Quantity and Quality

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There is a peace that surpasses all understanding because it is everlasting and comes from the Creator, who is the source of peace. If we were to understand peace, than it would only be a temporary feeling, but our Father offers us more than just a feeling that lasts a short time, He offers us Himself and asks that we be with Him in this moment. When we are able to live, love, and have hope in the moment, we can strengthen our faith and have just enough peace and joy to get us through the next moment as well as the next and so on and so forth. The Bible is an excellent place to start. Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Further along in Proverbs 20:24, “A man’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand his own way?”

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

“Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass.” Psalm 37:5

“The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

“Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Let us not dwell on the past or worry about the future, but let us fix our eyes on our Father and allow His Holy Spirit to guide us every millisecond for every thought and every action from now on to eternity. I would like to take this opportunity to go deep turning some complex mathematics into simple equations where if I can grasp these than anybody can understand the formulas in this entry. When I first began my research on time measurements, my only understanding was milliseconds with no knowledge of what comes before that. My mind was completely blown away by the shortest and largest capacity of numeric value, especially with their Greek origin.

To help the SI units apply to a wide range of phenomena, the 19th General Conference on Weights and Measures in 1991 extended the list of metric prefixes so that it reaches from yotta- at 1024 (one septillion) to yocto- at 10-24 (one septillionth). Yotta is the largest decimal unit prefix in the metric system, denoting a factor of 1024. It has the unit symbol Y. The prefix name is derived from the Greek οκτώ (októ), meaning eight, because it is equal to 10008. Yocto comes from the Latin/Greek octo (οκτώ), meaning “eight”, because it is equal to 1000−8. So, what is so special about the units mentioned? Well, the numbers 8 and 24 both have important symbolism.

The number 8 is the number expressing the matter, it is also the symbol of the incarnation in the matter which becomes itself creative and autonomous, governing its own laws. It is the number of the perfection, the infinity. In mathematics the symbol of the infinity is represented by an 8 laid down. It is the number of the balance and of the cosmic order, according to the Egyptians. It represents the earth, not in its surface but in its volume, since 8 is the first cubic number. The Pythagoreans have made the number 8 the symbol of the love and the friendship, the prudence and the thinking and they have called it the Great “Tetrachtys”. In mathematics, the Pythagorean Theorem, also known as Pythagoras’ theorem, is a relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. When you take in the fact that our God is a Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), the relation of numbers have a meaningful purpose.

The number eight in the Bible signifies Resurrection and Regeneration. It is the number of a new beginning.  Eight is 7 plus 1 and since it comes just after seven, which itself signifies an end to something, so eight is also associated with the beginning of a new era or that of a new order. In the bible one can find many examples which bring forth and which associate the number eight with a new beginning. Boys were to be circumcised on the 8th day. The number 8 symbolizes circumcision of the heart through Christ and the receiving of the Holy Spirit (Romans 2:28-29, Colossians 2:11-13). Those in Christ are becoming a new creation, with godly character being created by the power of God’s Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 2:10; 4:23-24).  There are eight beatitudes in the sermon on the mountain that can be found in Matthew 5:3-11).  After the 7 weeks of the spring harvest, the next day, the 50th day, is Pentecost. This day is also the eighth day of the seventh week. This 8th and 50th day combination pictures the first resurrection when the saints will be raised from the dead and made immortal (1Corinthians 15:20-23, John 3:3-12, Revelation 20:4-6). After the 7 days of the Feast of Tabernacles there is an 8th day, called the Last Great Day.  The New Testament was penned by only eight men.  Eight is the number of Jesus, whose name in the Greek adds up to 888. Jesus showed himself alive EIGHT times after his resurrection from the dead. His first appearance alive was to Mary Magdalene (Mark 16:9-11). He then showed himself to two disciples traveling to Emmaus (Luke 24). Next, he appeared to all the disciples except Thomas (John 20:19-24) then a week later to all of them when Thomas was present (John 20:26-29). According to the apostle Paul, Christ also was seen by 500 believers at one time (1Corinthians 15:4-7). Jesus also met his disciples at the appointed place in Galilee (Matthew 28:16-17) and on Galilee’s shores (John 21:1-24).  His final meeting was on the Mount of Olives, where he gave his followers instructions before ascending to heaven (Acts 1). The eight steps of the staircase leading to the external square of the Ezekiel’s temple.  Ezekiel’s Temple is a Jewish Holy Temple architecturally described and prophesied in the Book of Ezekiel, a house of prayer for all people with a sacrificial service. It is noted by Ezekiel as an eternal edifice and permanent dwelling place of the God of Israel on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The number 24 is associated with the priesthood. Since it is composed of a multiple of 12, it takes on some of 12’s meaning (which is God’s power and authority, as well as perfect foundation) except in a higher form. Twenty-four, therefore, is also connected with the worship of God, especially at the temple.  The number 24 has significance in the book of the Revelation, where mention is made of “twenty-four elders.” These elders most likely represent the church as represented by the twelve tribes of Israel (or the twelve sons of Jacob) and the twelve apostles. Every time they are mentioned the book describes them as falling on their faces and worshipping God. So the only real significance we can get from that number is that we ought to be humbling ourselves and praising God.

Psalm 72 lists 24 things that Jesus Christ, as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek, will do when He sits upon His throne and rules as King and Priest during the Millennium:

  1. He will righteously judge the people
  2. He will judge, with justice, the poor and needy
  3. Peace will be brought by the mountains
  4. Small hills shall also experience peace
  5. He shall judge the poor
  6. He shall save the children of the needy
  7. Those who oppress will be crushed
  8. He shall rule like rain upon grass
  9. He shall rule like the water that showers the globe
  10. He will cause the righteous to flourish
  11. He will bring the righteous an abundance of peace
  12. He shall rule from sea to sea
  13. He shall rule from the river unto the ends of the earth.
  14. When he hears the needy cry out he will deliver him
  15. The poor and those who have no help will also be delivered
  16. Those who are needy and weak will receive compassion
  17. The lives of those in need will be saved
  18. The needy who are oppressed and experience violence will be redeemed
  19. The blood of those in need will be precious in His sight
  20. He will cause an abundance of grain on the earth
  21. He will bring an abundance of fruit
  22. He will make those of the city flourish like grass
  23. He will make His name to be continued
  24. He will bless all men

Year of Firsts

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There is an adage expression that says “there is a first time for everything.” Normally when people say that, it is usually expressed with some excitement or the last words as someone jumps off from the top of a ski lift for the first time with help from their friends of course.

(With A Little Help From My Friends by Joe Cocker) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCrlyX6XbTU

On the other end of that expression is grief centered with a first time for everything after losing a loved one. A first event, first holiday, first birthday, first anniversary…This blog entry is about my experience over the last 5 months.

(Say Amen by Finding Favour) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfWaMVh4dZM

The first mother’s day was not as hard since it was not that long after my mom’s passing. The full acceptance did not fully sink in. The first fourth of July was a little more difficult. Watching fireworks on the roof by myself, remembering the good times of the past when my mom and I watched fireworks and even shot off our own on some of the years. I just recently had my 30th birthday and unfortunately, it was my first birthday without my mom. The closer the day got, the more discouraged I became. I was not getting too much sleep, I had been eating more and exercising less, I have had a lack of motivation to do anything. I just recently came to the realization that it has been with my self-centered attitude that I have dug myself right into a pit, burning those metaphorical bridges rather than expanding them to anyone and everyone who would most likely would have helped me through these stages in life if only I would have spoken up about the situations and asked directly for help. This life is a journey and people in your life were strategically placed there only for a specific amount of time.

(O’Lord by Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHp585tdIjQ

We are here by grace and until we fully comprehend that concept, we will never be as productive as we were created to be. Every day is a gift, what are you doing with it? That is a question that I confess have not been asking myself much. What are people saying about you now when you are alive? What will they say about you when you are gone? What do you need to change in order to leave a more positive legacy for those who knew you to carry on with them as they continue living?

(How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wt5X91ciE6Y

I came across a note that was in between some old school work and disciplinary papers from my middle school. My mom had written it and placed it there and the contents of that note expressed how proud she was of me to watch me grow up and she apologized for not being too open with me about her life, the things she had gone through and how those had developed the hopes and dreams she had for the future. At the end she said that if she were to die she just wanted to let me know that I was loved. That got me thinking of how great and strong love can be. In the midst of imperfections, love pulls rank and strengthens the bond. I came across a few statements over the internet that fit right in, “Grief never ends but it changes. It’s a passage not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love. Grief changes us, the pain sculpts us into someone who understands more deeply, hurts more often, appreciates more quickly, cries more easily, hopes more desperately, loves more openly. Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, how it holds you in place. Hold on to the love, not the loss.”

(Just Be Held by Casting Crowns) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

If you meddle with your wounds, not only will it prolong the healing process, it will make the wound in worse shape. If you focus on the problem, you will get lost in darkness, but if you focus on the answer, you will be walking in the light. If you focus on the truth, no lie can take you down. John 14:1-7 says, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

(Trust In You by Lauren Daigle) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_aVFVveJNs

Dealing With Grief

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On April 25, 2015, my mom went home to be with the Lord at age 55. I had known that she was suffering in this life, but I did not know how much until I talked with her doctor a few days after her passing. I knew that my mom has had type 2 diabetes most of her life and as a result developed other medical complications from that such as spinal stenosis (narrowing of spaces in the spine caused by degeneration of joints and discs). A few years ago, she was diagnosed with CHF (congestive heart failure) and her doctor had informed me that she had severe COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease which is a group of lung diseases that block airflow and make it difficult to breathe). About a month prior to her passing, it was discovered that her kidneys were in bad shape due to an infection and dialysis was recommended but my mom refused that treatment knowing how bad her COPD was she felt there was no point to go through the mental and physical side-effects dialysis would bring. Some facts that have given me comfort is that my mom did not want to be on life support or pass away in a hospital. She got what she wanted by passing away in her sleep at home. She also did not want to be seen by a lot of people for a funeral service. I discovered that funeral expenses can add up very quickly to thousands of dollars so since my mom did not have life insurance and I did not have money to pay for a large funeral, especially if it was just going to be a closed casket service, my mom got that wish as well. I complied to her final wish by having her cremated and her ashes are now in an urn behind a couple of pictures of her in the living room.

https://youtu.be/WmIqYDAncOs (When You Come Home by Mark Schultz)

It is never an easy feeling to witness suffering, especially when a person is a family member who you dearly love and care for. In the worst times of my mom’s sufferings, I shared in that suffering to the point where my entire body would just numb up and I would have no specific feelings at all, just a combined mix of feelings to the point where my body would just blank them all out. That is what I felt the day before my mom passed and have been feeling at random times since then. Although I was in emotional shock and felt completely numb, I was also at peace because I knew that my mom was no longer in pain or suffering. She went to be with the HEALER, the very presence of LOVE. It is no coincidence that my mom wrote out lyrics to this song and had that piece of paper in an easy place to find:

https://youtu.be/XRlYbgagnN8 (Wish You Were Here by Mark Harris)

The thoughts and prayers from family members and friends have also played an important role in my loss. As a good friend of mine always says, “isolation is bad and community is good.” If we did not have other people in our lives, life would be a lot more difficult than necessary. Most importantly, if we do not have Jesus Christ in our life, we would be completely lost, especially in the hard times. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Since we have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has gone into heaven, let us hold on to the faith we have. For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. When he lived on earth, he was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.”

https://youtu.be/oI_h_IRfRe8 (Somebody’s Praying by Ricky Skaggs)

Max Lucado described the experience of brokenness as this: “Before your pain, the view was clear; God seemed so near. After your pain, well, he was harder to see. He seemed a bit distant…harder to perceive. Your pain distorted the view—not eclipsed it, but distorted it.” Although there have been times in my life where my view was distorted, I believe that it was because of those times that when I found out that my mom had passed away, my view of God became more clear and I knew without a doubt that He was closer to me at that moment more than ever. I greatly enjoy this one quote: “God’s light in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them. When God comes, we doubters think, all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain. And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper. But it is in the burnished candles that God comes, and through whispered promises he speaks: ‘When you doubt, look around; I am closer than you think.” Healing begins in a place where our grief merges with God’s grace.

https://youtu.be/Qni5bIN5qmU (Amazing Grace by Celtic Thunder)

I have been noticing, lately more than ever, that in spite of all circumstances, there seemed to be just enough to make it through the day. There has been just enough food, there has been just enough money, there has been just enough comfort for the day. I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is enough for you. When you are weak, my power is made perfect in you.’ So I am very happy to brag about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can live in me. For this reason I am happy when I have weaknesses, insults, hard times, sufferings, and all kinds of troubles for Christ. Because when I am weak, then I am truly strong.” When sorrow comes and we begin to fall apart, the best place to be is on our knees so that in the midst of our chaos, God can bring order. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I like how the last few words of that verse is worded. When our heart gets broken and our mind becomes confused, we only need to call on Jesus and he will see us through it all. He is always with us walking with us in the good times and carrying us in the bad times. Romans 5:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

https://youtu.be/DavJ9UKS2ps (Your Not Alone by Owl City)

Max Lucado comments on Lamentations 3:1-66 as: “Jeremiah’s sorrow and consolation represented the nation’s agony. Surrounded by sin and sorrow, Jeremiah saw hope in God’s steadfast love and mercy. God renews our lives day by day.” Because God renews our life each day, we should take to heart the passage from Job 22:21-22: “Obey God and be at peace with him; this is the way to happiness. Accept teaching from his mouth, and keep his words in your heart.” The promises of Scripture can give strength to the weak, courage to the fearful, love to the lonely, and peace in the commotion.

https://youtu.be/JsLk-Prtsn0 (Your Love Is Like A River by Third Day)

I encourage everyone to check out the following organizations to see how you can support them:

American Diabetes Association

American Heart Association

American Lung Association

I would like to conclude this entry with 1 Peter 5:6-12: “Be humble under God’s powerful hand so he will lift you up when the right time comes. Give all your worries to him, because he cares about you. Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. Refuse to give in to him, by standing strong in your faith. You know that your Christian family all over the world is having the same kinds of suffering. And after you suffer for a short time, God, who gives all grace, will make everything right. He will make you strong and support you and keep you from falling. He called you to share in his glory in Christ, a glory that will continue forever. All power is his forever and ever. Amen…I wrote this short letter with the help of Silas, who I know is a faithful brother in Christ. I wrote to encourage you and to tell you that this is the true grace of God, Stand strong in that grace.”

https://youtu.be/7ttTfcu8gQo (Mercy Said No by Greg Long)

Trapped in Hell

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Many people hear the word, “hell” and picture fire everywhere with little red devils with horns running around poking everyone with pitchforks.  There is a much more frightening concept about hell that needs to be known.  The truth of the matter is hell is more than just fire and demons, it is a separation from God.  There are many circumstances in life that will make one FEEL like he/she is in hell right now.  We live in a fallen world that is filled up with sickness, pain, sorrow, and death.  The worst thing Satan can do is throw in a combination of attacks where you have one family member who is in pain and ill, you have a close friend that had recently passed away, you bury yourself in your work to try not to think about the events that are happening all around you resulting in having no free time to spend with your family and friends.  A few days of being a busy-body turns into a few weeks which in turn becomes a few months to a few years.  In that process, you get the feeling that you have been abandoned by those you love, that they have forgotten about you and have moved on with their lives which completely excludes you.  Loneliness and depression sink deep into your soul creating a huge empty space inside of you and regrets of the past and uncertainty of the future flood your thoughts.  Eventually you have gotten to the point where there seems to be no hope at all and you just want to give up.

If you are at that point in your life right now or you feel like you are reaching that point, I urge you to give up right now.  Give up your worries, your regrets, your sorrows, your anger, anything that is bringing you down and holding you down.  Seize on to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life.  Let him fill you up with his Love, Grace, Mercy, and Truth.  In other words, empty all of yourself and ask God to fill you up with Himself and allow him to live through you and guide you on this journey of this life to life everlasting.

http://youtu.be/-pD2zIuiC2g  (Break Every Chain by Tasha Cobbs)

Romans 5:3-8, “There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!  Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” (MSG)

When Satan makes you feel like you are trapped in hell with lies and various negative circumstances, pray to your Father in Heaven to free your mind with Truth and Blessings that He has given in the past and assurance that there is light at the end of the tunnel in the future.

http://youtu.be/7IUMTJoH-PQ (Blessed Assurance by Third Day)

Revelation 21:1-7, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.  And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.  And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.  And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.  He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (KJV)

http://youtu.be/ezd2PkwXlEU  (All My Fountains by Passion Band)

The Anchor of Grace

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I cannot believe how quickly time has been moving lately. I have recently turned 29 years old and have no idea where the time has gone. Of course, the most important question that should be asked in the present is where is the time going? It is so easy to get sidetracked in life when you are trying to keep focused on one thing and ten other things just pop up with the appearance of needing our attention. If we do not have our priorities in order then we will lose focus on what is truly important in life. There will always be work to be done and money to earn, however, friends and family are with us for just a short time. The subject for this blog entry is Grace because it has been weighing heavy on my heart lately and it is only by God’s Grace that this entry is being made.

In my spare time, I enjoy watching YouTube videos from talent shows such as The Voice, America’s Got Talent, Britain’s Got Talent, etc…   It is nostalgic to watch people get discovered for their true talent and rise from the show and what I enjoy the most is hearing their stories of what they went through. Of course, it is also humorous to watch people attempt to act out something they clearly do not have the talent to do. From 7 years old to 70 years old, people go on talent shows to get their moment in the spotlight giving their all.

Here are just a few examples of clips from shows around the world that just blew me away when I saw them:






As I watch these shows, I cannot help but wonder what if everyone got up every day and gave their all just as if they would do as they prepare for their moment in the spotlight overcoming all obstacles and continuing on the path that was set for them in front of an audience. God is not only our Judge but also our audience every day of our lives. Why do so many of us put him in our pocket and only take him out on Sundays or only on holidays or only if something is terribly wrong and we have no one else to turn to or worse, if we refuse to acknowledge his presence at all?

We are alive because of God’s grace and our purpose in life is to live in grace with God and with each other. When we refuse to accept this truth and decide to go our own way then there will be a guaranteed empty void in our lives. The void is where God is meant to be. The more we accept this truth, the better able we will be to willingly empty ourselves of our own wants so that we may be filled with his Holy Spirit. As a result, we will live out the kind of life we were designed and created to live. A life that is filled with peace, love, and joy. That sounds like heaven on earth doesn’t it? Is that not part of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray? “Let Your Kingdom come, Let Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

I would like to conclude this entry with a song/prayer. If you have not done so already, allow God to be your anchor in Jesus Christ. Do not let go of him because He has not let go of you. He is with you to the very end and if you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, there will be no end; there will just be a new beginning.


The Bible Observations Part 5

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At dawn on the day of Passover, Peter who is fearful and disillusioned, denies that he knows Jesus and realizes Jesus’ terrible prediction has come true.  Judas faces his own guilt and hangs himself.  Pilate’s wife is also troubled because she dreams that her husband is about to execute an innocent man.  Caiaphas leans on Pilate, warning him that Jesus’ execution is necessary to keep the peace.  Pilate sentences Jesus to a beating as he does not want this man’s life on his hands.  At a public trial, he gives the crowd an option to free Jesus or to free Barabbas.  The crowd that was carefully selected by the Pharisees demands for Jesus’ death and the freedom of Barabbas.  One thing that should be noted is that the name Barabbas in Aramaic means “son of the father.”  Pilate asked the crowd who to free the “Son of the Father” or the “son of the father.”  Just when we thought the story was powerful enough, we have the opportunity to go deeper and find even more power.  By birth, I am Barabbas, you are Barabbas, and every human being is Barabbas.  By birth, we are natural liars, cheaters, adulterers, murderers…sinners.  The punishment we all deserve is torture that ends in death by crucifixion.  Jesus Christ committed no sin but he became sin for us and took the penalty upon ourselves so that we may be right with God and with Him.  That is amazing Grace, that is the greatest demonstration of Love that could ever be made.

Back to the story of the episode:  The punishment for blasphemy is stoning to death, the priests convinced Pilate to crucify Jesus in the best interest of Rome as life would cause riots and disorder among followers.  Jesus, mocked and beaten, carries his cross through the crowds to Golgotha, the hill overlooking Jerusalem.  The same people who cheered on Jesus as he entered Jerusalem watched in silence and confusion as he left carrying a cross.  One thing that I found interesting in the movie was that the man who was ordered to assist Jesus carrying the cross acknowledged Jesus as Lord.  From what I understand, the Scriptures only note that a man was ordered to help carry the cross.  With the way the Bible episode portrayed it, the man who helped Jesus with the cross became the first dedicated disciple.  All the other followers ran and hid amongst the on looking crowds.  From what we know, only one person came forward and one person helped Jesus carry the cross to Golgotha.    

It was a common practice to have a sign on top of a cross to indicate the crime that was committed by the person being crucified.  Pilate ordered that the sign above Jesus be printed in three different languages that said:  “King of the Jews.”  A very interesting and noteworthy observation was that as Jesus was hanging on the cross, the annual animal sacrifice was about to be made the sacrifice of a pure white lamb.  When he breathes his last breath, the city quakes, the skies blacken, and the temple was destroyed with the Holy curtain split open.  The days following Jesus’ death are dark, especially for Peter who feels he failed Jesus.  Pilate believed that in a weeks’ time, Jesus would be forgotten and a new trend would begin.  But when Mary Magdalene goes to Jesus’ tomb, the world is yet again turned on its head.  The stone is broken, the tomb empty and a figure walks toward her.  Jesus Christ has overpowered death itself and is getting His followers ready to declare the Good News.

In Jerusalem during the Pentecost and with wavering faith, the disciples pray fervently and the Holy Spirit empowers them and they all speak in every language that was being spoken from people all around.  The first thought that came to my mind during this scene was that Communion brings Presence.  Their mission begins, but it will entail a constant battle of hatred and violence from non-believers.  When new follower Stephen speaks out against Paul of Tarsus he is stoned to death, however he had light in his eyes and joy in his heart and asked God to forgive the people stoning him for they did not know what they were doing.  Peter baptizes Cornelius as the first Roman then baptizes surrounding Romans to those who believe in Jesus and remembered Jesus on the boat promising him to be a fisher of men. 

Paul, whose belief in Jewish law has led him to despise the teachings of Jesus, is enlisted by Caiaphas to remove this new group of believers.  He starts beating them into silence but on a journey to Damascus, he is met by a vision and sees Jesus and is instantly blinded.  In an extraordinary change of faith, Paul is baptized and begins to preach passionately about what he has received, love and forgiveness for all.  Paul travels hundreds of miles and meets a young Greek called Luke and when the other Christians with Luke begin to show resentment towards Paul, Luke stands up for him and declared that the door must be open to anyone and everyone that knocks.  Paul and Luke go on to write most of the New Testament.  Persecution still persists as disciple James is beheaded in Jerusalem and the disciples have no choice but to scatter.  The word spreads with them, far and wide, Peter reaches Rome, Matthew and Thomas further still, but are all killed for their courage.  Only their written word survives.  But one last miracle remains, disciple John survives death and is instead exiled to solitary confinement on Patmos where he receives a revelation of hope while remembering all the events that took place while he was with Jesus.  He writes the very last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation with this message in a nutshell:  Jesus is coming back and all who have the courage to keep the faith will be rewarded.

The Bible Observations Part 4

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Brutal Roman occupation has divided the Jews but Jesus is drawing in crowds in rural Galilee with his miraculous powers and his inspirational words.  He was going around forgiving sins and healing people, even on the Sabbath.  Something that I have found interesting was that in the episode as well as in the Scriptures, Jesus would declare an individual forgiven before the healing.  It seems that reconciliation precedes restoration.  He taught the people what the Kingdom of God was like using various parables.  Jesus Christ has become a Savior to some but a great threat to the Roman Empire as well as the religious leaders.  Pharisees like Simon believe the Jews will survive only by staying close to God through the traditions of Moses.  When Jesus continues to break the rules of Judaism, Simon takes his anger to the top and speaks with the High Priest, Caiaphas, in Jerusalem. 

The Pharisees are well known to be strict on keeping the Law of Moses and paying more attention to the written letter rather than the living flesh.  Jesus was demonstrating to everyone that we were not made for the Law; rather the Law was made for us.  I loved how Bishop T.D. Jakes described the purpose of the Scriptures:  “I have not kept the Sabbath, the Sabbath has kept me.  I am not made for the Sabbath; the Sabbath is made for me.  I am not serving the laws of God; the laws of God are serving me, protecting me, helping me, advising me, teaching me how to live.  I am not serving the text, the text is serving me.  I was not made for restricted living but made for protected living.”

The words from John 3:16-21 come to mind while watching the scenes mentioned in the first paragraph.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.  For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.  But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (ESV)

Crowds continue to flock to Jesus and when he miraculously feeds them all after teaching them the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer, they call for him to be their King.  Jesus retreats from their aggressive demand and the disciples are thrown in to confusion about their master and their mission.  The reason was because everybody following Jesus expected him to defeat the Romans by physical force and become the new king of Israel.  Since Jesus continued to be obedient to his Father’s Will, he knew that he had to leave the area and continue with his ministry.

While Peter is sure of Jesus’ divinity, he is less certain about his own faith, he plunges into stormy water when he tries to walk out to Jesus as he walks on the water.  What I found interesting in the movie was that Jesus called out to Peter by name and Peter followed the calling.  From my understanding, that particular event was not recorded in the Bible, we only read of Peter calling out to Jesus to confirm the identity and steps out of the boat to challenge himself.  The context of this scene and the Scriptures is that Peter grew weak in the stormy water and Jesus needed to save him from drowning and rebuked him for doubting and not having strong enough faith.  We also need to remember in both the good times and the bad times that we have a personal God who loves us, cares for us, and listens to us.  We have a Savior who died for us to live a life overflowing with love, joy, and hope.  Back to Peter, he was the first follower to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  When Jesus heard what Peter declared, he blessed him by proclaiming him as the rock where the Church stands.   With that said, if that same Peter had the ability to doubt Jesus in the flesh, we too will naturally have doubts, and when we begin to doubt that is where the praying needs to go in full force because there is nothing we can say or do to have God love us more or less.

The faith of all the disciples is fully confirmed when Jesus shows that he has power even over life itself by bringing a dead man, Lazarus, back to life.  I loved how the movie demonstrated this event by having Jesus requesting to see the tomb.  Once he arrives with other people, Jesus begins to talk while a bright light surrounds the area and Jesus declares:  “I am the Resurrection and Life.  Believe in me and live.  Believe in me and see the glory of God.”  What amazes me in the part of the Bible is that Jesus could have just said the word and Lazarus would have been raised from the dead.  Jesus decided to go to the tomb personally and give a miniature sermon to the people surrounding him while performing a huge miracle.  Talk about having actions speak loader than words, this was just one of many of those examples. 

The disciples will need the greatest reserves of strength and faith as they move ever closer toward the point of their mission, to Jerusalem, and into direct conflict with the religious and political authorities there.  In the week before Passover, Jerusalem is full of pilgrims celebrating the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt.  The desire for freedom from their oppressors, the Romans, burns strong.  Now, Jesus makes his entrance riding on a donkey, a declaration that he is the Messiah by fulfilling the prophecy of Zachariah.  Jesus perplexes all in a protest against hypocrisy by turning on the money changers in the Temple.  The selling of animal sacrifices and money exchanging had become a common practice within the Temple.  Jesus flips the tables declaring that God’s house must be kept holy and that it should be used for prayer.  We cannot serve God and money.  We must give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. 

Enraged Caiaphas finds a way to get to Jesus, through disciple Judas who is persuaded into betrayal.  The disciples are thrown into turmoil by Jesus’ announcement that their shared supper together will be their last.  Not only will Jesus be killed, but one of their own will betray him.  Judas runs from the scene and Peter receives his own devastating prediction, he too will fall away.  Jesus and the disciples withdraw in prayer to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus asks his most trusted disciples to stay up and pray for the time has come and that the Father’s Will must be done.  Unfortunately, the disciples fall asleep while their savior is suffering through prayer alone in the garden.  Judas and the arresting Temple guards rush in.  Jesus allows himself to be led away and the disciples scatter.  He is tied up and faces trial by the Jewish elders accusing him of blasphemy.  The punishment declared is death.  Caiaphas finds Jesus guilty and the crowd outside is told the verdict where all of the followers felt betrayed.

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