Monday, December 31, 2012

Alive and Powerful

12 For the Word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT).

The Holy Bible is the Word of God and this Word is alive, powerful, and life-changing (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God exposes our innermost thoughts, heart motives and true intentions. Through His Word, God speaks to our hearts, shares His love and care, and protects us from evil (John 3:16; Ephesians 6:17). Most important, the Word of God helps shape our lives for the better. Therefore, God’s Word must be received, obeyed, and believed as life’s guidebook for living (Psalm 95:7). No decision or plan in life must be made without seeking God and God’s Word for guidance (Proverbs 16:9).

Moreover, God’s Word created the universe and He controls the universe by His Word (Genesis 1:3-28; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 11:3). In the past, God’s Word came through angels or prophets, but now God’s Word has come dominantly through Jesus Christ, who is God’s Son (John 1:1-14; Hebrews 1:1-4; Hebrews 2:3-4). Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1-4; Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12, 16; Revelation 19:15).

Likewise, God is omnipresent meaning God is everywhere and all-seeing. No one can hide from God as God sees all we do and think. Knowing that God is forever present should bring us comfort. God is present to help us when we need Him, and He is just a pray away. So, obey God’s Word! Spend time each day reading and mediating on God’s Word and applying God’s Word to your life. God’s Word will make your year a Happy New Year!

Living By Faith With Jesus Christ

1 The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship. 2 If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. 3 But instead, those sacrifices actually reminded them of their sins year after year. 4 For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 That is why, when Christ came into the world, He said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given Me a body to offer. 6 You were not pleased with burnt offerings or other offerings for sin. 7 Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do Your will, O God— as is written about Me in the Scriptures.’” 8 First, Christ said, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings or burnt offerings or other offerings for sin, nor were You pleased with them” (though they are required by the law of Moses). 9 Then He (Jesus) said, “Look, I have come to do Your will.” He cancels the first Covenant in order to put the second into effect. 10 For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time. 11 Under the old Covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. 12 But our High Priest (Jesus) offered Himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then He sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 13 There He waits until His enemies are humbled and made a footstool under His feet. 14 For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy. 15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies that this is so. For He says, 16 “This is the New Covenant I will make with My people on that day, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”  17 Then He says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” 18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices. 19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. 20 By His death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. 21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, 22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting Him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.  23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near. 26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume His enemies. . . . 35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 And My righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” 39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. Hebrews 10:1-27, 35-39 (NLT).

Jesus Christ was the final Sacrifice for the sins of the people (Hebrews 10:10).  In the Old Testament period, the priests and people would gather to offer sacrifices for their sins year after year.  However, these annual sacrifices never took away their sins, but only provided temporary relief.  These sacrifices were only a shadow of Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.

Still more, God desired the people’s wholehearted love, obedience and a right heart for Him as God and not just religious rituals and sacrifices (Hebrews 10:22). In fact, one of the central teachings of the Old Testament and the New Testament are not gifts and sacrifices, but wholehearted and genuine love, faith, and obedience for God (1 Samuel 15:22-23; Psalm 40:6-8; Psalm 51:16-19; Isaiah 1:11-15; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 9:13; and Matthew 22:34-40). Sacrifice and rituals are not unimportant.  However, genuine love, faith, devotion, and obedience to God are far better in God’s eyes than following empty, half-hearted rituals and rules (Hebrews 10:5-7).

Moreover, the people needed a permanent and greater sacrifice for forgiveness of their sins from within their hearts.  Jesus Christ offers to all people by faith that permanent and final forgiveness of sins. God sent Jesus Christ to offer His sinless body on the Cross as our final sacrifice for sin. Moreover, Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross did away with the sacrificial system contained in the ceremonial Old Testament law (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 10:16-18). However, Jesus Christ’s death did not eliminate God’s moral law (e.g., the Ten Commandments at Exodus 20:3-17; Deuteronomy 5:7-21).  Thus, God's new way to please Him is by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. When we genuinely and wholeheartedly confess our sins, Jesus permanently and forever removes our sins and cleans us from the inside of evil, sin, and wickedness (see also 1 John 1:9). Best of all, God remembers our sins no more.

Moreover, Jesus Christ sends His Holy Spirit to live within our hearts to help us obey God’s moral law and walk with Him in obedience and love (John 14 – 16). God wants everyone to wholeheartedly love Him and to obey His will. When we truly trust in Jesus Christ to forgive our sins, God’s Holy Spirit to help us walk with God and grow holy and righteous. If we stumble, Jesus Christ encourages us to confess our sins to God and God promises to continually forgive us (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4).

God through Jesus Christ offers everyone the free gift of eternal life and salvation so we can now concentrate on loving others and doing good work (Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 2:8-10). We are saved not by following the law or good deeds but by God’s grace. However, we are saved to do good works for God’s glory (Ephesians 2:8-10). 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Is Jesus Real?

The story of God’s love continues into the New Testament with the arrival of His Son, Jesus.  Jesus is the central figure of the Christian faith. The New Testament, especially the four Gospels, tells the story of Jesus.
Yet, traditions about Jesus appear in many sources outside the Holy Bible. The ancient non-Biblical sources have been valuable because they offer information about Jesus from a non-Biblical perspective. In many instances, these non-Biblical sources confirm or explain the Biblical story as well as the existence of Jesus. Four ancient sources discuss or reference the earthly Jesus: Josephus, Roman historians and other writers, Rabbinic writings, and the Qur’an.

The non-Biblical sources can be divided into two groups: pagan and Jewish. Both groups are limited in their value. There are essentially three pagan sources of importance: Pliny (Epistles x.96), Tacitus (Annals xv.44), and Suetonius (Lives xxv.4). All of these sources date from the second decade of the second century. The main Jewish sources are Josephus (Antiquities) and the Talmud. These non-Biblical sources provide little information about Jesus, but they all establish the fact that He truly lived, that He gathered disciples, performed healings, and that He was condemned to death by Pontius Pilate.

Other Biblical sources outside the four Gospels also provide essential knowledge of Jesus’ life. The information from the Books of Acts through Revelation is essentially as follows: Jesus was born a Jew (Galatians 4:4) and was a descendent of David (Romans 1:3). Jesus was gentle (2 Corinthians 10:1); righteous (1 Peter 3:18); sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21); humble (Philippians 2:6); and tempted (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15). In addition, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23–26), was transfigured (2 Peter 1:17–18), was betrayed (1 Corinthians 11:23), was crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23), rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:3–8), and ascended to heaven (Ephesians 4:8).

The major source of information of Jesus is the four Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Although all four Gospels present the life and teaching of Jesus, each Gospel concentrates on unique features of His life and character. Matthew, Mark, and Luke—the “Synoptic” Gospels—tell the story of Jesus and His public ministry in Galilee. John is separate from the other Gospels. Over 85% of John’s Gospel is unique to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Yes, Jesus is real!


Green, Joel. Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Intervarsity Press, 1992.
Draper, Charles. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Holman Reference, 2003.
Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
NIV Study Bible. Zondervan, 2008.
NLT Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.
Meek, James A. One Great Story: Study Guide to the Bible, 2007.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cling To God!

Joshua:  6 “So be very careful to follow everything Moses wrote in the Book of Instruction. Do not deviate from it, turning either to the right or to the left. 7 Make sure you do not associate with the other people still remaining in the land. Do not even mention the names of their gods, much less swear by them or serve them or worship them. 8 Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now. 9 For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and no one has yet been able to defeat you. 10 Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as he has promised. 11 So be very careful to love the Lord your God. 12 But if you turn away from Him and cling to the customs of the survivors of these nations remaining among you, and if you intermarry with them, 13 then know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive them out of your land. Instead, they will be a snare and a trap to you, a whip for your backs and thorny brambles in your eyes, and you will vanish from this good land the Lord your God has given you. 14 Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! 15 But as surely as the Lord your God has given you the good things He promised, He will also bring disaster on you if you disobey Him. He will completely destroy you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you break the covenant of the Lord your God by worshiping and serving other gods, His anger will burn against you, and you will quickly vanish from the good land He has given you.” Joshua 23:6-16 (NLT).

Before dying, Joshua gathered the people of Israel together and gave them final words of encouragement and instructions to help them stay faithful and loyal to God. Joshua had faithfully and wholeheartedly served God. He personally eye witnessed Israel’s escape from Egyptian slavery, God’s parting of the Red Sea, and God’s deliverance of Israel into the Promise Land.  Moreover, Joshua was a talented leader and a great general, but he always gave the glory to God for his success. 

Now, Joshua gave the people his final words and the wisdom behind his success (Joshua 1:5-9). First, Joshua instructed the people to obey God’s Word first in their lives (Joshua 23:6). God desires our obedience to Him and His Word (see e.g., 1 Samuel 15:22; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 1:11-17; Jeremiah 7:22-23; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Mark 12:32-33). Joshua knew that God’s Word is faithful and God’s promises never fail (Joshua 23:14). Second, Joshua commanded the people to only worship the true and living God (Joshua 23:7-8). Third, Joshua directed the people not to worship, bow down, or love any other gods (Joshua 23:9-16) as this would compromise their complete loyalty and allegiance to the true and living God (Deuteronomy 5:26; Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

In essence, Joshua instructed the people to respect the Lord, to love Him wholeheartedly, and to willingly serve Him as God (see also Joshua 24:14-15). God is faithful and trustworthy.  Most important, God loves us and gave His Son, Jesus to save the world (Matthew 1:21-23; John 3:16; Romans 6:23). Joshua encouraged the people to keep trusting, obeying, and loving God. God would protect them against their enemies just as God had fought for the Israelites in the past (e.g., Joshua 10:11-14).  So, love God and trust in Him!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Christmas Story

1 This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah (Christ), a descendant of David and of Abraham: . . . 18 This is how Jesus the Messiah (Christ) was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her fiancĂ©, was a good (righteous) man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. 20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through His prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a Child! She will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” 24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named Him Jesus. Matthew 1:1, 18-25 (NLT).

The Gospel writer Matthew begins his Gospel by proving that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah to bring salvation to all people, worldwide (Matthew 1:21).  The promise of God’s salvation began as early as Genesis 3:15 of the Old Testament with the Original Sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  This promise of salvation continued with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 22:18; Matthew 1:1); Jacob and Judah (Genesis 49:1-2, 8-11); Moses at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20), the Jesus’ star (Numbers 24:17); King David (2 Samuel 7:16; Matthew 1:1), and the prophets (e.g., see Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8, 10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-5; Jeremiah 31:5; Daniel 2:44; Daniel 7:13-14; Hosea 11:1; Micah  5:2; Zechariah 9:10). The people continued to anticipate God’s salvation even after 400 years of silence with the last Old Testament prophet, Malachi (Malachi 4:15; Luke 3:15).

Over the years, many false figures came and went, who claimed to be the Messiah. Yet, these false figures never received a heavenly announcement. However, the arrival of salvation through the birth of the Baby in Bethlehem did not go unannounced.  The heavenly angels (Luke 2:8-14), shepherds (Luke 2:15-20), the wise kings (Matthew 2: 1-12), Simeon (Luke 2:25-35), and Anna (Luke 2:36-40) all came and worshiped God’s arrival to earth in the Person of Jesus Christ (John 1:14). Finally, the true Messiah had arrived!  Once again, God had faithfully kept His promises to the world (see also Joshua 23-24). God is a promise keeper!

Jesus the Messiah is a descendant of Adam (the father of all people), Abraham (the father of all Jews), and a direct royal descendent of King David (Matthew 1:1, 6; Luke 3:23-38). Most important, Jesus is the biological and natural Son of God (Matthew 1:18-23; Matthew 2:15; Mark 1:1) while Joseph is His stepfather or legal father of earth. Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit and not by human means (Matthew 1:18, 20). Thus, Jesus is both human and God – a human mother, Mary, and a Divine Father. Jesus had a righteous and just stepfather with Joseph. Joseph always did what was pleasing in the eyes of God and he faithfully obeyed God’s guidance (Matthew 1:16-25; Matthew 2:14-15). Even more, Joseph trained Jesus in the trade of carpentry and to follow His true Father, the living God of Israel (Deuteronomy 5:26; Luke 2:41). 

God sent Jesus to earth because He loves us (John 3:16), and He wants to save humanity from their sins. Jesus means "the LORD saves" (Matthew 1:21) and this salvation is available to all who simply believe and trust in God through Jesus. Moreover, Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua (Yeshua).  Christ (or Christos) is Greek for Messiah, which means “Anointed One.” Christ is Jesus’ title and His mission is the Savior of the world (Matthew 1:21). Also, Jesus is called Immanuel, meaning "God with us." Jesus was and continues to be present with those who trusts in Him as their Savior through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:23; see also Isaiah 7:14; John 1:14; Acts 1:1-8). Amazingly, the Gospel writer Matthew ends his Gospel by commissioning everyone to tell the Good News of Jesus’ salvation to all people, worldwide (see also Matthew 28:16-20).  So, go tell everyone that Jesus the Savior has been born!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Your Whole Heart For God!

8 "So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever. 9 "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve (worship) Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever. . . . 20 David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you . . . " 1 Chronicles 28:8-9, 20 (NIV).

As King David prepared to transfer the kingship of Israel to his son, Solomon, he gave final instructions to Solomon and to all the people listening (1 Chronicles 28:1). God promised to King David an eternal kingdom and to bless his family line with kings (1 Chronicles 17). This promise is often called the Davidic covenant (see also 2 Samuel 7:1-29). Also, this promise was one of a series of promises between God and His people – with Abraham (Genesis 12; Genesis 17:1), with Moses at Sinai (Exodus 20), and now with King David. This promise of God was fulfilled in the New Testament with the arrival of Jesus the Messiah of King David’s royal family line (Luke 1:32-33).

King David told Solomon in the hearing of all Israel to be careful to obey God's commands and to wholeheartedly follow and seek God, and to serve God first. The Holy Scriptures are God’s Words and are essential for life, peace and justice. King David knew of the importance of following God’s will and His teaching.  He had courageously, humbly, and wholeheartedly served God. King David instructed the people listening to also have a wholehearted loyalty, dedication, and devotion to God and God’s will. 

God searches every heart and nothing is hidden from God (1 Chronicles 28:9). He sees our inner heart, thoughts, and motives.  King David encouraged the people to be completely open, honest, and loyal to God. God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving.  No one can hide any thought, action, pain, sadness, or fear from God.  As we walk with God’s Son, Jesus the Messiah, Jesus works within our hearts to "to will and to act according to His good purpose'' (Philippians 2:13).  Besides, “he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17). So, let everyone “be strong and courageous” in trusting God (1 Chronicles 28:20-21). God is with us (Matthew 1:23) and let us all be with God by following His will and ways!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Birth Announcement

8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them (the shepherds), and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize Him by this sign: You will find a Baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”  15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the Baby, lying in the manger. 17 After seeing Him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. Luke 2:8-17 (NLT).

Jesus the Messiah arrived to a small Jewish town in Bethlehem, a town five miles south of Jerusalem. However, Jesus’ small town arrival to earth received a grand announcement from heaven. God the Father sent His heavenly angels (also called "the armies of heaven" or "heavenly hosts") to announce the arrival of His Son, Jesus the Messiah (meaning Christ). The angels announced to the world the good news of Jesus. Jesus would be the Lamb of God (John 1:36) that would take away the sins of the whole world and bring peace. 

For years, the Jews had been waiting for the Messiah. Now the Messiah had arrived not only for the Jews but for all people, worldwide. Jesus the Messiah brought God’s lasting peace, salvation, and Kingdom to earth.  Even more, Jesus brought everyone a chance to receive a new heart that will last for eternity to all who believe and accept Him (see Romans 5:1).

All the more amazing are the people that received this heavenly announcement, shepherds.  Shepherds were common, ordinary people and often portrayed in first century Judaism as drifters, homeless, poor, and troublemakers.  The shepherds were some of the first people to hear God’s angelic announcement that salvation and peace had arrived for all nations, worldwide.   At first, the shepherds who heard Jesus’ angelic announcement were frightened, but their fear turned to joy and excitement.

That night in Bethlehem, the angels sang a short hymn. This hymn is called Gloria in Excelsis Deo (Latin for “Glory to God in the Highest”) and sometimes this hymn is called Gloria.  The angels gave praise to the majesty and loving God. This heavenly hymn has inspired musical composers for years and is the basis of many choral works, Christmas carols, and liturgical chants.  Christmas songs inspired by this passage include:

Angels We Have Heard on High
O Holy Night!
Silent Night! Holy Night!
The First Noel
While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.

God, thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to the world!  Jesus Christ is the best Gift the world will ever know.  Thank you God!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Immanuel—God With Us!

3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “. . . . 4 Tell him (King Ahaz) to stop worrying. Tell him he doesn’t need to fear the fierce anger of those two burned-out embers, King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah. . . . 9  Unless your faith is firm, I (God) cannot make you stand firm.” . . . 13 Then Isaiah said, “Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well? 14 All right then, the Lord Himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a Child! She will give birth to a Son and will call Him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
Isaiah 7:3-4, 9, 13-14 (NLT)
Around 734 B.C., King Ahaz of Judah in Jerusalem feared the coming attack of two invading armies (2 Kings 16). King Ahaz was one of Judah's worst kings and he had turned away from God. He refused to trust in God's help against those invading armies.  Instead, King Ahaz tried to form an alliance with the Assyrians rather than obeying and trusting in God for deliverance (2 Kings 16:7-8).
In His mercy, God sent the Prophet Isaiah to tell King Ahaz to stop worrying and have faith in Him to deliver Judah from their enemies.  God was in control and He wanted King Ahaz to place his faith in Him and not in political alliances with Assyrian. Isaiah predicted that Judah would not come to an end as Immanuel would be a miraculous sign of their deliverance.
God is a God of mercy, grace, and faithfulness (Exodus 34:6-7).  He always keeps His promises. God promised a Child of hope would be born from Judah to secure God’s messianic promises to King David (2 Samuel 7:12-17). This Child would save not only Judah but the entire world of their sins. Matthew 1:23 of the New Testament quotes Isaiah 7:14 to prove fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy to King Ahaz (see also Luke 1:27).  Mary, a young virgin girl, conceived a Son by the Holy Spirit, named Immanuel, meaning “God with us” or “God is with us.” This Child is the Christ from the line of King David of Judah and He is God incarnate (or in the flesh).
So as the Prophet Isaiah told King Ahaz, stop worrying and trust in God!  God has now sent Immanuel and "God is with us."

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Benedictus, A Hymn of Praise!

67 Then Zechariah, John’s father, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:  68 "Let us praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come (visited) to help His people and has given them freedom (redemption).  69 He has given us a powerful Savior from the family of God’s servant David. 70 He said that He would do this through His holy prophets who lived long ago: 71 He promised He would save(deliver) us from our enemies and from the power of all those who hate us.  72 He said He would give mercy to our fathers and that He would remember His holy promise. 73 God promised Abraham, our father, 74 that He would save us from the power of our enemies so we could serve Him without fear, 75 being holy and good before God as long as we live. 76 “Now you, child (John), will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go before the Lord to prepare His way. 77 You will make His people know that they will be saved by having their sins forgiven. 78 With the loving mercy of our God, a new day from heaven will dawn upon us. 79 It will shine on those who live in darkness, in the shadow of death. It will guide us into the path of peace." Luke 1:67-79 (NCV). 

Luke 1:67-79 records Zechariah’s praise to God after months of silence. Zechariah’s praise is often called the Benedictus, and this is the second praise hymn of the birth narrative (the first hymn is Mary’s song found at Luke 1:46–55).  In this praise hymn, Zechariah celebrates God coming and visiting His people through the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ!  In the Benedictus, Zechariah prophesied that the coming Savior would redeem His people and his son, John, would prepare the Savior’s way. Zechariah was the father of John the Baptist and John had been chosen to pave the way for the Savior.  Moreover, Zechariah gave praise to God because God had kept all His promises announced through the Old Testament prophets of a coming Savior. 

In as early as Genesis, God promised Abraham to bless all peoples through him, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1–3; Zechariah 2:11–12). As the father of the nation of Israel, God promised Abraham that his descendants would bless the whole world. Jesus Christ, a descendent of Abraham, fulfilled this promise completely (Luke 1:72–73). Thus, people from all nations are blessed through faith in Abraham’s descendent, Jesus Christ, also called the “seed of Abraham.”  Moreover, Jesus Christ is the Horn of Salvation from the royal line of King David (Luke 1:32-33; Luke 1:69).  God promised King David an eternal Kingdom (2 Samuel  7:11-16; see also Isaiah 9:6-7; Isaiah 11:1-5; Jeremiah 23:5-6).

Christmas celebrates God visiting His people through the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ at Bethlehem.  God previously visited His people to redeem them from the oppressive Egyptian slavery with the Exodus (Exodus 3; Exodus 12).  Now, Zechariah is celebrating God visiting His people again to deliver every one of their sin and evil through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  This is why Christmas is so special because God has come and visited His people! God, through Jesus Christ, visited His people to bring a new redemption, deliverance, and a new covenant to save all people from their sin (Jeremiah 31:31–34). Now you can understand Zechariah’s excitement and praise!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Obey God Today!

"So be very careful to love the Lord your God" (Joshua 23:11), and "choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve....But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15).
Joshua was a great leader. As a leader, Joshua was faithful, ethical, and courageous.  He and Caleb gave the good report to Israel in the wilderness to trust God (Numbers 13 -- 14) and he was chosen by God as Moses' successor (Numbers 27:15-23; Deuteronomy 34:9). Moreover, Joshua was an excellent military leader. When God spoke, Joshua obeyed. Joshua's obedience to God serves as a model.  Joshua obeyed God, led the people across the Jordan River (Joshua 1:1-18; Joshua 3:1–4:24) and conquered Canaan, the Promised Land. But the key to Joshua’s success was his commitment, allegiance, and obedience to God. Joshua was confident in God and in God’s strength. As a result of Joshua’s leadership and obedience, Israel served God faithfully and the nation of Israel prospered. 
Joshua remained completely faithful to God throughout his life.  In Joshua’s farewell address to the people, Joshua encouraged the people to wholeheartedly obey, love, and trust the true and living God of Israel (Joshua 23-24). In the New Testament, Stephen mentions Joshua in his final sermon to the people (Acts 7:45), and the Book of Hebrews use Joshua’s victory of Jericho as an illustration of faith in God (Hebrews 11:30). Amazingly, Joshua and Jesus are the same name in Hebrew. Both Joshua and Jesus obeyed God the Father faithfully and brought salvation to the people: Joshua led Israel into physical salvation of Canaan and Jesus leads everyone into eternal salvation through faith in Him.

The Book of Joshua found in the Old Testament records the story of Joshua’s obedience to God reminds everyone to love and obey God!  Only with God’s help and our obedience to Him can we succeed and prosper (see also Deuteronomy 8:1-20). Victory comes as we trust in Him and not our own human strength, muscle, or mental abilities. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Light of the World

2 "But for you who fear (honor, revere) My Name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.  Malachi 4:2 (The Living Bible).

Many Old Testament passages promised the people that God would send a Savior to help them.  God told these promises to the Old Testament prophets and the prophets announced God’s promises to the people.  For hundreds of years before the Savior came, God’s people read God’s promises through the prophets and hoped God’s promised Savior would come soon. 

One Old Testament passage speaking of God’s promises is Malachi 4:2. The church lectionary assigns Malachi 4:2 along with Psalm 19:1 and John 1:14 to be read on Christmas Day. Many biblical scholars refer to Malachi 4:2 as foretelling of the coming Savior as the "Sun of Righteousness" (see also Isaiah 60:19-20).  John the Baptist foretold that the coming Savior would dawn and be the Light to the world (John 1:9; see also Luke 1:76-79; Revelation 21:23-24).

Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophesy because Jesus Christ is our Light, Savior, and Sun of Righteousness predicted by the Old Testament (John 1:1-5).  He glows with healing and comfort to those who love and seek Him as God (Psalm 84:11; see also John 8:12). Even more, Jesus Christ reveals heaven and God’s glory to the world (Psalm 19:1).

Now, the world has a Savior in Jesus and Jesus can be called upon at any we need His help.  Thank you God for sending Your Light into the world as our Savior!

Jesus: The God-Man

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." 15 He (Jesus) said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:13-16 (NASB).

Born between 6 BC and 4 BC, the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke both tell of the birth of Jesus. Matthew and Luke both state clearly that Jesus had a divine Father and a virgin mother named Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:27). Without a human father and without any sexual relationship involved, Jesus was conceived through a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit (Genesis 3:15; Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:34–35; Galatians 4:4–5). Jesus’ virgin birth was a supernatural work of God inside the human womb of Mary. Thus, in both His birth and conception in the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ birth was holy and pure (Luke 1:35). The virgin birth of Jesus means He did not inherit human sin (Romans 5). Therefore, Jesus is not just a man. Jesus was a God–Man, God’s Christ (Matthew 26:63–64; Mark 14:61–62), and the Son of God (Matthew 16:15–16; Mark 1:1; Luke 22:70-71; John 8:24).

Mary was the virgin mother of Jesus; a young girl from Nazareth, she was betrothed (engaged) to Joseph, a local carpenter. Jewish custom in that day recognized a state called “betrothal,” which fell somewhere between our modern day engagement and marriage. A betrothal was more binding than an engagement, since betrothals could only be broken with an act of divorce. If a betrothed woman became pregnant, she was regarded as an adulteress (Matthew 1:18–20).

Before the marriage took place, an angel announced to both Joseph and Mary that Mary would become pregnant by the power of God’s Spirit and that she would give birth to the Son of God, also called the Messiah (Matthew 1:20–21; Luke 1:26–33). God chose Mary to bring his Son, the Savior, into the world. Humbly submitting herself to God’s will, Mary responded to this extraordinary message in simple faith. For all Christians, Mary is a model of humble and obedient submission to God’s will (Luke 1:38, 46–55).

The virgin birth of Jesus is important because, as God’s Son, Jesus had to be free from the sinful nature passed on to humankind by Adam in Genesis 3. The birth of Jesus to woman proves He was a human; but as the Son of God, Jesus was born without human sin. Thus, Jesus is both fully human and fully divine. Jesus was a sinless human. In Jesus, God and man became one unique person—fully God and fully man.

Furthermore, the virgin birth of Jesus fulfills Isaiah 7:14. Jesus was to be called Immanuel as predicted by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14). The name Immanuel means “God is with us,” and Jesus indeed symbolized God’s presence and protection. Therefore, Jesus is God in the flesh; thus, God was literally “with us” in Jesus. Jesus is the incarnate (in the flesh) Son of God (Matthew 1:23; see also Revelation 12:5).

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Coming Glory of Jesus

4 Be strong, Zerubbabel,' says the Lord; 'and be strong, Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,' says the Lord, 'and work; for I am with you,' says the Lord of hosts. 5 'According to the word that I covenanted (promised) with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!' 6 "For thus says the Lord of hosts: 'Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations (Treasure or Christ the Messiah), and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the Lord of hosts. 8 'The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,' says the Lord of hosts. 9 The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,' says the Lord of hosts. 'And in this place I will give peace,' says the Lord of hosts." Haggai 2:4-9 (NKJV).

The Prophet Haggai from the Old Testament predicted the magnificence glory of God visiting the people.  Haggai’s message was given during the Feast of Tabernacles in 520 B.C. to encourage the people of God’s coming glory.  About 500 years later, Jesus Christ as the glory of God fulfilled Haggai’s prophecy by coming to the people as a Baby at Bethlehem, walking the earth, and visiting the Temple (Luke 2:9-14; see John 1:14).

The Prophet Ezekiel also of the Old Testament had earlier witnessed the departure of God’s glory from Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, before the Temple’s destruction by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 24 and 25; Ezekiel 10 and 11). The people during Haggai’s time prayed for the Shekinah Glory to return to the new Temple, but there is no record that God’s glory returned after the 586 B.C. destruction of Jerusalem.

About 500 years later, Haggai’s prophecy was fulfilled in the return of God’s glory in the embodiment of Jesus Christ, the “the Desire of All Nations” (Haggai 2:7; see also John 1:14-18). With His coming, Jesus Christ filled the earth with His peace and glory (Luke 2:27-32; see also Isaiah 9:6). No amount of gold or silver could surpass the glory of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ is God incarnate and our Immanuel, “God with us.”  So, we no longer have to be afraid, but strong in the Lord God (Haggai 2:4-5; Matthew 1:23). No matter what problems we face or how difficult our job may be, God's glory is with us through Jesus Christ (Haggai 2:5)!

Joy to the World!

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre (harp), with the lyre (harp) and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout joyfully before the King, the Lord. Let the sea roar and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy before the Lord, for He is coming. . . . 
Psalms 98:4-9 (NASB).

Isaac Watts found inspiration for his popular Christmas hymn "Joy to the World" from Psalm 98.  "Joy to the World" is often classified a Christmas hymn but this Old Testament psalm of praise anticipated the coming of God to rule His people. Jesus Christ fulfilled this anticipation when He came to save all people from their sins over 2000 years in Bethlehem (Psalm 98:2-3; Luke 2:10-14). 

Psalm 98 is a psalm of joy and victory because God through Jesus Christ is both now and forever  joy and glory to the world.  All those who wholeheartedly seek and obey God will experience that joy!  This psalm invites the whole earth to worship God (Psalms 98:4-6; see also Psalm 96:1). The coming reign of God on the earth is celebrated as an event of great joy. Therefore, all the people of the earth (Psalm 98:4–6) and all of nature (Psalm 98:7–9) are encouraged to join in joyful praise to God.  Joy to the world—the Lord has come! 

King James Version Study Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1988.
Spirit Filled Life Study Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1991.
Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
NLT Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.
Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary. Victor Books, 1989.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jesus’ Great Grand Mothers

Proverbs 31 tells of the importance of a godly, hardworking woman.  But, the best description of this woman is found in Jesus’ grandmother, Ruth. The story of Ruth tells of a kind, loyal, virtuous, and industrious woman (Ruth 1:16-17; Ruth 3:11; see also Proverbs 31:10-31).  God blessed Ruth’s efforts.

Ruth grew up a pagan Gentile, a Moabite (Ruth 1-4) but met the true God through Naomi and her family from Bethlehem.  Bethlehem was small town about five miles southwest of Jerusalem. From Bethlehem, King David would be born (1 Samuel 16:1) and Jesus the Messiah (Micah 5:2). God led this young Moabite woman to a man named Boaz, an Israelite who lived in Bethlehem.  As a result, Ruth became the great-grandmother of King David and a direct ancestor of Jesus the Messiah, the Blessed One.  What is even more interesting, Boaz was a descendant of Rahab, a former prostitute from Jericho and helper of the Israel people (Joshua 2; Joshua 6). Rahab is described in the Holy Scriptures as a great woman of faith (James 2:25; Hebrews 11:31).

Rahab and Ruth are perfect examples of God's love for all people! Taken together, these Gentile (non-Jewish) women reveal God’s ability to love and work with all sorts of people, regardless of their race, sex, or nationality.  The Jews were not the only people God loved. Jesus was born as a Jew and through Him, the entire world can come to know God (Acts 10:35).  The story of Rahab and Ruth reveal God loves and accepts all who faithfully seek and follow Him. Rahab and Ruth are two of only five women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:5).

The story of Ruth ends by announcing the birth of a baby boy named Obed. The birth of Obed leads to King David, Israel’s first great king and eventually to Jesus the Messiah, the greatest King of all (Revelation 19:16)!

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Christmas is a major day observed by Christians and second in importance to Easter. The Christmas period is a time for the celebration of Jesus Christ’s.  The name, a contraction of the term “Christ’s mass,” came into existence during the fourth century. The Holy Bible does not reveal the exact date of Jesus’ birth, and the earliest Christians had no fixed time for observing the birth of Jesus.  However, by the late fourth century, Christians generally celebrated Christmas in the churches, although on differing dates in different locals.  Before the fourth century, Christian churches observed Epiphany.  The Epiphany is God’s manifestation to the world, celebrating Jesus’ baptism, His birth, and the visit of the Magi.

No evidence remains about the exact date of the birth of Jesus. Various methods were used in an attempt to calculate the day of Jesus’ birth; among the dates suggested by the early church were January 6, April 18, April 19, and May 20.  According to Hippolytus (ca. 170-ca. 236) and his calculation, Jesus was born on Wednesday, December 25 in the 42nd year (2 B.C.) of the reign of Augustus. 

Eventually, December 25th became the officially recognized date for Christmas because it corresponded with the pagan festival celebrating Saturnalia and the winter solstice.  The Christian church offered the people an alternative to this pagan celebration.  Even more, church reinterpreted many of the winter festival’s symbols and actions into ways acceptable by Christians.  For example, Jesus was presented as the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2) and is the Light of the world (John 8:12), thereby replacing the sun god, Sol Invictus.

As the Christian faith spread throughout Europe, it embraced into its observances many customs of the pagan winter festivals, such as holly, mistletoe, the Christmas tree, and log fires.  At the same time, Christians introduced the nativity the scene and Christmas carols as part of the Christmas custom. 

During church history, some Christians have opposed the Christmas holiday.  Christmas has become a time of parties, excessive drinking, shopping, and spending. Nonetheless, many Christians continue to celebrate Christmas because of Christmas’ deeper truth and purpose expressed in God’s visitation to earth (incarnation) through the birth of Jesus (John 1:14).  As the Christian faith expands throughout the world, many Christians universally observe Christmas in some form or another.  With Jesus being taught in countries like Africa, Asia and Latin America, many new customs and ideas are being incorporated in the Christian celebration of Christmas and God’s visitation to the world through Jesus!

Draper, Charles.  Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.  Holman Reference.  2003.
Elwell, Walter A.  Evangelical Dictionary of Theology.  Baker Academic.  2007.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Wealth, Possessions, Economics and Deuteronomy 8:1-20

I enjoyed studying What Does the Lord Require? A Guide for Preaching and Teaching Biblical Ethics by Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., particularly Chapter Sixteen on the topic of wealth, possessions and economics and Deuteronomy 8:1-20. God speaks frequently on the topic of money in the Holy Scriptures.  Professor Kaiser quoted John MacArthur that “The entire Bible contains more than two thousand references to wealth and property, twice as many as the total references to faith and prayer.” 

All wealth and possessions come with mixed blessings.  Even though the “prosperity gospel” of many preachers are all the fad, Professor Kaiser noted that many famous people have found wealth is “not all that it is cracked up to be.” Many wealthy people such as John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Henry Ford have noted that wealth is not the ticket to happiness but often wealth brings misery. 

So, the next question arises as to how should society distribute its wealth?  As Professor Kaiser noted

Possession, wealth, and goods also bring with them responsibilities. . . . We must use all that we are giving in a manner fitting of our roles as God’s stewards, for what we have is to be shared with our Lord and others; it is all on loan from the Lord – to be used for His glory.

Some people support the “Free-Market Approach,” while others contend for the “Guided-Market Approach” or a middle- road theory between the laissez-faire type of free-market approach and the government control model.  I agree with Professor Kaiser that the

The best conclusion seems to be that it is impossible to ease, reduce, or eliminate poverty by slicing the economic pie into small enough pieces so that everyone in the world gets an equal portion of the pie. . . . But history seems to have demonstrated that the best way to benefit the poor is by increasing the productivity of the market system.

Even more, Jesus Christ instructed His disciples in Luke 16:9 and Luke 12:16-21 to use their wealth, talent, and resources wisely and productively. 

As Professor Kaiser identified, some people will come to love money more than they love God (Job 31:24-28; Proverbs 11:28; 1 Timothy 6:17-18) or trust money more than trusting in God (Proverbs 23:4-5; Matthew 13:22; Mark 4:19).  Even worse, the love money can lead to theft, stinginess, or pride.  I agree with Professor Kaiser that the cure for greed and other money ills are found the Holy Scriptures, especially the teaching of Deuteronomy 8:1-20.    

Deuteronomy 8:1-20 teaches that God is the Giver of life and all the gifts we own, despite the saying of E.F. Hutton:  “I did it myself; I earned it.” God deserves our wholehearted trust, love, obedience, worship, and thanksgiving for His grace goodness. As Professor Kaiser makes clear

We do not live by our wits, our degrees, our grandchildren, or our acumen.  We live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Deuteronomy 8:1-20 is clear that we must never forget God as the true Giver of all we have. Since it is God who creates wealth, we must render God all honor and praise. To forget God is to invite God’s destruction of us as a nation and “a personal participates in the grace and covenant of God.”

Friday, November 16, 2012

God Loves Us

1 My soul, praise the Lord, and all that is within me, praise His Holy Name. 2 My soul, praises the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits. 3 He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases. 4 He redeems your life from the pit; He crowns you with faithful love and compassion. 5 He satisfies you with goodness; your youth is renewed like the eagle. 6 The Lord executes acts of righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. . . . 8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and full of faithful love. 9 He will not always accuse [us] or be angry forever. . . . 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions (sins) from us. . . .  Psalms 103:1-5, 8-9, 12 (HCSB).

Psalms 103 offers praise to God for His great and endless love for us.  Often, we focus on God as Judge, but God is also filled with compassion, patience, mercy, grace, and forgiveness (Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:18). If we wholeheartedly turn to Him, God will forgive our sins, heal our sickness, and provide for our needs.  But we must first turn to God, turn away from our sins, and seek Him.  No person, possession, or wealth can ever match God’s endless and true love for us.  God will give you a lasting and true peace, if you will open our hearts to Him. 

We do not have to be formal or firm with God, but only open and honest about our problems, concerns, desires, needs, and future.  Never forget that no matter what you have done, God forgives!  He removes and forgets our sins if we will seek His forgiveness. God’s love and forgiveness are massive and complete. God is a Father to the fatherless and hope for the hopeless. So never forget that God loves you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

God's Wealth

Wisdom is even better when you have money. Both are a benefit as you go through life. Wisdom and money can get you almost anything, but only wisdom can save your life. Ecclesiastes 7:11-12 (NLT).
God is wisdom (Psalm 111:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30), and God’s wisdom is better than any inheritance, wealth, or possession (2 Chronicles 1:7-12). Money can lose its value, be stolen, or lost but God’s wisdom maintains its value and can never be stolen. Even more, God’s wisdom gives greater protection than money. Sadly, people who have wealth but lacks wisdom will often waste their fortunes. However, people with God’s wisdom know how to get and use wealth. If we need God’s wisdom, the Holy Bible teaches us to ask God and God will freely give His wisdom to all who ask (James 1:5).
God is the only One that gives us true and lasting prosperity and wealth without sorrow (Genesis 39:3; Proverbs 10:22). Moreover, biblical prosperity means more than financial wealth, material possessions, or fame. True biblical prosperity is heart and mind peace and well-being that is dependent upon God’s sustaining grace (Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17:7). God blesses those with prosperity who seeks, obeys, and loves Him and does His will here on earth (see Joshua 1:8; 1 Kings 2:2-4; 1 Chronicles 22:13, 19; Matthew 6:33). People who live God’s way receives God’s help, prosperity, and blessing (Psalm 112).

However, God warns His people to never forget that only He is the real source of all blessings and prosperity (Deuteronomy 8:10–18; James 1:17).  Moreover, God cautions against placing anyone or anything before Him as God (including intangible possessions such as family, intelligence, or talents) for their security. Christians should depend entirely on God to provide all our daily needs and cares (Matthew 6:25-26) and should give Him thanks as He does.

So, seek God and His wisdom and God will take care of you!

Christian Ethics: Truth and the Ninth Commandment

I enjoyed studying The Doctrine of the Christian Life by John M. Frame, particularly Professor Frame’s analysis of The Ten Commandments (also known as the Decalogue). Professor Frame’s breakdown on the history of slavery as well as his analysis on wealth and poverty was refreshing and eye opening. Nevertheless, the issues of truth and the ninth commandment made the most important impression on me. 

Truth is an important theme of the Holy Bible because God is the God of Truth (Deuteronomy 32:4) and Jesus Christ is the Truth (John 7:18; 14:6). Moreover, God’s people are to seek truth (Psalm 25:5; 51:6; 86:11). I agree with Professor Frame that dishonesty is theft and the ninth commandment continues the emphasis of the eighth commandment of integrity. The ninth commandment is the foundation of the general biblical polemic against lying, deception, and false testimony (see e.g., Psalm 12:2; Proverbs 6:17; Ephesians 4:25).  Lying also sums up in many ways in which we hurt one another with our tongues, as with gossip, slander, and insults (see e.g., Genesis 11:6-7; Psalm 15:3; Galatians 5:19-20). Thus, the ninth commandment has, as with the other commandments, perspective on all human sin and righteousness. In a broad sense, the ninth commandment covers many kinds of sins.  Our Christian witness is not only by our words, but all of life. Christians are a witness of God (Father, Son – Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit) and His truth to the world (see Proverbs 12:17; Isaiah 43:10, 12; Acts 1:8; John 18:37; Revelation 3:14).  God expects His people to act with integrity and justice (Zechariah 8:16).  

I have to agree with the predominant view among the Reformed Christians such as Augustine and John Murray that the ninth commandment is a testimony to “the sanctity of truth.” As Christians, we must aim for truth under any circumstances. Thus, I disagree with Professor Frame when he states that “the ninth commandment itself ..., does not mandate truth in an abstract way, but in the concrete relationship between believers and their neighbors.” I agree with Professor Frame that an honest mistake, a parable, or a fictional story is not a lie that violates the ninth commandment. Nonetheless, jokes, flattery, or “white lies” often hurt people because they are really deceptive and untrue (see Proverbs 26:18-19). As Christians, we must strive to walk in truth and love with everyone (John 13:34-35; 1 Corinthians 13; Ephesians 4:15-16, 25).  One of the major emphases of the ninth commandment and the confessional expositions of it is to prevent from distorting the truth to hurt our fellow neighbor. 

I must say Professor Frame’s definition of a lie is intriguing as he defines a lie as “a word or act that intentionally deceives a neighbor in order to hurt him” and he also considers Jesus Christ’s teaching of Luke 10:25-37. Moreover, Professor Frame’s provides a listing of sixteen Bible passages in which someone misleads an enemy, without incurring any condemnation such as the case of Rahab’s deception (see Joshua 2:4-6; 6:17, 25) and Jael and Sisera (Judges 4:18-21; 5:24-27). I found Professor Frame’s conclusion thought provoking as he finds “. . . the Bible passages . . . justify deception in certain cases, all have to do with the promotion of justice against the wicked, especially when they seek innocent life” (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:11). 

Finally, I agree with Professor Frame that churches must enact formal church discipline plans.  With such church discipline, many accused persons or false accusers are faced with slander, gossip and lies that can lead to even more bitterness and destruction with in the church body.   Churches must establish solid church discipline programs for the sake of maintaining unity within the body of Christ (Matthew 18:15-20; Ephesians 4).

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Let's Share

Some people give much but get back even more. Others don’t give what they should and end up poor. Whoever gives to others will get richer; those who help others will themselves be helped. People curse those who keep (hoard) all the grain, but they bless the one who is willing to sell it. Whoever looks for good will find kindness, but whoever looks for evil will find trouble. Those who trust in riches will be ruined, but a good person will be healthy like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:24-28 (NCV).

This Scripture passage should shape our attitude towards wealth and possessions. The Holy Bible is clear that generous people prosper, but those who hoard their possessions, resources, and monies will be poor (see Proverbs 28:27; 2 Corinthians 9:6-9). The irony is that the world teaches that we must put “me” or “self” first and hold on to as much as possible. However, God    teaches that we can actually prosper by being generous to those in need, especially widows and orphans (James 1:27). Stinginess, greed, and selfishness often lead to physical and spiritual poverty. God blesses those who give freely and generously of their possessions, time, and talents to others. When we give to others, God gives the generous more and more so that we can be a blessing to others. God helps those who help others (Proverbs 11:24-25).

Moreover, giving acknowledges that God owns everything (Deuteronomy 8:10–18) and that God blesses us with possessions to be used to help others. Besides, one with a generous spirit trusts in God; thereby gains God’s approval (Psalm 1). As Christians, our first desire must be to love God, love people, and seek to bring God glory (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Matthew 22:34-40; 1 Corinthians 10:31).  Particularly, Christians must eliminate selfish desires to please ourselves and place the needs of others ahead of our own (1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 9:6-9). Generous giving is a mark of true grace, as seen in Jesus Christ, who by His poverty made us rich (2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:3-11).

Generosity is the path to blessing and further prosperity (Psalm 112:2-9; Proverbs 3:9-10; 2 Corinthians 9:6-9).  By contrast, the stingy do not make friends and hurt themselves in the long run (Proverbs 21:13).   A generous people will proper because they share their food with the poor (Proverbs 22:9). "Whoever sows generously will also reap generously" (2 Corinthians 9:6; see also Luke 6:38).  "Generous people will be blessed, because they share their food with the poor" (Proverbs 22:9).

 NIV Study Bible. Zondervan, 2008.
 Nelson Study Bible NKJV. Thomas Nelson Bibles, 1997.
 Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
 NLT Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.
 Wiersbe, Warren W. Bible Exposition Commentary. Victor Books, 1989.

Money Cannot Buy Happiness

10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless (useless) to think that wealth brings true happiness! 11 The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth—except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers! 12 People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep. 13 There is another serious problem I have seen under the sun. Hoarding riches harms the saver. 14 Money is put into risky investments that turn sour, and everything is lost. In the end, there is nothing left to pass on to one’s children. 15 We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us. 16 And this, too, is a very serious problem. People leave this world no better off than when they came. All their hard work is for nothing—like working for the wind. 17 Throughout their lives, they live under a cloud—frustrated, discouraged, and angry. 18 Even so, I have noticed one thing, at least, that is good. It is good for people to eat, drink, and enjoy their work under the sun during the short life God has given them, and to accept their lot in life. 19 And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work and accept your lot in life—this is indeed a gift from God. 20 God keeps such people so busy enjoying life that they take no time to brood over the past. Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 (NLT) (see also Ecclesiastes 2:1-11).

King Solomon witnessed that those who love money and pursue money fervently never find the happiness and inner peace money promises.  Wealth and possessions can never completely satisfy us and make us happy (see also Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19). Even more, money often attracts freeloaders, hangers-on, thieves, sleepless nights, and fear.  Hoarding riches and possession can be easily lost. Even if you accumulate great wealth, you may not have an opportunity to enjoy your riches (Ecclesiastes 6:1-3). Ultimately, we must leave our wealth and possessions when we die (Mark 10:23-25; Luke 12:16-21).

Money and riches are not sinful if earned honestly (Proverbs 10:15, 22; Proverbs 14:24; Proverbs 21:6; Proverbs 22:16). Moreover, money in itself is not evil, but loving money leads to all sorts of sin (1 Timothy 6:10). Whatever financial situation you are in, we must never depend on money to make us happy.  Instead, we must focus on God and place our trust and hope in Him and Him alone for true and lasting happiness.

Our life is meant to be enjoyed with love, laughter, and peace as we all seek to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Philippians 4:4; James 1:2; see also Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 1). Righteous living is more important than hoarding, seeking, and accumulating money. Life is lived happily and balanced as we seek, love, and trust God; love and enjoy our family and neighbors; and enjoy our work. Besides, pursuing wealth and other risky investments lead to needless worries, concerns, and often sadness! Love God and love people and you will find true happiness (John 13:34-35).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Eternal Riches

5 Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? 6 They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. 7 Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. 8 Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough 9 to live forever and never see the grave. 10 Those who are wise must finally die, just like the foolish and senseless, leaving all their wealth behind. . . . . 16 So don’t be dismayed when the wicked grow rich and their homes become ever more splendid. 17 For when they die, they take nothing with them. Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. 18 In this life they consider themselves fortunate and are applauded for their success. 19 But they will die like all before them and never again see the light of day. 20 People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals. Psalms 49:5-10, 16-20 (NLT).
This Psalm teaches everyone a valuable lesson in a world obsessed with wealth, power, and fame --- wealth cannot prevent death or determine one’s destiny (Psalm 49:5-10). Wealth is not a sin.  However, God wants His people to use wealth to help others and glorify His Holy
kingdom here on earth (1 Timothy 6:3-19; see also Matthew 6:33; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Sadly, those who trust in their wealth and human talents have a false sense of security. Trusting in worldly possessions such as riches, pride, or fame is vain and futile.  Wealth cannot prevent death (1 Corinthians 15:26; see also Luke 12:13-21). No one can take wealth or possessions with them (Psalm 49:10-12, 17; Ecclesiastes 2:18, 21; Ecclesiastes 7:2; Ecclesiastes 9:5). At the moment of death, both rich and poor are naked and empty-handed before God and the only treasure that matters is our love, faith and obedience in God. Whether you are rich or poor, wise or foolish, everyone leaves everything behind after death. No takes anything with them when they die (Job 1:21; Ecclesiastes 5:13-16; 1 Timothy 6:7). Even more, no one can purchase eternal life with God. Wealth cannot buy forgiveness for our sins with God.  Only God can graciously redeem our souls through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 John 5:11-12).  If we have been faithful to God and His kingdom, we possess eternal riches that will never die away (Matthew 6:19-34).
Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
NLT Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.
Wiersbe, Warren
W. Bible Exposition Commentary. Victor Books, 1989.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Enough From God

5 Every word of God proves true (pure). He is a shield (refuge) to all who come to Him for protection. … 7 O God, I beg (ask) two favors from You; let me have them before I die. 8 First, help me never to tell a lie. Second, give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. 9 For if I grow rich, I may deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s Holy Name.
Proverbs 30:5, 7-9 (NLT).

Wisdom teaches us that wealth and poverty can be hazardous to our spiritual as well as physical health. Wealth or poverty is not a sin (Proverbs 3:9-10, Proverbs 10:15, 22; Proverbs 11:24; Proverbs 28:27; Proverbs 29:7). However, both extremes of wealth and poverty are filled with dangers and can tempt us away from God. Wealth prevents some people from entering heaven because of their pride and self-reliance on their wealth and not God (Psalm 15; Matthew 19:16-30). Wealth can cause people to disown and not trust God as their provider.  Nevertheless, poverty can cause some people to steal to provide for their needs and not trust God (Proverbs 30:8–9).

To avoid both extremes, Agur offered a simple prayer for our daily needs from God to find daily contentment, peace, and joy (Proverbs 30:5, 7-9; see also Matthew 6:11). Our lives are more likely to be happy if we have "neither poverty nor riches." As the Holy Bible teaches, we must look to God and trust God faithfully, daily, and wholeheartedly (Proverbs 3:5-10).  Even more, the Holy Bible teaches us to seek God to provide our daily needs and help us live according to His will and purposes, whether we have little or plenty (Matthew 6:11; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Philippians 4:12). As we trust God for our daily needs, we can go about Kingdom ministry relieved of care and worry (Matthew 6:25-34).

Spirit Filled Life Study Bible. Thomas Nelson, 1991.
Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
NLT Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2008. 


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Who Is God?

The Holy Scriptures emphasizes that the true God is personal and “living” (see e.g., Deuteronomy 5:26; Joshua 3:10; 1 Samuel 17:26, 36; 2 Kings 19:4, 16; Psalm 42:2; Psalm 84:2; Jeremiah 10:10). The only true God is the God and Father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6). The Old and the New Testaments continually maintain that there is only one God that exists in Three Persons (God the Father, God the Son- Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit) (Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Isaiah 44:6-45:25; Mark 12:29-30; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Ephesians 4:6; 1 Timothy 2:5). God must be worshiped, loved, and respected faithfully as They all work together as a united Team to bring about creation, salvation, a new life, and heart peace (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 33:6, 9; Psalm 148:5; John 1:1-3; Romans 8; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 1 Peter 1:2).  In essence, this means we must worship God in the Name of Father, the Son - Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19-20; John 3:36; John 5:23-24; John 14:6; Acts 4:12). To worship a non-Trinitarian God is not to worship the true God.  The only way to God is through Jesus Christ (John 1:18; John 14:6; Acts 4:12). 

People sometimes ask, "Who made God?" The Holy Scriptures declare that God is eternal (Psalm 90:2).  Unlike humans, God is infinite, self-sustaining, omniscience, omnipotent, and transcendent.  God never ages and continues forever unchanged. The Holy Scriptures declare that God is invisible (Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27) and that no one has ever seen God (John 1:18; John 5:37; John 6:46; 1 John 4:12, 20).  However, God often reveals Himself in the Holy Scripture by visible means, namely, theophany and incarnation.  Jacob saw God “face to face” (Genesis 32:30; see also Genesis 16:13; Exodus 24:10; Numbers 12:8; Judges 13:22).  The New Testament clearly declares God’s revelation of Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ (see John 14:9; 1 John 1-3).  Both men and women are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27; see also Galatians 3:28), and Jesus Christ is the image of God’s fullness and excellence (2 Corinthians 4:4; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).

No one must use the Name of God without expressing some measure of worship, love, reverence, respect, and devotion (see Exodus 20:7).  Of the various Names of God, only Yahweh refers exclusively to the true God.  Yahweh means God’s lordship, control, authority, presence, and power. Both Old and Testament discuss the importance of faithfully loving God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We can show our faithful love to God through prayer (honestly talking with God), heart loyalty and praise, the reading and teaching of the Holy Scriptures, observing sacraments (e.g., the Lord’s Supper), and living holy lives (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10). 

Packer, J.I. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Tyndale House, 1993.
Frame, John. The Doctrine of the Christian Life. P & R Publishing Company, 2008.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stay Faithful To God

5 All who are victorious (who overcome/conquerors) will be clothed in white. I (Jesus) will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before My Father and His angels that they are Mine.  Revelation 3:5 (NLT).

One of the main themes of the Holy Bible is God’s call to persevere and remain faithful to Him because He is faithful (see e.g., Isaiah 49:7; Psalm 36:5; 1 Corinthians 1:9). God never promised that life would be easy. However, God promised to be with us and never leave us (Isaiah 43:2-4; Hebrews 13:5-6). God through His Holy Spirit gives faithful believers the help, power, and strength to overcome any obstacle they may face (Psalm 118:5-9).

As a reward for their faithfulness, the names of all faithful believers of God (God the Father, God the Son-Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit) are listed in the Book of Life. This Book represents God's record of those who have humbly remained faithful, dependent, and obedient to Him, despite the many ups and downs of this life.  All faithful believers of God are guaranteed a listing in the Book of Life (see also Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 20:12, 15). Even more, God promises faithful believers a new clothing (“clothed in white”) as a sign of their victory, loyalty, and purity with God.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Just A Dab Will Do!

20 Jesus answered, “Because your faith is too small (little). I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a (small, tiny) mustard seed (kernel, poppy seed), you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. All things will be possible for you.”
Matthew 17:20 (NCV).

God wants us to trust in Him Even a small dab of faith in God can move mountains and accomplish great things (Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 21:21). God is all-powerful, and He can overcome any challenge we face. Even more, we must never put faith in human strength and human effort, but in God’s power alone.  So, if you are facing a mountain that seems so big and un-moveable, turn your heart to God and trust in Him to move your mountain!

5 This is what the Lord says: “A curse is placed on those who trust other people, who depend on humans for strength, who have stopped trusting the Lord. 6 They are like a bush in a desert that grows in a land where no one lives, a hot and dry land with bad soil. They don’t know about the good things God can give. 7 But the person who trusts in the Lord will be blessed. The Lord will show him that He can be trusted. 8 He will be strong, like a tree planted near water that sends its roots by a stream. It is not afraid when the days are hot; its leaves are always green. It does not worry in a year when no rain comes; it always produces fruit.” Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NCV).

 The New Student Bible. Zondervan Publishing Company, 1992.
 Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
 Our Daily Bread. RBC Ministries 2012.