Posts tagged ‘Old Testament’

NICODEMUS VISITS JESUS UNDER THE COVER OF DARK

 NICODEMUS VISITS JESUS UNDER THE COVER OF DARK 

THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT IN THE BLACK TIMELESS NIGHT (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT IN THE BLACK TIMELESS NIGHT (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

Why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit with Jesus?  This is a question that has been debated by scholars for centuries, and unfortunately the scriptures do not give us a crystal clear and compelling answer.  However, what we do know is this, “Nicodemus is a Pharisee at the top of his field. Not only is he a member of the Sanhedrin, he is the most renowned Bible teacher of his day.  We also know that the Jewish religious leaders were divided into several groups.  Two of the most prominent groups were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The Pharisees separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed both the Old Testament laws and the oral traditions handed down through the centuries.  As a “leader,” he was a member of the Jewish ruling council.  Although the Romans controlled Israel politically, the Jews were given some authority over religious and minor civil disputes.  The Jewish ruling body was the council made up of seventy-one of Israel’s religious leaders.

The question before us is still, “why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit Jesus and

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645.

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

what motivated him to come in the first place?”  Under the cover of darkness, this well respected and influential religious man, this prominent national leader of noble decent and inherited wealth, this intellectual man who wielded great religious authority, this designated secret spokesman who represented some of his colleagues from the Jewish ruling council, waits until the cover of darkness to sneak in for a visit with Jesus.  This remains me of the way some of us prefer to do things [under the cover of darkness].

However, this question still rattles our brain, but from what we understand from scripture, we can try and fill in some of the blanks.  First, we know that Nicodemus was both impressed and curious about Jesus and chose to form his opinions about him from firsthand conversation.  Second, it is possible that he did not want to be seen with Jesus in broad daylight because he feared reproach from his fellow Pharisees (who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah).  Finally, it might not have been fear that brought Nicodemus in the cover of dark; but it is possible that he chose a time when he could talk alone and at length with the popular teacher who was often surrounded by people.

Living in the Darkness of the Night (Photo by Pastor Davis)

Living in the Darkness of the Night (Photo by Pastor Davis)

No matter how we look at this question, how we think about it as it might relate to us, it still remains that Nicodemus chose the cover of dark to visit with Jesus.  However, what Nicodemus did not know are understand was that his own night was blacker than he knew.  He was living in complete darkness and he did not know that truth, was about to be revealed to him.

Now as he sit before the Master Teacher, this is what Jesus tells him, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

What a tragedy that people have turned away from God’s offer, embracing instead the darkness in hopes of covering up evil actions.  There is probably no more painful moment than when we honestly confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth.  The Son did not come to judge, but in the light of his character the sharp shadows of our sinfulness stand out.  The people who hate the light are those who want to sin in the darkness.  Evil deeds are revealed by the light, so people who want to do evil must do it in the dark so they cannot be exposed and caught in the act.

According to the context, to do what is right is to come to Christ, the light; the result of coming to the light and living in the light will be clearly seen in believer’s lives.  Christ’s life in us will make our lives able to stand exposure to bright light, for our deeds will be honest, pure, and truthful.  Now we can truly see that Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night under the cover of darkness with a meeting with the Master Teacher.

In closing, I leave you with this question, “Are you a modern day Nicodemus, living in the darkness, and seeking answers?”  Know that it is time to open yourself up and be exposed to God’s shining light.  Know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO VISIT OUR HOME PAGE: http://wp.me/Pf75v-Uu

 

 

 

THE PENALTY OF DISOBEDIENCE CAN CAUSE YOU TO LOOSE

THE PENALTY OF DISOBEDIENCE CAN CAUSE YOU TO LOOSE

WRITTEN BY SHIRLEY RHODES

THE BEAUTY OF SPRING IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE OUR THINKING (PHOTOS BY SHIRLEY RHODES)

THE BEAUTY OF SPRING IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE OUR THINKING (PHOTOS BY SHIRLEY RHODES)

There are times we chose to follow our own path or listen to others without realizing the end results. The penalty of disobedience can cause you to lose what God has for you. He gives us tools needed to accomplish even the most “minute” assignment when we are obedient and allow him room to work through us. If the assignment is not one of his choices he moves us to a place that he has his eyes on for us. It is therefore the very reason why we should seek directions through diligent prayer in faith. As you study God’s word you encounter many who went contrary to assigned orders and lost.

The Penalty of Disobedience can Cause you to Lose:

Set aside time to study Gods’ word, it is there you’ll encounter life choices that went contrary to instructions from God. In the Old Testament you’ll encounter disobedience, testing of God through worshiping forbidden gods and idols. For example, Baal became on object of worship in which people choose to neglect Gods instruction for life. Oh, how they angered God, he handed them off to plunder who stripped them of their strength and dignity. God being the God he is would come in and save them from their enemies’ oppression, because he is a God of compassion.

THE BEAUTY OF SPRING (PHOTO BY SHIRLEY RHODES)

THE BEAUTY OF SPRING (PHOTO BY SHIRLEY RHODES)

Throughout the reign of kings you’ll see  how God’s instruction took a back seat in decision making and man decided to do things his way and how the penalty of disobedience can cause you to lose greater blessings.

We today are no different, we fail to set aside time and space to establish a real relationship with our Master Jesus. Many of “life’s choices” are made solely on what we think we know  without  considering  the true source of all that we need, the one who is a constant presence waiting to be tapped into.

Just for thought, think of how and why some people choose to do wrong knowing the end results. Remember, the penalty of disobedience can cause you to lose. Jesus is a prime example of injustice, even though he brought a message of life and hope for all; he was hung on a cross. It was a bit too late for those who allowed and participated in the process when they came to the realization of their actions, because “the Penalty of disobedience can cause you to lose”, they found themselves on the losing end.

It is in our own best interest to think long and hard about where we are and what it is we are purposed for on this earthly journey while keeping our eyes on the prize; freedom in Christ Jesus, who see and know every move we make and every thought we act upon. Let us learn the true meaning of being obedient servants working toward common goals that are well defined and pleasing in the sight of God.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “BLESSED” AND HIGHLY FAVORED?

JESUS SERMON ON THE MOUNT

On this day as you begin to read and study this lesson, pause your thoughts and think on where you are in your life’s journey and know that the reason you are where you are is only by the mercy and grace of God’s favor.  He has touched each one of us in a very special way and given us an opportunity to look within ourselves and understand why we are Blessed and Highly Favored on this day and all the days of our lives.

Now let us begin this study by first understanding the word “BLESSED.”  It is a Greek word that is derived from the root mak, which means “large or “lengthy,” and means “fortunate” or “happy.”  The Greek word was used in Greek literature, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament,)  and in the New Testament to describe the kind of happiness that comes from receiving divine favor.  The word can be rendered happy.  In the New Testament, it is usually passive; God is the One who is blessing or favoring the person.  God says the Blessed person is a “Happy Person” and He describes that person in this manner, BLESSED is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” ( Psalm 1:1-2)

OUR BLESSINGS AND FAVOR ARE IN THE RISING OF THE SUN (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

OUR BLESSINGS AND FAVOR ARE IN THE RISING OF THE SUN (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

In the Beatitudes, each one describes how to Be Blessed.”  They describe how the followers of Christ should live their lives.  To be blessed means more than happiness, it means to be “favored” and “approved” by God.

Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount and it challenged the teaching of the proud and legalistic religious leaders of the day. It called people back to the messages of the Old Testament prophets who, like Jesus, had taught that God wants heartfelt obedience, not mere legalistic observing of laws and rituals.

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber to be an example of a charismatic religious leader. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The most well-known portion of the Sermon on the Mount is known as the Beatitudes. These are, a series of “blessings,” promised to those who exhibit, the attitude of God’s kingdom. They are called the “Beatitudes.”

In verse three, we note that the Beatitudes describe how Christ’s followers should live. According to worldly standards, the type of people whom Jesus described does not seem to be particularly blessed by God. However, God’s way of living usually contradicts the world.  Jesus explained that “God blessed those who realize their need for him, for the kingdom of heaven is given to them.” Only those who humbly depend on God are admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven. The final consummation of all these rewards, and of the kingdom itself, lies in the future. However, the believers can already share in the kingdom by living out Jesus words.

In verse four it seems a contradiction in terms, Jesus explained that “God blesses those mourn, for they will be comforted,” tied with a Beatitudes in verse three, this means that humility (realization of one’s unworthiness before God) also require sorrow for sins.  Whether Jesus followers mourn for sin or in suffering, God’s promise is sure that they will be comforted. Only God can take away sorrow for sin; only God can forgive and erase it. Only God can give comfort to those who suffer for his sake because they know their reward in the kingdom.

Blessed (happy, blithesome, joyous, spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the meek (the mild, patient, long-suffering), for they shall inherit the earth!

Blessed and fortunate and happy and spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God [d]enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be completely satisfied!

Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy!

Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous–possessing the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!

Blessed (enjoying [l]enviable happiness, spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the makers and maintainers of peace, for they shall be called the sons of God!

Blessed and happy and enviably fortunate and spiritually prosperous [r](in the state in which the born-again child of God enjoys and finds satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of his outward conditions) are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake (for being and doing right), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!

Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of your outward conditions) are you when people revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things against you falsely on My account.

Be glad and supremely joyful, for your reward in heaven is great (strong and intense), for in this same way people persecuted the prophets who were before you. [II Chron. 36:16.]

Finally, Jesus described the way the disciples should respond to persecution; “be happy about it!” “Be very glad!” This refers to deep spiritual joy that is unhindered and unchanged by what happens in this present life. A person with righteous character can rejoice and be glad because of a promise: a great reward awaits you in heaven. The persecution will pale in comparison to the great reward.

Now I pray that this lesson speaks to each one of your hearts and you will fill the love, joy, peace and blessings that surround each one of you in a powerful way and that you will use this opportunity to bless someone else on this special day.  It is truly the first day of the rest of your life.  We love you and appreciate all that each one of you are doing to advance the work in God’s Kingdom.

 

THE TIME IS NOW FOR YOU TO WRITE THE VISION GIVEN TO YOU

THE TIME IS NOW FOR YOU TO WRITE THE VISION GIVEN TO YOU

GOD SAID WRITE THE VISION  (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

A CHILD IS WRITING HER GIVEN (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

A CHILD IS WRITING HER GIVEN VISION (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

In the Book of Habakkuk we find that Habakkuk had questions for God that he just could not understand.  So he did what a lot of other prophets dared not do.  He took it upon himself to question God what he thought God was not doing about the problems that were facing his nation.  When he did, here is how God answered Habakkuk, God said,   “Write this. Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.  It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time!

Today’s lesson is being taught through the vision media of video. We hope you watch and study the entire lesson with us, then let us know what you think.

We hope that this lesson has been a blessing to your soul, and if it has, why not share it with other in your social media.  Just click on one are more of the social medias below that you are connected with and share a word of truth.  We are here to help each other grow in God’s grace.  By sharing, it helps to make us a better community to live, work, play and grow in.  Thank you all for all that you do here at Vine and Branch World Ministries in helping this ministry to grow and reach believers and no believers alike that we all may have the opportunity to share in each others joy and peace.  If I can be of help to any of you at any time in any way to reach your goals are anything that God may lay on your heart that this servant he has called and put into place to do His will, just drop me a note and you will receive a response.  May you find peace, love, joy and happiness in all that you do.  I remain your brother in Jesus Christ, Pastor Davis/Master Teacher!

IS THERE LIFE FOR MANKIND AFTER DEATH PART 2

IS THERE LIFE FOR MANKIND AFTER DEATH THE NEXT LESSON

THE TOMB COULD NOT CONTAIN HIM (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

THE TOMB COULD NOT CONTAIN HIM (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

In our last lesson we concluded with this last paragraph, “Our hope of deliverance from sin in this world (see Romans 6:4, 11, 12) and the reality of life in the next (1 Corinthians 15:17-23) are dependent upon the resurrection of Jesus. The incarnation of God’s Son, His sinless life and vicarious death, would have availed nothing if He had been kept a prisoner of death. The saints of all ages would remain in their graves, sealed forever, if Christ had not broken the power of death and come forth to immortal life. And Christians would have been “false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised” (1 Corinthians 15:15)!”

Do we understand what this mean for our new life?  Now I encourage you to pause your reading right here.  Go back and read this paragraph again, meditate on it, then pick up your Bible, read, study and meditate on these three scriptures before plowing deeper into this lesson.  We want you to fully understand and comprehend the depth and scope of these words and the fact that our new life depends totally on the resurrection of Jesus.

Now that you have read, studied and meditated on these scriptures, let’s move on and see how we are going to fit into OUR NEW SPIRITUAL BODY.  This should excite you greatly; it sends chills up my spine just to think how God has seen everything in the future and made plans for our eternal life cycle.

The Bible provides us with much hope for a future life, and Paul shares that hope with us, that there is truly LIFE AFTER DEATH in (2 Corinthians 5:1-2).  In these two beautiful verses we find these very important words: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.”

In the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians, Paul again preaches to those who have no faith in the LIFE AFTER DEATH. This wonderful chapter is used by the majority of MINISTERS to bring comfort and faith to those who have been bereaved by the loss of their loved ones. “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”  This should get you excited and make you want to shout and thank God for all he has done to plan for your continuation of LIFE AFTER DEATH.  If you truly believe in the word of God, there should be no doubt whatsoever in your mind about what God can and will do.

However, we discover in the days of old, man had no such hope for a LIFE AFTER DEATH.    During the old dispensation and all through the Old Testament, to him the grave ended all. We find such discouragement when we read the ninth chapter of Ecclesiastes, the fifth verse, where the statement is made, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.”  As we have moved forward into the teachings of Jesus and understanding his DEATH and RESURRECTION, we now know and can rejoice in a future hope of LIFE AFTER DEATH.

Let us pause this lesson right here and pick it up on the other side of midnight.  You must return again and again to truly understand just how greatly the DEATH and RESSURECTION of JESUS CHRIST affects us all in a very profound way.

I encourage you to think deeply on the Scriptures because there you will find the truth of God’s word and what he wants you to know and understand about his son’s LIFE, DEATH and RESSURECTION.  I have ministered to you on this day from a position of PEACE, POWER, PURPOSE and PROSPERITY.  I remain your brother in JESUS CHRIST, PASTOR DAVIS/MASTER TEACHER. 

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO VIEW OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO NETWORK:

http://www.youtube.com/user/davistheteacher?feature=mhee

WHY DID NICODEMUS WAIT UNTIL THE COVER OF DARK TO VISIT JESUS?

WHY DID NICODEMUS WAIT UNTIL THE COVER OF DARK TO VISIT JESUS?

THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT IN THE BLACK TIMELESS NIGHT (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

THE MOON SHINES BRIGHT IN THE BLACK TIMELESS NIGHT (PHOTO BY PASTOR DAVIS)

This is a question that has been debated by scholars for centuries, and unfortunately the scriptures do not give us a clear and compelling answer.  However, what we do know is this, “Nicodemus is a Pharisee at the top of his field. Not only is he a member of the Sanhedrin, he is the most renowned Bible teacher of his day.  We also know that the Jewish religious leaders were divided into several groups.  Two of the most prominent groups were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The Pharisees separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed both the Old Testament laws and the oral traditions handed down through the centuries.  As a “leader,” he was a member of the Jewish ruling council.  Although the Romans controlled Israel politically, the Jews were given some authority over religious and minor civil disputes.  The Jewish ruling body was the council made up of seventy-one of Israel’s religious leaders.

The question before us is still, “why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit Jesus and

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645.

Jesus and Nicodemus, Crijn Hendricksz, 1616–1645. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

what motivated him to come in the first place?”  Under the cover of darkness, this well respected and influential religious man, this prominent national leader of noble decent and inherited wealth, this intellectual man who wielded great religious authority, this designated secret spokesman who represented some of his colleagues from the Jewish ruling council, waits until the cover of darkness to sneak in for a visit with Jesus.  This remains me of the way some of us prefer to do things [under the cover of darkness].

However, this question still rattles our brain, but from what we understand from scripture, we can try and fill in some of the blanks.  First, we know that Nicodemus was both impressed and curious about Jesus and chose to form his opinions about him from firsthand conversation.  Second, it is possible that he did not want to be seen with Jesus in broad daylight because he feared reproach from his fellow Pharisees (who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah).  Finally, it might not have been fear that brought Nicodemus in the cover of dark; but it is possible that he chose a time when he could talk alone and at length with the popular teacher who was often surrounded by people.

Living in the Darkness of the Night (Photo by Pastor Davis)

Living in the Darkness of the Night (Photo by Pastor Davis)

No matter how we look at this question, how we think about it as it might relate to us, it still remains that Nicodemus chose the cover of dark to visit with Jesus.  However, what Nicodemus did not know are understand was that his own night was blacker than he knew.  He was living in complete darkness and he did not know that truth, was about to be revealed to him.

Now as he sit before the Master Teacher, this is what Jesus tells him, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

What a tragedy that people have turned away from God’s offer, embracing instead the darkness in hopes of covering up evil actions.  There is probably no more painful moment than when we honestly confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth.  The Son did not come to judge, but in the light of his character the sharp shadows of our sinfulness stand out.  The people who hate the light are those who want to sin in the darkness.  Evil deeds are revealed by the light, so people who want to do evil must do it in the dark so they cannot be exposed and caught in the act.

According to the context, to do what is right is to come to Christ, the light; the result of coming to the light and living in the light will be clearly seen in believer’s lives.  Christ’s life in us will make our lives able to stand exposure to bright light, for our deeds will be honest, pure, and truthful.  Now we can truly see that Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night under the cover of darkness with a meeting with the Master Teacher.

In closing, I leave you with this question, “Are you a modern day Nicodemus, living in the darkness, and seeking answers?”  Know that it is time to open yourself up and be exposed to God’s shining light.  Know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.  I minister to you this day from a position of peace, power, purpose and prosperity.  I remain your brother in Jesus, PASTOR DAVIS/MASTER TEACHER!

GOD KNOWS

 

BE ENCOURAGED TROUBLES DON’T LAST ALWAYS

 

GOD KNOWS, NOW LISTEN, PAY ATTENTION, AND WAKE UP

BY SHIRLEY RHODES

THE MASTER GOD has given me a well taught TONGUE, so I know how to ENCOURAGE tired people. He wakes me up in the morning, opens my ears to listen as one ready to take orders. I don’t go back to sleep, didn’t pull the covers back over my head, I’ll follow orders. Therefore, I set my face like flint, confident I’ll never have any regrets.

Who out there fears God, actually listens to the voice of his servant?

For anyone out there who doesn’t know where you’re going, anyone groping in the dark, here’s what: Trust in God, lean on God! But if all you’re after is making trouble, playing with fire, go ahead and see where it gets you. Set your fires, stir people up, blow on the flames; but don’t expect me to just stand here and watch. I’ll hold your feet to the flames. (Isaiah 50 and 52)

FEAR NOT, EARTH! Be glad and celebrate! God has done great things. God has given you a teacher to train you how to live right—teachings like rain out of heaven, showers out of words to refresh and nourish your soul, just as he used to do.

THE BLACK BUTTERFLY (PHOTO BY SHIRLEY)

GOD REASURES, I’ll make up for the years the locust, and canker-worm, caterpillar and palmer-worm have destroyed. I’ll pour out my Spirit on every kind of people. And it shall come to pass that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.  (Joel 2:21-32)

SEEK GOD while he’s here to be found, pray to him while he’s close at hand. Let the wicked abandon their way of life and the evil ways of thinking. Let them come back to God who is merciful and lavished with forgiveness. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

“LOVING OBEDIENCE is the key to every blessing, God is worthy of total commitment.”

WHY DID NICODEMUS WAIT UNTIL THE COVER OF DARK TO VISIT JESUS?

Jesus, on the left, instructing Nicodemus, on ...

Jesus, on the left, instructing Nicodemus, on the right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHY DID NICODEMUS WAIT UNTIL THE COVER OF DARK TO VISIT JESUS?

This is a question that has been debated by scholars for centuries, and unfortunately the scriptures do not give us a clear and compelling answer.  However, what we do know is this, “Nicodemus is a Pharisee at the top of his field. Not only is he a member of the Sanhedrin, he is the most renowned Bible teacher of his day.  We also know that the Jewish religious leaders were divided into several groups.  Two of the most prominent groups were the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The Pharisees separated themselves from anything non-Jewish and carefully followed both the Old Testament laws and the oral traditions handed down through the centuries.  As a “leader,” he was a member of the Jewish ruling council.  Although the Romans controlled Israel politically, the Jews were given some authority over religious and minor civil disputes.  The Jewish ruling body was the council made up of seventy-one of Israel’s religious leaders.

The question before us is still, “why did Nicodemus wait until the cover of dark to visit Jesus and what motivated him to come in the first place?”  Under the cover of darkness, this well respected and influential religious man, this prominent national leader of noble decent and inherited wealth, this intellectual man who wielded great religious authority, this designated secret spokesman who represented some of his colleagues from the Jewish ruling council, waits until the cover of darkness to sneak in for a visit with Jesus.  This remains me of the way some of us prefer to do things [under the cover of darkness].

However, this question still rattles our brain, but from what we understand from scripture, we can try and fill in some of the blanks.  First, we know that Nicodemus was both impressed and curious about Jesus and chose to form his opinions about him from firsthand conversation.  Second, it is possible that he did not want to be seen with Jesus in broad daylight because he feared reproach from his fellow Pharisees (who did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah).  Finally, it might not have been fear that brought Nicodemus in the cover of dark; but it is possible that he chose a time when he could talk alone and at length with the popular teacher who was often surrounded by people.

No matter how we look at this question, how we think about it as it might relate to us, it still remains that Nicodemus chose the cover of dark to visit with Jesus.  However, what Nicodemus did not know are understand was that his own night was blacker than he knew.  He was living in complete darkness and he did not know that truth, was about to be revealed to him.

Now as he sit before the Master Teacher, this is what Jesus tells him, “So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next. That’s the way it is with everyone ‘born from above’ by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.”

Nicodemus asked, “What do you mean by this? How does this happen?”

Jesus said, “You’re a respected teacher of Israel and you don’t know these basics? Listen carefully. I’m speaking sober truth to you. I speak only of what I know by experience; I give witness only to what I have seen with my own eyes. There is nothing secondhand here, no hearsay. Yet instead of facing the evidence and accepting it, you procrastinate with questions. If I tell you things that are plain as the hand before your face and you don’t believe me, what use is there in telling you of things you can’t see, the things of God?

“This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”

What a tragedy that people have turned away from God’s offer, embracing instead the darkness in hopes of covering up evil actions.  There is probably no more painful moment than when we honestly confront our tendency to love darkness, to twist or withhold the truth.  The Son did not come to judge, but in the light of his character the sharp shadows of our sinfulness stand out.  The people who hate the light are those who want to sin in the darkness.  Evil deeds are revealed by the light, so people who want to do evil must do it in the dark so they cannot be exposed and caught in the act.

According to the context, to do what is right is to come to Christ, the light; the result of coming to the light and living in the light will be clearly seen in believer’s lives.  Christ’s life in us will make our lives able to stand exposure to bright light, for our deeds will be honest, pure, and truthful.  Now we can truly see that Nicodemus was able to see the light that night and experience God love from the Master Teacher because Nicodemus character was changed that very night under the cover of darkness with a meeting with the Master Teacher.

In closing, I leave you with this question, “Are you a modern day Nicodemus, living in the darkness, and seeking answers?”  Know that it is time to open yourself up and be exposed to God’s shining light.  Know the truth and the truth will set you FREE.  I minister to you this day from a position of peace, power, purpose and prosperity.  I remain your brother in Jesus, PASTOR DAVIS/MASTER TEACHER!

 

WE ARE CALLED TO BE RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS OVER MOTHER EARTH

WE ARE CALLED TO BE RESPONSIBLE STEWARDS OVER MOTHER EARTH

The poets of the Old Testament loved to describe the natural world.  Like all people in that ancient time, they lived closer to nature than do most of us.  They enjoyed nature’s beautiful and fascinating manifestations.  They observed the ways of birds and badgers, the flowing rivers, and the pulsing of the waves.  In this respect, the biblical poets have much in common with many other poets throughout history.

Nevertheless, in two important ways the biblical poets were different from their neighbors in the ancient Middle East.  First, they resisted the temptation to deify nature.  Their neighbors did not merely rhapsodize about birds and trees, hills and seas they worshiped them.  The biblical poets learned to do something truly new.  Namely, they loved nature but did not bow to it.  They enjoyed nature but did not worship it.

The second distinctive of the biblical poets was their identification of “nature.”  For them, nature was always “creation.”  The word nature does not itself deify the world, but it still implies that the world has its own sense of being, its own power, and its own dynamic.  On the other hand, the word creation is a term of faith.  It expresses the belief that everything that exists is made by God.  All the beauty and splendor of the universe comes from God’s creative hands.

In some ways, the modern emphasis on “Mother Earth” is simply a revival of the goddess cults of the ancient Middle East.  However, the authors of the creation psalms have the right perspective.  We can express our enjoyment of creation without worshiping it.  We can love the earth because we first love its Creator.  We can rejoice in the marvels of nature, the sparkling waterfall and the soaring eagle, because we know they are the handiwork of God.  Any efforts to “save” the earth should arise from our worship of its Creator and our knowledge that we are called to responsible stewardship because everything God created is a gift from Him.

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING

King James Version of the Bible

Image via Wikipedia

LOOK TO THE ROCK

Isaiah 51:1 (KJV) 

Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.

Isaiah 59:1-2 (KJV) 

Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Isaiah 55:6-7 (MSG)

Seek God while he’s here to be found,

pray to him while he’s close at hand.

Let the wicked abandon their way of life
and the evil their way of thinking.
Let them come back to God, who is merciful,
come back to our God, who is lavish with forgiveness.

 

TODAYS BIBLE NOTES

PLACE WHERE THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS WERE FOUND

HOW THE INSPIRED WRITINGS WERE PASSED DOWN

THE OLD TESTAMENT

The Old Testament was written between 1440 B.C. and approximately 400 B.C. The Law of Moses was maintained in the Hebrew community by the priests of the temple.  Later books continued to be deposited with these leaders until the destruction of the temple and then found their way into the teaching community begun by Ezra and continued in the synagogues.  Trained scribes copied biblical texts by hand until the modern printing press came into use.  The copies of the Masoretes of the ninth century A.D. are very close to the recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls, which originated a thousand years earlier.

THE NEW TESTAMENT

The New Testament books were copied by local Christian communities and passed from one to the other for decades before an entire collection was made.  Since the early letters were written on papyrus, they wore out rapidly and required regular copying.  In the early fourth century A.D., fifty copies of the entire Old and New Testament Greek Scriptures were made at the order of the first Christian emperor, Constantine.  It is likely that the Vaticanus and Sinaiticus codexes, two of the longest early manuscripts to survive, originated from the order.

 

 

TODAYS BIBLE NOTES

Old Testament V

Image by arellis49 via Flickr

HOW THE WORD OF GOD CAME TO BE WRITTEN

THE OLD TESTAMENT

The authors of Hebrew Scriptures are not as identifiable as those of the New Testament.  The books arose in the midst of the law given by Moses and the prophets sent by God to the children of Israel.  The first five books (the Law) were written by Moses almost entirely.  The remainder of the Old Testament is composed of the prophets and writings in the Hebrew canon, whereas the English Bible includes the following categories: historical books, poetic books, and prophetic books.  These books include such authors as Samuel, David, Joshua, Solomon, and major prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and a number of lesser-known figures who wrote smaller books called the Minor Prophets.  Each of these authours presents his words as being the Word of God.

THE NEW TESTAMENT

The New Testament was written by apostles of Jesus Christ and companions of the apostles.  Letters were written to individuals, churches, or larger groups of persons either to confirm the truth of Christianity, engender belief in Christ, correct problems in the local churches, or argue against error.  The Book of Revelation also seeks to present God’s plans for the end of the age.

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE READING

A homeless person's shelter under a fallen Wil...

Image via Wikipedia

EVERY SOUL BELONGS TO GOD (THE CHARGE IS OURS)

This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’ (Isaiah 58:6-7 MSG)

“As sure as I’m the living God, you’re not going to repeat this saying in Israel any longer. Every soul—man, woman, child—belongs to me, parent and child alike. You die for your own sin, not another’s.

Imagine a person who lives well, treating others fairly, keeping good relationships—
doesn’t eat at the pagan shrines,
doesn’t worship the idols so popular in Israel,
doesn’t seduce a neighbor’s spouse,
doesn’t indulge in casual sex,
doesn’t bully anyone,
doesn’t pile up bad debts,
doesn’t steal,
doesn’t refuse food to the hungry,
doesn’t refuse clothing to the ill-clad,
doesn’t exploit the poor,
doesn’t live by impulse and greed,
doesn’t treat one person better than another,
But lives by my statutes and faithfully
honors and obeys my laws.
This person who lives upright and well
shall live a full and true life.
Decree of God, the Master. (Ezekiel 18:3-9 MSG)

JESUS TEACHES US THAT THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH

JESUS TEACHES US THAT THERE IS LIFE AFTER DEATH

HE LIVES

Jesus permitted Himself to be crucified

Man, in his lack of knowledge, his vague understanding of the justice of a loving Father, has made the grave a darkened sepulcher, a thing to be dreaded, and an end to all his aspirations and his ambitions. For ages he has feared this ending of physical existence and has made of it a time of intense mourning, a period filled with tears. BUT, this Great Spirit who had power over life and death permitted Himself to be crucified; He came to this Earth for that great purpose. But the question may be raised: If we claim that Jesus the Christ had power over His life, then why did he permit the great indignities and cruelties which were perpetrated upon Him and why did He not save Himself from this undignified and cruel death? In the parable of the sheepfold in John 10, Jesus tells His hearers, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” We find another statement given by the Christ after the crucifixion, after He had suffered death on the cross–when He had come back from the spiritual world to commune with His disciples. In the twenty-eighth chapter of Matthew, the eighteenth verse, He again claims the same power. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, all power is given unto me in heaven and in Earth.”

Jesus’ Victory over Death

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).

“Christianity,” said one writer “is a religion of the open tomb.” Keep that thought in mind as you study this journal on the resurrection. The founder of Christianity could not be kept in the prison house of death. An angel rolled the great stone from the door of Joseph’s new tomb, and the Son of God came forth triumphant over death. “I am the resurrection and the life,” He said (John 11:25).

The apostle Paul argues that the Christian faith stands or falls upon the fact of the resurrection of Christ.

“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:13, 14).

Our hope of deliverance from sin in this world (see Romans 6:4, 11, 12) and the reality of life in the next (see 1 Corinthians 15:17-23) are dependent upon the resurrection of Jesus. The incarnation of God’s Son, His sinless life and vicarious death, would have availed nothing if He had been kept a prisoner of death. The saints of all ages would remain in their graves, sealed forever, if Christ had not broken the power of death and come forth to immortal life. And Christians would have been “false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised” (1 Corinthians 15:15)

There is Life after Death

Jesus came to this Earth to teach mankind a particular lesson; and if He was destined to become the Savior of mankind, then the greatest lesson which He could have taught man was that of faith; faith in his God and faith in a life after death. By His very death Christ Jesus must bring to man faith, and the belief in a LIFE AFTER DEATH. He preached immortality, and to further impress this fact upon humanity, He must go through the throes of death in order to return to life and bring to man proof of an after death life. To accomplish this He appeared to His beloved disciples in His spiritual body. In I Corinthians, 15:6, Paul says, “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once: of whom the greater part remains unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.” He walked and talked to them so that they might believe that what He had preached, the immortality of the soul, was a fact and that after man has laid aside his physical body, he still lives in a finer and more ethereal body.

Our New Spiritual Body

Paul also brings man much hope in a life after death in the fifth chapter of II Corinthians, verses 1, 2: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.” In the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians, Paul again preaches to those who have no faith in the life after death. This wonderful chapter is used by the majority of ministers to bring comfort and faith to those who have been bereaved by the loss of their loved ones. “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.”

During the old dispensation and all through the Old Testament, man had very little hope in a life after death; to him the grave ended all. We find such discouragement when we read the ninth chapter of Ecclesiastes, the fifth verse, where the statement is made, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.”

We are made in God’s Image

Man is an immortal Spirit, made in the image of God, for are we not told in the 26th verse of the first chapter of Genesis that God said, “Let us make man in our image?” Now if God is Spirit and man is made in His image, can we no longer deny that man cannot die, or that if he did that a part of God would die? Can one imagine a Great Spirit which would create a being like man in His own image and then permit him to die? Could such a being himself become a creator as God had destined him to do if one Earth life were all, and if, when man had lived his three score and ten years, he should pass out of existence with no further chance to become as his Father in heaven, perfect? If he but stops to reason this thing out he cannot but be convinced that man, too, must go on evolving, learning, in order to become all wise as his Father in heaven is wise, and that this cannot be accomplished in the few years of one short life. To learn these lessons on the Earth over which God gave man dominion, he must return again and again, and in each embodiment he must take up his cross of matter (his physical body).

It is through the physical vehicle that man must learn to become a creator like unto his Father in heaven; it is the toll which he uses in his efforts to master the numerous lessons of life so that he can be recognized by his Father in heaven as a son. This tool (the physical body) becomes tired, wears out; and it is necessary that the Spirit be given a time to assimilate and digest all the experience gained on Earth. Therefore, God has arranged that the Spirit step out of this worn-out old robe and function in its spiritual body.

When this occurs, man with his limited vision, grieves over this change; to him it appears as a final parting from a loved one when this worn-out garment disintegrates and the loved one is permitted to function in a finer and a more ethereal robe, or body, one in which the individual is not limited by distance, nor can physical matter obstruct him in his progress. This is the spiritual body of which Paul tells us in II Corinthians, a building not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. In this vehicle our loved ones can visit us, and while we in our blindness may not have the spiritual eyes with which we can see them, yet they are none the less very near to us. They are still interested in our welfare, and when we need them they do not fail us; they encourage and help us more often than we realize, though by our very grief we may hinder their progress in this new life to which they have been called.

When a man enters into a sound sleep and his physical body is inert on the bed then he is awake and active in the realm of the spirit. He is no longer hampered by a physical body. However, he is tied to this vehicle by the silver cord which leads him back again to his body upon awakening. During the unconsciousness of sleep he is in the land of the living dead and if he will he can communicate with his loved ones who are ever near him.

The Spiritual Minded student has this assurance of his nearness to those who have passed over in what is commonly termed death and does not grieve as do others who have no hope.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 954 other followers

%d bloggers like this: