< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: April 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Friend of God's

This is a very thought provoking article by Henry Blackaby

Can you imagine the possibility of a servant coming to his master, the master saying what he wants the servant to do, then the servant looking into the face of the master and saying, "I'm sorry, master. That is not where my gifts lie."

What does he mean? Like many of us disobeying God, he is disobeying his master because of what he perceives are his gifts. But the gift follows obedience. The gift always follows the assignment. When God gives an assignment and you obey Him, He equips you to do what He has assigned.

Jesus says in the Scripture that you are His friend if you do whatever He commands you. Yet, there are a lot of people who want to be a friend of God within a very narrow range of obedience. Are you ready to do whatever He tells you? Jesus says, "You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." John 15:14-15

God is the one who is on a mission, and it is critical that you begin a relationship with God starting with an encounter that surrenders everything in your life to follow Him. That is the beginning. Then comes the process where He begins to develop your character to match your assignment. And He begins to take you through real life experiences. Your heart is true though your actions often are not. David was called the man after God's own heart. And you may say, "Well, how is it possible to be a man after God's own heart when he committed such sin?" God knew that David's heart was absolutely true. Whenever David sinned, he immediately returned to God and never complained at anything that God did to him because of his sin. A friend is one whose heart is steadfast toward God. God entrusts to His friends the deepest treasure of the Kingdom.

What an awesome friendship with God has been entrusted to you! He is placing into your hands the keys of His Kingdom. The Master does not entrust such treasures to those who are not trustworthy. He reads your heart. Jesus said, "You didn't choose me, I chose you. And I'm waiting for your obedience. But, obedience will never follow unless you love me and know me. My Father has been working in your heart all this time to bring you to the most thorough understanding of me. I am the risen, triumphant, reigning Lord."

The way God prepares you is to deal with your heart, not your skills and activity. The key to serving God is not your knowledge of everything; it is your knowledge of Him. He can transcend anything, anywhere, at any time, as long as He has your heart. Because you obey Him, He will bring forth fruit. If you abide in the vine, which is Christ, you will produce much fruit. (See John 15:5)

When Jesus faced the most significant burden of His life, He called three friends to join Him. It began significantly on the Mount of Transfiguration, because He had just announced that He was going to the cross. God was now moving His life with His disciples to that moment that would change the course of eternity. There was no moment that equaled that. And the intensity of the Mount of Transfiguration is seen in the fact that not only the Father Himself was there, but He brought alongside the Lord Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.

The intensity of carrying the load of a world was so heavy the Father brought His resources, but Jesus brought three of His disciples. There were three that He could take farther with Him than He could take some others. I wonder if today because of the burden of a broken world that is nearing the return of the Lord Jesus, the intensity of the heart of God is at such a point that He is looking for those that He could take aside with Him and be with Him while He carries the load of a broken world?

Let me suggest to you there will never be a place that you ever go that He is not carrying the load of those people. He asks you simply to go with Him. You will never have the burden that equals His. But for each of us, there can be that intense moment when we realize Jesus is carrying the redemption of a world; that He is looking for those who have not been side tracked, whose hearts have developed where He can call them His friends. Those are the hearts that He takes just a little farther than the others.

Now, someone has said that at that intense moment on the Mount of Transfiguration, we look at the men. We focus on the fact that the three men fell asleep. We'll spend a whole sermon talking about the three that fell asleep, and we'll not talk about the intensity of that moment in world redemption. I wonder if it's possible that the Lord Jesus let them sleep, because they were not able to carry what they would have seen and heard. If they had overheard that conversation it may have been too much for them because there were times when Jesus said, as in John 16, "I have so much more to tell you, but you couldn't take it now. That's going to have to wait until after the cross and resurrection and the ascension and the Holy Spirit is going to have to open your understanding." And, so there at that moment when the burden of a world was being carried, He looked for three who would at least be there with Him.

Would He invite you? Well, let me ask it even more significantly. Has He already invited you? He is going to go into the world where the redemption of people is at stake. It is as if He is taking you to the Mount and there the Father and the law and the prophets are saying, "I'm about to redeem and set loose people enslaved in sin. But I don't want to carry that load alone. Will you go with me?"

Do you believe God wants to bring revival to America? There is a picture in the Old and New Testaments that you need to be aware of. In both the Old and New it says until the birth of a child there is sorrow and pain, but afterwards there is rejoicing. Many of us want to live in the realm of rejoicing before the birth of revival. Are there not some who will carry the pain and the sorrow required to bring it to birth? Will we not go with Him when He carries the load of a broken nation on His heart? Could He trust us to stay with Him just a little while; to go just a little farther than the others will go; to hear what others don't hear; and to experience what others will not experience? He needs us there because that is the moment when He gives birth to the redemption of the people. Are you God's friend?

Article from:
Crosspurpose International
http://www.purpose4u.com

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Understanding Jesus

Christianity Today has a great article by Bruce Marchiano, who played the part of Jesus in the video The Gospel According to Matthew. It brought tears to my eyes. Read it here:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/7r6/7r6094.html

Note: This is now almost 2 years later: I was checking my links and found that the article is no longer on Christianity Today. You can google his name to find out more about him, but I also mentioned him again here:
http://teachingsundayschool.blogspot.com/2008/05/thoughts-from-book-in-footsteps-of.html

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Restoring Broken Relationships

I’m still sharing some things I’ve learned from teaching Rick Warren’s book 'The Purpose Driven Life'.

Warren says relationships are always worth restoring. That because life is all about learning to love, God wants us to value relationships and make the effort to maintain them instead of discarding them whenever there’s a hurt or conflict. Much of the New Testament is devoted to teaching us how to get along with each other.

Philippians 2:1-2 If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Since Christ wants His family to be known for love for each other: broken fellowship is a disgraceful testimony to unbelievers. Paul scolded the church in Corinth for all their infighting. In his letter he said, “You must get along with each other.”

If we want God’s blessing on our life and want to be known as a child of God, we must learn to be peacemakers.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:9 “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.”

Work for peace, not just want it or like it. It’s hard work and I think definitely sacrificial. It’s not avoiding conflict and not just appeasement (backing down and becoming a doormat.) It takes communication with God asking for His guidance and what this book is all about, living life on purpose: slowing down enough to pay attention to what you are doing and what’s happening so that you can make good decisions and have the right attitude.

So how do you restore a relationship? Warren says there are 7 Biblical steps:

1. Talk to God first. He may change your heart. He may change your friend. But, He needs to be the first step. A lot of conflict is caused by unmet needs and some needs we have can only be met by God. Instead of looking to God though, we look to others, then get angry when they fail us. I think that’s why we have so many divorces, so many people with drug and alcohol problems. James says a lot of our conflict is caused by prayerlessness:
James 4:1-2 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.

2. Always take the initiative. Whether we are the offender or the offended, God expects us to make the first move. Restoring relations is so important Jesus commanded that it even takes priority over group worship.
Matthew 5:23-24 This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
And he says don’t delay. Delay only deepens resentment and makes matters worse. Acting quickly also reduces the spiritual damage to us. The Bible says sin, including unrestored conflict blocks our fellowship with God and keeps our prayers from being answered. Plus it makes us miserable.

3. Sympathize with their feeling. Listen to them first. Focus on their feelings not the facts. Don’t be defensive, nod that you understand even if you don’t agree. He says feelings aren’t always true or logical; resentment often makes us act in foolish ways. But the Bible says in Proverbs 19:11, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience: it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Again it’s a sacrifice to patiently absorb the anger of others, especially if it’s unfounded, but remember, that’s what Christ did for us.

4. Confess your part of the conflict. Jesus told us to get rid of the log in our own eye before we can deal with the speck in our friend’s eye. We should ask God to show us if we’re the problem. Or how much of us is. These are exactly the kinds of things good businesses tell their customer service people to do when customers are complaining: deal with it immediately, listen to them completely, let them know you hear them and see how much of it is your companies fault. It’s all Biblical!

5. Attack the problem, not the person. He says you can’t fix the problem if you are consumed with fixing the blame. In resolving conflict, how you say it is as important as what you say. If you say it offensively you’ll be received defensively. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” So, no condemning, belittling, comparing, labeling, insulting, condescending or sarcasm. We hear this in marriage counseling and also parenting courses, don’t we? Again, Biblical! Ephesians 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

6. Cooperate as much as possible. Paul says in Romans 12:17 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Sometimes it will cost our pride, often our self-centeredness. But, maybe people will see you doing it and they’ll start doing it and we’ll all live in a nicer place!

7. Emphasize reconciliation, not resolution. People aren’t always going to agree about everything. We all think differently based on our personality and circumstances, so sometimes you can agree to disagree and show the other person you love them and want a good relationship with them in spite of some of your differences. I like what he wrote here: God expects unity not uniformity and we can walk arm-in-arm without seeing eye-to-eye on every issue.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Romans 8:28-29

This is many people’s favorite Bible verse. It is also one of the most memorized and quoted. But a lot of people misquote and misunderstand it.

It doesn’t say, “God causes everything to work in the way I want it to.” And it doesn’t say, “God causes everything to have a happy ending on earth.”

According to Rick Warren, author of ‘The Purpose Driven Life’, we have to take the verses apart to understand their true meaning.

We know - Our hope in difficult times is not based on positive thinking or wishful thinking. It is certainty based on the truths that God is in complete control of the universe and that He loves us.

That God causes – there’s a grand designer behind everything. There is a master plan.

Everything – God’s plan for our lives involves all that happens to us: our sins, our mistakes, our hearts, our debts, divorce, disasters and deaths of loved ones. God can bring good out of the worst evil. He did it on the cross.

To work together – the events in our lives are interdependent to make us like Christ.

For the good – much of what happens in life is evil or bad, but God specializes in bringing good out of it. David was an adulterer and murderer. Rahab was a prostitute. Moses murdered a man.

Of those who love God and are called – this promise is only for God’s children. It’s not for everyone.

According to His purpose – what’s His purpose? That we become like His Son.

That’s kind of a heavy thought. Some of us have a long way to go before we can be as humble, compassionate, loving and sacrificial as Christ. How many more problems will it take for us to be like Him? What’s it going to take in our lives to cause that?

Warren says we are like jewels, shaped with the hammer and chisel of adversity. If a jeweler’s hammer isn’t strong enough to chip out rough edges, God will use a sledgehammer. If we’re really stubborn He uses a jackhammer. He’ll use whatever it takes. The more difficult the problem, the greater the potential for building muscle and moral fiber.

Paul wrote, "We know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character.” What happens outwardly in our lives isn’t as important as what happens inside us. Our circumstances are temporary, but our character will last forever.

Peter wrote, “These troubles come to prove that your faith is pure. This purity of faith is worth more than gold.” Silver is pure when you can see your reflection in it. When we’ve been refined by trials, people will be able to see Jesus’ reflection in us.

James wrote, “Under pressure, your faith life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.”

See? They all talked about it. So we’d know!

Since God intends us to be like Jesus, He’ll take us through the same experiences Jesus went through. These include: loneliness, temptation, stress, criticism, rejection and a lot more. The Bible says, Jesus learned obedience through suffering. And that He was made perfect through suffering.

Paul wrote (Romans 8:17) (from The Message) We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we're certainly going to go through the good times with him!

In order for us to come out like Christ from all these trials we have to respond as Jesus would. Some people become bitter and good doesn’t come from it. In order to respond like Jesus would we have to remember that God’s plan is good. God know what is best and He has our best interests at heart.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Joseph “got it” when he told his brothers who had sold him into slavery. (Genesis 50:20) You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Whenever God says no to us we have to remember Hebrews 12:10b (from The Message) But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best.

We must stay focused on God’s plan, not our pain. That’s how Jesus got through the cross: (Hebrews 12:2a) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The secret to endurance is to remember our pain is temporary, but our reward will be eternal. And we don’t just get through it without becoming bitter. We give thanks in all circumstances. That’s in all circumstances, not for all circumstances.

We thank Him that He will use our problem to fulfill His purposes. And we thank Him for His love. His wisdom. His power. His faithfulness. Etc. And we know God doesn’t leave us alone in our suffering even though it may feel like it sometimes. He is with us always. He said that and He doesn’t lie. Like Jesus we must refuse to give up. We must be patient and persistent. Character building is a slow process.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

From The Purpose Driven Life

Every Lent since this book by Rick Warren was published, I’ve read it. It has 40 chapters so it’s perfect for Lent. Every year I learn something new. This year I decided to teach from it, mostly because I wanted a condensed version I could refer to more often, but also to share. The book is highly inspirational and motivational.

Just this part about one of our purposes in life: becoming like Christ:

God created us in His image, but sin distorted that image so Jesus was sent not only to redeem us, but to show us what we are supposed to be like. The Bible says Jesus is the exact likeness of God. Jesus said, “When you have seen me you’ve seen the Father.”

We will never become a god, but we will become godly.

Ephesians 4:20-22 (message) But that's no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It's rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

Christlikeness is all about transforming our character, not our personality. God gave each of us a unique personality, so He’s not trying to create a bunch of clones. But, He wants our character to be like the beatitudes says:

Matthew 5:1-12
1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying: 3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.


And the Fruits of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

And Peter’s list of the characteristics of an effective and productive life:
2 Peter 1:5-8
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Something Warren wrote here struck me: He said, “Every time you forget that character is one of God’s purposes for your life, you will become frustrated by your circumstances. You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me?” “Why am I having such a hard time?” One answer is that life is supposed to be difficult! It’s what enables us to grow. Earth is not heaven.”

Jesus told us He came so we would have abundant life and many Christians think that means perfect health, a comfortable lifestyle, constant happiness, instant relief from problems through faith and prayer. They expect heaven on earth.

I’ve always thought if it were that way people would flock to Christianity, but for all the wrong reasons.

God is not a genie who exists for our personal pleasure. We exist for His purpose not vice versa.

God gives us our time on earth to build and strengthen our character for heaven. In the future, but for all eternity.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Youth Service about how to treat others

We had a dartboard set up with a construction paper target taped up over the board. We told the kids to draw a picture of someone they disliked or made them angry. Each kid taped their picture up over the target and threw 3 darts at it. When everyone was done, we removed the paper target and underneath was a picture of Jesus, with many dart holes.

We had the kids sit down and then shared:
Matthew 25:40 says, "And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'"

I once read, that whenever we judge someone or complain about him or her to another person we are working for the devil, because that's his job. The Bible calls him the accuser and he accuses humans to God all the time.

So anytime we blame, criticize or complain about God's family we are doing Satan's work. And I don't know about you, but I don't want to do anything that makes Satan happy and God sad. Plus it hurts us spiritually.

When we judge someone else 3 things instantly happen:

1. We lose fellowship with God
2. We expose our own pride and insecurity
3. We set ourselves up to be judged by God

God wants us to not only get along, but also love each other. The New Testament gives more attention to unity and love then heaven and hell. It's important to God.

Paul says in Romans 12:17 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."

The Bible also says in Proverbs 19:11, "A man's wisdom gives him patience: it is to his glory to overlook an offense." It's a sacrifice to patiently absorb the anger and mistreatment of others, especially if it's unfounded, but remember, that's exactly what Christ did for us.

He tells us in Ephesians 4:2 "Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love."

People aren't always going to agree about everything. We all think differently based on our personality and circumstances, so sometimes we have to agree to disagree and show the other person we love them and want a good relationship with them inspite of some of our differences. I like what Rick Warren the author of 'The Purpose Driven Life' wrote about this: "God expects unity not uniformity and we can walk arm-in-arm without seeing eye-to-eye on every issue."

Sometimes living this way: putting others first, always giving them the benefit of the doubt, being kind to them no matter what, helping people when no one's helping you, will cost your pride and often your self-centeredness. But, maybe people will see you doing it and then they'll start doing it and we'll all live in a nicer place! But, even if they don't - our goal is to please God not the world.

We can do this if we stay focused on what matters most: learning to love each other as Christ loves us.

John and I went to Lakeview Baptist Church several weeks ago to hear Gold City, a Southern Gospel group. They were great, but the best part was they had a preacher there from Puerto Rico who gave the sermon and he was on fire! He talked about how when we become Christians, and also in order to grow as a Christian, something has to die. We have to let it go. And we have to bury it.

Or we can't become what God wants us to be.

He said anything that makes us anxious, or fearful, or angry, or worried; we need to let it go. Being judgmental of others, being unkind toward others - are things we have to let die and then bury.

Gossip is another thing to let go of. Refuse to listen to gossip. We all know it's wrong to gossip, but we shouldn't even listen to it. This makes me think about how people complain about trash magazines and movies and sensationalized newspaper headlines, but keep on reading and buying, so those kinds of things keep getting produced and printed!

When someone starts gossiping to us, we shouldn't participate. We should have courage to stand against it.

Plus you know, people who gossip to you will gossip about you. So we should just stop it! Solomon wrote in Proverbs 21:20 "Fire goes out for lack of fuel and tensions disappear when gossip stops."

God wants us to love Him first, then everyone else. To do that we have to treat each other as children of God and remember that we are all made in His image.
"And whatever we do to the least of these, we do to Him."
Sometimes it's hard to do, but He is in all believers and He gives us the power:

Then we played this from You Tube on the big screen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N425kFh3xSI

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Conclusion of Proof that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God

Israel’s Plan to Rebuild the Temple

The Bible tells us that Israel will rebuild the Temple in the last days.
Isaiah 2:2 In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.

There are several other prophecies about that in the Bible. One of the things they will need is a special oil God commanded the Israelites to use to anoint the temple and the priests. This was in Exodus 30:25-26. One of the 5 ingredients needed to make the oil was afans’mon which was seemingly lost forever in AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the Temple and burned the only 2 groves where this grew.

In 1989 Dr. Joseph Patrich of Hebrew University found a clay flask buried near the Dead Sea caves filled with this ancient oil. Scientists confirmed the oil is 2000 years old and composed of the precise ingredients described in Exodus. It’s enough to anoint the rebuilt Temple and the priests.

The rebuilt Temple will also need sacred vessels and linen robes, described in Ezekiel 44:16-17. The Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem had already prepared over 75 of the objects, vessels and linen priestly garments required for the future Temple services, as of 1996 when this book was written.

The Jewish Bible colleges in Jerusalem had already trained 500 young men from the tribe of Levi to correctly fulfill their future duties of Temple worship and sacrifice.

The Bible also foretold the revival of the Roman Empire in the final Generation when Christ comes back. Both Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17 talk of a unique form of a ten-nation super state.

In 1957 6 countries signed the Treaty of Rome. Since then, the Maastricht Treaty consolidated the 15 nations of the European Union into the world’s first super state.

One of the most unusual of the Bible’s prophecies reveals that the city of Babylon would be rebuilt and later destroyed by God at Armageddon by supernatural fire from heaven like Sodom and Gomorrah. (This is in Isaiah 13:6, 19) Saddam Hussein spent over 1 billion dollars rebuilding the ancient city of Babylon. This city is built over an underground lake of asphalt and oil. God has already provided the fuel for its final destruction!

In another prophecy in Isaiah God said the city would burn forever. Several years ago in the Gulf War we had a foretaste of this burning when Saddam Hussein set hundreds of Kuwaiti oil wells on fire and covered the desert with smoke and fire.

Earthquakes

Jesus prophesied that the last generation of this age would witness the greatest earthquakes in history. Other prophets, including Ezekiel, Zechariah, Haggai and John also predicted this. We have been seeing massive earthquakes, and scientists warn these are only a foretaste of the coming “big one”.

Major “killer” quakes (7.2 or greater on the Richter scale) occurred only once a decade before the 1900s. From 1900 – 1949 they averaged 3 per decade. From 1949 through the 50s they averaged 9, in the 60s – 13, in the 70s – 56, 80s – 74 and from 1990 – 1996 – 125.

Tribulation

Lots of prophecies about the tribulation period we won’t take the time to go into: terrible plagues and horrible sores. We already know what Aids and skin cancer can do.

Worldwide famine – a billion people are in danger of starving right now and another billion suffer from malnutrition.

The mark of the beast – tiny computer chips are already capable of holding all your medical and financial records and can be embedded under your skin and read by scanners from a distance.

We are already used to credit cards and “smart cards”. Using fingerprints and eye iris’s for identification to enter places.

Worldwide TV communications: the Bible talks about the 2 witnesses for God during the tribulation who will die and lie in the streets of Jerusalem for 3 and a half days. And the whole world will watch in astonishment as God resurrects these 2 to Heaven. (Revelation 11:9-10) People used to wonder how everyone would watch this…before CNN.

The Gospel will be preached in all the world. (Matthew 24:14) The Bible has been translated into more than 3850 languages, in every nation, tribe and dialect on the planet. You can even listen to the Bible on your ipod.

In 1996 85,000 plus people were being saved everyday! There has never been such an explosion of the Gospel since Pentecost. In China alone from 1949 to 1996 Christians grew from 1 million to 100 million.

The book of Daniel predicted an explosion of knowledge and a huge increase in travel in the last days. And on and on. Only God could have predicted and inspired the writers of the Scriptures to tell these things. Jesus said in Luke 21:28, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up our heads, because your redemption draws near.”

So what do we do with this knowledge? We have 2 choices: For those who reject the Bible as God’s Word, either Jesus Christ is wrong or they are. Well, all the fulfilled prophecy proves He isn’t mistaken. So I would suggest you make the 2nd choice: to believe the Bible is what He says it is, the inspired Word of God, our plumbline, our guide, a revelation to us of Him. If we can’t or won’t believe that, how do we believe anything?

But, after that, you have to do something with it. Satan and his demons know Scripture too you know!

Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved.” Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ will determine our eternal destiny. The decision to accept Christ as our personal Savior is the most important one we will ever make. The author ends this book with this sentence: “You have seen the evidence. The decision is yours.”

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Part 5 of Proof that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God

Let’s look at some prophecies fulfilled closer to our lifetime. The author of this book, “The Signature of God” has studied Biblical prophecy for over 30 years and he believes Christ will return in our lifetime. (And this book was written 10 years ago already.) Now I know a lot of people, including the 1st century Christians believed that and it didn’t happen, but there is nothing left on God’s calendar that is predicted to happen before the Rapture, which hasn’t already happened.

The rebirth of Israel

Jesus foretold this in His prophecy of the “fig tree” budding in Matthew 24:32-35. No other ancient nation ever ceased to exist for a period of centuries and then returned to its place. Most nations evolved gradually over the centuries: like Egypt or France. Isaiah said Israel would happen in a day. (Isaiah 66:8)

And that day was May 15, 1948

Also, 3000 years ago God inspired King David to predict that the reborn nation of Israel would be immediately surrounded by enemies, including the Arab nations of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria (Psalm 83:2-8)

2 See how your enemies are astir,
how your foes rear their heads.
3 With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.
4 "Come," they say, "let us destroy them as a nation,
that the name of Israel be remembered no more."
5 With one mind they plot together;
they form an alliance against you-
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
of Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Gebal, Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia, with the people of Tyre.
8 Even Assyria has joined them
to lend strength to the descendants of Lot.

Those are the ancient names of the modern states of the Middle East joined with the Palestinians in their attempt to destroy the Jewish state in the last days.

The prophet Zephaniah predicted the restoration of the dead language of Hebrew as the living, spoken language of Israel. Hebrew had ceased to be the common language of the Jews before the life of Christ. Remember Paul’s list of things about himself that showed his impeccable Jewish background? One was he could speak Hebrew, it wasn’t common anymore. (Read Zephaniah 3:9) No other nation has ever lost its language and later recovered it.

Just in the 1900’s a Jewish scholar began working in Israel to revive the dead language of Hebrew. His name was Eliazar ben Yehuda. He used the original 7000 words and invented new words for things like airplane and fountain pen. He created modern Hebrew as the living language of 5 million Israelites. As the people began to move back to their Promised Land in 1948 from all over the world - from 70 different nations – after 2000 years in exile – the government and army began to unify them by teaching them the revived Hebrew language.

In addition to recovering their homeland, their lost language and people, the prophet Isaiah predicted Israel would become fertile again (Isaiah 27:6) The returning Jews have transformed the previously deserted and desolate land into the most agriculturally efficient land on earth according to the United nations. Israel now supplies over 90% of the citrus fruit consumed by hundreds of millions of Europeans.

The prophet Joel said the nation of Israel would experience tremendous increases of rain in the last days (Joel 2:23) Rainfall over there has risen over 10% every decade for the last century. The returning Jews planted over 200 million trees and transformed the Promised Land. (Isaiah 35:7)

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Part 4 of Proof that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God

Prophecy

Each of the 3 long captivities of Israel was prophesized in the Bible. Their first exile in Egypt, which lasted 430 years. The 70 years of captivity in Babylon and the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people for 2000 years. Ezekiel got the date right for the miraculous rebirth of Israel: May 15, 1948.

No one, but God can accurately predict future events in detail. In Isaiah 46:9-10 God said, “Remember the former things of old; for I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying my counsel stands and I will do all my pleasure.”

The Bible contains 1817 individual predictions concerning 737 separate subjects found in 8352 verses. This is 27% of the Bible. 27% or almost 1/3rd of the Bible is prophecy. One of the reasons God has prophesies in the Bible is for proof: that He is who He says He is and He wrote the book. There have been many false prophets outside the Bible and most of the time they have been wrong. Only God has been right all the time.

No one predicted the coming of Buddha or Mohammed, but the Old Testament has over 300 passages that refer to the first coming of the Messiah. Of these, 48 are specific details about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. These were published over 5 centuries before Christ was born. Things He had no human control over: like being born in Bethlehem and to a Virgin.

If you know anything about statistics you’ve heard of the Laws of Mathematical Probability. They are not abstract. In fact, they are so dependable that huge insurance companies write policies promising to pay a million dollars to the family of a 30 year old male in return for a small premium of only $30 per month. Why would they take such a risk? Because of the Law of Probability. After careful study of the mortality tables insurance companies know that only a tiny fraction of the 30-year-old clients they insure will actually die in a year.

The laws of probability reveal that if the probability of a single event occurring randomly is one chance in 5 and the probability of another event occurring is 1 in 10, then the probability that both events will occur together in sequence is 5x10 or 1 in 50.

If you have 1 coin and toss it in the air, you have a 50% chance of it being “heads”. But, if you toss 2 coins in a row the odds of getting heads twice in a row is 2x2 or 4. Tossing 10 coins in a row and getting 10 heads jump to 1 chance in 1024.

I’m going to tell you just 17 of the prophecies about the Messiah that came true in Jesus. To have them all come true in 1 man is so improbable that any unbiased observer must accept that the Bible was truly inspired by God and that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah.

1. His birth in Bethlehem (predicted in Micah 5:2) from the tribe of Judah (predicted in Genesis 49:10) - 1 in 2400 chance.
2. Jesus would be preceded by a messenger (predicted in Isaiah 40:3, fulfilled in Matthew 3:1-2 ) - 1 in 20 chance
3. He would enter Jerusalem on a colt – 1 in 50 chance
(predicted in Zechariah 9:9, fulfilled in Luke 19:35-37)
4. He would be betrayed by a friend – 1 in 10 chance
(predicted in Psalm 41:9, fulfilled in Matthew 26:47-48)
5. His hands and feet would be pierced – 1 in 100 chance
(predicted in Psalm 22:16, fulfilled in Luke 23:33)
6. He would be wounded by His enemies – 1 in 10 chance
(predicted in Isaiah 53:5, fulfilled in Matthew 27:26)
7. His betrayal would be for 30 pieces of silver – 1 in 50 chance
(predicted in Zechariah 11:12, fulfilled in Matthew 26:15)
How could you predict 500 years prior the exact amount of money that would be paid for the death of a future king?
8. He would be spit on and beaten – 1 in 10 chance
(predicted in Isaiah 50:6, fulfilled in Matthew 26:67)
9. His betrayal money would be thrown into the Temple and then given to buy a
Potter’s field. 1 in 200 chance
(predicted in Zechariah 11:13, fulfilled in Matthew 27:5-7)
10. He would be silent before His accusers – 1 in 100 chance
(predicted in Isaiah 53:7, fulfilled in Matthew 27:12-14)
11. He would be crucified with thieves – 1 in 100 chance
(predicted in Isaiah 53:12, fulfilled in Matthew 27:38)
12. People would gamble for His garments. 1 in 100 chance
(predicted in Psalm 22:18, fulfilled in John 19:23-24)
13. His side would be pierced. 1 in 100 chance.
(predicted in Zechariah 12:10, fulfilled in John 19:34)
Usually the Romans were so cruel they let their prisoners hang for however long it took to die, in horrible agony. Sometimes it took days. They usually broke their legs so they couldn’t lift themselves to breath if for some reason they wanted to hurry it along. But, the Jews wanted Jesus down by Passover.
14. None of His bones would be broken. 1 in 20 chance
(predicted in Psalm 34:20, fulfilled in John 19:33)
15. His body would not decay – 1 in 10,000 chance
(predicted in Psalm 16:10, fulfilled in Acts 2:31)
16. His burial in a rich man’s tomb. 1 in 100 chance
(predicted in Isaiah 53:9, fulfilled in Matthew 27:57-60)
17. The darkness covering the earth. 1 in 1000 chance
(predicted in Amos 8:9, fulfilled in Matthew 27:45)
In the book the “Third History of Thallus” by a pagan historian in the 3rd century, it was reported that an unusual darkness blotted out the sun for a number of hours at the time of the Passover in AD32. Thallus speculated it was because of an eclipse, but any astronomer can tell you that was impossible because Passover is carefully calculated to occur at a time of a full moon and the positions of the sun, moon and earth at the time make it impossible that this darkness was caused by a natural eclipse.

So, what are the chances that these 17 predictions, made 500 years before Christ’s birth, occurred by chance rather then by the divine plan of God? 1 in 480 billion x 1 billion x 1 trillion. And remember that’s just 17 of the 48 major prophecies given in the Old Testament about the promised Messiah, all of which came true.

To imagine what this means, picture 1 grain of sand painted gold. That’s your 1 chance in the 480 billion x 1 billion x 1 trillion. Now, we’re going to blindfold you and ask you to find that grain of sand somewhere in our galaxy – not just our earth. Would you put any money on a bet that you would find it?

Yet people are willing to bet their eternal lives that these fulfilled prophecies about Jesus Christ are not reliable!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Part 3 of Proof that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God

We are all very familiar with the verse Lev. 17:11For the life of the flesh is in the blood” because it’s used to explain sacrifices: that blood must be shed for atonement, that the wages of sin is death. But, how would Moses have known that our blood is the essence of life?

Remember the verse “We are fearfully and wonderfully made?” Our bodies have over 75,000 miles of blood vessels in them! Enough to circle the world three times! These teeny tiny veins, arteries and capillary vessels carry blood cells with nutrients to feed every one of the 60 trillion cells that make up our body! This complex system of interconnected blood vessels must bring the right nutrient to the particular cells that require those chemicals. It all matches up.

We also have over a million special types of white cells, antibodies specially designed to fight a particular disease. As soon as the body detects that it’s been invaded by a germ or a virus, the whole blood system goes on special alert and produces an explosive increase in whatever antibody it requires to fight the disease.

Our heart is only the size of a fist, but its stronger then our arms and legs. It works non-stop for 80 or so years while our legs get tired when we run around the block! This organ pumps over 1 and a half million gallons of blood every year of our life.

“The life of the flesh is in the blood” and we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”!

Circumcision. The Hebrews were told to circumcise the boys when they were 8 days old. The Arabs wait to do it when the boys are 13 years old. So why did God tell His children to do it on the 8th day? Healing of a wound begins with the clotting of blood. Any wound that continues to bleed, especially in a primitive environment, risks infection. It’s only been somewhat recently that scientists discovered that 2 specific factors in our blood are closely related to the ability of our blood to clot quickly and safely to facilitate healing and resistance to infection. Vitamin K and prothrombin. And these are at the highest levels in your life when you are 8 days old. Vitamin K isn’t even formed in the body until between days 5 and 7. How would Moses have known? Unless God told him?

Last medical thing I’ll mention: a lot of disease comes from human waste. In the olden days, in rural areas there wasn’t too much danger of infection, but in the villages, towns and cities during the Medieval and Renaissance times, people would dump it in the streets! And then the rains would eventually wash it through the drains. It’s said that during Shakespeare’s day people in London couldn’t even walk by the river it stunk so bad! It’s no wonder the life span was – maybe – 40!

People died of a variety of germ related diseases: typhoid, dysentery and cholera, to name a few. It’s hard to believe educated people didn’t figure that out! And how could they have lived that way!

Obedience to God’s laws of sanitation, put in the Bible thousands of years ago would have saved countless millions of lives, just from untreated and unburied sewage!

Remember, during the Exodus there were a couple million Jewish people living in tents in the desert. This is kind of like some of our refugee camps today, but bigger. And there’s always the risk of the spread of disease in these kinds of situations.

God told them in Deut. 23:12-13, “Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse.” (Basically bury human waste with a shovel)

Do you know, if people besides the Jews had followed this we wouldn’t have lost so many lives in war? The history of war before 1900 shows that 5x as many soldiers died from disease then enemy weapons!

Moses didn’t learn any of this from his Egyptian upbringing because remember they mixed waste into their medical treatments. It can only have come from God!

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Part 2 of Proof that the Bible is the Inspired Word of God

Medical Evidence

First of all, 2 things to keep in mind: the existence of germs was unknown until the late 1800s. And the first 5 books of the Bible were recorded by Moses approximately 1491-1451 BC. In these books God gives the Israelites medical instructions that far exceed the level of even the Egyptians back then. (The most advanced civilization at the time.)

In Exodus 15:26, God told the Israelites that if they obeyed all of His commandments and statutes that He gave to Moses, He would protect them from the plagues and sickness that afflicted the ancient Egyptians.

The medical laws and principles He then gave them were designed to protect everyone from the devastating diseases that have afflicted mankind throughout history.

Remember the Jews had lived as slaves to the Egyptians for 430 years. Whatever they knew of folk medicine and remedies was what they learned from the Egyptians. And they probably had all the same sicknesses. Deut. 28:27-28 tells us what they were; “The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, the tumors, with the scab and with the itch from which you can not be healed. The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of the heart.”

The Egyptian’s level of medical knowledge was extremely primitive and dangerous. For instance, for healing of an infected splinter wound, they were to make an application of an ointment of the blood of worms mixed with donkey dung! The author said that the various germs in this, including tetanus from the donkey dung would have made the patient forget the pain of the splinter because he would be dying from the treatment!

For snakebites they poured water over a pagan idol and then gave it to the victim to drink. Some of the other things they used in their medicines were: lizard’s blood, swine’s teeth, moisture from pigs’ ears, putrid meat, waste from just about every animal and even humans, etc. etc.

This would have all been familiar to Moses and the Israelites. But, Moses didn’t write about any of this. Only what God told him to. 213 out of 613 Biblical commandments found in the Torah are detailed medical regulations.

People back then, and even thousands of years later didn’t know that invisible and deadly germs could exist on eating and cooking utensils. Yet Lev. 6:28 says to discard broken pottery (because the cracks could contain harmful germs). They were also told to scour metal utensils.

Also throughout history, because they didn’t have refrigeration, people would eat decaying meat and just disguised the smell with lots of spices.

In Lev. 11:35 Moses wrote, “And everything on which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it is an oven or cooking stone, it shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you.” They weren’t to eat decaying meat; it was to be kept separate so it didn’t contaminate anything else. They weren’t to eat already dead animals because whatever they died from could affect them. That’s in Lev. 7:24

God also gave them laws to prevent the spread of infections. Numbers 19:14-17 talks about if a man dies in a tent, the people who had been in the tent should be kept in quarantine. If there were any vessels in the tent, which weren’t covered, they were unclean. If a person touched a dead body, they were unclean for 7 days and had to purify themselves. All of these rules we skimmed through while reading the Old Testament were given to keep them healthy!

An Hungarian Doctor worked in Vienna in 1845 and he noticed the high number of deaths of women who had babies in hospitals. (And these were mostly homeless and poor because well off women had their babies at home during this time.) He noticed that the doctors would be treating a woman who died and then go treat another woman without washing their hands. This was normal medical practice back then – because they didn’t know. But, 3500 years before this, God commanded the Israelites to wash their hands in running water when dealing with the sick. And it’s in Lev. 15:13.

God even knew not to wash your hands over again in the same bowl of water because the germs would just be floating there!

Leprosy killed millions of people over the course of history. But, the Bible had the priests acting as sort of medical control officers. They examined sick people to see if it was leprosy. If it was they pronounced him unclean and kept him from other people. Lev.13:43, 44, 46

There were laws for people recovering from illnesses and having to purify themselves and wait 7 more days, so they didn’t infect someone else.

Everyone knows about the Black Plague back in the Middle Ages. It seemed unbeatable. Almost 1/3 of the population of Europe died from it in the 14th century. Entire counties and towns were wiped out. The doctors had no clue what to do for these people even though they made the rounds – and then often died from it themselves.

Do you know how it was finally stopped? Some church leaders looked to the Bible for a divine medical solution for an apparently hopeless solution. And they began to follow the basic laws of sanitation and disease control. Lev. 13:46 told them what they needed to know: Quarantine!

There were more instructions for the caregivers: start cleaning their clothes and putting the clothes out in the sunlight. But, Moses’ instructions to segregate infected patients from their families and other people was one of the most important medical advancements in human history. The quarantine. Part of what the church fathers who read Lev. back during the plague did was, make a special medical quarantine compound outside the city where the sick were taken and caregivers fed them. Those who died in the streets or at home were instantly buried. Before, the dead would often be left in the house for a time with the living family.

God also gave the Israelites (and us) strict laws of hygiene and cleanliness. People used to not take baths (except the Jews). King James I of England (who was the one who ordered the translation of the Bible called The King James Version) never took a bath in his life! And Queen Isabelle was known to have said she only had one bath at birth and one on her wedding day! That’s why people back then loved snuff and perfume so much!

But, way back in Exodus 19:10 God told Moses to have the Israelites wash their clothes!

And the priests were told to wash their hands and feet in running water and their clothes. Remember the priests were the ones responsible for preparing and sacrificing animals on the altar.

The Bible also contains detailed instructions concerning the purification following the birth of a child.

There are a lot of other things: like the Israelites were told to build a kind of huge incinerator outside the city to burn the germ filled waste of sacrificed animals. Lev.4:11-12 says, “the bull’s hide and all its flesh, with its head and legs, its entrails and offal, the whole bull he shall carry outside the camp, it shall be burned on wood.”

At that time no one knew that animal waste and decaying organs would be dangerous because of microscopic germs. How would Moses have known – unless God told him?

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