Should We Look Back?
Bible References: Numbers 13:25-33
to Numbers 14:1-9
The Background: The Israelites near the promised land and are just about to enter it. Moses sends 12 men to spy on the land. What they saw was indeed a prosperous land as promised by God but fortified with seemingly strong armies and fortresses.
The 12 men who spied on the promised land can be divided into 2 groups. One the group of two men (Caleb and Joshua) and the remaining ten. Both groups have their own observations on the promised land.
Observations that they shared:
1. They all liked the promise land.
2. Their desire for the promise land is the same.
3. Both groups were instructed by God on what to do.
4. All of them know that God is a powerful having witnessed what happened during the Exodus
The differences between the two groups:
1. Joshua & Caleb: Positive Report
the other 10 men: Negative
The other 10 men were fearful of the giants Anaks or the group to which Goliath belonged to which usually stand over 7ft tall. They were also afraid of the notorious Amalekites who terrorized the Israelites repeatedly.
2. Joshua and Caleb know who God truly is. The others only have head knowledge of God.
Isn't this surprising? All 12 witnessed the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea and still have different levels of confidence in God? The 10 fear the might of their enemies but yet they have seen how mighty God can be!
But isn't this true in our Christian lives as well. During challenging times, we fear problems or even made up ones and worry although we have seen God worked in our lives in amazing ways before!
3. The 10 men want to go back to Egypt!
This is typical of Israelite sentiment during the their time at the desert. Every problem and every hardship that God uses to test their faith, they want to go back to Egypt. Egypt was a country were they lived as slaves!
Christians like us sometimes specially question our faith and secretly in our hearts want to go back to the way we were when we were bondaged in sin. It is utterly foolish right but it seems to be in our nature too just like the Israelites. Just like them we have been freed by ourl bondage to sin when we accepted Christ and made our decision to follow Him! (Do you want to be free as well? Here's how!
One big lesson for us here is that we cannot grow in our faith in God if we keep on looking back. You cannot keep on looking at your rear view mirror as you drive! This is hard to do but if we pray to God honestly that we want to leave the past behind, He will help us.
In life's problems, a person who thinks he will lose the struggle will indeed suffer defeat. Sports teams and personalities know that once you step up to the competition arena, your mind should be conditioned to win. Think that you will lose and you will surely get the raw end of the score according to them.
How true for a person who follows God. If we constantly seek God's protection amidst challenges and claim the victory for Him then the "W" will surely be ours!Technorati tags: God / Jesus / Numbers / Caleb / Joshua / Spies / Promised Land / Egypt / Sin / Exodus
Are some parts of the Gospels the stuff of legends?
Though stated very simply, this a very complicated insight and a good question about the reliability of the historical accuracy and reliability of the Gospels.
In answering this we need to view them into two separate issues.
1. The standard scholarly dating for the earliest documents of Mark was in the AD 70s, Matthew and Luke in the 80s and John in the 90s AD. Now even with these dates, some contemporary followers of Christ and even unbelievers would have been alived at that time. These were within their lifetimes so we could have heard arguments against them.
2. Alexander the Great's two earliest biographies were written by Arrian and Plutarch 400 years after Alexander's death in 323 B.C. Yet scholars find them as trustworthy and consider only material as legendary after 500 years of Alexander's death.
Compared to Alexander the Great's biographies, the Gospels were a news flash in ancient times. It's just like getting a report from CNN.
Dr. Bloomberg even suggests that the Gospels could have been written much earlier than that considered by scholars above. Here are some of his points:
1. The Book of Acts was written unfinished because it does not discuss the death of Paul. Paul was a main character in Acts but the story stops with his house arrest in Rome. So we can say that Acts was written before the death of Paul in 62 AD.
2. But since Acts is the second of two parts written by Luke (the first was Luke in the Gospels), we can say that the Gospel of Luke was written earlier than 80 AD. And since scholars agree that Luke incorporated parts of Mark in his book ,then mark would be earlier too. Much earlier than 70 AD.
In fact if there was just a one year gap between, Mark to Luke and to Acts then Mark would be written in the AD 60's or late 50s. Jesus' crucifixion was in AD 30 or 33!
So we can consider the Gospels as very fresh news indeed by ancient historical standards!
Now another part of the Gospels where we can say that legend creeps in is about the early teachings of the church. The creeds or system belief of early Christians could be questioned as well. Scholars consider this creed as very important.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8
"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born."
Here are some points to consider when reading this creed accordingt to Dr. Bloomberg:
1. You have the statements here about Jesus's death, resurrection and His appearance to other disciples.
2. That Paul was saying that this was given to him orally.
3. That if the crucifixion was early 30 AD, then Paul must have converted in 32 AD. He then met the apostles around 35 AD and was subsequently given this creed.
We can then see that this creed or statement about the nature of Christ and what happened to Him was considered as a creed less than 5 years from the time of the crucifixion.
Again in ancient times, 5 years is such a short time to be considered as a legend.
Based on the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
First posted at Pinoyexchange
Technorati tags: God
/ Lee Strobel
/ Case For Christ
What is God Like?
There was once a truly just judge. All over the land people recognize him as a truly just person.
One day the judge was sad to find out that his son committed a crime. His son just hurt another person because of a fight. But since he was the judge he had to hear the arguments against his son. And based on the evidence his son was indeed guilty without a shadow of a doubt. His son will have to receive twenty lashes for the crime.
The judge hands out the punishment of his son and orders the soldiers to give out twenty lashes on his back. His son takes off his shirt as the lashing will begin and the soldier gets ready to do his job. The soldier then was surprised as the judge stood up and approached his son. The judge takes off his robe and covers his son with now the judge's back facing the soldier.
He orders the soldier to begin the punishment as he covers his son.
God is like the just judge who sacrificed his son so that we can escape the punishment. If only we would accept this gift of salvation we too will escape the punishment. His mercy and love is truly great.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2)
First Posted by me at: Pinoyexchange: "What is God Like"Technorati tags: God / Jesus / Merciful / Judge
How Do You Really Get to Heaven?
Most religions will tell you that you must do this and you must do that to get to heaven. You must be good and that your good works must be more than your bad deeds. It's like a scoring system.
I want you to reflect on this story about the last few moments of Jesus on the cross along with two criminals. Please read it carefully.
------------------One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, "So you're the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself--and us, too, while you're at it!"
But the other criminal protested, "Don't you fear God even when you are dying? We deserve to die for our evil deeds, but this man hasn't done anything wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom."And Jesus replied, "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise."
(Luke 23:39-43 The New Living Translation)
I know most of you are familiar with this story. Some will say it is about two criminals the one bad and the other good, the one remained evil and the one changed. But there is something you may have not realized one of them is going to heaven while the other isn't. If we have to do lots of good things to go to heaven why is this criminal going up there all so suddenly! No more good works, can't help his fellow man,can't even talk about Jesus to other people!
Yet Jesus says the criminal will be with Him in paradise!
Just like the criminal we must realize that on our own we can't make it to heaven. Why? It is found in the Bible that...
"For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.
" (Romans 3:23 NLT)
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithÂand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.
" (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
If we have fallen off God's standard because of our sin then who can save us? Just like the criminal, he realized soon enough, it was the One with him, Jesus Christ.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
" (John 3:16 NIV)
If you admit you are a sinner just like what the criminal did and you realize that because of this, no matter what you do, you can't go to heaven on your own, then ask Christ to take you with Him. He is your only chance!
Please Read: Am I Good Enough To Go To Heaven?Note: The NLT (New Living Translation) and the NIV (New International Translation) are Bible translations. I've used different translations so as to make the point clearer in the verse I cited.
Technorati tags: Heaven / Jesus / Jesus Christ / Christ / Faith Alone / Two Criminals / John / Luke / Romans / Calvary
First of all I am a web researcher who once worked for Google Answers as an independent contractor. The service is gone now but it has opened me to other opportunities and also made me discover research skills I never realized I had.
I discovered Google Answers when I was looking for information to help a friend in starting up a business. I was actually hoping to land a job in that venture since times were tough for me and being a handicap, opportunities were very minimal. But then Google Answers came into the picture and for the first time I was able to pay my debts, get my daughter to school and was now also supporting myself financially.
I was happy and relieved for a while but real joy eluded me. In no time I was back to my self-pitying and loneliness came over me once again. I was able to go to the US that time and when I came back something funny happened in the house. My relatives and my eldest brother were doing weekly Bible Studies! “What are these guys up to?” I said to myself.
As you can see I wasn't at all thrilled since I felt I've known just about anything there is to know about God because of my education and I happen to be a Google Answer Researcher. Information was at my fingertips!
After attending for about a month without any intention of changing anything about my life, I headed for one of my loneliest Christmas. My parents were not with me and my daughter took a vacation with her mom. I was alone and felt depressed.
It was then that I realized and something snapped within me! It seems that the past few weeks God was trying to show me something. I realized how blessed I am with my new work and still being able to have my daughter in a few days time! I also began to think that I started my adult life with mistake after mistake in different levels of my life both financially, personally and most of all spiritually.
I was mistaken in that I thought I knew God just like web pages. That every wish I had should be granted to me when I click the "Submit" button. If it doesn't its either God was offline or just wanted to disappoint me. If you saw the Jim Carrey movie, there were times that I was like that! It was actually at that time I was the one messing up my life and He was doing the cleaning and polishing. Things I went through that I felt was a total waste of time actually had a greater part in the grander scheme of things.
The biggest thing I realized though that afternoon was that all these things were nothing compared to what He did for me before that. In fact if these were the only things, even my mom and dad can do that right? It was then that I came to my senses and understood what Jesus' nailing on the cross really meant. That it was because He loved me! It wasn't the job, nor the knowledge or being with my daughter that was the ultimate evidence ,although these things really showed His affection. It was what He gone through 2,000 years ago. He did that to make me clean again, too right all the wrongs I did and was doing and will do with my life. That they may totally be erased, make me whiter than snow and be right with His' Father again.
Jesus clicked the "Submit" button of all time through the cross and it cleaned the interface of my soul.
Technorati tags: Google Answers
Waiting on the Lord
I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.
Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.
Then I said, "Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart." (Psalm 40:1-8 NIV)
The passage is saying that when we are praying for something, we should wait on the Lord. Only by waiting on the Lord can we truly find the true needs and wants of our hearts. It is also an opportunity to understand God's ways.
Waiting on the Lord results in us a change of character. A new song to sing in our hearts, a steadier disposition, and the ability to rise above despair. If we wait on the Lord, we begin to truly understand the needs of our hearts and begin to see how God is working in our lives. We begin to put a premium on obedience and learn to whole heartedly follow Him.
One of the most difficult things in my life is to wait. I don't know why since I was a child, I was already a handicap and should've been used to waiting since there are lots of things I can't do on my own without the help of another person. But its not usually the case, and at times, I still find myself frowning when it comes to waiting. I admit that this character also manifests itself when I should wait on the Lord. I have to understand that His timing is better and His ways are infinitely wiser.
Technorati tags: waiting on the Lord
A wealthy man approaches a squatters area and tells the settlers there that he bought a big land in another place and he will be building houses for them there for free. He only asks the people to notify in advance by signing a document if they intend to accept the offer since he will only build the number of home units based on those who accepted the offer.
Some accepted the offer immediately. But others were skeptical. Is this guy for real? Why sign his paper of acceptance maybe he is into some scam and this may get us into trouble? Will there be work there? Does he really have that much land and money to give away houses?
So in short others accepted and some did not.
When the project was finished those who accepted where whisked away in vans and trucks to be taken to their new homes.
When those who did not accept visited their former neighbors, they were surprised to see finely built homes, in nice and clean neighborhoods with workplaces nearby and other business opportunities.
They asked the man if they can still get a chance at the offer. The man said sorry of course since he did not count those who refused to sign when he gave the offer.
First Posted at Pinoyexchange
Experiencing Spiritual Renewal
"Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."
(Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT
It is God that gives is the power to do the works we must do. God never grows tired. The power He has cannot be measured. So if He is the one that gives us power, then we will see that we can accomplish greater things than expected of us.
God's power is greater than the energy of youthful people. Whenver we see kids and teenagers play, we are sometimes amazed since they seemed tireless. However, the Bible says that the power that God gives exceeds this youthful vigor. The Bible also says in v.31 that such power is only given to those who wait on the Lord. It means people who depend on Him for their strength recognizing that what they can comes from the Lord. Those who depend on Him for their provisions and for the Lord's timing to work on their lives are the people which is described here.
In our Sunday service, the pastor talked about "surrendering" last time around. I think, if one has to find true strength, one must surrender lots of things to the Lord. I pray that the Lord causes me to do this and surrender the difficult things to Him, for on my own, I cannot do it. I hope and depend on His strength for all of it are a lot better than my own capabilities (which is nothing much to begin with) and way over the top than my best efforts.
The Greatest Gamble
One of the greatest gamble human beings play with isn't found in a casino but with their everyday lives.
Lots of people these days say that they think there is no hell or they would rather go to hell because according to them it would be fun out there.
How did they know that there wouldn't be a hell? How did they know that it would be fun out there. They haven't been to that place or even beyond this galaxy.
Does Hell exist? In order to answer this, we must first ask if God exists? We know that God exists when we look at His creation all around us.
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands." (Psalm 19:1 NIV)
Why did He chose one of this method to reveal himself?
"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)
So that we won't have any excuse. It is there right under our noses.
Yet this generation continues to believe in the lies of evolution. A philosophy founded to advance the racial aspirations of a few in its time when the world is breaking free of slavery. Plus people now would choose the deceptions in the Da Vinci Code eventhough more esteemed scholarship laughs at it.
God came to this world as a man to suffer persecution on the cross so that we won't go through hell. That is how amazing God is, He died for people that
sinned against Him. Mocked Him in their hearts and denied Him.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
What a great love! Do you want to experience this love and go to heaven instead of hell?Read: Am I Good Enough to go to Heaven?Technorati tags: God / Jesus / Creation / Hell / Romans / Psalms
Loving God and Loving Others
"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God--for God is love."
"God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins."
"Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other." (1 John 4:7-11 NLT)
God is love and if we know God we should be loving others. If one does not have love in their hearts, they don't know who God really is.
The passage says that love comes from God and at the same time...He is love. God showed this when He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins. This act was not because of our love for God. On the contrary, we have time and again refused God's love by being disobedient. Even with this, God still loved us and its ultimate expression was seen on the cross. He gave love and He was love at the same time.
If God loves us so much why then shouldn't we love others as well. Usually we only care about people when we are loved back. But this isn't the way God operates and it isn't the way He wants us to live. The "turn the other cheek"
principle is at work here.
This is indeed a very difficult teaching and I admit that on my own I cannot do it. It is my prayer that the Lord causes me to love others even if I find them unlovable. Only through the Lord can one follow this teaching.Based on the Quiet Time Journal of Saddle Back ChurchTechnorati tags: God / Jesus / Lord / Luke / Gospels / NLT / New Living Translation / Bible
Staying Close to God
"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42 NIV)
This passage says that we must not be distracted by anything that will hinder us in glorifying God
Too often the things we regularly do keep us out of focus from God. Even our work at Church can be a distraction as what happened here to Martha. If this happens we also begin to focus on our self just like what happened when Martha complained to Jesus. She begins to focus on herself and not on Jesus. Jesus was there but all she could think about was the unfairness of the situation.
Another point here in verse 42 in my opinion talks about the security in the fact that we are going to heaven. In here Jesus says that when Mary chose the most important thing, it can't be taken away from her anymore. When Mary focused on Christ and not on the the cooking and preparing, she has received Christ's gift of forgiveness of all her wrongs and eternal life and furthermore, it won't be taken away from her. Meaning she is assured of going to heaven.
We must focus on glorifying Christ. Think first if anything we do is robbing Him of His glory or distracting us from doing so.Based on the Quiet Time Journal of Saddle Back Church
Technorati tags: God
/ New International Version
My Quiet Time
Silent time is about my reflections during my quiet time with the Lord. I am also going to talk about the books I read and websites I visit that is of interest to the theme of this blog.
Welcome and come sit with me on that bench.