Paul’s letter to the sleeping dead

rise-up-o-sleeper Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible.

This is why it is said,
“Awake, O sleeper,
rise up from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.”

Living by the Spirit’s Power
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine (alcoholic drinks), because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(Bible verses are quoted from Holy Bible New Living Translation NLT Book of Ephesians 5:1-20)

Paul writes a letter today

2-corinthians-4-6Paul’s writes this letter today.
2 Corinthians 5:9-10, 14-17, 20-21, 6:1-2
Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Marks of the Ministry
6:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Paul’s Sincerity
2 Corinthians 1:12-13, 20, 24
12 For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you. 13 For we are not writing any other things to you than what you read or understand. Now I trust you will understand, even to the end.
20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God,
24 Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith you stand.
2 Corinthians 2:17
17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:3, 6, 16
3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
All Bible verse are quoted from New King James Version (NKJV)

God’s finances and fasting

keep-watchEconomists like to foretell the future. I too. But I know the human mind. We are vulnerable to innumerable variables that distract. In my two previous blogs I recorded my thoughts on Esther’s fast. I did not go through a full fast due to my long absence from practice. Indeed, taking less meals daily is an ordinary practice for Christians and non-Christians who watch their weights and it has nothing to do with the spirit. So it does not count as preparedness for Esther’s fast which asks for three days’ complete abstinence from food and drink. What happened was I managed to abstain from solid food and snacks etc. But I had to take a few cups of hot drinks and fruits just to occupy myself. So it was not a complete fast.

Coming back to what happened in the spirit. I had set my goal mainly for a financial breakthrough in discernment and investment. I have decided to be a good steward and participate by active investment in the kingdom of God advancement, through supporting a front line evangelical and discipleship focused ministry.

On the second day I could focus more and listened to two good teachings: one on praying in tongue; another on sowing in the kingdom of God using His words as seed. On the third day I started reading economics and receiving financial news that are relevant to the short term future and the next three years. Within days I received good news about the ministry receiving the grace (favor) of God in significant financial saving in terms of expenses. The favor is significant because it means a hundred-fold reduction in cost (originally budgeted rent, transport, and fees). For me this is really good news! By faith I drew out the dividends I earned in the last two years to put into my own support fund for the ministry even though it does not need the fund right now. Incidentally the dividend I received last week from an investment I made a week ago amounted to one-tenth of what I drew out to start a new ministry support fund.

What have I learned? Align with the will of God and the heart of the Father in heaven. Learn from the Holy Spirit. Believe in the words of God. Take a step of faith. Action.

When I failed to adhere to a complete fast was I condemned? No. I stayed my position as a beloved child of the Father. I continued to believe in His underserved favor for me and the ministry I am supporting. Fasting is not to make me right with God. Belief in Jesus by faith has made me right with God.

Let us read Paul’s teaching to the Christians on the role of the Holy Spirit and believing in Jesus. These two are what a believer should always focus on. Our holy and godly living come naturally after these two flow in us. What do we do to receive these? By faith we believe the words of God. Let the words of God grow deep root into our heart based on the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 3:14-21)

(Bible verse are taken from New Living Translation (NLT))
Galatians 3
2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ.
5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.
6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”[b] 7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.
9 So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised[h] Holy Spirit through faith.

Ephesians 3:14-21
Paul’s Prayer for Spiritual Growth
14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[a] 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[b] 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Footnotes:
(a) 3:14 Some manuscripts read the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(b) 3:15 Or from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.

In short, fasting makes me more focused on God and His way according to His words. I see my shortcomings in reading and understanding His words. I see the need to read the Bible like the time I first believed in Jesus. I see the urgent need to know God more. Above all, I see my position in Christ as a child of God which cannot be shaken. Once again, the verse that came to me in my spirit when I was first converted to Christ becomes a significant force in my life:

Galatians 2:20 King James Version (KJV)
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Note: It is the faith of Jesus in me. Not my faith.

Queen Esther’s fast

esther 7Queen Esther requested her people in Susa to fast for her and with her for three days, “do not eat or drink.” It means total abstinence from intake whether solid or liquid. This is a fast that demands preparation. But she issued the command without notice. It was an emergency and she had to undertake the most dangerous mission to save the Jewish population in the Empire of Persia, all the 127 provinces under Persian rule stretching from India to Ethiopia (Asia, Europe and Africa). During the peak of the Persian Empire, Jews are thought to have comprised as much as 20% of the population, and have retained their ethnic, linguistic, and religious identity.

The 473BC Persian Emperor decreed general massacre, to take place in one day, of all the Jews, and confiscation of their properties to be effective in a year time, cunningly and deceptively instigated by the powerful Persian prime minister Haman, an enemy of the Jews, meant that for a year the Jews would live in constant fear and the suffering which is well described by 19th Century persecuted Jews in Persia, “victims of renewed persecutions which awaits them with each passing day. We are subject to the scorn of our enemies who view us as defenseless and do with us whatever they like. We live every day, hour and moment of our lives in constant dread of some new tragedy which they might bring upon us. Our lives, property, honor, everything that is dear to us is at the mercy of their anger and hostility, a situation which is worse than slavery.” (From 1860 attempts were made by the Persian Jewish community to secure assistance from European Jews.)

Slavery was even viewed as more tolerable than their fate. Esther said the same to the king, “For my people and I ave been sold to those who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate us. If we had merely been sold as slaves, I could remain quiet, for that would be too trivial a matter to warrant disturbing the king.” (Esther 7:4)

When facing death, fasting is a small price to pay in terms of suffering.

The amazing thing was Esther a young 19 years old Jewish woman of humble background was made the Persian queen at 14 in a beauty contest prior to this impending calamity in 478BC. She was an orphan, obedient to her pious adopted parent (uncle Mordecai), and had acquired his pious ad faithful belief in God and God’s way. Her story revealed her to be intelligent, well educated and courageous as well as beautiful.

Coming back to her command for all Jews in Susa to fast with her, how did she know they would or could? She knew. She practiced fasting and praying herself and knew the power. She was also confident that her own people, the pious Jews had made fast and pray their own lifestyle according to the Jewish laws. Indeed, as news of the kings decree reached all the provinces, there were great mourning among the Jews. They fasted, wept, and wailed, and many people lay in burlap and ashes.(Esther 4:3) When Esther heard the news of the decree and Mordecai’s request for her risky intercession before the king, she knew the only way was the way of her people who believed in God. They would all fast and pray to God for the miraculous divine intervention and salvation.

So there was no suddenness in her command. Fasting and praying was their way of life. Did it work? History showed it worked. How did God intervene? What were the outcomes of the fasting and prayers?
1. Mordecai’s and the Jewish people’s fasting prayers resulted Esther being raised to prominence to intercede for them.
2. When together with Esther’s fast and pray they resulted in Esther filled with wisdom from above, being favored again by the king, and succeeded in destroying the enemy and his cruel annihilation scheme against the whole people of Israel. Thus, Esther received her great reward from God and from the king.

Did their fast and pray bring them prosperity in addition to their lives being spared? The king gave the humongous wealth and possessions of Haman to Queen Esther. He also made Mordecai the prime minister, a powerful position to get wealth. The king’s decree gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies. (Esther 8:11) Take note that in Susa the people took no plunder even thought they were decreed to do so if they wished.

Queen Esther’s fast worked. The Jewish race was saved. They were also given the opportunity to turn back to God. When the king gave Mordecai the pious Jew power and honor in his empire, the Jews were filled with joy and gladness and were in turn honored everywhere. They felt proud to be Jews. Many of the other people became Jews themselves, for they feared what the Jews might do to them. It was a reversal of the earlier political power position. (Esther 8:15-17)

The Hamans of the world had not stopped persecuting and hating the Jews. History has shown that even when the Jews tried assimilating into the alien racial, cultural and religious practices the enemies had not stopped their hatred, discrimination and killing. But there were also remnants of Jews who had been protected and kept safe, being preserved by respective anonymous “Esther” raised in history.

Do people still fast today like they did in the ancient times? The watchman had so far observed only one small group who kept and taught this practice. Even then, it became difficult for their members to follow through over time. God spoke through Prophet Isaiah about the kind of fasting results He wants to see:

Isaiah 58:6 “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people.

Our Lord Jesus and His disciples fasted regularly. Jesus commented on the behavior of fasting. Fasting is an inner private act of faith done by a believer before God and not before man. There is a reward from God for fasting. (Matthew 6:16-18)

Jesus said, “And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Fasting is an act of faith. Fasting is always accompanied with seeking God and drawing close to Him. The principle concerning the positive link between fasting and God’s reward has never changed.

Fasting is an act of faith. God likes to reward faith. Hebrews 11:6
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

the powerful effect of a fast

fasting effectThe watchman was prompted to fast a modified Esther’s fast for three days and thereafter four days’ Daniel’s fast. The reasons? For money. Why? The goal is to sharpen his discernment to prevent thieves (the enemy) come in to steal, kill, and destroy his investment. No, unlike what some may think, he does it not for himself. He has offered to guard and ensure funds are readily available for another’s ministry for God. This is the outcome of his recent prayers. So here he is fasting on the first day. It has been sometime since he last did the Esther’s fast, in which he fasted all food except water. Prior to this decision he did not prepare himself. So on the first day he had to modify the fast to taking a bun, a few spoons of cooked rice, and an apple. He did his normal chores just like any other normal day.

By the end of the day he was tired. Then he was prompted in his spirit to do a search on someone who is unknown and of no particular importance. He has never met and does not even know the person except as a Mr. so and so name through a woman friend. Two days ago when he knew that she was going out for a meeting with that man he remarked to her to this effect, “Beware of his possible ulterior motive concerning money.” The remark was uncalled for and most unwelcome but he felt in his spirit then he just had to make that seemingly presumptuous warning. When alerted again today in his spirit to search for that name he did not expect anything to that effect would turn up. It was the last thing on his mind. But the outcome was not surprising -the man had a past which linked to the financial matter he warned his woman friend two days ago.

This is only the first day of fast and the fast is only partial. And yet there is already an outcome. When he looks at the watchman blog he notes that an article he posted in 2012 about Esther’s powerful fast had reappeared in his top ten list today! So the fast is not a coincidence.

Fasting and praying are one of the most effective ways we stay focused on God and matters of God’s concerns. We can hear Him better and respond more accurately when we put off our flesh and follow the spirit. The watchman has done other forms of fasting regularly, like skipping one main meal and/or taking Daniel fast (light vegetable meals) for prolonged periods. But he has stopped Esther’s fast for a long time. Why? Because it is a drastic measure. When he decides to fast this time he realizes the time is desperate everywhere. This is desperate time indeed. This morning the first message that appeared on his chat board was a message predicting gloom in the economy, falling share prices and depreciating currency value. Decisions need to be made within the next period shortly.

Ideally, a Spirit filled Christian should be able to hear God and we often do or think we do. But when it comes to matters of finances and intimate relationship one just needs to be accurate, because errors will be costly. There are many variables in financial matters or in any matter of life pertaining intimate/close relationship between two persons. An economist, like a cautious and truthful medical doctor, will tell you that there is no fool-proof system that can encompass all variable factors that can determine the outcome. What we have are known factors and we acknowledge that there are factors which are not yet known.

Fasting is a spiritual weapon that helps one to uncover and confront those unknown and unseen factors with boldness and supernatural strength and wisdom from above.

In the case of Queen Esther, she boldly uncovered and confronted the arch enemy of hers and her people, the enemy who would kill, slaughter, and annihilate them. It was a direct confrontation before the king. And the king decided to favor her. What did Esther do prior to that showdown? She fasted for three days before the physical confrontation. She asked her people to fast with her and they did. She received her divine reward and the enemy was duly executed and his intended destruction of the innocent was annulled and turned against him and his gang. Esther and her people were miraculously saved.

For Esther the drastic measure of fasting achieved two things: regaining the power to control her own life (a power that ties to finances as the king sold the lives of the Jews to Haman for 10,000 large sacks of silver. Esther 3:9), and regaining the intimate favor of the king (her lawful husband). (Esther 5:2-3)

(Read the Bible book of Esther)

So encourage each other with these words.

first resurrectionWho is holy? God alone is holy-God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. The people of God are made holy by God. What will happen to the holy people?

I have done a word search and taken 22 verses with the word ‘holy’ from the Book of Revelation. The verses describe two scenarios: the holy God and His faithful people made holy by Jesus, and the unholy people under the rule of the enemy of God. There will be persecution for the holy people of God. But Jesus will come and judge and to reward. In the meantime the holy people of God must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.

Revelation 3:7 [ The Message to the Church in Philadelphia ] “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open:

Revelation 4:8 Each of these living beings had six wings, and their wings were covered all over with eyes, inside and out. Day after day and night after night they keep on saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty— the one who always was, who is, and who is still to come.”

Revelation 6:10 They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?”

Revelation 8:4 The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.

Revelation 11:2 But do not measure the outer courtyard, for it has been turned over to the nations. They will trample the holy city for 42 months.

Revelation 11:18 The nations were filled with wrath, but now the time of your wrath has come. It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants the prophets, as well as your holy people, and all who fear your name, from the least to the greatest. It is time to destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth.”

Revelation 13:7 And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation.

Revelation 13:10 Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.

Revelation 14:9-10 Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb.

Revelation 14:12 This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently, obeying his commands and maintaining their faith in Jesus.

Revelation 15:4 Who will not fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous deeds have been revealed.”

Revelation 16:5 And I heard the angel who had authority over all water saying, “You are just, O Holy One, who is and who always was, because you have sent these judgments.

Revelation 16:6 Since they shed the blood of your holy people and your prophets, you have given them blood to drink. It is their just reward.”

Revelation 17:6 I could see that she (Babylon) was drunk—drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her in complete amazement.

Revelation 18:24 In your streets flowed the blood of the prophets and of God’s holy people and the blood of people slaughtered all over the world.”

Revelation 19:8 She (the Lamb’s bride) has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.

Revelation 20:6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. (See below 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 about the first resurrection)

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

Revelation 21:10 So he took me in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and he showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.

Revelation 22:11 Let the one who is doing harm continue to do harm; let the one who is vile continue to be vile; let the one who is righteous continue to live righteously; let the one who is holy continue to be holy.”

Revelation 22:19 And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.

Revelation 22:21 May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NLT)
The Hope of the Resurrection
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died[a] so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.
15 We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died.[b] 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died[c] will rise from their graves. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. 18 So encourage each other with these words.

Footnotes:
(a) 4:13 Greek those who have fallen asleep; also in 4:14.
(b) 4:15 Greek those who have fallen asleep.
(c) 4:16 Greek the dead in Christ.

She was drunk with the blood of God’s people

revelation 17-6VOICE I looked and saw that the woman was drunk because she had gorged herself on the blood of the saints and the blood of those people who refused to deny Jesus even to save their own lives.
NLV I looked at the woman. She was drunk with the blood of God’s people and those who had been killed for telling about Jesus.
NCV Then I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people and with the blood of those who were killed because of their faith in Jesus.
GNT And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of God’s people and the blood of those who were killed because they had been loyal to Jesus.
ERV I saw that the woman was drunk. She was drunk with the blood of God’s holy people. She was drunk with the blood of those who told about their faith in Jesus.
CEV I could tell that the woman was drunk on the blood of God’s people who had given their lives for Jesus. This surprising sight amazed me,

I am led today to look up the verse in Revelation 17:6. Here is the verse in six versions. The saints are the holy people of God. The martyrs are those who have faith in Jesus, testify for Him, remain loyal to Him, have given their lives to Him, and refuse to deny Him even to the point when they are killed for their belief in Jesus.

made holy

God made you holyOur God made us holy. This is the difference between Christianity and other religions. God made us holy by means of Jesus Christ. Jesus made us holy by becoming a holy sacrifice. The words of God (the Bible, the Truth) make us holy. The Holy Spirit makes us (all people who call on the name Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.)holy. God united us with Christ Jesus, joined to Him, one Spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17) God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy. God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ.
In summary: we were chosen by God. Obeyed His words. Cleansed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Made holy by the Holy Spirit in us.

John 17:19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.

Romans 15:16 I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 1:2 I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.

1 Corinthians 1:30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.

1 Corinthians 6:11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Ephesians 1:4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Hebrews 10:10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.

Hebrews 10:14 For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

1 Peter 1:2 God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

Hebrews 10:29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.

persisting prayer

baptized with Holy SpiritHeed His call today! Be persistent in prayer.
Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for He is our God. We are the people He watches over, the flock under His care. If only you would listen to His voice today! (Psalm 95:6-7 NLT)

Today we learn what Jesus means by persistent prayer and why we need to pray persistently.
1. Keep on doing it until you receive what you need.
2. The key is in the spiritual realm.
3. Only the Holy Spirit can deliver it.
4. The persistence is for our good. Because otherwise we lose heart and fall away even though God has already given us through the Holy Spirit (in the unseen realm).
5. Note that the persistence is not because God is hard hearted or refuses to give until we have prayed long and hard.
6. It is not by our own might or power. It is by His Spirit. (Zechariah 4:6)
7. Stephen’s testimony demonstrated that only by being full of the Holy Spirit, being led by the Holy Spirit we can see God and His marvelous deeds in our lives. Spiritual blindness only leads to unbelief and loss of God’s favor.
8. Being born of the Holy Spirit is a must to see and enter God’s kingdom and living the Kingdom’s abundant lives. (John 3:3, 3:5)
9. Receiving the baptism (being filled/full) of the Holy Spirit is a must for manifesting the favor of the Lord just as Jesus did. (Luke 4:18-19)
10. Baptism with the Holy Spirit is linked to the Kingdom of God. It is not dispensable. Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:1-5; Matthew 3:11)
11. God wants us to live a holy life. The baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire should lead us wanting to live a holy life. (1 Thessalonians 4:7-8)
12. The work of the Holy Spirit is a must for our daily living as the children of God. (Romans 8:12-14)

Matthew 7:7-11
Effective Prayer
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.

Luke 11:8-13
But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.[a]
9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “You fathers—if your children ask[b] for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? 12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! 13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

Footnotes:
(a) 11:8 Or in order to avoid shame, or so his reputation won’t be damaged.
(b) 11:11 Some manuscripts add for bread, do you give them a stone? Or [if they ask].

Acts 7:48-51 (Stephen’s testimony)
However, the Most High doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. As the prophet says,
49 ‘Heaven is my throne,
and the earth is my footstool.
Could you build me a temple as good as that?’
asks the Lord.
‘Could you build me such a resting place?
50 Didn’t my hands make both heaven and earth?’[a]
51 “You stubborn people! You are heathen[b] at heart and deaf to the truth. Must you forever resist the Holy Spirit? That’s what your ancestors did, and so do you!

Footnotes:
(a) 7:49-50 Isa 66:1-2.
(b) 7:51 Greek uncircumcised.

Acts 7:55
But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. 8 Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Romans 8:12-14
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters,[a] you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. 13 For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature,[b] you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children[c] of God.

Footnotes:
(a) 8:12 Greek brothers; also in 8:29.
(b) 8:13 Greek deeds of the body.
(c) 8:14 Greek sons; also in 8:19.

Today’s prayer: the watchman’s 3 am prayer (august 22, 2016)

prayinghandsI am led to read and pray this prayer again at the dawn of today. There is an urgency for Christian to pray. The appointed time is now. Pray for your loved ones and their future. Pray for your brethren. Pray for nations. Pray for the Kingdom of God. Pray like Abraham, the father of faith! His prayer has come true in history! The outcome is not over yet. You will continue to see the positive results of the covenant God has with those who call on the name of Jesus.

Dear heavenly Father:

Today I read of the faith of Abraham. Abraham mourned and wept for Sarah who died at 127 years old, he went to buy a piece of land so he could give her a proper burial. The owner offered to give it to him free. But he said, “No, listen to me. I will buy it from you. Let me pay the full price for the field so I can bury my dead there.” So Abraham bought the plot of land for use as a permanent burial place.

Prior to this episode, Abraham heard from your angel from heaven regarding his descendants’ future, “This is what the Lord says: because you have obeyed Me and have not withheld even your only son, I swear by My own name that I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendants beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed –all because you have obeyed Me.”

Abraham was now a very old man and You have blessed him in every way. Then he sent his oldest servant to go to his homeland to find a wife for his only son (of promise).

Father, I pray You open my eyes to see why this episode about Abraham’s last lap of his faith journey was revealed today?

Please give me spiritual wisdom and insight so that I may grow in my knowledge of You.

I pray that my heart and those of my loved ones (including my brethren in the house church and all who have been led by the Holy Spirit to read this prayer) be flooded with light so that we can understand the confident hope You have given to those You called –Your holy people who are Your rich and glorious inheritance, and the rich and glorious inheritance You have given to Your holy people.

As there are so many hurting and suffering people in this world, Lord, I also pray that we (Your children, the sons and daughters of God) will understand the incredible greatness of Your power for us who believe You, the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of power and honor at Your right hand in the heavenly realms.

Your Son, Christ Jesus, has now all authority in heaven and on earth, including all realms (physical and spiritual). He is now far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else –not only in this world but also in the world to come. He has commissioned us to go and make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey all the commands that He has given us. But Lord, look at us, we are not manifesting His authority and power!

The thief has come in to steal, kill, and destroy. Your people are still being imprisoned, oppressed, and destroyed physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We are not exercising the authority and power Your Son has promised and indeed given to His disciples.

Lord, once we were dead because of our disobedience and many sins. By Your grace we have been saved. You have raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus, as vine branches united with the vine. Yes, Lord, we believe!

The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Jesus has sent His disciples to go and announce that the Kingdom of Heaven is near, heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Jesus declared clearly that He is the Healer. Power came out from Him. He healed all. The disciples did likewise as Jesus had commanded. Power came out from them and they healed just as Jesus did. As they went everywhere and preached the Good News, Your Spirit worked through them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs.

Lord, speak through us. Grant us favor from heaven as You have granted Abraham, who walked by faith, believing in the unseen, and not by sight. Open our eyes to see the spiritual heavenly realms just as Abraham had seen. He was walking so close with You that You even called him friend. He was strong in your mighty power. He could see into the spiritual realms. How else can we explain the unquestioning faith and obedience to let go of his self, and unrelenting pursuit to be separate from the rest of the world and its way (devilish wiles), even paying high costs?

Yes, Father, we want to imitate You, in everything we do, because we are Your dear children. We want to live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. We want to live by the power of the Holy Spirit. We want to be strong in You and in Your mighty power, so that we may be able to stand firm against the strategies of the devil. Help us to put on every piece of Your armor and stand our ground.

O, Spirit of Christ, help us in this hour of our weakness. For we do not know what to pray as we ought. Intercede for us with groaning too deep for words. Help us to set our minds, like Abraham did, on the things of the Spirit, walking according to the Spirit, receiving Your life and peace.

Father, we thank you for You have poured Your love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. You called Abraham friend. Jesus had called His disciples friends. And now, we are called Your children. You have given us the Holy Spirit who bears witness with our spirits that we are Your children.

By Your Spirit, we are led as Your children. And we now cry, “Abba, Father!” Thank You, Abba Father, for hearing my prayer.

In Jesus name, I pray.

Jesus and the Father in heaven

John 5-36On Sunday (Today Christian equivalent to Jewish Sabbath-Saturday) Jesus performed a miracle and healed a man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. The Jewish leaders objected to the miracle because it happened on their traditional rest day. Jesus further revealed that He is the Son of God who can override all the traditions of man. Thus the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to kill Him. So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.Let us compare the religious leaders at that time with Jesus.

The religious leaders were not interested in the miraculous healing of a man who had been sick for thirty-eight years.
They were only concerned with the loss of their own authority and control through the Law of Moses and their added traditions.
They did not care whether their religion or tradition brought lives and healing to the suffering people.
They did not have an accurate knowledge of the God whom they claimed to worship.
They did not have a relationship with the spiritual God.
They were merely using God’s name to perpetuate their own self-importance through exercising their religious authority.
They felt threatened by Jesus because Jesus had all that they wanted but could not have: real spiritual relationship with God, authority and power from God, and a genuine love from God.

Jesus explained to them why he had what they wanted but they did not have:
Jesus is the Son of God.
He has a close relationship with His Father in heaven.
He only does God’s will: Whatever God does, Jesus also does.
This miraculous healing of a man who had suffered for thirty eight years (and daily placed in a location right in front of the religious leaders and they could not do anything about his sickness) is no big deal to Jesus.
There are bigger miracles Jesus can do: Raising the dead. Giving life. Absolute authority to judge the living and the dead. Give eternal life.

Jesus also told them who would qualify to receive eternal life:
“I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)

today’s reading is from: John 5

Jesus and His brothers

John71617The world can’t hate you, you go on to this festival of Shelters. Jesus replied His brothers. For even His worldly brothers didn’t believe in Him at that time. He was traveling around Galilee to stay out of Judea where the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Him. His brothers told Him to leave and go to Judea, “where your followers can see your miracles!” They knew and had seen His supernatural power but they were not His followers. They wanted Him to show off the physical power He could display. They further said, “You can’t become famous if you hide like this!” They wanted him to become famous in their world. Judea was the centre of religious and political activities as people went there yearly for various national festivals. The ‘who is who’ would all be there, people of political/social/economic power, wealth and influential connection. They also said (obviously with unbelief), “If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!”

What makes a person believe in Jesus? Even His brothers did not believe, who can believe? This is the question today.

Jesus told us the answer in John 7:17 “Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether My teaching is from God or is merely My own.”

Anyone can believe.
The condition in your heart must be right and ready. You really want to do the will of God.
Believing in Jesus is the will of God. (John 6:29, 39-40)
You will be given the discernment from God to know that Jesus is the One who comes from God and is speaking to you God’s message for you.
Anyone who is thirsty for God. (John 7:37)
Anyone who loves God will love Jesus. (John 8:42)
Everyone who listens to the Father (God) and learns from Him comes to Jesus. (John 6:45)

CHAPTER 20: BEWARE OF THE JERUSALEM SERPENT WELL; DUNG/REFUSE GATE

relevant today!

AAA Jack's watchman notes

Religion Blogs

Nehemiah 2:13 “And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the  Dung Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.”

Lately, the watchman is interested in why many Christians are weak, succumbs to sickness and live in defeat and fears. He reads that the Dung Gate describes how in practice the defilement in our bodies and minds should be rooted out and burn. Through the Dung Gate, trashes were taken out of Jerusalem, to a valley of Hinnom, where smelly, rotten and disease infested trashes were burnt. The Dung Gate spiritual meaning is that sin, like trashes, could defile and destroy our physical and mental being and must be cast out and burn.

Jesus described about how a person could be defiled in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of…

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to him I will give power over the nations

Revelation 2
Revelation 2:26

“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power ove the nations-“
The Message to the Church in Ephesus
“Write this letter to the angel[a] of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:

2 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3 You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first![b] 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. 6 But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do.

7 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

The Message to the Church in Smyrna
8 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:

9 “I know about your suffering and your poverty—but you are rich! I know the blasphemy of those opposing you. They say they are Jews, but they are not, because their synagogue belongs to Satan. 10 Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. The devil will throw some of you into prison to test you. You will suffer for ten days. But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life.

11 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. Whoever is victorious will not be harmed by the second death.

The Message to the Church in Pergamum
12 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Pergamum. This is the message from the one with the sharp two-edged sword:

13 “I know that you live in the city where Satan has his throne, yet you have remained loyal to me. You refused to deny me even when Antipas, my faithful witness, was martyred among you there in Satan’s city.

14 “But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. 15 In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching. 16 Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.

The Message to the Church in Thyatira
18 “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Thyatira. This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze:

19 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.

20 “But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.

22 “Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering,[c] and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.

24 “But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually). I will ask nothing more of you 25 except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come. 26 To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end,

To them I will give authority over all the nations.
27 They will rule the nations with an iron rod
and smash them like clay pots.[d]
28 They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!

29 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.

Footnotes:

2:1 Or the messenger; also in 2:8, 12, 18.
2:4 Greek You have lost your first love.
2:22 Greek a bed.
2:26-27 Ps 2:8-9 (Greek version).

The above passage is quoted from: The Holy Bible, Revelation 2 New Living Translation (NLT)

Jesus talks about hate crime

Jesus the Son of God
Jesus, God’s beloved Son

Jesus talks about the hate crime against Him and His followers. “The world does hate me because I accuse it of doing evil.”

Here is a summary of what Jesus has said about hate crime against Him and Christians:
The world hates Jesus.
Anyone who hates Jesus also hates God.
It hates Jesus because He accuses it of doing evil.
The devil does evil things.
The devil is a murderer from the beginning.
The devil has always hated the truth.
Because there is no truth in the devil.
When the devil lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
His children love to do the evil things he does.
All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.
The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it.
If the world hates you, remember that it hated Jesus first.
But the followers of Jesus are no longer part of the world. Jesus chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.
Jesus has given them you God’s word. And the world hates you because you do not belong to the world, just as Jesus does not belong to the world. Those who hear God’s words, receive and believe, are separated from the evil world. God’s words are truth and light. The world hates truth and light. God is truth and light. Jesus is the truth and the light.
Those who love God will not love money. No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.
Jesus said, “And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.”

Why does the devil hate Jesus? Jealousy. Here are some classic examples of how jealousy can cause hatred and murder.

The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but He did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry…and while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. Genesis 4
Esau hated Jacob because their father had given Jacob the blessing. And Esau began to scheme: “I will soon be mourning my father’s death. Then I will kill my brother, Jacob.” Genesis 27
But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him. His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. Genesis 37

Was God unjust in favoring Abel, Jacob and Joseph?
Here is what God says about His standard of holiness and reason:
Let us look at the case of Abel and Cain, which is the classic case representing all mankind, the division of two groups: those who follow and obey God, and those who follow and obey the devil.

“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. but you must subdue it and be its master.” Genesis 4:7
It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed His approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith. Hebrews 11:4

What did Abel give as an offering and why did it meet God’s requirement? Genesis 4:4
When it was time for the harvest, Abel brought the best of the first born lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift.
We note two things that must meet God’s requirements: the person who gives and the gift itself. God accepted both Abel and his gift, the best of his first born lambs. How did Abel know about God and His requirement? God had shown Adam. Adam had taught his two sons, Cain and Abel. But Abel obeyed and Cain disobeyed.

The lamb represents Jesus. The redemptive symbol and spiritual implication.
Without Jesus the Lamb of God, human race will perish forever, forever cut off from the holy God.
Sin is the number one enemy that blocks man from God.
Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
Jesus shed His blood to redeem human race from sins and the penalty of sins.
Abel became a righteous man because of his obedience to God’s holy standard, by an act of faith, offering an acceptable sacrifice. God’s holy standard has never changed. God does not change. That is why He sent His Son Jesus who is without sin to die as the Lamb of God.

John the Baptist witnessed that Jesus is the Lamb of God -the Son of God:
When he saw Jesus coming toward him he said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (26-34) “The Father loves His Son and has put everything into His hands. And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgement.” John 3:35-36 (27-36)

God witnessed that Jesus is His beloved Son:
“This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy.” Matthew 3:17
“This is My dearly loved Son, who brings Me great joy. Listen to Him.” Matthew 17:5
“You are My dearly loved Son, and you being Me great joy.” Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22
“This is My Son, My Chosen One. Listen to Him.” Luke 9:35
“This is My dearly loved Son. Listen to Him.” Mark 9:7

The Apostle’s testimony: 2 Peter 1:16-18 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes 17 when he received honor and glory from God the Father. The voice from the majestic glory of God said to him, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”[a] 18 We ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.
Footnotes:
a.1:17 Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35.

He faithfully reported everything he saw

Revelation 1
Revelation 1

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.

Revelation 1 New Living Translation (NLT)
Prologue

1 This is a revelation from[a] Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants the events that must soon[b] take place. He sent an angel to present this revelation to his servant John, 2 who faithfully reported everything he saw. This is his report of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.

3 God blesses the one who reads the words of this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to its message and obey what it says, for the time is near.
John’s Greeting to the Seven Churches

4 This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia.[c]

Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit[d] before his throne; 5 and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world.

All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. 6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

7
Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven.
And everyone will see him—
even those who pierced him.
And all the nations of the world
will mourn for him.
Yes! Amen!

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,”[e] says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”
Vision of the Son of Man

9 I, John, am your brother and your partner in suffering and in God’s Kingdom and in the patient endurance to which Jesus calls us. I was exiled to the island of Patmos for preaching the word of God and for my testimony about Jesus. 10 It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit.[f] Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. 11 It said, “Write in a book[g] everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”

12 When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. 13 And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man.[h] He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. 14 His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. 15 His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. 16 He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave.[i]

19 “Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen.[j] 20 This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels[k] of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
Footnotes:

1:1a Or of.
1:1b Or suddenly, or quickly.
1:4a Asia was a Roman province in what is now western Turkey.
1:4b Greek the seven spirits.
1:8 Greek I am the Alpha and the Omega, referring to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
1:10 Or in spirit.
1:11 Or on a scroll.
1:13 Or like a son of man. See Dan 7:13. “Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself.
1:18 Greek and Hades.
1:19 Or what you have seen and what they mean—the things that have already begun to happen.
1:20 Or the messengers.

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”

writing on wall2The watchman hears today. This a valley of decision now for the nations (states) which are gathered together to vote. Are they electing a Persian King like King Cyrus the Great, or a Babylonian king like King Belshazzar who would see the writing on the wall? (His kingdom fell overnight and Babylon was no more!)Read Daniel 5 for “Writing on the Wall”. Either you are with Cyrus the Great who protected God’s people and rebuilt the Temple of God, or you just wait for the writing on the wall to appear on your wall.

Daniel 5:25 “This is the inscription that was written:
mene, mene, tekel, parsin
26 “Here is what these words mean:
Mene[e]: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel[f]: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres[g]: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

Isaiah 1 New International Version (NIV)
1 The vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
A Rebellious Nation

2
Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!
For the Lord has spoken:
“I reared children and brought them up,
but they have rebelled against me.
3
The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

4
Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

5
Why should you be beaten anymore?
Why do you persist in rebellion?
Your whole head is injured,
your whole heart afflicted.
6
From the sole of your foot to the top of your head
there is no soundness—
only wounds and welts
and open sores,
not cleansed or bandaged
or soothed with olive oil.

7
Your country is desolate,
your cities burned with fire;
your fields are being stripped by foreigners
right before you,
laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.
8
Daughter Zion is left
like a shelter in a vineyard,
like a hut in a cucumber field,
like a city under siege.
9
Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us some survivors,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah.

10
Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the instruction of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
11
“The multitude of your sacrifices—
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12
When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
13
Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14
Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15
When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.

Your hands are full of blood!

16
Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.[a]
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

18
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
19
If you are willing and obedient,
you will eat the good things of the land;
20
but if you resist and rebel,
you will be devoured by the sword.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

21
See how the faithful city
has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
righteousness used to dwell in her—
but now murderers!
22
Your silver has become dross,
your choice wine is diluted with water.
23
Your rulers are rebels,
partners with thieves;
they all love bribes
and chase after gifts.
They do not defend the cause of the fatherless;
the widow’s case does not come before them.

24
Therefore the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
the Mighty One of Israel, declares:
“Ah! I will vent my wrath on my foes
and avenge myself on my enemies.
25
I will turn my hand against you;[b]
I will thoroughly purge away your dross
and remove all your impurities.
26
I will restore your leaders as in days of old,
your rulers as at the beginning.
Afterward you will be called
the City of Righteousness,
the Faithful City.”

27
Zion will be delivered with justice,
her penitent ones with righteousness.
28
But rebels and sinners will both be broken,
and those who forsake the Lord will perish.

29
“You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks
in which you have delighted;
you will be disgraced because of the gardens
that you have chosen.
30
You will be like an oak with fading leaves,
like a garden without water.
31
The mighty man will become tinder
and his work a spark;
both will burn together,
with no one to quench the fire.”
Footnotes:

Isaiah 1:17 Or justice. / Correct the oppressor
Isaiah 1:25 That is, against Jerusalem

three kings of Persia (3)

favour-grace-and-mercyThe third king of Persia who made a significant impact on God’s people was Artaxerxes I (Longimanus) who reigned during the period 465-424BC.(Ezr.7:1,21-26; Ne.2:1-8) He appointed Ezra as the secretary of state for Jewish affairs (in today’s language). He trusted and favored Ezra so much that he gave him everything he asked for. He wanted to beautify the Temple of God in Jerusalem and also make sure the priests and Levites there were carrying the worship correctly. So he listened to Ezra’s advice and sent Ezra to Jerusalem in 458BC with all the resources Ezra needed. He paid for all expenses to re-establish the proper Temple worship and sacrifices. He also gave Ezra authority to ensure compulsory religious education of the people of God (teaching them the Law of Moses) and their due compliance with the Law. He decreed that those who refuse to obey the Law of Ezra’s God and the law of the king would be punished immediately, “either by death, punishment, confiscation of goods or imprisonment.” He honored God and favored God’s servants-gave those who served God tax free status!

Here is a prayer of Ezra, praising God for the favor from God and from the king:
Ezra 7:27-28 New Living Translation (NLT)
Ezra Praises the Lord
27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem.

Thirteen years later, the same Persian king listened to another trusted Jewish official in his court, Nehemiah, allowed him to go back to Jerusalem in 445BC to re-build the wall of Jerusalem so the enemies would not be able to continue to harass the people of Israel and interrupt the Temple worship.

From these Biblical records we can see that king Artaxerxes I knew the two officials well, trusted them, acknowledged their godly wisdom, moral integrity, professional ability and leadership quality. History had proven that king Artaxerxes’ judgment was right in employing and granting favor to these two great men of God! Both men of God were not ambitious or greedy for gains for themselves. They served God faithfully, served the king with integrity,  and capability for the respective task assigned. They truly loved God and loved the people of God. Upon completion of their respective specific assignment they returned to their own previous posts in the Persian Empire working close to the king and continuing to counsel him wisely. In today’s language, this is a win-win situation when both parties work together with integrity, justice, and honor  for one another, sharing the ultimate reverential fear of the Almighty Holy God of Heaven.

three kings of Persia (2)

4decreesDarius I, the Great, was the third king after Cyrus II, the Great, and reigned in Persia for the period 522-486BC. During his entire reign, the governor of the region beyond the River, and Shethar-Boznai, and his companions, the Persians who were in the region beyond the River, were against the re-building of the Temple of God in Jerusalem. They bribed agents to work against the them and to frustrate their plans.

In 520BC the governor’s letter of complaint went to his superior, the satrap who had charge of Babylon and the country west of the Euphrates, no records of the decree of Cyrus II instructing the re-building were found among the archives kept at Babylon. However, a further search found the memorandum at Ecbatana, where Cyrus had resided. Darius I confirmed this decree and ordered his officials to help the Jews.

Darius I reorganized the satrapies. His system of military commanders, introduction of coinage, legal and postal systems lasted as long as the empire of Persia. These facilities and the autonomy allowed to the subject people contributed to the stability of the empire. Under such a system the small community of Jews in Judah (only 42,360 people returned to Judah in response to the Persian king’s decree) was sustained. Jewish officers were appointed to govern them.

We can see how God had preserved the people of Israel in history. Indeed, during the entire period of re-building of the Temple and later the wall, the enemies of the Jews were harassing and threatening them. But God had raised powerful foreign kings to grant the people of God justice, favor and protection. All these fulfilled the promises of God spoken through the prophets of God long before they actually happened.

Indeed, by granting favor to the people of Israel, the Persian kings too continued to sustain their power and considerable prosperity. The Persian Empire which was established by Cyrus the Great lasted from 559BC to 651AD (interrupted by Moslem conquest). The main religion of ancient Persia was Zoroastrianism, but after the seventh century, it was replaced by Islam.