Saturday, March 31, 2012


In the last week of Jesus’ human life before on earth, He commenced the redemptive work to accomplish salvation for all humanity of their sins.  Jesus’ love, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension established salvation for everyone through faith (John 3:16; Romans 5:8-9).

Sunday:   Jesus’ Messianic and Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem
Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:28-44; John 12:12-19 

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet Him. They shouted, “Praise God ((Hosanna or Save Now)! Blessings on the One who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Do not be afraid, people of Jerusalem (O Daughter of Zion). Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.” John 12:12-15 (NLT), also Psalm 118:25-26; Psalm 148:1; Zephaniah 3:15; Zechariah 9:9-10.

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Jesus opened His last week on earth by riding into Jerusalem during Passover on a donkey under a covering of palm branches, with large crowd of people welcoming Him as their King. This was Sunday of Jesus’ last week before He would be crucified, and the great Passover festival was about to begin. Jews from all over the Roman world came to Jerusalem during this weeklong celebration to remember from exodus from Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:37-51).

Many people in the crowds had heard of or seen Jesus and were hoping to see Him come to the temple (John 11:55-57). The people knew of Jesus’ many miracles and great teaching. The people thought Jesus would be the King and national leader to restore Israel.  Jesus came for Passover celebration as a gentle, humble and peaceable King on a donkey's colt, just as Zechariah 9:9-10 and Isaiah 62:11 of the Old Testament had predicted.

During most of Jesus’ public ministry on earth, He kept His identity as the true Lord and Messiah hidden from the people. However, in this rare scene coming into Jerusalem, large crowds openly acknowledged and accepted Jesus as the true Messiah from God and honored Him as such. The crowds of people shouted "Hosanna" which means "Save Now" and fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies in Zechariah 9:9 as well as Psalm 24:7-10; Psalm 118:25-26.  The crowds spoke of King David in reference of God's words to King David in 2 Samuel 7:12-14. Tragically, in just a few short days, the crowd’s acceptance will quickly turned into rejection! When the people learned that Jesus was not going to fulfill their hopes, many people quickly turned against Him. This same crowd cried out as few days later to "Crucify Him" as Jesus stood on trial. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

  Brag About God

This is what the Lord says: “The wise must not brag about their wisdom. The strong must not brag about their strength. The rich must not brag about their money. But if someone wants to brag, let him brag that he understands and knows Me (the Lord God). Let him brag that I am the Lord, and that I am kind and fair (with unfailing love), and that I do things that are right (and just) on earth. This kind of bragging pleases Me,“ says the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NCV).
The prophet Jeremiah wept for the people of Judah who ignored the Lord God and His commands. Lying, cheating, boasting, betrayal, greed, adultery, and idolatry had become common sins (see also Matthew 23:37).  Sadly, people often admire these common sins because they sometimes lead to riches, power, and worldly wisdom. The scholars might boast about their knowledge and intellect. The business executives might flaunt their power and high position.  Wealthy people might show off their riches by wearing fine clothes and constructing big houses. However, in the end, all of these things lead to emptiness in God’s eyes. 

God wants all people to personally know Him as God and live a life that reflects His love, mercy, kindness, justice and righteousness (see also Micah 6:8). The Lord God wants our boasting of Him and knowing Him as God (1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17). Let's all boast and brag not about money, houses and human wisdom but about knowing God!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Faith In My Redeemer 

But as for me (Job), I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He will stand upon the earth at last.   And I know that after this body has decayed, this body shall see God!  Then He (God) will be on my side! Yes, I shall see Him, not as a stranger, but as a friend! What a glorious hope!  Job 19:25-27 (TLB). 

Job was a very wealthy and upright man who loved God.  Yet, God allowed Satan to destroy his family, his wealth, and his health through no fault of Job.  Nevertheless, Job refused to give up on God.  Job continued to trust God no matter what happened around him.  Job's friends and wife accused and abandoned him, but Job had faith that God would care for him.
At the heart of the book of Job comes Job’s overwhelming affirmation of faith and confidence:  "I know that my Redeemer lives." Job expressed tremendous faith in God as His Redeemer who would take care of him.  Even faced with death and disaster, Job still looked and depended on God.  Job’s faith in God was so strong that he became one of the first people in the Bible to affirm the resurrection of the body (see also Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2, 13; 1 Corinthians 15:50-58). Job was confident that God's justice, love and care would triumph, even at the point of death (Psalm 27:10). 

In the end, God fully restored Job’s family, possessions and health and he received even greater blessings than he had before (Job 42:1-17).  Job humbly and confidently affirmed that God is his Redeemer (and Restorer).  Job is an example of faith and trust in God that all people should imitate (James 5:11).  We must trust God even when life makes no sense. As the book of Job teaches, those who trust in God will be rewarded.  Both the Old Testament and the New Testament state that God and God living within Jesus Christ is our Redeemer (Exodus 6:6; Psalm 19:14; Psalm 103:4; Proverb 23:10-11; Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 54:5; Ephesians 1:7, 14; Hebrews 9:12; 1 Peter 1:18). 

The Lord is my Light and the One who saves me.... The Lord protects my life...I will trust the Lord…. He will take care of me (Psalm 27).

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Heart Worship

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to Him. For He [God] laid the earth’s foundation on the seas and built it on the ocean depths. Psalms 24:1-2 (NLT).

Do you know what the primary reason God created humankind (male and female)?  TO WORSHIP GOD.  God made people (man and woman) in His own image and likeness for His glory to worship Him (Isaiah 43:7).  Worship is not something you “do” on Sunday.  Worship is love and a lifestyle of loving God with all our hearts and caring and serving others (Leviticus 19:18, Deuteronomy 6:4-6 and Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27).  Moreover, worship is also a commitment to holy living (Psalm 15, Psalm 29:1-2 and Matthew 5:48).  In all He does, God is holy, perfect, and blameless. Just as God is holy, so we are also to be holy (Leviticus 19:1; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Most important, worship is a humble, wholehearted surrender and trust in God. Matthew 6:33 states to seek the Kingdom of God above all else because God owns everything (Psalm 24:1-2).  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

 Jesus’ Daily Activities

Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And He healed every kind of disease and illness. News about Him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to Him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon-possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—He healed them all. Large crowds followed Him wherever He went—people from Galilee, the Ten Towns, Jerusalem, from all over Judea, and from east of the Jordan River. Matthew 4:23-25 (NLT), see also Mark 1:35-39; Luke 4:42-44. 

During Jesus’ public ministry while on earth, Jesus spent His time teaching, preaching, and healing large crowds of people. Teaching, preaching and healing were the three main aspects of Jesus' ministry. Jesus soon developed a large following and commanding preaching ministry.  He regularly spoke in the synagogues. Synagogues served as a religious gathering place on the Sabbath and as a school during the week.

Jesus preached the Good News (Gospel) to everyone. The Good News is that the Kingdom of God has come in the Person of Jesus and that God loves us (Mark 1:14-15; John 3:16).  Jesus' Good News offers everyone freedom from sin, blessed hope, peace in heart, bodily healing and eternal life with God.  To claim all these Good News benefits, we simply have to follow Jesus!   

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Jesus' Seven Last Statements on the Cross at Calvary

"[God the] Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34

"I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise." Luke 23:43

Jesus speaking to His disciple John and His mother Mary, "Dear woman, here is Your Son...Here is your (John) mother." John 19:26-27

"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? "Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34 (see also Psalm 22:1)

"I am thirsty." John 19:28

"It is finished." John 19:30

"Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit." Luke 23:46

Jesus made seven last statements from the Cross before His death.  These statements made by Jesus revealed His humanity but also revealed He is truly God. Most important, these seven last statement of Jesus captured the last moments of all that Jesus went through to gain our forgiveness from sin. At the Cross, Jesus fulfilled His divine purpose to become a ransom for humanity (Mark 10:45).  Jesus experienced God’s wrath for the sins of humanity.  On the cross, Jesus was not a criminal nor a victim, but a humble Servant obeying God’s redemptive plan to save the world of their sins.  In return for His death, Jesus asks everyone to love and care for each other in obedience to His command to love one another (John 13:34; John 15:12, 17).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Jesus and the Old Testament

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18 (NIV). 
Jesus did not end the Old Testament nor eliminate God’s revelation found in the Old Testament (see Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44). Instead, Jesus came to fulfill the Law, the Writings and the Prophets of the Old Testament.  Jesus completely and perfectly obeyed the teachings of the Old Testament (e.g., see Matthew 1:22; Matthew 2:15, 17, 23).  In fact, Jesus is the full realization of the Law, the Prophets and the Writings (Luke 24:44).

Jesus’ statement in Matthew 5:17-18 makes clear His relationship to the Law of Moses and the Prophets.  The verses after Matthew 5:18 get more specific, contrasting Jesus’ teaching with many common interpretations of the Law and Prophets.  “You have heard that it was said…,” He begins, and then concludes, “But I tell you.…” Jesus revealed the true intent of the Old Testament, rather than its legalistic interpretations. 

Jesus is often called the “new Moses”, the “new Solomon”, and the “new Prophet”.  His teachings found in His Sermon on the Mount/Sermon on the Plain (see Matthew 5:1-7:29; Luke 6:20-49) explains what God truly expects of His people.  With His wisdom teachings (e.g., Matthew 11 - 13), Jesus becomes the new Solomon and the new Prophet with His many prophecies (e.g., Matthew 23 - 25).  Essentially, Jesus’ life and His teaching covers the entire Hebrew Old Testament and its three section (the Law, the Prophets and the Writings).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Jesus, the Son of Man

"I [the Prophet Daniel] was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days [God], and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a Kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14 (NKJV).

Jesus is known by various titles, words and offices in the Gospels and the New Testament generally.   However, the title “Son of Man” (Greek, ho huios tou anthropou) is the title used more frequently  by Jesus than any other Name. Son of Man was Jesus’ favorite way to refer to Himself.  The Son of Man occurs approximately eighty-four times in the four Gospels as mainly being Jesus’ self-description. 

Jesus would often use the title Son of Man to resist disclosure of His identity as the Messiah.  One reason Jesus preferred the title “Son of Man” was because it was not an provocative title such as “Christ” or “Messiah.” By using this title, Jesus concealed His Person as the long awaited Messiah during the early ministry while revealing His works of compassion.

The phrase “son of man” appears in the Old Testament as a synonym for “man,” “humankind” (see Isaiah 56:2; Jeremiah 50:40; Psalm 8:4; Psalm 80:17; Psalm 146:3; Job 25:6). In the Aramaic language, the expression “son of man” was similarly used to mean “the man,” “a man,” or simply “someone.” The term appears in the Rabbinic writings with the meaning, “a certain person.”

In the Book of Ezekiel, God uses the phrase “son of man” approximately ninety times to address the prophet Ezekiel.  The emphasis seems to be on the humanity of the prophet Ezekiel, a meaning which believers also come to attach to Jesus.

In the Book of Daniel, the majestic yet humble figure in Daniel 7:13-14 is “like a son of man,” meaning that he looked like a man, but he also appears to be more than merely human.  The prophet Daniel saw “one like a son of man” coming on the clouds of heaven to appear before the throne of God. The son of man was given dominion over all peoples and an everlasting kingdom. 

The exact identity of the “son of man” in Daniel 7:13-14 is not specified, but his role is clear: The Most High has appointed him to rule an eternal, universal Kingdom that will be over all other nations. Also, this figure represents his own people, the holy people of the Most High and these people will also share in this son of man’s kingdom over all peoples and nations (Daniel 7:22).  Moreover, this son of man receives his kingdom with humility and holiness without arrogantly grasping after it. The prophet Daniel makes clear this figure  is opposite in character to the “little horn” (Daniel 7:8).

The scene surrounding this son of man indicates his divine characteristics. That he comes “with the clouds of heaven” (Daniel 7:13) indicates his heavenly origin (cp. Psalm 68:4; Psalm 97:2; Nahum 1:3).  Many biblical scholars are divided over whether the “son of man” of Daniel 7:13-14 refers to an angel, the Messiah, or all of Israel. Jewish interpretation of Daniel 7:13 sees this figure as messianic. 

For Christians, this "One like a Son of Man" described in Daniel 7:13-14 is the Messiah. Jesus identifies Himself with this Son of Man of Daniel 7:13 (Matthew 24:30; Matthew 25:11; Matthew 26:24; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; John 1:51; John 12:34; see also Acts 7:56; Hebrews 2:6; Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14).  He is the  representative Man and the human agent of God (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21-23).  Moreover, Jesus understood Himself as that One who would return to earth in the clouds of heaven at the end times with has authority and power (see Mark 8:38; Mark 13:26; Mark 14:62). Son of Man is linked closely with Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ and confirms its Messianic significance (Mark 8:29-31).  Revelation 1:7 likewise yokes this Son of Man figure with Jesus Christ, the One who was pierced for our sins. 

Moreover, the clouds of heaven from Daniel 7:13-14 portray the Son of Man as Divine.  Throughout the Bible, clouds represent God, His majesty and His awesome presence. God's glory appeared in a cloud in Exodus 16:10 and 19:9 at the giving of the law at Sinai. The Lord God covered Himself with a cloud in the Book of Exodus (Exodus 13:21-22; Exodus 19:9). God’s people will be caught up into the clouds (1 Thessalonians 4:17) at the resurrection as Jesus was received into a cloud at his ascension (Acts 1:9). 

As the Son of Man, God the Father has given Jesus all authority and power to rule over all things (Daniel 7:14; Matthew 28:18) and to win people from all the nations and kingdoms of the world (Matthew 28:19-20). God’s purpose in calling Abraham was to make a great nation through his people (Genesis 12:1-3; cp. Daniel 2:44-45), and Jesus fulfilled it.

Jesus used the title “Son of Man” in several ways in the Gospels. Sometimes Jesus used “Son of Man” to refer to His role as Judge, Deliverer, Savior, and Vindicator (Matthew 10:23; Matthew 13:41; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 19:28; Matthew 24:27, 30, 37, 44; Matthew 25:31; Matthew 26:64).  Often Jesus used “Son of Man” to describe Himself as a Suffering Redeemer (Matthew 12:40; Matthew 17:9, 12, 22; Matthew 20:18, 28; Matthew 26:2, 24, 45). This sense is rooted in Isaiah 52:13–53:12. At times, Jesus apparently used “Son of Man” to refer to Himself as the Representative of humans (Matthew 8:20; Matthew 11:19; Matthew 12:8, 32; Matthew 13:37).

The Son of Man is confined to the sayings of Jesus, or allusions to them, in the four Gospels.  The Son of Man sayings can be classified into three groups:  present sayings, passion sayings and apocalyptic saying.  The largest number of Son of Man sayings deal with the future or apocalyptic sayings when the Son of Man will descend to earth to gather the elect and to judge.  The second largest group of Son of Man sayings is connected with the passion sayings (suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus). Three times Jesus predicted that the Son of Man would be rejected and killed by the priests and scribes but would rise on the third day (Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31; Mark 10:33-34; Luke 24:7). 

The New Testament evidence reveals that the Son of Man never became a way for other people to refer to Jesus, and thus played no part in the confessional and doctrinal statements of the early church, unlike “Christ”, “Lord” and “Son of God.”

In the rest of the New Testament, the Son of Man occurs only four times outside the four Gospels. Nonetheless, all four references reflect understandings of the title already found in the Gospels. In Acts 7:56, Stephen beheld the ascended Son of Man standing beside the throne of God to receive him. In Revelation 1:13 and Revelation 14:14-16, the Son of Man appears as Judge. In Hebrews 2:6, the reference to Son of Man in Psalm 8:4 which originally applied to humanity in general are specifically applied to Jesus as the unique Son of Man and representative of humanity.  

I do question the few references to Son of Man outside the four Gospels. Perhaps the Son of Man was not a familiar term to non-Jews in the New Testament world after Jesus ascended to heaven.  In any event, the significance of the Son of Man is not lost to us  non-Jews.  The New Testament writers all confirm for Jew and non-Jews (Gentiles) to the profound teachings which this term embodies — the true humanity of the Word made flesh, the necessity of His suffering and death for salvation, the glory of His reign over an everlasting kingdom, and His final coming to judge the just and the unjust.


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.
Green, Joel.  Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Intervarsity Press, 1992.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Basic Christianity 101

I [Apostle Paul] passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me.  [Jesus] Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He [Jesus] was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, He was seen by more than 500 of His followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then He was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I [Apostle Paul] also saw Him [Jesus]. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (NLT).

The Apostle Paul stresses the very basics every Christian must believe:  that Jesus is indeed the Christ (or the Messiah); that Jesus died for humankind’s sins; that Jesus was buried (physically dead); and that Jesus rose from complete death. 

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, the Apostle Paul lists many people who actually and visible saw Jesus after His resurrection from complete death.  The Apostle Paul includes himself in the list as the last of all to see the risen and resurrected Jesus (see Acts 9).  The resurrected Jesus proved that He is indeed alive and no evidence has every contradicted His resurrection.  Jesus body has never been located!

After Jesus’ resurrection, He made a number of appearances to people.  Jesus made physical resurrection appearances to

(1)   Mary Magdalene and some other women at the tomb on Sunday morning (Matthew 28:8-10; Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11-18)
(2)   Peter in Jerusalem on Sunday (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5);
(3)   Two disciples on the Emmaus Road on Sunday (Mark 16:12; Luke 24:13-35);
(4)   Ten disciples in Jerusalem on Sunday (Mark 16:14; Luke 24:26-43; John 20:19-25)
(5)   Eleven disciples in Jerusalem a week later (John 20:26-31; 1 Corinthians 15:5)
(6)   Seven disciples while fishing at the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-25)
(7)   To more than 500 people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6)
(8)   James, the brother of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:7)
(9)   Disciples who witnessed Jesus’ ascension to heaven (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-19; Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:3-12)
(10) To Paul (1 Corinthians 15:8).

The Holy Bible is clear. Jesus is the Christ (Messiah) and the Son of God (Mark 1:1; Mark 8:29-30). God the Father, John the Baptist, Jesus’ miracles (or sins), the Scriptures and many other people all conform and acknowledge that Jesus is indeed the Savior of the World (John 4:42)!  This is Christianity 101.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

 Jesus and Wealth

 Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves! ”  Matthew 21:12-13 (NLT).

The Holy Scriptures speak on the topics of wealth.  First, wealth is acknowledged to be a blessing from God. In the Old Testament, God chose Abram and promised to bless him and make his name great (Genesis 12:1-3). In the process, Abram became rich (Genesis 13:2). Further, we are told that God blessed Isaac; and he became very rich (Genesis 26:12-14). Solomon’s wealth was seen as a sign of God’s favor (1 Kings 3:13; 1 Kings 10:23). Job, too, was blessed by God, and his wealth increased greatly (Job. 42:12).
However, these few Scriptural examples do not allow us to assume that poverty is a sign of God’s disfavor. Jesus’ references to wealth in the New Testament consist mainly of stories or parables which show the dangers of wealth. In the parable of the farmer scattering seed, Jesus teaches that the lure of riches left no room for God and maturing in the faith (Luke 8:14).  A harsh warning against the destructive nature of wealth is given by Jesus in the story of the rich fool (Luke 12:13-21).  In this story, Jesus points the crowd to the correct attitude toward the accumulation of wealth. Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15; see also Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21; Job 31:24-25; Psalm 49; Ecclesiastes 2:1-11. In Jesus’ words, the person is a fool who works only to lay up wealth on earth rather than wealth in heaven. Of greater importance is Jesus’ statement that life does not consist of one’s possessions (Luke 12:15). Personal worth and success are not to be measured in terms of material wealth or possessions. Jesus teaches that an obedient and dependent relationship with God is far more important than material wealth.
Jesus viewed wealth as a spiritual power (Matthew 6:24), identifying wealth as an idol that rivals to God. In reality, Jesus knew wealth can become a person’s god or idol thus violating the first and greatest commandment (Exodus 20:3; Matthew 22:36-40). For this reason Jesus often asked people to turn away from seeking money (Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:33-34). Zacchaeus offered to give half of his possessions to the poor and restore four times to any one that he had cheated (Luke 19:8). This was a sign of his desire to follow Christ. The only way to defeat the power of money (or mammon is to give it away (Acts 20:35).

Furthermore, Jesus warns believers not to be anxious over material things, but instead to trust God to care for their needs (Matthew 6:25-26). Believers are to recognize that faith, obedience and love of God is more important than money (Matthew 6:33). Wealth is given to people for stewardship because God truly owns all things.  One day everyone will give an account to God on the use of their wealth.

Moreover, the apostle Paul taught to avoid longing to be rich (1 Timothy 6:3-10).  The apostle Paul taught that one of the qualifications of a church officer is to be free from the love of money (1 Timothy 3:3) and deacons likewise must not be “greedy for money” (1 Timothy 3:8). The apostle Paul taught Timothy to stay away from people who just wanted to use theology and preaching as a basis for making money.  In 1 Corinthians 9:11-18, the apostle Paul wrote that he did not accept gifts from the Corinthian church because he did not want to be accused of preaching only to get money. 

Instead, the apostle Paul teaches that the key to spiritual growth and personal fulfillment comes from honoring God and centering our desires on Him (1 Timothy 6:6; see also Matthew 6:6).  As followers of Jesus, the apostle Paul taught that believers should be content with what God is doing in our lives (Philippians 4:11-13). Trust and dependence on Jesus brings great wealth and contentment (2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Philippians 4:10-13; Hebrews 13:5; 1 John 2:17) while greed leads to all kinds of evil (e.g., divorce, robbery, anger) (1 Timothy 6:10).  The apostle Paul’s strongest warning is found in 1 Timothy 6:10 (NRSV): “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith.” Hebrews encourages us to keep your lives free from the love of money, and to be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5). Instead, it is better to store up treasure for the coming age through trust and dependence in God and by being rich in good works and generous in love for others (1 Timothy 1:5; see also James 5:3). The promises of God still stand: “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (see Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; Hebrews 13:5).

In the early Jerusalem church, members pooled their wealth to help others for the common good (Acts 2:44-45). None of these early believers felt that what they had was their own, and so they were able to give and share, eliminating poverty among them. To provide for the needs of those within the church, members sold their land and property and gave the proceeds to the apostles (Acts 4:34-35; Acts 6:1). While this kind of sharing may not be a requirement, it provides a model for the responsibility that believers have for one another (see also Luke 10:25-37).  

The church community is to be mutually supportive of others (Matthew 6:2-4; Matthew 10:40-42; Matthew 19:21; Matthew 23:23-24; Matthew 25:31-46; Matthew 26:6-13; Matthew 27:57-61).  Believers are responsible for meeting the needs of the poor, especially in the church (Galatians 6:10). Jesus does not command all believers to liquidate all their property and possessions and give to those in need.  Nonetheless, Jesus clearly teaches that everything we have is God’s and should be used to serve Him and His people (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-34).

We live in a wealth and possession oriented society where many people seek riches. Advertisers spend millions of dollars to entice people to believe that if they buy more and more of their products, they will be happier, more fulfilled, more comfortable. Many people eagerly spend all their lives collecting and storing money, only to die and leave their wealth behind at death. Even sadder, some people desire money far more than a commitment to God and spiritual matters.

Jesus repeatedly teaches and warns on the danger of accumulating wealth  and greed (Matthew 6:19-34; Matthew 13:22; Matthew 19:16-30; Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:3-10; Matthew 28:11-15; Luke 12:22-34).  Instead, Jesus’ disciples were to focus on God’s Kingdom and His purpose in this world rather than being obsessed with money and possessions (Luke 12:31).  In the Holy Scriptures, Jesus makes clear that our first and most important loyalty must be to God (Matthew 6:20-34; Romans 12:1-2). God does not tolerates rivals and wealth can become an idol (see Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5).  As followers of Jesus, believers are called to "not conform any longer to the pattern of this world," by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5; Romans 12:2; see also John 14 ¾16) but  to “do good” and be rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:16). Believers are to trust God to meet their needs (Matthew 4:3-4; Matthew 6:8, 11, 25-34; Matthew 7:7-11; Matthew 10:9-14; Matthew 14:15-21; Matthew 15:32-38). 

Jesus taught that riches can prevent people from entering the Kingdom of God because rich people often become self-reliant and do not seek God. The person who has everything on earth can still lack what is most important — eternal life (see Mark 10:17-23 with parallel references in Matthew 19:16-30; Luke 18:18-30). Like the disciples in the New Testament, people sometimes believe wealth is a blessing from God or a reward for being good. However, wealth is not a sign of faith or of partiality on God's part. Instead, Jesus assures believers that anyone who gives up something valuable for His sake will be repaid a hundred times over in this life and the life to come (Mark 10:29-30) but with persecution. Jesus explained that in the world to come, the values of this world will be reversed. Those who seek status and importance here will have none in heaven. Those who are humble here will be great in heaven.

God wants all people to love, obey and seek Him from the heart daily by putting all our energy and resources at His disposal with obedience (see 1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6; Amos 5:21-24). Jesus teaches that the truly good life comes from living in a relationship with God and doing His work. Faith, service, and obedience are the way to become rich toward God. Faith in Jesus Christ, not in self or riches, is what beings eternal life with God. Besides, when Jesus returns, money will be worthless!

Draper, Charles. Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Holman Reference, 2003.
Life Application Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2005.
NLT Study Bible. Tyndale House Publishers, 2008.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Did You Know the Holy Bible Teaches? . . . .
(Memory Verses for Week of March 4, 2012)

“The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the One and Only LORD.  And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Mark 12:29-31 (NLT).

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NKJV).

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 (NKJV).

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:34-35 (NIV).

My Command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  John 15:12 (NIV).

Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the Law. For the Commandments, "You shall not commit adultery," "You shall not murder," "You shall not steal," "You shall not bear false witness," "You shall not covet," and if there is any other Commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the Law.Romans 13:8-10 (NKJV).

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14 NLT.

For the whole Law can be summed up in this one Command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  1 Peter 1:22 (NLT).
What Does God Look Like?

Jesus replied, "Don’t you even yet know who I am, Philip, even after all this time I have been with you? Anyone who has seen Me has seen [God] the Father! So why are you asking to see Him [God]?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say are not My own but are from My Father who lives in Me. And He does His work through Me. John 14:9-10 (TLB).

Jesus is the exact likeness and embodiment of the unseen God (Colossians 1:15).  He perfectly mirrors God the Father and is stamped with God's nature (Hebrews 1:3).  Jesus is the full expression of God in a human body and reveals God to us (John 1:18; John 14:9).  He is the visible, tangible and physical image of the invisible God. Anyone who has seen Jesus has seen God the Father!  (see also John 1:1-2).  He is God-in-the-flesh (John 1:14). 

Jesus explained to Philip, who wanted to see God the Father, that to know Jesus is to know God. In Jesus, God can be found. The search for God and truth ends with Jesus (See also Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:1-4). Jesus clearly stated at Hanukkah, “The Father and I are One” (John 10:30).  Jesus and God the Father is not the same Person, but They are One in essence, nature and purpose. Jesus gives a clear picture of the very character of God (John 1:18; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:15).

Jesus is not only equal to God (Philippians 2:6), He is the eternal God (John 10:30, 38; John 12:45; John 14:1-11).  Jesus worked with God the Father in creating the world (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2-3).  He is Lord of all (Romans 9:5; Romans 10:11-13; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 17:14) and an expression of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3; see also Exodus 16:7; Exodus 33:18; Isaiah 40:5). Jesus is God (see John 1:1, 14; John 14:9; John 20:28).

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Love Commandment
Asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matthew 22:37-40; cf. Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:26-27; see also Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Leviticus 19:18).  According to Mark 12:31 Jesus stated that there is no command greater than these two commands.  Hence, love is of preeminent importance in the Bible.

In the Old Testament, there are many Hebrew words to express the concept of love.  By far the most prominent Hebrew word is the verb aheb that occurs over two hundred times in the Old Testament.  Aheb denote divine love and human love as well as love toward inanimate objects such as food.  Some other words found in the Old Testament, but used not as often is ahaba and dod used primarily of human love, as seen frequently in the Song of Songs.  Finally, there is the often-used noun hesed, which is often translated as “mercy,” “steadfast love,” “loving kindness,” and “love”, all of which have the idea of loyal covenantal love.

In the New Testament, there are several words for love in the Greek language, but two are used frequently:  agapao (agape).  Agapao (agape) is the most frequently used in the Septuagint (LXX) translating aheb from the Old Testament.   Agapao (agape) is unmerited or self-giving love or love that seeks to give, even if the person receiving is unworthy or undeserving. The second most frequently used word for love in the New Testament is phileoPhileo overlaps with agapao (agape) and means affectionate love, characteristic of friendship.  Of course, eros is used in the New Testament and means physical or possessive love. 

God is the very essence of love (1 John 4:8, 16).  The love of God toward people is seen throughout the Bible.  God’s love is unselfish and unmerited.  Jesus loved His Father (John 14:31). John 3:16 states God‘s love unforgettably;  though people have rejected and denied Him, God loves the world, and the extent of His love was the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus Christ, who was willing to lay down His life (see also Romans 5:6-11; 1 John 4:10).  God’s love serves as a basis for human love. There are many demonstrations of Jesus’ love for people.  While on earth, Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary and Martha (John 11:3, 5, 36); John the apostle (John 13:23); and the disciples as a group (John 13:34).  Moreover, Jesus gave assurance of His love for believers individually (Romans 8:35, 37) as well as the church as a body (Ephesians 5:25).

On the basis of God’s love, Jesus has commanded us to love God, who is so deserving of love, and to love others and even their enemies, who are undeserving (Matthew 22:37-40; cf. Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:26-27; see also 1 John 4:7-11, 19).  This is substantiated in Galatians 5:22-23, where love is seen as a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  The words immediately following love --- “joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” --- further describe the character of love (see 1 Corinthians 13).   In the Old Testament, God commands humans to love with their whole being and this commandment continues on into the New Testament with the teaching of Jesus (Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12; Matthew 22:37-40).  The Bible abounds with statements of people’s love toward others:  love for neighbor (e.g., Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:43); love for one’s fellow believers (e.g., Galatians 6:10); love for family (e.g., Colossians 3) and love for enemies (e.g., Matthew 5:43-48).   

God’s love is not only basic, but it continually extends to the undeserving and unloving as seen in His continuing love for the wayward believer in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Thus, there is a deep loyalty in God’s love toward the undeserving, and this the basis of God’s command for humankind’s love.  Therefore, God’s love is seeking the highest good in the one loved, and people are commanded to seek the highest good or the will of God in the one loved.