BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #9

How do you know when God is answering prayers?

How can we as Christians see, touch, or even feel that God answered our prayers?

First and foremost, the answer is FAITH.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. [Hebrews 11:1]

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. [1 John 5:14-15]

So, when you pray in accordance to God’s will, well… your attitude, that is your settled way of thinking or feeling should be like this next verse.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. [Mark 11:24]

If for some reason, you still don’t know whether God had answered your prayers then I offer the following theories.

  • If you ask, seek or knock and yet don’t get an answer, it may be that the SILENCE is God’s answer. However, God’s SILENCE does not mean an outright NO! We have a tendency to be impatient in our expectation of answered prayers. It would be best to remember that God’s timing is not our own.

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. [Psalm 27:14]

  • If there is still no answer, it may be that your prayer request was not up to par. It may be wise to review your requests.

And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures. [James 4:3]

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #8

Questions about Guardian Angels

People have many notions about guardian angels. It is safe to say that much of it were based on personal experiences of supposed angels that had kept them in one way or another from getting into trouble, getting hurt or other disasters. But are these notions biblical.

Here is what Crosswork.com say – “While angelic activity fills the pages of the Bible, the Bible is not very forth coming when talking about the particulars of the ministries of ‘guardian’ angels.” *

Ok! There is nothing specific, however, let us explore anyway what the Bible says in regards to specific questions below.

Do Christians have angels that protect them?

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:14

What Do Angels Do?

Spiritual beings or angels carry out God’s purpose in the natural world.

In the Old Testament, angels brought great news to Abraham and Sarah that they will bring forth a son in their old age. Those same angels also saved Abraham’s nephew Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was an angel that came to Jacob three times in his lifetime. There was the Angel of Death that struck down the first borns of Egypt at the same time, sparing the Israelites. It was an Angel of the Lord that led the slave nation of Israel out of Egypt and in the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as a column of cloud by day and a pilar of fire by night. Angels came to help prophets like Daniel and Elijah. The angel of the LORD killed a large number of the Assyrian army. There was even an angel who communicated to Balaam by the mouth of an ass.

In the New Testament, the Angel Michael appeared to Zechariah to proclaim the miraculous birth of John the Baptist. Months later, he again appeared to a 14 year old Mary of Nazareth and declared that she will be the mother of Jesus. Then again he gloriously appeared with a host of heavenly angels declaring to startled shepherds of the birth of the messiah. An angel came to Joseph in a dream three times. From time to time an angel would stir the water in the pool of Bethesda. God had sent spiritual messengers to minister to Jesus several times. An angel appears twice near Jesus’ tomb declaring, to Mary, Mary Magdalene and others, that the Lord has already risen from the dead. God had sent the angel of the Lord to free Peter and John from prison. An angelic being appears to Philip the Evangelist and commands him to travel to Gaza. During his travel he runs into an Ethiopian eunuch, explains the gospel to him, and ultimately baptizes him. One of the greatest New Testament interactions with an angel occurs when one is sent to the Apostle John. He journeys to the apostle, who has been exiled to the island of Patmos, to reveal prophecies to him that will ultimately become the book of Revelation.

Do they have names?

Yes, angels do have names, however, we only know with certainty the names of four angels.

    • Michael (Dan 10:13,21) (Dan 12:1) (Jude 1:9)(Rev 12:7) – Michael is called an “archangel” in (Jude 1:9), and based upon the times he is mentioned in the Bible, it appears he might be God’s chief warrior angel.
    • Gabriel (Dan 8:16) (Dan 9:21) (Lk 1:19.26) – Each time the angel Gabriel is mentioned, he is delivering messages from God.
    • Lucifer (Isa 14:12) – Based upon the description of Lucifer in (Isa 14:12-15), Lucifer appears to be Satan, who is a fallen angel (Lk 10:18).
    • Abaddon/Apollyon (Rev 9:11). – “Abaddon/Apollyon is also a fallen angel who is mentioned as ruling over the “bottomless pit” in the end times.

[Do angels have names? by Steve Shirley]

Can departed loved ones actually return to “watch over” us here on earth?

Once we die, we die. Either we go to Heaven or to Hell depending on whether we received God’s free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12 and John 3:16). It is impossible for those who have died to return to earth in any form whatsoever (Luke 16:19-31). *

Do people become angels when they go to Heaven?

Despite conventional wisdom, humans are not transformed into angels when they die.

For example, in a discussion of whether or not marriage exists in Heaven, Jesus said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 24:38).

Note that we are like angels—but we are not angels.

Paul teaches on many occasions that we keep our own identities, personalities and enough of our earthly features to be recognized by others in eternity (1 Corinthians 13:11-12). While we will be transformed into the likeness of Christ (1 John 3:2), we will remain distinctly who we were on earth—and we will not be angels. *

[* from Crosswalk.com article “Do we have guardian angels” by Dr. Roger Barrier]

 

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch18 – part 3

THE ANNOINTING ANSWER – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

It was the night before the beginning of the Passover Festival. The city is overflowing with Jewish pilgrims. The Kidron Valley, just under the gaze of the Eastern battlements of the Temple Mount, was startingly packed with multicolored tents. Smoke from thousands of camp fires formed a hazy blanket that rose as high as the controversial aqueduct that crossed the valley from the Mount of Olives. Cornelius, again with Jacob, Trax and Cestus were invited to the house of Simon the Leper in Bethany. When they arrived from Emmaus, Cornelius was happy to find Jesus and the Twelve, the women who always provided support to the group, and a few other followers like young John Mark. Also present were a few Pharisees friendly to Jesus. Nicodemus was there talking to one that Cornelius didn’t recognize. He was a little taller than Nicodemus and brawny but not like Peter. When he saw him, they approached.

“Centurion, allow me to introduce you to a colleague and friend of mine, Joseph of Arimathea.”

“Oh, yes!” He said as Cornelius grasped his forearm with a smile, “We have common acquaintances. I believe you know the Lady Procula and her hand maiden, Lady Pheobe.”

“Most interesting ladies,” chuckled Joseph. “They have such a zeal to learn. I also have heard that you yourself is a student of the Law and a proselyte. Wonderful!”

Then Simon the former leper called for everyone to the pavilion.

“My brethren, we have come unto miraculous times. Even more so, here in this household. Just a week ago, my son was buried four long days, but now, see my son!”

Old man Simon hugged his son, Lazarus. There was clapping and hugging until the men broke out in celebratory music and Jewish line dancing. Cornelius and Cestus decided not to join in the dance, however Jacob could not keep hold of an excited Trax who jumped right in. They were clearly enjoying the show and was clapping away with the rhythm. This went on for several minutes until Martha came from another part of the pavilion and rang a gong like bell to announce the evening meal. Some of the men moved a number of low tables to the center of the pavilion. Cushions were quickly strewn around the tables and the men started to lounge on them.

Cornelius was content to take the furthest table when Jesus came and led him to the main table. It was the largest there and that it could accommodate about twenty or so people. Jesus led him to a place next to him. Cornelius looked at the faces around the table. Jesus was on his right with old man Simon, Lazarus and a few men he didn’t know sitting next. To his left, the Twelve, Simon, Andrew, Peter, Judas, John, Philip, Matthew, James, Matthew, Thomas, Nathanael and Thaddeus. Before him were bowls of flat breads, salt and a pale yellowish paste that tasted tangy. Simon said before they bring out the main meal, they start with this. Simon broke off some flat bread then dunked it first on the paste then in the salt. He waited for Cornelius to follow suit before they ate it. Cornelius enjoyed it. He was in his fourth serving when Martha and an army of women brought in the rest of the hot food to all the tables.

As the dinner progressed and conversations got more busier, Jesus leans over to Cornelius and said, “Come, I’ve sensed you wanted to talk to me all night. Let us retreat over there for awhile.”

They went over to an adjacent courtyard and sat on opposite benches. Peter and Simon probably figured out that they needed privacy, so they stationed themselves to the entry way of the courtyard.

“I see you have found the passages I told you to find in Isaiah,” Jesus knowingly said. “But you feel you are at a lost.”

“Yes, very much so,” Cornelius said. Then he started telling him everything what he felt and shared his frustration to Jesus who had that silent power to just listen, encouraging him to speak with no reservations.

After what seem a long while, he finally asked, “Lord, I am still unclear on what I am suppose to do?”

“My Father had shown those things for you as a way of understanding and preparation, but it is for you to act or not act. Do not despair, Cornelius, you will do what is right in the long run. Let us return, for you must witness what comes next.”

————————————————–

The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #7

Is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic an end times event?

Today’s question about whether the current mishap is a sign of the end times is not exactly new. Two thousand years ago, an ancient church thought they were living in end times scenario too because their everyday lives were disrupted by… in their case… all out persecution against them. They too shut down their livelihoods and went into social separation.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching… asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. [2 Thessalonians 2:1-4]

Now, this is a reflection of what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 24. He too told them, “Watch out that no one deceives you” (vs 4). Then he explained what they and every Christian should expect as we walk this world during this age of grace.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. Matthew 24:6-7

By the way, though there was no direct mention of diseases in the passage above, there are rumors today of a nation causing this pandemic. What’s important to note is that our world had endured numerous wars (great and small), droughts, earthquakes, natural disasters, including plagues and pandemics. All these things had caused unsettlement, alarm and dismay, but that is nothing compared to what God had intended for the world to experience on the Day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:2) also known as the Great Tribulation.

“For then there will be great tribulation, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again.” Matthew 24:21

So, what is happening today? Interestingly enough, all the things that had been happening, Jesus called it as the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:8). What comes after birth pains? New life! What do I mean?

Just before the time of the Great Tribulation, Jesus will take all Christians (both that had passed and are alive) home.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. [1 Thessalonians 4:16-18]

…in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [1 Corinthians 15:52]

Is this not reason to be joyful? I know I look forward to that day. But for now, Christians, don’t be deceived and dismayed. We still have work to do. And that is bring as many people to the Lord.

To Him all the glory.

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #6

Why do Christians say I want to see Jesus but are afraid to die?

I can understand why. For many human beings, death is the great unknown and people fear the unknown. Once upon a time, I too was afraid to die except that I knew where I was going. You see, I knew that if I suddenly died in SIN at that time, I would end up standing before God and He would have cast me into eternal damnation.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment… Hebrews 9:27

Of course, I have been a believer since the 90s and I lost my fear of death because of the Lord’s guarantee of eternal life (Matthew 3:16). In 2015, I went face to face with death when I had to undergo an extremely risky spinal operation. This was in my mind. I wanted to live but not because I was afraid. I was ready to die because it meant I would be with the Lord. But this Bible verse was forefront in my mind.

I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better indeed. But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body… Philippians 1:23-24

The Apostle Paul would have loved to be with Christ in Heaven, but for the sake of serving others (the body) as well as those who were lost, he worked hard to stay alive.

When I woke up from that operating table, I was elated not because I was still breathing but because deep down, God still has use of me. And by the way, I am paralyzed and mostly bedridden, but He still cause me to work.

To Him goes all the glory!

If you agree, say “AMEN”

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #5

How should Christians react to the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Based on the media, panic of the unknown seem to be the general reaction of the world. This is both understandable and expected. By God’s grace, the world is rallying together.

As for Christians, this is one of those times to shine brighter than the world for the glory of the Lord.

How?

1. By reflecting such a PEACE in our demeanor because we believe what the Lord promised.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.     Psalm 4:8

2. By being brave in the face of danger.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”     Joshua 1:9

3. By showing trust in God in regards to following government edicts.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.    Romans 13:1

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.    Titus 3:1-2

4. By being pro-active in prayer.

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. James 5:15

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.    James 5:13-16

Is any sick among you? 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…    James 5:14-15

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #4

What did Jesus mean ‘Do not judge’ in Matthew 7:1-5?

In the first verse of Matthew 7, Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

Frankly, how can we not judge especially when we need to ascertain things about other people? By definition, a judgment is an opinion or decision based on thoughts, feelings and evidence. We human beings, regardless of race or creed, can not help making hundreds of judgement calls every day. I mean consider…

“Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, our brain makes 11 different decisions about them including their intelligence, socioeconomic status, education, competence and trustworthiness,” said corporate image consultant and personal brand strategist Anna Hinson.

Making judgments is built in our subconscious. So, is Jesus asking us to curtail what God Himself had created in us? Of course not. So, what was Jesus really talking about? Well, let us again look at the context of the passage.

Matthew 7:1-5 happened to be part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which started in chapter 5. His famed sermon had a recurring theme.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:20]

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were the ‘super religious’ of the Jewish nation. They were so highly educated that Jesus told the people to learn from them and take advantage of their abilities to impart scriptures. However, these Pharisees had an incredible flaw, so much so, that when Jesus was talking about them to the people, he shared this parable.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

When Jesus said, ‘Do not judge…’, he really meant that we should not form such a haughty opinion of others just like the Pharisee in the parable above. There is a cost if you do.

There is a biblical principle that says what you sow, you will also reap. In other words, what goes around comes around. So, if you judge other people badly you will eventually be judge badly by not just someone of your peer but by One who is greater, God Himself.

So, take heed.