Posts Tagged 'the words of Jesus Christ'

Shining Brightly

JESUS SPEAKING

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it provides light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Mathew 5: 14 – 16.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        It is impossible for a Christian to remain unrecognized. To stay hidden is to fail to fulfill God’s purpose. Every genuine believer is called to be different; to stand out; to be set apart; loving where there is no love; serving in the midst of selfishness; faithfully encouraging others; nurturing the sick; caring for the needy; filling the hearts and minds of many with hope and joy. Genuine faith inevitably produces an abundance of good works. As disciples we are set apart; we are a light in a dark world; we are divine instruments that point toward the one true and everlasting Father.
        Of all the planets and stars that glow in the night sky, one of the brightest is the North Star (known as Polaris.) Resting in a sea of stars it outshines most of its neighbors. Additionally, every other star in the northern hemisphere travels across the sky; Polaris however, remains fixed; a characteristic that proved useful to ancient mariners who sought to navigate the open oceans. The North Star’s brightness and stability make it easy to recognize; a heavenly body that is not readily confused with the thousands of dimmer objects that surround it.
        Like the North Star, the believer is by far the brightest and most stable object in the lives of those around them. In a sea of unbelievers, the followers of Jesus Christ standout; they are unique. Filled with compassion, charity, and peace, they are easily recognized. They orient others by pointing them toward God (who is the source of all love and mercy.) If you have received the salvation of the Lord, then you too are different. Don’t seek to remain hidden. Instead, let the light of Christ shine through you; that others may see your good works and know that there is a God who loves them.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to be different. We desire to be more loving, more caring, and more giving. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and help us to shine brightly in this dark and often cold world. May others see our good works and be drawn to You; the loving Creator and everlasting Father. 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.

Being a Peacemaker

JESUS SPEAKING

         “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Sons of God!” (Mathew 5: 9)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          The world is full of conflict. Yet in the midst of the hostility, God’s children are called to promote peace. The Lord Himself is a peacemaker; He detests war and abhors senseless aggression. Many who share His heart also share His mission; to bring harmony where there is hatred and tranquility where there is contempt. Those who choose to make peace will inherit the eternal blessings offered to the ‘Sons and daughters of God.’
          As the story goes, in the 4th century A.D., a monk named Telemachus felt God calling him to go to Rome. He packed his meager possessions and set out for the great city. Upon arriving, the streets were bustling with excitement. When he asked why everyone was so energized, he was told that the gladiators would soon be fighting to the death in the coliseum. Horrified that men would be killing one another for sport, he headed for the stadium. After entering the complex, he pushed through the crowds and hopped a fence; making his way to the center of the arena. As he stood between the two gladiators, he shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.” The crowd began yelling, “Run him through, Run him through!” A gladiator abruptly approached; striking the monk in the stomach with the back of his sword. Although Telemachus fell to the ground, he soon recovered. Once again, he placed himself between the two-armed men and shouted, “In the name of Christ, stop.” The other gladiator suddenly approached him and plunged his sword through the monk’s belly. Telemachus plummeted to the ground and began bleeding out. Before dying, he was able to utter one last statement; “In the name of Christ, stop.” A hush came over the crowd. A single spectator rose up from his seat and left; followed by another; and another. Within minutes all 80,000 people had exited the coliseum. That day marked the last gladiatorial contest in Roman history.
          No matter the consequence, the people of God are called to be peacemakers. When others fall silent, we must speak up. Where there is discord, we ought to bring unity; where there is conflict, we must promote peace. In so doing we will be called ‘The children of God;’ and we will know the eternal blessings reserved for those who remain faithfully obedient.
          “Lord Heavenly Father, we long for obedience; may we share the desires of Your heart. May we love others as You have loved others. Use us to continually promote peace and to end conflict. Give us the courage and the strength to speak up when others remain silent; may we be Your sons and daughters; and may we experience the blessings of genuine obedience. 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 Power of Scripture

JESUS SPEAKING

          So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you continue in my word then you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8: 31-32.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          God, in His wisdom, has chosen to use language (words) to reveal Himself to mankind. The written and spoken words of God and of His only Son Jesus Christ are recorded within the pages of The Holy bible. These words have the power to grant eternal life; to purify and to heal; to transform and to enlighten. The word of God can do so many things; but unless it is utilized it can do nothing. Daily scripture reading is essential for the growth of the believer; a dusty bible is a reflection of the heart of its owner.
          Francis A. Schaffer was a brilliant 19th century American scholar and theorist. As a young adult he had been eagerly studying the works of the Greek philosophers; in his quest for knowledge he had been exposed to many interesting questions; for which there were no answers (he nearly drowned in theory, speculation, and conjecture.) At this time he was also attending a very liberal church on the weekends, which failed to provide him with the answers he desired (because they did not preach bible based sermons.) ‘He thought, “I wonder whether I should stop calling myself a Christian, and discard the bible?” Then he reconsidered; [and] faced the fact that he had never read the bible.’ In desperation he began reading the scriptures for himself; his amazement grew with every turn of the page. He had finally found the answers to his questions. His curiosity had led him to a genuine faith in Jesus Christ. Francis Schaffer never stopped reading the bible. He committed the rest of his life to helping others discover the truth he had received from God.
          Nearly 130 million books have been written throughout human history. Every year 50,000 new titles are published. Yet in a sea of literary works, only the Holy Bible contains the truth. The bible transforms lives; it creates affection, produces kindness, and generates love; it relieves addictions, and delivers from despair; it can heal the sick and bring hope to the hopeless; it contains the answers to life’s deepest questions; it is a powerful tool; yet like all tools, it can do nothing unless it is put to use. Read God’s word and discover your purpose. Grab hold of the promises of God and never let go. Open His Holy Scriptures and you will neither stumble nor stray from the path of everlasting life.
          “Lord Heavenly Father, show us the importance of daily bible reading. May we cling to Your words as a dying man clings to his last breath. Instill in us the desire to seek You. May we be transformed through the power of Your word. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we may be more like Your Son; may others see our lives and praise Your Name. We love You Father, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you!

Blessings that come from Sacrifice

JESUS SPEAKING

       So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18: 29-30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

       All valuable things have a price; and eternal life is certainly no exception. Although salvation is free, reconciliation requires sacrifice. The cost for following Jesus Christ is often quite high; most believers will endure persecution, affliction, and numerous hardships. In turn, genuine obedience frequently produces loss; the loss of possessions, property, and prestige; the loss of a home, a career, and even certain family members and friends; some have even laid down their lives for the sake of the gospel. Still, from the time of the resurrection until today, not one righteous sacrifice has ever been committed in vain; for God has promised to replace each offering with something far greater. To die as a peaceful martyr is to live forever in the His Kingdom. To lay down our earthly possessions is to grab hold of God’s eternal riches. To suffer affliction for righteousness is to one day experience unending freedom and everlasting peace. And yet God’s rewards aren’t solely relegated to the heavenly realm. He also provides the faithful with many earthly blessings; wives, husbands, children, careers, possessions, etc.)

       Some time ago, while serving at my church, I met a pastor named Greg. A few years earlier he had been the starting quarterback for a division one college football team. As he headed in to his senior year, his future looked promising. Many expected him to excel, and to eventually enter the NFL draft. According to the world, his life was an example of success. Yet God had other plans for Greg. Before the start of his senior year, he felt the Lord calling him into full time ministry. After much contemplation and prayer, Greg chose to sacrifice any potential fame and fortune to serve God. When he announced his decision not to return for his final season, his coaches were mystified; many of his friends thought he had gone crazy. Those who were worldly thought he was making a very serious mistake. However, approximately four years after making his decision, Greg told me he had never been more satisfied. He is now joyfully serving the Lord; he also has a beautiful wife and a young child. By sacrificing much he has received a number of priceless blessings in return; “and in the age to come, eternal life.”

       The Christian path requires great sacrifice. Letting go of what is useless and grabbing hold of what is good isn’t without consequence. Obedience to the Lord produces loss; yet for every earthly loss there is a heavenly reward. Trust in the Lord; sacrifice any meaningless and unprofitable areas of your life and place them upon God’s Holy altar; submit yourself to His leading and you will experience all of the blessings that He has promised to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

     “Lord Heavenly Father, help us to sacrifice our lives in service to You. May we accomplish Your will no matter the cost. Remove any sins that stand in our way. Give us a new heart; give us new desires; may we die so that You may live. We thank You in advance for the blessings You have promised to provide, and we submit our lives to You now in 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!

Christ’s Replacement

JESUS SPEAKING

        “These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. However, the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14: 25-26.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

        The Lord informed his disciples that he would soon be taken away from them. In his absence, he promised to send them a replacement; a helper; someone to guide and direct them; a spiritual entity that would remind them of all of his teachings. After the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven; having reached His eternal position, he sent the Holy Spirit into the hearts and minds of every believer (on the day of Pentecost.) The disciples began to speak in foreign languages; they were given the power and authority to forgive sins; to cast out demons; to raise the dead; and to heal the sick. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit was, and is, proof that Jesus Christ did reach his destination; the work of the Spirit today confirms that He is still seated at the right hand of God; a place of honor from which He continues to guide and direct His church.
        In the early 20th century a bold and daring explorer named Roald Amundsen set out to reach the remote poles of the earth. He succeeded in reaching the South Pole in 1911, and the North Pole in 1926. As the story goes, during his northern journey, he took along a homing pigeon (homing pigeons mate for life; in turn, when separated from their mates they have a unique ability to return to their nests from anywhere in the world. Before leaving for the North Pole, Amundsen, not wanting his wife to worry, promised to release the pigeon when he reached his destination; when the bird arrived at its nest in Norway, his wife was elated. The pigeon was a symbol; a message proclaiming that although the explorer had arrived in a distant land, he was very much alive.
        The Holy Spirit is also a symbol; it is a message and a reminder that Jesus Christ still lives. Many have received the message, many have not. Those who have opened their hearts to God’s messenger have acknowledged that Jesus is their Lord and master. That he is a living God; that He currently guides and directs His church through the power of the Holy Spirit. If you have never received His gift, go somewhere quiet, and ask God to provide you with the Spirit of Truth. The Lord never withholds this wonderful thing from those who genuinely ask Him.
        “Lord Heavenly Father, we believe that Jesus Christ is Your Son, and that he is seated at Your right hand. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit; guide and direct us; teach us and remind us of Your ways. May we be faithful believers; may we never waiver; may we never grow weary, and may we never turn away from Your truth. May You continue to use us to fulfill Your will in this place, until the time when we will see You, face to face. 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.

No Half Way

JESUS SPEAKING

         “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.  For which of you, intending to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build but was not able to finish?’” (Luke 14: 27 – 30.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS        

         Following Jesus Christ isn’t easy; it requires great sacrifice and tremendous discipline.  Uncomfortable changes will inevitably follow every genuine profession of faith.  Each believer is called to abandon sin and embrace a life of selflessness and service.  Those considering the Christian life are urged by Jesus to “sit down first and count the cost.”  Drunkenness, fornication, pornography, adultery, lewdness and idolatry must be discarded.  Gossip, foul language, dirty humor, and selfishness are crushed beneath the weight of purity, love, mercy, and truth.  Sadly, many who begin following the Lord are unable to finish the journey; abandoning God’s call, some eventually return to their old lives.

         Interestingly enough, the longest Bridge in the world is the Danyang—Kunshan Grand Bridge in mainland China.  This modern marvel took four years to build and cost approximately 8.5 billion dollars.  As it snakes over rice patties, lowlands, and rivers, it measures a whopping 102 miles in length.  Bridges are amazing feats of engineering; and yet despite coming in a variety of different shapes and sizes, they all serve one common purpose; they connect two portions of land divided by an obstacle.  Although most of these structures are quite useful, an unfinished bridge is of no value whatsoever.  Ninety percent of a bridge is as useful as ten percent of a bridge.  In order to be valuable the structure must be complete.  Much like a bridge, the life of every believer is utterly useless unless it has been completed.  Throughout the centuries there have been many genuine disciples who died knowing that they had kept the faith until the very end.  Sadly, many other devotees were unable to complete the journey.

         In proverbs Chapter 20, verse 25, we read, “It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows.”  If you have never made a commitment to following Jesus Christ, then you must not do so rashly.  You must first consider fully what God is asking from you.  He is asking you to lay down your sins and embrace a life of purity; you must also devote your entire existence to serving and loving others.  For those who commit themselves to the Lord, the road is not easy.  There are no points for half-way.  Once the journey has begun, it must be finished.

         “Lord Heavenly Father, some of us have already begun our journey with You.  We’ve laid down our worldly ways and embraced purity and love.  May we continue moving forward and may we never falter.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit; empower us to complete what we have started, that we may one day enter Your kingdom with great 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.


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