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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Two sons and the Wicked Tenants

"Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place.
Mathew 21:33

God is the landowner in this parable. He plants Israel, cultivates Israel, and blesses Israel.

When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. "The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way.
Mathew 21:34-36

When God leaves Israel, the workers begin to think they own the vineyard.
Embrace the identity of the kingdom. God made it, he owns it. Embracing true humanity begins with understanding your identity as a creature created by God. 

The owner sends his servants to the vineyard workers, but the workers beat, stone, and kill the servants.

God sends his messengers, but the people beat stone, and kill God's servants, who are the prophets.
But God keeps sending his messengers.

Last of all, he sent his son to them. 'They will respect my son,' he said. "But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance.' So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Mathew 21:37-39

The owner sent his son, but he didn't have to. The servants hated him more than they hated the messengers because he is a threat. He could take away everything they had worked for.

God sent Jesus. Jesus messes up our way of life. What do you think about Jesus? Jesus  convicts sin because he loves you. There is not an area of your life were Jesus does not say, "mine."

"Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?""He will bring those wretches to a wretched end," they replied, "and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time."
Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: " 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'"Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed."
Mathew 21:40-44

There are new workers. The vineyard isn't put to an end, just the sinful workers. 

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9

God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. He wants you to be one of the new workers, one who humbly understands his place as God's servant.

My pastor

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Daily Reminders #23

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,
because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.
For we live by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:1-6

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Micah: Israel's Judge (Part 9)

Listen to what the LORD says: "Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. "Hear, you mountains, the LORD's accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.
Micah 6:1-2

This is a strong opening. God is making a case against Israel. God is obviously going to be the judge in this case, but who does it say the witnesses are? The mountains, hills, and the very foundation of the earth. Hosea, who prophesied around the same time Micah did, also speaks of a case against Israel:

Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Hosea 4:1-2

Hosea gives us a bit of insight on why God is bring a case against Israel, which helps us understand why God is so angry.
Micah chose to omit the details of Israel's sin, but he still has something really important to say in the verses spends 

"My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me.

Micah 6:3

God wants to know what he did from them to sin against him. And he is a judge who does have a right to make an inquiry. What has God done to Israel, but love them?

I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD."
Micah 6:4-5

Balak and Balaam's story is in Numbers 22, but Balaam is mentioned in many places.

No Ammonite or Moabite or any of their descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, not even in the tenth generation. For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim to pronounce a curse on you. However, the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you.
Deuteronomy 23:3-5

When Balak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand.
Joshua 24:9-10

because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.)
Nehemiah 13:2

These three verses are about how God protected Israel by his power. In Micah 6, there two examples of how God protects and delivers Israel, so this is obviously an important story. A donkey saved Balaam's life and then God used Balaam to bless Israel. 

With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:6-8

Micah is hitting on an important point here, but he's a bit more subtle about in than others.

To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
Mark 12:33

But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:22

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
Hebrews 10:11

Micah is saying that God has told us what to do, so why aren't we doing it?

Some Christians sin and sin over and over again because it's ok, God forgives our sins. God loves us no matter what. But that's the wrong attitude about life. Yes, God forgives us, but obeying is better than a sacrifice. If you are one of those people who thinks sin is fine, your wrong. Just remember than Jesus suffered for you. He was whipped, beaten with a staff, mocked, slapped, spat on, they divided up his cloths by casting lots, and even crowned him with thorns, which formed to remind us of sin (Genesis 3:18).
Jesus suffered for you. Every time you sin, you beating, spitting on him and even as your adding to the load of sin Jesus died for, Jesus has already forgiven you.

Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
Luke 23:34


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Monday, August 19, 2013

What does it mean to fear God?

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them...Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
Psalm 34:7;9-10

Psalm 34 is all about fearing God. It includes the rewards for fearing God and the punishment for not doing so. This might make you wonder what exactly, it means to fear God. First, I want to be sure everyone understand that fear of God is a positive thing. Here are a few examples of this:
  • Exodus 1:17: Because the midwives feared God, they obeyed him instead of Pharaoh by sparing the Hebrew babies
  • Exodus 9:29-31: Pharaoh brought disaster on his nation because he did not fear God
  • Exodus 18:21: Moses was to choose leaders who feared God and wouldn't take bribes
  • Exodus 20:20: Moses told the Hebrews that they should fear God to keep them from sinning 
  • Leviticus 19:14; 32: The law says fear of God as a reason to treat the disabled and elderly well
  • 2 Corinthains 7:1: Paul says to work toward complete holiness because we fear God
Fear of God is obviously not a bad thing, but is is indeed, fear, not a holy reverence.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Mathew 10:28

Jesus says so himself. The bible does say over and over again to fear not, but what Jesus is saying is that shouldn't fear creation, but the creator. The creator is the one who decides if we go to heaven or to hell.

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
Ecclesiastes 12:13

Serve the LORD with fear and celebrate his rule with trembling. Kiss his son, or he will be angry and your way will lead to your destruction, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Psalm 2:11-12

I've talking on God's wrath before, so I'll get to the point. The point is 1 John 4:18 says "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." So this may seem like a contradiction. How can we love and fear God at the same time? This verse says we can't.
Well Jesus is the best example of fear and love working together. He warned us over and over again to not fear men, but to fear God. He spoke lovingly, but frankly to all people because we all need to face our sin and repent. But he also demonstrated love beyond human understanding

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.
John 15:12-13

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Micah: Vengeance is Mine (Part 8)

Marshal your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel's ruler on the cheek with a rod. "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses.
Micah 5:1-5a

Micah has prophesied about destruction, judgement, justice, sin, and false prophets/teacher. Now, Micah is tell us about the one who can save us from all of this and the one who will judge those who choose to not be saved, and that would be Jesus. The most important thing in these first five verses is that Jesus' "greatness will reach to the ends of the earth." Even when bad happen, his greatness will be there.

And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses.

I love how Micah puts this. Even when there are invaders, Jesus will be our peace. When everyone else, is freaking out because people are marching through our fortress, Jesus' greatness will still remain.

We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders, who will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He will deliver us from the Assyrians when they invade our land and march across our borders. The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue. Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed.
Micah 5:5b-9

Later in this chapter, Micah focuses on the negative side of God's judgment, but right now, Micah highlights the fact that God will deliver them. Micah reminders us that delivereance will come, before getting into the details of the destruction.

"In that day," declares the LORD, "I will destroy your horses from among you and demolish your chariots. I will destroy the cities of your land and tear down all your strongholds. I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells. I will destroy your idols and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands. I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles when I demolish your cities. I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me."
Micah 5:10-15

Micah prophecies about God's judgement time and time again, but there are a few things Micah mentions that have become idols to the people of Isreal:
  1. Horses, chariots (This would be technology)
  2. Strongholds (buildings)
  3. Witchcraft, spells, (superstition)
  4. Idols, scared stones, Asherah poles (false religions)
These are things people can become obsessed with in modern time, whether be getting the newest phones, computers, TVs, etc. or practicing a false religion such as Islam, Hinduism, and Atheism.
But Micah also reminds us that it not our place to avenge sin. God says through Micah: "I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me."

It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."
Dueteronomy 32:35


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Daily Reminders #22

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Do not be Afraid

From six calamities he will rescue you; in seven no harm will touch you. In famine he will deliver you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes. You will laugh at destruction and famine, and need not fear the wild animals.
Job 5:19-22

The bible's #1 command is "fear not," but we all do fear many times in our life, even though God has proved himself time and time again in the bible. But God still reminds us to fear not all the time. There were many people in the bible who God reminded to have faith in him.

God told Abraham "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield" (Genesis 15:1)
God said to Isaac "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you" (Genesis 26:24)
God told Jacob "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go" (Genesis 28:15)
God said to Moses ""My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."" (Genesis 33:14)
God told Elijah "do not be afraid of him" (2 King 1:15)
God said to Jeremiah "Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you" (Jeremiah 1:8)

But seriously, why do fear?

1. We don't believe in God's Sovereignty
Fear is not always rational. Most of the time, fear is based off of what may or may not happen. Fear can give you the impression that your know and see all. Fear can create an image were your are god. Trusting in God, who knows the future, is much better than trusting in our own understanding.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

2. We create our own vision instead of seeking God's
We when are fearful of what we imagine the future might hold, we are imagining a future without God. We are seeing a future that God is not in.

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.
Jeremiah 29:11

3. We are often false prophets
A false prophet is someone who makes incorrect prediction about the future. Fear is making a prediction that will most-likely not happen.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your lifeSince you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
Luke 12:22-26

4. We follow false gospels
Fear is when we try to control our life, instead of allowing God to do it.

Fear can seem impossible to overcome, but with God's help, all things are possible.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9


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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Micah: Who is Like God? (Part 7)

In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.
Micah 4:1

This refers to a temple in Jerusalem, the 3rd temple. "The last days" refers to before the events in revelation. Since the third temple has yet to be built, Micah is making a prediction that's waiting to be fulfilled. Ezekiel 40 describes the physical appearance of the temple, but Micah describes something different.

Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spokenAll the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
Micah 4:2-5

Micah means "Who is Like God?" and this helps when your look for what Micah means.
In the old testament, the temple was how God communicated with his people. You need to sacrifice at the temple to have your sins forgiven.
Once Jesus died on the cross, there was no need for the temple and it was destroyed in a later invasion of Israel.
But what we see is the temple coming back and we see what happens when the temple is rebuilt.
Who is like God?
God has chosen to reveal himself to his people by a third temple.

for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

"In that day," declares the LORD, "I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem." Why do you now cry aloud— have you no king? Has your ruler perished, that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor? Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.
Micah 4:6-10

Who is like God?
Only God can keep a perfect balance between justice and mercy.
God punishes his people, but he also promises to gather them back together.

But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, "Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!" But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.
Micah 4:11-12

This prophecy is already starting to be fulfilled. Nations have always been rising up against Israel. More modern examples would be Hilter and conflicts with Egypt, Jordan,Syria, and Iraq.

"Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations." You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.
Micah 4:13

Who is like God?
God still helps his people, despite the many times they've turned their backs on him. God will bring them victory, allowing them to destroy many nations. Who is like God?

Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands toward heaven and said: "LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.
1 Kings 8:22-23


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Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Armor of God

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
Ephesians 6:10-11

I have read through Ephesians many times and I have covered it with highlighter, but Paul's last statements have to be my favorite. This conclusion is like most, it gives you the takeaway. Paul tells us if we remember nothing else, we should remember to be strong in the Lord.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:12-17

The conclusion of Ephesians is packed with information. It's easy to lose sight of Paul's purpose of in writing this.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.

Our war is not against people, this world, or anything we can's against Satan and his demons. With that in mind, let's look at how to fight the devil

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,

What was the purpose of the belt?
The belt is very important, it holds your scabbard and any of your weapons. If you forget your belt, you would also leave behind your weapon.

with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

What was the purpose of the breastplate?
The breastplate protects vital organs such as the heart and lungs. Without a breastplate, any attack could become fatal, but with a firm breastplate, those same attacks can be ineffective.

and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

What was the purpose of the shoes?
A soldier needs shoes. Battle can create debris. Even pebbles and twigs can be painful to the barefoot.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

What was the purpose of the shield?
Shields in the Roman army were three and a half feet tall and nearly three feet wide. This would offer a lot of protection from enemies.

Take the helmet of salvation

What was the purpose of the helmet?
The helmet protects the head from attacks

and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

What was the purpose of the sword?
The sword is the only thing Paul lists that can be used offensively. Without a sword, we are just well-armored moving targets.

The bible is the only offensive weapon given to us. That is why it is vital to use the bible when you trying to convert a nonchristian. You must fight for people with your sword, armor in place.



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