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08/30/2009

Take heed; beware of living your life on religious "food."
By now you have certainly forgotten the five loaves that fed the five thousand, with twelve baskets left over, and the seven loaves that fed the four thousand and the plenty that remained. But I am not speaking to you about earthly food. No, I have come to warn you against feeding on the ideas and false teachings of those who market in religion.
In vain such people worship me, teaching as doctrines what are merely the inventions of men. Preoccupied with their own superstitions, they have forgotten the commandments of God.
Beware of false teachers who stand before you wearing sheep's clothing. Beneath their guise hides a ravenous wolf. They follow their true master, the evil one, and do what as he commands them. He was a murderer from the beginning, and never told the truth, because there was never truth in him. When he lies, he speaks in character, for he is a liar, and the father of lies.
To those who set themselves up to be your judges I say, judgment upon you, false teachers. Hypocrites! You, who will never enter the kingdom of heaven, bar the very way to those who long to go in. You travel across land and sea to gain one proselyte; and when that person is won, you make them two times more the child of hell than you are yourselves. Do you not merit great damnation?
You steal from the poor and the widows; and then, to conceal your true intentions, you make long pious prayers.
You decree: "The temple is unimportant. What is important is the treasury of the temple!"
But which is greater: the gold in the treasury, or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
And you say: "The altar is not important; but the gift that is upon it is important."
You are both foolish and blind. Which is greater: the gift on the altar, or the altar that sanctifies the gift?

Whoever honours the altar honours it and all things upon it. And whoever honours the temple honours him who dwells within its walls. And they who honour heaven, honour the throne of God, and he who sits upon it.
You make ceremonial offerings of even the herbs that grow at your front door. All the while, you have forgotten the weighty matters of the law: judgment, mercy, and faith.
Your vision extends not one inch in front of your face. Piously you strain a gnat from your wine, and proceed to swallow a camel. Self-righteously you clean the outside of your cup, while inside remains the grime of extortion. How blind can you be! First take care of what is concealed within. Only then will the outside be clean.
False teachers! In your hypocrisy you are no better than whitewashed tombs, which might appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of death and decaying bones. You may impress people by your superficial demonstrations of virtue, but inside you are consumed with hypocrisy and have fallen short of the truth. How can you believe, who live only for your colleague's praise, never seeking the honor that comes from God alone?
You build monuments to the prophets, and place flowers at the tombs of the righteous, and say: "If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would never have allowed their innocent blood to be shed."
Be witness to your own inconsistency! You are the descendents of those who killed the prophets, and have surpassed even their wicked acts. Snakes! Generation of vipers! How will you escape the condemnation of eternal judgment?
Behold, in the days to come, I will send you prophets, and wise men, and teachers. Even these you will kill and crucify. Yes, even these you will persecute, and pursue to the ends of the earth.
Such hypocrisy! Isaiah was right when he prophesied of you: "They approach me with their mouths, and honour me with their lips; but their hearts are far from me."
You justify yourselves before your congregations; but God knows the evil intentions of your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed by man is repulsive in the sight of God.
Take heed: Many will come from the east and west, and enter joyfully the kingdom of heaven. But many who should have come in will be banished instead to the darkness outside. Be forewarned: Unless your righteousness exceeds the pseudo-righteousness of the religious, you will not set foot inside the kingdom of heaven.

I have come to be a light to the world, that whoever believes in me should not remain in darkness. I am the light that has lighted the world; they that follow me will never again walk in darkness, but live their lives in the light.
Herein lies the supreme test: that such a brilliant light has come in to this dark world. Yet the inhabitants of this earth love darkness more than light, because their actions are blinded by selfishness and greed. So it is, those who give their lives to evil hate the light of truth, fearful that their actions will be witnessed and condemned. In contrast, they that do the truth step freely into the light so that their actions may be seen, for their works are pleasing to God.
Once, you journeyed into the wilderness to listen to John, the prophet you called, the Baptiser. He spoke to you of the truth. He was a burning and shining light: and you were willing, at least for a while, to follow him. Now, one has come with a greater demonstration of power than John, for the work that my Father has given me to accomplish, the very acts which I perform now in your presence, prove that I am sent from God.
If I do not the works of my Father, then you are free to turn away. But, if I do his works, even if you don't believe in me, believe in the works that I do; that you may know and believe that the Father is in me and I in him. I must do the work of him who sent me while it is day: because the night is fast approaching when no one will be able to work.

The lamp of the body is the eye: if your eye is sound, your whole life will be filled with light, but if your eye be preoccupied with evil, your whole life will be obscured with darkness. If what illuminates your life is darkness, how great and terrible is that darkness!
Are there not at least twelve hours of daylight? If you walk by day you do not stumble, because of the natural light around you. If, however, you walk by night, you will fall, because there is no daylight to guide you. Believe in the light that you may become "children of the light." Be active while you have the light present with you, for darkness is rapidly falling. Those that walk in darkness are the lost, and if the blind are leading the blind, then both are destined to fall.


You do not light a candle and then conceal it beneath a vase, or place it under a bed; instead, you set it on a candlestick, so that you or your guests enter a house filled with light. Do you not realize that you are called out to be lights in this world? Your life is similar to a city built on a hill that cannot go unnoticed. Let your light, therefore, shine brightly before all people, that they might see your good works and praise your Father, who is in heaven.

That which you do in secret will eventually be revealed, and that which seems to be hidden will one day be broadcast far and wide. What I am telling you now in private, proclaim publicly, and what you hear whispered by the Spirit, shout aloud from the housetops.


The time is come that the Son of Man be revealed and glorified.
I do not come seeking my own glory; but there is one who seeks to exalt me, and he is the judge of all who reject me.
It is written in your earthly laws that the concurring testimony of two witnesses is true. Accordingly, I bear witness of myself, as does my Father who has sent me. I know that the witness he has given of me is true. Because of this, I do not have need of the endorsement of any earthly authority.


He who speaks only his own ideas, does so to gain honour for himself. But he who works for the glory and honour of the one who has sent him is true, and there is nothing false or vainglorious in him.
I have not come to you on my own behalf, but have been sent by the one who is truth. Nor have I come down from heaven to do my own will but the will of the Father who has sent me. I was born and came into this world for one purpose: to be a living witness to the truth. Those who love the truth will follow me.

I and my Father are one. In his name I have come to you that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly.
All authority is given to me, both in heaven and on earth. I am able to give you eternal life, the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and power over all domination of the evil one. No longer be troubled or afraid. My peace I give to you, a peace far surpassing that which the natural world is able to impart.


In me you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free; and if the Son of God sets you free, you will be free indeed. I tell you this that you might have faith to believe, and be transformed.

This is the will of God, that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him will have everlasting life. If you believe in me, I will raise you up on the last day. Do you believe in the Son of God? It is he that is speaking to you.

The Father who sent me has instructed me as to what I should tell you. I know that his words lead to everlasting life; so whatever he tells me to say, I say.
These words that I speak are not my own, but come from the Father who has sent me. They that hear the words that I speak, and believe in him who has sent me, will have everlasting life. They will not be condemned but will pass from death to life.
Listen: the hour is coming, and has already come, when even the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and whoever hears his voice shall live.
You search the ancient prophetic writings because you are seeking the path to eternal life. The prophets themselves testify clearly of me. And yet, you hesitate to come to me that you might find new life.
Though not appearing to you personally, or speaking to you audibly, the Father has born witness of me. By refusing to believe in me, the one sent to you by my Father, you close your ears from hearing the very voice of God. How is that some of you say, regarding the one whom the Father has set apart as his very own and sent into the world, "He commits blasphemy because he says, 'He is the Son of God'?"


I tell you now: I am the way, the truth, and the life; no on can recognize the Father, except by my introduction. Only the breath of God gives life. Your earthly body grows old and will eventually fail, but the words that I speak to you are filled with God’s breath and are life.
I do not pass judgment on those who hear these words and do not believe; for I have not come to judge the world, but to rescue it. Be warned; those that reject my words will be held accountable: the truth that I have spoken will stand as their judge on the last day.
Surely the heavens above you, and the earth beneath your feet, will one day pass away; but the words that I speak will never pass away.


No one knows who the Son of God is, except the Father in heaven: and no one can know who the Father is, except the Son; and those to whom the Son will reveal him. Until now you have not known him as I do; but I have come, sent from him to you.
The One who has sent me is present with me now. There is no separation between us, for I always do what pleases him. In fact, in seeing me you have seen the Father. Why then do you keep saying, "Reveal God to us?" Do you not believe that I am one, and equal with my Father?
I and my Father are one. Everything that the Father has is mine. I have come from the Father to this world; I will leave this world again, and return to my Father.


The Son can do nothing on his own, but does only what he sees the Father do. The Father loves the Son, and has revealed to him his universal plan; and you will witness even greater miracles than those which you have already seen. Even as the Father raises the dead, and gives new life, so the son will give new life to whomever he will.

And yet, I can do nothing on my own; I judge only as God guides me; my ways are perfect, because I seek not my own will, but the will of the Father who has sent me. As the Father has the power to give life, so the Son has the gift of life, and has been given the authority to execute judgment, because he is the Messiah, the Son of Man.


I have said this from the beginning: there is much in your lives that I could condemn, but I have come with another message, given to me by the One who is the truth. This is the message that I speak to the world.
When at last you lift up the Son of Man (on the cross), you will know who I am, realizing that I did nothing according to my own plan or authority, but delivered to you the words which my Father instructed me to proclaim.

Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
I am the good shepherd. I know my flock and they know me, even as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I am willing to give my life for the sake of the sheep. My sheep recognize my voice. I know them each by name, and they follow me. I give them eternal life. They will never be destroyed, nor can anyone tear them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than any kingdom or power; and no force is able to pluck even the weakest from his mighty hand. Still, there are many sheep that are lost outside the fold: I must gather them as well. They too, will rejoice at the sound of my voice, and will become members of one great fold, with one shepherd to care for them night and day.
He that enters in by the front door of the fold is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens the door, and the sheep thrill at the sound of his voice. He calls them each by name, and leads them out to green pastures. When he leads the sheep out to graze, he goes before them. They follow him, comforted by the words that he speaks. They will not follow a stranger; instead, they run from the sound of an unfamiliar voice.

I am the good shepherd who gives my life for the sheep. The hired hand is no substitute. He does not care for the sheep as if they were his own; and when the wolf comes he runs away, leaving the sheep unguarded. The wolf catches them, and they are scattered.
I am the door to the sheepfold. Those who attempt to enter this fold by any other way are thieves and robbers. Many imposters have come before me, but the sheep did not recognize or follow them. I am the door. Enter by this door and you will be safe, free to go in and out, and find food.
This earth is plagued by corruption, by death and destruction. I have come to undo this curse, that you might discover the true meaning of life and be blessed.

It is written: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out from the mouth of God."
I am the bread of life: if you come to me, you will never again hunger spiritually; and if you believe in me, you will never again know spiritual thirst. Rise up! Take hold of the living bread, the spiritual bread that has come down from heaven: if you eat of this bread, you will live forever. The bread that I offer you is my life, which I give for the life of the world. I am the bread of life come down from heaven, that you may feast on spiritual food, and because of this receive spiritual life and not die.
All of your energies are spent in the pursuit of food that perishes; instead, seek spiritual food that will endure forever. This is the food that I long to give you, for God the Father has given me this power.


Since childhood, you have heard the story of how your ancestors ate manna in the desert; but that was long ago, and now they are ancient memories. In spite of those miracles, Moses was not able to provide the true bread of heaven, that which my Father is offering to you now. For the bread of God is embodied in the one who is speaking to you, who has come down from heaven, and offered his own life for the world.
If you understood this, you would beg me to give you living water as well; for whoever drinks natural water soon thirsts again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give will discover a well that springs up within, overflowing with eternal life.


Are you thirsting spiritually? Come to me and drink; for they that believe in me, as it has been written, "Out of their innermost being will flow rivers of living water."


Since the time of John the Baptiser until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and great is the number that eagerly, and in desperation, have seized hold of its truth.
The kingdom of heaven can be likened to a farmer’s wheat field, planted with good seed. One night, while the farmer slept, his enemy came and sowed darnel weeds among the wheat. When the first blades of wheat finally pushed up through the earth, weeds appeared alongside. Seeing this, the servants rushed to the farmer, and with distressed voices wept: “Sir, did not we sow good seed in your field? Why then are there so many darnel weeds?”
The farmer answered: “An enemy has done this.”
“Shall we try to remove them?” the servants asked.
“No,” the farmer replied. “If you pull up the weeds, you will uproot the wheat as well. Let them both grow together until the harvest time; and at the time of the harvest I will instruct the reapers: ‘Gather first the weeds, and bind them into bundles for burning. Then gather the wheat into my storehouse.’”

Here is the lesson: he that sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world. The good seed represents the children of the kingdom, while the seeds represent those deceived by the wicked one. The enemy that planted the weeds is the evil one. The harvest is the end of the world, and the reapers are the angels. Just as the darnel weeds were gathered and burned in the fire, so will it be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather everything that has caused humankind to stumble, and those who live lawlessly outside of the kingdom, and will exile them to a place of weeping and regret. Then the righteous will shine as bright as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. If you have ears to hear, then hear these words.


Every kingdom that is divided against itself is doomed; and every city or house divided against itself will eventually fall. Likewise, if the evil one is fighting evil, he is divided against himself, and his kingdom will not last.
One cannot be liberated from the kingdom of the evil one without first binding his power. If I cast out devils and perform signs and wonders as an ally of the devil, as some of you accuse me, then by what power do your children do the same?


Let your children stand before you as your judges; they can settle this dispute, for if your children cast out devils by the breath of God, then the kingdom is indeed come to dwell among you.
Have you ever heard this reading from the scriptures: “The stone which the builders have rejected has become the honored cornerstone; this is the Lord’s doing, and marvelous in our eyes?” Behold, the kingdom of God will be taken from you who listen and do nothing and be given to a people working to bring forth fruit in their lives.

Beware of how you treat this message: for all of the sins of humankind will be forgiven, along with all of their blasphemies. But there is no reconciliation for those who, seeing evil as good, and good as evil, blaspheme the Holy Spirit. This transgression is eternal. Heed these words. All about you, evil men and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of heaven ahead of you. These have heard the call to life and have turned to God, while the pious and religious have heard the call and have deliberately turned away.


Prayer is not achieved by repetition. It is not by reiterating, “Lord, Lord,” that you will enter the kingdom of heaven, but by doing the will of my Father who is in heaven.
If after midnight, you approached the door to one of the city’s prominent houses, long after the owner had gone to bed, and began to knock loudly, and shout: “Open the door, I want to come in,” how do you think you would be received?
Most likely, the owner of the house would shout back, “Go away! I don’t know who you are, or why you are disturbing me at this hour!”
What if you protested in reply, “But we have eaten at the same tables, and often I have heard you teach in the temple!”
To this, the owner might reply, “Hear my words; I tell you I do not know you. Leave me in peace!”

Even so, on the day of judgment many will come with a similar complaint, saying, “Lord, Lord, haven’t we prophesied in your name, and in your name cast out devils, and in your name accomplished many wonderful works?”
The Lord himself will reply, “Depart. I do not know you, who have lived your entire lives in darkness.”
I instruct you with these stories because it is given to you to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.
Here is another parable that illustrates the kingdom: Once there lived a rich investor who was preparing to depart for a distant country. Before leaving, he called together three associates, putting them in charge of managing his investments during his absence. He gave five accounts to one, two lesser accounts to the other, and to the third he gave one insignificant account, responsibilities equal to their levels of experience.


So it happened, that the associate who had been entrusted with five accounts immediately began to buy and sell, and before long, he had doubled his holdings, so that his accounts were now ten instead of five. The second associate did likewise, investing his two accounts until he had made four from the two entrusted to him. But the third associate did nothing. So fearful was he, that he locked his account in a strongbox and buried it in the ground, terrified that it might be tampered with, lost, or stolen.
A good while later, the rich man returned from his trip. Immediately he summoned his three associates, curious to learn how they had managed his money during his absence.


The first associate recounted how he had invested the five accounts, and now had ten. At this the rich man said: “You have done well, and proved faithful. Because you have been trustworthy with the five accounts that I gave you, I will put more important ones under your trust. You may begin today to benefit from these responsibilities.”
Then the rich man called the second associate, who reported: “You put two accounts into my care; now I have four.”


Hearing this, the rich man repeated what he had said to the first associate: “Well done! You have been faithful in managing two minor accounts. I will put you in charge of many more. Go to your task with happiness.”
Finally, the third associate was called, and immediately confessed: “I have always thought of you as a difficult man. You collect profits from other people’s money, and I figured that you would only take back whatever profits I might make from my insignificant account. I buried my account in the ground, where it has remained unharmed until your return.”
To this the rich man answered: “Foolish associate. You know the manner in which I conduct my affairs. At the very least you could have entrusted your account with the currency dealers. Only one account was assigned to your care and you have chosen to bury it in the ground. Now even this will be taken from you and given to the others who did wisely. What is left to you, except to dwell on your own regrets?”
In the kingdom of heaven, those who use what they possess, no matter how insignificant it might seem at the time, will continue to receive more and more. Abundance will be theirs! But those who act in fear, unfaithful in the least of life’s matters, will eventually lose all.


Another example is found in the story of a landowner. Early one morning he went out to hire workers for his vineyard. Finding the skilled laborers he needed, he agreed with them on a wage of one silver coin per day. The contract accepted, he sent them into his vineyard to work.

Later that same morning, the landowner returned to the town. Seeing a group of unemployed standing idle in the marketplace, he said to them: “Come work in my vineyard. I will pay you a fair daily wage.”
Likewise, at noon the landowner went back into town, and then again, much later in the afternoon. On each occasion he hired the unemployed to work in his vineyard. Finally, towards evening, he met a few stragglers that remained without work, and asked: “Why did you stand here idle?”
They responded: “Because no one came to hire us.”
He said: “Go now, I still have work for you to do in my vineyard.”

Night fell, and the landowner instructed the vineyard manager to call the workers in from the vineyard where they were working, and to give to each of them their wages, beginning with the last, through to the first that had been hired that day.
Those hired last stepped forward, and each received a silver coin as their wage. Seeing this, those hired early that morning imagined that they would receive more. When their turn came, however, they too received one silver coin each.
At this they began to complain to the landowner: “Unfair! Those stragglers that you hired barely worked one hour, and you have paid them on the same scale! We are the ones who have done most of the work, toiling during the hottest hours of the day!”
But the landowner answered: “Friends, I have done you no insult. Did not you happily agree on a day’s wage of one silver coin? So take what is yours and be on your way. I have, from the goodness of my heart, paid those hired at the end of the day the same wage. Have I not the right to do with my money as I wish? Are your eyes so full of envy because you see me being generous and kind?”


This too, is a parable of the kingdom of heaven; understand it, for the last will be first and the first last. Many are called, but sadly, few are chosen.
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field. One day, a poor man discovered it. Immediately he covered it over, and then joyfully sold everything he possessed, considering this a small sacrifice, in order to purchase the field where the treasure lay hidden.


Those who enter the kingdom of heaven do not allow any of their former, earthly concerns to deter them. Like the merchant who searched his entire life for a pearl of great price, they joyfully sacrifice all in order to possess such a priceless treasure – new life, a new way of thinking and being, hope in this world, and in the world to come.


The kingdom of God moves forward by divine command. The farmer sows seed in his field, and when his day’s work is done he goes to his bed. Each new day he rises again and works until night falls. All the while, the natural order of the earth is at work. The seeds sprout and begin their growth, a synthesis so complex that it is beyond the farmer’s ability to understand it. Tender blades appear, then ears of corn, until what was planted is a mature crop, and the farmer takes up his sickle, for the harvest time has come.
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, the smallest of nature’s kernels, from which grows a great plant, as tall as a tree, a place for the birds to perch and find shelter.

The workings of the kingdom can be compared to a pinch of yeast used to make bread. Even mixed into a great quantity of flour, it leavens throughout.
Like a fisherman’s net lowered into the sea, the kingdom of heaven gathers up every variety of fish. When it is full, the net is pulled back onto the shore. There the good catch is collected into baskets, and the imperfect is discarded. So it will be at the end of this age. Angels will separate the wicked from among the children of God, exiling them to a place of great sorrow.


Without material goods, money, or support, I have sent you out as witnesses. Equipped with the message of new life, you have blessed others. Did you once lack for anything?
Do not allow your worries to consume tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Surely, there is enough to concern you each day, without fretting about the future. Which of you by mental effort can add one inch to your height?


Consider the birds of the air. They are not consumed with worry. At night they sleep soundly, knowing that their heavenly Father cares for them. Do you not matter more than the birds?
Are not two sparrows sold in the marketplace for a few pennies? Still, one of them cannot fall to the ground without your heavenly Father’s knowledge. Cease being afraid. You are of greater value than many flocks of sparrows. Even the very hairs of your head are numbered.


Why then worry about what you will wear? Consider the lilies growing wild in the fields, blooming without effort. Even King Solomon in all of his glory was not arrayed as beautifully as one of these. If God has so cared for that which grows wild in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is cast into the fire, will he not care for you much more? How can you have such little faith?


Therefore, stop saying: “What will I eat? What will I drink? Will I ever have enough to clothe myself?” This is how the faithless think, anxious for everything. Be at peace! Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all of these things, and more.
Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all of your needs will be provided. .


The most important of all of the commandments is this: You shall love the Lord your God will all of your heart, and with all of your soul, and with your entire mind, and strength.
Let the second commandment then be, love your neighbor as you love yourself.
This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you! There is no greater law, and there is no greater love manifest than the act of giving up one’s life for a friend.


Whoever lives contrary to this commandment will be least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever abides by this law, teaching others the joy of obedience, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. I have told you all of these things that my joy might remain with you, and that your joy might be full.


You have heard it said, “It is only right to love your friends and hate your enemies.”
But I ask you to love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Show goodness to those who hate you. Pray for those who despise and mistreat you. Doing this, you will become the children of your Father in heaven; for he makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain to refresh the just and the unjust. If you love only those who love you in return, where is the reward? Even the corrupt live by these rules.
Instead, love one another as I have loved you. Doing this, everyone will realize that you are my disciples, because your lives are filled with acts of selfless love. Do not be deceived: if you say that you truly love me, your life will be lived according to my words, and you will be honored by my Father, and blessed with his presence.
If you hear my words, and act accordingly, you will be loved by my Father and by me as well, and we will come and make our dwelling with you.
God loves you because you have believed in me, his son, and understood that I am come to you from him. Practice this awareness. Keep my words, and live in this love, even as I follow my Father’s laws, and by doing so, abide continually in his love.
Once a man traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho. The route was dangerous and notoriously plagued by thieves. Such evil men attacked him, stripped him of his possessions and clothes, and left him half-dead. The first to find him was a temple priest journeying along the same route. Seeing the man lying there, he crossed over to the other side of the path, and hurried away.

Some time passed. A second man approached, one who prided himself in his religious observance. Seeing the wounded man, he hardened his heart. Gathering his coat about him, he made a wide detour to avoid the unpleasant scene.
Toward evening, a third man drew near, a poor Samaritan, outcast because of his race, and despised among society. He too, saw the injured man and immediately his heart was filled with compassion. Tearing his clothing into strips, he bandaged the man’s wounds, dressing them as best as he could, using his own oil and wine. With care, he placed the man onto his mule, and went in search of an inn. There he made sure that all of the wounded man’s needs would be met.


In the morning, before leaving, he paid the innkeeper in advance, and said: “Attend to the injured man, and when I pass this way again, I will reimburse any added expense.”
Which of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell among thieves?
Go then, and live your lives doing the same as the good man from Samaria.

Whoever hears my words, and acts upon them, is wise, and builds on a foundation made of stone.
The rains descend, and the floods rise. Hurricane winds beat against the house, yet it stands strong: for it is built on solid rock.
But whoever hears my life-giving words, and rejects them, chooses to build on a foundation of sand. The rains descend, and the floods rise. Hurricane winds beat against the house, and the foundation crumbles. The house collapses, and great is its fall.

Once there were two men who went into the temple to pray. One was a proud, self-righteous man, while the other was a miserable tax collector well known for his dishonesty. The proud man prayed: "Thank God I am not a sinner like other people, especially that cheating tax collector I see here today. I never cheat, nor do I commit adultery. I fast twice a week, and I give the temple a tenth of all that I earn."
The tax collector remained in the back of the temple, and dared not lift his eyes toward heaven. He prayed sorrowfully: "God, please be merciful to me. I am unworthy and have fallen short of what you ask."
I tell you now, that the tax collector who recognized his need for God's mercy, returned to his house lighthearted, free from anxiety, and forgiven. Those who, in their pride, exalt themselves will be humbled, while those who humble themselves will rise above the cares of this world to a place of blessing and honour.
Let the little children come to me, and do not refuse them. For the kingdom of God belongs to hearts so trusting; for without a childlike faith you will never enter the kingdom.

My doctrine is not my own, but his who has sent me. If you choose to do my Father's will, you will quickly discover whether or not my teaching comes from God.
The world worships blindly. At least as Jews, we know what we worship, and that the world's salvation is born from among us. Believe me: the time is coming, and has already come, when those who would worship God will cease from their constant searching. No longer will people search for the dwelling place of God, announcing: "Here it is! This is where we should pray."
No, true believers will worship God in spirit and truth, and God the Father will seek out those who approach him offering the sacrifice of worship and praise. If you keep silent your praise, the very stones at your feet will cry out.
Perhaps you have read that when King David and his soldiers were hungry, they entered the temple and ate from the holy bread normally reserved for the priests. This was an act clearly forbidden by the religious laws. And yet, if you were an observer of the Hebrew laws, you would know that on the Sabbath days the priests that work in the temple desecrate the Sabbath by their labor, yet are counted blameless.
Are there not more important things than the laws of the temple? Understand then, the meaning of the scripture, "I prefer mercy to sacrifice.” By so doing, you will cease from your condemnation of the guiltless. The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day.

Suppose an animal in your care fell into a ditch on the Sabbath, would not you make every effort to free it? Is not your life equally valuable? You think nothing of spending the Sabbath observing the ceremony of religion, or practicing long liturgies, how is it then that you criticize me for healing on the Lord's day? When will you stop judging by outward appearances, and begin to make right your judgments? The Sabbath was created for you. You were not created for the Sabbath.
I have come into this world that the blind might see, and they that boast of their vision might become aware of the blindness that has befallen them.

 
Blessed are you who hear the word of God and follow it where it leads. Doing so, you will be like the servant who, when the master comes, is found doing right.
Blessed are you, who put your whole trust in God. Yours is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you, who are acquainted with sorrow, for you will be appointed great comfort and courage. Blessed are you, who with humility recognize your need of God. The whole earth will be yours. Blessed are you, who hunger and thirst after righteousness. You will be satisfied and filled. Blessed are you, who are merciful. You will receive mercy in return. Blessed are you, who are pure in heart. You will see God.


Blessed are you peacemakers, for you will be called the children of God. Blessed are you, who pursue salvation. You will become the citizens of the kingdom of God. Blessed are you when you suffer blame and are spoken evil of for doing my will. Rejoice! Leap for joy! Great is your reward in heaven. In a similar manner they persecuted the prophets before your time.

How even more blessed are you, who having not seen me believe, and keep your faith in me.Blessed are your eyes, for they truly see, and your ears, for they truly hear. Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be full.
Once a man appeared at his friend’s door after midnight. "Lend me three loaves of bread,” he called. “I have visitors who have travelled far to see me, and my cupboards are bare."
But his friend replied: "Please don't disturb me now. The door is locked, and my children are asleep. I can't get up and help you."
Here is a lesson. Though the man did not get up and provide the bread because of their friendship, he did eventually give in to his friend’s earnest pleading, and rose from his sleep to give him what he asked.

 Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, those who seek find, and to those who knock, the door will be opened wide.
In a certain town, there lived a hard-hearted judge, who neither feared God nor cared for his neighbour. In the same town there lived a widow, who pursued him for justice concerning a person who had harmed her. Time passed, and the judge persisted in ignoring her pleas, refusing to hear her case, until finally, one day, he said to himself:
"Though I do not fear God, nor concern myself with charity, I will see to it that this widow gets justice; for she wears me out with her constant appeals."


Will not God, then, offer justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he too ignore your earnest cry for help? I tell you this: he will see that they who seek him receive justice, and quickly! And yet, the real question raised in this story is this: When the Messiah returns, will he find many on the earth with such persevering faith?


I do not mean that you should let your prayer fall into a pattern of mindless repetition. The unenlightened pray in this manner, imagining that they will be heard because of the great number of their prayers. Do not imitate them. Remember your heavenly Father knows what you need even before you ask.

The prophet Isaiah has written: "My house shall be called by all nations, a house of prayer."
Pray then, to the Father who hears your most intimate prayers and rewards them openly; and whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will provide. If you live your life in me, and let my words live in you, you may ask what you wish and it will be given to you.
Pray in this manner:
“Our Father in heaven, may all the earth recognize that you are the one and holy God.


May your kingdom dwell among us. May your purpose be accomplished on earth, as it is in heaven. Provide us with daily bread to sustain us, and forgive our falling short. Help us to forgive those who have wronged us. Keep us from wandering into faithlessness, and deliver us from the evil one. For to you belongs all power and glory, eternally. Let it be so."

Live your lives doing to others, as you would have them do to you.
Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen, enjoying a life of extravagance. In the same town there lived a homeless man named Lazarus, who sat near the gate that led to the rich man's house. He did not ask for anything but the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. Stray dogs were his only friends, and they licked his wounds.
Finally, one day Lazarus died and was carried by angels into the arms of Abraham. Not long afterwards, the rich man also died, and was buried.
From the agonies of hell he lifted his eyes full of torment, and seeing Abraham a great way off, he cried: “Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send the beggar Lazarus to comfort me! Have him dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, for I suffer here in these flames!”


But Abraham replied: “My son, remember that in your lifetime you enjoyed your good things, while Lazarus knew only suffering and misery. Now, he is comforted, and you are the one tormented. Besides, between us is fixed a great gulf of separation, so that those who would come to you from here cannot, neither can you cross over to us from where you suffer.”


Hearing these words, the rich man cried out: “I pray, then, that you send Lazarus to my Father’s house. I have five brothers, and he must warn them, so they do not end up in this hell.”
To this Abraham answered: “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them.”


"But surely," the rich man protested, "if one were to appear to them from the dead, they would repent."
Abraham replied: "If they do not repent because of the words of Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded, even if one should appear to them from the dead."

There is no generosity in giving to those who can easily repay. Even misers lend money when they are certain of being repaid in full. Give to those who appear before you in need, to the destitute with no hope of repaying your gift. Practice forgiveness, even if such persons take advantage of your kind acts.


The poor, when they give, contribute more than the wealthy, who give from their abundance. The poor contribute from their need, and with great love often give what they cannot spare.
How nearly impossible it is for those who love money to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom. And yet, what is impossible for man is made possible by God’s mercy.


Do not hoard treasures on earth where moths and rust corrupt, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where neither moths nor rust corrupt, nor thieves break in to steal. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


Some do good acts only when they are certain of an audience. For these, there is no reward. When you give, do not behave like the hypocrites, who ring bells in the temple and parade in the streets. These have their own reward.
Do not even let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give quietly and in secret; and your heavenly Father who sees such acts of kindness will reward you openly.
Learn to give and it will be given back to you abundantly, more than you can imagine, multiplied and overflowing. By the same measure that you distribute your generosity, your reward will be measured in return.
Once the investment of a rich man yielded a great profit. Considering his increased riches, the man said to himself, "What shall I do with my profits?" And he came to this decision: "I will pull down my old houses, and build ones that are greater. I have amassed immense treasure, and will rejoice in my wealth. I will be content for many years to come, and will spend my time eating, drinking, and being merry."


But God said to him: "Reckless man! Do you not know that this same night your soul will be demanded of you! When you are gone, whose will all these things be?"
Such is the fate of those who store up treasure for themselves, and are not rich in the possessions of God. What merit is there in attaining all that the world can offer, if in so doing you forfeit your soul? What can be given in exchange for your soul, or your place in the kingdom of heaven?
.

Many will come in the last days, from every corner of the earth, and enter into the kingdom of heaven. But the self-righteous and pious, who thought they would be first, and yet lived their lives without faith, will not enter in.
If two agree by faith, my Father in heaven will grant their request. For wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I am present with them.
These signs will follow those who believe: In my name they will cast out devils. They will speak with new tongues. Serpents, or deadly things, will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick and the sick will be made whole.

Possessing faith the size of a mustard seed, they shall say to the mountains: "Be removed and cast into the sea."
If you believe all things to be possible, and leave no room for doubt, what you ask or command will be done. This is why I tell you: whatever it is that you desire, when you pray, believe that you will receive it, and you will.

As you live your life invigorated by the breath of God, the conflicts of this earth will be overcome by heaven's power: and whatever you allocate on earth will be that which is in accordance to heaven's plan.
Do not be afraid any longer, but believe. Everything is possible to the one who believes.

A certain man was reviewing the accounts of two men who had borrowed money.
One owed him five hundred gold pieces, while the other owed him fifty. Knowing that neither had any means of repaying him, he compassionately forgave both of their debts. Which of these two men do you suppose was the most grateful?


Likewise, the time came for a certain king to appraise his financial records. During this process, one of his servants was brought before him, who owed a staggering amount, ten thousand gold pieces!
Since it was impossible that the servant ever repay such a debt, the king resorted to the law, which decreed that the debtor and his family be sold into slavery, and their house and possessions be disposed of in a public auction.
Sorrowfully, the servant fell to his knees before the king, and cried: "My Lord and King, I beg you to have patience with me, and I will repay you all that I owe."
So moved was the king with compassion, that he forgave the debt, and let his servant go free.
On his way home, this same servant encountered a friend who owed him a few pennies. Instead of showing mercy, however, he seized the man by the throat, shouting: "Thief! Pay me back the coins that you borrowed from me."
His friend fell at his feet, and pleaded: "Please be patient! I swear that I will repay you every last cent."
But the servant wouldn't listen, even to his friend’s begging and tears, and had the poor man dragged off to prison until he could repay the debt according to the law.
By chance, some of the king's servants witnessed this outrageous behaviour, and reported it back to the king.

Immediately, the king sent for his servant, and said: "Wicked servant. I forgave you an immense debt simply out of mercy. Couldn't you have shown similar compassion to your own friend who owed you such an insignificant sum?"
Having said this, the king handed the servant over to his prison guards, and commanded them to lock him away until all his debts had been paid. So will my heavenly Father judge you, if you refuse to forgive your own brothers and sisters from the depths of your hearts.
Do not limit your attitude of forgiveness. Are willing to forgive seven times? Seventy times seven times is more appropriate. Make peace, even with you enemies. Constant striving will lead only to greater trouble: lawsuits, courtrooms, even prison, with no way of undoing the penalty except by completing your sentence.

Do you remember the saying: an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth? I tell you the opposite. If somebody strikes you on the right cheek, offer him your left; or if someone sues you and takes your coat, offer the shirt off your back as well. If someone compels you to walk one mile, be willing to walk two. Give freely to those who ask of you, and never turn a deaf ear to those in need.

When you stand in the place of worship, do so with a heart overflowing with forgiveness, even as your Father in heaven forgives you. And should you bring an offering into the place of worship, only then remembering an unresolved disagreement, leave your gift at the altar. Go first and be reconciled, and then return to make an offering of your gift. If someone wrongs you, go and discuss it with that person in private. If they listen to you, you will have gained a friend.
Learn to practice forgiveness, and your life will be filled with mercy and grace.
 
The fruit of people's lives, will reveal the life they have chosen to live.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt has lost its power to purify, flavour and preserve, how can it be made salt again? It is worthless, except to be discarded and trampled under foot.
Do you pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from among thistles? A healthy tree cannot produce unhealthy fruit; nor does a rotten tree produce healthy fruit. Likewise, every good tree produces good fruit, and every rotten tree produces rotten fruit. The unhealthy tree is cut down and used as wood for the fire.

Once a man planted a fig tree within the walls of his vineyard. For three years he waited for it to bear fruit, but none came. At last he called the chief gardener: "Three years I have walked here, each year expecting to find fruit from this fig tree; and still it is barren. Why should it take up space on my grounds any longer? Cut it down."

To this the gardener replied: "Give the tree one more season. I will fertilize its roots and give it special attention. Perhaps then, it will bear fruit. If not, you do right in cutting it down."
When your lives bear fruit, my Father is glorified, and you are become my true disciples. From a good life flows goodness from what is stored within; while an evil life produces only barrenness.
A farmer went into the field to sow. As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside; and the birds swarmed down and ate them. Some of the seeds fell among stony places, where there was not enough earth. Here, they sprouted quickly in the shallow soil; but lacking roots, were scorched by the sun and soon withered. Some seeds fell among bramble bushes; and were choked by the thorns.

But certain of these seeds did find good earth, and these made up for the seeds that were lost, and yielded a good crop; returning a harvest that was thirty, sixty, and even one hundred times the seed that was planted.
When you hear the word of the kingdom, and fail to understand the teaching, the enemy comes and steals away the seed that is planted in the heart. This is similar to the seed that fell by the roadside.

The seed that was scattered on stony ground represents those who hear the word of God, and eagerly accept it, but have no roots of inner conviction. Their experience might last for a time; but when trouble or persecution arises resulting from their decision to follow the truth, they become discouraged and drift away

The seed that was sown among the thorn bushes represents those that hear these words, but are soon overwhelmed by the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches. The teaching is choked, and their lives become barren.
The seed that fell on good earth represents those that hear these words and understand the message they contain. Their lives will yield accordingly, an abundant harvest: thirty, sixty, and one hundred times the good that is planted within.

Health and Healing for Body and Soul
Those that are healthy do not need a doctor; but those that are ill are in need of one.
You should understand this: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but the lost to repentance. Shouldn't the sick in body, whom the devil has bound, be set free?
Is it easier to say, "Your sins are forgiven," or, "Rise and be healed"?
That you might know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive all wrongs, I announce to the sick: "Rise Up! Be of good cheer; your wrongs are forgiven. Go your way! As you have believed, so shall you receive. Your faith has made you well!"

While counting his flock of one hundred sheep, a shepherd discovered one missing. Immediately, he left the ninety-nine in the safety of the fold, and went in search of the one that was lost. And when the lost sheep was found, he carried it home in his arms, his heart filled with gladness. On the way, he called out to his friends and anyone who would listen, “Rejoice with me! This, my lost sheep, has been found.”

I tell you this truth: there is more rejoicing in heaven over one who repents, than over ninety-nine who need no repentance.
Who among you, having ten pieces of silver and losing one piece, would not light a candle, and carefully sweep the house, searching diligently until it is found?
 
When the coin is found at last, do you not call your friends and neighbours, saying: “Good news! I found the money that was lost.”
Likewise, I tell you, there is great joy in the presence of the Father and all of the angels, when one turns from their path of wrongdoing.
 
You have not chosen me. I have chosen you, and appointed you to produce good fruit from the lives that you live, fruit that will last.
A man had two sons. He said to the elder: "Son, go and work today in my vineyard."
"I will not," the son replied; but later he experienced a change of heart, and went to the fields to work.
Then the father said to the younger son: "Go into the fields as well."


Immediately he answered: "I will." But he remained at home, and ignored his father's words. Which of these two sons fulfilled their father's request?
Why do you call me good, unless you believe I am God? You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; Do not kill; Do not steal; Do not bear false witness; Honour your father and your mother. Doing this, you will have treasures in heaven. And yet, you fall short by honouring me with your words alone, and not using everything -- your wealth, your possessions, and your life -- to help those in need.


If you wish to follow me, you must first put aside your own desires and your self-centered ways. Sacrifice your pride and follow me. For those who desire eternal life must put aside their old way of life. All who do this for my sake will discover new life -- both here on earth as well as in heaven.

Once there was a king who planned the wedding of his son. When all was ready, he sent forth his servants to the provinces of his kingdom, to summon those invited to the wedding. Incredibly, the guests refused to come.
Undaunted, the king sent out his servants a second time, saying: "Tell those invited to the wedding, I have prepared a great feast. My oxen and best calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding."
But again the subjects made light of the king’s invitation and returned to their work, some to their farms, others to their shops. Some remained behind, and these took hold of the king's servants and beat them to death.
When the king learned of what had happened, he was enraged. He sent his palace soldiers into the provinces, and they caught the murderers, executed them, and burned








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"The Gothic idea that we were to look backwards instead of forwards for the improvement of the human mind, and to recur to the annals of our ancestors for what is most perfect in government, in religion and in learning, is worthy of those bigots in religion and government by whom it has been recommended, and whose purposes it would answer. But it is not an idea which this country will endure." --Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, 1800. ME 10:148
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