7/28/18 ~ Jesus, our Passover Lamb

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From the Preacher’s Pen…

It’s been a busy couple of weeks of travel visiting and talking with congregations and with preachers and elders. I’ve observed congregations, preachers and elders that truly love the Lord and His church. Faithful saints that continue to mold their lives after Jesus and share the good news with others.

No, they are not perfect and no one is more aware of that fact than they are. But they are constantly in the Word of God and making the effort to actually be the people of God.

Sadly, there are the others, too. Those that have “left their first love,” those that have “gone out from us but are not really of us.” These continue to mock the Lord’s will and spurn the “faith that was once for all delivered” by God.

Each of these sights causes me to remember a special day of the Old Testament Law and to recall how much more it means to us now:

The Day of Atonement

Yes, I do know that this “Day” occurs in the Autumn. But bear with me for a moment and think.

Yom Kippur is the Hebrew term for the Day of Atonement. For Israel, it began with God’s forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). An annual reminder of both their failure and God’s mercy, it is so much more than that.

Israel’s failure is one of those “How COULD you ever do that” events. God had already told them the basics of honoring Him who delivered them from Egyptian bondage. They had already seen incredible miracles of His love and salvation for them. And yet they so quickly forgot, gave credit to the ridiculous and willingly did what they knew was wrong. They were human and they were failures in serving God.

While every day is important and holy, this day was the most holy day of the Jewish year. With this day they remembered their very essence, what made them who they are at their peak of greatness. They remembered God having a relationship with them that transcended the most horrible mistakes in their lives!

The celebration of this Day is likened to being angels. Only spiritual needs are to be catered to, a whole day of devotion to God in repentance and prayer. A day to not only BE better but to prepare to continue to be better for the next year.

Every single thing leading up to and on this Day is centered around God. The one thing they once forgot is now their priority. The one focus they lost is now their goal to remember forever. The failures of sin become the obsession. We must forgive others, we must obtain forgiveness for ourselves from others, we must strive to be better, and most especially, we must determine to honor our God!

There are all kinds of suggestions for help with all of this. There are great lists that challenge both thoughts and actions. And then, as the day draws to an end there is a solemn reminder that, as the first three stars appear in the evening, God has sealed your fate in the Book of Life.

At that point, all the questions turn to joyous confidence in forgiveness. A new year has begun with the resolve to BE the person God has called and intended you to be.

The first thing we ought to compare all of this to is our Day of Atonement. The day our Lord turned it all around by Him dying for our sins rather than visiting death on us as we so richly deserved. Our failures, our sins were what led Him to the cross to die, not for Himself, but for us.

Does that day alone make you go WOW! Does that totally amaze us that He would love us so much? Shouldn’t it?

The second thing we ought to compare all this to is every Lord’s Day, every First Day of the Week. Since we have so much greater blessings and so much greater forgiveness (1 John 1:7-8 says His blood keeps on cleansing us) we ought to be so much more mindful of His sacrifice.

Since God has always made clear that our forgiveness from Him is dependent on our forgiveness of others (cf. Luke 11:4), the third thing we ought to compare all this to is how well we do at forgiving. Forgiveness of sins is not limited to those that “deserve” it… because no one ever deserves it!

The final aspect of our comparison must be the future. How, in light of all God’s mercy for us, will we do in being faithful in the future? Paul put it like this: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).

When we read of the Old Testament Day of Atonement we need to make the application to our even greater Day of Atonement in Christ. And when we see the failure of others, those that have “left their first love,” those that have “gone out from us but are not really of us,” we must resolve to do better. We must choose to not only accept atonement but to continue to live holy lives in the future!

How could they forget? How could we forget?

— Lester P. Bagley

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7/22/18 ~ What Color is Heaven?

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“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)

This amazing promise applies to us today. It also applies to eternity. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive heaven. That is why so much of Revelation is symbolic. The symbols are beautiful, so try going one step beyond reading how Revelation describes heaven, and make a drawing of what you think it looks like. Then colorize it all those beautiful colors. Revelation 21:12,13,21:

Each of the 12 GATES is named after one of the Tribes of Israel and has an angel guarding it. Make the gates pearl. Make the angel over the gate white or yellow.

Revelation 21:17, 18a: Make the WALL jasper, which is a light see-through green.

Revelation 21:16, 18b: Heaven is full of many MANSIONS (John 14:2). Make them a translucent (see-through) gold.

Revelation 21:21: The STREETS of the city are like crystal and gold. Make them a translucent (see-through) gold also.

Revelation 22:1: The RIVER OF LIFE runs through heaven coming out from the throne of God. Make it blue.

Revelation 4:6a: The CHRYSTAL SEA is in front of God’s throne. Make it blue.

Revelation 22:2: The TREE OF LIFE grows on both sides of the River of Life. Make it green and brown.

Revelation 22:2: The ALTER OF INCENSE from Christians’ prayers is in front of the throne. Make it gold

Revelation 21:23: God’s THRONE is jasper and the glory of God is so brilliant, there is no need of a sun. Make the area of the throne silver/white.

Revelation 4:5: Around the throne of God are the seven SPIRITS of God, symbolized by seven lights. Make them yellow.

Revelation 4:3a: Near the Spirits, there is a ruby red GLOW around the throne of God. Make this inner arch red.

Revelation 4:3b: There is a RAINBOW over God’s throne. Make the arch at the very top over the throne emerald green.

~Excerpted from 365 LIFE-CHANGING SCRIPTURES DAY BY DATE

 



6/15/18 ~ Praising God with Music

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David told the Levites to appoint “singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals“. Heman was the first one they appointed (I Chronicles 15:16f) and he had two assistants ~ Asaph and Merari (I Chronicles. 6:39, 44). David put them in charge of the music in the house of the Lord and they performed their duties according to the regulations (verses 31f).

So what David appointed was a choir and orchestra.  And these musicians had a full time job! They were to minister before the Lord “according to each day’s requirements” of sacrifices as written in the Law of Moses. Heman and the others were responsible for sounding the trumpets and cymbals and playing the other instruments ~ lyres, harps and cymbals (15:19-21) ~ for sacred song (16:37-42). In addition to playing the prescribed lyres, harps and cymbals, trumpets were to be sounded to announce sacrifices, etc. (16:4-6).

By the time David was old, there were “four thousand…to praise the Lord with the musical instruments” (I Chronicles 23:5. And what instruments were they still playing? Cymbals, lyres and harps “for the ministry at the house of God” (I Chronicles. 25:1 & 6).

Years later after David died and his son Solomon had completed the grand Temple in Jerusalem (II Chronicles. 5:1), “all the Levites who were musicians…stood on the east side of the altar dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres, accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison as with one voice to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and the other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord” (verses 12-13).

Can you imagine such an orchestra and choir? The tinkling of the harps and lyres, with cymbals keeping the tempo, and trumpets calling attention to it all? And all those singers! Was God pleased? Indeed he was, for in the form of a cloud “the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God” (verse 14).

Three centuries later when Hezekiah was king, the same instruments were being played ~ cymbals, harps and lyres (II Chronicles. 29:25f). Why? Because they were prescribed by David, Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet as commanded by God through his prophets. (Acts 2:29-30 says David was a prophet too.)

Interestingly, although God specified every detail of the instruments that had to be played in the Old Testament, nothing like that was specified in the New Testament. Did God forget? Perhaps God took us to a higher plain in the New Testament era. We do know that in I Corinthians 14:15, we are told to both pray and sing with mind and spirit.

And in Ephesians 5:19 we are told to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” The term “make music” in the original Greek language of the New Testament is to play on strings. Since we are to make music in our hearts, then it looks like we are to play on the instrument of our heart. How beautiful!

7/8/18 ~ Fun with Bible Numbers

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 MATTHEW

 

  1. _____ Joseph was warned by God to flee Bethlehem and hide in Egypt since Herod would kill all babies under age 2 (Matthew 2:13). It was approximately 100 milies to the border of Egypt from Bethlehem, and another 200 miles to the Nile River where most of the cities were. How many miles away was their probable destination?

 

  1. _____ With a day’s journey averaging 5 miles, about how many days did it take them to travel?

 

  1. _____ Herod was very jealous of his kingship, and even slew these members of his own family because they were getting too popular: His brother-in-law, his grandfather-in-law, his favorite wife, his two sons (Josephus, pp. 317-355). How many of his own family did he kill to protect his crown?

 

  1. _____ Jesus was actually born BC 6 (the Christian calendar was a few years off), and late in BC 4 King Herod died. If this was the time Jesus was “called out of Egypt” (Matthew 2:15), he would have been how old then?

 

  1. _____ After Jesus was grown and baptized by his second cousin John the Baptist, he fasted and prayed 40 days (Matthew 4:2). About how many weeks did he go without food?

 

  1. _____ Afterwards, Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee and called two brothers, Peter and Andrew, then two more brothers, James and John ~ all fisherman (Matthew 4:18~21). How many of his 12 apostles were not fishermen?

 

  1. _____ Jesus healed a woman with a flow of blood for 12 years (Matthew 9:20). How many months was she ceremonially unclean and kept from Temple worship?

 

  1. _____ Two sparrows were sold for a father (Matthew 10:28). How many cents did one sparrow cost if one farthing is worth .08 cents?

 

  1. _____ From 5 loaves and 2 fishes Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:17~21). If there were as many women as men and as many children as men, how many people in all may have been fed?

 

  1. _____ During the 4th watch of the night Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:25). The first watch started about 6:00 PM. A watch lasted 3 hours. What time did he walk on the water?

328. _____ Later, with 7 loaves and a few fishes, Jesus fed another crowd of 4,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 15:36~38). If there were as many women as men and as many children as men, how many in all may have been fed?

 

329. _____ Jesus said we should forgive our brother (friend) 70 x 7 (Matthew 18:22). If taken literally, how many times should we forgive one person?

 

330. _____ Jesus told the parable of a king who was kind to a servant who owed him 10,000 talents (Matthew 18:24~28). If it was a silver talent, it was worth $12,000. How much did the first servant owe the king?

 

331. _____ The above servant had a servant of his own who he had arrested and thrown into jail for owing him 100 pence. A pence is worth $1. How much did the second servant owe the first servant?

 

332. _____ How much more did the first ungrateful servant owe than the second servant he had jailed?

 

333. _____ Jesus told another parable of a farmer who hired laborers for a penny a day (Matthew 20:2). A penny then was worth about 35 cents (average day’s wages). How much per hour did they earn in a 12~hour working day?

 

334. _____ Jesus told the parable of ten brides maids going to a wedding (Matthew 25:1~3). Five were wise because they took along enough oil to keep their lamps lit that evening and last them until the feast began. How many were foolish because they didn’t plan ahead?

 

 

335. _____ Jesus told the parable of a man being given 10 talents, another 5 talents, and another 1 talent (Matthew 25:15) to invest for him. Assuming these were talents of silver, how many dollars was the first man given?

 

336. _____ How many dollars was the second man given?

337. _____ How many dollars was the third man given?

 

338. _____ How many dollars did the master give them in all?

 

339. _____ The first two doubled what they had received (Matthew 25:16, 17) and returned it to their master. How much did they together return?

 

340. _____ Judas was offered 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:15). If a piece of silver was a shekel of silver worth $4, then for how many dollars did Judas betray his Lord?

 

341. _____ When Jesus was betrayed, He could have brought down 12 legions of angels to save him (Matthew 26:5). A legion is about 5,000. How many angels would that have been?

 

342. _____ When Jesus was crucified, there was darkness from the 6th hour to the 9th hour (Matthew 27:45). The first hour of the Jewish day began about 6:00 AM. What time did it turn dark during the crucifixion?

7/8/18 ~ Fun With Bible Numbers

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MATTHEW

315. _____ The generations listed by Matthew from Abraham to David were 14, from David to the Babylonian captivity were 14, and from the Babylonian captivity to Jesus Christ were 14 (Matthew 1:17). How many generations were listed in all?

 

316. _____ In Psalm 51:5, David said he was conceived in sin. In Deuteronomy 23:2, the Law stated that if an illegitimate son was born, 10 generations following would be considered ceremonially unclean and not able to go to the Tabernacle (later, the Temple). Judah had an illegitimate son named Phares. His son was Esrom, his son Aram, then Aminidab, Naason, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse and finally David. What generation was David from Phares? What generation built the Temple?

 

317. _____ At the time of Jesus’ birth, wise men from the east saw the star and came to see Jesus (Matthew

 

_____  2:1, 2). WISEMEN comes from the Greek word usually referring to astrologers in Persia (today’s Iran). Persia was about 1,000 miles from Bethlehem. A day’s journey was about 10 miles; but on a longer journey, it would be about 5 miles with herds for food and more supplies. How many days did it possibly take the wise men to arrive in Bethlehem? That’s about how many months?

 

318. _____ Joseph was warned by God to flee Bethlehem and hide in Egypt since Herod would kill all babies under age 2 (Matthew 2:13). It was approximately 100 milies to the border of Egypt from Bethlehem, and another 200 miles to the Nile River where most of the cities were. How many miles away was their probable destination?

 

319. _____ With a day’s journey averaging 5 miles, about how many days did it take them to travel?

 

320. _____ Herod was very jealous of his kingship, and even slew these members of his own family because they were getting too popular: His brother-in-law, his grandfather-in-law, his favorite wife, his two sons (Josephus, pp. 317-355). How many of his own family did he kill to protect his crown?

 

321. _____ Jesus was actually born BC 6 (the Christian calendar was a few years off), and late in BC 4 King Herod died. If this was the time Jesus was “called out of Egypt” (Matthew 2:15), he would have been how old then?

 

322. _____ After Jesus was grown and baptized by his second cousin John the Baptist, he fasted and prayed 40 days (Matthew 4:2). About how many weeks did he go without food?

 

323. _____ Afterwards, Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee and called two brothers, Peter and Andrew, then two more brothers, James and John ~ all fisherman (Matthew 4:18~21). How many of his 12 apostles were not fishermen?

 

324. _____ Jesus healed a woman with a flow of blood for 12 years (Matthew 9:20). How many months was she ceremonially unclean and kept from Temple worship?

 

325. _____ Two sparrows were sold for a father (Matthew 10:28). How many cents did one sparrow cost if one farthing is worth .08 cents?

 

326. _____ From 5 loaves and 2 fishes Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:17~21). If there were as many women as men and as many children as men, how many people in all may have been fed?

 

 

327. _____ During the 4th watch of the night Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:25). The first watch started about 6:00 PM. A watch lasted 3 hours. What time did he walk on the water?

 

328. _____ Later, with 7 loaves and a few fishes, Jesus fed another crowd of 4,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 15:36~38). If there were as many women as men and as many children as men, how many in all may have been fed?

 

329. _____ Jesus said we should forgive our brother (friend) 70 x 7 (Matthew 18:22). If taken literally, how many times should we forgive one person?

 

330. _____ Jesus told the parable of a king who was kind to a servant who owed him 10,000 talents (Matthew 18:24~28). If it was a silver talent, it was worth $12,000. How much did the first servant owe the king?

 

331. _____ The above servant had a servant of his own who he had arrested and thrown into jail for owing him 100 pence. A pence is worth $1. How much did the second servant owe the first servant?

 

332. _____ How much more did the first ungrateful servant owe than the second servant he had jailed?

 

333. _____ Jesus told another parable of a farmer who hired laborers for a penny a day (Matthew 20:2). A penny then was worth about 35 cents (average day’s wages). How much per hour did they earn in a 12~hour working day?

 

334. _____ Jesus told the parable of ten brides maids going to a wedding (Matthew 25:1~3). Five were wise because they took along enough oil to keep their lamps lit that evening and last them until the feast began. How many were foolish because they didn’t plan ahead?

 

 

335. _____ Jesus told the parable of a man being given 10 talents, another 5 talents, and another 1 talent (Matthew 25:15) to invest for him. Assuming these were talents of silver, how many dollars was the first man given?

 

336. _____ How many dollars was the second man given?

 

337. _____ How many dollars was the third man given?

 

338. _____ How many dollars did the master give them in all?

 

339. _____ The first two doubled what they had received (Matthew 25:16, 17) and returned it to their master. How much did they together return?

 

340. _____ Judas was offered 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:15). If a piece of silver was a shekel of silver worth $4, then for how many dollars did Judas betray his Lord?

 

341. _____ When Jesus was betrayed, He could have brought down 12 legions of angels to save him (Matthew 26:5). A legion is about 5,000. How many angels would that have been?

 

342. _____ When Jesus was crucified, there was darkness from the 6th hour to the 9th hour (Matthew 27:45). The first hour of the Jewish day began about 6:00 AM. What time did it turn dark during the crucifixion?

 

(Excerpted from the book FUN WITH BIBLE NUMBERS by Katheryn Maddox Haddad)