Tag: 圣经

10th week 1st day: a distance of difference

distance from truth

There is a difference between what Jesus says and what a man hears. It is a hard issue. A heart issue. Here is today’s example. In today’s Bible reading, in Mark 12, Jesus talks about the reality of God and of the words of God which become life and spirit to those who hear, believe, receive as their own possessions and practice (John 6:63). He teaches that God is living and is over and above all the lives, time and history that human know of.

Note the conversation between Jesus and the well-schooled scribe (learned and recognized scholarly authority on the Law of Moses). See the difference between what Jesus says about loving God in a personal relationship through His words, and the interpretation of the scribe who places the command of God at a distance from him. 

Jesus says, “you”, “your”. The scribe replies, “the”. I have seen countless such distancing examples. Yet many Christians cannot understand why they cannot hear God. Why they cannot have a close relationship with God. The difference is the distancing of oneself when one receive the words of God. God is a personal God, and not a God in the distance, nor a God in history. He is not the God of a neighbor. He is my God. He is your God.

(The Scriptures are quoted from the Holy Bible NKJV unless otherwise noted.)

24…“Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God? 27 He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving[b] that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.[c]This is the first commandment.[d] 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[e] There is no other commandment greater than these.”

32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul,[f] and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

But after that no one dared question Him.

Today’s reading from the Holy Bible: Mark 12:18-37; Numbers 4:1-5:31; Proverbs 10:26; Psalm 35:11-18

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taking Holy Communion and receiving the words on parenting

20160227_095542 copy 2Taking the Holy communion is a faith in action. When I partake the body and blood of Jesus I receive from Him what I have otherwise overlooked and taken for granted in my busyness an preoccupation with other matters and things. It is a spiritual time. A time of spiritual focus. I like this verse from Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:17 which declares this truth: A person can be joined to Jesus in the spirit. “But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”

Jesus has taught that His disciple can and must remain in Him as a branch remains in the vine. “Remain in Me and I will remain in you…But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask anything you want, and it will be granted! ” (John 15:1-8)

How can this be accomplished? I believe it is through the Holy Communion as an act of faith and by this faith we receive as we read His words with the Holy Communion. Jesus Himself has said this, “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in Me and I in him.” (John 6:56)

I always read the Bible as I partake the Holy Communion. The Lord sends His words and teaches me with His Spirit as I join to Him in my spirit through the Holy Communion.

Today I received His words on parenting as I opened the Bible after I prepared the bread and the cup. I always read the Bible before I partake the Holy Communion. the passage from Luke 9 described the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain and the healing of a demon-possessed boy after Jesus and His three disciples came down from the mountain the next day.

Here is how the demon-possessed boy was described:

An evil spirit keeps seizing him, making him scream, It throws him into convulsions so that he foams at the mouth. It batters him and hardly ever leaves him alone.” (Luke 9:39)

When the Bible opened to this passage and description of a young boy, I recalled one event I witnessed in the toy department of a supermarket yesterday. A very young boy suddenly screamed and gained super-human strength, kicked and beat his dad and threw a violent tantrum. he also battered himself. He kept screaming, “I want that! I want that! Give me! Buy! I want that! I want!!! You deaf? Hear me!!!” His mouth foamed and his eyes turned violent like he was another person inside, not an innocent little boy but an evil spiritual presence. He threw himself on the ground and started twisting his body like that of a viper. A cunning and evil beast looked out of his eyes. The dad was totally embarrassed and did not know what to do and where to turn. Everyone else pretended not to hear or see this commotion. The mother was presumably in the grocery section and did not take part in this scene.

Jesus commented on the cause of this failure in parenting: “You faithless and corrupt people!” (Luke 9:4) Faithless goes with corruption.By taking their children away from Jesus the parents have chosen to expose them to a faithless and corrupt world, possessed and dominated by the evil spirits.

Jesus has also given His solution: “Bring your son here.” By bringing their children to Jesus they have safely cut off such unholy ties with the evil spirits and put themselves under the holy, safe and unpolluted protection of Jesus in the Kingdom of God.

What is required to bring the children back to God’s protection? The parents are required two things. LET US LOOK AT TODAY’S DICTIONARY:

a corrupt society: immoral, depraved, degenerate, reprobate, vice-ridden, perverted, debauched, dissolute, dissipated, bad, wicked, evil, base, sinful, ungodly, unholy, irreligious, profane, impious, impure; informal warped. ANTONYMS moral.

a faithless society: unbelieving, nonbelieving, irreligious, disbelieving, agnostic, atheistic; pagan, heathen.

God wants FAITH and MORAL virtues in the parents. 

Why do children open themselves to demon-possession? Because of the above prevalent culture and value of the societies. When the hearts of the children turn to such values they turn away from their parents. The coming of Jesus turns the hearts of the children back to their parents and vice versa.

In the last verse of the last chapter in the last book of the Old Testament, prophet Malachi spoke this prophecy about Jesus:

“His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6)

a day to receive: just ask, seek, knock

Holy Spirit pours 2A day to receive Good Gifts even though this may not be your birthday. Someone who is able and willing to give you His best gift has made this generous offer. And He says He is your Father in heaven. He is God.

Matthew 7:7-12New King James Version (NKJV) Asking, Seeking, Knocking

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! 12 Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Luke 11:9-13New King James Version (NKJV) Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking

“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread[a] from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, 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!”

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Some may wonder why you need the Holy Spirit. Here are some of the many reasons:

He concerns your new birth into the Kingdom of God

Matthew 3:11 (witnessed by John the Baptist)
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
He concerns your worship of God
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
He concerns your knowing God and God’s truth – the Bible
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
He concerns your effectiveness (power) in witnessing Jesus
[ The Holy Spirit Promised ] And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;

for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

[ Coming of the Holy Spirit ] When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.

And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,

And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

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.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
He concerns your true status
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

This year’s Yom Kippur: life, health and happiness

yom kippur in uk yom-kippur-verse-290In less than a month Yom Kippur will arrive. This year’s Yom Kippur will be held on September 22–23, 2015. Those who practice this ritual believe that God will accept their repentance, forgive their sins, and seal their verdict for another year of life, health and happiness. Here is an excerpt describing briefly how they view the yearly repeated Yom Kippur in terms of their relation with God.

“Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year—the day on which we are closest to G‑d and to the quintessence of our own souls. It is the Day of Atonement—“For on this day He will forgive you, to purify you, that you be cleansed from all your sins before G‑d” (Leviticus 16:30).

For nearly twenty-six hours—from several minutes before sunset on 9 Tishrei to after nightfall on 10 Tishrei—we “afflict our souls”: we abstain from food and drink, do not wash or anoint our bodies, do not wear leather footwear, and abstain from marital relations.”

“The day is the most solemn of the year, yet an undertone of joy suffuses it: a joy that revels in the spirituality of the day and expresses the confidence that G‑d will accept our repentance, forgive our sins, and seal our verdict for a year of life, health and happiness.”

(http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/177886/jewish/What-Is-Yom-Kippur.htm)

King David declared this need for forgiveness of sins in psalm 32:1-2
1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity,
And in whose spirit there is no deceit.
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Here is the revelation from the Holy Spirit of a Christian relationship with God:

Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29 NLT)

Hebrews 1 New King James Version (NKJV)

God’s Supreme Revelation

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

The Son Exalted Above Angels

For to which of the angels did He ever say:

“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You”?[c]

And again:

“I will be to Him a Father,
And He shall be to Me a Son”?[d]

But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says:

“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”[e]

And of the angels He says:

“Who makes His angels spirits
And His ministers a flame of fire.”[f]

But to the Son He says:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”[g]

10 And:

“You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
11 They will perish, but You remain;
And they will all grow old like a garment;
12 Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail.”[h]

13 But to which of the angels has He ever said:

“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”?[i]

14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

Journey to see God: God of unfailing love

We love Him because He first loved us
We love Him because He first loved us

Guess who was the first person recorded in the Bible to describe God as the God of unfailing love? Abraham’s servant.
Genesis 24:12
“O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham.
Genesis 24:27
“Praise the Lord, the God of my master, Abraham,” he said. “The Lord has shown unfailing love and faithfulness to my master, for he has led me straight to my master’s relatives.”
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The second man was Moses:
Exodus 15:13
“With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed. In your might, you guide them to your sacred home.
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God described Himself to Moses:
Exodus 20:6
But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
Exodus 34:6
The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
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Both king David and king Solomon knew:
2 Samuel 22:51
You give great victories to your king; you show unfailing love to your anointed, to David and all his descendants forever.”
1 Kings 8:23
and he prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The leaders of the remnants: The Bible teacher Ezra and Nehemiah, the governor builder of Jerusalem walls also knew and personally experienced:
Ezra 7:28
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.
Nehemiah 1:5
Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,
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The psalmists (poets) were full of praises for God’s unfailing love. Here are two examples taken from the beginning and the end of psalms:
Psalm 5:7
Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house; I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
Psalm 147:11
No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.
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The prophets’ testimonies of God’s unfailing love:
Isaiah 63:7
[Praise for Deliverance] I will tell of the Lord’s unfailing love. I will praise the Lord for all he has done. I will rejoice in his great goodness to Israel, which he has granted according to his mercy and love.
Joel 2:13
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.
Micah 7:18
Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love.
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Finally, the testimony of John the beloved apostle of Jesus Christ:
John 1:14
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John 1:17
For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ.

John 17:3

And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.

Journey to see God: God of details

Bible plumb-lineAre Bible details important in our lives? The Holy Spirit has revealed to us how particular is our God with Bible details.Here are some examples.

Jesus answered and said to them, “Are you not therefore mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

[ The Scriptures Opened ] Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.
And you know that the Scriptures cannot be altered.

During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.

Luke 1:1-4 New Living Translation (NLT) Introduction (through a medical doctor’s detailed report after thorough investigations)

Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples.[a] 3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.

Acts 1:1-3 New Living Translation (NLT) The Promise of the Holy Spirit

In my first book[a] I told you, Theophilus, about everything Jesus began to do and teach until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit. During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.

Footnotes:

  1. 1:1 The reference is to the Gospel of Luke.

Luke 24:25-27 New Living Translation (NLT)

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:43-45 New Living Translation (NLT)

43 and he ate it as they watched.

44 Then he said, When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

Acts 26:21-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”

Acts 28:22-24 New Living Translation (NLT)

22 But we want to hear what you believe, for the only thing we know about this movement is that it is denounced everywhere.” 23 So a time was set, and on that day a large number of people came to Paul’s lodging. He explained and testified about the Kingdom of God and tried to persuade them about Jesus from the Scriptures. Using the law of Moses and the books of the prophets, he spoke to them from morning until evening. 24 Some were persuaded by the things he said, but others did not believe.

Romans 15:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”[a] Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture (the Bible)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),

the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has laid out his plans

Egypt blood riverThis message came to me concerning Egypt:

Look! The Lord is advancing against Egypt,
    riding on a swift cloud.
The idols of Egypt tremble.
    The hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.

“I will make Egyptian fight against Egyptian—
    brother against brother,
neighbor against neighbor,
    city against city,
    province against province.
The Egyptians will lose heart,
    and I will confuse their plans.
They will plead with their idols for wisdom
    and call on spirits, mediums, and those who consult the spirits of the dead.
I will hand Egypt over
    to a hard, cruel master.
A fierce king will rule them,”
    says the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

The waters of the Nile will fail to rise and flood the fields.
    The riverbed will be parched and dry.
The canals of the Nile will dry up,
    and the streams of Egypt will stink
    with rotting reeds and rushes.
All the greenery along the riverbank
    and all the crops along the river
    will dry up and blow away.
The fishermen will lament for lack of work.
    Those who cast hooks into the Nile will groan,
    and those who use nets will lose heart.
There will be no flax for the harvesters,
    no thread for the weavers.
10 They will be in despair,
    and all the workers will be sick at heart.

11 What fools are the officials of Zoan!
    Their best counsel to the king of Egypt is stupid and wrong.
Will they still boast to Pharaoh of their wisdom?
    Will they dare brag about all their wise ancestors?
12 Where are your wise counselors, Pharaoh?
    Let them tell you what God plans,
    what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is going to do to Egypt.
13 The officials of Zoan are fools,
    and the officials of Memphis[a] are deluded.
The leaders of the people
    have led Egypt astray.
14 The Lord has sent a spirit of foolishness on them,
    so all their suggestions are wrong.
They cause Egypt to stagger
    like a drunk in his vomit.
15 There is nothing Egypt can do.
    All are helpless—
the head and the tail,
    the noble palm branch and the lowly reed.

16 In that day the Egyptians will be as weak as women. They will cower in fear beneath the upraised fist of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 17 Just to speak the name of Israel will terrorize them, for the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has laid out his plans against them.

18 In that day five of Egypt’s cities will follow the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. They will even begin to speak Hebrew, the language of Canaan. One of these cities will be Heliopolis, the City of the Sun.[b]

19 In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt, and there will be a monument to the Lord at its border. 20 It will be a sign and a witness that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is worshiped in the land of Egypt. When the people cry to the Lord for help against those who oppress them, he will send them a savior who will rescue them. 21 The Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians. Yes, they will know the Lord and will give their sacrifices and offerings to him. They will make a vow to the Lord and will keep it. 22 The Lord will strike Egypt, and then he will bring healing. For the Egyptians will turn to the Lord, and he will listen to their pleas and heal them.

23 In that day Egypt and Assyria will be connected by a highway. The Egyptians and Assyrians will move freely between their lands, and they will both worship God. 24 In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth. 25 For the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will say, “Blessed be Egypt, my people. Blessed be Assyria, the land I have made. Blessed be Israel, my special possession!”

Footnotes:

  1. 19:13 Hebrew Noph.
  2. 19:18 Or will be the City of Destruction.

(quoted from Isaiah 19 New Living Translation (NLT))

a morning call: Come out into the fields

This morning this watchman recaps what has happened during the last three days. On June 4 he was led to read Matthew 24, all about end day: Earthquakes, famines, wars, people hating each other, cold love, falsehood and deceptions, and persecutions from haters of God against those who love Jesus. Jesus also speaks of how to be a good servant of God and what He describes as an evil servant. On June 5 the Sabah earthquake at the Mt Kinabalu happened. Up to this point 8 visiting pupils, and 2 teachers are still reported as missing.

On June 5 I was led to read the book on Martyrs and posted excerpts about a preacher who was persecuted and killed by the church because he believed in the full Gospel of the Bible and preached the words of God free of charge to the congregation every Sunday! In those days believers of the words of God were burned to death because of they were bold to share the Good News of the whole Bible.

Today is the third day. As I listened to Pastor Sandra Kennedy’s Whole Life Ministries’ worship service and her subsequent prayer, I realized that it matters how far each of us have walked on the spectrum of our relationship with God in Jesus. I have increasingly met more elderly and seasoned (senior but fit) ‘foot-soldiers’ of God in the mission fields. They stand out in one aspect: their age. Most are of 50s and above, 60s and 70s. I was told some are in their 80s and still standing and walking.

Recently I met a man and wife in their 50s preparing to come out into one of the poorest people groups to serve. The love of Christ has compelled them. When introduced I was not surprised that he is one of the top established educators in his country and even internationally. He holds the highest position in the corporate entity he has decided to relinquish. He is paying a great monetary and other price to follow Jesus to the field. The cost of following Jesus is high. I was not surprised of the increasingly high caliber of the individuals whom the Lord has called and who have responded to Him.

Why are the senior ‘elites’ being called? Why are they responding? I can only use one word to describe our God, ‘AWESOME’. We have found various professionals, former bankers, financiers, educators, lawyers, medical doctors, accountants, engineers, international award-winning artists, corporate executives, businessmen and business women, pastors and evangelists conglomerating with the poorest and uneducated in the Kingdom of God. Matthew 22 described the wedding (great feast) invitation and the crowd that gathered when the intended guests did not turn up. The King’s instructed:

“Now, go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.” (22:9) “So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.” (22:10)

From experience we know that it is difficult for a poor and uneducated younger man to invite an older person from a higher social, economic, and political power strata to Jesus. It appears that the last frontier now is to gather chosen from ‘exclusive’ social people groups which hitherto has been left out from the Kingdom of God. The Lord said, “invite everyone.” Yes, everyone. That is why the old guards are emerging out of their churches’ closets now and marching into the streets.

What about the young in the streets? Who will invite them? That is for the younger generation of Christians to ask the Lord. My personal  observation is that the more you bring the world into your churches the less you will be able to march out there and bring the lost youth in. By the way they are not in your part of the cities. Unless you leave your comfort zones and venture into the poorest deep waters and live among them you will not reach them.

trees in the fieldGood News: The retired Christians are no longer retired. There is no retirement age in the fields. Come out to the fields.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Bible promises:

They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing,
He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
And sow fields and plant vineyards, That they may yield a fruitful harvest.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine In the very heart of your house, Your children like olive plants All around your table.

Good News continues to advance 2

20150518 heaven is realWe read what Jesus says about the Good News of the Kingdom of God from a fresh perspective today in the Spirit. What does Jesus mean by the term ‘called’ and the term ‘chosen’? We often talk about being called. It  is a privilege to be called by the Lord. In the case of the Great Feast, it appears that a special group was first destined and called but the members had been otherwise engaged and had not heeded the Lord’s calling. They carried on their usual farming and business activities because they could not ‘hear’ God. This is real. Jesus demonstrated this deafness of the people. He came to earth and lived among people. He spoke to them about the Kingdom of Heaven. But they went on doing their own thing like He never appeared to them. Some even became so annoyed with His message that they plotted to kill Him. They succeeded.

Another group of people was called too. Jesus described them as ‘everyone’ whom the servants of the Lord can see. Many came to the Great Feast. But some came without the proper dressing for he wedding. The King-Host noticed and singled them out to be evicted.

To sum up: Three groups are called. Those who are first invited but have chosen to ignore the invitation. Those who are ‘everyone’ but respond with honor and respect for the Lord and put on their proper ‘clothes’ (the robe of righteousness which is Jesus) for the wedding in heaven with Jesus, and those who also respond to the invitation but cannot really be bothered with God. They merely turn up for any festive occasion for a free meal and free entertainment.

Why is there a difference in the response? Two groups do not bother with God and thus miss out the Great Feast, indeed, the eternity with God. What is the secret for the third group, the few whom Jesus describes as the ‘chosen’? What has disqualified the ‘called’ but not ‘chosen’?

I believe the answer is given by Jesus Himself. Reading the context in Matthew 21 and 23 we find that Jesus was addressing those whom He described below: “You testify against yourselves that you are indeed the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.” “…the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! ” (Matthew 23) “45 When the leading priests and Pharisees heard this parable, they realized he was telling the story against them—they were the wicked farmers. 46 They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds, who considered Jesus to be a prophet.” (Matthew 21)

What is the difference between these people and the few who are both called and chosen? The description of the Pharisees and the Sadducees revealed that they were walking by flesh and not by the Spirit. They tried all sorts of their usual, normal human social, economic, political and religious ways to find fault and perhaps trap Jesus. They could not accept Jesus because they did not know Him in the spirit.

Who can accept Jesus and His life message? Those who can accept the reality of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, God is Spirit. Jesus talked about the reality of God, the Heavenly places, the Kingdom of God, all of which can only manifest in the lives of the believers through the Holy Spirit. (Read the Gospel and letters of of John, Paul’s epistles, and the book of Acts).

Bible verses:

When Jesus told the parable of the Great Feast in Matthew 22, He was surrounded and often accosted by the Pharisees and Sadducees.

15 Then the Pharisees met together to plot how to trap Jesus into saying something for which he could be arrested. 16 They sent some of their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to meet with him.

23 That same day Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead. They posed this question:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question:

41 Then, surrounded by the Pharisees, Jesus asked them a question: 42 “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?”

Matthew 22 New Living Translation (NLT) Parable of the Great Feast

Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

“The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ 10 So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

11 But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. 12 ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. 13 Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

Good News continues to advance

paul-thessalonica-bereaWe continue to walk with the disciples of Jesus. We have followed the journey of Paul and Silas to the point of revivals and persecutions in Acts 16-17.  We see how the disciples were led by the Holy Spirit, how they obeyed the Lord’s calling and found doors opened to the Gospel. We also witness how salvation and persecution came almost simultaneously. This is still applicable today. There are people who listen to the Gospel and joyously accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. There are also those who listen with a further hardened heart against Jesus and His followers. Why? When we read the four Gospels we can see the answer everywhere. Jesus Himself encountered the same responses. Some listened and accepted His message of the Kingdom of God. Many rejected Him and thereby rejected the Kingdom of God. One thing that is key to the people’s believing is the words of God. Those who really honor God and His word receive the sharing and preaching of the word. They listen with respect and search the Scripture for the truth. Jesus has promised: Those who seek will find. Those who ask will receive. Those who knock, the door will be opened.

Acts 16 Persecution and Salvation: including successful and devout business woman and even a former enemy of Christ and his family. Honor for those who fear and worship the Lord and believe in Jesus. That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 So we[c] decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.

11 We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.

13 On the Sabbath… we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests… 22 A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. 23 They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison… 25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!  29 The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. 34 He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. 35 The next morning the city officials sent the police to tell the jailer, “Let those men go!” 36 So the jailer told Paul, “The city officials have said you and Silas are free to leave. Go in peace.” 37 But Paul replied, “They have publicly beaten us without a trial and put us in prison—and we are Roman citizens. So now they want us to leave secretly? Certainly not! Let them come themselves to release us!” 38 When the police reported this, the city officials were alarmed to learn that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens. 39 So they came to the jail and apologized to them. Then they brought them out and begged them to leave the city… 

Acts 17 Those who listened were persuaded and joined the disciples and those who became jealous and caused persecution. The people of Berea were more open-minded and many believed. 1 Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.[d] But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd…

10 That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.

13 But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble…

5 am lesson: Jesus gave His life for what?

grace-of-god-that-covers-your-sins1Jesus gave His life in order to rescue us from this evil world. He did it because it is God’s will. No one can earn his own salvation from sins and the evil of this world. God’s grace is unmerited favour. People who do not want Jesus are not pleased with free unmerited gift from God. But Jesus says, enter through the narrow gate or perish.

Galatians 1

May God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ[b] give you grace and peace. Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. All glory to God forever and ever! Amen.

10 Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

12 I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ.[d]

15 But even before I was born, God chose me and called me by his marvelous grace. Then it pleased him 16 to reveal his Son to me[e] so that I would proclaim the Good News about Jesus to the Gentiles.

Galatians 2

Even that question came up only because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really[b]—who were secretly brought in. ..They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you.

15 “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. 16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”[d]

19 For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. 20 My old self has been crucified with Christ.[e] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.

true prophets: what Jesus has warned

Jesus is still speaking today. He has urged the people of God to repent or perish. Repentance means turning away from sin and turning to God, back to the best plan God has for your life. What Jesus has warned has come true in history after Jesus, is coming true today, and will complete in the reality of this world until the end.
Questions to ask:
Who is Jesus talking to today? Am I in this message from Jesus (God Himself)? What shall I do today about my own life? It is every man to himself now. No church or religious organization can save anyone. Everyone must face Jesus today and make each own decision on the way ahead.
“Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 4:7)
List of headings and brief summary from chapter 13 from the book of Luke.
1. Repent or Perish: God wants to save. Jesus was speaking salvation to Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Many had perished since. What He had prophesied about the destruction of the city and the subsequent desolation, and the salvation of many gentiles, from the east and the west, from the north and the south, had come true. But His prophetic message is still ongoing as many are perishing and many are being saved.
2. Barren fig tree: God wants fruits that last. Jesus was speaking of living a productive lifestyle and bearing evidence of salvation. God is the planter. Jesus has spoken of a timeframe. Heed the time today.
3. A Spirit of Infirmity: God heals. Jesus has shown this by healing a woman and set her free from bondage. He has done this miracle on s Sabbath day (like our Lord’s day today). Sunday is a day we have set for God and do God’s will. God’s will in this incident was to destroy the bondage of the devil, set free and heal.
4. Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God. Like a tiny almost invisible unnoticeable mustard seed, it will grow and thrive until it is visible to all. Similarly like a little bit of unnoticeable leaven it will have multiplying effect until the evidence of it manifests to all. The positive outcome (new life) is evident to all and cannot be hidden.
5. Strive to enter through the narrow gate. Jesus way is the only way. Actually many try to seek and find salvation and eternal life in heaven. It means people do acknowledge an afterlife and wish that they can go to a place with no suffering. Heed what Jesus has said today if you are among the many who seek.
6. Jesus Laments over Jerusalem.

Luke 13 New King James Version (NKJV)
Warning: Repent or Perish
13 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Warning: be fruitful or be cut down -The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
6 He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. 9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that[a] you can cut it down.’”
God heals and sets free: woman healed of a spirit of infirmity
10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. 12 But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” 13 And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
14 But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
15 The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite![b] Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? 16 So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” 17 And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.
Kingdom of God: The Parable of the Mustard Seed
18 Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large[c]tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”
Kingdom of God: The Parable of the Leaven
20 And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures[d] of meal till it was all leavened.”
Who will be saved? Only through Jesus -The Narrow Way
22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?”
And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
31 On that very day[e] some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.”
32 And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ 33 Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
Jesus Laments over Jerusalem
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly,[f] I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ”[g]
Footnotes:
a. Luke 13:9 NU-Text reads And if it bears fruit after that, well. But if not, you can cut it down.
b. Luke 13:15 NU-Text and M-Text read Hypocrites.
c. Luke 13:19 NU-Text omits large.
d. Luke 13:21 Greek sata, approximately two pecks in all
e. Luke 13:31 NU-Text reads In that very hour.
f. Luke 13:35 NU-Text and M-Text omit assuredly.
g. Luke 13:35 Psalm 118:26