Last week, April 27, 2021 we celebrated our seven years wedding anniversary! We praise the Lord for His gift of love and marriage. We thank the Lord God for bringing us to serve Him together in reaching others with the love of Jesus through personal ministry and with Far East Broadcasting Company, (FEBC). Here are some highlights from our ministry and personal trips the past years.
“But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38 NKJV)
Reading: John 7
Power, popularity, prestige, position, food, fashion, success, wealth, passion, entertainment, etc. are the things with which people try to fill their lives. Here in the southeast, where we sometimes experience tornados and severe storms, people who have lost all their possessions often say, “We lost our homes and everything else, but we thank God we are still alive!”
One of the greatest kings who lived on earth was Solomon who had everything – power, wealth, women, etc. (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11) However, his cry was, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)
But hear the words of Jesus:
“If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38)
Once more, Jesus gave an opportunity to the people of Israel to know who He was. He wanted them to know that He is the source of life. He wanted to give them the river of living water. For Jesus is the wellspring of salvation. He is the source of life and the giver of eternal life.
The offer of Jesus is still true today for everyone. Jesus wants to give us the river of living water because He is the source of life, the bread of life, and the living water. Jesus offers His life to anyone. He alone can satisfy the hungry soul. He alone can fill the longing of hearts. Nothing else can fill the emptiness in a man’s soul.
People in the world today try to pursue earthly dreams, success, worldly wealth, good life, and happiness. They try all kinds of things, relationships, and intimacy, but none can fill the void in one’s heart. Jesus alone can satisfy the soul, as He made a way for us to come to the Father, the giver and source of life.
All the striving for happiness, success, and fulfillment cannot be compared with the joy and satisfaction of a relationship with Jesus. In Jesus, there is peace, love, joy, hope, the forgiveness of sin, and eternal life. What Jesus offers and gives is not a temporary solution or a quick fix; He gives eternal redemption and salvation of the soul from sin and hell.
In Jesus, all our needs are met – physical, emotional, and spiritual. He is the Provider of food, shelter, etc. He is the Healer when we are sick. Jesus is the Comforter when we are lonely and sad. Jesus is strength when we are weak. Jesus is Hope when we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Jesus is love when we feel abandoned. Jesus is Wisdom when we need guidance and direction. Jesus is Refuge when we need protection. Jesus is the Good Shepherd when we have lost our way. Jesus is the Resurrection and the life in time of death. And Jesus wants to give us more.
The invitation of Jesus is for everyone to come to Him and be filled. He wants to give us the river of life, the river of living water. He desires to fill the longing of our soul and to satisfy our spirit. Jesus wants to give us eternal life – a life connected to God in eternity.
Dear Jesus, I praise You and bless You! Thank you for your offer to give us the river of living water, that we could live with you here on earth and in eternity with our God. Thank You that I can come to you for everything and anything I need in life and in the life to come.
Key verse: “And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.’” (v.36)
Mark 14: 36
Abba, means “Father.” Jesus called God His Father, meaning He has a personal and close relationship with God. Jesus knew He could call on His Father anytime, especially in times of trouble and distress. “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.’” (v.34)
Jesus knew His Father, the Lord God, is all-powerful and all-knowing. “And He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for You…’” (v.36). Jesus knew His Father could do anything. God created the heavens and the earth. He had all the power and resources. He could command His legions of angels to stop and intervene in His Son’s situation if He desired to.
Jesus knew well that His Father is gracious and merciful. “Take this cup away from Me.”
Jesus knew His Father loved Him very much, and He could spare Him from suffering if He wished to do so. However, in all these circumstances, Jesus still submitted to the Father’s plan and will.
“…nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
Jesus was humble and submissive to His Father’s will because He knew His Father’s plan of salvation for us all. Jesus was willing to suffer because He knew His Father’s heart was to save everyone from sin and hell. Jesus knew His Father loved Him, but God the Father also loved every person in the world, so He was willing to sacrifice His only Son.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Because of God’s great love for you and me, Jesus gave His life on the cross. Jesus submitted Himself to the will of the Father for the forgiveness of our sins and salvation of our souls, to give us eternal life.
See: Philippians 2:5-11
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it [b]robbery to be equal with God, 7 but [c]made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Dear Lord Jesus thank you for your willingness to submit to the will of the Father. Holy Spirit please help me be willing to submit also to my Lord’s will and plan. Amen.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
Jesus Christ – John 8:32
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, – by Paul, I Corinthians 15:3-4
So, then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands. Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.” Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”
Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”
Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away. –
But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. -Mark 16: 6-8
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept, she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.- John20
The Apostles Commissioned
Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
So, Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
From the Gospel of John Chapter 19, 20
Other References: Matthew 27 & 28, Mark 15, &16, Luke 23 & 24
“Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10)
Reading: Mark 11: 1-10 ((See also Psalm 118:25-26)
Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt (v.7). Many people laid their clothes on the road as a carpet for the entrance of Jesus, while others spread out green leafy branches. They shouted “Hosanna, please deliver us, blessed is He who comes in the name of Adonai.” (Mark 11:9 Jewish Bible).
The people of Israel recognized Jesus as their long-awaited Savior and Messiah. They recognized Jesus was sent by the Lord God when they said, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of God” (v.10). They also recognized Jesus was a descendant of David, the rightful heir to the throne of David when they said, “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David.” (v. 10)
The people of Israel were in a desperate situation because the tyranny of Roman rule was heavy upon them. They felt powerless and helpless. As life became harder for them with more taxes, less freedom, etc., they needed another Savior more than ever. Like King David, who saved them from their enemies, and like Moses who delivered them from slavery in Egypt, they wanted Jesus to deliver them too.
So, when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a colt, the people of Israel thought that their time of deliverance had come. Their hopes were up! They thought that was the best time to be free from the oppression of Roman rule. They thought God sent Jesus to deliver them. They cried and pleaded with Jesus, “Please deliver us!” However, God had a different plan. From the birth of Jesus, God’s plan and purpose was to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Yes, God wanted to deliver them from the oppression of their enemies. God still accomplished that plan. Later, after many years, Roman rule and power ceased. The purpose of Jesus’ coming to earth was to deliver and save people from their sins. It was sad that the people did not recognize their need for a Savior to deliver them from their sins because they did not recognize their own sinful nature. They did not recognize the condition of their hearts and souls, the sin in their lives such as pride, arrogance, hatred, lack of fear of God, etc.
Yes, many of them followed and obeyed the law and commandments of Moses, but their hearts were far from God. They were upset that a heathen nation was ruling them. The people of Israel did not recognize their Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ came to deliver them from sins.
So, Jesus came and taught them to turn away from sin and turn to the Lord God. As people were pre-occupied with how to survive the heavy oppression from Roman rule, Jesus taught them, “Do not worry about your life…” (Matthew 6:25-33)
The people of Israel only wanted freedom from Roman rule so that their lives would be comfortable again. But God’s plan for salvation for all people was first deliverance from slavery to sin, salvation of souls to give us eternal life. God wants the hearts of people to turn to Him – to be free from sin. Then someday in the millennium and future eternity, Jesus will rule as King of kings, and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16). Jesus will come back again to rule and reign with His followers. (Rev 20:6 and Rev 21:6-7)
“And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.’” (Rev. 21-6-7)
“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God,saying:
“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, The One who is and who was and who is to come, Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.” (Rev. 11:15-17)
Dear Lord Jesus, thank You that You came to seek and save me from my sins. Thank You for delivering me from the power of darkness and bringing me into your marvelous light. Thank You for rescuing me from slavery to sin. And thank you that you are coming back again to take me with you. Someday you will rule and reign here on earth as our Lord and King.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now…” (Philippians 1:2-5)
With these words, the Apostle Paul expressed his deep gratitude to the church at Philippi for their faithful support of his ongoing missionary efforts. As we reflect upon the past 30 years of ministry with FEBC, these words also express our sentiments as we remember your faithful partnership in our radio/media ministry. We are greatly blessed by your prayers and financial support which enable us to continue providing engineering and technical support for our radio stations in Asia. Thank you for your partnership!
Since our last prayer letter, David has been busy assisting Family FM in Phnom Penh, Cambodia as they investigate the idea of replacing their guyed tower with a self-supporting tower. This is being considered to “free up” space at the transmitter site so that a new studio building can be constructed there to replace the old/crowded studio site in downtown Phnom Penh. So, David has been gathering data on antenna weights and wind loads so that a new self-supporting tower can be designed. Please pray for wisdom as David and fellow missionary Guy West work on this project proposal.
David has also been assisting Batjargal, board chair of FEBC Mongolia, as he sets up a home recording studio in Sacramento, California. He will soon be translating the “Through the Bible” radio programs into the Mongolian language, so David has been assisting by ordering the needed equipment. Please pray that the new setup works well.
Jimri of FEBC Indonesia also recently contacted David to ask for advice on troubleshooting technical problems at Heartline Lampung and Respon Radio in Padang. Both stations are experiencing reduced power output, most likely due to antenna problems. Please pray for wisdom in solving these problems.
At this point, I would like to share an urgent prayer request with you. As you may have seen in the international news, there was a recent coup d’état in Myanmar (Burma). FEBC has been operating in Myanmar since 1973. Broadcasts are in Burmese and 4 other ethnic languages. At present, our staff are safe, but in recent days pro-democracy protesters have been killed as the military has responded with violence. Please pray for a peaceful end to the conflict, a return to democracy, and the safety of church leaders and FEBC staff.
Maria from Indonesia writes, “I listened to Heartline Radio not long ago…and now I am an avid listener. At first, I was just tuning around on the shortwave dial, but then I found FEBC Indonesia with its spiritual broadcasts. I was staying…Since then I’ve never changed the radio dial. I always tune into Heartline Radio, from morning till late night. The program that I often hear is ‘Sharing and Prayer’ where the program host asks for prayer support for every listener…I currently have a lot of struggles, especially health. Almost every day I ask for the mercy of God, to lift the pain I was suffering. Praise God, thanks to the support of prayers from God’s servants at FEBC Indonesia, my disease has gradually started to heal, and I am getting through recovery again.”
A listener from Malawi shares, “I am very grateful for having received a radio which will help us understand what God says about Jesus Christ. Since many of us are illiterate, the radio will help us grow in our faith.”
Goomaral from Mongolia writes, “Thank you to all the team. Due to the pandemic, churches are closed. But with the online stream, we can listen to the sermon…and praise the Lord at our homes.”
Your partnership is enabling millions of listeners just like these to hear the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ. On behalf of our listeners, we want to thank you for partnering with us as we proclaim Christ to the World by Media “Until All Have Heard.”
Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge
Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’ ” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:1-8 (NKJV)
This is a parable of contrast not comparison!
Our heavenly Father is not like the unjust judge.
Parable of the Persistent Friend
And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. Luke 11:5-8 (NKJV)
This is another parable of contrast not comparison!
Our Heavenly Father is never reluctant to meet the needs of His children.
Jesus’ Admonition to Ask, Seek, and Knock
So, I say to you, ask and keep on asking, and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking, and you will find; knock and keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps on asking [persistently], receives; and he who keeps on seeking [persistently], finds; and to him who keeps on knocking [persistently], the door will be opened. Luke 11:9-10 (AMP)
The Father’s Desire to Give Good Gifts to His Children:
Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will [instead] give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will [instead] give him a snake? If you then, evil (sinful by nature) as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him. Matthew 7:9-11 (AMP) (This is the parallel passage to Luke 11:11-13)
* ASK AND KEEP ON ASKING! * SEEK AND KEEP ON SEEKING! * KNOCK AND KEEP ON KNOCKING!
What amazing answers to prayer have you seen due to persistence?
What seemingly “impossible” prayer requests can we bring to the Father today?
“…With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 9:26
“For with God nothing will be impossible.” Luke 1:37
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27
Bible passages from Amplified Version and New King James Version
O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear?
The global pandemic, upheaval and turmoil in the nations, people suffering for their faith, religious persecution, violence against innocent people, unrighteousness, godlessness, injustice, and other wicked deeds remind me of the prayer of a man in the Bible named Habakkuk.
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted Habakkuk 1:1-4 (NIV)
Habakkuk was a man who lived during the kingdoms of Judah and Israel around 600 BCE. He wrote his prophecies before the Babylon invasion. God used Habakkuk to warn the people of Judah (Jews) to repent and turned from their sinful ways.
Habakkuk grappled with God’s economy of justice. “He finds it inconceivable that God could use and evil pagan nation to judge His people. However, God uses a vision to convince Habakkuk that His ways are right” 
I felt the burden of Habakkuk to have justice in the midst of wickedness.
Habakkuk was not the only one in the Bible who had struggles with God’s justice. In the book of Psalms, the writer expressed his heart:
How long, Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant? They pour out arrogant words; all the evildoers are full of boasting. They crush your people, Lord; they oppress your inheritance. They slay the widow and the foreigner; they murder the fatherless. They say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice.” Psalm 94:3-7
Then God replied to Habakkuk in Chapter 2:2-3
“Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”
Then God spoke to Habakkuk about sure judgments to the wicked:
“Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house… Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establish a city by iniquity…Habakkuk 2:9-15
And other woes, and judgments…
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the water covers the sea.”Habakkuk 2:14
“But the Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.”Habakkuk 2:20
Then, Habakkuk responded to the Lord in Chapter 3: 2
O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.
God assured Habakkuk that He would surely bring justice. Just as Habakkuk realized that justice needs to be tempered by mercy, I also need to pray for God’s mercy for those who are involved in wickedness, corruption, deceit, and unrighteousness – for God to have mercy on their souls. Surely God will bring justice to the wicked, but He is also merciful, waiting for them to repent.
Back in Psalm 94 it says,
Take notice, you senseless ones among the people; you fools, when will you become wise?Does he who fashioned the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?Does he who formed the eye not see? He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct? Psalm 94: 8-10
When Habakkuk heard the response of the Lord God, he was at peace trusting that God will do what He was supposed to do – to bring judgment and justice to the wicked.
“Though the fig tree may not blossom Nor fruit be on the vines… Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” Habakkuk 3:17-19
A couple of weeks ago, we experienced a severe thunderstorm in our area. There was lots of heavy rain, very loud thundering, and the fiercest lightning I have ever experienced in my life! I was trembling in fear and realized the awesome power of God. It reminded me of the experience of the people of Israel in the Old Testament when they received the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone.
“Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. Exodus 20:18
The sharp, loud thunder and fierce lightning were for me a demonstration of the awesome power of God! I felt as if God was saying, He is still sovereign and in control, and has the power to do whatever is right for Him to do. I felt like a worm, and was reminded that I am not the judge, and should not fret about the wickedness and injustice I see in the world. The Lord God in heaven has all the power and might to bring about justice and righteousness in His own way and in His right time.
Sovereign Lord God, You are awesome and powerful! We praise and thank You for Your mercy and grace. Help us wait upon your right timing to bring your righteousness and justice in the earth.
Key Verse: v4 – “who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God”
Title: Not fair!
“It’s not fair!” cried my heart when we received the results of a virus test. “Why not me Lord, my husband does not deserve this. He is a good man, he prays a lot for sick people, for those who are grieving and for many who are in need.” I thought my husband did not deserve this illness that has wreaked havoc in many countries of the world. Many have suffered, lost their jobs, their livelihood, and their loved ones. As I lamented and complained to the Lord that morning, my Bible reading happened to be in Hebrews.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. (Hebrews 5:7 NIV)
After reading these verses, I realized that, yes, my husband did not deserve to suffer from this illness, but neither did Jesus deserved the punishment of death on the cross. Jesus was a perfect man, but He still suffered humiliation, affliction, and death on the cross. It was not fair either. We may feel that we do not deserve bad things in life, but Jesus reminded us that,
“No one is good—except God alone. (Luke 18:19 NIV)
With the unwanted diagnosis, the next few days were difficult for my husband and me. However, we saw the hand of God at work, getting us through each day. We are grateful that in our case, the symptoms were mild, and that God saw us through.
Later on, when we heard of other friends who have experienced the same illness, we were able to pray for them and encourage them. We saw God has a purpose in every situation, whether good or bad, to cause all things to work together for good. (See Romans 8:28).
Reflection: Trust God when things in life seem not fair. God has His purpose and reason in every situation.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Romans 10:9 (NIV)If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord. I Thessalonians 4:16-17
(Jesus said) “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to everyone according to his work.” Revelation 22:12
Prayer of repentance and commitment to Jesus as your Lord and Savior:
Dear God, thank You for your love for me and for sending Jesus. Thank you, Lord Jesus for dying on the cross for my sin. I believe that God raised you up from the dead. Please forgive my sins. I open my heart to you. I commit and trust my life to Your Lordship. Please help me, Holy Spirit, to live the life God has planned for me. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
If you pray the prayer above, you are now a child of God and forgiven because of Jesus Christ! What to do next?
Christianity is not just a religion. It is a personal relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
God speaks to us through reading the Bible every day. (www.biblegateway.com)
We speak to God through prayer in the name of Jesus.
To hear good Bible teachings, look for a good Bible believing Christian church to be part of, or maybe look for online for now.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
At this time of year, we often think about Jesus coming to earth in the form of a helpless baby, but do we really consider the implications of Jesus humbling himself by coming to earth? Think about it. Jesus left all the glory & splendor of heaven and the worshipping heavenly hosts to come and live among us. He gave up His omnipresence to live in a human body confined by time, space, and geography. He gave up the perfections of heaven to live in a body that was subject to hunger, pain, and discomfort. I can imagine that, upon occasion, Jesus suffered the pain of hitting his thumb with a hammer or stubbing his toe on a rock. When Jesus fed the five thousand, have we ever considered that Jesus himself was hungry? When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, have we ever thought about how thirsty Jesus must have been? And after a long day of ministering to the physical needs of hundreds of people, have we ever considered how tired Jesus must have been? Or after seeing how the religious leaders of his day despised Him and His teachings, have we ever considered the degree to which Jesus felt the pain of being misunderstood and rejected? And let us not forget the emotional pain that Jesus felt when his earthly father Joseph, his cousin John the Baptist, and his friend Lazarus died.
Dr. David Jeremiah recently did a teaching a series about the Nativity, has listed several reasons why Jesus came to live among us. We often think about the obvious reasons – to fulfill the Old Testament prophesies and to save us from our sins. But do we consider that He also came so that he could fully understand what it means to be human, to experience human emotions and to empathize with our weaknesses? The writer of Hebrews brings out this point:
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
I don’t know about you, but these verses bring me great comfort! When I feel discouraged, I can remember that Jesus also felt that way from time-to-time. When I feel alone, I can remember that there were times when Jesus also felt the pain of isolation. When I am tempted, I can remember that Jesus also faced temptation, although of course He never yielded to those temptations. Isn’t it comforting to know that whatever we are going through, we can bring those cares to the One who understands our struggles (I Peter 5:7), knowing that He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). And there is nothing that can ever separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Now that is truly Good News!
Season’s Greetings, and Merry Christmas from the Creels! We hope that you and your family are doing well and enjoying this festive season. Even in this most unusual year, we have much for which to be grateful. At the top of our “gratitude list” is the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who gave of Himself so that we might enjoy abundant life here on earth and eternal life someday with Him in heaven. We are also grateful for your partnership as we proclaim “Christ to the World by Media” until all have heard the story of Jesus. For more thoughts on thanksgiving, please see our blog at thecreels.org.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4
Each day during our prayer time we give thanks and praise to our Lord for the simple blessings of life. We thank the Lord for such blessings as clean water, electricity, a roof over our head, warm clothes, food, etc.
Clean water. In many places around the world people must walk a mile or so to a stream or river just to get a bucket of water. When they get home, they must boil the water or filter it, and then store it in a safe place. So, we are thankful that we have clean water right in our home.
Electricity, internet, and modern technology. We thank the Lord for electricity that enables us to cook our meals conveniently. In some places, people must gather firewood or tree branches, cut them, and then make a fire to cook. A few years ago, Vicki served in a children’s home in South America. Every day the cook and a couple of volunteers would get up at 4:00 or 5:00 am to get some firewood. They would then place the firewood on three big stones to make a stove, then light the firewood to cook a meal. The previous day some young men had to gather wood and cut them into pieces for firewood. They only had 2 hours of electricity in the morning and evening using a generator. So, we thank the Lord for electricity that helps us cook and keeps our appliances, air conditioner and heater running. With electricity and the internet, we can work from home and be connected to the world.
Clean air to breathe. In one of the countries we visited in Asia a couple of years ago, they had very cold winters. During our visit, the temperature ranged from -15 to +25 F degrees! The power company for the city burned really dirty coal to supply electricity and heating to homes and buildings which produced a lot of air pollution. We learned to appreciate and thank the Lord for the clean air we breathe.
The beauty of nature. Did you ever stop to think that God could have made the world very utilitarian? Instead, he created this world with beauty – beauty that reminds us of our Creator God. Take a few moments today to enjoy a beautiful sunset, a walk in the woods, or a look up into the night sky!
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 118:1)
Religious and political freedom. In many parts of the world, Christians risk their lives just to attend a church fellowship. We thank the Lord for the freedom we still have in this country to practice religion and be part of a church.
We are also thankful that the Constitution provides citizens freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble, freedom to elect leaders, etc. And we are thankful for those men and women who fought for our country through the years to preserve those rights. In many parts of the world, people do not have political freedom and the opportunity to elect their leaders, something that we often take for granted.
Families and friends. We thank the Lord for the love and care of our extended families and friends. We are also thankful for the prayers and support of our ministry partners.
Spiritual heritage. We are thankful to the Lord for the faithfulness of those who have “gone before” us, for those saints of God who walked faithfully with God through the years and provided us with a godly example and a spiritual heritage. History is full of men and women who lived out their faith, sometimes risking their very lives to preserve our spiritual heritage. And of course in this Thanksgiving season, we remember the faith of our founding fathers in the United States who prayed earnestly for God’s blessing as this nation was formed.*
Spiritual blessings. We are especially thankful for the love and mercy of God, the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8), the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ, the hope of eternal life, a home in heaven, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and other spiritual blessings. (See Ephesians 1:3-6). We are very thankful for the gift of salvation! There are still 3 billion people in the world who need to know the Gospel and the love of God.
The Written Word. We thank the Lord for the availability of the Bible in our language. In Bible history, some sacrificed their very lives to have the Bible translated into our language. Many people are still waiting to hear the Gospel in their native tongue. Currently, at least 2,000 languages around the world are still waiting for a Bible translation project to start.
Each day, if we pause and look around, we have so much for which to be thankful – not just on Thanksgiving Day! We are grateful also for the gift of life – each day is a gift from God.
“His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue. (II Peter 1:3)
History of First Thanksgiving
“In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith…
In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. Now remembered as American’s “first Thanksgiving”—although the Pilgrims themselves may not have used the term at the time—the festival lasted for three days…”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6 (NKJV)
“that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment – Hebrews 9:27
We only live once, here is a short devotional story of a woman who had a life well-lived. The Bible says in Psalm 90:10,12- “The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Scripture Reading: Psalm 92:12-15
“They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing…” Psalm 92:14 NKJV
I met “Jane” a few years ago at my husband’s church, just before we were married. Jane looked small and fragile, but always had a radiant smile, a sweet disposition, and kind words. She made me feel comfortable and welcome even though I was a total stranger. On holidays and wedding anniversaries, she sent me and my husband greeting cards. When my husband was away on mission trips, Jane would often ask how I was doing. She would often encourage me with these words, “I am praying for you and your husband.” Every Sunday, before the worship service started, she prayed with our pastor and anointed her with oil.
On one occasion, Jane invited me and two other ladies to meet her at church to learn how to make hats using a loom. She was making the hats for cancer patients. She also knitted prayer shawls for others who were ill. Whenever she could, she would send me colorful yarns to make the knitted hats.
During those days, Jane and her husband were both struggling with some significant health issues. At the same time, she was also busy with her own children and grandchildren. Although I only got to know Jane in the last 3 years of her life, she was an inspiration to me and left a profound impression on my life – a wonderful example of faith, love, and prayer. I had clearly seen in her life what it meant to be a true follower of Christ. She faithfully demonstrated the love of Jesus Christ to her family, friends, and to all who met her. Her life has often reminded me of these words from Scripture, “They shall still bear fruit in old age, they shall be fresh and flourishing to declare that the Lord is upright;” (Psalm 92:14-15). I miss Jane’s smiling face, but I know she is now enjoying her heavenly reward with her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, as we journey through life, help us through the power of Your Holy Spirit to reflect Your love and faithfulness to others for Your glory and praise.
Part 3 : The power of the Holy Spirit to change people
Key verse: Then Peter said to them, repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (v.38)
Acts 2:38 (NKJV)
It was the day of Pentecost (Festival of Harvest in Israel). The disciples of the Lord Jesus were gathered together in Jerusalem, as Jesus instructed them to wait there (Acts 1:4-8). About 120 followers of the Lord Jesus and eyewitnesses of His resurrection gathered together in the Upper Room. As they prayed and worship, the power of the Holy Spirit came upon them. Each of them received the gift of speaking in tongues, (Acts 2:3-4). At the same time, there were God-fearing Jews who were visiting Jerusalem from different nearby countries.
“Everyone heard them speak in his own language, they were amazed and marveled” (v.5)
The visiting Jews heard the local disciples speak their native languages. Then Peter got up and explained to the crowd what was going on. Peter explained to the people that it was a fulfillment of God’s word in the Book of Joel.
“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”
Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:17-18
And Peter further explained that Jesus is their Lord and Messiah (v.22-26). Peter through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit made connections of the Jesus and King David in the Scriptures (v. 25-28). “For David did not ascend into heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, til I make Your enemies Your footstool’. (v. 35) “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ”. V.36
The Holy Spirit’s touch and power came to the disciples of the Lord Jesus on the day of Pentecost. They spoke new languages or spoke in tongues and gave witness to Jesus’ power and resurrection. The disciples obeyed the instruction of the Lord Jesus to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
About fifty days prior to this event, the disciples were all bereaved and bewildered with the death of their Lord Jesus on the cross. They were frightened for their lives and were in hiding (John 20:19). Then when they saw Jesus alive and had risen from the dead, they rejoiced! Even when Jesus commanded them to go and make disciples, they were still uncertain. But when they waited for the promise of Jesus, they all received the touch and the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4).
Almost instantly they received the power-new courage, strength, and boldness. Peter also received wisdom and knowledge in the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit gave Peter real strength and boldness. Before the day of the Pentecost, the zealousness and boldness of Peter were from his natural abilities and was limited. When Jesus was arrested and was in trial, Peter even denied Jesus. But when the power of the Holy Spirit came to Peter, he became a changed man. First Jesus restored Peter and their relationship . Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to redeem his denial of Jesus three times, (see John 21). Then through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter became bold, courageous and full of wisdom. He was able to stand up and witness for Jesus in front of many people. He became anointed and powerful preacher for Jesus. And that day, 3000 souls were added to the disciples!
Jesus changed Peter through the power of the Holy Spirit as well as the other disciples. As a followers of Jesus, the Holy Spirit can change us too. Through the power of the Holy Spirit He can empower us to be strong, courageous and bold witnesses for Jesus, of His love and saving grace.
Dear Jesus, I praise You for sending Your Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, like Peter, please fill us with your spirit of wisdom, courage, strength and boldness to be Your witnesses.
The Holy Spirit gives power to do the works of Jesus!
v.8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
//Luke 24:49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
One of the last words of the Lord Jesus to His disciples before He returned to heaven was, “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (v.5); And “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (v.8)His disciples thought Jesus was talking about physical power, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? (v.7). The disciples knew and believed with all their hearts that Jesus was their long -awaited Messiah or Savior. However, their definition of Messiah was different from Jesus’ kingdom’s definition. Perhaps in the minds of the disciples and other people of Israel, they thought Messiah or Savior was like Moses or David. Moses was their physical ruler who freed them from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 1). Then David later on, led the people of Israel into battles and established his kingdom throughout Israel (2 Samuel). Perhaps, the disciples and other people were thinking, Jesus would do the same, deliver them from oppression and tyranny of the Roman rule. However, as the Word says in Isaiah 55,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.”
The mind of Christ and the plan of God was far greater than the thinking of men- temporary relief. Men like the people of Israel thought of physical deliverance from hardships, taxation, violence and other physical oppressions. From the beginning, when Jesus was born on earth, God’s plan was to deliver people from the bondage of sin.
for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV)
The plan of God was not just a temporary relief from hardships and oppression, His plan of salvation was far greater than temporary earthly relief- His plan of salvation was eternal- to deliver people from sin. God ‘s plan of salvation for the people of Israel is still the same for everyone in the world. (John 3:16)
So, when Jesus told His disciples, You will receive power (Acts 1:8), He meant the power to preach the Gospel, the power to heal sick people, to perform miracles, so people would believe in Jesus. When Jesus was with His disciples on earth, He did the Father’s will – preaching salvation, teaching the people the words of God, healing the sick, and delivering people from demonic oppression. Jesus’s focus and mission were to set people free from sin, from hell and eternal condemnation. The same power Jesus received from the Father, He passed on to His disciples through the power of the Holy Spirit so they could be witnesses in all places starting from Jerusalem, other cities, other places, other countries, and to the ends of the earth.
The same power Jesus gave His disciples is available to all His followers even to this day. The power to preach the Gospel, teach the Word of God, heal the sick, deliver people from demonic oppression, set people free from sin, hell and eternal condemnation. As followers of Jesus, the power of the Holy Spirit is made available to us all.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for sending Your Holy Spirit to us. Thank You Holy Spirit for coming. Please fill us with your power – Your spirit of strength and courage to the works of the Lord Jesus, to be witnesses Him to everyone, in every place you send us.
Key verse – 5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Other references: John 14:16, John 15:26
//Matthew 3:11& Luke 3:16- I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
The Lord Jesus spent 3 full years with His disciples. He ate with them, traveled places with them and did ministry together. The disciples studied and learned from Him directly, as they listened to His teachings and preachings. They witnessed and saw miracles He did firsthand. Jesus trained them to be teachers of the word of God, to be preachers, prophets and evangelists. However, Jesus had to go back physically to His heavenly home to be with His Father. Jesus had fulfilled His mission and primary purpose- when He gave His life as a sin offering for the world. Jesus died on the cross for the sin of the world, (John 19), then rose after 3 days. HE showed up to His disciples and other people for 40 days. They were together again for 40 days and gave them His last words and re-commissioning (Acts 1:1). Jesus encouraged the disciples one more time (not the last one).
“for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (v.5)
Jesus promised this to His disciples even before He died on the cross.
“And I will pray the Father, andHe will give you anotherHelper, that He may abide with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth,whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with youand will be in you.” John 14:16-17
Jesus had to go back to heaven, leave the earth, but He did not abandon His followers, disciples and friends.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. (v.18)
He already made plans for them, to send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, He speaks the Truth, which is the Word of God, to enlighten people’s minds, to convict of sin.
“But when theHelper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. – John 15:26
The Holy Spirit is also the Helper. Like Jesus, He helps in time of need. Like Jesus, He promised to stay with them forever, As Jesus promised His disciples, I will not leave you orphans (John 14:18)
The Holy Spirit, like Jesus, is Truth and Helper. He continues to do the work of Jesus- to speak the Truth of God’s words. The Holy Spirit is the Helper, our help in time of need, whatever is the situation, whatever we need- healing, healing of bodies, healing of emotions, healing of minds, financial needs, guidance, protection, comfort, etc.
Jesus is back in heaven, but He is still with us, as His followers, through the Holy Spirit. He provides for us, every need we could possibly imagined. He gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us into Truth- to be our Teacher and Helper in time of needs. The Holy Spirit abides /or stay with us forever.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to us Your followers. Thank You Holy Spirit for helping me in time of need, and for guiding me and for teaching me the Truth of God and His words. Amen!
In situations where you cannot be physically present with the sick person, prayer can be offered on behalf of the person using a handkerchief, a piece of cloth, or a prayer square which has been anointed with oil. This tangible symbol can then be sent to the sick person much like what the Apostle Paul did when he sent some handkerchiefs or aprons to sick people. (See Acts 19:11-12)
SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR ANOINTING
THE SICK WITH OIL AND PRAYING FOR THEM
Reading: James 5:13-16
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
James 5:14-16 (NKJV)
Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them – Acts 19:11-12
This blog was posted a while back but with some revision.
(Parallel scriptures: Mark 6:7-13 & Mark 16:14-18)
There is no “magic” in the anointing oil. We are simply obeying the scriptures when we anoint the sick and pray for them.
“The sick are healed not by the elders’ power, nor by the anointing oil, but by the Lord’s intervention – either through indirect means (medical treatment) or His supernatural healing.” (Dr. David Jeremiah)
In situations where you cannot be physically present with the sick person, prayer can be offered on behalf of the person using a handkerchief, a piece of cloth, or a prayer square which has been anointed with oil. This tangible symbol can then be sent to the sick person much like what the Apostle Paul did when he sent some handkerchiefs or aprons to sick people. (See Acts 19:11-12).
All healing is from God – whether through medical treatment & the body’s natural healing processes OR through a miracle from God.
It follows that healing can be accomplished over a period of time OR in an instant if God so chooses.
Faith plays an important role:
“And the prayer of faith will save the sick…” (James 5:15)
Remember to have faith in God for healing, however, not faith in faith!
But we must be careful not to assume, when someone is not healed in the way that we want, that it was because of a lack of faith.
Sometimes, God allows sickness or infirmity for a reason:
To keep one humble and to show God’s power through our weakness:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (II Corinthians 12:7-9)
To discipline a believer:
“In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (I Corinthians 5:4-5)
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (I Corinthians 11:27-32)
However, we must be careful not to assume that someone has sin in their lives when they are not healed in the way we wanted.
Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth, and His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in Him.” (John 9:1-3)
“There were some present at that season who told Him (Jesus) about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’” (Luke 13:1-5)
To accomplish a greater purpose which will benefit others and glorify God
Joni Eareckson Tada – though God did not heal her, she has inspired millions of people with disabilities
To take believers home to be with Him
In some instances, God chooses to heal someone by taking them to be with Him. Remember that this world is not our home. In the words of the old Wayne Watson song, “At the ultimate healing we will be Home Free.”
Notice the role that confession has in healing:
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16)
We have all heard that confession is good for the soul, but it is good for the body, too! We protestants, since we believe in the priesthood of all believers, do not believe that we need to confess our sins to an earthly priest in order to be forgiven. This is evident from I John 1:9:
“If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
However, there is value in confessing our sins to our spouse, a trusted friend, or a prayer partner – someone we know that we can trust – who will not repeat the matter as gossip. Such confession is incredibly freeing, ridding our soul of unnecessary guilt and condemnation. (No guilt trips!) Confessing our sins to our spouse, a trusted friend, or a prayer partner also helps that person to hold us accountable for our actions.
Effective/Fervent prayer is a powerful force:
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16b NKJV)
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b NIV)
So, let’s spend some time now praying for each other – especially for those who are in need of the Lord’s healing touch. By: David Creel
The wilderness and the [a]wasteland shall be glad for them, And the desert[b] shall rejoice and blossom as the rose; 2 It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, Even with joy and singing… They shall see the glory of the Lord, The excellency of our God….
For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert. 7 The parched ground shall become a pool, And the thirsty land springs of water; In the habitation of jackals, where each lay, There shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
8 A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness…
9 No lion shall be there, Nor shall any ravenous beast go up on it; It shall not be found there. But the redeemed shall walk there- Isaiah 35
Day 4 January 12, Sunday
We drove today from Jerusalem (we checked out from Olive Tree hotel in Jerusalem) to Judean wilderness road/highway. On the road we saw a community of the Bedouins living in tents. Then we drove about an hour to the road through Qumram, Dead Sea and Masada. Saw huge rock formations, caves, and canyons along the En Gedi road which are desert and arid places. However, surprisingly, there were palm date orchards. The huge rocks and caves reminded us of the Scriptures in Psalm 18. “ The Lord is my rock and my fortress..” Some Bible stories came alive, the man who walked on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho and was helped by a Samaritan. (Luke 10:25-37). The story of David in 1 Samuel when he hid in caves in EnGedi. While driving, we had the view of the Dead Sea on the left, and and on the right were the huge rock formations, canyons and caves.
I will love You, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my [a]strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the [b]horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-2
The story of David when he stayed in the strongholds in the wilderness- I Samuel 23 and 24
O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. 2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. – Psalm 63
Driving by Masada and Qumran, we some orchards of palm dates, green houses of herbs and other vegetable gardens.We saw water irrigation system implemented in the Judean wilderness, and even swimming pool resort.
It reminded me of the word in Isaiah 35, “the desert and the parched land will be glad, the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus. It will burst into bloom,…water will gush out forth into wilderness, burning sand will become a pool and thirsty ground bubbling springs. And a highway will be there, but only the redeemed will walk. “
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58 NKJV)
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Hope you and your family are doing well despite the many changes that the Corona virus has brought into our world and into our routines. We are enjoying summer activities, but with appropriate precautions.
Even though COVID-19 has disrupted our travel plans, we continue to provide remote technical and administrative support to our radio stations in Asia. David’s latest project has been purchasing “home studio” equipment for a broadcaster who produces programs for an ethnic language people group in Myanmar. The equipment has now been installed and is working well. We rejoice knowing that this project will allow many in this people group to continue to hear the Gospel message.
I see these comments a lot, especially these days in social media, but I wonder when people say that, “Praying, I am praying…” to whom they are praying. I heard that one religion has more than three million gods. Another religion encourages its followers to pray to various saints for different needs. When David and I travel to Asia, we often see places on the streets where food is offered on an altar to appease their gods so their petitions could be heard.
Others say they can only pray in certain buildings or cathedrals on certain days.
A few months ago, we were grateful for an opportunity to visit one of the holy sites for many Judeo-Christian people. While visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem, we were told by our tour guide that we could write our prayer requests on slips of paper and stick them between the crevices of the wall. I am not sure who actually prays for those many prayer requests.
Jesus addressed this issue when He was here on earth when He was talking to a woman from Samaria. The woman of Samaria told Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”(John 4:20).
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is comingwhen you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.22 You worshipwhat you do not know; we know what we worship, forsalvation is of the Jews.23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers willworship the Father inspiritand truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)
God in heaven is Spirit, He loves to hear our prayers and worship. The way to God is easy and simple since Jesus made a way.
Jesus said to him, “I amthe way,the truth, andthe life.No one comes to the Fatherexcept through Me. (John 14:6)
We pray to God in heaven in the name of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful privilege we have as children of God to be able to express our needs to Him in prayer.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (I John 5:14-15)
Here is the continuation of our recent Holy Land trip. Please see the above links for Days 1 and 2. We apologize that it’s taking long to get these organized.
On Day 3 (Saturday is Sabbath Day)
Today we started the day going to the Old City (Walled city of Jerusalem). There were city gates, thick stone walled city gates.
Jerusalem (From NTS Travel Holy Land Guide) is located in the Judean Mountains about 2500 ft above sea level. It is also called the “City of David” ( 2 Samuel 5:6-7).
We also went to the Pool of Bethesda, where Jesus healed a paralytic. It was interesting to see the actual pool. Before coming, we imagined it to be like a regular oval shaped, Olympic size swimming pool. But it looked very different. It is a deep and large, look like a water cistern with tall marble columns, with steps to go down.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, [a]Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, [b]paralyzed, [c]waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.”8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.
Then we walked to the “Via Dolorosa”, or the Road to Suffering. There are stations of the cross in the Old City. This was the supposed to be the road that the Lord Jesus went through as he suffered, bruised, beaten and carried a cross from the Judgement seat of Pontius Pilate to the place of crucifixion.
From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus [d]and led Him away.And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.
We walked on a narrow street of the Old City, where we saw many shops.
Some shops and stores were selling wares, souvenirs, scarves, etc, Some vehicles, cars and even small trucks drive that long and narrow alleys, unbelievable!
Then after walking along the narrow alleys, with twist and turns, the alley wound up in a corner through a narrow passage that led to a small square with an old cathedral built by Queen Helena.
The site where Catholics believe Jesus was buried.
I was surprised to see many people, tourists and pilgrims from different countries-Africa, India, Europe, South America, North America, etc. Inside the old cathedral was dark, there were some old paintings, murals, icon, images of Bible characters- Mary, etc. It was literally dark inside, crowded, long lines of people waiting to touch a huge rock on an altar. And other religious relics, believed to be connected to the death and burial of Jesus.
After this, Jesus, [e]knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit –
Then we went to another site called the Garden Tomb. Other Christian groups preferred this site as the burial site of Jesus. It was a nice open air garden, peaceful, calm, much nicer place.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. 39 And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. 40 Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury. 41 Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So there they laid Jesus, because of the Jews’ Preparation Day, for the tomb was nearby.
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
My Savior knelt down and prayed, “Father, not my will
But Your will be done”
There in the garden
My Lord surrendered
To His Father’s plan
Yet He had won
The Victor’s crown
There in the garden
My Savior wept
He cried bloody tears of surrender;
There in the garden
My Savior won over sin and temptation
Death and evil no more have dominion
There in the garden my Savior won the Victor’s Crown.
(Bible Reference :Matthew 26: 36 – 46)
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
On Day 2, after visiting the Garden of Gethsemane, we drove a couple of miles or so to the Western Wall.
I saw a lot people- Israelis and people from other countries walking on the square outside the part of the ruins of the Old Temple. A portion of the wall, on the right side of the square is called the “Western Wall”. According to our tour guide and the tradition, the wall is part of the original temple built by King Herod 2000 years ago. It is the most holy site or sacred place for the Jews.
Why the Western Wall and Temple are significant?
The first Temple was built during the reign of King Solomon in Israel about 3,000 years ago. In 2 Chronicles 7 it says;
“Then the Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said to him: “I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” The Bible Gateway
We wrote prayers on small pieces of papers, and stuck them in the crevices of the Wall. Many people who come to the site do the same thing. So I wrote on my a piece of paper my prayers – salvation of the Jews, revival in the church, and my family. This is the most awesome spiritual experience I had so far. I was also surprised to see some young Jewish women- maybe 16 or 18 years old who were praying and doing the religious rituals, holding their small book, reciting prayers, at the Western Wall. What an awesome place!
*According to the Western Wall Heritage Foundations,” the Western Wall has been the center of Jewish yearning and memory for more than 2,000 years. The only fragment of the Great Temple to survive the Roman destruction, the Divine presence has never departed from the Western Wall.” visit The Western Wall Foundation
Isaiah 56:7 “these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrificeswill be accepted on my altar; for my house will be calleda house of prayer for all nations.”
In afternoon, we visited the Holocaust Memorial museum, outside the Old city in the business district. There were many overwhelming artifacts – names, photos, etc. of many Jewish people who perished during the holocaust in Europe from the 1930’s- 40’s.
We also went to another part of the city, where a chapel is built to remember home of John the Baptist’s parents – Zacharias and Elizabeth. (Story in Luke 1: 57 – 66).
We saw frames where the prayer of Zacharias in Luke 1 was written in different languages.
Then we went to another site in connection to the birth of Jesus and John the baptist. It is a chapel to remember the story when Mary visited Elizabeth. Luke 1:39-56
From January 7-16th, 2020, the Lord has blessed us with a trip to the Holy Land. It was the most wonderful and awesome place we had been because of the presence of our Holy God. There is so much to share. We have more than a thousand photos between two cameras! Since the Bible is so much part of our spiritual lives, it was amazing and fascinating to see actual places and sites that we have been reading about for many years. We were with a tour group of 50 people from different parts of the USA. We praise and thank the Lord Jesus for blessing with this wonderful trip. And here to share some of the highlights.
We started in the city of Jerusalem.
The Upper Room in Mount Zion- located outside the southwest corner of the Old City wall. It is believed to be the room where Jesus and His disciples had the Last Supper. (Matthew 26:26-30; John 13)
South of the Old City wall, on the eastern slope of a hill that overlooks the area of Old City of Jerusalem, is the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. The church was built in 1931, and is the traditional site of the Palace of Caiaphas, who was the high priest during the arrest of Jesus. It was the place where Peter denied Jesus three times before a rooster crowed. (Matthew 26:57-75)
Our group then drove a few miles, south of the city, to Bethlehem.
The Shepherd’s field –
“Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. … (Luke 2:8-20).
Then our group went to the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem . A cathedral was built around the 3rd century on the site believed to be where Jesus was born.
“And she brought forth her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, (feed trough), because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:1-7
“Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year” as the song goes. However, it is also the busiest time of the year. But I would say, Christmas is still my favorite time of the year. After all it is the season and time to celebrate and remember that our Lord Jesus came to earth as a Baby. He left His heavenly kingdom to come to earth as a helpless baby so He could live with us and become like one of us. Just imagine – the love of God came down from heaven to earth to save us. Matthew 1:21 says, “she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
As already mentioned, sometimes Christmas can be the busiest time of the year. It’s only today, New Year’s Eve, that I took time to sit and write this reflection. Better late than never! 😊 Like some of you, we keep our ornaments up for a week or so after Christmas Day. In my native country of the Philippines, we continue to celebrate Christmas until Epiphany/Three Kings’ Day (usually the first Sunday in January). As we prepare to undecorate and pack up the ornaments, I would like to take time to reflect on the real meaning of this Christmas season. In a day or two, our Christmas decorations will be folded up and packed away.
Actually, this year, we decided to have a real/live tree as opposed to the small/artificial pre-lit Christmas tree that we have used for several years. Our real/live Christmas tree is a small fir tree, only about 4 feet tall. However, each of the ornaments hanging on the branches of our fir tree represents some fun memories and precious people. It is almost like going down “memory lane.”
This ornament (photo above) is more than 50 years old! David made this little ornament when he was in kindergarten. His mom kept it all those years. It is a small bell, made from an egg carton.
Others are little bamboo ornaments from David’s time in Saipan.
Then, there is a little glass ball with the inscription “Saipan” on it. This is where David spent 18 years serving as a missionary engineer for FEBC Shortwave station.
Another is a flat bell with the inscription “The Creels – 1978” from David’s parents, a gift from church members when they were serving in the United Methodist church.
Then, there is an “Alaska” souvenir from David’s sister and her husband from their trip to Alaska in 2017.
Next, there is an “I believe” star ornament from our Church Sunday school Christmas party from a couple of years ago, along with other ornaments from the previous 5 years of Christmas parties.
Others are ornaments given by friends and neighbors through the years.
One of my favorites is a “Bethlehem” olive wood nativity scene. We acquired this ornament at the annual “Homestead Hollow” event in Springville, Alabama a few months ago.
For me, this ornament represents the simplicity and true meaning of Christmas – Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus on the night when the God came down from heaven to earth. From eternity, He stepped into humanity.
As we all fold and pack up our Christmas trees and other ornaments, may the true meaning and spirit of Christmas remain in our hearts. Let’s remember in this Christmas season, throughout the coming year of 2020, and always that Jesus is still the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) since “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NKJV)
As Jesus fulfilled this word to His disciples, it is still the same today with His followers:
“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” It is the plan and desire of God that all followers of Jesus be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit so we can be witnesses for Him – with our family, friends, neighbors, and people of other places, countries, and to the ends of the earth. God loves people of every nation, every country, language and ethnicity. God wants every person to know Him, His Word, His love and salvation through Jesus Christ.
In October 7-28, 2019, David and I had the privilege to travel to southeast Asia to visit and help our FEBC ministry fields. Photos from our travels to Thailand are in this post
Here are the highlights as we traveled to Phnom Penh, Cambodia:
We thank and praise the Lord for those who prayed with us during this trip. Thank you also for those who faithfully support us so we could serve the Lord and reach more souls for Jesus.
John 3:16-17 (NKJV)For God so loved the world that He gave His only begottenSon, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us
Romans 10:9 (NIV)If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13 For “whoever callson the name of theLordshall be saved.”
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the [remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.
Prayer to receive Jesus in your heart:
Dear God, thank You for your love for me and for sending Jesus. Thank you, Lord Jesus for dying on the cross for my sin. I believe that God raised you up from the dead. Please forgive my sins. I open my heart, may you come in and be the Lord of my life. In Jesus name, I pray. Amen.
If you pray the prayer above, you are now a child of God and forgiven because of Jesus Christ! What to do next?
The past few weeks, David started a Bible study on the Epistle of Philippians (New Testament) in our church on Wednesday evenings.
Here is the note for the introduction for the lesson: (Please see attachments for the study guides for each chapter in PDF).
Author: The Apostle Paul
Setting: Written from a prison in Rome, around 60-62 A.D.
Occasion: Paul was in prison in Rome… about ten years after he had founded the Church in Philippi, and about 3-4 years after he had last visited there. Apparently (4: 10), he had begun to wonder if they had forgotten him. Then Epaphroditus arrived from far away Philippi with an offering of money. Paul was deeply touched. Epaphroditus had nearly lost his life in the journey. Paul sent him to Philippi with this beautiful letter to express his thanks for their gift.
Key Text: Philippians 3:10 “My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”
Key Term: “Joy.” Forms of the word “joy” and the verb “rejoice” occur 16 times in this short letter. Philippians is the biblical book that most extensively defines and describes joy.
One-Sentence Summary: Knowing Jesus Christ is much more joyful and important than anything else because God has exalted Jesus, the crucified Servant, with the name above every name.
Named for Philip Il of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great).
In Paul’s day, it was a Roman colony located at the southeast corner of Europe in “Macedonia” in Biblical days; now in the northeastern part of modern-day Greece.
It was a strategic city on the Great Northern Highway between the East and the West, noted for its gold mines.
This was Paul’s first European Church, founded around 51 A.D. in the early part of Paul’s second missionary journey. Lydia and the Jailer were among the first converts. Luke, the beloved Physician, was its pastor the first 6 years. It may have been Luke’s home, where he practiced medicine. Luke must have had a hand in the development of the unspotted character of the Church. As far as we know, the Philippian Church was one of the purest of New Testament Churches. For more on the background of the founding of the Church at Philippi, see Acts 16:6-40.
Read Acts 16:6-40 and look at its location on the map.
Look at the ancient Philippi archaeological book.
The Jeremiah Study Bible” by Dr. David Jeremiah
“Halley’s Bible Handbook” by H.H. Halley
“Ultimate Bible Guide: A Complete Walk-Through of All 66 Books of the Bible” from Holman Reference
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” V.17 (NKJV)
// Romans 8:1, Luke 9:56, John 5:24; John 6:47
The people of Israel for many generations and for thousands of years were powerless to live godly lives in their own strength. God gave them the law through Moses so they could live a blessed life. But time and time again, the people of Israel failed to obey the commandments and the Word of God. God knew that His people were finite beings. Only an almighty and powerful God could save His people. So, Jesus was sent to the world, not to give His people the punishment they deserved, but to offer them mercy and forgiveness.
God the Father sent Jesus Christ to the world not to judge or condemn us, but to save us. God loves the world. God loves us so much that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ – not to punish us for our sins, but to save us and to redeem us from the bondage of sin. Jesus was willing to obey His heavenly Father because He and the Father loved us, the people of the world. They knew there is no way for us to save ourselves from sin.
When Jesus came to save the people of Israel from sin and eternal condemnation, He did it not only for them, but for every one of us in this world. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (v.17). The world includes all the people of the world – every person in every nation. That includes you and me. Jesus came not to judge us, but to save us, because God loves us.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I praise You and thank You for Your love. I thank You that You don’t judge me for my sin, but You have saved me. And because of Your tender mercy, I receive Your eternal life.
v.33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Jesus was encouraging His disciples on the night of their last meal together before His death on the cross. Jesus loved them and wanted to prepare them for what was ahead when He no longer would be physically with them.
“Indeed the hour is coming, yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his [e]own, and will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me” v.32
Jesus knew that even though His disciples loved Him and were committed to follow Him, yet there would be times of weakness when they might turn away. However, the love of Jesus still held them. Jesus foreknew His disciples would abandon Him in a moment of weakness, but Jesus still loved them and did not condemn them. He spoke words of encouragement to them.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you [f]will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” V.33
Jesus already knew that times of hardship, persecution, and tribulations were coming. But He told them, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”. It is a comfort to know that Jesus has already won the battle. As Jesus encouraged His disciples then, He gives the same encouragement to His followers now. As we see distress, persecution, trials and difficulties in this world because of the enemy and the evil one, it is a comfort to know the words of Jesus, that He has already overcome. Jesus has already won the battle. His plan of salvation and victory for the souls of men was already accomplished and finished at the cross.
Through His death on the cross, we His followers receive the gift of eternal life. In His resurrection, we have overcome the evil one. As the Apostle Paul wrote,
“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)
The love of Christ has prevailed and won the battle against the evil one.
Jesus already knew that His followers would suffer trials, challenges, and tribulation. However, as His follower, it is a comfort and encouragement to know that Jesus has already overcome the world. His death and resurrection have already won the battle. Whatever difficulties we face now, Jesus has already overcome!
Thank You Lord Jesus for your Word. Whatever challenges I go through, and whatever distress I see in the world, You have already overcome!
Jesus was back in Cana of Galilee. It was the same place where Jesus turned water into wine during a wedding feast (John 2:1). A certain royal official in Capernaum had heard about Jesus. The son of the official was very ill. When the man heard that Jesus could heal sick people, he came to Cana to ask Jesus for his son’s healing. He wanted to invite Jesus to come to his house and heal his son. “Sir, come down before my child dies”.
Jesus replied to the official, “Go your way, your son lives!” (v. 49) So, the man believed what Jesus told him and went his way. On his way back home, his servant met him and told him that his son was already healed. (v.52). The official found out that his son was healed at the very hour Jesus told him. So, the man knew that it was the same hour in which Jesus said to him, “Your son lives”, and he himself believed, and his whole household.
Jesus spoke and told the royal official of Capernaum, “Go your way, your son lives”. The man believed what Jesus said and declared. The man had the faith to trust Jesus and His words. The man had heard of Jesus – His teachings, miracles and kind deeds. In his hour of need, he wanted to know for himself who Jesus truly was. So, he took the initiative and steps of faith to come to Jesus. The royal official laid aside his royalty pride, as he was desperate to see his son healed and live. So, he made his way to come to Jesus, and boldly asked Jesus to come to his place to heal his son. However, Jesus did not waste time to travel to the man’s house, instead Jesus spoke and declared healing to the man’s son. Jesus could have gone with the man to his house, but it would have taken several hours to travel from Galilee to Capernaum. Jesus knew the boy was very ill, at the point of death. And the child was healed at the very hour Jesus said so. Because Jesus had the power to heal, and His words are powerful too! What He said came to pass. As the words in Psalm 33:9 say, “For He spoke, and it was done”. Jesus and His words are powerful. As the royal official believed what Jesus told him, Jesus fulfilled His words.
Jesus and His spoken words have power to accomplish what He said He will do. As I trust and believe Him and His words, He will do what He said He would do.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You and praise You, for Your words are true! Please help me trust You and Your words. I believe what You said You will do. Lord You are faithful and powerful to do what You say You will do. Amen!
“I am the good shepherd; andI know My sheep, andam known by My own.As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father;and I lay down My life for the sheep.Andother sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice;and there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16
It’s been a week since we got back from our recent trip to Asia. Why we do what we do? Our travels are not just leisure travel. It is travel with a cause. As we serve with FEBC, our mission is to bring “Christ to the World by Media”. Our desire is for many to hear the Good News of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, and for many to know that there is a God in heaven who loves people of all races and nationalities. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd…I lay down my lie for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice…” It is the desire of the Lord Jesus to bring many into His kingdom and to know the love of God. So, our ministry is to serve and provide technical support to our fields so that they can broadcast the Gospel in their heart language. It’s our prayer that many more will come to know the love of God in Jesus. We thank and praise the Lord for His grace and for those who pray and support us. Here are highlights from our recent trip to Asia.
David in Jakarta, with FEBC Indonesia (June 21- July 1st, 2019)
Key verse: v.16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
The apostle John wrote the story of Jesus meeting Nicodemus. Jesus told Nicodemus about being born-again in the Spirit. Nicodemus wanted to understand more.
Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can these things be?” (v.9).
Jesus replied, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know how these things? Jesus further explained these concepts to Nicodemus in verses 10-14.
Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a leader of the Jews, and a teacher of the Law. He knew well the Scriptures. He was supposed to know all the words of God written by the men of God in the Old Testament. However, he still missed the point. He knew the Messiah was coming. He heard the teachings of Jesus and saw the miracles He had done. But Nicodemus still wanted to be sure who Jesus was. So, Nicodemus came to Jesus by himself to get to know Jesus for himself. Even though Jesus had experienced rejection from many of the Pharisees, He still answered Nicodemus’ questions. Jesus knew the heart of Nicodemus – that he was seeking sincerely. So, Jesus patiently revealed to Nicodemus the heart of God. Jesus explained to Nicodemus the love of God for everyone – all the people of world.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
Jesus clearly showed the truth and the way to Nicodemus – the truth that God loves everyone – all the people of the world, Jews, Gentiles, etc.
The way to God is to believe in His Son Jesus Christ. God sent Jesus from heaven to this world, not to judge or punish us, but to save us.
Jesus made the way for us to come to God and be part of His Kingdom plain and simple: Believe in Him; believe that God sent Him to save the world.
Reflection: God loves the world. God loves everyone in the world so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to give us all eternal life. For God so loved everyone – that that includes you and me.
Prayer: Thank You Father for your love for me. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to give me eternal life, that I may live with you forever, for all eternity. Please help me share your love with everyone you lead me to today.
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly I say to you unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’”.
John, the writer of this Gospel, wrote about Nicodemus who came to Jesus one evening. Nicodemus was a Pharisee who was seeking for the truth. He wanted to know Jesus and the truth of His teachings personally. He wanted to hear and understand for himself as he heard Jesus speak and teach the crowd. Even though Jesus was rejected by some of the Pharisees, Jesus did not turn down Nicodemus. Jesus knew the heart of Nicodemus, that he was sincerely seeking the Kingdom of God (v.2).
Thus, Jesus revealed to Nicodemus an important spiritual truth. Jesus showed Nicodemus the way to God.
Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit…You must be born again!” (v.5-7)
Nicodemus wanted to understand more, “How can these things be?
So, Jesus further explained;
“No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven… that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (v.13-15)
Jesus gave a clear explanation to Nicodemus of the truth and showed him the way to God, which was to believe in Him, the Son of God. Jesus made Himself known to those who were sincerely seeking and searching for the truth and the kingdom of God.
Jesus was telling Nicodemus about life in the flesh and life in the spirit. Life in the flesh is merely living in the physical realm – with body, mind, and soul. However, there is more to life than just the physical life, there is life in the Spirit, which is only found in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, we people are all born on earth with physical life – the body, mind, and soul (emotions). However, because of the sin nature, we are born on earth with no spiritual life. We are dead in the spirit, which means separated from God. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
But through Jesus Christ we can be born again. Being born-again is to receive a new life in Christ. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (v.15)
To be born-again is to have a new life in Christ. Believing Jesus is to receive a new life – a life in the Spirit of God, and eternal life in Christ.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for giving me a new life in the Spirit and for bringing me into Your Kingdom.
Title: Jesus obeys God’s words by honoring His mother!
Reading: John 2:1-12 ; Deuteronomy 5:16
Key verse: “His mother said to the servants, whatever He says to you, do it”. John 2:5 NKJV
Jesus, His mother, and His disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana of Galilee. In Jewish tradition, a wedding feast could last up to three days. In a typical wedding, the host usually served a lot of food and wine. The host may not have expected more people to come, but as more guests came in-and-out, they ran out of wine. (John 1:1-2) Mary, like any other mother, cared about such things. She saw the need for more wine to be served to the guests. She was concerned and brought her concern to Jesus.
“They ran out of wine” (v3). Mary knew Jesus could do something to help. When Jesus was growing up, perhaps Mary had seen Jesus do little miracles in their family. Mary knew her Son well, who He was, and what power He had. So, Mary, with confidence, presented the need to Jesus. However, at that time Jesus had no intention of showing off His divine power to the public.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” v4
Again, Mary believed in her Son. She told the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it”. (v5)
Jesus looked around and saw what was available. He saw the six, empty, stone waterpots. So, Jesus instructed the servants to “Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.” (v7) After the waterpots were filled with water, Jesus told the servants to draw them out and take it to the master of the wedding feast. (v8) And the master of the ceremony, not knowing where the wine came from, was very pleased that the host kept the best wine until the last day. And he said, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!” (v.10)
Thus, the wedding celebration was completed with more than enough wine. And Mary was relieved that her concern was taken care of by Jesus. Jesus may not have had the intention to do a miracle at the wedding feast, but because Mary, His earthly mother, had presented the concern to Him, Jesus honored her request.
Jesus loved His earthly mother, and He also knew the word of God which says, “Honor your father and mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16 & Exodus 20:12).
When Jesus was here on earth, He was fully human and fully divine, too. He had the creative power that God had when He created the heavens and the earth, (Genesis 1). Like God, who created the world and everything in it from nothing, Jesus also had the power to create through the power of His spoken word. And without drawing attention to Himself, Jesus took care of His mother’s concern by turning the plain water into wine. Even when Jesus’ miraculous power was not seen by the public, He cared for those whom He loved. Jesus used His creative power to honor God’s Word and His mother.
Jesus honored the Word of God by honoring His mother. Jesus showed His love for His earthly mother as He took care of her concern.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for Your example of obeying the Word of God by honoring your mother. Help children to honor their mothers and fathers, too.
(Newspaper article in Birmingham News, April 26, 1971, see page 2 below).
Greetings! My name is David Creel. I was born in Birmingham, Alabama. I am the son of the late Rev. George Creel and Jackie Creel who served several United Methodist churches in North Alabama.
As you can imagine, being the son of a United Methodist pastor, I grew up in church. I don’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t in church. Every time the church doors were open, I was there. I really didn’t have a choice. I might not have appreciated it at the time, but I am so grateful now for my parents’ insistence on church attendance. I am also eternally grateful for the godly example that my mom and dad provided for me and my sisters as we grew up.
As a child, I usually slept during church. Frankly…