Archive for January, 2011

Life is but a breath of God

Posted: January 26, 2011 by Haelie in What Next...
Life surrounds me.

Death surrounds me.

The presence of God surrounds me.

Then the LORD God formed a man
from the dust of the ground
and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
and the man became a living being.

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
“All people are like grass,
and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”
You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
With whom, then, will you compare God?
To what image will you liken him?
“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one
and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
(Excerpts from Isaiah 40)

Life is but a breath of God.


Be comforted today by the One

who is the very Breath of Life.

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So let’s start at the very beginning and clarify what we are talking about in terms of Prophecy. The Cambridge dictionary tells us that Prophecy “is a statement that says what is going to happen in the future, especially one which is based on what you believe about a particular matter rather than existing facts”. So for me to say that tomorrow the sun will rise is not prophecy but for me to say that the world will end tomorrow would be prophecy (unfulfilled prophecy but you get the gist). In a Christian sense it is a prophet (someone used by God as a channel for others) passing on from God something about the future (or sometimes the present or past) that they couldn’t humanly know.

Old Testament Prophecies fulfilled in the person of Jesus.

There are over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament which were fulfilled by Jesus. These prophecies were written at the very latest 425 years before Jesus was born. Below I will list just a fraction of the prophecies recorded about Jesus in the Old Testament and their fulfilment as recorded in the New Testament.

Prophecy

Isaiah 7: 14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give     birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel

Fulfilment

Luke 1: 26-35

God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.

Prophecy

Micah 5: 2

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Fulfilment

Mathew 2: 1-2

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Prophecy

Zechariah 9: 9

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Fulfilment

Luke 19: 29-38

As he (Jesus) approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’” Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Prophecy

Isaiah 50: 6

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.

Fulfilment

Matthew 24:67-68

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah. Who hit you?”

OK, so there are 4 – only 300 or so to go!! I’m sure if you “Google” Biblical Prophecy or Fulfilled Biblical Prophecy you will find web-sites that will list all of the Prophecies or at least the major ones. Hopefully this gives you a taster to show that the Old Testament is filled with signs pointing to the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ. These weren’t just written a few years before the events took place but mainly between 4 and 7 centuries before the actual events. You may argue that these were self fulfilling prophesies. That Jesus was a deluded man and set out to fulfil the prophesies that he had read about in Scripture. It is true, some could be explained away by saying that Jesus knew the Scriptures, after all Jesus did know the Scriptures extremely well, but all of them?

Could he have gotten himself…

Born in Bethlehem (Prophesied Micah 5: 2 Fulfilled Matthew 2: 1-6)

Born of a virgin (Prophesied Isaiah 7: 14 Fulfilled Mathew 1: 18-25)

Born of line of King David (Prophesied Jeremiah 23: 5 Fulfilled Luke 3: 31)

Born of Tribe of Judah (Prophesied Genesis 49: 10 Fulfilled Revelations 5: 5)

Preceded by a messenger (Prophesied Isaiah 40: 3 Fulfilled Matthew 3: 1-3)

Betrayed by a friend (Prophesied Psalm 40:9 Fulfilled John 13: 18-27)

Sold for 30 pieces of silver (Prophesied Zechariah 11:12 Fulfilled Matthew 26: 14-15)

Forsaken by his disciples (Prophesied Zechariah 13: 7 Fulfilled Mark 14:50)

Crucified with thieves (Prophesied Isaiah 53:12 Fulfilled Matthew 27:38)

Bones not broken (Prophesied Psalm 34: 20 Fulfilled John 19:32-36)

Buried in rich man’s tomb (Prophesied Isaiah 53: 9 Fulfilled Matthew 27:57-60)

Again these are but a handful among a whole host of prophesies that Jesus could not have brought about by himself. Many of them he couldn’t have orchestrated even with a whole band of willing volunteers. This really is the sort of stuff that just couldn’t be made up. This is evidence that demands to be taken seriously. Not only were these hundreds of prophecies written hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus Christ they were also written over a period of several hundreds of years by many different people.

Now, to finish and for those of you who like numbers and probabilities Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963) determines the probability of one man fulfilling just eight of the prophecies found in the Old Testament concerning the Messiah to be 1 chance in 10 to the 17th power or 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000. Peter Stoner then works out the probability of one person fulfilling 48 of the prophecies by chance. Here the odds jump to 1 chance in 10 to the 157th power. That number would look like this:

1 chance out of

100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

I hope this begins to show that the Bible is not a book full of mythical, made-up stories that can be discounted. It is indeed a valid historical document that contains wisdom, power and authority.

What if…God said it and it is true!?!

Posted: January 12, 2011 by Haelie in What If...

What is truth?

How can you be sure?

These are some common questions of our day.  We as humans often struggle with truth.  In reality, however, I think the reason we struggle so much with truth is that we don’t want to believe it.

Tough thought, I know.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

If Jesus is the Truth, then He is the only Way.

We don’t want just one way…we want options.  It’s the nature of our culture.  We have options in almost anything else we face in our daily life.  It’s not fair to not have options.  It’s even offensive to only offer one choice, one way.

As I am progressing through an indepth study of Isaiah right now, I can’t help but see how often God speaks through Isaiah to the people (the people of that day as well as the people of our day).  Repeatedly, God lovingly has Isaiah warn the people and tell them the Way.  He even tells them the gruesome details of the consequences of choosing not to follow His Way.  He gives warning after warning, detail after detail, chance after chance.

Some do choose to change their ways and follow The Way, yet so many more do not.

And, as history can prove, the foretellings of Isaiah about what God would have to do to those who chose to deny Him and live only for themselves did come to pass exactly as they were promised.  And some are still to come…

This may seem harsh, but think about it.

God loves us all enough to warn us when we are headed in a damaging and destructive way and to provide a Way for us to escape the necessary judgment and penalty for sin.

Because He is holy, He cannot tolerate sin.  Yet, because He is loving He has made a Way that frees us from the penalty of our sin…AND He has made that Way known to us…repeatedly.  Jesus is that Way…the only Way.

Our holy and just God sacrificed His most beloved and only Son in a gruesome death to pay the price we could never pay in order to pay our ransom and redeem us in a way that only He can.  Then, He doesn’t just stop there; He transforms us into someone we never imagined we could be.  As I have heard someone say, “Come as you are, just don’t stay that way.”

So, you may think, like many, that a loving God could not also be a God of wrath and vengeance.  But, as a holy God and a just God, He is.  The wonderful thing to grasp in this is the fact that He has promised that His children (those who believe in Him and His Son’s work in our behalf on the cross) will never have to endure that wrath.  However, just as surely as He has promised that His children will not face His wrath, He has stated that He will have vengeance on those who ultimately defy and deny Him.

So, I challenge you with this—

If all of this stuff I have just said is not true, what will it hurt and what will you lose if you believe it and live as if it is?

BUT…

If what I have said, and more importantly what God has said through His Word, IS ultimately Truth, which side of His wrath would you like to be on when that day comes?  Will there be a day when you will regret fighting that tugging in your spirit?

As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it. For God says,“At just the right time, I heard you.
On the day of salvation, I helped you.”

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.  – 2 Corinthians 6:1-3

It’s not too late now…but one day it will be.

I don’t know about you but life seems to be flying by! You spend your childhood wanting to be a teenager and your teenage years wanting to be an adult. When you reach adulthood you long to be a teenager again and soon after that you’re on the home stretch. Life really isn’t that long. Before we know it it will have passed us by and we’ll be left wondering where it all went to.

 

Some of you will have started this New Year with some resolutions. A few of you will have broken them already!! I watched a Facebook thread unfold yesterday about New Year resolutions. People were going to lose weight, sort out their finances, be happier, spend more time with family, get fitter and work less. These are all admirable things and I could probably benefit from perusing all of them. However it got me thinking about all the things we really should do but put off year in and year out. I’m not talking here about the back bedroom that really could do with a lick of paint but no-one really sees it or the book that Auntie Maud gave you that you ought to read but “Using Quantum Physics in Everyday Cooking” doesn’t really strike you as that interesting a read! I’m talking here about things we put off without necessarily knowing it.

 

Most of us are really good at putting things off. We put off getting life insurance until we get really sick. We put off visiting old relative until their funeral. We put off buying a new car until we’re broken down miles from anywhere with the tow truck on its way. However there are some things we really should not put off any longer, because who knows when it may be suddenly too late. I have a friend whose philosophy is “do it now for tomorrow you may be hit by a bus”. It sounds a bit grim but it means she lives for the moment and never regrets not doing things because she’s already done them. Another grim but true story that I love is that of a gunman who goes into a church during a service. He marches to the front and puts the gun to the Pastor’s head and tells the Pastor that he is going to kill him. The Pastor replies “By all means pull the trigger for I know exactly where I’m going, Do you?” The gunman had never thought about it but the Pastor, as he stared death in the face, had thought through the greatest issues of life (and indeed death) and had come to strong hope filled conclusions.

 

My New Year challenge to you it not to put off the bigger things in life any more!! And our commitment to you this year is to help you think through some of those bigger things. This year at What If…? we will be tackling some of those big things that we tend to put off thinking about. Such issues as…

 

  • What happens when we die?

  • Is there more to life than what we can see?

  • Is there a heaven and a hell?

  • Do all religions lead to God?

  • If there is a God why does he let people suffer?

  • Can a God of Love send people to hell?

  • Am I too bad to be saved?

  • Is it really worth looking into the claims of Christianity?

  • Is there truth in the Bible?

  • Does science hold all the answers?

  • Was Jesus who he said he was?

  • Isn’t Christianity past its sell-by-date?

We’d love for you to explore with us these and many other questions of life and faith. We want to hear your thoughts, whether you agree or disagree with us we’d love to dialogue with you. We hope and pray that you have a wonderful new Year and that you grapple with some of life’s biggest questions with us and not put them off!