Monday, April 27, 2009

When I compare the standard swine flu prevention advice given in the media...

To the advice given in the Bible, they are remarkably similar!

Below is another link to the media. Compare with the advice from the Bible.

God never fails to give us the right kind of instruction.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Practical Biblical Tips for Controlling Swine Flu

As a Biblical Health Coach, one of my duties is to inform people of Biblical Health information that will save their lives. I have found through experience, and application of Biblical health principles, that the Bible is NEVER wrong, and that the health principles of the Bible are scientifically sound.

Let me first give my heartfelt sympathy to those who have lost loved ones to swine flu. Let us also pray for the speedy recovery of those who have fallen ill to this disease. Already, about 20 cases have been confirmed in the United States, but none have died. In Mexico, however, at least 81 people have been killed by the disease so far. This is therefore a very potentially fatal form of the flu, and everything should be done to either prevent it, control it, or cure it. Many countries around the world are now scrambling to control the spread of this virus, which if allowed to get out of hand can result in a worldwide epidemic.

In the Bible is found hygiene principles, which if followed, will decrease the spread of the disease. The principles are as follows:
  1. Do not handle any pigs (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14: 7-8). Pigs in their natural state are considered unclean animals in scripture. How much worse a sick pig!
  2. Avoid causual or intimate contact with persons who have come in contact with pigs, especially the dead bodies of slaughtered pigs (Leviticus 11: 24). Such persons need to wash their bodies, and change into fresh clothing BEFORE making personal contact with others (vs. 25). This is just good basic hygiene, which includes THOROUGH HANDWASHING to prevent the spread of germs.
  3. Avoid persons who are infected with the swine flu virus. According to medical reports, this flu is highly contagious and will jump from person to person. According to the Bible, persons who display a "running issue out of his flesh" are contagious (Leviticus 15: 1-12). We should therefore be especially cautious around people who are sniffling, sneezing, or coughing as these discharges from the nose are infectious.
  4. Avoid using utensils, and personal items of persons who are infected. According to some reports, the virus can linger on surfaces touched by the infected individual. According to the Bible, infected surfaces are contaminated, and need to be washed or destroyed (Leviticus 11:31-33). Of course, back then they did not have powerful germicides like what we have now, but the principle is the same: DESTROY THE GERM AND IF YOU CANNOT DESTROY THE GERM BY ITSELF, THEN DESTROY THE SURFACE ON WHICH THE GERM IS FOUND. You might want to re-think shaking hands with persons who are sniffling, coughing or sneezing or who have tissue paper bunched up in their hands to clean their noses. If you are infected, then you need to THROW OUT THAT INFECTED TISSUE PAPER that you are using to clean your nose. You are only re-infecting yourself, and potentially others!

These are just a few Biblical tips which will help to control the spread of the disease. If you are infected, please see a doctor and get proper care to get rid of this bug. Below is a link to the latest news report for today.

Have a healthy week everyone!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Devotional of the Week April 26-May 2

Exodus 19: 1-6

"In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness, and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the lORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel."

The children of Israel had gone through a very rough time, and were now camping out at Mt. Sinai. They were just recently freed from slavery in Egypt, and had come now to Sinai to hear from and receive blessings from God.

Today, our world is going through some tough politic, social, and economic times; however, if we sit at the feet of Jesus, we will hear His words, and receive blessings from Him. We will be His people, and He our God.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day

I know I am a little late for today, but I wish everyone had a happy Earth Day. Earth is the home that God has given to us, and I know that scientists are trying desparately to look for planets out there where we could possibly live on in the future, but this is our home. Earth is God's gift to us. Let us take care of our planet and ourselves.

Monday, April 20, 2009

To All Who Have Been Affected By Pirates

I would like to dedicate this song to all persons who have been affected by pirates. Click on the link below to a youtube video of Bob Marley's song "Redemption Song." I think this song is prophetic. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Devotional of the Week April 19-25

John 14: 8-14

"Phillip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Phillip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew me the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall be he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."

Jesus had a very close relationship with God the Father. As a matter of fact, the two were inseparable, because they both of one and the same Almighty God. This is a curious and a unique aspect of Chrisitianity that causes others to question our ideas of monotheism; but let me say, that God really consists of three persons, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father lives inside of Christ, and Christ lives inside of the Father. Ah, the mystery of godliness!

Jesus is saying to us today that if we believe in Him, we will have access to the same godly powers that He had while on earth! Whatever we ask in Jesus' name, pertaining to godliness, God will grant to us. That is the promise of Jesus to all believers. When was the last time you tapped into your godly powers?

Friday, April 17, 2009

I Did It! Thanks Be To God!

This morning I finally wrote my last check for my credit card debts. I am now FREE of credit card debts!!! I was over my head in over $10,000 in credit card debt, and I am so happy to be free of that. Now I get to keep what I earn instead of sending it out to the creditors.

My goal now is to rid myself of my student loan by the end of this year.

God is good. I could not have done this without His help.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Scriptures For Financial Health: Malachi 3:10

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it" (Malachi 3:10).

Tax day has come and gone and the protestors were out in full force yesterday protesting high taxes. Yesterday, also, the tax returns of President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden were released to the public. This was of particular interest to me, because I have always believed that one's level of personal prosperity directly correlates with one's level of giving. This is a spiritual law, where the giver is blessed even more than the receiver, for "it is more blessed to give than receive" (Acts 20:35). Those of us who are of the more generous spirit should therefore expect to obtain great blessings from God, when we give generously. I am therefore not surprised when I see the difference in the level of giving and prosperity of the Obamas compared with the Bidens. According to news sources such as CNN, the Obamas earned $2,656,902 in 2008, paid $855, 323 in taxes, and donated $172, 050 to charity. Mathematically speaking, the Obamas paid 32% of their income in taxes, and gave 6.5% of their pre-tax income to charity, or 9.5% of their post-tax income to charity, or almost 10% of their post-tax income! This giving to charity does not include loose cash donations that they might have "dropped in the offering plate" of churches or other non-tax deductible gifts or donations. The Obamas, I must say, have come pretty close to the Biblical tithe in their charitable giving from their post-tax earnings on their tax returns, and hence no wonder their phenonemal wealth, material prosperity, and economic stability as a family.

In contrast, the Bidens earned $269, 256 in 2008, paid $46, 952 in taxes, but only gave $1,885 in donations! This was much, much less that what most middle class people who earn less $200,000 give as tithes, and much less than what I gave in tithes last year, even though I earn substantially less money! Mathematically speaking, the Bidens paid 17% of their income in taxes, but only gave away 0.70% of their pre-tax income, or 0.85% of their post-tax income. Even if you should do the calculation of their declared taxable income of $183, 315, you still get a charitable giving rate of 1.0% pre-tax, and 1.4% post-tax. Clearly the Bidens have fallen well below the Biblical tithe, and hence their level of material prosperity is less.

Let me say that while returning a tithe is not a guarantee of wealth.  It is a sure guarantee to economic stability(Malachi 3:10-11). As long as the Obamas keep on giving as they do, they are assuring themselves and their family a long legacy of economic stability, regardless of the economic climate in the country or around the world. God is merciful, and He will take care of those of us who do not give generously. He makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on all, but His guarantee of economic prosperity is with those of us who tithe. Let me say again, tithing is not a get rich scheme of the Bible, for nowhere does it say that those who tithe will get wealthy, but it does say that God will bless those who tithe with economic stability, regardless of income levels. This is what we need now in these hard economic times.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Devotional of the Week April 12-18

Acts 2: 22-24

"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate conunsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it."

Easter marks the start of something new, and holds the promise of new life on Earth. While the world celebrates Easter, the people of God celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, for in Him there is life! He is the author and creator of life, and in Him everything is made new. He died and was resurrected to show us that He has the power over death, which is the enemy of life. In Him we can have hope for life eternal.

In The Fullness Of Time

Today, Saturday April 11 2009, Christians around the world are remembering how Christ laid in the tomb after His crucifixion. This Sabbath was a time of mourning for His early followers, and a time of fear. Many no doubt feared that they too would be next to be crucified for their faith. What is however overlooked about this day was that it also a day of rest. A day of rest for Christ from His earthly ministry, and a day of rest from His enemies. His enemies had crucified Him and He was dead, but no more could they hurt Him anymore. He was forever out of their control. He was now resting in God's hand.

One cannot help but notice the timing of the whole crucifixion and sacrifice of Christ. He was killed at the time of Passover, during the time of the evening sacrifice. His suffering on the cross was marked by a total eclipse of the sun which lasted 3 hours. He "rested" in the tomb on the Sabbath, and was resurrected on Sunday, at the time of the Jewish Spring offering. A great juxtaposition of the Creator with creation, the Spiritual with the natural. All heaven, earth and nature in complete harmony with the Creator. All heaven, earth, and nature mourned the loss of the Son of God, and rejoiced at His resurrection. Let us therefore now get our lives in harmony with our Creator this Spring. Spring is a time of renewal, when the earth comes to life again, after the cold of winter. Let us therefore use this time not only to reflect upon the "coming to life again" of our Savior Jesus, but also use this time accept and receive the new life He is giving to us.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Passion of Christ in Three Days and Three Nights

Happy and holy Good Friday everyone! I pray this season has been a blessing to all. This is the time when we reflect on the longsuffering of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, His love and passion for us. Here I am going to reflect on the passion of Christ during His final hours here on earth.

Nissan 13: Jesus is having supper in the home of Simon the leper, and a woman enters in and anoints Him with a very expensive aromatic oil (Mark 14: 1-3).

What a gesture of giving and the receiving of love, that Jesus showed. While others were indignant about this "lavish" gesture of love, Jesus showed His willingness and grace to accept grateful love and affection from His followers. This shows us that He has a heart of love for feeble humanity.

Nissan 14: This was the day in which the Passover lamb must be killed according to Jewish law, and the lamb must be killed in the evening hours (Exodus 12: 3-6).

This was a busy day. People were in a hurry making last minute preparations for Passover. Jesus also was very busy. On the night before His death, He instituted the Last Supper and Foot washing. Throughout the whole meal sat Judas, the one who would betray Him. Jesus knew that Judas would betray Him, but He did not let anyone know about it. He kept that information to Himself. He knew it, but Judas did not know that He knew. Yes, Christ knew about it, because after all, He was God, and He knows everything! In His final hours He had sat down and eaten with a traitor. He did not try to destroy this traitor or embarrass Him in front of everyone. He did not call out Judas in front of everyone; instead, He quietly bore the hurt knowing that someone who was close to Him, someone who was privy to all the secrets of the kingdom, someone who witnessed His miracles, His joy and pain, would turn against Him. He put up with it, because He was determined that He was going to pay the penalty for sin, no matter how hurtful it was going to be, whether physically or emotionally.

After a night of being tortured, beaten, and mocked, Jesus was hung on a cross in the evening hours, where He died. He became the sacrificial passover lamb on that Passover day. He also became the sin offering for the evening sacrifice. His death atoned for our sins. He died so that we would not have to pay the penalty for our sins.

Nissan 15: Passover feast celebration (Exodus 12:8).

While others were celebrating the Passover feast by eating roasted lambs, Jesus laid dead in a cold tomb. It was one of the worst Passover feast days ever for His disciples, for they mourned the passing of their Lord. He gave His life so as to pay the penalty for our sins. This is what He had come to do, so that we might live eternally. Only the sinless One could have done this for us, for if we paid our own penalty, then we would die eternally. Now that He had paid the price for us, we have hope for life in eternity.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Was Judas' Death Suicide or an Accident?

I am definitely feeling encouraged about this new series of blogs called Difficult Sayings of the Bible Explained. People are getting inspired, and I am too. Things which were at one time confusing are now clear. In keeping with the Easter season, I am again going to attempt to clarify another mysterious Biblical passage, which is found in Acts 1: 15-19.

"And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood."

Above is given an account of the demise of Judas, after he betrayed Christ. What is so controversial about the above statement however, is that it appears to be in conflict with the account given by Matthew. In Matthew 27: 3-8 we read that Judas tried to return thirty pieces of silver to the priests, and when they refused to take the money back, he threw the money down in the temple, and then went out and hanged himself.

"Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself."

Most certainly, these passages are definitely some of the more difficult sayings of the Bible, and are therefore worthy of an explanation!

In trying to decipher the above passages, I must confess that this was one the most difficult undertakings for me. It required me to think outside of the box in order to solve this dilemna, and reconcile the two passages. You see, when we try to understand scripture, it is important for us to realize that God's way of thinking is not the same as ours. He sees things, in many instances, in a different perspective from ours, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isaiah 55:8). When we interpret scripture, we must therefore put aside our preconceived ideas and biases, and allow God to fill our minds with His thoughts, and His way of thinking.

Here now is the long and short of Acts 1: 15-19. It is a description of how Judas hanged himself! While Matthew recorded that Judas hanged himself, no description is given of how he did that. Acts 1:18 tells us specifically how he did it. He did it by falling HEADLONG. In the process, his body burst apart, and his bowels gushed out. How gruesome!

Now, the question is also asked, "Did Judas throw down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple as recorded in Matthew 27: 5, or did he use it to purchase a field as in Acts 1: 18? The answer to that question is "Yes." Judas did throw down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple, BUT the money was used by the priests to purchase a field to bury strangers.

"And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury because itis the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them[the silver pieces] the potter's field, to bury strangers in" (Matthew 27: 6-7, words in brackets supplied).

Judas had nothing to do with the purchase of the potter's field except it was purchased with the thirty pieces of silver he earned from betraying Jesus, the so-called "reward of iniquity" (Acts 1: 18). The word translated "purchased" in Acts 1: 18 is the Greek word "ktaomai" which means "to get, i.e acquire (by any means; own)" (Strong #2932). The thirty pieces of silver which Judas threw down in the temple got him the potter's field, although it was purchased by the priests. From here on I conjecture that Judas went out in this field, and commited suicide.

Here is what Zechariah prophesied concerning this event hundreds of years before.

"And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD" (Zechariah 11: 12-13).

David also wrote in the Psalms concerning Judas and his demise, of which a part was also quoted in Acts 1: 19, by Peter.

"Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. For they persecute him who thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. Add iniquity to their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous" (Psalm 69: 25-28).

For a few lousy bucks, Judas was willing to risk his soul salvation. He sold out himself cheap, and lost his soul. His death was by no means an accident. He took matters into his own hands and killed himself, instead of running to God for mercy. He died in his sin, and God therefore blotted him out of the Book of life. Many times we too are guilty of "selling out" on Jesus. We risk our soul salvation for a few minutes of pleasure in sin. God is calling us back to repentance and into true fellowship with him. Don't take matters into your own hands, and remain in your sin, but give your life to Him, for His name honor and glory.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Three Days Three Nights

I hope you all enjoyed my previous blog The Thief on the Cross, and the explanation. I will now venture to explained another controversial passage of scripture, which sometimes causes arguments among Christians during Easter. The passage in question is Matthew 12:40:

"For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Why is this verse so controversial? It is controversial because the traditional timeline for Jesus' death and ressurrection is in direct conflict with the above timeline. In the traditional timeline, Jesus died on Good Friday evening, rested in the grave on the Sabbath, and was resurrected on Sunday, early in the morning before dawn. Based on the traditional timeline, Jesus would have spent 2 days and 2 nights in the grave, not three days and three nights! How could this be? Was this a gross miscalculation in scripture? An error? This is definitely a difficult saying of the Bible that is worthy of an explanation!

Let me first begin to say that apparent conflicts in scripture are usually due not to scripture itself but to the person who is interpreting the scripture. Our understanding of scripture is as good as our understanding of scripture! When there is something in scripture that we do not understand, the tendency is to fault the scripture rather than our own limited understanding. In order to understand, we must therefore first admit that we do not know or understand everything, and then allow God to lead us to truth.

In studying this scripture, I have found that the key to understanding this scripture lies with the often overlooked explanation Jesus gave Himself! In Matthew 12: 39-40, we find Jesus speaking about the sign of Jonas. He said:

"An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

In Luke 11: 29-30, we find Jesus telling us to whom Jonas was a sign. He said:

"This is an evil generation: they seek a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet. For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation."

When you put both these passages together you get something remarkable. Jonah being in the whale's belly three days and three nights was a sign to the Ninevites, while Jesus' three days and three nights in the heart of the earth was a sign to His generation.

Now we come to the next question. What is the heart of the earth? Is it the grave? Or is it something else? Let us take a close look at that phrase to see what it really means.

I must say when I started to examine this passage and study it, that I found a whole lot of material written by others to explain this passage. Some have tried to let this passage fit their ideas by proposing a Wednesday crucifixion instead of a Friday crucifixion to get three days and three nights to the resurrection; while others have denied that three days and three nights represented three 24-hr days. I am now going to declare to you that the expression heart of the earth does not mean the grave! Shocking, but I can prove it to you. Firstly, let me say that there is nowhere in scripture where the grave referred to as the heart of the earth. In scripture, the grave is called hell, Sheol, Hades, etc. but nowhere is it called the heart of the earth. Secondly, when I look in most modern translations of the Bible such as NLT, NASB, NIV, and ESV, nowhere is the phrase heart of the earth rendered as grave. What therefore does the phrase heart of the earth mean?

The only way therefore to find out what the phrase heart of the earth means is to look at the original Greek of the text. The Greek word translated heart in the passage is the word kardia. According to Strong's concordance, the word kardia means "heart (figuratively)," "thoughts," "feelings (mind)," and also by analogy "the middle." The Greek word translated earth in the passage is the word ghay. According to Strong's concordance the Greek word ghay means "soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (incl. the occupants in each application):- country, earth (-ly), ground, land, world." If we should take the most basic literal rendering of the passage, which by way is not necessarily the true meaning, and conclude that heart of the earth means "the middle of the ground" we know that this cannot be true because in 1st Century Judah, the dead were not buried in the ground. Dead bodies were wrapped in spices and burial clothes, and laid in open graves, such as in a cave (John 19: 38-40). After the flesh had rotted off, the bones were then placed in a small family box called an ossuary ( ). In addition, where is the middle of the ground located? Is it somewhere on top of the ground, or is it somewhere deep below the ground? For example, if you plant a seed in the middle of a field, do you plant it in the center of the field, or do you plant it below the ground in a nondescript area of the field? The most correct and true translation of the phrase the heart of the earth must therefore be "the mind, feelings and emotions of the world." Here in this passage, "heart" is used figuratively to depict the inner soul. The word "earth" is used to depict the planet earth and all that is in it. Christ was here describing His Passion. His thoughts, feelings, and emotions for the world on the last three days and nights of His life. His betrayal, trial, public humiliation, crucifixion, and death was all done so that we could have eternal life. He gave His life, and suffered the shame, so that we could live, and have a hope for a future.

Christ spent the last three days and three nights of His life suffering at the hands of men so that we can avoid eternal damnation. He gave His life for the whole world so that all who call upon Him will be saved. He gave His life so that we might live.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Thief On the Cross

In this Easter season, one of the more controversial sayings of Jesus is found in Luke 23:43, where Jesus told the thief on the cross, "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." This saying is controversial because we read later on in John 20:17, where Jesus told Mary after His resurrection, "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father." It is therefore apparent from John 20:17 that Jesus HAD NOT gone to heaven on the day of His death or anytime between the time of His death and resurrection. Is this a contradiction in scripture? Is this a discrepancy? How could Jesus tell the thief that they would both be in heaven on the day of crucifixion, and then afterwards tell Mary that He had not gone up to heaven? Did Jesus lie to the thief on the cross or to Mary? Truly, this is one of the more difficult sayings of the Bible, and is therefore worthy of an explanation!

Before I begin to explain the above passage, let me first say that it is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18). We serve a God of truth, who gives us His Spirit to guide us into all truth (John 16:13). The above statements made by Jesus must therefore be truth, as God cannot lie; however, I have found from studying the Bible that whenever there is an apparent conflict in scripture, one must dig deeper to find the "hidden" meaning.

The above statement made by Jesus to the thief on the cross is what I call a Jesus-ism or Jesus-speak. Jesus used Jesus-ism or Jesus-speak whenever He was conveying a message or teaching to His followers in public, in the presence of others. He did this so that He could convey a hidden message to His followers and yet prevent the larger audience from picking up on what He was saying. He did this by using a lot of parables and symbolism in His speech, whenever He wanted to convey special instructions to His followers, in the presence of others who were not to be privy to this information. When Jesus was asked why He spoke in parables, He responded:

"Therefore speak I in parables because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand....For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed" (Matthew 13:13, 15a).

You see, many of the multitudes who had come to hear Jesus teach were not really interested in learning about God and the kingdom of heaven. They had hardened their hearts, stopped their ears, and closed their eyes against the things of God. They were mainly interested in getting healed of their diseases or in following a leader who would lead them to earthly prosperity. To them, the things of God were foolishness and offensive to their ideas of godliness. Because their minds were so far removed from spiritual things, Jesus had to use parables relating to everyday life to teach spiritual lessons. Those who were true believers would understand the spiritual message, but the unbelievers would just enjoy a good story.

Now back to the thief on the cross and Jesus' statement, Today thou shalt be with me in paradise. This statement from Jesus was in response to a request made by the thief to Jesus. The thief wanted Jesus to assure him a place in Christ's coming kingdom. He said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom" (Luke 23:42). To which Jesus replied, "Today thou shalt be with me in paradise" (vs. 43). From Jesus' statement to Mary that He had not yet ascended to His Father, we must therefore conclude that Jesus was speaking spiritually, and not literally to the thief on the cross, about entering paradise that day. Make no mistake, paradise is a real place, but literal paradise is not to be established upon the earth until the end of the world. In Revelation 2:7 it says that the tree of life, which was in the garden of Eden is to be found in paradise. The apostle Paul also recorded how he was "caught up" in vision into paradise (2 Corinthian 12:4). Yes, paradise is a real place, but it also another name for the eternal kingdom of Christ, which, by the way, will be established on the earth, along with a new heaven and a new earth (Ezekiel 47: 1-12; Revelation 21 & 22). What Jesus was telling the thief therefore was Today you shall be with me in my eternal kingdom.

One must understand that one can be a part of Christ's eternal kingdom prior to getting to heaven, while here on earth! In Colossians 1: 12-13 we read,

"Giving thanks to the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (bold type supplied).

By accepting Jesus into your life, your citizenship into the kingdom of Christ starts right now (note the above scripture is written in the present tense). Take a look at another passage written in the present tense to the then living Hebrew Christians of the New Testament.

"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect" (Hebrews 12: 22-23, bold face supplied).

Now read the words of Jesus Himself!

"And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not by observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo here! For behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17: 20-21).

The kingdom of God starts within our hearts and soul. We are citizens of God's kingdom spiritually before we ever get there physically. Membership into the spiritual kingdom is our guarantee and assurance of a place in the future physical kingdom of Christ. Christ offered the thief on the cross a place in His spiritual kingdom that day, for salvation is immediate, and today is the day of salvation, "behold, now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Again the scripture says, "But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; while it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation" (Hebrews 3: 13-15). By offering the thief an immediate place in His spiritual kingdom, Christ was guaranteeing the repentant and forgiven thief a place in His coming physical kingdom.

My dear friends, Christ offered the thief on the cross immediate salvation and a place in His kingdom. He is making the same offer to you today. Won't you accept it?

Difficult Sayings of the Bible Explained

During this passion week I will be launching my new series labeled "Difficult Sayings of the Bible Explained." In this series I will be tackling some of the more conflicting and controversial passages of scripture, and explain them. This will be an opportunity for those of us who are serious Bible students to come to grips with some of the more hard-to-understand truths in the Bible, and to lift the veil of mystery and apparent conflict in scripture.

One of the arguments used by Bible skeptics against the Bible is that there are contradictions in scripture. To the superficial Bible reader, this criticism may appear to be true; however, one must understand that the Bible was not meant to be read like a novel or storybook, but is a holy textbook which requires careful study. By taking the time to study the Bible, one will come away with timeless truths for all time, which will illuminate and change mind, body, and soul.

I welcome all your comments.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Devotional of the Week April 5-11

1 Corinthians 15: 19-26

"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

Herein lies in this passage the message of the Christian hope, which is the hope of the resurrection and eternal life. It is for this very reason that we serve and obey God, against all odds, and against all opposition from others. It is for this reason why we make sacrifices in our lives and with our lives for the gospel's sake. The hope of the eternal is what we look forward to, for we know it is coming, whether we are ready or not. For those of us who are ready for eternity, it will be a time of great joy; but for others who are unprepared, it will be a time of great distress. My friends, Jesus is coming back. He is coming back to destroy the works of the enemy and to bring happiness and lasting peace on the earth; but you must be ready to receive His gift of eternal peace. Those of us who have not made the necessary preparations to receive His eternal peace, will lose out on the eternal hope; for He must put away everyone and everything that is in oppostion to peace and lasting security, including death. It is only and only when the barriers to true happiness and peace are finally removed from the earth, that we can truly experience WORLD PEACE.