Archives for : July2011

Un sermón sobre el infierno

1) Le pregunté por la Escritura de esta mañana la lectura de venir de la RV.
2) En Lc. 01:01Lc. 01:01
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

The Gospel According to St. Luke 1 1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to draw up a narrative concerning those matters which have been fulfilled among us,

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esta traducción utiliza las palabras “ciertísimas”.

3) A partir de hoy vamos a ver algunas cosas que los cristianos creen, pero que no son salvos no puede.
4) El material de hoy se centra en el lugar comúnmente se llama el infierno.

VIVIMOS EN UN TIEMPO cuando un número creciente de personas que no creen en un lugar llamado infierno.

Muchas uno) ver a Dios como amor del Antiguo Testamento para crear cada vez un lugar, y mucho menos enviar a alguien allí.
b) También están aquellos que ven el infierno como poco más que una creencia antigua de Judios y Cristianos.
c) Otros reconocen que la Biblia habla acerca del infierno, pero esta información es considerada como simbólica.
d) Este modo de pensar, dice el infierno no es más que el ex basurero en la tierra de Israel

2) Cuando se trata de la Biblia o el tema o cualquier otro tenemos que dejar que las Escrituras hablan por sí mismos.
3) Si abrimos la Palabra de Dios, ¿qué decir de la palabra infierno?

4) Nuestro primer paso a considerar viene de la montaña. 25:41.
a) Este versículo no utiliza la palabra “infierno”, pero sí hablar de un “fuego” que es “eterna”.
b) Como se verá a partir de los textos posteriores, esta descripción se asocia con el lugar llamado “infierno”.
c) Leer Mt. 25:41Mt. 25:41
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels:

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.

5) En este versículo, así como la información que la precede, encontramos varias verdades importantes.
6) Si retrocedemos un poco para el versículo 32 nos encontramos con que este versículo implica.
7) El versículo 32 dice que “todas las naciones” serán reunidas delante del Señor al final de los tiempos.
8) Jesús separará a la gente de todas partes del mundo, como el pastor separa las ovejas de las cabras.
a) Las “cabras” (guardar) escuchará el “Apartaos de mí” comando en el versículo 41.
b) El versículo 41 describe el destino de los incrédulos como entrar en un “fuego eterno”.
c) Nos asociamos justamente la palabra “fuego” con el dolor y así es como el Señor usó este término.
d) Jesús afirmó que no son salvos van a sufrir.
e) En el libro de Apocalipsis el fuego eterno que se llama el “lago de fuego”.
f) Cinco veces en Apocalipsis 19-20 Juan describe el infierno como un “lago de fuego”.

9) La próxima vez que nos metemos en una piscina o una bañera, trate de imaginar que se trata de fuego en lugar de agua.
10) Imagínese lo que sería como para que nuestro cuerpo sumergido en un gran calor en lugar de agua cómodo.
11) Además, trate de imaginar una existencia donde no podemos salir de este lago de fuego.
12) Todo nuestro ser se encuentra inmersa en un charco de dolor y hay cero alivio.

13) Monte. 25:41 No puede ser suficiente para concluir que los incrédulos van a sufrir por la eternidad.
a) Jesús dijo que el “fuego” (el lugar de castigo) va a ser eterna, pero la gente realmente sufre por toda la eternidad?
b) Esta pregunta es contestada en Judas 7, otro verso que planeo leer.
c) Antes de leer este pasaje, vamos a hacer una observación más de la montaña. 25.
d) El Monte. 25:41 nos dice que no son salvos, junto con el “diablo y sus ángeles” irán al infierno.
e) El infierno es para todos aquellos que no están en el lado de Dios y la salvación.

14) Judas escribió un libro de la Biblia muy corto, pero él pensó que era importante hablar sobre el lugar llamado infierno.
15) El hecho de que el infierno es mencionado en un libro tan corto demuestra la importancia de este tema.

16) Esto es lo que se dice en Judas 7 – LEA.

17) Judas sabía que había gente en el pasado que habían desaparecido después de “carne extraña”.
18) Esta “carne extraña” es un ejemplo de “fornicación” – el pecado sexual frecuente y Gomorra.
19) Judas no sólo escribió sobre el infierno, él habló acerca de las relaciones del mismo sexo.
20) Estos dos temas son tan importantes que están incluidos en un libro que tiene sólo 25 versos.

21) Los que vivían en el área de Sodoma amaba el pecado y que comenzó a sufrir después de salir de esta tierra.
22) Los sodomitas y sus vecinos ahora “sufriendo el castigo del fuego eterno.”
a) Cuando la gente pregunta si el que no haya guardado se enfrentan al sufrimiento sin fin después de esta vida termina, la respuesta es ¡sí!
b) No hay un lugar llamado infierno y los inconversos pasarán la eternidad en este lugar.
c) Esta información es inaceptable para muchos en nuestros días y el tiempo.
d) las personas con educación superior a veces se burlan de la idea del castigo eterno.
e) Cuando se trata de asuntos religiosos, y esto incluye el infierno, tenemos que mantener algo en mente.

23) De todas las personas que han vivido sobre la tierra, sólo uno tiene todos los hechos acerca del infierno.
24) Esta persona es Jesús. El infierno es un lugar creado y el Señor estaba involucrado en su creación.
25) Col. 1:16Col. 1:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;

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dice que “todas las cosas” se han creado a través del Señor.
a) Si alguien sabe cómo es el infierno y nos puede decir acerca de él, esa persona es Jesucristo.
b) Si 10 hombres y los hombres 10.000 decir el infierno no es real, sus afirmaciones son falsas, ya que no está de acuerdo w / el Señor.

26) Cuando nos fijamos en la Biblia encontramos que Jesús escogió para hablar acerca del infierno.
27) De hecho, él habló acerca del infierno con más frecuencia que cualquier otro escritor de la Biblia.

28) Cuando se trata de este tema tenemos que ser inteligentes: Tenemos que escuchar a la persona que tenía una mano en su creación.

29) El que tenía una mano en el infierno fundación tenía varias cosas acerca de ello, algunos de los cuales viene de la montaña. 5.
un Mt). 5:30 es un buen resumen sobre la visión de Jesús del infierno.
b) En este versículo, Jesús dijo que nadie quiere ir a este lugar.
c) El Monte. 5:30 dice que es mejor para “cortar la mano derecha” en vez de ir al infierno.
d) El versículo 29 de este capítulo dice que es mejor de arrancar nuestro ojo derecho de ir al infierno.

30) Dos capítulos más tarde – Mt. 07:19Mt. 07:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

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– Jesús dijo que aquellos que lo hacen “no dar frutos buenos” irán al infierno.
31) Jesús creía que el infierno es un lugar real y que los seres humanos se va a terminar allí.
32) Monte. 08:12 dijo que habrá algunos “hijos del reino” que terminan en el infierno.
33) Esta será una experiencia tan dolorosa que Jesús dijo que habrá “lloro y el crujir de dientes.”

34) La humanidad está “perdido” – Luc. 19:10Luc. 19:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.

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, pero nuestro mundo muchas veces no entiende este hecho.
a) Nuestro mundo habla en términos de ser “buena gente” y que Dios es un “Dios bueno y amoroso.”
b) Dios es un Dios bueno, es por eso que Jesús vino al mundo.
c) Si la gente no tiene sus pecados lavados, se pierden y perecerá.
d) Dios dice que el pecado (la transgresión de las leyes de Dios) separa al hombre de Dios (Isaías 59:2Isaías 59:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

Izbrana zbirka ASV ne vsebuje vpisane knjigeMesto:

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e) Las consecuencias de la separación causada por el pecado es el infierno a menos que el hombre es perdonado.

El infierno es un lugar real y existe porque los pecados del hombre no puede quedar impune.

a) Escucha lo que Jesús dijo en Mateo. 16:27Mateo. 16:27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds.

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– LEA.
b) Las personas que van a ser “premiado por sus obras.”
c) Los apóstoles Pablo dijo que el pecado paga una recompensa o un salario, Rom. 6:23Rom. 6:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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dice que este salario o recompensa es la muerte.
d) El pecado lleva a la gente a la pena y el castigo no cesa en el más allá.

2) La mayoría de nosotros hemos visto una película o un informe de noticias de alguien que fue golpeado.
3) Los golpes podrían haber llegado por la policía, las pandillas, o un solo criminal.
4) Imagina ser golpeado con algo parecido a una porra, hasta el punto en el que no puede levantarse.
5) Al día siguiente, son demasiado dolor para moverse y alguien viene y golpea a nosotros un poco más.
6) Esto ocurre al día siguiente, al día siguiente, y al día siguiente.
7) Imagina una paliza al día durante los próximos 50 o 100 años.
8) Si esto fuera nuestra suerte en la vida, nos gustaría morir.
9) En Lc. 12:48Lc. 12:48
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

48 but he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.

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Jesús habló acerca de las personas que “muchos azotes” en la eternidad.
10) Día tras día el castigo en el lugar llamado infierno continúa.
a) Esta mañana me presente que todos los que terminan en el infierno se quiere morir – se desvanecen de la existencia.
b) Esto no puede y no va a suceder.
c) El precio del pecado es tan grande que la deuda no puede ser pagado por nosotros por lo que el castigo no puede terminar.
d) Juan describió el punto de esta manera en Apocalipsis 14:11Apocalipsis 14:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 and the smoke of their torment goeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day and night, they that worship the beast and his image, and whoso receiveth the mark of his name.

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– LEA.

MUCHAS minimizar o negar la idea de un infierno, pero cualquiera que tome la Biblia seriamente SABE estas afirmaciones y enseñanzas son FALSO.

a) En el Monte. 13:42 Jesús describe el infierno como un “horno de fuego” donde hay “llanto y el crujir de dientes.”
b) Estoy dispuesto a aceptar que la descripción de Jesús es, sin duda figurativo.
c) Es difícil imaginar cómo diablos puede ser un lago literal y un horno, al mismo tiempo.
d) No estoy seguro de que la gente tenga “dientes”, al menos tal como las conocemos, en la eternidad.

2) Las personas que están en el infierno no van a preocuparse por si se encuentran en un horno o un lago.
3) Su preocupación se acerca el dolor y el sufrimiento incesante.
4) Monte. 22:13 describe el infierno como un lugar de “tinieblas de afuera”.
5) 2 Tes. 1:92 Tes. 1:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might,

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dice: este es un lugar de la “destrucción” y el castigo donde la gente está alejado de Dios.
6) No importa cuántos y no importa cómo la gente siempre clama por Dios en el infierno, no habrá respuesta.

7) Si Rev. 20:07Rev. 20:07
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 And when the thousand years are finished, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,

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se refiere al infierno, y algunos piensan que no, el infierno también se describe como una cárcel.
8) Los que terminan en el infierno son esencialmente atrapados en esta área para la eternidad.
9) No habrá manera de apelar o no carcelero de elaborar un plan de escape con.
10) Los inconversos no reciben ninguna ayuda, sin períodos de descanso, y no hay aire acondicionado en el infierno.

11) Nuestro mundo se encuentra el infierno de ser un tema ofensivo y este hecho hace que algunos cristianos incómodos.
12) Cuando el mundo se pregunta si creemos que un Dios amoroso enviaría gente a un lugar eterno de castigo …
13) Algunos comienzan a pedalear hacia atrás.
a) La Biblia no nos deja ningún margen de maniobra en este tema.
b) El infierno existe y un montón de gente va allí.
c) Algunas de las personas en la asamblea de hoy puede terminar allí.
d) No todo el mundo en la asamblea de hoy pueden optar por hacer sus Hoem cielo.

14) Alguien ha observado que Dios ha descrito el infierno, apelando a los cinco sentidos del hombre.

15) El sentido del tacto se puede asociar a Jesús que describen el infierno como un lugar de fuego.
16) Nuestro sentido del gusto se asocia con el infierno en que este es un lugar donde la gente volverá a tener sed.
17) No es el olor de huevos podridos o azufre y esto se corresponde con nuestro sentido del olfato.
18) El humo y la oscuridad se relacionan con nuestro sentido de la vista.
19) Llorando, llorando, gritando y están asociados con nuestro sentido del oído.

20) Se puede llegar a un momento en que la mayoría de la gente no cree en el lugar llamado infierno.
21) Las creencias de la gente no determinar la verdad o, cuando se trata de cosas espirituales, y la verdad el cambio.

22) Cuando uno de los versos más aterrador en la Biblia sobre el infierno se encuentra en Apocalipsis 20:15Apocalipsis 20:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.

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– LEA.

23) Dios dice que no son salvos van a perecer.

24) Cuando la gente deja esta vida que ir a un lugar conocido como la celebración de “Hades” (Jesús divisó esta en Lc. 16).
25) En base a lo que el Señor dijo: Hades cuenta con dos compartimentos.
26) Hay una sección para los justos y una sección para los incrédulos.
27) El justo se consuelan mientras esperan el regreso del Señor.

28) Los inconversos se llevan a cabo en un estado de pena, esperando el momento en que se vaya al infierno.
29) El infierno es algo que todos los incrédulos se enfrentará en algún momento en el futuro.

30) Para aquellos que ya han dejado esta vida, es demasiado tarde para cambiar su destino.
31) Para nosotros no hay todavía una oportunidad de cambiar el lugar donde vamos.
32) Se puede estar en el lado de los que no gastan un solo momento en el tormento cuando morimos.

33) Imagina ser capaz de escapar de los problemas de esta vida y pasar a una vida perfectamente pacífica.
34) Esto es lo que Dios promete y lo que Él quiere para cada uno de nosotros.

Arbeit macht frei

The words, “Arbeit macht frei,” or “Work sets you free” welcomed everyone who entered the Auschwitz death camp. The emaciated few that remained when the Russians liberated the camp were far too weak to have done anything, much less work.

The prisoners were so frail that they were largely unable to eat the food that their liberators provided. They had endured unimaginable horrors in that place and they had to go out into the world, replete with the knowledge that their lives would never be the same, their loved ones were dead and their nation decimated.

Imagine one of the prisoners saying to the Russian soldiers, “I love this camp and I want to stay here forever. The Nazis were good to us. Can they come back?”

We would say that the terrors of the camp had driven them stark, raving mad. This type attitude, while appearing to be insane, has nonetheless existed for a long time.

The people of Israel were suffering mightily from the hands of their Egyptian captors. They “groaned because of their bondage, and they cried out” to God to save them (Exodus 2:23Exodus 2:23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 And it came to pass in the course of those many days, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage.

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, NKJV). God intervened and brought Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh. God brought plaques upon Egypt because of the stubborn refusals of Pharaoh to release the people of God (Exodus 7-12).

As a result of God’s work, Israel was released from captivity. Yet, shortly after their liberation, Israel began to whine and complain. When they finally received the freedom they dreamed of, they despised it.

“So the LORD’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone” (Numbers 32:13Numbers 32:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 And Jehovah's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander to and fro in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of Jehovah, was consumed.

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).

On several occasions, the nation of Israel inexplicably asked to return to Egypt. They willingly wanted to return to slavery, beatings and oppression. They were unconcerned about what would happen to their children. They only thought of themselves.

Can we imagine what Pharaoh would have done to them, had they returned?

We are in bondage to sin as humans (Romans 3:23; 7:24Romans 3:23; 7:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24 Wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me out of the body of this death?

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; John 8:34John 8:34
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Every one that committeth sin is the bondservant of sin.

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). We have no hope of attaining salvation on our own. No human holds the key to the prison doors. We needed a Savior so Jesus used his keys to open the cell doors (John 10:10John 10:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 The thief cometh not, but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.

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).

Jesus came and paid the blood price for our sins on the cross (Romans 5:6-11Romans 5:6-11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 For while we were yet weak, in due season Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: for peradventure for the good man some one would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through him. 10 For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life; 11 and not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

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). He is the only who could bring us back to God (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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; John 8:32John 8:32
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

32 and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

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).

Three days after Jesus died on the cross, “a great earthquake” occurred and the stone was rolled back and the tomb of Jesus was empty (Matthew 28:1-6Matthew 28:1-6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

28 1 Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 and for fear of him the watchers did quake, and became as dead men. 5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, who hath been crucified. 6 He is not here; for he is risen, even as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

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). In that moment, Jesus conquered death and provided everyone a way of salvation. In essence, the earthquake opened the spiritual prison doors of every person who would ever live. Everyone had found freedom!

Yet, billions of people refuse his offer and close the cell door again. They would rather remain imprisoned. Meanwhile, Satan’s laughs reverberate through the corridors of the dungeons as the prisoners believe the lie.

Jesus says to Satan, “Let My people go!” Yet, most do not want to go. They would rather be devoured by Satan.

Jesus offers never-ending joy and happiness. Satan spews forth nightmares and perpetual agony. However, beyond any rational thought, people prefer the nightmares and the torture.

Even Christians leave the Lord and go back to the squalor of sin (2 Timothy 4:102 Timothy 4:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 for Demas forsook me, having loved this present world, and went to Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

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; Hebrews 10:32-39Hebrews 10:32-39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were enlightened, ye endured a great conflict of sufferings; 33 partly, being made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, becoming partakers with them that were so used. 34 For ye both had compassion on them that were in bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of you possessions, knowing that ye have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Cast not away therefore your boldness, which hath great recompense of reward. 36 For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise. 37 For yet a very little while, He that cometh shall come, and shall not tarry. 38 But my righteous one shall live by faith: And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them that shrink back unto perdition; but of them that have faith unto the saving of the soul.

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).

Someone physically stands between heaven and hell and gets to choose. They see with their eyes the overwhelming beauty on one side and the overwhelming ugliness on the other and say, “Sorry, Jesus. I choose hell. It looks nice.”

I seriously doubt that sane people would do this. Yet, they do it every day when they reject Jesus.

The phrase over our door can be, “Rationalization will NOT set us free.”

— by Richard Mansel

— Read this article online, write your reaction, and read others’ comments as well. Click here: http://tinyurl.com/dfuf4g

 

10 plagues sermon outline

Becoming God’s Followers and Leaders – A Study of the Life of Moses David Owens

Sermon 7: “Standing in Awe of God” 7.10.11

Text: Sermon Covers Exodus 7:1-10:29Exodus 7:1-10:29
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 1 And Jehovah said unto Moses, See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. 2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee; and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, and I will lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. 6 And Moses and Aaron did so; as Jehovah commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh. 8 And Jehovah spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 9 When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Show a wonder for you; then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it become a serpent. 10 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so, as Jehovah had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent. 11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers: and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did in like manner with their enchantments. 12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods. 13 And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 14 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is stubborn, he refuseth to let the people go. 15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thy hand. 16 And thou shalt say unto him, Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou hast not hearkened. 17 Thus saith Jehovah, In this thou shalt know that I am Jehovah: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall become foul; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink water from the river. 19 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thy hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone. 20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as Jehovah commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt. 22 And the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he lay even this to heart. 24 And all the Egyptians digged round about the river for water to drink; for they could not drink of the water of the river. 25 And seven days were fulfilled, after that Jehovah had smitten the river. 8 1 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 and the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs: 4 and the frogs shall come up both upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants. 5 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thy hand with thy rod over the rivers, over the streams, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt. 6 And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. 7 And the magicians did in like manner with their enchantments, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt. 8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Entreat Jehovah, that he take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice unto Jehovah. 9 And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Have thou this glory over me: against what time shall I entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, that the frogs be destroyed from thee and thy houses, and remain in the river only? 10 And he said, Against to-morrow. And he said, Be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know that there is none like unto Jehovah our God. 11 And the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thy houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people; they shall remain in the river only. 12 And Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto Jehovah concerning the frogs which he had brought upon Pharaoh. 13 And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and the frogs died out of the houses, out of the courts, and out of the fields. 14 And they gathered them together in heaps; and the land stank. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had spoken. 16 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that is may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17 And they did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and there were lice upon man, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 18 And the magicians did so with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not: and there were lice upon man, and upon beast. 19 Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 20 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon they servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am Jehovah in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: by to-morrow shall this sign be. 24 And Jehovah did so; and there came grievous swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants' houses: and in all the land of Egypt the land was corrupted by reason of the swarms of flies. 25 And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land. 26 And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to Jehovah our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us? 27 We will go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Jehovah our God, as he shall command us. 28 And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice to Jehovah your God in the wilderness; only ye shall not go very far away: entreat for me. 29 And Moses said, Behold, I go out from thee, and I will entreat Jehovah that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, to-morrow: only let not Pharaoh deal deceitfully any more in not letting the people go to sacrifice to Jehovah. 30 And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and entreated Jehovah. 31 And Jehovah did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one. 32 And Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go. 9 1 Then Jehovah said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3 behold, the hand of Jehovah is upon thy cattle which are in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks: there shall be a very grievous murrain. 4 And Jehovah shall make a distinction between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there shall nothing die of all that belongeth to the children of Israel. 5 And Jehovah appointed a set time, saying, To-morrow Jehovah shall do this thing in the land. 6 And Jehovah did that thing on the morrow; and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go. 8 And Jehovah said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians. 12 And Jehovah hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them, as Jehovah had spoken unto Moses. 13 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will this time send all my plagues upon thy heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For now I had put forth my hand, and smitten thee and thy people with pestilence, and thou hadst been cut off from the earth: 16 but in very deed for this cause have I made thee to stand, to show thee my power, and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. 17 As yet exaltest thou thyself against my people, that thou wilt not let them go? 18 Behold, to-morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the day it was founded even until now. 19 Now therefore send, hasten in thy cattle and all that thou hast in the field; for every man and beast that shall be found in the field, and shall not be brought home, the hail shall come down upon them, and they shall die. 20 He that feared the word of Jehovah among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses. 21 And he that regarded not the word of Jehovah left his servants and his cattle in the field. 22 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch forth thy hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt. 23 And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and Jehovah sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down unto the earth; and Jehovah rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail. 27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: Jehovah is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Entreat Jehovah; for there hath been enough of these mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. 29 And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto Jehovah; the thunders shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know that the earth is Jehovah's. 30 But as for thee and thy servants, I know that ye will not yet fear Jehovah God. 31 And the flax and the barley were smitten: for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. 32 But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten: for they were not grown up. 33 And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto Jehovah: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth. 34 And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the children of Israel go, as Jehovah had spoken by Moses. 10 1 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I may show these my signs in the midst of them, 2 and that thou mayest tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought upon Egypt, and my signs which I have done among them; that ye may know that I am Jehovah. 3 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. 4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to-morrow will I bring locusts into thy border: 5 and they shall cover the face of the earth, so that one shall not be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: 6 and thy houses shall be filled, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; as neither thy fathers nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned, and went out from Pharaoh. 7 And Pharaoh's servants said unto him, How long shall this man be a snare unto us? let the men go, that they may serve Jehovah their God: knowest thou not yet that Egypt is destroyed? 8 And Moses and Aaron were brought again unto Pharaoh: and he said unto them, Go, serve Jehovah your God; but who are they that shall go? 9 And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old; with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a feast unto Jehovah. 10 And he said unto them, So be Jehovah with you, as I will let you go, and your little ones: look to it; for evil is before you. 11 Not so: go now ye that are men, and serve Jehovah; for that is what ye desire. And they were driven out from Pharaoh's presence. 12 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch out thy hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up upon the land of Egypt, and eat every herb of the land, even all that the hail hath left. 13 And Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and Jehovah brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all the night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the borders of Egypt; very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. 15 For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing, either tree or herb of the field, through all the land of Egypt. 16 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against Jehovah your God, and against you. 17 Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and entreat Jehovah your God, that he may take away from me this death only. 18 And he went out from Pharaoh, and entreated Jehovah. 19 And Jehovah turned an exceeding strong west wind, which took up the locusts, and drove them into the Red Sea; there remained not one locust in all the border of Egypt. 20 But Jehovah hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go. 21 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch out thy hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days; 23 they saw not one another, neither rose any one from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings. 24 And Pharaoh called unto Moses, and said, Go ye, serve Jehovah; only let your flocks and your herds be stayed: let your little ones also go with you. 25 And Moses said, Thou must also give into our hand sacrifices and burnt-offerings, that we may sacrifice unto Jehovah our God. 26 Our cattle also shall go with us; there shall not a hoof be left behind: for thereof must we take to serve Jehovah our God; and we know not with what we must serve Jehovah, until we come thither. 27 But Jehovah hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he would not let them go. 28 And Pharaoh said unto him, Get thee from me, take heed to thyself, see my face no more; for in the day thou seest my face thou shalt die. 29 And Moses said, Thou hast spoken well. I will see thy face again no more.

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; Scripture Reading 9:13-16

Introduction:

A. Today we are going to spend time looking at the plagues that God brought upon Pharaoh and Egypt.

1. I hope we can come to appreciate the impact of these plagues and the awe of God they brought.

B. Although there is nothing funny about the plagues themselves, you know I like to start with a bit of humor, so here goes…

1. Let’s imagine God approaching Moses, saying:: “Moses, I have good news and bad news for you regarding the plagues.”

a. The good news is that Pharaoh will let the people go after I smite the land with ten plagues.

b. Moses replied, “Then what is the bad news, Lord?”

c. The Lord said: “The bad news is you will have to conduct an environmental impact study and get approval from the EPA before we can go forward with the plagues.” (Got to love those government rules and regulations!)

2. I also got a chuckle from this cartoon: “It’s not fair being Moses’ son. If I don’t do my chores, you send a plague.” (Hey Parents, that sounds like a great idea, doesn’t it?)

C. The 10 Plagues of Egypt recorded in the Book of Exodus is one of the most well-known events from the Bible.

1. Some people are familiar with the details of the plagues themselves, but not everyone understands their full impact on Egypt.

2. The plagues not only decimated Egypt both physically and economically, but more importantly they decimated them spiritually.

3. Each of the plagues targeted a specific Egyptian god or goddess, or a combination of them, and God displayed His power over the gods of Egypt.

D. So why did God send the plagues?

1. The plagues were brought upon Egypt so that the Pharaoh and the Egyptians would know that the God of the Jews is “The LORD.”

2. The Bible says: 3 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, 4 he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. 5 And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” (Exodus 7:3-5Exodus 7:3-5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not hearken unto you, and I will lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah, when I stretch forth my hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.

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3. God wanted to prove to Egypt who He was and He wanted to display His power so they would know Him and fear Him and obey Him.

4. And why did God send 10 plagues, rather than 9 or 11?

a. Perhaps because in biblical numeration, “10” represents completion.

I. The Story

A. The Plague of Blood

1. The Bible says: 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. 15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the water. Wait on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. 16 Then say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. But until now you have not listened. 17 This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. 18 The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.'” (Ex. 7:14-18Ex. 7:14-18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is stubborn, he refuseth to let the people go. 15 Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thy hand. 16 And thou shalt say unto him, Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou hast not hearkened. 17 Thus saith Jehovah, In this thou shalt know that I am Jehovah: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. 18 And the fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall become foul; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink water from the river.

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2. This plague targeted the Egyptian god Hapi who was the “god of The Nile” and was also known as the “Spirit of The Nile”.

a. Egyptians worshipped the Nile god as their daily source of life and sustenance since it was the waters of the Nile that watered their crops and gave them water that was necessary for drinking, cleaning, and bathing.

b. But now that life-giving water carried nothing but death.

c. To strike the Nile, also was to impact the heart of their diet of fresh fish.

3. The story continues: 20 Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. 21 The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. (Ex. 7:20-21Ex. 7:20-21
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 And Moses and Aaron did so, as Jehovah commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. 21 And the fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians could not drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt.

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4. Just imagine how the Egyptian people must have felt – their source of water was gone, as was a main source of their food.

a. Imagine, seven days and seven nights without grocery stores and without your source of water!

5. It is interesting to note that Pharaoh’s priests were able to duplicate this plague, but they were unable to reverse it.

6. This plague affected both Egypt and Israel.

7. How did Pharaoh respond? The Bible says: Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. 23 Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. (Ex. 7:22-23Ex. 7:22-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

22 And the magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments: and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as Jehovah had spoken. 23 And Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he lay even this to heart.

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B. The Plague of Frogs

1. Seven days later, the Bible says: 1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. 4 The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials.'” (Ex. 8:1-4Ex. 8:1-4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 1 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs: 3 and the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs: 4 and the frogs shall come up both upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon all thy servants.

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2. Can you imagine this! I like frogs, but not like this!

a. Can you imagine frogs in your cupboards, frogs in your sink, in your closet, even in your bed! Frogs all over you – yuck!

3. This plague targeted the god Heqet.

a. She was a frog headed goddess and represented resurrection of the dead, and fertility.

b. Frogs were also considered a blessing to the Egyptians, because the frogs would eat the flies that often troubled the land, but God turned that “blessing” into a curse.

4. Again, Pharaoh’s priests were able to duplicate this plague, but were unable to reverse it.

5. Pharaoh asked Moses to have God take away the frogs and said he would let the Israelites go.

6. Moses told Pharaoh to set the time for them to be gone. God took away the frogs at the appointed time (the next day) but with the pressure off, Pharaoh changed his mind.

7. Again, this plague affected both Egypt and Israel.

C. The Plague of Gnats

1. Interestingly, this third plague arrived unannounced.

a. The first two plagues were preceded by an announcement from Moses and Aaron, but not this one.

b. Actually, when we look at all the plagues, we notice that every third plague came without warning.

2. The Bible says: 16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came upon men and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. (Ex. 8:16-17Ex. 8:16-17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that is may become lice throughout all the land of Egypt. 17 And they did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth, and there were lice upon man, and upon beast; all the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

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3. “Gnat” is a word that describes a biting, stinging insect that penetrates the nostrils and ears of its victims.

a. They are like our “May Flies” or “black flies” – they can drive you crazy!

4. This plague targeted the god Khepri who was the God of beetles and flies.

5. The Bible tells us that Pharaoh’s priests tried but could not duplicate this plague.

6. They told Pharaoh that this was “the finger of God”, but Pharaoh’s heart remained hard.

7. This plague affected both Egypt and Israel, but every plague after this one would only affect the Egyptians. God would protect His people while He plagued the Egyptians – if that’s not a convincing proof of God’s power, I don’t know what is!

D. The Plague of Flies

1. The Bible says: 20 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the water and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies, and even the ground where they are.

22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the LORD, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This miraculous sign will occur tomorrow.'” (Ex. 8:20-23Ex. 8:20-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 21 Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon they servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are. 22 And I will set apart in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there; to the end thou mayest know that I am Jehovah in the midst of the earth. 23 And I will put a division between my people and thy people: by to-morrow shall this sign be.

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2. The Swarm.sounds like a horror movie title!

3. This plague again targeted the god Khepri who was the God of beetles and flies

4. Pharaoh was warned in advance of this plague.

5. As I mentioned, this time, God did not allow Israel to be affected.

6. Pharaoh’s priests didn’t even try to duplicate this plague.

7. Pharaoh told Moses he would let the Israelites go if Moses could get God to take away the flies. 8. But after experiencing relief, Pharaoh changed his mind again.

E. The Plague of Livestock

1. The Bible says: 1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” 2 If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, 3 the hand of the LORD will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field-on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats. 4 But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.'”

5 The LORD set a time and said, “Tomorrow the LORD will do this in the land.” 6 And the next day the LORD did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. 7 Pharaoh sent men to investigate and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go. (Ex. 9:1-7Ex. 9:1-7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 1 Then Jehovah said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still, 3 behold, the hand of Jehovah is upon thy cattle which are in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the herds, and upon the flocks: there shall be a very grievous murrain. 4 And Jehovah shall make a distinction between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt; and there shall nothing die of all that belongeth to the children of Israel. 5 And Jehovah appointed a set time, saying, To-morrow Jehovah shall do this thing in the land. 6 And Jehovah did that thing on the morrow; and all the cattle of Egypt died; but of the cattle of the children of Israel died not one. 7 And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not so much as one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was stubborn, and he did not let the people go.

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2. God had already removed the supply of fish, now there would be no red meat or milk.

3. This targeted the god Apis.

a. The Egyptians felt that when Apis was well the livestock was well.

b. This plague affected horses, donkeys, camels, cattle and sheep.

c. All these animals were essential to the life in Egypt. Cattle especially were seen as a symbol of wealth.

4. Miraculously, none of the Hebrew livestock were harmed.

5. Pharaoh even sent men to investigate, but his heart remained hardened.

F. The Plague of Boils

1. The Bible says: 8 Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. 9 It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on men and animals throughout the land.”

10 So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on men and animals. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians. (Ex. 9:8-11Ex. 9:8-11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 And Jehovah said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. 9 And it shall become small dust over all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. 10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man and upon beast. 11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boils were upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.

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2. If you have ever had a boil, then you don’t ever want to have one again.

a. While in college, I had a boil on my thigh, and it was so painful.

b. When the doctor lanced it, there was such a release of pressure that I almost fainted.

3. This plague targeted the god Imhotep who was the physician god.

a. He was also worshiped by the Romans and Greeks as the God of medicine.

4. It is a bit comical to me that the priests could not even heal themselves.

5. Pharaoh’s heart remained hard with God’s assistance.

G. The Plague of Hail

1. The Bible says: 13 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth.

18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.'” (Ex. 9:13-14; 18-19Ex. 9:13-14; 18-19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For I will this time send all my plagues upon thy heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. 18 1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, how that Jehovah had brought Israel out of Egypt. 2 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her away, 3 and her two sons; of whom the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been a sojourner in a foreign land: 4 and the name of the other was Eliezer; for he said, The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh. 5 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, came with his sons and his wife unto Moses into the wilderness where he was encamped, at the mount of God: 6 and he said unto Moses, I, thy father-in-law Jethro, am come unto thee, and thy wife, and her two sons with her. 7 And Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and did obeisance, and kissed him: and they asked each other of their welfare; and they came into the tent. 8 And Moses told his father-in-law all that Jehovah had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how Jehovah delivered them. 9 And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which Jehovah had done to Israel, in that he had delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. 10 And Jethro said, Blessed be Jehovah, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh; who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. 11 Now I know that Jehovah is greater than all gods; yea, in the thing wherein they dealt proudly against them. 12 And Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took a burnt-offering and sacrifices for God: and Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God. 13 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood about Moses from the morning unto the evening. 14 And when Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand about thee from morning unto even? 15 And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God: 16 when they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. 17 And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. 18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for the thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. 19 Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and God be with thee: be thou for the people to God-ward, and bring thou the causes unto God: 20 and thou shalt teach them the statutes and the laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. 21 Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 and let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge themselves: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee. 23 If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people also shall go to their place in peace. 24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. 25 And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. 26 And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter they judged themselves. 27 And Moses let his father-in-law depart; and he went his way into his own land. 19 1 In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 And when they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mount. 3 And Moses went up unto God, and Jehovah called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. 5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: 6 and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. 7 And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which Jehovah commanded him. 8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that Jehovah hath spoken we will do. And Moses reported the words of the people unto Jehovah. 9 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and may also believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto Jehovah. 10 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to-day and to-morrow, and let them wash their garments, 11 and be ready against the third day; for the third day Jehovah will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. 12 And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: 13 no hand shall touch him, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, he shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, they shall come up to the mount. 14 And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their garments. 15 And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not near a woman. 16 And it came to pass on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of a trumpet exceeding loud; and all the people that were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18 And mount Sinai, the whole of it, smoked, because Jehovah descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19 And when the voice of the trumpet waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 20 And Jehovah came down upon mount Sinai, to the top of the mount: and Jehovah called Moses to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. 21 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto Jehovah to gaze, and many of them perish. 22 And let the priests also, that come near to Jehovah, sanctify themselves, lest Jehovah break forth upon them. 23 And Moses said unto Jehovah, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou didst charge us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. 24 And Jehovah said unto him, Go, get thee down; and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto Jehovah, lest he break forth upon them. 25 So Moses went down unto the people, and told them.

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2. This plague targeted the goddess Nut who was Goddess of the Sky, represented as the vault of the heavens.

3. This plague affected every plant, tree, and living thing in Egypt.

4. Even some of Pharaoh’s officials heeded the warning and brought in their slaves and livestock. 5. This plague finally opened a crack in Pharaoh’s hard shell, but only temporarily.

6. The Bible says: 27 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Pray to the LORD, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.” (Ex. 9:27-28Ex. 9:27-28
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 And Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them, I have sinned this time: Jehovah is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. 28 Entreat Jehovah; for there hath been enough of these mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.

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7. Moses was skeptical, with good reason, and Pharaoh again changed his mind.

H. The Plague of Locusts

1. The Bible says: 3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 4 If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. 5 They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. 6 They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians-something neither your fathers nor your forefathers have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.'” (Ex. 10:3-6Ex. 10:3-6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. 4 Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to-morrow will I bring locusts into thy border: 5 and they shall cover the face of the earth, so that one shall not be able to see the earth: and they shall eat the residue of that which is escaped, which remaineth unto you from the hail, and shall eat every tree which groweth for you out of the field: 6 and thy houses shall be filled, and the houses of all thy servants, and the houses of all the Egyptians; as neither thy fathers nor thy fathers' fathers have seen, since the day that they were upon the earth unto this day. And he turned, and went out from Pharaoh.

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2. If you are a farmer, then the worst thing you can see is locust invading your fields – they have an insatiable appetite.

3. Notice how that as these plagues progressed, God basically wiped out every part of the Egyptian diet – fish, livestock, and now crops.

4. This plague targeted the god Seth, who was god of the desert, storms, and chaos.

5. Pharoah’s priests begged him to let the Hebrews go.

6. Pharaoh again admitted he was wrong, and agreed to let the Hebrews go, but he changed his mind after the locust left.

I. The Plague of Darkness

1. The Bible says: 21 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt-darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. 23 No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. (Ex. 10:21-23Ex. 10:21-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Stretch out thy hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. 22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days; 23 they saw not one another, neither rose any one from his place for three days: but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.

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2. Can you imagine the oppressive effect this must have had on everyone – especially after all they had been through!

a. This was a darkness that could not be penetrated by a candle or lamp – it was a darkness you could feel against your skin.

3. It is a rare experience to be somewhere that is completely dark. I had that experience once in Howe Caverns when they turned out the lights – it was utter blackness, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face!

4. It must have felt like blindness or death.

5. This plague targeted many gods: including – Ra the most powerful of the sun gods and Horus who was god of the sky.

6. Pharoah wanted to let them go but changed his mind when Moses demanded to be allowed to take their livestock with them.

a. The livestock was needed not only to sustain life but also for worship.

J. The Bible records the final words that Pharaoh and Moses uttered to each other at this point in the story: 28 Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.”

29 “Just as you say,” Moses replied, “I will never appear before you again.”

1. And that’s the way it turned out – Moses was summoned once more by Pharaoh after the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt, and Pharaoh begged him to leave and begged him to bless him.

2. Next week, Lord willing, we will look at the final plague.

II. The Application

A. So what can and should we apply to our lives from today’s part of the story of Moses?

1. I believe that there are two major truths that we should take to heart from this part of the story.

2. First, we should take to heart the fact that when God judges, He does a thorough job of it.

a. God knows how and when to judge. He is perfect in His judgment.

3. Second, we should take to heart the fact that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

B. Judgment day is coming for all of us, and we must take that very seriously.

1. Hebrews 9:27Hebrews 9:27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

27 And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment;

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says, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

2. 2 Corinthians 5:102 Corinthians 5:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 For we must all be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ; that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

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says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

3. Acts 17:31Acts 17:31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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says, “For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

C. God has told us that He is a jealous God. He will not tolerate us putting other gods before Him.

1. As we will see when we get to Exodus 20, the very first commandment is “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Ex. 20:3Ex. 20:3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

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2. Jesus put it like this: 37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Mt. 10:37-39Mt. 10:37-39
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

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D. We are called by God to serve Him, first and foremost, and to not allow anyone or anything to become a rival god.

1. God did not tolerate the idolatry of Egypt, nor the idolatry of Israel, and he won’t tolerate it in us either.

2. Do any of us have an idol in our lives right now?

3. Is there anything that we place on a pedestal that is higher than Jesus Christ or more important than our service to him?

4. If we are not careful, we can be serving the god of recreation and entertainment.

5. If we are not careful, we can be serving the god of family as we put the wishes of parents, mates, or children ahead of God.

6. If we are not careful, we can be serving the god of finances and worldly possessions.

7. If we are not careful, we can be serving the god of pleasure.

8. There are many gods we can be serving, but only one we should be serving.

E. I do not picture God as a dictator, or tyrant, who stands with a whip in his hand ready to lash out against us the first time we sin.

1. God does not take pleasure in correcting his children any more than you or I do when we have to discipline our own children.

2. But God loves us too much to allow us to remain in sin and He will bring judgment whenever necessary to bring us back into obedience to His will while there is still time to repent.

F. The plagues should teach us that God is not someone to be toyed with.

1. The plagues should teach us that it is a fearful thing for God to pour out His wrath on us.

2. God is someone we should stand in awe and fear of.

3. God is someone we should be quick to obey.

G. On the positive side, the plagues teach us that God is also able to bless.

1. As God was pouring out His judgment on Egypt, he was blessing and protecting His people.

2. Things may have been terrible in Egypt, but they were wonderful in Goshen.

3. Nothing is more serious and sobering than the wrath of God.

4. And nothing is more wonderful and joyful than the blessing of God.

5. This is for sure: no one will want to be in hell, and everyone will be thankful to be in heaven.

H. Let me end with two questions:

1. Are you standing in awe of God today?

2. Are you living obediently before your God today?

3. There are no more important questions than those!

Resources:

Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication, by Charles Swindoll, Word Publishing, 1999

Yahweh Takes On the Gods of Egypt, Sermon by Ed Vasicek, SermonCentral.com

The Plagues of Egypt, Sermon by Brian Menear, SermonCentral.com

Non criminals spend night in local jail

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Cells in the new jail in Jefferson City, MO were filled last weekend, but by Monday morning they were empty. A massive jailbreak? No, each inmate was happily released after serving their 24-hour “sentence”. And none walked away with a blemish on their criminal record!

Cole County was about to open their brand-new jail and wanted to conduct a test run. Citizens were offered the chance, for a $30 fee, to experience a night behind bars. 170 paid their fee and left all of their personal belongings at the front desk. Though none of the cell doors were actually locked, all other aspects of jail life were reproduced. It was a sobering experience for those who participated, though each was given a mug shot and a T-shirt as a token of their time served.

Few who spend time in lockup facilities leave with a smile. For most of the nearly 2.3 million who were incarcerated at the end of 2009, jail is a humbling ordeal, filled with shame, guilt and fear of further action to come. Some enter prison with no expectation of ever leaving. Theirs is a sentence of life in prison with no chance of parole.

Medicine has made “inoculation” a familiar concept. A vaccine or a serum is injected into our bodies, and that injection leads to a small-scale invasion. But in the process our bodies develop antibodies to fight the infection, and the memory of that battle will remain in our systems. Most of us welcome this small health battle, considering it a good investment if it means success over a larger enemy in the future.

Those who paid to spend a night in jail in Missouri last week were “inoculating” themselves against any desire to step outside of the law’s boundaries. By having this no-risk experience of life in jail, they strengthened their resolve to be law-abiding citizens.

The Bible has much to say about the concept of sin. Is there anything good to be said about sin? If there is, it might be this: A taste of sin should awaken us to the fearful prospect of an eternity without God.

Paul, in Romans 8, mused on his own experience of sin. “Has then that which is good become death to me? Certainly not! But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful” (Romans 8:13Romans 8:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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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). If Paul had not seen that sin was “exceedingly sinful” and capable of producing death, he might have clung to it for the rest of his life. But the taste of sin led Paul to abandon it completely.

To see the full effect of sin, look at Jesus on the cross. The descriptions in the Gospels of Jesus’ crucifixion are anything but pleasant; we often recoil as we read and meditate on the details. But we need to know that “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5Isaiah 53:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

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). Sin is not something to play with, for it destroys people!

Each Lord’s Day, as I “taste” this experience of sin’s effects on my innocent Lord (in the Lord’s Supper), I should reaffirm my desire to have nothing at all to do with sin, but to walk in the pathway of righteousness. The cross of Christ is an uncomfortable meditation – but I need it.

Timothy D. Hall.

 

A sermon on grief

*Text: John 11:1-6, 17-37John 11:1-6, 17-37
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 And it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 The sisters therefore sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When therefore he heard that he was sick, he abode at that time two days in the place where he was. 17 So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already. 18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary still sat in the house. 21 Martha therefore said unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 And even now I know that, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, even he that cometh into the world. 28 And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Teacher is here, and calleth thee. 29 And she, when she heard it, arose quickly, and went unto him. 30  31 The Jews then who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, supposing that she was going unto the tomb to weep there. 32 Mary therefore, when she came where Jesus was, and saw him, fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 The Jews therefore said, Behold how he loved him! 37 But some of them said, Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die?

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Aim: to discuss Christian perspectives on grief, and to promote the ladies recovery class.

Thesis: grief is not a disease to be curse, but a sorrow to be shared.

Introduction:

Often in the gospels we read of three people to whom Jesus was especially close: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. These two sisters and one brother lived in the little village of Bethany, not far from Jerusalem. Jesus was a frequent visitor to their home and enjoyed the hospitality he found there. The day came when the Lord received the disturbing news that Lazarus had passed away. He traveled to Bethany to be with Mary and Martha, to share in their sorrow, and the story of his meeting with them provides three lessons for us in how to deal with grief.

Because ALL of us will lose someone at some time, let’s consider this story to see what it has to teach us about responding to grief.

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1. ACCEPT THE COMFORT OF OTHERS.

Verse 31 “the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her”

The custom of the Jews was to gather together with the family of the bereaved. Grief was considered to be a burden that should be shared. We know there is nothing we can do to take it away – every person must mourn for themselves. But we also instinctively know that we should BE THERE, BE WITH those who grieve. In fact, sympathy is one of those virtues commended to Christians: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” – Romans 12:15Romans 12:15
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15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.

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One of the most precious privileges of Christianity is the sacred sharing of sorrow with our brothers and sisters who grieve. Agape love is never more needed – or more welcomed – than when a fellow believer has lost a loved one.

But most of us don’t feel competent to carry out that command – very few of us are confident or comfortable in that role. And because we don’t know what to say or do, we may end up doing nothing. What is the best way to minister to those who mourn? Being there for them!

There are some things you just cannot understand about losing a loved one until you have actually experienced them.

· Your sense of time becomes disoriented – everything seems to take so much longer.

· There is so much to think of, to plan, so many decisions to make and errands to run.

· You don’t realize how much even the small gestures of sympathy can mean in a time of loss.

o Visits, calls, and cards, and flowers

o People who take the time to come to the funeral

o People who just put an arm around your shoulder

o And the FOOD!

o All of those are gestures that say, “We want to BE THERE for you.” There’s nothing you can do to “solve” another person’s grief – there’s nothing you can say to take it away. That’s not the point. When Romans 12:15Romans 12:15
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15 Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep.

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says “mourn with those who mourn” it’s telling us to BE THERE – to do all of those things that say, “We know you’re grieving, and we’ll be here to grieve with you.”

And Mary is a model for us of someone who accepts that comfort. Often our first impulse is to withdraw, to retreat into the isolation of privacy, but we have a greater need than ever to associate with others. When we are open – willing to tell people how we feel, or what we need – we make two discoveries:

· FIRST, that we are not alone in our struggles – that others have gone through the same kinds of experiences.

· And SECOND, we realize that there are others who care.

One of the best ministries we have is our Ladies Grief Recovery Support Group. I have talked with Karen about the work they are doing; have reviewed their material; and have gotten feedback from some of the people who have participated. It is a powerful program because it communicates so well the love of God in a practical way! They will begin again on the second Sunday night of next month, and it is open to the community: if you have a friend who might profit from this ministry, be sure to tell her about it!

2. BE REALISTIC ABOUT DEATH.

Verse 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”

Mary’s statement is one of frustration, perhaps even accusation! She felt that Jesus could have done something, should have done something, to prevent her brother from dying. It was an understandable reaction, of course, but it was not realistic. Jesus had nothing to do with the situation – Lazarus died because he was sick.

It is natural to respond with unnecessary guilt, second-guessing, but if we are realistic about death we will come to the understanding that there is nothing to be gained by dwelling on the “might-have-beens”, the “What if’s”, or the “maybes” – maybe if we’d said this differently, done that more quickly. That kind of thinking is futile because it is not within our power to accept responsibility for another person, no matter how much we might desire to. We cannot live another person’s life for them, make their decisions for them.

And the time will come when we accept the reality of death and remember the things we DID do for our loved one, because we cared about them. People need a season of grieving. In fact, they need that breathing room to get adjusted to their loss so much that they shouldn’t be rushed, shouldn’t make any major decisions, until the process of sorrow has run its course.

This is especially true in the loss of a spouse. Widows or widowers should not make any major life decisions for at least a year, until they have had time to process their emotions, clear their head, and gain a new perspective.

The time will come soon enough when we will move ahead, go on to continue to build our life. After all, we cannot back up on the highway of life – we can only go forward. Philippians 3: 13-14Philippians 3: 13-14
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13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, 14 I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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“This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…..”

But we shouldn’t overlook another dimension to Mary’s comment: it is not only a statement of frustration, but also one of FAITH! She knew that Jesus had the power to overcome even death itself because she was familiar with the miracles of Jesus, had seen what he had done previously. And that reminds us that a part of being realistic about death is to realize our own days on this earth are numbered, and that we must prepare ourselves for this last great appointment.

When Jesus met with Martha he spoke not of death but of life; not of the grave, but of the resurrection.

Verses 25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

Since one day each of us will come to the end of our road, the only realistic response is to place our faith in the one who holds the power to give us eternal life. I would encourage each of us here tonight to search our own heart, and to take inventory of our own soul. And if we realize that we are not prepared for eternity, to make our relationship with God right now while we have the opportunity.

3. ALLOW THE OPPORTUNITY TO GRIEVE.

Verse 35 “Jesus wept” We typically remember this as the shortest verse in the Bible – but tonight I also want us to realize it is also one of the sweetest! Why?

Because the example of Jesus reassures us that it’s all right to grieve! Jesus grieved for his good friend Lazarus – even though he knew he was about to raise him from the dead, he still shed tears of sorrow. Never does the Bible condemn grief – never does it tell us that we will not suffer pain, or should not shed tears of sorrow. 1 Thessalonians 4:111 Thessalonians 4:11
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11 and that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your hands, even as we charged you;

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says “Grieve not like the rest of men who have no hope,” but it doesn’t say to “Grieve not”!

· GRIEF is not a disorder, disease, or disability.

· GRIEF is not something to avoid or evade; it is not a weakness or a sin, and it doesn’t indicate a lack of faith or of character.

· GRIEF is simply a statement that we loved someone – that we have lost them – and that such a loss is painful to us.

And the more we care about someone, the more keenly we’ll feel their loss. That’s why those standing near Jesus said, “See how he loved him!” Grief is painful, to be sure, but it is a healthy pain – for after all, to grieve for another person is simply another way of saying that they had a place in your heart, that you loved them and you will miss them. When someone is taken from us we have every right to feel that loss, and no one has the right to tell us otherwise.

In fact, not only is it all right to grieve, it is a healthy thing to express our sorrow. Someone has said that “tears wash the soul.” One of the most common mistakes Americans make is to fail to give themselves permission to grieve, or time to recover. So often the real problem is not the grieving – but the unhealthy attempts to avoid grief!

And perhaps most important of all, God’s Son is not indifferent to our grief, is not unaware of what it means to grieve. Jesus knows, understands, feels with us. Twice in this passage it says that Jesus was “deeply moved in spirit.” Our Savior is able to sympathize because he understands. READ Hebrews 4:14-16Hebrews 4:14-16
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14 Having then a great high priest, who hath passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.

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“Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

Too deeply for mirth or song;

As the burdens press, and the cares distress,

And the way grows weary and long?

O yes, He cares, I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savor cares.”

Handout Material

THE CRISIS OF BEREAVEMENT

Since the pale of death pierces every mortal, it is necessary for all of us to learn how to handle bereavement. I have watched with great admiration and respect the courage that has borne many a saint through hours of sorrow. Here is some practical advice I have seen others use in dealing with grief:

1. EXPRESS YOUR EMOTIONS. It should not be considered a Christian virtue to be unmoved by the loss of a loved one. There is a difference between suppressing one’s emotions and losing one’s self control. The Bible does not say, “Sorrow not”; but it says, “Sorrow not as others who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:131 Thessalonians 4:13
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13 But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning them that fall asleep; that ye sorrow not, even as the rest, who have no hope.

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2. SEEK THE AID OF YOUR FRIENDS. The very presence of friends is an encouragement. When Paul neared Rome, the brethren came to meet him and he “thanked God and took courage” (Acts 28:15Acts 28:15
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15 And from thence the brethren, when they heard of us, came to meet us as far as The Market of Appius and The Three Taverns; whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage.

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3. COMPEL YOURSELF TO BE WITH PEOPLE. Your inclination may be to retreat into the refuge of privacy, but there is a greater need than one realized to associate with others. David did (2 Samuel 12: 19-232 Samuel 12: 19-23
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19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; and David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead. 20 Then David arose from the earth, and washed, and anointed himself, and changed his apparel; and he came into the house of Jehovah, and worshipped: then he came to his own house; and when he required, they set bread before him, and he did eat. 21 Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. 22 And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who knoweth whether Jehovah will not be gracious to me, that the child may live? 23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.

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4. EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS IN WORDS. Talking about it will help you to accept it. If this is done at the outset of bereavement, one will sooner be able to stabilize his life.

5. AVAIL YOURSELF OF SPIRITUAL RESOURCES. Even though you may not have realized the importance of the Scriptures and their comfort, now these can help in building your faith. The power of prayer and the peace of God are very precious possessions.

6. DON’T BROOD OVER WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN. Both Mary and Martha said, “If thou hadst been here my brother had not died” (John 11:21-32John 11:21-32
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21 Martha therefore said unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 And even now I know that, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; 26 and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, even he that cometh into the world. 28 And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Teacher is here, and calleth thee. 29 And she, when she heard it, arose quickly, and went unto him. 30  31 The Jews then who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, supposing that she was going unto the tomb to weep there. 32 Mary therefore, when she came where Jesus was, and saw him, fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

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7. ACTIVELY PURSUE WORTHWHILE TASKS. Once the initial shock has been dealt with, get busy at other things. Resolve like Paul to “reach forth unto the things which are before” (Philippians 3:13Philippians 3:13
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13 Brethren, I could not myself yet to have laid hold: but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before,

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8. MAKE CAREFUL AND THOUGHTFUL DECISIONS. Many an individual jumps hastily into deciding the full scope of the future rather than waiting until he or she has regained a proper perspective of life. Don’t get in a hurry. Make prayerful decisions.

9. INCREASE YOUR TRUST IN GOD. Those who have come through their sorrows with a deeper faith can verify that God who rules over all truly does make all things work together for good (Romans 8:28Romans 8:28
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28 And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

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After the crisis of grief, you can serve more fully and sympathize more completely with men of like passions. With Paul you, too, can thank God for the comfort received knowing that it has now given you the ability to comfort others who are in any trouble (2 Corinthians 1:42 Corinthians 1:4
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4 who comforteth us in all our affliction, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any affliction, through the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

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-Hardeman Nichols

Sixth & Izard Church of Christ

Little Rock, Arkansas

A FRIEND TO THE GRIEVING

Lynn Kelly lost her husband 22 years ago when she was 34 and the mother of three small children. A few years ago she started doing research about what was available for those who have friends in this situation. She found there wasn’t much there.

Wouldn’t it be helpful, she thought, if people had a guide that they could use when a friend is grieving? She has compiled the advice from many people into a book issued last summer, Don’t Ask for the Dead Man’s Golf Clubs: Advice for Friends When Someone Dies. Sample comments from the book:

“The most moving cards were those from people who took time to write a story…..Any piece of history shared about Tony was important to me. I wanted to know what his co-workers thought of him, stuff he never told me–his sense of humor, his creativity, the special qualities that made him unique.”

“I love to remember anything at all about Ryan and to bring it up. ‘Oh, he used to do this.’ I want to hear every single thing that anyone can remember about him–any funny thing, anything…..I want to keep him alive with the memories.”

“Just be company. When you lose a father or a spouse, you are so lonely. Just being company helps…..I don’t think it makes any difference what people say. It’s just the idea that they are there and you know they care.”

“The thing I missed most was being held. I just wanted somebody to put their arms around me.”

“The thing I didn’t like was when people said, ‘I know how you must feel losing a brother.’ They didn’t at all know that.”

“Take off work, even if you are busy, and go to the funeral. It just means an awful lot to see how many people cared.”

–Gayle Crowe

Elmwood church of Christ bulletin

Lafayette, Indiana

Some Alternative Statements When Responding To The

Crisis of Grief

Instead of: “I know exactly how you feel.”

Try: “I can only imagine what you’re going through.”

Instead of: “At least he doesn’t have to suffer anymore.”

Try: “He suffered through a lot, didn’t he?”

Instead of: “It’s God’s will.”

Try: “One comfort I find is God’s Promise never to abandon us.”

Instead of: “Don’t you think it’s time to get on with your life?”

Try: “Everyone has to grieve in their own way, don’t they?”

Instead of: “She wouldn’t want you to grieve.”

Try: “It’s hard to say goodbye, isn’t it?”

Instead of: “Don’t cry – you’ll only make it worse.”

Try: “Sometimes tears are the best way to express our feelings.”

Instead of: “This death is a victory for God.”

Try: “Even with the promise of the resurrection, it hurts to give someone up.”

Instead of: “You’ve got to be strong.”

Try: “I want you to know it’s okay to be yourself around me.”

Instead of: “You can’t be angry with God.”

Try: “God understands even when we’re upset.”

–Virgil Fry

Sixth & Izard church of Christ bulletin

Little Rock, Arkansas

Blessed Are They That Mourn

(Matthew 5:4Matthew 5:4
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4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

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There are three ways in which this beatitude can be taken.

(1) It can be taken quite literally: Blessed is the man who has endured the bitterest sorrow that life can bring. The Arabs have a proverb: “All sunshine makes a desert.” The land on which the sun always shines will soon become an arid place in which no fruit will grow. There are certain things which only the rains will produce; and certain experiences which only sorrow can beget.

Sorrow can do two things for us. It can show us, as nothing else can, the essential kindness of our fellow-men; and it can show us as nothing else can the comfort and the compassion of God.

(2) Some people have taken this beatitude to mean:

Blessed are those who are desperately sorry for the sorrow and the suffering of this world.

When we were thinking of the first beatitude we saw that it is always right to be detached from things, but it is never right to be detached from people. This world would have been a very much poorer place, if there had not been those who cared intensely about the sorrows and the suffering of others. Christianity is caring.

(3) No doubt both these thoughts are in this beatitude, but its main thought undoubtedly is: Blessed is the man who is desperately sorry for his own sin and his own unworthiness.

As we have seen, the very first word of the message of Jesus was, “Repent!” No man can repent unless he is sorry for his sins. The thing which really changes men is when they suddenly come up against something which opens their eyes to what sin is and to what sin does.

That is what the Cross does for us. As we look at the Cross, we are bound to say, “That is what sin can do. Sin can take the loveliest life in all the world and smash it on a Cross.” One of the great functions of the Cross is to open the eyes of men and women to the horror of sin. And when a man sees sin in all its horror he cannot do anything else but experience intense sorrow for his sin.

Christianity begins with a sense of sin. Blessed is the man who is intensely sorry for his sin, the man who is heart-broken for what his sin has done to God and to Jesus Christ, the man who sees the Cross and who is appalled by the havoc wrought by sin.

William Barclay – Commentary on Matthew

*Sermon by:

Dan Williams

College Avenue church of Christ

1817 North College Avenue

El Dorado, Arkansas 71730

Can He depend on you?

Undependable people contribute so much–much frustration, much disappointment, much friction…. We should all be dependable. You probably know little about Shelemiah, Zadok, Pedaiah, and Hanon. Little is said about them. But listen to what is said. They were placed in charge of the storehouses of Israel because “they were considered reliable” (Neh. 13:13Neh. 13:13
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13 And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah; for they were counted faithful, and their business was to distribute unto their brethren.

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). What a glowing tribute. On the other hand, David wrote of some wicked individuals, of whom he said, “There is nothing reliable in what they say” (Ps. 5:9Ps. 5:9
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9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; Their inward part is very wickedness; Their throat is an open sepulchre; They flatter with their tongue.

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). Too many otherwise good people are leaving such a reputation for themselvee. In frustration, sometimes elders may join Solomon in asking, “Who can find a trustworthy man?” (Prov. 20;6). But, good news! We can all be dependable. Why?

First, we are ABLE. God blesses us with talents, time, and treasure. With them, we can (as good stewards) use our resources to God’s glory. If somethings hinders us from doing our duty, we can let others know and cover for us. But, whenever and wherever and however we can, we use ourselves as workers in the kingdom (Matt. 9:37Matt. 9:37
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37 Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few.

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Second, we are DEPENDENT. God pours blessings into our lives. Without Him, we’re nobody (Jn. 15:5Jn. 15:5
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5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing.

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). Except God provided all our needs (cf. Phil. 4:19Phil. 4:19
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19 And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

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), we would be nowhere and have nothing. We are obligated, and our best efforts could never earn or repay God’s graciousness (Lk. 17:10Lk. 17:10
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10 Even so ye also, when ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do.

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). But, surely, appreciating His grace, we’ll be workmen (Eph. 2:8,10Eph. 2:8,10
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8 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 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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). When needs are made known by our elders or others–food or teachers or folks to visit or calls to make or new Christians to aid or missions to encourage or elderly, shut-ins to help–let us remember our dependence upon God and be dependable for those around us dependent upon us.

Finally, you are thereby DEEPENED. When we do what we can in the kingdom, giving it our best, we are enriched and strengthened. Our relationship with Christ is deepened, for we’re imitating Him. Our appreciation for God’s blessings is deepened when we sacrifice and extend ourselves. Our faith is deepened by our interaction wth those in need and by our participation in what needs doing. Our joy is deepened by being active and involved in the Lord’s work.

One “church song” asks, “Can He Depend On You?” If He has no hands but our hands to do His work today, we must not let our hands sit idle. Christianity is a commitment. It’s a wonderful commitment, but commitment nonetheless. Let’s take is seriously and be someone upon whom our brethren and our God can rely!

Neal Pollard

A sermon on faith versus sight

2 Cor. 5:72 Cor. 5:7
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7 ;

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1) Some think “walking by faith” means “walking by blind faith.”
2) The Christian faith is not a blind faith.
3) Today we want to consider three of the ways Christians “walk by faith” and “not by sight.”
a) The Christian belief in God is based on “faith” instead of “sight.”
b) Not one has ever smelled God, touched God, or heard God speak.
4) Rom. 1:20Rom. 1:20
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20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse:

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says God is “clearly seen” through the “things that are made.”
5) God has left behind an abundance of evidence to believe in Him.
a) The evidence from creation does not give us all the facts about the Creator.
b) It does provide us with enough information to say He exists so we need to look for Him.

ALONG WITH GOD CHRISTIANS HAVE SOME FAITH IN SOMEONE CALLED JESUS.

a) Just as with God, not one of us has ever met Jesus.
b) We have never touched Him or heard Him speak.
c) No one has a picture or video of Jesus.
2) While we have no real physical evidence for the Lord, we can be sure of His realness.
a) Thomas Jefferson lived.
b) Socrates, Marc Anthony, Nero, and Alexander the Great are also known to have lived.

3) We use “faith instead of sight” for historical characters because we have sufficient evidence.
a) This is also true for Jesus.
b) Josephus is a well known historian who talked about the Lord.
4) Our evidence for Jesus comes from the hand of many writers.
5) Among those who spoke about Jesus were four men by the name of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.
a) It is true that these men were followers of Jesus.
b) These men either lied, they told the truth, or they told some truth and some lies.
6) Since these men lived at the same time as Jesus, they were in a position to record the truth.
7) Acts 26:26Acts 26:26
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26 For the king knoweth of these things, unto whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him; for this hath not been done in a corner.

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– READ
a) Paul boldly said Jesus’ life was not lived in a “corner.”
b) Jesus was one of the most public people of all time.
c) In Jesus’ day the land of Israel was about the size of New Jersey.
d) Imagine someone going around the entire state of New Jersey for 3 ½ years.
8) Jesus left behind a footprint that is so huge no amount of dirt can cover up His tracks.

BECAUSE OF THE EVIDENCE WE HAVE FOR GOD AND JESUS WE BELIEVE IN THEM “BY FAITH” INSTEAD OF “BY SIGHT.”

1) Our next and final area – the Bible – falls into this same category.
2) Why should we have faith in the Bible?
3) The Bible is distinctive in every way.
4) One of the great proofs for the Bible is predictive prophecy.
5) One author listed more than 8,300 predictive verses.
6) If all or most of these predictions were very vague or mainly failures, that would be one thing.

7) Are we walking by faith or sight?
8) We start walking by faith through conversion.
9) We have faith (Heb. 11:6Heb. 11:6
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6 And without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.

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), we repent (Acts 17:30Acts 17:30
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30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:

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), confess Jesus (Rom. 10:9-10Rom. 10:9-10
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9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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), and are baptized by faith for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16Acts 2:38; 22:16
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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. 16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.

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- Mk. 16:16Mk. 16:16
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16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.

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; 1 Pet. 3:20-211 Pet. 3:20-21
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20 that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water: 21 which also after a true likeness doth now save you, even baptism, not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the interrogation of a good conscience toward God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ;

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10) Once we become a Christian we continue to walk by faith versus sight, but this is NOT blind faith.

Dentists and Galatians 6:1

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“Open wider,” requested the dentist, as he began his examination of the patient.

“Oh, no!” he said. “You’ve got the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen — the biggest cavity I’ve ever seen.”

“OK Doc!” replied the patient. “I’m scared enough without you saying something like that twice.”

“I didn’t!” said the dentist. “That was the echo.”

I did something this past week that I never look forward to doing – I went to the dentist. Fortunately, it wasn’t anything traumatic, just a routine cleaning of the teeth. But it reminded me of something I have long believed – that going to the dentist relates to what we’re doing as a church (and specifically, what I’m doing as a preacher). Allow me to explain.

Like many people, I don’t enjoy going to the dentist and I tend to put it off a lot longer than I ought to. It’s not primarily because of the cost (although that’s certainly a factor). And while some people are afraid to go to the dentist, fearing possible pain, that’s never been a problem for me. I don’t mind the sound of the drill, or the poking and the prodding in my mouth. No, the reason I dread going to the dentist has to do with guilt.

You see, I don’t floss as often as I ought to. I know it’s important, but I have always found flossing to be a difficult habit for me to keep up. And whenever I go to the dentist, I know what he’s going to say – “You’re not flossing. Don’t you know how important flossing is? You need to floss!” And I want to say (but don’t), “Yes, I know. I’m guilty! I knew I was guilty before I walked in here. I don’t need you telling what a terrible person I am!”

I understand the position the dentist is in. He wants what is best for my health. If I’m doing something that is not beneficial to my teeth, he has a responsibility to tell me. I don’t want him to stop caring about me. But because of my guilt, I don’t want to hear it, so my response is to simply avoid going to see him.

I wonder how many people there are who approach the church in the same way. They know they’re not living right and when they go to worship, they know what they’re going to hear from the preacher — “You’re not living right. You need to change your life! This is the way you ought to live!” Their response is to say (or to think), “Yes, I know. I’m guilty! I knew I was guilty before I walked in here. I don’t need you telling what a terrible person I am!”

I’m in a situation similar to that of my dentist. I have a responsibility to talk about sin because I care about the spiritual well-being of others. We can’t ignore sin just because talking about it makes people uncomfortable. But if people already feel a burden of guilt and they don’t want to hear about it, they simply stop coming to worship.

As I was considering the awkward position my dentist was in (“Do I say something and make my patient feel more guilty or not say something and show that I don’t care?”), his dental assistant found the perfect words. She said to me, “As you know, you need to floss more. I understand, I have a hard time with it myself.”

Suddenly, I felt at ease. Here was someone who cared enough to tell me what I needed to hear, but who wasn’t looking down at me, criticizing me, and “beating me up”. Instead, we were on the same level, facing the same problem together. All it took was her saying, “I understand what you’re going through. I struggle with that, too.”

What a difference it would make if we could all simply acknowledge to one another, “You’re not doing what’s right, but I understand because I struggle, too.” What a difference it would make if the world could see us, not as a bunch of people looking down on them, criticizing them and “beating them up”, but as a group of people who share in their struggles and who truly desire to help one another to live holier lives.

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness…” (Galatians 6:1Galatians 6:1
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6 1 Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

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(and in case you’re wondering, yes, I did floss this morning!)

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

Galatians 6:1Galatians 6:1
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6 1 Brethren, even if a man be overtaken in any trespass, ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

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How much do you love God?

“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, 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” (John 21:15John 21:15
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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.

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Do We Love the Lord More Than Our Kinsmen?

If we do, we will not let them keep us from obeying the gospel. We will be willing to leave the religion they have accepted if it is proven wrong. We will not let them keep us from attending the services of the Lord’s church. Remember, Jesus said, “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37Matthew 10:37
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37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

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Do We Love the Lord More Than Money?

If we do, we will not make the heaping of riches the chief object of our living. We will give liberally of our means to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:1-52 Corinthians 8:1-5
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8 1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God which hath been given in the churches of Macedonia; 2 how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For according to their power, I bear witness, yea and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, 4 beseeching us with much entreaty in regard of this grace and the fellowship in the ministering to the saints: 5 and this, not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God.

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). Remember, the Lord said, “For the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:101 Timothy 6:10
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10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

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Do We Love the Lord More Than Pleasure?

If we do, we will not engage in that which is forbidden, that which will hurt our influence for Christ. Remember, the Lord, in speaking of perilous times, said men shall be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-42 Timothy 3:1-4
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3 1 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God;

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Do We Love the Lord More Than Praise of Men?

If we do, we will be willing to stand for the Lord and the right, though we must stand alone (2 Timothy 4:16-172 Timothy 4:16-17
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16 At my first defence no one took my part, but all forsook me: may it not be laid to their account. 17 But the Lord stood by me, and strengthened me; that through me the message might be fully proclaimed, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

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). The chief rulers “did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43John 12:42-43
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42 Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 for they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God.

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The Lord should be the supreme object of our affection (Matthew 22:37Matthew 22:37
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37 And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

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). May we learn to sing, and mean it, “More love to thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!” -Wendell Winkler

A have it your way faith

The Coca-Cola Company has come out with a new soft drink machine. This contraption has just one spout to dispense drinks, but it allows users to choose from more than 100 distinct drinks. If you want to drink Sprite, you can choose this basic drink or have your Sprite flavored with strawberry, cherry, grape, peach, or even raspberry. A similar choice is available for those who wish to drink Coca-Cola, lemonade, fruit punch, etc. A picture of this machine and a description of how it works can be found here: http://bit.ly/jmJvGi.

One of the marketing pitches for this new drink dispenser is “Drink it your way.” This is a catchy slogan. This is also the way a lot of people approach religion.

In today’s religious world there is a religious group for virtually every belief. From witchcraft to the various forms of Christianity, our world is full of religious faiths and rituals so people can enjoy a “Have it your way” faith.

If we examine the Bible, we find an unusually strong emphasis on the word “one.” Under the Old Testament era God selected just one special nation to be His people (this was Israel). When the church was instituted, God gave it a single foundation (1 Cor. 3:111 Cor. 3:11
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11 For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

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2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.

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the Bible speaks of a “bride” (singular). We also find words like “kingdom” (Mk. 9:1Mk. 9:1
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9 1 And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There are some here of them that stand by, who shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God come with power.

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18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

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) being expressed with the singular instead of the plural.

Our world boldly claims there are multiple religious bodies that have God’s approval, several hopes we can choose from, and a variety of baptisms, faiths, Lords, and Gods. The Bible says there is only one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God (Eph. 4:4-6Eph. 4:4-6
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4  There is one body, and one Spirit, even as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all.

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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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Man now has more soft drink choices than ever. Man’s choice of religion, if he wishes to please God, will always be limited to the one way described in the New Testament (compare Mt. 7:13-14Mt. 7:13-14
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13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. 14 For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it.

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Brad Price
www.abiblecommentary.com

Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii

Ask “Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii .” That was the name given to this little girl in New Zealand by her parents. The now 9-year-old girl has been so embarrassed at the name that she kept it from even her closest of friends. She asked to be called “K” instead.

But she won’t have to wear that name anymore…..

A family court judge in New Zealand , Judge Rob Murfitt, made the 9-year-old girl a ward of the court so that her name could be changed. In his ruling the judge stated, “The court is profoundly concerned about the very poor judgment which this child’s parents have shown in choosing this name. It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and handicap, unnecessarily.”

Sin causes each of US to have a BAD NAME. Unlike “K,” we have no one to blame but ourselves. It is because of our wrong choices that we incur the names “sinner,” “transgressor,” “offender,” and “condemned.” Sin ruins our reputations, disgraces us, separates us from God, and condemns us (Proverbs 14:34Proverbs 14:34
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34 Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people.

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59 1 Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, so that he will not hear.

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; Rom 6:23Rom 6:23
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23 For the wages of sin is death; but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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Yet, because of His great love for us, God wants to give us a NEW NAME: “Christian.” This new name does not mean that we are SINLESS, but it does indicate we are FORGIVEN. When we are given the name “Christian,” it reveals that our sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ who died on the cross so that we might have the forgiveness of our sins (Ephesians 1:7Ephesians 1:7
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7 in whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,

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We are given this NEW NAME when we: believe in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31Acts 16:30-31
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30 and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house.

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),turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31Acts 17:30-31
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30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent: 31 inasmuch as he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

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), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10Romans 10:9-10
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9 because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: 10 for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (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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The name “Christian” is a name which is to be worn honorably (1 Peter 4:161 Peter 4:16
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16 but if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name.

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), for wearing the name brings the responsibility to live a life that reflects Christ.

Instead of “sinner,” we can be called “saved” because of Christ! He WILL change YOUR name if you will submit your life to Him.

Won’t you?

— David A. Sargent, Minister

Be Careful What We See

We often sing, “O, be careful…” at Vacation Bible School. The verses implore us to be careful about what we see, hear, say, touch and where we go. To dismiss this as a simple kid’s song, would be to miss the depth of the message.

The song talks about the moral challenges we face in a sinful world. We all need to be attentive to how we handle ourselves morally in a world filled with spiritual dangers.

Instead of looking at all of the areas discussed in the song, we want to look at the first one, that being sight. We want to examine four areas where experienced Christians face dangers as we conduct ourselves in congregations of the Lord’s Church.

We need to be mature and sober in these areas, so we do not sabotage the Lord’s work in our communities.

First, we must not see the worst in our brethren. We do not know the intricacies or the challenges facing everyone who attends at our congregation.

Some brethren in Corinth assumed the worst motives for the Apostle Paul and caused him a lot of grief (2 Corinthians 2:12-3:32 Corinthians 2:12-3:3
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12 Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ, and when a door was opened unto me in the Lord, 13 I had no relief for my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went forth into Macedonia. 14 But thanks be unto God, who always leadeth us in triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest through us the savor of his knowledge in every place. 15 For we are a sweet savor of Christ unto God, in them that are saved, and in them that perish; 16 to the one a savor from death unto death; to the other a savor from life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not as the many, corrupting the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God, speak we in Christ. 3 1 Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? or need we, as do some, epistles of commendation to you or from you? 2 Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men; 3 being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh.

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). He was trying to teach and remain focused, and distractions kept diverting their attention away from his goodness and tender heart (2 Corinthians 2:1-42 Corinthians 2:1-4
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2 1 But I determined this for myself, that I would not come again to you with sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorry, who then is he that maketh me glad but he that is made sorry by me? 3 And I wrote this very thing, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be made sorry, but that ye might know the love that I have more abundantly unto you.

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; cf. Acts 20:28-31Acts 20:28-31
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28 Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Wherefore watch ye, remembering that by the space of three years I ceased not to admonish every one night and day with tears.

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If this can happen to someone so accomplished, it can happen to any of us.

Added to the same body and household (Matthew 16:18Matthew 16:18
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18 And I also say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

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; Acts 2:47Acts 2:47
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47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to them day by day those that were saved.

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; Ephesians 1:22-23Ephesians 1:22-23
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22 and he put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

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19 So then ye are no more strangers and sojourners, but ye are fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God,

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), we are family and we must be loving rather than adversarial.

We cannot see sins where they do not exist. This most often happens because we have elevated our methods and opinions to the level of doctrine and violating them is a heinous crime. This must not be!

Second, we must not see conspiracies. Suspicion in the Lord’s church is an accelerant and can burn down the entire body. We cannot have hidden agendas or develop paranoia where we see conspiracies everywhere. We must be kind, loving and focused on the Lord’s goals (Ephesians 3:20-21Ephesians 3:20-21
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20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 unto him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever. Amen.

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Third, we must not see our brethren as inferior. We cannot look down on our fellow Christians, as if we are better than they are. Sin sent all of us into the arms of the Savior (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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7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. 8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9 Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

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7 1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

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Fourth, we must not see unrealistic expectations in our brethren. If we have been a Christian for decades, and we have matured through study and righteous living, we cannot expect a young Christian to be where we are. We need to be helping them grow and prosper rather than burdening them with heavy weights.

Those who are older may not have any idea how challenging the culture is to young people today. Arguably, no generation has had the obstacles that young people face today, with technologies magnifying all evil. We must be patient and loving to them.

If we exhibit a Christ-like spirit, we will not allow these weaknesses to creep into our spiritual lives. Yet, we all face temptations and we may be susceptible to any of these four. If so, fight them with God’s Word every day.  — Richard Mansel

—- Read this article online, write your reaction, and read others’ comments as well. Click here: http://tinyurl.com/3wnvtsv

Reasons why people do not come to work

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A few years ago, the Baltimore Sun wrote an article about the outlandish excuses some people gave for not coming into work. To sample this pathetic pool, there was, “my cat unplugged my alarm clock.” “I couldn’t find my shoes.” “My garage door is broken.” “My cat has hairballs.” “My partner and I need to practice for the square-dancing contest in town today.” But, John Campanelli of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, relates perhaps the most classic excuse I have ever heard. It was related to him by Andrea Barnett, a human resources rep, whose MIA employee gave the excuse that he had been in jail. He had borrowed a friend’s car to get to work, which car was reported stolen by police. He said he was put in jail for possession of stolen property, a car he said had been used in a robbery. This caused the police to grill him about it, which kept him from calling in to work. He eventually convinced law enforcement of his innocence, thus earning his release. Incredible story! Incredibly untrue, Barnett found out when she called the sheriff’s office for whom that was a revelation. Runners up from Campanelli’s article include the man who was experiencing morning sickness due to his wife’s pregnancy or the guy who had to make an emergency visit to the dentist to remove dental floss that got lodged between his teeth getting ready that morning.

Excuses are not confined to employees. Students give excuses for late or incomplete assignments. Spouses and children give excuses to other family members for bad behavior or shortcomings. Leaders give excuses to followers, and followers give excuses to leaders. If we are honest, nearly all of us have been guilty of excuse-making. What we must guard against is perpetually making excuses for failing to do the will of God! Those who make any excuse to explain why they have not become a Christian will not successfully put them past the Lord on the great day of judgment (cf. Acts 17:30Acts 17:30
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30 The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:

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; 2 Th. 1:7-82 Th. 1:7-8
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7 and to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, 8 rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus:

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; Jude 15). Christians who needed to publicly repent of a sinful lifestyle cannot expect to be successful standing before that same, perfect Judge (cf. Matt. 25:34-40Matt. 25:34-40
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34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? 38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.

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Let us also strive to avoid flimsy excuses we give for lack of involvement or for failure to faithfully attend worship services. On the surface, these excuses may sound good to us. But, if we will step back and try to look at it from heaven’s perspective, it may sound less important and solid. Maybe we have not thought it through, that we are choosing things that are solely earthly, material, and temporary to the neglect of God’s will and purpose. We may need new and different excuses to cover our failures, but will they work in the end? God has placed us on this earth to accomplish His purpose, but if we fritter away our days and years on what will decay and dissolve to the indifference and disregard for heavenly matters what will we tell Him? Whatever we say, will it be less hollow or shallow than the excuses the fine workers of Baltimore and Cleveland gave? Rather than excuses, let us give God our best efforts. Instead of rationalizing why we cannot, let us realize why we can (cf. Phil. 4:13Phil. 4:13
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13 I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.

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; 1 John 4:191 John 4:19
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19 We love, because he first loved us.

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).  –Neal Pollard

Would you have fallen down and worshipped?

One of the most remarkable stories of God’s care for and deliverance of His children can be found in Daniel chapter three. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had made an image of enormous height, and had set it in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. When the image was dedicated, a host of dignitaries from across the country were invited to attend. At that dedication Nebuchadnezzar commanded that at what time they heard the sound of certain musical instruments, they were to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar had made. If anyone refused to bow before the image he would receive swift and sure punishment. Among the Hebrew captives living in Babylon were three men, better known to us by their Chaldean names: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. When the command was given to bow before the image, these three faithful Jews stood their ground and refused to bow before that idol. They were brought before the king. “Bow or burn!” As if the threat were not enough, the king added ridicule to his rage: “And who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands?”

These young Hebrews, captives in a foreign land, threatened with certain death, could easily have escaped a most horrible death by simply bowing before a “god” that really was no god at all. But truth was at stake; God’s honor was being threatened; God’s power was being questioned. No! They would not bow. “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” What courage! The king was so angry that his very countenance was changed! “Heat the furnace seven times more than normally heated!” The three Hebrew children were bound and cast into the furnace. The fire was so hot that even those soldiers who cast these men into the furnace were themselves consumed by the heat of the fire. As if to assure himself, king Nebuchadnezzar peered into the flame to see what he might see. In the midst of the flames walked (no longer bound, we might add), these three faithful Jews, suffering no hurt from the flames of the king’s retribution. But they were not by themselves, for in the midst of the flames, and walking by their side was One like unto the Son of God. “Come forth,” cried the king! And when these three Hebrews stepped from the flames, that fire had no power upon their bodies, their hair was not singed, their garments were unscathed, and they did not even have the smell of smoke upon them.

Here are three important lessons to learn: (1) It is never right to compromise! These three Hebrews may have reasoned that they were in a strange land; who would know whether they bowed before some stupid, powerless, insignificant idol? God would know! And those about them would know! (2) Courage arises from deep conviction and personal regard for principle. Who was it that said heroes die but once, but cowards die many deaths? Even if God Almighty chose not to deliver these three men from death in the fiery furnace, truth was at stake! They would not bow before that idol. They could face death with a courageous confidence that they were right in their choice. It is reported that when Polycarp was about to be burned at the stake that he calmly said to the man about to light the flame, “See how my hands are steady while yours tremble!” (3) Life’s fiery furnaces are unavoidable! “Yea, all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:122 Tim. 3:12
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12 Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

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). Given enough time, you will face the choice of either bowing before the “king’s image” or maintaining loyalty to the King of kings. How you respond to the “king’s edict” will determine whether or not the King confesses you before the Father in heaven. — by Tom Wacaster