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Psalm 118:21-22- ” I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.”

Matthew 21:42- “ Jesus said to them,Did you never read in the Scriptures, `THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER STONE; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’?

Acts 4:8-12 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead–by this name this man stands here before you in good health. “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Corner Stone

I am going to take this opportunity to talk about a subject that is very dear to my heart: Christ being who he says he is. I will be explaining it in 2 parts, here and on “Jordan”. This part concerns the fulfillment of prophecy.

My husband has a book by Frank Harber called “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” that specifically touches on this subject. On pages 66-67, he talks about “Evidence of Messianic Prophecies”. “The truth of Christianity stands upon the fact that Jesus is the Christ. If it shown that Jesus did not fulfill the Messianic prophecies, then Christianity would not be true. No other religion has such a stringent test imposed upon it’s leader. In Jesus Christ, 456 identifiable prophecies were uniquely filled. Chances of any man fulfilling just 48 of such prophecies is a probability of 10 ^157 ( or ten to the 157th power). This figure, calculated by Peter Stoner, Professor Emeritus at Westmont College, has been confirmed by the committee of the American Science Affiliation. The fulfillment of Messianic prophecy at such a high level of probability indicates a supernatural agent. The fact that Jesus is the Messiah is not just a clever guess, nor could Jesus been an impostor who carefully arranged the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophecies. To reject Jesus as the Messiah requires an unbelief that runs counter to the laws of probability. ”

Now there were some that could have been fulfilled by a man, but some would have been impossible to control. For example, it was prophesied in Micah 5:2, that he would be born in Bethlehem some seven centuries earlier. And in Isiah 7:14, to be born of a virgin. And that he would be from the house of David. And both Mary and Joseph were from David’s lineage (isiah 11:1-5). How much control does one have over his birthplace, heritage and parents? And shortly after his birth, to escape the wrath of Herod, his parents to Jesus to Egypt, which fulfilled 2 prophesies: Hosea 11:1 about them leaving Egypt and Jeremiah 31:15 when Herod had all the 2 year old baby boys killed thinking he would kill Christ in the process. And the first 2 chapters of Matthew, 5 separate prophecies are fulfilled. And it goes on and on!!

Many people say that they Christians are unscientific. That trusting in just “faith” is trusting in nothing. Yet, when presented with the true picture, it is simply hard not to believe. For example, I’m going to use the lottery. I took it off this website.

http://www.webmath.com/cgi-bin/lottery.cgi?count=7&low=1&high=50

I calculated my odd of winning a 7 number lottery using the numbers 1-50 to be: 1 in 99,884,400. (taken from the above site.) Here are some other odds for the sake of comparison:

You have about a 1 in 2,000,000 chance of being struck by lightning.
A pregnant woman has a 1 in 705,000 chance of giving birth to quadruplets.
Someone eating an oyster has a 1 in 12,000 chance of finding a pearl inside of it.

Now, lottery odds can be pretty incomprehensible. How can we possibly have any “feeling” for the number 99,884,400? To help you with this, here’s a little experiment you can try to “get a handle on” what a 1 in 99,884,400 chance really means.

Get a piece of rope or string, that’s 103 feet long. In a wide open area, arrange the rope or string in a circle, end to end, the best you can. Get a single grain of sand or dirt (use tweezers!) and place it anywhere you wish inside the circle. Get a second grain of sand. Close your eyes, and “disorient” yourself as to where the grain of sand is that you placed inside of the circle (have someone spin you around or something!). While you’re inside the circle, drop the second grain of sand from 1 foot up.
Your chances of hitting the first grain of sand with the second is roughly equal to the odds of “1 in 99,884,400.”

So that that seem crazy? Impossible? Now go back to the original odds I gave you. For Jesus to complete just 48 of the 456- it would be 10 with 157 0’s behind it. Jesus HAS to be the Messiah! Hope you enjoyed that.

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Hebrews 12:26-29- “And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.” This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
Consuming Fire

I recently got a new Third Day CD. I was listening to their song “Consuming Fire” and instantly, these colors popped in my head!

You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Es-ZYUU6zc

I love the footnotes in my Bible.  I’m going to quote them here regarding these verses.

“Evetually the world will crumble, adn only God’s kingdom will last.  Those who follow Christ are part of this unshakable kingdom, and they will withstand the skaking, sifting, adnburning.  WHen we feel unsure about eh future, we can take confidence from thse verses. No matter what happens here, oru future is built on a solid foundation that cannot be destroyed.  Dno’t put you conficence in what weill be destroyed; instead, build your life on Christ and his unshakable kingdom.”

“There is a big difference between the flame of a candle and the roaring blast of a forest fire.  We cannot even stand near a raging fire.  Even with sophisticated fire-fighting equipment, a consuming fire is often beyond human control. God is not within our control either. we cannot force him to do anything for us through our prayers.  He cannot be contained.  Yet, he is a God of compassion.  He has saved us from sin, and he will save us from death. But everything that is worthless and sinful will be consumed by the fire of his wrath. Only what is good, dedicated to God, and righteous will remain.”

Often as I read the Old Testament, I’m reminded about the true character of God. God is a holy God, and justice is his. Vengeance is his. And anything unholy cannot be in his presence. So in the Old Testament, if God encountered the unholy, he consumed with fire or struck dead on the spot.   I am so glad for the gift of our Saviour.  Because of Jesus’s sacrifice, I can come to God and be acceptable to him, without the risk of immediate death.  But I think so many have preached on the love and mercy and compassion of God, that they’ve forgotten about his holiness.  They no longer fear him, and reverence him.  This scripture says that as a gratitude for the gift of eternal life, we should serve him with reverence and awe.  Do you have a healthy “awe” for the Lord?

MARK 1:1-11- “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“BEHOLD , I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU,
WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; T
HE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS,`MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD,MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.’ ”
John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.
And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

Jordan

Taken from this picture sent to me by my friend Nesreen of an aerial view of the Jordan River.

I am going to take this opportunity to talk about a subject that is very dear to my heart: Christ being who he says he is. I will be explaining it in 2 parts, here and on “Corner Stone”. This part concerns the fulfillment of prophecy and Christ being the Messiah. And I mention all this here because by John the Baptist preaching about Christ’s coming and in baptizing him, he fulfilled a scripture from Isiah.

My husband has a book by Frank Harber called “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” that specifically touches on this subject. On pages 73-74, he talks about “The Evidence of the Trilemma Argument.”

“Many non-Christians who have difficulty accepting that Jesus is God have no trouble professing that Jesus was a great moral teacher. However, this position is not only illogical but impossible. Jesus claimed to be divine, nothing less. If Jesus was not God, he would be far less than just a great, moral teacher; he would be deluded, or a deceiver. There would be nothing great about the teaching of a man who merely pretended to be God. His teachings, if believed, would steer people away from the truth. Jesus can not be regarded as a great teacher, but no divine. There are only 3 options as to who Jesus was in light of his claims.

POSSIBILITIES AS TO THE IDENTITY OF JESUS

Identity — Implications

1. Deity— His message should be believed and trusted.

2. Deceiver—His message is that of a false, religious teacher. Jesus tricked people into following him.

3. Deluded— Jesus was simply a mentally ill person who believed that he was really God.

Let us examine all three.

Option 1: Jesus was a Deceiver.

This option holds that Jesus was a liar and willfully deceived people about religious truth. Jesus certainly could not be regarded as a great, moral teacher if her were found to be a pathological liar. Jesus would be a hypocrite of the highest order, instruction his followers in honesty and virtue while he lived out a religious deception… The notion of Jesus willfully perpetuation a religious deception makes no sense. What would Jesus have to gain by such a lie?… Moreover, if Jesus had been a religious deceiver, he certainly would have changed his store in the face of an impeding death.

Option 2: Jesus was Deluded

Was Jesus merely a sincere person who mistakenly thought he was God? … Jesus never displayed such characteristics. In Jesus, we find one of the greatest intellects in all of history having total control of his mind and actions. His words not only had a profound influence of ht people of his day, but they also continue to improve the lives of men and women today. … Such a man does not fit the psychological profile of a deluded person.

Option 3: Jesus is Deity

Jesus was not a madman claiming to be God; he had the credentials to back up his claim. There is sufficient evidence to substantiate that Jesus is divine. If you agree that Jesus was neither a deceiver nor deluded, the the only alternative left is that Jesus is deity. Which option do you believe is correct? Some have opted to ignore this question, but this is the most important question in history. You cannot remain neutral about this issue because the stakes are eternal life? Do you believe that Jesus is God? … If you have never committed your life to Jesus Christ, why not do so today? “

Daniel 1:1-“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.”

Revelation 14:8- “And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”
Revelation 16:19 “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath. “

Babylon

“Babylon” is a colorway that I’ve had to personally wrestle with. A while back, I did a Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Daniel. That book challenged me in ways I had not thought was possible. I had an opportunity to evaluate my life and what I was living for. A lot of this part of my blog will be coming from what Beth had to say.

Ancient Babylon. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Wondrous! Beautiful! Marvelous! I picture from a distance, the tan of the stone work, with lush greenery everywhere. It was a sight to behold. People from miles around flocked to Babylon to see it’s beauty.

Beth Moore says about Babylon, on page 10 of the Daniel Bible study book, “Through the paintbrush of Scripture, we’ll see her rise from the dust , robe herself in riches, and paint her face like a woman of the night. Make no mistake: she aims to seduce. Posing as the beautiful life, she morphs into the current image of what every worldly man and woman wants to be- deserves to be. She is popular. She is desirable. She is intoxicating. And did I say she is religious? Ah, yes. She believes in so much of everything that one would be hard-pressed to tell if she believes in any thing. To worship self is to worship her. To worship her is to worship her king. She is dressed for success, but underneath her gaud, she is a lifeless mannequin. A fake. A poser. Her prop is the devil himself.”

Her walls were thick. She was a formidable sight. Gold, women, she had it all. “Somewhere along the way, she ceased to be only a place. She became a mentality. A deadly one.” The verse in Isaiah sums it up perfectly. Isaiah 47:8, 10- “I am, and there is none besides me.”

You can see just a glimpse of what she was like by looking at Daniel’s story. Daniel 1:3-4 states, “Then the king commanded Ashpenaz, his chief eunuch, to bring some of the people of Israel, both of the royal family and of the nobility, youths without blemish, of good appearance and skillful in all wisdom, endowed with knowledge, understanding learning, and competent to stand in the king’s palace, and to teach them the literature and language of the Chaldeans. ”

So what was their standard? They wanted men from well to do families, the upper class if you will. AND then, they had to be perfect physically and good looking, AND smart, AND able to stand in the king’s palace.

When I first heard this, I thought about our culture today. How so many American will have a amniocentesis and abort a baby if it’s not “perfect”. How people go crazy following the rich and famous. How rampant eating disorders are in the country, especially among young women. How our society is about wanting more, and more and more- and so much less about giving. How everyone wants to keep up with the Jones’s.

Our society is a constant indoctrination of things that go against the Christian ideals. Youth, Appearance, Educational achievements, Social status. The billboards, the magazines, the news, the movies. It’s all about “Me” and what I “need” and “deserve”. I guess I hadn’t realized how much our culture is like that of ancient Babylon. Beth said on the companion video that went along with our study, “If you are not doing EVERYTHING you can to not be incodtroniated by the culture, the you are being indoctrinated. ”

That’s why Christianity can be so difficult at times. It’s going against the grain. Much like the salmon who swims upstream, we as Christians are challenged to live a different life. For Jesus says in Matthew 7 :13- “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

It is so easy to be a part of the culture. It is so easy to want the things that this world has to offer. And, yet, the things of this earth will continually disappoint us. We’ll never have enough money to be satisfied. We’ll never be young enough or skinny enough. We’ll never be perfect. Yet, Jesus promises us we have so much more in store.

Jesus says in Matthew 13: 24- 30″ He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’” Then He explains what He meant by it in Matthew 13:37- 43- “He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

Satan is very real. He has very real plans for you and I. While God has plans for us to have future and a hope and to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11), the devil comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) And there is a big battle that will ensure.

Yet according to the parable above, God has given us an opportunity to grow where we are planted. Satan may come and plant weeds. But God is going to allow the wheat to grow and it will be separated at harvest time (the judgment of the Lord.)

The book of Revelation refers to another Babylon. She will be seducing to the End. I am quoting the “People’s New Testament” Commentary on Revelation 16:8-9 regarding the fall of Babylon. “There followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen. As a result of the great gospel revival shown in verses 6, 7, the city of sin, here called Babylon, but called “spiritually Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified” (11:8) shall fall. The wine of wrath of her fornication. This Babylon was a city of fornication, of unholy alliance with the world, wedded to the prince of this world instead of to Christ, and made the nations sin with her, or drink her wine. Wine of wrath. So called either because her wrath was manifested in persecution against those who refused to drink, or because the wine of God’s wrath shall be poured on her (see verse 10).”
She is destined to fall. And her fall will be great. And God’s wrath on her will be great.

See, God is just and holy. He CANNOT tolerate sin. And this Babylon not only sinned, she enticed oh so many others to do it with her. My challenge for you today is to really think about what it is you value. Are you putting value in the things of the world? The things that will never satisfy and that will burn up in the end? Or are you putting your value in the eternal things? The things that will bring glory and honor to the Lord?

I pray that those of you who read this may understand how great and mighty our God is. And I pray for you the resolve to stand up against “modern Babylon.”

Esther 2:5, 7 ” Now there was at the citadel in Susa a Jew whose name was Mordecai… He was bringing up Hadassah, that is Esther, his uncle’s daughter, for she had no father or mother. Now the young lady was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.”

Esther 2:17- “ The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she found favor and kindness with him more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. “
Esther 9:30-31- “He sent letters to all the Jews, to the provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, namely, words of peace and truth, to establish these days of Purim at their appointed times, just as Mordecai the Jew and Queen Esther had established for them, and just as they had established for themselves and for their descendants with instructions for heir times of fasting and their lamentations. “

Esther

Esther 011

We also recently watched the movie “One Night with the King”, which is about the story of Esther. What an amazing story. Esther wasn’t in this city because she chose to be. She was a Jew, living among Persians because her family was there.

She was beautiful, and her beauty and character won over the king, Xerxes. He brought her into her harem.  She was a good Jew who had kept herself pure.  The king would have one night with her, and seeing if he liked her.  If he didn’t choose her, she would remain in his harem.  Her life would have been drastically different.  Fortunately, God caused Xerxes to find favor with Esther, and he made her his queen.

It is through Haman’s vengeful behavior, that Esther has an opportunity to stand up for herself and make the Jews known.  She had never revealed her identity to the king, and at the thought of death, she decides to confront him.  She prayed and fasted, and her people did as well.  I believe, God revealed to her the way to approach Xerxes, so that he would be able to listen to her.

She goes to him, unannounced.  Someone who approached the king without invitation was subject to death.  She was amazingly brave in her willingness to go before the king, in order to save her people.  She arranged for a series of 3 banquets, where she wined and dined Xerxes and Haman.  Just enough time for Xerxes to remember Mordecai and the deeds he had done.  And just enough time to show what an evil man Haman was.  God’s timing was perfect.  I think that God had Esther there for such this time.  So she could demonstrate the saving power of her God and how his timing is perfect.   He is a great God and is able to save us from even the most unlikely consequences.

Esther 8:15-17 – “Then Mordecai went out from the presence of the king in royal robes of blue and white, with a large crown of gold and a garment of fine linen and purple; and the city of Susa shouted and rejoiced. For the Jews there was light and gladness and joy and honor. In each and every province and in each and every city, wherever the king’s commandment and his decree arrived, there was gladness and joy for the Jews, a feast and a holiday.”

Mordecai's Attire

The story of Esther is such a good one. We recently went through the book of Esther in our Sunday School class. I got a chance to revisit a book I honestly had not read in a long time. You see, Mordecai is Esther’s uncle who lived in Persia. The Jews had originally been taken there under captivity, yet at the time of this story, they had been freed to go back to Israel. Yet Mordecai and his family chose to stay. So here they were, living amongst Persians, acting as Persians. In fact, when Xerxes had decided he wanted a new queen- and Esther was in the “running”, Mordecai forbid her to reveal her true nationality.

After Esther was made queen, Haman (the king’s “prime minister”) plots to have the Jews killed and tricks the King into having a decree established to do so. When the King agrees, it is then that Mordecai comes back into the picture. He advised Esther to go to the king and beg for mercy.

Haman hates Mordecai and has gallows built to have him killed. Meanwhile, Xerxes reads over some old records and realized that Mordecai saved his life and the king had not yet honored him. So he calls Haman in and asks him what he should do to honor a man. And Haman said to give him royal robes and parade him throughout the city. The king agrees and asks Haman to fetch Mordecai.

At the banquet Esther prepared for Xerxes and Haman, she pleaded with the king for the life of her people. Her request was granted, and after Xerxes learned that Haman had plotted to kill his wife, he had him hung on the gallows that were built for Mordecai.  However, Xerxes command can not be revoked.  So he issues a new edict allowing for the Jews to take up arms and defend themselves against the army, which they do.  Shortly after, Mordecai was given royal robes of blue and white and paraded through the city. The Jewish holiday Purim comes from this time.

Mordecai is a wonderful example of a man who God watched out for. Mordecai had done a good deed for the king and at just the right time, God had the king remember it. God can weave together the events of life for our best, even though we may not be able to see them at the time. We can trust Him.

Luke 2: 8-14 ” In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Heralding Angels

One of my favorite Christmas carols is “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” In creating this colorway, I thought about the newly born baby- Jesus. How amazing it must have been to be there for that event. Those shepherds were out at night tending to their sheep. Just an ordinary night, like any other.

Then all of the sudden, an angel appears. Now the pictures we see of angels make them look sweet an innocent. The Bible actually portrays a different picture. The angels are fierce and fiercely serve the Lord. They are his bodyguards. They are strong and mighty and crazy looking. (See Cheribum and Seraphim for more descriptions.) No wonder the shepherds were afraid.

But this angel calms them and brings them extraordinary news. The news they’ve been waiting for ALL their lives. The Jews had been awaiting the birth of the Messiah for generations. And here they were, being told by angels that He was born!

And what a sound they must have heard! I love listening to amazing choirs. The sounds of the voices harmonizing and coming together to make beautiful music. And here, this choir is a heavenly choir, singing praises to the Lord. I bet these shepherds were just in awe, and got a tiny glimpse of heaven. They heard a bit of what it is like to be surrounded by angels singing praises to the Lord. What an amazing time. And how awesome it must have been to see the Christ as a baby.

I found this link to the background and history on “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.”  It tells all about the theology behind it and each part has a verse listed.  It is really neat. I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.joyfulheart.com/christmas/hark-herald-angels-sing.htm