FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 012

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ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE
30 AD Jordan River Valley

That night, Andrew and his friend John, son of Zebedee, brought the Baptist his evening meal.

“Master, when will the Messiah come?” asked John.

“He is already here!” he said. Andrew’s ears perked up at what was said. “You both didnot join me yet. It was more than a month ago. I was there at the river baptising people, when I noticed walking through the crowd the one person that I didnot ever expect to come to me for baptism.”

“Who was it, Master? Please…” asked Andrew eagerly.

“You have heard the tale of my birth, have you not? Of how an angel appeared to my father and told him of my coming as the one who will precede the promised Messiah? And of how I was miraculously born of parents who were old and barren?” Both he and John nodded. “Well, my birth was not the only birth that was extraordinary. Heed first this prophecy of Isaiah, ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son…’ [Isaiah 7:14 NLT]

“Six months before I was born, a young maiden was also visited by the same angel that appeared before my father. After the angel revealed what the Lord wanted her to know, she traveled a long distance to see my mother. From what my mother told me, it was a meeting of recognition but not between mothers but between me and him, though we were yet born. I was twelve years old when my aged told me this. She told me that the Holy Spirit had conceived in her the son of God. A month later, my mother joined my father in the bosom of Abraham and grew up the rest of my childhood with kin in Jerusalem.

“Of course, I thought I met him once. Though, I am not sure but there was this one boy I ran into during the Festival of Booths. We looked almost the same age. We passed each other but then our eyes locked for what seem like a longtime. It was like we have met before. Then, we lost sight of each other. For years, after that I left my kin and sought out the secretive society of the Essenes. I thought I’d never see him again but then last year, I had a vision of how to recognise the chosen one.”

“Master, tell us, how did you recognise him?”

“When he approached, it was like I knew him before. However, I was puzzled why he wanted to be baptized. I said to him that it should be I to be baptized by him. But his reply to me was that ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ So, I immersed him and when he came out, a dove landed on his shoulder. Then I heard an echoing voice from Heaven, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ * It was the vision I saw come to life. Then he smiled at me and left.”
[* Matthew 3:15,17 NIV]

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 12th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS – Part 011

faithful-encounters-cover-w.jpg

ANDREW THE FIRST DISCIPLE

30 AD – Jordan River Valley

Andrew idolized the man who came out of the wilderness calling the people to repent their sins. They called him the Baptist for he publically dared to go against tradition and baptise people in the Jordan. The religious leader said no one will come. But yet they came and they came in droves.

Like Andrew, they came to see if he is the one, for his appearance, mannerism and boldness were like that of an old legend come to life. So many came that finally the Jewish leadership sent priests to the Jordan to investigate. Watching him submersing one person after another angered one of the head priests.

“Who are you?” the priest demanded.

The Baptist didnot even pause in baptising. When he brought up a woman from under the water and helped her to the shore, he said, “I am not the Messiah.”

“Well then, who are you?” a number of them asked at the same time. But the Baptist was submersing another person paying them no heed.

“Are you Elijah?” asked a priest sarcastically. Some of them were laughing but stopped when they saw him chuckling.

The Baptist still chuckling, stood there knee deep in water, lifted up his arms to display his garment and long hair and beard. Then he nonchalantly replied, “No.”

Another asked, “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?”

The Baptist shook his head in the negative, as he submersed an old man.

“Then who are you?” asked a priest who seem to be concerned. “We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?”

Then Andrew observed the Baptist’s posture change. There was also a gleam shining in his eyes as he faced them. He gestured to his followers to hold back the next person. Then looking to not just priests, he says in a very loud voice, “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Clear the way for the LORD’s coming!’ ”

Andrew was stunned, for he recognized those words. They were the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Other men who accompanied the priests also recognized the words as well. They were Pharisees, not priests, learned men of the leadership. They too asked, “If you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?”

The Baptist smiled. Then he bent and cupped some water in his hands and said, “I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize. Though his ministry follows mine, I’m not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal.”

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Greeting friends…

I hope you are enjoying the 11th segment of my ebook, FAITHFUL ENCOUNTERS.

Feel free to leave your comments below. I look forward to read your comments and constructive inputs that will help me direct my creative thoughts.

If you want to support my writing, please use my Go-Fund-Me site below.

Thank you.

Until the next post.

Johann Q.

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

Jesus 101 – Depths to which you dig

Everyday, I get in my email from the Bible Gateway website, a daily verse. The verse I received below rang a bell and so, I had to write about it.

Romans 11:33
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

I remember hearing this insightful modern day parable. This is how it went.

A young farmer was working the farm of another man for ten years. One day, he wanted to go out on his own and purchase a piece of land to farm. But he had not saved enough to buy good bottom land. He ended up purchasing a piece of land that no one wanted. It was located in hill country. It was all he could afford but he was willing to make it work. The next day, with a plow on his shoulder, he had climbed the hill to the land that he had not really seen yet. When, he got there, to his disappointment, he discovered that the land had little fertile top soil and was filled with rocks and stones of different sizes. He returned home dejected and very depressed, so much so, that he had not gone back for years.

One day, his friend found him wallowing in self pity, saying what a fool he was for purchasing a useless piece of land. They both went back to take a look so he can show  his folly. When they got there, he started to weep again. But his friend looked around very intently then he picked up a handful of stones. Looking at them a little more closely, he whooped in laughter. The depressed farmer asked if his friend found his situation funny. Then, his friend showed him the stones in his hands. At first, he thought they were just pebbles but then he found that they were really unpolished diamonds and a variety of gems. His friend indicated that his was filled with them. The farmer started to meticulously mine his land. The deeper he went, the more riches he found. He was the richest man in the land.

That land represents our Bibles. You wouldn’t believe how many people have casually purchased a Bible then leave it on the shelf neglected and collecting dust. They fail to see that within those pages is invaluable treasure that comes in the form of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Enter Jesus. He is the ‘friend’ in the story and he sheds light to show what you, me… all of us (in one time or another) have missed out.

Jesus said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20,21) So, in a nutshell, start digging through your Bible! And start digging deep! Put all your heart on it and you’ll see what true wealth is. And by the way, you don’t have to dig by yourself. Give me a call and I’ll help. I don’t mind adding more wealth to my bank account in Heaven.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

NLT – New Living Translation

Jesus 101 – That you may know God

If there is a goal in my life, it is that I help people get to know God the same way I got to know Him. For the next several weeks, I am going to be both teacher and storyteller. We will delve in the Bible stories of Jesus. We’re going to start with the concept of how to know God through Jesus.

But why Jesus? In John 14, one of His disciples more or less asked him, ‘Lord, show us the Father?’ If you don’t mind, I’m going to paraphrase what Jesus said. “You’ve been with me this whole time, yet you still don’t know me. Well, stick with me kid and watch me closely!” In essence, getting to know Jesus is getting to know God… and getting to know Him intimately.

In John 17:3, Jesus made this statement within His long prayer, “And this is the way to have eternal life–to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” The words seem clear enough. The key to eternal life is to know God. Allow me to clarify that ‘to know of God’ is just not enough. It is too superficial. What Jesus meant was to go deeper. I am reminded of the time when a rich man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT) Jesus’ response to him was somewhat more different than the revelation of John 17:3. He first cited that he should obey the last 6 parts of the Ten Commandments. “You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:18,19 NLT)

When the rich man boastfully told him that he did obey them all. Then, Jesus dropped the bomb (so to speak) on him. Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21,22 NLT)

Believe it or not, Jesus’ final response to the rich man actually coincides with what he instructed to his disciples. Why was his approach different? Jesus knew the rich man’s heart and gave his answer on how the rich man asked it. You see, the rich man’s error was both fundamental and spiritual. The fundamental truth is this: Eternal Life can never be earned or bought because of our sin problem. Jesus gave him a spiritual solution but the rich man did not go for it.

His disciples asked, “Then who in the world can be saved?” I wonder if their question ‘miffed’ Jesus a little. For in this same chapter of Matthew 19, just before the rich man, there were a group of children that was brought to Him. And when his disciples tried to shoo them away, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)

Jesus’ declaration of children shouldn’t have been new to their ears because he had also recently told them similar things when they asked him who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. His answer was when he referred to a child and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3,4 NLT)

I don’t want to annoy parents all over, especially since I have no children of my own (except for being a pseudo-parent to my many nephews and nieces). But with what I have observed of kids when they start to talk and reason all the way to the legal age, it is rare for me to use humility to describe them. Even in Scripture, it says, ‘A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness…’ (Proverbs 22:15 NLT) So, how are being like children a key to getting into the Kingdom of Heaven? And how does this match with John 17:3 on how we should know the only true God and Jesus?

To answer this might need a whole extensive Bible Study and probably many weeks of your time to provide adequate fundamental truths. But for this blog, I have to keep it short. So, here is the nutshell version.

Whenever, I tell good stories to my nephews, nieces and to many kids at Sunday School, I always saw and read the same expression of awe and belief on their faces. So, this is what I believe what Jesus meant that we should become like little children. I found that all children have a great capacity to be awed and to express faith. When I, in my late 30s, started to read about God and Jesus with childlike fascination, I felt like I was reaquainting with a long lost friend (except that I was the one who was lost). So, I encourage you to listen more to biblical stories by humbling yourself; by not being so skeptical even before the telling of the story. I have been walking with the Lord for over 25 years and I can testify that I got to believe in Him because I knew Him and I am still knowing Him today. But don’t take my word for it. Open your Bible to know Him and see for yourself.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

NLT – New Living Translation

‘miffed’ – put into an irritable mood

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 3 final)

On the streets of the southern end of Jerusalem next to the pool of Siloam, a young man came out excited, shouting that he can see. Attracted by the commotion, people recognized him as the blind beggar. They were amazed. The power of God was seen in the healing of the young man who was born blind in that day, some 2000 years ago. But it doesn’t stop there. God’s power was seen in another way through the most unlikely representative.

The people asked the young man on how it happened. He told him about how Jesus healed him. Then they took him to the Pharisees because what Jesus did violated a Jewish law. The Pharisees were the fundementalist faction of the leadership of the Jewish people and they met in a judgement center somewhere in the Temple Mount. This is where the young man was brought, to stand before a group of educated old men. They questioned him extensively about Jesus and tried to convince him that Jesus was not from God. Then they threathened and cursed him and finally, they kicked him out (John 9:13-34). Where was the power of God in this encounter?

In Scripture, we find example after example of God choosing the weak to fulfill His will. In this case, here was a young man who was once handicapped and had no formal education stood toe to toe against a group of the best minds in Jerusalem. As they exclaimed that they did not know where Jesus came from, his message to them was simple: “Why, that’s very strange!” he replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

Do you remember this verse? …God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT) Do you want to know something? God is still doing this today.

History is filled with examples. Billy Graham was a shy farming boy at the age of 12. He never thought he would become anything until the age 16 when he became born again. He became the most prominent evangelical Christian figure in modern history. He was the spiritual advisors to several U.S. Presidents and even to the Queen of England. Nick Vujicic is a 33 years old painter, swimmer, skydiver, and motivational speaker. He is an inspiration to so many. He is also a Christian born with no arms and legs. Then, there is Joni Eareckson Tada who is an evangelical Christian that became a quadriplegic from an accident. The Lord used her as an inspired author, radio host, and founder of ‘Joni and Friends’, an organization accelerating Christian ministry in the disability community. I wish I can name them all, but I’ll cite one more, President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Pres. Roosevelt was America’s successful leader that led them through World War II. Did you know that he did all this on a wheelchair?

The day I read Jesus’ words about a fellow handicap that he was the way he was so that ‘the power of God could be seen in him (John 9:2 NLT).’ I was esctatic that maybe I would be used by God one day. And I was, hopefully to the glory of His name.

Thank you.

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 2)

In my last post, the healing of the blind man in the story of John 9 was to support what Jesus said, “…so the power of God could be seen in him.”

The question now is, what was the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me? Well, here is the clue that sort of popped into my mind which I believe came from the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the Spirit has that tendency to do that to me from time to time.) Anyway, here is the clue.

…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

What does the passage of 1 Corinthians 1:27 have to do with the young man born blind in John 9? Let us look at the rest of John 9, just as Jesus was about cure the young man of his blindness. I hope you don’t mind me playing the part of storyteller in this.

After Jesus put mud on the eyes of the young blind man, he started to grope his way toward the Pool of Siloam. The young man was a little confused in the encounter. That morning, his mother helped him to his favorite spot in the marketplace for begging. He was on his way back to his parent’s house, when from out of the blue, a man named Jesus said some words then spread some gooey mud on his eyes. Then he was told to wash his eyes in the pool under southern ramparts of the City of David. You can well imagine what thoughts was going through his mind. Is this a trick or is he the butt of someone’s joke? This young man have probably heard stories of Jesus healing the sick. Maybe, this is the same miracle healer. You can well imagine him quickening his steps to the pool. When he gets there, his hands, shaking just a little, dips into the cool water. He cups the water, splashes his eyes and rinses the mud from his eyes. For a fraction of a millisecond, he hesitates to open his eyes. Then he opens them.

Keep in mind that he had never experienced sight in his entire life. He parts his eyes ever so slowly. At first, he frowns a little because his vision is somewhat blurry. But then his vision clears and the clarilty sharpens. He looks around with wide eyes. Passersby on the busy street stop in their tracks upon hearing a thrilled and excited voice shouting out, “I can see! I can SEE!”

You would think that a grand party would be next at hand. But the story of what happened next will have to be told in my next posting.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation

Seeing the Power of God in Oneself (Part 1)

There is one story of Jesus, that when I first read it, I still remember how it had a profound effect on me.

Jesus was in Jerusalem for one of those annual Jewish festivals, the Feast of Booths or the Festival of Shelters. In this festival, the people of Jerusalem would erect a make-shift tent on the roofs of their house to commemorate the time when Israel wandered the wilderness for 40 years and lived in tents. At the end of the week long celebrity, Jesus was strolling along with his disciples probably not too far from the Pool of Siloam which was located at the southern end of the city. Then he and the disciples noticed a young man who somehow they knew was born blind. One of the disciples asked Jesus, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” (John 9:2 NLT)

This actually brought back some uncomfortable encounters with a couple of people who actually approached me and wanted to pray for me. What is uncomfortable about that? Well, like the disciples, they believed that my disability was caused by some sin of my doing. At that time, I was both hurt and angry and I told them “no”. In hindsight, they were not exactly wrong except that their approach was ineffectively lousy. Folks! Please never approach a handicap and outright say that his condition was because of something they did. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.

Jesus saw the blind young man and said instead, “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins. This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” Then Jesus spat on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. Jesus told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” So the man went and washed and came back seeing! (John 9:1-7 NLT)

Something clicked inside me. I felt that God was speaking to me and to emphasize this, another Bible passage popped into my head. At first, what raced through my mind was that God was going to heal me the same way Jesus healed the blind young man. I don’t mind admitting that the thought excited me, at least, for a little while. But it was later that I figured out what was the true lesson for me.

Let’s make this clear. The Scriptures in John 9 gave no indication of any universal promise that God will heal me or anyone else. In fact, the healing of the blind man in the story was to support what Jesus said, “…so the power of God could be seen in him.”

The question now is, what was the lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me? I will continue this in my next posting. Meanwhile, here is a clue.

Do you recall the Bible passage that popped into my head. Well, here it is.

…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. (1 Corinthians 1:27 NLT)

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

NLT – New Living Translation