If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The scarlet thread

“There’s a scarlet thread that runs through the entire bible” I think to myself as I admire the beautiful tapestry hanging on the museum wall. As I am looking closer the tapestry, an incredible portrait of Jesus Christ hanging lifeless on a wooden cross, I realize that the threads woven into it are continuous, that is they run from one end to the other. Although they disappear for a moment here and there they ultimately emerge to consummate the drops of blood falling from the Savior’s broken body.

It was later that week, as I was preparing for the 7:00 pm Wednesday night bible study at the Youth Center, when the Holy Spirit illuminated several scriptures that constitute a message thread that runs through the entire length of the bible. I like to think of it as the finger print of the One, True and Living God who has woven a brilliant scarlet thread into the fabric of the bible. The bible as a whole is a message from God that has been woven together by the Holy Spirit through forty authors over a time span of thousands of years.
The unraveling of this scarlet thread began for me as I was studying the fifth book of Moses, Deuteronomy chapter ten, verses 12-18.

We see God’s grace and mercy as he administers justice and defends the fatherless, widow and stranger. We also see God instructing His people to “circumcise the foreskin of their hearts”, in other words to soften their hearts by removing the calluses that cover their hearts, encouraging them to treat others in need with love, grace and compassion.  Circumcision no longer just an outward sign but now becomes a change of heart.

Our scarlet thread disappears out of sight for a thousand years until it resurfaces as the Lord speaks through the prophet Jeremiah. "Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

So, here our scarlet thread reappears in our beautiful tapestry as a clear picture of the promised Redeemer or Messiah where Jesus Christ begins to come into focus. This prophecy was not only given but also recorded five hundred years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Here, clearly, God promises to make a New Covenant where He will not only take away our iniquity but also remembers our sin no more. 

Finally, our scarlet thread reaches the end as Jesus Himself, Matthew 26:27-29, proclaims just what this New Covenant is. "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

800 words through the bible

In the beginning God created everything we see around us from nothing. He made a man in His image and then from the rib of the man created a woman to complete Him. In order to know if the man and the woman would love Him, God allowed them to be tempted by a fallen archangel. The man and the woman sin as God sets a curse on humanity but also promising to send the solution in the form of the Blessed Redeemer or Messiah. God covers the couples’ nakedness with the skins of animals the man was entrusted to care for and instructs them on the correct way to worship and how to approach Him.

In the process of time, two brothers are born. One obeys God in the acceptable way to worship by bringing a lamb to the altar while the other brother attempts to worship God in his own way by bringing the fruit of the field. When his sacrifice is rejected, jealousy fills his countenance as he murders his brother. Meanwhile the earth is becoming filled with selfish, destructive people who have completely turned their back on their Creator. God shows His grace and mercy and saves a small  remnant who love and trust in Him, as the heavenly floodgates and fountains of the deep open up, covering the earth in a catastrophic worldwide deluge.

Safe aboard the ark, eight people wait for God’s deliverance as a dove returns with an olive branch in its mouth. Once again God blesses His creation and commands them to go spread out and fill the entire earth, promising never again to destroy the earth with water. Generations pass as people forget about God and decide that the fertile plain below the ark is probably a better place to stay, build cities and towers to their newly invented gods of creation; gods made of earth, wood and stone.

God, wanting to reveal Himself to the entire world, chooses one family line through which the promised Savior would come into the world. God promises that his family would prosper, eventually becoming as numerous as the stars in heaven or the sands of the sea shore. One descendant is blessed with twelve sons who become the twelve tribes of this new God-led nation. 

The youngest son, being mistreated by his other brothers, is sold into slavery and bought by a wealthy Egyptian noble. Because of his obedience to the One True and Living God he is blessed and prospers, eventually becoming second in command of the entire Egyptian nation. In God’s time, a famine devours the entire land of Canaan, forcing the other brothers to look for food down in Egypt. Unknowingly, they are granted an audience with their brother who they do not recognize. They end up being fed, cared for and eventually relocate to Goshen, Egypt.

Four hundred and thirty-two years pass as the small family of twelve brothers grows into a nation of Hebrew slaves.  Because of their growing out-of-control population, the Pharaoh commands that all male children be thrown into the Nile River. One male baby escapes death by being put into a small ark of bulrushes and floated down the river where the Pharaoh’s daughter finds him. This Hebrew baby grows up as one of Pharaoh’s own sons with all the luxury and entitlement that one can dream of.

When he is older, he kills an Egyptian who is beating a Hebrew slave. Now the young man is banished from Egypt and escapes into the desert of Midian. At the age of eighty, the shepherd is sent back to Egypt to demand that the Pharaoh let his people go! After ten plagues that were focused on the Egyptian gods of nature, gods of wood and stone, the death of the first born is the last straw as Pharaoh lets the fledgling nation of Israel go. 

The people grumble and complain and are sentenced to walk for forty years in the desert. After this generation passes, they are allowed to go into the Promised Land. Soon mighty kings are building a very large and powerful nation. However, they once again forget the God who has led them there and begin to worship the gods of nature, gods of wood and stone.

So, when the moment was right, God sent His own Son. He opened the way so that everyone who had hoped and believed that when time was done, God would be able to make us one! But the selfish and destructive people grabbed hold of the Son of God and they beat Him, mocking Him until He died as the angry crowd nailed Him to a tree.

So the promise in a garden ended as a gift on a cross.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The grand illusion

All eyes were fixed on the magician who stood sharply dressed in a sleek black silk suit and top hat. His hands moved with practiced precision, slowly drawing all eyes to view an empty hat box that sat upright on a small round nightstand that was placed on stage. As he raised his hands towards the ceiling, a string of brilliantly colored silk scarves were pulled from a secret storage in his jacket lining. One after another beautiful scarves of all shapes and sizes filled the area in front of the nightstand and gently floated to the floor. From the audience’s perspective, the scarves seemed to materialize from thin air and began to pile up on the stage floor. Many minutes passed as scarves continued to form a large mountain of silk directly in front of the hat box that sat on the table. The pile grew so high that it eventually hid the hat box from everyone’s view. 

Meanwhile, beneath the elevated floor, stage hands were silently exchanging the table and hat box with an identical looking set through a trap door located under the stage rigging. Just as the trap door shut the magician ran out of silk scarves and playfully began kicking the pile of colored silk out into the audience. After receiving a few chuckles and laughs, the magician purposefully stepped back to the table and with a flourish of his wand made seven white doves fly out into the audience from the once empty hat box.

Our minds are so easily fooled by perceived information. What we think we know or see many times is just an illusion that our mind has pieced together from incomplete information it receives. Because the audience didn’t see the box and table switch, their minds were fooled into thinking that the doves somehow materialized out of the same empty hat box that they had previously been shown. This simple trick has been used for millennium to capitalize on an unsuspecting audience.

It’s interesting to me how easy our minds can be fooled. If we are not careful to thoroughly inquire, completely inspect and collect the whole truth from all angles, then many times our minds will piece together the wrong conclusion and we end up making some very bad decisions. 

Many people today are being fooled by Satan, the master magician, who has clouded the waters of truth by sowing seeds of illusion, falsehood and lies. He has switched an empty hat box with one which fills the minds of his audience with an incomplete theory of evolution. Our enemy has also corrupted the institution of marriage and the natural love between men and women behind dark curtains of homosexuality. He has also cleverly deceived the nations into thinking that “we the people” can solve the global problems that cling and grow like cancers on the earth.

For our magician’s final trick the curtain raises as he tells the world that all roads lead to God and everyone will arrive in heaven. To some, the great lie states that if we just live good lives, we will reach God while to others he whispers that if we just clear our minds and meditate on endless droning, heartbeat or mantra we will reach universal bliss. Basically, his message to the entire world is that we will eventually get better and don’t need God’s cure for sin.

However, if you search the bible you will discover the truth. Not just part of the truth or an illusion propagated by sleight of hand or lies but the whole truth of how humanity ended up in the condition that it is and where it is ultimately going.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." Romans 16-23.