Pope Francis in United Arab Emirates (2019)

We must carefully listen to what leaders are saying to “the masses” and pray for discernment. I agree with the pope when he said, “… that God does not require ‘superhuman’ gestures … “He asked us to produce just one work of art, possible for everyone: our own life.”

However, there is something within this clip that does not stand up to the truth pf God’s Word. See if you can identify what stood out to me …

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Abu Dhabi

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/05/19, 10:39 am

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Abu Dhabi

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/05/19, 10:39 am

Pope Francis on Tuesday wrapped up his papal visit to the United Arab Emirates by celebrating Mass in Abu Dhabi, calling on the people to remain humble in their service to God. About 180,000 people turned out at the Zayed Sports City Stadium for the largest Christian gathering on the Arabian Peninsula, Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said. The attendees included nationals from 100 countries and some 4,000 Muslims, according to organizers.

During his homily, Francis encouraged the faithful, many of them manual laborers, that God does not require “superhuman” gestures from them. “He asked us to produce just one work of art, possible for everyone: our own life,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Francis visited and prayed with attendees at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Abu Dhabi. On Monday, he met with official and religious leaders after a grand reception from the country. He encouraged them to reject war and resist “the arming of borders, the raising of walls,” adding, “There is no alternative: We will either build the future together or there will be no future.”

Did you notice this line: “He encouraged them to reject war and resist the arming of borders, the raising of walls, adding, ‘There is no alternative: We will either build the future together or there will be no future.’”

I’m left wondering, when are they going to tear down the walls that surround the Vatican? And, who was he specifically speaking to when he said, “WE will either build the future together or …”?

Anyone who has read the Old Testament or relevant sections of it will realize that the argument against President Trump’s call for a border wall does not coincide with Scripture. Perhaps some extra-biblical literature that I’m unaware of?

It’s important not to pick and choose verses in the Bible that support a particular point or opinion. ALWAYS look at the context from which a quote is taken.

NHIM, Paula

 

21. John’s perspective on his best friend’s death

A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …

John was Jesus’ most trusted friend. He did not write his gospel account in first person (using the word “I”). Instead, when referring to himself, he wrote “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23, 19:26, 20:2, 21:20).

John testified to what he saw and heard during the seder meal that the Twelve shared at the beginning of that fateful night. He wrote down many of the hopeful and encouraging truths that Jesus shared at that gathering. Here are a few of the highlights …

  • [Jesus speaking] “‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.’
    Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?’Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.’”  (John 14:1-7, NIV)
  • [Jesus speaking]  “If you love me, keep my commands.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him,because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.  Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 15-21, NIV)
  • [Jesus speaking] “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 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.” (John 14:25-27, NIV)
  • [Jesus speaking] “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble.But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV)

John was the only disciple who was with Jesus during his mock trials. He actually stood at the foot of the cross and watched as his best friend was dying a horrific death. Jesus charged John with the care of his mother before he died. Not his half-brothers. Not his half-sisters. Not his mother’s good friend. But his disciple and most trusted friend, John. (John 19:25-27)

Here is John’s account of what he witnessed …

“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull(which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle….

“When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.

“’Let’s not tear it,’ they said to one another. ‘Let’s decide by lot who will get it.’

This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

‘They divided my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.’ [Psalm 22:18]

“So this is what the soldiers did….

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.  But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: ‘Not one of his bones will be broken,’ [Psalm 34:20] and, as another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one they have pierced’ [Zechariah 12:10].”

(John 19:16-37, NIV)

 

 SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:  I have a plaque on my wall that I treasure. It reads: “Every prophecy of God that spoke about the coming Messiah was perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ.”  To that I say, AMEN!

20. The Judas connection

A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …

I saw “Jesus Christ Superstar” at an outdoor amphitheater back in the mid-1990’s. No one had prepared me for what I witnessed. I just sat there — off to the side — and wept. The next day, someone explained to me that the story was told “through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.” And I wept again.

For those who have never heard the biblical account, here are portions of Matthew’s testimony and John’s testimony concerning the relationship they observed between the Savior and His betrayer …

Here is testimony from Matthew, the tax collector chosen by Jesus to be one of the Twelve …

[Before the last supper gathering] Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests  and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver [Zechariah 11:12]. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. (Matthew 26:14-16, NIV)

 

Testimony from John (Jesus’ most trusted friend):

… many of [Jesus’] disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”

 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

“’You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.

Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!  (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)  (John 6:66-71, NIV)

More from  eyewitness John …

[Jesus speaking at the last supper with the Twelve] “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me [Psalm 41:9].’

I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved [John, Jesus’ best friend], was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.”

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus answered, It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot.  As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.

So Jesus told him [Judas], ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. (John 13:18-30, NIV)

John continues after the seder supper was finished and Jesus had spent time praying in the Garden of Gethsemane …

When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.

Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”  This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: ‘I have not lost one of those you gave me. [John 6:39]

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

Jesus commanded Peter, Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”  (John 18:1-11, NIV) [See the prophecy connection in Zechariah 13:7.]

Eyewitness Matthew documented what happened to Judas after he led the detachment of soldiers and officials to Jesus …

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

The chief priests picked up the coins and said, ‘It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.’  So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day.  Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled:They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me. [Jeremiah 18:12; Zechariah 11:12-13]

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Judas sold out his Teacher and friend for thirty pieces of silver — the price of a slave in that culture at that time in history. After Jesus was arrested, Judas had second thoughts and threw the money into the temple before hanging himself in despair.

Over 500 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Zechariah foretold this:

I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they gave me thirty pieces of silver.

And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter” — a handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter. (Zechariah 11:12-13, NIV)

I call that a “prophecy connection” and proof that the Lord God orchestrated all the events that will eventually lead to everlasting life with Him for those who believe the truth about Jesus Christ, “Superstar”!

 

 

19. The scheme against Jesus

A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …

For many believers, Jesus has the reputation of being soft and against conflict of any kind.  However, if you read the gospel accounts of His ministry, you’ll find that this simply isn’t so.  As a matter of fact, the Son of God seemed to go out of his way to boldly criticize and irritate the religious and political authorities of His day. Here are a few examples …

Some Pharisees and teachers of the Law [of Moses] said to Jesus, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.”

He answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign!”  (Matthew 12:38-39, NIV)

*   *   *

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.” (Luke 12:1, NIV)

*   *   *

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. … When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me! … The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”  (John 8:42-45, NIV)

*   *   *

One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him.Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me: John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin?”

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

Jesus said,Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

*   *   *

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. (Matthew 26:3-4, NIV)

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: 

Jesus said:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
   a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”  (Matthew 10:34-39, NIV)

Do you believe it?

18. Foreshadows

A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …

Any writer of fiction knows that weaving “foreshadows” into a story makes it stronger and more believable, especially when it comes time to reveal the ending. The “Jesus story” takes full advantage of that technique. The difference is that it is NOT fiction.

The obvious FORESHADOWS are in the form of ANCIENT PROPHECIES that have found fulfillment in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Less obvious FORESHADOWS are concealed within the ACTIONS and WORDS of JESUS during the three years of his ministry. Since we have the advantage of hindsight — unlike His those disciples who knew Him personally — we can recognize many of the “clues” that the Lord God saw fit to give us in advance of important events. . . . 

1. JESUS WAS DESIGNATED “THE LAMB OF GOD”:  Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was the first to recognize and declare that Jesus IS “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). As He hung on the cross from 9 am to 3 pm, the Passover lambs were bound and waiting to be slaughtered to remove the past sins of the Jewish people.

2. JESUS WAS TEMPTED BY SATAN AND PREVAILED: Satan’s goal is to derail God’s plan to save individuals from spending eternity with him (Satan). The devil tried many different ways to make that happen (see Luke 4), including tempting the Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses to arrest and kill the Son of God. But Satan didn’t “get it” — that Jesus’ death would result in eternal life with God for all those who believe in Him . God’s plan ended as he had ordained it “from the creation of the world” (John 17:24-26).

3. JESUS TAUGHT ABOUT THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF ACHIEVING PERFECTION: Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But His teachings often seemed impossible to accomplish! Like measuring sticks, His words were meant to show people how very small we are and how BIG God is! Without Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and following resurrection, it is impossible to be like God! (See Hebrews 2.)

4. JESUS RAISED SELECTED PEOPLE FROM A STATE OF DEATH: Jesus demonstrated that He IS God by raising numerous people from the dead. Most notable was a man named Lazarus. Lazarus had died and been in his tomb for four days when Jesus arrived and said, “Lazarus come out!” And Lazarus did, foreshadowing the fact that Jesus’ resurrection would be accomplished by God, just like that of Lazarus! (See the details in John 11:1-44.)

5. JESUS FORETOLD DETAILS CONCERNING HIS OWN DEATH AND RESURRECTION: THREE TIMES, Jesus told His disciples that He would be arrested and crucified and on the THIRD DAY He would rise. (Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:18-19) … And that’s exactly what happened!

6. JESUS GAVE A TIMELINE OF END TIMES EVENTS: In Matthew 24, Jesus gave an outline of what would happen in the future at the time of His second coming. In Revelation 6, Jesus also gave corroborating details to His best friend John that parallel what He said in Matthew 24!

7. JESUS PREDICTED HIS DISCIPLES’ BETRAYAL: Jesus said to those closest to Him: “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered’ [foretold by Zechariah 13:7]” (Mark 14:27). When Jesus was arrested, all of His followers ran away. Only John returned and followed Jesus complete journey  to the cross!

Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him. He knew how brutally painful death by crucifixion would be. In His humanity, He pleaded with His heavenly Father to take away “the cup” that would be His to drink — in other words, the horror of the torment His human body was about to suffer. But then He said: “Yet not what I will, but what you will”  (Mark 14:36).

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Jesus “foreshadowed” that “the gate is broad and the road is wide that leads to destruction, BUT small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

He believed in a literal hell: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28, NIV)

Do you believe it?

17. Jesus predicted His own death!

A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …

The number THREE is very important in God’s revealing of prophetic events. For example, Jesus told His disciples THREE TIMES that he was going to be killed and rise on the THIRD DAY following His death. . . .

Testimony from Matthew, one of the Twelve closest disciples of Jesus:

#1:  [Jesus speaking to Peter]  “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.   (Matthew 16:15-21, NIV)

*   *   *

#2:  When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.  (Matthew 17:22-23, NIV)

*   *   *

#3: Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20 :17-19, NIV)

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: If Jesus knew in advance that He would be crucified, why didn’t He take his fate in hand and choose NOT to go through with it? (Find the answer in Matthew 26:36-42.)

“Very truly I tell you,

you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices.

You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.”

— Jesus (John 16:20, NIV)

16. Faith in the military

A Bible Study by Paula Yingst …

Several years ago, I clipped a newspaper photo of a group of soldiers huddled in a prayer circle. I treasure that picture because it not only encourages me to pray for believers in military units around the world, it brings to mind something amazing that happened as Jesus journeyed to the cross …

“When Yeshua [Jesus] had finished speaking to the people, he went back to K’far-Nachum [Capernaum].

A Roman army officer [a centurion] there had a servant he regarded highly, who was sick to the point of death. Hearing about Yeshua, the officer sent some Jewish elders to him with the request that he come and heal his servant. They came to Yeshua and pleaded earnestly with him, ‘He really deserves to have you do this, for he loves our people — in fact, he built the synagogue for us!’

“So Yeshua went with them. He had not gone far from the house, when the officer sent friends who said to him, ‘Sir, don’t trouble yourself. I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof — this is why I didn’t presume to approach you myself. Instead, just give a command and let my servant recover. For I too am a man set under authority. I have soldiers under me; and I say to this one, “Go!” and he goes; and to another, “Come!” and he comes; and to my slave, “Do this!” and he does it.’

Yeshua was astonished at him when he heard this; and he turned and said to the crowd following him, ‘I tell you, not even in Isra’el have I found such trust!’

“When the messengers got back to the officer’s house, they found the servant in good health.

(Luke 7:1-10, The Complete Jewish Bible)

In this passage lies an important fact that I don’t remember being taught in Sunday school — the Roman soldier did not meet with Jesus face-to-face! Sincere humility discouraged him from personally approaching the Jewish Son of God with his request. The centurion didn’t touch Jesus’ robe or plead with Him for a miracle. He simply communicated that there was a desperate need — not for his own benefit, but on behalf of his very ill servant.

 

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:  When comparing the New International Version with The Complete Jewish Bible translation of this passage into English, two words are used to describe the centurion’s state of mind in that moment: “faith” and “trust.” Is one easier to comprehend than the other?