Archives for : April2017

Thank you, but those are not for me. Frog legs I enjoy, but leave the rest of it off my plate, please.

“For every creature of God is good, and

nothing is to be refused if it is received

with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by

the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-51 Timothy 4:4-5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 for it is sanctified through the word of God and prayer.

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NKJV).

We came back to Khulna Bible College late one afternoon to find the staff and students gathered together by one of the water hydrants where they clean chickens, vegetables or other food to be prepared for meals.

When we went over to them to see what was on the menu, we found them separating hundreds of water bugs from some tiny shrimp they netted out of the school’s pond.

The bugs were not for eating, but represented the amount of work required to obtain some forms of food here.

Two of the students took the net and went back into the pond. They caught a pan full of half-grown tadpoles, and these they did prepare for cooking. Most of the students and staff joined in eating them, and were very happy about the way they tasted. Thank you, but those are not for me. Frog legs I enjoy, but leave the rest of it off my plate, please.

The Children of Israel, under the Law given by Moses, had very strict food laws. Anything not specifically listed as clean was anathema. Peter once stated, “I have never eaten anything common or unclean” (Acts 10:14Acts 10:14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common and unclean.

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To them it was not a matter of taste, or personal squeamishness. God did not allow it; such food would defile them; therefore they would not, could not, eat it. Nothing could render a “common” thing clean. There could be no exceptions.

In Christianity this has changed. According to Paul’s words cited above, anything created by God is good and may be eaten. To Peter a divine voice had said, “What God has cleaned you must not call common” (Acts 10:15Acts 10:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 And a voice came unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common.

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).  What is the difference? Why the change? How can we justify eating now what was abhorrent to God under a former system?

The explanation is simple. Three things are listed which sanctify our food (and all that we have). These are thanksgiving, the Word of God, and prayer.

First, we must remember that we are to receive all things with sincere gratitude. When we take God’s blessings with an attitude that we deserve them and that he owes them to us, we boast in ourselves and take from him the glory due him. When we take them for granted, neglecting the one who gave them, we treat him as unimportant. Gratitude confirms our faith in him and our dependence upon him. It causes us to truly worship and honor him.

Second, we note that foods previously prohibited are now allowed, simply because God said so. His word authorizes us to eat them. We need no other authority or explanation. He is all-powerful. He is King of Kings.

What God permits, no one else can prohibit. For this reason we “speak where the Bible speaks.” We cite “book, chapter and verse” for all doctrine and practice. All things are sanctified by his word -– that is all things addressed or approved by his word.

Third, our behavior is sanctified by prayer. Though this verse is obvious background for our common practice of praying before we eat, it has far more meaning and application than simply that routine. When we ask for God’s authority, and yield ourselves in submission to his will, we ensure that all we do is acceptable to him (James 4:7-8; 10James 4:7-8; 10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 Be subject therefore unto God; but resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. Izbrano poglavje ne obstaja!

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When one prays for God’s acceptance and approval it is difficult to knowingly practice that of which he disapproves. Sincere prayer tunes our will to his, and assists us in following it.

Not only our food, but all doctrine and practice should be sanctified by these great principles. We must always be thankful; we must always consult God’s word; and we must always ask for his help and approval in prayer.

Having done those things, we can serve him with joy and peace, never doubting his approval.

 by Michael E. Brooks

Some VERY DISHONEST (but HIGHLY RELIGIOUS) people!

JESUS HAD NOT been through rabbinic training, and it would not be expected that He could sustain a continuing argument from Scripture…

 

 It was this that seems to have astonished his hearers.  They would not have expected a man who came from a carpenter’s home in Nazareth to have been able to teach like Jesus taught.

 

 This is a fine piece of Johannine irony.  He made it clear at the beginning of the Gospel that Jesus is the divine Logos, the Word of God.  Now he sees the Jews confronted by the Logos incarnate and calling him “this uneducated fellow.”  They could not recognize the divine wisdom when they heard it.  Leon Morris, “Reflections on the Gospel of John,” 261

 

 “Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught.  And the Jews marveled, saying, ‘How does this Man know letters, having never studied?’  Jesus answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.'”  John 7:14-16John 7:14-16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15 The Jews therefore marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? 16 Jesus therefore answered them and said, My teaching is not mine, but his that sent me.

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Mike Benson

DON’T WORRY – HAVE FAITH IN GOD.

In this chapter, God shows Job what little acquaintance he had with the untamed creatures that run wild in the deserts and live at large, but are the care of the divine Providence.

1. The wild goats and the hinds, though they bring forth their young with a great deal of difficulty and sorrow, and have no assistance from man, yet, by the good providence of God, their young ones are safely produced, and their sorrows cast out and forgotten (v.1-4).
2. The free spirit of the wild ass (v.5-8),
3. The untameable strength of the unicorn (v.9-12),
4. The silly ostrich which lays her eggs in the sand wanders away from them, and does not stay near them to guard them, as most other birds do (v.13-18),
5. The horse which knows no fear but charges into the battle (v.19-25),
6. The wise eagle which builds her nest high up on the rocks (v.26-30).

The object is to show the infinite wisdom of God, and the utter incompetence of man to explain the mysteries of nature. God is telling Job this: “I know what is going on. How do the wild beasts and birds survive without the care of man? Do you think I would just leave you in this condition and not care about you?”

The lesson for us is this: God cares and provides. “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26Matthew 6:26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they?

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Yes, God knows and He cares. God is telling men not to worry too much about their lives: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matthew 6:25Matthew 6:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment?

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The problem with us is that we worry too much. It is rightly said that for most of the time, the things we worry about do not happen. My grandfather would not believe a house can cost more than a hundred thousand dollars. Well, I got my house for more than that amount. I thought it won’t go higher but I was wrong; a house costs half a million bucks today. I don’t want to speculate how much it will cost when it’s my grandchildren’s turn to buy a house. Should I begin to worry for them?

Why do some worry so much? It is because of the lack of faith. Worry causes us to be fearful and lose faith in God: “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” (Matthew 8:26Matthew 8:26
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26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

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). Some things we just have to leave them to God because they are not within our control. We cannot control what will happen tomorrow. We just need to continue to trust in God: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3: 5-6Proverbs 3: 5-6
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5 Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding: 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he will direct thy paths.

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God will take care of us. The animals in the wild survive without men’s help. They never have to attend school. They never have to worry about tomorrow. Yet they survive. God wants us to look at nature and trust in Him.

Let us seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness and He will provide for us (Matthew 6: 33Matthew 6: 33
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

33 But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

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). So, DON’T WORRY – HAVE FAITH IN GOD.

Jimmy Lau
Psa 119:97Psa 119:97
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

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Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Muslims in Europe Coming to Christ Daily

Your Prayers can Change History

Defining moments come our way seldom, but today we have the opportunity to change history through prayer. About 2 million Islamic refugees have fled to Europe within the last year. While governments are reeling with the challenges of integration and resettlement Christians are reaping a harvest for the Master. Because they have been in countries that are virtual prisons, ruled by fanatical Islamists who believe they can force people under threat of death to follow Muhammed, the new freedoms they are finding in Europe are allowing them to make choices for themselves, and they are departing Islam in droves.

Our brethren across Europe are befriending them, telling them the lies they have been taught since birth about Christians hating them are not true. Churches are hosting them for meals and informational gatherings where the refugees are hearing the gospel for the first time and many are responding. In Greece, they are averaging one new convert every single day and in Austria, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, Christians are meeting them in parks and market squares and telling them about Jesus.

Never before have we had this opportunity. Never in history has there been such an opportunity to teach the Islamic world about the Christ. If we can mobilize every church that belongs to the Lord to pray for conversion of these Islamic refugees and support our European brethren through prayer, we can contribute directly to the saving of thousands and demise of the threat of Islam. Will you pray daily? I ask those who lead us in public prayer in our churches to never forget to ask God for guidance as we do His will in this matter. Pray, Pray, Pray!

Bill McDonough

Statistics are overwhelming that children thrive when they have an active father.

Being a father is an extremely important job and one of the most rewarding on earth. When we choose to have children, we are tasked to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4Ephesians 6:4
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4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but nurture them in the chastening and admonition of the Lord.

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Nothing else is more important than raising our children in the Lord and being with them in heaven forever (Proverbs 22:6Proverbs 22:6
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6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old he will not depart from it.

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). We cannot overstate the gravity of the situation.

Are we taking it seriously? Are we asking what kind of people we are raising to send out into the world? Will they be a blessing or a menace? Will they be prepared for living alone? Even secular authorities who have looked askance at men in the past have begrudgingly admitted that fathers are indispensable to children.

Statistics are overwhelming that children thrive when they have an active father.

But what kind should they have?

A complete father is intimately involved in the lives of his children. He has a career and the responsibilities as head of the home (Ephesians 5:22- 23Ephesians 5:22- 23
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Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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), but he also has children that need him. He will develop a resilient bond with them that is built on trust and unconditional love (1 Corinthians 13:4-71 Corinthians 13:4-7
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4 Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; 6 rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

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Children will know they have their father’s heart and ear anytime they need it. He will be their steady rock who will admit when he is wrong and work to improve and grow.

They will laugh, play and talk. He will know something of their friends, with the help of his wife, and how they spend their time.

A complete father will know his children better than they know themselves. He will study them, knowing their strengths, weaknesses and what they need from him.

He will help his daughters become ladies and instruct them fully about men, dating, life and the traps of each. His sons will learn strength, knowledge, life- skills and an occupation from him. They will learn to be men of God who will lead their homes.

The complete father will model a spiritual leader and instruct his children in how to pray, teach, forgive, love and deal with others. Even as they leave the home, his reach will continue into their future paths.

He will be what his children need and their friends will wish he were their Dad. He will make a difference that will extend to future generations and into eternity.

–by Richard Mansel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Mike Benson

 

Is Life Uphill?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Roger L. McCown

The Single Minister

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

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

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

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

The New Testament tells us that elders are to be the husbands of one wife (1 Timothy 3:21 Timothy 3:2
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2 The bishop therefore must be without reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, orderly, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

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). It says no such thing about a preacher’s wife.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul thought being single was an advantage in ministry.
He said so. “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:22,231 Corinthians 7:22,23
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22 For he that was called in the Lord being a bondservant, is the Lord's freedman: likewise he that was called being free, is Christ's bondservant. 23 Ye were bought with a price; become not bondservants of men.

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, ESV). Jesus declared there was an honored place for the single, those who have chosen to be single “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12Matthew 19:12
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12 For there are eunuchs, that were so born from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, that were made eunuchs by men: and there are eunuchs, that made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

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

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

–by Stan Mitchell

Thomas slammed the door and Maggie was crushed

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

The counselor asked Thomas why he was cold towards her.

“That’s silly stuff. I won’t do it.”

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

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

“Did he hold your hand?”

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

“Thomas, what changed?”

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

“Thomas, do you still love her?”

“Yeah.”

“Then what’s the problem?”

“This is stupid. I’m leaving.”

Thomas slammed the door and Maggie was crushed.

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

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

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

God commands us to be intimate. We are to be one in every way with our spouse (Genesis 2:18-25Genesis 2:18-25
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18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to see what he would call them: and whatsoever the man called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And the man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for man there was not found a help meet for him. 21 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22 and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

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). Solomon begins his ode to passion in marriage, with the Shulamite woman saying, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth” (Song of Solomon 1:2).

We must never let the passion die in our marriage. Marital love cannot breathe without affection. Our bodies are not ours and we must be fully engaged with our partner (1 Corinthians 7:1-51 Corinthians 7:1-5
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7 1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But, because of fornications, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife her due: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power over her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power over his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be by consent for a season, that ye may give yourselves unto prayer, and may be together again, that Satan tempt you not because of your incontinency.

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

Richard Mansel

Are you like Job?

Job 31:1Job 31:1
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31 1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; How then should I look upon a virgin?

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I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

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

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

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

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). Husbands and wives, make a covenant with your eyes.

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

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

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

Indeed, covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3: 5Colossians 3: 5
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5 Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;

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) and the apostle Paul warns against trusting in wealth and becoming puff up: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:171 Timothy 6:17
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17 Charge them that are rich in this present world, that they be not highminded, nor have their hope set on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;

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5. He will never look and rejoice over a fallen enemy (v.29-30). He has seen their destruction, and was far from rejoicing in it, and he has never wished a curse on their souls. Solomon says: “Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth” (Proverbs 24:17Proverbs 24:17
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17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, And let not thy heart be glad when he is overthrown;

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). The Christian attitude towards our enemies should be the same: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink” (Romans 12:20Romans 12:20
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20 But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

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6. He will never look upon a stranger and deny hospitality to him (v.31-32). He maintains he has been very hospitable even to strangers. Do we do good only to those whom we love? The word of God says: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2Hebrews 13:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 Forget not to show love unto strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

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

Likewise, as Christians, we are to be honest before God in confessing our sins so that we can receive forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:91 John 1:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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8. Lastly, he will never look upon somebody’s land and take it by force or deceit (v.38-40). He will not be like Jezebel who took the land of Naboth by deceit and murder (1 Kings 21:1-161 Kings 21:1-16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 1 And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house; and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it: or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. 3 And Naboth said to Ahab, Jehovah forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 4 And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread. 5 But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said unto him, Why is thy spirit so sad, that thou eatest no bread? 6 And he said unto her, Because I spake unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him, Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it please thee, I will give thee another vineyard for it: and he answered, I will not give thee my vineyard. 7 And Jezebel his wife said unto him, Dost thou now govern the kingdom of Israel? arise, and eat bread, and let thy heart be merry: I will give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite. 8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name, and sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters unto the elders and to the nobles that were in his city, and that dwelt with Naboth. 9 And she wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people: 10 and set two men, base fellows, before him, and let them bear witness against him, saying, Thou didst curse God and the king. And then carry him out, and stone him to death. 11 And the men of his city, even the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jezebel had sent unto them, according as it was written in the letters which she had sent unto them. 12 They proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people. 13 And the two men, the base fellows, came in and sat before him: and the base fellows bare witness against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did curse God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead. 15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead. 16 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

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). Job has been honest in his business dealings.

Have you made a covenant with your eyes? Our Lord says: “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Mark 9: 47Mark 9: 47
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

47 And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out: it is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell;

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

Jimmy Lau
Psa 119:97Psa 119:97
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

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Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Job and the “good old days”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has been said that ingratitude is the most common sin. The Israelites were not thankful that God had delivered them out of the Egyptian but kept complaining and disbelieving in the wilderness. Job’s wife had forgotten the good old days how God had prospered her family but told her husband to curse God and die (Job 2:9Job 2:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still hold fast thine integrity? renounce God, and die.

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Gratitude is such a rare virtue that the scriptures have to keep reminding us to be thankful. Paul has to instruct the churches to be thankful: “And be thankful” (Colossians 3:5Colossians 3:5
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5 Put to death therefore your members which are upon the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry;

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English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 in everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you-ward.

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

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

Jimmy Lau
Psa 119:97Psa 119:97
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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

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Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

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

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at

Athens, his spirit was provoked within him

as he saw that the city was full of idols”

(Acts 17:16Acts 17:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he beheld the city full of idols.

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

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

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

There is much about idolatry that is offensive. First is its illogical nature (read for example Isaiah 44:9- 17Isaiah 44:9- 17
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

Štetje svetopisemskih vrstic se za?ne z 1! Vrstica 0 ne obstaja!

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Idolatry is a false religion, based upon lies.

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

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

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

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

The Holy Spirit describes this aspect of idolatry:

“For although they knew God, they did not

honor him as God or give thanks to him, but

they became futile in their thinking, and

their foolish hears were darkened. Claiming

to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged

the glory of the immortal God for images

resembling mortal man and birds and animals

and creeping things .. . They exchanged the

truth about God for a lie and worshiped and

served the creature rather than the Creator”

(Romans 1:21-23, 25Romans 1:21-23, 25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. 25 for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

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Idolatry is offensive, especially to Christians who have turned to “the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:91 Thessalonians 1:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 For they themselves report concerning us what manner of entering in we had unto you; and how ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God,

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Those whose spirits are provoked by the sight of idols are responding properly. God himself is offended and enraged by such actions (Romans 1:24, 26Romans 1:24, 26
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature:

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He will abandon those who do those things to the inevitable consequences of their folly, and visit upon them wrath and retribution (Romans 2:6-11Romans 2:6-11
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6 who will render to every man according to his works: 7 to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: 8 but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, 9 tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; 10 but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: 11 for there is no respect of persons with God.

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— by Michael E. Brooks

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

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

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

OUR RESPONSE & JOB’S RESPONSE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

–Paul Holland

Job 40:4-5; 42:3-6Job 40:4-5; 42:3-6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 Behold, I am of small account; What shall I answer thee? I lay my hand upon my mouth. 5 Once have I spoken, and I will not answer; Yea, twice, but I will proceed no further. 3 Who is this that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that which I understood not, Things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. 4 Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak; I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 5 I had heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; But now mine eye seeth thee: 6 Wherefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.

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Strengthen your union daily and never let anything weaken it

At the dawn of God’s creation, God declared that “it was very good” (Genesis 1:1-31Genesis 1:1-31
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

The First Book of Moses, called Genesis 1 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep: and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. 6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day. 9 And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, a third day. 14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day. 20 And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created the great sea-monsters, and every living creature that moveth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth. 23 And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. 24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind: and it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good. 26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food: 30 and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for food: and it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

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). Within this realm of creation, God created mankind.

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

image of God he created him; male and female

he created them. And God blessed them. And

God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply

and fill the earth and subdue it and have

dominion over the fish of the sea and over

the birds of the heavens and over every

living thing that moves on the earth'”

(Genesis 1:26-27Genesis 1:26-27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

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This was God’s ultimate creation since it was man in whom he gave not only the breath of life but an eternal soul (Genesis 2:7Genesis 2:7
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7 And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

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To his creation of man and woman, God gave instructions as to their worldly union. Man being alone, God deemed that he must have a “help meet” (Genesis 2:18Genesis 2:18
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18 And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.

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21 And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof: 22 and the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

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

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

and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:23-24Genesis 2:23-24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

23 And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

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

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

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

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and

obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs

18:22).

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved

the church and gave himself up for her”

(Ephesians 5:25Ephesians 5:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for it;

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

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

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

* Show them your love by your actions.

* Never take each other for granted.

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

“But from the beginning of the creation God

made them male and female. For this cause

shall a man leave his father and mother, and

cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be

one flesh: so then they are no more twain,

but one flesh. What therefore God hath

joined together, let not man put asunder”

(Mark 10:6-9Mark 10:6-9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 But from the beginning of the creation, Male and female made he them. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; 8 and the two shall become one flesh: so that they are no more two, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

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by John E. Werhan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Copyright 2001, Jacquie Sewell)

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

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

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

“If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing?  If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.  And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (1 Cor. 12:17-191 Cor. 12:17-19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?

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

Have a great day!

Alan Smith

A Bible study on angels

Angels

Definitions:  Both Hebrew mal’ak and Greek angelos = “messenger.”  Sometimes used of human messengers (Matt. 11:10Matt. 11:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, Who shall prepare thy way before thee.

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; Lk. 7:24, 9:52Lk. 7:24, 9:52
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to behold? a reed shaken with the wind? 9 And when Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned and said unto the multitude that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

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; Jas. 2:25Jas. 2:25
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

25 And in like manner was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way?

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), but in vast majority of uses, refers to divine messengers and heavenly representatives.  Hebs. 1:14 provides the primary biblical definition: “ministering spirits.”  Angels are created beings, not “gods” (Ps. 148:5Ps. 148:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 Let them praise the name of Jehovah; For he commanded, and they were created.

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; Col. 3:16Col. 3:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.

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) and therefore not to be worshiped (Rev. 19:10, 22:8-9Rev. 19:10, 22:8-9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 And I fell down before his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus: worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

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).

Examples of Revelatory Activities:

Gen. 18 – Told Abraham he would have a son

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

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

Ex. 23 – Led Israelites through wilderness

Hebs. 2:2; Acts 7:53Acts 7:53
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

53 ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not.

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; Gal. 3:19Gal. 3:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.

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– Delivered Law to Moses

Luke 1 – Announced births of John the Baptist & Jesus

Matt. 4 – Ministered to Jesus after wilderness temptations

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

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

Rev. 1:1Rev. 1:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

The Revelation to Saint John 1 1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show unto his servants, even the things which must shortly come to pass: and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John;

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– Delivered the Revelation to John

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

Angels in the Old Testament:

Gen. 16:7-13, 21:17-20, 22:11-18Gen. 16:7-13, 21:17-20, 22:11-18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV



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Ex. 3:2Ex. 3:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And the angel of Jehovah appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.

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ff

Judges 6:1Judges 6:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 1 And the children of Israel did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah: and Jehovah delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years.

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ff

Daniel 7:10Daniel 7:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

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Deut. 33:2Deut. 33:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And he said, Jehovah came from Sinai, And rose from Seir unto them; He shined forth from mount Paran, And he came from the ten thousands of holy ones: At his right hand was a fiery law for them.

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Angels in the New Testament:

 Messengers of God & ministers to humans – Rev. 19:10Rev. 19:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 And I fell down before his feet to worship him. And he saith unto me, See thou do it not: I am a fellow-servant with thee and with thy brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus: worship God; for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

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; Lk. 15:10Lk. 15:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 Even so, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.

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, Matt. 18:10Matt. 18:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 See that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.

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;

Acts 12:15Acts 12:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she confidently affirmed that it was even so. And they said, It is his angel.

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; Hebs. 1:14

Visitations to humans – Lk. 1:11-20, 26-38Lk. 1:11-20, 26-38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of altar of incense. 12 And Zacharias was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: because thy supplication is heard, and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. 16 And many of the children of Israel shall he turn unto the Lord their God. 17 And he shall go before his face in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to walk in the wisdom of the just; to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him. 18 And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19 And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak unto thee, and to bring thee these good tidings. 20 And behold, thou shalt be silent and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall come to pass, because thou believedst not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee. 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this might be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. 31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 And Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, Elisabeth thy kinswoman, she also hath conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her that was called barren. 37 For no word from God shall be void of power. 38 And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

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; Matt. 1-2; Acts 5:19Acts 5:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 But an angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them out, and said,

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ff, 8:26, 10:3ff,

12:7-10, 27:23; Hebs. 12:22; Rev. 5:11Rev. 5:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

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Association with giving the Law – Acts 7:53Acts 7:53
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

53 ye who received the law as it was ordained by angels, and kept it not.

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; Gal. 3:19Gal. 3:19
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

19 What then is the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise hath been made; and it was ordained through angels by the hand of a mediator.

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; Hebs. 2:2

Participants in Judgment – Matt: 16:27; Mk. 8:38, 13:27Mk. 8:38, 13:27
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 13 And he left them, and again entering into the boat departed to the other side.

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; 2 Thess. 1:72 Thess. 1:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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,

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Splendor – Matt. 28:2Matt. 28:2
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

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.

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ff; Lk. 2:9Lk. 2:9
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

9 And an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

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; Acts 1:10Acts 1:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 And while they were looking stedfastly into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;

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Observe Christian worship – 1 Cor. 11:101 Cor. 11:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 for this cause ought the woman to have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels.

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Miscellaneous – Rom. 8:38Rom. 8:38
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

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; Gal. 1:8Gal. 1:8
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema.

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; 1 Cor. 13:11 Cor. 13:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

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; Col. 2:18Col. 2:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 Let no man rob you of your prize by a voluntary humility and worshipping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he hath seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

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Fallen Angels – 2 Peter 2:42 Peter 2:4
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

4 For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

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; Jude 6

“Guardian Angels”?

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

Matt. 18:10Matt. 18:10
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

10 See that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven.

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

Acts 12:15Acts 12:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she confidently affirmed that it was even so. And they said, It is his angel.

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

Rev. 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14Rev. 1:20; 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

20 the mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks are seven churches. 2 1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, he that walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks: 8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and lived again: 12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: These things saith he that hath the sharp two-edged sword: 18 And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet are like unto burnished brass: 3 1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars: I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and thou art dead. 7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and none shall shut, and that shutteth and none openeth: 14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God:

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– the “angels” of the seven churches of Asia (although the exact meaning of this is uncertain).

Other Names for Angels:

             “Holy ones” – Job 5:1Job 5:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 1 Call now; is there any that will answer thee? And to which of the holy ones wilt thou turn?

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; Ps. 89:5Ps. 89:5
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Jehovah; Thy faithfulness also in the assembly of the holy ones.

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& 7; Dan. 8:13Dan. 8:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said unto that certain one who spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the continual burnt-offering, and the transgression that maketh desolate, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?

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“Sons of God” – Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 Now it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah, that Satan also came among them. 2 And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.

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(some say Gen. 6:13Gen. 6:13
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

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, but this is questionable)

“Seraphim” – Isaiah 6:1-3Isaiah 6:1-3
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

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.  Mentioned only in Isaiah; human in form, but with 6  wings.  Function = to lead in worship of God (cf. Rev. 4:6Rev. 4:6
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

6 and before the throne, as it were a sea of glass like a crystal; and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, four living creatures full of eyes before and behind.

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ff, 5:8ff).

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

“Cherubim” – Gen. 3:24Gen. 3:24
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

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; Ezek. 28:14, 16Ezek. 28:14, 16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

14 Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 16 By the abundance of thy traffic they filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore have I cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

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; Ps. 80:1, 99:1Ps. 80:1, 99:1
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

For the Chief Musician, set to Shoshanim Eduth. A Psalm of Asaph. 80 1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that sittest above the cherubim, shine forth.

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; Isaiah 37:16Isaiah 37:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 O Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, that sittest above the cherubim, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

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; Ex.  25:18-20; 2 Sam. 22:112 Sam. 22:11
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

11 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly; Yea, he was seen upon the wings of the wind.

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; Hebs. 9:5, etc.  Stand guard over the way to  the tree of life.  Wooden images of them were set over the ark of the covenant.  Mentioned 91 times in OT, once in NT. But never clearly defined, and described in a variety of ways.

“Archangels” – 1 Thess. 4:161 Thess. 4:16
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first;

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; Jude 9.  Possibly referred to in Rev. 8:2, 7, 10, 12; 9:1, 13; 11:15Rev. 8:2, 7, 10, 12; 9:1, 13; 11:15
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

2 And I saw the seven angels that stand before God; and there were given unto them seven trumpets. 7 And the first sounded, and there followed hail and fire, mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of the earth was burnt up, and the third part of the trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. 10 And the third angel sounded, and there fell from heaven a great star, burning as a torch, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of the waters; 12 And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; that the third part of them should be darkened, and the day should not shine for the third part of it, and the night in like manner. 9 1 And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from heaven fallen unto the earth: and there was given to him the key of the pit of the abyss. 13 And the sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the horns of the golden altar which is before God, 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever.

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.  Only “Michael” is positively identified as an “archangel” (Jude 9; Rev. 12:7Rev. 12:7
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels going forth to war with the dragon; and the dragon warred and his angels;

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), but “Gabriel” is probably to be so identified as well due to the nature of his mission.  Note:  Michael  & Gabriel are the only 2 angels in the Bible who have names.

Tommy South

The world still hates truth

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

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

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me [Jesus] before it hated you” (John 15:18John 15:18
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

18 If the world hateth you, ye know that it hath hated me before it hated you.

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, NKJV). The Apostles were told to stop preaching Jesus and they replied, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29Acts 5:29
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, We must obey God rather than men.

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). Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego stood up to the authorities and refused to stop praying to God (Daniel 3:8-18; 6:10-23Daniel 3:8-18; 6:10-23
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

8 Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and brought accusation against the Jews. 9 They answered and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king, O king, live for ever. 10 Thou, O king, hast made a decree, that every man that shall hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, shall fall down and worship the golden image; 11 and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, shall be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. 12 There are certain Jews whom thou hast appointed over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Then they brought these men before the king. 14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said unto them, Is it of purpose, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, that ye serve not my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? 15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands? 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer thee in this matter. 17 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. 18 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. 10 And when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house and he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. 11 Then these men assembled together, and found Daniel making petition and supplication before his God. 12 Then they came near, and spake before the king concerning the king's interdict: Hast thou not signed an interdict, that every man that shall make petition unto any god or man within thirty days, save unto thee, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions? The king answered and said, The thing is true, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not. 13 Then answered they and said before the king, That Daniel, who is of the children of the captivity of Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, nor the interdict that thou hast signed, but maketh his petition three times a day. 14 Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased, and set his heart on Daniel to deliver him; and he labored till the going down of the sun to rescue him. 15 Then these men assembled together unto the king, and said unto the king, Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians, that no interdict nor statute which the king establisheth may be changed. 16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee. 17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him: and his sleep fled from him. 19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. 20 And when he came near unto the den to Daniel, he cried with a lamentable voice; the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? 21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. 22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, and they have not hurt me; forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. 23 Then was the king exceeding glad, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he had trusted in his God.

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).

Paul faced a mob in Ephesus (Acts 19:21-30Acts 19:21-30
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

21 Now after these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22 And having sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. 23 And about that time there arose no small stir concerning the Way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no little business unto the craftsmen; 25 whom he gathered together, with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this business we have our wealth. 26 And ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands: 27 and not only is there danger that this our trade come into disrepute; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana be made of no account, and that she should even be deposed from her magnificence whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard this they were filled with wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesus. 29 And the city was filled with the confusion: and they rushed with one accord into the theatre, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel. 30 And when Paul was minded to enter in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not.

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) and another in Jerusalem (Acts 21:26-40Acts 21:26-40
English: American Standard Version (1901) - ASV

26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them went into the temple, declaring the fulfilment of the days of purification, until the offering was offered for every one of them. 27 And when the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, Men of Israel, help: This is the man that teacheth all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place; and moreover he brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath defiled this holy place. 29 For they had before seen with him in the city Trophimus the Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple. 30 And all the city was moved, and the people ran together; and they laid hold on Paul, and dragged him out of the temple: and straightway the doors were shut. 31 And as they were seeking to kill him, tidings came up to the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 32 And forthwith he took soldiers and centurions, and ran down upon them: and they, when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, left off beating Paul. 33 Then the chief captain came near, and laid hold on him, and commanded him to be bound with two chains; and inquired who he was, and what he had done. 34 And some shouted one thing, some another, among the crowd: and when he could not know the certainty for the uproar, he commanded him to be brought into the castle. 35 And when he came upon the stairs, so it was that he was borne of the soldiers for the violence of the crowd; 36 for the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, Away with him. 37 And as Paul was about to be brought into the castle, he saith unto the chief captain, May I say something unto thee? And he said, Dost thou know Greek? 38 Art thou not then the Egyptian, who before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the Assassins? 39 But Paul said, I am a Jew, of Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city: and I beseech thee, give me leave to speak unto the people. 40 And when he had given him leave, Paul, standing on the stairs, beckoned with the hand unto the people; and when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew language, saying,

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). He was stoned in Lystra (Acts 14:8-20Acts 14:8-20
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8 And at Lystra there sat a certain man, impotent in his feet, a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked. 9 The same heard Paul speaking, who, fastening eyes upon him, and seeing that he had faith to be made whole, 10 said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped up and walked. 11 And when the multitude saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voice, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. 12 And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercury, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Jupiter whose temple was before the city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the multitudes. 14 But when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of it, they rent their garments, and sprang forth among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good tidings, that ye should turn from these vain things unto a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: 16 who in the generations gone by suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 And yet He left not himself without witness, in that he did good and gave you from heaven rains and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness. 18 And with these sayings scarce restrained they the multitudes from doing sacrifice unto them. 19 But there came Jews thither from Antioch and Iconium: and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and entered into the city: and on the morrow he went forth with Barnabas to Derbe.

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) and faced a shipwreck in Acts 27.

Centuries later, we’re still facing the same powerful spiritual enemy (Ephesians 6:10-12Ephesians 6:10-12
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10 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

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Paul faced death on numerous occasions, but he refused to stand down against sin (2 Corinthians 11:22-332 Corinthians 11:22-33
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22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; 26  in journeyings often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27  in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Besides those things that are without, there is that which presseth upon me daily, anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is caused to stumble, and I burn not? 30 If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things that concern my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed for evermore knoweth that I lie not. 32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes in order to take me: 33 and through a window was I let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his hands.

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). He would not be cowed. In the last recorded chapter of his writings, he said to remain firm in the Word and face the afflictions that will come (2 Timothy 4:2-52 Timothy 4:2-5
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2 preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. 5 But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry.

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“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:122 Timothy 3:12
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12 Yea, and all that would live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

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God has not “given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:72 Timothy 1:7
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7 For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline.

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). With courage and resolve, we must be willing to give everything up to stand firm for God’s Word. He is watching and weighing our responses to the pressures of a pagan society.

Will we pass the test?

Richard Mansel

A people. A land. A law.

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

In order for God to become flesh, He had to be born. Therefore, He needed a family – a people – a land and a law. The Old Testament is the story of God preparing for the coming of Jesus. God chose Abraham to be the “Father of his country” because Abraham, in the midst of unbelief and paganism, obeyed God (Genesis 22:16-18Genesis 22:16-18
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16 and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, 17 that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the seashore. And thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed. Because thou hast obeyed my voice.

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God took Abraham’s descendants, the Hebrews, into slavery in Egypt. After 430 years, at Mount Sinai, God formed them into a people – the nation of Israel, a “holy nation” (Exodus 19:6Exodus 19:6
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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.

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). The people needed a law; God gave them the Law of Moses to define them as a people. They also needed a land. God had promised Abraham the land under his feet (Genesis 15:18-21Genesis 15:18-21
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18 In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 the Kenite, and the Kenizzite, and the Kadmonite, 20 and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Rephaim, 21 and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Girgashite, and the Jebusite.

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). God fulfilled that promise under the leadership of Joshua (Joshua 21:43-45Joshua 21:43-45
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43 So Jehovah gave unto Israel all the land which he sware to give unto their fathers; and they possessed it, and dwelt therein. 44 And Jehovah gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers: and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them; Jehovah delivered all their enemies into their hand. 45 There failed not aught of any good thing which Jehovah had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass.

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

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

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

Learn more about the Bible with this FREE Bible study.

–Paul Holland

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Steve Higginbotham

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

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbor, and says, ‘I was only joking’” (Proverbs 26:19Proverbs 26:19
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19 So is the man that deceiveth his neighbor, And saith, Am not I in sport?

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NKJV).

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Paul’s list of things that should “not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints” we find “foolish talking and coarse jesting” (Ephesians 5:3-4Ephesians 5:3-4
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3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as becometh saints; 4 nor filthiness, nor foolish talking, or jesting, which are not befitting: but rather giving of thanks.

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). Rather than spend precious time on such things he recommends “giving of thanks.” Previously he had commanded, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29Ephesians 4:29
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29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.

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

Michael Brooks