Posted by: missionventureministries | March 23, 2016

THE MEANING OF ‘TRUST’ IN THE BIBLE – Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Bible - Proverbs 3 vs 5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) 

Trust means a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. 

In the Bible “trust” literally means ‘a bold, confident, sure security.’ Trust is not exactly the same as having faith, which is the gift of God: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, trusting is what we do because of the faith we have been given. Trust means that we believe in the promises of God in all circumstances, even in those where the evidence seems to be to the contrary.  

Our verse clearly sums up the Bible’s teaching on trust: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” First, it is the Lord in whom we are to trust, not ourselves or our plans, and certainly not the world’s wisdom. We trust in the Lord because He and He alone is truly trustworthy. Therefore, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7) 

Matthew 6:31-32 tells us: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” 

Chapter 11 of Hebrews talks about faith, which is accepting and believing the truth that God reveals about Himself supremely in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the practical consequence of faith in God is trust, which we prove by living out our full acceptance of God’s promises day by day. Furthermore, it is by this trust that we are promised peace: “You will keep in peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3) 

We also see that His nature is faithful and true: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9). And in Psalm 25:10 we read that: “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.” 

His plans for us are perfect and purposeful: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Further, because of God’s nature, we are to trust Him with all our hearts, committing every aspect of our lives to Him in complete confidence.  

We should not trust in ourselves because our understanding is temporal, finite, and tainted by our carnal and sinful nature. Trusting in ourselves is like walking proudly across a rotten wooden bridge over a deep abyss thousands of feet deep . . . and disaster inevitably will follow. 

One thing that can be noted about biblical trust is that it always produces further trust in our God. The believer’s faith may be tried and they may stumble but: “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” (Psalm 37:24) 

God knows that even though trials will weigh the believer down in this life, their trust should not waiver because that trust is based on faith in the promises of God; such as the promise of eternal joy with the Lord and the promise of “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.” (1 Peter 1:4)

Posted by: missionventureministries | March 7, 2016

LORD GUIDE US IN HOW WE CAN BEST SEEK YOU – Psalm 31:3

Psalm 31 vs 3

“For You are my rock and my fortress; Therefore, for Your name’s sake, Lead me and guide me.” (Psalm 31:3)

We need to follow what is already clearly revealed in the Holy Scriptures, if we are to know His will and guidance in those things He has not yet made known. God has already made known the greater part of His will for us in the Bible. Paul wrote: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) 

The Bible is full of instructions as to how God wants His people to live and to seek Him. All we need to do is to read the Bible regularly and prayerfully seek and obey the things that God teaches us from His Holy Word. Much of God’s will has already been made plain as to what we should do and how we are to honor Him in all that we think, say and do; and He gives us the Holy Spirit for the very purpose of enabling us to obey. 

The writer of Proverbs says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). If we exercise trust and acknowledge Him in every area of our lives, His promise is that He will guide us.  

In Isaiah it is written: “The Lord will guide you always” (Isaiah 58:11). In other words, if our motives and goals are right, following God’s guidance is something that will naturally happen. The Bible says that “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6) 

Often when we look back is when we see that the Lord has been guiding us all along. 

God word says: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle.” (Psalm 32:8-9) 

We need to listen to God’s guidance because it is written: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) 

Hearing God’s guidance begins with our mind and heart. The Bible reminds us to “be still” (Psalm 46:10) as we listen for His leading, and to “be transformed by the renewal of our mind.” (Romans 12:2) 

The Scriptures are full of prayers we can use to ask God to focus on Him, such as: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” (Psalm 139:23). We need to genuinely seek the Lord and remember that: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)  

Thinking, reading and speaking God’s Word helps us to live it out! The Bible promises that we can seek His will in all you do (Proverbs 3:6) and depend on Him to guide all our paths. 

As we seek God’s guidance for all our actions, we need to pray to God the requests found in the Psalms: “Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness”; “Teach me Your way, O Lord”; “Teach me to do Your will, my God!” (Psalms 5:8, 86:11, 143:10). If we trust in Him, God will lift us up so that as we depend on Him it will become second nature to us, because He is our rock and fortress; and for His name’s sake He will lead us and guide us. (Psalm 31:3)

Posted by: missionventureministries | February 27, 2016

WITNESSING BOLDLY FOR CHRIST – Acts 4:18-20

John and Peter

But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) 

Every Christian knows that he or she should witness for Christ, but most are very reluctant to speak in His name very often. The most obvious reason for this hesitancy is apprehension. Sometimes we may be actually forbidden as were Peter and John: “And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to Him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20) 

They were bold in their witness for Christ and prayed: “Lord, behold their threatening: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29). 

Many times our apprehension comes from fear of physical persecution or personal harm. There can also be a fear of mockery, or loss of prestige or position. This kind of fear is not part of the character of true Christians, “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we love the Lord we must learn to conquer our fear of men. 

How often do current professional and business men, even theologians, compromise their stand for Christ and His inerrant Word because of fear of peer pressure? And, because of their high position, they refuse to take an open stand for Christ. Just as it is stated in Scripture: “Among the chief rulers also many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42-43) 

We should ask God to give us the courage of Paul. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” he wrote, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Romans 1:16) 

We should not fear to witness because our God who has proven Himself faithful throughout the years is always with us. Because His character doesn’t change, we can say with a confident voice of faith, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:19). Therefore, we should go and boldly witness for Him. 

Remember Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:18-20). God did not intend for this command to give us feelings of fear or inadequacy. Instead, this command illustrates God’s desire to include us in His wonderful plan to redeem mankind. 

So let us study the Word, live the Christian life, let the Holy Spirit do His work and look for opportunities to share the gospel. It is a privilege to be a part of spreading God’s good news to the world; and as we fulfill the Great Commission, we have Jesus’ wonderful promise, “Surely I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, what have we to fear? 

Remember what Paul said: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10). Therefore, we are told that “We ought to obey God rather than men” ()

Posted by: missionventureministries | February 15, 2016

FORGIVENESS – Romans 12:20

Forgiveness - Romanos 12 vs 20

On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” (Romans 12:20)

What does it mean to “heap burning coals” on someone’s head? This may refer to an Egyptian tradition of carrying a pan of burning charcoal on one’s head as a public act of repentance. By referring to this proverb (Proverb 25:21-22), Paul was saying that we should treat our enemies with kindness so that they will become ashamed and turn from their sins.

Refusing to forgive is a sin. If we receive forgiveness from God, we must forgive those who hurt us. We cannot hold grudges or seek revenge. We are to trust God for justice and forgive the person who offended us. That does not mean we must forget the offense, since usually that’s beyond our power. Forgiveness means releasing the other from blame, leaving the event in God’s hands, and moving on.

Forgiveness is a decision of the will. Since God commands us to forgive, we must make a conscious choice to obey God and forgive. The offender may not desire forgiveness and may not ever change, but that doesn’t negate God’s desire that we possess a forgiving spirit. Jesus said: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).

We need to realize that it is impossible to truly forget sins that have been committed against us. We cannot selectively “delete” events from our memory. The Bible states that God however does not “remember” our wickedness (Hebrews 8:12). But God is all-knowing. God remembers that we have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, having been forgiven, we are judicially justified and heaven is ours, as if our sin had never occurred. If we belong to Him through faith in Christ, God does not condemn us for our sins (Romans 8:1). In that sense God “forgives and forgets.”

If by “forgive and forget” one means, “I choose to forgive the offender for the sake of Christ and move on with my life,” then this is a wise and godly course of action on our part. As much as possible, we should forget what is behind and strive toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). We should forgive each other “just as in Christ God forgave” (Ephesians 4:32). We must not allow a root of bitterness to spring up in our hearts (Hebrews 12:15).

The ideal is to forgive and forget as 1 Corinthians 13:5 states: Love keeps no record of wrongs. And 1 Peter 4:8 says: Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  However, changing hearts is God’s business, and, until an offender has a true, supernatural heart change, it is only wise to limit the level of trust one places in that person. Being cautious doesn’t mean we haven’t forgiven. It simply means we are not God and we cannot see that person’s heart.

Even if our offender never repents, forgiving him or her will free us of a heavy load of bitterness.

Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” We cannot be holy unless we have peace with men. Something amazing happens when we forgive; we have peace and discover that life is more joyful. But, you might say, “Look what he did! I am not going to forgive him.” Remember when we forgive, we set two people free and one of them is ourselves.

Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:2)

Posted by: missionventureministries | February 8, 2016

NEITHER DRINK WINE NOR STRONG DRINK – Luke 1:15

Luke 1 vs 15

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15) 

Whether or not the Bible clearly commands total abstinence from alcohol for Christians, it is increasingly being recognized that alcohol is the most widely abused and dangerous drug of all – causing more fatal accidents and injuries, more destroyed families, more sexual promiscuity, more job absenteeism, and more disease than any other drug. Yet it is widely promoted socially and increasingly is being accepted even among evangelical Christians. 

The example of John the Baptist is worth considering. The angel Gabriel testified that he would be “great in the sight of the Lord” and then added that he would “drink neither wine nor strong drink,” implying a connection between the two. Indeed, Christ called John the greatest man who had ever lived up to that time (Matthew 11:11) – that is, greater than even Abraham, Moses, or Daniel! 

Our verse continues saying that John would “be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb,” and he is the only man of whom that was ever said.  

There seems to be a connection in these verses, for no one could simultaneously drink wine or strong drink and also be filled with the Spirit. The apostle Paul also warned concerning this conflict when he said: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18) 

Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation may or may not be permissible, but that does not make it correct. “I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial.” And Paul continues: ““I have the right to do anything”- but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12). So here we see that Paul would not subject himself to be mastered by anything.  

At least in John the Baptist’s case, being great in God’s sight and being filled with the Spirit were closely associated with abstinence from alcohol. 

The Holy Spirit tells us through the apostle Peter: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) 

Let us consider one more thing. God our Father is the author of the Holy Scriptures by inspiration to His prophets, therefore let us read what He says in His Holy Word: 

Proverbs 31:4-5 reads: “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink; Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.”  

Habakkuk 2:15 affirms: “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor…”  

It is our Lord the King of kings that had these inspired words written through the Holy Spirit, so how can we even assume that Jesus drank wine (alcohol) or gave others wine to drink, if He is the greatest King that ever lived? We are to follow Jesus’ example by abstaining from wine (alcohol), since He refers to us as a holy priesthood unto God. Yes, Jesus drank the fruit of the vine, but it was pure unfermented grape juice. He said: “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18) 

Remember: “… drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God…. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:21, 24)

 

 

Excerpts taken from the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) – Dr. Henry H. Morris

Posted by: missionventureministries | January 29, 2016

CONQUERING FEAR – 2 Timothy 1:7

“For God has not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

A Christian does not have to have fear, worry or be anxious. Paul said: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Instead of a Spirit of fear, we have been given a Spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind. We have fear when we have certain negative thoughts about ourselves and about our circumstances. We need to remember that the devil is the master at using our fears. However, when we focus on Jesus, then we will not have fear because we will be confident in Him. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Paul is telling Timothy that we have not been giving a spirit of fear that is afraid of man and what they will say or do to keep us from the work of the Lord and the preaching of the Gospel. That we should not be afraid to oppose the errors of false teachers and stand firm for the truth, and that we have been given the Spirit of power to resist Satan’s temptations, to endure hardship as good soldiers of Christ and to do the will and work of God.

God’s Holy Spirit imparts to us His love, giving us the power to obey His laws in their full spiritual intent. The repentant sinner is then a changed person, his whole outlook and purpose is changed as he is led by the Spirit.

It takes the Spirit of God to produce a truly sound mind. This verse also implies that, as long as the mind is devoid of God’s Spirit, it cannot be considered to be truly healthy. Any mind that lacks the Holy Spirit will be deficient in the ability to cope with life in a godly manner because it cannot see things in a proper, righteous or unrighteous perspective. Instead, it will have a strong tendency to twist situations toward its own self-centered viewpoint.

Once regenerated by the Holy Spirit, we must continually be led by Him, bearing spiritual fruit throughout our lives. If we are producing the fruit of the Spirit, which exhibit a sound mind, we know He is working in us. The Spirit is the mind and essence of the divine nature, and through it God carries out His will. He empowers the mind to comprehend spiritual matters. The Spirit gives us the strength, will and faith to overcome our sins.

Conquering fear is not a matter of self determination; it is a matter of dependence on God our creator, whom we can trust and love. It is a matter of belief in His words, His promises, and His gifts to us. It is a matter of recognizing the devils pitiful attempts at crippling us with fear; and knowing God’s majestic grace in giving us power, love and sound mind.

Posted by: missionventureministries | January 10, 2016

WHERE GOD GUIDES, HE PROVIDES – Proverbs 2:5-6

3 Where God guides He provides

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

If we exercise trust and acknowledge the Lord in every area of our lives, His promise is that He will guide us. 

To know God’s guidance, we must put aside our own will and seek the will of the Lord who has called us for His purpose. The basic principle in determining the will of God in any situation is to empty ourselves of our own will and to commit ourselves to seeking and obeying His will.  

If we claim to want to know God’s will, but we’re not willing to do it unless it agrees with our will, we’re kidding ourselves. In this case, all we really want is God’s approval of our plans. But we’ll never know God’s direction that way, because God reveals His will only to those who are committed to trust and obey Him. 

So often we don’t experience God’s guidance because we get so caught up doing our own thing that we fail to stop and ask God to reveal His will to us. Or we get into our established routine, and it takes a catastrophe for God to get our attention – so that He can reveal to us what He wants to do in our lives. Therefore, if you want God’s guidance, stop and ask Him for it, expect Him to give it, and wait and listen to what He will say. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle.” (Psalm 32:8-9) 

We might ask ourselves what happens if God doesn’t say anything. The answer is that when we seek and expect God’s guidance, and remain submissive to God’s sovereign ways, He providentially orchestrates circumstances in such a way that give us clear confirmation of how we should proceed.

If we get to a door and it doesn’t open, maybe God is asking us to wait because He has some more work to do on us first. Or maybe He is turning us in another direction. We must not gaze so longingly on the door that is closed that we miss the one that is open. God will open the right door for us in His time. Our duty is to trust and obey.

How many times have we made decisions that we wish we had not made. While such experiences are not pleasant, the Lord does have important lessons to teach us if we submit to His sovereign ways. But if we think, “I’m going to take matters into my own hands,” we’ll only bring more pain and disappointments into our life.

To find God’s will we must walk in constant communion with the Lord, taking everything to Him in prayer. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). We need to realize that our steps are ordered by the Lord. When we walk with Him and are committed to His purpose, He will work in our life orchestrating everything for His honor and glory.  

If we trust in Him, the process becomes a beautiful blending of God’s faithfulness and sovereignty and of our obedient trust in Him.

Our heavenly Father wants the best for us. He has a perfect plan for our lives. The key to living out His plan and being in tune with His will, is not only believing in God, but obeying Him as well. We must have faith and obey because, “without faith it is impossible to please God(Hebrews 11:6).

Remember, where God guides, He provides.

Posted by: missionventureministries | January 3, 2016

A NEW BEGINNING – Ephesians 4:22-24

Ephesians 4 vs 22-24

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.(Ephesians 4:22-24) 

As we start the New Year, it is good to remember that we can renew our commitments with resolutions that will glorify our heavenly Father. We can do this with the help of the Holy Spirit as we determine to gain greater heights in our spiritual journey toward Christ-likeness. We need to remember that no matter how much we have backslidden, disobeyed and fallen short of the Lord’s expectation; that with His help and our determination, we can begin again. 

How can this be accomplished? Verses 20-21 basically state that walking with the world, is not the way of life we have learned, when we heard about Christ and were taught in Him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 

Jesus said: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29) 

We must put off your old self and put on the new self,” which is clearly speaking of our new manner of life. It’s like changing clothes, we need to leave the old rags behind and put on garments of righteousness. I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness.” (Isaiah 61:10) 

If as believers we are still hanging on to old rags, let this New Year see us obey this passage as an act of faith through the living Spirit of God and rather, clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:14) 

We “need to be made new in the attitude of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23). The new man is a new creation of God modeled after Him “in righteousness and true holiness.”  

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10) 

When we need direction in making decisions, we must turn to God and trust that the Lord will give us strength to obey Him, because God has a plan for us. He cares bout our dilemmas, He hears our heartfelt petitions, and He will answer us in ways that will astonish us, if just stop and listen. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11) 

Whatever decisions we need to make this New Year – simple, complex or difficult, they should always be predicated on our decision to follow the Lord, because: “It is the Lord your God you must follow, and Him you must revere. Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4) 

May we all have a great desire to follow our King of kings and Lord of lords this New Year and as we do He will give strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29) 

HAVE A BLESSED NEW YEAR!

Posted by: missionventureministries | December 24, 2015

THE PROPHESIES OF CHRIST’S COMING

Prophesies of Christ's coming

During this season of the year we should be reminded of the remarkable prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus and how they substantiate His deity and the faithfulness of God.  

Let’s take a look at some of them.

THE TIMING OF THE BIRTH

The timing of the Messiah’s birth had been indicated in Genesis 49:10 in words spoken by Jacob on his deathbed to his son Judah: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah… until Shiloh comes, and to Him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” The term “Shiloh” was recognized by the Jewish rabbis as a Messianic title.

The “scepter” refers to the judicial power of the nation. Thus, this prophecy states that the Messiah will come at a time when the nation’s judicial power has been removed. What the rabbis did not realize was that Jesus the Messiah had been born around around 6 BC during the last years of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1). So “Shiloh” had arrived shortly before the scepter departed — just as prophesied!

THE PLACE OF THE BIRTH

The place of the Messiah’s birth had also been precisely prophesied five hundred years earlier by the prophet Micah: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). Have you ever wondered what the term, “Ephrathah,” means in this passage? It is a geographical designation to indicate precisely which Bethlehem is being identified. It’s like differentiating between a city with the same name in one state as from another state.

The point is that there was another Bethlehem in the land of Israel in the area to the north near the Sea of Galilee. This one had been allotted to the tribe of Zebulun. By specifying the area of Ephrathah, the prophecy of Micah made it clear that the Bethlehem that would host the birth of the Messiah would be the one in the south of Israel near Jerusalem. In fulfillment of this very precise prophecy, Matthew tells us that “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea” (Matthew 2:1).

THE NATURE OF THE BIRTH

It had also been prophesied that the special child born in Bethlehem would be both human and divine. Daniel emphasized the Messiah’s humanity when he referred to Him as “the Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13). Isaiah stressed His divinity when He said that the Messiah would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

His divine nature was also indicated in other prophecies about His birth. For example, the first Messianic prophecy in the Bible is one spoken by God Himself in the Garden of Eden when He told Satan that he would one day be defeated by the One who would be born of “the seed of woman” (Genesis 3:15). This seems to be a clear indication that the Messiah would be born miraculously through a virgin.

Thousands of years later Isaiah specifically prophesied that the birth would occur in this manner: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child and bear a son…” (Isaiah 7:14). It was further foretold by Isaiah that the Messiah would be given a name that would signify His divinity. He will be called “Immanuel,” said Isaiah, which means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). Six hundred years later when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would be the mother of the Messiah, he specified that she was to name the baby Yeshua (Luke 1:31).

That name in Hebrew means “God’s Salvation” (Matthew 1:21). Other details prophesied about the Messiah’s birth included the presentation of gifts to Him by kings (Psalm 72:10-11 and Matthew 2:1-12), the slaughter of the infants of His birthplace (Jeremiah 31:15 and Matthew 2:16), and His sojourn in Egypt (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:11-15).

THE CELEBRATION OF THE BIRTH

The conception and birth of the Messiah were celebrated in some remarkable prophetic hymns. Mary prophesied in a song of rejoicing that the child she had conceived was evidence that God’s “mercy is upon generation after generation” (Luke 1:50). She went on to prophesy that He would “scatter the proud,” “bring down rulers,” “exalt the humble,” and “fill the hungry” (Luke 1:52-53).

Her relative, the priest Zacharias, also sang a prophetic song of celebration when his son, John the Baptist, was born. Referring to the baby in Mary’s womb, he proclaimed that God “has raised up a horn of salvation for us” (Luke 1:69). He then declared that his own son would be called “the prophet of the Most High,” and he prophesied that his son would “go before the Lord to prepare His ways” (Luke 1:76).

He concluded his song with one of the most beautiful poetic prophecies concerning the Messiah that can be found anywhere in Scripture: “Because of the tender mercy of our God… the Sunrise from on high shall visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:78-79).

The next prophetic song of celebration was sung on the night of the Messiah’s birth when an angel appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem and proclaimed: “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). That angel was suddenly joined by a multitude of angels who sang a triumphant chorus: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased” (Luke 2:13-14).

The final prophetic song related to the Messiah’s birth was sung by a “righteous and devout” man of Jerusalem by the name of Simeon. The Holy Spirit had come upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die before he saw the Messiah (Luke 2:25-26). He was given that glorious privilege forty days after the Messiah’s birth when the parents of Jesus came to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate their baby to God. Simeon took the Christ child in his arms, thanked the Lord, and then sang: “My eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples — a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:30-32).

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BIRTH PROPHECIES

The fulfillment of all these prophecies in the life of one person, Jesus of Nazareth, is proof positive that He was who He said He was, namely, the Messiah of God (Mark 14:62 and Luke 22:70).

God’s faithfulness in fulfilling each of these prophecies in detail is also significant because it gives us assurance that He will likewise faithfully fulfill all the prophecies He has given to Christians regarding the soon return of Jesus. Our God knows the future and He proclaim it (Isaiah 46:10). He also has the power to see to it that what He proclaims will come to pass (Isaiah 46:11). Most important, He is faithful (1 Corinthians 1:9), so we can rest in His promises.

Let’s rejoice that the Bethlehem birth so long ago is proof positive that the One born there will soon return in glory as the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). 

Blessings to you on this Christmas.

 

 

Excerpts taken from Lamb and Lion Ministries – Thank you!

Posted by: missionventureministries | December 19, 2015

THE URGENCY OF SALVATION – 2 Corinthians 6:2

2 Corinthians 6 vs 2 (English)

For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)  

Perhaps the most deadly sin of the unbeliever is that of procrastination. Satisfied with his current life, he neglects his spiritual need. Even if he understands the gospel and realizes his need of salvation, he still puts off a decision. 

Remember that it is dangerous to count on tomorrow. “You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14). The sin of procrastination may easily become the sin of negligence, then of indifference, and finally the unforgivable sin of irrevocable rejection and unbelief. “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3). This warning was told in the antediluvian world and it is certainly as true today, when we have far more knowledge and evidence of God’s truth and His will than people had in the days of Noah. 

“Today if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (Psalm 95:7-8). This warning of the psalmist was considered so important that the writer of Hebrews quoted it three times (Hebrews 3:7-8, 3:15; 4:7). Such an emphasis suggests there is indeed great danger in resisting God’s call to salvation. There may be another opportunity, but it is presumptuous and dangerous to impose too long on God’s patient mercy. 

Today is the day of salvation. The accepted time is now! How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29) 

Remember: It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31).  

We need to be aware that all our best laid out plans are always subject to the will of God because He is our Creator and He gives life and takes it away. We have been given free will so therefore, we are masters of our own eternal destiny. Because we do not know what will happen, today, tomorrow or next week, it is vital that we yield to the Lord Jesus Christ and accept His free gift of salvation before it is too late. 

To be saved you need to get right with God and depend only on His word the Bible and not in man’s doctrines and traditions because the Word of God is unchanging from eternity to eternity. This is what the Bible tells us we need to do:

  • Admit you are a sinner“There is no one righteous, not even one … for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:10, 23)

Ask God’s forgiveness. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

  • Believe in Jesus – Place your trust in Him as your only hope of salvation. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Become a child of God by receiving Christ – “To all who receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)

  • Confess that Jesus is your Lord – “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Call on Jesus and ask Him to save you before it is too late. Jesus promised: “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:8)

Jesus also said: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:20-21)

True followers of Christ are transformed by the Spirit and their lives are marked by obedience to the Lord and love for one another.

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