a great mystery: great and abundant gain

1 Timothy 3:16
Bible verses: 1 Timothy 3:16

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:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 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, 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.

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Paul writes a letter today

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

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

So encourage each other with these words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

made holy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

persisting prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear heavenly Father:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Jesus name, I pray.

Jesus and the Father in heaven

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

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

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

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

today’s reading is from: John 5

to him I will give power over the nations

Revelation 2
Revelation 2:26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes:

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

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

Jesus talks about hate crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The harvest is great:be sent

harvest is greatWhen Jesus looks at the fields He sees a sea of people to be led into the Kingdom of God. He sees how best the Father’s will can be fulfilled. He has given the keys to what His followers must do to work with Him, using His resources: His name and His authority and power. The power of His words. The power of the Holy Spirit.

Reading from Luke 9 (57-62), 10 (1-20)
The Lord (Jesus) now chose seventy-two other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places He planned to visit. These were His instructions:

The harvest is great, but the workers are few. See what God sees. Focus on His perspective. The time? Now.
So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send more workers into His fields. God is the One who sends. He has lots of reserved workers. Just call Him. A prayer away. Use more of prayers than using our cell phone.
Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Beware. There are wolves out there, even in our midst.
Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. No excessively cumbersome equipment. No need the latest tech. Use prayer.
And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road. No distraction. No disclosure of God’s confidential strategy to the enemy. Speak less and pray more. Beware. Watch and pray.

Prerequisites: (Luke 9) Focus on the spiritual and not physical. Kingdom of God becomes their focus.

Get Out of your comfort zone: no more concern with your usual physical needs, e.g. routine living, stability, shelter, bed, regular sleep.
Forget your past pattern/tradition/ritual: no more concern with your usual practices, e.g. physical preparation, continuing association with past duty, physical aspects of life, what others think of you.
Let go of your present relation/emotion: no more concern with even things that matter to you: sentiments with the past, meeting others’ expectations.

The real invincible equipment that each disciple carries: power and authority of Jesus over spiritual and physical realms (both seen and unseen worlds.) Use His words -The power of God’s words. Be led by His Spirit. Sons of God are led by the Spirit of God. Let the Son of God manifest in us.
In practice, Jesus has given these examples in Luke 10 of what the disciples would encounter in real life. They would not lack the physical supplies they needed. But their focus continued to be on the spiritual reality. Jesus told them that what they proclaimed in the spiritual realm would become real in the physical realm.
The positive supernatural power of the phrase “MAY GOD’S PEACE BE WITH YOU” proclaimed by the disciples based on the authority given by Jesus is real and tremendous.
Only the disciples can carry the blessing of this phrase on their mission.
The blessing is real and brings tangible outcome in the physical world.
It will go to the house that genuinely opens and grants hospitality to the disciples.
But the recipients in the house must respond correctly: they must be in peace and not in strife. They must supply the disciples all they need during their stay including free lodging and food –as an obligated payment for their work.

The disciples have Jesus’ authority over all the power of the spiritual enemy, and can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure them. Evil spirits have to obey them. They can do miraculous work in the town that welcomes them: heal the sick and preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Cost and Gain in Christianity

a-gathering-of-evangelical-christians-in-washington
a gathering of Christians praying

Jesus talks about cost before He sends out His disciples. The cost of stability and relationship. The cost of tradition.The cost of comfort. The cost of love. But He talks about gains too. What are they?

Luke 9:57-62 New Living Translation (NLT) The Cost of Following Jesus
Cost of stability and comfort
57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
Cost of relationship and tradition
59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.”
The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead![a] Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”
Cost of love
61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.”
62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Jesus speaks of the gains too.(Luke 10:1-20) What are they?
The gain of the Kingdom of God. The gain of following Jesus is tremendous: money and material (Luke 10:4); provision (food and drink and lodging); power to heal the sick (10:9); authority of Jesus over spiritual enemies (10:16, 18-20); book of life (10:20); know God (10:22); see what others cannot see (10:23-24).

Journey to see God: a new covenant

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com
blood of the new covenant

What is a new covenant. We read from Hebrews 8 and 10 to see what this covenant means. What are the terms? What is God saying?

Hebrews 8:10-12 But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’
For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already.
And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

Hebrews 10:15-17 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For he says,
“This is the new covenant I will make with my people on that day,says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”
Then he says,
“I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.”

My notes: God said twice in Hebrews on the establishment of the new covenant.
1. Definition of covenant: contract, agreement, undertaking, commitment, guarantee, warrant, pledge, promise, bond, indenture; pact, deal, settlement, arrangement, understanding. It is a formal legal contract between two parties that is written. In the case of God being a party, it cannot be broken.
2. God initiates this special covenant with His people-both the people of Israel (through Moses) and His other people, the Christian believers whose covenant with God has been established by the blood of Jesus. (Matthew 26:28)
3. God puts the covenant in the form of words/laws in the hearts and minds of His people.
4. The terms of the covenant: With the words of God in the hearts and minds of God’s people, they will know and honor Him. They will know He is their God. They will pledge their allegiance to Him alone. God on hIs part will honor His word that He will forgive their sins/lawless deeds.
5. God’s definition of sins: lawless deeds.
6. Why does God want to write His laws in our hearts and minds? Why laws? Because sins are committed when we are lawless in God’s eyes.
7. God’s laws had never passed away. Before Jesus, they were written on stone tablets by the fingers of God (the Holy Spirit) in cold hard letters. After Jesus, they are written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
8. How do we receive His words? When we read His words and believe(the Bible) His words become spirit and life and transform us inside out. Jesus said that His words are spirit and life (John 6:63).
9. Do the words automatically produce results in our lives? Jesus has answered this by giving us the parable of the four kinds of conditions (soil) of man’s hearts when God’s words (the seed) are given to them. Not all men receive and produce the desired good results.
10. The hearts with good conditions obey God’s words and produce a hundred-fold harvests. The hearts with other conditions continue to disobey God and remain lawless in God’s eyes, like the Israelites in the ancient days who perished in the wilderness.

My notes on the three bad conditions of the man’s heart: (Luke 8:4-15)
1. Totally unresponsive to God and His words. The words fall by the wayside and not onto the man’s heart.
2. His response is superficial. When he feels good he likes to listen and even follow. When his mood changes he forgets God and turns away from the words.
3. He listens to the words and is willing to go along with God’s advice. But he is doubtful and wavers. His priority is always anywhere else, like doing his own things-cares, riches and pleasures of this life-but God.

How to ensure the heart is right? Jesus has given this answer:
You need to work on the foundation. Listen to Jesus’ teaching and then follow it. (Luke 6:46-49)