, for the day of my salvation.

                Even when we feel completely alone, we are not.  When family, friends, and society itself has turned away from us, God is near.  He waits patiently for every sinner to receive His free gift.  Our Heavenly Father is anxious to love and to forgive.  He is desperate to embrace the lonely, the lost, and the lifeless.  Cry out to Him and He will hear you.  Have faith in Christ and you will know salvation.  Turn to The Lord and grab hold of your constant companion; He is a Father who will love you eternally; a friend who will stand beside you forever; and a God “who will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we cry out to You now; reveal Yourself to us; we accept Your sacrifice and fully embrace You.  May You never leave us nor forsake us.  May You always dwell within our hearts; comfort us; direct us; and fellowship with us.  Lord Jesus, may we never be lonely again; knowing that You are our everlasting companion; our Compassionate Creator; and our faithful friend.  We love You Father; we love You Lord Jesus; and we ask and pray all of these things according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name, amen.”  God bless all of you.