Archives for : May2011

Summing up the book of Ecclesiastes

“What’s the Use?”

If you read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. 9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth? 10 I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised therewith. 11 He hath made everything beautiful in its time: also he hath set eternity in their heart, yet so that man cannot find out the work that God hath done from the beginning even to the end.

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, you will find a very negative passage. Just before these verses, in the last part of 2:26, Solomon notes that “All is vanity and striving after the wind.” He then summarizes the first 8 verses of chapter 3 by writing in verse 9, “What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?!” In light of the truths expressed in verses 1-8, there seems to be no profit or value in laboring at all, because everything a man does eventually comes undone!

I see two things these verses are teaching us: (1) Life is frustrating, and (2) Life is frustrating for a purpose.

Just as there are seasons in nature, so are there seasons in our lives. There is a season of laughter, but it won’t last long – it will be followed ay a season of tears, but then, that won’t last long either, it will be followed by another season of happiness!

We fought WW1, — then peace; then came WW2, followed by peace; then came the Korean War, followed by peace; then theVietnam War, etc., etc. Things just keep on turning, turning, turning.

When you stop to think about it, life is pretty frustrating. You get something nailed down, but the nails eventually come loose or rust away. Nothing that man does will stay done forever. You may plant a perennial plant that blooms year after year, but eventually you’ll have to replace it. You can put a new roof on a house and it may last 40 years, but eventually you’ll have to replace it. I’m sure housewives could add a couple hundred things along this line: Wash dishes, but they don’t stay clean; make beds, but they don’t stay made; labor for two house in a hot kitchen to prepare a meal that’s devoured in ten minutes, and the family expects you to begin doing it all over again!

What’s the use of bringing a new life into the world when that little one will eventually grow, suffer and die? Doctors could conclude, “What’s the use of healing people, they will eventually die anyway!” Why labor and sacrifice for our children who will just grow up, leave home, and eventually forget all the sacrifices we made for them? Why give yourself totally to one man or one woman when the odds are 50/50 that your spouse will turn against you? Even preachers are tempted to say, “Why work so hard studying and preparing sermons when the majority will ignore them and their lives never change?”

When we look at life like this, everything does seem pretty pointless, doesn’t it? But the REASON it seems pointless is because such a view is only *two dimensional,* that is, we are looking at ourselves in lieu of this world, and God is no where in the picture! Without God in our lives, life will always seem like a mass of contradictions – and that’s exactly what the whole book of Ecclesiastes is trying to teach us!

In verses 1-9, God is not mentioned even once. But when we get to verses 10 & 11, we are told that the hand of God is in *everything* that happens; everything is overseen by Him; and in all these things, God has a purpose; and that purpose is “That we can be exercised in them!”

Now think about this. In every season of life: birth/death — healing/killing – weeping/laughing – war/peace, there is a purpose! And that purpose is so we can be *exercised in it.*

Finally, in verse 11, we read that God has also set eternity in their heart (NKJV, ESV, ASV). God allows all these frustrations of life so that we will seek something *permanent.* In this life, things just keep on turning, turning, and turning. We want off this merry-go-round, but every road we travel comes to a dead end! How do we “put on the brakes?” We get out of the two dimensional arena, and step into the three dimensional arena – the one that includes God! The purpose for your good times and bad is to make you realize that this world is not your final home. That should ignite that “sense of eternity” which will cause you to seek God. That’s the first purpose of this life. And amid all the dead end streets, there is still one way out, and only One Way. “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6John 14:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me.

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–Toby Miller

Father's day sermon

BEING A DAD: A DIVINE PRIVILEGE 

Text: Luke 15:11-24Luke 15:11-24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of thy substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country; and there he wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 But when he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: 19 I am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 and bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

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Reading: Psalm 78:4-7Psalm 78:4-7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of Jehovah, And his strength, and his wondrous works that he hath done. 5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which he commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; 6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children that should be born; Who should arise and tell them to their children, 7 That they might set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep his commandments,

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Introduction: 

In thinking about today being Father’s Day, I found two top-ten lists I thought you would like. 

The Top Ten Dinner Dishes When Mom’s Away and Dad’s “Cooking”

10. Hot dogs with just a hint of Tabasco.

9. “Kids eat free” night at the steak house.

8. Pizza.

7. Broiled bologna benedict on rye.

6. Back-of-the-fridge goulash (with lots of pepper).

5. Chips & salsa.

4. Cocoa Puff surprise.

3. Something old, something blue, something frozen, call it stew.

2. Cold pizza.

1. Whatever’s cooking at Grandma’s. 

The Top 10 Tips for Fathers on Changing Diapers

10. Always use protective eye wear.

9. If you need a third hand, use your teeth!

8. Avoid changing baby on new persian rug.

7. Reach finger down back of diaper to see if there’s a “doodie.”

6. When you run out of baby oil, use Old Spice.

5. Insure proper ventilation, avoid open flames.

4. Always feed baby lots of apricots 3 to 4 hours prior.

3. Never scratch and sniff.

2. Be careful with high-pressure spray nozzles on baby.

1. Recycle! Recycle! Recycle! 

Father’s Day is a great day to honor our Fathers and to think about the concept of Fatherhood. Fatherhood is a divine privilege – a gift from God. Fatherhood is often overshadowed by the beauty of Motherhood, but in our society today we are beginning to see the impact of a fatherless generation. 

Former Vice President Dan Quayle has said, “…the failure of our families is hurting America

deeply … When families fail, society fails …. children need love and discipline. They need mothers and fathers. A welfare check is not a husband. The state is not a father. It is from parents that children learn how to behave in society ….. it is from parents above all that children come to understand values and themselves as men and women, mothers and fathers ….. Bearing babies irresponsibly is, simply, wrong. Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong. We must be unequivocal about this.” 

Father’s are an integral part to healthy family life. Today we want to focus on a Father in Scripture that can teach us all about taking full advantage of the divine privilege of Fatherhood.

We don’t know his name or the names of his sons. We know very little about him other than he was the one that Jesus chose to use to illustrate to us the relationship of the child of God to the Heavenly Father. He was the father of two sons. One is called the ‘prodigal’. A prodigal is a person who is recklessly extravagant; or characterized by wasteful expenditure. 

Often we are given the idea that there was one good son and one bad son, but that isn’t the way the parable goes. Both boys had some problems, and their father dealt with each one individually. Today we want to focus on the father rather than on the sons. Read Text. 

What are the qualities of this father in this parable that show us what a divine, God-given privilege it is to be a father? 

1. HE WAS AN APPROACHABLE FATHER (12-18) 

A. The family history is unknown. Perhaps these boys’ mother had passed away? The father is left alone to rear his sons. There is also an indication that they were a wealthy family. 

B. The younger son had dreams. He wanted to travel and see things he had never seen before. He wanted to go to the far country. Someone said… He dreamed of a great task, but found great temptation. He dreamed of adventure, but instead he found agony. He dreamed of prestige, but he found poverty. He dreamed of romance, but he wound up in rags. He dreamed of happiness, but found himself in the hog pen. 

But this son, when he wanted something, went to his father. Some would have slipped away without talking with his father. Still others might have gotten someone else to intercede on their behalf. 

C. This father was approachable by his sons, Men, and we need to be approachable. Can your children come to you about anything? Have you made yourself available to them? One of the most basic responsibility of being a father is being there. From Birth to age 21, we are awake for 105,000 hours.

10,000 are spent at school

2100 are spent at church

92,000 are spent at home

The average father spends 7-10 minutes/week in exclusive time with his kids. 

Penelope Stokes wrote: “A full half your sixty years were spent in fathering: watching down long dark nights in hospital halls; waiting for fish to bite; teaching that value lies in people, not in things. You could have fished alone, worked overtime, bought loyalty with toys, and made amends with money for the times we were alone—Some fathers do. Instead, you lived the truth that money can’t buy happiness…declined promotions, turned down jobs that only offered status, or more pay, and proved, with all your life, that a father’s occupation is his love.” 

Barbara Bush wrote: “If you have a child you must make a commitment to that child as if your job performance review evaluation depended on it. For many of you there will be hard choices. You will be busy. You’re going to be tired. You’re going to be torn in many directions, but your children must come first in your life. Remember, at the end of your life, you will never regret not passing one more test or winning one more verdict or closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband or wife, a child, a parent or friend.” 

The Father’s role in the home demands that he be an approachable person. He is to provide for his family. (1 Timothy 5:81 Timothy 5:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 But if any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.

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“If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”) 

He is to nurture his family. (Ephesians 6:4Ephesians 6:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.

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“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.) 

He is to provide for good memories. (Colossians 3:21Colossians 3:21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 Fathers, provoke not your children, that they be not discouraged.

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“Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.) 

He is to provide training in spiritual things. (Proverbs 22:6Proverbs 22:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.

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“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”) 

To do these things in the best way, the father must be approachable. What makes this a divine privilege? It gives you a chance to walk in the footsteps of our heavenly Father who is approachable. (He hears us, he loves us, he invites us, he answers us.) 

2. HE WAS A SPIRITUAL FATHER (18) 

A. When his son thought about what he had done he realized that he had sinned. That seems to indicate that his dad had taught him right. The son considered that he had sinned against the father, and heaven. What an impact that father had on his son. Fathers, are we making the proper impression on our children? 

My Father’s Legacy by John Hendrix 

“There’s a portrait of my father, It’s the mirror in the hall,

Though the age is very different, And the semblance is quite small.

But the mind behind the mask, Bears the imprint of the years

With a man of many vices, Who brought very many tears.

His anguished disposition, Gained at birth or growing up

Fights my mind to gain control, And in my actions to erupt. 

He went on to write, “Despite all of the trouble and strife we knew that he loved us. And we all loved him. There was much to love about him. I am my father’s son, and the works of my father, at times, I will do: the bad and the good. The bad – with my repentance and God’s grace – can be forgotten. The good will last: a fitting tribute to someone who deserved some honor. After all is said and done, I am my father’s legacy. To eliminate the bad and imitate the good – to lead as good a life as I can – is the best tribute that I can give to his memory.” 

How sad to spend one’s life living down the legacy of a father who was ungodly and brought much pain into the household of his children. Have our children been taught how to pray by listening to us? Have we taught them to love God’s Word? The responsibility for child rearing rests upon the shoulder of the parents, not the school, and not the government. Our children have freedom to choose the way they take in life. If your children are serving God, thank God for it and be an encouragement to them. If they aren’t walking for the Lord, pray for them and do your best to influence them for Christ. 

A spiritual approach to fatherhood is so important.

Charlie Shedd is the author of a number of useful books on the subject of husbands, wives, the home and raising children. A few years ago he polled a large group of youngsters about what they regarded the qualifications for a good dad to be. They listed these:

a. He takes time for me.

b. He listens to me.

c. He plays with me.

d. He invites me to go places with him.

e. He lets me help.

f. He treats my mother well.

g. He lets me say what I think.

h. He is nice to my friends.

i. He punishes me only when I deserve it.

j. He is not afraid to admit it when he is wrong. 

Many fathers are gambling with the souls of their children by…

a. Not being Christians themselves

b. Not creating spiritual climate

c. Engaging in questionable behavior.

We just cannot afford such a gamble. 

This father in our text was approachable, he was spiritual, and …. 

3. HE WAS AN AFFECTIONATE FATHER (20) 

A. We can see his look of love. (20). The father had been looking for his son to return. When he saw him, he ran and hugged and kissed him. What a beautiful picture. 

B. No one is more aware of our need to love our children than a father himself. For some it is hard to show affection. For others it comes more naturally. A father’s feelings aren’t always easy to see. What is a Father? (author unknown) 

“A father is a thing that is forced to endure childbirth…without an anesthetic. A father is a thing that growls when it feels good… and laughs when it’s scared to death. He never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child’s eyes. He’s never quite the hero his daughter thinks…never quite the man is son believes him to be…and this worries him, sometimes. So he works too hard to smooth the road for those of his own who will follow after him. Fathers grow old faster than people because they have to stand at the train station and wave good-bye to the uniform that climbs aboard. And while mothers can cry where it shows, fathers have to stand there and beam outside…and die inside. Fathers have very stout hearts so they have to be broken sometimes, or no one would know what’s inside. 

Fathers are what gives daughters away to other men who aren’t nearly good enough…sothey can have grand-children who are smarter than anybody’s. Fathers fight dragons almost daily. They hurry away from the breakfast table off to the arena which sometimes called an office or a workshop. These with callused, practical hands tackle the dragon with 3 heads: work, weariness and monotony. And although they never quite win the fight, they never give up. Knights in shining armor — fathers in shining trousers — there’s little difference, as they march away to work each day.” 

This father pictures for us the love and compassion of our Heavenly Father. 

Conclusion:

The father in our text was approachable, spiritual, and affectionate. Fatherhood is a divine privilege, because we walk in the shoes of our Heavenly Father. He showed us how to love our kids. 

It is appropriate to have Father’s Day. 

Calvin Coolidge said, “No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor has been a reward for what he gave.” 

Fathers give a lot to their families if they follow the Biblical example. If you are a young man or an older man who is not a Christian, I want to encourage you to give your life to Christ this morning so that you can fulfill the role that God intended for you. Your influence is so powerful. You are living a life that will impact your children and grandchildren in ways you would never dream. 

Dad’s Hands by JoAnn Melton 

I witnessed a reincarnation last night — for those of you skeptics, hang in with me a little longer. David died in 1982 during an especially hot July, early in the morning, – perhaps to escape the heat of day. Or, perhaps the heat seemed more intense to me because I was many months pregnant and really feeling heavy — in body and in mind. Heavy in mind because my dad who was invincible, was shrinking from his larger-than-life proportions to a frail-looking man in an awful seersucker gown that exposed sagging skin and thinning hair. 

I was bringing into life a new personality/creature/lovechild and life was taking the foundation of by thirty-five years. A quiet man who had never been president of Exxon, but had never harmed anyone. Never flown to corporate meetings in exotic places, nor been too busy to pull my horse trailer or fix my roller skates. Never made demands on me and was not going to be there to guide my son entering the world. He passed gently, as he did all things, and when he did, I was gladdened his suffering didn’t linger. The prayer that he might live long enough to see his grandchild’s birth had long since changed into a prayer for a peaceful, pain-free rest. 

When, in a few months, our son was born, life again became busily encompassing as family routine took priority. Pictures of Dad in family memory scenes popped up at strange occasions, but I was comforted by the peaceful thoughts of his heavenly home. Many times I have wished for another opportunity to spend time, or re-do time I had wasted. To feel his quiet strength for just a little longer, and maybe show a bit more appreciation for his jokes, even if I had heard them over and over. Perhaps, I could admire his carpentry ability, instead of wish that we could afford “store-bought” cabinets and furniture. So what if the boat he built in the basement had to have a wall knocked out in order to take it on its maiden voyage. How many fathers did I know who could build a boat? 

If I just had another chance to watch those hands create … There’s a new house going up just down the street. The carpenters are doing a great job, but they obviously have missed the point of which parts of the wood are valuable.

 The grandson my father missed meeting made three trips yesterday with a much-used wheelbarrow and returned with his prizes like a Roman conqueror, eyes bright – spirited,

with plans for his treasures similar to Donald Trump’s dreams for the Plaza. And when he had arranged the wood and nail box, I saw … my father’s hand pick up the hammer and begin to swing … 

What heritage are you leaving your children … which they will see in your grandchildren? 

Resources:

Sermon entitled “Fathers Day ” by Pastor Don Robinson, Grace Baptist Church, Bloomington, IN, found on the internet, http://www.sermons.org/sermons/sermon32.html

Sermon entitled “Some Thoughts For Fathers and Their Children” found on the internet, http://syscdj1.gmu.edu:81/sermons/base/FATHERS.TXT

Sermon entitled “Honor Thy Father” found on the internet, http://syscdj1.gmu.edu:81/sermons/base/FATHER.TXT 

Sermon entitled “My Father’s Legacy” by John Hendrix found on the internet at http://syscdj1.gmu.edu:81/sermons/base/FATHER3.TXT

Top Ten Lists found on the website of the National Council on Fatherhood, http://www.fathers.com/humorx.html 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John Dobbs

Forsythe Church of Christ

Monroe, Louisiana

A sermon outline on false signs

What about false signs?

In the Bible we find the word “false” being used about 30 times.
This morning we want to look at this word and examine it from 3 perspectives.
The Bible warns about things that are “false.”
The things labeled as false may appear to be quite convincing (this will be our second point).
Our final point will emphasize how “many” are led astray by these falsities.

ONE OF THE FIRST PLACES WHERE WE FIND THE WORD “FALSE” IS MATTHEW 7:15MATTHEW 7:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.

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1) We will return to this verse a little later because there are some other details here that are important.

2) For now let’s note that God says there are people who profess to be “prophets” in our world.

3) Jesus did not use the word “many” in Mt. 7, but He did use the word “many” in Mt. 24:11Mt. 24:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray.

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4) The first part of Mt. 24 deals with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

5) Jesus said that during this time “many false prophets” would arise –READ

6) False prophets abounded in the time of Jerusalem’s destruction, but so did false Christ’s – verse 24a – READ

7) If people are not claiming to be prophets and the Messiah, they may claim something else.

8) 2 Cor. 11:132 Cor. 11:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ.

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refers to “false apostles” and “deceitful workers.”

a) A few verses later – 2 Cor. 11:262 Cor. 11:26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26  in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;

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– Paul spoke of “false brethren.”

b) These two verses tell us that religious error comes in several different packages.

9) Gal. 2:4Gal. 2:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 and that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

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– READ

a) Paul spoke of “false brethren” who were “privily brought in.”

b) Sometimes it is really easy to identify those involved with religious error.

c) In other cases such as here those who involved with religious error are like carbon monoxide.

10) Some doubt that religious error is really a big problem, but listen to what God says in 2 Pet. 2:12 Pet. 2:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 1 But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

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THE PASSAGES WE HAVE LOOKED AT LEAVE NO DOUBT THAT RELIGIOUS ERROR EXISTS.

a) READ Mt. 24:11Mt. 24:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray.

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b) The word “many” is also used to describe false teachers in verses 5 and 10.

2) A lot of people can believe or teach something, but they may not be very influential.

3) Jesus said the people He was warning about would have a lot of success.

4) The end of this verse says “many” would be led astray.

5) The deceit in the first century world went was not the only time people have been duped.

6) Here is what John said in 1 Jn. 4:11 Jn. 4:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

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– READ

7) John also used the word “many” in 1 Jn. 2:181 Jn. 2:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 Little children, it is the last hour: and as ye heard that antichrist cometh, even now have there arisen many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last hour.

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and 2 Jn. 7.

BASED ON WHAT WE HAVE LOOKED AT SO FAR RELIGIOUS ERROR EXISTS AND IT IS VERY, VERY COMMON. NOW WE COME TO POINT THREE: THE ERROR THAT PEOPLE PROMOTE IS OFTEN CONVINCING.

1) Mt. 7:15Mt. 7:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves.

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– READ

2) The image of “sheep” tells us that some who are involved with religious error seem very kind and pleasant.

a) When Jesus spoke of “false christs” and “false prophets” in Mt. 24:24Mt. 24:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

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He said something else.

b) He said people would show “great signs and wonders.”

3) 2 Cor. 11:132 Cor. 11:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, fashioning themselves into apostles of Christ.

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– Paul spoke of “deceitful” workers.

a) 2 Cor. 11:142 Cor. 11:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 And no marvel; for even Satan fashioneth himself into an angel of light.

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says the devil “fashions himself into an angel of light.” Mt. 7:22-23Mt. 7:22-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

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4) How many people are described by the word “many” in verse 22?

5) Our eternal salvation depends on knowing what is right and doing what is right.

6) If we know the truth part of our job is helping others identify what is fake.

Heaven is For Real book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent

Heaven is For Real book by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent
May 27th, 2011

Book Review for Heaven is For Real
by Mural Worthey (Cawson Street church, Hopewell, Virginia)

Background: New York Times’ best seller, 2010. Todd and Colton were interviewed on Fox News recently. They just briefly retold their story. Minister’s family in Nebraska: Todd & Sonja Burpo, and children: Colton, Cassie and Colby (who was born after the incident with Colton at 4 years of age). Todd is the minister of Crossroads Wesleyan Church in Imperial, Nebraska.

Colton’s Story

1) This riveting book is about a preacher’s family struggling with a very sick little 4 year-old named Colton. The doctors at first thought he had a stomach virus, but he kept getting worse. After days of sickness and deteriorating condition, they discovered that his appendix had ruptured.

2) In addition, Todd the father also suffered from several illnesses. His fellow preachers called him “Pastor Job” because of all that he had endured.

3) The second half of the book is about what Colton told his family happened to him during surgery. He said that he was dead for 3 minutes and journeyed to heaven. Based on all that he experienced in heaven, they believe this was not literally 3 minutes, but a much longer period of time.

4) This was not a brief, out of the body type experience, where a bright light or something indescribable was seen. He recounted details about what he saw in heaven.

5) His father wrote the book putting down the circumstances surrounding their conversations when they learned about his experiences little by little over several years after his surgery.

6) The first thing that Colton told his family was that angels sang to him while he was in surgery. When asked what songs, he replied: Jesus Loves Me and Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho. Colton often told them things that Jesus said to him.

7) Colton said that Jesus wore a white robe with a purple sash, but that he did not have wings like everyone else. Jesus moved about by just going up and down like an elevator. Remember the ascension? (Acts 1.)

8) He said that Jesus had red markers on his hands and feet. Jesus rode a rainbow horse; brilliant colors of the rainbow were in heaven.

9) Colton told them that there were many children in heaven and no old people. Everyone was either young adults or children. There were men and women in heaven. He said that there were lots of children.

10) When asked what they did in heaven, he replied that it was like school. Jesus was the teacher and he taught all the children.

11) He remembered specific people that he met in heaven. He met Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, John the Baptist, angels, Pop (his dad’s grandfather), and lots of children.

12) Colton claimed that he came back to his body because of prayers and that Jesus sent him back from heaven to earth.

Proof for his story

1) Most rational people would want proof before believing something so extraordinary. Colton’s father, Todd, gave several proofs that convinced him that his son went to heaven and came back.

2) He recognized Pop, his great grandfather, from an old picture when Pop was much younger and before Colton was even born. How did he know what his great grandfather looked like?

3) Colton was asked where Jesus was in relation to his Father (God). He said that he sat in a chair on his right side. When Todd asked him who sat on the left side, he replied that Gabriel did. (The Bible does not say anything about Gabriel sitting on God’s throne on the left side.)

4) Colton also told his family that he met his other sister. Sonja and Todd were shocked. They asked him, What other sister? You have only one sister, Cassie. He said, No, he met his other sister. A little girl came running up to him in heaven and recognized Colton. When asked her name, he said that she did not have a name. Other children did, but she did not have one. Todd and Sonja lost a child before Colton was born. Sonja had a miscarriage when her baby was only two months old. The nameless child in heaven was his little sister. No one had ever told Colton about this incident. Thus, the parents believe that this is proof that Colton went to heaven and back.

5) Another proof was that when Colton was in surgery and so very sick, his mother and father were praying. Todd was so distraught that he went into a closet in the hospital and yelled at God. Sonja, his mother, was in the waiting room praying and calling family and friends. Colton revealed to his father where he was and that God answered his prayer. This is the reason that he came back from heaven. Todd said that no one else could have known where he was. Colton said that he saw him from above looking down.

6) Todd was once at a youth conference where a minister challenged the young people to become missionaries and preachers. Todd felt the power of God’s call to become a minister. He went home after the conference and told his mother that he was going to be a preacher when he grew up. Only his mother and Todd knew about that conversation. Now Colton revealed that he knew about it because Jesus told him that his father obeyed his call to preach. Colton was told to be quiet once while his father was studying his message for Sunday. He said that he prayed for his father on Sundays while he was preaching. He told them that he could see power coming down from God to his father helping him with his message.

7) Colton’s eyewitness account of Jesus’ appearance corroborated by a little Lithuanian American girl who claimed she had visions of heaven and Jesus. From the age of four, Akiane began seeing visions. She painted what she saw. She was born into an atheist’s family who taught her nothing about God. When Colton saw the picture of Jesus that Akiane had painted, he was stunned because it was exactly like the Jesus he saw in heaven. Todd and Sonja said that they were looking at the face of Jesus when looking at Akiane’s painting.

Book’s theology of heaven

1) Whoever wrote the book (Todd with Lynn Vincent’s help; or an eyewitness account of heaven), it reveals someone’s theology of heaven. This is helpful in determining whether it is true or not.

2) The General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church, Jo Anne Lyon, wrote this about this story: “Colton’s story could have been in the New Testament—but God has chosen to speak to us in this twenty-first century through the unblemished eyes of a child, revealing some of the mysteries of heaven. The writing is compelling and the truth astonishing, creating a hunger for more.” She thought that this little book is on equality with Scripture.

3) Todd presented as proof of their story that Colton saw Jesus’ nailed pierced hands and feet. He said that in their Bible classes for very young children, they do not get into details about the crucifixion. How did he know that nails were driven through his hands and feet? “Red markers” indicates falsely that the scars of Jesus’ earthly body would have been in heaven. Will Paul have his scars on his back when he was beaten? This is a misunderstanding of the resurrected body. When Jesus appeared to his disciples, they were frightened. He said to them, “Behold my hands and my feet; it is I myself. Handle me and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as ye see that I have.” (Luke 24:39Luke 24:39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye behold me having.

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.) A flesh and bone body does not inherit heaven, according to Paul. (1 Cor. 15:501 Cor. 15:50
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

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4) Jesus was literally seated on the right hand of God. Gabriel was on God’s left side. This is a misunderstanding of what “right hand” means. It does not mean right versus the left side. It means one with authority to speak or act for another.

5) This book reveals a theology of the age people will be in heaven. It claimed that no old people will be there; just middle-age and young people. It is interesting that Muslims say everyone will be about 32 years old; the same age as Jesus. But the Bible does not say. If we think in terms of this life and our families, the theology is wrong. What if someone marries more than once? No marriages in heaven. (Matt. 22:29-32Matt. 22:29-32
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

29 But Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven. 31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

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.) Will you be in your parents’ family or in yours? Neither. The apostle John wrote that it has not yet appeared what we shall be like in heaven. (1 John 3:21 John 3:2
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2 Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.

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6) Colton said that angels needed swords, real ones, in heaven. He was playing with swords at home when his mother casually said that there will not be any swords in heaven. He argued with her. He said that he saw them; they were needed because the Devil has not yet been defeated. The angels needed them to fight against demons and the Devil.

7) He told his dad that he saw the future as well. He saw the “battle of Armageddon” and that his dad fought in it. This is another false theology in his story. Revelation is not about future events thousands of years removed from John and Christians in the first century. They were the ones suffering from persecution. The beast is identified in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13. The battle of Armageddon is not future; it has already been fought. It is a spiritual battle, not a physical one. Satan has been defeated.

8) This story is filled with subjective ideas; not subject to verification. I encourage believers to stay with objective matters. Paul was allowed to see things in the third heaven, but he was not permitted to tell them. (2 Cor. 12.) What he saw was not a necessary part of the Gospel. It has not yet appeared what we shall be, said John the apostle. (1 John 3:21 John 3:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 Beloved, now are we children of God, and it is not yet made manifest what we shall be. We know that, if he shall be manifested, we shall be like him; for we shall see him even as he is.

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.) We have natural bodies now, but then we will have spiritual bodies after the resurrection of the dead. (1 Cor. 15:441 Cor. 15:44
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

44 it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

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Guide to the holy lands; guide to lands of the Bible

If you are going to travel to Israel one book you may want to purchase is The Holy Land: The Indispensable Archaeological Guide for Travelers, by Jerome Murphy-O’Conner.  As you are being transported by tour bus, read the article associated with your next destination.

Here are some suggestions for those planning a trip to the lands of the Bible:

1.  Pictures get outdated quickly when people are in them.  I still use photos from several trips years ago and they seem like they were just made; no people. To get the best scenes, either get off the bus first and make the pictures before the tourists get in the way, or wait until the bus is loading, then make the pictures.  Try to make photos without people.

2.  If you want photos with local color and people be prepared to distribute a little baksheesh ( A gratuity, tip, or bribe paid to expedite service) in the form of dollar bills.  It opens doors and minds, and eliminates camera shyness.

3.  Go where there are no tourists.  Side streets offer unusual photo ops and opportunities.

4.  On bazaar day, or free time periods, visit the local museums.  The Palestine Museum (Rockefeller) in Jerusalem is filled with artifacts from Qumran, Megiddo, etc.. items you will not find elsewhere.  Purchase (or rent-baksheesh) an English guide book which has descriptions of all items.  Take photos of the ones most interesting.  This will give you an advantage over others in that you will be seeing authentic things most tourists miss.

5.  Purchase permission to walk through Hezekiah’s tunnel from the Gihon Springs to the Pool of Siloam.  It is the real thing.  For a little baksheesh, the iron gate will be opened.  You need a flashlight, shoes that can get wet, and camera(s).

6.   The Dome of the Rock (mistakenly called Mosque of Omar)  has many rooms underneath.  Baksheesh can provide a guide.  Hint at the possibility, do not directly ask.  Be prepared to walk without shoes.

7.   Do not purchase ready made slides.  The color fades and they are of poor quality.  Digital is the only way to go.

8.   If you want the best place to prepare for what to see, go to http://www.bibleplaces.com/.  It is loaded with photos, information, and descriptions.  It has a special section on Jerusalem, as well as most other places.

Ernest Clevenger, Granny White church, Nashville, Tennessee

Additional tips:

Watch out for pickpockets!  Invest in a good money belt and carry things like a camera around your neck, especially when you are in a crowd.

Yossi Paz is an incredible guide.

Jigsaw link for abiblecommentary.com

http://www.jigsaw.com/FreeTextSearch.xhtml?opCode=search&autoSuggested=false&freeText=abiblecommentary

Depressed? Read this post!

 

I never cease to be amazed how easily, and under what circumstances, depression sets in upon the child of God.  Elijah experienced depression shortly after his victory over the 430 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18).  One would think that following such a wonderful “high” he would have been able to dwell on the mountain for the foreseeable future.  But such was not the case. 

 Once upon a time there was a man who felt he’d reached the end of his rope.  It seemed that all interest had vanished from his life.  His old friend, the family doctor, saw his depression and said, “Alright, you must do exactly as I tell you.  I want you to find a lonely stretch of beach and spend all day at the shore.  Take  nothing to read.  I’m going to give you four prescriptions.  Take the first one at nine, the second one at twelve, the third at three, and the last at six.  Don’t look at them now. Wait until you arrive at the shore.”

 Arriving a little before nine, he parked his car on a lonely stretch of beach, walked to a sand dune and sat down.  He opened prescription number one and read it. It said, “Listen.”  And so for three hours that’s all he did. He listened to the song of the buffeting wind and the lonely cries of the gulls.  At noon he read the second prescription. It said, “Reach back.”  And so for the next three hours he let his mind go back as far as it could, and thought of all the incidents of his life – the happy times, good times, struggles, and successes.  At three o’clock he tore open the third prescription. It read, “Re-examine your motives.” He thought through his reasons for living, clarifying and stating his goals. Finally, at six o’clock, under a grey, darkening sky and with a taste of salt in the wind, he read the fourth and final prescription. It read, “Write your worries in the sand.”  And so he did.  Within a short period of time he watched as those worries were washed away by the tide.  And the young man turned homeward with a renewed attitude. 

 I wonder how often we allow the circumstances around us to chip away at our faith and lead us down the path into depression.   If you are suffering from depression, may I make a couple of suggestions?  Unplug your TV for 30 days.  Dwell on things that are good, things that are of good report, and things that will restore your confidence in God and His providential watch care over us.   Focus on that wonderful promise in Hebrews 13:5Hebrews 13:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee.

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: “Be ye free from the love of money; content with such things as ye have: for himself hath said, I will in no wise fail thee, neither will I in any wise forsake thee.”   There are no less than four keys contained within that passage for defeating depression.  First, “Be free from the love of money.”  Mammon is not your master; Christ is!  Second, be content with such things as ye have.  The mad race for things has destroyed the faith of many a man and plunged him into despair and destruction.  Third, remember that God will not fail thee. This speaks of our Father’s power and ability to care for us. Finally, remember that God will not forsake thee. This speaks of His will to care for you. 

 If you are depressed, discouraged, disappointed, or simply down and out, take some time to mediate on the word of God.  Therein lies the power for overcoming depression. 

–Tom Wacaster

We talk about what is important to us

What is the most important thing to you in your life? Normally, after spending just a few minutes with someone you will know the answer to that question. You will hear about their children or grand children. Perhaps they will tell you about their club or social network group. It could be that you will learn very quickly about their love for or involvement with some sport. The point is that we are anxious to share what is of real interest to us or of real importance. It’s not a problem for us to learn the rules to the games, to learn the player’s names, the type of crocheted patterns you like or the hunting or fishing technique you especially like. We share what is important to us!

Think about this: Some years ago a commuter on the Long Island Railroad was know to every regular rider of the 5 p.m. local run. He was a well dressed, soft spoken young man who lived at Jamaica. Every evening after the train left the subway; he would stand up and go to the front of the car. He would speak to every passenger, saying, “Excuse me; but if any of your family or friends are blind, tell them to consult Dr. Garl. He restored my sight.”

You see, he was sharing what was really important to him with courage and confidence. He didn’t argue or try to persuade anyone he was right. He told each person about the one who had opened his eyes. He had good news and he shared it with everyone he could.

Each of us who profess to be Christians have good news even more important to share! Why don’t we do more of it? After Jesus healed the man possessed with many demons in Mark 5 notice what took place: “When Jesus got back into the boat, the man who had been demon possessed begged to go, too. But Jesus said, ‘No, go home to your friends, and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been’.” (V. 18-19)

How often do we remember what wonderful things the Lord has done for us or how merciful he has been to us? Far too often we take it for granted, it seems it is normal for us as humans to forget, even when great things are done for us. Could it be time to recommitting yourself today, to begin sharing the Good News with others around you whenever you have the opportunity?

Russ Lawson

One letter and three words describe the entire Old Testament

One letter and three words describe the entire Old Testament
May 24th, 2011


The Old Testament is easily described by the letter “h.” In fact, if you can remember three words that each begin with the letter “h,” you can have an immediate overview of the entire Old Testament.

· The first “h” is for “History.” The books of Genesis to Esther are all about “history,” especially the history of the Jewish people.

· The second “h” is for “Heart.” The books of Job to Song of Solomon describe the “heart” of the Jewish people.

· The third “h” is for “Hope.” The remaining books in the Old Testament—Isaiah to Malachi—describe the “hope” that eventually came into the world through Jesus.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

QR code for me and abiblecommentarycom

The details of this image are on the web at:  http://2d4.me/6jn300#home

My Greek word study blog is back on track

Simple word studies for the words in the Greek testament can be found on-line at http://bumchecks.com/biblecommentary.

V. P. Black sermon on giving

Stewardship – Part 1

Speaker: V. P. Black
Date: April 11, 2004, Sunday Morning Bible Class During a Gospel Meeting Hosted by the Strickland church of Christ in Glen, Mississippi
Main Scripture References: Luke 6:38Luke 6:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.

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Today, we’re talking about stewardship, a subject that we in the church of Christ have overlooked for many, many years. But we’re doing much better now. We have increased the contribution, we believe, a very conservative estimate over a hundred million dollars a year just in the last few years. In ten years, that’s a billion dollars, and you think of the good that can be done. And we’ve touched the tip of the ice berg. Many, many congregations throughout the brotherhood have doubled their contribution in the last few years. We’re making great progress. And so, let me state at the very beginning of this lesson, I’m not here to scold you, to whip you or to brow beat you. I’m only here for one purpose and that is to TEACH YOU what the Bible teaches on this very, very vital subject. We’ll be discussing two words today: the word “steward,” and the word “stewardship.”

FIRST: THE WORD “STEWARD”—what does this mean? The word “steward” is one who looks after something that belongs to someone else, which simply means that when we tell people that we are stewards of God, we’re simply saying we don’t own anything. And in reality, we don’t. As we will learn in this lesson today, God is the sole owner of everything.

Now, I want to use some Scriptures where the word “steward” is found, that you may look these verses up and then study them, and it will give you a better understanding of this word: In Matthew, the 20th chapter, and verse 8; in Luke 8, and verse 3; Luke 12, and [verse] 42; Luke 16, [verses] 1 and 2; and 1 Corinthians 4, [verses] 1 and 2 (and underscore this one if you will—this where it says, “Moreover, it is required in a steward that…a…man… be…found…faithful.”); and Titus 1:7Titus 1:7
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7 For the bishop must be blameless, as God's steward; not self-willed, not soon angry, no brawler, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre;

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; and 1 Peter 4:101 Peter 4:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 according as each hath received a gift, ministering it among yourselves, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God;

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Now, if you will write these verses down and when you go home this week, if you will just take your Bible, turn to these verses, read them and study them, you’ll have a good, sound Biblical understanding of the word, “steward.” And every time that word is mentioned, you’ll know exactly what it means, and it’ll mean so much to you and your relationship to God, because every…member… of the church…IS A STEWARD! When one hears the Gospel, believes it, repents of his sins, and is baptized upon a confession of his faith in Christ, he becomes a STEWARD of GOD! So, every member of this congregation is a steward of God. Those who have not been here in six weeks, or those who have not been here in six months—they’re still stewards of God, because it’s stated when one is baptized into Christ, he becomes a steward of God.

There are two kinds of stewards. There’s the faithful steward; there’s the unfaithful steward. So everybody in this auditorium will be classified as one of those “stewards.” I don’t know. But God knows whether or not you are a faithful steward or an unfaithful steward. Of course, we know there are consequences. We know that the faithful steward will go to heaven; the unfaithful steward will be lost. We know that. So, that’s one of things we’ll be talking about today.

THE OTHER WORD THAT WE WILL BE DISCUSSING IS THE WORD “STEWARDSHIP.” Sometimes I speak on this subject and an individual will say, “Well, you know, there’s such a thing as ‘stewardship of time,’ ‘stewardship of responsibility,’ stewardship of talent.’” I’m aware of that, but that’s not our subject today. Our subject is, Our Stewardship as it Relates to the Material Things of this World. In other words, “What is my duty as a Christian to the material things of this world? What’s my relationship to the material things of this world?”

And let me give you an illustration. While we live in this life, God has entrusted into our care certain material things. While we live, we use them, and die. Then that trusteeship is transferred to someone else. I no longer have control over it. Everything…everything is transferred to someone else, and then I go to the judgment to give an account to God as to how I used these things when they were in my possession. That would be a Biblical definition of “stewardship.” And just as surely as we are here this morning, we’re going to have to give an account to God as to how we handled these things while they’re in our possession.

I want to read to you a letter or two that are really sad, but that you may have an idea—get a greater idea—why we need to do more teaching on this subject. This is a letter that was written to me several years ago from a lady in Olive Branch, Mississippi—that’s just below Memphis. They had been studying one of my books. Listen to the letter. It says:

Dear Brother Black,
I am a widow who will soon be eighty-nine years old. I’ve read my Bible through many times. E. H. Clark and I (now, E. H. Clark—that’s her husband)…were members of the Union Avenue church in Memphis, Tennessee, for forty-six years, driving twenty-five miles each way.
I’m writing to tell you, Brother Black, that I’ve never learned so much about liberality as I’ve learned since our Sunday School Class began studying your book on Lord, Teach Us How To Give. It has taught me so much that I never knew before. It has taught me so many things I never realized the importance of before. It has taught me to give as God has commanded us.
Again, thank you, Brother Black, for so fully enlightening me on a subject that I never realized the importance of before.

Eighty-nine years old! Been a member of the church for over fifty years! Said that she had never been taught what the Bible teaches on this subject.

Here’s a letter from a lady where I’d spoken in Taft, California. I’ll not read the [whole] letter. It just says:

Dear Brother Black,
Your sermons have taught us so very much on “giving” that we never knew before—things that we never even realized, and we thank you so very, very much.

That’s from California.

Here’s a letter I received from a lady in Birmingham. It says,

It has bothered me for a long time that churches of Christ do not preach enough on “giving.” I know that for many years I did not give liberally for the simple reason [that] I’d never been taught the importance of it.

And on and on we could go reading letters like this, impressing upon our mind… Here’s a letter from Woodstock, Virginia, right out of Washington, D. C. I was speaking there, and this man writes a long letter, but the letter is about this: “After hearing the lecture on ‘Stewardship,’” he said, “I realized this last year…” (he called it [he said it this way]) “…I cheated the Lord out of $4,000.00.” When he considered how the Lord had blessed him, what he’d made and how little he gave, he said, “I’m writing you to tell you that Monday morning, I’m going to the bank to check out $4,000.00 to make up for that I did not give this last year.”

So, I have letters from that all over the country, which indicates that we’ve done a poor, poor job in teaching members of the church of Christ to give as the Bible teaches. And if you’ve been a member of the church very long, you know, of course, our sad history. I’m ashamed of it; I’m sure you are—that there have been churches that would not permit a man to speak on this subject in the church. They were not allowed to teach it in Bible classes.

Some time ago, I was speaking up in Tennessee to a church; it had about 600 members, and they knew more than a year in advance that I was coming. And one of the preachers did an in-depth study of that congregation. He learned where every member of that large congregation worked. Worked on it a whole year. He did not know exactly what that person made, but he knew what a brick layer made; he knew what carpenters made; he knew what different people were paid for certain jobs. So, he had good idea [of] the income of this congregation. And he’d added all that up. Now, I suppose there’s no man in the brotherhood that’s known more about a particular congregation than this man knew about that congregation! He spent a year studying it—all the lives of all the members. And he came to this conclusion, that they were giving about 4% of their income to God.

And I want to tell you, if every person here this morning, if every person living in the church of Christ throughout the world, if all of us shall be as old as Methuselah, we’ll…never…evangelize the world on 4% giving. It’s an impossibility! It can’t be done. And yet, on the other hand, we have the wealth in the church of Christ to evangelize the world; we have ministers to evangelize the world; we have modern communication to evangelize the world, and we’re not doing it. And it becomes a very serious responsibility. It becomes a serious responsibility to every congregation to realize that our responsibility is to evangelize the world. It’s wonderful to have nice buildings, but we must realize that these buildings are just a means to an end to give us a better opportunity to get people to come to the “house of God,” that we may teach them the power that’s in the Gospel, and that it’s our duty to evangelize the world.

I was speaking out in Los Angeles several years ago on this subject. After I spoke, an elderly man came up to me—his hair was white as snow. He said he graduated from Abilene Christian in 19 and 28! [1928]. And he said, “Brother Black, I know that these things are true that you are teaching. But,” he said, “I’ve never preached much on this subject.” He said, “I’m an elder and a preacher, but I’ve just never taught much on it. I’ve never said much about it. But,” he said, “let me tell you why.” He said, “The first place I was located, my first job,” he said, “I knew the Bible taught on ‘giving,’ so I got up and preached on it. And in the middle of my sermon, one of the elders stood up and said, ‘Young man, you stop teaching that!’” He said, “I guess that did something to me—just through the years, I’ve never preached on this subject much.” Another elder/preacher was standing there, and he said, “Yes, I know that’s true, because I was fired for preaching on that subject when I was a young man.”

Now, those things are sad. It’s embarrassing to me. I’m ashamed to even stand before an intelligent audience and tell these things. But yet, we need to realize that we’ve got a long way to go! We need to realize it! Here’s a subject—we’ve never talked much about it in the church. And yet, our responsibility is to evangelize the world. I’m not here today to try to get your preachers a raise. I’m here today to try to get you to see the importance of evangelizing the world! And I do not know to what degree, but I’m just as convinced as in your midst I stand, that on the Day of Judgment we’re going to have to give an account for those people who lived during our lifetime who never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Now, to what degree, I don’t know, but I thank God [that] it’s an individual matter. God knows my heart; God knows how concerned I am about evangelizing the world; God knows how concerned you are as an individual about evangelizing the world; and God knows how concerned this church is about evangelizing the world. So, we’re here primarily to talk about evangelizing the world!

Now, with these thoughts in mind, if you will, take your Bible and turn with me to Luke, the 6th chapter, and verse 38. Those of you who are taking notes, if you will—if you want to write down these words, I wish you would, because what I say today will be centered around these words: ONE CANNOT LIVE OBEDIENTLY BEFORE GOD…ONE CANNOT LIVE OBEDIENTLY BEFORE GOD AND WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST…AND WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF CHIRST…WITHOUT DEALING WITH MONEY…WITHOUT DEALING WITH MONEY…AS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE IN HIS LIFE. [Brother Black is repeating the phrases for the benefit of those who are taking notes.]

So, I’ll repeat those words: ONE CANNOT LIVE OBEDIENTLY BEFORE GOD AND WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST WITHOUT DEALING WITH MONEY AS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE IN HIS LIFE.

So today, we’re talking about spiritual things. And so, with those thoughts in mind, let us read Luke 6 and 38. Notice carefully what it says: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Now, let us notice the first word in this verse: GIVE. Well, I think a person has a right to ask, “Why should I give?” Well, if you were going to talk to an individual about conversion, and you’d mentioned the word, “baptism,” I think that person has a right to ask, “Why should I be baptized?” He doesn’t know what the Bible says, so he wants to know, “Why?” And so, it’s our responsibility to tell him WHY one should be baptized in order to become a child of God. And so, when we, as children of God, read the Bible, we come to the word, “give,” naturally we want to ask the question, “Why should we give? What’s the purpose of giving? Is it just some tradition we have in the church? Why should we give?” So I want to mention some reasons—Scriptural reasons—why we give.

NUMBER ONE: A person may give to correct a wrong in his life. Now, this would not be true of everybody, but it was true of me. When I first started preaching over sixty years ago, I did not give of my means. “Oh,” someone said, “Brother Black, you mean that you preached and didn’t even contribute?” No. I didn’t say that. I said, “I did not give of my means”—that is, as God had prospered me. Naturally, I made that token donation, but I didn’t give as the Bible teaches.

Well, someone says, “How in the world could you go over the country preaching on faith, repentance, confession and baptism, and here you were not saying a thing about giving, and the Bible talks about it from Genesis through Revelation over fifteen hundred times!?!? And you were not giving.” My reason for that was this: I was reared in the church of Christ. My parents were members of the church of Christ, and I was reared like that. And the place where I went to church, they didn’t have preaching on this subject. And Brother Gus Nichols was our preacher when I was just a child in Millport, Alabama, and I can remember very well if he said something about “giving,” the people would accuse him of preaching for money. And naturally, that would scare the preacher to death, and he wouldn’t say anything else about it.

But brethren, don’t [anyone] intimidate me anymore along those lines. After learning the Truth, I not only believe I give today as God has prospered me, but I believe I’ve made up for those days that I did not give because of my ignorance—I didn’t know any better back then. But I know better now. That’s based upon Luke, the 19th chapter, verses 8 and 9, where Jesus Christ was visiting the home of Zacchaeus, and Zacchaeus says, “…if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold!” That is, he’s going to make up for those things he’d done in the past.

Now, there are some things that we’d want to undo from the past that we could not correct. For instance, if somebody should kill a man, he couldn’t restore his life. He could repent of what he did, but it couldn’t restore his life! But there’s some mistakes we make back there that we can correct, and we should correct those that we can. But as I stated, this would not apply to everybody, but it did in my case.

NUMBER TWO: We give to evangelize the world. Now, I’m aware of the fact that you have some collection plates here. And I’m also aware of the fact that it’s not very impressive to take a cold collection plate and pass it under the noses of the people. But let me tell you this, when you pass that collection plate with this thought in mind, that this money is to feed the hungry, is to clothe the naked, is to evangelize the world, is to preach the Gospel to some poor soul who’s never heard it so he can live eternally with God, it becomes a different picture altogether when that collection plate is passed. In other words, my giving depends on what my attitude is. When I think about what I stated, the hungry people of the world, the naked people of the world, the people who’ve never heard the Gospel, and God has called upon me to give….

And how has God called upon me to give? Let me state this, and I may say it a dozen times today—I hope that I do—that God wants us to give as HE HAS PROSPERED US, but let us be sure that we don’t twist that word and pervert that word and take that word out of its context in order to justify our refusal to be liberal givers! But the Bible teaches [that] we’re to give. Under the Old Testament Law, they were to give the tithe. Of course, you know for years we couldn’t say that word in the church, but we can mention it now—the word “tithe.” The Jews observed the “tithe,” that is, the tithing system.

And some time back, an individual called me from Lubbock, Texas, who’d been teaching one of my classes from my books, and he asked, “Brother Black,” he said, “in our class a brother said that Brother Black is teaching tithing.” And of course, he knew that word, “tithe,” would prejudice the minds of the people, and so he’d mention in every Bible class, I guess, to prejudice their minds. So he said, “Brother Black is teaching tithing.” And so he [the Bible class teacher] called me. He said, “I want to know from you, do you teach the cold, legalistic law of tithing?” I wrote back the brother and said, “No, you tell this elderly man in the Bible class that accused me of teaching the legalistic law of tithing that I do not teach the cold, legalistic law of tithing, but I teach where beginners get in, and then we go up, up, UP, UP! And he won’t bother you anymore.” No, don’t accuse me of teaching the tithing system.

You think about in the early days of New Testament Christianity—they were selling their homes! They were selling their land! And they’d bring it and lay it down at the apostles’ feet, and then you think about some man jumping up, saying [to those Christians], “I want to talk to you about tithing.” [They would say,] “Talk to me about tithing?!? I’m selling everything I have. I’ve given my house and my land!” Why tithing back there—that would have driven the contribution DOWN!

No, I don’t teach the legalistic law of tithing. I teach what the New Testament teaches, to give as God has prospered us, and I also teach [that] we’d better not pervert that WORD! A man who perverts the word, “prospers,” is just as guilty as the man who would pervert the word, “baptism.” And so, we don’t need to pervert any words in the Bible. We need to take them just as they are.

So, we give to evangelize the world. In Romans 10:13Romans 10:13
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13 for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

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beginning, Paul said, “For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” That’s one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible—that’s one of the mountain peaks of the Bible that, “whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” You think of that—the wise man, the ignorant man, the poor man, the rich man, the unwise man—“whosoever calleth on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Then he [Paul] adds, “How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Now, just think for a moment. How can they hear without a preacher? “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”

And then he said, “[…as it is written,] How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring Glad Tidings of good things!” And so, we have the responsibility to evangelize the world, and it’s a serious responsibility.

And you think of our prosperity today. You think of the houses where we live, the automobiles that we drive, the clothes that we wear, the mutual funds we have, the CDs [Certificates of Deposit] that we have, and then, what does God want us to do? Give all this? No…no. [God says,] “I just want you to give as I’ve prospered you.” And what’s wrong with that kind of teaching? And if we gave as God prospered us—that is, the entire brotherhood—we could evangelize the world. We have the wealth to evangelize the world. And one congregation can’t do it, but one congregation can do their part. I can’t do it by myself, but I can do what God expects me to do. And this congregation can’t do it, but this congregation can do what God expects you to do, and that’s all we’re teaching.

NUMBER THREE: We give to express our love to God and to the lost. Several years ago, I was in a meeting in Atlanta. I went to a religious bookstore to see what others had said about giving. I knew our brethren had not said much about it, so I wanted to know what other people had said about it. So, I pulled a book off the shelf and it fell open, and it said, “The Most Disbelieved Verse in the Bible.” And I thought, “The most disbelieved verse in the Bible?” Now, I’m aware of the fact that’s just this man’s opinion. But he said that there’s a verse—the most disbelieved verse in the entire Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. What would you guess that he said? And I state, that’s just his opinion. But there’s a lot of truth in what he said, I know that. He said, “The most disbelieved verse in the Bible is Acts 20, and verse 35, that says, “…remember the Words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He said that’s the most disbelieved verse in the Bible. Why? Because of our inverted ego; because of our selfishness; because of our self-centeredness; we just can’t make ourselves believe that there’s a greater joy in giving than there is in receiving! He said, “We can’t do that!” But I deny it! I state that’s one of the most BELIEVED verses in the entire Bible! That every intelligent person knows there’s a greater joy in giving than there is in receiving! That there’s a deep, genuine joy in GIVING! Now, let me prove it to you.

Do you have any children? Do you send them to school? Do you make sacrifices in doing this? “Oh,” you say, “of course I did.” Well, didn’t you grumble and whine and complain about it? “No, no. I was glad to do it.” Why’d you DO it? “Because I love them.”

Well, do you have any grandchildren? Do you ever give anything to your grandchildren? I remember one of these men today talking about going to town yesterday with his grandchild and getting something that she wanted. Why did you do it? “Oh,” you say, “I LOVE my grandchild!”

Well, do you have any great grandchildren? That’s one you really get a joy out of giving. “Well,” you say, “yes.” Well, why do you give to them? “Because I love them.”

Well, do you ever give your husband a gift? “Oh,” you say, “yes.” Well, why do you do it? You say, “Because I love him!”

Well, do you ever give your wife a present? “Yes.” Well, why do you do it? “Because I love her.”

Now, listen to me carefully. I give to my children because I love them; I give to my grandchildren because I love them; I give to my wife because I love her; I give to my husband because I love him—but don’t talk about giving to GOD!I’m going to tell you something my friend. That man [or woman] better not only do some serious thinking, he’d [she’d] better do some serious praying. You…tell…me…that you love God, and you love the church, and you don’t like to hear a man talk about giving? Now, you just think for a moment. And yet, you say you love God?! How in the world can you love GOD when you say, “I despise hearing someone talking about GIVING to God?! Now, I just don’t like to hear a man talk about giving…not to God. If you want to talk about giving to my grandchildren, that’s fine. If you want to talk about how a husband ought to give to his wife, that’s great. Talk about it all day. Or a wife giving to her husband, that’s fine. But don’t talk about giving to GOD!”

Now, I’m going to tell you, my friend, there’s something seriously wrong here. And yet, this man says that’s the most disbelieved verse in the Bible. I DENY IT!! I say it’s the MOST BELIEVED verse in the Bible!! And when we truly love God, one of the highlights of worshiping God is that joy of giving as God has prospered me.

When I sit down during the week and think how good God has been to me and how God has blessed me and how God has called upon me and said, “I want you to give back to My cause, that the hungry may be fed and the naked may be clothed and that the world may hear the Gospel—I just want you to give as I’ve prospered you,” and then tell me that a man would resent hearing an individual talk about that…. And then to think about, in years gone by we’ve fired men for talking like I’m talking about [giving] now! It’s a sad thing. When we truly love God….

But somebody says, “Brother Black, that’s just your preaching…ha, ha.” Oh? Turn with me to 2 Corinthians, the 8th chapter, and let us see what Paul said about it—see if Paul taught like this. 2 Corinthians, the 8th chapter—I want you to read it, because if I quote it, you might not believe it. But surely you will believe if you are reading it. Turn to 2 Corinthians, the 8th chapter, and verse 8, and remember this, that every…word…in chapter 8 is talking about giving. Every word in chapter 9 is talking about giving. Chapter 8 and chapter 9 of 2 Corinthians both—every word is talking about giving. Notice what Paul said in verse 8: “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” Brother, that’s strong preaching, isn’t it? Paul said, “You say you’re sincere in living the Christian life?” He said, “Then prove it!” Prove it how? By giving—that’s what he’s talking about—“Prove the sincerity of your love.” Every verse in that chapter is talking about giving.

And he didn’t stop there. Listen to me again, and I’ll read verse 24 of the same chapter: “Wherefore shew [show] ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love….” You say you love God? Paul said, “Prove it!” What’s he talking about? He’s talking about giving—the whole chapter’s about giving.

So, these are some of the things that motivate us to give. These are some of the things that enter into our heart, and when we give of our means on the Lord’s day.

And now, the next thing we want to know about Luke 6:38Luke 6:38
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38 give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again.

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—What does giving do for ME?Well, Number 1, giving shows where my priorities are. Every man has top priorities in life. And if I should pass a piece of paper down to each [of you in each] pew and ask you—not to put you name on it—but just state what your top priority is in life, and then fold that piece of paper up and turn it in, what would it [your top priority] be? Would it be your home? Would it be your work? Would it be your social life? Would it be pleasure? Or, would it be the Lord’s work? What would be your top priority? The way I give SHOWS where my priority is, and we’ll talk about it in the next lesson, how God demands the first of our LOVE, the first of our LOYALTY, the first of our WORK and the first of ALL—the FIRST!

So, the way I give shows where my priorities are. And when I get my check and get everything that I want and desire, and if there’s something left over, after I’ve taken care of every thing—every worldly thing that I can think of—if there’s a little left over, I’ll give God some of that. Now let me ask you—you’re intelligent people—do you believe that’s giving God top priority, or [is that] giving yourself top priority? These are things we need to think about seriously.

And then, again, the way I give is a good spiritual barometer of my life. You know, we have barometers to tell us about the weather. If you were to come to me and say, “Brother Black, I would like for you to write my biography.” And if I were to agree to it, you know the first thing I’d want have to really know who you are and what you are and the kind of person you are? I’d say, “I’d like to have your bank book. I want to see those stubs. I want to go through those stubs, because I can learn a great deal where your interest was, what you’re really concerned about, where all your money went. That would help me in knowing what kind of a person that you are.” So, the way I give is a good barometer of my life.

Now, in the conclusion of our lesson, why is it some do not give as God has prospered? We’ve talked about, first, why we should give; and we’ve talked about what giving does for us. Now the question: Why is it, then, that some still don’t give as God has prospered them? Well, I want to give you some reasons.

Number One: Some do not give because of fear. In 2 Timothy 1:72 Timothy 1:7
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7 For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline.

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, Paul said, “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” And the fear of what? Well, there may be a depression next year, and this thing over in Iraq may develop into a World War. Or, my husband may get in the hospital and stay six months, and as a result of that, he loses his job. My wife may get sick, get in the bed for months and months. We could all have a nervous breakdown this morning talking like that. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I’m living today. Let me be a faithful steward of God today! Then, if I’m [still] living tomorrow, let me be a faithful steward of God tomorrow, but this idea of refusing to give as God has prospered us because we don’t know what the future is, is contrary to every principle taught in the Word of God! We can’t live lives like that. We live today. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know what the world leaders are going to do tomorrow. I don’t know what’s going to be the future of this country. But, I’m living today! Let me be a faithful steward of God today!

Number Two: And then, some do not give because of unbelief. They just…don’t…believe what the Bible teaches on the subject. And really, I think in living the Christian life—just generally speaking—that the average person in the Lord’s church…his basic trouble is unbelief. I want you to turn with me, and in conclusion of this lesson, to the book of Hebrews. I want you to turn with me to Hebrews, the 3rd chapter, and I want you to read for yourself…and let me tell you just a little about the context before I read the verses to you.

If you remember, God said to the children of Israel, “I’ve given you the land of Canaan [Leviticus 25:38Leviticus 25:38
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38 I am Jehovah your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.

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].” Now, keep in mind that expression—God said, “I’ve given it to you!” Then, after He stated, “I’ve given it to you,” He told Moses to select 12 men to go over and spy out the land [Numbers 13]—not to see if they could take it. They were sent over to see about the fertility of the soil; they were sent over to see about the fruit trees, the prosperity of the land, where the cities were located, how high the walls were. God had said, “I’ve given it to you!” That was a promise from God—“I’ve given it to you!”

And those men came back, and ten of them said, “We can’t do it.” Well, do you hear somebody say, “Well, God said He’d given it to us?”

“Ah, it doesn’t matter what God said. I’m telling you, we’ve been over there; we saw it for ourselves, and it can’t be done!”

“But God said He’d given it to us.”

“I know that, but it can’t be done!”

Now then, I want to read to you what Moses said about those people—why they didn’t take that land—and the same thing applies to many of us today in living the Christian life. Turn to Hebrews, the 3rd chapter, and verses 11 and 12. Notice what it says: “So I swear in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest. Takeheed, brethren, lest there be in any of you…”—that’s talking about people like you and me—“Take heed…lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” UNBELIEF is what Paul said their trouble was. Notice verse 19: “So we see that they could not enter in because of UNBELIEF.”

Now, notice Hebrews, the 4th chapter, and verse 6—notice! “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief….” Notice verse 11: “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”

Four times in those few words, Paul said the reason they didn’t go over and take that land—it was unbelief, unbelief, unbelief, unbelief, and then he said, “Let us take heed, brethren…” that we not fall [after the same example] of unbelief ourselves.

This sermon outline was made available via Rick Wood – http://twitter.com/#!/ricklwood – and Dan Williams’ “Preacher Stuff Exchange.”

Jesus failed to return on Saturday

This “failure,” of course, was not due to any negligence on the part of the Lord.  The failure was on the part of Harold Camping; this man said Jesus would return on the evening of May 21st.

Those who know and believe the Bible are familiar with Deut 18:20-22Deut 18:20-22
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20 But the prophet, that shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. 21 And if thou say in thy heart, How shall we know the word which Jehovah hath not spoken? 22 when a prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him.

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“But the prophet, that shall speak a word presumptuously in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.  21 And if thou say in thy heart, How shall we know the word which Jehovah hath not spoken?  22 when a prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

Camping had made a prediction about Jesus and His return in 1994 which also failed and his first failure should have been sufficient to show the whole world he is a false teacher.  Like many from the past, people are either ignorant of the Scriptures or do not believe what they say.

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

There is no *miracle grow* for Christians

HE WASN’T EXACTLY a great prospect…

His resume had some rather obvious “gaps” in it. He was an uneducated (Acts 4:13Acts 4:13
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13 Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

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) fisherman (Matthew 4:18Matthew 4:18
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18 And walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brethren, Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers.

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). He was quick-tempered (John 18:10John 18:10
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10 Simon Peter therefore having a sword drew it, and struck the high priest's servant, and cut off his right ear. Now the servant's name was Malchus.

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; Matthew 26:50-51Matthew 26:50-51
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50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, do that for which thou art come. Then they came and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51 And behold, one of them that were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear.

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), impetuous and impulsive. He was prone to break his word (Mark 14:29Mark 14:29
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29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.

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; Matthew 26:74Matthew 26:74
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74 Then began he to curse and to swear, I know not the man. And straightway the cock crew.

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). He made promises that he didn’t keep; in fact, he lied. He started things that he didn’t finish (Matthew 14:28-30Matthew 14:28-30
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28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee upon the waters. 29 And he said, Come. And Peter went down from the boat, and walked upon the waters to come to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me.

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). He was prone to fear and doubt (Matthew 14:30-31Matthew 14:30-31
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30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and took hold of him, and saith unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

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). He couldn’t always be counted on in a pinch (Mark 14:53-54Mark 14:53-54
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53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and there come together with him all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. 54 And Peter had followed him afar off, even within, into the court of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers, and warming himself in the light of the fire.

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). He could be cowardly (Luke 22:54-60Luke 22:54-60
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54 And they seized him, and led him away, and brought him into the high priest's house. But Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the court, and had sat down together, Peter sat in the midst of them. 56 And a certain maid seeing him as he sat in the light of the fire, and looking stedfastly upon him, said, This man also was with him. 57 But he denied, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou also art one of them. But Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And after the space of about one hour another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this man also was with him; for he is a Galilaean. 60 But Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.

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a) and undependable (Matthew 26:40-41Matthew 26:40-41
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40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

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; Mark 14:37Mark 14:37
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37 And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest thou not watch one hour?

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). He couldn’t always control his tongue (Mark 14:71Mark 14:71
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71 But he began to curse, and to swear, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

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). He couldn’t always see the “big picture” (Matthew 16:23Matthew 16:23
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23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art a stumbling-block unto me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things of men.

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; John 18:11John 18:11
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11 Jesus therefore said unto Peter, Put up the sword into the sheath: the cup which the Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

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), but was often preoccupied with the urgent and immediate. He was a narrow-minded racist (Acts 2:39; 10:13-14Acts 2:39; 10:13-14
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39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean.

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; Galatians 2:11-14Galatians 2:11-14
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11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

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) and a male chauvinist (John 4:27John 4:27
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27 And upon this came his disciples; and they marvelled that he was speaking with a woman; yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why speakest thou with her?

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).

Let’s be brutally honest—Simon Peter (Matthew 16:17Matthew 16:17
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17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.

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; John 21:15-17John 21:15-17
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15 So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Tend my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

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) wasn’t “the right man” for leading the early church. Right? The Lord needed an entirely different breed of man. He required an uncommon stock—a man with minor blemishes, a near-perfect specimen, a spiritual giant. He needed a man with a long track record of spirituality and maturity—or did He (Luke 6:12-14Luke 6:12-14
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12 And it came to pass in these days, that he went out into the mountain to pray; and he continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, he called his disciples; and he chose from them twelve, whom also he named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he also named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip and Bartholomew,

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a)?

At Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, there was Peter—boldly preaching the first Gospel sermon with his fellow apostles (Acts 2:14, 38Acts 2:14, 38
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14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spake forth unto them, saying, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and give ear unto my words. 38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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)! Yes, Peter! However, it didn’t stop there. The very same man who fled for his life when he was identified as a disciple of the Lord was the very same man who, despite the threat of imprisonment, fearlessly proclaimed the risen Lord (Acts 3:11-4:20, 29-31Acts 3:11-4:20, 29-31
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11 And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. 12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this man? or why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Servant Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had determined to release him. 14 But ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, 15 and killed the Prince of life; whom God raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name hath his name made this man strong, whom ye behold and know: yea, the faith which is through him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17 And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: 21 whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old. 22 Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. 23 And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people. 24 Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days. 25 Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities. 4 1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being sore troubled because they taught the people, and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in ward unto the morrow: for it was now eventide. 4 But many of them that heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. 5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; 6 and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, By what power, or in what name, have ye done this? 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders, 9 if we this day are examined concerning a good deed done to an impotent man, by what means this man is made whole; 10 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 He is the stone which was set at nought of you the builders, which was made the head of the corner. 12 And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved. 13 Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man that was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought through them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18 And they called them, and charged them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: 20 for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard.

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). When the counsel commanded him not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, this once reluctant disciple replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (cf. Acts 5:29Acts 5:29
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29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men.

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).

Think for just a moment; how can we account for this incredible transformation? How did this milque-toast Galilean fisherman become a notable force in the kingdom of the first century? How did he get from catching fish to catching men? How did Simon get to be Cephas (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:51 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5
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12 Now this I mean, that each one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos: and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 22 whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 5 Have we no right to lead about a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 5 and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve;

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; Galatians 2:9Galatians 2:9
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9 and when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision;

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) the Aramaic for “stone” (John 1:42John 1:42
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42 He brought him unto Jesus. Jesus looked upon him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas .

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)? How did this common man with an unsubmissive personality become a rock-like leader—one of the greatest preachers among the apostles and in every sense the dominant figure in the first twelve chapters of Acts? Most significantly, what does Peter tell us about ourselves? Consider the following:

1. No matter what your previous background, the Lord can use you as a vessel in His service. Our faults can be molded and fashioned into virtue. Failure yesterday is not necessarily fatal tomorrow. Weakness can become strength. “Mustard-seed faith” (Matthew 17:20Matthew 17:20
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20 And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

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; Mark 4:31Mark 4:31
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31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown upon the earth, though it be less than all the seeds that are upon the earth,

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; Luke 13:19; 17:6Luke 13:19; 17:6
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19 It is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his own garden; and it grew, and became a tree; and the birds of the heaven lodged in the branches thereof. 6 And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye would say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou rooted up, and be thou planted in the sea; and it would obey you.

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) can be enhanced to move mountains. “[The Lord] specializes in transforming hearts, redirecting our self-centered energy, and reshaping our raw talent and abilities to achieve His purposes in the world” [Gene A. Getz, “Peter,” The Apostles, 21- 22]. This He did for Peter, and this He can do with/for you. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10Ephesians 2:10
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10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

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; cf. Isaiah 64:8Isaiah 64:8
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8 But now, O Jehovah, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.

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).

2. It takes time to become the person Jesus wants you to become. Evolving a Christ-like spirit is a l e n g t h y process (1 Peter 2:2; 21 Peter 2:2; 2
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2 as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation; 2 1 Putting away therefore all wickedness, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 as newborn babes, long for the spiritual milk which is without guile, that ye may grow thereby unto salvation; 3 if ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious: 4 unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, 5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Because it is contained in scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: And he that believeth on him shall not be put to shame. 7 For you therefore that believe is the preciousness: but for such as disbelieve, The stone which the builders rejected, The same was made the head of the corner; 8 and, A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; for they stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 who in time past were no people, but now are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lust, which war against the soul; 12 having your behavior seemly among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether to the king, as supreme; 14 or unto governors, as sent by him for vengeance on evil-doers and for praise to them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that by well-doing ye should put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 as free, and not using your freedom for a cloak of wickedness, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 18 Servants, be in subjection to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19 For this is acceptable, if for conscience toward God a man endureth griefs, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye sin, and are buffeted for it, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye shall take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were going astray like sheep; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

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Peter 3:18; cf. Hebrews. 5:12Hebrews. 5:12
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12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food.

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ff). No one is shaped into a leader overnight. Peter certainly wasn’t. In fact, approximately twenty years after his service during the Lord’s personal ministry, Peter as an apostle, a Gospel preacher and an elder (1 Peter 5:11 Peter 5:1
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5 1 The elders among you I exhort, who am a fellow-elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, who am also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

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) still needed some “internal refinement” (Galatians 2:11-12Galatians 2:11-12
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11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision.

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). Whenever the Jews came to visit, Peter only ate with the Jews. However, when the Jews went home, he practiced open fellowship with his Gentile [uncircumcised] brethren and ate with them. Paul immediately recognized Peter’s hypocrisy and rebuked his fellow-apostle to his face (Galatians 2:14Galatians 2:14
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14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

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). Isn’t that ironic? In Acts 2, on the birthday of the church, Peter had taught, “…For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off [i.e., Gentiles]…” (v. 39). Then some eight-to-ten years later it took a vision from heaven (Acts 10:9-16Acts 10:9-16
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9 Now on the morrow, as they were on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour: 10 and he became hungry, and desired to eat: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance; 11 and he beholdeth the heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth: 12 wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things of the earth and birds of the heaven. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean. 15 And a voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common. 16 And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up into heaven.

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) to convince him that God, in fact, accepted all men—including Gentiles—into the faith (Acts 10:34-35; 11:18Acts 10:34-35; 11:18
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34 And Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him. 18 And when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life.

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). Later yet [perhaps another eight-to-ten years] in Galatians 2, Peter still struggled with the concept of the Gentile equality. He was a slow learner. You might say he suffered from SADD—spiritual attention deficit disorder. Growth was an incremental element for Peter. The same is true for each of us today.

3. Jesus seeks a willing spirit. Peter’s problem wasn’t his lack of desire and zeal; it was how he employed these qualities that often got him into trouble. One of the reasons Jesus chose Peter was because he was a man of devotion, determination and passion.* Granted, his passion was misdirected at times, but once Peter came to terms with the concept of the risen Lord (1 Peter 1:31 Peter 1:3
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3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy begat us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

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), that same fervency was channeled in a very constructive and powerful way.

The good news is—the Lord sees beyond what we are to what we can become. We see spiritual resumes that are tarnished by transgression, failure and neglect (Romans 3:23Romans 3:23
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23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;

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). We see rank sinners; Jesus sees holy saints. We see humiliation; Jesus sees exaltation. We see despair; Jesus sees a living hope. We see Simon the crumbling disciple; Jesus saw Peter the rock-solid leader who would help stabilize the first century church.

Dear friend, are you looking for a job? Do you feel incapable? Is your work-history marred by defeat? Yes? Great! You automatically qualify. The Lord is hiring new laborers at this very moment! You can start your new work now (Acts 2:38Acts 2:38
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38 And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

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; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 4:162 Corinthians 5:17; 4:16
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17 Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new. 16 Wherefore we faint not; but though our outward man is decaying, yet our inward man is renewed day by day.

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). (Mike Benson)

Bossy the cow

WHEN I WAS a young teenager, a neighbor kept several cattle in a large pasture behind our house…

Perhaps it be would more accurate to say, “…A neighbor TRIED to keep several cattle in a pasture behind our house.”One particular bovine found a broken strand in the barbed wire fence which separated the pasture from our property. Occasionally I would come home from school and find her traipsing around the backyard, browsing on the occasional patch of herbaceous vegetation, and scattering free fertilizer. Having spent my childhood in the streets of Dayton, Ohio, I didn’t have a lot of experience corralling large livestock, but eventually I would manage to direct her back to her side of the enclosure — at least, temporarily, until she decided to try the Benson backyard buffet again.

Once she discovered the way out, it was difficult to keep her in where she belonged. For “Bossy”, that twisted, three-strand barrier was the cow equivalent of the Berlin Wall and had to be breached. Those of you who have raised cattle know what I’m talking about.

Stay with me for a minute.

I’m always taken back when I hear denominational preachers teach the “once-saved, always-saved” doctrine. Essentially they’re saying, “You can’t leave if you’re ‘in’, and if you do in fact leave, you were never ‘in’ in the first place.” People aren’t cattle, but experience, observation, as well as the Bible tells us that sometimes folks, unfortunately, do wander (Heb. 2:1Heb. 2:1
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2 1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them.

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; Psm. 119:176; Isa. 53:6Isa. 53:6
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6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

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) from their saved state in the church (Acts 1:25; 8:20-22Acts 1:25; 8:20-22
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25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place. 20 But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money. 21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God. 22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee.

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; Gal. 5:2-4Gal. 5:2-4
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2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that, if ye receive circumcision, Christ will profit you nothing. 3 Yea, I testify again to every man that receiveth circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.

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; Heb. 5:12-6:6Heb. 5:12-6:6
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12 For when by reason of the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need again that some one teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of solid food. 13 For every one that partaketh of milk is without experience of the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. 14 But solid food is for fullgrown men, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. 6 1 Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this will we do, if God permit. 4 For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

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). For them, the grass appears greener on the other side and they want to “taste” what the world has to offer.

Remember the story of the Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32Luke 15:11-32
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11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 and the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of thy substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together and took his journey into a far country; and there he wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 But when he came to himself he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: 19 I am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But while he was yet afar off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight: I am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 and bring the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat, and make merry: 24 for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called to him one of the servants, and inquired what these things might be. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 But he was angry, and would not go in: and his father came out, and entreated him. 29 But he answered and said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, and I never transgressed a commandment of thine; and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 but when this thy son came, who hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou killedst for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that is mine is thine. 32 But it was meet to make merry and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

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)? A young man approached his father and asked for the immediate payment of his inheritance (v. 12). The request was granted and the son then left for a distant land. There he wasted his fortune, and then found himself on hard times (v. 13). Penniless, the young man was forced to seek employment feeding pigs (vv. 14-15). Eventually he came to himself, acknowledged his foolish ways, and headed back home (17-19). His grieving father saw him in the distance, ran to meet him, embraced him, and then gave a lavish party in his honor (vv. 22-23).

Now study the text carefully. The head-strong son “struck out on his own” and in so doing, severed his relationship with his father. The Bible says the lad journeyed to a “far country.” Now watch it. He was “in” (saved); then he was “out” (lost). He had once enjoyed the privileges of sonship, but later found himself an estranged, destitute, swine-feeding servant. Did the young man leave — did he, in essence, “break out of the fence?” Obviously, he did. What was his status while he was gone? Jesus said he was “dead” (v. 24), lost, separated.

Calvinism says, “You can’t leave…you can’t be lost.” Bossy left, at least, every once in a while. (A cow can’t leave a pasture she was never in in the first place). The Prodigal left. (A son can’t return to his father if he’s never left in the first place).

Some of you reading this very message have left the faith. You’ve either departed (1 Tim. 4:1; 1:6; 3:1; 4:21; 5:71 Tim. 4:1; 1:6; 3:1; 4:21; 5:7
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4 1 But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, 6 from which things some having swerved have turned aside unto vain talking; 3 1 Faithful is the saying, If a man seeketh the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 7 These things also command, that they may be without reproach.

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; Heb. 3:12Heb. 3:12
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God:

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) from the truth by embracing religious error (Col. 2:8Col. 2:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 Take heed lest there shall be any one that maketh spoil of you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ:

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; 2 Tim. 4:3-42 Tim. 4:3-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables.

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; Titus 1:14, 2Titus 1:14, 2
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14 not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before times eternal;

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Pet. 3:17) or you have left in a practical way by engaging in sinful practices (Rom. 8:12-13Rom. 8:12-13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: 13 for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

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; 1 Cor. 5:1-131 Cor. 5:1-13
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5 1 It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles, that one of you hath his father's wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and did not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, being absent in body but present in spirit, have already as though I were present judged him that hath so wrought this thing, 4 in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are unleavened. For our passover also hath been sacrificed, even Christ: 8 wherefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in my epistle to have no company with fornicators; 10 not at all meaning with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous and extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world: 11 but as it is, I wrote unto you not to keep company, if any man that is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one no, not to eat. 12 For what have I to do with judging them that are without? Do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Put away the wicked man from among yourselves.

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; 1 Thess. 4:3-7; 21 Thess. 4:3-7; 2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye abstain from fornication; 4 that each one of you know how to possess himself of his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust, even as the Gentiles who know not God; 6 that no man transgress, and wrong his brother in the matter: because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as also we forewarned you and testified. 7 For God called us not for uncleanness, but in sanctification. 2 1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entering in unto you, that it hath not been found vain: 2 but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as ye know, at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4 but even as we have been approved of God to be intrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God who proveth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness; 6 nor seeking glory of men, neither from you nor from others, when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children: 8 even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us. 9 For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. 10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and righteously and unblameably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe: 11 as ye know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying, 12 to the end that ye should walk worthily of God, who calleth you into his own kingdom and glory. 13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe. 14 For ye, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judaea in Christ Jesus: for ye also suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews; 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove out us, and pleased not God, and are contrary to all men; 16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always: but the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost. 17 But we, brethren, being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence not in heart, endeavored the more exceedingly to see your face with great desire: 18 because we would fain have come unto you, I Paul once and again; and Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye, before our Lord Jesus at his coming? 20 For ye are our glory and our joy.

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Pet. 2:20-22) — or both. In either case, you’ve left the safe (Eph. 1:3Eph. 1:3
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3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ:

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) heaven of the body of Christ and alienated yourself from your Father in heaven.

Whatever your sin, you can come home again. Your Father is anxious for you to return. Come now. (Mike Benson)

“You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4Gal. 5:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Ye are severed from Christ, ye would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.

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).

To ALL my FACEBOOK contacts: Please HELP!

If you operate a church web site or blog, would you please add one or both the following links to your Internet work? 

http://abiblecommentary.com/blog/180-2/how-do-i-become-a-christian/ – This link shows people how to become and worship as a Christian in 58 different languages.  If you choose to only add one link, please use this one.

http://www.abiblecommentary.com/howtobecomeachristian – This link has the same information in an English only format.

I am trying to drive these two pages to the top of search engine results so those who seek information about Christianity get the truth instead of religious error.  The efforts are paying off, but I could some help from fellow Christians to help further spread the gospel throughout the world.

If you are willing to share this information with other congregations or your other Facebook contacts, that would be greatly appreciated. 

In His Service,

Brad

Solitary Confinement

 A man breaks the law and is put in jail for his crime. Once inside, he plunges even deeper into trouble; he violates some stringent code of prison behavior. So how does the warden and criminal justice system handle his latest misconduct?

Often times the offender, depending upon the severity of his deed, is placed into solitary confinement. The inmate is purposely isolated and cut off from his peers; he is denied any opportunity to interact with his fellow convicts. He is unable to see or hear from another human being until and unless the administration decides he can. It’s lockdown for days, weeks, perhaps even months on end.

It occurs to me that a prison is not the only place where folks employ solitary confinement.

A husband and wife have a spat. The disagreement reaches a heated, fever pitch and both members are left wounded and hurting. How does the couple address each other’s rude conduct? At least some married people I know force one another into isolation.

First they engage, then they withdraw. They put each other in a sort of mental cage. They stop talking (Proverbs 15:23Proverbs 15:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 A man hath joy in the answer of his mouth; And a word in due season, how good is it!

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); they withhold love, affection, and marital intimacy (1 Corinthians 7:1-51 Corinthians 7:1-5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.

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). They sequester themselves and refuse to interact until the other humbly (and perhaps even repeatedly) apologizes and repents. It’s verbal, emotional, and physical lockdown until such time one mate decides the length of detachment has been long and harsh enough (cf. Mark 9:33-34Mark 9:33-34
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33 And they came to Capernaum: and when he was in the house he asked them, What were ye reasoning on the way? 34 But they held their peace: for they had disputed one with another on the way, who was the greatest.

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).

I’m certainly no expert on how to handle discipline issues in American jails, but as far as I can tell, solitary confinement–at least at home–is little more than a selfish form of cruel and unusual punishment. And it only serves to divide couples to an even greater extent. Words that were shared so freely are now non-existent. There is little or no attention, no tenderness, and certainly no whispers of care and mutual fondness. Even though there are two people, sharing the same last name, living in the same house, they feel lonely, removed and terribly alone.

What’s even worse, if at least one of the spouses doesn’t eventually initiate some type of contact and communication, the two will often severe the relationship entirely. As one preacher friend often reminds me, “What we will not talk about, we will divide and divorce about.”

What about you, good reader? Have you put your mate in jail? Is he or she in solitary confinement? The Bible says:

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’ for we are members of one another. ‘Be angry, and do not sin’: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you”(Ephesians 4:25-32Ephesians 4:25-32
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25 Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 neither give place to the devil. 28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have whereof to give to him that hath need. 29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear. 30 And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, in whom ye were sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and railing, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, even as God also in Christ forgave you.

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).

Putting your spouse in solitary only means that both of you will suffer. It’s a punitive form of torture where both the warden and inmate experience undue pain.

God says, “…It is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18Genesis 2:18
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18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.

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). Repent, apologize and forgive, talk, and get out of jail.

–Mike Benson

The Azerbaijani, Basque, Armenian, Haitian Creole,

Georgian, and Urdu languages now have a study on “how to become a Christian” in their native tongues. 

At the present time the study on how to be a “New Testament Christian” is in 58 different languages.

Matt 28:18-20Matt 28:18-20
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18 And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

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And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.  19 Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:  20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

How to become a Christian

How to become a Christian: Learn how to become a Christian and how to live as a Christian in any of the following languages! 

Each of the following links leads to a free PDF file that discusses “how to become a Christian” and “how to live the Christian life.”

Hoe om ‘n Christen te word – Afrikaans
Si të bëhet një i krishterë – Albanian
Ինչպես դառնալ քրիստոնյա – Armenian

كيف تصبح مسيحيا —  Arabic –  كيف تصبح مسيحياً

Necə xristian olmaq – Azerbaijani
Nola kristau bihurtzeko – Basque

Як стаць хрысціянінам – Belarusian
Как да стане християнин – Bulgarian
Com esdevenir un cristià – Catalan

如何成为基督徒-  Simple Chinese
如何成為基督徒- Traditional Chinese
Kako postati kršćanin – Croatian
Jak se stát křesťanem – Czech
Hvordan man bliver en kristen – Danish
Hoe maak je een christen te worden –  Dutch
How to become a Christian in English
Kuidas saada Christian – Estonian
Kung paano maging isang Kristiyano – Filipino
Miten tulla kristitty – Finnish
Comment devenir un chrétien – French
Como facer un cristián – Galician 
როგორ გახდეთ “ქრისტიან – Georgian
Wie werde ich ein Christ – German
Πώς να γίνει Χριστιανός – Greek 
Kouman pou vin yon kretyen – Haitian Creole
כיצד להפוך לנוצרי – Hebrew  
एक ईसाई बनने के लिए – Hindi
Hogyan válhat egy keresztény – Hungarian
Hvernig á að verða kristinn – Icelandic
Bagaimana menjadi seorang Kristen – Indonesian
Conas a bheith ina Chríostaí –Irish
Come diventare un cristiano – Italian
どのようにクリスチャンになる- Japanese
어떻게 그리스도 인이되기 위해서 – Korean
Kā kļūt par Christian – Latvian
Kaip tapti krikščionių – Lithuanian
Како да се стане христијанин – Macedonian
Bagaimana menjadi seorang Kristian – Malay
Kif issir Kristjan – Maltese
Hvordan bli en kristen – 
Norwegian
چگونه برای تبدیل شدن به یک مسیحی — 
Persian
Jak stać się chrześcijaninem – 
Polish
Como se tornar um cristão – Portuguese
Cum de a deveni un creştin – Romanian
Cum de a deveni un creştin – Russian
Како да постане хришћанин – Serbian
Ako sa stať kresťanom – Slovak
Kako postati Christian – Slovenian
Cómo convertirse en un cristiano – Spanish
Jinsi ya kuwa Mkristo – Swahili
Hur man blir en kristen – Swedish
วิธีที่จะเป็นคริสเตียน — Thai
Nasıl bir Hıristiyan olmak – Turkish
Як стати християнином – Ukrainian
ایک نصرانی ہو کس طرح سے — Urdu
Làm thế nào để trở thành một Kitô hữu – Vietnamese
Sut i ddod yn Gristion – Welsh
ווי צו ווערן אַ קריסטלעך – Yiddish

The word *amen*

Amen. You have probably heard this word as well as used it, but did you know that amen has been used by others for a very long time? Marvin Vincent, in his word study books, shows how the Rabbis had “numerous sayings about the Amen” (3:270). One saying involved “orphan Amens” (people used this word when it was unnecessary or inappropriate). The Rabbis said, “Whoever says an orphan Amen, his children shall be orphans.”
Amen is a Biblical and useful word and it is a term that we should use as appropriate to express our agreement with sound Bible teaching.
May always seek to avoid orphan amens.

1 Cor 14:161 Cor 14:16
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16 Else if thou bless with the spirit, how shall he that filleth the place of the unlearned say the Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he knoweth not what thou sayest?

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– Else if thou bless with the spirit, how shall he that filleth the place of the unlearned say the Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he knoweth not what thou sayest?

Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com