Sunday, November 20, 2016

Faith is a Gift

Faith is a free gift from God, and the blessings of God are given to us because we trust in Whom we have never seen.  How does a person acquire faith?  By seeking and trusting God, by believing in God, in His sovereign rule, in His creation, in God’s way above the way of the world, or man.  What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen.  It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, (eternal life without pain, suffering, death or taxes) even though we cannot see it up ahead.  By faith, we believe that God created the world, the galaxies, the neurons, the atmosphere, the
human heart, the amazing human brain, all the animals, birds, fish, plants and the oxygen needed by all things.   Some hero’s of the FAITH were laughed at, had their backs cut open with whips, Peter was beheaded, Stephen was stoned, some were sawed in two. Because of Sarah’s faith she gave birth to Isaac when she was in her nineties. Then because her husband Abraham had faith he offered their son Isaac up as a human sacrifice.  Mary, Joseph, Jacob, Moses, Gideon, Jeremiah, Samuel, Joshua, David, Paul, Peter and even the prostitute Rahab were all ordinary people, and to begin with, their gifted faith was as small as a mustard seed.  Each trusted God by the faith God gave them when they first believed that a 
Messiah was coming, according to the holy scriptures. They did not have the bible as we do today, and none received all that God had promised them before they died.  The superior reward for our faith today will be delivered to us in heaven. All the people of faith mentioned in the Old Testament never saw God in the flesh, in the person of Jesus.   The God breathed holy Scriptures purposely shares many stories of un-renounced FAITH in the face of hardship, impossibility and persecution.  The old testament LAW’s purpose is to show God’s high standard, which is 100% perfection.  God knows that humanity cannot live up to, or live out a life of perfection, therefore, because God loves mankind so much, supernaturally, God came to earth as the person of Jesus Christ, to live, to teach by His humble example, to serve mankind, and to become the perfect sacrifice in order that all who believed in Him, could be washed, cleansed, made holy, and given the right to stand before a holy God, in the name of Jesus. It is by His authority, and by His will, not our obedience that we are given the faith to believe, and to overcome. People cannot be saved by keeping the ten commandments, nor can people throw away the gift of faith, or their salvation in their ongoing imperfect understanding of God's will and ways. When a person comes to believe in God, and that the sinless man Jesus died for them as a perfect sacrifice, and that Jesus rose from the dead,  then the Holy Spirit comes into them, never to depart, and the gift of faith is received.  Our Lord Jesus taught to pray the Lord’s prayer. Our Father who art in heaven…respected is Thy holy name Jehovah, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Hallelujah! God operating in us, His hope for glory.  Bible: Romans 4:16; Hebrews 11; Matthew 6:9; Colossians 1:26.  See comments below for more bible references regarding justification. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Truth or Fiction?

Geology supports the order of creation.  Mathematics proves that creation was not random. Biology validates that each creature created reproduces after its own kind. Physics confirms that the world is running out of resources. Anthropology confirms that of all creation, only the human being can think, learn, listen and respond with intellectual writing. The Bible clearly teaches that God created a variety of species, organisms and man. The so-called contradiction between the Bible and modern science is: only a conflict in the opinion of the God created thinking man.  There are NO man made facts that can resolutely alter the Truth as revealed in the Holy Bible.  In the book of Genesis chapters 1-11, God lays out the origin of the universe; man and the nations, man's corruption, his own destruction, the scattering of man made beliefs and false gods.  God's plan to birth the nation of Israel, unfolds through a generation, born of a man named Abram. Chapters 12-50 tells the history of God's
rejection of those who refused to obey Him. The Father of all Creation tests and disciplines those He loves. God chose to teach and lead His people to trust and obey through the example of Abram. In chapter 12 of Genesis, God directed Abram to leave his homeland and go to Canaan. God changed Abram's name to Abraham (father of a multitude) and He promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of his descendants. God made a covenant with Abraham in which He stated that the land of Canaan would be occupied by his descendants.  When Abraham was 100 years old, God told him that he would have a son through his 90 year old wife Sarah.  In spite of their laughable doubts, God fulfilled His covenant.  Isaac, the son of Abraham, was used to fulfill God's promise and Abraham's descendants became as numberless as the stars.
The promise of God passed from Abraham to Isaac. Then from Isaac's son Jacob, the second born twin of his sons. Esau was the first born of the twins. However, Isaac's wife Rebekah plots a deception.  She prods her second born, to disguise himself as Esau, in order that Jacob receives the blessing of their dying father.  Isaac blesses Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram, to find a wife among the daughters of Laban. On his journey, Jacob rests and in a dream he receives a vision of a ladder leading up to heaven.  The Lord speaks to Jacob and reaffirms His original covenant with Abraham.  Jacob falls in love with Laban's daughter Rachel, however, Laban tricks Jacob on his wedding night. Laban's daughter Leah repalced Rachel in the wedding tent.  Jacob eventually marries both sisters and through them and two concubines, 12 sons are born.  Joseph was his first born son through his favored wife Rachel.  Jacob departs from Laban and soon learns that his twin brother Esau is coming to visit with 400 men.  Jacob is
terrified of Esau's probable revenge.  One night before Esau arrives, Jacob encounters an angel of the Lord. The angel changes his name from Jacob to Israel, which means "contender with God".  Israel learns that his brother Esau carries no grudge and Jacob AKA Israel settles in Shechem.  Joseph is Israel's favored son and he gives Joseph a multi-colored robe. Hatred and jealousy prompt Joe's brothers to plot to kill him, but then they simply strip him of his robe and drop him in a deep pit to die.  The brothers take back Joe's blood smeared, multi-colored robe to Israel. The father weeps for his dead son Joseph.  Joe is rescued from the pit by Ishmaelite traders who sold Joe as a slave to Potifar, an officer of the Pharaoh in Egypt. Joseph is soon elevated to a high position with Potifar due to his trustworthy wisdom. Potifar's wife attempts to seduce Joe, and when he rejects her, she falsely accuses him and Joseph is imprisoned. Two years later the Pharaoh summons Joe out of prison to interpret his dream. Joseph successfully forecasted seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. The Pharaoh made Joseph the ruler over all of Egypt's resources to prepare for the famine. The famine affects Canaan and Jacob AKA Israel sends all his sons except Benjamin to Egypt to get grain for their tribe.
Joseph's brothers did not recognize him, but eventually Joseph reveals his identity. Genesis 47-1 "Joseph went and informed Pharaoh 'My father and my brothers, with their sheep and cattle and all that they own have come from the land of Canaan and are now in the land of Goshen." Genesis 50:15 "When Josephs brothers saw that their father (Jacob AKA Israel) was dead, they said to one another, 'If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.' ....But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid, am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result - the survival of many people."  Just like Jesus, Joseph was favored then betrayed by his brothers, and friends, then placed in a pit to die.  Jesus was rejected by his brothers, his community and was crucified and put in a tomb.  But God had a plan for Jesus and Joseph and God raised them up for His purpose. To fulfill His covenant to bless the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Jesus was lifted up from death, and returned resurrected from the dead for God's purpose, the salvation of the world. LESSON for ALL: Trust and Obey God to receive His blessings.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Bible Overview

There are sixty-six books in the Bible and Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are the key to both the inspiration and understanding of God and His story, His living Word to us.  The New Testament is a historically accurate document that proves Jesus Christ lived and spoke words of Truth.   The first century Jewish historian Josephus wrote “the so called Christ” whose disciples  “reported that He had appeared to them three days after His crucifixion and that He was alive.”  Jesus taught about the inspiration of the Bible and confirmed that the Old Testament is the divinely authoritative Word of God.  Jesus also promised that the Holy Spirit would lead His disciples in writing an inspired New Testament. Jesus said “Scripture cannot be broken” John 10:35.  Jesus also said that the Word of God “must be fulfilled” Read the book of Luke chapter 24: verse 44.
We also cannot neglect the fact that Jesus also stated that “ignorance of the Old Testament is the source of error.”  Matthew 22:29.  Obediently the New Testament writers also considered the Old Testament (OT) to be Scripture which is “inspired by God” 11 Timothy 3:16.   The critics of the Bible attempt to deceive us and cause us to choose between the Truth as revealed in the Holy Bible, and what they say "The Bible is a fairy tale for the weak"  Our choice is to accept the authenticity and the authority of the Old Testament or to disagree with what Jesus affirmed to be true.   
The entire Word of God is Truth, or Christ is not the Son of God.  We agree that Jesus told us the Truth, which means that the Old Testament is the historically accurate and divinely authoritative Word of God, or we deceive ourselves by criticizing the canonization of the Old Testament.  The word canon means “rule” and it refers to the sacred writings which are the rule for faith and practice among believers.  Today, Christ is our guide; He is the key to the interpretation of the Bible through the Holy Spirit.  There is no other way for a Christian to understand God’s Word.  There are three basic Holy Spirit revelations in which we may see Christ in the Bible.  1) Christ is the theme of both testaments.  2) Christ is the theme of each section of Scripture.  3) Christ centered themes are truths that are found in each of the sixty six books of the Bible.  The overall picture in the Bible is the person of Jesus Christ.  The Old Testament (OT) views the coming Christ by way of anticipation.  The New Testament (NT) views Christ by way of visible realization   The salvation prepared for in the OT was provided by Christ in the NT.  What Hope commenced in the OT is completed in the NT.  Matthew 1:21.  Christ is the theme of each of the eight sections of the Bible.
1) THE LAW (Gen-Deut) is the foundation for the coming Christ.  2) History (Josh-Esther) Christ the King is to come through the chosen nation, His kingdom on earth had to be formed. His kingdom come, His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  3) Poetry (Job-Song)  While suffering and rejoicing His people aspired for communion with Christ.  4) Prophecy (Isaiah – Malachi) Prophets held out hope of national restoration by Christ. Remember that Moses led Israel out of bondage through the Red Sea, but it was Joshua who took the Israelites through the raging Jordan River into blessing. Moses symbolizes deliverance and Joshua symbolizes victory.  5) Gospels (Matt-John)  In the gospels Christ was realized in the flesh. In Matthew Jesus
was made manifest in His sovereignty as King to the Jews. In John, Christ was manifest in His deity as God to the whole world. 6) History  (Acts) The historical manifestation of the Holy Spirit and in Acts the worldwide propagation of Christ began in Jerusalem. 7) Epistles (Rom-Jude) Paul’s doctrinal epistles repeats the phrase “in Christ”. Romans is redemption “in Christ”.  11 Corin is the jubilation or victory “in Christ”.  Galatians reveals emancipation “in Christ” Ephesians is the exaltation and unification “in Christ”. Phil declares the joy “in Christ”. Colo speaks of our completion “in Christ”.  1 Thess we experience an expectation “in Christ”.  11 Thess we discover a glorification “in Christ”.  1 Tim we are urged to faithfulness “in Christ”.  11 Tim we are reminded of the soundness “in Christ”.  Titus we are admonished to a steadfastness “in Christ” Philemon reads of our benefit “in Christ”.  8) Prophecy (Rev) Reveals the
consummation of all things “in Christ”  Through Christ all things were created and in Him all things are directed toward their final consummation. Christ is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and the Omega.   The word prophet comes from the word meaning “to announce”. A prophet was God’s mouthpiece, or the chosen human instrument through which God declared His message to man.  The broad meaning of prophecy is to forth-tell what God will do in the future.  These supernatural predictions form one of the strongest evidences that the Bible is the Word of God.  The prophets did not begin with Elijah or Samuel.  The first prophecy was about the coming Messiah, the Christ and was given by God to Adam and Eve.  (Genesis 3:15)  Enoch, the descendant of Adam also prophesied about Christ’s coming. (Jude 14).  Noah made predictions about his three sons (Gen 9:25-27) Abraham is called a “prophet” (Gen 20:7) and both Jacob and Joseph uttered prophecies (Gen 37:6 + Gen 49:10). Moses was considered a prophet (Deut 18:15) But Samuel started a school of the prophets (1 Sam 19:20). New Testament means ‘new covenant’, under which God forgives the ongoing unfaithfulness, mess ups, and wrong choices AKA sin of those who believe in Jesus Christ.  The definition of covenant:  The conditional promises made to humanity by God, as revealed in Scripture.  God’s covenant with “us”  who accept, believe and confess with our mouth that Jesus as Lord, we are saved, because His living Word, His promise to us is trustworthy, it is ever-lasting.  God's unchanging hope for us is that we trust Him, and listen to what "the Spirit is saying" and obey! Hallelujah!