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Monthly Archives: January 2015

While Jesus was teaching, His disciples brought HIM a message ~ HIS mother and brothers were outside and they wanted to see HIM.  But Jesus did not go out to see them.  Instead He asked, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”  

He pointed to His disciples.  “Here is My family.  Whoever does as My Father wishes is a brother, a sister, and a mother to Me.”  When people accept Jesus by faith, that relationship is closer than if they were related to Him by family ties.  Mary was more closely related to Jesus by her faith in His mission than she was by being His mother.  

Of all the rejection Jesus felt from humans, the most painful was the rejection in His own childhood home.  His brothers did not understand Him or His mission, and thought they could teach Jesus about God ~ not realizing that Jesus WAS God.  It also bothered them that Jesus seemed to be in disagreement with the Pharisees, they also wanted Him to stop claiming that God had given Him the right to do and say what He did.  It sounded crazy, besides they knew that the Pharisees were looking for reasons to have Jesus arrested and killed ~ and it did not surprise them.  

Instead of a supportive family, Jesus had a family that constantly criticized and hurt HIM.  It was so painful at times, that often He was glad to be somewhere else.  He loved visiting the home of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.  The atmosphere there of faith and love, made it a place where He felt comfortable.  

But many times He could find true rest only when He was alone communicating with His father.  

If we find ourselves suffering through criticism and anger at home because of our faith, we can find comfort in knowing that Jesus faced the same at home.  Knowing that we do not face our pain alone; we are not orphans.  Jesus invites them to call His Father their Father.  He loves them more than any human parent could love their very own child.  

In the Jewish society, if a person had to sell himself or herself as a servant to pay his debts, his closest relative could save him by buying back his freedom.  To save us, Jesus became our closest Relative ~ closer than any father, mother, brother, sister, or lover.  We cannot understand His kind of love ~ but we can know that it is real, and we can reveal it by ~ loving others. 

Jesus’ family and friends were worried about HIM ~ they knew that He would stay up all night praying.  And that He would spend all day in the crowds, teaching and healing without even taking time to eat.  Bottom line, Jesus’ brothers ~ the sons of Joseph, did not support HIS mission~ and had never taken the time in trying to understand HIM.  Now they were upset, because they were being blamed for some of the things He said against the Pharisees.  

Every sin can be forgiven, but it is the Holy Spirit that touches our hearts and leads us to want forgiveness.  When the Pharisees rejected the Holy Spirit’s work they were cutting off the channel that God could use to touch their hearts.  Each time a human rejects His light, the human is blinded just a little more, and the next ray of His light is easier to reject.  It is the slippery slope that leads a person away from God.  The Jewish leaders were becoming more and more controlled by Satan.  

Jesus’ also warned against using careless and evil words.  Sometimes ~ with Satan’s influence ~ we can say things we don’t really believe.  Yet, when we hear them, they seem more reasonable, more believable.  Like the Jewish leaders, we may be too proud to admit that we are wrong and find ourselves trapped in SIN.  It is so dangerous to carelessly criticize the truth of God.  From there it can be a short path to criticizing and rejecting the Holy Spirit, the power that draws us to God.  

Jesus added a warning to those who had been freed from a demon.  If they did not fill their hearts with God’s love, that demon and others might return to possess them again.  The same thing can happen to us today.  If we find freedom from Satan by accepting God’s love, but do not surrender ourselves to HIS will, we may find ourselves controlled by Satan again.  

Our only defense against evil is Jesus living in our hearts.  We might have the will power to stop bad habits for a short time, but without a real connection to God, we cannot resist selfishness and temptation.  In the end, Satan will claim us as his own.  By rejecting Jesus, the Jewish people committed an unforgivable sin.  By refusing to accept Jesus and His truth, we could be making the same mistake.  We dishonor Jesus before the whole universe when we refuse to listen to His messengers and listen to Satan’s agents instead.  If we keep doing this, we can not hope to be forgiven.  Eventually, we will completely lose interest in God.  

The weeping mother staggered blindly behind, a widow who was burying her only son, her sole source of support, her last hope.  When Jesus saw the woman, He felt compassion for her.  He walked up next to her and gently said, “Don’t cry.”  Then

He reached over and touched the pallet where the dead man was lying.  In a quiet voice that rang with power, a voice that even dead ears could hear, Jesus said, “Young man, I tell you, get up!”  The young man opened his eyes and blinked.  Jesus took his hand and lifted him up ~ and into the embrace of his mother.  The funeral procession turned into a parade of joy.  

The same Jesus who stood beside that grieving mother feels our pain when we lose a loved one.  His words today have just as much power as they did when He spoke to the young man.  His power will someday raise the ones we have lost to death and lead them back to our arms and hearts.  In the same way, His words will save us from spiritual death, Satan cannot hold us as prisoners in sin if we have faith in Jesus’ words of life.  When He tells us to get up and leave our sinful lives, He gives us the power to do it.  

He will raise us all again in the resurrection, it will be a joy-filled life with HIM and a love that never ends.

Finally, the officer came out and met Jesus on the street.  “You only have to command it, and my servant will be healed,” he told Jesus.  “I represent the power of Rome and my soldiers know it.  When I tell them to do something, they do it.  You represent the power of God.  All created things know it and obey You.  

You can command the sickness to leave and it will oby.  Just say the words, and I know my servant will be healed.”

Jesus was amazed.  “I have not seen this much faith anywhere ~ even in Israel,” He exclaimed to the crowd, as HE turned to the officer and said, “Go home.  Your servant is healed, just as you believed he would be.”

The self-righteous Jews thought the officer deserved a favor for what he had done for them.  The officer did not even feel worthy to even ask for a favor.  He did not feel that he had earned this miracle ~ by faith, he trusted in Jesus.

When the enemy, Satan, tells you that you are a sinner and deserve nothing, tell him that Jesus came to the world to save sinners.  We cannot save ourselves so our helpless situation means that we must trust Him to save us.

The Jewish leader thought nothing about Jesus.  But this army officer, who only knew about worshiping idols in Rome.  He also was surrounded by hateful Jews ~ still he was able to see the truth about Jesus, what HE taught & lived.

To Jesus, this Roman army officer was among the first of many from other nations whose hearts were touched by God.  Who would recognize the truth and follow the Savior.

Although the Roman army officer had never met Jesus, when he heard of HIS teachings, his whole heart responded.  He had been searching for the truth about God, he truly believed that Jesus was the Messiah.  He had a desperate, personal request to make of Jesus, and he really believed that Jesus had the power to answer it.  But, he was such in awe of Jesus that he did not feel he should speak to HIM in person.

The Roman army officer had a servant who was sick ~ in fact, nearly dead.  The officer had grown to love his servant, and could not bear to think of him dying.  He was convinced by the stories he had heard that Jesus could heal his servant.  The officer had begged the Jewish elders to ask Jesus for this miracle.  He thought that since they knew this great Teacher, they would know best how to ask HIM.

So as Jesus walked into Capernaum that day, the elders met HIM.  “Heal this man’s servant,” they asked.  “He loves the Jewish people, so much so that he has even donated enough money to build our synagogue.  He deserves this favor.”  Jesus began walking toward the officer’s house, but with the crowd surrounding HIM, He moved very slowly.  When the officer heard what was happening, he sent a message:  “LORD, I am not worthy for YOU to enter my house.”  But Jesus kept going.

God cares enough to paint the grass green, and the flowers in bright colors ~ though they live only a short while.  He cares so much more for humans who were created in HIS own image !  In God’s book of life, we each have a page that holds everything about our lives.  We are never out of HIS thoughts.  “Do not worry about tomorrow.”  God does not tell us everything about our life’s journey, only what we need to know now ~ strength and wisdom are promised [Matthew 28:28].  

” ‘ Do not judge other people, or you will be judged’ ” [Matthew 7:1].  Since we cannot know what is driving a person from the inside, what the reasons are for his or her behavior, we are not capable of judging fairly.  When we criticize another person, we are only passing sentence on ourselves.  

A good tree bears only good fruit.  Good deeds ~ right actions and decisions ~ are the fruit of a life surrendered to Jesus.  Our good deeds; do not buy our salvation, but they are proof of the faith that is in our hearts.  

Jesus explains the principles of HIS kingdom.  ” ‘ Everyone who hears my words and obeys them is like a wise man who built his house on a rock’ ” [Matthew 7:24].  When the wind and floods came, the house stood strong.  Those who refuse to listen are like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  When trouble comes, his house collapses.  We must build our lives on the principles Jesus gave ~ not on selfishness or human theories.  

Jesus showed that the Ten Commandments reach deeper than just our actions.  By holding hate in your heart, you place yourself on a path to murder.  Hate brakes the commandment against killing someone.  It is not sinful for a Christian to be angry when God’s name is disrespected or innocent people are repressed.  But you cannot be angry over every issue and be in harmony with heaven.  

God’s dream for what HIS children can be is greater that we can ever imagine.  ” ‘So you must be perfect,’ ” [Matthew 5:48].  It is a promise.  God’s plan to save goes beyond just saving our lives ~ He plans to remake us to be like HIM.  Being tempted is not an excuse for sinning.  Every believing child of God can resist sin as Jesus did.  Jesus is the ladder that Jacob saw in His dream connecting earth to heaven [Genesis 28:12].  

Jesus reaches us wherever we are.  Jesus took our nature and overcame sin so we can take HIS nature and also overcome.  By faith in HIM, we can be perfect like our Father in heaven [Matthew 5:48].  Jesus also mentions practical Christianity.  “Don’t do good deeds or give to the needy just to impress others.  Do these things secretly and only to help those who suffer.  When you pray, talk to God, not to the people around who can hear you.  When you go without food, do it privately.”  God sees what is done in private and HE will reward accordingly.  

The atmosphere of heaven surrounds people who live that kind of life ~ living life as Jesus did ~ walking and working with God.  For them, God’s kingdom has already begun! 

God loves humanity, through HIS law ~ the Ten Commandments.  Whenever we follow these laws, we are protected from the results of doing sinful things.  The Ten Commandments show us the holiness of God’s character in contrast to our own sinfulness.  When are are enabled by the Holy Spirit to see that, we surrender to Jesus and obey.  We find true happiness.  

The ceremonial laws that pointed to the coming Messiah were abolished when Jesus died.  But, the Ten Commandments are as permanent as God’s throne in heaven.Jesus’ life proved that humans can keep God’s law.  Those who break God’s commandments support Satan’s claim that the law cannot be obeyed.  To allow them into heaven would only bring rebellion and war to the universe again, not to mention their own misery in heaven ~ their hatred for anything holy.

The greatest error accepted in Jesus’ day was that simply agreeing to truth made a person righteous, holy.  Just knowing about truth does not change a person’s heart.  History shows that those who claimed to know the most about God often were the cruelest and most evil.  The beliefs of Pharisees ~ experts on religious teachings ~ led them to kill the Messiah.  Anyone who claims to believe in the truth, but is not hones, kind, and patient ~ is a curse to the world around them.

True happiness comes from following Jesus.  The rewards will come in heaven.  Then Jesus added some words just for HIS disciples and all those that would follow HIM.  

” ‘ Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to them’ ” [Matthew 5:10].  Jesus knew HIS followers would be insulted, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, and killed.  Like God’s messengers, the prophets, in times gone by, they would be rejected because bringing God’s truth to the world exposes sin.  They might suffer greatly in the war against sin and Satan, but they would be joyful, knowing that their reward was eternal life in heaven.

“You are like salt and light in this world,” Jesus told them.  In order to change the world, they would have to be a part of it ~ just as salt changes flavor by mixing with food.  Without the presence of people who love and serve God, this world would destroy itself.  Even the lives of evil people are blessed because of God’s followers.  

But those who say they are Christians and don’t act like their Master, have lost their flavor ~ and give God a bad name.  Like sunshine, salvation belongs whole world.  The truth about God should not be trapped inside the pages of a book or inside the walls of a church ~ it belongs to everyone who will LISTEN.  Unwavering honesty, a giving spirit, a good example ~ these are all ways by which we spread light to the world around us.   

HIS mission was to strengthen and live by God’s laws.  If they could be changed, there would have been no need for HIS sacrifice on the cross at Calvary.  HE came to explain those laws and teachings and to show their true meaning by HIS life.

Strive to reflect the character of God.  Learning to love will expand our hearts and minds, allowing us to understand more about God, love more like God, and become more like HIM.  

Impure thoughts cloud our understanding of spiritual things.  It is another form of selfishness, which always keeps us away from God.  God forgives those who repent, but the soul is damaged.  Until we stop putting self first, we can never understand God’s eternal love for us, HIS children.

Jesus knew that in a sinful world, there would ALWAYS be conflicts and wars.  Human plans for peace will ultimately fail because they do not address the HUMAN heart [Jeremiah 17:9].

The only real power for true peace in this world or in our hearts is ~ JESUS.

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