Category Archives: Acts

mmmm Notre Dame Cathedral: House of God mmmm

mmmm Celebrating Easter with Chocolate Eggs mmmm

Just couldn’t resist all the chocolate in supermarkets

Restricted myself to the mini-eggs this year

#Love to #share & #eat #Chocolate with #family & #friends this #Easter

 

Horrified to see photos & videos of the #NotreDameFire in #Paris in #France yesterday

Notre Dame is the most visited Paris monument with 12,000,000+ visitors annually [1]

It’s one of many fine examples of Gothic architecture in Europe & the Western World.

This #church has national historical importance and a special place in French hearts

Privileged to visit this Paris church as independent travellers many years ago

Smiled as hordes of tourist groups were herded through this iconic building

Many tourists are unaware of the spiritual significance of this cathedral

The official Notre Dame website says it is a “House of God and the abode of men” [2]

 

So what is a “House of God”?

What is the origin of these stone buildings across the Western World?

The origins start with the first temple in Jerusalem in Israel

Before the Israelites settled in this city, God’s presence was symbolised by a tabernacle [3]

King David built his Jerusalem palace & saw that God was still living/dwelling in this tent

He wanted to build a “House of God” to replace the temporary tabernacle

But God responded to David through his prophet Nathan:

“When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne for ever.”
1 Chronicles chapter 17 verses 11-12

So King David’s son Solomon built the temple and declared to God:

“I have built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell for ever.”
2 Chronicles chapter 6 verse 2

At the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed asking:

But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple that I have built!”
2 Chronicles chapter 6 verses 18

What did the Israelites think of the temple?

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.”
Jonah chapter 2 verse 7

“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Habakkuk chapter 2 verse 20

The temple was a place to pray and be silent before God in His dwelling place

 

So what happened to Solomon’s temple?

On the seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.
2 Kings chapter 25 verses 8-9

Less than 400 years after Solomon, his temple was destroyed in 587 BC

The Israelites were then enslaved and taken to Babylon as exiles

However 50 years later, the Israelites were allowed to return to Jerusalem

In 538 BC, King Cyrus declared:

This is what Cyrus king of Persia says, “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them.”
Ezra chapter 1 verses 2-3

God also spoke to the Israelites through his prophet Haggai:

This is what the Lord Almighty says, “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honoured.” says the Lord.
Haggai chapter 1 verses 7-8

The foundations of this Second Temple in Jerusalem were laid in 537 BC

Governor Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem to protect the Second Temple.

When he completed this task, he prayed:

“Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.”
Nehemiah chapter 13 verse 14

 

So what happened to this Second Temple in Jerusalem?

The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and never rebuilt

Jesus famously spoke about the Second Temple:

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in 3 days.’ The Jews replied, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in 3 days?”
But the temple he had spoken of was his body.
John chapter 2 verses 19-21

This is what is celebrated at #Easter:

  • 2000 years ago, Jesus died on the first Good Friday
  • His death symbolised the destruction of the temple and the old ways of the Jewish religion
  • God raised Jesus to life again as the King of the Universe 3 days later
  • Jesus’ resurrection is now celebrated on Easter Sunday worldwide

Jesus’ resurrection body replaced the importance of the Second Temple

Jesus is where we can now meet God through saving grace

We no longer need to go to Jerusalem to pray and worship God

In fact there is now a Mosque on the site of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

 

So what are the roles of cathedrals and church buildings in the 21st Century?

Are they still the “houses of God”?

Followers meet in church buildings to encourage each other by remembering Jesus

But God does not actually “live” in these buildings:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.
Acts chapter 17 verse 24

Instead God now actually “lives” inside His followers:

[Jesus’ follower Paul said] “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”
1 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 16

[Paul continued to say] “For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ “
2 Corinthians chapter 6 verse 16

God now dwells in the hearts of His followers, instead of buildings made of stone

In Australia, some groups of followers do not own their own building

Instead they meet in rented halls and school buildings as their “church” on Sundays

  • The “church” is not actually the physical building
  • The “church” is actually the spiritual community of followers worldwide

 

So is it important to renovate & repair Notre Dame cathedral?

This evening, I heard that already $900 million has been raised for Notre Dame [4]

As long as we remember its spiritual significance in the life of followers this Easter

How to donate to the Notre Dame appeal [5]

Is the physical beauty of your church-building important to you:

  1. Stained Glass Windows
  2. Gothic Architecture
  3. Traditional Wooden Pews

Or do you love the actual church-people inside the building more?

Happy Easter!
Footnotes:

[1] SMH News online (16 April 2019) Macron promises to rebuild, but Paris monument suffers ‘colossal damage’ https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/historic-notre-dame-cathedral-in-paris-catches-fire-20190416-p51eh7.html

[2] “A cathedral of Art and history” http://www.notredamedeparis.fr/en/la-cathedrale/

[3] The tabernacle was the portable “tent of meeting” that moved with the Israelites when they were heading to the Promised Land after escaping Egypt. The tabernacle symbolised God’s Presence with the Israelites. For more info, see the “Tabernacle” article in the New Bible Dictionary (1962, republished 1996) InterVarsity Press: https://www.ivpress.com/new-bible-dictionary

[4] ABC News Radio (17 April 2019) ABC 702AM News bulletin (Sydney, Australia)

[5] How To Donate To Help Rebuild Notre Dame (17 April 2019) https://www.lifehacker.com.au/2019/04/how-to-donate-to-help-rebuild-notre-dame/ 

PS. After I published this blog post last night, I saw the Philanthropy Australia CEO on ABC24 TV evening news (17 April 2019) trying to protect Australian charities from losing funds to Notre Dame. She acknowledged that donors had become “numb” to frequent Emergency Aid appeals and this unique overseas appeal had captured the imagination of the whole world.

So don’t forget your local Aussie NFPs!

mmmm Bible mmmm

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mmmm Day of the LORD mmmm

mmmm Celebrating Christmas with Yumcha Dim Sum mmmm

Yumcha is my favourite food in the whole world!

Also known as Dim Sum: it originates from Cantonese-speaking China & Hong Kong.

This year I celebrated Christmas by sharing Yumcha with friends in Sydney.

Without prompting, my Dad organised another Yumcha Christmas Party with family.

I wish this Yumcha celebration would never end!

In contrast, did you know that our world will come to an end?

Last month, a visitor to my fellowship asked me an eschatological [1] question.

He volunteered his email to receive my answer and so he could ask more questions.

There is global fascination with the Second Coming of Christ and the “End Times”:

  • When will Jesus return?
  • When will the “Day of Judgement” occur?
  • What will the LORD God [2] do on “Judgement Day”?

Judgement Day is known as the “Day of the LORD” in the Bible.

For thousands of years many have speculated when the day of the LORD will occur.

Many have tried to calculate the date unsuccessfully with spectacular failure.

Some even speculate that Jesus will return directly to Jerusalem in the End Times [3].

Is this one reason behind the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by USA [4]?

Australia has also recognised Jerusalem 2 days ago (15 December 2018) [5].

If Jerusalem is in allied hands, will this hasten Jesus’ return & Judgement Day?

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 2

No human political decision can speed up Judgement Day.

The New Testament verse reminds us that this date cannot be calculated.

The day of the LORD will arrive when we least expect it (like a thief in the night).

What else does the Bible say about the day of the LORD?

Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and to destroy its sinners from it.

Isaiah chapter 13 verse 9

That day is the day of the LORD God of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes.

Jeremiah chapter 46 verse 10 part A

For the day is near, the day of the LORD is near; it will be a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.

Ezekiel chapter 30 verse 3

Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near, and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.

Joel chapter 1 verse 15

Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light…

Amos chapter 5 verse 18

For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.

Obadiah chapter 1 verse 15

And on the day of the LORD‘s sacrifice— [Lord God declares] “I will punish the officials and the king’s sons and all who array themselves in foreign attire…

Zephaniah chapter 1 verse 8

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.

Malachi chapter 4 verse 5

The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

Acts chapter 2 verse 20

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

2 Peter chapter 3 verse 10

From these eschatological verses [6] we can see the colourful imagery of the day of the LORD:

  • A day in the future when God will destroy the earth and sinners
  • A day in the not-too-distant-future when God will punish his enemies in all nations
  • A day in the near-future when our past deeds will return to haunt us
  • A day coming soon when God will judge the people of Israel and the whole world

But the Bible also promises salvation to those who trust in Jesus

This is the great hope we celebrate at Christmas:

God loved the world by sending his son Jesus [7] to save sinners in all nations.

Our Father God has graciously given the gift of forgiveness for the whole world.

So Jesus’ followers need not fear the Day of the LORD

But we are to be ready for this day: seek forgiveness for your sins now

One question remains:

Is Jerusalem important to Christians today?

Historically the Jewish people made an annual pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem.

The temple symbolised the LORD God dwelling with His people.

The Jewish temple was destroyed by the Romans soon after Jesus’ death & resurrection.

This temple was never rebuilt (in fact there is now a mosque in its place).

So Christians do not need to make an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Jesus’ followers can worship Father God anywhere on Earth.

Through Jesus we can speak to God in prayer at any time and any place.

Jesus is where we go to meet God (instead of the earthly Jerusalem).

God now dwells inside his followers: we are the new temple!

The joy of Christmas is knowing that we’re on the journey to our real home.

Our real home is with Jesus in the New Jerusalem – the heavenly city [8].

The earthly Jerusalem is currently divided and a flashpoint for conflict [9].

The REAL Jerusalem is in Heaven with Father God where there is eternal peace.

Questions to consider this Christmas:

Are you prepared for Judgement Day?

Have you sought forgiveness for your sins?

Have you discovered the Joy of Salvation available exclusively from Jesus?

For followers: does your family & friends know about the New Jerusalem?

Footnotes:

[1] Eschatology is the study of the “End Times” prophesied in the Bible: this includes the Second Coming of Christ and the Day of Judgement (also known as the Day of the LORD).

[2] In modern translations of the Bible: LORD (in capital letters) refers to the Hebrew name of God: Yahweh/Jehovah. In English, the name of God may be referred to as “The Lord God Almighty”.

[3] The author of this blog does not uphold the Premillenial view of Eschatology. After reading various news articles, the best descriptions of Premillenialism are listed here:
CNN News (14 May 2018): https://edition.cnn.com/2017/12/08/opinions/jerusalem-israel-evangelicals-end-times-butler-bass-opinion/index.html
BBC News (5 January 2018): https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42402350

[4] Last Christmas in my Micah blog (see below with original news article links), I blogged about USA controversially recognising Jerusalem causing immediate global protests. Jerusalem remains an important city to the Israeli/Jewish people today. However Jerusalem is currently a divided city with the Eastern portion belonging to the Palestinian territories (as officially recognised by the United Nations). The Palestinians also claim that Jerusalem is the capital of their territory. So the status of Jerusalem is currently disputed.

[5] On 15 December 2018, Australia recognised both West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and East Jerusalem as the future capital of Palestine. News articles:
BBC News (15 December 2018): https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-46576716
SBS News (15 December 2018): https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-recognises-west-jerusalem-as-israeli-capital-but-embassy-move-on-hold

[6] This is not an exhaustive list. Other “Day of the LORD” references include: Isaiah chapter 13 verse 6; Isaiah chapter 58 verse 13; Ezekiel chapter 13 verse 5; Joel chapter 2 verses 1, 11, 31; Joel chapter 3 verse 14; Amos chapter 5 verse 20; Zephaniah chapter 1 verse 7, 1 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 5; 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 verse 2.

[7] John chapter 3 verse 16

[8] Revelation chapters 21-22 (final chapters in the last book of the Bible)

[9] Useful articles to read about the current divided status of Jerusalem:
Gospel Coalition (16 May 2018): https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-jerusalem/
Reuters News (21 January 2018): https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel-pence-jerusalem-idUSKBN1FA0JL

mmmm Bible mmmm

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mmmm acts 2 mmmm

Mmmm Roast Duck & Orange Salad Mmmm

In Australia, we have amazing fresh produce & restaurant food!

But that’s not the only food that is mouth-watering.

At Bible College this semester, I’m eating the delicious New Testament.

38 Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call.’
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’
41 Those who accepted his message were baptised,
and about 3,000 were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common.
45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Acts 2:38-47

In the book of Acts, we see Peter sharing the good news of Jesus with a large crowd.

3000 listeners decided to repent and accept the gift of salvation.

Their journey of faith did not stop there.

They met regularly in fellowship – this is one of the earliest descriptions of “church” in the Bible.

What did these new Christians when they met together (church)?

  • They listened to the apostles teaching about Jesus and how to live the Christian life.
  • They ate meals together.
  • They prayed together.
  • They shared their possessions and helped each other.
  • They praised God with glad and sincere hearts.

Fast forward 2000 years to today.

Christians still meet together weekly on Sundays in churches across the world.

Those who only go to church twice a year at Christmas & Easter are fooling themselves.

This irregular attendance does not make you Christian or give you eternal life.

Even regular church attendance does not give you eternal life.

Only accepting the forgiveness of Jesus’ death & resurrection gives you entry to heaven.

So what is the purpose of the 21st Century church?

Church gives Christians the opportunity to share their lives together.

We are not called to be private followers of Jesus in isolation.

We are part of a wider community who love God and each other.

So those who think they can live the Christian life without church are WRONG.

  • We need the encouragement of others to keep growing & maturing as Christians.
  • We need the love & prayers of others when we face difficulties in life.
  • We thank God & celebrate together as we overcome obstacles.

Most of all, we continually remind each other of the death & resurrection of Jesus.

  • When was the last time you went to church?
  • Did you hear the Bible read & taught at church?
  • When was the last time you shared a meal with other Christians?
  • When did you last pray with other Christians?

mmmm Bible mmmm

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