God’s Intervention

Before July 2009, my life was trials of tribulations that polluted my inner soul. But today, I’m making wonderful memories under the watchful eyes of the Lord Jesus. How did a miracle save my life? How do miraculous incidents occur, and are they real?

As I go into uncharted territory, let’s look at those involved in near-fatal accidents. Perhaps a soft voice told the victim to hold on, or an unknown soothing touch of a hand cradled their head while assuring help is on its way. This happened to my wife in her car accident. Some people proclaim they met a man in the light of a tunnel. Others are pronounced dead when someone told them to go back because it wasn’t their time. Was this a man, or an angel, or the same person in all the above cases? Was it God’s intervention in these lives?

I often hear deists, and even some Christians say, “There is no such thing as miracles. Is it just something written in the Bible, or only performed when Jesus was alive?” How many unexplained events happen in the world today? Who made them happen? Was it just a fluke, or do you think you have a better scientific explanation?

Miracles didn’t stop after the Bible was written! They happen every day, and we read about them in the newspapers and social media. God can only perform these supernatural acts, not humans.

The New Testament translates miracles as signs that God uses to point to Himself. Some examples in the Bible include:

The blind were made to see (John 9:1-7), and the lame to walk (Acts 3:1-10). They became followers of Jesus.

The resurrection of Christ became the basis of Christianity.

Jesus turned water into wine (John 2:1-11).

Jesus’ light blinded Saul of Tarsus and became God’s Apostle.

Jesus calmed a ferocious storm on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8:23-27).

The miracles of Christ were never denied during early Christianity. Even ancient enemies admitted that Jesus did certain extraordinary deeds as an intervention. John said Jesus did so many “works” that the world could not contain the number of books should all of them be recorded (John 21:25).

Image copyright by Luno Project (Big Book Media)/ FreeBibleImages.org

Miracles are God’s way of communicating with mankind, and they remain so in today’s times. He puts in place a miraculous act to draw you closer to Him. I know it’s hard to conceive, but the Lord can rescue the insignificant, such as myself, and make him His servant. Many people share their personal experiences of being anointed to do God’s holy work, especially after He worked a miracle in their life. Yes, miracles still happen!

We are nearing Easter, the holiest event in Christianity. Jesus hung on the cross, accepting our sin, but he rose from the dead three days later. This was the greatest miracle because, against all the odds, He rose from the dead. His disciples and others encountered Him during His ascension of forty days. His resurrection gives all people hope their suffering will lead to joy.

Are you so focused on the problems of this world, or your life, that you are missing out on the greatest joy you will ever receive – one of His miracles? Maybe the Lord sees you floundering and knows you need a sign. Do not close your eyes, for He is always watching and there to protect you.

A Special Prayer:

Today, as a nation, we pray to you, Father, for an intervention. We’ve come to pass where an Ebenezer is our hope, and only Your grace can save us, Lord. Though the storm clouds deter the heavens, we know in our heart You hear us calling for help. We need a miracle, Lord Jesus! Give us a miracle and protect us from the pandemic spreading across the world. Amen.

God’s intervention is our hope today.


Did you miss the Special Edition message last week? Click HERE to read “Has the Antichrist Arrived: Prosperity to Poverty”



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The First Promise of Advent

The First Promise of AdventThe four Sundays prior to Christmas are traditionally known as “Advent,” within most Christian churches. It is a time of both anticipation and preparation for the celebration of Christ’s birth into our world more than two millennia ago.

December 1, 2019, is the first Sunday of Advent on the church calendar. Many churches feature special events prior to or even as a part of congregational worship gatherings. These usually include the introduction of Christmas “hymns” or special music selections familiar to most of the people who will attend.

Since Christmas is a time that many people visit churches who don’t regularly attend, Advent is also a time when additional presentations are held such as dramas and musical performances. These special services are often prepared months in advance with the help of numerous volunteers who strive to make the season more meaningful for those who attend.

There are some potential problems with the tradition of Advent that can go largely unaddressed because they are unrecognized. One problem fits the old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt,” in that the more practice one has over many years participating in Advent, the more one can overlook the meaning of doing it at all by simply taking Advent for granted.

Another significant problem involves those who are among casual church-goers whose main motivation may be to observe children or other relatives participating in Christmas plays or in a special choir performance. Instead of taking Advent for granted, these people can easily just dismiss it altogether as one more “event” to attend around the ‘holiday’ season.

In short, this epitomizes the difficulty every church and every pastor has in preparation for this time of year. How can the marvelous message of Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, bring born as a human being to bring His creation the good news of God’s love and grace, be meaningful and impactful for everyone?

The First “Advent” Promise, the Proto-Evangelium

Advent wreathThe four Sundays of Advent also feature an activity only engaged in during this time of year, the lighting of the Advent candles. A different candle is lit each week symbolizing the qualities of hope, faith, joy, and peace given to humanity by the coming of Jesus.

The candles are most often arranged in a circular pattern within an Advent “wreath.” In the center of the wreath, a larger white candle is usually placed to symbolize the birth of Christ, and is thus known as the “Christ candle.” Usually, a short ceremony/teaching accompanies the lighting of each candle to help express the meaning behind the concepts.

I will not delve into the history of how the idea of an Advent season came about and how it has developed until today. Rather, I propose to present a biblical case that the true meaning of Advent is contained and expressed within the Word of God.

I have always believed that the true meaning of anything is inextricably tied to its origin. Therefore, the meaning of Advent as a concept [rather than the meaning of the term itself] can be found in the origin of the concept in the Bible.

Advent originates in the Bible where the writing begins, in the book of Genesis. It is first presented by the words of God in the Garden of Eden in the aftermath of Adam and Eve’s first disobedience of God.

God spoke to Satan who had taken the form of a serpent,

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15 [ESV]

This verse is known by biblical students and scholars as the proto-Evangelium, or “first gospel” message ever presented.  In the midst of pronouncing the punishment for the original sin of humanity, the LORD drops a nugget of golden “good news” to look forward to in the future.

Gabriel, Mary, AdventSpecifically, God promised that sometime in the future, the offspring of the woman would fight against and triumph over the offspring of the ‘serpent’. It is a unique promise because it identifies the one who will come as the “her” offspring, rather than a descendant from both Adam and Eve.

There are other instances in prophecy when God specifies that the promised One is going to be born of a woman alone. The most familiar of these comes from chapter one of Luke’s gospel as announced to Mary by the angel Gabriel.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. Luke 1:30-35 [ESV]

The first promise of Advent is that Christ is coming to fulfill the plan of salvation set in motion way back in Genesis. Moreover, the promise was also that He is coming in a miraculous manner that God alone could accomplish, being born of a virgin!

Advent helps us recall the hope of this promise, and look toward God to fulfill it on our behalf, even at great cost to Himself. Realizing and accepting that promise in each heart brings the ultimate hope for our eternal life in the Kingdom of God.

Take time this Advent season to grab onto the promise of God for yourself through faith in Christ. It will be the best Christmas gift anyone could ever acquire.

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Reel Ministry’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of Christine Macintosh’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Percy Sledge Agbunag Carballo’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published at TIL Journal

 

All Things Become The Teacher

Maybe it was the lack of sleep or the weight of thousands of miles traveled, but I nearly cried when I saw Spam Fried Rice on the menu. The overwhelming sense of nostalgia came with that one uniquely Guam dish.

Even though it had been 25 years since I was last on Guam, the place felt the same. The individuals, the business names, and the political players changed. Roads have widened and beaches narrowed. Yet the essence that is undeniably Micronesia is perhaps stronger than before.

My trip to Guam in September of 2019 was a lesson in synchronicity and serendipity. For the 10 days that I was there, I only had one activity planned: the book launch on Wednesday, September 18. I went with an open heart and mind to let the journey unfold as it would and trusted a Higher Power to guide each step of the way.

The reason for the trip? Back in 1992, while attending the University of Guam, I was part of an Anthropology field school on Ulithi Atoll. Fast forward 20-some years, the professor retired and finally had time to compile a book about Ulithi. Papers myself and fellow students wrote as a result of the field school were part of the volume, Ulithi Atoll, Micronesia: Recalling the Past, Reaffirming the Future, along with more recent research from the 21st century.

Less than a month before the formal book launch, I was contacted by one of the book’s editors to inform me about the existence of this book. That was just one of a cascading volume of “coincidences” that were part of my Guam experience.

My former professor had tried to track me down me before. When time was running out, she asked the other editor to try. If this person had tried a week or two earlier, she would not have established contact.

The only reason she was able to reach me was that, merely a week prior, I had added the URL for this blog onto my Facebook page. If I hadn’t done that, I would have completely ignored the friend request and I would have absolutely no knowledge that this book existed, and hence, I would not have journeyed to Guam. As it was, she conveyed a message through the comments section on my blog, which comes straight to my inbox.

Guam is an island of connections. It seemed that everywhere I went and everything I did wove tiny threads of synchronism linking events, people, the past, and the future into a cohesive whole. I had such an overwhelming sense that I was exactly where I was supposed to be when I was supposed to be there.

The day I arrived, a two-day conference ended about decolonizing Guam. This is a topic I was actively learning about to inform the novel I’m writing. Turns out, a former classmate who I had been looking to reconnect with was very involved with the issue. When we met for dinner, it was as if no time had passed and we talked and talked, much to the annoyance of people waiting to be seated at the restaurant.

Another motivation for returning to Guam was to get more information about the Suruhana, the traditional healers on Guam. This was also to inform my writing. ‘Coincidentally,’ my friend was familiar with a number of Suruhana and an avid supporter of helping the tradition survive in the 21st century.

Oh, and so many more parallels. When I had been on Guam in the 80s and 90s, I knew my friend had grown up on-island. Little did I realize that she had gone to high school in Medford, Oregon, a rather small, rural town. At that point, I had never been to Oregon. After moving away from the island I had happened to go through Medford shortly after my husband and I married in 1995. We fell in love with the area and have lived there ever since. So, my friend and I also had Medford in common.

There were too many other coincidences and parallels to mention. I’ll just say that every conversation confirmed that I had needed to be on Guam at that moment, to have that conversation, to gain that insight.

Overall, a strong sense of “it is time” pervaded my consciousness. It was time to act. Time to show up in the world. Time to let my voice be heard. Time to move beyond fear and fulfill my purpose. Heady stuff? Yes. Yet all it really means is that I must trust myself and do what is in front of me.

I can’t help but believe that my meditation practice allowed my mind to be clear and to fully discover the joy and meaning of each moment. In Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s words, “As we grow accustomed to looking at the clear surface of our minds, we can see through all the gossip about who and what we think we are, and recognize the shining essence of our true nature.” (The Joy of Living, p. 132).

I believe that you can come to know your true nature through many different religions and paths. As my husband recently heard, when the student is ready, all things become the teacher. So whether you’re in a 12-step program, a devout follower of a religion or anything in between, my wish for you is that you come to know how amazing you truly are and can follow your passion to your ultimate fulfillment.

Reprinted fromI Am Many Things

The Dynamic Story of Paul the Apostle, Part 2: First Missionary Trip

The year was 46 A.D., and with the death of King Herod, the church was again free to preach the gospel. However, the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem by the Jews and Roman authorities increased; they forced many believers to leave the area.

Paul and Barnabas headed to Jerusalem to meet Cephas (birth name Simon but later renamed Peter, by Jesus). Cephas was the fourth child born to Noah after the great flood. The men spent fifteen days fasting and praying. One day, news arrived the melting pot church in Antioch (in Syria) wanted missionaries to preach to the Jews and Gentiles. Many believers moved during the upheavals in Jerusalem, and they needed churches throughout the region.

The Holy Spirit spoke to the church elders in Antioch, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” (Acts 13:2) The church laid their hands on Paul and Barnabas in 47 A.D., and they boarded a ship headed to the island of Cyprus on their first missionary trip.


SALAMIS/ PAPHOS

They arrived in the port city of Salamis. The Roman influence was everywhere – public baths, a large theater, and a temple dedicated to Zeus. The Graeco-Roman world was ready for the message of the gospel. Focusing on the Jews, Paul and Barnabas wasted no time proclaiming the word of God in local synagogues. Most who spread the word of God were Jews who scorned and persecuted Christian missionaries. But many believers were ready to receive Paul’s ministry across the island.

Three months passed, and the two disciples decided to walk westward to Paphos, the seat of the Roman government. It was the worship center for the goddess Aphrodite (Venus). Word spread quickly they arrived in town. Soon a message arrived – the island’s Roman governor, Sergius Paulus, wanted to meet them and hear God’s word. It was also an investigation who was causing all the commotion in his community.

When the governor entered the room, Elymas (also called Bar-Jesus), a threat to the Christian community, strayed in behind him. Paul heard about this false prophet (sorcerer), and he became infuriated of his intentions, but just the same, they spoke the message for the governor. Elymas turned to the official and urged him not to pay attention to their untrue words. Paul was livid and stared Elymas in the eyes. He remembered his own experience in Damascus and knew blindness would humble a proud man.

“You son of the devil, full of every sort of deceit and fraud, and enemy of all that is good! Will you never stop perverting the true ways of the Lord? Watch now, for the Lord has laid his hand of punishment upon you, and you will be struck blind. You will not see the sunlight for some time.” (Acts 13:10-11)

Image courtesy of wikipedia.org

Elymas stepped back, and a mist and darkness came over his eyes.

“Help me! I can’t see! Someone, please, take my hands and guide me out of here!”

The governor’s eyes opened wide, and he proclaimed the gospel as truth.

*SPECIAL NOTE: This incident was a critical turning point for Paul and his ministry. He became the team leader, initiated by Barnabas because Paul showed unusual faith and courage. The move showed Barnabas was selfless enough to set the good of others above personal glory. Instead of always striving for power, it is always seeking to help.


PERGA/ PISIDIAN ANTIOCH

Paul and Barnabas set sail once again, this time to the mainland of Turkey. They arrived in Perga, an ancient city of Pamphylia, and proceeded onward to the Roman colony, Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath, they visited a synagogue and the church leaders invited them to speak.

Paul lifted his hand and began his speech. He started with the Israelite history, and finally, he introduced Jesus.

“It is one of King David’s descendants, Jesus, who is God’s promised Savior of Israel! Before he came, John the Baptist preached that all the people of Israel needed to repent of their sins and turn to God and be baptized… Brothers – you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles – this message of Salvation has been sent to us!” Acts 13: 23-24

He told the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and the laws of forgiveness. Paul ended his speech with these final words:

“Brothers, listen! We are to proclaim that through this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins. Everyone who believes in him is made right in God’s sight – something the law of Moses could never do. Be careful! Don’t let the prophets’ words apply to you.” Acts 13: 38-40

Many of the Jewish and Gentile listeners were so enthralled, they invited him back the following week. This time, the whole city gathered to hear the news. Angry, jealous Jews stood in the crowd slandering, and they created arguments with Paul. Persecution soon followed Paul and Barnabas. In a state of frustration, they declared they would no longer preach the word of God to Jews…

“…since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles. For the Lord gave us this command when he said, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the farthest corners of the earth.’” Acts 13: 46-47

The Ruins of Antioch

The elated Gentiles spread the Lord’s message throughout the region. They celebrated their conversion to Christianity. However, the furious Jews gathered prominent members of the city to expel Paul and Barnabas from their city. They did not want the missionary’s blasphemy in Antioch. So be it…


ICONIUM

With a smile in their heart, and the happiness of converting many Jews and Gentiles to Christianity while in Pisidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas headed southeast to Iconium. They preached much in synagogues, and the Lord gave them the power to perform miracles. The city became divided in their beliefs of the Good News – is it Judaism or Christianity? Upheavals ensued, and the opposition grew in strength. A huge plot to kill Barnabas and Paul spread across the town. Rumors of their impending death instigated the missionaries to flee Iconium. Paul and Barnabas left immediately and traveled to the remote city of Lystra, just twenty miles away.


LYSTRA

This little city laid within tall Roman walls and many beautiful temples dedicated to Greek Gods stood tall and proud. The temple of Zeus was the most popular for he was the father of the Greek gods. Paul and Barnabas settled right into their new surroundings. They continued to minister in the synagogues and converted many to Christianity.

One Sunday, Paul looked out over the audience and noticed a man with crippled feet intently absorbing his spoken words. Paul thought, “He needs the faith of God.”

“You! Stand up!” Paul yelled to the man. The startled man jumped to his feet and started walking. (Acts 14: 8-10)

A loud gasp of shock, then cheering erupted from the crowd. People everywhere shouted, “These men are gods in human form!” (Acts 14:11)

The priest of the temple of Zeus and a crowd of people began laying wreaths of flowers and some pulled bulls to the town gates. These were signs of sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas. The people mistakenly thought Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes. The apostles tried to convince the crowd they were mere men.

“Friends, why are you doing this? We are merely human beings – just like you! We have come to bring you the Good News that you should turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.” (Acts 14: 15-18)

It was impossible to restrain the crowd. In the distance, Paul and Barnabas saw some Jews from Antioch in Turkey and Iconium arrive on the scene. Were they here to support them? No! The Jews yelled out to the masses.

“These men are imposters! They are blasphemous! Stone them! Stone them!”

Stoning of Paul. Attribution to Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleimages.org

The crowd, in great anger, surrounded the apostles and pounded Paul with rocks and stones. (It was never disclosed if Barnabas was also stoned in the Bible). In the agony of pain, Paul passed out, so the angry people dragged him out of the city. A small group of believers gathered around him for they thought he was dead, but God had different plans. The Lord miraculously healed Paul on the spot, and he got up off the ground and walked right back inside the city.

The next morning Paul and Barnabas made the grueling thirty-mile walk to Derbe in central Turkey.


DERBE

Paul preached the Bible with great success in Derbe, and in each town, he established priests to say Mass and celebrate the sacraments. The early Christian churches were quickly establishing themselves as a stronghold in every city he visited on his mission trip. Eighteen months passed, and they felt it was time to go home.


REVISIT TO LYSTRA, ICONIUM, AND PISIDIAN ANTIOCH

Though victims of persecution, Paul and Barnabas decided to retrace their steps. They would return through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch on their way to the ship. The apostles strengthened and comforted believers and they appointed elders in the church of each city. Paul was confident the Lord would protect these early churches.


GOING HOME TO ANTIOCH OF SYRIA

Paul and Barnabas returned home by ship to Antioch of Syria in 48 A.D. Paul gathered his church together and reported all of his good deeds while in each city. “…we’ve opened a door of faith to the Gentiles,” he exclaimed with delight. The gospel spread far and wide. Paul’s journey was a preparation of more to come.

COMMENTARY:

Paul’s first successful missionary trip gives us an idea of the very beginning of Christian churches in the world. King Herod’s reign boasted fear and hatred, particularly amongst the Jews. After he died, Christianity took hold of the land for many witnessed the life and resurrection of Jesus. The church of Antioch of Syria was the foundation for sixteen more Antioch’s built in the ancient world. They had several outstanding leaders of which Paul and Barnabas were two of them.

What can we learn about the early Christian churches?

  1. Though God selects who will disciple His word, the early churches developed the skill of leadership. They meticulously trained their missionaries and ministry teams which came from many diverse backgrounds. Strong support for their apostles came in the form of prayers, education, and mentoring skills.
  2. The first Christians were Jewish Christians, either by conversion or birth. They revered the Hebrew bible in religious text which was often in Greek. They were a sect of Judaism in Rome.
  3. The early Gospels spread only by word of mouth, so training of leaders was critical for success. Preaching included the history of Jesus and His parables, salvation, and forgiveness.

Paul built many early Christian churches in this eighteen-month trip. His first journey covered the regions of south-central Asia Minor, Turkey, and Syria. He traveled about 1,400 miles spreading the Good News.

Paul’s first missionary trip teaches us several Christian highlights:

  1. Christianity met with horrible opposition and much persecution. As I’ve always said, history repeats itself for this perplexing situation still continues today. God warns all Christians; many will not believe in Him. Walk away from non-believers and pursue those who want to find a better way of life. In Paul’s case, he always began teaching to the Jews, but the Gentiles became the church’s followers.
  2. Perseverance is a virtue and is a mark of great spiritual maturity. A strict dedication to God is the only way to covert doubters to believers.
  3. It is unnecessary to fully convert non-believers. God uses Christians just to plant the seeds.
  4. Paul demonstrated the ultimate meaning of forgiveness. They expelled him from Perga, plotted his murder in Iconium, and almost died from stoning in Lystra, yet he walked back into every city and pardoned their people. He prayed for their forgiveness of sins.
  5. Paul could perform unusual miracles, but they were done as a last resort – to testify of God’s power and strength.

In conclusion, I pray for those who do not know the light of God. Let us never give up planting seeds, but remain in constant prayer… just as Paul.

Did you miss Part 1? Click here to read it.


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The Dynamic Story of Paul the Apostle: Part 1, The Conversion

The short, balding man with crooked legs leaned against the stone pillar of the Christian church and sneered at the attendees. As believers left the service, he picked up stones and threw them yelling, “Blasphemy! You mock my Messiah with your false religion! Run, or I’ll stone you to death too!” Saul of Tarsus never regretted watching Stephen get stoned to death. “Jesus the Savior”, he exclaimed, “only God is our Savior!” Stephen was a wicked and disgusting Christian, just as the people in this church, he thought to himself. It was Saul’s job to serve and protect God and the Jewish religion. All the talk of Jesus living on earth was lies so he would see to it Christians were imprisoned and killed for their false doctrines.

It was 33 AD, and Saul decided to leave his regular tent making job behind, and head to Damascus with three friends on a 136-mile trip. He was on a mission to arrest all Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem for prosecution by the Romans. Saul limped down the dusty road, when suddenly, a great light shone directly in his eyes. He stumbled onto the ground. As he glanced up, he witnessed a vision of the resurrected Jesus.

“Who art thou, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:4-5)

Stunned and speechless, Saul’s friends backed up and looked away with their hands over their eyes. Saul trembled and staggered to his feet, but when he opened his eyes, he was blind! The men took Saul by his hands and led him the rest of the way to Damascus. Saul refused to drink or eat for the three-day trip. He could only stay in deep prayer with every step he took on the road. The Lord had revealed himself to Saul so what else could he do but praise God’s name? Everything he believed until now was wrong – the Mosaic Law. Jesus was the name he should worship!

Upon Saul’s arrival in Damascus, God ordered him to visit Ananias, a disciple (or prophet) of Jesus. As Ananias entered the room, he spoke to Saul, “Brother Saul, the LORD-Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Ananias laid his hand over Saul’s eyes and the “scales” of dead tissue on the surface of his eyes fell to the floor; Saul’s vision was restored again. The next event was even more profound for Saul was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Ghost. It washed away his sins and he later adopted a new Christian name – Paul.

Now baptized in the Holy Spirit, Paul (Saul of Tarsus) quietly headed for Arabia. It was a spiritual retreat where he could learn about himself and the reality of his true Savior. He was comforted and strengthened by God’s powerful presence as he studied the scriptures of the Old Testament. It is here Paul met his confidante, a Christian leader called Barnabas, who put God before his physical possessions. It intrigued Paul that Barnabas sold a field and laid the money before the feet of the apostles. The mentoring relationship between the two men laid the groundwork for Paul’s future superb ministry. He also met with Jesus’ brother, James. God was preparing Paul’s way for the ministry for the next three years. (Galatians 1:18)

COMMENTARY:

Saul of Tarsus (modern-day Turkey), better known as Paul, was born into a devout Jewish family in 5AD. Most Jews, in biblical days, were not Roman citizens, but Rome gave him and his family the honor. It is an educated guess they were of moderate wealth, which made significant contributions to the Roman Empire. Citizenship outside of Italy was only granted to people of substantial influence.

At fourteen Paul went to Jerusalem and trained to be a Rabbi, an occupation he could fall back on if tent-making proved unsuccessful. It was during this time he became a man of firm convictions for the Jewish faith. His fiery temperament caused the death of many early Christians, including Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity. Paul went from house to house, dragged out men and women believers, and threw them into jail.

If we revisit history, Paul was born in the era of Jesus’ birth and entire life. Christianity was the newest religion established in the Middle East and very much frowned on by the Jews. They do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus for he was a mere prophet and son of God. Also, this new Messianic movement (as they called Christianity) denied Roman rule and antagonized much chaos throughout the land. Therefore, Paul’s anger triggered towards the blasphemy which Christians spoke – Jesus was “King of the Jews” and “Jesus the Messiah.”

What can we learn from Saul’s conversion? A person who persecutes a Christian is persecuting Jesus and this sin is mighty. The same fall-from-grace stands true today. The Lord will seek revenge on those who attempt to destroy His children. But like Saul, if we admit our sins and seek God, we will be forgiven.

A little-known fact about Paul, he was NOT one of the original twelve disciples. As he turned his love of God into mission work, many believers assumed God assigned him to be a disciple, but this was not true. Paul began using his name, “Paul the Apostle” in his later writings. He became a prolific writer for of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament, Paul wrote thirteen of them in his lifetime – 1st Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, and Romans.

I began this blog just before Paul converted to Christianity. We can read his conversion story in Acts 9:1-19; Acts 22:3-16; Acts 26:12-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:8-9. As I researched Paul, I realized his marvelous story spread over many books of the Bible; thus the motivation to condense all the chapters and tell of his life in one dynamic narrative.

Next Sunday, we will cover Paul’s tracks just after his conversion. We will examine the profound impact he established on Christianity during his first missionary trip. His life is nothing short of miraculous – he witnessed and lived through God’s blessings and love. Isn’t this something every Christian should strive to do?


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Spiritual Happiness

Much is written about joy in the Bible. Jesus spoke of being joyful unto His Father, later transcribed to, “Be joyful unto the Lord.” As we face disillusions and fears, of either, we endure many hardships. I, too, have these familiar symptoms, but God always remains constant in my mind. These words resonate in my mind, “Bring Me your woes and do not worry for I will help you with your inspirational battles.”

Unforeseen problems arise in the worldly pressures and obligations that meet us, not greet us, at every doorstep. Life, sometimes, can appear to be short-lived… unless your faith asks God for a special blessing and miracle. Some have experienced God at His best as unfortunate events end with a silver lining.

I often write of my sordid past life, but I glance back at those times and realize God intervened in my life. Today’s blog, however, is not about me, but the one I’m closest to, my wife. This young, vibrant, and outgoing woman, plagued with a virtue of grief and sadness in the past few months, almost lost her life in a car accident twenty-five years ago. The doctors just diagnosed her with heart failure as a repercussion of the injuries.

In disbelief, we took part in many tests and things seemed questionable, but nevertheless, okay… until the last test screening. It confirmed her life might be terminal. I can’t say how one prepares to die, except to “live life like there’s no tomorrow”… and so we did, in apprehension. With no other choice, I fought for the spiritual happiness of both of us. I walked on pins and needles, often hearing the crunch of eggshells. I was too frightened to speak much, so I stayed in constant prayer. Following my blog called Faith for Two, I knew only God would see us through this dilemma.

Matthew 6:25-27

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

The day arrived for her medical procedure, and hopefully, it would not become an open-heart decision. I watched the love of my life that morning, and I observed her quietly whispering, “Goodbye, mommy loves you” to her favorite parrot of twenty-seven years. I read her last words, “No food or drink after midnight,” as she prepared herself for a procedure which could end her life. It would have been easier to move a mountain than to keep her spirits positive. I maintained my strong convictions and stayed where I knew God wanted me to be – in prayer. Only my Lord Jesus could restore that which would destroy her many years ago.

In the lobby, in front of the doors to the operating room, I kissed her goodbye. Keeping up our spiritual happiness, I told her,” I’ll see you for lunch.” With tears in her eyes, we prayed it was not our last forever kiss. I needed to go to God! Father bless her and keep her in your arms, my dear Lord.

The wait seemed like an eternity. I took a seat beside a minister, and we shared our own hearts. The door at last opened, and a doctor in scrubs called out my name, “BICKS.” He took me into a quiet room and invited me to sit beside him on the couch. I had my faith until the moment he elected to move closer to me.

“She’s all clear, Mr. Bicks,” he said. “We found no blockages, and she’s as good as new.” My sweet love, who worried for five months of dying, was born again to the likeness of the sweet, little girl I remembered thirty-two years ago. She will live! Thank You, Jesus!

A curious thought crossed my mind. Two weeks ago, the cardiologist saw the blockage in a scan, and now it doesn’t exist!? Was this one of God’s miracles? You decide…

It has been six days now, and I see a glow where worry over-shadowed her face. A renewed life called spiritual happiness far exceeds a biblical joy. Saved by grace, quite literally, His miracle child is born again. There is no greater gift than the gift of life; and when death comes calling, defying Satan’s force is a miracle!

Living in a spiritual realm of happiness, where no pressure or problems exist, can be conquered when we reach out in faith. A great example of this in the bible was the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people on five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:15-21 and Luke 9:12-17). It is called the marvel of God’s healing hands, just as He did to my wife.

We read the miraculous stories of defying doctors’ diagnoses, but until it happens to you, we shun it with some other explanation. The Lord’s greatest feat was saving my wife’s life, and not once but twice; she put her heart and soul close enough for Him to heal her with His touch.

May I suggest we armor ourselves in prayer each morning to maintain spiritual happiness? Don’t identify with suffering, loss, or sickness. Remain steadfast in our Lord’s word, and He will calm every facet of your life. Today, my wife and I wake with a smile and a good-morning kiss, for God came to bless us with another anointed day. Our spiritual happiness is more than we ever asked for, and it is all because we serve our Almighty Savior.


NOTE FROM ANNE BICKS:

I would like to sincerely thank everyone for your cards, love, and support through this difficult time. Your kindness means the world to me! God bless you all!


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Struggle

Life is all about struggle.

You never live without struggle.

Life begins with a struggle.

Life ends with a struggle.

Struggle is the part of our life.

A mother struggles to give birth to her child.

Every living creature struggles for survival.

Struggle is the rule of life.

If you struggle to get something today,

Tomorrow or in your near future, you’ll receive your grand rewards.

Don’t scare to struggle.

Enjoy your struggle and hug it like your true pal.

Your grand success and victory is always waiting for you.

Source: POSITIVE THOUGHTS OF SELF-MOTIVATION! Only you can motivate yourself… Only you can bring positive changes in your life…. Birister Sharma

To Buy this Book- POSITIVE THOUGHTS OF SELF-MOTIVATION!

Thank you for reading. Let us make a beautiful world together. God bless!

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COPYRIGHT © Shubham Verma

A series of coincidences!

Dear friends,

How are you all doing?  I hope you are learning something new everyday from life. I, for my part, get my lessons when I least expect them.

Just now, I was browsing the TV channels and came across a movie that I like.  So, I decided to watch it for some time before getting back to my work.

The story is about a wife who forgets her identity (i.e who she really was) as she is busy taking care of her family before one of her friends reminds her of the person she used to be in college.  So while trying to motivate her to be her old self again and to start dreaming again, the friend tells her a very powerful line:

“Your dream is your signature!!”

I went numb hearing those words.  All of a sudden I could see all the possibilities my one dream could have for me and for the world around me.  I kept thinking about the line again and again and every time I thought about it, I felt a shiver in my body.  It was such a deep thought.  The line had the power to change the destiny of anybody who believed in it.  I felt so powerful!

I had tears in my eyes. I went numb and my mind just took a different route and started dreaming.  I went into a zone of dreaming and then came back just in time to hear the second line which again blew my mind:

“I am 36 years old.”

Why does that matter to me? Well no points for guessing! I am 36 at the moment.  So what was this? A message for me? A sign?

I have seen this movie many times before but I never felt like this before. You know why? It is because back then, I was not sure what my dream was.  I had no idea about what I wanted to do with my life. I was struggling to know what I wanted to do, what I wanted to be. But in the last few days I somehow knew what I wanted to do with my life and now I got this message. It further confirmed my thoughts that I was on the right path.

Such experiences are called “Moments of Grace” according to Neale Donald Walsch in his book “When God Steps in, Miracles Happen” which happens to be a book that I am currently reading (a third coincidence!).

So let me now connect the dots here – I read a book on miracles which says that  we all experience “Moments of Grace” in our lives when our questions (the questions will mostly be the ones that are most important to us at those particular moments of our lives) are answered through our experiences, through people, through books etc. (in my case it was a line from a movie).

I have no words to write about this anymore.  I am blabbering while trying to connect everything and understand the huge moment I just had.

Has this ever happened to you?  Do let me know your experiences and what do you feel about such experiences.

Love,

Rashmi

What Is To Be? Is The World Coming To An End Or? Is Mankind To Prevail Over The Almighty’s Power And Authority Over His Creation? Time Is Telling ….

 

Journal—An Ongoing Dialog Between thiaBasilia And Master Yahuwah/Yahushua. …

Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 10:06 pm.

Time Is Telling No Doubt ….

The human element is going on, on queue –Knowledge. Business. Entertainment. Romantic Love. Noble humanistic ways, on and on the busyness goes on and on, but!

Time is telling. Time is saying—loudly lovingly saying, “I AM COMING TO MY END. BEWARE, O HUMAN, BEWARE!

Ha! A Doomsayer! Nonsense! Maybe Not. Read On …?

This day is coming to an end with a great note! O my Father? You are full of wonderful surprises for Your child.

Yesterday was a downer, but! Today? It turned out to be an upper! The cause? Whatsapp. SIWO Board Members. My inability to type in the phone screen.

All that insidious junk running through my carnal mind, but! My Father’s love and wisdom prevailed. Father whispered to me:

“Go to Whatsapp in your desktop. Read the instructions carefully to activate the app in your computer so you can type your heart out to communicate with the Board at SIWO.”

Wow! This time? In no time all my computer is set to handle whatsapp from my desktop. What a feat conquered!

Victory! Defeat! Up! Down, But! ….?

It’s now 11:35 pm. Suspense. Nothing has happened for the last couple of hours. I find myself as usual? Not knowing which way to turn, but! That’s only momentarily.

Anyhow? I’ll go to bed. Things will look better when I wake up if? I go to sleep. Perhaps things would look worse. No matter. In glee or gloom? You always zoom!

Good Reason To Sit Still And Wait ….?

Monday, April 16, 2018 at 3:07 am.

O my Father, thanks for Your Presence. I am not alone. Even so, the human element is not to be found, but!

You have good reason for things to be the way they are. I must sit still if I want to see Your deliverance.

It’s now 6:44 am. Indeed! I MUST sit still. I haven’t got the slightest about what’s happening with me. Nor have I the slightest about what’s happening in my world.

Definitely? My Eyes Are Set On You. The Human Element? I Now Understand It.

Whether the human element recognizes You in me or not? You are in perfect control of the human element

Me? I am human. You are in control of every minute detail of my life. Your children? My children and brothers and sisters.

Father’s Wisdom Prevails In My Life ….?

I continue to find myself so full of laughter, compassion, immense undying love for all my deserters and children and brothers and sisters!

Whatever happens between them and myself? Once I get over my shock? I continue to hear:

“Think like I think, respond! Reason with your brother et all. Reason with the wisdom I have instilled within your being.”

So, That’s What I Do. Then? The Vicious Circle! Shucks!….?

I get bent out of shape because I don’t get standing ovation from mine? O dear! What a tricky thing this carnal self of mine is!

Nay! I Am Human, But! No Need To Act Like The Wicked Human That I Am ….?

What I write? What I say? What I do? It’s all from the innocent child’s heart my Father gifted to me. It ALL comes from my Father’s heart not from my wicked human self.

Unbelievable! ….?

It’s unbelievable the pickles I get myself into from telling ALL people—female, male, young or old, “I love you! Give me a hug!” Never thinking of how it sounds.

The Shock Of My Life ….?

It was not until I came to these parts of the world that I got the shock of how people takes the famous 3 letters word, I LOVE YOU. Can you believe it, dear Reader?

The first instruction given to me when I arrived to these parts of the world? “Do not tell these men, ‘I love you’ for they take it you mean you want to go to bed with them.”

What? That Was A Shock Of Shocks, But!

An even worse shock? NO HUGS! Not even shaking hands. Do not touch the male element at all.

Even the women. If it is a friend? You kiss on their left and right cheek. If it is a fond friend? You kiss two or three times, but! Men?

It’s Totally Amusing To Me ….?

If we are visiting in their parlor and the husband or brother appears and announces a male visitor? The woman quickly get up and leave the room—they run for cover!

I remain in the room not knowing what’s happening because I don’t speak the language. Immediately, the male visitors appear with their respectful greetings.

I Am Ignored Like I Am Not There At All ….?

I watch. They pretty much ignore my presence. They simply go on with whatever their visit is about. Later on? I’m instructed. I do not have to run for cover. I am exempt. Phew!

The Tradition Must Be Kept ….?

If the woman goes to the roof or in any public place? She MUST cover her head least a man sees her uncovered head and takes her for a bad woman.

Of course, all that is changing. The older woman are having a time to get their young daughters to stick to the tradition, so? They tell them all kind of incentives for them to do so.

The Television ….?

Unfortunately? The television industry is prevailing over any such traditions. The young girls go now with ripped tight fitting jeans and Western style fashions in addition to the head cover. Beats the world out of old fashion me!

Anyhow? Coming To My Bout With The Human Element ….?

My Father’s mercy for me! He knows me like a book. I am His little girl. I amuse Him. Yes, I do, but!

The human element? They do not—better yet? They CANNOT understand nor accept my reality as my Father’s little girl. For the most? They think such to be nonsense! So I been told.

Regardless! I am what I am by my Father’s design and purpose for my birth and life in these earthly grounds. Here lately?

No More Begging For Human Approval.

No more begging for standing ovation. No more regard for whatever my carnal mind and heart can come up against my little girl’s reality in the Presence of my Loving Father.

Father’s Love And Wisdom Prevails In My Heart And Mind. I Think Like He Thinks ….?

I’m going on. Father’s love and wisdom prevails. In my heart there rings a melody of Father’s love for all. No problem anymore. I think as my Father thinks. I’m going on!

Meantime and until the next post? His love in my heart for you and for all stays there to stay for eternity, thiaBasilia.

The Reasons Why One Should Give Up Thinking. WHAT? See? There Goes One Reason. Thinking Gets One In The WHAT? Wagon Down Pat.

Journal—An Ongoing Dialog Between thiaBasilia And Master Yahuwah/Yahushua. …

Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 8:30 am.

Inquiring minds? Forever the question, “What came first? The chicken or the egg?” Who cares?

O my Father! I haven’t got the slightest how to get out of this mood that I am in. To realize one’s deficiencies; one’s inabilities? It’s enough for a bad mood!

What’s the most depressing deficiency that troubles me?

That’s just it! I don’t even know what is it that troubles me, my Father? Perhaps the inability to let go of the insidious self-consciousness always lurking around no matter what I say or do!

No matter how certain I am? I can’t rid myself of the after the fact effect. I can’t get rid of that ‘humanly perfect’ concept. I can’t get rid of that insidious fear of repercussion.

Am I alone in this train of thought?

Perhaps that’s the human trend that humans so cleverly hide. Perhaps I’m opening a can of worms. Those hidden worms eating us up unaware.

Perhaps it’s You, my Father, the One opening that can of squirmy varmints eating me up unaware. Hum! Now I’m getting hot in the finding game, am I not, my Father?

O thiaBasilia—O Child Of My Heart? Indeed! I have separated you to cleanse you with the experience of My written words. For what purpose? That you might be set-apart and faultless. That you might be in glorious splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such things at My return.

Father? The Organized Church troubles me.

O my Beloved Father, You compel me to look around all the evil going on. I look around. I see the Organized Church as the greatest stumbling block for a closer relationship with You.

Sunday, April 15, 2018 at 5:28 am.

What now, O my Father? Your plan of restoration consumes my being.

Your Presence within my being compels me in the Oneness with Your Being. Sunning myself on the roof I see luscious gardens. I see happy faces taking care of those garden. I hear sweet loving songs.

The disgusting clutter in the present roofs? The screeching noise that goes by the name of music now? The crying babies. The disturbing angry voices? All gone!

Even now while we are still breathing the polluted air on these earthly grounds?

Even now Your plan of restoration is in effect. You have dried my tears away. You have restored me. In Your Presence You keep me aloof from all evil no matter any and all circumstances of glee or gloom.

Yes, You compel me to look around and be astonished at what goes on in this insanity ridden world.

I look around. I am astonished. Multitude of young people obsessed with the knowledge from the Tree of Good and Evil, but! Not a clue of what they do.

Multitude of parents obsessed with the raising of super knowledgeable children to rule the future in this world.

Behold the Great Fallen Away!

Right now as I look around all that goes on with young and old? I am astonished! The written words are coming to pass exactly as those are written, but!

What is it that troubles me with what I see? All this NOT so new thing with positive thinking and success, success, success.

Goodness sake! I am a member of Success Inspirers World Organization, and? Am I against SUCCESS? How that figures, O my Father? How that figures?

It figures in My written words, My child. I have planted you in this organization of My most selected children for you to herald those written words to them, why?

To prevent My most elected children from the great fallen away. You see, My child, your enemy is as shrew beyond your wildest imagination.

The enemy is no longer working on injecting doubt into your heart as to My intentions to forbid you to eat from that tree. No. That has already taken place.

So what is the enemy’s agenda now? To make of you a super human—full to the brim with the knowledge of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ quite capable to be your own ‘god’.

What for is there a need to depend on Me if you can depend on your own self, but! That is something not quite visible because of the camouflage of good and beautiful.

The New Age movement of positive thinking with all its branches? Is nothing else but tinsels instead of gold.

Even so, the GOLD of My Presence is now shinning forth from the heart of My selected witnesses. The experience of My written words?

That’s My work in the heart of My witnesses. That’s what makes My Presence shine forth as pure GOLD from the hearts of my selected vessels.

Furthermore? My selected vessels are not called to ‘teach’ or to ‘minister’ or to ‘police’ and apply those words as they see fit to do so. NAY!

My selected vessels only task is to refrain from doing any of that by the power of their mind. The written words CANNOT be taught by the power of the human mind.

It’s My Spirit Who gives LIFE to those words, but! The human mind is set to interpret and misconstrue My written words.

Therefore? My reason to empower you to give up the dependence in the human mind and heart both yours as well as any other human’s mind and heart.

My reason for planting you in the midst of My children in this institution? You are to share the experience of the words I have made alive in your heart.

Yahushua, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith

THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,

Looking away [from all that will distract] to Yahushua, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of the Almighty.

What Sin?

What is the sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us? The sin of unbelief. We all brag about our beliefs, about our faith, but!

In real life? The Universities. The Doctors. The ‘Holy Ones’. The Worldly Famous. The Work of our hands? That’s the gist of our beliefs. That’s what we live by. That’s what is preached!

No kidding. I know the drill only too well, but! The power and wisdom from our Loving Father/Creator. He sent me a WITNESS. He turned me around, and? I saw!

What did I see?

The same thing the Father/Creator is now showing to all who has ears to hear and eyes to see. He showed me the utter arrogance of MY KNOWLEDGE!

I thought I knew Him when? I knew nothing period. Nothing about Him at all. Nothing about life. I was an educated fool!

O well? That’s my two cents to make the point of this writing. What am I to do right now?

Whether is liked or not? I am to proclaim to SIWO and the whole world, the TRUTH of the evil of what the world has programmed us to do on this SUCCESS thing. It’s written,

2Timothy 4:1-4

I CHARGE [you] in the presence of the Almighty and of Messiah Yahushua, Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom:

Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold,

And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.

Dear Reader, none of us wish to hear such strong words. We are at the point that we only want to hear compliments and words of encouragement, but!

It’s imperative that we take these words, bitter as they are, in the same way we would take the most distasteful medication to heal our bodies.

NO! I am not against SUCCESS. I am for SUCCESS in hearing and understanding the intent of our Creator for creating us. He created us for 3 reasons:

  1. To love Him.
  2. To be loved by Him.
  3. Your Cherish Family O Mighty One? Forever To be!

Heavenly ointment to heal our wounded souls

To that end? We work day and night to accomplish His plan of restoration to the original intent for our creation.

Those words are the heavenly ointment to heal our wounded souls. Wounded by the lack of Knowledge of His loving ways.

Meantime and until the next post? His love in my heart for you and for all stays there to stay for eternity, thiaBasilia. 🙂