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.