Did You Know?

Twenty-five men and One woman have

been executed in United States in 2014.

Scripture

Daily Bible Reading for July 26, 2014, with Commentary: Luke 23-24

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Context: Chapter 23 picks up right where we left off last week, in the middle of Jesus’ trial.  The religious leaders had declared Him guilty, but they took Him before the Romans.  Since Romans would not execute a man for a religious crime, the religious leaders attempted to spin Jesus’ confession as a political charge, which was punishable by execution.  In short, the religious leaders accused Him of treason.  Pilate determined that Jesus was innocent, yet the religious leaders would not let up, demanding that He be punished. When someone happened to mention that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate breathed a sigh of relief.  He had an out and sent Jesus to Herod.  Herod was, at first, pleased to see Jesus because Herod wanted to see a miracle.  When Jesus did not indulge Herod, he began mocking Jesus and returned him to Pilate.  Pilate shows his weakness as a ruler, caring more for his position and power than the administration of justice.  Pilate eventually allowed Jesus to be executed to placate the people and the religious leaders.  As Jesus was led to the cross, He turned and attempted to comfort the women who were mourning Him.  Even during His darkest hours, Jesus still offered forgiveness to those who asked (the thief beside Him).  He also sought forgiveness for those who persecuted Him.  He set the ultimate example to follow for forgiving our enemies. Following Jesus’ death, He was buried in a cave, purchased by a religious leader, Joseph, who voted against Jesus’ conviction and death. Following His death and burial, there was no choice but to wait until after the Sabbath to anything more.  Only, Jesus was not in His tomb after the Sabbath!  He had risen!  Peter had to see for himself.  Who would take the body but leave the wrappings?  Jesus was seen by many after His resurrection and before He returned to Heaven.  

 

World History: Upon Jesus’ death, the curtain separating the Holy of Holies was torn in half.  The Holy of Holies was the most sacred place within the temple.  Only the high priest could enter and only once a year.  The tearing of the curtain was significant.  It represented our separation from God.  No longer do we require priests to intervene to God on our behalf.  We can now take our problems and praises directly to Him!

Daily Bible Reading for July 25, 2014, with Commentary: Ezekiel 37-42

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Context: Chapter 37 contains two complimentary prophecies.  Both introduce and describe the vision (1-10; 15-17) before providing and interpretation of the vision (11-14; 18-28).  Chapter 38 is a prophecy against Gog.  What nation is Gog?  We do not know, although there are many theories. The prophecy against Gog has not yet happened.  This chapter describes Gog’s call to arms (1-9), Gog’s evil scheme (10-13), Gog’s advance (14-16), and God’s wrath against Gog (17-23).  Chapter 39 continues the prophecy against Gog, foretelling of Gog’s destruction.  Chapter 39 describes the magnitude of Gog’s defeat (1-16), the feast of Gog and the glory of the Lord (17-24), and gives the epitaph of Gog’s defeat (25-29).  Chapter 40 introduces the final section of Ezekiel.  The remaining chapters in the book contains themes of restoration and hope.  These chapter can cause confusion.  The temple described by Ezekiel does not match the description of any known temple after his time.  The description also contains mention of a place for animal sacrifice, which is no longer necessary since Jesus shed His blood.  Perhaps these final chapters were a hope of Ezekiel that was never fulfilled.  These remaining chapters are filled with hope of Israel being restored and Israelites, once again being able to worship at the Lord’s temple.  Chapter 40-42 describe, in amazing detail, the temple building.

Daily Bible Reading for July 24, 2014, with Commentary: Proverbs 13

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Context: Today’s proverbs offer more life advice that is applicable to all, young and old.  Although King Solomon wrote these hundreds of years ago, they continue to express God’s principles, which never change.  Become familiar with them and allow the Lord to strengthen your relationship and your life through these principles.

 

Daily Bible Reading for July 23, 2014, with Commentary: Psalm 87-89

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Context: The first two psalms in today’s reading were written by the Sons of Korah.  Psalm 87 looks at Zion, the city which all nations will come to worship God.  It is a psalm of praise.  By contrast, Psalm 88 is one of suffering, one of pain, one of darkness.  We all have low points in our lives, when we feel as if everything is going wrong and there is nothing good.  As believers in Christ, we always have a Ray of Hope to break through the darkness: the Lord God, who has granted us eternal salvation.  Unlike most psalms of worry, this psalm ends on a dark note, but often it is darkest right before the dawn of something better.  Psalm 89 is the final psalm in the Levitical section of psalms.  It is written by Ethan the Ezrahite, about which we know nothing other than he wrote this psalm.  This psalm celebrates the promise God made to David (to forever establish the line of David) and implores God to uphold his promise.  It would be several hundred more years before God would sent His Son, Jesus Christ, fulfilling the promise.  The theme of the psalm is established in verses 1-4, followed by a praise of God (5-18), the record of the promises (19-37), and pleading with the Lord to fulfill them (38-52).

 

I hear so many people say that they are seeking the truth about God as if the truth about God is a mythical journey. It is not. I also hear a lot of people tell me about God and readily admit they have never read the Bible. Isn’t that like telling people about George Washington or Martin Luther King without reading their respective biography? It wouldn’t be correct. It would merely be what you heard others say without any examination of your own. I suspect some of what you would hear would be fact while other would be fiction. So where does that leave you with your quest to know the true God?

The Bible, the account of the true God, gives a road map to develop a relationship with Him through His son Jesus the Christ of Nazareth. I am only going to share a very brief glimpse at what it says about Him. Prayerfully it will be enough to get you to ask God to reveal Himself to you.

The Bible gives the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:7-11:

(7) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. (8) For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (9) Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? (10) Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? (11) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

Jesus’ words are simple ask God and God will provide the answer. The only requirement is a sincere heart – seek and you will find. Seek speaks of a genuine desire to know the true God. Is your desire to know the true God genuine? Or is it something you need to get to one of these days. I do not know your heart, only God and you do; however, I encourage you to seek God in prayer asking Him to reveal Himself to you.

The Bible teaches in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” This verse says a lot of things about getting to know the true God. The most important word in this verse is “all.” God wants us all to know Him. Jesus taught us in Matthew that everyone who asks receives, and that he who seeks finds and that the door will be opened to him who knocks.

Are you following what is going on here?

God wants us all to know Him so we will not be condemned to an eternity in Hell. He wants us all to spend eternity with Him. How can you know the true God? The Bible teaches that if you ask Him sincerely to reveal Himself to you that He will. Do you really want to know the true God? Ask God to reveal Himself to you? He will.

Matthew 13: 3 – 9, Luke 8: 5 – 9

Explanation of the Parable of The Sower and the Seed

Matthew 13: 18 – 23, Luke 8: 11 – 15

 

This month’s lesson is a parable of Jesus Christ, The Sower and the Seed found at Matthew 13 and Luke 8. It is my desire to use this lesson to prompt you to ask the question, "Which seed is the source of my relationship with Jesus?" A parable of is a story which explains a principle by using a life example to demonstrate the principle in action. Jesus explains His use of parable at Matthew 13: 10 – 17, and Luke 8: 9 -10 – the explanation I use here, "(9) what does the parable mean?" (10) And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables that,

‘Seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ (Isaiah 6:9, NKJV).

What is Jesus saying? Jesus is telling us that we must come to relationship with Jesus before the secrets of the kingdom of God will be revealed to us. We must believe in His name. Prior to a relationship with Jesus our interest is self interest. This parable speaks to the life snares which keep us from coming to relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

I will use the parable as given by Christ in the Book of Luke 8: 5 – 8, "(5) "A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. (6) Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered way because it lacked moisture. (7) And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. (8) But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold." When He said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

How does Jesus explain this parable? What is the seed? Jesus explains at Luke 11:11 that the seed represents the word of God. Jesus is talking about the Bible. The importance of God’s word spoken to Adam and Eve, shared through prophets in the Old Testament by oral and written tradition through the giving of the New Testament to the apostles by the Holy Spirit. The care of the seed, God’s word is quite important to develop our understanding of the Kingdom of God. How do you care for God’s word?

What does the soil represent? The soil is the heart of every person who has ever been born. It is you, me, Adam and Eve, King David, King Solomon, Moses, and it is Judas Iscariot. The soil represents every heart that ever was, is, and is to be. "The success of the seeding is very much according to the nature and temper of the soil, and as that is, or is not, disposed to receive the seed."(Matthew Henry)

At Luke 8: 5(b) Jesus states, "And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it." Jesus explains Luke 8:5(b) at Luke 11: 12,"Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, least they should be believe and be saved." The devil is responsible! Wow. The word teaches us that at our entire life is surrounded by spiritual warfare beginning in heaven when the angel Lucifer attempted to overthrow God which resulted in his removal from heaven; his deception of Eve which resulted in sin coming into the world, ushering the battle mankind engages with sin.

Ephesians 6:12 tells us, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness and powers of heavenly places." As Ephesians 6:12 tells us that we are in constant spiritual warfare. Satan does not want us to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He does not want us to have the free gift of salvation which Christ provided through His cleansing blood and resurrection at Calvary.

Luke 8:6, "Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacks moisture, "speaks of neglecting the word of God. Luke 8:13 explains verse 6, "But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away." How many people hear the word of God and are excited about a relationship they do not work to develop? Once you hear the word of God it is critical to study it and seek God’s direction in understanding His word. You need to study the word so you can learn how to relate to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. You need to practice the word in every aspect of your life. At Matthew 6:33 Jesus teaches, "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be granted to you."

The seed begins to germinate because the word is being considered initially by the hearer. The knowledge of the kingdom of God is not important to this particular hearer and he sets it aside for another time which may never come. The seed needs nourishment which is studying the word, hearing the word of God – making it the most important part of the hearer’s life. Simplistic as it may be I think of a fruit tree when I think of this verse. The farmer needs to water the tree, to nourish it. He needs to trim dead branches from the tree and needs to use insecticides on the tree to kill harmful attacks from insects and disease. If the farmer cares for the fruit tree, the tree will produce good fruit. Do you give as much attention to the word as you do the fruit trees in your life?

Luke 8:7, "And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it," speaks of people overwhelmed by the matters of cares of this world. Luke 8:14, "Now the ones that fell among the thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity," is Christ’s explanation of Luke 8:7. This verse speaks to trust and idols. Do you believe that God’s promises are true? He promises to take care of you and to meet your needs. Do you believe Him? Do you believe Him? Are you seriously surrendering all your cares to Him? Are you? This is what God expects of you. See Matthew 6:19 – 21 and 25 -34. Don’t let your cares (worries separate you from your relationship with God)!

Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon," speaks to the b part of verse 7. The trap which pursuing wealth lays for us is that of believing that we are self sufficient and that we no longer need God to provide for our needs. Nothing is further from the truth. Is this a problem in your life? Are you self sufficient or are you God dependant?

Do the pleasures of this life interfere with your relationship in developing a nurturing the seed in your heart? What are the pleasures of your life? Unfortunately sin is often equated with bad behavior, the fact is God views sin as anything that strains our relationship with him. What is more important in your life than God? I think pleasure as used in this verse means anything that a person enjoys doing that separates him from maturing His relationship with God. It could be something as innocent as a Sunday morning round of golf. If the pleasure mentioned in Luke 8:7 exists in your life, I strongly suspect that you will know what it is. All relationships require time together to grow and mature, our relationship with God is no different. It seems to me the question we all need ask about pleasure interfering with our relationship with our relationship with God is a simple one, has God become an inconvenience in our schedule of events.

Luke 8:8, "But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold," When He said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" At Luke 8:15, "But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. " What is the good ground? The good ground is those who hear the word and surrender all of themselves to God. Good ground is those who cannot learn enough about God through His word. Good ground is trusting God’s direction in all things. Good ground is a crop, the crop is you, that is God’s interest not self interest, it is loving God so much that the hearers life is consumed with the overflowing love of Jesus Christ sharing it in whatever situation the hearer is found and wherever the hearer may be. Good ground is a life that is all about the love of Jesus Christ.

During the course of this year each inmate to whom we write will receive a lesson regarding the beatitudes with his or her monthly mailing. It is our desire to help every inmate develop a life devoted to prayer and Bible study, focusing their attention on renewing their minds with Bible study focused on a personal relationship with Christ and their fellow man through Biblical instruction and prayer. One of the missions which the Lord presented The Forgiveness Foundation with this year is to raise up a team of prayer warriors within the prison system. We have already asked several inmates to begin praying for revival within their prisons, revival in our land and this world.

It is our desire that the studies we prepare be simple and strictly measured to the Word. Our desire is not to promote opinions or generate new theology - merely share the Gospel as it is written, to honor and share the true message of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As I prepared this lesson it occurred to me that some of our website visitors may enjoy this series of teachings on the Beatitudes so I decided to include it on the website.

I also want to encourage you to pray for revival in your world, the space you occupy on this earth, to pray for revival for our country and for revival throughout the world.

The Beatitudes - Matthew 5:1-12

1"And seeing the multitudes, He [Jesus] went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. 2Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:

3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs shall be the kingdom of heaven.

4"Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

5"Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.

6"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.

7"Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.

8"Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.

9"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

11"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say al kinds of evil against you falsely for My name sake.

12"Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (NKJV)

Thank you for joining us in our study of "The Beatitudes," taught by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as part of The Sermon On The Mount. The ministry focus of this teaching is to help apply the specific beatitude to daily living. Together, over the next eight months, we shall look at each beatitude that Jesus taught with the purpose of arriving at a better understanding of the beatitude so that each of us, with the help of the Holy Spirit, may apply it to our daily living.

The first beatitude which we will examine is Matthew 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

What does the word beatitude mean? It comes from the Latin word beaus which means blessed or happy. Utmost bliss. It is also defined as any declarations made in the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew Chapter 5 verses 3-11. The Greek word used in the text for blessed is makarios and is an adjective suggesting happy, supremely blessed: a condition in which congratulations are in order.

Jesus is telling us that the poor in spirit are blessed? What did Jesus mean to be poor in spirit?

Poor in the spirit includes a recognition that everyone is in spiritual poverty. It requires us to accept that we cannot earn our salvation. It also requires us to accept that our salvation is a gift from God that shows His mercy through His Son Jesus Christ. What can I do to earn my salvation? Nothing! Salvation is a gift available to those who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the grave. Poor in spirit means we have nothing to offer. We are dependant upon God, His grace and mercy.

"Poor in spirit brings to mind a concept we humans do not like – submission. God’s plan does not provide a way for us to earn our salvation but does provide salvation as a gift. God created us with free will. Free will allows us to decide whether to submit to God’s plan and accept His gift or reject His gift and thereby reject our salvation." (King James Bible Commentary, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Poor in spirit is about humility. The beatitudes don’t tell us how to get salvation – they show us the evidence of salvation. A person who is poor in sprit is one who is humble and acknowledges and accepts his or her dependence on God for all things.

The poor in spirit are the opposite of the proud or haughty in spirit. The poor are those who have been humbled by the grace of God and have acknowledged their sin and therefore their dependence upon God to save them. They are the ones who will inherit the kingdom of heaven."

Are you poor in spirit? Do you want to be? Are you haughty and arrogant? Are you self made? Do you want to become the type of person Jesus describes as poor in spirit? Pray for the spirit Jesus describes. Ask God to remove the haughty arrogant attitude that you possess and with a sincere heart acknowledge that you are dependant upon God for your salvation. God is faithful and will hear your prayer.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4 (NKJV)

The book of Matthew tells us that after Jesus was tempted by Satan, He began his Galilean ministry. Matthew 4:17: From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (NKJV) Jesus was telling the Galilean’s to turn away from sin. The need for true repentance is helpful in understanding the second beatitude.

Mourning is a state of sorrow. The Greek word used for mourn at Matthew 5:4 means, "a grief so all-encompassing that it cannot be hidden." (Strong’s) The word used for mourn in this passage describes a deep heart felt sorrow in a general sense and is also used to grieve a death. What is Jesus telling us?

The first step toward repentance is recognition of sin in our lives. Jesus tells us that we should be deeply grieved for the sin in our lives to the point of mourning. Mourning is the recognition of the depth of our sin, not just the mere fact that we are sinners. Mourning is an outward demonstration of putting away sin that attacks our relationship with the Lord.

The second part of this beatitude, "for they shall be comforted," assures us that our genuine desire to turn away (repent) from sin is not unnoticed by God and in fact God comforts us (1) by forgiving our sins and (2) by sending the comforter (the Holy Spirit) to help us endure in our battle with sin.

Are you genuinely sorry for your sin? Have your mourned over the separation sin placed between you and God? Be comforted because God is here to battle for you – just let Him in.

The third beatitude which we examine is Matthew 5:5 (NKJV), "Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth."

Webster’s dictionary defines meek in two ways. The first is patient and mild. The second is too submissive and spiritless. What a contrast! It’s like through the world’s eyes or through Christ’s eyes.

As I studied this verse I realized that Christ meant steady and consistent. Meek are people who know themselves because they know and submit to God. The meek aspire to see life through God’s eyes and to live life in a manner dedicated to serving and pleasing God. That simplistic thought alone takes all the wimp out of the word meek as Jesus meant it.

By submitting to God the meek develop a living relationship with Him. By submitting to God the meek exercises His authority in their lives in a manner which the arrogant cannot comprehend. Meek is moving anger to peace with soft words even when that anger is directed at them. The meek, as Jesus taught, is a person who exercises self control and is in fact very strong because his battles are well chosen.

Meekness promotes happiness because it is the result of an inward relationship with Jesus which produces the outward manifestations of the love of Jesus the Christ. Now that’s awesome.

Meekness does not connote weakness, but rather controlled strength developed through genuine humility and self discipline.

What does inherit the earth mean in this verse? Happiness, genuine happiness is the inheritance which the meek have. A Christian knows that he is the adopted child of God. He knows his inheritance. The meek are content in all things as they patiently wait upon the Lords return.

The fourth beatitude which we examine is Matthew 5:6 (NKJV), "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."

Christians know that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to the believer the moment the believer surrenders his or her life to Jesus. At that point, Jesus becomes not only the believer’s Savior, but also Lord of his or her life. It is important to understand this in order to truly grasp the meaning of the fourth beatitude. Clearly one must be a believer, a born again Christian, to grasp the full meaning of this verse.

Is Jesus Lord of your life? This beatitude addresses spiritual growth. As a Christian our deepest desire should be to grow in Christ, that is, to become Christ like – the meaning of the word Christian. As Christians, we are not righteous by our own good works or deeds. Christians are righteous because God showed us mercy and grace through the death and resurrection of the only truly righteous one, Jesus Christ.

What does Jesus mean when He says that we should hunger and thirst after righteousness? Jesus, as our righteousness, requires us to pursue Him as we would pursue food and drink when we are hungry and thirsty. To get the full measure of the soul satisfying nourishment, we need to develop our relationship with Jesus. In order to get our souls nourished it is imperative that we feed on the source of that nourishment, The Bible. It is through the written Word of God, by His Spirit, that we are given the view of Jesus Christ that carnal minds cannot understand. Because, the carnal mind does not have a personal relationship with the Redeemer. It is the Word revealed through the guidance of the Holy Spirit that our understanding of Jesus, our Redeemer, grows. We need to nourish our spirit by pursuing a deeper understanding of our Lord and Savior, which can only happen when we study the Word.

Prayer is the other essential ingredient to our quest for righteousness. It is with prayer that we open the lines of communication with the Lord. It is useful to pray for clarity of understanding when we study His Word. As we seek afer His righteousness, it is not by man’s understanding but by God’s. It is useful to pray for His direction when making a decision. It is useful to pray for healing and material needs. It is useful because these are the very things that we would share with a good friend, a friend, who in most cases can do little or even nothing to help resolve the need. Jesus on the other hand can command the solution to take place. It most definitely is better to share your needs and desires with Jesus, since He can act upon them.

Righteousness is about right living through developing an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior whereby our soul is nourished with righteousness. The phrase, "for they shall be filled," indicates an on going activity. This phrase indicates that we need to be constantly seeking a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior. We have a need for Spiritual growth. Nourishment is provided as the Holy Spirit replenishes our spirit with His nourishment, allowing us to grow in our understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Remember the promise, "Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled." Praise the Lord!

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