Saturday, June 30, 2018

Christ Through the Bible- Mark

Text: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; MARK 1:1

The gospel begins with a definitive statement concerning Jesus’ identity in Mark 1:1.  Mark states this is the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  He ends his introduction with the divine affirmation from God the Father, who states Jesus is His beloved son, and He is well pleased with Him.  All through the gospel, Mark addresses the identity of Jesus.   The debate among the people of who Jesus was brought about the question from Jesus to His disciple as who the people thought He was?  Then Jesus asked His disciple who they thought He was, to which Peter replies, Thou art the Christ.  The identity of Jesus is revealed by God the Father or demons, but Jesus himself tries to conceal it.  Even after the confession of Peter Jesus command His disciple not to reveal to anyone His identity.  The identity of Christ is important to Mark.  Even at Jesus’ trial, the question of Jesus’ identity is asked by the High Priest, Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?  At his death, the identity of Jesus is again a subject of Mark when a Roman centurion says, Truly, this man was the Son of God.  It would seem the purpose of Mark’s gospel was to show the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.

The Gospel According to Mark is one of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and burial and the discovery of the empty tomb – there is no genealogy of Jesus or birth narrative, nor, in the original ending at chapter 16, any post-resurrection appearances. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. Jesus is also the Son of God.

Mark is commonly believed to be written for a Roman audience, mainly because of his emphasis on action and the omission of details of lesser interest to them. Mark's Gospel was written for the benefit of a Greek/Roman readership. It contains relatively few references to Old Testament prophecies, explains some Jewish words and practices, and is fast-paced and to the point about Christ as a servant to man, rather than the King of the Jews. It contains fewer (or shorter versions) of Jesus' discourses, focusing instead on His miracles and compassion.

Mark’s style and approach indicate he most likely wrote for a Roman audience. This is deduced by both his method of showing action and activity and his lack of reference to Old Testament prophecy (which would have required lengthy explanations to a Roman audience) or Jewish religious customs.
The book presents Christ as the suffering servant yet, as a mighty Savior. This would appeal to a Roman reader. Mark provided a compelling story of success, then failure, despair, and hope. At the same time, Mark's Gospel is careful not to apportion blame for the crucifixion of Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, making it clear that he was a reluctant judge, who committed Jesus to execution under duress. Mark further endears itself to the Romans by stating, "Give unto Caesar, that which is Caesar's..." (Mark 12:17). Mark's story was not a threat to the Roman empire, and it was safe for Romans to associate with the gospel. Of course, what he wrote was also intended for all who want to know more about Jesus Christ and His life and work, down to the present day. 

 Jesus is also introduced in 1:1 as the Son of God.  This is confirmed in 1:11 by the voice from heaven during Jesus‟ baptism.  The demons address Jesus as Son of God, e.g., in 3:11 and 5:7.  We see the messianic secret coming into play again in 1:34 and 3:12 when Jesus would not allow the demons to make his identity known.  When the demons address Jesus as Son of God during an exorcism, it shows Jesus‟ authority as Son of God.  In 9:7 once again a voice from heaven affirms during the Transfiguration that Jesus is the Son of God.  In 14:61 during the trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus was asked if he was the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One, and he answered affirmatively.  While on the cross Jesus was mocked as Messiah/Christ and king of Israel by the Jewish religious authorities in 15:32 but a Roman centurion correctly declared, “In truth, this man was the Son of God” (15:39).  The readers of Mark knew from the statement in 1:1 that Jesus was the Son of God but by the end of the Gospel many of those who knew Jesus in the flesh, excluding the Jewish authorities, knew that he was the Son of God.  This may have some connection with a plot structure used in some ancient dramas whereby the audience knew the truth from the beginning, but the characters in the show gradually came to learn the truth as the scene evolved.  Also note that both titles, Christ and Son of God, come together while Jesus is on the cross, 15:32 and 15:39.  Mark is saying that we cannot understand Jesus as Messiah/Christ or Son of God apart from his suffering on the cross.  It is intrinsic to Jesus as Christ and Son of God.  

 This is the only title that Jesus uses to describe himself in Mark.  To understand what Jesus meant by using this title of himself it is essential to know what those who heard Jesus would automatically assume when they heard Jesus describe himself as the Son of Man.  While some would say it meant different things it seems to me that above all it refers to Jesus as Messiah.  Please read now Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14.  Note the description of the Son of Man in Dan 7:13-14.  It is a description of a glorious Messiah.  So this title, like Christ and Messiah, is also a title to refer to the expected Messiah.  So when Jesus uses this title, he is admitting that he is the anticipated Messiah.  But notice when Jesus uses this title.  He uses this title in the three passion predictions.  Read them once again in the teaching section, 8:22-10:52.  Once again we see Jesus teaching that the expected Messiah would be a suffering Messiah, not the type of Messiah they had expected.  
Son of David‟ was the chief title in use to describe the expected Messiah at the time of Jesus.  This is because they knew the Messiah would be a descendant of King David.  The prophet Nathan had made this promise to David in 2 Sam 7:4-17.  Read that passage now.  When Jesus entered Jerusalem, there was a suggestion that he was that Son of David in 11:10.  „Son of David‟ was used at the time of Jesus to describe an earthly messiah, a king or great ruler who would free Palestine from Roman occupation.  Once again, therefore, Jesus had to teach the true meaning of the Son of David which he did in a difficult passage in 12:35-37.  In this obscure passage, Jesus is saying that the Son of David is Lord of David due to his resurrection and will sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  (The Lord, i.e., the Father, said to my Lord, i.e., the Son of David, Jesus, to take his seat at his right hand and the enemies of the Son of David will be as a stool for under his feet through his resurrection).  Do you think the scribes and the people could have understood what Jesus meant when he spoke this?  No way.  This would have become clear only after Jesus‟ resurrection and ascension.  That is why it is explained only in Acts 2:34.  It could not have been said before Jesus took his seat at the right hand of his Father in heaven! 

Jesus can no longer teach within the towns because of the size of the crowds, so He uses the open areas around the Sea of Galilee as His auditorium. His audience gathered around Him, Jesus begins to teach in parables. Jesus teaches several "kingdom parables." These are parables that help to define the Kingdom of God that is coming. The Kingdom parables in Mark's Gospel include the "Parable of the Sower," the "Seed that Grows Itself," and the parable of the "Mustard Seed."

Like the prophets of old, Jesus uses topics of everyday life in making comparisons to illustrate His teaching points that reveal "the mysteries of the Kingdom of God" (4:11). Mark will use the words "kingdom of God" fifteen times in Mark's Gospel and the term "kingdom of our Father" once (Mk 1:14, 15; 4:11, 26, 30; 9:1, 47; 10:14, 15, 23, 24, 25; 12:34; 14:25; 15:43; "kingdom of our Father" in 11:10). Notice that Jesus begins by commanding the crowd to "Hear/Listen" in verse 3 and He will end the parable with the same command in verse 9. The command to "hear" will be repeated by Jesus five times (Mk 4:3, 9, 23 twice and 24). The reason He begins and ends the parable in this way will become clear in Mark 4:12 when He quotes from Isaiah 6:9-10.  There may also be a connection to God's command in Deuteronomy 6:4, known to the covenant people as the Shema, which begins: Hear, O Israel!" The people are commanded not to respond to Him with closed ears and eyes in the way their ancestors failed to respond to the message of God delivered by His prophet Isaiah. To "hear" means to absorb and to appropriate Jesus' words by responding with open hearts to understand His message and His mission, and their understanding must transform them and redirect their path in life.
Jesus first parable is about sowing seeds in different kinds of soil; it is a prevalent topic for the 1st century AD farming culture where broadcasting seed over a wide area that would be plowed into the ground later was a common practice. Every element in the parable is symbolic.
Question: What does the seed represent in Jesus' parable?  Mk 4:14 and Lk 8:11.
Answer: The seed is the "word of God," the Gospel message of salvation. It is the same message broadcast to every person within the scope of Jesus' teaching.
Question: Who is the sower of the seed in the parable?
Answer: Jesus is the sower. Jesus' teaching plants seeds of faith, like the sower in His parable.
Question: What do the different soil conditions where the seed is sown represent?
Answer: The different kinds of soil represent the different types of human response to Jesus' message of salvation in the coming of the Kingdom. 

The seed was sown on the path, unfortunately, doesn’t even get a chance to sprout because it didn’t land on soil that would prepare it to grow. There was a lack of understanding, and the evil one stole away the word of God. I cannot emphases the importance of background knowledge. There must be some knowledge before we understand.

Do we ever reject part of the message of the Gospel because we do not understand it?

Do we say we are Christians but due to lack of understanding of what the Bible teaches we support ideas and concepts that are contrary to the Word of God?  We lack the understanding why same-sex marriage, abortion, transhumanism, pre-marital sex or a whole host of other issues Christians are to avoid.  We cannot see the dangers of these issues to our self and our culture.  Because of our ignorance of the Word of God, we think we know better.

There are reasons why the Church teaches what she does. Have we allowed prejudice or lack of understanding to prevent us from seeking to understand, and so reject part of the Gospel? Whenever we deny part of the message of the Gospel, to use the words of Jesus today, the evil one has stolen the word from our heart.

The seed sown on rocky ground does get to sprout but when the cross comes – “tribulation or persecution” - we give up.  "I tried Jesus, but He didn't do anything for me."  Did you experience the joy of sins forgiven, the burden of guilt lifted, but we quickly went back to our old way of life because we could not see beyond some temporary difficulty or disappointment?

 The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but worldly anxiety and lure of riches hinder our hearts from being receptive to Jesus. Are there times when we are too busy to pray? Have we missed church because we were too busy or made up some other excuse? Are we too busy to study the Bible? Whenever we put worldly anxiety and lure of riches before God, the word dies.
 Finally, the fourth type of person is the one who hears the word and understands it, who bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. (Matt 13:23)

 We each in many ways hear the word, understand it and bear fruit. There are times in our life when some of these four types of people are seen in us. We could be all four of these persons at once, or predominantly one of these types of person for a particular time of life. Let us do some spiritual cardiac surgery on our hearts so that misunderstanding and prejudice, or disappointment, or worldly anxiety and the lure of riches will not render our hearts unfertile soil for the Jesus‟ words so that we do not grieve the Holy Spirit.

Another application of the parable is that 100% success is not guaranteed in life.  Some things will go wrong.  There is only so much that we can do, leave the rest to God.  Jesus did not have 100% success in his ministry or 100% success in teaching the Twelve.  All the Twelve received the same teaching from Jesus and experienced the love of God through him.  Not all produced the same type of fruit.  Judas betrayed him and committed suicide and Peter denied him but recovered again.  Parents raising families also have the same experience.  Some children turn out differently to others.   If all the seed that we sow does not produce good fruit, we need to understand this is the reality of life and not give up.

Where is your relationship with Jesus Christ?  Has the seed taken root and growing or has the hard heart of sin kept the seed from growing?

Stop Justifying Racism

Several years ago, I became acquainted with a family that believed that the curse Noah put on Ham was that he would be black and a slave.  This family thought that all blacks were without a soul.  I had one discussion with this family and explained that Ham was not cursed it was Canaan that was cursed, and that it had nothing to do with his skin color.   They told me I did not understand the Bible.  I never met with them again.
We had a missionary friend from Hatti that was to be the speaker at a Camp Meeting.  There was a family in attendance who left the meeting when he got up to speak because he was black.  My father talked to them later, and they informed him that blacks have no soul and they would not listen to someone even God had cursed.
Several religions have used the “curse” of Ham to justify their actions.  For years the Dutch Reform Church justified apartheid because of the misinterpretation of the Noah cursed.  Both Ham and Canaan were given a mark believed to be a black skin.  They were to be slaves of slaves and servants of servants.  The “curse of Ham” has been used by all three Abrahamic religions to justify racism and enslavement.  In 1994, the Dutch Reform Church admitted their theory was flawed and apologized.
Another religion that used the “curse of Ham” to justify their doctrine was the Mormon (LDS) Church. Mormonism’s use of the biblical text was intertwined with its own canonized holy works from the mouth of its founder Joseph Smith, who believed that blacks were the descendants of Ham. But Mormons gave further interpretations to the curse on Black people. In addition to the curse of Ham, which is the only Latter-Day Saint scripture used to justify the enslavement of black people explicitly, a belief emerged that the origins of the curse began with Cain for having committed the world’s first murder against his brother, Abel. God’s displeasure with Cain caused a cursing to fall upon him, which many LDS believe was the skin of blackness. And still, new dogma was created in the LDS Church when contemporary Mormon leaders developed racist insights into the descendants of Ham and Cain by spreading the theory that perhaps Blacks could not decide who to serve in the great war in heaven between Michael, the archangel, and Lucifer, the son of the morning. These differing interpretations of why Blacks were denied the priesthood in the Mormon faith were nothing more than racist creations to serve as a justification of bigotry. In 1978, they did change their position but did not address their mistreatment of Blacks.
There has been in Christianity the justification of racial mistreatment, using the Bible to validate doctrines that reduce people to a commodity or devalue them as humans.  For many Christians today, this is unacceptable and is not what Christianity is about.  Even though there are those, who attach racism to any disagreement that may take place with people of color racism is still a reality.
One of the areas of racism that is ignored by many evangelicals is in the relationship of those who are viewed as a hindrance to the fulfillment of end time prophecy. 
How would you feel if I were to stand in the pulpit on Sunday, and preach that Christians have the right to take the life of non-Christian? That the soul of the non-believer is inferior, totally evil, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and that a Christian has the right to take vital organs from these non-believers to keep themselves alive, and that I am not required to help a non-believer even if they are dying.  The life of a Christian is of far higher value in the sight of God than the non-believers.  What do you think people would say about my message?  This is precisely what is being used to justify the killing of those in Palestine who are being driven from their homes. What is sad it that evangelical Christian are silent because they have listened to those who have interrupted the Scriptures wrong. Many Christians believe that if we stand with those who are carrying out these acts of violence that God will bless us.  So, let me ask how is that working out?
Evangelical Christians can turn a blind eye to genocide and justify ignoring the atrocities by “God’s Chosen People” by saying we must bless them or God will curse us.  Jesus did not bless them, He identified them for who they were-- children of the devil, worshipper of the Synagogue of Satan and that He would be bringing judgment upon them for their wickedness and disobedience.
It is time that Christians realize that the LORD Jesus Christ died for “whosoever” and forget about who is worthy and who is not fit to be blessed by the LORD. It is not for us to determine who is to be saved and who is to be lost.  We must give the message of salvation to everyone and pray they accept the gift of salvation.   As a Christian stop justifying racist violence because you think God will bless you.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A History of War And Bloodshed

I do not know how to reach people with the message that the judgment of God is about to come upon the world.  Sometimes I feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness, and no one is around.  Our world is changing and not for the better. World conflicts are increasing, and the unrest in our country is growing daily.  I sometimes get the “roll your eyes” look from people when I tell them that in the next few years you better enjoy what you have because the world is going to be turned into a literal hell.  Telling Christians that there will be no “Rapture” to take you out of the trouble that is coming, and they will avoid you as if you were the Antichrist.  Try telling them that war is coming, and they will dismiss you as one of those crazy sign holders that say, REPENT THE END IS NEAR

I should give you this warning if you have bought into the Syi-Fi teachings that God will not judge America, or true believers will not suffer the judgment coming on the nation, then I would recommend that you stop reading and go back to watching your favorite sports channel or whatever you do to entertain yourself.  There is no point in reading this post. It will bring nothing but frustration and anger into your life. 

Let me start with just a little history lesson concerning the past few years.  The world is more violent today than it was 20 years ago.  Looking at just our country, the land of free, home of the brave, where we are living the dream.  While you are in discussion with the young kid at Starbucks about your “coffee,” or you are concerned about how you are going to pay for your new car, boat, house or the next vacation, remember there are people in the world that our country is destroying their way of life.  These people are some of the poorest people in the world and would be happy to have a cup of coffee or even have a house to sleep in, but our government has taken that away from them under the guise of protecting you.

Those who know me will tell you I am not, nor do I claim to be an “expert” in prophecies of the Bible.  I have no book to sell no DVD’s or CD’s.  I am not trying to develop a following of people based on what is happening in the end times.  I am only sharing what is happening now.  So many “experts” talk about the future and fail to see this is the future today.  I share this, so you will be aware of what is coming.

I guess it depends on who you talk to about the number of wars, conflicts, and acts of aggression the US government has been involved in since 1776. Regardless of your definition of what constitutes war, a conflict, or an act of aggression, the US government is not a peaceful nation.  In the 242 years of our existence, there have been only about 18 years without war, conflict or act of aggression on the part of our government.

We live in a state of perpetual war, and we never feel it. Those living today in America have not been free from war, conflicts or acts of aggression, even if you were born in 1908, making you 110 years old your life has not been free from the impact of these acts of violence.

I have grandchildren whose entire lives have been shadowed by the “War on Terror.”  The War on Terror, also known as the Global War on Terrorism, is an international military campaign that was launched by the United States government after the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001. There is no actual declared war.  Congress must vote to declare war.  The president cannot declare war even though he is the Commander-in-Chief of the military.  The “war on terrorism” was “declared” by George W. Bush on September 16, 2001.

This undeclared war has allowed the US government to overthrow the sovereign nations of Afghanistan. Iraq, and Libya.  All this is happening now, and most Americas do not give it a single thought.  When it comes to wars, we Americans have a selective memory. The Afghan war, dating from October 2001, has earned the distinction of having been forgotten while still underway. The United States toppled the Taliban in Afghanistan but gave little thought about how to stabilize the country. Supported initially by Canada in the form of JTF2 and the United Kingdom, the US was later joined by the rest of NATO, beginning in 2003. Its public aims were to dismantle al-Qaeda and to deny it a safe base of operations in Afghanistan by removing the Taliban from power.

Here is a recent report on the “War in Afghanistan” that should concern every American taxpayer. Despite appropriating over three-quarters of a trillion dollars on Afghanistan since 2001, Afghan security forces continue to be plagued by the problem of inflated rolls, with local commanders pocketing American-supplied funds to pay for nonexistent soldiers.

Large-scale corruption persists, with Afghanistan third from the bottom in international rankings, ahead of only Somalia and North Korea. When adjusted for inflation, American spending to reconstruct Afghanistan now exceeds the total expended to rebuild all Western Europe under the Marshall Plan; yet to have any hope of surviving, the Afghan government will for the foreseeable future remain almost entirely dependent on outside support.  The US government still has troops in Afghanistan.

The Iraq War was a protracted armed conflict that began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by a United States-led coalition that overthrew the government of Saddam Hussein. It had nothing to do with the retaliation of the 9/11 attack.

The Bush administration was eager to overthrow Saddam Hussein and equally determined to avoid getting bogged down in a prolonged nation-building mission in Iraq. The result was a “small-footprint” invasion plan aimed at leaving as quickly as possible. There was little or no preparation for the eventual collapse of Iraqi institutions, widespread looting, or an organized insurgency.  The invasion of Iraq led to the destabilization of the Middle-East and the rise of ISIS.  We still have troops in Iraq.

The Libya intervention marked the third time that Washington embraced regime change and then failed to plan for the consequences.

In Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, Washington toppled regimes and then failed to plan for a new government or construct active local forces—with the net result being over 7,000 dead U.S. soldiers, tens of thousands of injured troops, trillions of dollars expended, untold thousands of civilian fatalities, and three Islamic countries in various states of disorder. We might be able to explain a one-off failure regarding allies screwing up. But three times in a decade suggests a broader pattern in the American way of war.

Why did we go to “war” with Libya? Some critics of Western military intervention suggested that resources—not democratic or humanitarian concerns—were the real motivation for the intervention. [Look at who now controls the banks and oil reserves] Despite its relatively small population, Libya was known to possess vast resources, particularly in the form of oil reserves and financial capital.   Libya is a member of OPEC and one of the world's largest oil producers. It was producing roughly 1.6 million barrels a day before the war, nearly 70 percent of them through the state-owned National Oil Corporation.  Additionally, the country's sovereign wealth fund, the Libyan Investment Authority, was one of the largest in the world, controlling assets worth approximately US$56 billion, including over 100 tons of gold reserves in the Central Bank of Libya.

I find it interesting that the same storyline used for the war on Iraq was used for Libya.  The US government pushed the war on Iraq with the perception of Saddam Hussein as an evil madman who even committed atrocities against his people and had to be stopped.” The major media's appetite for this “killing-his-own-people” line is textbook CIA propaganda and belies the fact that the “uprising” in Libya wasn't a popular uprising because his people loved Gaddafi.

The same storyline is being used in Syria “killing-his-own-people” how many times will we fall for this lie?  In every case, the US government has entered a sovereign nation under the UN’s protection of civilians.  It seems this is only used when it involves a country that does not bow to the will of the US government regarding banking and oil.  Check it out.

The cost of dropping bombs on the countries that support “terror” could solve the decaying roads, bridges, water systems, sewage systems and the electrical grid in America.  Since 9/11 we have been dropping bombs on countries we are not even “at war” with and who have never been a threat to us.

President George W. Bush’s military dropped 70,000 bombs on five countries. But of that excessive number, only 57 of those bombs upset the international community.  Because there were 57 strikes in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen—countries the U.S. was neither at war with nor had an ongoing conflict. And the world was horrified. There was a lot of talks that went something like, “Wait a second. Are we bombing in countries outside of war zones?  That was the end of the conversation.

Looking back at President Obama’s legacy, the Council on Foreign Relation’s Micah Zenko added up the defense department’s data on airstrikes and made a startling revelation: in 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs.  That is 72 bombs every day. He bombed some of the poorest people on earth, in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan. The total for Obama’s presidency to over 100,000 bombs and missiles striking seven countries, surpassing the 70,000 unleashed on five nations by George W. Bush.

Where does Trumps stand on dropping bombs? The U.S. has said it dropped over 2,400 bombs on Afghanistan, up from 1,337 last year. In the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. has already dropped 32,801 bombs.

In Iraq and Syria, data shows that the United States is dropping bombs at unprecedented levels. In July 2017, the coalition to defeat the Islamic State, the United States dropped 4,313 bombs, 77 percent more than it dropped in July 2016.  June, the number was 4,848 — 1,600 more bombs that were dropped in any one month under President Barack Obama since the anti-ISIS campaign started.

In Afghanistan, the number of weapons released has also shot up since Trump took office. April saw more bombs dropped in the country since the height of Obama’s troop surge in 2012. That was also the month that the United States bombed Afghanistan’s Mamand Valley with the most massive non-nuclear bomb ever dropped in combat.

Trump has also escalated U.S. military involvement in non-battlefield settings — namely Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan. In the last 193 days of the Obama presidency, there were 21 lethal counterterrorism operations across these three countries. Trump has quintupled that number, conducting at least 92 such operations in Yemen, seven in Somalia, and four in Pakistan.

Jesus was correct when He said that in the last days there would be wars and rumors of war, nation fighting nation, and unrest over the entire world. 

Do you believe all our government has done to destroy the lives of many innocent people around the world that we will not be judged?  Add to this the deaths of all the innocent children who have been murdered by abortion and the blood of those who have died at the hands of this country is crying out for vengeance from the LORD.  How can we escape the judgment that is coming?

Monday, June 25, 2018

Christ Through the Bible- Matthew

Text: “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Matt. 2:2
From several details in Matthew's Gospel it is clear he was writing for a Jewish audience. Many prophecies, known to the Jews from their scriptures are referred to. Matthew gives the genealogy of Jesus as well as recording several of Jesus' teachings, especially the Sermon on the Mount in chapters 5-7.
The Gospel of Matthew, more than the other gospels, often concludes a passage by introducing an Old Testament Scripture and claiming Jesus has now fulfilled it.
In many cases, Matthew is simply drawing a parallel between events from the life of Jesus and events from Israel's history. Examples are:
Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Matthew 2:15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
 Matthew 12:17-21 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.  19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.  20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. 21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
(see Isaiah 41:8-9 for identification of the servant with Israel).

Structure of the Gospel
Just as Matthew draws parallels between Jesus' experiences and those of Israel, the gospel itself parallels the Torah, the five books of Moses. In Matthew, Jesus' teachings are combined into five long discourses.
Sermon on the Mount - Matthew 5-7 (This sermon is putting teeth into the Old Testament Law
Missionary Discourse - Matthew 10
Parabolic Discourse - Matthew 13
Discourse on the Church - Matthew 18
Olivet Discourse - Matthew 24 (Simple outline of the Book of Revelation)
Each of these discourses contains more uninterrupted teaching than the parallel sections of Mark or Luke.
The phrase "kingdom of God" appears 62 times in the New Testament, but Matthew uses the substitute phrase "kingdom of heaven" 31 times, even where the parallel accounts in other gospels say "kingdom of God". This is likely due to a Jewish custom of never writing the word "God" as a precaution against using God's name in vain. 

What is interesting is in Matthew we see a preview of the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John.  We are given a picture of the return of the King of Kings. I understand this may not be what is accepted by many “prophetic experts” but I will share this at the cost of offending some.  Take this with an open mind and search the Scriptures.  Matthew begins with the First Coming of Jesus Christ and towards the end of the book he speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is not the King of the Jews He is the King of Kings.
The Book of Revelation Revealed in the Gospel of Matthew- The King is Coming Back
Just like each of us the disciple wanted to know when the end of time would take place.  They wanted to know how much time before the LORD set up His kingdom.  What were the signs of the end and when could they expect the LORD to return?
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
In the Book of Revelation, the LORD is showing what will happen during the Christian Era.  He reveals the various periods within the Church to show the fulfillment of prophecy.
The Ephesus Church Rev. 2:1-7
The word Ephesus means “to relax from effort,” which matches Jesus admonishment to them, to return to the first works of faith and love, with zeal and enthusiasm.  They lost their first love.
  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.  And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.
This is the starting point of the Christian era.
The Apostles spread the gospel in many countries and planted new churches, which required a lot of patience. They were burdened by opposition, and many were persecuted and killed.  All the Apostles except John were killed by a violent death, which no doubt was disheartening to the church.  Many of them expected Jesus to return after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., so they may have relaxed their efforts.
You have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them, liars, but this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate” (Revelation 2:2,6).  The Ephesus period saw the beginnings of some of the heresies which would later be accepted by the church—the doctrines of the “false apostles” and the “Nicolaitans.” Paul warned, “After my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.  Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29,30). “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” he declared (2 Thessalonians 2:7).  The Apostle John warned, “Even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). 
Although the apostles predicted apostasy in the Church, we see that in general, the church of the Ephesian period rejected the messages of the False Apostles—"You have found them, liars." The seeds of their false doctrines would spring up later in the heresies of the synagogue of Satan (2:9), the throne of Satan (2:13), the Nicolaitans (2:15), the doctrine of Balaam (2:14) and Jezebel (2:20).  But during the Ephesus period the church was successfully struggling to maintain moral and doctrinal purity— “But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate”  (Revelation 2:6).
Peter also predicted that “there will be false teachers among you who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable soul for when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption” (2 Peter 2:1,10,14,18,19).
A picture emerges of those who teach that behavior doesn’t matter, who offer a false promise of liberty expressed through “great swelling words of emptiness.”
“Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). But the reality in this world is that the church has an enemy, Satan, who works vigilantly, “secretly bringing in destructive heresies” (2 Peter 2:1).
The Smyrna Church  (Revelation 2:8-11)
The Persecuted Church
Smyrna comes from the word “myrrh” which is a tree resin with a bitter taste that was crushed and used in perfume, in incense, and as a preservative in burial. It’s a symbol of death, which is appropriate for this church era.
 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
As the church grew, Christians faced continuous persecution (“I know your…tribulation”), some of it from the Romans, but much of it from the Jews, which resulted in the mutual hatred between Christians and Jews that developed during the Ephesus period.   Despite these bad relationships, Jesus did not condemn the Jews, but rather those “who say they are Jews and are not.” The apostle Paul clarifies this thought in Romans 2: “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart” (Romans 2:28,29). In other words, born again, Spirit-led Christians are the true Jews. These are contrasted with “you who are called a Jew” who “boast in God, know His will, being instructed out of the law,” who “boast in the law” but “dishonor God through breaking the law” (vs. 17-23). Of these false Jews, he concludes that “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” (v.24).
The Pergamos Church  313-538 A.D
Pergamos means: “Married to the tower.”

 Pagan worship originated in Babylon, where the tower represented their rise to become gods.
When the Medo-Persians conquered Babylon, the Babylonian priests moved to Pergamos and established a place of Satanic cultic idolatry, pagan worship, with various customs and deities.
Satan couldn’t destroy Jesus’ church with ten persecutions from Pagan Rome, so he changed his strategy to destroy it from within.  Constantine united Christianity with pagan idol worship and feasts, and fornication.  Pagan Rome had many gods and idols, which they weren’t going to give up. So, to make the Church more acceptable to them, the church took the idols and just gave them new names.
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit said to the churches.  To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows except him who receives it” (Revelation 2:17).  “Hidden manna” and “a new name written which no one knows” both emphasize the development of “hidden” or secret Christians who increasingly had to go “underground” in the face of rejection and persecution by the official state church, which was comprised of false “Balaam” leaders supported by immoral “Nicolaitan” masses. This division of the church became even more pronounced in the next Thyatira period in which the false church is characterized as Jezebel, and the true church went underground.
The Thyatira Church (Revelation 2:18-29)
Thyatira means “ruled by a woman,” which is the perfect name because this era was ruled by the Mother church of Rome. The pagan Church.
 11 And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many.
During this church age and the next, the Church at Rome tortured and killed over 50 million people they deemed heretics, most from Christ’s true church. The Roman Church found its source in Babylonian idolatry, including the declaration that Mary is the Queen of Heaven. This is a sad period of history in the church.  However, the Protestant church has a history that is just as sad.
They are the two lamp stands which stood as a witness against the Church during their 1,260 years of reign from 538-1798 A.D.
The Sardis Church
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
The meaning of the word “Sardis” is the “escaping one,” or those who “come out,” so it is an excellent symbol of the Church during the Reformation period, when Martin Luther and several other reformers protested the false teaching, tyranny, and claims of the Roman Church and they heeded Jesus command and came out of her.
Satan played out historically during this church era. And you can see why this period is referred to as the time of Great Tribulation.  The Roman Church continued to persecute Christians, but more importantly, they implemented a new strategy of destroying  by infiltrating within.
Philadelphia Church Era
14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (1800-1900)  In contrast to all the other churches, the Philadelphia church is not condemned for anything.  This period, from the mid eighteenth through the mid nineteenth centuries, was one in which the Christian church woke up from their “dead” Sardis condition and with their “Little strength” they “Kept [His] word,” triggering the greatest revivals since Pentecost.
The Great Tribulation
 15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house:  18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. 19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.  22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.  24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.  25 Behold, I have told you before. 26 Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.  27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 28 For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
End of the Christian Era- Seventh Trumpet Sounds
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
The Second Coming  30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
The Last Trumpet 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
The Nation of Israel- The Fig Tree 32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
  Promise 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.  35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
Day of His Coming Unknown 36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
Indication of the End Times Revealed 37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, 39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.  42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
The Warning to Watch 43 But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.  45 Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
Blessing of Knowing and Promise 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.  47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
The Laodicea Church- 1900-Present
 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus then gives examples of this last Church in symbolic and figurative language
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.  And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: 
Lamps are a type of profession, the oil is a type of the Holy Spirit.
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
The Church was not ready they had to “trim their lamps  The call has gone out and the Church is starting to wake -up.  Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
The foolish no longer had the Holy Spirit they had the form but lacked the power. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves

Those who had prepared for the event had only enough for themselves.
Just an observation.  I have noticed that there are individuals who are interesting in finding the LORD, they have started to church, attend Bible studies, read the Bible, start searching the scriptures and are a seeker of TRUTH.  What is interesting is the individuals in the church who profess to serve the LORD have no time to disciple these individuals.  They can find time for sports, entertainment, and other activities but not time to help reach others for the LORD.  This is the very attitude that Jesus is talking about in the last Church Era.

Time Has Run Out 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. 11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Warning to Watch 13 Watch, therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.  15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
The LORD has given to each of the responsibility to increase our spiritual gifts.
The Day of Reckoning 16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.  17 And likewise, he that had received two, he also gained other two.  18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.  19 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
The Wise and Foolish- Profession without the Holy Spirit 20 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.21 
Promise His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.22 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Buried what was given at a great price. 24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers and then at my coming, I should have received mine own with usury

Lost Blessing and Punishment 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.  29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.  30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Second Coming- Sealing the 144000 and the Great Multitude Saints31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.  The Seventh Seal Isn’t Opened until after the Account Of the 144,000 and Gentile Church.   Why? Because all of the redeemed need to be counted before the Lord closes the Christian era.
The Sealed Saints Are Called to Sit with the LORD. 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
The Final Judgment 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
This chapter is a summary of the vision John saw, given to him by Jesus Christ as seen in the first eleven chapters of the Book of Revelation.

So I Missed Church-Big Deal

I am a firm believer that we are living in the end times.  I am not setting any date or day for the LORD to return.  The signs of the time are in the air and are most visible among those who call themselves Christian.  Jesus gave us a warning about becoming “lukewarm” and thinking everything was alright spiritually.  Many Christians have become so entangled in the affairs of this world that they are no longer doing the will of the LORD.
There are about 2.2 billion people who identify themselves as a Christian. They have stopped going to church on a regular basis.  They no longer see the importance of prayer meeting and Bible study.  They no longer have time to study the Bible, witness for Jesus or doing the will of LORD.  If these things are no longer part of your Christian life, then you have allowed the cares of life hinder you from doing the will of the LORD.
In the parable of the Sower Jesus tells how you can lose your desire to serve the LORD. The seed sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
I do understand that we live in a different culture from the one in which I was raised.  The rule in our family was you did not miss church.  That included Sunday morning worship, Sunday night evangelistic service, Wednesday night prayer meeting, revival services, (which went on every night for two weeks) Bible study, and mid-week calling on the “lost.”
I am aware of the bondage of debt that requires both parents to work.  The limited amount of time one has during the week to accomplish all the tasks that seem to grow every week.  The endless task of taking your children from one event to another.  The need to have some time for yourself—the get away from it all day to keep your sanity.  I understand how all this may seem extraordinary. We use many of these things as the reason why we can’t do the will of the LORD.
One of Satan’s devices that he uses in a person’s mind is he gives an excuse and then the reason why we cannot obey God’s will. Satan may lie to your mind saying, "You can’t do what God wants you to do, because you have to take the kids to practice, or there is a club or organization you belong to that is meeting, or you wanted to spend time with some friends.  The list of excuses may go on and on.
Luke 21:34 "And take heed to yourselves, lest any time your "Hearts" be overcharged (weighed down) with Surfeiting, and Drunkenness, and "Cares" of this Life, and so "that Day" come upon you unawares (unexpectedly)."
Are Monday morning things more important to you than the Sunday morning services? Is your mind focused "On Things Above" or "Things on the Earth"? Has your faith prompted you to let Jesus become the "Lord" of your life?
Other things that may stop you from totally surrendering to the LORD’s will are peer pressures. Friends may come into town to visit you at that same time you were to go to church.  One of the things I remember about my mom and dad was if someone came to visit during the time to go to church.  My dad would invite them to go with us or waiting until we returned from church.  People soon learn when to visit.
I say this with as much love and understanding I can express.  If the LORD is not first in your life, then you are living in disobedience by allowing the cares of this life to choke out your spiritual life.  Then you have the nerve to pray to the LORD to help you with this or that problem in your life.  Is it any wonder your prayers are bouncing off the walls?
Whatever comes before the LORD, is an idol and is a sin.
Deuteronomy 31:29 "Evil will befall you in the Latter Days; because you will do Evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to Anger through the work of your hands (your job)."
The generation we are living in, is so evil, that they wipe their mouth and say, "I have done no wrong." And this generation Rev 9:20 "Repented Not of the Works of their Hands."
As a pastor I am not saying you need to be in church every Sunday or Wednesday because we need the numbers or the money, I am telling you need to be in church because it is a command of the LORD.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Heb. 10:25
We assemble as members of the LORD’s church in spirit, not to exalt our position in the body of believers but to find our place as a working member of His church.  As we see the day approaching, it is essential to develop a secure connection with likeminded Christians.  The coming together of those who would overcome will find this time of worship and fellowship a joyful completion to the genuine true heart to do the will of the LORD.