Posts Tagged 'transformation'

Being Set Free

JESUS SPEAKING

     Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”  They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been in bondage to anyone.  How can you say you will be made free?”  Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever.  Therefore, if the son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8: 31 – 36)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     Although slavery was quite common in the ancient world, the men Jesus spoke with were not slaves.  Rather, being free men, they had failed to understand that they were slaves to their own sinful appetites.  Sin is often a far crueler taskmaster than any man holding a whip.  Even today, many weary souls are hopelessly ruled over by their addictions; some are in bondage to drugs and alcohol; some to pornography and sexual deviancy; while others are shackled to wealth, deception, lewdness, fornication, and idolatry; etc.  And yet, no matter how vast the number of sins might be, Jesus Christ has been setting people free for nearly 2000 years.

     One day I decided to visit Venice Beach; as I walked amidst the shops and street performers, I happened across a young couple.  They were homeless; their dirty hair was tangled and matted; their clothes were riddled with holes and despite being raised in the United States, they spoke with a heavy Jamaican accent.  They were apparently practicing the Rastafarian religion; a religion that promotes the spiritual use of marijuana.  Their bondage to the drug was so ferocious that they had adopted an entirely foreign lifestyle, simply to continue smoking marijuana without conviction.  Although they believed themselves to be free, they were in fact slaves; slaves whose master had caused them to lose nearly everything.  Thankfully I was able to share with them about how God had transformed my life; how He had relieved me of my addictions.  I would like to tell you that they immediately received the message and were reborn, but I cannot.  I can only pray that they might someday accept Jesus Christ and been set free.

     If you are in bondage to some kind of sin, turn your life over to Jesus Christ and He will relieve your burdens.  He will set you free from your addictions; He will heal your mind and cleanse your soul.  Invite Him into your heart, and He will become your master; He will protect you; He will guide you; He will mold you and shape you into His own image.  Surrender completely and you will know true freedom.  As the love of God fills your heart, you will experience genuine gratitude and everlasting peace.  [Note:  If you have never received Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior and would like to be set free, contact me and we can discuss how you might make that decision today.]

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire to be set free from the bondage of sin and death.  Heal our hearts and minds; and give us hope.  May our addictions be relieved, and may our fleshly desires be destroyed.  May we serve You in sincerity of heart; may we never stray from the path of righteousness; and may we dwell in Your presence forever.  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!

A Stony Heart

JESUS SPEAKING

     “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles” (Mathew 30: 20 – 21.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

     The gospel is a powerful force; like a raging river that gouges out valleys and tears apart mountains, the gift of salvation transforms lives. Many eagerly receive God’s message but lack the proper foresight; they do not understand the magnitude of the changes God intends to perform in their lives. Genuine faith is costly; the price of salvation is death; death to our old lives and sinful habits. We must willingly be destroyed in order to be remade in the image of Christ. Those whose hearts are stony initially experience a brief relationship with God, but desperately cling to their old familiar ways; thus abandoning their faith when it requires true change. They turn from the light and live in darkness; preferring comfort over growth and sinful practices ahead of righteous living.
     When a famous gangster named Mickey Cohen was released from prison in the 1950’s, a Pastor by the name of Bill Jones made it his personal mission to convert him to Christianity. When Jones presented Mickey with the gospel, he said a prayer and accepted Jesus into his heart. Soon, word of his conversion spread, and many were amazed to hear that this once villainous mobster had turned to Christ. Although Mickey enjoyed being called a ‘Christian,’ he refused to live like one. He soon lost touch with Pastor Jones and began hanging around with his old buddies from the criminal underworld. The disheartened Jones confronted Cohen to tell him that as a Christian he needed to put some distance between himself and his old criminal associates. Puzzled, Cohen responded, “Jones, you never told me that I had to give up my career. You never told me that I had to give up my friends. There are Christian movie stars, Christian athletes, and Christian businessmen. So, what’s the matter with being a Christian gangster? If I have to give up all that – if that’s Christianity – then count me out.”
     Sadly, Mickey’s story is not that uncommon; out of the four different types of soil Christ describes, the stony heart can be the deadliest; for within it there exists the greatest propensity for self-deception. The belief that a verbal profession of faith without corresponding actions is sufficient for salvation is an absolute lie. With their lips they affirm Christ, but with their lives they deny Him. Continuing in behaviors such as, pornography, fornication, drunkenness, idolatry, and dishonesty, etc., contradicts the rebirth that all Christians must undergo. If you can identify with this type of soil, then you have two choices; continue forward in delusion or get honest with yourself and surrender to a new life with Jesus; a life of repentance; a life free from darkness and unrighteousness; a life lived as a disciple of Christ. May the Lord give you the courage, the strength, and the conviction to make the right choice.
     “Lord Heavenly Father transform us into the image of Your Son. May we lay down our old lives to take up our new ones. May our relationship with You be deep and meaningful. May our lives always confirm our verbal professions of faith. If we have not fully committed our lives to You, reveal to us the areas where we have refused to change; and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to conquer them. 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 for example, 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 the merchants, travelers, and citizens could freely pass.)  There were also several 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 and waste. Many of these little gates were not directly connected to the major highways; making them more difficult to reach.  The majority of individuals entered through the main gate; because it was quick, easy, and convenient.  In much the same way, the road to eternal separation from God is quick, easy, and convenient; but the path to eternal life is difficult and the gate is much smaller; it requires genuine discipline, sacrifice, and selflessness.

     Repentance and forgiveness of sins are both integral parts of the gospel message.  Before ascending into heaven, Jesus said to his disciples, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  One day many years ago a friend took me to a church service; that evening, for the first time in my life, I heard the full gospel message.  I received Jesus, knowing that God expected something from me as well; I was required to repent and obey.  I would need to turn away from fornication, idolatry, pornography, drunkenness, lewdness, and deceit, etc.  As I sat in that church auditorium, I knew in my Spirit that I had to change.  [Note: 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.  During the night, Jesus presented him with the whole gospel; and Zacchaeus 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 had heard the complete gospel message and was transformed by it.  He chose to follow the narrow path.  After receiving salvation he immediately obeyed the teachings of Christ.  Unlike Zacchaeus, many today refuse to repent.  Millions of people claim to be Christians but continue on in blatant sin; they are seeking to enter through the wide gate; because it’s easy and requires very little sacrifice; and yet it leads to eternal separation from God.  Fewer people choose the narrow path; because it’s difficult, requires repentance, and demands transformation.  Which path are we taking?  Are we willing to embrace the complete gospel and become followers of Jesus Christ?  If we choose to take that step, we will be blessed beyond belief; and we will know perfect joy.  

     “Lord Heavenly Father, we receive Your gift and we take hold of Your sacrifice; may we turn away from the ways of this world and embrace the commandments of Your only begotten Son.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us the courage and strength to travel down 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!


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