Monday, August 25, 2014

The Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, part 2

In Matthew 13: 45,46 Jesus said:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
In part 1 we saw that the kingdom of heaven was like a man (Jesus) finding a treasure (the Jews) in a field (the world). In this next parable the kingdom is likened to a merchant looking for fine peals.

Pearls were not known or valued by Jews at that time (they’re only mentioned once in the Old Testament) so Jesus’ audience was probably frowning at one another at that point though they understood that the Greek word here, margarites, meant pearl or proverb (word of great value).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven, part 1

In Matthew 13: 44 Jesus tells us about the kingdom of heaven:
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
In this verse we have Jesus giving a comparison for what the kingdom of heaven is like. I've found some scholarly debate about what exactly is meant here. I've even found some commentaries condemning the man in verse 44 because he was digging in somebody else’s field so therefore he was really a thief. I don’t think that’s what Jesus was saying. He knew his audience would get this. It was common practice to bury money in fields to keep it safe.

So, who is the man, what is the field, and what is the treasure? You may think that “the man” is us and the “treasure” is Jesus, but we don’t have to buy our salvation – it’s a free gift. I believe the man in the parable is Jesus, the field is the world (as explained in other parables), and the treasure refers to the Jews, to Israel. Here’s why:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Analyzing Isaiah

We’re going to analyze the first three verses of Isaiah 55:             
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 
Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. 
Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
When God issues His invitation to come to Him, He offers water, wine, and milk. There’s a lot of symbolism here so let’s look at that.

Water is one of the most important substances to us. Our bodies are comprised of 60-70% water. The average human can live three days without water, but don’t try that. We have to have water to live. In the Bible water is often a picture of the new birth. When Jesus talked with Nicodemus in John 3:5, Jesus said,
Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in John 4:13-14, He said,
Whosoever drinks of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Jesus promises complete satisfaction to everyone who drinks of the water that He offers. Unlike physical water, which we better not go more than three days without, the spiritual water that Jesus offers will forever satisfy the soul who will take just one sip. Jesus makes this offer in John 7:37, 38:
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
Wine in biblical times was just as important as water. Most of the water was not fit to drink, so wine was added to the water to kill the bacteria and made the water drinkable.

In the Bible, wine is often used as a picture of joy,(Psalm 104:15) and is also a picture of the Holy Spirit, who enters a child of God at the moment of salvation. In 1st Peter 1: 8 it says that when we believe we will be filled with “an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Remember that on the Day of Pentecost, the Jews thought that the Spirit-filled disciples were drunk with new wine (Acts 2:13). Peter told the crowd that these men were not drunk with wine; they were under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Milk, the third item here, is essential for healthy growth. In the Bible milk is a picture of the Word of God (Scripture). God gives us the water of life that saves us, and the Spirit of God that gives us joy, and He also gives us the Word of God, the Bible, that teaches us all about God. The Bible is referred to as milk in 1 Pet. 2:2; 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12-13. So these three things, water, wine, and milk symbolize new birth, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Scriptures.

Now look at the end of verse one: you can buy these three things without money or cost. God places everything as a free gift. He offers salvation and contentment to all who will come to Him free of any charge. (Rev. 22:17)
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Wow, that was a lot. Now let’s get to verse 2: Why spend money on what is not bread? Bread is a symbol of the complete and never-failing provision for our spiritual nourishment. Why spend money on cardboard food? Think about it.

Verses 2 and 3 tell us what will happen if we receive the Lord’s free offer.  First, God promises those who come to Him that their “soul will delight in the richest of fare.” This is a picture of salvation! Secondly, God promises that He will “make an everlasting covenant with you”. What is that covenant? Find it in the rest of the verse: His faithful love!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Parable of the Rich Fool

Read Luke 12: 15-21
Background: Jesus is giving warnings and encouragements to his followers and right in the middle of things somebody in the crowd interrupts with a very self-centered financial statement, a command really. Go back and read verses 13 and 14.

Did you know that Jesus had more to say about material possessions than any other subject? Almost half of the parables that he tells deal with possessions. Something like 15% of the verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke discuss the handling of material goods properly. Now just imagine being so greedy, so at odds with your brother, that you would interrupt Jesus – and he’s talking just to his disciples at that moment, with a crowd of thousands surrounding them – and ask him to help you get more money. Amazing! But so like us today. Do you think this man’s brother is older or younger? I think he’s older since the custom at that time meant the older brother would get double the portion and our greedy guy wants him to divide the inheritance so he’d get half instead of a third.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Analyzing The Parable of the Talents, verse by verse

The Parable of the Talents  (taken from our Bible Study of July 23, 2014)
Matthew 25:14-30 (ASV)
14  For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
15  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey.
16  Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents.
17  In like manner he also that received the two gained other two.
18  But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stephen was Full of Faith and Power

Read Acts 6: 8-15

Let's dissect a single verse, verse 8:
Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.
Stephen is full of grace (many translations have faith) and power. There are 2 Greek words here: pistis and dunamis. You know me, I love, love getting to the root of these words. Pistis means faith. It also refers to Christian doctrine – all that Christianity stands for – the Gospel and especially reliance upon Christ for salvation.  And it also means persuasion (to be persuaded, to come to trust).

Faith (pistis) is a gift from God, and not something that you can produce. There's a difference between belief and faith. Faith is "God's divine persuasion" – and therefore different from human belief. The Lord gives faith; it is the persuasion of His will (read 1st John 5:4).

Friday, July 25, 2014

"Give Unto Caesar" What Does That Mean?

Paying taxes to Caesar
Examining Matthew 22: 15 – 22 “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”
On the last week of Jesus' earthly life, he rode into Jerusalem and was hailed as the Messiah. The people thought he was the conquering hero who would overthrow the Roman oppression. However, the day after they hailed him as Messiah, instead of overthrowing the Romans he overthrew the Jewish religious system, throwing the money-changers out of the temple. They didn't know quite how to take that, but the next day Jesus was back in the temple, teaching on the kingdom and preaching the gospel to a huge crowd of people.
The chief priests and the elders challenged Jesus’ authority, but then when Jesus asked them a question they had to admit they didn't know where John’s baptism came from. They must have been irate, humiliated, and incensed. They started looking for a way to arrest Jesus and probably fumed quietly while Jesus told another parable. Then they went out and laid plans to trap him (snare him, entangle him, literally).

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Most Hated Men

During the time of Jesus in first century Israel, there were publicans and tax collectors who could walk up to a man and tax him for what he was carrying! These tax collectors were hated and despised - well, yeah - but not just because they had their hands in others' pockets (or pouches in those days), but also because the tax collectors were usually fellow Jews who worked for Rome. There were lots of taxes needed to administrate the Roman Empire. The taxes paid for roads, law and order, security, and other benefits.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Facebook Q & A with Authors Tonight

Facebook Event: Q & A with Authors Jamie Canosa and Debra Chapoton

Tonight, July 14, from 7 to 8 Eastern time Creative Prose Publishing is holding an online author event through Facebook.

Come and join in as we answer questions about writing, publishing, and whatever questions come up.

Jamie Canosa is a full time author of YA literature, which she absolutely loves! When she's not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found with her nose in a book. She currently resides in Upstate, NY, with her wonderful husband and three crazy kids . . . plus the dog, the bird and the rabbit. Dissidence is Jamie's first full length novel and a bestseller on Amazon.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

CPP Summer Blastoff!

Creative Prose Publishing is excited to announce our Summer Blastoff!

Throughout the next few months we will be launching several new books as well as reintroducing you to some of our current releases. All of this will culminate in a giant, blow out party at the end of the summer. Refer back here often to keep up on what's coming up. Here is the schedule:
  • June 30: Cover Reveal of Tifani Clark's Shadow of a Life (see it here)
  • July 7: Cover reveal of Rachel Stiber's Elise's Choice
  • July 14: Q&A with authors Jamie Canosa and Debra Chapoton (hey, that's me!)
  • July 28: Launch party and release date for Beginnings, an anthology based on famous first lines*
  • August 11: Launch party and release date for Tifani Clark's Shadow of a Life
  • August 25: Launch party and release date for Rachel Stiber's Elise's Choice
  • September 8: End of Summer Launch party and giveaway, featuring all of our authors
*Beginnings features stories from our writing contest winners, authors: Laurie Treacy, Jamie Canosa, M.M. Roethig, and Candace Gleave

Thank you for stopping by,
Creative Prose Publishing

Saturday, July 5, 2014

When God Gave the Apostles a Green Light

Acts 5: 17 - 33 tells the story of Peter and the Apostles standing up to the Sanhedrin (the authorities) because they knew they were better off obeying God rather than men.

Here's a powerpoint I used in Bible study to get the point across that even if the authorities put up stop signs, threats, and obstacles, if God has given you a go-ahead to proceed, then rest assured that He will switch your enemies' red lights back to green.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Dissecting Psalm 100

Dissecting Psalm 100
1Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
2Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs,
3Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
5For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Who is this psalm for? ALL THE EARTH



What would your shout be? (personal answer here – mine would be HALLELUJAH or HE IS RISEN or PRAISE GOD or JESUS IS KING or THANK YOU, LORD!)

Why should we shout and praise and worship and give thanks? BECAUSE THE LORD IS GOOD AND HIS LOVE ENDURES FOREVER! (verse 5)

When should we do these things? WHEN WE ENTER HIS PRESENCE (church)

Share at least two things for which you are thankful to God. (personal answer here – mine would be FORGIVENESS and MY EYESIGHT)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Who Decided Which Books Go in the Bible?

In 90-95 AD there was a Jewish council called the Council of Jamnia which met to revise the Books of the Canon, i.e., the Old Testament. The word “canon” comes from the root word “reed”. The reed was used as a measuring rod and came to have the added meaning of “standard”. Hence the word “canon” implies that for a book to be added to Scripture it had to meet the standard.

The next question would be: what are the standards for a book, say Lamentations, Job, Malachi, etc., to be included in the Old Testament?

1. The books had to conform to the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch means the first five books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. 
2. The books had to be written in Hebrew. 
3. The books had to be written in Palestine.
4. The books had to be written before 400 B.C.

Wouldn’t you like to know how many and which books didn’t make it? I’ll tell you: fourteen books, known as the Apocrypha were removed. The books in the Apocrypha were never quoted by Jesus, or any of the New Testament authors.

Jesus gave divine endorsement to the Old Testament Canon in Luke 24: 44:

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”