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Love your neighbor

JESUS SPEAKING

                “Who is my neighbor?”  Jesus answered him saying:  “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a certain priest came down that road.  And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side.  But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was.  And when he looked upon him, he had compassion.  So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn and, and took care of him.  The next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend when I come next time, I will repay you.’  So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among thieves?”  And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”  Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 29 – 37.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Samaria consisted of a community of pagan individuals living within the borders of the nation of Israel (just north of Jerusalem); as non-Hebrews they frequently engaged in immorality and idolatry; for this reason they were despised by most religious Israelites.  In fact, when traveling, many orthodox Jews would contemptuously journey around Samaria rather than through it.  After Jesus had confirmed the importance of loving one’s neighbor, he was asked to define what constituted a neighbor.  His reply came in the form of a story; in the narrative a man was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road; two religious Jews passed by, without stopping to help (one a priest, and the other a supposed man of God.)  Soon after, a Samaritan happened by, and his heart was filled with compassion.  In order to preserve the man’s life, he gave of his time, his money, and his resources.  He showed true mercy and great generosity.  Many today, like the priest and the Levite are so concerned with what lies ahead that they fail to stop and help those who are hurting and in need of assistance.

                Some time ago, during a cross-country meet in Minnesota, a young man named Mark Paulauskas was injured in the first half-mile of a two mile race.  He had been spiked by another runners cleats (a wound that would eventually require 20 stitches and a walking boot.)  As Paulauskas cried out in agony, most of the other runners passed him by; they were focused more on the finish line than on the pain of an ailing opponent.  Yet, one individual heard his cries and was moved with compassion.  A runner named Josh Ripley willingly abandoned his vision of victory in order to stop and help; without hesitation he picked up Mark Paulauskas and carried him a half-mile back to the starting line.  After handing his wounded competitor into the arms of the coaches, Josh Ripley sprinted off into the wilderness to complete his race.  Although he didn’t win, he was victorious in the eyes of God.

                Our fleshly nature commonly causes us to become so focused on what lies ahead that we ignore those who are right beside us.  If we are not careful we can pass by those who are hurting, and ignore the call of God to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves.’  The world is cold and apathetic; yet in the midst of indifference, there are those who show great compassion and mercy; they give selflessly; they love unconditionally; they are examples of God’s Spirit in action; they are followers of Jesus Christ.  They are friends; they are family; they are neighbors; they are Christians.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, may we always show sympathy toward those who are hurting and in need.  May we be relieved of indifference and filled with mercy.  May nothing ever be more important than compassion, nor greater than love.  Fill us to overflowing with Your Holy Spirit, that we might be examples of Your warmth in a world that is cold and apathetic.  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.

Opposing Evil

JESUS SPEAKING

                “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.  But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.  Abraham did not do this […] You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you desire to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and he 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.  And because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me” (John 8: 39, 44 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                Jesus opposed the religious leaders with great zeal; they claimed to be descendants of Abraham, the patriarch of the Jewish people.  However, Abraham was a righteous man; a man who looked forward to the coming of the messiah; yet as Jesus stood before them, they sought to kill him.  They did not know God; instead they served Satan (a fallen angel who continually opposes God.)  Lucifer influences and plays a part in every act of rape, murder, incest, theft, divorce, drunkenness, and dishonesty (to name just a few sins.)  God’s truth is a light that exposes Satan’s lies.  Those who serve the ‘son of perdition’ will stop at nothing to extinguish God’s divine illumination, so they can continue in sin without remorse.  Where ever God is not, evil exists in abundance. 

                Adolf Hitler orchestrated one of the largest mass murders in world history.  He rounded up and killed nearly 6 million Jews.  He rejected God and the bible.  He avidly believed in the evolutionary teachings of Charles Darwin (his teachings attempted to explain creation by means of naturalistic processes—if life could arise and evolve on its own, then a divine creator would no longer be necessary.)  To Adolf Hitler, human beings were nothing more than animals; animals that could be enhanced through proper breeding.  As a believer in ‘survival of the fittest’ (an evolutionary term), Hitler assumed some human beings were less advanced than others.  In turn, he sought to create a master race by systematically destroying the unfit; before his campaign of ethnic cleansing, he killed the elderly, the deformed, and the disabled.  When the Godly stood up to oppose him, he killed and imprisoned them as well.  After he invaded Poland he killed nearly 3 million Christians and Catholics.  He also killed 3,000 church clergy members; another 2,600 Catholic priests were murdered throughout Europe.  He didn’t stop there; his goal wasn’t to control the churches, but to destroy them.  Following his death, the truth about his design to obliterate Christianity after the war became known.  Jesus Christ stood in the way of his twisted ideology; many disciples stood up and spoke the truth; they testified of his evil deeds.  Hitler (much like the Pharisees who opposed the Lord) had to remove the light of Christ before he could practice his atrocities uninhibited.  [As believers, we are obligated to resist what is evil; to speak the truth and to oppose the wicked.

                Those who follow God oppose evil; no matter the cost.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we boldly speak the truth (as Christ has taught us.)  Speaking the truth may not be popular; we may be excluded, hated, or even persecuted by those who seek to sin without conviction.  Satan will stop at nothing to see man disobey God.  Are you willing to stand up for what is right?  Are you able to be a light in the darkness?  Are you prepared to preach the truth in a world that prefers lies?  Speak the truth, and God will bless you.  Stand firm, and He will strengthen you.  Allow the light of Christ to shine through you, and you will “dwell in the house of the Lord, Forever.”

                “Lord Heavenly Father we desire to oppose what is evil and to expose the works of Satan.  Give us the strength and the courage to preach the truth in a world that prefers lies.  May we be a light in dark places.  May we not fear the reprisals of man; may we always seek to do Your will; no matter what the cost.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of the these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.


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