Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why The Earth Is Round

Here's how I imagine the exchange that went on in heaven between God and His angels before the creation of the world. God had been planning the layout for the physical world, and it was time to reveal it to the angels. Let's take it from there.

God: "I am going to create a physical realm."  
Angels: "What's a physical realm?"
God: "You wouldn't understand. Just trust me. I'm also going to create something called time."
Angels: "What's time?"
God: "Never mind. You wouldn't understand that either. Just trust me."
Angels: "Why do you want to create a physical realm?"
God: "So I can create an environment for my greatest creation of all...humans."
Angels: "What's humans?"
God: "They will be living creatures who will see and hear and think and breathe and talk and smell and touch and taste and......."
Angels: "What will they look like?"
God: "I will create them sort of in my image, but each one of them will be a little different."
Angels: "How many are you going to create."
God: "Just one to start with. But there will be more, many more."
Angels: "Where are these humans going to live?" 
God: "Here's the good part. I'm going to create a physical universe that has no end. It will sort of reflect our spiritual eternal realm in a physical way. They won't be able to comprehend it totally, or figure it out completely, but that's ok. Maybe they'll realize I exist even though they won't be able to see me."
Angels: "Where will they be in this universe?"
God: "They will be on a planet they will call Earth. I will place Earth perfectly in the universe near a sun that will warm them, and a moon that will give them light at night."
Angels: "How long and wide will this planet be?"
God: "It will be round."
Angels: "What!? Round? You mean like a sphere? Why round?"
God: "One reason is so I can contain them all in one place."
Angels: "If it's round, won't they fall off?
God: "I will create something mysterious - something incredible - it will be called gravity - and allow them to stand anywhere, even up-side-down without falling off. Not to mention that I'm going to make the planet spin. There's a lot more to it."
Angels: "How can that be? It sounds impossible."
God: "Nothing is impossible with you know who."
Angels: "What a genius idea."
God: "Thanks for the praise."
Angels: "What's going to hold this planet up?"
God: "Nothing. I'm going to sort of hang it in the middle of nowhere, then give everything a spin, and watch it all go. The universe will always be sort of alive in the sense that it will be always in motion."
Angels: "Crazy!"
God: "It's all about the spin. That's another reason I'm making the planets round."
Angels: "These humans will be amazed at Your creation."
God: "Some will. But many will not believe I created the universe, and will not believe in me. Non-believers will think they have the universe and the planets all figured out. Those are the ones who think they don't need me."
Angels: "That's terrible."
God: "Yes, but I will make it obvious in so many ways that I exist. I hope they will be convinced, and that they will see me, even though I'm invisible."
Angels: "Can we go to visit this Earth someday?"
God: "Once in a while I will send you - as my messengers, and to minister to them in different ways. But if they see you, it will probably scare them half to death."
Angels: "We can't wait to meet these humans."
God: "You will eventually. You see, the ones who choose to come to me and love me will someday dwell eternally with us. They will be called my children, and I will be called their Father."
Angels: "What's the whole point of this plan?"
God: "It's called love."
Angels: "Will they be able to earn Your love?"
God: "No it's free to them, if they choose to believe and obey me. But it won't be free to me. It will cost more than you can imagine."
Angels: "Why?"
God: "Because I will give them free will. And they will have a choice whether to believe in me and follow me, or reject me. But most of them will reject me."
Angels: "Sad."
God: "Their free will is the only way I can be sure that their love is real, and that it's their personal choice."
Angels: "How will You show them Your love?"
God: "It's a plan that is bigger than the universe. I will reveal it to you eventually. You will even be involved in it someday. It will require great sacrifice on my part. But it will be worth it in the end. You will be amazed."

"It is I who made the earth  and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts." (Isaiah 45: 12)

"He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth..." (Isaiah 40:22)

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! " (Job 38:4-5a)

 "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Man Who Never Died

Eons ago there was a man who walked on this earth just like everyone else. He was an ordinary human with no special powers or abilities. However, there was something extraordinary that happened to him though. He never died! Now this doesn't mean that he is still living on this earth today. Perhaps a better description of what happened to him would be this: he was 'translated'. What?!

Let me tell you more about this man. He lived in days of old, in ancient times, the times of the Biblical patriarchs. His name was Enoch. He was just a handful of generations after Adam. He was the great-grandfather of Noah. Remember, in those days, men lived to incredible ages (see my blog, "The Thousand Year Old Man"). For example, Adam lived 930 years! Methuselah, the oldest recorded age for a human, lived 969 years! Noah lived 950 years! When you think about it, Adam, the first man, was supposed to live forever until sin brought death, so I guess compared to living forever, 1000 years or so is a short span. Ha. 

Even though Enoch lived in the era of long life (that is until God shortened the human life span, perhaps because of wickedness), Enoch himself only lived about half the years that others of his time did. He lived 365 years. But his relatively short life span wasn't because of his wickedness - just the opposite. Enoch was faithful and true to God for his entire life span. He walked faithfully in close relationship with God. That was special. So special, that God decided to take him into heaven relatively early, without him physically dying! Wow. 

"Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him." (Genesis 5:23-24 NLT)

The book of Hebrews, in chapter 11, presents to us the hall of fame of faithful men. Enoch is listed there, in the New Testament, as an example of a man of strong faith. It also gives us a little more detail on what happened to him. 

It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him." For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5 NLT)

In the book of Hebrews, the King James Version uses the word "translated" instead of the term "taken up". I like that because it gives the picture of God sort of transferring him seamlessly from the physical realm into the spiritual realm without physical death. 

"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." (Hebrews 11:5 KJV) 

So how does this story affect us? It does because it strengthens our faith, our hope, our belief. You see, Enoch gives us insight into our own lives. Here are a couple of truths that we can hold on to.

First, God is pleased when we walk with Him daily - when we live in a close relationship with Him every single day of our lives - when we trust in Him completely and have total faith in Him. This faith gives us eternal reward.

Secondly, we can have the hope of eternal life - the hope of resurrection. There is life beyond this physical world. If we are in Christ here on earth, then just as Christ resurrected from the dead, we too will resurrect. We can be confident in the reality of a spiritual realm.

One more thing. Perhaps God gave us the story of Enoch to give us a real-life illustration of what we will experience if we are living on that final day when Jesus returns. On that day, those who have died in Christ, will be resurrected. But those who are in Christ and still alive will have a similar fate that Enoch experienced. They will be 'translated' from the physical realm directly into the spiritual realm with our Lord. And this will happen in the twinkling of an eye.

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

So, who knows, maybe you will be alive when Jesus returns, and you won't need to experience death! After all, it sure seems like end times are approaching soon. If that happens, and you are in Christ, you will just be 'translated' just like Enoch was. But don't worry, if you die before Jesus comes, as long as you were in Christ, walking with Him daily, and trusting in Him in faith, then that's all that really counts. You will be resurrected into eternal life, from the physical realm into the spiritual realm. Then you can ask Enoch anything you want to.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Can You Say Mephibosheth?

This is the true story of Mephibosheth. What a name! And what a great story! It's one of the greatest stories of friendship in the entire Bible, and it involves David and Jonathan. The book of 1 Samuel describes the relationship between David, King Saul, and King Saul's son, Jonathan. After David killed the giant Goliath, King Saul became jealous of all the praises David received. Not only that, he was threatened by the possibility of the people demanding that David be the king. Thus, Saul eventually wanted to kill David!

Saul’s son, Jonathan, became David’s best friend, and even protected him from being attacked and killed by Saul. Over time, David and Jonathan developed a sort of covenant type of friendship – one that would never be broken. Unfortunately, in a battle against the Philistines, both Saul and Jonathan were killed. This was tragic news for David. Years after the death of Saul and Jonathan, when David had become king, he began searching to see if there was anyone left in Saul's family line so he could express kindness for Jonathan's sake.


David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” At your service,” he replied. The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” (2 Samuel 9:1-3)

The name of Jonathan's son was Mephibosheth. He was just five years old when his father and grandfather Saul were killed. At that time, his caretaker nurse, hearing about the Philistine's victory, was so worried that the Philistines would track down and kill the next of kin, she fled to safety with young Mephibosheth in her arms. Unfortunately, in her haste, she dropped the young child, permanently crippling both his feet. 

So now, many years later, after learning that a son of Johathan was still alive, David summoned for him. He was anxious to meet his best friend's son.

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor. David said, “Mephibosheth!” “At your service,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” (2 Samuel 9:6-8)

Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.) Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. (2 Samuel 9:9-11)

There are several crucial points in this story. 
1. Mephibosheth was shown grace by the king.
2. Mephibosheth was considered a son of the king. He was provided for from that point on.
3. Mephibosheth inherited everything that was his father’s. 
4. Mephibosheth didn’t feel worthy of all he was to receive, and even referred to himself as a dead dog!
5. Mephibosheth was shown kindness because of a third party – Jonathan. 

This gives us such a great parallel between Mephibosheth and ourselves as Christians. I love it when you see an Old Testament person, place or thing pointing to Jesus and symbolizing the Church of the New Testament. The relationship between King David and Mephibosheth is a picture of the relationship between God the Father and us. Compare the 5 points above with the 5 below. 

1. We as Christians have been shown grace through Christ - we are saved by grace.
2. We as Christians are adopted as sons of God, we get to eat at his table, and He provides everything we need.
3. We as Christians inherit everything that is our Father’s – His promised rewards, Eternal life, Heaven.
4. We as Christians are not worthy of the God's grace, once dead in our sins.
5. We as Christians are shown kindness because of a third party - Jesus. 

What a great comparison to remind us of who we are and what God has done for us because of his great love for us. From now on, when you hear the name Mephibosheth, remember you are not much different than him.

Monday, September 22, 2014

90 Different Titles For Jesus!

90 Different Titles for Jesus!

Alpha and Omega (Revelation 22:13)
Amen (Revelation 3:14)
Anointed One (Psalm 2:2)
Apostle  (Hebrews 3:1)
Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins (1 John 2:2)
Author of Life (Acts 3:15)
Author and Perfecter of our Faith (Hebrews 12:2)
Author of Salvation (Hebrews 2:10)
Beginning and End (Revelation 22:13)
Blessed and only Ruler (1 Timothy 6:15)
Bread of God (John 6:33)
Bread of Life (John 6:35; 6:48)
Capstone (1 Peter 2:7)
Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20)
Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4)
Christ (1 John 2:22)
Deliverer (Romans 11:26)
Eternal Life (1 John 1:2; 5:20)
Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6)
Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11)
Faithful Witness (Revelation 1:5)
Faithful and True Witness (Revelation 3:14)
First and Last (Revelation 22:13)
Firstborn From the Dead (Revelation 1:5)
Firstborn over all creation (Colossians 1:15)
Gate (John 10:9)
God (John 1:1)
Good Shepherd (John 10:11)
Great God and Savior (Titus 2:13)
Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14)
Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20)
Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2)
High Priest (Hebrews 2:17)
Holiness (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Holy and True (Revelation 3:7)
Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14)
Hope (1 Timothy 1:1)
Hope of Glory (Colossians 1:27)
Horn of Salvation (Luke 1:69)
Immanuel (Matthew 1:23)
Jesus (Matthew 1:1)
Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42)
King of kings (Revelation17:14)
King of the Ages (Revelation 15:3)
Lamb (Revelation 13:8)
Lamb of God (John 1:29)
Lamb Without Blemish (1 Peter 1:19)
Last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45)
Life (John 14:6)
Light of the World (John 8:12)
Living One (Revelation 1:18)
Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4)
Lord (2 Peter 2:20)
Lord of All (Acts 10:36)
Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:8)
Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14)
Master (Luke. 5:5)
Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews. 9:15)
Messiah (John 1:41)
Mighty God (Isaiah 9:6)
Morning Star (Revelation 22:16)
One Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5)
Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7)
Power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24)
Precious Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6)
Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
Prophet (Acts 3:22)
Rabbi (Matthew 26:25) 
Redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25)
Righteous One (Acts 7:52)
Righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Ruler of God’s Creation (Revelation 3:14)
Ruler of the Kings of the Earth (Revelation 1:5)
Savior (Ephesians 5:23)
Son of God (John 1:49)
Son of Man (Matthew 8:20)
Son of the Most High (Luke 1:32)
Source of Eternal Salvation (Hebrews 5:9)
Spiritual Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4)
Stone the builders rejected (Acts 4:11)
True Bread from Heaven (John 6:32)
True Light (John 1:9)
True Vine (John 15:1)
Truth (John 14:6)
Way (John 14:6)
Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24)
Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
Word (John 1:1)
Word of God (Revelation 19:13)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My Favorite Miracle

This is the tale of a collision between two processions. One of the processions was a funeral march coming out of the city of Nain, and one was a procession of Jesus and His followers approaching Nain.

"Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him." (Luke 7:11)

For some time, there had developed a multitude of people following Jesus wherever He went, as was the case here. And as it worked out, at the exact point in time when Jesus and His followers arrived at the gates of Nain, they met up with a funeral procession leaving the city.

Back then, with few exceptions, it was unclean for Jews to be buried inside the city walls. So they would take the corpse outside of the city gate to their designated burial ground. The dead were embalmed with spices, wrapped in cloth, and brought out on a bier, which was something like a stretcher. This practice of being wrapped in linen can be seen in the example of Lazarus as well as Jesus Himself.

"As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her." (Luke 7:12)

Notice the two important points found in verse 12. First, it says that the dead person was an only son, and secondly, that the mother was a widow! In the culture of the day, when a husband died, the son would take care of his mom. But in this case, not only did the mother lose her husband, but now, she lost her only son. And with her only son dead, she was left alone, with no one to care for her. 

Yes, two large crowds meet. Not for a dispute, not for a protest, not for a reunion, but for something unplanned, unforeseen, unimaginable - an astonishing miracle by Jesus. Jesus did a lot of miracles - most were to demonstrate His deity - His power - His authenticity - and to instill belief. However, the primary reason that Jesus performed this amazing miracle was not for any of those things, although all of them were sort of secondary spin-offs. The prime motivation for this miracle was strictly compassion.

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” (Luke 7:13)

Of all the people assembled that day, notice who Jesus immediately focused on...the mother who was grieving. He wasn't focused on all the people. He wasn't even focused on the dead person. When Jesus saw the mom mourning, he saw her heart, and therefore, in response, His heart went out to her. And look at what Jesus says to the mom..... "don't cry". This says volumes about who Jesus is.

Moved by sympathy and compassion, Jesus not only comforts the mother, but He acts. What He does next is not the result of the mother's request, for she didn't request Him to do anything. And it's not the result of what the mother expected Him to do, because she didn't expect Him to do anything. For all we know, she didn't even know who He was! And I suppose that's why this is my favorite miracle of Jesus. It's a miracle strictly driven by compassion. Now Jesus did many miracles of compassion, but for me, this one demonstrates it the best.

This particular miracle was unprecedented by Jesus because it's the first time that Jesus raises someone from the dead. That's right, He raises the dead son back to life! Wow!

Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” (Luke 7:14)

Jesus speaks directly to the dead young man, and commands him to come to life! What power and authority! And as with all of His miracles, they override the laws of nature, they are without failure, and they are totally complete. The young man not only sits up, but he immediately begins to talk! Jesus restores the son to his mother. Can you visualize the scene? Can you hear the mom's reaction? Can you imagine the crowd's response?

The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country. (Luke 7:15-17)

Talk about a feel-good miracle! And you can be sure of this...."Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) That means that Jesus is just as compassionate today. That's the type of King we have. That's the type of God we have.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

The lesson here is that God is a God of compassion, He's the Father of compassion, the originator of compassion, the source of compassion, and the example of compassion. We should therefore be compassionate also, and comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. Let's put that into practice.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Can God's Mind Be Changed?

Can we alter what God has planned? If God decides to go ahead and do something, can we make Him stop? If the answer is yes, then it would imply that that we, as humans, as mortal creatures, as small as a grain of sand relatively speaking, have the power to change the mind of the Almighty, All-Powerful God! Could this be possible? Isn't there a so called "destiny" that is laid out for us? Or do we have a part to play in how our journey through life unfolds?

First of all, is there any documentation that this idea, changing the mind of God, has ever happened throughout history? Well....let's stop with all the questions, and start looking for answers! Actually, there is documentation! Changing the mind of God has happened, and therefore can happen even now!

Let's look at the story of Jonah. God sent Jonah, the prophet, to warn the people of Nineveh that God planned to destroy their city because of their wickedness. Jonah relayed God's message to the people of the city, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” That was God's plan, and the city would have been wiped out, but something changed God's mind and altered the destiny of the people of Nineveh!  The reaction of the king and all the people caused God to rethink His plan.

"The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust." (Jonah 3:5-6)

The Bible describes that even the animals were made to fast - not permitted to eat or drink anything. Not only that, the animals were also dressed in sackcloth (a coarse, black cloth made from goat's hair that was worn together with the burnt ashes of wood as a sign of mourning for personal and national disaster; as a sign of repentance; and as a sincere request for deliverance)!

Here is the result of their obvious, sincere actions: "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened." (Jonah 3:10)

Amazing! They changed God's mind! And it was done by their actions, by their repentance. Because the nation turned from their evil ways, God showed mercy toward them and backed away from His original plan.

Another example of a man altering God's plans is documented in the book of Genesis. Here, in Genesis chapter 18, we find God ready to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin and corruption.

Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? (Genesis 18:24)

Notice how God responded.  The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” (Genesis 18:26)

What's amazing here is how Abraham negotiates with God! Abraham knew how corrupt the city was, but he also knew his nephew, Lot, lived there with his wife and two daughters. So, he tires to get God to change His mind about destroying everyone in Sodom, and spare the city instead, if only 50 righteous people are found. God agrees.

But even more amazing, Abraham continues to negotiate (knowing that there are probably not even 50 righteous people in the whole city). He convinces God to agree to spare the city if only 45 righteous people are found, then 40, then 30, then 20, then 10. Wow! Of course, as the story goes, not even 10 people could be found righteous, so God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah anyway, but not before Lot and his family were rescued.

God was definitely influenced by Abraham's requests, and that's more confirmation that God's mind can be changed, or at least influenced. Because of Abraham's persistent pleas, God showed Him grace and gave in.

So in the above two examples, both mercy and grace are displayed by God. And both are His response to man's interaction with Him. And that's the key. We can actually interact with God! Perhaps the best and most powerful way is through prayer.

Here's the point....God interacts with us in real time. You could say He is a "real-time" God. He is relational. He listens to us and intervenes when He chooses to. He has an open ear, and we have the privilege of making our requests to Him.

And what's really comforting is the fact that whatever our requests are, God will at least consider them. And if He considers our payers, that means He will do what's best for us in the long run as far as how He answers them, or if He answers them, or when He answers them.

So keep on asking, keep on praying, and know that God is listening. And you never know, through His mercy and grace, you may convince Him to take action!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Ransom Of Captain Charlie Spade

The story of Captain Charlie Spade is similar to what happened to Captain Richard Phillips, the ship captain who was taken hostage by the Somali pirates in 2009 in the Indian Ocean, off the dreaded northeast African coast.

Picture this... the Estonia Emperor, with Charlie Spade at the helm. A 950 foot cargo container ship, cruising in the dark of night off the coast of Somalia, Africa. Things were going fine until they made a foolish mistake. They tried to make better time by taking a shorter route that brought them dangerously close to the shoreline, a practice that the shipping company prohibited. Nonetheless, Captain Charlie Spade and his crew took their chances, thought they could get away with it, and gambled that in the dark of night, while at full speed, they could avoid any possible pirate attack.

Sure enough, the worst case scenario unfolded. A small blip showed up on the radar, closing in fast. Armed pirates were chasing them down with the intent to board the ship, take the crew as hostages, and hold the ship until a large ransom was paid. Captain Spade tried to outrun them, but the huge vessel could only max out at about 28 knots. That's about 32 mph, no match for the pirate speed boat. 

The pirates reached the ship in no time. The crew had been alerted and was ready to try some evasive tactics such as turning on high power water canons which blasted water from the top of the ship toward the surface of the sea. However, the pirates were able to maneuver around that, and successfully throw hook and ladders to the side deck. Unlike the crew of the Estonia Emperor, who had no weapons on board, the pirates were heavily armed with machine guns, grenade launchers, and rifles. The crew had no recourse but surrender with their hands up as soon as the pirates spotted them. 

The pirates ordered Charlie to slowly bring the ship in close to the shore, anchor it, and wait for a ransom to be paid for the release of the ship as well as the crew. They were in trouble, not only because they were being held hostage, but also because they disobeyed company policy. The shipping company ended up paying a very large ransom...7 million dollars. After receiving the payment, the pirates released the ship and its crew, and they were set free. And even after discovering his illegal route, the shipping company reconciled their relationship with Captain Charlie Spade, and he continued to serve as a captain, convinced to never disregard any shipping company policy ever again. 

The story of Charlie Spade is an illustration of Biblical redemption. Charlie's disobedience got him in trouble, similar to how our sinful nature, early on in our lives, gets us in trouble. Charlie was held hostage. Similarly, we are held hostage by sin which can entangle us, shackle us, take us captive, and separate us from God. 

There's no way Charlie was going to be released by the pirates unless either force was taken or a ransom was paid. The definition of a ransom is this....."money that is paid in order to free someone who has been captured or kidnapped". In a sense, we are captured or kidnapped by sin, become separated from God, and there's no way to be released from sin except by God's own doing. 

The shipping company paid the high ransom price which freed Charlie Spade. Likewise, God paid our ransom price - the price to free us from the bondage of sin. It cost God a lot. This payment that freed Charlie redeemed him. To redeem is essentially to 'buy back' or better yet, to 'trade for payment', like redeeming a coupon at a department store. That coupon is as good as money.

Regarding the ship, the captain, and the crew, the shipping company said to the pirates, "They are mine!" And the company was willing to pay the price. Regarding us, as sinners, God says, "You are mine!" And He is willing to pay the price.

God must see every person as extremely valuable, even when it may seem that we are undeserving, unworthy, and sinful. That's proven by the astronomical price that He is willing to pay. The price God is willing to pay is the life of His one and only Son. But we must accept God's offer of the 'payment'. That's done through faith and obedience in Christ, committing our life to Him as our Redeemer, Savior, and Lord. If we accept the offer, Jesus trades His life for ours! The sacrifice of Jesus redeems us, frees us, forgives us, and reconciles us with God.

We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. It's true of every human. Still, because of His love and His grace, God's payment of ransom, through Jesus, is available to anyone. And just as Charlie Spade needed to be rescued, and just as his relationship with the shipping company needed to be reconciled, we can be rescued, and our relationship with God can be reconciled. Have you accepted God's offer to be redeemed, to be bought back? If so, walk faithfully. If you haven't yet, will you accept His offer to pay your ransom?

"For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him as your ransom long before the world began, but now in these last days he has been revealed for your sake. Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory. You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God." (1 Peter 1:18-23)