How can you know for certain that Jesus is the Promised Messiah?

How can you know for certain that Jesus is the Promised Messiah?

The Bible is the only prophetic book that is absolutely 100% accurate because it is inspired by God who exists outside of our time and space  created universe and who sees human history from Genesis to Revelation as if it is already completed. That being so, we can trust that the prophecies contained in the Bible will happen just as predicted even though we are not privileged to know the precise time and day in advance. Timing remains one of God’s many mysteries.

That said, prophecies about Jesus as Messiah are abundant and scattered throughout various books of the Bible. Now to know specifically that Jesus was and is in fact the promised Messiah we need to ‘Dial’ into only a few of the over 300 prophecies about Him.

Think about it this way for a moment. There are over 8 billion people on planet Earth and a vast majority have cell phones. So, if we want to connect with someone, we start with a country code or area code. That alone cuts down the number of people into a specific geographic area. Then say we ‘dial’ in the next three digits and the field of possibilities greatly shrinks again. Finally, as we dial in the last four numbers we find a person we are looking to talk with. So, with only a total of 10 or 12 numbers we get the person. That’s really amazing.

Using that analogy, we can search the “Biblical prophetic phone directory” and search for who might be the Messiah. So, let’s begin the quest and see if we can find Him.

  • Country/ Area code. Micah 5:2, Bethlehem-Ephrata in Israel which is a few miles south of Jerusalem. Not Bethlehem, Pa., or the other Bethlehem in northern Israel.
  • Male or female? Isaiah 7:14, A virgin will bear a son who will be called Emmanuel, God with us.
  • Genesis 22:18 & 49:10, the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and come from the line of Judah or king David. Both Mary and Joseph were from the line of David.
  • When will the Messiah have appeared on the planet? Before 70 A.D. as that’s when the Romans destroyed the Temple and the city. Jesus said that would happen and He spent considerable time at the temple. Mark13:2
  • How did the Messiah die? Isaiah 53:12 & Psalm 22:16, Romans used crucifixion to kill the condemned. History says Jesus was killed, crucified in 30 A.D. This prophecy was made 700 years before crucifixion was adopted as a method of killing criminals.

So from these six prophecies alone, we have identified the place he was born, that Messiah is a male, from the lineage of David, he lived before 70 A.D. and he was crucified by the Romans in 30 A.D. His death was also reported by the secular historians Josephus and Tacitus.

Now for the logic and the facts. No one gets to choose the place they are born, their gender or parents or ancestors, what time they would live on the planet and how they would die. And remember these six prophecies were made many hundreds of years before the Messiah was born.(Note-He just didn’t appear one day down from the heavens, although He will come again one day that way as He said so himself.)

So, the only person that could possibly fit these few prophecies as Messiah is Jesus Christ. If you are still not convinced, explore another six or so of the 300 other Old Testament prophecies to convince yourself of this truth. God promises to reveal the Messiah to those that diligently want to know Him. Wise men and women still seek Jesus the Messiah for salvation and eternal life. Finally, remember life is full of choices but eternity only two. Choose wisely!

Image by kai kalhh from Pixabay

What is God Like?

What is God Like?

We can never fully understand God, but we have glimpses and hints of what he is like. The creation speaks of his creative power and glory. Just look at sun rises and sunsets. The macro and micro worlds are beyond our understanding. The human body is such a marvelous creation that science and medicine will forever be trying to comprehend its complexity. Human love is impossible to fully grasp and the love of God is greater still. That said, here are some ideas of what God is like. He is eternal, personal (can be known), one/unique (no other gods exist except Him),Spirit, holy, just, sovereign, omnipotent, in control and the source of all love, joy, beauty and wisdom. That is why God is worthy of our worship our praise, our love and our obedience.

What Can a Person do to have a Clean Heart?

What Can a Person do to have a Clean Heart?

There is a familiar quote that says, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” We know from life experiences that when something or someone needs gets soiled a bath or a cleaning up is required. We wash clothes, dishes, cars and of course our bodies to keep them clean and get the dirt out. In some fashion we want to be seen as Mr. or Mrs. Clean, just like the character in the commercial.

In most cultures, outward appearances are considered important. What most people fail to recognize is that while ‘man’ looks at the outside God looks and sees the inside, the condition of the human heart. God’s standard of clean is perfection because He is Holy.

In this context, we are not referring to the beating physical heart but to the very essence of a person’s being, or the real self that resides within the human eternal soul. The ‘heart’ defines the individual’s personality and character. In other words, the real you is on full display to God at all times. A person cannot achieve a clean heart on their own efforts. A clean heart is only possible by the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit through a life-transforming personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.

So, therein lies the answer. While there is absolutely nothing a person can do to achieve a clean heart on his or her own, God can and wants to do just that for everyone, as all are created in His image. It becomes a matter of personal choice and a decision of the will. In Psalm 51:1-2 we read King David’s prayer,  “Have mercy on me O God…cleanse me from my sin…create in me a pure clean heart.”

David is pleading with God to make his heart new, forgive his sin and receive the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to keep it pure so he can have a restored loving relationship with God in the present and for all eternity. God is waiting to cleanse your heart today. All you need to do is ask. It’s that simple. Why wait? No one is assured of tomorrow.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Was Jesus Resurrection real? Is He alive today?

Was Jesus Resurrection real? Is He alive today?

Yes and yes.

All of Christianity hinges on the answer to this question. If there was no resurrection, there would be no Christianity. Consider this: there were over 500 witnesses to Jesus’ return to life after being crucified dead and buried. The Romans made no mistakes when they killed someone. They were expert at the art of death. Yet, three days later, Jesus appeared to his disciples, to several women, to two men walking on the road to Emmaus, to a doubting Thomas and two others. Jesus was definitely dead and he was definitely resurrected.

His disciples witnessed his ascension into heaven. So yes, Jesus is definitely alive. It is his power and authority that holds every atom in the universe together. One day Jesus will return to earth just like he left it to rule and reign as King of kings. Given the events of these times it could even be soon. Are you ready? (see Matthew 25: 30-35)

Does God Still Speak to Us?

Does God Still Speak to Us?

In the Bible, there are many references to times where God personally interacted with humans. A few of the examples were Adam, Abraham, Jeremiah, and Moses. God still speaks to us today in many different ways. The most common way now is by reading His inspired Word, the Bible. It’s often said, if you want to ‘hear’ God speak, read the Bible out loud, especially the quoted words of Jesus.(Red Letter Editions)

From the New Testament we know that for 3 ½ years Jesus spoke to us words given to him directly from God. He said,” I only say what the Father has given me to say.” We must realize that Jesus Christ, Emanuel, was and is God with us then, now and for all eternity. So, in addition to the above ways, there is still another way that God speaks to us now.

If a person is a Christian and has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of God, if one is listening, speaks directly into one’s mind and reaches into our hearts. In personal quiet times of meditation and reflection on God’s Word we actually are able to engage in a conversation with Him. The secret is to just be silent and listen for God to speak.  Finally, yes, we can say with confidence that God still speaks to us.

Can we ever stop sinning?

Can we ever stop sinning?

No, we can never be without temptation while we are alive here in this life and if we think we ever are without sin, we are fooled and far from God (1 John 1:8-10). That doesn’t mean it’s all a one-sided battle that we can never win. We can’t win the battle against sin, but the truth is: Jesus when He died over 2,000 years ago, already won the war and we win, when we side with Him, trusting and believing in Him.

Satan and his demons have dominion of this world because of the sin of Adam and Eve, but “fear not, because Jesus has overcome the world” (John 16:33). God allows us to be tempted by the Enemy, who ‘comes only to steal, kill and destroy’ (John 10:10), but never beyond what we can handle because God always provides the route for escape (1 Cor. 10:13). James 4:7 says, ‘Turn to God, resist the Enemy and he will flee from you’ and Galatians 5:16 says ‘ If we walk by the Spirit, we will not gratify our fleshly desires’.

How does One Become a Christian?

How does One Become a Christian?

Maybe you’ve gone to church when you were younger, but never took that step to become a Christian. Maybe you’ve been living your life your own way and not taking into account what it takes to live life differently, one with meaning and purpose. Man looks on the outside but it’s really our hearts and our character that God is concerned about. Becoming a Christian requires a decision. The Bible says in Romans 10:8-11, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in your heart that He was raised from the dead, you will be saved.” Jesus waits patiently for our decision and our heart to be open to receive Him and His love. The fact is that God responds to genuine humility and sincere acknowledgment that one is a sinner in need of a Savior and seeks God’s forgiveness and acceptance. God is loving and merciful and doesn’t want anyone to be lost.

If becoming a Christian is the desire of your heart, all you  need to do is to pray a sincere and simple prayer. In your own words, just say to Jesus that you admit you are sinner in need of a Savior. Then say that you will repent, turn from your old way of living and thinking, invite Jesus into your life and promise to follow Him for the rest of your days.

At that very moment, God’s Holy Spirit will enter your eternal soul, you will receive eternal life and forgiveness of your sins and become a child of God. In effect, you become ‘born again’, a new creation in Christ and enter into a personal relationship with Him. The old life will have passed away and a totally new life will begin. Giving your life to Jesus is the most important decision one can ever make. Eternity hangs in the balance; heaven or hell. Today is the day of decision.

How do I give thanks in the tough times?

How do I give thanks in the tough times?

At one time or another we all face difficulties. We get so caught up in our problems we fail to realize that there are many things for which we can be thankful, starting with our very existence.

Twenty five years ago Capi, a teenager in Rwanda, ran from her home as her parents and brother were murdered by warriors during a civil war. With nothing more than the clothes she was wearing she walked without food or water until she reached Lake Tanganyika where she boarded a small boat that was picking up refugees and depositing them at a UN refugee camp in a neighboring country.

For seven years she lived in a tent and then a cinder block building with no privacy and no running water. Her situation seemed hopeless–a frightened orphan, living in a foreign land where the people around her spoke a language different from her own. She constantly struggled with hunger, loneliness, fear of sexual assault and the dread that pervaded the camp. Yet, she recalled the Bible verses she was taught as a child and daily thanked God for her life even as she cried out the words of Psalm 13: “How long, O Lord…”

At a church in the camp, she met Canesius, a teacher, who was also a refugee. Despite cultural, language and age differences, the two decided to get married. For three more years they lived in the camp unable to return to their homelands. Then one day they were selected to be sent out of the camp, and by a miracle ended up in Virginia arriving wit only a few dollars for resettlement, and finding some new friends at a next-door church, Capi and Canesius started their American life with a whole new set of challenges; learning another language, finding housing, getting jobs, etc working out transportation and paying the fees to become U.S. citizens.

Today Capi radiates joy as she expresses her thanksgiving to God for all the ways she and Canesius have been blessed—jobs, schooling for their two boys, a car, a Habitat for Humanity home and a church home where Capi is a deacon. Though poor in material things they are rich in the knowledge that they are children of God and are helping new refugees.
So, are you thankful for the job that God has blessed you with? How about family and friend, the place you call home, or the freedoms you enjoy as Americans? How about the computer or phone on which you are reading this post? If God has provided you with some of these luxuries in life, then you are truly blessed and thank God for them!

Remember however, it’s not things that will make you happy in tough times. In the Bible, Paul the Apostle , wrote to friends in Philippi saying:

…I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ    (Phil. 3:8)

All that is required for true joy is a relationship with our Creator:

Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you the desires of your heart.   (Psalm 37:4)

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.   (Phil. 4:19)

When we have a relationship with God, we can be content in situations.

Once we have our hearts and eyes set on God, everything else falls into it’s proper place . Thank God with your whole heart this week! He promises to never leave you or forsake just like for Capi!

Bible verses are quoted from the New International Version.

Should I tithe 10% of my income?

Should I tithe 10% of my income?

The better question may be: “can I ever out-give God?”

Imagine what your community, our nation, the world, for that matter, might look like if every Christian were to give 10% or more of their income to the work of God…not the average of 3% it gives now.

Tithing was instituted in God’s law as a tax to support a theocratic nation known as Israel. The Israelites were chosen by God to separate themselves from the idol worshipers who lived around them. They were given a very high moral standard by which to live. They were promised that not only would they enjoy a loving, prosperous relationship with God, all the world would be blessed through their descendants.

When these people turned their back on God and refused to pay their taxes, they were called out by prophets, including one named Malachi. He reminded them that the law said:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

Malachi 3:10

This was a clear admonition to a people who ignored God and abandoned their responsibility to support the priests and temple worship prescribed by God. On top of that there were calls for additional tithes to further God’s work, including caring for widows and orphans, helping the sick and impoverished, and celebrating God’s blessings.

Tithing is not mentioned by Jesus or by Paul or by any other of the New Testament writers. We find no mention of tithing in the writings of the early church fathers. Why is that? The New Testament standard for giving is clearly the tithe and more. It is the intentional, responsible act of a Christian recognizing that because Jesus gave everything for us, including his life, we should gladly give all for him. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9

Paul wanted Christians to recognize that the standard for giving should be inner motivation guided by the Holy Spirit, not outward compulsion.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

2 Corinthians 8:3-5

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7

So, when the issue of tithing come up, you should ask yourself, how has God prospered you, not how will God prosper you if you give. Despite what some preachers may tell you, there is no magic formula that says if you give X amount, God will give you back twice, or five or ten times as much. God is not in the bargaining business. He loves a “cheerful giver.” He also is a cheerful giver. Think about it, he has given you everything. So how much should you give? Let’s look at the examples of the Christians in the early church:

The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea.

Acts 11:29

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,

2 Corinthians 8:3

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.

2 Corinthians 8:11

While tithing is not specifically taught in the New Testament, we see that Christians were commended for giving according to their ability, and in some cases beyond their ability. If you are reading this, you are likely to be among the richest people in the world. (If you earn more than $15,000 per year, you are in the top 5%; if more than $50,000, you are a one percenter!) That suggests that today you should be thinking about how much, not how little, you can give back to the God who gave you everything. And since money is just a reflection of your earning power, you may also want to consider ways to give of your time and talents over and above your monetary contributions.

If you are a Christian, it’s probably a good idea to budget at least 10% of your income to support God’s work in your community and around the world. For most, that is a starting point. Sometimes you may need to stretch, to actually sacrifice, to give to God’s work. But, more often, you will find that giving as God has prospered you results in giving cheerfully well in excess of the tithe.

Bible verses are quoted from the New International Version

What is Apologetics?

What is Apologetics?

This question and topic generally today refers to Christianity. The word apologetics is somewhat misleading and has nothing to do with apologizing in the modern sense of the word. Apologetics is building the case for explaining and defending the Christian faith. So, the straightforward answer is that apologetics defines, “What Christians Believe and Why Christians Believe It.”

First, an examination of the ‘What is Believed’ includes knowledge about God, creation, nature, origins of man, sin, morality, stewardship, life’s purpose, Jesus Christ, redemption, salvation, Heaven, Hell, the Christian church, the Bible, the Old Testament history of nations, End Times and eternity, for starters.

Then there is the second part of apologetics, ‘Why Christians Believe It’. Christians start with a concept that the Bible is the inspired word of God and therefore totally reliable as truth about what it contains. They trust the evidence that proves the Bible is historically correct, that it is the best documented of all ancient books and that it contains prophecy that is 100% accurate as only God could see the future of human history as if it is already completed. The Bible is a miracle in its own right as it was written over a period of 1600 years by 40 authors in complete harmony and without any contradictions.

Christians trust and believe the evidence of both Biblical and secular records, Josephus AD 75 & Tacitus AD 116, of the life, teaching, miracles, death by crucifixion, resurrection (witnessed by over 500 people) and ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ. They further believe the evidence of the dramatically transformed lives of Jesus 12 disciples who boldly proclaimed the truth of the gospel and were martyred for their testimonies. The fact is that no one willingly dies or is martyred for a lie. Then there is the miraculous contribution of Christianity to Western Civilization; literature, art, science, music, mathematics, medicine, education, philosophy, law and much more.

Finally, there is the witness and testimonies of the hundreds of millions of followers of Jesus Christ through the centuries. Why so many believers? The answer is because Jesus is the only way to eternal life and a transformed life full of meaning and purpose. He is ‘The Way’ to receive God’s gifts of joy, love, peace, forgiveness, contentment, faith and eternal hope.