Tag: Religion and Spirituality

Believers Should Stand Firm

narrow ridgeNow, dear brothers and sisters,[a] let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. 2 Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us. 3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness[b] is revealed—the one who brings destruction.[c] 4 He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God.

5 Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? 6 And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. 7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. 8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.

9 This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. 11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.

Believers Should Stand Firm
13 As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first[d] to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. 14 He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter.

16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

Footnotes:

2:1 Greek brothers; also in 2:13, 15.
2:3a Some manuscripts read the man of sin.
2:3b Greek the son of destruction.
2:13 Some manuscripts read chose you from the very beginning.

The above passage is quoted from the Holy Bible 2 Thessalonians 2 NLT

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today we run the race of Christian faith

2016 lakeThe Race of Faith
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The Discipline of God
3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”[a]
7 If[b] you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Renew Your Spiritual Vitality
12 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.

14 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

The Glorious Company
18 For you have not come to the mountain that[c] may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness[d] and tempest, 19 and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. 20 (For they could not endure what was commanded: “And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned[e] or shot with an arrow.”[f] 21 And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.”[g])

22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, 24 to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

Hear the Heavenly Voice
25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake[h] not only the earth, but also heaven.”[i] 27 Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may[j] serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. 29 For our God is a consuming fire.

Footnotes:

Hebrews 12:6 Proverbs 3:11, 12
Hebrews 12:7 NU-Text and M-Text read It is for discipline that you endure; God . . . .
Hebrews 12:18 NU-Text reads to that which.
Hebrews 12:18 NU-Text reads gloom.
Hebrews 12:20 NU-Text and M-Text omit the rest of this verse.
Hebrews 12:20 Exodus 19:12, 13
Hebrews 12:21 Deuteronomy 9:19
Hebrews 12:26 NU-Text reads will shake.
Hebrews 12:26 Haggai 2:6
Hebrews 12:28 M-Text omits may.

(The Holy Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible: Hebrews 12 New King James Version (NKJV))

Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign?

a signWhy do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign?
I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign. Jesus said this. Mark 8:12

Prior to this He had performed many miracles. He displayed His supernatural power over sicknesses, evil spirits (spiritual realm), physical and natural elements. The news about His miracles had spread far and wide, and vast numbers of people came to see Him and followed Him. They were His eye witnesses. Mark 3:7-8

He healed a man with leprosy. 1:41-42
He healed a paralyzed man. 2:8-11
He healed a man with deformed hand. 3:3-5
He had healed many people. Power came out from Him to heal the sick and cast out demons. All the sick sought to touch Him. All who touched Him were healed. Those possessed by evil spirits too were delivered. 3:10-11. 6:56
He sent out His disciples (apostles) to preach the Kingdom of God and He gave them supernatural authority and power to cast out many demons and heal man sick people too. 3:14-15, 6:7, 12-13
The wind and waves obeyed Him. 4:41
He healed a demon possessed man. 5:1-20
He raised from death the daughter of a leader of the synagogue. 5:22, 35-36, 41-42
He healed a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. 5:25-34
He fed 5,000 men and their families with five loaves and two fish. 6:41-44
He walked on water and stopped the raging waves and wind. 6:47-52
He healed a deaf man. 7:32-35
He fed 4,000 people with seven loaves. 8:6-9
He healed a blind man. 8:22-26

Coming back to the question, why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? More show of the power of Jesus? Why do they still want proof of His supernatural authority to show that He is from God? Why do people see the power of Jesus but still continue not to believe in Him?

I ask this question too today. Here is the answer I received from Jesus:
“You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Mark 8:33 (Jesus rebuked Peter for listening to Satan-influenced humanistic reasoning and not to the Holy Spirit. Jesus reprimanded Peter, “Get away from Me, Satan!”)

Peter was doing well when he listened to the Holy Spirit. But he lost his supernatural discernment the moment he switches back to his human mind. Jesus called that as being selfish, trying to hang on to the life he could see, not knowing that what he could see and feel (body and soul) could not save him. He was ashamed of Jesus talking about dying on the cross and resurrecting after three days. He considered Jesus being not politically correct. Mark 8:31-38
It is so clear that the minute a Christian resorts to using a human point of view to explain or question a supernatural miraculous sign from Jesus, he or she loses the spiritual privilege and faith that come only from the supernatural realm. The authority and power of Jesus would be of no use to them. They may still get healed or see their loved ones get healed but they would still be excluded from the Kingdom of God. Without faith in the supernatural God-Jesus, one just cannot get saved. Without faith one cannot please God. Without believing in the spiritual reality of Jesus one cannot connect to Him and interact with Him in a relationship. But the children of God must join to the Lord and be one with His Spirit. The children of God must be led by the Spirit of Christ. Believing in Jesus requires spiritual faith, and a belief in a realm human eyes cannot see. Unless we can see with our spirit the reality of God, we cannot enter. It is easy for many to believe in a historical Jesus who existed during a period on earth as a human but not a Jesus (in Spirit) who is still living today. This is the dilemma of many who choose the wide, easy and popular road today. Is there hope for this group? Yes, as long as you are still open to Jesus through the Holy Spirit and His words.

Bible verses: John 3:3, 5-6, 3:16, 4:23-24, 5:24, 26-27, 37-40, 6:29, 35-36, 40, 63; Romans 10:8-12, 8:1-2, 8:9, 8:11, 14, 16; Galatians 3:2, 26-29; Hebrews 11:1-3, 11:6. 1Corinthians 6:17.

Legacy unlocked

LegacyHe said to them, “I am now a very old man. You have seen everything the Lord your God has done for you during my lifetime. The Lord your God has fought for you against your enemies.” The speaker has left a sizable legacy behind for all whom he addressed in these final words. In this case, land. He spoke of land already in their possession and land not yet conquered. He gave the assurance that even then, “This land will be yours.”

How can that happen? He said further, “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now. So be very careful to love the Lord your God.”

He reminded them, “Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! “

The above are quoted from Joshua (Commissioned 1406-1375 BC) the commander who brought the children of Israel into the promised land. (Chapter 23)

How does this ancient legacy translate into reality in modern time? Let us read some of the shocking remarks from Jesus who has indeed given us a powerful spiritual key to unlock the treasures (land-legacy) already reserved for us, in the following passages taken from Luke 6:

20 Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said,
“God blesses you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
21 God blesses you who are hungry now,
for you will be satisfied.
God blesses you who weep now,
for in due time you will laugh.

22 What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. 23 When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way.

Love Your Enemies
35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

Do Not Judge Others
37 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.

John 10:10 New Living Translation (NLT)
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

“It is the Spirit who gives life”

Philippians 4-8
Philippians 4:8

What/who gives life? This is the question today. Jesus told us that “it is the Spirit who gives life.” (John 6:63) He is talking about the Holy Spirit. A Chinese woman had just jumped down from a high-rise building in  a busy prosperous modern city and ended her life. She just came back to work from her maternity leave. She worked  in a big corporation with lots of staff who hardly had time to know each other. She was away for sometime and had just returned to work. She just had a baby. But she suddenly ended her life.

According to some Chinese tradition of ancestors’ worship this is the time of the annual tomb festival and they go to visit their ancestors’ cemeteries and perform their filial rituals there. It is a bit like the All Souls’ Day (Day of the Dead) practiced by some Christians in the West. Although many treat this as a traditional or even cultural event to remember the dead loved ones, there is spiritual implication and influence in the spiritual realm which can manifest in the physical realm and affect lives on earth, as I have written before. The apostles have warned Christians about such evil that affect minds. (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18; Philippians 4:8)

What should Christians do on such mass celebration of the dead? I believe we can find Bible verses to guide us. Christianity does not focus on the dead. Jesus talks of life and life more abundant. He has given many words about Hi giving life and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of life, His words are life. He speaks of His resurrection from the dead. He tells us that we shall be resurrected too. Believers of Jesus  shall not remain dead when Jesus returns. We shall not taste the second death the rest of the world will go into. The whole Bible actually focuses on the life that God has given to mankind and the born again life that the Holy Spirit will give to those who believe in Jesus. Jesus speaks of His mission as, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Bible verses: James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Philippians 4:4-7
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

11th week 1st day: a reality check

spiritual realityToday we are confronted with a reality check. The reading is from Mark 16 New King James Version (NKJV).

Jesus is risen and has shown Himself to His disciples:  Some women saw the empty tomb and an angel who told them Jesus was risen and they were afraid, Mary Magdalene and two other disciples saw the risen Lord Jesus Himself and these eye-witnesses went and told the the rest of the disciples but the rest did not believe the eye-witnesses until Jesus Himself appeared to them later and told them off of their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Why is it so hard to believe that Jesus has risen from the dead? These people had been following and living with Jesus prior the crucifixion. They appeared to have believed in Him being the Messiah. When He died their hope for the re-establishment of the physical kingdom of Israel was dashed.  Jesus called their condition “hardness of heart”. When the heart is hard it is like the hard ground in the sower of seeds (the words of God) parable told by Jesus. The seed could not germinate or grow to bear fruits. Whatever Jesus had said to them had fallen on hard ground. They could have reaped a hundred-fold as Jesus had promised. But they failed. They did not believe in a spiritual God. 

Looking back in history we marvel at the hard heart. Had we lived then would we not have believed? We would ask. The question is for each individual believer to answer. Again, the crux of the matter is do we believe in the reality of a spiritual God?

Mark Chapter 16
Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” 8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

11th week 1st day Holy Bible reading: Mark 16:1-20; Numbers 16:41-18:32; Psalms 38:1-12; Proverbs 11:7

September at the Water Gate: High Holidays questions (2)

A metallic chain with an explosed link.
A metallic chain with an explosed link.

We continue with the high holidays questions in September and October. Today this watchman was led to read Nehemiah chapter 9 in the Bible. What happened after the Israelites gathered as one in the square before the Water Gate and listened to the reading of the words of God? Today’s reading tells us a bit more of the historical event then and how the practice has continued among some Jews and their descendants even till today. Again, the question is what does it really mean today and what has it achieved in an ancient people? Where are those descendants who have left their parents’ devout practice? Have they found another revealed holy way from the Almighty God?

The Day of Atonement is around the corner. This watchman had fasted on that day in previous years (some of which were recorded in previous posts in this blog). What does it mean to a Gentile Christian to observe the day of fasting, praying and reading of the Bible? Let us read the Bible verses and pray that each of us will hear the Lord’s message to us.

Note: The ancestors saw the miraculous signs of God and experienced His spiritual reality in their lives. They also acknowledged that God is a spiritual God. God is Spirit, just as Jesus has proclaimed. What does today’s generation know of this spiritual God? “ We are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing…” The ancestors also knew God wanted a serious commitment to Him as a people. Not just one individual. God does not changed. Jesus speaks of the required utmost commitment of His disciples.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Bible verses (quoted in parts with added boldness) in NIV

On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and putting dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors.

They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God. Standing on the stairs of the Levites were Jeshua… They cried out with loud voices to the Lord their God. And the Levites…said: “Stand up and praise the Lord your God, who is from everlasting to everlasting.[a]

Blessed be your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all blessing and praise. You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you.

You are the Lord God, who chose Abram and brought him out of Ur of the Chaldeans and named him Abraham. You found his heart faithful to you, and you made a covenant with him to give to his descendants the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites and Girgashites. You have kept your promise because you are righteous. You saw the suffering of our ancestors in Egypt; you heard their cry at the Red Sea.[b] 10 You sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh,..

13 “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good…

16 “But they, our ancestors, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and they did not obey your commands. 17 They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them…

19 Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. 21 For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out nor did their feet become swollen.

22 “You gave them kingdoms and nations, allotting to them even the remotest frontiers

26 “But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they turned their backs on your law. They killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies...27From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.

28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight…

29 “You warned them in order to turn them back to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, of which you said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

32 Now therefore, our God, the great God, mighty and awesome, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come on us…33 In all that has happened to us, you have remained righteous; you have acted faithfully, while we acted wickedly...36 “But see, we are slaves today, slaves in the land you gave our ancestors so they could eat its fruit and the other good things it produces…

38 In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement, putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.”[d]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Why do we fast? Why do we fast on a specific day or specific days? Christians too want to know. This watchman has asked and found some answers. These are based on my own personal experience and the revelation received over a period of time. The best guide is still from the words of God. Read the verses on what God says about fasting and pray that each receives the message and spiritual value fro our daily living therein.

Watchman’s testimony: In addition to freeing ourselves from the ‘bondage’ of our carnal selves (obsession with food and drink and other ‘pleasure’ in this world), fasting has broken spiritual bondage and set spiritual captives free. The self-discipline of fasting is essential for a watchman and intercessor.

Some of the relevant verses (in NIV):

Isaiah 58 [Full Chapter]

[ True Fasting ] “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers. …
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Jesus fasted:Matthew 4:2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Matthew 6:16-18 New International Version (NIV) (Jesus teaches on Fasting) 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

a day to receive: just ask, seek, knock

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

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

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

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

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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

He concerns your new birth into the Kingdom of God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

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

Journey to see God: God of details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes:

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

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

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

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

43 and he ate it as they watched.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture (the Bible)

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

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

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

memoirs of Ezra (Sword of the Spirit)

a field dayThis watchman posted on 24/02/2015 the memoirs of Nehemiah. Today I am led to write about another crucial historical person, Ezra the priest-teacher-scribe. Ezra was a scribe, someone who was conversant with the words of God, teaching and writing them down. In many ways I like to identify with Ezra. We share common interests in our love for the words of God: reading, writing and teaching them.

The Book of Ezra recorded the building of the second Temple in Jerusalem by the remnants of Israel who returned from exiles. “The Temple was finally finished, as had been commanded by the God of Israel and decreed by Cyrus, ...” (Ezra 6:14b-15) Many years later, Ezra was called to return to Jerusalem.

But there is more about Ezra. His accomplishment was unique and was demonstrated in an amazing journey. He was a well trusted and authoritative Bible scholar and teacher while in exile in Persia. The King of Persia respected him and appointed him to go to Jerusalem to teach and implement the Laws of the God of Israel. He was entrusted with leading a group of leading priests and Levites, ministers for the Temple of God at Jerusalem and they in turn were entrusted to carry the gold, silver and precious things for the Temple. Ezra did not ask for military protection from the alien king. Instead, he witnessed to the king that God would protect them. The dangerous journey took four months and all lives and possessions were intact.

The Holy Spirit recorded and described Ezra in this amazing journey of faith in action in the following memoirs quoted in brackets:

[ “This Ezra was a scribe who was well versed in the Law of Moses, which the Lord, the God of Israel, had given to the people of Israel. He came up to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the king gave him everything he asked for, because the gracious hand of the Lord his God was on him. 8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in August[e] of that year. He had arranged to leave Babylon on April 8, the first day of the new year,[f] and he arrived at Jerusalem on August 4,[g] for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 This was because Ezra had determined to study and obey the Law of the Lord and to teach those decrees and regulations to the people of Israel.” ] (Ezra 7:6,8-10)

The Persian king wrote Ezra a letter commissioning him with authority and resources giving him all he needed for his task in Jerusalem. The king) addressed Ezra as follows:

[ 12 “Ezra the priest, the teacher of the law of the God of heaven.

25 “And you, Ezra, are to use the wisdom your God has given you to appoint magistrates and judges who know your God’s laws to govern all the people in the province west of the Euphrates River. Teach the law to anyone who does not know it. 26 Anyone who refuses to obey the law of your God and the law of the king will be punished immediately, either by death, banishment, confiscation of goods, or imprisonment.”]

Ezra’s response to the king’s commission was spoken as follows. He was entirely God-focused:

[ 27 Praise the Lord, the God of our ancestors, who made the king want to beautify the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem! 28 And praise him for demonstrating such unfailing love to me by honoring me before the king, his council, and all his mighty nobles! I felt encouraged because the gracious hand of the Lord my God was on me. And I gathered some of the leaders of Israel to return with me to Jerusalem.]

Instead of getting military help, he took spiritual action (fast and pray) to prepare himself and his fellow travelers.

[ 21 And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled. 22 For I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen[r] to accompany us and protect us from enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king, “Our God’s hand of protection is on all who worship him, but his fierce anger rages against those who abandon him.” 23 So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer.]

Safe conduct was of utmost importance as they traveled with families and money (gold and silver and precious things for the Temple of God). Ezra and his companions arrived safely under the protection of God.

[ 31 We broke camp at the Ahava Canal on April 19[v] and started off to Jerusalem. And the gracious hand of our God protected us and saved us from enemies and bandits along the way. 32 So we arrived safely in Jerusalem, where we rested for three days.

33 On the fourth day after our arrival, the silver, gold, and other valuables were weighed at the Temple of our God…34 Everything was accounted for by number and weight, and the total weight was officially recorded.]

To those who are not used to the spiritual reality of life, Ezra’s decision may be deemed as foolish. He risked his own life and the lives of others. But Ezra was full of the Spirit. He knew His God. He knew the enemies (physical and spiritual) could not do anything to them. The word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. Ezra was full of God’s words.

a morning call: Come out into the fields

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good News continues to advance 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bible verses:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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