Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Raising of Lazarus from the Dead

From KH

I like to notice the odd things that most people overlook. After the resurrection of Lazerus, a bunch of the people went running to the Pharisees and the high priest, Caiaphas, to tell them about this. Watch Caiaphas's reaction-- he's unknowingly prophesies the crucifixion of Christ. He says it's better for one man to die than for the whole nation to be destroyed. He felt so threatened by the people's willingness to believe in Christ over the authority of the Pharisees and Saducies. 

Another note about Caiafas being a Saducie. Saducies were different from the Pharisees. Pharisees believed in an afterlife, but Saducees did not. So for Caiafas to hear about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead after 4 days was going against everything he believed. His belief system of no afterlife was another obstacle to seeing Jesus as the Messiah.

From BH

verse 17 grabbed my attention. it says how Jesus waited four days to resurrect Lazarus. this verse made me think because I was wondering why He would wait four days to resurrect him. I think he did that because he needed to wait for more people to witness the resurrection. At the time, there was probably not as much people as he wanted there to be at the tomb. Also in verse 41 and 42 Jesus was talking to God. He asked God that the people standing around him would believe Jesus is the Messiah after they see this miracle. Then he raised Lazarus from the dead. The reason I also mentioned these 2 verses is because you can tell that Jesus wanted people watching Him during the miracle. These 2 verses also helped me with my question because when I read it, it made me think that God wanted lots of people watching him.

Who Washed Jesus's Feet With Oil

I learned something about the washing of Jesus's feet in ointment.  I was confused a bit by the mention of the woman's name, Mary, and realizing that here in John 12, this party was taking place to celebrate Lazerus coming back to life and that Martha was serving, and Mary was the one anointing Jesus's feet.  So it was Martha's sister, Mary-- that Mary that did this.

This was a puzzle to me at first because I always through about this story from another gospel as the woman being a sinner and using her tears to wash his feet.  Now I know all of us are sinners but I recalled there was specific emphasis on the degree of the woman's repentance of her sins through her tears.

Turns out--this is a separate occasion.  That one I recalled was in Luke 7 and took place earlier in Christ's ministry.  This occasion is actually with Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazerus, and it is that Mary who anointed Chrit's feet with oil.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Paul Prepares Christians for Gnostics

I learned from some searches that Collossia that it's just 10 miles away from Laodicia, which is the seventh church of the seven churches in Revelations.  Laodicia and another town is mentioned in Paul's letter to the Collosians as having their own church bodies as well.  Scholars believe this church in Collassia was started during Paul's mission to Ephesis which is on the coast of the Medeteranian about 30 miles from Collosia.

I read that this letter was written from prison in Rome in 62 AD, and that he was with Timothy at the time, along with a man  named Epaphras.

In verse one, he identifies himself as an apostle of Christ.  I got into a bunny trail about the twelfth apostle that may have taken up my time, but I found it quite interesting.  Back in Acts, the eleven remaining appotles studied in Psalms the prophesy concerning the twelve chosen by Christ to be called apostles.  With the apostasy of Judas (apostasy means the opposite of being an apostle or messenger of Christ--it means departing the teachings of Christ), these eleven felt led to fill that gap in order to prepare for the growth of the church ahead.  So whom to chose?  Well, at that time, they were still awaiting the descending of the Holy Spirit (remember the tongues of fire?). So since that hadn't happened yet, they could not get the direction of the Holy Spirit yet.  So they used the method used often in the Old Testament.  They used criteria outlined in the old testament about whom would be month the twelve (must have been chosen by Christ and witnesses the resurrection) and narrowed their choices to Matthias and Barsabus, and then cast lots and let God decide. (Without the Holy Sp;irit for guidance, this was typically done).

But later, and over and over, Paul refers to himself as an apostle of Christ? Where there 13?  That doesn't sound biblical?  Did he mean to imply that he, not Matthias, was the twelfth?  

I don't have the answer for that--just an observation.  It could be that Paul considered himself an apostle in the sense that he was a messenger of Christ,a nd had been visited by Christ on the road to Demascus, and perhaps he considers that being his witness to the resurrection.

These verses go deep into reiterating the foundational beliefs of Christianity, and there is a reason for Paul covering this with the Colossians.  Colossia was being bombarded with gnostic thinking at the time, and you may wonder just who the gnostics were.

These were the deep thinkers of eastern cultures who considered themselves deeply spiritual.  Think Depak Chopra crossed with Oprah Winfrey crossed with Harvard Religion professors.  They elevated themselves as super high in knowledge--they were the elite--too smart for anyone to argue with, right?  But when Christ came along with a compelling Gospel, many gnostics wanted to jump in on it, but couldn't let go of their status as the enlightened thinkers of the day.  So they would hang with the Christians (here the Colosians) and spout off their separate theologies and expect the Colosians to work with them on how to merge the Gospel to include their gnostic ways.

Trouble is, their gnostic ways are wrong!

 Betty Eadie wrote a book in the 1980's all about her near death experience and claimed she met Jesus and He said that everyone goes to Heaven.  It's classic gnosticism. Whether or not Betty thinks she met Jesus or wethehr or not she made it up or whether or not she was dreaming or had a demonic experience, her "message" from Christ is way off. But because she goes around telling people she's seen God, and she knows, she's rather elitist about it, and now her "knowledge" poisons the purity and simplicity of the Gospel.

The motivations of gnostics can be pride (loving the limelight of being the 'expert') or simply the loathing of the simplicity of the Gospel, their actions in tainting the Gospel drag new believers away from Truth.

Paul spends these verses in Colossians reviewing the foundations of faith to help the Colossians gird themselves against gnostic theology.

One of the words used in verse 5 is "hope".  The greek word used in Colossians for "hope" isn't the exact meaning of our americanized 'hope', which allows for a chance of failure.  The Greek word really translates as a confident believe in the future result.   --"because of the hope laid up for you in heaven". 

In verses 7-9 when Paul refers to the world, he's talking about the spreading of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Samuel Says So Long

from K

If these are the last words of Samuel and he is dying, I do know of later when Samuel plays a part!   with David.  It's fascinating.

So it sounds like he's warning them--- they whined and got what they wanted, but they'd better be obedient or else-- and then he calls God to show the rain and thunder in repsonce. God does so, even in harvest season, when the rain is uncommon-- especially with thunder!

* * *

from C

Samuel told the people they would be punished for demanding a king. Here comes the thunder and rain that is uncommon for this time of year! 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Old Testament Cornerstone of the Gospel

by K


I love this chapter.

It's the cornerstone of our faith.  And to think it was written down by Isaiah 700 years before Christ was born!!!  Not only does Isaiah describe Christ being physically broken and abused for us, he explains clearly that in doing so, he is bearing the burden for our sicknesses. I learned from the commentary that many of the english translations of verse 4 tends to make it sound like this verse is speaking of the spiritual burden, but that if you look at the Hebrew word used and how it was translated into Greek before translated into English, it was poorly transitioned from a physical type of a burden to a spiritual type of burden, when actually, verse 4 is clearly explaining how Christ suffered greatly on a physical level.

Then in verse 5, Isaiah begins to explain the spiritual burden Christ took on by taking our sins with Him on the cross.  He clearly explains how lost we all are - like sheep gone astray.  And God took our iniquities and laid it on Christ and then rejected Christ at the cross. 

Wow.  If that doesn't totally prove our faith.  This whole Gospel isn't a storyline invented in New Testament times.  It was prophecies centuries earlier and then the prophecy came to life and became fulfilled.  I wish people would get that!!!

When I first grabbed hold of my faith, I think it was knowing this piece (that prophet predicted all the stuff that happened to Jesus way before Jesus walked the earth with his disciples) which gave me confidence that the truth I'm grabbing hold of was real!

Revelation 1-6 Quiz

by K

1.     In what modern day country are the seven churches of Revelation located, and in what order are they listed?

2.     What are two interpretations of the seven churches that biblical scholars debate about?

3.     What is Christ’s warning to the Ephesians, and what does it mean that their lamp stand would be taken from them?
That they left their first love.  They are doing great works with patience but they lost their focus on how it’s all about their love for Christ.  They are going through the motions, being churchy, and it’s not from the heart anymore.  The lamp stand being taken away means that they are becoming a dead church.  Doesn’t mean the people in it aren’t saved, just that their works are dead.  James says works without faith is dead. He goes on to say in verses 7 and 8 that He sees that they reject the deeds of the apostates, the Nicolatans, and He’s happy for that, and that they have already eaten from the tree of life.  So the Ephesian church does have saved people in it.  It’s just that they are going through the motions and the church is becoming dead—very similar to Christian churches all over America.

4.     What is Christ’s warning to the church at Pergasus?

5.     Of the seven churches, only two had no indictments against them.  Christ’s message to them is complimentary and suggests, be patient and wait.  Which of these seven are these two churches?
Smyrna and Philadelphia

6.     What is Christ’s warning to the church of Laodicea?
That they are neither hot nor cold but luke warm and He will spit them out.

7.     Which church does Christ warn about being neither hot nor cold but lukewarm, and He will spit them out?  What does He mean by this warning, and why is the example of lukewarm water, along with the eye salve, used with this city?
Laodicea.  They had water piped in from the Meditereanian which got neither hot nor cold.

8.     “I stand at the door and knock.” What do people usually use this verse for, and what was intended for it to mean in the context to the church of Laodicea?
It makes a great salvation invitation but it’s meant for the Laodiceans are already believers. He’s telling them that they only need to open that door to the Holy Spirit to wake them up.

9.     Give a map of Revelations—what is generally discussed…use the following as a guideline

The seven churches
Early Church
Events in Heaven
Immediately after the Rapture
Events on earth (1st six seals)
From the first day after the Rapture through the first 3 ½ years of the tribulation
Time out to explain the multitude (7th seal)
Midpoint of the tribulation
Events on earth (1st four trumpets)
Second half of the tribulation

10. Which position is most widely held regarding the Rapture—pretribulation, midtribulation or post tribulation?

11. In Rev 4:1, which describes a trumpet going off in Heaven, what do scholars say this trumpet sound lines up with?
The trumpet in 1 Thes 4:16 which describes the Rapture. This is how scholars believe that the events of chapter 4 and 5 take place immediately following the Rapture

12. In Rev 4, John says there are 24 elders wearing white robes. Who do most scholars believe these 24 elders to be?
The 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles – so they represent the saints from the Old and the New Testaments

13. What happens when the seventh seal is opened, and when the seventh trumpet is sounded?
The seventh seal opening reveals the seven trumpets; and the seventh trumpet sounding reveals the seven vials (sometimes called bowls)

14. When do the four horsemen of the apocalypse show up, describe them, and what they mean.
As each of the first four seals are broken, a new horseman shows up. They represent the changes that take place on earth for the period immediately following the rapture through the mid-tribulation. They come in this order:
Horse Color
bow with no arrows
A warrior who conquers the world without war but with negotiations.
a great sword
Represents violence—people of the world begin to turn on each other
a pair of balances in his hand
Represents famine – the violence leads to famine
Hell follows behind him
Death – famine leads to death

15. With the fifth seal (Revelations 6:9-11), John sees these souls under and alter crying out and Jesus speaks to them.  Who are they, and what do the white robes given to them represent?
These are the souls of believers who were martyred during the first half of the tribulation. Most scholars believe the white robes given to them represent Christ’s covering of their sins with His righteousness.

16. The last part of Chapter Six describes what happens with the six seal and has darkened skies, earthquakes, volcanoes, and armies from the north that are destroyed by volcanoes--- what is all of that?
Scholars debate, but some say an asteroid. Then the armies attacking Israel from the north and destroyed by volcanoes are pointed out come at an opportune time for the Antichrist at the midpoint of the tribulation where he can take credit for it, call himself God, and be allowed to take control of the sacred temple which is prophesied will be desecrated by the antichrist at the midpoint of the tribulation.

17. Who are the 144,000?
They are 12,000 from each tribe of Israel who were not believers before the Rapture, but become believers in the first half of the tribulation.  They are now witnesses and go out across the earth and witness to everyone else.  Then Chapter 7 is all about the people who get saved during the tribulation (these are the multitude).

18. Describe the first four trumpets

Hail and fire
Vegetation burns up
A great mountain with fire falls into the sea
Something falls from the sky into the sea and poisons the sea
Something bright comes down onto the rivers and fountains
Something bright from the sky poisons the fresh water supplies
1/3 of the sun moon stars smitten
Something in the atmosphere cuts down on the light

19. In Revelation 8:13, why the angel say “woe” three times?

Humble Beginnings for a Leader

from K

This was really the first time I've read about the choosing of Saul as king in detail. I find Saul likable at this part of the story. He has humility which later he lacks. He seems willing to take or leave the kingship, and recognize it's not by his doing or his deserving that he has it. Later this changes. Amazing what power will do to your pride. It's actually a fascinating story on lessons learned about human nature and the traps we fall into.

I've learned in the corporate world how much more powerful I was without any position of power. I fell into much of the same trap (embarrassed to admit). Back in the 1980's I was recognized in my company as a go-getter-- a dynamo. I outperformed most everyone around me through powers of influence, not authority. I had this way of just getting to know everyone in the organization and really caring about them and listening to them, and then connecting the right people to the right people and really getting projects done--not by my own ideas or abilities-- but simply by letting everyone else get done what they really wanted to get done in the first place. And I was having a ball-- not doing it for any other reason but that it felt good to finally see people happy at their jobs.

Then, when I got recognized, I got sort of picked, like Saul. This executive vice president / general manager (one of the top seven people in the entire organization of twenty thousand employees) noticed what I was doing and hired me to be his business unit division's organizational consultant. I reported directly to him, and for an entire year was allowed free reign to work my magic on all levels of his business unit from the production floor (there were two polymer plants-- one in Alabama and one in WVa) all the way to the executive team (him, his heads of R&D, Finance, Marketing, Production, and Quality Control). He met with me frequently and gave me all the strategic knowledge of the division and backed me up by asking every middle manager to support my work. (BTW, this was the same mentor who constantly talked about Jesus-- I thought he was nuts and just nodded thinking he was nuts, but hey, he was the big kahuna, no point arguing with him! :-) ) The year was incredible. I managed to help facilitate such sweeping great changes in the company that you could actually see the difference in morale and in the bottom line. And most of it happened with the same approach-- from the bottom up-- I remained, like Saul, surprised at it all-- not deserving of credit, and never taking it. I was kind and got along with everyone.

Then something changed. I think it was a combination of things-- I'll explain more later as I read how Saul changed. I'd like to think I didn't get as bad as Saul, because it's not really my nature to attack others or anything, but I became afraid for my position. You see, that same mentor ended up in a bind-- the division did so well, that when Goodyear (that was the company) was in trouble fighting a takeover bid from British financier James Goldsmith, they were lopping off any profitable division they could sell to fight Goldsmith-- and that made our highly profitable polyester resin business fair game. My mentor was forced into a rough position of having to keep his employees in the dark while meeting with suitors to try to sell his own division. He wasn't allowed to tell me about it, but in so many words, he did. And he worried for my position, knowing that a new owner of the business would immediately cut it.

I didn't care, I told him. I was highly marketable and could probably land a job with far higher salary and benefits (I did actually as I later ended up with Ernst & Young in a management position in consulting). But meanwhile he was convinced he needed to move me into the management ladder and pretty much did at my objections. I hated it. It was brutal and the employees were terrified of the upcoming acquisition and terrified of losing their jobs, and angry and resentful at my mentor for betraying them with the sale of the division and associated me with him.

The experience was awful, and perhaps a better leader could have weathered it. I became extraordinarily defensive of my position. It helps me to understand Saul's defensiveness towards David later.

Enough for now. I'm enjoying reading about Saul. Interesting how Nahash wanted the people of Jebesh to gauge their right eyes out in exchange for peace? Yuck! Thank goodness Saul stepped in and defeated the Ammonites!