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November 2017

 
 

paSTOR`S PAGE

November 2017

 

November 5

 

God called Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3) and entrusted him with a mission that changed the world, a mission that gave birth to the nation of God, a mission through which was created the context in which the Messiah would come to the world, a mission through which we received the divine revelation from God, in the form of the Bible. Today, after approximately 4000 years since God promised these things to Abraham, they are already a reality.
1. Israel has become a great nation (v. 2a). Even though it is physically a small country, it is in the center of attention, with Jerusalem as the most disputed piece of land. The history of this nation swings back and forth between destruction and reconstruction:
a. They were slaves in Egypt for 430 years, but God liberated them through Moses.
b. The 10 tribes of the Region in the North were scattered throughout the world by the powerful Assyrian army in the year 722AD.
c. In the year 586, the two tribes of the Region in the South were imprisoned for 70 years in Babylon.
d. The country was destroyed. The temple was burned and the Hebrew people were scattered across the world for 19 centuries.
e. In the year 1948, through the United Nations, the Jewish people managed to reinstate the modern state of Israel.
f. Most of the surrounding nations fought to impede the existence of Israel: in 1948, 1956, 1967 and then in 1973. Israel, a small country, fought wars with five countries at the same time, and still, it not only survived, but also expanded its territories.
g. In the year 1967, through war, the Jews re-conquered Jerusalem, the historical capital created 3000 years before David.
2. Abraham is blessed by God (v. 2b). He had two great qualities: faith and obedience.
a. Approximately 350 years after the flood, God made a covenant of fellowship with Abraham, explicitly promising certain things: God would be for Abraham a shield and a reward (Genesis 15:1);
Abraham would have many descendants (Genesis 15:5). Canaan would be his inheritance (Genesis 15:7).
b. Abraham believed in God’s promises, fulfilled them, and all these things were considered and counted as part of the righteousness of Abraham (Genesis 15:6)
c. In addition to faith, God asked Abraham to live in obedience, a condition for the continued blessings of the covenant.
d. God tested Abraham’s faith, asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac.
e. God explicitly commanded Abraham and his descendants to be circumcised (Genesis 17:9-13), as a sign of the covenant.
3. Abraham is a great name (2c). He is respected by the three main monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Hebrews can trace back their genealogy to Abraham.
4. God will bless nations through Abraham (2d). All people want to be blessed: “I will make you a great nation and I will bless you”, but few choose to be a blessing. “I will make your name great and you will be a blessing”.
God blessed us so that we may bless others. Altruism needs to overcome egotism. We are a blessing when we share the resources we received from God with those around us, when we spend our own resources for the advancement of God’s Kingdom on Earth. There is nothing that comes from us; we simply live by what we have received.

 

  November 12

 

    In reading the Bible, we easily see the fact that God associates Himself
with His House on earth. Before the establishment of the Church in the New
Testament, there were two other houses of the Lord in the Old Testament. “Houses
of the Lord”: The Tabernacle, built by Moses (1450 BC), and the Temple in
Jerusalem, built by Solomon (970-930 BC). For our generation, the fact that all
the people of the Bible who respected God manifested the same respect for
the House of God sends a powerful message. For all these people, the House of
the Lord was equivalent to a visible presence of the invisible God.
The Bible mentions many houses of God: The House of God at Bethel, the
Tabernacle, Solomon’s Temple, The Temple of Solomon rebuilt by Zorobabel,
the Synagogue of the Jewish diaspora, the Temple rebuilt by Herod and the
Church. Only two of these were built by people at God's command, according
to the details He gave: the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem.
     1. The Tabernacle. At Mount Sinai, Moses received the 10
Commandments from God (Exodus 24:12) and the command to build a sanctuary:
“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus
25:8). The Tabernacle was a pyramidal construction of expensive fabrics hanging
on pillars, and Moses built it in about half a year. In the Tabernacle was the Ark
– a crate in which the tablets with the Ten Commandments were kept, the Cup
with holy manna, and the Staff of the priest Aaron. The Tabernacle was mobile
and the Levites would disassemble and reassemble it everywhere on their journey
to the Promised Land. In the Tabernacle, the priests served and Moses talked to
God, listening to his commands. In addition, the Tabernacle was the place where
conflicts and misunderstandings among people were resolved. When they arrived
in Canaan, the Tabernacle was set up in Galgala, and then moved to Silo. God
asked people to bring gifts for the construction of the Tabernacle: “The LORD
said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering’” (Exodus 25:1-2). The
reaction of the people was unexpectedly generous (Exodus 36:1-7). Their zeal for
the construction of the House of the Lord was so great that Moses could hardly
stop them, explaining, “there is no more need”. This abundance is explained by
Moses in Exodus through a few expressions: everyone “whose heart was moved”
and “skilled men, filled with wisdom, understanding, with knowledge and with
all kinds of skills”.
    2. The Temple in Jerusalem. The Tabernacle served the Hebrew people
for 480 years, after which King Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, on Mount
Moriah. On this mountain, millions of lambs were brought as an offering for the
forgiveness of man’s sins, but “at the appointed time”, their number was brought
to an end by the last sacrificed Lamb, whom John the Baptist named “The Lamb
of God”. The things from the Tabernacle were moved into the Temple and the
Tabernacle is no longer mentioned in the Old Testament. The Temple of Solomon
was built in seven and a half years and became the center of religious life for
the Jewish people. Solomon’s Temple (the first Temple) was destroyed by the
Babylonians in 586 BC and was rebuilt by Zorobabel (the second Temple) in 516
BC. The Tent of Moses and Solomon’s Temple were made up of three parts: the
Courtyard, the Sanctuary, and the Holy of Holies. Solomon was guided by the same
“calling of the heart”, “skills, wisdom, and knowledge” as the generation of people
who built the Tabernacle when he decided “The temple I am going to build will be
great, because our God is greater than all other gods” (2 Chronicles 2:5).
     Both the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem were built by people
whose “hearts were moved”, by “skilled men, filled with wisdom, understanding,
with knowledge and with all kinds of skills”. They built with this desire in their
hearts: “The temple I am going to build will be great because our God is greater
than all other gods”.

 November 19, 2017

 

Thanksgiving day is filled with beauty, being the day in which we look our Creator in the eyes and we tell Him in a specific and unique way “Thank You”. It seems commonplace, but it is divine. It seems inadequate, but it is sufficient. It seems unimportant, but it is indispensable.
Thanksgiving is a noble mission, a divine mandate, a desire of human dignity of the excellence of earthly life. Today we thankfully look to the past 11 months of the year 2017, amazed at the grace, the forgiveness, and the protection God has gifted us. Unfortunately, not all people weigh their lives in such a way, a reason for why Thanksgiving comprises many categories of people.

        The Bible teaches us to be thankful to God for all things, because through His providence, through all that happens in our lives, God wants to do good things for us: “ always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Let us look at a few of the concrete motives for giving thanks that are mentioned in the Bible:
1) We thank Him for grace: “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4). Grace is the goodness through which God gives us gifts that we do not deserve.

2) We thank Him for faith: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world” (Romans 1:8).
3) We thank Him for answered prayers: “ ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me’ “ (john 11:41

4) We thank Him for food: “I take part in the meal with thankfulness” (1 Corinthians 10:30). Of the 120,000 people who died yesterday, 22,000 died of hunger.
5) We thank Him for Spiritual gifts: “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you” (1 Corinthians 14:18).

6) We thank Him for the witness of the church: “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3).

7) We thank Him for the honor to serve Him: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord… that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service” (1 Timothy 1:12)
         The Bible assures us of the fact that being content and thankful is not a matter of circumstance, but of character, of discipline “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11). To be thankful to God is a sign of worship before Him “Therefore since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and
so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28). In addition, to be thankful to God is equivalent to bringing Him glory: “Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18). Today is the perfect day for a celebration in honor of the Lord, thanking Him for being our God!

  November 26

 

Relationships are people’s greatest treasure and they reflect quality in
life. The first church was instructed and organized by Jesus Christ and by the
apostles, reason for which we use its practices and teachings as an example and
reference for the church of our time. The Bible presents us with the greatness
of the spiritual work in that time, but in equal measure with the difficulties with
which the Lord Jesus and the apostles were confronted. The local churches at that
time were crushed by persecution, tormented by theological misunderstandings
and especially agitated by the specific instability of transitioning from the systems
of the Old Testament to the New Testament. A telling example is the theological
misunderstanding that appeared in Antioch between the apostles and a group of
people from Judea. In looking at this example we can learn the following useful
things:
I. Any relationship is exposed to conflict. In looking at this event, we
can understand the fact that any group of people will be confronted with certain
differences of opinion, misunderstandings, and adversities. Usually Paul and the
other apostles used their authority to teach, to reprove, to correct, and to respond
to the problems that arose in the churches of the Lord. This time however, the
Scriptures tell us that the apostles had “sharp dispute and debate with them”
(Acts 15:2a). It is true that sometimes in families, and even in a church, there
are differences of opinion. These situations need to be treated with maturity and
wisdom in order to keep the peace, unity and harmony of the relationship and
the group.
II. Every conflict needs to be resolved with wisdom. Because of the
disagreements that arose, the brothers in Antioch proposed that Paul and Barnabas
should go to Jerusalem “to see the apostles and elders about this question”
(Acts 15:2b). It is interesting that Paul and Barnabas, who planted churches
everywhere, were not able to resolve this disagreement and they accepted that
they needed help. It seems that this is the only time Paul, when confronted with
a problem, delays resolving it so that he can consult with apostles and elders
from Jerusalem. He knew that this major theological disagreement between the
Jews and the Christians would permanently upset the relationship among the
brotherhood, reason for which he appealed to a greater authority. When they
arrived in Jerusalem they presented a missionary report and shared with the
brothers there the disagreement from Antioch. The Scriptures mention that, “the
apostles and elders met to consider this question” (Acts 15:6).
III. Any authentic resolution needs to bring peace and unity. The Bible
explains the fact that during this time of the Counsel at Jerusalem, “after much
discussion, Peter got up and addressed them” (Acts 15:7). Then, one by one, Paul
and Barnabas spoke and towards the end, James spoke (verses 12-13). Speaking
about what had happened, they explained that, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit
and to us…” (Acts 15:28). When the response of the Counsel of Jerusalem was
read in Antioch, the Bible tells us that the people “were glad for its encouraging
message…” (Acts 15:31).
We cannot avoid conflicts, but we can avoid remaining in conflict.
Conflict is from the Devil, peace and unity are from God; this is why the people
of God will live in peace.