THE BIBLE – TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?

Scam
Is the Bible too good to be true? (Image source: BibleSenders.org)

 

Experience teaches us not to trust anyone, until we have gotten to know them better.  We carefully test the things we hear people say because people can be deceptive, manipulative, and evil. So, it is no surprise that we bring this doubting attitude to the Bible as we read its stories, words of counsel, and promises.

If we could overcome our doubts and fears, we will easily see amazing truths in the Bible, and their healing power for our body, soul, and spirit. Take Matthew 12:18-21 (The Message Bible), a prophecy explaining Jesus mission, which says:

“Look well at my handpicked servant; I love him so much, take such delight in him. I’ve placed my Spirit on him; he’ll decree justice to the nations. But he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner. Before you know it, his justice will triumph; the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even among far-off unbelievers.”

These are beautiful and wonderful words, kind and loving, full of hope for all people. Imagine what it will be like to live under such a leader and ruler, who rules with love, gentleness, compassion, truth, and fairness to all – this is paradise!

Experience from human society, will make us read this with doubt; we might even be thinking – this is too good to be true, it is a scam. However, experience also teaches us to give everyone a chance to prove themselves trustworthy or untrustworthy. What if this Jesus is not a fraud, but you shut him out of your life?

God of heaven, you created us to test all things and learn through evidence; give every person evidence that Jesus is real; dear God, speak into our hearts, convince us through your Holy Spirit, Amen!

THE POWER OF THE TONGUE…

Tongue
Tame the tongue (Image source: ThousandThoughts)

 

What kind of person do I want to be? When I was a child, I wanted friends so we could play. At high school I was very concerned with what the girls thought about me. At my first job, I focused on making a good impression on my boss. At each point, I have deliberately taking steps to achieve my ‘person-I-want-to-be’ ambition.

Today, I work at a university, with colleagues and students from around the world, with different personality types, maturity, and life goals. I am challenged more than ever before, on the question what kind of person do I want to be? One helpful answer that applies to everyone – is about the way we use our tongue.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (God’s Word Translation) says: A person’s speaking ability provides for his stomach. His talking provides him a living. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love to talk will have to eat their own words.  

Am I the sort of person whose tongue gives life? Is my tongue so sharp that it cuts, or so pointed that it stings, or perhaps so deceptive that it ignites fires everywhere? What kind of a person am I at home, at work, to my neighbors? How well am I a master of my tongue given that it can open or close doors of opportunity?

Lord God, please teach and discipline me, to use my tongue to give life not death; to use my tongue to open doors not shut them; to use my tongue to become an inspiring person, Amen!

THE ELISHA MIRACLES

Elisha
Miracles are a higher reality (Image source: welcomechurch.co.uk)

 

Recently, I organized a tree planting event with University students. In a preparatory meeting I strongly emphasized to the students the need to post pictures and messages about the event on social media. A student asked why I was so insistent, I answered that for youths today, if an event is not on social media, it is not important.

Similarly, physical scientists say if we cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste a thing, then that thing is not real. Like youths today who judge importance by number of followers and likes on social media, physical scientists see reality strictly by whether our five senses can detect and measure the impact of a thing.

The Bible teaches another view; it is great to have followers and likes but the follower that counts is YAHWEH. More importantly, the Bible teaches about a higher reality, call it super-reality, or hyper-reality, or beyond-the-physical-reality. The book of 2 Kings, Chapter 6, is one of many Bible passages about this higher reality.

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha the Prophet makes a solid metal axhead to float; and when a well armed battalion of soldiers came to capture him, scaring his servant to death, Elisha responded with a prayer in 2 Kings 6:17 (NIV): “And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”

Elisha prayed for his servant, so he could see a higher reality – the servant saw an Angel army, larger than the battalion of soldiers sent to capture Elisha. Read up this interesting passage to see what happened to the human soldiers. Yes, the world is tough, but Christians can call on God’s Angel army for help.

El Elyon, God Most High, God of Angel armies, it is a precarious and dangerous world out there, rescue us from all dangers, Amen! 

DIVINE HELP IN PRECARIOUS TIMES

Precarity
Life has become more unpredictable (Image source: under30ceo.com)

Few weeks ago, the world was shocked by the Church bombings in Sri Lanka; a week ago, the BBC had a story revealing the horrors suffered by migrants traveling over the Sahara Desert to get to Europe; in the news yesterday, is a story of how an angry worker in America, shot and killed 12 of his colleagues.

The world has become precarious for so many people; precarity is a condition where a person is living with insecurity, uncertainty about what next or where next in life, and therefore lacking material needs and emotional well being.

Joseph, Mary, and the baby Jesus, were in a precarious situation in Matthew 2:13 (NIV)When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

King Herod was out to kill the baby Jesus after the visit from the wise men. The poor family were warned by an angel, and had to migrate to Egypt to be safe. Life was hard, but having a visible angelic guide to warn of danger, and to later encourage a return back to Israel, was of great help to Joseph and Mary.

Precarity describes the condition that many are facing today. Like Joseph and Mary, we are in need of divine help in these times of high concerns over insecurity, food, shelter, stable jobs, money, relationships, and health.

I pray that we experience abounding grace, divine help with practical solutions, to the many problems threatening our survival, Amen!     

BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER…

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Be kind to one another (Image source: opendemocracy.net)

 

“Feel no pity for Theresa May…” was the title of a recent article, in a popular British newspaper. This was after she recently announced she was resigning as Prime Minister of Great Britain, with tears at the end of her speech. It was just one of the many harsh cruel news articles about her, following her resignation.

Is it ever ok to be cruel, wicked, in words and action, to anyone, even when we have strong disagreements? Jesus preaches in Luke 6:27 (KJV) “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you.” Wow, who can live like this in today’s world where revenge is celebrated in all our movies?

Apostle Paul teaches the same principle in Ephesians 4:31-32 (KJV) “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour [violent quarrels], and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Wow, wow, wow, who can live a life of kindness like this? Put away bitterness, put away anger, put away malice, forgive, be kind to one another! Can I really be kind in words or action to that person who abused my love; misused my hard earned money; spoke evil about me to the manager, to friends, to family?

Well, Jesus did preach that: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7 KJV). So, I guess if we want to receive mercy, when we behave badly, when we get it wrong by mistake or deliberately, we have to be merciful to others. Thus, if we want to receive kindness, we have to give out kindness!

Dear God, teach us how to be kind in this revengeful world, Amen!    

 

 

EZEKIEL – LESSONS OF HOPE & TRUST

Ezekiel 6
Image Source: DrMichelleBengtson.com

 

Once upon a time, Germany was divided into two countries, East Germany and West Germany, separated by a concrete wall – the Berlin Wall. The wall was built in 1961 and marked for destruction in 1989 when the two Germany decided to unite. A small section of the wall still exist today for the historical lessons it teaches us.

The wall section still standing is not a history textbook; people visit it for many reasons, but it teaches us lessons, from the past, to help us today and plan for the future. Same with the Bible, it is not a history textbook; it is read for many reasons, but it teaches us lessons from the past, to help us today and tomorrow.

Two important lessons from Ezekiel are hope and trust. Ezekiel tells Israel and the surrounding countries like Egypt, Edom (Jordan), and Tyre (Lebanon), that God will discipline them for their arrogance, corruption, and injustice; BUT there is HOPE of restoration like we read in Ezekiel 29:12-13 (NIV)(shortened):

“I will make the land of Egypt desolate among devastated lands, and her cities will lie desolate forty years among ruined cities… At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered.”

There are many passages about discipline in Ezekiel, and there are also many passages of restoration and hope. Today, as we read Ezekiel and study history, we see that God promised Israel they will return back to their land, and it happened. We see that we can TRUST the message of Ezekiel and the Bible.

There are many promises God makes to us in the Old and New Testament sections of the Bible. These promises gives us hope for today and tomorrow. We can trust God to keep these promises. However, we need to know what these promises are, by calmly studying the Bible – there is no rush, its one small step at a time.

Lord, help us to hope and put our trust in you, Amen!  

 

EZEKIEL – GLOBAL RESTORATION AND HEALING

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Statue of Ezekiel at the Notre Dame Cathedral, France (Image source: thetorah.com

 

I am a “Trekkie” or some would say “Trekker” – that is a fan of the science fiction space adventure drama “Star Trek”. There was Captain Kirk the flirt, not my cup of tea; then there was brainy Captain Picard, totally my cup of tea. Growing up, I had watched a few episodes here and there of Star Trek and loved every minute.

As an adult, I wondered what was the logic and agenda behind Star Trek. To answer my curiosity, I had to watch every episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, the series led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Yes, I watched all 176 episodes – it took a number of years, I persevered, and I am now an expert in space travel, hahaha!

What has this got to do with the book of Ezekiel? Easy – to fully understand the logic and agenda in Ezekiel, you got to watch, sorry, you got to read the entire book. Best do this with different translations; it could take days, weeks, months, years. Why bother? Easy – Ezekiel is important at an individual and global level.

In Chapters 1 to 24, Ezekiel speaks of Israel’s wrong doing and God’s discipline. God would not be godly, if wrong doing is not judged. Chapters 24 to 33 is on the wrong doing and discipline of the other nations around Israel. Then Chapters 33 to 48 is about global restoration and healing, as stated in this exciting passage:

Ezekiel 47:1-12 (NIV) (shortened) – The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out… [it] flows toward the eastern region… where it enters the Dead Sea… There will be large numbers of fish, because… where the river flows everything will live… Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit… Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

This is too good to be true – only a powerful being can do this. O God in the heavens, we hope and pray this to be true, not science fiction, Amen!