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12:55 PM   [29 Jul 2020 | Wednesday]

I am a crimson worm

Psalm 22 was written by David, King of Israel, about 1000 years before the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is too long to reprint here; you might want to go back and reread it before continuing. The psalm is a prediction and prophecy of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Interestingly, this prophecy about the agonies of Christ’s crucifixion was written about 400 years before crucifixion was invented. The first twenty-one lines are full of words describing sorrow and suffering. There are many correlations between this psalm and the crucifixion of Christ. For example, the psalm begins with His final words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1 NIV) Psalm 22 discusses being mocked, despised, and insulted by others. It lists many of the sufferings that Christ endured on the cross: His bones out of joint, agonizing pain, heart damage, exhaustion, extreme thirst, pierced hands and feet, people staring and gloating, and soldiers gambling for His clothes. As I was reading it, I was struck by Line 6, “But I am a worm and not a man,” I thought it was very curious that in this prophesy, Jesus would describe Himself that way, as a lowly worm. I began to look more closely at the verse. The Hebrew word used for worm here in Psalm 22:6 is “tola’ath”, and its principle meaning is referring to the Crimson or Scarlet Worm (coccus ilicis). When we learn about this special worm, we see that it was the perfect word for David to use to describe Jesus at that moment on the cross. The Crimson worm is common to the region of old Israel and was used in the dyeing of garments to scarlet. Scarlet was the color of royalty and of blood. For example, when the soldiers were mocking Jesus before he was crucified, they put a scarlet robe on Him. “They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said.” (Matthew 27:28-29 NIV) Back to the worm. When it is time for the Crimson worm to have babies, which she does only once in her life, she attaches her body to the wood of a tree, and makes a hard scarlet shell. She is so strongly and permanently stuck to the wood that the shell can never be removed without tearing her body completely apart and killing her. This worm then lays her eggs under her body and shell. When the young hatch, they stay under her shell. During this time, the larvae feed on the living body of the mother. She sacrifices her life for theirs. As the mother dies, after a few days, she secretes a scarlet red dye that stains both the offspring and the wood. It is this dye that was used to color garments. The young worms are dyed scarlet red the rest of their lives. After three days, the dead Crimson worm’s body loses its crimson color and turns into a white wax which falls to the ground like snow. Just like the Crimson Worm, Jesus sacrificed His life for His children. As with the worm, this act was a one-time event, and will never happen again. He shed His blood so that His children could be washed, nourished, and protected in His crimson blood. We, just like the offspring of the Crimson Worm, are stained for life with the shed blood of Jesus. He died for us, so that we could live through Him. He too, gave up His body, and rose after three days, changing from scarlet to a brilliant white. “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.” (Matthew 17:1-2 NIV) When Jesus said “But I am a worm and not a man,“, He was saying He was no mere man. He was declaring He was the Son of God who was sacrificing His life for His children, and protecting and staining them with His saving blood. I will never cease to be awed by the complexity and perfection of the Bible. Here is one little line mentioning a worm, written in a psalm about a crucifixion that would take place 1000 years later. The comparison to the lowly worm adds a lot to the psalm, and is another proof to me that the Bible was written by God. As far as I am concerned, if God writes a book, I’m going to read it and do what it says.
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12:39 PM   [10 May 2020 | Sunday]

Who Will Be the Two Witnesses

 

 

 The Bible tells us in the Book of Hebrews 9:27 that we will all die. 

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, (NKJ)

I believe what the Bible says, and I believe it is absolutely true.  If the Bible says everyone will die, then that is what will happen – to everyone.

Remembering the verse above, let’s take a look at two prophets from the Old Testament.

First, there was Enoch.  He was a godly man who lived in the time after Adam and before Abraham.  We learn about Enoch in the Book of Genesis.

“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah.  After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years.  Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.” Gen.5:21-24 (bold print added)

When you read Genesis Chapter 5, you will see it is basically a list of Adam’s family line.  There are nine generations listed, of which Enoch is the seventh.  All the other paragraphs about each descendant ends with the phrase “and then he died”.  The paragraph about Enoch’s life, however, ends with the phrase “because God took him away”. 

Nothing further is said in Genesis about Enoch.  All we know is that he lived a Godly life for 365 years, and then God took him away.

Second, let us consider Elijah.  He too was an Old Testament prophet who lived many generations after Enoch.  Elijah was also taken to Heaven by God without experiencing death.  The Bible tells us of this supernatural event in 2 Kings 2:11.

As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

The Bible verse from Hebrews says that all men will die, but these other two verses tell about two Old Testament prophets that were taken to Heaven without experiencing physical death.  I would like to advance one theory of Bible scholars explaining this apparent inconsistency.

Chapter 11 of the Book of Revelation discusses some of the events of the Great Tribulation, which is the terrible seven year period before Jesus returns to end satan’s rule of the Earth.  This chapter speaks about “two witnesses” who will prophesy for the Lord in Israel during the Great Tribulation Period.  They will perform many miracles, and many people will be saved because of them.

After three and one half years of prophesy and miracles, they will be murdered by the antichrist, and will lay, unburied, in the street for three and one half days.  The world will celebrate their death.  But then the two witnesses will be publically brought back to life and summoned to Heaven by God in front of the whole world.

Elijah, who never experienced death, could be one of these two witnesses.  He didn’t die at the end of his lifetime in the Old Testament, because God was reserving his death for this spectacular event during the Great Tribulation.  There is a Bible verse which speaks of Elijah’s return to Earth during the end times, adding credibility to this theory.

 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6)

Enoch also has a connection to the End Times, and could be the other “witness”.  In the Book of Jude, we are told that he was a prophet who warned of the coming judgement when the Lord Jesus returns.

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone,” (Jude 1:14-15)

So, the theory I am advancing says that two great prophets, Enoch and Elijah, never died. They both had a Biblical connection to the Great Tribulation period which will occur before Jesus returns.  God chose them and reserved their death for a special time that would advance His purposes and glorify His name.

God is in control of the destiny of mankind, and moves through history in amazing ways and causes all things to work together for His people. 

Are you in harmony with God’s will?  Are you putting your faith in Jesus Christ?  What is God’s purpose for your life?  How does He want your life to glorify His name? 

Say a prayer, right now, for Jesus to come into your life, and so you can start living as a child of God.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

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12:08 PM   [10 Dec 2019 | Tuesday]

Jesus' conversation with Peter after He was resurrected.

 

Jesus was crucified and died on the cross for the sins of mankind.  Three days later, He was raised from the dead. 

After He was resurrected, Jesus appearing to a group of His disciples while they were fishing from a boat.  After coming ashore, they shared a simple breakfast with Jesus.  Jesus then had a conversation with Peter, and told him that someday Peter would be crucified, just as Jesus was crucified.

   “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.” Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” John 21:18-19 (bold print added)

After Peter heard this, he saw the disciple John approaching, and Peter asked Jesus what John’s fate would be.  To this question, Jesus replied:

“Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”               John 21:22 (bold print added)

Jesus’ answer sounds like a rebuke to Peter.  We do not know for sure what is meant here, but it might mean that if Jesus wants John to remain living, it was none of Peter’s concern.  Peter was told to follow Jesus, and not worry about what John’s fate may be.

The point I would like to discuss in this blog is what exactly did Jesus mean by saying “until I return”?

Some people believe that this means the Apostle John would not die until Jesus returns in the Second Coming.  That cannot possibly be accurate because Jesus has not yet returned, and John is dead.  He died as an old man in approximately 100 AD.

The Apostle John was the only Disciple that would not be cruelly martyred in the years after Jesus’ resurrection.  When he was a very old man, he was exiled to the Greek prison island of Patmos.  It was there that John had a supernatural experience.  Read what happened to John:

Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

      When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”  Revelation 1:12-18 (bold print added)

Jesus, in His heavenly gloried state, came to John on the Greek Isle of Patmos in the year 95 AD.

I believe this is what Jesus was referring to when he said, “If I want him to remain until I come,”. 

I believe Jesus was saying that John needed to be alive until Jesus came to him on Patmos to show John all the wonderful prophesies that John would then write down.  These writings would become the Book of Revelation, which became the last book in the Bible.

Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment for the sins of mankind.  He is no longer on that cross.  He is now glorified in Heaven, preparing an eternal home for all those who have accepted the free gift of His sacrifice on the cross, as payment for our sins.

Have you accepted Jesus as the Son of God?  Have you invited Him to come into your life?  Do you trust and obey Him in your daily life?  Are you sure you are going to Heaven?  Fix your eyes on Jesus today, and He will help you trust and obey Him.

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9:50 AM   [15 Aug 2019 | Thursday]

Yes, Prophets Do Come From Galilee

 

During Jesus’ three and one half year ministry in Israel, many people believed in Him because of His teachings, the wonderful miracles, and the healings He performed.  Other Israelites did not believe He was the Messiah they were waiting for.  There were probably many reasons why some people did not believe Jesus was the Son of God.  Three of these reasons are made evident in the Gospel of John when we read about Jesus teaching in the Temple.

First, many people completely trusted the ancient Jewish writings that made prophecies about the coming Messiah.  These writings were not Biblical, and were not part of what would become the Bible.  They were, however, widely accepted by the common people, as well as the religious leaders. These old Jewish writings mistakenly predicted the Messiah’s appearance on Earth would be very mysterious and dramatic.   One such writing says:

“so the Redeemer shall first appear and then be concealed, and then again be concealed and then again appear." "So the Redeemer shall first appear and then be hid, and then, at the end of 45 days, shall reappear, and cause manna to descend."

Jesus’ birth did not fit this description.  He was born to a humble working family with a mother, father, brothers and sisters that lived in Nazareth.  His childhood was normal and not mysterious as these ancient writings predicted. Therefore, many people erroneously concluded this was a much too commonplace life for the Messiah, and they therefore did not believe in Jesus’ Deity.

Second, others doubted Jesus because they knew the Old Testament prophet Micah said the Messiah had to be born in the town of Bethlehem.  Since Jesus and His family were from Nazareth, people concluded that He could not be the Savior.

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Micah 5:2

They were wrong on this too, because Jesus was, in fact, born in Bethlehem.  His family moved to Nazareth, in Galilee, 40 days after His birth. (Luke 2:39-40)  People didn’t bother to ask a few questions about Jesus’ background.  If they had, they would have known He was actually in full alignment with prophesies about His birthplace.

The third reason these people did not accept Jesus was because He was from Galilee, and that region of Israel was looked down upon by many people. 

When the chief priests and Pharisees sent the temple guards to arrest Jesus, these guards failed to capture Jesus because they were very impressed by Jesus’ words.  They knew there was something very special about Him.  As a result, the guards were reprimanded by the Pharisees and were told:

They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.” (John 7:52)

The Pharisees and chief priests denied that Jesus was the Messiah because He came from Galilee.  They said no prophet ever was born in Galilee.  They were wrong.

In fact, the Old Testament prophet, Jonah, was from the Galilee. He was born in the town of Gath-hepher.  Jonah’s birthplace was only about five miles from Nazareth. The Pharisees were supposedly Bible scholars.  How did they not know this?  They must have missed this verse from their own Old Testament:

“He was the one who restored the boundaries of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the Dead Sea, e in accordance with the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, spoken through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher.” 2 Kings 14:25 (bold print added)

So, where am I going with this?

Today, we still can make the same mistakes these people made.

We should not rely on any written material about Jesus that conflicts with the Bible.  The Bible is where the truth is found.  If a teaching contradicts the Bible, it is wrong. The Bible is the inerrant word of God, and the most reliable source to study to increase one’s faith and knowledge.

Our faith in Jesus cannot be based on faulty assumptions or a limited understanding of what the Bible teaches.  You have heard the saying, “A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.” This is also true about our Bible based faith in Jesus.  With just a little bit of Bible knowledge, a person can misunderstand some basic truths in Scripture.  Bible study needs to be an important part of every Christian’s day.

 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  (John 10:27-28)

Eternity is coming.  Are you absolutely positive you are going to Heaven?

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7:51 AM   [17 Jul 2019 | Wednesday]

Who Lifted Jesus from the Grave?

 

In the Gospel of John, we are told the story of Jesus going to the Temple in Jerusalem, and finding its courtyards filled with men selling cattle, sheep, and doves for the people to offer as sacrifices.  There were also moneychangers at tables exchanging the people’s money from Roman coins to Jewish shekels.

Jesus drove all the animals and money changers out of the Temple, whereupon the Jewish Pharisees asked Him to prove His authority to do such a thing.  Jesus’ response to them was:

“ . . . Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”   (John 2:19)

The Pharisees thought He was talking about raising up the Temple building in three days, but He was referring to His body as a temple, and raising it up three days after He was crucified.

What is very interesting here, is He said “I will raise it again in three days.”  The words “I will” are very important.  He said He, personally, would be the One to raise His body from the grave.

Jesus repeated this claim in John 10:18 when He was discussing laying down His life voluntarily and then coming back to life again.

No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Once again, Jesus said He will lift Himself from the grave after He was crucified.

So, if Jesus lifted Himself from the grave, how do we understand what Paul says in Romans 6:4?

“. . . And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (NLT, bold print added)

This verse states it was the power of God the Father which raised Jesus from the dead.  Below is another verse that says God the Father lifted Jesus from the tomb.

“. . . and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.”  (Gal. 1:1, bold print added))

This verse from Galatians also clearly states that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead.

Now, let’s read two more Bible verses from the Book of Romans:

“and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Ro. 1:4 (NLT, bold print added)

“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Ro. 811 (KJV, bold print added)

These two verses tell us that the Holy Spirit brought Jesus back from the dead after three days.

So, we have Bible verses declaring that Jesus raised Himself from the grave, God the Father lifted Him up from the dead, and also that the Holy Spirit brought Jesus back to life.  If Scripture doesn’t contradict Scripture, how are we to understand this?

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead after three days was accomplished by our Triune God; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All three Persons of the Trinity were responsible for Jesus’ miraculous victory over death.  When Jesus said “I will raise it up again in three days.” He demonstrated and declared that, while on Earth, He was fully aware that He was the Son of God, along with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.

 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36 (ESV)

“ because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Ro. 10:9-10 (ESV)

Those people who believe in, trust, and obey Jesus Christ will someday go to Heaven where He is now.  Those who refuse to make Jesus the Lord of their lives will not go to Heaven.  It’s really not very complicated.

 

 

 

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12:40 PM   [09 May 2019 | Thursday]

Sprinkling by His Blood

 

I never cease to be amazed by the Bible.

Let’s take a look at 1 Peter 1:2.

“. . . chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by His blood: (bold print added)

Peter addresses his epistle to first century Christians (and to all of us) who have been chosen by God, obedient to the teachings of Jesus, and sprinkled with His blood.

This phrase that says we are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus takes on greater meaning when we examine this phrase’s use in the Old Testament as a prophecy of the salvation in the blood of Jesus Christ.

Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament over 1300 years before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  We read of people being sprinkled with blood three times in Exodus and Leviticus.

The first time is in Exodus 24, after Moses received God’s laws on Mt. Sinai, he had some young bulls sacrificed, and put their blood in bowls. He then read the laws to the people which formed God’s covenant with them.

Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Ex. 24:8 (bold print added)

The second time was in Exodus 29 when Aaron was ordained as a High Priest.

“And take some blood from the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.” Ex. 29:21 (bold print added)

The third time was in Leviticus 14 during a purification ceremony for people who had been healed of leprosy.  The blood of a sacrificed bird was sprinkled on the person, and they were cleansed form their disease.

Seven times he shall sprinkle the one to be cleansed of the defiling disease, and then pronounce them clean.” Lev. 14:7 (bold print added)

When Peter says we are sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, he was certainly knowledgeable of  what this phrase meant in the Old Testament.  From our reading of the Old Testament, we can more fully understand why Peter says we have been sprinkled by the blood of Jesus.

First, like God’s Old Covenant involved sprinkling blood on the Israelites, the blood of Jesus is His new covenant with us, whereby there is forgiveness of sins in His blood.  Second, Aaron was sprinkled with blood when he became the first High Priest, and Jesus is the High Priest to all who have been saved by His blood.  Third, the Old Testament lepers were healed and then cleansed by sprinkled blood, and Christians are cleansed from the corruption of sin by the saving blood of Jesus.

The Old Testament and the New Testament were written by many men over a period of over 1300 years, but it is all the inspired, infallible Word of God.

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17

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11:30 AM   [05 Dec 2018 | Wednesday]

Do You Believe Everything Jesus Said?

 

There are some Christians who believe in Jesus Christ, but do not believe that some of the more remarkable events of the Old Testament really occurred.  They do not believe, for example, that Moses parted the Red Sea, or Noah built an ark in order to survive a world-wide flood.

In my opinion, you either believe what the Bible says, or you don’t.  God didn’t write some things that are true, and then make other stuff up. 

All of the Old Testament is true, even the wondrous or “unbelievable” occurrences.  Many of them were mentioned by Jesus Christ during His ministry.  Jesus didn’t lie, and He referred to some of these events when He was teaching His disciples, speaking to a crowd, or answering challenges from the Pharisees.

If Jesus said these things actually happened, then they really did.  Let’s look at some of the extraordinary happenings from the Old Testament and what Jesus said about them when He walked the Earth.

God created Adam and Eve

While teaching a crowd of people in Judea, some Pharisees approached Jesus and asked Him a question about divorce in order to test Him. 

Jesus replied. “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:6-9 (NIV, bold print added)

Mankind was destroyed by a flood except for Noah and his family

Jesus said the following to His disciples on the Mount of Olives:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” Matthew 24:37-39 (NIV, bold print added)

Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by fire and sulfur

Jesus mentioned Sodom when speaking to His disciples about the Earth’s last days:

“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:28-29 (NIV, bold print added)

Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt

When the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, He replied:

“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.” Luke 17:30-33 (NIV, bold print added)

 

God spoke to Moses in a burning bush

When the Sadducees asked Jesus about resurrection.  Here is part of His answer:

Now about the dead rising—have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?” Mark 12:26 (NIV)

God fed Israel with manna from Heaven in the wilderness

Jesus told this to a crowd of people by the Sea of Galilee:

So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.” John 6:30-32 (NIV)

God rescued Jonah from the belly of a large fish

When the Pharisees asked for a sign of His divinity, Jesus mentioned Jonah. He said:

“He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:39-40 (NIV, bold print added)

There are many wondrous things told to us in the Bible, but the most important one is Jesus died on the cross to atone for our sins, and there is no other way to get to Heaven except through Him. If you already trust and obey Him . . . GREAT!  If not, it’s time to start.  Say a prayer to Jesus right now.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7 (NIV, bold print added)

 

 

 

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12:01 PM   [25 Nov 2018 | Sunday]

Jesus and the Snake Made of Bronze

 

After almost 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites were heading north and nearing the Promised Land. The king of the Edomites, however, refused to let them pass through his country.  They, therefore, had to turn south and take a much longer route to their destination.  The Israelites began to grumble and complain about Moses and God.  As a consequence, God sent poisonous snakes among the people.

There were many poisonous snakes in this region, including horned vipers, puff adders, cobras and carpet vipers. The Israelites were evidently protected from these snakes by the Lord up to this point, but that ended with this latest disobedience to Moses and God.  Many people were being killed by the snakes, so they begged Moses to pray for them.  Moses did pray for them, and this is what happened:

The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21:8.9 (NIV)

Notice that God didn’t remove the snakes.  The people kept getting bitten and poisoned, but He gave them a remedy.  If they would gaze at the snake made of bronze on the pole, they would live, not die.  It is curious that God told Moses to make a metal image of a snake and put it on a pole, but that is what happened.  Then, after some time, the Israelites broke camp and moved on.

1400 years later, while Jesus was speaking to a man named Nicodemus, He talked about the snake made of bronze prepared by Moses.  Here is what He said:  

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” John 3:14-15 (NIV)

The next verse, John 3:16, finishes the lesson taught by Jesus: 

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (bold print added)               

John 3:16 is saying that God loved the world “in this way“.  “In this way” is referring to Moses lifting up an image of a snake made of bronze on a tall pole.  This event is recorded in the Old Testament’s Book of Numbers:

“The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV)

Why did Jesus compare Himself to an image of a poisonous snake made out of bronze, and lifted up high on a pole?  Below are two reasons:   

First, the bronze metal snake was harmless, but was a symbol of sin.  It was “lifted up” on a pole for all the people to see.  Jesus was sinless, but made to be sin on the cross in order to save mankind.   Jesus was “lifted up” on the cross for all mankind to see. 

Second, when the Israelites bitten by snakes looked up at the snake made of bronze, they were healed and they lived.  Likewise, when we, who are bitten by sin, look up to Jesus in faith, we are healed and obtain eternal life.

John 3:16 is saying that God loves the world in this same manner that He loved the ancient wandering Jews who were bitten by poisonous snakes. He told Moses to lift up a serpent made of bronze on a pole to save the lives of the Israelites that were bitten by snakes, and Jesus was lifted up on the cross to save us from our sins. 

 Just as the snakes were not removed from the camp of the Israelites, evil is not removed from around us.  If we are “bitten by sin”, all we have to do is look at Him (believe in Him) and we will be healed (saved).  The likeness of a serpent was lifted up on a pole to save the Jewish people from an earthly death, and Jesus was “lifted up” on the cross to save us from eternal death.

Are you being bitten and poisoned by sin in your life?  Try looking up to Jesus who was lifted up on a cross for your salvation.  Be healed and receive the free gift of eternal life. 

 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole. Galatians 3:13 (NIV, bold print added)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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10:03 AM   [12 Nov 2018 | Monday]

You Are Who God Says You Are

 

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and died on the cross for the sins of man-kind?  Do you have faith in Him and trust Him?  Do you lean on Him daily and pray for guidance and forgiveness for the things you do wrong?  Do you thank God, in Jesus’ name, for the blessings you have?  Do you believe that there is no other way to Heaven except through Jesus Christ?

If your answers to these questions are “Yes”, then you are a child of God.  God is your Father, and Jesus is your Lord in Heaven, sitting at the right hand of God.  Also, Jesus has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell in you and guide you through this life.

Have you ever thought about how God sees us?  Is He a concerned, involved Father?   Is He strict and unforgiving?  Does He have a plan for us, or are we on our own?

The Bible tells us how we, as children of God, are seen by our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.  The verses below are all taken from the New International Version.

1.       You are a child of God. 

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—“ John 1:12

2.       You are sons or daughters of God.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor. 6:18

3.       Christ is the Vine, and you are the branch.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;”          John 15:5

4.       You are Jesus’ friend.

“. . . Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

5.       You are no longer a slave to sin.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— “ Romans 6:6

6.       You are a co-heir of God, along with Jesus Christ.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ,” Romans 8:17

7.       You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  God lives in you.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.” 1 Cor. 6:19-20

8.       You are a new creature in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Cor. 5:17

9.       You are holy and blameless before God.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4

10.   You are redeemed and forgiven.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, . .“ Ephesians 1:7

11.   You have been made to do good works.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

12.   You are a citizen of Heaven.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20

13.   You are holy and beloved.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Col. 3:12

14.   God chose you and loves you.

For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,” 1 Thess. 1:4

This is how you are seen and loved by God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Take a moment to reflect upon this free gift of love, and your response to it.

 

 

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10:30 AM   [24 Oct 2018 | Wednesday]

How to Relate to Dad and Mom

 

 

 

In Exodus, we are told that the LORD gave the Hebrew people (and us) the Ten Commandments by which to live.  The fifth commandment says:

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 NIV

Commandments five thru ten all state how we need to relate to our fellow man.  It is no accident that the very first of these mandates tells us of our duty to our parents, because our relationship to our parents is our first human bond, and lies at the root of all our future social relations.

The LORD tells us to “honor” our parents.  The Greek word for “honor” is “timao”, and it means “to revere, prize, and value.”  God commands us also to honor Him as our Heavenly Father.  The honor we have for our earthly parents reflects the honor we should also have for our Heavenly Father.

It interesting the commandment says “Honor your father and your mother,” but Leviticus 19:3 reverses the order of the names.

Each of you must respect your mother and father, and you must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God.” (NIV, bold print added)

In this verse, the mother is named first.  This tells me both parents are to be honored equally.  The order of the names in the fifth commandment does not mean the father is to receive more honor than the mother.  Both parents are due honor from their adult children.

As Christians, we are to imitate the way Jesus lived His life.  The Bible tells us Jesus honored His earthly parents.  For example, when He was on the cross, He told His disciple John to care for His mother.

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” John 19:26-27 (NIV)

Honoring ones parents is the only commandment that comes with a blessing. “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (bold print added)

This blessing is repeated in Ephesians 6:2

 “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” (NIV, bold print added))

 So, the Bible makes it clear that we are to honor our parents throughout our lives.  When we were children, there was a large amount of obeying parents that was included in how we honored our mother and father.  As adults, we continue to honor our parents.  There are a number of ways that adult children can honor their parents.  Let’s take a look at some of them.

1.        You should value the world that they live in, No matter how old they are, their lifestyle and interests should be respected.

2.       Your parents possess and taught you many godly attributes.  Don’t reject these qualities.  Make them a part of your life also.

3.       Honor your parents age.  Don’t mock their limitations.  Help them with the issues brought on by old age.

4.       Protect your parent’s dignity.  Don’t force them to rely on strangers for help in their old age.  They provided for you and protected you for many years.  Now it’s your turn. 

5.       You are a large part of your parent’s joy in life.  Don’t ignore them.

6.       Elderly parents many times require help with the basic needs in life.  Be there for them.

The LORD God commands that His children honor their adult parents, and it teaches that failure to do so is a serious sin. 

“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” 1 Timothy 5-8 (NIV)

Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment in the Law.  Here is what He said:

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV, bold print added)

If loving our neighbor as much as we love ourselves is the second greatest commandment, certainly we should love our parents as much as ourselves also.

 

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