Who Knew?

I thought about doing this on Facebook, but I usually  tend to get in trouble or blow things up there. So I decided to make my platform here because I hardly get any visitors to my blog let alone any views. Haha! Just my luck, someone will actually read this and be offended. God bless them any way.

So, are you ready for what I have to say? I hope so.  If not, please continue to read and judge after you’ve completed reading.

Do you remember King Cyrus? He was the king who had declared the Israelites as free men in 538 B.C.  He was a Persian king. His reign started in 559 B.C. in Persia and ended in 530 B.C. Not very long, but very much accomplished in what he was able to do.

But he was a Persian king. He was not Jewish. He was Pagan. His reign as king in Babylon began in 538 B.C. I want  to share some things that the Bible shows us about him. The first place I want to look is in Isaiah. There is a prophecy concerning King Cyrus written 100 years before he even came to exist in this world.

Isaiah 44:28 says Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, and he shall perform all My pleasure, saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” and to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.” ‘

Isaiah 45:1 says “Thus says the LORD to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held to subdue nations before him and loose the armor of kings, to open before him the double doors, so that the gates will not be shut…” Verse 4 For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name; I have named you, though you have not known Me.

Two things I want to point out, well, three things actually. The declaration is spoken to Cyrus. He is called anointed by the LORD Himself. That word anointed in the original Hebrew language is mashiach, and it means anointed, usually a consecrated person (as a king, priest, or saint); specifically, the Messiah — anointed, Messiah. It comes from the root word mashach, which means to rub with oil, i.e. To anoint; by implication, to consecrate; also to paint — anoint, paint.

When the LORD says that Cyrus was anointed, it means not only just that he was to be king, but also that he would be set apart (consecrated) for a special purpose that God had in mind.

The second thing I want to point out is that God had called him by name even 100 years before his birth! Even though Cyrus would not walk in God’s ways, he would be used by God to release the captives of Israel amongst other things that could only have been brought about by God.

Fast forward to the year 538 B.C. The southern kingdom of Israel (Judah) had been in captivity in Babylon for nearly 70 years. Meanwhile, Daniel (you know the guy that survived the den of lions?) had known what the prophet Jeremiah had said about the captivity of Judah. It was to be for a period of 70 years and he began fasting and pleading with God to be faithful and allow them to return to Jerusalem.

Let’s now look at how the story unfolds in Ezra chapter 1. I won’t go over the entire chapter, you can read it on your own. But I want to say that the very first verse gives us some important information. It starts out by saying in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and also put it in writing, saying, 2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: all the kingdoms of the earth the LORD God of heaven has given me. And He has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem which is in Judah. 3 Who is among you of all His people? My his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel (He is God), which is in Jerusalem.

The text continues and says that Cyrus also sent back all the articles of the house of the LORD which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from Jerusalem and put in the temple of his gods. ******************

I had read something on social media asking people to send President Trump a postcard of encouragement on 3/17/17. When I began reading comments that people were leaving, I was not surprised by any of them. While a lot were in favor of the idea and said they would participate, still others were bashing the man who now sits in the Oval Office.

I want to share one more thought from Scripture. Romans 13:1 says that every soul should be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.

It can’ be any other way. What did that just say? The authorities that exist are appointed by God? You’ve got to be kidding me. Nope. I’m not. I didn’t say that. The Bible said it. The apostle Paul wrote it under the inspiration of God. So in effect, God Himself said it.

There are those who say that President Trump should not have been voted as President. Maybe so. I personally believe that he will be used by God during his time as President. That being said, I must also say this. Just because you may not like the man doesn’t give you the right to slander him and to speak ill of him. He may yet prove to be a poor leader in some areas and an excellent leader in other areas.

According to the verses I just shared, Trump, like Cyrus was anointed by God for a specific purpose. He is said to have given his life to God before the election, but that is not our place to say anything different. We judge the fruit. Remember when you were first saved? You weren’t perfect overnight and neither was he. Neither was I. In fact, I’m still not perfect and neither are you.

To the ones who do not like our nation’s leader, I ask you. What has he ever done to you? Did he ever once say to you face to face something you did not like? I personally am not fond of everything he said during his campaign. Some of it was really, very rude. But that does not give me a reason to not like him as President.

As Christians, we have a responsibility toward our President. Regardless of our opinion of the man, our job is to cover him with prayer. Not that he would run the nation the way we think he should run it, but according to how God shows him. As long as he listens to sound council and does not make rash and hasty decisions, we will be just fine. You will be just fine.

Pray for the man. Not just one time, but continually. That’s the only way you will see change in him if you don’t like what you see.

 

I Am And There is None Beside Me…

That’s what the ancient king Nebuchadnezzar said during the days of Israel’s captivity. I am and there is no one beside me. In his heart, he really thought he was all that and more. Daniel 4 shares his story of how he fell into a huge pride issue. At the beginning of his story he says that he was at home in his palace, contented and prosperous. Another translation reads that he was at rest in his house and flourishing in his palace.

Babylon was the city he lived in. Though he did not build the city from scratch, he did have a hand in making it the famous city it became. According ancient Greek historian Herodotus, he claimed the outer walls of the city to be 56 miles long, 80 feet thick and 320 feet high. The inner walls of the city weren’t quite as thick, but weren’t any weaker than the outer walls. Because the Euphrates River ran right through the city, there was plenty of water for growing crops and gardening as well as, well, whatever it was needed for.  The city was also surrounded by a rather big moat that served as another means of protecting the city from outsiders.

Nebuchadnezzar built the hanging gardens for his wife and built a large array of temples, streets, palaces and walls. Somehow, they were able to haul water from the river to the top of the hanging gardens. The gardens probably weren’t actually hanging as one would think right away. The word hanging comes from another word that means hanging and overhanging. The idea is that a rather large structure to imitate a mountain was built as raised beds to allow for not just flowering plants but also trees to be planted.

From this, we can see why Nebuchadnezzar would be sitting in his palace, flourishing in the comfort of his Babylon. It was beautiful.  No unwanted people could get in. It has also been said that Babylon was the most beautiful city in its day. There was not another city like it. No wonder Nebuchadnezzar was so full of pride and was as comfortable as he was.

He said, “I am and there is none beside me.” He looked at everything that had been built in Babylon and took credit for it all. He soon learned that there is One above him and that this One would make sure he recognized that truth.

When we get full of pride, it is really, very hard to see and acknowledge that we have it. Pride wants to lift itself up. Pride says I am better than you. Pride will tear someone down in order to look good. When we get puffed up, we put things out of perspective. The Bible teaches that pride will go before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. In other words, pride does exactly opposite of what we think it does.

Jesus said that we are to humble ourselves. We ask Him to make us humble, but that’s just not biblical. He says we are to make ourselves humble. He also said if we want to be great in the kingdom of God, we need to learn to be the servant of all. That’s humility. That’s the opposite of pride. That’s also love.

Bible Study Resources

5-bible-study-resourcesHave you ever wanted to know how to study your Bible? Where do you look for information? What websites can I use? Are there any good programs I can purchase? With all the books out there on how to study your Bible, which ones are the best?

Studying the Bible can be a daunting task if you don’t know how to do it. Before I get into all the cool resources out there, it must be said that the Holy Spirit is the best teacher you could ever get for studying the Scriptures and learning what they actually say.

Personally,  I use a whole bunch of different books, Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries and pretty much anything I can get my hands on. If you don’t have internet access at home and don’t have a lot of money to spend, I would recommend setting aside some money to purchase a Strong’s exhaustive concordance of the Bible. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend getting one.

If you don’t know what it is, it is a book that lists every occurrence of a word in the King James Bible and the verse reference. It also assigns a number to each word either in regular format or in italic. The number for the words can then be used to lookup the original language’s word. Example, I want to know where to find the verse that says all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. So, I will look for glory. I know that the verse is in the book of Romans, but just don’t remember chapter and verse. Looking in the concordance, I learn that the chapter and verse is Romans 3:23 and the number assigned to this word glory is in italics. It appears as 1391. Now, take that number and find it in the Greek dictionary section at the end of the book. Once you find that number, you will find out how the Greeks looked at the word we use as glory.

From the base of dokeo; glory (as very apparent), in a wide application (literal or figurative, objective or subjective) — dignity, glory(-ious), honour, praise, worship

I would also recommend getting a variety of versions of the Bible. In my personal collection of Bibles, I have the Amplified Bible, the New King James Bible, New Living Translation, The Message, The King James Bible, and The Living Bible. I also have some great study Bibles. Specifically, I have the New Spirit Filled Life Bible, The Jeremiah Study Bible, a Thompson Chain Reference Bible,  and a Chronological Bible.

Some versions of Bible translations are better than others as some are watered down and some leave things out and others re-word things to make them easier to understand in today’s culture and therefore, lose their intended meanings. That is for another article, though.

There are a lot of Bibles you can read online as well. The rule of thumb I have is that you should have one main Bible to read from. Find one that you can read and understand easily and have fun reading. I prefer to use the New King James Bible because it is easy for me to understand and I do have fun with it. I don’t use the King James Bible too much for the sake of Bible reading because the language is not practical for me. I don’t speak that way. I do enjoy reading it because of the old feel of it, but I don’t always understand what I’m reading.

What is the difference between just a Bible and a study or reference Bible? Footnotes and margin notes. The earlier Bibles usually did not have any type of study aides in them. It was just pure Bible text. Modern Bibles can be that way today, but most of them now include at least a center margin with references to other related verses.

Study Bibles are as numerous as Bible versions. My favorite one is the New Spirit Filled Life Bible. It is full of a wealth of information and teaching. Nearly every page will contain something to help you understand what you are reading. These are categorized into three topics. Kingdom Dynamics, which include several other subtopics, or themes,

are derived from abounding biblical and experiential evidence that verifies proven biblical principles and values as essential for the dynamic spread and effective advance of the gospel of the kingdom.

Then, there is Word Wealth. There are 550 important words or terms that are covered in this section. The Word Wealth gives detailed, easy-to-understand definitions for the selected words. If one of the 550 words came up in the passage you were reading, you would find in the center column a note as to where you would find the word wealth information for the particular word. The example given in my Bible is in Acts 4:33. The specific word used is power. The Word Wealth box on that page will show the word power, the original Greek word, the Strong’s number, and insight into the original word used and how it was used.

The third thing is the Truth-In-Action section. Simply put, there are numerous places where you would be directed toward a Truth-In-Action section, and you would essentially find ways you could apply the Bible’s truths in your own life.

Before each book of the Bible, there is also an introduction to the book. It will cover the author, or, who is the accepted author of the book, the date it would have been written or the events took place. You would find background for the book, content of the book, personal application, revelations of Christ and how the Spirit would be found working. There is also an outline for the book.

There are also numerous charts and maps to help visualize different key topics, events and places.

Who knew a study Bible would have all that? Some of them do. Some of them don’t have as much information. And the cool thing is that even with all this extra content, the Bible isn’t any bigger than one without!

For those of you who do have internet access at home or at the church office, there are some excellent online sources to use as well as some apps for your electronics. Some are free and others have a cost. I will start with the free ones.

Biblehub – Online Parallel Bible, search and study tools including parallel texts, cross references, Treasury of Scripture, and commentaries www.biblehub.com.

Bible Search and Study Tools – Blue Letter Bible

Read and study God’s Word with Bible study software that has in-depth resources such as commentaries, Greek and Hebrew word tools, concordances, and more

 

Bible Gateway – here you can read the Bible in several different languages and translations. You can also get access to commentaries, devotionals, and reading plans. www.biblegateway.com

Now for the not free one. This program is one that I want to be able to purchase. Maybe for my birthday, my wife might let me get it??? It is called Logos. It does have a “free” option, but it is very limited in what you would gain access to.  To purchase the program, you could expect to spend from $300 to $1000.00, depending on what you wanted access to.  Click here for more information. Despite the cost, it is well worth it. With the silver package, you get:

335 books

  • Read the Bible, take notes, search, and highlight
  • Consult devotionals and commentaries
  • Compare translations and do basic word studies
  • Find anything with precision searching
  • Explore cultural context in depth
  • Do original language exegesis
  • Write sermons with smart tools

$999.99

or choose a payment plan.

That’s about all I have to share with you for today.