OUR DESTINY IN JESUS CHRIST

Jesus

Acts 10:34-38 (New Living Translation)

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

 

In the above passage from the book of Acts, Peter is preaching to Cornelius, a high ranking official in the Roman army, recalling how Jesus went about ‘doing good and healing’ all who looked to him. The Jews had many prophets in their history, who did amazing things, but Jesus surpassed all of them.

Since the death and resurrection of Jesus, the world has been experiencing the Christian era, the period between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to heaven, and his second coming, this time around to rule the world. What would the rule of Jesus look like? It will be similar to what happened when he came the first time.

A critical difference will be that the goodness and healing powers of Jesus will extend to people in every nation around the world. It will be a time of peace, love, prosperity, and health. His coming again, will usher in a time of joy and gladness for all peoples on the planet, Jews and gentiles. All the world will see Jesus doing good, healing all.

This is our destiny and nothing can stop it from coming to pass, hallelujah!   

Image: Jesus the Redeemer (Source: Wikimedia)

JESUS FAVORITE SERMON

Mustard oil and seeds (2)

 

Matthew 13:31-32 (New Living Translation)

Here is another illustration Jesus used: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed planted in a field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of garden plants…”

 

Reading through the gospels, it is clear that Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God more than any other topic. He told the crowds that followed him that the kingdom was near, and asked them to repent, so they can be a part of it.

He explained the nature of the kingdom to them using many parables and stories like the one above about the mustard seed. Indeed as the image above shows the mustard seed is the smallest of seeds; but when fully grown it is a good size tree.

Jesus is the seed that has given birth to the Kingdom of God on Earth.

The Kingdom of God is simply the place where Jesus is King. The Bible teaches that Jesus is King in the hearts of all who sincerely believe in Him. These are the Church of God; not the Church referring to buildings, but of people who believe in Jesus; not perfect people but people who see their sinfulness and look to Jesus for healing.

These make up the Kingdom of God on Earth, and the number grows daily. It started with a single seed, Jesus, over 2000 years ago, and has been growing and growing. There is no exchange of money to get in, the visa is belief in Jesus as the one who can give us power from the inside, power in our soul and spirit, to live godly lives.

As you seek for daily bread, for career success, for friends, for intimate relationships, for fun and laughter, seek Jesus a little more through prayer and Bible reading. Be part of the Kingdom of God on Earth today! 

Read – Pray – Share!   

Image: Mustard seed and oil (Source: Wikimedia)

WISDOM FROM LAMENTATIONS

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Lamentations 1:1 (New Living Translation) – Jerusalem, once so full of people, is now deserted. She who was once great among the nations now sits alone like a widow. Once the queen of all the earth, she is now a slave.

Lamentations 5:21-22 (New Living Translation) – Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had! Or have you utterly rejected us? Are you angry with us still?

 

These are the opening and closing verses of the book of Lamentations, written by Prophet Jeremiah. Many avoid Lamentations because it is about grieving with sorrow over a devastating event; in this case, it is Jeremiah mourning the horrible destruction of Judah by the Babylonians and taking the people as captives.

This happened about 1000 years after God delivered Israel from Egypt and took them into a land of milk and honey (see previous post on Milk and Honey Part 1 and Part 2). When David was King, Israel was a very powerful nation, and when Solomon was King, it was a very rich nation. Here they were in Jeremiah’s era, a captive people.

The books of the prophets in the Bible, explain that this happened because Israel turned her back on God; consequently her Kings ruled very badly; her court judges were corrupt; her markets had traders who often cheated buyers; men were unkind and women cared more for their dress and make-up than their character.

Despite the prophets warning Israel for about 500 years to repent, they refused; and were then cruelly destroyed by Babylon. If Israel’s leaders, greatly favored by God, could get it wrong so badly, what about leaders of our nations today? Is it wise to place ALL our hopes for a better life, a better country, in the ability of our leaders today?

Psalm 146:3-5 (New Living Translation) tells us – Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God.

Lamentations teaches a wise lesson that human leadership, no matter how blessed, will fail the people, from time to time. The only secure anchor we have is God; so in these difficult times of political insecurity everywhere, seek God earnestly and sincerely, and he will keep you and give you peace, Amen!   

Read – Pray – Share!

 

Image: The Captivity of Judah (Source: Wikimedia)

 

HEALER OF THE BROKENHEARTED

 

John 4:7-9 (God’s Word Translation)

A Samaritan woman went to get some water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink of water.” (His disciples had gone into the city to buy some food.) The Samaritan woman asked him, “How can a Jewish man like you ask a Samaritan woman like me for a drink of water?” (Jews, of course, don’t associate with Samaritans.)

 

The meeting of Jesus and the Samaritan woman happened early in his ministry. He was going back north on foot to Galilee after a short visit to Jerusalem. Samaria was in-between both places; the people, the Samaritans, were children of Jews who had inter-married with gentiles for many generations. Sadly, they were considered impure by Jews, and contact with them was strongly forbidden by Jewish laws.

Relationships between Jews and Samaritans were often hostile, bitter, full of mistrust and pain. So it was a shocking surprise to this woman in the passage from Chapter 4 of the Gospel of John that Jesus is speaking with her, and even asking her for water. Adding to her surprise was that Jesus knew all about her five failed marriages, and about her current living situation with a man who was not her husband.

A normal Jewish religious leader would not associate with this Samaritan woman, but Jesus did. He not only interacted with this woman, he did not condemn her, he instead offered her redemption and salvation. This woman who came to the well to draw water alone with no friends coming with her as was the custom back then; a woman with a bad reputation; with deep emotional wounds; found a savior in Jesus.

This woman’s story in John Chapter 4 shows an aspect of God’s character revealed in Psalm 147:1-3 (God’s Word Translation) –  Hallelujah! It is good to sing psalms to our God. It is pleasant to sing [his] praise beautifully. The LORD is the builder of Jerusalem. He is the one who gathers the outcasts of Israel together. He is the healer of the brokenhearted. He is the one who bandages their wounds.

John Chapter 4 is about Jesus truly bandaging the wounds of outcasts, bringing salvation to a troubled woman and to a despised people. This woman with no friends to accompany her to the well, was so full of joy and went to call everyone in her city to come see Jesus. He spent two days there and we are told that: Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman… (John 4:39).  

What is it that could be causing you deep inner pain? Failed relationships? Unsuccessful career? Financial hardship? Health problems? Discrimination against you because of racism, because of your ethnicity and tribe, because you are a woman, or because you believe in Jesus? What is it that has left you brokenhearted?

Don’t lose all hope; look to Jesus, connect with him through prayer – He is the healer of the brokenhearted. He is the one who bandages their wounds.

Read – Pray – Share! 

 

Image: Jesus and the Samaritan woman (Source: Wikimedia)

MILK AND HONEY – Part 2

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Deuteronomy Chapter 8 (shortened) (New Living Translation)

God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character… to teach you that people do not live by bread alone – we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD… [He] is bringing you into a good land… 

…when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes… do not become proud… never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful…

If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed.

 

Last week in MILK AND HONEY – Part 1 we saw from Exodus Chapter 3 that the Lord promised Israel that he is rescuing them from Egypt and taking them to a land flowing with milk and honey; we also saw that this gospel of milk and honey is very popular, with many Christians seeking God because they want to get out of poverty.

The narrative from Deuteronomy 8 shows how the Israelites left Egypt; were in the wilderness for 40 years; survived on manna; and passed through God’s school of character building, in preparation for entering the land of milk and honey.

Lesson: before providing milk and honey, God will first build godly character in us.

Why is this important? If God does not build godly character in us, when he answers our prayers for milk and honey, we might become proud, lose interests in serving him, and become much more committed to other activities like politics, sports, pleasure travel, shopping, sexual diversions, excessive eating and drinking.

We have thus moved from the Lord just promising Israel milk and honey in the book of Exodus as a motivation for them to leave Egypt and worship him, to the Lord teaching them 40 years later in the book of Deuteronomy, that worshiping him as the source of their milk and honey is the more important thing he wants them to do.

Lesson – Yahweh will provide us bread as we pray for bread; but an abundance of bread should not turn us away from worshiping him to worshiping our own idols. He will build godly character in us so that success does not make us go astray; but if we still choose to turn our back on him, he won’t save us from eternal death. 

May the goodness of God, not be a stumbling block to us, Amen!

Read – Pray – Share! 

 

Image: By jules – Goats Cheese & Honey, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45846370

 

A NEW VISION FOR OVERCOMING GREAT LOSS

Delhi Gate 2

 

When Babylon horribly destroyed Judah and took all the people into painful bondage, the Prophet Jeremiah mourned this great loss of country, freedom, and prosperity. While Jeremiah mourned, a young priest named Ezekiel received new visions of God.

Ezekiel 1:1 (NLT Bible) 

On July 31 of my thirtieth year, while I was with the Judean exiles beside the Kebar River in Babylon, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

Ezekiel saw six visions of God. In the first vision, Ezekiel saw God on a throne, which was carried by four very powerful Angels, moving speedily up and down between heaven and earth; Ezekiel describes the person on the throne this way:

Ezekiel 1, multiple verses, (WEB Translation)

…a stormy wind came out of the north, a great cloud, with flashing lightning, and a brightness around it, and out of its midst as it were glowing metal, out of the midst of the fire. Out of its midst came the likeness of four living creatures. (Verses 4-5)

Over the head of the living creature there was the likeness of an expanse, like the awesome crystal to look on, stretched forth over their heads above. (Verse 22)

Above the expanse that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and on the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man on it above. I saw as it were glowing metal, as the appearance of fire within it all around, from the appearance of his waist and upward; and from the appearance of his waist and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was brightness around him. As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. (Verses 26-28)

Judah was experiencing a catastrophe; the people had lost loved ones and all their property, all hope seemed lost. Under such torment, Ezekiel received this lightning and stunning vision of God. This was the perfect medicine for the hour.

The vision renewed Ezekiel’s faith. He saw that in spite of what Israel was passing through, the Almighty God was still ruler of heaven and earth. The vision turned Ezekiel from seeing the problem, to seeing God’s provisions and solutions for a fresh start.

How are you dealing with loss and grief? I encourage you to share your feelings of loss, pain and anguish, with God in prayer. I encourage you to pray for a new vision, a new light, to guide you out of the dark, into renewed joy and hope.

May the Lord, in his amazing grace, answer your prayer for a new vision, Amen!

 

Image: Delhi gate early morning, By DarNadeem – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42992045   

HEALING BY REMOTE CONTROL

Christ_heals_the_daughter_of_the_woman_of_Canaan._Etching_by_Wellcome_V0034891

Proverbs 3:5-8 (God’s Word Translation)

Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth. Do not consider yourself wise. Fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. [Then] your body will be healed, and your bones will have nourishment.

In high school, I never cared much about my health. I was young, very well-fed, and strong. I could do whatever I wanted with my body. As a young adult, I was involved in work that required long hours of standing, long walks in the forest, and short hours of sleep in rough places. I could do all of this, get up the next morning, dust my body, and off I go to punish the body some more.

Now entering middle age, my body does not seem to recover as fast anymore from bruises, aches, pains, and short hours of sleep. I watch my steps when going up and down stairs, and when on wet surfaces. When it snows, I don’t want to go to the office, pick the kids up from school, or go grocery shopping. My health and concern for my body is now a top priority issue on my mind every day.

Consequently, the words of Solomon above have taken on a huge significance in my life as I have gotten older. How can it be that trusting in the LORD, giving ear to his counsel to turn away from evil, results in healing for my body and nourishment for my bones? What kind of technology and medical practice is this? My rational scientific mind fails to see the connection between faith and healing.

Then I asked myself ‘how come I can press the remote control and watch any program or movies I like on TV?’ To be honest I can’t fully explain how the remote control works. I know there are experts out there who can break it down for me to understand; but to me and billions of people around the world, it’s like magic, it’s like spirit in motion, when using the remote control to navigate the TV.

If God be given due respect as creator of all things including our bodies, then it is not too much to acknowledge that God must have a remote link with our bodies, such that at his word, our physical bodies including our bones receives nourishment, which our eyes just cannot see.

I know for that when I fast and pray on a regular basis, I am able to stay off junk food; I sleep better and physical activities seem lighter to perform. My energy levels stay high without need for energy drinks. There must be truth and power in this Bible passage, and it’s available for you too. Trust in the LORD, turn away from evil, and experience healing by remote control for your entire person.

 

Image: Christ heals the daughter of the woman of Canaan. Etching by Simpson after Samule Wale [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons]