Investigating the Bible: Did Jesus Accidentally Fulfill the Old Testament Prophecies?

Investigating the Bible brought to you by The Case for Christ Study Bible

 

Did Jesus Accidentally Fulfill the Old Testament Prophecies?

Acts 3:11–26

As Peter spoke to the crowd in the temple courts following the healing of a man crippled from birth, he made it clear that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies (see Acts 3:18,24). But could Jesus have merely fulfilled these prophecies by accident? Could it be that he’s just one of many throughout history who have coincidentally fit the prophetic fingerprint?

“Not a chance,” comes the response of Louis Lapides, a Christian convert from Judaism. “The odds are so astronomical that they rule that out. Someone did the math and estimated that the probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled is one chance in one hundred million billion. That number is millions of times greater than the total number of people who’ve ever walked the planet!

“That same person calculated that if you took this number of silver dollars, they would cover the state of Texas to a depth of two feet. If you marked one silver dollar among them and then had a blindfolded person wander the whole state and bend down to pick up one coin, what would be the odds he’d choose the one that had been marked? The same odds that anybody in history could have fulfilled just eight of the prophecies.”

Scientist Peter Stoner estimated that the probability of fulfilling 48 prophecies was one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion! Our minds can’t comprehend a number that big.

“The odds alone say it would be impossible for anyone to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies,” Lapides concludes. “Yet Jesus—and only Jesus throughout all of history—managed to do it.”
Adapted from interview with Louis Lapides

Discovering God’s Design: Blood in the Nile

 

Discovering God's Design

Blood in the Nile

Verse: Exodus 7:14-24

The plague of blood is a powerful testimony to the truth of God’s ownership and management of all creation. The Nile River is Egypt’s greatest natural resource, serving as the source of the land’s natural fertility and prosperity throughout history. By changing the waters of Egypt into blood, God demonstrated his control over the source of Egypt’s economic vitality.

Pastor James E. Mead reflects that [the very] air we breathe, the water we drink, the wonder of life itself, the planet we live on, the universe—we brought none of these things into being. They are gifts we enjoy out of the overflow of God’s love. The love of God, the gift of Jesus Christ, forgiveness of our sins, the call into Christian community, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, eternal life—none came from us, each is a gift to us from God.

To remember that God owns everything prompts a remarkable shift in our view of stewardship. Usually when we think of stewardship (of giving to charitable causes, if you want), we define it as our giving to God or to the church something that belongs to us. But in the Bible, stewardship is just the reverse—our freely using, enjoying, and giving what already belongs to God.

In the words of Generous Giving’s Stewardship Bible Study Notes for this passage:

Just before God gave Moses permission to perform the first plague which turned all the water in Egypt into blood, God reemphasized that the reason he had determined to bring such cataclysmic disaster and violent upheaval upon the land of Egypt was that Pharaoh’s “unyielding” heart had caused him to refuse to let God’s people go (Ex 7:14).

We should exercise caution in drawing too close a parallel between Pharaoh and ourselves because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 10:1) while he has promised to give us new hearts of flesh (Eze 36:26). Still, it is important for us to recognize that an unyielding heart always brings disaster. This truth applies whether it is Christians or non-Christians who are being unyielding and withholding what belongs to God.

In the end, God cannot be robbed, “For from him and through him and for him are all things” (Ro 11:36) … Everything in creation is at God’s disposal, so the question is whether we will give willingly, with yielding hearts, or whether we will harden our hearts and have our closed hands forced open by the Almighty God. We will either experience the joy of giving generously or, like Pharaoh, be smashed, having everything taken from us. In light of these ultimate ends, everyone should give what he has decided in his heart to give, “not reluctantly or under compulsion” from others but out of love for God’s Son, who became poor so that we might become rich [2Co 9:7].

Think About It

•God wants you to use and enjoy his creation. How can you do that with a proper attitude?
•Is there anything in your life that may alert you that some part of your heart is “unyielding”?
•How does God show us our heart attitudes?

Pray About It

God, reveal to me through your Holy Spirit any attitudes about my possessions that might point to an improper view of what you have entrusted me to manage.

This devotion is from the NIV Stewardship Study Bible by Zondervan. Used with permission.

 

Proverbs 31 Ministries: Sacrificial Love by Smantha Evilsizer

 

Encouragement For Today
 

 

Samantha Reed

October 23, 2013

Sacrificial Love
Samantha Evilsizer

“You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21 ESV)

I had some misplaced priorities. I suppose at some level I’d known it for some time. But I didn’t fully recognize how misplaced they were until I took a trip to El Salvador with a Christian humanitarian organization.

I met two children on a home visit. They lifted their tarp door and invited me into mud puddles and dirt walls with just one bed where their family of five rested at night. One bed for dreaming dreams of being a doctor and police officer.

I’d come to offer gifts of detergent and food. But the children’s gifts exceeded anything I had to give. A tiny beaded bracelet smudged with dirt, drenched in love. They wanted it to be mine. They filled my hands with selfless love. Love shared in smiles and what few tangible gifts they owned.

Feeling too shy to hand me the bracelet herself, the girl nudged her brother. He presented it to me as if it were a royal crown and slid it gently on my wrist. I declare, diamonds couldn’t match the worth of their hearts, their gift in that moment.

The next morning as I was getting dressed, I felt a nudge. Give your bracelet away like those children gave theirs to you.

You see, I had another precious bracelet with me. It was one my dad had given me over twenty years ago. Just a simple wooden bracelet from South Africa, but it meant the world to me.

How could I part with it? I wrestled with indecision. My heart soared, anticipating the moment I’d spot a mama to whom I would give my bracelet. Then my heart sank, anxious at the thought of giving up one of my treasures.

And there lay the problem. My misplaced treasure.

I’m embarrassed … heartbroken. I’m sad to say I couldn’t give it away. Couldn’t? No; more like I wouldn’t. Both bracelets journeyed back home with me. One bearing selflessness; the other, selfishness.

I thought I was really something, bringing gifts to those kids in the form of beans and rice. Little did I know, I was the one in need. I needed God’s mercy. I needed a new perspective. I don’t want possessions if I’m not willing to use them to love others.

I needed the one thing I lacked … more love for the Lord than for my possessions. My heart held tighter to my bracelet than it did to what God had asked me to do. He beckoned, “Give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” A simple request, yet so difficult to follow.

I don’t want to be lacking in love for the Lord or those He cares for. Next time I’m giving it all. I’m starting by opening my hands and heart and looking for opportunities today. Are you with me?

Dear Lord, You are the perfect example of giving. Thank You for new mercies, second chances, and a heart capable of responding to Your prompting. Help me to respond to Your prompting this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Related Resources
Be inspired to give more and love well with the 100 devotions written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team in Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Life.

Today’s devotion is our gift to you! We’ve pulled it directly from Encouragement for Today for you to preview our new book. Start each day by unpacking Scripture with us. Click here for your copy.

Join a thriving community that is changing the world one choice at a time to be more like Jesus on Samantha Evilsizer’s More Than Enough Facebook page.

Remember
You need more love for the Lord than for your possessions.

Reflect
You can choose each day to bear selflessness or selfishness. Why is it sometimes easier to hold more tightly to earthy possessions?

Respond
Set up a time to volunteer with those who have less than you to help gain perspective on what’s important.

Power Verses
Matthew 6:201 Timothy 6:18-19

Taken from Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Living by Renee Swope, Lysa TerKeurst and Samantha Evilsizer and the Proverbs 31 Ministries Team. © 2013 Proverbs 31 Ministries. Used by permission of Zondervan.www.zondervan.com.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
630 Team Rd., Suite 100
Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org

Abiding Love

 

 

David’s Position

October 24, 2013

The story of David and Goliath is one of the most well known events in the Bible. Even nonreligious people know something about this particular story. David is the underdog, Goliath is the undefeatable giant, and David wins the victory against seemingly impossible odds. When David was first anointed as King, he didn’t really understand any more than just that, he would be King. In God’s eyes, however, David was already King, but David hadn’t realized it yet.

This is the same as us concerning our position “in Christ.” You are there, as a believer, “in Christ” whether you know it or not.

Now as David was tending the sheep, he began to think about what being the King really meant. It meant that he was in God’s hands and nothing would happen to him until he was King, thus he could fight bears and lions and Goliath’s without fear of being killed because he now understood his position as a future King and his position concerning God. That must have been a liberating realization for David as he began to accept the truth concerning God’s promise. Once David became King, he fully realized that which he had only thought about as a young man. He was God’s man, to do God’s will, in God’s time. He operated from his position, as King, and the same should be for us, to operate from our position “in Christ,” as a joint heir, seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

Colossians 3:1-3  says, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

For more resources from Above & Beyond Fellowship, visit www.abidingabove.org.

5 Meal Makeovers for Diabetes Eating healthy with diabetes doesn’t mean saying goodbye to all of your favorite dishes. Simple substitutions can boost nutrition and still taste good. By Mikel Theobald Medically reviewed by Niya Jones, MD, MPH.

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You can eat healthy with diabeteswhile still enjoying the types of foods you know and love, says Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, of Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition Services in New York and creator of MomDishesItOut.com. Follow these four key steps to planning healthy diabetes-friendly meals:

  1. Balance your diabetes meals with a mix of high-fiber carbs, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
  2. Spread your intake of carbohydrates throughout the day rather than saving for a big splurge at dinner or over the weekend.
  3. If you want dessert immediately after your meal, eat non-starchy veggies with your protein choice and save the rest of your carbs for the sweet dessert. Think salmon with steamed asparagus and roasted Brussels sprouts, followed by a slice of flourless chocolate cake (a small piece, of course, of 45 grams of carbs or less).
  4. To keep meals flavorful and interesting, make friends with healthy fats like olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Used in small amounts, these can add taste, texture, and color.

By experimenting in the kitchen, you can give all of your favorite dishes a healthy-meal makeover. Here are five ideas to get you started.

Meal Makeover: Put Your Favorite Salty Dish on a Low-Sodium Diet

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According to the American Diabetes Association, for better diabetes nutrition, your daily sodium intake should be 2,300 mg or less. Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which can contribute to a host of other health concerns. Make over high-salt recipes for betterdiabetes meals by relying on spices and herbs rather than salt, using low- or no-sodium broths or sauces in place of traditional choices, and adding mushrooms — they’re high in glutamic acid, known for salty flavor, but is sodium-free.

Here’s Cipullo’s low-salt, low-fat beef broccoli stir-fry recipe:

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound boneless beef sirloin, trimmed if needed and sliced
3 cups broccoli florets
1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 shallot, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a small bowl, mix teriyaki sauce and flour. Set aside.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large non-stick skillet and add garlic and shallots; sauté until golden. Add beef strips and stir-fry, tossing until brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and rinse the skillet.
  3. In the skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add broccoli and peppers, cover and cook, tossing occasionally until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Add teriyaki mixture and return beef to skillet. Cook until sauce thickens, about 2 more minutes. Serve warm over brown rice. Makes 4 servings.

Meal Makeover: Lose the Fat, Not the Flavor

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Saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels, a risk factor for heart disease. On its own, diabetes increases yourheart disease risk too, so limiting saturated fat in your meals is a must. The easiest way to cut fat from a dish is to start with lean cuts of red meat rather than fatty marbled cuts, skinless chicken, or fish, and bake or grill foods instead of frying. Cipullo also suggests cooking with broth instead of adding butter or other fats. Here’s her version of crispy chicken strips, which are diabetes-friendly because they’re baked not fried:

INGREDIENTS

1 pound skinless chicken cutlets, cut into 1-inch strips
¾ cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 egg white
1 cup skim milk, more as needed
Canola oil spray

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Line a large sheet pan with foil and spray with canola oil.
  2. Place the breadcrumbs in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg white and milk.
  4. With a fork, dip each strip of chicken in the mixture of milk and egg white. Immediately transfer to the bowl with breadcrumbs and coat each side of the strips thoroughly. Place the breaded chicken strips on the sheet pan.
  5. Spray a light mist of oil on the top of each chicken strip for a crispier coating.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once.
  7. Serve with tomato sauce or applesauce instead of ketchup. Makes 4 servings.

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Meal Makeover: Go Vegetarian One Night a Week

A study published in the journalDiabetic Medicine found that people with type 2 diabetes who ate a vegetarian diet experienced a greater improvement in quality of life and mood than participants with diabetes who ate a conventional diet. For at least one meal each week, take a favorite dish and replace the meat with tofu, tempeh, or beans — hearty and thick alternatives in soups, chili, casseroles, and stir-fry, Cipullo says. Try her delicious recipe for heart-healthy vegetarian burritos to boost your diabetes nutrition:

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
8 whole wheat tortillas
1 15-ounce can low salt black beans
1 15-ounce can low salt kidney beans
1 cup corn, frozen or fresh, steamed
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon cilantro

Optional:
4 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups reduced fat and grated cheese
1 avocado, sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, tomatoes, lime juice, and cilantro.
  2. Drizzle oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion and garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. When garlic becomes fragrant, add the bean mixture and reduce to low heat.
  4. Warm tortillas in the microwave for 20 seconds. Remove from heat and spread each tortilla with ½ cup rice down the center, followed by the bean mixture. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and few slices of avocado, if desired.
  5. Wrap your burrito and enjoy. Makes 4 servings.

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Meal Makeover: Go With Whole Grains

Foods that contain carbohydrates raiseblood sugar. Yes, carbs are necessary for maintaining energy levels, but it’s important to monitor your daily intake so you aren’t consuming more than you need while still getting the best diabetes nutrition from your choices. Try oatmeal instead of cold cereal in the morning, and replace white rice with brown rice or quinoa, a whole grain with a nutty taste. To enjoy the great flavors in a spaghetti and meatballs diabetes meal, Cipullo replaces traditional white pasta with whole-wheat spaghetti, which is rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To avoid exceeding your carb allotment, she tosses out the typical garlic bread and suggests spreading oven-roasted garlic cloves over steamed broccoli.
 
 
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Meal Makeover: Boost Diabetes Nutrition in Dessert

You can still enjoy dessert after a diabetes-friendly meal. Cipullo suggests a few quick fixes to make favorite recipes deliver better diabetes nutrition. For starters, opt for nutrient-rich, whole-wheat flour and whole oats rather than overly processed white flour, she advises. Use lighter whole-wheat pastry flour for delicate recipes. Cut the amount of sugar in half or try a sweetener like agave nectar, which you can use in smaller amounts to get the same flavor.

Try Cipullo’s delicious oatmeal-raisin cookies to satisfy your sweet tooth:

INGREDIENTS

¾ cup canola oil
1 cup honey or agave nectar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
½ cup raisins
½ cup toasted chopped walnuts
1½ cups wheat germ
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
½ cup powdered fat-free milk

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two large baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the canola oil, honey, eggs, vanilla extract, raisins, chopped walnuts, wheat germ, and rolled oats.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and powdered milk.
  5. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well-combined.
  6. Scoop spoonfuls of the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets. The cookies won’t spread much, so you don’t need to leave a lot of room between them.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until dry around the edges.
  8. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

 

The Story: Tempted

Jesus went into the wilderness, to prove He was worthy of being the full atonement for the sin of all mankind. Thank you Jesus.

already & not yet

The Story: Tempted – Matthew 4:1-11

Virtue is not virtue if it be untested and unexamined.” – Origen

Immediately following his baptism, the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness. The wilderness calls to mind Israel’s desert / wilderness experience in the aftermath of the Exodus. We mentioned this earlier in our study: Matthew understands Jesus as the fulfillment of Israel’s story. There are several parallels between Jesus and Israel here:

  • In the previous chapter, Jesus passes through the waters of baptism just as Israel crossed the Red Sea.
  • His 40 days of fasting parallels the 40 day fast Moses experienced on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 34:28).
  • The 40 days Jesus spends in the wild also matches the 40 years Israel spent wandering in the wilderness.
  • The wilderness is the place of Israel’s great failures. But where Israel fails repeatedly, Jesus succeeds.

In the wilderness, Jesus…

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Pray Without Ceasing

What a joy it will be when we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.

Spirit Moments

ImageA scenic beach is always a sight to behold
The rocks, the sand and the cliffs of gold
Such a breath-taking place is easy to have
Just let the endless rhythm of wave after wave.

Stalactites and stalagmites are also an awesome sight
Golden structures built with main and might
In silence and emptiness, they’re slowly made
As endless drips of water down the top cascade.

And so it is that all things of beauty are created
With patience true and efforts unending exerted.
Thus, we should do when with God we’re interceding
That when we pray, we should pray without ceasing.

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him…

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