Questions about Jesus' Siblings

Q. What was the name of Jesus' bothers and sisters and were can i find this in the Bible?

A. Hello and thank you for your email! The Bible does not give very much information about Jesus's siblings, however, here are some references that you can read about. Matthew 13:54-58, John 2:11-12, John 7:3-5. Since James, the brother of the disciple John, was killed before the New Testament book of James was written, it could be a possibility that the book of James was written by Jesus's brother who finally believed after the crucifiction. We do not know this for sure, though. Galatians Chapter 1, Matthew 13:55, Acts 12:17. I hope these references answer your question. May God bless you.

Questions about Judgement

Q. WHEN CHRIST SITS ON THE GREAT WHITE THRONE,HE JUDGES THOSE WHO WERE DEAD IN CHRIST. ARE THEY SENT DIRECTLY TO HEAVEN OR GIVEN HUMAN BODIES AND REMAIN ON EARTH AND LIVE DURING THE MILLENNIUM ?

A. Very good question! The reference to the Great White Throne Judgement can be found in Revelations 20:11-15. This reference to the last judgement of mankind is found to be after the millenium, which appears earlier in verses 2-7. Verse 5 clearly states that the dead are not resurrected until the millenium is over, consumating in the Great White Throne Judgment. After this final judgement, those whose names are not found in the Book Of Life are cast into the Lake of Fire (v. 15. Those who escaped this judgement through repentance towards God for their sins, and through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, find themselves as described in Chapter 21, in the New Heaven and the new Earth. The Bible teaches a bodily resurrection of both the just and unjust (Acts 24:15), therefore; we will enjoy Heaven with a physical body like that of Christ (Romans 6:5) Hope to meet you there! May God Bless you.

Conditions of Being Saved

Text.-- Acts 16:30 : " What must I do to be saved? "

I bring forward this subject to-day not because it is new to many in this congregation, but because it is greatly needed. I am happy to know that the great inquiry of our text is beginning to be deeply and extensively agitated in this community, and under these circumstances it is the first duty of a Christian pastor to answer it, fully and plainly. 
  
The circumstances which gave occasion to the words of the text were briefly these. Paul and Silas had gone to Philippi to preach the Gospel. Their preaching excited great opposition and tumult; they were arrested and thrown into prison, and the jailer was charged to keep them safely. At midnight they were praying and singing praises--God came down--the earth quaked and the prison rocked--its doors burst open, and their chains fell off; the jailer sprang up affrighted, and supposing his prisoners had fled, was about to take his own life, when Paul cried out, "Do thyself no harm--we are all here." He then called for a light, and sprang in and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 
  
This is briefly the history of our text; and I improve it now, by showing;

I. What sinners must not do to be saved; and 
  
II. What they must do.

 

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Directions to Sinners

NOTE:
This Sermon was originally preached in the 1800's by one of America's greatest evangelists, Charles G. Finney. Charles Finney was a lawyer and at one time an atheist. When he became a Christian, he had an immense impact on the American people of his time and all generations up until today. Hundreds of thousands of people came to know God through his sermons both in his time and even today. His message is timeless because he gave all the credit to God. It is just as relevant today as it was in the past. If you will keep an open mind, you will see the meaning of this message. Some of the language is slightly different than today's but the message is clear. Below there is a short list of definitions that you may find in his writings and that need further explanation to be correctly understood. Finney's writings have touched men and women's hearts down through the ages. His message is truthful, logical, inspiring and penetrating. The timeless message that he speaks will touch your heart also, if you will allow it to.

DEFINITIONS:

1. The doctrine of universalism was an unbiblical, untruthful theological doctrine that all souls will eventually find salvation in the grace of God.

2. Disinterested benevolence was a concept that Finney used to illustrate the thinking and actions of a person who was a true Christian. Finney believed that a true believer would not be interested only in his own pursuits but would love and trust the Lord supremely. The true believer would choose the Lord's way even at the expense of his own self interest. Choosing God first would mean, among other things, to love what God loved and do what God commanded. God's chief motivation is to promote the real good of all His creation. In a sense than, the true believer was disinterested in his own pursuits (that is, in comparison to his love and trust in God) and he acted in a way that promoted, as his main pursuit, the goodness (benevolence) of all of God's creation (not just his own).

What must I do to be saved? - Acts 16:30.

These are the words of the jailer at Philippi - the question which he put to Paul and Silas, who were then under his care as prisoners. Satan had, in many ways, opposed these servants of God in their work of preaching the Gospel, and had been as often defeated and disgraced. But here he devised a new and peculiar project for frustrating their labors. There was a certain woman at Philippi, who was possessed with a spirit of divination, or, in other words, the spirit of the devil, and brought her masters much gain by her soothsaying. The devil set this woman to follow Paul and Silas about the streets, and as soon as they had begun to gain the attention of the people, she would come in and cry: "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation" (v. 17). That is, she undertook to second the exhortations of the preachers, and added her testimony, as if to give additional weight to their instructions.

The effect of it was just what Satan desired. The people all knew that this was a wicked, base woman; and when they heard her attempting to recommend this new preaching, they were disgusted, and concluded that it was all of a piece. The devil knew that it would not do him any good to set such a person to oppose the preaching of the apostles, or to speak against it. The time had gone by for that to succeed. And, therefore, he takes the opposite ground, and by setting her to praise them as the servants of God, and to bear her polluted testimony in favor of their instructions, he led people to suppose the apostles were of the same character with her, and had the same spirit that she had. Paul saw that if things went on so, he would be totally baffled, and could never succeed in establishing a Church at Philippi. So he turns round upon her, and commands the foul spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come out of her. "When her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone" they raised a great persecution, and "caught Paul and Silas," and made a great ado, and brought them before the magistrates, and raised such a clamor that the magistrates shut up the messengers of the Gospel in prison, and the jailer "made their feet fast in the stocks."

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Sanforized

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God…and now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will see my face no more. Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” Acts 20:24-27 (The New American Standard Bible)

Not long ago I noticed that the Levi’s I had been wearing were getting smaller, or at least it was slightly more difficult to button them unless I made an effort to temporarily move body mass to another location. The effort reminded me that many years ago my mother bought clothing because it had the label “Sanforized” displayed in plain sight. In the garment industry at that time a process had been developed that prevented fabric from shrinking when washed in warm water with harsh detergents. No doubt today’s fabrics are of a different quality or material, and I haven’t noticed a Sanforized label in years. So, my sense of an ever-tightening waist band (waste is probably more appropriate) couldn’t be blamed on material shrinkage.

Evidence strongly suggests that the Apostle Paul was Sanforized! The Holy Spirit empowered him to not shrink from speaking the Gospel of Christ – the whole purpose of God. So I wonder what label(s) you’re sporting these days. Have you been stamped with the Spirit label, and is shrinkage still a problem each time you’re dunked into a harsh situation? When the circumstances heat up does the collar feel tighter and you find it harder to reach out through shrinking sleeves? If so, perhaps it is time to move to a new suit of clothes that never shrink. For proper fitting information, please consult the garment description in Ephesians 6:10-20.

Father grant us the power and courage to not shrink from declaring your Gospel to all those with whom we have contact.

Pest Control

For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Acts 24:5 (The New American Standard Bible)

The Apostle Paul was often required to defend his call to ministry before the Council, the representatives of Rome and all who would call it into question. In this instance he stood before Felix and faced these accusations brought by Tertullus, an attorney representing Ananias and the Council. When given the opportunity to speak, the Apostle Paul responded to the charges by saying, “Knowing that for many years you have been a judge of this nation, I cheerfully make my defense,…” (Acts 24:10b)

Each day as we testify of the Lord’s grace in our lives and our call to minister to others in His name we face accusations of being religious zealots, of stirring up dissensions, and in the minds of some we are no more than pests that need to be controlled. May it be said of us that like the Apostle Paul, we cheerfully make a defense of the hope that lies within us.

Father we thank you for the faith and hope that lies within us and pray that with your strength and grace we will be able to withstand the pest control efforts of the world around us. Amen.

Rounding Third and Headed...?

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 (KJV)

If you are a sports fan reading this, you are aware that the title I have chosen is a sports phrase. It refers to baseball and an announcer saying, "The player is rounding third and heading home." My question this Christmas time is, in our Christian walk, are we headed toward home?

I cannot help but look back through this past year. We all do it this time of year. It's called "reflecting." It has been another year full of challenge, yet another year full of promise, hope, and blessings. I keep wondering if I've done anything this past year to keep me heading toward home. I keep wondering if I've made a difference for God in anyone's life. Have I improved on my faithfulness to Him? Have I walked the walk that I talk? Have I reached out to others even though I've been hurting myself in so many ways? Have I been too lazy this year for God? Have I really picked up the cross and followed Him as I should? For a believer, these are not always easy questions.

I can only imagine the beginning of Jesus' life. As a baby He was born in a stable with only hay to lay on. He didn't have all the advantages and comforts that hospitals offer us during childbirth now. All He had was the straw and then the warmth of His loving Mother as she held Him.

We haven't been given a lot of knowledge about Jesus as He grew. I have to believe it wasn't easy for Him in any way. Because He was the Son of God, it made Him different. I'm sure the kids of His time were just as mean and awful in teasing Him as they can be in teasing our kids today. I'm sure the peer pressure was just as much then for Jesus as it is for our kids nowadays. Yet, Jesus stayed the course. I think it's safe to say that as Jesus grew, He maintained that He'd be rounding third and heading for home.

Those who wrote the Bible chose to give many details about the final days of Jesus. I believe it was His final days that God thought would be the most important for us to know about today. We are told that in His final hours, Jesus took time to pray not for just His disciples, but He prayed for YOU and for ME! (John 17:20) As He hung on the cross for our sins, Jesus was "still rounding third and heading home" as He forgave the thief on the cross, (Luke 23:42,43), and as He asked God to "forgive them for they know not what they do," (Luke 23:34). In His toughest of hours, in the worst conditions of His life, Jesus maintained the course and never faltered.

As I reflect, I see improvement in some ways. I also see that I have hit a lot of "foul balls" that have knocked me off the course and caused me to lose my way at times. I'm not proud of those foul balls anymore than a baseball player is proud of his when he hits them. Yet, those foul balls mean the player has another opportunity. As long as he doesn't strike out, the player has the opportunity to "round third and head for home."

I continue to do my best not to drop the ball in my Christian walk. I continue to try and do my part as a member of God's team. I am thankful I have the opportunity to hit foul balls and that the foul balls do not mean I don't have another chance. Because He loves me so much and understands that I am flesh, God has provided for me to hit as many foul balls as I must and yet still have the opportunity to "round third and head for home."

I have to ask, how'd your year go? Are you still "rounding third and heading for home?"

Happy birthday Jesus! Truly YOU are the Reason for the Season!

Dear Lord, please forgive me for those times this past year when I have dropped the ball in my game of life. And please help me to forgive myself. Grant me your help this coming year that I may find victory through You, and that next year at this time I may still be headed toward home. Amen.

Jesus Heals

And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchief or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Acts 19:11-12 (KJV)

A year ago at the age of 72, I was admitted to hospital to have a cataract removed from my left eye. As usual I prayed to God for His help and the success of the operation.

Returning to the ward after the operation, water cascaded from my eye and I could see nothing. I thought after a good night’s sleep things would have settled down and I would still be able to go home the next day.

Morning came and my eye was still weepy and I could not see out of it. Other patients were tested and were able to read. These people were discharged.

The doctor said that the iris of my eye was clipped on to another part of the eye, and that another operation had to be done. By this time I was feeling quite low in spirit as I was being summoned for test after test and only managed to see color.  
    
At such times the Lord puts an appropriate hymn or just the right lines from a hymn into my thoughts. On rare occasions I receive a suitable Bible verse. The words “Ring out Those Golden Bells” came into my mind. I could not remember what preceded or followed them. But I thought them quite inappropriate, and grabbed my glasses to find something from the Bible to read with my good eye.

When I opened the glasses case which I had hurriedly picked up and brought along with me, the yellow cleaning strip of material for the glasses fell on the floor and under it a small white, silky piece of material of the same size appeared. On it was printed in bold black type the words “Jesus Heals” and under this some scripture texts were printed. I remembered this inspirational piece of material called a “healing handkerchief” being sent to me many years before when I had been ill.

I felt that God had spoken directly to me. From that moment I had a more positive attitude and eventually my sight returned. In times of crisis, these scriptures often come to mind. They are: Psalm 103:3, James 5:15, Acts 19:11-12 and 1 Peter 2:24.

Lord help us to trust in your promises, and find comfort in your words. Amen. 

Acts

“…but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NAS)

As I sat down to do my devotion today, I opened my Bible to the book of Acts. It always strikes me as strange that this powerful book that talks about the coming of the Holy Spirit and the first revival in the church was not named “Pentecost,” “Disciples” or “Peter.” This great book was given the title “Acts.”

The word “Acts” reminds me of the popular phrases of today like “Just do it” or “Git ‘er done.” The disciples definitely ACTED and started a revival that changed the world even to this day. 

Acts is my favorite book of the Bible. This ragtag group of twelve men changed history and the world. It was not of their strength, but it was the moving of the Holy Spirit through their willing vessels. Not one of them represented “the church” of the day. Not one of them was innocent or perfect. They all had sin in their pasts. They exhibited rough exteriors, but because of the time spent with Jesus and then the Holy Spirit, they were changed individuals. They laid down their lives, families, possessions and followed the call of God. They ACTED not just by praying and giving, but also by going and by doing all that God asked of them. They dedicated their entire lives to God’s call.

My prayer today is: Lord, please let me ACT according to your will and purpose. Give me the courage and strength to do whatever it is that you are asking me to do. It is the same Holy Spirit dwelling in me that dwelt in the twelve disciples, and I want that Holy Spirit to give me the power to perform miracles, heal the sick, cast out evil spirits and lead people to you. Amen.