“40” Days

God opened a door this morning and sent me this simple message: “40 days.”  So, I explored the Bible for hardships endured based on the number forty. It astonished me to discover that in biblical history, forty is found 159 times across both the Old and New Testaments. It appears to be a set time for testing and trials in times of vulnerability and trouble.

Here are just a few of the examples where the number “40” played out in the Bible:

The ultimate test of faith occurred with Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. They fasted for forty days and gained new insight into God’s plans. Moses received the Ten Commandments, Elijah was told how to lead the people of Israel, and Jesus denied Satan’s temptations in the desert.

Three Hebrew kings – Saul, David, and Solomon each ruled for forty years, of which twenty of those years were prosperous. The other twenty years their lives were in ruin because the kings took more from their people than they ever returned – a test of dedication and prosperity.

Remember the story of David and Goliath? Goliath and the Philistines humiliated and fought the Israelites for forty days. Then God sent the shepherd, David, to defeat them and solidify Israel. This was a test of the Philistine’s humility.

Noah built an ark under God’s instruction. Because man’s sins were too great, He flooded the earth for forty days and nights, destroying every living thing on earth. It was a test of Noah’s faithfulness.

Image attributed to John Paul Stanley/YoPlace.com. Courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org

Days before they crucified Jesus, He prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem. Forty years later, the Roman Empire burned the city to the ground.

Jesus spent forty days on earth after His resurrection

Today, as you are reading this message, we are in Lent, the “40 days” before Easter. The Lenten season is a time to reflect on Jesus Christ and the meaning of His life – the most significant sacrificial event in the world for Christians. It also includes self-examination and fasting.

Though the Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in a few scriptures:

“So I turned to the LORD God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.”  Daniel 9:3

“Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.”  2 Samuel 13:19

The Lord does not call us to search for secret meanings in the Bible, but interestingly, this figure plays a huge part in scriptures. Pagans trust numerology, but I have great faith that God used “40” for specific reasons. One such cause is that the word month was unknown, so “40 days” was just a general time period of about a month in biblical times.

So, I ponder this question: Are our prayers answered in about 40 days of a trial and testing? It’s a refreshing thought the Holy Spirit could replenish our spirits and faith every forty days. What an inspiring idea of hope! Our God is awesome!

To those who believe He does not answer prayers, begin practicing your faith on a deeper level. It just might take you “40 days,” but rest assured – God is waiting!


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Fallen From Grace

God placed before me an obstacle course of challenges to navigate last week. Two individuals felt it imperative to attack my Christian beliefs. As we observe in the world today, many people have fallen from grace while they adhere to the trending fads of social justice. Though I could have tweeted and emailed rhetorical answers, I go forth in the light of God, and write this message. I welcome a good challenge, though, for they are not aware of my history with the Lord.

I investigated a word that rattled in my brain, for there must be some form of justice in my chain of events. It occurred to me God is not just a god of love, but He is “just” – morally right and fair.

Two kinds of justice should be the most concerning for Christians: social and biblical. Much of present-day humanity confuse biblical justice when applying it to our current laws – social justice. So, let me give you some prominent examples.

BIBLICAL JUSTICE

God created all humans equal in His image and the blessing to be treated with fairness and justice. But, from the beginning of the Bible, mankind rejected God’s principles. Paul, the Apostle, warned of this blight. Biblical justice is only what is right in the sight of the Lord – not man’s laws.

“God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.” Ecclesiastes 3:17

Biblical justice occurs when we see people as God sees them. This spiritual freedom causes us to fully embrace the cause of Christ by joining the community and reconciling others to the Lord. We should not to participate in something for just our own benefit, but for the glory of God.

He calls us to confront evil and to care for the vulnerable, however many people back away from this for fear of losing their life. So, thirty-five million people live in slavery, of some form around the world, because there is no one to save them from the horror. Injustice is rampant, and very few take action to protect the innocent. The news recently broadcast the story of a seventy-seven-year-old man beaten and robbed for a couple of hundred dollars. Did any Christian come forward to help him? Christ’s followers are to “do justice” because Christ came proclaiming justice. It is He giving a voice to the voiceless!

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” Psalm 82:3

SOCIAL JUSTICE

In matters of social justice, we become entrenched in who wronged whom, and who wronged whom first, in an undertone of anger. It spreads division and destruction, as is evident within our current U.S. government. Social division becomes based on the judgment of everyone who does not see things “our way.” The distinction Jesus taught was never about skin color, religious, ethnic, or cultural affiliations or political positions. Condemnation of people blind us to the forgiveness Christ offers us as sinners.

Also, consider this… how many social media lovers refuse to discuss religion with others? Why? Is it the fear of social injustice invoking us to hide underneath the covers? Let’s drop our apprehensions and model Christ’s truth and grace.

Social justice will never represent the law of God passed down by Moses. It is unrighteous and dehumanizing, and the moment we accept it as a way of life, we have fallen from grace.

CAN A CHRISTIAN DO GOOD IN A SOCIAL JUSTICE SYSTEM?

My answer is, “absolutely!” Upholding our dignity and biblical justice laws, we can become activists for the unborn, the elderly, marriage and family, and religious freedom. It’s not a glamorous feat, but it will quiet and humble the expression of biblical Christian justice.

May we all go out into the world with the spirit of our Lord! Be an inspiration for those who have fallen from grace. Your endeavors will be greatly rewarded!


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A Stone of Faith

Sometimes in life, our faith in God waivers in and out. We might roll our eyes when confrontation is before us and shun the real strength we prayed for in difficult times. But then we return to the very spot we waivered from in the beginning. Our Almighty God always remains with us, though, with welcome arms and forgiveness of our bad decisions.

Last night my eyes were opened a little wider by a word God whispered to my conscience. I woke in fear of trying to comprehend His message. So I picked up my Bible for protection and tried to find the meaning of the word He sent me. As many knows, I’m a man of great faith. I’m not a Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination, but I do my digging when times like this are derived from God.

Before I tell you what the Holy Spirit spoke to me, you must know this word is written in scriptures only three times. It was used in the Old Testament in 543 B.C. by Samuel. He, too, was a man of great faith who led the Israelites to a battle with the Philistines for over forty years. The Israelites lost twice, but then Samuel looked to God and set up an Ebenezer between two mountains. He said, “Lord God, You are my stone of faith, my rock I shall not break.” (1 Samuel) Scriptures say, “The Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they were defeated by the Israelites.” From that day forward, Ebenezer became the name of an altar for God to protect the Israelites.

So the bigger question is, why did God send me the word Ebenezer? Is it because I, too, am fighting two personal battles, and God came to tell me it will be Ok? Is it to inform you that your struggles are being watched over by the Lord? Yes, all the above is true! Remember, your enemy is not greater than God. He can make miracles occur with a stroke of His hand.

My word for the day, Ebenezer, is the moment you realize you could not have made it through the fires without God’s help. Your faith is like a stone, and only God can bring you through these impeachable battles.

Ebenezer is as powerful of a word today as it was with Samuel in the Old Testament. We all bear our crosses, and as Christians, we must realize it is only God who protects us. Our awesome Father will come to our rescue in times of need. All you have to do is humbly pray for His help. May your Ebenezer be an altar as it was for Samuel. God bless.


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Immanuel: Christmas and The Meaning of the Incarnation of Christ

Christmas, Immanuel, NativityAs we approach the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, many of us are engaged in a swirl of activity to prepare businesses, homes, and churches for this important day. This is both traditional and understandable in most western cultures around the globe.

Most of these traditions and much of the activity is our human effort to both honor and praise God for sending His only Son from His heavenly home to be born as a helpless infant so that all could have the opportunity of the hope of salvation. However, many of us, including myself, can sometimes ignore the meaning of Christmas for lack of reflection amid the hustle and bustle of the season.

“Immanuel” equals “God With Us”

Christmas, Incarnation, NativityThe New Testament specifically applies the word “Immanuel” to the birth of Jesus in the first chapter of Matthew’s gospel account.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:20-23 [ESV]

These four verses make a staggering statement that encompasses the complete gospel, or ‘good news’ of the New Testament. Moreover, it clarifies one indisputable fact; this could only have been the work of God.

Consider first what actually happened. The angelic message to Joseph said that 1.) Jesus was conceived via the Holy Spirit, 2.) That Jesus would be virgin born, 3.) He would “save his people from their sins” 4.) This was a fulfillment of ancient prophecy and, 5.) Jesus would be the embodiment of “God with us,” which is known as the doctrine, or belief that Jesus is “God Incarnate,” i.e. God in human flesh.

The Incarnation means that God the Son, through the means of God the Holy Spirit and within Mary’s womb, with the authority of God the Father comes to live among His creation as one of us. Only God could have done this, and only a supremely loving God would have done this.

For as soon as Jesus was conceived, the timeline toward His crucifixion began. The Triune God knew beforehand that this would be the case and Jesus came anyway to demonstrate God’s love through the giving of His life to atone for the sins of all humanity.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8 [ESV]

Christmas, Jesus, IncarnationThe love of God shown at the cross of Christ was always within the heart of God. Jesus began manifesting that love among us when He left His heavenly home and humbled Himself to become “God with us.”

Think of it. Jesus left the indescribable glories of heaven and choose to limit Himself to the weakness of human flesh, not for His sake but for ours. He left a domain so far beyond our comprehension, that the Bible says it defies even human imagination.

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”—  1 Corinthians 2:9 [ESV]

Jesus left this to come and live among sinful, treacherous, unrighteous humanity and be scorned and murdered by His own people. ‘God with us’ meant this kind of love walked among us.

God didn’t need to become human to know us and our joys as well as suffering. We needed Him to show us through Christ how much He loved us, even unto death, and to take our sins upon Himself for our eternal good.

What Were the Odds?

Christmas, IncarnationBiblical students will recognize that the first four books of the New Testament are known as “gospels,” or accounts of the “good news” about Jesus Christ and that each one is written in a different manner or style. The authors record the same overall event, the life of Christ on earth, but from different perspectives and purposely writing to different audiences.

Matthew is written aimed at an audience of his fellow Jews for the intention of convincing them that Jesus was indeed the Messiah come in fulfillment of a multitude of Old Testament prophecies. Thus Matthew cites more prophetic declarations that are manifested in the life of Jesus Christ than any other gospel account.

conservative interpretation puts the number of messianic prophecies fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew at 25. Many biblical scholars state that Jesus fulfilled over 300 Old Testament prophecies during His life on earth.

Consider for a moment what the statistical odds are of any one person fulfilling this number of predictions about their life. In fact, to make it simpler, a couple of researchers and mathematicians tried to find out the odds beginning with the odds that one person fulfilled just 8 of these prophecies.

In the book Science Speaks, Peter Stoner and Robert Newman discuss the statistical improbability of one man, whether accidentally or deliberately, fulfilling just eight of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. The chance of this happening, they say, is 1 in 1017 power. Stoner gives an illustration that helps visualize the magnitude of such odds: “Suppose that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.”

Inset.4.12.18.2019If one follows the number further and calculates the odds of any person fulfilling 48 such prophecies about himself, the odds become 1 in 10 to the 157th power! That’s 10 with 157 zeros after it!

One other calculation to put some perspective on these numbers. The universe is estimated by most scientists to be 12 to 13 billion years old. Using the 13 billion years figure, that means the universe is approximately 4.1 x 10 to the 17th power seconds old.

Now convert that number to the smallest time measure currently used in science, the nanosecond. A nanosecond is a billionth of a second.

That means the odds of any one person fulfilling 48 of these prophecies is astronomically greater than the number of nanoseconds that have passed since the universe has existed! Only a being of infinite power and knowledge could have done this, and only a being of unfathomable love would have done it.

Jesus as Immanuel, ‘God with us,’ was God’s gift to humanity and the greatest Christmas gift we could ever receive. Let us be eternally thankful and praise the LORD for such a Divine gift of love this Christmas season and forever.

D.T. Osborn

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

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Lorenzoclick’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of jacinta lluch valero’sFlickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of Lawrence OP’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of Ryk Neethling’s Flick page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Jonathan Gross’Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

“The History of Hope”

Today, I acknowledged a miracle of words when I picked up my sacred golden pages known as the Bible. I was seeking special words of encouragement to share with my readers when a light shone on a preface. Among the Scriptures and descriptions of my Bible were four simple words clear as the morning sky – The history of hope. Wow! This Christian compilation of sixty-six books and letters, written by over forty authors, says more about the complexity of God’s holy words than anything else. What better way can you describe the Bible than hope!

If I ever find time to pen, ‘A Bible for Dummies,’ I’ll use these encouraging words to show the love God shares with humanity. I often mention the voids we have in our souls. We look for something to fill the emptiness deep inside us. Its HOPE, of course, hopes our faith will withstand the depression of the world we live in today.

This divine and extraordinary book is God’s plan for our salvation. The Bible gives us deliverance from sin, repentance, a roadmap for faith, and a refuge in times of trouble. It’s a sourcebook for everyday living, regardless of your religion. Even though its stories took place in Asia, Africa, and Europe, the message is still the same for all believers – everyone needs hope.

Everyone dreams of a better future, but what do we use as guidelines to make it happen? We can rely on our wisdom and knowledge, or we can refer to biblical scriptures for the exact answers. I know someone right now is saying, “I can’t understand or comprehend the Bible.” Guess what? Neither can I, but I take one passage at a time, and I ask for God’s help…and it works! Another resource for better comprehension is to do a careful search on the internet. Only use resources written by the church and their ministry.

The word “hope” in the Bible means “a strong and confident expectation.” It deals with things, yet unseen, and the testimony of God’s promises. In other words, the Bible is HOPE. Hope – based on heavenly realities, which gives us the power to live courageously, and to be all we can be through Christ Jesus.

The words “The history of hope” alone alludes to peace and sovereignty. Hope gives us strength and courage. Never give it up nor the hope in the power of our Lord!


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Straight from God

Obedience is a good thing;
The bible teaches us so;
Obey to stay out of trouble;
But it’s not always
That we obey;
At times it is right
To disobey instead of obey;
When obedience leads to sin;
Disobey the law of man,
If it is against that of God;
First, look at God’s law,
Before you look at man’s own;
To obey God is to be wise;
And when you are wise
You count yourself blessed;
Remember, wisdom comes straight from God.
It is written for all to obey.