Jesus is Calling

Jesus is Calling

Daily Reading: (Luke 19:1-4):

“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.”

The year was about 33 A.D. The text tells us that “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.’’ Jesus is going to celebrate Passover knowing He will be crucified as our Passover Lamb. Christ’s applied blood to a person’s life causes God’s judgment to pass over them as He has given His life (Romans 6:23).

The site of Luke 19 is Jericho which is about 15 miles northeast of Jerusalem near the Jordan River. It’s known as one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. It’s also the first city that the Israelites conquered when they arrived in Canaan after their escape from Egypt some 1,400 years earlier. Jericho was known as an oasis city. The Bible describes Jericho as the “city of Palm Trees.” (Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chronicles 28:15). This means that Jericho catered to the rich and powerful. “Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy” (Luke 19:1-2). As in many wealthy places, on the outskirts will often be poor people who are attracted to the wealth of the city and the chance that encountering its inhabitants will profit them too.

The chapter before (Luke 18) tells us that Jesus doesn’t ignore the pleas of the beggars and He doesn’t ignore the needs of the rich either. “As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging” Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,“What do you want me to do for you” (Luke 18:35-41a)?

While Luke doesn’t tell us this man’s name, we learn who he is in Mark 10:46. “A blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging” (Mark 10:46).

Bartimaeus is an interesting name, and I don’t believe this is this man’s real name. Instead, I believe it was a cruel nickname. It wouldn’t be uncommon to be named “the son of your father”. In this case, “son of Timaeus”. Bar is the Aramaic word for “son” and that is how you would get the name Bartimaeus. The reason I have changed my mind about this actually being his name is because Bartimaeus is a hybrid word taken from the Aramaic and Greek languages together. It was highly unusual to be a given name like this at this time.

This hybrid word from Aramaic bar = “son,” and the Greek word timaios = “honorable.”

But I don’t think they are calling this beggar an honorable son either. I believe what they are doing is using the deviation, bar-tim’ai = “son of the unclean,” an allegorical meaning based of the belief that the Gentiles are spiritually blind.

So, the message of what the people called this blind beggar is not only is he blind physically, he is “Bartimaeus” the unclean and blind spiritual Gentile.  

There is a connection to Bartimaeus and to the next man we meet in the story Zacchaeus. Jesus, the very grace of God, meets with the poorest of the poor in Bartimaeus and the richest of the rich, Zacchaeus. Both men were outcasts in society. The reason Jesus comes for them, “for the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).

“He (Zacchaeus) wanted to see who Jesus was but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.” Climbing a tree would have been humiliating for a grown man to do and only would have highlighted his shortness. Some people see their disabilities, challenges, and weakness, as an insurmountable obstacle. “I am too short, I am too sick, I am too far gone, I am already defeated, denied, broke, hurt, etc..” While others will see their lack, as a prime opportunity to receive an abundant supply of God’s grace, Jesus is here!

If you were a Jew living at this time, you didn’t wake up one day and have a burning desire to become a tax collector. I would like to sell out my countrymen be a traitor by over taxing them for the Roman occupiers. His family (mom and dad) must have been ashamed of the career he went into and what he had become. The reason Zacchaeus most likely became a tax collector was because his shortness already made him feel like an outcast in society (Luke 19:3). If this is how people are going to treat me, let’s see how they like it when I take their money and I become rich.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly” (Luke 19:5-6). Sharing a meal had significant implications in the ancient world. Sharing a meal together is one of the primary ways relationships are established, deepened. Why would you want to do this with a tax collector?

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner” (Luke 19:7). They weren’t wrong. Zacchaeus is a sinner, but that is exactly what they are too. Because they don’t recognize their own need they are unable to receive anything from Jesus.

Zacchaeus will recognize Jesus as Messiah and also as his High Priest (Luke 19:8). Because of this “Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:9-10). Jesus’ statement reveals His mission and why His salvation is offered to all, the poorest of the poor (Bartimaeus), and the richest in resources (Zacchaeus).

Most Wanted List

Most Wanted List

Daily Reading: (John 12:1-2, 9-11):

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.”

To begin with we learn some interesting facts. Lazarus lived in Bethany. Bethany means either “house of welcome” or “house of figs” depending on the language of either Aramaic or Hebrew. Bethany was a lovely place at the foot of the Mount of Olives near Jerusalem. It was the perfect place for Jesus to stay right before his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. At this moment in time the text tells us that we are only six days away from Passover. Jesus would be our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). At the third hour (9:00 AM), Israel’s high priest tied the Passover lamb to the altar for sacrifice. At that exact moment outside the city walls of Jerusalem, Jesus, the Lamb of God, was nailed to the cross. For six hours both the Passover lamb and Jesus the Lamb of God, awaited death. Finally, at the ninth hour (3:00 PM), the high priest ascended the altar in the temple and sacrificed the Passover lamb.

At that exact moment from the Cross- Christ’s words thundered out over the city of Jerusalem, “It is finished!” Before this moment of victory- we are first brought to Bethany. Lazarus who had been brought back from the dead by Jesus was with Jesus. Through the Resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus declared that He is “the Resurrection and the Life and the one who believes in Him will live, even though they die” (John 11:25-26). Jesus didn’t just declare He is the Resurrection through His words only but through His actions too. The proof that Jesus is the Resurrection is seen in Lazarus who is there with them all.

“Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him” (John 12:1-2).

“Lazarus was reclining.” This means that Lazarus was enjoying himself, resting and relaxing with Jesus.Sometimes, the hardest thing for us to do is to sit down with Jesus and relax and simply enjoy time spent with Him. It is a challenge to cease from our own efforts and enter into His rest. Rely solely in Jesus’ unmerited favor is what we must strive to do.

“The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the king of Israel” (John 12:12-13)!

The people shouted, “hosanna” but what is hosanna?

If you look up hosanna in the Greek you find out there is no such word. What they did is they took the Hebrew word and they tried to copy the sound of it in the Greek. The crowd shouted and the sound they made sounded like hosanna. Hosanna is actually not a Hebrew word at all either, it is a Hebrew phrase. Hoshiya na. is found only one time in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, “Save, please!” It is a cry to God for help.

So, if you grew up with older brothers and sisters in your household you knew the concept of the word hosanna. I hear it every week in my house. “Save me daddy.” Because someone bigger and stronger (our older brother) has taken us captive and all we can do is shout out for someone bigger and stronger than ourselves (daddy) to intervene in our situation. Do for us what we are powerless to do for ourselves. So, the Jewish pilgrims are heading into Jerusalem their hometown which is currently occupied by the bigger stronger Romans and they are shouting, “hosanna” because they believe someone stronger has arrived. “Jesus, save us from the Romans.” They should be shouting hosanna, but for a different reason. An even stronger enemy has you captive, save us from sin and death.

So, the only instance we have of hosanna being used before this point in history is what David wrote in the Psalms, but Jesus elevated hosanna to a much higher level. David prayed, “please Lord save us” (Psalm 118:25). God’s answer to David’s prayer was Jesus (John 12:13), “your salvation has come.”

Something happened to that phrase, hoshiya na (hosanna) took on new meaning with Jesus as He entered into Jerusalem. Jesus changed everything. Hosanna was no longer a cry for help as in “save us now” it changed into a shout of hope and exultation, it became “salvation has come!” It is the hope and joy within an individual who sees that salvation is on the way.

And so “Hosanna to the Son of David!” means, “The Son of David is our salvation! Hooray for the king! Salvation belongs to the king!” He has come to rescue us, to deliver us. They are excited because they have living proof (Lazarus) of what Jesus could do.

“So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him” (John 12:10-11).

The reason Lazarus was a threat was because his testimony of what God had done in his life, was resulting in people receiving everlasting Resurrection life through Jesus. We all who believe, have a powerful story of what Jesus has done in our life, just like Lazarus. As you reflect on what Christ has done for you, by relaxing, resting, and spending time with Jesus, being in the presence of the Lord, God’s grace will flow to you and through you, resulting in other’s receiving the salvation of the Lord.

The Popular Leper

Daily Reading: (2 Kings 5:1-3):

“Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “if only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

Naaman was leading the Syrian army and what is remarkable is what is said in the very next chapter: “now the king of Aram was warring against Israel” (2 Kings 6:8a). The last thing in the world you would expect is that God would heal the commander of the army who is against God’s own people. But here in 2 Kings 5 God is blessing a Gentile commander. “Through him the Lord had given victory to Aram” (2 Kings 5:1).

Naaman is an unique character. People that have leprosy are avoided and certainly are not popular. Lepers aren’t leaders of armies because they would be in contact with and could infect the might of an entire nation with their leprosy, but Naaman was. Lepers are outcasts of society. Because Naaman is commander of the army with leprosy, we know that Naaman must have contracted leprosy sometime during his command. The Syrian king and the people of Syria are willing to chance exposure to a contagious disease because of all of the success Naaman has brought. They don’t know that God is the one giving the victory.

Naaman means “pleasantness” which is the opposite of his appearance. His leprosy has caused unpleasantness in his life (2 Kings 5:1).All of his victories that he had taken part of were the result of the Lord working through Him. In this part in the story, he has come to a battle he cannot win on his own and he once again needs the Lord to give him the victory over the leprosy. The great thing about experiencing a battle too great for someone is it gives them an opportunity to experience the salvation of the Lord. You see the text says He was a valiant soldier, but even a valiant soldier is no match for and was losing the battle against leprosy.

“Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” God has used the dispersion of His people throughout history to bring knowledge of God to all people. This young Israelite woman whose forgiving actions in the beginning of the story results in the avalanche of events leading to national reconciliation by the end of the story. To love your enemies enough to want to bring healing to their lives, is incredible. This is the Spirit of Christ within us.

After visiting Elisha, Naaman was being asked to acknowledge that there was a possibility that Israel’s God could do something the Syrian god was unable to do (2 Kings 5:10). The action of dipping in the Jordan River seven times would indicate a betrayal of his faith in a pagan god. The reason is that the waters represented the channels of covenantal blessings between the people and their god. Dipping in the Jordan said, only the God of Israel can heal me.

Elisha couldn’t lay hands on Naaman or touch him in any way to cleanse him because a leper was unclean and would make the prophet unclean as well. Jesus doesn’t need a river to heal. By His Word and by His personal touch, the leper in Matthew 8:1–4 was healed. The story of Naaman teaches that how we receive healing and provision is by not trying to deserve it.

That’s how the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian got their miracles (Luke 4:24-27). They were Gentiles and they didn’t deserve it. It was purely by the grace, the goodness, and the kindness of God. The lepers of Israel overlooked the healing that could have been theirs through Elisha, so God healed a Syrian instead.

May this story of the popular leper who was blessed by God all along, who was given the victory over his battle with leprosy because He received the grace of God, bless you today. Naaman forsook the worship of his false gods and pagan idols and became an illustration that Jesus used that shows that healing, salvation, and provision are not given by merit but simply by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Receive your miracle today through the Word and the personal touch of Jesus Christ upon your life.

Hey, There Delilah

Hey There Delilah |Judges 16 | Samson is a Story of Rest |The Exhausting One Robbed Samson Of Rest – YouTube

Hey there Delilah

Daily Reading: (Judges 16:1-3):

“One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”

Samson was born to a man named Manoah (Judges 13). Manoah’s name means rest. Samson was born of rest (Manoah). God would lead His people into the Promised Land by crossing the Red Sea and the Jordan River to a place of rest. A place where they did not have to labor to enjoy the fruit of the Land (Deuteronomy 6). The Red Sea they crossed is a picture of water baptism, a picture of the cross, and it tells us that you cannot enter the promised land, without the cross and the finished work of Jesus.

Samson was born in the village of Zorah. His home is on a mountain where he looked down at the Valley of Sorek where Delilah was from. Sorek means choice vine- where we get grapes, and the best wine. Samson’s home overlooked the place known for the thing he was not permitted to do (Judges 13). 

“The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him” (Judges 16:5). Before temptation can betray us to destruction, it must woo us with some promise of satisfaction (Judges 16:5).

Delilah wasn’t able to make progress through seduction to gain his secret, so she started questioning Samson’s integrity instead. She said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have mocked me these three times, and you have not told me where your great strength lies” (Judges 16:15).

Delilah seduced Samson (Judges 16:5), then she shamed him (Judges 16:15), and eventually she exhausted him (Judges 16:16). “When she pressed him hard with her words day after day, and urged him, his soul was vexed to death” (Judges 16:16).Delilah’s name in Hebrew means “the exhausting one” (Judges 16:16).

What did Delilah do? She has robbed Samson of rest, by exhausting him. When Samson is out of rest, he will be in a place that will lead to the loss of his sight.

“So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man” (Judges 16:17).

How do you picture Samson (the man who killed 1,000 with a jawbone), in your mind to look like? I always pictured Samson as being the strongest man on the planet with big muscles. If that’s the case, why would they wonder about the secret of his strength? If Samson’s strength came from his physique then if you cut his hair, he still would have been stronger than most. Samson’s strength came from God, it was not of himself. In the story of Samson, we find God uses weak things so that He might be glorified.

We learn earlier in verse 13 that Samson has seven braids of hair on his head. Seven is a number of perfection and completion and also rest, because God made everything and on the seventh day God rested. We know his hair doesn’t represent his perfection, because he was imperfect with his interactions with Delilah. What the seven braids of hair represent instead is rest. He was born of rest. So, Delilah cutting his hair isn’t a separation of perfection, it is a separation unto rest. We had the clue from her name all along. She is the exhausting one. Samson stayed around the temptation so long it separated him from rest and it led him to reveal his secret.

What the Philistines did to Samson once they captured him is they gouge out both his eyes and now he is blind. When you lose your rest, you lose your perspective and your vision. Captured by his enemies, disoriented and blind is where Samson is at. But God is the God of a second chance. God is a God of hope. The Bible says: But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved” (Judges 16:22).

“Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. So that day he killed at his death more than he had killed in his life” (Judges 16:28, 30b).

At the cross, Jesus Christ saved way more than all He did in His three and a half years of earthly ministry. At the cross Jesus has healed more people than He healed in his three and a half years of public ministry. At Jesus’ death and Resurrection, He accomplished much more victory for us.

Look beyond Samson to see the shadow of a cross made by his arms stretched out between the columns. Picture Jesus on that cross crying out to God, fulfilling His destiny, the weight of the sins of humanity on His shoulders. Instead of praying for the destruction of the people around Him that day, Jesus prayed that the Father would forgive them. It was through His death that we might receive the salvation of the Lord.

Going Deep With Jonah

Going Deep with Jonah |Compassion of God|What Fish Ate Jonah |What Jonah Teaches Us | Words of Grace – YouTube

Going Deep with Jonah

Daily Reading: (Jonah 1:1-3):

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Let’s begin the epic true life story of the man named Jonah whose story has a message for you today. So, without further ado I present to you, Jonah like you’ve never heard it before.

Jonah was from a place called Gath Hepher (2 Kings 14:25) which is near Nazareth. You might remember someone else who is from Nazareth. Jesus Christ. We will see some interesting contrast between Jonah and Jesus. Jonah lived not too long after the ministry of Elijah and Elisha. Now that we know a little background here comes the mission.

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

The heart of God will be revealed in a few minutes and it is not the destruction of a wicked group of people, but of repentance and salvation.

Jonah does not want to go and do this and the reason might be a little surprising. The answer comes in the last chapter of this book in Jonah’s response to God about why he doesn’t want to do what God is calling him to do.

But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Whenever you don’t listen to God, the direction you’ll head is always down. Any path away from God’s leading is a destructive path down because sin is destructive. He went down to Joppa but he went down further still as he was swallowed by the big fish before he was willing to listen to God.

The story of Jonah teaches us that God’s calling on your life will take a surrendering of your will to His.

God knew the way to get Jonah on the right path is he had to be brought down further still (swallowed by a great fish), to reconsider his life’s mission (Jonah 1:4).

When the sailors found out Jonah was fleeing from God, they were dismayed. But Jonah said, “Take me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you; for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you” (1:12). Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before.  They thought they were doing the right thing trying to row back to safety, but they were aiding another in running from their God given mission.

Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. Jonah is one stubborn individual. How many days does it take him, to call out to God? 3 days! This was not a random number. The number of days will point us to Jesus.  Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 12:40.

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

Paul Ellis compiled a list of 10 parallels between Jesus and Jonah

  • Jonah spent three days and nights in the belly of a fish (Jonah 1:17); Jesus spent three days and nights in the belly of the earth
  • Jonah, as good as dead, rose from the depths (Jonah 2:10); Jesus rose from the dead
  • After he rose, Jonah preached for 40 days (Jonah 3:4); after he rose, Jesus preached for 40 days (Acts 1:3)
  • Jonah, understood something of the grace (hesed) of God (Jonah 2:8, 4:2); Jesus came from the Father full of grace (John 1:14)
  • Jonah was sent to a city known for its wickedness (Jonah 1:2); Jesus was sent to a city that killed the prophets (Matt. 23:37) and put Him to death
  • Jonah preached what God told him to (Jonah 3:2); same for Jesus (John 5:19)
  • Jonah suffered (mildly) after preaching his message (Jonah 4:8); Jesus suffered (mightily) after preaching His.
  • When the people of Nineveh heard the message, they were cut to the heart and repented (Jonah 3:5); when the people of Jerusalem heard the message, they were cut to the heart and repented (Acts 2:37)
  • God’s message was that Nineveh would be overturned in 40 days (Jonah 3:4), and it was – by grace; Jesus told the disciples to wait for the Holy Spirit, and when he came, 40 days later, Jerusalem was overturned by grace (Act 2:14, 4:16, 6:7)
  • As a result of Jonah’s preaching, there was an outbreak of divine compassion or grace (Jonah 4:11); as a result of Jesus’ preaching, there was an outbreak of the Holy Spirit, a.k.a. the Spirit of Grace (Acts 2:2)[1]

Do you see the Sign of Jonah? Although Jonah was an Old Testament prophet famous for running away and being grumpy, he was also a sign pointing to Jesus.

The stories of Jonah and Jesus reveal what can happen when the grace of our compassionate God comes to a city full of sinners. Nineveh and Jerusalem deserved judgment, but both were overturned by the gospel of grace that comes through Jesus.

Let’s move ahead to Jonah chapter 3 “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:1-2). 

Jonah 3:3:Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh.: This is one of the funniest verses to me. Yeah, he obeyed, because 3 days he was in a fish. Now he obeys, but he still has a serious heart issue. It is like when we tell our kids to do something, and we go through a huge battle with them. They might do the job, but their heart is not in it, and they probably have a bad attitude when they do it. The problem is although Jonah’s feet move forward into the mission, his spirit wasn’t in it and so he will encounter more problems along the way because God wants to heal Jonah’s heart.

So verse 10 of chapter 3 says, “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which He had said He would do to them; and He did not do it”. God didn’t “repent” because God never does anything wrong. Repent is a horrible translation of the Hebrew word that is used. The Hebrew word for “God repented” (am) can be translated as to have compassion.God had compassion and the calamity which He said He would do to them, He did not do it.

And then Jonah celebrated, people were saved. No, that’s not what happened. Jonah has hatred in his heart for these people. Now comes the key to the book and the reason why Jonah had headed for Tarshish instead of Nineveh. Chapter 4, verses 1-2.

“But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.”

I guess this story just turned on its head. God knew what was going on in Jonah’s heart the entire time and yet God didn’t leave in the fish this racist, hyper-nationalist who didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he knew God would have mercy on his enemies. He did not want their repentance; he wanted their doom. This is quite contrary to the spirit of Jesus, Jonah did not have good will toward his enemies.

Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he knew that God’s nature is gracious. He knew that God would spare the city. Jonah went out of the city and waited there, still hoping that God would judge and destroy Nineveh!

I think for me this is an incredible revelation even before Jesus came to reveal to us God as our loving Father. Jonah knew that God is gracious. God is compassionate, abounding in love (Jonah 4:2).

Jonah had not yet learned the lesson he needed to learn, so God who is gracious, compassionate, abounding in love continues with his education to Jonah in 4:6. God orchestrated events to guide Jonah out of his wrong believing. God will use trying times to help deliver us out of our wrong believing too (Jonah 4:6).

One thing we can learn from Jonah’s story is that no matter how much we stray from God’s will, He will never leave us. Even when Jonah was trapped in the belly of the great fish, God’s eyes were still firmly fixed on Jonah, and His ears were attentive to Jonah’s cries for help and mercy.

Your Abba Father wants to show you that His plans are for your good, and that He’s not angry with you. He wants the best for you, and He’s still full of grace, mercy and love for you. As Jonah brought the Word of the Lord to Nineveh, we bring the Gospel of Grace, the Word of God, Jesus Christ so the lost have an opportunity to respond as did the people of Nineveh that day.

[1] Paul Ellis.

Adam & Eve & the Pomegranate Tree

Adam and Eve and the Pomegranate Tree | Classic Bible Stories |Jesus is Our Righteousness |Genesis 3 – YouTube

Adam and Eve and the Pomegranate Tree

Daily Reading: (Genesis 3:6):

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

What kind of fruit did they eat? The apple is ingrained in the minds of many and often is people’s answer.

What if I told you that the fruit that Adam and Eve ate probably but wasn’t the apple but instead was a pomegranate revealed thousands of years later in the construction of God’s Temple? The Bible doesn’t mention what they ate, but it opens up a lot of different possibilities.

“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:9a).

The reason we landed on apple instead of pomegranate over the history of Christianity happened in the Catholic church with a translation error in Latin. In the Vulgate—the Latin translation of the Bible— “the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” uses the Latin word mălum meaning evil. However, there is another Latin noun mālum which means apple. The two words are almost identical, they are spelled the same ,just with a different accent mark. Because of this, people years ago made the mistake that Adam and Eve ate from an apple tree.

It could have been an apple tree, it could have been a pomegranate or perhaps something else like a quince. Who knows for sure? But my greatest evidence for the pomegranate, stands on top of a pillar at the entrance that leads into the Holy of Holies. For this we must journey together to 1 Kings 7.

“King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram, whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was from Tyre and a skilled craftsman in bronze. Huram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.” Here is a recap of the bronze work Huram did: “The two pillars; the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars; the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars); the ten stands with their ten basins;the Sea and the Sea and the twelve bulls under it the pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls. (1 Kings 7:13-14,41-45).

Huram made two life sized trees and Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, because the pomegranate is said to have 613 seeds. The number corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments found in the Old Testament Torah (first 5 books of the Bible). So, the pillars are located where? Outside on the porch of the temple before you would enter into God’s Holy Temple. You are instantly reminded in the Old Testament that your sin has separated you from God’s holy presence. The pillars Jachin and Boaz with the pomegranates on them declared Jesus would become our righteousness, granting us access to God’s presence forever. Apart from Him, sin would keep us separated forever. 

Hebrews 6:20 says: “Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek means my King is righteous. Jesus is our righteous King. He was able to enter in past the sign of righteousness (the pomegranates), since He fulfilled the Law’s requirements, and once inside, His blood, our sacrifice, cleanses us forever. And because Jesus will continue as our High Priest forever, we have an everlasting righteousness, because Jesus is our High Priest forever.

The Pomegranate on the pillars reminded the Jewish people that in the garden when God gave only one command, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:17) we failed. Because there was only one fruit on the pillars and the message they communicated, I believe Adam and Eve ate a pomegranate that day.

There was another message about our righteousness written by the man who commissioned the building of God’s Temple with the pillars of pomegranates. The message of the pomegranate (all 613 commands fulfilled perfectly in Jesus) is that the blessings of Christ are perpetually on your life. The Bible says that “blessings are on the head of the righteous” (Proverbs 10:6), and you are righteous forever!

What is the fear of God?

What is the Fear of God?

Daily Reading: (1 Peter 2:17):

“Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

The phrase “fear of God” is found only 10 times in the Bible. 8 in the Old Testament and 2 in the New. 80% is Old Testament Law. When you go with just “fear God” instead of “fear of God”, that phrase is found a total of 21 times. 16 times it is in the Old Testament 5 times in the New. There are some other derivatives such as “fear Him” but they all are talking about fearing God. Is this something that believers should do?

In our verse from 1 Peter 2:17 in the context around this verse, Peter is elevating the respect, the awe, we are to have toward God. He uses the Greek word (phobeō)- which can mean to reverence, venerate.

What is the fear of God for New Testament believers? It is revering and not being afraid of God but worshipping Him (1 Peter 2:17).

How do I know that for sure? Because Jesus said so. What did Jesus say when He was tempted by Satan? Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Matthew 4:10).

Unless you are studying a side-by-side comparison with what Jesus said compared to the verse He just quoted, you would miss the word change. Jesus made a New Covenant change.“ Fear the Lord your God, serve Him only,” is the text He quoted in Deuteronomy 6:13a.

When we worship the Lord, we are really, “fearing the Lord.” We are not afraid of God, it is just that our worship is born out of reverence and awe of God. This is what Peter was saying all along. 

Here is another common mistake placed on believers: “fear the wrath of God.” Why? There is no condemnation for you in Christ. Fear causes you to run and hide. When you did something bad when you did you run to tell your parents the bad thing that you did? Probably not, but that is what you should have done, and that is what I am trying to teach my kids. Like Adam in the Eve in the Garden they hide from God. They were afraid. The devil wants you to fear God, so you won’t receive from God.

Jesus died on the cross to reconcile man to God and so that we might live free from the fear of punishment. According to John the beloved disciple of Jesus Christ, it is wrong to fear God’s judgments (1 John 4:15-19). If we fear God’s judgments it means we don’t understand His love!

“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (awe): For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).

We finally have the fear of God translated correctly. The fear of God that the self-righteous have is that God will judge them for not being righteous enough. The fear of God that the Christ-righteous have is awe and reverence that God has qualified them to share in the Kingdom. It is amazing that God is on our side and we therefore cannot be shaken or moved and our awesome God will judge our enemies with fire!

One last verse from the Old Testament: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).

I picked this verse because in the New Testament fear was written in the Greek, so earlier we had a Greek word used (phobeō). Now since we are in the Old Testament in Proverbs, it isn’t written in Greek but in Hebrew.  The Hebrew word for fear is “yir’â”: respect, reverence, piety, revered.

Time spent marveling in how awesome God is (worship), is the beginning of wisdom. If you want to be wise, spend time with God (Proverbs 9:10). The “fear of the Lord” in the new covenant of grace is about honoring, worshipping, and reverencing God our Father through spending time receiving from Him.

Worship Him and all your fears will fade away in the light of His glory and grace. “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15 NKJV).

What is the Church?

What is the Church?

Daily Reading: (Matthew 16:18):

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

We know that Jesus is not talking about “church” in the sense of a physical building yet we might think of the church as a place that we go to. So, if we know that the church is not a building than what is a church that Jesus is talking about where the gates of hell will not prevail against it? The answer comes from the definition of church in the verse itself.

“Church” (ekklēsia) is a called out assembly of Christians gathered for worship. When you break down the etymology of the word- “ekklesia” comes from two Greek words: ek “out” or “from” and klesia comes from kaleo “to call”. So ekklesia simply means the “called out [people]. 

What is the church? It is you and me gathered together worshipping God. We are a gathering of people called out of darkness into God’s light.

Can I worship on a zoom call? Absolutely. Can we be the church inside of a nursing home? Of course. Can I be the church that thinks outside the box? Can I gather virtually in my pjs and my socks? Can I be the church on a boat? Or out in the countryside next to goats? Can I be a church that meets in a house? Does it count if I attend one Sunday without my spouse? The answer is yes to all of those questions.

Paul paints a clear picture that we are the church in his letter to the church (assembled believers) at Corinth.

“For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17b).

The Greek word for temple that Paul used (naos) was used of the temple at Jerusalem, but not only that, it was only of the sacred sanctuary itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies. God’s Temple is the most holiest place where only the High Priest could enter once a year to atone for the sins of the people. The Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the tabernacle/temple by the veil, a huge, heavy drape made of fine linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn and embroidered with gold cherubim.

There existed a barrier between man and God. The holiness of God could not be accessed by anyone but the High priest, and then only once a year. When Jesus died, an amazing thing happened and at that very moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50-51a). It was a supernatural event done by the power of God to make a very specific point: because of the death of Christ on the cross, man was no longer separated from God.

The Old Testament temple system was made obsolete as the New Covenant was ratified. No longer would we have to depend on priests to perform once-a-year sacrifices on our behalf. Christ’s body was “torn” on the cross, just as the veil was torn in the temple, and now we have access to God through Jesus: “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body” (Hebrews 10:19-20). The once-for-all-time sacrifice of Christ did away with the necessity of yearly sacrifices, which could never take away sins (Hebrews 10:11). Those sacrifices were merely a foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice to come, that of the holy Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world (John 1:29). The Holy of Holies, the very presence of God, is now open to all who come to Christ in faith. Where, before, there was an imposing barrier guarded by cherubim, God has opened a way by the shed blood of His Son.[1]

So now where God would only dwell in the most holy place, Jesus has made that place you. You are the most holy saints because you are in Christ and now as the Temple the Spirit of God dwells within us. “For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple” (1 Corinthians 3:17b).

What is the church? We are! As God’s Holy Temple, Christ becomes real to others through our lives. We are able to love because we first received Jesus’ love, we are the light because we have the light. The church is not something outside of you, but you are in fact, a member of the Body of Christ, God’s Holy Temple, Christ living in you.

[1] What was the Holy of Holies?

What is a Christian?

What is a Christian?

Daily Reading: (Acts 11:26):

“And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”

In the entire Bible the term Christian is only used three times. The first time doesn’t appear until after Jesus’ earthly ministry is over, He has already been crucified, resurrected and has ascended into heaven. The term was first used in a Gentile city which clearly shows that “Christians” are made up of both Jews and Gentiles.

In Acts 11:26 the Greek word used for Christian “Christianos” means a follower of Christ.

There is a straightforward answer of “what is Christian”? A Christian is a person who is a follower of Christ. Now the better question instead might be “how does one become a follower of Jesus”? Anybody could fill out a survey and say, “I identify as a Christian because my grandparents or great grandparents were.” Identifying as a Christian, isn’t the same thing as knowing Christ. Salvation is a free gift, you have either received it by faith, belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, making you a follower of Jesus or you haven’t. Your good works isn’t what saved you or keeps you saved, your salvation once you believed is secured in Christ.  

Here are the other usages of the term “Christian” in Scripture.

“Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28)? 

“However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name” (1 Peter 4:16).

So, what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? What the world needs is not more people who check the box identifying as being Christian but believers who actually follow Jesus. People who are actively engaging on a rescue mission, sharing the Gospel with the lost and hurting people of the world. We need more and more people who reflect the very love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, letting His light shine, and showing the Way to salvation. I want people to know what it means to follow Jesus.

We can learn what it means to follow Jesus through His first interactions with His disciples. “The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me” (John 1:43).

Here is the good news for anyone who decides to become a disciple of Jesus is that when a rabbi asked someone to follow him, it was an incredible honor. This invitation was an offer of unlimited access to the rabbi. “Following Jesus” is unlimited access to Him, (He lives in the hearts of every believer).I will never leave you Jesus said, meaning unlimited access because Grace is a person, not a doctrine. This means that every blessing that we would ever need is inseparable from the person of Jesus!

The Lord being with you is all that you need in this life, because the Lord Himself is the One who blesses you. In Genesis 22:1–14 we discover that God is Jehovah Jireh. Jehovah is Jireh! God is my provider! You cannot separate your blessings apart from God, because He is your Provider. Did you see what this means and how awesome the invitation is to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus? We have access to God’s grace and provision in our lives all the time.

In Exodus 15:26, God is referred to as Jehovah-Rapha at the place where God healed the bitter waters of Marah, so that the children of Israel could drink. In Hebrew, it means “I am healing, I am health”! God is telling us “I am your health! I am your healing!”

Relationship with Jesus is a life of abundant victory and favor with God forever, who wouldn’t want this? Anyone who understands this would also want this for others.

For Jesus’ disciples (Christians) following Jesus included sharing in the enthusiasm of declaring the good news (Matthew 4:19).

What is a Christian? A Christian is a person who has been undone by the love of God in Christ Jesus, that while we were sinners, Christ died for us. He offered His life for mine so I might become the righteousness of God in Him and be highly favored by God. I am now a child of God; holy, royal, beloved with access to the Kingdom. I am a follower of Jesus which means that I am a Christian.

What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

Daily Reading: (Mark 16:15):

“He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.”  

Something to know about this verse is that the church is just about to begin. The church starts at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fills the hearts of believers, but in this moment in time, Jesus has resurrected from the grave and has appeared to people but the church founded on Christ has yet to officially form. The header of Mark 16 says “Jesus Has Risen.”The Gospel is tied into the Resurrection. Without the Resurrection there is no Gospel to share. The church after the Resurrection is given a mission to share the Gospel to the entire world.

Gospel is the Greek word (evangelion). This is where we get our word evangelism from. The Gospel is the glad tidings of salvation through Christ.

The basic meaning of the term “gospel” was simply an announcement of a good message. If a doctor came to examine a sick person and afterward declared that the problem was nothing serious, that was gospel or good news. In ancient days when soldiers went out to battle, people waited for a report from the battlefield about the outcome. Once the outcome was known, marathon runners dashed back to give the report. That is why Isaiah wrote, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news” (Isaiah 52:7). The watchman in the watchtower would look as far as the eye could see into the distance. Finally, he would see the dust moving as the runner sped back to the city to give the report of the battle. The watchmen were trained to tell by the way the runner’s legs were churning whether the news was good or bad. If the runner were flying and the dust was kicking up, that meant good news.

The Gospel quite literally was tied to someone who was running to share the good news.The Gospel caused the messenger to urgently move to share it with others.This is what should be the case for the church. An urgency to share the gladest tidings of all time. If I tasted a great meal at a restaurant how quick I am to share that on social media? The greatest thing to ever happen to us, salvation in Christ. This good news should well up in our hearts and naturally cause us to move to share it.

In the text He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Go is an action step. It is a verb. But unless another verb takes root in our hearts, we will never do it, and that verb is love. If you don’t receive God’s love you can’t possibly extend God’s love.

The verses after this says: “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” What this tell me is that when we go out as Christ’s ambassadors, we go out in power and authority. God will back up the message of the Gospel and as He does this, miracles will unfold. People will receive physical salvation that will lead to spiritual salvation (Mark 16:17-18). This only happens when the Gospel is preached. When the Gospel is preached God always backs it up with power because the Gospel declares you are healed in Jesus’ name. Salvation is both physical salvation and also spiritual salvation and is available through Jesus. Isn’t that good news?