I like beef, pork, chicken, fish, and squirrel

PAUL HARVEY, MUCH-beloved radio personality, once quipped, “Vegetarian is an old Indian word for ‘doesn’t hunt well…’”[i]

I like vegetables, but I am no vegetarian.  I like meat – all kinds.  I like beef, pork, chicken, fish, and squirrel.  You didn’t expect the last one, did you?    Did you forget I grew up in rural Alabama?

I’m convinced there are many Bible vegetarians today.  There is no meat in their diet because they don’t hunt well.  They do not search or hunt through the Scriptures as they should.  Jesus declared, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5.39).  Had the Pharisees truly searched, they would have known that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah (John 7.52).

In contrast to the Pharisees, the Bereans were great hunters.  Of them, Luke records, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17.11).

THOUGHT:  What about us?  How well do we hunt (2 Timothy 2.15)?  Are we Bible vegetarians?

If we are searching the Scriptures as we should, there will be plenty of meat in our diets.  In fact, there might even be some strong meat or squirrel (Hebrews 5.12-14).  Don’t knock it until you have tried it! It tastes kind of like chicken.  Wade L. Webster

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  Hebrews 5.12-14

[i] Wait, Marianne. Laughter:  The Best Medicine.  Pleasantville, NY:  Reader’s Digest Publishing Company, Inc., 2006, p. 204.

— Mike Benson

 

Is Life Uphill?

Surprised? I’ll admit it. I was. Somewhere along the way I got the idea that the older I became, the simpler life would be.

I doubt that anyone ever told me so (they probably said just the opposite), but I always thought the easy life was just around the next hard decision. Now that I’m over half way home (surely!) I’ve accepted it. Life is uphill. It’s meant to be.

When I was in college I got up every morning at 5 a.m. to go over to the cafeteria to cook breakfast for those who got to sleep until 7.

I dreamed of the day when I could sleep that extra couple of hours.

Then I moved to Guatemala where the diesel-powered corn grinders and the roosters both crank up about 4 a.m. So much for sleeping late.

Life is uphill. You’ll have your own examples. Life does not become easier.

Complexity adds a degree of difficulty which keeps the path tilted uphill. I know now that it’s meant to be that way.

Rather than seeking the level path which takes us comfortably nowhere, let us learn how to run uphill. If that is truly the way life is, then we have been uniquely prepared to do it.

Let us live up to our creation calling. We are, after all, running for home.

Rom. 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

–Roger L. McCown

The Single Minister

“For a man to remain a bachelor, he must either keep a cool head, or cold feet.”

Barnabas, Jeremiah, Paul, Jesus Christ. What do these men have in common? They were single ministers.
Bachelors who served the Lord.

It fascinates me how resistant the church is today to the idea of single ministry. I don’t know how many church members say, “We prefer our preacher to be married.” That single preacher probably prefers to be married, too.

I am heartbroken to say I can name numerous men who have given up their dream of preaching because churches will not hire a man who is single. Is this any way to further the kingdom?

The New Testament tells us that elders are to be the husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:2). It says no such thing about a preacher’s wife.

Some suggest a single preacher may “have trouble with the women of the congregation.” Really? Isn’t that a question of character, not marital status? Have you ever known a married man to fancy himself a big hit with the ladies? Hire a man of character, regardless of his marital status.

Others suggest a single man is not mature. Folks, some of the most immature people I have ever known are married.

Still others suggest the wife can be involved in women’s activities. First, this places an unfair and unbiblical burden on preachers’ wives. The Bible says as much about the preacher’s wife as it does about the Hunger Games trilogy. (That was a joke; the Bible says nothing about the ubiquitous movie phenomenon).

The single preacher can minister to an increasingly growing demographic group in our churches, namely, single Christians. These people’s souls are just as valuable as the souls of married people. What is more, a singles group properly motivated can be one of the church’s greatest, most evangelistic assets.

Most startlingly important of all: We have placed a rule on our churches that the Bible never does. When we deny single ministers the opportunity to serve, brethren, we are being unscriptural!

Single women, too, can serve (under biblical conditions, naturally). They served both Paul and the Lord. Why not now?

Paul thought being single was an advantage in ministry.
He said so. “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:22,23, ESV). Jesus declared there was an honored place for the single, those who have chosen to be single “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12).

Brethren, it’s time someone said something about this! We are limiting ourselves as a fellowship when we shut these good people out of service. On the mission field, single people can serve without the limitations of a married man; in our pulpits they can serve with distinction, just as preachers in Bible times did. The Lord’s kingdom has been hurt by our blinders, our prejudice against single people. Let me be blunt and urgent. It needs to stop!

Have you tried using a minister who is single? Before you dismiss the idea, keep in mind the time he can give to the task, the concentration he can place on it. Or simply do this. When considering a man for ministry, look at his qualifications, his experience, his character. Leave his marital status to the Facebook page.

–by Stan Mitchell

Thomas slammed the door and Maggie was crushed

Thomas and Maggie sat in marriage counseling. Maggie dabbed at her swollen eyes as she cried about Thomas’
refusal to be affectionate to his wife of 32 years.

The counselor asked Thomas why he was cold towards her.

“That’s silly stuff. I won’t do it.”

“Maggie, did Thomas kiss you when you were dating?”

“All the time! I had to fight him off. Thomas even kissed me on our first date.”

“Did he hold your hand?”

Maggie smiled. “Absolutely! He was so romantic, bringing me flowers and candy.”

“Thomas, what changed?”

Thomas frowned. “Isn’t it obvious? I was a kid then. Look at me now!”

“Thomas, do you still love her?”

“Yeah.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“This is stupid. I’m leaving.”

Thomas slammed the door and Maggie was crushed.

A year later, the counselor saw Thomas in the park holding hands and kissing a new woman. Clearly, he had forgotten he was too old for affection.

A marriage without affection is like being frozen. We must be connected intimately with our spouse. Skin hunger is a very real thing.

Living without that connectivity leaves us empty. We cannot be one flesh with another person without affection. Being married roommates is desperately sad.

God commands us to be intimate. We are to be one in every way with our spouse (Genesis 2:18-25). Solomon begins his ode to passion in marriage, with the Shulamite woman saying, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Song of Solomon 1:2).

We must never let the passion die in our marriage. Marital love cannot breathe without affection. Our bodies are not ours and we must be fully engaged with our partner (1 Corinthians 7:1-5).

Start today with a touch, a hug and a kiss and rediscover what you have lost!

Richard Mansel

Are you like Job?

Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

In this chapter, Job continues his defense that he is innocent. He begins by saying: “I made a covenant with mine eyes” (v. 1). Job says he would not sin with his eyes.

What covenant did Job make with his eyes? Job says:
1. He will never look upon a woman with lust (v. 1). He says adultery is a heinous crime and is a sin that burns until it destroys everything (v.11-12). He says adultery will be punished by God: “For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges” (v.11).

I wish that every married man and woman would be like Job and make a covenant with their eyes and aware that adultery is a heinous crime that burns and destroys everything and will be punished by God. Christ knows and warns against looking at a woman with lust: “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Husbands and wives, make a covenant with your eyes.

2. He will not look upon his servants’ grievances and ignore them (V.13-15). He maintains he is a fair employer and treats his servants fairly. I like his attitude towards all men when he says all men are created by God and therefore are equal before God: “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” (v.15). We are all God’s creation and therefore, equal.

3. He will never look on a poor, or an orphan, or a widow in need and not offer help (v.16-23). He maintains he has been a benevolent person. He knows that God will judge the oppressor and it is this fear that keeps him on his toes: “For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure” (v.23).

4. He will not look upon his wealth and lust after it (v.24-28). He says though he was rich, he has never put his confidence in his wealth (v.24). He will not be overcome by pride because of his wealth (v.25). To him, covetousness is like idolatry; it would be amounting to denying his God: “This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above” (v.28).

Indeed, covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3: 5) and the apostle Paul warns against trusting in wealth and becoming puff up: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).

5. He will never look and rejoice over a fallen enemy (v.29-30). He has seen their destruction, and was far from rejoicing in it, and he has never wished a curse on their souls. Solomon says: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth” (Proverbs 24:17). The Christian attitude towards our enemies should be the same: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink” (Romans 12:20).

6. He will never look upon a stranger and deny hospitality to him (v.31-32). He maintains he has been very hospitable even to strangers. Do we do good only to those whom we love? The word of God says: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2).

7. He will never look on his sins and try to hide them (v.33-37). He says he will not be as Adam who tried to hide his sins from God (v.33). But he says he will lay his sins before God: “I would give him an account of all my steps” (v.37).

Likewise, as Christians, we are to be honest before God in confessing our sins so that we can receive forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

8. Lastly, he will never look upon somebody’s land and take it by force or deceit (v.38-40). He will not be like Jezebel who took the land of Naboth by deceit and murder (1 Kings 21:1-16). Job has been honest in his business dealings.

Have you made a covenant with your eyes? Our Lord says: “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Mark 9: 47).

If you have an eye that is filled with adultery, idolatry, hatred, covetousness, wickedness, or any such sins, you have to pluck it off. You need to be like Job: make a covenant with your eyes.

Jimmy Lau
Psa 119:97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Job and the “good old days”

Job was reminiscing the good old days. He looked back to the years of his prosperity and health he once enjoyed. To Job the period of his prosperity seems long, long ago. He wished he could turn back the clock and return to the past. Those were the days he said when God preserved him, watched over him and blessed him (v.2).

He remembered the days when his children were running around him (v.5). He recalled the days when he was well respected by the community and they waited for his counsel (v.7-11, 21). He recalled his good works and how he had helped the poor and the needy (v.8-16). Oh, those were the good old days in which he felt he had lived like a king (v.25). But those good old days were gone from him forever; at least, as we know it, for the time being.

One thing admirable about Job is that he never forgets that all good things come from God: “as in the days when God preserved me” (v.2b). Job referred his prosperity to God and was grateful to Him for it. Right now as he was wallowing in his misery, he still gave his praises to God for the good old days.

It’s a lesson for all of us: It is right and good to appreciate the divine blessings of the happy past. Job acknowledged that God had preserved him in past days. He was appreciative of God’s past blessings. His present condition did not affect his mind and cause him to forget all that God had done for him.

But not everyone is like Job. God has not been sufficiently appreciated by many. His blessings have not been acknowledged with merited gratitude. When felt deserted by God, the troubled man blasted that God does not love him; not now and never before. How ungrateful!

If you live in Singapore, you live in one of the most abundantly blessed lands in the world. This country enjoys plentiful food, housing, electricity, running water, wealth, air conditioning, world class transportation, first world sanitation, security, safety, and many other blessings. However, this land is also filled with chronic grumblers and complainers. Although there are countless blessings, there seem to always be countless things to gripe about—be it traffic, the economy, food prices, car and housing prices, desire for additional material possessions, ill health, etc. What is the problem? Ingratitude!

Children, have you ever complained that your parents do not love you? Why? Because they didn’t give you certain things you wanted then. But have you forgotten the past so many years they loved and adored you and still do? If they don’t love you, you will be in an orphanage home and not in this comfortable home with your own bedroom.

It has been said that ingratitude is the most common sin. The Israelites were not thankful that God had delivered them out of the Egyptian but kept complaining and disbelieving in the wilderness. Job’s wife had forgotten the good old days how God had prospered her family but told her husband to curse God and die (Job 2:9).

Gratitude is such a rare virtue that the scriptures have to keep reminding us to be thankful. Paul has to instruct the churches to be thankful: “And be thankful” (Colossians 3:5); “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Today may not be the best day in your life; give thanks anyway for it could have been worse. Moreover, in spite of it not being a good day, there are still so many good things to be thankful for. You are still alive and can see your children and loved ones; your children and loved ones are healthy and have food, shelter, jobs and are happy; your husband/wife loves you and is taking good care of you; you have wonderful friends who care about you; you have enjoyed the good old days; and you still feel love and being loved. Thank God for His blessings! Don’t let a tiny black spot on a beautiful picture hinders you from admiring the great piece of art; focus on the picture and enjoy it, and not the black spot.

Let us ever be grateful in whatever state we are in. When it is sunny for too long, we hope for the rain. But when the rain keeps pouring, we wish for the sun again. Sometimes too much of good things make us forget about God and so God sends the rain (pain) to remind us of His existence. Be thankful for the rain!

Jimmy Lau
Psa 119:97 Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

One of the things that most offended the Apostle Paul was idolatry.

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at

Athens, his spirit was provoked within him

as he saw that the city was full of idols”

(Acts 17:16 ESV).

Almost everyone has one or more pet peeves. Each of us has something which especially irritates and aggravates us. It may be a particular noise (chalk on a blackboard?) or a kind of music or movie. It may be someone else’s personal habits or mannerisms.

Most of us are pretty easily set off, usually by things that are relatively minor in true consequence.

One of the things that most offended the Apostle Paul was idolatry. After decades of traveling in lands where people still worship idols, I relate easily to his experience in Athens. The difference between Paul’s issue and ours is their relative importance.

There is much about idolatry that is offensive. First is its illogical nature (read for example Isaiah 44:9- 17). Living humans make inanimate objects with their own hands, then ascribe to them supernatural powers.  Where is the logic in that?

Idolatry is a false religion, based upon lies.

Idolatry also offends because of its great expense and waste. I have visited cities containing millions of poverty stricken citizens living in filth and hunger, but which were also filled with huge elaborate temples and idols of gold and other precious materials.

Those who built them were impervious to the needs of their fellow humans, and the false gods to whom they were built neither knew nor cared about their suffering.

Finally many idols offend through obscenity and pornography. Pagan religions depict their gods with human-like features and passions, and often show them engaged in profane and obscene acts.

These are not “art” with redeemable qualities, but an attempt to portray the worst and basest aspect of human (and divine) nature, while at the same time titillating and entertaining the worshipper.

The Holy Spirit describes this aspect of idolatry:

“For although they knew God, they did not

honor him as God or give thanks to him, but

they became futile in their thinking, and

their foolish hears were darkened. Claiming

to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged

the glory of the immortal God for images

resembling mortal man and birds and animals

and creeping things .. . They exchanged the

truth about God for a lie and worshiped and

served the creature rather than the Creator”

(Romans 1:21-23, 25).

Idolatry is offensive, especially to Christians who have turned to “the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9).

Those whose spirits are provoked by the sight of idols are responding properly. God himself is offended and enraged by such actions (Romans 1:24, 26).

He will abandon those who do those things to the inevitable consequences of their folly, and visit upon them wrath and retribution (Romans 2:6-11). May his people also be outraged and may they confront such rebellion at every opportunity.

— by Michael E. Brooks

Job’s Response & Ours Job 40:4-5; 42:3-6

Yesterday, we considered God’s response to Job’s “demand” for an audience with the Almighty. The four chapters that record God’s response (38-42) include 63 questions based on the NASV. That suggests that God was wanting to know what Job knew more than He was interested in conforming to Job’s expectations.

    Here I would like for us to meditate on Job’s response and ours, because forming God after our own image is idolatry.

OUR RESPONSE & JOB’S RESPONSE:

    After this barrage of questions from God that illustrate that mankind is simply not in the same category as the God of heaven, in 40:4-5, we have an initial response of Job. Before we try to question God and explain to God what He ought to have done differently or how He ought to do this or that, we would be wiser and show more humility if we were to respond more like Job. “I am insignificant. Once I have spoken. I will add nothing more.”

    A second response to God by Job is in 42:3-6. Our danger today, maybe is not to worship idols, but to have the idea that we know how God ought to do this or that. We are also faced with the danger of trying to force God, to manipulate God, into being the “God” that we think He ought to be. 

    God is not accountable to us. We cannot put Him under a microscope for our approval. The book of Job teaches us that we can trust God because He loves us. He did not lash out at Job the moment Job began expressing his doubts. Rather, God was graciously patient with Job. Did God ever explain to Job that it was, in fact, Satan who was persecuting Job? No, as far as we know, God never explains to Job what happened in chapters 1-2. Maybe Job himself wrote those chapters; maybe he did not. But you and I have them. You and I have the whole story.

    But we do not just have the whole story of Job. We have the whole story of the Bible which includes the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins and for our salvation. We cannot choose what we like and what we do not like about the nature of God. If we are doing that, then we are making a god after our own image. 

    God created us to serve Him. He created us to worship Him and be in His presence throughout all eternity. The only way we can know God and the only way we can know what God expects out of us is the word that the Holy Spirit gave to us. That’s why it is so important to walk with Christ with His Word in our hands and in our hearts.

    Let us strive to be people who would serve God for nothing, grateful to be in a relationship with Him, Who is so worthy.

–Paul Holland

Strengthen your union daily and never let anything weaken it

At the dawn of God’s creation, God declared that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:1-31). Within this realm of creation, God created mankind.

“So God created man in his own image, in the

image of God he created him; male and female

he created them. And God blessed them. And

God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply

and fill the earth and subdue it and have

dominion over the fish of the sea and over

the birds of the heavens and over every

living thing that moves on the earth'”

(Genesis 1:26-27).

This was God’s ultimate creation since it was man in whom he gave not only the breath of life but an eternal soul (Genesis 2:7).

To his creation of man and woman, God gave instructions as to their worldly union. Man being alone, God deemed that he must have a “help meet” (Genesis 2:18). So from man God formed for him a suitable creation (Genesis 2:21-22).

Man’s response to this new creature was as follows:

“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:

and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24, KJV).

God instituted a union between the man and woman that was to be a binding stronger than steel, yet tempered by love.

The words translated “hold fast” (cleave) is from the Hebrew word dabaq which means, “to cling, stick, stay close, cleave, keep close, stick to, stick with, follow closely, join to, overtake, catch.”

This God instituted union is manifest in the love that binds man and woman together into one unit. It is because of this love that King Solomon notes:

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and

obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs

18:22).

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved

the church and gave himself up for her”

(Ephesians 5:25).

In essence when a man and woman commit themselves to this union, it is as much a blessing to them as it was to the first man and woman at the dawn of time.

Let us each look into the mirror of our souls and see if we are manifesting such a love in our God-instituted union.

* Take the time to tell your spouse of your undying love.

* Show them your love by your actions.

* Never take each other for granted.

* Strengthen your union daily and never let anything weaken it.

“But from the beginning of the creation God

made them male and female. For this cause

shall a man leave his father and mother, and

cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be

one flesh: so then they are no more twain,

but one flesh. What therefore God hath

joined together, let not man put asunder”

(Mark 10:6-9).

by John E. Werhan

Everything I Needed to Know About Life I Learned From a Jigsaw Puzzle

1. Don’t force a fit — if something is meant to be, it will come together naturally.

2. When things aren’t going so well, take a break. Everything will look different when you return.

3. Be sure to look at the big picture. Getting hung up on the little pieces only leads to frustration.

4. Perseverance pays off. Every important puzzle went together bit by bit, piece by piece.

5. When one spot stops working, move to another. But be sure to come back later (see #4).

6. The creator of the puzzle gave you the picture as a guidebook. Refer to the Creator’s guidebook often.

7. Variety is the spice of life. It’s the different colors and patterns that make the puzzle interesting.

8. Working together with friends and family makes any task fun.

9. Establish the border first. Boundaries give a sense of security and order.

10. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations. Some matches are surprising.

11. Take time often to celebrate your successes (even little ones).

12. Anything worth doing takes time and effort. A great puzzle can’t be rushed.

13. When you finally reach the last piece, don’t be sad. Rejoice in the masterpiece you’ve made and enjoy a well-deserved rest.

(Copyright 2001, Jacquie Sewell)

There’s much good advice in there for Christian living.  Take #7, for example.  There is much variety in the Lord’s church — not only variety of color, but variety of background, and variety of temperament.

Some Christians would be happy if they were locked in a room filled with books totally isolated from society; other Christians would go crazy if they didn’t have contact with people on a regular basis.  Some Christians are fascinated by the theological arguments of the writer of Hebrews; other Christians are more moved by the depth of emotion expressed in the Psalms.  Some Christians most enjoy expressing their love through doing things to help other people; other Christians get a great deal of satisfaction by writing notes of encouragement or giving hugs.

We sometimes wish that everybody else in the church was “just like me,” but the things that make us different are actually a blessing.  In I Corinthians 12, Paul compared the church to a human body.  He wrote:

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?  If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.  And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (1 Cor. 12:17-19)

Though it sometimes gets frustrating, be thankful for the differences between us.  We need the things which other Christians have to offer.  It is that variety which allows the church to function as a body.  Those differences make us stronger.  Thank God for the variety!

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

A Bible study on angels

Angels

Definitions:  Both Hebrew mal’ak and Greek angelos = “messenger.”  Sometimes used of human messengers (Matt. 11:10; Lk. 7:24, 9:52; Jas. 2:25), but in vast majority of uses, refers to divine messengers and heavenly representatives.  Hebs. 1:14 provides the primary biblical definition: “ministering spirits.”  Angels are created beings, not “gods” (Ps. 148:5; Col. 3:16) and therefore not to be worshiped (Rev. 19:10, 22:8-9).

Examples of Revelatory Activities:

Gen. 18 – Told Abraham he would have a son

Gen. 19 – Warned Lot re destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah

Ex. 3 – Appeared to Moses in burning bush & commissioned him to free Israel

Ex. 23 – Led Israelites through wilderness

Hebs. 2:2; Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19 – Delivered Law to Moses

Luke 1 – Announced births of John the Baptist & Jesus

Matt. 4 – Ministered to Jesus after wilderness temptations

Matt. 28 – Rolled away stone at Resurrection & announced it to women

Acts 1 – Present at Ascension, told disciples Jesus would come again

Rev. 1:1 – Delivered the Revelation to John

Note:  All of the above show what a tremendous claim is made in Hebs. 1-2 in saying that Christ is “better than” the angels.

Angels in the Old Testament:

Gen. 16:7-13, 21:17-20, 22:11-18

Ex. 3:2ff

Judges 6:1ff

Daniel 7:10

Deut. 33:2

Angels in the New Testament:

 Messengers of God & ministers to humans – Rev. 19:10; Lk. 15:10, Matt. 18:10;

Acts 12:15; Hebs. 1:14

Visitations to humans – Lk. 1:11-20, 26-38; Matt. 1-2; Acts 5:19ff, 8:26, 10:3ff,

12:7-10, 27:23; Hebs. 12:22; Rev. 5:11

Association with giving the Law – Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Hebs. 2:2

Participants in Judgment – Matt: 16:27; Mk. 8:38, 13:27; 2 Thess. 1:7ff

Splendor – Matt. 28:2ff; Lk. 2:9; Acts 1:10

Observe Christian worship – 1 Cor. 11:10

Miscellaneous – Rom. 8:38; Gal. 1:8; 1 Cor. 13:1; Col. 2:18

Fallen Angels – 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6

“Guardian Angels”?

The concept that each person has a personal angel who watches over him/her is nowhere clearly articulated in Scripture, but people sometimes use these references:

Matt. 18:10 – “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Acts 12:15 – “They said, ‘It is his angel!” (referring to Peter after his miraculous release from prison).

Rev. 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14 – the “angels” of the seven churches of Asia (although the exact meaning of this is uncertain).

Other Names for Angels:

             “Holy ones” – Job 5:1; Ps. 89:5 & 7; Dan. 8:13

“Sons of God” – Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7 (some say Gen. 6:13, but this is questionable)

“Seraphim” – Isaiah 6:1-3.  Mentioned only in Isaiah; human in form, but with 6  wings.  Function = to lead in worship of God (cf. Rev. 4:6ff, 5:8ff).

Apparently derived from Heb. saraph (= to burn); “burning ones,” “shining ones.”

“Cherubim” – Gen. 3:24; Ezek. 28:14, 16; Ps. 80:1, 99:1; Isaiah 37:16; Ex.  25:18-20; 2 Sam. 22:11; Hebs. 9:5, etc.  Stand guard over the way to  the tree of life.  Wooden images of them were set over the ark of the covenant.  Mentioned 91 times in OT, once in NT. But never clearly defined, and described in a variety of ways.

“Archangels” – 1 Thess. 4:16; Jude 9.  Possibly referred to in Rev. 8:2, 7, 10, 12; 9:1, 13; 11:15.  Only “Michael” is positively identified as an “archangel” (Jude 9; Rev. 12:7), but “Gabriel” is probably to be so identified as well due to the nature of his mission.  Note:  Michael  & Gabriel are the only 2 angels in the Bible who have names.

Tommy South

The world still hates truth

The first amendment to the United States Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.” However, as homosexuality and abortion are praised in the media, opposing voices are labeled as deviants and fools.

Public speech is no longer free as the founders intended. Efforts are under way to silence Christians from sharing what the Bible says. But this is really nothing new to God’s people. We have faced these challenges before.

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me [Jesus] before it hated you” (John 15:18, NKJV). The Apostles were told to stop preaching Jesus and they replied, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego stood up to the authorities and refused to stop praying to God (Daniel 3:8-18; 6:10-23).

Paul faced a mob in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-30) and another in Jerusalem (Acts 21:26-40). He was stoned in Lystra (Acts 14:8-20) and faced a shipwreck in Acts 27.

Centuries later, we’re still facing the same powerful spiritual enemy (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Paul faced death on numerous occasions, but he refused to stand down against sin (2 Corinthians 11:22-33). He would not be cowed. In the last recorded chapter of his writings, he said to remain firm in the Word and face the afflictions that will come (2 Timothy 4:2-5).

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

God has not “given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). With courage and resolve, we must be willing to give everything up to stand firm for God’s Word. He is watching and weighing our responses to the pressures of a pagan society.

Will we pass the test?

Richard Mansel

A people. A land. A law.

I was born March 17, 1971 in St. Louis, MO, into the Holland family, which belongs to the “American Family.” The American family dwells on the North American continent. The American family, to which I belong, is defined by its laws, preeminently the U. S. Constitution. A people. A land. A law.

In order for God to become flesh, He had to be born. Therefore, He needed a family – a people – a land and a law. The Old Testament is the story of God preparing for the coming of Jesus. God chose Abraham to be the “Father of his country” because Abraham, in the midst of unbelief and paganism, obeyed God (Genesis 22:16-18).

God took Abraham’s descendants, the Hebrews, into slavery in Egypt. After 430 years, at Mount Sinai, God formed them into a people – the nation of Israel, a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:6). The people needed a law; God gave them the Law of Moses to define them as a people. They also needed a land. God had promised Abraham the land under his feet (Genesis 15:18-21). God fulfilled that promise under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 21:43-45).

Everything was ready in its broad outlines for the coming of Jesus. The plan was for Israel to receive the birth of the Messiah and then proclaim Him as the Savior of all mankind to the entire world. But Israel had a hard time staying monotheistic (believing in one God). That issue began at Mount Sinai with the golden calf (Exodus 32). God eventually sent them into 70 years of slavery in Babylon to cure them of polytheism. The rest of the Old Testament details how God pruned the Israelite nation until He had a “faithful remnant.”

That remnant was composed of such people as Zacharias and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, Simeon and Anna, Nathaniel and others. When the Messiah did come, born of the virgin Mary, the remnant accepted Him, obeyed His word and became members of His new nation – the church.

Read the Bible with its overall theme in mind: The salvation of man through Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

Learn more about the Bible with this FREE Bible study.

–Paul Holland

If you were a member of a persecuted church, how would it change you?

Imagine it’s Sunday morning.  You and your family put on jeans and t-shirts and get ready to go to the mountains.  You carry with you a large picnic basket, and your children carry with them a baseball and a couple gloves.  You arrive at the mountains, pile out of the car and take about a two mile trek on a trail that apparently leads to your picnic area.  As you make your way along the trail, you keep a watchful eye to make sure that no one is following you.  Finally, you arrive at a bend in the trail where you are greeted by two men who point to a hidden cave off the trail about a hundred yards away.  The two men remain on the trail, keeping a vigilant watch.  As you enter the cave, you are warmly greeted with embraces by several other families who have already arrived.  The gloves and ball are put aside, the picnic basket is emptied, a false bottom removed, and four Bibles are distributed to your family.  Lanterns are lit, and the group moves deeper into the cave.  Meanwhile, the two men who were watching the path, now make their way to the cave, cover the entrance with brush, and also join you in a deep recess in the cave.  Everything is now ready.  It’s now time for worship services to begin.

While such a scenario seems so unlikely to ever become a reality for most of us reading this, it is what countless brothers and sisters in Christ have had to do in other times, and in other places in order to worship God without reprisal.

Question: “If you were a member of a persecuted church, how would it change you?”

Would worship become more meaningful to you, and less rote?  Would the bonds of fellowship you have with those who share the same convictions about Jesus be strengthened and treasured more so than they are treasured presently?  Would your prayer life be stronger and more vital to your daily life?  Would you be more willing to overlook personality differences and even conflicts with those who share your faith and who share the willingness to risk their lives?  Would you be less likely to pick flaws with each other and more likely to search out ways to maintain peace?  Would you be less critical about peripheral matters that really seem to bother you today?

“Lord, help us behave more like a persecuted church!”

By Steve Higginbotham

Did you engage in any “April Fool’s Day” tricks?

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking’” (Proverbs 26:19 NKJV).

April 1, or “April Fool’s Day” is a much loved tradition in many areas of North America and Europe. From old clichéd routines to elaborate practical jokes, there will be a lot of “ha, ha, I fooled you” peals of triumph. Those who are the brunt of these jokes will mostly receive them with forced smiles and grudging, “yes, I fell for it,” keeping their resentment or bored “oh, no, not that again,” secret thoughts to themselves.

Many such jokes are truly meant to be in simple good fun, without any intention of doing harm or causing embarrassment or shame. The prudent person is mindful of the calendar, knows such things are likely to come his or her way, and takes them in stride, conceding the jokester’s deceptive cunning with good grace.

But Solomon wisely observed almost three millennia ago, not all jokes are innocent of harmful intent. Many who play practical jokes delight in seeing their victims become uncomfortable or even worse. The wise King likened such deceptions to the random shooting of weapons in crowded places. Those are not the acts of a friend in good humor; they are the behavior of someone who is deranged.

Most of the pranks we see are designed to put the victim at a disadvantage. The intent is to deceive, but also all too frequently to belittle. “I fooled you” is a claim to superiority, a victory shout, and the motive of the jokester is poorly concealed. Far too often, the only way some people know to make themselves feel more important is to humiliate someone else. Jokes are to them a means of accomplishing that.

I have long held to a precaution when inviting others to participate with me in mission campaigns. I ask them to please abstain from any practical jokes while we are traveling and working together. We will have enough problems dealing with unfamiliar environments and cultures, not to mention the inevitable rude surprises we will face. We simply do not need to have to watch our backs to protect ourselves from each other. After a long day of preaching, traveling, and crisis resolution, I don’t relish the idea of finding that my “friend” has placed a dead snake under my pillow.

Come to think of it, I don’t know of any circumstance where I would “enjoy” that experience. It might be fun to others to hear me scream (or watch me die of a heart attack?), but not for me. Does anyone see a possible application of the Golden Rule here? It is hard to miss isn’t it? Most jokes are only fun to one half of the participants. The other half is not amused.

In Paul’s list of things that should “not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints” we find “foolish talking and coarse jesting” (Ephesians 5:3-4). Rather than spend precious time on such things he recommends “giving of thanks.” Previously he had commanded, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

The jester considers how he might amuse himself at the expense of another. The Holy Spirit urges us to consider how we might encourage the other, and contribute to his or her well-being. As Christians, let us each enjoy our first day of April and use it well. But let us allow others to be the “Fools.”

Michael Brooks

Is my faith a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity?

THE CHRISTIAN LANDSCAPE is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers…the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish…

 

For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow Him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so.  The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so-called “nominal Christianity”. 

 

In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity.  They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved; enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable.  Their religion is a great, soft cushion.  It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their conveniences.

 

No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism.  John R. W. Stott

 

“For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish’?  Luke 14:28-30

 

–Mike Benson

Job 16:2 I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all.

The modern saying, “Who needs enemies when I’ve got you for friends?” could well have been used by Job to refer to his friends. “Miserable comforters” — this is what Job called his three friends who had come to comfort him. Job’s friends had come professedly to comfort him, and no doubt were sincere in their intentions. But Job finds no help at all in the speeches of the “comforters” (verses 2-6). Instead of yielding comfort, all that they said served only to irritate, and to deepen his distress.

Are we better comforters than Job’s friends? What should we do when someone we care about has just suffered a tragedy? Crises in life happen to us all. Surely we can think of someone who is currently having a physical/health problems, another has psychological problems and is depressed, another does not have steady employment, another is stressed out carrying for a sick child/parent, another has marriage problems, and another has wayward children. How are we going to help these hurting friends? Or even this, how can we avoid hurting them more?

What do we say to someone whose heart is grieving and broken? How can we in any way be of help to them when they need us the most? Here are 4 easy steps:

(Please read Job 2:11-13)

  1. BE THERE.

Just being there is comforting to a friend. It shows you care about him. Job’s friends came as soon as they heard about his tragic experience. They dropped all of their own affairs and came rushing to be by his side. They stayed with him for seven whole days without saying a word. Just being there is a source of comfort. “I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” (Matthew 25:36).

  1. BE QUIET.

Some said: “I don’t know what to say by way of comforting them.” Job’s friends didn’t utter a single word for seven days. Sometimes that is the very best thing to do: Be Quiet. Many times, especially when comforting those who are heavy hearted, it is best to simply be quiet. It is better to be quiet than to say the wrong thing. Imagine going to a friend’s father funeral and says: “Well, we all have to go some time.” That’s not very comforting. “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding” (Proverbs 17:18).

  1. BE SYMPATHETIC.

When friends are emotionally distraught, it is not a time to lecture them: “See, I told you not to go there.” Being sympathetic means being understanding, non-judgmental, and helpful regarding real needs. Job’s friends didn’t tell him to “cheer up,” or “look on the bright side,” or even assure him that “God works all things for good.” Instead they simply came to “mourn with him” (Job 2:11). Be sympathetic and caring: “But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him” (Luke 10:33).

  1. BE EDIFYING.

Speak words of encouragement. When someone we care about is heavy hearted, our carefully chosen words need to be positive in nature. We should comfort them with kind words or memories about their loved ones. We could also comfort them from the Scriptures. If it is a death in the family, we could remind them of the promise of God that we will be reunited with loved ones in glory. “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the sou, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

The best way to comfort is just be there with the grieving one. Brethren, visit the sick in hospital and go to a wake. Don’t give excuse that you don’t know the family or what to say to this family member when the church member is not around at the bedside; just be there. The sight that church members are concerned about the family is comforting to them. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

Jimmy Lau

Psa 119:97  Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Getting a Grip on Anxiety

    Although everyone is different, anxiety is a very common plague. Sometimes anxiety paralyzes folks from being productive; sometimes it can lead to ulcers and other ailments; sometimes it effects marriages, as well as other relationships. How do we get a grip on anxiety?

First of all, we focus on God. Sometimes we become overly anxious because our thoughts are too physically oriented. Jesus tells us that His Father will provide if we seek first His kingdom (Mt. 6:33). During a time of persecution, Peter said, “set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pt. 1:13).

Secondly, to overcome anxiety, we should focus on prayer. This is obviously related to the first point. In Philippians 4, Paul discusses how true peace and joy can be achieved. (Peace is the opposite of anxiety.) He states, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (4:6). Learn to pray about things that trouble you. God cares, so cast your care upon Him (1 Pt. 5:7)! He is well able to bear them for us.

Finally, focusing on others can help with anxiety. Sometimes focusing on others helps us to see how blessed we truly are. Ironically, helping others is extremely helpful to our own well-being. Christ said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

If you are struggling with anxiety, elevate your focus above yourself!

Daren Scrhoeder

Wednesday: “Don’t Worry! That was ____ Years Ago!”

Here is also a new 20 minute audio sermon on forgiveness.
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As an immigrant, my mother lived in constant fear of deportation. You could miss up to four questions on the citizenship test, Mom missed five. The question she flunked on was: “What is the Constitution of the United States?” The answer she gave was: “A boat.” Which wasn’t entirely wrong. The USS Constitution was docked in Boston. But the judge instantly denied her citizenship. My father stormed up to the judge. “What is this? Let me see the test! She’s not wrong–the Constitution is a boat!” The judge rolled his eyes and said, “No, the Constitution is our basic governing document. My father responded, “But it’s also a boat in Boston! The Constitution! Same thing! Come on!” The judge finally couldn’t take any more. He said, “Fine. She’s a citizen. Now get out of here!” So my father said to my mom, “you passed!” “No, I didn’t pass,” she whimpered. “They’re going to come after me!” From then on, any time my mother was even in the proximity of a policeman, she quaked with fear. When I took her to Scotland in 1983, she asked me, “Will I be able to get back in?” “Ma! Don’t worry! That was 50 years ago!” It never ended.” –Jay Leno

Has something ever laid such guilt on your heart? You know, to the point that it consumes you and you can hardly think of anything else?

The great Judge, and Savior of mankind, has promised to forgive us when we repent. Add to that, he declares “Don’t worry! That was _______ years ago!”

I think it’s often difficult for us to let go of our sins even years later. There’s often a fear that someway, somehow, God is still going to hold it to our charge.

Here’s what God says:

I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins (Isa 43:25).
And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Heb 10:17).
See, if God will let it go, you should too! This is one devotional point that needs repeating over, and over again. So many live their lives dwelling on the forgiven past. God promises that if we sin, and if we repent and ask God to forgive us, He will.

I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

–Neil Richey

As Christians, we are constantly exposed to an enemy far more dangerous than any swarm of bees.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord

and in the power of His might. Put on the

whole armor of God, that you may be able to

stand against the wiles of the devil”

(Ephesians 6:10-11 NKJV).

In a visit to Makwanpur district in Nepal, I was surprised at the number of bee hives that we saw. There were many groups of several dozen hives clustered in fields along our route.

As we departed the district after a few days of teaching we saw men working the hives, uncovering them, taking out the component parts, and inspecting the health and productivity of the bees.

The surprising part of this, to me at least, was the fact that the workers had protective nets over their heads and faces, but many of them wore short sleeved shirts with no gloves.

They were only partially protected against the stings of upset bees. If the bees were harmless, why wear the nets? If harmful, why not be completely protected? I suppose only the hive workers themselves could account for their choice.

As Christians, we are constantly exposed to an enemy far more dangerous than any swarm of bees. Paul reminds us:

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and

blood, but against principalities, against

powers, against the rulers of the darkness

of this age, against spiritual hosts of

wickedness in the heavenly places”

(Ephesians 6:12).

He follows this ominous warning with an emphatic exhortation, “Therefore take up the whole armor of God” (v. 13).

Many of us have heard numerous sermons on the armor of God. We are familiar with Paul’s list of parts–the belt, shoes, helmet, breastplate, shield, and sword.  Though we may have never equipped ourselves with the literal military clothing as it is described, we understand the nature and use of each piece.

It is not difficult to translate that understanding to the spiritual realm and to apply Paul’s lesson to our lives. To successfully battle against sin and temptation, we must have an abundance of faith, truth, peace, and righteousness. That much is clear.

But we may miss the importance of Paul’s adjective, “whole.” It is sometimes said of complex objects, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

For instance a gourmet dish is worth far more than the combined value of each item in the recipe. I suggest that the same applies to the Christian’s armor. Though each virtue is important, its value is lessened greatly if it is not accompanied by the others.

In Greek mythology, Achilles was dipped in water that rendered him invulnerable. However, the heel by which he was held was not submerged. It later became the cause of his demise.

We cannot afford to leave any vulnerable areas by which Satan may attack and defeat us.

It is urgent that we address every part of our lives to assure that each component of God’s spiritual armor is in place, protecting us and equipping us for battle.

Some trust in a good moral life to provide salvation, even though they do not confess Christ or seek to serve God. They rely upon their breastplate, but neglect to carry their shield.

Others choose different elements of the armor, while still rejecting parts they consider less important.

An ancient soldier’s equipment was carefully chosen to protect him from every possible danger. No warrior willingly omitted any part of it.

All was necessary in the battle. That is even truer today for the Christian soldier. We must be fully equipped. Let us never face our enemy unprepared.

–by Michael E. Brooks