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- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 14 January 2017
- Last Updated on 14 January 2017
- Written by Administrator
What is our Blessed Hope?
Hymn 1: p. 6 – Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee
Hymn 2: p. 26 – Hallelujah! Praise God!
What is hope? Imagine yourself to have finally taken hold of something very precious that only in your wildest dreams can it really be made possible. That confidence that leads you out of impossibility and uncertainty into profound assurance is called–hope.
The book of Proverbs tells us how hope played a very important role in our life. It says:
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
There are many other powerful key terms and concepts in Scripture like faith, love, joy, grace, peace, etc. that we come across as we read our Bibles, but often these are just vague concepts to the uninitiated. And so is the subject of hope.
What is hope? Some equate it as a fanciful wish, or desire. The modern idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment; to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.”
In today’s Songs and Scriptures, we will explore this fundamental subject of hope.
In Scripture, both the Hebrew (qawa) and Greek (elpizo) words translated “hope” according to its usage, is an indication of certainty or assurance. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Though archaic today in modern terms, hope is akin to trust and a confident expectation. Thus, the key words here are assurance and confidence. Hope is a firm confidence (or assurance) for things that are yet future.
Our lives today are filled with pain, suffering, hopelessness and death. Some even experience more of these than others. Yet we overcome every struggle and hardship with hope. Hope provides us the reservoir of strength needed to conquer every misery and despair that comes along our way.
For our first batch of readers, let us examine why we are seemingly living in a hopeless world devoid of any future yet needing that Blessed hope…
- Category: Feasts and Holy Days
- Created on 01 January 2017
- Last Updated on 29 December 2016
- Written by Raul Hipe
When God established His Holy Days—the weekly and annual Sabbaths—one of the reasons they were given was to set us an example or a teaching aid for understanding His plan of salvation.
In Leviticus 23, we read how God patterned His feast days (Heb. moed –“appointed/set times”) according to the seasons and cycles of life and its environment (Gen. 1:14). These are not just coincidental because God knows right from creation how He will eventually use the growing cycles He set within plants, animals and even humans as an effective witness and tool in executing His plans.
Thus, if we follow the seasonal harvest in Palestine, God’s annual festivals can be classified and patterned with the Spring harvest—the Passover/Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, and Fall harvest—beginning Trumpets, culminating to the Feast of Tabernacles (“Booths”) and the Eighth Day.
But is there more to it? What other spiritual lesson from life’s cycle we can learn from?
With the advent of modern medicine together with the latest technologies, many observations even in the microscopic levels had come to light. One way to look at it is through our own life cycles! Yes, somewhat ‘hidden’ in our gene, we can actually map-out the plan of God!
God’s holy days do not only show us the plan of salvation, they also illustrate something only few people recognize today. They picture how we humans are made and how we were born. These must be very important to God that He patterned the human development or “birth process” after them. Let’s examine and find out how they are perfectly fit together.
This is how the cycle of life begins.
Ovulation in a woman’s body usually occurs about the 14th day before the beginning of her next monthly menstrual cycle. According to medical authorities the egg (which size is only like a period at the end of this sentence) must be fertilized during this critical 24-hour period for a baby to be conceived. After fertilization by male sperm, the egg or embryo begins a journey of seven days from the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it finally implants itself.
The embryo slowly develops and grows, by the 50th day the tiny embryo will then change to a human fetus (Latin for “offspring”). During this period the tiny living human has now a discernable heartbeat, arms, legs, and other vital internal organs. The face begins to round and in more advance screening, you can actually detect its gender. On this fiftieth day, this minute replica of humanity is, for the first time, recognizable as human!
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 12 December 2014
- Last Updated on 23 December 2016
- Written by Raul Hipe
We are again in this time of the year when majority of the world keeps a very special time they believe commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ.
While this celebration is inescapable for most of us, this season can be a real struggle, especially when our difference piques the curiosity of some as they think it sad that we are removing ourselves from the most meaningful time of the year, or is it?
Was Jesus Christ really born on December 25th? If he was not born on that date, can we know for certain when his birth possibly took place? A careful study of the surrounding events leading to the birth of Christ will actually show some vital facts.
On the other hand, plethora of information is just a click away over the internet that will show us undeniable information as to the questionable origin of Christmas celebration. Many people are now beginning to see how the “winter-time” merry-making of December 25 actually predated the birth of Christ—that these were derived from an ancient cultic celebration of the re-birth of the Roman pagan sun-god on the day of the winter solstice or Saturnalia.
History also attested to the fact that the Catholic church heavily borrowed from this celebration in order to entice the heathens (pagans) to embrace a new religion. While this method was successful in preserving “Christmas” as it survived today, the Bible is actually explicit in forewarning us and discouraging such borrowed and sanitized pagan practices.
God’s overriding admonitions in Deuteronomy 12, are very instructive in helping us know how God views all these things:
“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” Deuteronomy 12:29-32 ESV(see also Jeremiah 10:2-5, Ezekiel 23:37-39, Zephaniah 1:5, 2 Cor. 6:14-18)
But what information do we have surrounding the birth of Christ?
On the surface, the gospels’ accounts of Matthew and Luke revealed little about the time of Jesus' birth. But a careful study of the narratives will clearly indicate two things:
First, that the December 25 date is very untenable and unlikely date for Jesus to be born.
Second, the chronology of the events and familiarity with the Biblical customs pointed to a different but meaningful period.
As a well-regarded historian, Luke, provided a sound and orderly account of the events that removes any doubt as to the time of the birth.
As an overview, Luke introduced us to event leading for Jesus’ parents coming to Jerusalem (Bethlehem). And this was due to a Roman census ordered by Caesar Augustus compelling everyone to return to their hometown (Luke 2:1-4). Both historical fact and logic dictate that such censuses cannot be taken in winter, when temperatures were often below freezing and travelling can be very arduous due to roads’ poor condition. It would be self-defeating for such census to be enforced.
Another least understood factor was the influx of many travelers in and around Jerusalem during this period that made it difficult for Joseph and Mary find a decent "inn" (Luke 2:7). Looking at the historical context, the only possible reason was the fact that it was a pilgrimage-feast (harvest) season (Exo 23:16, Deut 16:16), making it even more an opportune time for Roman census and collect taxes.
Moreover, Luke in his account about the timing of birth, also noted the presence of shepherds in the fields watching their flocks “by night”. (Luke 2:8). For shepherds to be in the fields at night with their flocks in the bleak of mid-winter December in Israel is unnatural and topographically untenable even when it is only a mild winter. Thus The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Jesus] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night. Other references suggest based on this account that, “Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night” (Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays p. 309).
If it is not possible for Jesus to be born on December 25, does the Bible indicate when He was born?
To unlock this and using the same sequence of events in Luke Chapter 1:5 through 2:8, two overlooked key factors will give us answers.
- Category: Scripture Studies
- Created on 16 December 2016
- Last Updated on 23 December 2016
- Written by Raul Hipe
“Christmas is just around the corner!" So goes one of the often heard words when the month of December comes around. In the Philippines, Christmas begins on December 16 with a tradition that is very unique in our country called “Simbang-gabi”. It is a nine-day Catholic mass celebrated before dawn in the old times presumably to allow farmers attend a Mass before they leave for work. And so today even in the most urbanized city—no arable land to till, people from all walks of life still flock very early in the morning to church services to observe a mass not really knowing what its intended purpose was.
Take note that this tradition did not come from a heathen concept nor is it borrowed from any pagan practice of old. So some people will be justifying, "Hey, who says that we are keeping a pagan celebration?" "This is our tradition—our unique way of keeping the spirit of Christmas!" "We are not worshipping the gods of the pagans like Nimrod, Marduk, Mithra, Baal, Molech, Astarte, Osiris, etc.!" And so people are much confused nowadays as to the real “reason for the Season.”
Those who are trying to follow the biblical way and keep out of this tradition are caught in the middle. We are on the defensive. Our children are the ones who are really on the forefront and exposed to these practices—they are just as confused as those who keep Christmas and not really know its true origin.
Others would now entertain ideas like: "Well, people are sincere in what they are doing, that’s what really matter!” “So what’s wrong with giving a present to your wife, children and even neighbor once on Christmas day?" Others will reason, "What’s wrong with putting those bright and tiny little Christmas light or lantern in our windows or backyard trees—isn’t it pretty?" "Besides, electric lights weren’t invented by those pagans—surely that does not honor their gods!" As they would love to say, "Doesn’t God look at the heart—surely it doesn’t matter whether these practices were rooted from paganism!" "Would God not be pleased knowing that our intentions are pure in choosing a special day to honor his birth?" "The Bible doesn’t say when His birth was, but would it be wrong to choose a date that is already familiar to many?" "After all, the Bible says that we are not to judge people!"
So we find as many reasoning and arguments as there are ways to celebrate Christmas. But the question to ask is: are all these arguments valid? Are we asking the right questions? What is really the point in all of these? Can we now say, "Hey God, we are trying to serve you better, and in doing so we have set aside a day that we thought would be comfortable for us in order to worship you—bless us on this day!" One can actually make hundreds and even thousands of good reasons for keeping Christmas, but the ultimate question to ask is, what did God say in His Words when it comes to worshipping Him? Because if we are really sincere in serving God we will be seeking His will always—not imposing "our" will—in wanting to please Him. To do otherwise, to devise our system of worship in the presence of God’s clear instructions is to commit the sin of presumptuousness which is specifically singled out and condemned in the Bible (Deuteronomy 17:12-13; Numbers 15:30; Psalm 15:30). Hence, a person maybe be sincere, but there's also such a thing as sincerely wrong! It is always better to be guided by God's word.
What do we find in the Bible? Does God have a merry Christmas? Does He really care as to how we conduct ourselves today? Is He concerned about what we are doing today—the customs we use—let alone make our own rules and traditions? So can we now use our many "good reasons" to celebrate Christmas?
- Category: Scriptures With Songs
- Created on 09 December 2016
- Last Updated on 13 December 2016
- Written by Administrator
The Grace of God
Hymn 1: p. 159 – O Day of Rest and Gladness
Hymn 2: p. 163 – The Love of God
In today’s Songs and Scriptures, we will be going back to one of the most fundamental questions in Christianity: What is the grace of God? It is one of the most often discussed words in theology, but can ordinary believers really have a clear and complete understanding of what “grace” really is all about?
We say that God is a “gracious God”, or that He is the “God of grace”, and His son Jesus Christ came in the flesh “full of grace and truth”, but do we really know its implications when applied practically in our Christian life? Is grace only about the “unmerited pardon” we receive when we are forgiven of sin? Or, is grace something that we can freely dispense with on our own, a “freedom” to do what we please, as is often taught nowadays? Most people today accept a ‘grace’ that in reality is law-breaking (lawlessness), or license to sin.
To know what real grace is, first we need to understand the most basic characteristic and nature of God: the Bible expressly tells us that “God is Love.” Everything God does flows from His love. When God grants His grace, it likewise is rooted in and flows from His love. Thus, whenever He extends mercy and forgiveness, favor and blessing, kindness and forbearance, it is by and through His grace!
In the Old Testament there is one basic Hebrew word which has been translated “grace.” That word is chen, which is pronounced khane. This word is derived from the root word chanan (pronounced khawnan), which means “grace, favor, goodwill, kindness, gracious and pleasant.” The adjective form of c/zen is channuwn (pronounced khannoon), which means “gracious.” The Hebrew root word chanan means “gracious, to favor, to be favorably inclined, to pity, to be compassionate, to make acceptable.” It can also mean “to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to be moved to favor by a petition or request, to show favor, to grant or give favor or to graciously show mercy and pity” (Ref: Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon)
For our first batch of readers, let us examine the description of God’s creation in the first chapter of Genesis to understand how God’s grace was revealed through His acts in the beginning. The key word/phrase here is “good” and “very good” to understand how grace operates in God’s creation.
Bible Reader 1 –God’s Grace Revealed in Creation
Genesis 1: 1-19
Bible Reader 2 – God’sGrace Revealed in Creation
Thank you bible readers .These verses clearly tell us that when God looked upon His creation, He saw everything that He had made was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). The word good is translated from the Hebrew tolby, which means “beautiful, bountiful, cheerful, fine, good, gracious”; its secondary meaning is “joyful, loving, mercy, pleasant, pleasure, prosperity, wealth, well or well-favored” (Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon). To be declared as good and very good only shows that everything was truly a blessing! As viewed through God’s eyes, His very Creation was a clear manifestation of His Love and His grace.
- Category: Meditations
- Created on 16 November 2016
- Last Updated on 16 November 2016
- Written by Gilbert Deboma
My family lives in the town of Botolan, province of Zambales situated in the coast of a little north of West Philippines Sea. We frequent the sea during Sundays in summer for swimming and for some sea breeze when kids including me have coughs and colds. Sometimes we go there during Sabbaths to catch the beautiful sunset.
During rainy season, it is not advisable to swim because of the big waves that might overwhelm you and can pull you away from the shore by undercurrent waves. Numerous stories of people drowning in that sea where bodies were found in the neighboring towns serve as warning for those attempting to have a swim during rainy season.
It was November 6, 2016 when my sons Stephen 13, Juan 12, Shadrac 7 and Luke, 4 and I agreed to go for a swim by the sea as all of us have coughs and colds. My wife Ann did not come with us as she was finishing a school project for Shadrac.
It’s been a while that we had a swim because every time we go to the sea after a rainy day or night, big waves greet us.
So as we arrived by the coast, everyone got excited as the waves are not that big. We also saw three kids swimming maybe of the age of Juan. It is a kind of a go signal for us to take a splash in the waters.
I held Luke and Shadrac in a close distance to us in the shallow part and the two older boys looking for some bigger waves went towards the deeper part. I constantly yelled at them not to go farther as they might be overwhelmed by the waves especially when they are at the deeper part. Everyone was enjoying the waters and the waves that are hitting our bodies. As everyone was having fun, I noticed but ignored that there is a kind of a pull to the deeper part after a wave passed.
At one time, Luke and I were by the seashore and my three sons were still swimming at the same distance as the three boys we met when we arrived. Again I yelled at them to come closer by the shore.
After some time, the three unknown boys approached me and one of them said “Uncle, I think they are drowning, they are in a deep part and they cannot move!” Immediately I gave them Luke asking them to take him further from the shore and not allow him to come near the waters. Then I rushed to my sons to the deeper part of the sea, repeatedly uttering to myself, “Father help us!”
At first I saw my three kids in one place, but as I was approaching at about 5 meters from them, I saw Juan slowly drifting away from Stephen and Shadrac to the deeper part. I doubled my effort to overcome the waves so I can be with Stephen and Shadrac. They were holding each other, and as I reached them, I grabbed Shadrac and pushed him to the shallower part so his feet could reach the sand and walk towards the shore. Free of holding Shadrac, Stephen was also able to move for the shallower part.
Although still struggling, thinking now that their chances of going to the shore for their safety have increased, I gave back Shadrac to Stephen so I could go for Juan. As waves and the pulls are getting stronger, remembering the incident where Jesus Christ was in a boat with His disciples and He calmed the sea, I prayed “Father God, you can calm this, please calm the sea!”
As I was about to face the direction of the deeper part to go to Juan, I saw a big wave approaching, with a little disappointment on my part because I already hoped that God would immediately calm the sea after my prayer, I again uttered “ In Jesus Name, please make this stop!”
- Category: Feasts and Holy Days
- Created on 15 November 2016
- Last Updated on 15 November 2016
- Written by Raul Hipe
Tabernacles 2016: Meanings of the Feast
Hymn 1: p. 35 – Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
Hymn 2: p. 225 – Joyful at the Feast
The story of God's people is by and large, a story of redemption and future hope and restoration for mankind. This kind of hope differs from an ordinary man-made expectations which are subject to change and even failure. On the contrary, the Christian hope is rooted in God Himself and in His eternal purposes fully anchored in His words.
For the believers, this is the Faith that drives us not only to be living expectantly for the coming Kingdom, but also to live the future intensively in the here and now (present) through a life that is shown by its fruitfulness.
In many ways that hope are expressed in the festival that we celebrate today: the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Tabernacles completes the sacred festivals of the seven month of the Hebrew calendar. In contrast to the subdued or somber mood of the feasts of Trumpets and Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles is a season of rejoicing.
From the time it was revealed to ancient Israel, the Feast of Tabernacles or “Booths” has been the source of inspiration that strengthens their faith and nourishes their hope in the outworking of God’s plan of redemption.
The Feast of Tabernacles is known by different names in the Old Testament. Because of its familiarity, the feast was simply referred to as “the feast”—1 Kings 8:2; or “the feast of the Lord”—Lev 23:39. This is indicative of its prominent role and of its rich meanings.
For our Songs and Scriptures, we will be going thru each of these names as we look at the lessons and the many ways the Feast was understood through its traditional, historical and prophetic significance. So we will be looking at the various ways the Feast has been described or named with through its many rich attributes providing us analogy/typology lessons in history and as future promises unfolds.
Our first batch of bible readers will be giving some these introductory narratives as the children of Israel received the instructions and how/when to keep it.
Bible Reader 1 – a Sacred Assembly
Bible Reader 2 – a Sacred Assembly
Thank you bible readers. Brethren, let’s all stand and sing the following hymn…
Hymn 3. p.120 – Behold, the Day Will Come
Hymn 4. p.226 –The Feast is Spread
- Category: Feasts and Holy Days
- Created on 11 November 2016
- Last Updated on 11 November 2016
- Written by Ivan Ezras
One doesn’t have to interpret the Scriptures his/her own way. The Scriptures themselves will reveal the meaning and mind of God to answers sought for. One doesn’t have to create a story around what he/she believe to make it stand. One just has to let the Bible interpret and explain itself.
The design of the woven tapestry of God’s works and laws details His mind on the concept of the Eighth Day Sabbath. Based on how God worked with mankind in the course of history, we can understand what the number eight means to Him.
- After the Eternal was fed up with the lawlessness and corruption of the old world, He chose Noah, a just man and the eighth, a preacher of righteousness to start all over again.
2 Peter 2:5 (KJV)
5And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
Peter used the Greek word “ŏgdŏŏs” meaning the eighth (Strong’s #3590) and not “ŏktō”- eight (Strong’s #3638). So the best translation is still the King James Version. “. . . the eighth (person), a preacher of righteousness . . .”
- Of all people on the earth at that time, God saved only eight people for the new world.
Genesis 7:13 (NKJV)
13 On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark—
- Seven days were given to Noah and his family; with all the creatures to board the safety of the ark before the Eternal caused the rains to come on the eighth day to renew the whole world.
Genesis 7:4 (NKJV)
4 For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.”
- The Eternal destroyed the evil old world and initiated the change in the eighth month.
Genesis 7:11 (NKJV)
11 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.
Second month (Heshvan) in Noah’s time is the same eighth month in the Hebrew calendar beginning with Moses up to the present. God changed the beginning of months when He began to redeem Israel from slavery to Egypt.
Exodus 12:2 (NKJV)
2 “This month (Nisan) shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.
- The eighth month also marked the time when the eight people in the ark went out as God directed to start life anew on a completely washed and better ground.