Today’s promise: the Lord builds your house and guards your city

Luke 4-21
Luke 4:21

What did God promise to His people? How has this been fulfilled?
Jesus said: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Psalm 127 Laboring and Prospering with the Lord
A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
127:1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Jeremiah 29 Jeremiah’s Letter to the Captives
29:1 Now these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the elders who were carried away captive—to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon…
4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to Babylon:

5 Build houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat their fruit. 6 Take wives and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters—that you may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace. 8 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. 9 For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.

10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

HOW HAS THIS BEEN FULFILLED?
Luke 4:18-21 Jesus has fulfilled all!!!
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

John 15:7-9
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Love and Joy Perfected
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
15:11-14
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
16:13-15
13 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. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.
16:23-24
23 “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

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a fitting confession for a king to declare

1 timothy 1:121 Timothy 1:11-13 King James Version (KJV)

11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

healthy aging: brevity of life, longevity factor, ever presence of my God

Joshua 14:1415 Out of This World My dear brethren, when asked once, in his mid-60s, what surprised him most in his old age, Billy Graham answered without hesitation: “the brevity of life.” The brevity of life has caught up with even centenarians. Looking back this watchman too is shocked at the speed of time. After walking with the Lord for a long long time how did Enoch feel? What did he talk to God about? I sometimes ask. 365 years seem a long time to us. But most men lived long before the flood. Adam lived 930 years. Methuselah lived 969 years old. Noah lived 950 years. God talked to them. They talked to God. After the flood, some men lived to over a hundred years though not as long. Abraham 175 (born 1946 years after Adam), Isaac 180.

One thing that stands out is the relationship they had with God. Being able to hear God and talk to God is something that we all need today. Can we? Yes. God has given every born again believer the Holy Spirit who lives in us and talks to us. We are joined to the Lord and one spirit with the Lord. (1 Corinthians 6:17) There are many teachings on how we can hear God today. We can enjoy the longevity of life span on earth and not miss out our daily walk with God engaging in friendly two way conversation with Him, just as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and many others did. God called Abraham His friend.

To live to such old age one needs to be healthy and youthful. God has set man’s life to be one hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3) Moses lived to 120. His eyes were not dimmed nor his natural vigor diminished. (Deuteronomy 34:7) David testified in his psalm that his youth was renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:5) Sarah lived until 127 and died. After that Abraham (137 and above) married again and had other sons.

One man that stood out was Caleb. Caleb was known for his strength in his spirit, soul (mind and will) and body wholly. God described Caleb this way, “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” (Numbers 14:24) At 85 Caleb was as strong as he was at forty including his strength for war, going out and coming in, because he wholly followed God and held fast to God’s promises spoken to him through Moses. (Joshua 14:6-14)

When we sum up the lives of all these men of faith in the Bible, we can see that the significance of life is the “quantity in terms of quality”. Quality can only come from their relationship with God. They had lived in the presence of God.

My first spiritual breakthrough after being born again for thirty years was knowing God in the spirit just as Jesus has emphasized that God is Spirit (John 4:24). Since then I have walked with a new passion and assurance in the spiritual reality of God and the truthfulness of His words which are spirit and life (John 6:63). Looking at all the past miracles God has done in my life I too hold fast to the promises and prophecies that the Lord has spoken. I am looking forward to this year with increasingly renewed strength to live in the ever presence of my God. I pray that you too, expect the same with confident hope. Age is no excuse.

Bible verses Joshua 14:6-14
6 Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him: “You know the word which the Lord said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. 7 I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. 8 Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9 So Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 10 And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. 11 As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in. 12 Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

13 And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance. 14 Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. 15 And the name of Hebron formerly was Kirjath Arba (Arba was the greatest man among the Anakim).

Then the land had rest from war.

talents are God-given and are meant for you to use for His good purpose

Jeremiah 27:67 Most Christians had in the past avoided pursuing political-governmental positions. Some have woken up in recent years and see that this avoidance is increasingly costly… Today we look at Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, c. 605 BC – c. 562 BC, the longest and most powerful reign of any monarch in the Neo-Babylonian empire. He defeated the Egyptians and their allies the Assyrians, subdued Palestine and Syria and, consolidating his power, controlled all trade routes across Mesopotamia from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. He was thus famous for empire expanding military conquests, building great walls, commerce and economic wealth. God actually described him as His servant. When we read his letter (Daniel chapter 4), we realize how God can use any prominent political leader even this presumably ‘hateful and feared’ (to many foreign people under his rule) pagan king to testify God’s reality, greatness and purpose!

Because of his boast of his own might and honor, Nebuchadnezzar went through seven years of forced retreat as prophesied in a strange dream (Daniel 4).  After the seven years, he acknowledged and repented his pride, and gave God honor and praise! He was then restored to kingship. It is plausible that he was completely converted and died a faithful follower of God as he continued to let Daniel remain an influential divine counselor in his government. The Old Testament Bible recorded several important Jewish men and a woman who held high/strategic political/socially influential positions in countries under pagan kings: Joseph, Moses, Queen Esther, Mordecai, Daniel, his three Jewish friends, Nehemiah, and Ezra the scribe. These individuals had played crucial roles in shaping the history of the people of God. Their strategic courageous and positive influences had saved many innocent lives including those who believed in our God and refused to bow down to pagan gods/idols.

Most Christians had in the past avoided pursuing political-governmental positions. Some have woken up in recent years and see that this avoidance is increasingly costly in terms of the erosion of freedom to continue to worship our God and bring up our own children in the godly principles and lifestyle we believe and value.  The worst is that the erosion of power and influence is in the unseen spiritual realm. When Christians lose ground in the physical it means they lose ground in the spiritual realm. The physical manifestation on earth in terms of governments and policies actually reflects the spiritual conditions in the unseen world. It is now the Kairos time for each individual to make the right decision with the opportunity and authority in hand.  (Read and meditate on Matthew 25:14-30 The parable of stewardship of the talent/resources the Lord has given to each individual).

(All Bible verses are quoted from New King James Version)
Jeremiah 27:4-7 God appoints a pagan king to be His servant.
4 And command them to say to their masters, … 6 And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given him to serve him. 7 So all nations shall serve him and his son and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them.

Daniel 4
Nebuchadnezzar the king, To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you.
2 I thought it good to declare the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked for me.

3 How great are His signs,
And how mighty His wonders!
His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And His dominion is from generation to generation.

4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid, …6 Therefore I issued a decree to bring in all the wise men …8 But at last Daniel came before me …

18 “This dream I, King Nebuchadnezzar, have seen. Now you, Belteshazzar, declare its interpretation, since all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able, for the Spirit of the Holy God is in you.”

Daniel Explains the Second Dream
19 Then Daniel, …“My lord, may the dream concern those who hate you, and its interpretation concern your enemies!

20 “The tree that you saw, which grew and became strong,…— 22 it is you, O king, who have grown and become strong; for your greatness has grown and reaches to the heavens, and your dominion to the end of the earth.

23 “And inasmuch as the king saw a watcher, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Chop down the tree and destroy it, but leave its stump and roots in the earth, …till seven times pass over him’; 24 this is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king: 25 They shall drive you from men, …and seven times shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.

26 “And inasmuch as they gave the command to leave the stump and roots of the tree, your kingdom shall be assured to you, after you come to know that Heaven rules. 27 Therefore, O king, let my advice be acceptable to you; break off your sins by being righteous, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor. Perhaps there may be a lengthening of your prosperity.”

Nebuchadnezzar’s Humiliation
28 All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar… 30 The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! 32 And they shall drive you from men, …and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men …
34 And at the end of the time[b] I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever:…36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. ..and excellent majesty was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.

Footnotes:
Daniel 4:16 Possibly seven years, and so in verses 23, 25, and 32
Daniel 4:34 Literally days

There will be a very great multitude of fish

Luke 5.6There are three scenes in the Bible that depict the catching of very great multitude of fish. All three scenes are in the presence of the Lord Himself, who is the way, the truth and the life. He gives life wherever He goes. He attracts the fishes. (John 6:2) Even the dead will live. The sea is the world and the fishes are men. Jesus expects His disciples to do the same as He did, be fishers of men.

There are three keys for the disciples to become a good fisher of men:
1. The waters of life flow to the sea. Jesus’ living water flow to where healing is needed.
2. The disciples must go where they can spread their nets and Jesus has promised and demonstrated that there will be exceedingly many to give life to.
3. The presence of Jesus must be acknowledged by the disciples.

Scene One: The prophet Ezekiel saw in a vision the healing waters flowing from under the threshold of the temple…
The Lord told him that When it reaches the sea, its waters are healed. And it shall be that every living thing that moves, wherever the rivers go, will live. There will be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters go there; for they will be healed, and everything will live wherever the river goes. The fishermen will stand by the appointed places to spread their nets, and the fish there will be of the same kinds as the fish of the Great Sea, exceedingly many.
(Ezekiel 47:1, 8-10)

Scene Two: Jesus told Simon Peter to launch out into the deep. Despite Peter’s anticipation and even proclamation of foreseeable failure based on physical experience, he obeyed. He caught a great number of fish and their net was breaking!
Peter’s famous statement of obedience: “nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.”
Jesus’ famous calling to His disciples: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.”
The first group of disciples’ famous response to Jesus: “So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.” (Luke 5:4-11)

Scene Three: After Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Simon Peter and others went back to their former profession as fishermen. History repeated as they again faced the defeat and futility any fishermen would encounter against nature.
“…and that night they caught nothing.”
But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore…He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.
…Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.
Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish…This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. (John 21:1-14)

Where is the living water today? How to receive this living water? The Holy Spirit is the Living Water. We can receive by asking from God. We can find the answer below from what Jesus says.

John 6:63 (Jesus said to His disciples), “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.”

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her (a Samaritan woman), “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

John 7:37-39
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

He calls them all by name, no one is missing

The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
“Behold your God…Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand,
And His arm shall rule for Him;
Behold, His reward is with Him,
And His work before Him.
He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young…
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
…Lift up your eyes on high,
And see who has created these things,
Who brings out their host by number;
He calls them all by name,
By the greatness of His might
And the strength of His power;
Not one is missing…
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
( Scripture quoted in parts from Isaiah 40 New King James Version Bible)

His descendants will be mighty on earth

psalm 112:3The Blessed State of the Righteous
Praise the Lord!
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who delights greatly in His commandments.
2 His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
3 Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.
4 Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
5 A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
6 Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
7 He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 His heart is established;
He will not be afraid,
Until he sees his desire upon his enemies.
9 He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted with honor.
10 The wicked will see it and be grieved;
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked shall perish.
(Psalm 112 NKJV)

Romans 3:22 [Full Chapter]
even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference;

2 Corinthians 5:20-21
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.

2 Corinthians 9:8-10
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. 9 As it is written:
“He has dispersed abroad,
He has given to the poor;
His righteousness endures forever.”[a]
10 Now may[b] He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,

Footnotes:
2 Corinthians 9:9 Psalm 112:9
2 Corinthians 9:10 NU-Text reads Now He who supplies . . . will supply . . . .

a man of grace and power

Romans 15:29-32
Bible verses: Romans 15:29-32

I ask the Lord to reveal to me Biblical models to emulate.I have been led to read two related passages: Romans 15-16 and Acts 27-28, to learn Paul’s way of conducting his relationship and interactions with others: his friends (brothers and sisters in Christ with whom he stayed in contact through correspondence) and others (Roman officials and soldiers, sailors and crew of ship, fellow travelers/prisoners on board, and island people in needs).

Here are my notes on the testimony of Paul as revealed in the book of Romans chapters 15-16 and Acts chapters 27-28.

1. He walks in transparency with the Lord closely and listens to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit tells him things to come. Thus he can use his spiritual gift of words of knowledge and words of wisdom to counsel others.
2. He keeps abreast with his friends and brethren in Christ, and sustains a close relationship even from a geographical distance and despite the relatively primitive mode of communication (one thousand years ago).
3. He truly values their friendship and keeps them in constant prayers.
4. Their good and genuine relationship is mutual as they keep him in their prayers too and supply his physical needs. They do not forsake him even when he is under house arrest.
5. His relationship with the non-believers demonstrates what Jesus did: Fearlessness, boldness and courage, firmness with speaking the truth about God and His Kingdom, spiritual authority and power, practical wisdom as appropriate, kindness and compassion for their physical needs and welfare.
6. Paul lives his words.
7. He testifies to them the greatness and faithfulness of the God he serves.
8. He demonstrates the awesome power of God (the Holy Spirit) in his accurate prophecy/forecast regarding the storm, the danger, the fate of the ship and the people on board. He also demonstrates the power and compassion of God in ministering to the needs of the people on board and the people on the island.
9. He focuses on his mission of preaching the Good News of the Gospel of grace and building up the churches (believers). He is transparent in his relationship and interactions with the believers. He also shows that he is a man of integrity to the non-believers.
10. He knows the supernatural God, believes in the revealed truth about Jesus Christ, is passionate to witness Him, walks in the power of the Holy Spirit and is confidence of what he preaches and teaches.
In sum, Paul has the indwelling Spirit of the Lord as described by Isaiah (in a prophecy about Jesus in Isaiah 11:2): The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

I quote below some passages from the above four chapters. Please read the whole chapters on your own. I pray you receive your revelation too!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A letter from Paul to the church (Christians) in Roman
(Note the positive way Paul shares his thoughts and exhortation with christians treating them as his his good friends)
Romans 15 New King James Version (NKJV)
Bearing Others’ Burdens
15 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves…5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God…
13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
14 Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God,…
24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints…
29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me,…32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you…
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In Chapter 16 Paul further displays through his positive commendations, his detailed knowledge of and close relationship with a whole list of Christians in Rome. When later he arrived at Rome as a Roman prisoner, they came out to greet him and supported him spiritually and physically as only good friends would dare to do.

Acts 27-28 (excerpts quoted) described how Paul interacted with others while he was under the custody of the Roman officials. We also read how God had provided for him protections and supplies through various people, believers and non-believers.

27:7 When we had sailed slowly many days, and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, the wind not permitting us to proceed,…
9 Now when much time had been spent, and sailing was now dangerous…Paul advised them, 10 saying, “Men, I perceive that this voyage will end with disaster and much loss, not only of the cargo and ship, but also our lives.” 11 Nevertheless the centurion was more persuaded by the helmsman and the owner of the ship than by the things spoken by Paul.

20 Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up.
21 But after long abstinence from food, then Paul stood in the midst of them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me, and not have sailed from Crete and incurred this disaster and loss. 22 And now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. 23 For there stood by me this night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.’ 25 Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me. 26 However, we must run aground on a certain island.”

…30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, …31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the skiff and let it fall off.

33 And as day was about to dawn, Paul implored them all to take food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have waited and continued without food, and eaten nothing. 34 Therefore I urge you to take nourishment, for this is for your survival, since not a hair will fall from the head of any of you.” 35 And when he had said these things, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all; and when he had broken it he began to eat. 36 Then they were all encouraged, and also took food themselves. 37 And in all we were two hundred and seventy-six persons on the ship.

39 When it was day, they did not recognize the land; but they observed a bay with a beach, onto which they planned to run the ship if possible. 41 But striking a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; …but the stern was being broken up by the violence of the waves.

42 And the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim away and escape. 43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul, kept them from their purpose, …And so it was that they all escaped safely to land.

28:7 In that region there was an estate of the leading citizen of the island, whose name was Publius, who received us and entertained us courteously for three days. 8 And it happened that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and dysentery. Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him. 9 So when this was done, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. 10 They also honored us in many ways; and when we departed, they provided such things as were necessary.

11 After three months we sailed…14 where we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them seven days. And so we went toward Rome. 15 And from there, when the brethren heard about us, they came to meet us as far as Appii Forum and Three Inns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage.
16 Now when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him…
30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.

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.

what shall we do with the prophets?

Habakkuk 2:3
Bible Verse: Habakkuk 2:3

What shall Christians do with the Old Testament, especially the prophets? May we quote them? There seems such a lot of negative words spoken by them which may offend today’s generation?

Let us read what Paul taught his disciple, young Timothy, a Spirit-filled Christian pastor/teacher in charge of a number of churches.

“You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.
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.” (2 Timothy 3:15-16)

Briefly I summarize below the keys Paul charged Timothy, and all Christians.

1. Paul spoke of the Holy Scriptures, which include both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Scriptures gave Timothy wisdom to receive salvation by believing in Christ Jesus.
2. Paul also elaborated further. He declared that “all Scripture is inspired by God”. Here he does not differentiate between Old Testament and New Testament. In Paul’s days they had only the Old Testament and letters written by the apostles themselves to the churches. He was referring to the Old Testament mainly.
3. Paul declared that “All Scripture is inspired by God.” There is no dispute about the divine authority of the Scripture, Old (before Christ), and New (during and after Christ).
3. Paul taught that Scripture is relevant to Timothy, the New Testament Christian.
4. Paul taught Timothy the relevance of Scripture: “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.”
5. All these are in present tenses. The power of the Scripture to change lives is alive today.
6. What does Old Testament do today when quoted? The same effect as declared above.
7. Were Old Testament verses quoted after Jesus ascended into heaven? Yes. In the first sermon given by Peter after he and 119 disciples were baptized by the Holy Spirit, Peter quoted the Old Testament profusely (Acts 2:14-40). “Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.” (Acts 2:41)

Here is a list for those interested to read more.
Old Testament texts from the prophets quoted in the New Testament:
Isa 1:9 Rom 9:29
Isa 6:9-10 Matt 13:14-15, Mark 4:12, Acts 28:26-27
Isa 6:9 Luke 8:10
Isa 6:10 Joh 12:40
Isa 7:14 Matt, 1:23
Isa 8:12-13 1 Pet 3:14-15
Isa 8:17-18 Heb 2:13
Isa 9:1-2 Matt 4:15-16
Isa 11:10 Rom 15:12
Isa 13:10 Matt 24:29, Mark 13:24-25
Isa 34:4 Luke 21:26
Isa 22:13 1 Co 15:32
Isa 25:8 1 Co 15:54, Rev 7:17
Isa 26:19 Matt 11:5
Isa 35:5-6 Luke 7:22
Isa 26:20 Heb 10:37-38
Isa 28:11-12 1 Co 14:21
Isa 29:13 Matt 15:8-9, Mark 1:3, Joh 1:23
Isa 40:6-8 1 Pet 1:24-25
Isa 40:13 Rom 11:34, 1 Co 2:16
Isa 42:1-4 Matt 12:18-21
Isa 45:23 Rom 14:11
Isa 49:6 Acts 13:47
Isa 49:8 2 Co 6:2
Isa 52:5 Rom 2:24
Isa 52:7 Rom 10:15
Isa 52:11 2 Co 6:17
Isa 52:15 Rom 15:21
Isa 53:1 Joh 12:38, Rom 8:17
Isa 53:7-8 Acts 8:32-33
Isa 53:9 1 Pet 2:23
Isa 53:12 Luke 22:37
Isa 54:1 Gal 4:27
Isa 54:13 Joh 6:45
Isa 55:3 Acts 13:34
Isa 55:10 2 Co 9:10
Isa 56:7 Matt 21:13
Jer 7:11 Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46
Isa 59:7-8 Rom 3:15-17
Isa 59:20-21 Rom 11:26-27
Isa 61:1-2 Luke 4:18-19
Isa 62:11 Matt 21:5
Isa 64:3 1 Co 2:9
Isa 65:1-2 Rom10:10-21
Isa 65:17 2 Pet 3:13
Isa 66:1-2 Acts 7:49-50
Jer 5:21 Mark 8:18
Jer 9:23 1 Co 1:31, 2 Co 10:17
Jer31:15 Matt 2:18
Jer 31:31-34 Heb 8:8-12
Ezk 11:20 Rev 21:7
Ezk 37:5, 10 Rev 11:11
Dan 3:6 Matt13:42, 50
Dan 7:13 Matt 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26,14:62, Luke 21:27,22:69
Dan 9:27 Matt 24:15
Dan 11:31 Mark 13:14
Hos 2:1, 3 Rom 9:25-28
Hos 6:6 Matt 9:13, Matt 12:7
Hos 10:8 Luke 23:30, Rev 6:16
Hos 11:1 Matt 2:15
Hos 13:14 1 Co 15:55
Joel 3:1-5 Acts 2:17-21, Rom 10:13
Amos 5:25-27 Acts 7:42-43
Amos 9:11-12 Acts 15:16-17
Jonah 2:17 Matt 12:40
Mic 5:2 Matt 2:6
Mic 7:6 Matt 10:35-36
Hab2:3-4 Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11
Hab 1:5 Acts 13:41
Hag 2:6, 21 Heb 12:26
Zac 8:16 Eph 4:25
Zech 9:9 Joh 12:15
Zac 11:12-13 Matt 27:9-10
Zac 12:10 Joh 19:37
Zac 13:7 Matt 26:31, Mark 14:27
Mal 1:2-3 Rom 9:13
Mal 3:1 Matt 11:10, Mark 1:2,Luke 7:27
Mal 4:5-6 Matt 17:10-11

Habakkuk 2:3-4 New King James Version (NKJV)
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
4 “Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.

God speaks gently 

1 Kings 19:1113
Bible verse: 1 Kings 19:11-13 God speaks gently

1 Kings 19:11-13New Living Translation (NLT)

11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”