Luke 6:9 New Living Translation (NLT)
9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”
25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.
Great read for today! Nehemiah is the man for today. I am led in my spirit to read Chapter three. It’s full of names but the Spirit of the Lord has given a succinct description to each of them. No detail is left out in the heavenly record.
The topic of the day is rebuilding. But if you read closely you find that many builders (families and groups of interested parties/professionals who lived and/or worked inside Jerusalem actually) were needed to do repairs on their own home ground and the walls/their defense system would be as good as new! Awesome!
Reformation and restoration may sound too big and perhaps too difficult and time consuming for the remnant and handful of people who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild their home. But all Nehemiah (signifying the Holy Spirit) asked them to do was to repair and rebuild if needed the portion nearest their own home and make sure it could withstand the attack and invasion of the vicious and constantly taunting and threatening enemies out there.
This brilliant Holy Spirit led strategy worked perfectly. The spiritually significant wall which surrounded and enabled safe conduct, effective and rewarding operation and fulfillment of God’s plan, for God’s Temple (their place of worship), the whole chosen community’s thriving and sustaining as a royal, holy and special nation, including the governing and law enforcement authorities, professionals and businesses, families and households in Jerusalem operate as a united entity within God’s kingdom was completed within 52 days!
Nehemiah 3 New Living Translation (NLT) (descriptions of the builders with red color)
Rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem
3 Then Eliashib the high priest and the other priests started to rebuild at the Sheep Gate. They dedicated it and set up its doors, building the wall as far as the Tower of the Hundred, which they dedicated, and the Tower of Hananel. 2 People from the town of Jericho worked next to them, and beyond them was Zaccur son of Imri.
3 The Fish Gate was built by the sons of Hassenaah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. 4 Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz repaired the next section of wall. Beside him were Meshullam son of Berekiah and grandson of Meshezabel, and then Zadok son of Baana. 5 Next were the people from Tekoa, though their leaders refused to work with the construction supervisors.
6 The Old City Gate[a] was repaired by Joiada son of Paseah and Meshullam son of Besodeiah. They laid the beams, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. 7 Next to them were Melatiah from Gibeon, Jadon from Meronoth, people from Gibeon, and people from Mizpah, the headquarters of the governor of the province west of the Euphrates River.[b] 8 Next was Uzziel son of Harhaiah, a goldsmith by trade, who also worked on the wall. Beyond him was Hananiah, a manufacturer of perfumes. They left out a section of Jerusalem as they built the Broad Wall.[c]
9 Rephaiah son of Hur, the leader of half the district of Jerusalem, was next to them on the wall. 10 Next Jedaiah son of Harumaph repaired the wall across from his own house, and next to him was Hattush son of Hashabneiah. 11 Then came Malkijah son of Harim and Hasshub son of Pahath-moab, who repaired another section of the wall and the Tower of the Ovens. 12 Shallum son of Hallohesh and his daughters repaired the next section. He was the leader of the other half of the district of Jerusalem.
13 The Valley Gate was repaired by the people from Zanoah, led by Hanun. They set up its doors and installed its bolts and bars. They also repaired the 1,500 feet[d] of wall to the Dung Gate.
14 The Dung Gate was repaired by Malkijah son of Recab, the leader of the Beth-hakkerem district. He rebuilt it, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars.
15 The Fountain Gate was repaired by Shallum[e] son of Col-hozeh, the leader of the Mizpah district. He rebuilt it, roofed it, set up its doors, and installed its bolts and bars. Then he repaired the wall of the pool of Siloam[f] near the king’s garden, and he rebuilt the wall as far as the stairs that descend from the City of David. 16 Next to him was Nehemiah son of Azbuk, the leader of half the district of Beth-zur. He rebuilt the wall from a place across from the tombs of David’s family as far as the water reservoir and the House of the Warriors.
17 Next to him, repairs were made by a group of Levites working under the supervision of Rehum son of Bani. Then came Hashabiah, the leader of half the district of Keilah, who supervised the building of the wall on behalf of his own district. 18 Next down the line were his countrymen led by Binnui[g] son of Henadad, the leader of the other half of the district of Keilah.
19 Next to them, Ezer son of Jeshua, the leader of Mizpah, repaired another section of wall across from the ascent to the armory near the angle in the wall. 20 Next to him was Baruch son of Zabbai, who zealously repaired an additional section from the angle to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest. 21 Meremoth son of Uriah and grandson of Hakkoz rebuilt another section of the wall extending from the door of Eliashib’s house to the end of the house.
22 The next repairs were made by the priests from the surrounding region. 23 After them, Benjamin and Hasshub repaired the section across from their house, and Azariah son of Maaseiah and grandson of Ananiah repaired the section across from his house. 24 Next was Binnui son of Henadad, who rebuilt another section of the wall from Azariah’s house to the angle and the corner. 25 Palal son of Uzai carried on the work from a point opposite the angle and the tower that projects up from the king’s upper house beside the court of the guard. Next to him were Pedaiah son of Parosh, 26 with the Temple servants living on the hill of Ophel, who repaired the wall as far as a point across from the Water Gate to the east and the projecting tower. 27 Then came the people of Tekoa, who repaired another section across from the great projecting tower and over to the wall of Ophel.
28 Above the Horse Gate, the priests repaired the wall. Each one repaired the section immediately across from his own house. 29 Next Zadok son of Immer also rebuilt the wall across from his own house, and beyond him was Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the gatekeeper of the East Gate. 30 Next Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun, the sixth son of Zalaph, repaired another section, while Meshullam son of Berekiah rebuilt the wall across from where he lived. 31 Malkijah, one of the goldsmiths, repaired the wall as far as the housing for the Temple servants and merchants, across from the Inspection Gate. Then he continued as far as the upper room at the corner. 32 The other goldsmiths and merchants repaired the wall from that corner to the Sheep Gate.
3:6 Or The Mishneh Gate, or The Jeshanah Gate.
3:7 Hebrew the province beyond the river.
3:8 Or They fortified Jerusalem up to the Broad Wall.
3:13 Hebrew 1,000 cubits [460 meters].
3:15a As in Syriac version; Hebrew reads Shallun.
3:15b Hebrew pool of Shelah, another name for the pool of Siloam.
3:18 As in a few Hebrew manuscripts, some Greek manuscripts, and Syriac version (see also 3:24; 10:9); most Hebrew manuscripts read Bavvai.
Jesus told the parable to show how jealousy and greed cannot be concealed and can ruin a person. His adversaries are driven by greed and are insanely jealous of Him. They (the religious and political leaders) have been there a long time. They have institutionalized themselves as the only authoritative governing voice for the nation (social, cultural, education, economic, religious and political). Jesus is not one of them. So how dare He now take the lead in all fields of the nation, with countless more followers from the grassroots than them (over their whole lifetime) in a mere short three years?
While Jesus is following God’s will, doing all the good deeds feeding the poor, genuinely caring loving those upon whom the society looks down, healing the sick, setting the captives/oppressed free, his adversaries are plotting to kill him.
Today we read what happened to Jesus. Because Jesus said that the same will happen to His followers (disciples). Matthew recorded many teachings of Jesus which depicted everyday lives. They are timeless. Human heart and nature have not changed. Matthew 20:1-17 tells us the scene in the marketplace (employment agency) on one ordinary day. An employer (God) employs workers at different intervals and pays each one the same wage he has committed. But those who think that they deserve more just because they have been in employment longer become angry and indignant. They try to incite a revolt against the employer. But the employer tells them off. He is honoring his part of the employment agreement. But these protestors/revolters are not. They have forgotten or conveniently ignored the agreement. Why?
Jesus gave the reason why in His life. 13 “He answered one of…
WHO IS JESUS? We continue to read Luke. In chapter 5 we see that Jesus is concerned with the depth and not the shallow.
An encounter with Jesus means an encounter that stirs the deepest part of our soul. Peter feels it and he fells down before Jesus, discarding all his professional pride and social esteem as a well proficient experienced fishing leader.
An encounter with Jesus results in both outer and inner healing and restoration to wholeness, body, soul and spirit. One’s sickness is healed, conscience cleansed, sin forgiven. Indeed, Jesus gives every believer a new birth, born again by the Spirit of God.
An encounter with Jesus exposes and separates the superficial traditional religious formality and the real worship in spirit and in truth in a person’s efforts to please God.
The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to us in God’s words: launch out into the deep.
We need to be beware of the spirit that twists other’s words and distorts their original meaning and purpose. We pray for discerning spiritual gift so we know and can be accurate and clear in sending and receiving communication especially with people close to us and our coworkers.
In Jesus name we command clarity and accuracy in our thoughts and words spoken and otherwise in all forms of communication for ourselves and our family and loved ones and even our nation. Amen
[ Meditate on These Things ] Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
After writing my previous blog on renewal of my prayer and worship life by emulating those missionaries who focus on staying and soaking in the presence of the Lord, I experienced some significant (to me) changes. Here is what happened today.
I had to accompany some guests to a shopping mall for a birthday teen to buy her present. Having waited a long time (like two hours) in some clothes shops, I suggested we walk back to the first one she visited. While waiting on a bench in front of a clothes shop, I noticed a tiny girl in a wheel chair. She seemed tired and making some sounds. Her dad sat next to me. The passers by tried looking in other directions so as not to make his situation more difficult. But I was led in my spirit to start a conversation with him. He told me she is his second daughter, fifteen years old. She has the body and stature of a very young child. He told me she was operated three times, and had chemotherapy for brain tumor at three years old. The treatment affected her bone marrow and stunted her growth. She is now on hormone treatment to help her growth. He told me his three children’s names and their meanings (sun, star, and light). The girl is named after a star. I told him I am a Christian who believes that our God heals, and asked him whether he believes in divine healing and miracles. He said yes. He said he is open to all religions and agreed that I could pray for her. So I shared with him about Jesus and that Jesus saves and heals. Then I prayed for his second daughter. She voluntarily stretched her hands to me and held my hands as I spoke to her, prayed and blessed her.
I told her she has a beautiful name and I thanked our God for creating beautiful things like the sun, the stars and light. She brightened up and smiled. By faith I spoke to the body to be restored to God’s original beautiful creation and design.
After that the dad told me he believes this is not a chance meeting. He is not local. He drove from another town with his family today to visit the eldest daughter who studies in a college here. He was waiting for his wife and eldest daughter who were also shopping in the same shop my guests were shopping. The newly renovated and expanded mall is huge and there are many beautiful branded clothes shops. He said he believed God had arranged this meeting. I too believe the same. After coming out of two other more trendy shops for youngsters with empty hands, I suggested to the teen to return to this particular shop as its name came to my mind for no reason. While the birthday girl and her entourage were giving this more classic shop another try I saw this man and his daughter sitting next to me. This is not a chance meeting. I agree.
This incident confirms to me that going to the secret place of the Father in heaven through prayer and worship opens a new realm of spiritual reality on earth. Where I currently reside, people do not normally go around talking to strangers, volunteering to pray for healing. But this watchman has been convicted to do something that makes a difference, regardless of how the gathering crowd may view or comment. What matters is that the Lord has answered prayers. The prayer of the watchman to be led deeper into the Holy Spirit river of healing and wonders, and the cry of a father to help his daughter. He has waited for twelve years for a breakthrough. His waiting has not been in vain. She can walk, but she needs further strengthening, he said. She also attends a normal school. I pray he and his child will continue to walk by faith, love, and hope.
Here is the assurance from our Lord Jesus:
Mark 5:36, 40-42 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
36 [a]Overhearing but ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing.
40 And they (others) laughed and [a]jeered at Him. But He put them all out, and, taking the child’s father and mother and those who were with Him, He went in where the little girl was lying.
41 Gripping her [firmly] by the hand, He said to her, Talitha cumi—which translated is, Little girl, I say to you, arise [[b]from the sleep of death]!
42 And instantly the girl got up and started walking around—for she was twelve years old. And they were utterly astonished and overcome with amazement.
Mark 5:36 Some manuscripts so read.
Mark 5:40 G. Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon.
Mark 5:41 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
Hebrews 7:25 AMPC
Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them.
Ezekiel 47 (Quoted in parts)
8 Then he said to me, These waters pour out toward the eastern region and go down into the Arabah (the Jordan Valley) and on into the Dead Sea. And when they shall enter into the sea [the sea of putrid waters], the waters shall be healed and made fresh.
9 And wherever the double river shall go, every living creature which swarms shall live. And there shall be a very great number of fish, because these waters go there that [the waters of the sea] may be healed and made fresh; and everything shall live wherever the river goes.
12 And on the banks of the river on both its sides, there shall grow all kinds of trees for food; their leaf shall not fade nor shall their fruit fail [to meet the demand]. Each tree shall bring forth new fruit every month, [these supernatural qualities being] because their waters came from out of the sanctuary. And their fruit shall be for food and their leaves for healing.
I ask the Lord to reveal to me Biblical models to emulate.I have been led to read two related passages: Romans 15-16 and Acts 27-28, to learn Paul’s way of conducting his relationship and interactions with others: his friends (brothers and sisters in Christ with whom he stayed in contact through correspondence) and others (Roman officials and soldiers, sailors and crew of ship, fellow travelers/prisoners on board, and island people in needs).
Here are my notes on the testimony of Paul as revealed in the book of Romans chapters 15-16 and Acts chapters 27-28.
1. He walks in transparency with the Lord closely and listens to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit tells him things to come. Thus he can use his spiritual gift of words of knowledge and words of wisdom to counsel others.
2. He keeps abreast with his friends and brethren in Christ, and sustains a close relationship even from a geographical distance and despite the relatively primitive mode of communication (one thousand years ago).
3. He truly values their friendship and keeps them in constant prayers.
4. Their good and genuine relationship is mutual as they keep him in their prayers too and supply his physical needs. They do not forsake him even when he is under house arrest.
5. His relationship with the non-believers demonstrates what Jesus did: Fearlessness, boldness and courage, firmness with speaking the truth about God and His Kingdom, spiritual authority and power, practical wisdom as appropriate, kindness and compassion for their physical needs and welfare.
6. Paul lives his words.
7. He testifies to them the greatness and faithfulness of the God he serves.
8. He demonstrates the awesome power of God (the Holy Spirit) in his accurate prophecy/forecast regarding the storm, the danger, the fate of the ship and the people on board. He also demonstrates the power and compassion of God in ministering to the needs of the people on board and the people on the island.
9. He focuses on his mission of preaching the Good News of the Gospel of grace and building up the churches (believers). He is transparent in his relationship and interactions with the believers. He also shows that he is a man of integrity to the non-believers.
10. He knows the supernatural God, believes in the revealed truth about Jesus Christ, is passionate to witness Him, walks in the power of the Holy Spirit and is confidence of what he preaches and teaches.
In sum, Paul has the indwelling Spirit of the Lord as described by Isaiah (in a prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 11:2): The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
I quote below some passages from the above four chapters. Please read the whole chapters on your own. I pray you receive your revelation too!
A letter from Paul to the church (Christians) in Roman
(Note the positive way Paul shares his thoughts and exhortation with christians treating them as his his good friends)
Romans 15 New King James Version (NKJV)
Bearing Others’ Burdens
15 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves…5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God…
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God,…
24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints…
29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,…32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you…
In Chapter 16 Paul further displays through his positive commendations, his detailed knowledge of and close relationship with a whole list of Christians in Rome. When later he arrived at Rome as a Roman prisoner, they came out to greet him and supported him spiritually and physically as only good friends would dare to do.
Acts 27-28 (excerpts quoted) described how Paul interacted with others while he was under the custody of the Roman officials. We also read how God had provided for him protections and supplies through various people, believers and non-believers.
27:7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed,…
9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous…Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” 11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.
20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.
21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.”
…30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, …31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.
33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship.
39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; …but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.
42 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, …And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.
28:7 In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. 10 They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.
11 After three months we sailed…14 where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. 15 And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him…
30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.
I asked the Lord fresh words for this blog and perceived a verse: 1 Timothy 3:16 which talks about Godliness (Christlikeness) of/from Jesus. Both the apostles Paul and Peter told us to be godly. I quote below some related verses (red letters added by me). Note that godliness is associated with other characteristics: perfection (maturity in mind and character), virtue, integrity, righteousness, reverence, seriousness, faith, love, patience, gentleness of heart, contentment (inward sufficiency), knowledge, self-control, brotherly affection and Christian love.
Paul reminded Timothy that godliness requires training like he did physical exercises! It is not difficult, based on the assurance given by apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:1-4). Godliness promises great and abundant gain for this present life and the life to come! This is certainly good news!
Summary: Godliness is of divine nature. By the faith that God has given us in Jesus, through the divine power of the Holy Spirit, we get to know God and Jesus, and partake this godly nature.
1 Timothy 3:16 And great and important and weighty, we confess, is the hidden truth (the mystic secret) of godliness. He [God] was made visible in human flesh, justified and vindicated in the [Holy] Spirit, was seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, [and] taken up in glory.
The same passage 1 Timothy 3:16 from The Message Bible:
…This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough: He appeared in a human body, was proved right by the invisible Spirit, was seen by angels. He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples, believed in all over the world, taken up into heavenly glory.
Some passages on godliness from the New Testament:
Matthew 5:48 You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect.
1 Timothy 2:2 For kings and all who are in positions of authority or high responsibility, that [outwardly] we may pass a quiet and undisturbed life [and inwardly] a peaceable one in all godliness and reverence and seriousness in every way.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 But refuse and avoid irreverent legends (profane and impure and godless fictions, mere grandmothers’ tales) and silly myths, and express your disapproval of them. Train yourself toward godliness (piety), [keeping yourself spiritually fit]. For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come.
1 Timothy 6:6 [And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain.
1 Timothy 6:11 But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christlike), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart.
2 Peter 1:6-7 And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety), And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.
2 Peter 1:1-4 New King James Version (NKJV)
Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
watch Discussing and advising my young nephew of the current ongoing untruthfulness in the reporting and editorial realm which was once so highly regarded by the civilized world, because he asks why I no longer read or watch or listen to most main-stream news-media, I realize how limited and yet how wide a man has in terms of choices of news/information due to technology. I tell him I subscribe to and read only technical, financial, scientific discovery, medical breakthrough etc. kind of info-news these days. No mainline generalists’ ‘intellectual’ dissertation. They have nothing for us. I told this eager young man who is of the generation as yet unspoiled and on whom we hope to raise leaders of a better future. Why? He asks. I reply, “Those men are trying to be God or judges. They are not.” My generation is sick and tired of those who smear and slander just to get a higher readership/viewership or advertisement rating. I advise the young man to caution his peers not to click or visit any web sites unless they are sure there are specific verifiable positive information there. Don’t ever add a click or a view to encourage more untruths to be churned out. I advise him that if all Christians in this world start being careful and discerning in what we choose to view or click, the impact of drop in viewership would be so significant that many would hesitate and think twice before they pen/type future communication. The good news is that they can come and join us and be aligned with the God of grace and truth.
In my prayer I ask the Lord what to say today and I am again led to read and quote Matthew 23. Do read. Pray and ask the Lord what He is saying to each individual. For the young Christians, Pharisees and scribes were the intellectual elites who were academically qualified and proficient in their field of study. They spent considerable amount of time reading and writing. They were the society’s leading voice. They exercised authority commenting and judging practically all subjects that impacted the lives of the Jewish people in Jesus’ time. Because of their ability to study, read and write, they commanded respect and honor from the ordinary people in their nation. And they in turn took control of politics and everything else.
In sum, Jesus says this of them, “You say, but you do not do!”
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe,[a] that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ,[b] and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. 14 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.[c]
15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’17 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies[d] the gold? 18 And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ 19 Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? 20 Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. 21 He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells[e] in it. 22 And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.
23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.[f] 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous,
a. Matthew 23:3 NU-Text omits to observe.
b. Matthew 23:8 NU-Text omits the Christ.
c. Matthew 23:14 NU-Text omits this verse.
d. Matthew 23:17 NU-Text reads sanctified.
e. Matthew 23:21 M-Text reads dwelt.
f. Matthew 23:25 M-Text reads unrighteousness.
Having had long discourses with young friends and relatives lately, I realize how close the last days are and how unaware our young people are of the dangerous times. Subconsciously they have been alerted by their spirit and they desperately need help with seemingly no help in sight for them in their own world, mainly virtual and unreal. Even in the real world of their own home and neighborhood the grown-ups seem living in another distant world which they cannot reach. Indeed these lonely youth daily surf the internet to find answers to the many questions they are encountering in futility. What can a spiritual watchman do in this vast virtual space of emptiness? What do we have to fill the void? Today I am led to read Apostle Paul’s letters to young Timothy. Timothy was an exemplary godly youth in his time well brought up by his godly grandmother and mother. Yet, Paul was led by the Holy Spirit to write to him and alert him of the requirement to pursue godliness and holiness. Why? Because Paul knew the end times will come and even godly men will fall. What is Paul’s answer to this great danger? Here is my quote of his timeless letter to my young friends.
Dear young friends, princes and princesses of God:
I am writing with an urgency compelled by the love of God. I pray you read what my friend Paul has written. His timeless letter has helped many young people in his time and throughout the history of mankind for nearly two thousands years. Believe me, I was a young person once .
“Difficult Times Will Come”
3 But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear]. 2 For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, 3 [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5)
Let us all be vessels for honor!
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God [which He has laid] stands [sure and unshaken despite attacks], bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord stand apart from wickedness and withdraw from wrongdoing.”
20 Now in a large house there are not only [a]vessels and objects of gold and silver, but also vessels and objects of wood and of earthenware, and some are for honorable (noble, good) use and some for dishonorable (ignoble, common). 21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [which are dishonorable—disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
2:22Run away from youthful lusts—pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those [believers] who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
(2 Timothy 2:19-22)
In summary: Let us run away from the bad, and run towards the good! It means running away in both our thoughts and in physical actions. We do not act unless we have been there in our thoughts. Guard our thoughts. Don’t let our thoughts go to places we should not go. Keep our thoughts pure by reading the pure words from God together with our godly friends. Bombard our ears with good songs based on the words of God from godly singers. Pray in tongue without ceasing just as the Apostle Paul taught us.*
Love from your dear friend,
* I will write about the impact of music and tongue on our mind in another letter.
2 Timothy 2:20 Like Rom 9:20-23, the analogy here has its roots in OT poetry (e.g. Ps 31:12; Prov 26:23) and prophecy (e.g. Is 45:9; Jer 18:2-6). Paul speaks of believers and unbelievers in Rom 9, but here he seems to be describing God’s household or family, in which all the vessels (containers, utensils) represent believers. While the objects in Rom 9:21 do not change, the vessels here are capable of changing their status and the use to which God puts them by keeping themselves from sinful behavior and influences (v 21).
Bible verses are quoted from Amplified Bible (AMP)
Jesus did something that Nehemiah did around 444BC. After He entered into Jerusalem, He inspected and verified first the actual condition of the Temple. Prior to this action, as recorded in Mark 11:9, 10 in acclaiming Jesus with the words of Ps. 118:25, 26, the people were publicly acknowledging Him as their Messiah. Hosanna, meaning “Save now” came to be a customary shout of praise like…but Jesus was not at all concerned with attending any celebration party after the brief interval at the gate, or seeking a personal glory through the people in Jerusalem who appeared to exalt him to the highest political position they could give to a fellow country man. Instead, He continued with His plan and carried it out quietly and effectively. The newly appointed Governor Nehemiah did the same thing. On arrival at Jerusalem, instead of attending a lavish inauguration party, he went out on his own in the quiet of the night and carried out his first hand investigation and proceeded with his plan without wavering. Nehemiah succeeded in re-building the wall of Jerusalem in 52 short days! Jesus completed His mission within the immediate holy passion week. Both were man of focused thoughts and action. No diversions or distractions ever succeeded in preventing them to finish their race and achieve their one utmost important goal.
Mark 11:11 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
11 And He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple. After looking around at everything, He went out to Bethany with the Twelve, since it was already late.
Nehemiah 2:11-20 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
Inspecting the Walls
11 I came to Jerusalem, and after I was there for three days, 12 I got up during the night along with a few men. But I did not tell anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no animals with me except the animal I was riding. 13 By night I went out by the Valley Gate toward Jackal Spring and the Dung Gate, inspecting the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, where there was not enough room for my animal to pass with me; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and returned to the Valley Gate. 16 The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, but as yet I had not told the Jews, the kohanim, the nobles, the officials or the rest of the workers.
17 Then I said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in: Jerusalem is desolate and its gates have been burnt. Come! Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a disgrace.”
18 Then I told them how the good hand of my God was on me and the words that the king had said to me. Then they replied, “Let us begin building!” So they prepared themselves for this good work.
19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. They said, “What is this you are doing? Are you rebelling against the king?”
20 I responded to them saying, “The God of heaven will bring us success. We His servants will arise and build. But you have no part, right, or historical claim in Jerusalem.”
Jesus focused on God’s mission and plan (the big picture)
John 12:28 Father, bring glory to your name.” Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.”
John 12:49 I don’t speak on my own authority. The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.