Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Do The Old Testament Apply To Christians?

“And now, Israel, listen carefully to these decrees and regulations that I [Moses] am about to teach you. Obey them so that you may live, so you may enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. 2 Do not add to or subtract from these commands I am giving you. Just obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you.
Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (NLT).

The Holy Bible has 66 Books (39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament). These Books of the Holy Bible are called Canon. The Holy Bible contains the complete the Word of God that He intended for people to have written through the working of the Holy Spirit (Deuteronomy 4:2; Matthew 15:3-9; John 14:26; 2 Timothy 3:16; Revelation 22:18-19). The Holy Bible primarily reports God’s great acts in redemptive history. There is no need for more words of the Holy Bible after the New Testament because there is finality to the Word of God in Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The Holy Bible is more than lists of dos and don’ts. Instead, the Holy Bible is God-breathed and not merely human words. Most important, the Holy Bible gives God’s expectation for all people to obey. If God’s Word is obeyed faithfully, God will bring His richest blessing to His people. Obedience to God’s Word leads to an abundant and meaningful life (Deuteronomy 10:8-9) and reveals God’s grace to the whole world. Our life depends on obeying God’s Word (Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 5:16, 32-33). God's Word is designed to guide and lead all people toward life-styles that are beneficial, healthy, decent, honorable, and devoted to God.

God’s Word is embodied most prominently in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:6-21) and the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). All other laws and regulations of God are interpretations and applications of the Ten Commandments and the Shema. The Ten Commandments and the Shema are the heart of God's Word and are just as applicable today as they were over 2000 years ago. Moreover, Jesus Christ also taught His followers to obey the Ten Commandments and the demands of the Shema (see Matthew 22:37-40) as an expression of commitment and love to Him as God (see Matthew 5:17-19; John 14:15-21).

Jesus Christ as God perfectly obeyed the Word of God and modeled the Word’s true intent. If you follow and obey Jesus Christ, you are obeying God’s Word (John 1:1)!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Faith In God

One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering Him (Jesus). Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to Me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Luke 18:15-17 (NLT), see parallel references at Matthew 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16.

In this story, Jesus teaches that God opens His Kingdom (or heart) to everyone who accepts, welcomes and depends on Him as God. Jesus teaches that entrance into the Kingdom of God requires childlike faith, trust, allegiance and dependence on God and not one’s self-effort, education, sophistication nor riches (see also Luke 18:18-30). 

Jesus welcomed little children because they have the kind of attitude needed to approach God. Little children approached God with attitudes of truth, eagerness, humility, acceptance, dependence, faith, and complete trust in Him for their help and needs. Like little children, we must also approach God (Father, Son-Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit) with simple and childlike trust in Him as our God. We do not need to understand all the mysteries of the universe to accept God; it should be enough to know that God loves us and provides forgiveness for our sin. 

Our God promises to provide all our needs. "What is impossible with men is possible with God (Luke 18:27 - NIV)."  With God, all things are possible (see Matthew 19:23-30; Mark 10:23-31). God blesses people who trust and rely on Him (see also Luke 18:28-30).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Jesus Cares For ALL People

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by." He [the blind man] called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy (pity, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, sympathy) on me!" Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted (and screamed) all the more, "Son of David, have mercy (pity , compassion , kindness, forgiveness, sympathy) on me!" Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to Him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want Me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith [your trust and confidence in God] has healed [or saved] you." Immediately [instantly] he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising [and honoring] God [Father, Son-Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit]. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. Luke 18:35-43 (NIV).

The story of Luke 18:35-43 demonstrates Jesus’ care for people, particularly the poor and weak. The Holy Bible is clear that people are to care for one another, especially the needy (Leviticus 25:35-38) and Jesus demonstrated that care for people.

In addition, this blind man demonstrated that faith in Jesus brings blessings. This man repeatedly and shamelessly cried out for Jesus' help, and Jesus said that his faith healed and saved him. No matter what your circumstance or your situation, call out to Jesus (our Messiah and Son of David) in faith for His mercy and He will help you.

P.S., Do not forget to be merciful to others as Jesus is merciful to you (see Matthew 5:7; James 2:13).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pure Worship

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. Matthew 6:33 (NKJV).

One of God’s main purposes for His people is that they offer Him worship. From the beginning of time, God has wanted an intimate relationship with His people based upon genuine worship, sincere love and wholehearted faith in Him as God (see Genesis 15:6; Exodus 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 6:4-6; Romans 3:21). Worship means love, respect, devotion, adoration, admiration, reverence, service and appreciation.

The universe has one true God made up of Three Persons (God the Father, God the Son - Jesus Christ and God the Spirit - Holy Spirit) all people must worship (1 Kings 8:23; see also Deuteronomy 5:-7, 9; John 14:6; 1 Peter 3:15; Acts 4:12). Our worship of God must come from a pure heart that is completely faithful to Him with dedicated service to others as unto to God (1 Kings 15:14; 1 Kings 17:1; see also Deuteronomy 10:12, 20; Psalm 24:3-4; Matthew 4:10; John 4:24). Our daily worship of God should have a sense of God’s omnipresence, knowing He is present to love and help us (1 Kings 8:56; see also Psalm 63:1-3; Philippians 4:4).

All believers of God (Father, Son - Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit) are the temple of the living God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Believers are called to live their lives as a representative or ambassador of God (Matt 5:16; Acts 2:40-47; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Peter 2:12). We must not let any other god (or idol) take God’s place in our hearts (1 John 5:21). We must all seek God and His Kingdom first (Matthew 6:33). To seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness means to turn to God first for help, to seek to please Him as God, to imitate His character and to serve and obey Him in everything.

Seek God First!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

One Woman Blessed Her Home

We [the Apostle Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke] boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days. On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who [already] worshiped God [or a worshiper of God or a God-fearing woman]. As she listened to us [the Apostle Paul‘s message], the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying [that Jesus is the Messiah and the Author of salvation]. She [Lydia] was baptized along with other members of her household, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord [Jesus Christ],” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.
Acts 16:11-15 (NLT).

Lydia was a God-fearing woman the Apostle Paul met on his second missionary journey. She was a Gentile living in Philippi and a dealer in purple cloth. Purple cloth was valuable and expensive. Purples indicated nobility or royalty. Lydia, like Cornelius (see Acts 10:2) believed in the true God and followed the moral teachings of the Scripture but had not yet heard the full teachings of Jesus Christ. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the minds of Jesus’ disciples were opened to under the Scriptures (see Luke 24:44-45).

The Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey took him to Philippi. Philippi was a key city in the region of Macedonia (northern Greece today). In Philippi, the Apostle Paul met a small group of women by the river having prayer. He preached the Gospel of Jesus to these women, and Lydia, an influential and wealthy businessperson, believed in Jesus Christ. God opened Lydia’ heart to His Scriptures about His Son, Jesus Christ.

Lydia became the first person changed by Jesus Christ in Philippi. Through Lydia’s conversion and belief in Jesus Christ, her entire household was baptized and identified with Jesus Christ (see also Acts 16:32-33). Lydia’s home was now a Christian home and home for the Light of the World, Jesus Christ (John 9:5).

YOUR faith in Jesus Christ can change your home. Will you accept Jesus today?

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Does Faith In God Looks Like?

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NLT).

God is in control and He can be trusted. He promises to support and defend those who are faithful to Him. However, we must patiently wait for Him to help and protect us (Habakkuk 3:16). While we patiently wait for God, we must ask God for His help, strength and mercy.

In Habakkuk 3, the Prophet remembered God’s deliverance in the past (Habakkuk 3:2-15) and rejoiced because he knew God would deliver him again in the future. The Prophet rejoiced knowing that even if God never pours out another blessing on him or His people, God is still worthy of our complete and wholehearted trust, praise and strength (Habakkuk 3:19). The Prophet revealed that no matter what happens, he would rejoice and trust in God because he knew that God is his Redeemer and Savior.

The Prophet Habakkuk trusted and rejoiced in God like Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, King David, and many others (see also Hebrews 11) know matter what happened around them or in the future. Whether failure, death, starvation or loss, these people all rejoiced in the Lord. Like many others of the Holy Bible, Habakkuk's feelings were not controlled by his situation, circumstances nor the events surrounding around him but by faith in God's ability to give him strength, support and help.

God gives His people strength and confidence through difficult times. Therefore, God's people need to live in the strength and power of Him as God and remain faithful to God (Habakkuk 2:4). Beside, God takes no pleasure in people that turn away from Him for their help and support (see Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:37-38). The righteous live day-by-day trusting God and trusting God knows best and He has a plan and purpose that is good. To believe is to obey God. Faith itself is an act of obedience, but faith also produces obedience (see Romans 1:5; Ephesians 2:8-10; and James 2:14-26).

Take your eyes off your problems and surrounding and look to God. That is what faith looks like! 

I'm singing joyful praise to God. I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God. Habakkuk 3:18 (The Message Bible).
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will be happy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:18 (The Living Bible).
But I will still be glad in the Lord; I will rejoice in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:18 (New Century Version).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

God Is Fair and Faithful

Then the Lord said to me [Habakkuk], “Write My answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud [wicked]! They [wicked or evil] trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous [those who are right with God] will live by their faithfulness [trust] to God. Habakkuk 2:2-4 (NLT).

Life is filled with questions. However, not all questions have quick answers. These unanswered or delayed questions create more questions and doubt. Some people choose to live with unanswered questions while others become pessimistic, skeptical, and hardened.

The Prophet Habakkuk was a man who sought answers from God. Habakkuk saw a dying world and he questioned God on the evil in the world. In fact, Habakkuk cried out to God for answers on the many troubles facing people. "How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But You do not listen! ‘Violence is everywhere!’ I cry, but You do not come to save" Habakkuk 1:2 (NLT). Habakkuk did not understand why God would allow evil to exist.

As chapter two begins, the Lord God answers Habakkuk’s question and told the Prophet to write His answer plainly. God told Habakkuk though the evil temporarily triumph, He would judge all evil and righteousness would win! God’s judgment may not come quickly, but God will judge all wrongs. God is all knowing, all wise, all-powerful, faithful and in control (see also Numbers 23:19; Psalm 139:7-10; Matthew 19:26; Romans 16:27 and 1 John 3:20).

In the end, Habakkuk prays to God and rejoices. "I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation [my Savior]! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights" Habakkuk 3:18-19 (NLT).

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Living A Good Life

Who may worship in Your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter Your presence on Your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking [and thinking] the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip [or slander] or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends [or neighbors].  Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever.  Psalm 15:1-5.

Psalm 15 is a wisdom psalm written by David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). This psalm confirms integrity and purity (see also Psalms 17:15; 18:20-26; 19:13-14) and parallels the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5). In this wisdom psalm, David teaches on the lifestyle of the godly and invites readers to examine their own lives in comparison to God’s standards. Only the godly will reside in God’s presence (see also Psalm 5:4). In God’s presence, everyone experiences His joy, hospitality and protection.

God calls all people to be moral.  Most important, our standards for moral living must come from God’s Holy Bible and not the evil world around us. The godly speaks and thinks truthfully and is loyal to their friends and neighbors.  In addition, the godly lends expecting nothing in return, including interests.

For other references where godly morals are summarized, see Exodus 20:1-17; Psalm 24:3-6; Isaiah 33:14-16; Isaiah 56:1; Micah 6:8; Habakkuk 2:4; and Mark 12:29-31.  These Scripture passages summarize God’s standards. God saves us by faith in God (God the Father, God the Son – Jesus Christ, and God the Holy Spirit) and by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-10). However, obeying God’s moral standards reveal the depth of our love and relationship with God.

So, let us ALL not only believe in God, but live godly!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Life or Death  

“Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways. If you do this, you will live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you and the land you are about to enter and occupy. “But if your heart turns away and you refuse to listen, and if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live a long, good life in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him, and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”  Deuteronomy 30:15-20 (NLT).

The Lord God is life, prosperity and goodness.  Life means wholehearted commitment and love of God.  However, not following and obeying God leads to death, depression, evil, destruction and sadness.  To love God means to obey Lord God with all your heart and follow His ways (see also Deuteronomy 6:4-6).  Therefore, I challenge you to choose life by loving, obeying and trusting God from your heart; and never turn your heart from God.  Beside, following God according to His ways leads to blessing, grace and protection.  So, please worship and love only the Lord God of the Holy Bible and no other gods. Choose life and God today!