Category Archives: Inspiration

Inspirational Christian messages

Don’t Leave Home Without It

Don’t Leave Home Without – What?

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Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

~ Joshua 1:9

Most people will recognize the title as the product of a Madison Avenue ad shop; it’s a slogan written for American Express and used in their television and magazine commercials. A committee of copy writers and ad executives decided we need to have an Amex card with us whenever we leave the house. But Madison Avenue is in the business of lying for money. They want to make something look better than it is, so that people who don’t need it will pay money for it, and then they can have a big salary, a summer house in the Hamptons, an ulcer and a second wife

Lies are expensive. The truth is free. There are people who do try to make a lot of money selling it, and some who succeed, but it’s free. Or at worst, you can get it used for $4 on amazon.com.

And the truth is, you can leave home (at least sometimes) without a credit card. But there are three things that you cannot leave home without: Love. Joy. Hope. If you have been a Christian very long, you will recognize a common theme among these three traits, which is, that they are all fruits of the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells us that these three abide: Faith, hope, and charity. So for convenience sake, let us bundle faith with joy and see them as two sides of the same coin.

“Abide” means, of course, “live”. And in the parlance of the New Testament, we live only by knowing Christ; as we are learning in Galatians, the essential state of salvation is that we die and are reborn in Christ. He lives in us, and (using the preposition “in” with a different twist) we live in Him. And to live in Christ boils down to our possessing the three cardinal attributes of faith/joy, hope, and charity/love.

Faith and joy are the root of belief, the beginning, the key, to knowing God. Faith means that we are so sure that God exists and has told us the truth in His Bible that we bet everything on Him. It is almost impossible to define, because it occurs in a different way than anything else we experience. It is a realization that there is something very powerful that we cannot see, hear, or touch, something more powerful than the visible reality around us. Faith is the trait, and joy is the resulting emotion, when we realize through our spirit that we have a God, who made us and knows us.

Hope is the assurance of something unseen. It has a different meaning than when we use it in everyday language, meaning that we wish for something that we are not at all sure will happen. It does not mean that we “hope we go to heaven”. It is tied to faith, but with a different emphasis, and emphasizes certainty, not contingency.

Hope is the absolute knowledge we receive, through faith, that Christ was the Son of God and that, by His sacrifice, we belong to God and He is going to look out for us. When all is said and done, we know that we will live, in peace and perfect happiness, with Christ in heaven. We have already crossed the finish line and we have won the race. It’s all over but the shoutin’, as the saying goes.

And to keep this short: read 1 John. Love is the result. It is the sign, the proof, that we are actually living in Christ. When we are careless of our faith and hope, our love recedes in proportion to how much we are living in the world. The best thing is to divorce ourselves from the world, even as we live in it, and take our love with us wherever we go, whatever we do.

Faith. Joy. Hope. Love. Don’t leave home without it.

Heavenly father, let me always live in the spirit and show Your love before all the world. Amen.

~ Mason Barge
Editor, Daily Prayer

Rest for Your Soul

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We are getting into the holiday season already — how fast time flies! I’m sure some of you (like me) have already started thinking about Christmas presents, Thanksgiving dinner plans, perhaps parties or family gatherings. Perhaps you feel, as I do, some element of dread or anxiety in addition to the wonderful celebrations of God’s love for us that give us so much joy.

But God has given us a way to simply dissolve away the stress. He has given us the words that show us the way; for example, the line from Psalm 65 — “Find rest, oh my soul, in God alone” — and again, right on this page, a line from our memory verse, Matthew 11:28-30 — “you will find rest for your souls”

These words can so easily slip our mind when we are focused on a task. Let’s all agree that we will not lose a great benefit of our belief: The ability to find peace in a chaotic and unpeaceful world. It is a miracle cure and so easy to do! Close your eyes for 30 seconds and just think or pray the words, “Find rest, oh my soul, in God alone.”

If you do this ten times a day — which at first blush sounds ludicrous — that is a total of five minutes. If you do it thirty times a day (!!) for 15 seconds, that is 7 1/2 minutes.

People spends hours each week and thousands of dollars solving anxiety problems; but the best treatment is free. Once our faith has reached a certain point of maturity, peace is ours for the asking. Those of you who have prayed through a great tragedy, or a great anger, to the point where you felt that glorious peace from the Holy Spirit, will know exactly what I mean. And if you don’t, it is a wonderfully rewarding goal to set.

Dry Bones, Zombies, and the “Son of Man”

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When I was listening to the music for today – George Yount and the Cathedral Quartet singing “Dry Bones” – a light went off in my head. The quote from Ezekiel 37 has been nagging at me for weeks, for some reason, and it took a song that we put up as a bit of silly fun to really make the connection between Ezekiel and Christ. There is a lot of what you might call crypto-prophecy in the Old Testament, and this is one of the best examples. Ezekiel gives us an early model of what the Messiah would ultimately be and do, even though it is not directly as a messianic prophecy.

I realized that Ezekiel calling on the Lord to turn the skeletons into living people was exactly how I feel about having Christ in my life, and having the Holy Spirit breathed into me. I’m not talking about an academic recitation of the many times Christ says “I am the life”, but a real personal, emotional experience of becoming someone new and more alive.

Moreover, Jesus often referred to himself as the “Son of Man”, something that my Bible study group has been talking about in connection with John 9 recently. It really connects him even more closely with Ezekiel and the dry bones story.

You can easily think in terms of people who have not found God as lifeless skeletons, who become fully alive, who realize their own humanity only by the breath of God that comes from the Holy Spirit. I wonder if the popularity of zombies — in books, movies, tv, etc. — has something to do with the increasing prevelance of atheism in the world. People are searching for meaning in life and realize they are missing something important, and yet, they reject Christianity. They are like zombies who seem to be wandering aimlessly, searching endlessly for something but not even knowing what it is they are searching for.

Gentle Words

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A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

~ Proverbs 15:1

Authors have made millions from books about the “Habits of Highly Successful People”, but here’s a tip that you don’t have to buy a book to learn.  Don’t say mean things to other people.  No matter how righteous you feel or how clearly right you are, and especially, no matter how angry you feel.  What, exactly, do you think telling someone “go f*** yourself” or telling him he’s a “moron” accomplish?

What it accomplishes is to ensure that he isn’t going to listen to anything you have to say. You will have successfully destroyed any chance of changing what he thinks or how he acts.

Then, you get the secondary benefit of being in a fight and having made someone like you less. Do you ever wonder how the people of 20th Century Europe managed to kill each other by the tens of millions, destroying their economies and land and ruining any chance of anyone having a good, happy, life?  Well, you recreate it in miniature every time you vent your anger at someone.

Let’s make a deal.  At least once in the next week, in traffic or in a political discussion, or some other time when you want to inform someone what an idiot they are, instead, smile or wave and say, “You are a beautiful person, have a great day.”  Or, “okay, you’re right, we’ll do it your way.” Or, “I see your point, I’ll have to think about that.”

And here’s the kicker: We are going to do this where someone has done something really rude an inexcusable, or said something completely ridiculous.  We aren’t going to take an easy way out here.  The idea is for us to prove to ourselves that it causes us no lasting damage.

Because, you know what terrible things are going to happen to you, because you smiled and waved at the person who cut in line in front of you, or cut you off in traffic?  Nada. Zero. Nulla, nunca, niente. The only tangible result is that your blood pressure is going to drop.

But you’d better be careful.  Keep it up, and your doctor will start wondering why you haven’t been coming to see him as much.

Relying on God, Not “Stuff”

Ave Maria, devotional painting by Grunwald

 

Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it, and made us to see the vanity of it; so that we find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts is to set our hearts inordinately upon them.

              ~ John Flavel

 

People get attached to the things in their lives. A photograph, a plate, a car, a house, a piece of clothing. Or it can be something less tangible, like a way of doing something.  The place where we live is very commonly something we get attached to.

But it is important to remember that these are just “stuff”. Once we trust God with “all our hearts, and all our mind, and all our soul”, the innate fear we feel at being separated from things is not necessary. Change is an absolute rule in life, and to fear change is to fear life itself.

But we have nothing to fear, if our trust in God is strong enough — not even death itself. How many times have we been fearful and anxious of a change in our lives, only to find that what we have is better than what we left behind?

Let your faith in God dissolve away your fear of change and your fear of loss. Have every confidence in your future, for you have the protection and love of the greatest thing in the universe.  And remember the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin.

If you are facing change, or loss of any kind, turn to God and ask Him to fill you with faith, and read the end of Matthew 6. For change will always come, sometimes as loss, sometimes as gain. But it will never affect the important thing in your life, which is your future in the Kingdom of God.

Love is Patient

Painting Love Bible

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

~ 1 Corinthians 13:4

Patience is defined in the Bible as one of the elements of love.  We may have difficulty defining the word “love” or “charity” — the Greek word is agape — but we surely know, from Paul’s epistle, that patience is an important component.

Being patient can be difficult. We focus on getting a task done and we often are overwhelmed with all we have to do.  Patience seems impossible.

But think about the rewards that come from patience. When we are dealing with one of God’s precious children, it is an act of love to be patient with them.  (Many times, it is we ourselves with whom we have to be patient!)

And love, Paul tells us, is the most important thing. John tells us, “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” (1 John 3:11) So being patient with others is important, and it holds a great reward for us.

Let us all remember today, at least once, when we are exasperated with somebody else, to be patient.  Let us think, “this is God’s child and I will show patience, because he or she is important to God.”  I promise you, the reward to yourself will be immediate.  The love you show by your patience will be reflected back to you, and you will feel a moment of the peace that God intends us to enjoy.