Posts Tagged 'the words of Jesus Christ'

Difficulties can Become Blessings

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.  I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is still day; the night is coming when no one can work.  As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the blind man’s eyes with the clay.  And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent).  So he went and washed, and came back seeing (John 9: 1–7.) 

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In the first century it was commonly believed that all deformity and dysfunction was the result of sin.  Therefore the disciples inquired whose sin had caused the man’s blindness.  Jesus revealed that the man’s deformity came not by sin, but by the will of God.  In healing the man, God was honored and glorified.  Often the things that appear tragic are designed to bring God the greatest glory.  Tragedy and adversity are not always punishments; in fact, frequently they are the greatest blessings we will ever know.

                In 2003 a 13 year old Christian girl named Bethany Hamilton was surfing when a 14 foot tiger shark attacked her.  The shark severed her left arm just below the shoulder.  She nearly bled to death before being rushed to the hospital.  Bethany had been one of the top competitive junior surfers in the world prior to her injury.  Despite her strong faith, she questioned why God would allow her to endure such a tragedy.  She was determined to surf again competitively.  Trusting in God, Bethany entered the water and began training nearly 3 weeks after her accident.  She started with a long board (making it easier to paddle.)  She then moved to a smaller board, and then to a smaller board; until finally, she was once again surfing on a short board.  Because Bethany refused to quit she has gone on to place in and win many of the world’s top female surf competitions.  Her experience has become world famous; she has received thousands of letters and numerous awards; she has appeared on ‘20/20, Good Morning America, and the Oprah Winfrey Show,’ to name a few.  She eventually published a book chronicling her struggle and victory (her story has recently been made in to a major motion picture entitled “Soul Surfer.”)  Throughout her ordeal, Bethany has remained an outspoken Christian.  She thanks Jesus Christ for her strength, her courage, and her triumph.  Was losing her arm God’s will?  Yes.  What appeared to be a tragedy, has become the greatest blessing she has ever known.  With two arms she would have likely won some surf competitions (she might have even made it on to the cover of a surf magazine.)  Yet with God in her heart and one missing arm, she has been able to reach the whole world.  She is a symbol of faith and a living example of God’s ability to take the broken and make them whole again.

                Is there anything in your life that you struggle with; something that seems tragic; a source of shame or pain?  Take another look; you may find a wonderful victory hidden within a great calamity.  Seek the Lord, and He will strengthen you and lift you up.  Lean on God, and let Him use you; He will take your weaknesses and make them your strengths.  When He transforms your life, remember to give Him the credit He deserves.  Utilize God’s power and have faith; never give up; face your fears; and many will see ‘the glory of God,’ revealed in you.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask that You turn our weaknesses in to our strengths.  May Your enduring power and wisdom give us victory over the obstacles we face.  Heal us Father, and fill us with Your courage, that by faith, we may overcome our fears and shortcomings; through the power of Your Holy Spirit may we all be able to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  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.

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Faith Grows

JESUS SPEAKING

             “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Luke 13: 20-21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

             What is leaven?  Leaven is a collection of microscopic organisms, sometimes known as yeast.   The yeast produces small bubbles of carbon dioxide, which are kneaded throughout bread dough.  When the bread is cooked the micro-organisms are killed, and the gas bubbles expand and give the bread it’s size and soft feel (unleavened bread is very flat and hard.)  Cooking bread without a leavening agent was common in the first century, especially among the Jews who were forbidden to eat leavened bread during the Passover week.  Jesus compared leaven to the Kingdom of God.  What do they have in common?  The kingdom of God is something that is hidden away inside of a person’s heart, just as leaven is hidden away (and cannot be seen) in an unheated loaf of bread.  A tiny bit of leaven will eventually spread through the loaf until it is completely saturated.  Similarly, the kingdom of God often has a small beginning in the heart of the believer, but just a little bit of God’s kingdom is enough to eventually saturate the entire heart and life of the person who receives it.  (Also, here, I believe Jesus is referring to the spread of the gospel outward from Jerusalem through the world; and indeed, the message has spread across the entire globe.)

             Today scores of people own I-phones; many have also purchased some version of an Apple Computer.  This brand seems to be a part of the lives of millions, if not billions of individuals on the planet.  It would be easy to think that this company had its beginning in a huge office building, backed by some of the most powerful investors on the planet.  It would be easy to envision a national advertising campaign and literary buzz announcing the start of Apple Computers.  This would be easy to imagine, but it would also be incorrect.  Apple Computers was started by two teenagers in a garage (Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs.)  Steve’s dad had to clear out the garage so the boys had enough room to begin manufacturing their first personal computers.  Something that two children began in a garage today spans the globe and affects the lives of billions of people.

             Similarly, our understanding of faith is often skewed.  We believe that strong faith in the Lord is something that a person just has, and there is no way to get it.  This is an unfortunate belief; faith is not necessarily something that explodes immediately in a person’s life (it can, but not always.)  Faith in Christ can have meager beginnings from which it may grow to affect every area of the believer’s life.  This can be a scary prospect for a lot of people, and this is why many often harden their hearts and refuse to allow God’s kingdom to even have a beginning in them.  Those who do allow the kingdom of God into their hearts are transformed from the inside out.  Allow God to change you; allow Him to affect every area of your life, and you will know peace; you will know the truth; and you will know God.

             “Lord, we lift You up; You are an awesome and mighty Father.  We come before You today and we ask and pray that You would continue to grow within us; fill up our hearts and lives completely Lord.  We ask You to keep expanding, and to enter into the areas of our lives that we might be holding back from You.  Lord give us more of Your Holy Spirit and Your truth; and increase our faith.  Take full control of our hearts and minds.  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.

A True Home

JESUS SPEAKING

And when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave a command to depart to the other side.  Then a certain scribe came and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”  And Jesus spoke to him saying, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to rest his head” (Mathew 8: 18 – 20.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Jesus Christ was born in human form and raised in the house of Mary and Joseph.  Yet his true home was with God in heaven.  He was a temporary traveler who was ever mindful of his eventual destination.  He had no earthly residence; no permanent place to dwell; every miracle, every profession of truth, every act of love, brought him one step closer to home.  As he traveled, he made every effort to persuade others to join him in journeying toward the Kingdom of God; a mission that presently continues.  Thankfully many today receive the message and begin traveling; sadly however, many do not.  The road to heaven is long and the way is not easy, but the destination is more wonderful than anything we could have ever imagined.

In the Old Testament, Moses led millions of Israelites out of slavery and bondage in Egypt.  After crossing through the Red Sea, they began wandering in the desert for 40 years.  During that time, God provided them with food to eat and water to drink.  They lived in tents with no stable place to call home.  Yet the Lord had sworn an oath to eventually lead them in to a permanent land of their own; it was this promise that kept them alive as they embraced a life of hardship.  After many years of sacrifice, God fulfilled His pledge, and safely guided them in to the land of Israel.

Similarly, those who place their faith in Jesus Christ are led out of slavery and bondage to sin; they become travelers in this life, relying upon the Lord to provide for all of their needs.  Each one clings to the promise of God; the promise that they will one day enter his permanent dwelling place.  As we journey toward the Kingdom of God, we must embrace a life of sacrifice, humility, and service.  Only in denying our love of this world, do we truly embrace our love of the world to come.

“Lord Heavenly Father, may we cling tightly to Your promises.  May we deny ourselves and live lives of loving sacrifice.  Strengthen us, and enable us to continue journeying toward Your kingdom.  May we never forget that we are but travelers in this place, and that our true home is with You.  Give us the courage to reach out to the lost; that we might continually convince others to join us on our journey.  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.

Picking a Side

JESUS SPEAKING

            Jesus shared his crucifixion with two other men; both of them were criminals.  Below is the account of their interaction with him.  ‘Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed him, saying, “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.”  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?  And we justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”  Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come in to your kingdom.”  And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23: 39-44.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS           

           The religious leaders who were standing at the foot of the cross were taunting Jesus and teasing him; telling him to come down from the cross as a show of his power.  The first criminal joined in on this taunting.  Mocking him, he added in the request that Jesus save he and the other criminal from death as well.  The second criminal made the decision to chastise the first for teasing Jesus.  He recognized his own guilt, and the guilt of the other man; openly professing the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  He understood that he was paying for a life of sin, and that Jesus did not deserve to die. The second criminal asked for salvation, but a different kind of salvation.  He knew he was going to die on that cross, but he believed that Jesus was able to save his soul.  He was focused on the eternal; unlike the first criminal who was thinking only of his bodily life.  Jesus granted him eternal life, not because of any work that he did, or because he had lived a good life, but because he believed in the one and only son of God.  He acknowledged his sin and recognized the purity of Jesus, and in humility, asked to receive eternal life.  The purpose for the crucifixion, and for the life of Jesus Christ is revealed in this scripture, and it applies today.  He divides people into one of two immutable categories; believers and unbelievers.  Some choose to deny him and make him a myth.  While others choose to recognize him as the ‘Son of God;’ fully capable of granting them eternal life in a kingdom that will have no end.

            There once was man named Polycarp who lived from approximately 65 A.D. to 155 A.D.  He was an early Christian leader presiding over the church in Smyrna.  At some point, the Romans required everyone living in that city to burn incense to their pagan Gods.  Polycarp adamantly refused to engage in that sort of sacrilegious activity.  In turn, the Romans gave him an ultimatum; if he did not burn the incense, he himself would be burned at the stake.  Polycarp’s reply was, “Eighty and six years I have served him.  How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior?  Bring forth what thou wilt.”  And the Romans did just that.  Apparently, he requested that they not tie his hands down to the stake; an indication that he would not attempt to flee from the flames.  Legend has it that he did not burn, and that the flames simply swirled around him.  A Roman soldier was then commanded to run him through with the sword.  The flames were put out by the blood that poured from his body.  Where is Polycarp now?  He is in paradise with his king, enjoying the pleasures of an eternal kingdom.  He chose to stand for Christ rather than to lay down with the world.

          Today, everyone is still offered the choice to call Jesus Christ their king.  We can stand for him, or we can stand against him.  We can trust him, call him our king, and receive eternal life, or we can join the world as they deny him and tease him; as they call him a myth and a legend.  Those who are lost perceive him to be nothing more than a man.  They don’t believe he has the power to grant eternal life, because they believe he is dead.  But those who love him, know differently.  Do you believe that he is able to grant you eternal life?  Is it possible that just on the other side of death lays a paradise of overflowing goodness?  Are you willing to stand with him now?

          “Lord Heavenly Father, we ask and pray that You would grant us eternal life.  Help us to stand for You and to be courageous in professing our faith in You and Your Son.  Also Lord, give us more faith and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might do Your will in this place, and continue our work in your coming kingdom.  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.

Let Jesus Lead You

JESUS SPEAKING

          Jesus had just finished confronting and rebuking the religious leaders, when his disciples came to him and said, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”  But he answered and said, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  Let them alone.  They are blind leaders of the blind.  And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall in to a pit” (Mathew 15: 13-14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

           Human beings, are blind concerning spiritual things.  No one born of flesh and blood can perceive the immaterial.  Mankind is unaware of the battle that rages around them for the possession of their souls.   We are encircled by Angels who seek to save, and demons who desire our destruction.  There are unseen predators searching tirelessly for unsuspecting victims.  The world is filled with dark pits and deep caverns; many seemingly harmless indulgences are in fact, deadly.  There are countless paths that appear harmless, but actually lead to the grave.  Although the dangers are innumerable, there is one solitary solution; follow someone who can see.  Many religious leaders who fought with Jesus claimed to know the way.  But they were as blind as those who followed them.  Only Jesus can see the true dangers that exist; only he can steer the blind clear of deadly obstacles; and only he can be trusted to direct his followers down the path that leads to life.

           Some years ago I became friends with a blind couple.  Surprisingly, they enjoyed seeing movies (they liked listening to the dialogue and the music.)  For some time I had the privilege of taking them to the theatre nearly every Saturday.  Being blind, they needed a great deal of assistance.  For them, even the seemingly simple could become deadly.  A crumpled carpet edge; the threshold of a doorway; even an unanticipated sidewalk could result in serious injury.  Although they both had canes and did a wonderful job of living and moving about on their own, they never refused any help from me.  We had worked out a system for our weekend adventures.  I walked in front and Evelyn, who took hold of my arm; Alec in turn, took her arm.  As we traveled, I guided them past obstacles; I navigated them around people; I warned them of impending staircases and sidewalks, inclines and declines, and doorways and aisles.  Although blind, they had learned to use my eyes to see.  They grew to trust me; knowing that I would never lead them into danger.

           Today, there are nearly 20 major religions in the world; and thousands of different sects within each religion.  They are all in opposition to one another, yet they all claim that they are correct; that means one of two things; everyone is lying; or everyone is lying, and at least one person is telling the truth.  Jesus Christ claimed, not only to be speaking the truth, but to be the truth.  He has stretched out his hand to lead you.  Will you take his hand?  Will you trust him?  Will you follow him?  Those who put their faith in Jesus will never go astray.  He is the Son of the living God; he can direct you away from evil and toward what is good; he can guide you out of darkness and keep you in the light; and only he can lead you around death and in to everlasting life.  Give him that chance today.

           “Lord Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, we are blind and ignorant.  We ask You to take control of our lives and to guide us in to the paths of righteousness.  We trust You completely; be our eyes and help us to avoid the evils that would seek to destroy us.  Instruct us concerning wisdom and purity; and strengthen us by the power of Your Holy Spirit.  Lead us Lord, and do not forsake us.  We are ready, and willing to follow You now.  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. 

Making God Your Priority

JESUS SPEAKING

            Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.”  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10: 38 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            After eagerly welcoming Jesus in to her home for the evening, Martha began feverishly serving her new guests.  In Jewish culture, the women were traditionally responsible for meal preparation.  Martha therefore became angry when she saw Mary sitting at Christ’s feet, intently listening to His every word.  She attempted to correct her sister, and was in turn corrected by the Lord.  Martha (unlike Mary) had failed to place God first, ahead of all of her other duties.

            In the 1500’s a German Monk named Martin Luther sparked the protestant reformation (a movement that sought to restore the church to biblical truths, as opposed to church traditions.)  As the leader of this movement, he was a very busy man.  Despite his many responsibilities, Marin Luther woke up early every morning to spend time in prayer.  It has been said that on his busiest days, he would wake up even earlier, conceding that on those days he needed God even more.  

            Like Martin Luther, we must make God the number one priority.  The distractions in life are innumerable; the busier we are, the less time we have to complete our daily tasks.  On our busiest days we can act like Martha and make less time for God and more time for our chores.  Or, we can choose to behave like Mary and make God our top priority.  When we read scripture, pray, and seek God’s will first thing in the morning we make the right choice.  When we make God the priority, everything else falls in to its proper place; and the peace of the Lord will remain in us, as He accomplishes His works through us.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to make You the most important thing in our lives.  May life’s busiest moments never distract us from focusing on Your goodness.  Teach us; love us; pour out Your Spirit in us, that we might be used to effectively accomplish Your will in this place.  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 Second Mile

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to everyone who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Mathew 5: verse 38 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            In the first century A.D. the Roman army occupied the Holy Land.  As conquerors they were afforded certain privileges.  One legal provision gave every Roman soldier the right to compel any Jewish citizen to carry their equipment for up too, but not in excess of, one mile.  Jesus used this commonly understood law to impress upon His followers the importance of serving others in abundance.  When a soldier asked them to carry a load one mile, they were instructed to carry it two miles.  Simply put, accomplishing the bare minimum proves nothing; instead, the true love of God is made manifest when we exceed the demands, requests, and expectations of others.

            Several years ago, a very influential Pastor named Chuck Smith went to be with the Lord.  He was 86 years old, and had been battling cancer for some time.  When initially diagnosed, he began a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.  These treatments coupled with his age, made him unsteady on his feet.  I was asked to accompany him to and from his daily radio program to prevent him from falling. Once the program had ended, we would get in to his golf cart and head back to the church office.  On the way he would drive around the campus picking up garbage; he would also stop to talk to anyone in need.  One day a woman approached him in tears.  She explained that her marriage was suffering and that she had left messages with another pastor concerning counseling; however he had never returned her calls.  Pastor Chuck lovingly encouraged and comforted the woman; he then told her to speak to his secretary about setting up a counseling appointment with him later that week.  I was amazed that a man in his 80’s with lung cancer, undergoing radiation and chemotherapy was still out-serving many youthful, strong, and seemingly healthy on staff pastors.

            Like Pastor Chuck, Jesus has called all of his children to go the second mile; we must love others in abundance; we must give to one another more than is needed or required; we must serve our fellows with great intensity, sincerity, and passion.  Through our actions, others can and will come to know the mercy and love of God.  If we are obedient and continue to give glory and honor to the Lord, we will come to know the blessings of unending joy and everlasting peace.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, may we go the second mile.  May we serve and love others in abundance.  Use us to reveal Your love to the world.  Increase our faith and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might accomplish Your will in this place, and bring honor to Your sacred name.  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.


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