Reflections From The Bible And Life

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Life In Marriage

What is marriage and where did it originate from?
Genesis 2:18 shows that God planned is relationship right from the start: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.”

How was marriage supposed to be?
First of all, we do know that God is a holy god, and everything He does is holy. When He created woman this was a sacred act and why woman was created is also holy. Therefore marriage is holy.

According to Genesis 2:22-24, “man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” What does it mean to be united as one flesh?

It means both man and woman should support each other and do decisions as one couple, and not individually. They both do things and act as one couple.

Proverbs 12:4 says, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Since man and woman are united as one in marriage. whatever the won does, man is affected, and vise versa.

Ephesians 5:22-33 best describes how marriage should be:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

What does the bible say of sanctity of marriage?
Hebrews 13:4 says, “Let marriage be held in honor by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”

Marriage is not just about procreation in response to God’s command of go and multiply. It’s way beyond that. It is also about equal share of responsibilities between husband and wife.

Anything created by God is holy and should never be defiled. Sex is created by God as a gift in marriage. God is keeping sex for you and not from you, in a proper time. 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 says, “Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” While sex is a gift from God we are also reminded that we should also devote a time to worshiping God and having a time for prayer.

What does God desire from man and woman in marriage? Malachi 2:15-16 says, “Did not one God make her? Both flesh and spirit are His. And what does the one God desire? Godly offspring. So look to yourselves, and do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and covering one’s garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts. So take heed to yourselves and do not be faithless.”

God allowed man to divorce during Moses’ time. Does this make mean God allows it?
First of all, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember that in Malachi 2:16, it is stated: “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.” According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. “So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). God realizes, though, that, since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcées, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1–4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because such laws were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).

Therefore, if you claim to be followers of Christ and godly people, you should stay away from it. Stay away from promiscuity and engaging in intimate relations with other married persons.

While God makes it clear that He wants man and woman to be bound to each other in life, He also makes it clear that this commitment is only within this lifetime and not beyond this life. So, if you have a husband or wide whom you loved and cherished until his or her death. Your commitment to him or her stops there are you are free to see other people again. This is not a sin. Romans 7:1-3 says, “Do you not know, brothers and sisters—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only during that person’s lifetime? Thus a married woman is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives; but if her husband dies, she is discharged from the law concerning the husband. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man, she is not an adulteress.”

It is very clear in the bible from Genesis, that God created MAN and WOMAN, and not other kind of human species. There is not such thing as being born gay or lesbian, for these are choices that man makes. For God only made man and woman. Anything that deviates from God’s plan is an abomination. While it is not a sin to be tempted as everyone is tempted, including Jesus, the transformation of these into actions constitute sin, and is detestable to God.

We, the church (people of God) are likened as Christ’s bride. As a bride, we should act as one in Christ and with Christ, because if we do otherwise, we are defiling the sanctity of our marriage to Him.

Immorality of all forms especially sexual immorality, led to the downfall of Babylon, Greece, Italy (Rome), Egypt, and many other once-powerful nations. It has always been the case from Old Testament to New Testament up to our existing lives. It is what corrodes our moral character. Everytime we sin, we tend to be lose a bit of our conscience.

Love Freely

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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Colossians 1:24-2:3; Psalm 62:6-9; Luke 6:6-11

Psalm 62:9 states, “Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.” What does this mean? It means tragedy is not a proof of significance and neither is accomplishment. We do not gain significance by parading our trophies nor by flaunting our victimization. Glorification of victims is as much out-of-place as adulation of winners. We are only ourselves when we are in a trust relationship with God as defined and commanded by His Word, participating in His power, which is trusting in Him at all times, and pouring our hearts out before Him in love.

Everything that Jesus taught us is deeply rooted in love. Love is ultimately God’s power. With so much freedom given to man by God and having so much to decide on, man created rules to establish a sort of peace and order in this world. These rules, however are useless without love. Man will still be tempted into greed, perversity and unhealthy competition among themselves, as their goals are selfish.

Love is not bounded by any man-made law.  It is a very powerful thing freely given to us by God which holds more value than any law. Though rules and regulations help in putting order in out lives, let us not be constrained by them. Let us instead, be free in showing one another our love by serving others whenever possible.

With full trust in the Lord and love in our hearts, the world would be a much better place to live in. It would almost be like heaven here on earth.

Why Can’t We Just Have Sex?

“Why Can’t We Just Have Sex?” (taken from a line from Natalie Portman’s character in the movie, No Strings Attached, co-starring with Ashton Kutcher, some years ago) This simple question can be answered by the Bible.

We live in a world of culture, where everybody, except the Church, and sometimes except the family, are talking about sex, and they are promoting and pushing it, while the Church is awkwardly silent, and parents and teachers are awkwardly silent as well. We got the culture screaming a value system at us that is the polar opposite of God’s words.

The latest rendition of that is the “50 Shades Of Gray” aka “50 shades of degradation”, and it’s being pumped into culture, and people blindly accept. So what we are going to do is look at God’s Word. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 contains the answers to this question. Paul wrote this letter for Thessalonia which is now modern day Greece, where culture was so different from Christianity, where promiscuity and sins of the flesh were prevalent.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, New International Version (NIV):

Living to Please God

4 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”

Here are the answers to the question based on the scriptures:

1. Because we want to please God – The title indicated in the bible for this section is clear. We live life to please God. Thessalonians 4:1 states, “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”

2. Because God’s Word is our final authority. – “For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.” It is a command from God, and not a mere option or suggestion. God’s word is the final authority on sexual boundaries.

3. Because God’s will demands that you should avoid sexual immorality. – “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality.” Sex in its proper context of covenential marriage is not to be avoided. It is only sexual immorality that is to be avoided. Avoiding involves turning your back against temptations or situations or scenarios that invite temptations.

4. We are supposed to learn Self-control –  “that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.” Self-control is learned. We have to try it to learn it, and practice it to master it. Sometimes, fear is a good teacher. Fear of God teaches us wisdom. The fear of God is a healthy thing.

5. Because we want to know God. – “5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God;” We don’t want to be like the pagans. We want to know God.

6. Because sexual immorality always wrongs someone. – “6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.” Even among singles, future spouses are being wronged with immoral sex.

7. We are called to holiness. – “7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” Holiness is internal passion for Jesus, not just mere submission to external rules. Passion fuels holiness. The war is a passion war not a purity war. If you win the passion war, then you automatically win the purity war. If we become passionate about God, purity is easily achieved. But you cannot keep yourself pure constantly if you don’t have a passion for God.

8. Because if we reject God’s sexual moral boundaries, we reject God – “8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.”

The more sexual partners a person has, the more he gradually loses his ability to emotionally bond with people. It’s like a Post-It note. You can post it and reuse it and by sticking it over and over on several places, but after several times it doesn’t stick anymore. By then it’s just a piece of paper. That’s what happens when people have sexual encounters with different people eventually. Emotionally they lose the ability to bond. It’s wrong.

There are many myths about sex, among these are:

1. Sex leads to marriage – Ladies, pay no attention to empty promises from guys who promise you marriage if you have sex with them. They are merely manipulating you.

2 Sex leads to love. – Love is patient Love is kind, and not about lust nor about one’s self. Lust is impatient and self-serving, and demands it now.

3. Sex leads to intimacy – No. Intimacy leads to sex

4. Safe sex exists outside of marriage – It doesn’t exist. There is no condom to cover your broken heart. There is no condom that will protect your mind from the images that will haunt you for the rest of your life.

5. You need to try before you buy – The question is, what is the final authority in your life? Is it what God’s Word says or is it one of these cultural myths?

6. Everybody’s doing it-  How would you know? Everybody is nuts!

So let us live our lives holy and pleasing to the Lord, rather than pleasing to ourselves alone!

The God Who Became Man

IsraelTribes

In the biblical times. there were two things which typically went to the eldest son: The blessing and a double portion. While it was normally the right of the firstborn to receive these, there were times when the father changed it due to the son’s misbehavior.

Joseph, being the eldest son from the love of Jacob’s life, Rachel, whom he toiled and worked to earn for, for several years. Joseph, however was not his first-born son. Joseph’s older brothers were envious of Joseph and did a shameless act of selling him into slavery. Because of this sinful act, Jacob decided to give the double portion, also called the birth right, to Joseph.

The double portions were in the form of blessings on Joseph’s 2 sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, as stated in Genesis 48. Jacob treated the 2 sons as his own, so in effect Joseph was blessed twice through the blessings on his sons.

Reuben, Jacob’s eldest son, lost the right to the double portion because he committed adultery. “Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel – he was indeed the firstborn, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph, the son of Israel, so that the genealogy is not listed according to the birthright” (I Chronicles 5:1). Hence, the birthright was removed from the firstborn of Jacob’s first wife, Leah, and when to the firstborn of Jacob’s second wife, Rachel.

Simeon and Levi were notorious for their anger and cruelty. They had endangered the safety of the family when they destroyed the town of Shechem. Jacob prophesied that the tribes who would descend from them would be scattered among the other tribes. Even though the tribe of Simeon received an inheritance, it fell within the boundaries of the inheritance of Judah (Joshua 19:1). Eventually, the tribe of Simeon fades from existence. It was assimilated into the tribe of Judah.

Judah’s name meant praise and he became the object of praise among his brethren. He would be the leader of Jacob’s family and his descendants would lead the nation of Israel. Starting with David, all the kings of Israel came from the tribe of Judah. Their rule would continue until Shiloh comes. The word “Shiloh” means “unto him the peoples shall gather” — a reference to the Messiah. In Revelation 5:5, Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. It was from Judah that peace would come (Micah 5:2-5). Jacob also prophesies that the tribe of Judah would become prosperous. Eventually the descendants of Israel are known as Jews, which is a derivation of the name of Judah.

If we recalled back in Genesis 37:26. It was also Judah who saved Joseph by preventing the brothers from killing Joseph, but instead he suggested to sell him into slavery.

Judah’s tribe was blessed as the first 3 brothers have failed, and Jacob has predicted this. All the kings came from the lineage of Judah and so did Jesus. Judah was blessed in that sense.

Among the many kings that Israel had among the lineage of Judah, there was one king by the name of Ahaz. During his time, King Rezin of Aram (present-day Syria) and King Pekah son of Remaliah, who was the king of Israel, joined forces to strike Jerusalem which is part of the kingdom of Judah, which Ahaz was in charge of. In Isaiah 7, Ahaz was shown to be scared of the turn of events, but Isaiah, as instructed by God, told Ahaz not to be afraid and to trust in God.

God spoke to Ahaz asking him to ask God for a sign, However, Ahaz wasn’t sure God was the one speaking to him, saying he will not put the Lord to the test. Isaiah then said:
“Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on your ancestral house such days as have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah—the king of Assyria.’”

Isaiah predicted not only his triumph over the 2 kings and their kingdoms, but he also predicted the coming of the messiah who will come from his own line of descendants. In Isaiah 7:14, it says, “herefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” “Immanuel” means God With Us. Matthew 1:22 quotes Isaiah’s prediction saying everything predicted by him came through. This baby was named “Jesus” meaning Yahweh Saves. In the biblical times, in order for one to be saved from sin, there had to be blood-shedding of a pure creature. Moses and others used to sacrifice lambs and other animals on a regular basis, in atonement for the people’s sins. But Jesus was the ultimate Sacrifice, the ultimate Lamb, that once he was sacrificed, it was no longer necessary to sacrifice anything else.

GOD with us.
I would like to emphasize on the word GOD.

Christmas marks the coming of the deity of Christ. Jesus is GOD. Jesus is God in Human form. Many people will protest to this statement but Jesus Himself mentioned in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 1:1 clearly states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Here, Jesus is revealing the second entity in the Holy Trinity of God, God the Son. Another proof that he is God is He repeatedly mentioned, “Your sins are forgiven,” to many people whom he has healed. Only God has the power to forgive others.When you sin against someone, you also sin against God. Only God has the power to forgive your sin against Him.

God WITH us.
Just like in Moses’ time where God dwelt among His people through His Shekinah glory within the the tabernacle, a covenant made by God and Israel, God kept His promise to dwell among the Israelites with His presence even after Jesus rose to heaven, through His Holy Spirit. This is the third entity in the Holy Trinity of God – God the Holy Spirit.

God with US.
God made Himself vulnerable as a baby and dwelt among us. He was one of us. John 1:14 states, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” God tabernacled with us through the person of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament. God kept Himself at a distance. Even though He shown His presence through His Shekinah glory, the people couldn’t approach Him. In the person of Jesus, people were allowed to interact and mingle with Him.

If Moses lived to see Jesus, his personal wish to see God in all his Heavenly glory would have been answered. He only saw God’s back, probably his heel, He and the people during his time were not as fortunate as the people during the time of Jesus and nowadays, with the presence of the Holy Spirit in us.

God has kept His promises to the people in the bible even beyond their human life. God kept His promise to Jacob, whom he called Israel, and is up to now fulfilling it, as well as His promises to Abraham. Jesus extended God’s promises to everyone who believes in Him, not just the Israelites.

God may not have answered Moses’s personal request to see Him in all His heavenly glory, but He did answer this prayer eventually for everyone to benefit from it, not just one person. God answers prayers in his own time.

Our relationship with God has existed long before we were born. God loved us so much and saw how impossible it was for us to keep ourselves holy so we could be with him, We could sacrifice all the lambs in this world and still end up unholy to God, and that’s why God had to do something. John 3:16 states, ” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Jesus, being God the Son, is the ultimate sacrifice, and the much needed sacrifice so we may be made pure by His blood. Becasue of the sacrifice of Jesus, we can now commune with God, as long as we believe in Jesus Christ, and meaning of His great sacrifice for us. As long as we believe in our salvation by Jesus Christ’s great sacrifice, we are saved.
This is the main reason why God became man.

We should thank God for doing the impossible for us and for giving us the gift of salvation through His grace.

I thank you Jesus for Your great sacrifice on the cross for us. I trust in You, Your will, Your knowledge and your timing for my life. Your presence is all I need everyday. Let me depend on You and only You alone.

The Tabernacle Reveals Our Relationship With God

In Exodus 33, God showed favor to Moses as He was pleased with his genuine heart for the Israelites, his loyalty to God, and his desire to know god even more. Even as his wish to see God in all His heavenly glory couldn’t be given, He promised to show His back. He actually did more than just that. He revealed His true nature and His relationship with us in Exodus 34:6-7, saying, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Although God is a loving, patient compassionate and gracious god, He is also a just god. God is so holy that Moses was not even allowed to see His face or he will die because of sin. Moses who has one of the strongest faith in God, offering himself as a sacrifice for God in exchange for God’s wrath on Israel, was not holy enough to see God’s face. Only Jesus was holy enough. You can imagine how perfectly holy God is.

Despite how “stiff-necked” and stubborn the Israelites were, God instructed Moses to make Him a dwelling place built according to God’s specifications. This was to be the place where He will dwell. It is to be put in the center  and everybody is to be gathered around it. This is the tabernacle, and the Ark Of the Covenant is where God would be. Inside the Ark would be the tablets that God had inscribed on, which constitutes the covenant God made with the Israelites. They are kept inside the Ark, for if they are only kept elsewhere they are bound to be broken due to our sinful ways.

The tabernacle was more than just a dwelling place. All the components of the tabernacle were part of an intricate visual aid to illustrate God’s relationship with His people. One aspect of this relationship was God’s requirement for complete obedience. God told Moses to create the tabernacle exactly the way He commanded. It was not to stray from God’s blueprint.

This is how the portable tabernacle possible looked like. The area where god resided (area where the Ark is) was separated from the rest by a veil. adjacent to this was the holy room, containing Golden Incense altar, table of showbread and a lampstand. Again it is separated from the outside with another veil.

tab

Outside the tented areas of holies and holiest of holies are the laver (a wash basin) and a bronze altar.

images          bronze-altar

ark-of-the-covenant

The laver was made of bronze, from the mirrors of the Israelite women who they freely offered to Moses. The laver served one great purpose, which is the washing and cleansing of the priest from all defilement, as required by God.

The bronze altar was a key element of the tabernacle in the wilderness, a place where the ancient Israelites sacrificed animals to atone for their sins.

If you look closely at the setup of the tabernacle that God told Moses to build, you will see that every detail has a significance and everything points to Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice that provided the perfect atonement for all our sins and provided the much needed connection between God and us. Jesus is the bridge, and the missing link between man and God.

As you can see from the way the tabernacle is set up, you could see separation between God and man, and only the priests can enter the area of holies. But even then the priests are not allowed to enter the area where the Holy of holies is (the are where the Ark is). There is a veil that separates the priest from God. This is because priests are also humans. No matter how they try to keep themselves clean, they can never be pure. Hence there is a veil.

In the holy room where the priest is allowed to enter, there is a golden incense altar, a lampstand, and a table of showbread.

The golden incense altar is used for prayers, as we all know that incense is used when people pray, Incense is offered to God due to its fragrance.

The golden lampstand with seven lamps was hammered from one piece of gold. The New Testament book of Revelation refers to seven golden lampstands, representing the seven churches of Asia to which the revelation was sent (Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea), with ‘one like a Son of Man’ in their midst, in the middle. I may be wrong in linking these two parts of the bible, but there is a great similarity, so it might be related.

In the tabernacle, the lampstand was to be placed in the first section, called the Holy Place (Hebrews 9:2). The lamp was to be tended by Aaron and his sons so that its light never went out. The lampstand was to give forth light day and night.

The table of showbread was a small table made of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. “Showbread” also was called “bread of the presence” because it was to be always in the Lord’s presence. The table and the bread were a picture of God’s willingness to fellowship and communion (literally speaking, sharing something in common) with man.

Surrounding the whole area containing all these are walls.

So now that I have explained the tabernacle, let me explain its parallelism to Jesus, as if everything points to Jesus.

First, is the Bronze Altar. Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice that was pleasing to God, for He is pure of heart and has no sin. He shed His blood for all of mankind. He is the Bronze Altar.

Secondly, the bronze laver, which was made to wash and cleanse of the priests from all defilement. When Jesus sacrificed himself, He cleansed us all and not just priests, from sin. Even the most sinful person is cleansed from sin.

Third, the first veil. It symbolizes a door, as this served as an entrance to the path to the Holy of Holies, which represents God. Once you enter through the veil (door) you will see the lampstand, and the showbread.

Jesus is the Light Of The World, as symbolized by the lampstand. He is the source of Light.

The showbread representing God’s desire to commune with us was made real through Jesus. This bread is also Jesus. He is the Bread of Life.

Next, the golden incense altar. It represents prayer. In Moses’ time, they needed priests like Aaron or Moses to intercede for the people’s prayers. With Jesus, everybody became priests. 1 Peter 2:9 states, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Christianity teaches us to be a holy nation. Therefore everyone is invited to pray to the Lord. He hears our prayers and answers us.

Last, but not the least, if we remember that there is a veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest, even from the Holy.

During the time of Jesus, this Jews were able to build a permanent temple for God, and in the inner court of the temple in Jerusalem, in the Holy of Holies, was the Ark of the Covenant. That was where the high priest would go once a year to offer atonement for the sins of the people. A veil, a very thick, woven curtain, separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple.

When Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, that heavy curtain was torn from top to bottom. It was not ripped from bottom to top, as though a man were ripping it. Instead, it was ripped from top to bottom, because God was ripping it.

God was saying, “You no longer are on the outside. You can come in. My Son has made a way for you.”

Matthew 27:51-53 says,”And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.

Jesus made it possible to bring us closer to God compared to in the Old Testament, and this is not because of what we have done, but by the great love and grace of Jesus Christ and God The Father.

In the New Testament, John writes: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” (John 1:14) This word “dwelling” is the same word for “tabernacle” in the Old Testament. In other words, God came in living flesh to dwell or to tabernacle among His people. As He walked upon the earth and lived among the Jews, Jesus Christ Himself fulfilled the picture of the Old Testament tabernacle. In that and many other ways, as we will see, the tabernacle really was a prophetic projection of the Lord’s redemptive plan for His people.

Homiletics

Last week I attended a special bible class seminar on Homiletics, by Bible Study Fellowship, or BSF. I just want to share with you my notes, in case you want to study the bible with some people. Hope you find this interesting and helpful.

Homiletics is the analysis of biblical passages. There are 5 basic steps to doing it:

1. contents – Get the detail of the passage without any interpretation.
2. divisions – get the summary of the passage.
3. subject sentence – get the title of the passage
4. aim – what is the purpose of this passage
5 applications – how do you engage listeners and co bible students based on what is being taught?

Contents should be 10-20 sentences. They are to be facts only, based on the passage. You are supposed to get the detail of the passage in 20 or less sentences. You should as much as possible, use same words as in the bible.

You should take notes on each verse and summarize what they say. Take not of repeated words in the bible, because there is a significant reason why they are repeated.

Divisions are shortened versions of contents, from 20 or less sentences to 3-4 sentences. You do this without omitting any pertinent information. In just a few sentences you should be able to cover the main topic being centered on in the contents. Everything should be fact-based and no amount of opinion should be included. It should be stated in the bible.

Subject Sentence is composed of 10 words or less. It summarizes the divisions even further. Although less words are used, the topic should be clearer, after omitting unnecessary words or restructuring wordy sentences. With this you also identify the location of passages in the bible which your subject sentence is based on.

Aim is the primary truth that’s being taught throughout the passage. It is truth about God or man, and is doctrinal truth. In doing this, you should ask yourself these questions:
Is it true?
Is it the main truth?
Is it memorable?

Applications are made in question for supposedly designed to be rhetorical questions for one to ponder on. One application per division. The question should target the heart first. It should ask questions that evaluate thinking. In doing this the one preparing should know the target audience, otherwise they wont be able to relate to his questions, and there won’t be much of an effect on them.

These questions should be able to convict them, encourage trust in God, and require change.

We Are Called on A Mission

Paul was a Roman soldier who was used by God powerfully. The Romans built major roads stretching out to all the territories that they have conquered. It was on one of these roads leading to Damascus that Paul first encountered Jesus.

Ever since he was converted, he preached to gentiles along those major roads leading to different cities. The Jews didn’t believe in Paul for he once persecuted them, this is why Paul concentrated on the Gentiles.

It is because of Paul that Christianity was spread to Europe and Asia. We thank the Lord for using Paul for bringing us closer to Him.

Matthew 28:8 says Make disciples of every nation. This is the command given to us. Nobody did it better than Paul.

Here are the strategies of Paul:
1. Paul penetrated huge cities. In Acts 14:21-22, these major cities were mentioned: Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. These are equivalent to the New York City, Tokyo, and London nowadays. These cities were thickly populated for they had the most advanced technologies of their time, and there were more job opportunities in those big cities.

Why did Paul choose those cities? Simple. Big modern cities are thickly populated. Since there are more people, there is a bigger probability of building a bigger church than in small cities.

2. Paul raised local leaders. Acts 14:23 says, “And after they had appointed elders for them in each church, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.” Paul appointed local leaders. He did not just by faith appoint the leaders. He taught them before appoint them. He also built some sort or relationship with these people. The rest, he just lifted up to the Lord. Why appoint local leaders? First, so he could duplicate himself, and generate bigger results in every city. Secondly, so that each city becomes independently on their own. This is the real essence of making disciples. By placing his trust in the leaders, he also empowered them.

3. Paul set himself out of his comfort zone and gave himself freely. In Acts 14:24-26, it is shown that Paul did not stay put in one place. He went from one place to another with the genuine heart of spreading the Good news to others. He was commended for it.

7 major cities in Asia is touted to have the most populated in the world by 2025. We have so much opportunity to follow Paul’s path. What would you do? Let’s pray about it.

Father’s Day Sharing

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18; John 14:6

Paul lived a single life, but because of his relationship with Christ, he was able to understand how it is to be a spiritual father to others. Because of his genuine love for Christ and his appreciation for what Christ has done for us, it was but natural for him to be both loving and fatherly to the Thessalonians, as well as others.

So what exactly are the roles of a father?

A father encourages his kids. A good father encourages his kids to explore the world and discover their God-given talents and their passion. He is careful not to be too encouraging, but is also careful not to be over-protective.

A father comforts his children. God our Father is the god of all comforts and the source of all comfort. Likewise we, too as fathers, should be such to our children. This is not just providing for material needs, but also emotional needs of the children. A father cannot be too encouraging, always pushing his children to achieve, but should also provide loving comfort and reassurance in times of his children’s failures, and be there for them when they need him most. He should be able to make them understand that it’s ok to fail as we all learn from these failures in life. A father cannot be too demanding, nor too laxed.

A Father leads. Yes, a real father leads by example. What the children observe from their parents, they copy. So if you are full of love and compassion with them and even with strangers, they will eventually become like you as well. Children tend to value the the things that they see in you.

A good father does what is right in the Lord’s eyes, regardless of how hard it is to do it nor how easy. He always do what is right, and he honors his promises, especially to his children. He may bend some rules but only if it’s pleasing to God’s eyes, such as cancelling some appointment just so that you can honor your promise to your child to spend the day with him, or buying a child his favorite toy, because he got exceptionally high grades in school. Things like that. If the child needs disciplining, it is the role of the father to do teach the child some life lessons. After all God is not just a loving God. He is also a just God, so we as fathers should be try to be just too.

One cannot teach goodness and ends up doing shady things in front of his children.His children will become frustrated and will grow up thinking that it is normal to live 2 lives, and to have good sets of friends and one set of friends for hanging out and having dirty kind of fun. There is a saying that goes, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. It means kids are like their parents. They pick up both the good and the bad traits from what they see in their parents, that is why, always be mindful of what you say and do in front of your children, and even in their absence. Words spread around like wildfire. If you do good, then there will only be kind words being spread around. However if you do shady things you will most likely be talked about in a negative way by others. It’s just a matter of time before your children hear these scoop about you.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers!

In our relationship with God, let us remember that God is our Father and we are His children. Remember the story of the Prodigal Son, as told by Jesus? Do you see yourself as the lost son in the story, or do you identify yourself with the eldest son, who worked and toiled for the father, but expected something in return?

Where does your identity and security come from? Does it come from God, or from somewhere else? God knows what is hidden within your heart, no matter how well you hide it, or show it.

Let us thank the Father for His unfailing and unconditional love for us. Let us pray that we would never take this love for granted, and that our identity and security always comes from God alone and nothing else. Let us pray that God makes us useful and uses our life and examples to lead others to Him. Pray for the salvation of our family, relatives and friends.

Living In Love

What is love? How do you define love? There are so many definitions of love. Going back to the roots of the word, there are so many words which pertains to it, which makes it confusing. There is “eros”, which is Greek in origin, and pertains to sexual love. There is “philia”, another Greek word, which denotes a deep friendship and partnership, such as BFF’s. There is yet one more expression of love – “agape”, which means unconditional love, such as the kind of love God has for us. This is the kind of love that Jesus and his disciples, especially John, repeatedly mentioned all throughout the bible.

Agape is unchanging love. It is self-giving that gives without expecting anything in return nor demanding anything back. It is love that is freely given even after being rejected by the other person. It gives because it loves, and not gives because it expects something in return.

Among all of Jesus’ disciples, John understood this kind of love the most, and has written about it more times than any of the writers of the bible and related writings like the epistles. When all the disciples went in hiding for fear of their lives, John was the only one who understood who Jesus really was, and it was his love for Jesus that gave him the strength to support Jesus even at His crucifixion. He was the only one at the site, together with Jesus’ mom, Mary. Compassion and love outweighed fear for one’s own life. His actions were clearly of this kind of love.

So how do you live in love, the kind of love taught to us by the Lord?

First we have to be clear about who or what our source of love is. Our source of love should be God and nothing and no one else. God is the ultimate source of love, the author of all different expressions of love. 1 John 4:7-10 states, ” Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” God is love. In fact, all the commandments given through Moses and by Jesus are all centered on love.

We often times channel this source of love from others instead of God, and that is why we find ourselves dissatisfied or depressed. Many young unmarried teenage couples say to each other, if you love me then prove it to me. (denoting sex) This is clearly NOT LOVE. It’s manipulation and lust.If you really love the other person, you will have that love and utmost respect for that person, and will be willing to wait for the right time. Sex is actually a sacred act of consummation that is part of the wonderful process of creating new life. In this act, the couple becomes one. This is only for married couples only, not meant to be used just by anybody for pleasure like animals.

Remember that popular 80’s song by Foreigner, “I Wanna Know What Love Is”? For those who don’t know that song, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUYGzZ0tQpA. I have to admit that I myself loved that song during those times. Well, just like Foreigner, this is what happens when you channel to source of love from others instead of God. Nobody has the capacity to give unconditional and unchanging love. Not even your crush, your husband, your wife, or whatever have you. Always remember that.

Secondly, God demonstrates His love for us. He fulfills his promises and does what He says, unlike humans. We are all guilty of saying the right things, but doing the wrong things, or the other way around. We cannot be loving without being just. That is not real love. Take for example a child who committed a crime. A person who is not just but only has love, will protect his child at all cost just to save him from rotting in jail.
A just person without love is not exactly loving as well.

God’s ultimate expression of love for us is sending down His only Son, to save us. He knew the consequences that would happen, but He allowed it. God is both loving and just, and never one way or the other, unlike us. He knew that we needed to be atoned for, and there was not one among us who would be worthy enough to atone for our sins, and that is why He sent His only Son in human form to save us. Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb. God did not do shortcuts to save Jesus. He did what was right for our sake. He is both just and loving.

In our case, we would never dream of sacrificing even our own children just to save others. We tend to be selfish. If our children got into trouble, would we jump in to save them, or do we do things justfully while still providing love to our children?

We have to be steadfast in our faith. We should practice what we preach, and always do what is right, even if sometimes, the right thing to do is very difficult to do, such as admitting one’s mistakes, and apologizing for such mistakes, and remaining humble. We have to do everything out of love, and not out anything else.

Third, but not the least, love is NOT optional. It is REQUIRED by God. 1 John 4:11-12, states, “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.” Note the word ought. Based on how the word is used in the biblical statement, Merriam Webster explains that “ought” here is used to express obligation. So that means it is required.

We are not asked to love whenever we feel like it, but we are asked to love everyone, even the people who offend you oftentimes. What 1 John 4:11-12 is saying is if you are filled with God’s love in your heart, you are filled with His grace and loving others come naturally.

So, to cap it all up, first thing that you do is make God the source of love. Then, strive to be both loving and just at the same time. Make sure that everything you say and do is good and just in God’s presence. And lastl but not the least, love everyone equally as you love yourself. There is no exceptions here. If you harbor any hatred, then you are not being true to yourself and to God. You are a liar if you hate your enemies and strangers.

John 13:34-35 says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’” This is a very clear instruction. If we claim to be Christians, then we have to be identified as such by others, through our actions and our words, and even expressions.

Let us all start loving one another!

Peace, my brothers and sisters!

Change For The Better

How do we change for the better? In order for us to change, we have to know what to change. Many of us are not aware of what we are guilty of, and we often deny the existence of such possibilities of defects in us. We often deny things when concerned people point out to us what areas of improvement we need to work on. We tend to live life based on our own earthly and selfish desires, with no real direction. Without God in our lives, we end up making lots of mistakes.

In the words of Jesus, through Mark 8:34, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” If anyone, man or woman, wants to follow Jesus, to be his disciple (be a “Christian” we tend to say), then he must do two things. He must “deny himself” and “take up his cross.” When Luke tells this same story, he clarifies that we are to take up our cross “daily” (Luke 9:23). What does this mean? The answer to this question shows why the path is so different form the world.
To “deny” yourself means to say “No” to yourself and “Yes” to God. Paul is not talking about asceticism — forgoing earthly possessions and hygiene, not eating certain foods, ignoring the world, etc. To say it differently, the process of denial is “to humbly submit my will to God.” It is to go through life repeating the words that Jesus said the night before he died. When he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane, he said to God his Father, “Not my will but yours be done.” It is what millions of Christians have prayed for centuries when they repeat what we call the “Lord’s Prayer.” “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”
( Matthew 6:10).

What does it look like to live out this prayer? Someone hurts you. Your natural reaction is to lash back, to get angry. But the path of discipleship is “not my will but yours.” It is humbly submitting my will to God’s will. Instead of getting angry, we realize that God is calling us to forgive even our enemies.

What does it mean to “daily take up your cross”? The cross in Jesus’ time was a horrid symbol of pain, shame, and death. A person hung on it, naked, until his skeletal structure collapsed and he suffocated to death, without air and with his body drowning itself in its own fluids. Every day we are to live in such a way that it is apparent to everyone that we have died to ourselves, to our selfish ways and ambitions, and live for God.

To take up our crosses, we have to stop making short cuts in life. If we do something wrong to others, we have to start being honest to them instead of lying. We have to stop lying our way out of certain tough situations, and start being honest and face the consequences of our actions. Just as Jesus did not go through any shortcuts nor save Himself from all the suffering He went through, we should also let things happen in its natural way, without any sinful intervention. If justice is due, then face it like a man, and not burdening others.

In the face of trials, we should also remain faithful and believe in the sovereignty, the goodness and the perfection, the wisdom, and eternal love of God. If we do believe in all these, we should believe that no matter what trials we face, something good is bound to happen, and there is a reason why we are undergoing such trial. For whatever reason we are going through all these, we don’t know, but God is on our side, and we should have nothing to worry about. This is where our faith is put to the test. We can never have faith if we don’t trust int the Lord. Faith involves trust and belief. We need to be optimistic and believe that God will never abandon us.

Noah, Abraham, and others all acted on faith. They didn’t even ask questions, but rather went ahead and did what they were told to do by God. They were blessed in return, and God kept His promises to them. It might have taken forever for some of His promises to them to be fulfilled, but nevertheless God kept His promises in His time. We should remain positive, hopeful and believe in God no matter what. In Jeremiah 29:11, God says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This is what we should believe in.

Now that we have been constantly denying ourselves of our selfish and sinful lifestyle and start living for the Lord, as well as we build a foundation of faith in God, we can now start to explore ourselves. What do you find in the deep taverns of your life? Is there anything to get rid off, or is there light within the darkness?
Is there anything you need to change?

Sometimes for positive changes to happen we need to get out of our comfort zone and get to the effective zone, to be able to make that change. Nothing will happen if you know you are guilty of something, yet you don’t make an effort to explore new ways of doing things to avoid making the same mistake. You have to try new things to get a different result. It may be scary at first, but you’ll get used to it. Do not be afraid to explore.

Once you have pinpointed the areas which you need to work on, you are now in a position to make a commitment to change.

We often get side-tracked, so how do we avoid this? We have to always put ourselves in check. Stay focused, be persistent, pray regularly, read the bible regularly, and don’t forget to give back. Many people, once they are blessed by the Lord, they forget to thank the Lord nor share their blessings with others. In fact, they forget to pray.

2 Kings 7 tells a fascinating story of four lepers who sat at the gate of Samaria at a time when the city was under siege. Things had gotten so bad inside the city that women were eating their own children to survive. But Elisha the prophet had predicted something that seemed utterly impossible, that the next day food would be plentiful and affordable in Samaria.

Meanwhile, the four lepers evaluated their dismal situation. If they stayed at the gate of Samaria, they would starve. If they went over to the enemy camp, they may be killed, which would be no worse than starving. But there was the outside chance that the enemy would take pity on them and give them some scraps of food. So they took their chances and went over to the enemy camp.

When they got there, they were shocked to find the camp deserted. The Lord had caused the enemy to hear the sound of a great army of chariots and horses so that they fled in a panic, leaving all of their supplies behind. The four beggars ate all that they could eat. They hauled away and hid several loads of silver and gold and clothes.

But then their consciences began to gnaw at them. They said, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news, but we are keeping silent” (2 Kings 7:9). So they went and told the starving city where they could find abundant supplies to satisfy their needs.

That story illustrates the main message of Zechariah 8, summed up by the Lord’s words in verse 13: “I will save you that you may become a blessing.” God’s people are blessed to bless others. God pours out His grace on us so that we will slop it over on others who are starving and dying without hope.

Because God has promised to bless us abundantly, we should be a blessing to others.

Always remember, our life is not about us. It’s always about others. Everything that Jesus did in this world was for our sake. Never did He do things for His own sake. Matthew 22:37-40 summarizes the commandments of Jesus, which covers practically everything indicated in the 10 commandments given to Jesus: ” ‘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.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” We are being taught by Jesus to love one another as you love yourself, and not yourself above others. In other words, He is telling us to be loving, concerned, and generous to others, just as we would be to ourselves.

The Lord blesses us not so that we would be happy alone. It’s part of what He wants to happen, but it’s not the main reason why He blesses us abundantly. We are abundantly blessed so that we may also share these blessings with others who might be in need.

We have to remind ourselves that whatever blessings we receive is not a result of our hard work, not do we deserve them. It is by God’s grace that we are blessed. Leviticus 27:30 states that “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.” and in Malachi 3:10, it says “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” We are expected to give back to the Lord so that others may be blessed.

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