Posts Tagged 'the words of Jesus Christ'

Loving Your Neighbor


   “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.)


    Samaria consisted of a population of pagan individuals dwelling within the borders of the nation of Israel (just north of Jerusalem); as non-Hebrews, they frequently engaged in immoral and idolatrous behaviors; for this reason, they were despised by the religious Israelites. In fact, many orthodox Jews, when traveling, would contemptuously journey around Samaria. After confirming the importance of loving one’s neighbor, Jesus 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, yet neither stopped to help (one was a priest and the other a supposed man of God.) Soon however, a Samaritan happened by, and his heart was filled with compassion. Seeking to preserve the man’s life, he gave of his time, his money, and his resources. He showed genuine mercy and astonishing generosity. Many today, like the priest and the Levite, are so concerned with what lies ahead that they fail to stop and assist 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 more focused on the finish line than on the pain of a suffering opponent. Yet one individual heard his cries and was filled with compassion. A runner named Josh Ripley willingly abandoned his pursuit of victory so he could stop and help. Without hesitation he picked Mark up and carried him a half-mile back to the starting line. After committing his wounded competitor into the arms of the coaches, Josh Ripley sprinted off into the wilderness again; to complete his race. Although he didn’t win, he obtained a great victory 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 right by those who are hurting and ignore the call of God to ‘love our neighbor as ourselves.’ The world can be cold and apathetic; yet in the midst of indifference, there are those who are willing to display great compassion and mercy; they give selflessly; they love unconditionally; they listen to the Spirit of God; they are followers of Jesus Christ; 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 genuine compassion, nor greater than Your divine love. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might be examples of Your affection in a world that has grown cold and apathetic. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

Relying on God’s Power


    Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of me this very night, for it is written:  ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’  But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”  Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”  Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you that this very night, before the rooster crows, you shall deny me three times.”  Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you” (Mathew 26: 31-35.)


   After rejecting Christ’s prophecy, Peter vainly exalted himself above the other disciples, saying, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never be made to stumble.”  Despite his best efforts, he would go on to deny the Lord three times before morning.  To strengthen His followers, Jesus promised to eventually send a replacement; and after his resurrection and ascension, he fulfilled His commitment. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples received the Holy Spirit.  Immediately after receiving God’s Spirit, Peter’s zeal was restored; prompting him to enter a crowded temple and boldly preach the gospel.  Leaning on his own strength, Peter had denied Christ three times; but relying on God’s power, he proclaimed Christ without fear.  Peter would go on to endure beatings, imprisonment, and even death for spreading Christ’s message.

   Peter shares his experience of divine empowerment with some other notable men of the bible.  While the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, a young Hebrew man named Moses believed it was his destiny to free his people.  One day he observed an Egyptian taskmaster beating one of his countrymen.  Filled with rage and a sense of duty, he killed the Egyptian.  In an effort to conceal his crime, he buried the body beneath the sand.  However, the body was quickly discovered, and a few days later, Moses’ life was in jeopardy.  Defeated and alone, he fled to the desert and became a shepherd; caring for livestock for decades.  At approximately 80 years old, God appeared to him and instructed him to return to Egypt to free his people.  He responded by proclaiming to God that he wasn’t ‘the right man for the job.’  He no longer believed he was capable of accomplishing the task.  A previously prideful and self-reliant young man had become an old man who realized his own weakness (apart from God); he was finally ready to be used by the Lord.  Relying on his own power, the young Moses hadn’t been able to bury even a single Egyptian.  But the mature Moses, utilizing God’s power, led his enslaved nation to freedom, and buried the entire Egyptian army beneath the waves of the red sea.

    Western culture often promotes self-reliance; but in divine culture reliance upon God is paramount.  Is there anything in your life that you are trying to accomplish on your own?  Are you struggling to endure a difficult trial unaided?  Our best efforts will never rival the works of God.  No matter how large the obstacle, or how great the need, if we humble ourselves, we can harness the power of the one true and living God. Only then will we be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4: 13.)

   “Lord Heavenly Father, You are an awesome and amazing God. Apart from You we are weak and insufficient.  Become our strength, that we might rely upon You instead of ourselves.  Give us victory over the things that cause us to stumble. Help us to stand firm, to endure, and to overcome.  May our hearts be humble and our lives filled with joy.  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 Gift of the Holy Spirit


    “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.)


    Shortly before being crucified, Jesus foretold of the arrival of a mysterious entity known as the ‘Holy Spirit.’ After the resurrection He ascended into heaven and 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 genuine 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, and evil is exposed by the divine light of the living God.  Finally able to distinguish the truth from the lies, the newborn Christian is able to recognize counterfeit prophets and artificial religions. The inner Spirit also declares the authority and authenticity of a single book; the Holy Bible. God Himself will begin to guide and direct the steps of every Faithful follower.    

    Many years ago a friend invited me to attend a church service.  Near the end of the service, there was an opportunity to approach the stage and publicly profess a faith in Jesus Christ; I chose to accept the invitation.  Afterwards I was given a bible; and yet I remained skeptical; fearing that the church might be a cult. In turn, I didn’t trust the accuracy of the bible they had given me.  I promptly made my way down to the local bookstore and asked one of the employees where I could find the “original bible.”  With a confused look she replied, “Let me get another employee who’s a Christian; she’ll know more about this than I will.”  When the Christian girl arrived, I explained my situation to her; “I want the original bible,” I said. She responded by saying, “Well it doesn’t really work that way.  The original bible is in a different language” (a language I did not understand.)  [Note:  She did impress upon me that the English translations were very accurate.]  Shortly after our discussion I had one of my first experiences with the Holy Spirit.  A voice suddenly spoke to me from my heart; a voice I didn’t hear with my ears; and yet my mind clearly comprehended what was spoken; the voice said, “You’ve always been too smart for your own good; just read the bible I gave you.”  God had communicated with me through the Holy Spirit.  I began reading the bible He wanted me to read; the bible I had received at my conversion; it was easy to understand and it provided me with exactly what I needed.  With every flip of the page I grew closer to God.  Without the Holy Spirit I might have fallen victim to my own arrogance and pride.

    The Holy Spirit is an essential component of our faith; 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 on this earth; He testifies of what is true and helps us to choose what is good and avoid what is evil.  Believe in Jesus Christ and you will enter into fellowship with the living God.  Receive His Holy Spirit and you as well can share in the knowledge, power, and love of your Eternal Father, and His only begotten Son.

    “Lord Heavenly Father, we love You, and we praise you, and we thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit.  Continue to speak to us and guide us in the ways of righteousness.  With every breath, may we 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! 

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