He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (NIV)
Food For Thought:
At first glance, you read through this passage and you think how wonderful.. what a comforting psalm written by King David. Surely, this has to be a comforting word from God. Wait a minute.. hold on.. What’s this? In Psalm 23:4, it says:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.“
Wow.. first of all, walking through the valley of shadow of death.. now that sounds really scary.. then, secondly, how do the rod and the staff bring comfort to me? They sure sound painful to me.. Well, I don’t understand? What a contradictory statement!
If this is what you were struggling to understand, I was too. But, as I seek to get an answer to these thoughts, I discovered some great truths. On 26th March 2010, a Sunday morning, my pastor preached on the sermon on peace. What is the peace that the bible talks about? In John 20:19-23, the Bible recorded the scene where Jesus appeared before His disciples after His resurrection. Guess what Jesus said to His disciples, the first time He appeared before them as a group? He said:
“Peace be with you! ” After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 2 times, Jesus repeated this: “ Peace be with you! ” My pastor asked us why were the disciples glad when they saw Jesus? Well, it dawn on me today, that what could have overwhelmed them that day as they looked to Jesus was the peace they must have felt at that very moment. All the fear and struggles would have been instantly gone that very moment they set their eyes on Jesus. Peace came from gazing at Jesus. You know, when King David said that “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” It tells me that King David had the peace in him, trusting God. Whatever his circumstances may be, King David would not be afraid because God was with him and because of that, he had the peace in him to face all his challenges before him. Do you have the peace like King David had? or are you facing life with fear and trembling? Look at Jesus..
How about rod and staff? How do they bring comfort to David? Good questions. Rod signifies discipline and staff signifies guidance. How does a shepherd lead and protect his sheep? Naturally with the staff that he has to carry with him daily. If a sheep goes astray, he uses his staff to lead it back to his herds. In a way, the sheep sees the staff as a guidance and protection and that is a comfort to it. In the same manner, King David referred to the staff as a tool a shepherd would use to lead, guide and protect his sheep. Now what about a rod? A rod would be likely used by a shepherd as a tool to discipline his sheep. Now… discipline is no funny matter.. it hurts. How can it brings comfort? You may ask.. In Hebrew 12:7-13
” Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we summit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Now that is comforting to know! When I talk about discipline, it never includes abuse. Abuse is wrong, but discipline is necessary for growth. Discipline is used to correct our wrongs, to make us better people. Just as God uses it to make us righteous, and holy just as He is. In conclusion, I would like to leave you with this precious verse that Jesus said in John 14:27 and also I have come to love.
” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ”
As I was pondering on what I should write about for my next blog, I felt the need to go in depth into understanding why the death of Jesus on the Cross was necessary. Since the celebration of Easter for 2010 is fast approaching, all the more reason to have a better understanding of this truth. So, I started digging into the Book of Leviticus, the 3rd book of the Old Testament in the Bible. In this blog, I would like to bring in the various offerings mentioned in the Old Testament where the Jewish community at that time had to observe. With the understanding of all the various types of offerings that had to be practiced, we would then have a better appreciation of what we have now in Christ Jesus if indeed we have chosen to follow Him. At the same time, recognize the sovereignty of God over His decision to do what He did through Jesus Christ, His Son. As for those who are still seeking to know more, this blog will hopefully help you gain more understanding on Christianity and the foundation of our belief.
5 different kinds of offerings were mentioned in depth in Leviticus. I presume that the Jewish community are presently still keeping these practices to this day since they do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Now, the first type of offering mentioned was the Burnt Offering. The burnt offerings could either come from their herds, flocks or birds. If the offering chosen came from their herds, it could be a young male bull, but without defect. If the offering came from their flocks, it could be a male sheep or goat, but without defect. If the offering came from their birds, it could be a dove or a young pigeon. In all of these specific types of offerings, they had to carried out with very specific instructions. For example, the person who brought the offering had to present his offering at the entrance to the tent of Meeting, he was to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, he had to slaughter the young animal before the Lord, the priest would then bring the blood and sprinkle it against the alter on all sides at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The person offering his animal had to skin and cut the burnt offering into pieces. The priest on the other hand had to prepare the wood and set up the fire. The priest then arranged the pieces including the head and the fat on the burning wood that was on the alter . He then had to wash the inner parts and the legs with water while the priest had to burn all of it on the alter. When these instructions were met, these offerings were then considered acceptable unto the Lord. And God would be pleased. Interestingly, these instructions came from God Himself to Moses at that time. If you are interested to know more, please refer to Leviticus 1:1 – 17.
The next type of offering mentioned was the Grain Offering.
Every grain offerings brought to the Lord were to be of fine flour and without yeast, mixed or spread with oil regardless of how they were prepared. The offerings would be burnt on the alter. The grain offering of first fruits was specially mentioned with an instruction not to be burnt on the alter rather the priests would offer the crushed heads of new grain roasted in the fire, put oil and incense on it. The priest would burn the memorial portion of the crushed grain and the oil, together with all the incense, as an offering made to the Lord by fire. Salt was required to be added to all the grain offerings. When these instructions were met, only then would these offerings be acceptable to the Lord. Interestingly, grain offering was considered a most holy part of the offerings made to the Lord by fire. Greater details can be studied through Leviticus 2:1 – 16.
Next followed was the Fellowship Offering. The fellowship offerings were to be offered in a similar manner as the burnt offerings except on 2 key important differences. The offered animals could come from either their herds or flocks, but no mention of the birds. The 2 key differences were that these animal offerings could be either a male or female without defect. Interestingly, for fellowship offerings to be acceptable to the Lord, the portions of possible fat had to be removed and the priests were to burn them on the alter together with the burnt offerings. So, in this case, only the fat portions were burnt and offered to the Lord. (Leviticus 3:1 – 17)
The 4th type of offering was the Sin Offering. Interestingly, the very first group mentioned concerning sin offering was for the priests. If an anointed priest sinned, even unintentionally, putting guilt on the people, he had to offer a young bullwithout defect as a sin offering for the sin he committed. He had to present the bull at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the Lord. Then he had lay his hand on its head and slaughter it before the Lord. Some of the bull’s blood would be carried into the Tent of Meeting and the priest had to dip his finger into the blood and sprinkle some of it seven times before the Lord, in front of the curtain of the sanctuary. He then put some of the blood on the horns of the alter of fragrant incense that was before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting. The rest of the bull’s blood he would have to pour them out at the base of the alter of burnt offering at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He would then remove all the fat portions in manner similar to an animal sacrificed as fellowship offering to be burnt on the alter of burnt offering. The rest of the bull, would be taken outside the camp to a ceremonially clean place where the ashes were thrown, and burnt in a wood fire on the ash heap.
The next group mentioned was the community of the Israelite as a whole. When they committed sin against God (did what was forbidden in any of God’s commands) even unintentionally, they were found guilty. When they became aware of their sin committed as a whole, the entire community had to present a young bull as a sin offering before the Tent of Meeting. The elders had to lay their hands on the head of the bull and slaughtered it before the Lord. The anointed priest would make atonement on their behalf, in the same manner he offered his sin offering before God as mentioned above. The community would then be forgiven.
The next group mentioned was for the leaders. A leader when he committed a sin before the Lord, would be guilty even when it was unintentional. In this case, when he was made aware of his sin, he would have to offer a male goat
without defect. In the same manner, he would have to lay his hand on the goat’s head and slaughtered it at the burnt offering place before the Lord. The priest would in the same manner make atonement on his behalf and he would then be forgiven. When a member of the community sinned, and was found guilty even unintentional, and made aware of his sin, he had to offer a femalegoat or lamb without defect. He would lay his hand on his sin offering and slaughter it at the burnt offering place before the Lord. The priest would make atonement on his behalf and he would be forgiven.
Ways in which one might find himself guilty and needed to offer a sin offering to the Lord. Interestingly, these are some examples of what would consider a sin before God. When one would not testify regarding something he had seen or learned about in cases of wrong doing, or when one touched something unclean, humanly (contaminating uncleanness) or ceremonially (unclean animals), swearing thoughtlessly. One had to first confess in what way he had sinned, and as a penalty for the sin he had committed, he had to bring to the Lord a sin offering of a female lamb or goat from his flock and the priest would make atonement on his behalf before he would be forgiven. For somebody who was poor and could not afford a lamb or a goat, he could bring 2 doves or 2 young pigeons to the Lord as a penalty for his sin, one for a sin offering, and one for a burnt offering. And if he could not afford the birds, he could bring a tenth of an ephah of fine flour with no oil or incense allowed on it, as his sin offering to the priest who would take a handful of it as a memorial portion and burn it on the altar on top of the offerings made to the Lord by fire. In this manner, the priest would have make atonement on his behalf and he would be forgiven of his sins. (Leviticus 4:1 – 35, 5:1 – 13)
The final mention of the 5th type of offerings was the Guilt Offering. According to Leviticus 5:14 – 16,
When one commits a violation and sins unintentionally in regard to any of the Lord’s holy things, he is to bring to the Lord as a penalty a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value in silver, according to the sanctuary shekel. It is a guilt offering.
He must make restitution for what he has failed to do in regard to the holy things, add a fifth of the value to that and give it all to the priest, who will make atonement for him with the ram as a guilt offering, and he will be forgiven.
Now, looking through all these 5 specific offerings and you are wondering what is the point for bringing them up? Where are we going with all these knowledge? Well, through reading about these facts, you may first of all, have a better knowledge of what sin is. An offense committed against God and His commands. Secondly, if you notice some of the key words in bold highlight, you may notice one phrase that kept appearing on this blog which is, without defect. God’s acceptable offering has to be without defect. What does that mean? It means no deformity, perfect. The offered animal to God has to be perfect. And if you notice further, the blood of the animal which was perfect, that was offered to the Lord, played an important role in the offerings. It was the blood of a perfect sacrifice that was offered to God. And it was precisely that, that pleased God. Now, if that was what God required and that which pleased Him in that time, then He would require nothing less even for now. Do you know why God would have nothing less than perfect? It is because He is Holy and perfect Himself. If God requires of your sacrifice, would you think you would pass? If you look honestly into your heart of heart, you would have to honestly say no, you would not have passed. The Bible says in Roman 3:23,
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
That is the truth. No one on this earth would have passed His requirement. Except for one man whose name is Jesus. He is the Son of God. He was born from the Holy Spirit in the womb of a virgin Jewish woman named Mary. You see, it was God who sent His Son to be born as a human being so that salvation is made possible for all men through that plan. Throughout Jesus’ life on earth, He never once sinned. He was the one perfect man ever walked on earth. Jesus was God’s plan to save us from our sins because sins offend God and separate us from Him. Sin was never tolerable for God. We could tolerate sins, but never to God. We were created for God but sins separate us from Him. The only way to save us, He provided the solution and that was to sacrifice His one and only Son Jesus Christ. How? you may ask.. Well, By allowing Jesus who is perfect, to die on the Cross, just like the burnt offering in the old Testament time. It is through the blood of the perfect sacrifice that cleanses us of our sins and makes us acceptable and righteous before God. Now, can you see it? The sacrifice had been turned around that instead of man offering his imperfect gift, He offered us salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Does God love you? Yes, that is how much He loves you that He offered His only Son as a sacrificial lamb to save you and me. He knew that was the only way that man could be saved and He made that sacrifice for us. How amazing is that? Jesus’ death on the Cross made all the various offerings unnecessary. Now, through Jesus, we can communicate with God directly. There is no need for all the rituals and ceremonies any more. In a way, we are set free through the death of Jesus Christ. When we talk about the gift of life as free gift, it was not free. It was paid in full by the blood of our Lord Jesus, in exchange for yours and mine. God poured out His Grace upon us. GRACE which simply means God’s Riches At Christ Expense. Knowing all that, would you give your life to Jesus who gave His life in exchange for you and me on the Cross?
In light of this Easter, I hope you remember this. Jesus sacrificed His life to save you and me. But, wait! He did not remain dead. The Bible also says that 3 days after He was buried, He rose again and was later ascended into Heaven to prepare a place in Heaven for you and me. And He gave us a helper and counsel, the Holy Spirit to help us walk close to God daily. If you have given your life over to Jesus, I encourage you read the Book of John in the New Testament. And be a member of a Bible based church and serve God in that congregation. May you be truly blessed this day!
You may ask: Why do you choose to talk about a sunflower? What’s so special about it? It is just a flower after all..
Well, first of all, I love sunflowers. It is one of my favorites, beside yellow roses, daffodils, freesias. As you can now see that I love flowers. Naturally, I begin my blogs with a flower. Now, a sunflower is not just an ordinary flower, it is a favorite for many women around the world. Imagine, you have a vase of sunflowers on your dinning table, and it immediately draws the attention of everyone in the room. And the topic will naturally change as the focus begins to fall on the flowers. It brings a smile to a person’s face each time, he or she sees a sunflower. It is bright and cheery. So, today I would like to draw your attention to this unique flower called the SUNFLOWER.
Let me share with you about some interesting facts on this flower:
Please refer to this link below if you have further interest on the facts about these sunflowers:
More than sixty different varieties of sunflowers can be found in the world. Out of all these, the most common one is bright yellow, with dark brown centers filled with seeds.
A sunflower head is made up of 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers that are joined together to a base. The large petals that are found around the edge of a sunflower are individual ray flowers, these do not develop into seeds.
A single sunflower can have up to 2000 seeds. A distinguishing quality of the sunflower is that its flowering head tracks the sun’s movement. This occurrence is known as “heliotropism.”
In august 2009, I took an interest in growing some sunflowers myself and I was totally in awe and amazed by this beautiful flowers. As usual, I took lots of pictures of my sunflowers. Some of the facts mentioned above, are what I noticed last year when I planted my sunflowers. A flower with about 1,000 to 2,000 individual flowers that are joined together to a base? It is amazing.. Although, I planted the smaller kind called the Evening Sun, I was amazed by the many tiny flowers that grew out of the base head of the sunflower. It was an amazing sight to watch. Out of a single sunflower, you can have up to 2000 seeds? Wow.. I can only tell you that I had a wonderful harvest of sunflower seeds last year. How amazing is that? Science tells you that this flower evolved from Evolution.. out of nothingness creates this amazing flower? How can this even be possible? Through this unique flower, I see the uniqueness of God. He is interested in even the minute details of His creation. Have you ever notice how the colors of the sunflowers come together so beautifully and pleasant to the eyes? Can this once again be explained away by the intelligence of the human minds? Until you begin to plant and watch these flowers develop before your very eyes, you will never come to appreciate the beauty of the uniqueness of this special flower that through the very uniqueness of God, design this flower.
If you remember that another interesting fact about this flower is that it keeps track of the existence of the sun. It turns its head to the source of the sunlight. Even the sunflower recognizes the source of life which is the sun itself. The flower looks for a source much greater than itself. Can we acknowledge the existence of God, the life-giver and creator of all things, great and small? Today, I would like to share a Bible truth with you. The Bible says in Matthew 6:28 – 34
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? “
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. “
This is a great news for those who believe in what He said in the Bible. Does God care about you? Yes, He does! If He took so much trouble to create flowers that bloom today and gone tomorrow, and care for them diligently, wouldn’t He who also created you, not care about you? Guess what? He has already provided a path that leads to life for you when He gave His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for your sins and mine. John 3:16 says:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
So, you ask: What sin have I done? I have not kill or hurt anyone ever before. I have seen men far more worse than me.. It is not just about the wrong you have done against people, but also against Him. Do you believe that God exist? And that He created you? Did you put your trust and faith in the pilot who flew your plane to the destination of your vacation more than Him? Did you trust your natural ability more than trusting Him? Did you trust your possessions more than giving your life to His control? If your answers are Yes, then you have not believe and put your trust in Him. Choose today whom would you give that control of your life to.. is it God or self or the devil? Jesus says today:
“I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father (God) except through me.”John 14:6
He who has the Son (Jesus) has life, he who does not have the Son of God has not life. May you be truly blessed this day!