Lot offered a lot, offering his own

Lot’s offer of his two daughters to the evil men of Sodom to be possibly stripped naked, shamed and killed, in exchange for the protection of the angelic (not of this world) visitors, who had come under the protection of his house, could certainly be deemed odd, baffling, and ridiculous, especially to a parent. Contextually though, Lot’s offer was an expression of his hospitality, which was regarded in high esteem, in his day and age. This may be very difficult for many to fathom and/or even accept in this day and age which is characterized by people being a lot more individualistic over being hospitable.Lot offered a lot for an offer such as this today would be be perceived as “over-the-top” and brand the offeror as a bad and possibly evil Father. Yet we see from the Scripture that Lot was declared as righteous and saved (2 Peter 2:8) from the impending wrath of being burned when the Lord rained down brimstone and fire (Genesis 19:24), consuming the iniquity of the city (Genesis 19:15).

Now if you would allow me to show you that Lot’s offer of his own is akin to what God did for each one of us. We are like the wicked and evil people of this world (the current city of Sodom) doing what we deem is good in our own eyes. Naturally by our physical birth, we are conceived in sin (Psalm 51:5) which makes us foreigners (visitors) in the house (roof) of God (Ephesians 2:19). In order to protect us from the impending wrath of brimstone and fire in hell, God did not just offer but acted and gave his own – his Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16), who was stripped naked, shamed and crucified (killed).

Points to ponder:
God offered (Genesis 3:15) and gave his own Son, Jesus Christ, in exchange for our protection from brimstone and fire in hell (John 3:16). If you deeply think of this – it would certainly seem odd, baffling and ridiculous that the God of all creation would offer him only Son in exchange for us, mere dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7). You know what that shows us. That demonstrates to us, the great extent of God’s love for us and in other words gives us proof that God offered a lot (all of himself), by offering his own (for us).

Have you believed in God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, whom he sent for whosoever (any person of this world, no matter how wicked they have been) believes in Jesus shall not perish but have everlasting life? God offered a lot, offering his own – Are you willing to offer a lot, offering your all? (Don’t let this question go unanswered!)

Genesis 19:8 (KJV)
Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 1:12 (KJV)
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Ephesians 2:19 (KJV)
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

Nahum 3:19 – To be spared or not to be (that is the question)

The latter part of Nahum 3:19 poses a question – “Upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” While the direct reference here is to the city of Nineveh and its wicked king, it can be extrapolated that the Assyrian king is a reference to the devil, as stated by prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 14:25). By beguiling Eve and through her Adam (2 Corinthians 11:3; Genesis 3), the deceiving serpent (the devil) subjected the entire creation to become sinful and be subject to death (Romans 5:12) and in that sense, the wickedness of the devil has passed over all continually since the willful disobedience of men.

Interestingly though, just as the last verse in the book of Nahum, an oracle against the city of Nineveh, ends with a question, so also the book of Jonah, which concerns the city of Nineveh, ends with a question – a question posed by God. The question is “Should I not spare Nineveh, the great city, its people and even its cattle?” God spared Nineveh, a little over 150 years ago (during the time of Jonah around 780 to 750 BC) but Nineveh had willfully chosen to revert to its wicked and evil ways, bringing God’s judgment on them, and this time, it was not going to be spared (during the time of Nahum around 615 to 612 BC).

Points to ponder:
The question is “Has not the wickedness of the evil one (devil) passed over us?” In other words, “Are we sinful?” All have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). And with sin came death for the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). There is no one righteous, no not even one (Romans 3:10) meaning that all deserve death. Though the wicked (sinful) deserve to die, God is a God who spares, for he spared not his own Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:32). Jesus Christ willfully accepted to become the sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:12) and paid the wages of sin by his death (John 19:30).  Jesus was crucified in our place. So everyone who believes in him has eternal life (John 3:16).

And those who have believed, let us not revert back to our sinful ways (as did the people of Nineveh), drawing back into perdition (Hebrews 10:39). for if we keep on willfully sinning after having received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation of the Lord (Hebrews 10:26-27), which shall devour his enemies (friends of the world – James 4:4).

Have you believed in Jesus Christ to be spared? If you have, are you living according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Romans 8:1)?
To be spared or not to be – that is the question.

Nahum 3:19 (KJV)
19 There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?

Jonah 4:11 (KJV)
11 And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

Hebrews 10:26-27 (KJV)
26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

Romans 8:1 (KJV)
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

The first sacrifice – God sheds blood

Genesis 3:21 states that the Lord God made coats of skins and clothed Adam and his wife. After Adam and his wife, Eve, sinned, they became aware of their nakedness. They attempted to cover their nakedness with aprons of figs, but still found themselves to be naked before God (Genesis 3:7). While their physical shame may have been covered by the aprons of fig, their spiritual nakedness that resulted from their sin could not be covered by their own efforts. God had to personally make them clothing – coats of skins. This means that God had to shed blood to cover their sin. The Lord God had to make the first sacrifice. Since animals were not given unto man for food until after the flood (Genesis 9:3,4), this shedding of the blood was for sacrifice, and not sustenance.

Furthermore, this act of God demonstrates his loving and thus giving nature. The Bible states in Leviticus 7:8 that the skin of the animal that is given as a burnt offering belongs to the priest. And so the Son God, the Highest of all high priests (Hebrews 4:14; Hebrews 5:10), gave what belonged to him – his own life (John 10:17-18) and his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) – to purge the sin of man and cover man’s shame. God so loved the world (and at this time, it was just Adam and Eve as humans who were in the world) that he gave himself.

Points to ponder:
Jesus Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). Our righteousness (aprons of figs) are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), insufficient to cover our spiritual nakedness that results from sin. We need to put on the righteousness of God which is imputed unto all who believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 4:24). We need to be clothed with the clothing (white robes of righteousness) that God has given to us in his Son – the first sacrifice from the foundation of the world. Are you clothed with the righteousness of God in Jesus? If not, believe in him and be imputed his righteousness.

Genesis 3:21 (KJV)
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Hebrews 9:22 (KJV)
22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

Leviticus 7:8 (KJV)
8 And the priest that offereth any man’s burnt offering, even the priest shall have to himself the skin of the burnt offering which he hath offered.

John 3:16-17 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Is it okay to cheat on our taxes (or tithes)?

April 15, which is colloquially referred to as “Tax Day” in the United States of America, is the official deadline by which each legal resident and citizen must file their tax records with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agency of the U.S. government. Some would need to pay the government the taxes they owe, while others would receive a return for taxes, that they have overpaid, to the government, over the course of the year. Either way, it is by April 15 annually that the tax records must be filed.

The apostle Mark records in chapter 12 verses 13 to 17, an interesting incident that occurred during the time of Jesus. Certain Pharisees and Herodians (both Jewish sects) sought to trap Jesus, in his words, and starting out with flatteries, question him, asking “Is is lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” They added, “Shall we give, or shall we not give?” In today’s context, this could be interpreted as “Should we pay taxes to the ruling government or not?” or in other words it could also be interpreted as “Is is okay to cheat on our taxes by not giving what we owe or should we give and not cheat?”

Jesus, knew of their hypocrisy, that if he answered affirmatively, they would brand him to be a traitor to his (Jewish) people, as they did of tax collectors (whom they branded as publicans at par or even lesser in status than sinners) and if he answered negatively, then they would brand him to be a rebel who goes against the Roman government. Jesus questioned, why do you attempt to tempt me  and asked his questioners to bring him a penny (a Roman coin) and they brought it to him. He asked “Whose is the image and the superscription?” on the coin to which they replied, “Caesar.” Jesus wisely replied, if the coin belongs to Caesar, then render it to Caesar and whatever belongs to God, that render to God.

In other words, Jesus was saying that “If you owe the government what belongs to the government, then pay your dues.” To falsify tax deductions with the goal of maximizing returns is cheating on taxes. But did you notice, Jesus did not limit his response to solely answering the question about taxes. He took it one step further and spoke about what was due to God (such as our tithes, our time, our talents, etc.), render to God. While some may think of Jesus’ response as a way to separate State (Taxes) and Church (Tithes, etc.), closer scrutiny actually reveals that Jesus was not divisive, but instead accommodative, for he brings matters of the State and matters of the Church together, under the same context. Just as it is wrong to cheat on our taxes, it is equally, if not more seriously wrong, to cheat on our tithes, time and talents. While it is possible for one who cheats on their taxes to get away with it and not face an audit, one can be sure that one can never get away from God the auditor, and will face an audit during which time, he/she must be able to answer the question – Should we give or should we not give?

Points to ponder:
Let us as children of God not cheat on our taxes, AND not cheat on our tithes, time or talents. Let us render our tax to whom it is due and let us render our tithes to God, to whom it is due. To give is an expression of loving and if you love God, you will give just as God who loved the world so much that he GAVE his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Before Jesus gave his life for all of mankind, including you and me, I thank God that he did not ask of his Father, “Should I give or should I not give?”

Mark 12:13-17 (KJV)
13 And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.
14 And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not?
15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it.
16 And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s.
17 And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

Holy life not Holey life

As followers of God (Ephesians 6:1), God has called us to be Holy because he is Holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).

John Bunyan, Christian writer and preacher who is renowned for his acclaimed book, “The Pilgrim’s Progress” is attributed to have said “One leak will sink a ship: and one  sin will destroy a sinner.” True, it just takes one hole to sink a ship in the physical world. It is likewise in our spiritual life as well. God says through his prophet Ezekiel that the soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20) and all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). In other words, unless the Savior Jesus Christ, mends our holey (sinful) lives, we will sink in the miry pit of sin (Psalm 40:2) that will drown us in death (Romans 6:23).

Point to ponder:
While the grim message of God through the prophet Ezekiel was a proclamation of the death sentence on all mankind because that the soul that sins shall die, the sacrificial death of God’s Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, brings hope to this hopeless situation, for his death was for us, in our place. When we believe in Jesus Christ, God’s gift to us is eternal life (John 3:16).

God says, Repent and Remember and Return to me. Let us repent. In other words, let our message to Jesus Christ be SOS (Save Our Soul) for when we repent and confess with our mouths, he is faithful and just to cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). In other words, he is willing and will mend the holes in our life.

We are called to live a Holy life and not a Holey life. Let us live according to what God has called us to, for He is Holy.

1 Peter 1:14-16 (KJV)
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Why Give or should I say why Love?

The Bible teaches us that God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), but have you wondered as to what that means? The Bible states that happy are the people whose God is the Lord (Psalm 144:15) and from the Bible we also learn that God so loved you and me that he gave (John 3:16). The demonstrable expression of love is to give. In other words, if we love we give or we give because we love.

So why give or should I say why love? We don’t give because it makes us happy; we give because we are happy/blessed. In other words, we don’t love because we will be blessed; we love because we are blessed. We give because God first gave us his Only begotten son and salvation to all who believe in him (John 3:16). We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).

2 Corinthians 9:7 (KJV)
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 

John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

1 John 4:19 (KJV)
19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Mission 3:16

It is the 16th day of the third month March (3/16) and as I pondered on what to write, I realized that one of the most common and quoted verses in the Bible is John 3:16 which avers the greatest love story of all; For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
I was also reminded of a song, I used to listen growing up, which was entitled “Mission 3:16” by Carman and as I searched the Bible, the Holy Spirit of God taught me that besides the famous John 3:16 verse, we ought to look at verse 16 of the 3rd chapter of the first book (Genesis) and the last book (Revelation) of the Bible, as well.

Genesis 3:16 is the first curse being proclaimed on sinful man for their willful disobedience.
John 3:16  is the only cure for the curse, which we find in Jesus Christ.
But once we are cured/saved from death, by our belief in Jesus Christ,
Revelation 3:16 is the counsel by which we must live;  i.e., we must not be lukewarm in our lives toward God; we must do or die.

Carman aptly put the Revelation 3:16 mission in his song, ‘Mission 3:16’ as he sings:
We’re on, we’re on, we’re on a mission and we’ll go, where the brave dare to fly
We’re on, we’re on a mission, and we know, it’s a race, Do or die
To know Him and make Him known is our creed
Letting the fire be freed, Mission 3:16
We don’t know what we will find
Deep behind enemy lines
We are the called, We are the few
Ready to serve Him and willing to do

Genesis 3:16 is the result of man’s mission to be like God.
John 3:16 is God’s mission to save mankind.
Revelation 3:16 is man’s mission on earth after salvation; to not be lukewarm.

Points to ponder:
On this day (3/16), let us reflect on whether you/I are still under the curse of mankind, or have you/I believed in Jesus and are saved and if so are you/I lukewarm or not in our service to God.

Genesis 3:16 (KJV)
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

John 3:16 (KJV)
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

Revelation 3:16 (KJV)
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.