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Jesus, the promised Messiah who came

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Scriptures scroll

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If you read this verse and you’re not very familiar with the Bible, you might think that it came from the New Testament, because it seems it is talking about Jesus, right?

How about this one:

They pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. (Psalm 22:16-18)

Doesn’t it look like a description of the crucifixion? It does. And that’s because it is.

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Praying and listening

“If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:22)

Praying

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There are many verses that talk about prayer in the Bible. And some of them, when taken out of context, may give us the idea that God is like a genie: He is there listening to our requests in order to grant them. And it obviously isn’t true.

Praying is not telling God what you want Him to do. It is listening to God to know what He wants you to do. (Click to tweet this quote)

The Easton’s Bible Dictionary has a beautiful definition for the word “prayer” (you can check the entire article here):

Prayer is converse with God; the intercourse of the soul with God, not in contemplation or meditation, but in direct address to him.

Prayer is a conversation, a direct talk between you and God. You talk and you listen, God talks and God listens. He does his part, every single time. Now we need to do ours. We need to talk to Him instead of sending a list of demands, and most of all we need to listen.

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God doesn’t have grandchildren

According to the Bible, God has one son, Jesus Christ. Jesus allows us to be forgiven of our sins and become children of God by adoption (check John 1:12-13).

Hand to the skies

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The term “children of God” has lost its original meaning along the years. Nowadays, it is common to hear people saying that “everyone is a child of God”, but that is not true (check this post for more details).

The Bible says:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. (Romans 8:14)

Another fact about our relationship with God is that God doesn’t have grandchildren. What I mean to say is that, if a person is a child of someone who has a relationship with God, that doesn’t mean that this person is saved.

Salvation is personal, and so is a relationship with God. It is not inherited from our parents.

We have many examples in the Bible of godly parents whose children got away from God. And unfortunately, that is a common fact nowadays too.

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The difference between liking and loving

When we talk about liking and loving, most people think that the difference between them is the intensity of the feeling, but it actually isn’t. They are quite different in fact, but still most people get them mixed all the time.

Love

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I’m not talking only about romantic relationships, this applies to all relationships in our life.

When you like someone, it is all about how that person makes you feel. You are proud of them, you like being near them, talking to them, spending time with them, etc, because they make you feel good.

However, if something happens and that person disappoints you, the feeling you have for them starts vanishing. Why? Because this feeling is based upon what you get from that person, it is conditional.

Liking is about you.

On the other hand, when you love someone, it makes you put that person’s interests before yours. No matter what the person does, even if they disappoint you, you still love them. True ove is unconditional.

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The foolishness of the wise man

Solomon is known in the Bible as a very wise man. He received wisdom and everything else he needed from God, wrote many proverbs, and in his time he became widely known by his wisdom. However, he didn’t please neither God (1 Kings 11:9) nor the people (1 Kings 12:4).

Light on

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He had everything any king would ever want: wisdom, peace throughout the land, riches, the respect of his people and of other nations, and most of all, the favor of God. What did he do with all that?

  • he married many (I mean, many!) women from other nations (1 Kings 11:1-3), in spite of the warning that God had already given through the Law (Deuteronomy 17:16-17);
  • he allowed his wives to bring idolatry to Israel (1 Kings 11:4);
  • even tough God appeared to him twice (1 Kings 3:5 and 1 Kings 9:1-2), he built altars and followed other gods, in total disobedience to God (1 Kings 11:5-8);
  • he put a heavy burden on the people in order to keep his expensive way of life, so much that they eventually rebelled against his son (1 Kings 12);
  • at the end of his life, he tried to kill the man to whom God had promised part of the kingdom (1 Kings 11:40), putting himself against the will of God.

Solomon was so wise. Why did he behave like a fool? Why didn’t he use his wisdom to help him be a good king and a man of God, like his father David was?

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The treasure of the Word of God

Last week, I attended a forum organized by the Brazilian Bible Society (Sociedade Bíblica do Brasil – SBB). The theme of the forum was “Bible and Missions”.

Open Bible

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Although it was their eighth forum, it was the first one I attended. And it had an impact on me.

They talked a lot about the relation between the Bible and missions, and how it is important to have at least portions of the Word of God translated into the local language when the missionaries go to the field.

Several people talked about their own experiences as translators, working for years in a translation, sometimes of only one portion of the Bible.

They also shared about the difficulty of translating words and expressions that don’t exist in the language they’re working with. They have to come up with a translation that is understandable by the local readers and that remains faithful to the message of the originals.

And they also shared about the joy of the people who, after many years deprived of a Bible in their own language, were able to finally get it, sometimes only the New Testament. But for them, it was reason enough to be joyful.

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How do you know that God has heard your prayer?

Sometimes we wonder. We pray, we beg, we pour our hearts to God, but nothing happens. We face sleepless nights, but it seems that God is oblivious to our suffering. So how do we know that He has even heard our prayers?

Praying with Bible

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The answer to that question is actually simple. He always hears our prayers, all of them. Every single time.

And you know what? He always answers our prayers, all of them. Yes, He does.

The moment the prayer is taking shape in our minds, He is already responding: “yes”, “no” or “not yet”. Then why does it feel that sometimes God doesn’t listen or doesn’t respond at all?

Actually, there are two issues that impact our perception of God’s response:

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In the valley of shadow of death

The Lord is my shepherd. This is how one of the most beloved and known chapters of the Bible begin: Psalm 23.

Dark forest

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It brings us the assurance that the Lord is always taking care of us, like a good and loving shepherd.

But it isn’t uncommon to overlook some parts of the Scripture, for whatever reason. In this case, we usually don’t notice that the same Psalm that says that the Lord is our shepherd and that we won’t be in want, it also says:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)

I don’t know about you, but just hearing the words “valley of shadow of death” is pretty scary to me.

Can you imagine finding yourself in a place like that? Honestly, I can’t. I’ve never been anywhere that would be close to that description. I’ve seen a few places in TV that maybe could qualify, but I certainly have never come close to one of them.

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Death and eternal life

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Open door

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Most people think of life and death only as the physical events associated to being alive and to the moment after we take our last breath, respectively.

When Paul writes to the Roman church, he speaks of life and death with a different meaning behind those words. He talks about spiritual life and death, not the physical ones.

Death, from Paul’s point of view, means life without God. So a person can be walking around and breathing, and still be spiritually dead.

Life means having a relationship with God. And this life is eternal, it doesn’t stop when our body dies.

So just being “physically alive” doesn’t determine the most important state of our soul: the spiritual one.

The fact is, spiritual life and death are the ones that really matter.

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The true and perfect justice

Justice for us has always been a relative matter. When we claim it, it’s usually because we think that the facts are in our favor. And in that case, if we don’t get it, then it is unfair.

Judge

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I love sports. My favorite ones are coletive sports, like soccer, volleyball and baseball. And I’ve seen many times the referree making a wrong call in favor of my team’s opponent. Then I get mad, complain that it is not fair, and depending on the importance of the game and how my team was affected, I talk about it with my friends for days.

But sometimes, the referree makes a wrong call in favor of my team. Although I still think it is not fair, I don’t complain about it, at all.

It is not about justice, it is about winning.

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show that shows legal trials? Many of them show how lawyers manipulate the facts in order to get a veridict in their favor. And although I have no contact with the legal system nor here in Brazil neither anywhere else, I can see how those fiction shows are not far from what happens in real life.

It is not about justice, it is about winning.

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