We will NOT be meeting at the building in February, 2021
Our congregation is dedicated to worshipping God in spirit and in truth as closely as we can ascertain from the New Testament. We search the scriptures for guidance and authority on how we ought to live our lives in order to be pleasing to God.
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Joshua of the O.T. was a type of the Savior Jesus Christ. He was chosen by God to succeed Moses to lead Israel into the Promised Land. Like Jesus' real name Yeshua a variant of Joshua, Joshua's name means; 'God is Salvation', he was one of the two spies who scouted the land of Canaan and gave a good report of the land. He and Caleb gave a good report because of their faith in the God of Israel; where the other ten spies gave unfavorable reports of the land and its inhabitants. They said that they were as 'grasshoppers in their sight' they were so small compared to them, they didn't have faith in the God of Israel. The sins of Canaan had finally reached maturity, and God gave the command for Israel to to cross the Jordan river. Once on the soil of the Promised Land, God made covenant with them there and had Joshua circumcise the men because most of them were born in the wilderness and had not yet received the sign of the covenant. After they healed they celebrated their first Passover there. Jericho was chosen by God to be the first of the cities to be destroyed by Israel. Jericho was a microcosm of everything that was wrong with the inhabitants of the Promised Land. The sins of the people were so bad, like the wall around it, it separated them from the True and Living God of Heaven. Jericho was a mighty fortress who's walls were so thick and high, they seemed impenetrable; so Joshua relied upon God to conquer this foe. Joshua followed God's instructions on how to bring the walls of Jericho down. They were commanded to devote the inhabitants and every living creature to destruction. Joshua 6:25-26 reads, "But Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute, with her family and all who belonged to her, because she hid the men Joshua had sent as spies to Jericho--and she lives among the Israelites to this day.
— Jim, continued in "Our Wednesday Night Class" article
As children of God, one of our main goals in this life is to strive to be pleasing in God's sight. This should be done out of a deep gratitude to his mercy and grace having spared us from eternal punishment for our sins; we should be devoted to this task.
To help us accomplish this we need to have our noses in the Bible as often as possible and search the scriptures to know what pleases God and what displeases him and do the things that please him. Studies in the Old Testament are a gold mine for this subject, in fact Paul even says, "Everything written in the past was written to teach us." So God wants us to be students of Bible history for this very reason. To observe God interacting with mankind and by learning from others mistakes as well as their triumphs.
That is why my sermon Sunday evening was about curses. I wondered what could make our loving God so upset that he would curse individuals and curse nations. To know that is invaluable to us. If we know what makes him so angry that the only solution left for him is to curse, we will want to avoid that behavior at all costs.
Our God is loving and benevolent, and he wants to bless his children and not curse them. Paul tells us because of God's love for us, he will punish us as a father punishes his children in order to change our bad behavior. If things aren't going well for us, we may be going through a period of testing, or a period of punishment, God will do both. In either case it should be a time of self evaluation to see if we are walking in the light or not, and a time of prayer to the Father to help us through our time of need.
— Jim, continued in "Our Wednesday Night Class" article
The brothers and sisters in the Lord's church at West Side would like to wish God's people everywhere who are struggling in various ways his blessings and peace upon them. May his healing hand be upon Kevin our minister and upon all of those who call upon the name of the Lord for healing. These have been trying and troublesome times for everyone. It is comforting to know that God is in control and that he loves us and he will see us through the many challenges that come our way.
In Kevin's absence, I will be conducting Sunday morning bible class in which I will bring you another lesson from our Wednesday night class. Last Wednesday and this Sunday we have been, and will be examining the confessions that the apostle Peter made concerning who Jesus is.
At the end of a very hard and ambiguous teaching on Jesus being the Living Bread that came down from heaven, we observed that many of his disciples turned their backs on Jesus and left him, not being able to follow him anymore because of this teaching. What made them leave was Jesus telling them that his flesh was real food and his blood was real drink and they had to eat and drink of him to have life in themselves. After they had left, Jesus looked at his apostles and asked them if they would like to leave too. The apostle Peter spoke right up and said, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
— Jim, continued in "Our Wednesday Night Class" article
We hear in the News that the vaccination is being given out but not fast enough. People are scrambling to get their shots, and waiting for the second one, and well, it just is not happening fast enough. And now there is news that it will not stop the new strains that are starting to mutate. And that if they are not giving them fast enough, that many will be infected with a highly more contagious form that will kill even more people than the first wave. Jesus tells us that if we believe in Him "even if he die he will live." John 11:25.
Our hope is in the Lord and that is where we should focus our lives going forward into 2021. When God told Moses to place the blood of the lamb over the door post, he did say to not go out. But this plague is not like the one of Moses time. Sure, we should always take precautions especially among the throws of this plague. But let us not fear that we are going to be the next one to be infected. And let us not trust that "now I have the vaccine, I am good to go." And that is what we are going to see in the days to come. "Peace and safety, Peace and safety."
Our Father in heaven knows what we need before we even need it. We glorify God with our words, and yet we trust in the vaccine. Let us trust in God to protect us and let us glorify Him for the vaccine. Jesus says in John chapter 11, that he is the resurrection and the life. No one can come to the Father with out the Son and no one can come to the Son unless the Father draws him. We are of the Father and of the Son, let us trust in Him to give us safety first, and then the vaccine.
God is Good, Love you all
Kevin's 2 cents
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Now brethren, you have no need for anything to be written to you concerning the times and the seasons. For you yourselves know accurately that the day of the Lord so comes like a thief in the night. For whenever they are saying, Peace and security; then sudden utter-ruin stands by them, just-like having travail in the womb, and they may never flee away from it. But brethren, you are not in darkness, that the day might overtake you like a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night, nor of darkness; then consequently , do not sleep, like the rest also do, but we should watch and should be sober. For those who are sleeping, sleep in the night, and those who are drunken, are drunken in the night. But we, being of the day, should be sober; having clothed yourselves with the breastplate of faith and love , and the hope of salvation like a helmet. Because God appointed us not for wrath, but for the acquisition of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died on our behalf, that , whether we should watch or sleep, we should live at the same time together with him. Hence, encourage one another and build each other up, just-as you are also doing.
People are always looking for signs and wonders that supposedly will occur at the second coming of Our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ. But our brother Paul tells us as Jesus tells us that no sign will be given at his return. As we read the above scripture, we get a complete look at what happened at that time as Paul prophecies the coming of the destruction of Jerusalem.
But in todays times, what are we looking at? Division, hate, murder, slander against government, uprisings against government, even falling away of congregations to the world and it's influences.
Brother and sisters, when people think that this Covid-19 vaccine, this new regime and the coming together of all denomination is going to be a sign of peace and safety, that is when, we are to be always aware of the destruction that will come suddenly and swiftly. We are to encourage one another with the words above, and continue to keep looking to the sky, waiting to fly. Nothing in this time of or anytime of history is going to be a sign of Our Kings coming. Men throughout the ages have predicted our Elder Brothers coming, and have successfully been wrong every time. He will come like a thief in the night, and things will still get worse and worse.
Brothers and sisters let you and I always remember that sin is going to rule this world, and that we have One who has promised to take us home when it is time. So, let us stay in the Light that we do not need to fear the darkness that is coming and now is overshadowing this world that Jesus has said is going to be destroyed by fire, and let us continue to Pray and love one another in truth, in deed, and in Spirit. Let us stay awake and keep on the breastplate of faith that we will not be moved, lifting holy hands and singing the praises of Him who is coming.
Kevin's 2 cents.
God is good, I love you all
This has been discussed in worship service. But I don't the harm in reminding us that we need to exercise our spiritual mind, for strength and growth. S this is the introduction and we will continue for the next few weeks, to sharpen our sword and our mind.
...exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come."
In today's Pandemic and our response to the stay at home order, we are allowed to go out and get some fresh air and some good exercise. Whether walking, biking, running, etc. etc. You see brothers and sisters I am not talking about bodily exercise. You see I am referring to the spiritual fitness that strengthens our spiritual minds, and our bodies.
So, without and further ado, Let us get into our fitness program:
Please focus on the main scripture for the rest of the week as we cover more of God spiritual training program.
This is Kevin's 2 Cents
God is good, love you all Kevin J.
Today brothers and sisters I would just like to offer a prayer for our nations leadership and peace for healing:
Our Father in heaven, holy and wonderful is your name.
Father this country is in an uproar over one man leaving the office of president, and another to stand in his place for the next four years. I pray for healing upon this nation as we stand less than great in the eyes of the world.
Father have mercy on those who would cause hatred and contempt on the office you have set in place. Have mercy on us in this nation Father that we may come to you in repentance and sorrow for our sins. Father may you send us a leader who will help ease the hatred and hurt that has been so prevalent in the eyes of your Spirit.
Lead us Father to that fountain of healing and forgiveness as this nation divides and is in the moment of being cursed. I pray Father that Jesus will rise strong among all the people and that repentance to salvation will be granted to all who are need.
Our sin is ever before us and we have gone from under God to under any god. May we your children be more active in your congregation shedding the light of the cross for all to see and hear.
It is in the name of your Son and our Lord Jesus, Amen and amen.
God is good. Love you all,
We are into the 1st 3 days of a new year. How are you and for that fact myself, going to look at this 2021 life?
I would like to ask 3 questions.
Life is exciting, a creative voice. When life is led by the Spirit. Instead of the flesh, it changes from a journey to a pilgrimage. Our life should be measured by our experiences and meaningful experiences with Jesus, not by time or events. When we allow this to occur, our lives will be transformed tedious to fullness.
Consequently now there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who are not walking according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. For the law being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh; in order that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who are not walking according to the flesh, but walking according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh are mindful of the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit are mindful of the things of the Spirit. For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace; because the mindset of the flesh is enmity at God; for it is not subject to the law of God, for neither is it able to be; and those who are in the flesh are not able to please God. Modern Literal Version
God is good. Love you all,
Excerpted from: Beyond the Sunset
by Perry Coffman, used by permission
In the following noble passage, the Apostle seems to personify death and Hades, and introduces the righteous, after the resurrection, singing a song of victory over both.
O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?
(1 Corinthians 15:55 (MLV))
Hence, the fundamental truth behind our faith is the historical fact of the resurrection of Christ. If Jesus did not arise from the dead, we face dire consequences according to Paul's language in 1 Corinthians 15.
Note, if Christ be not risen:
In spite of the denial of many religious leaders today, Christ did rise from the dead. Each Lord's Day faithful Christians remember the great sacrifice of Christ at Calvary and His triumphal resurrection from the dead, as they imitate the early Christians in partaking of the communion, the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7; cf. Hebrews 10:24-25). They remember that Christ died for their sins,
"and that he was buried, and that he has been raised up on the third day according to the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:4).
The glorious message of the gospel of Christ, which gives the facts about the future life and immortality, has now removed much of the fear of death. By Christ's resurrection and the teaching of the New Testament Scriptures, much of death's sting and terror has been taken away, so that no longer is it a terrible monster. Christians have nothing to fear in death. With this faith Paul had no fear of dying or anxiety about moving out of his old weather-beaten tent:
"For we know that if the earthly house of our tabernacle should be torn-down, we have a building from God, a not made with hand, everlasting in the heavens." (2 Corinthians 5:1)
Christians should not mourn over their dead as those who have no hope, because Christians shall meet again in a life in which parting shall be no more. The Scriptures give definite assurance of another life after death. How comforting, therefore, to know that though one's dear loved ones die, they shall live again. There is a resurrection. Man lives through death and after it. Physical death is not the termination of human life, and the grace is not the end. One's sleep will not be an eternal one. The dear, departed loved ones have not perished.
The dead shall rise. God has promised it, and He, by His own miraculous power, can make it possible, Because Christ lives in a resurrected immortal body, man also shall live again. Death does not end all. There is an existence beyond the tomb. Hence, when people ask, "Shall man go down to the grave with no promise of a hereafter?" all may answer,
"There is a Beyond; though a man die, shall he live again?" ( Job 14:14)
"Yes, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20)
God is Good, Love you all
Excerpted from: Beyond the Sunset
by Perry Coffman, used by permission
Again, Paul said to the Christians in Philippi that when Christ comes He "will fashion the body of our humbleness, that it may become transformed to the body of his glory, according to the working of which he is able to even subject all things to himself." (Philippians 3:21).
The passage does not say that the present body will give place to another body, but that it will be changed and fashioned after the glorious resurrection-body of Christ. This verse locates the change in the body. The believer's body will be changed from the present vile flesh and be fashioned after the body of Christ which He now has in heaven. Goodspeed's translation of the passage says that Crist "will make our bodies over to resemble his glorious body." Hence, saints in heaven shall bear the image of the heavenly being, conforming to the glorified Christ.
Since Scripture says it is the image of the heavenly, not the image of the earthly, which the righteous are to put on (1Corintians 15:49) like the glorious body of Christ (Philippians 3:21), some claim that the resurrected body of Christ, while on earth and before His ascension, serves as the pattern of man's future resurrected body. This, however, is without scriptural foundation. Since Christ returned to life in the body that was crucified and buried, which did not see corruption, this then cannot be proof that Christians are so to be raised.
If one could obtain a knowledge of Christ's present glorified body---the body He now has in heaven---he would indeed have a pattern of that resurrected body in glory. The fact, then, that because the fleshly body of Jesus was raised from the dead does not necessarily imply that He ascended in the same body; nor does it imply that His body was in the same state in which He arose and had on earth for forty days. Christ's glorified body must have been put on at or after His few brief references to His body after His ascension: He was seen in heaven by Stephen (Acts 7:56), later in a vision by Paul (1Corinthians 15:8; Acts 9:4,17; 22:14;26:16), and finally in a vision by John on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:10-18). All that can be said, therefore, of the resurrection-body of the believer is that it will be like the glorified body of Christ. Raised from the dead by the Lord's power, believers at the resurrection shall be transformed into His glorious image.
Excerpted from: Beyond the Sunset
by Perry Coffman, used by permission
The physical body is sown in weakness, but will be raised in power---with unfailing vigor, capable of great and unwearyingly activity; whereas the body man has now is inherently weak. The redeemed will have bodies to clothe their spirits (inner personalities) in eternity, only they will not be weak, material bodies like these, liable to disease, sickness, and death.
The well-known commentator Albert Barnes made this fine comment concerning the transformed body:
"The body of the worm, the chrysalis, and the butterfly is the same. It is the same animal sill. Yet how different the gaudy and gay butterfly from the creeping and offensive caterpillar! So, there may be a similar change in the body of the believer, and yet the same… And no infidel can prove that the one is attended with any more difficulty or absurdity than the other… And why should we deem it strange that between bodies adapted to live here and bodies adapted to live in heaven, there should be a difference?"
The earthly body is sown a natural [or animal] body, but it will be raised a spiritual body. The spiritual body, however, is not a spirit. The word spiritual here does not refer to the substance of the renewed body, but describes the office or function of it. Notice that the word spiritual is not put in contrast with the word material. The body that is sown is not a material body, but a natural body. The natural body means the body of the natural man, made for this physical life. The spiritual body is adapted to the divine life or heaven. The spiritual, incorruptible body is but a contrast with the corruptible or mortal body. Hence, the spiritual body is the present body made incorruptible. A body of flesh will not be raised. The righteous will be given spiritual bodies, free from the frailties to which men are subjected in this life. The future body is called spiritual because it will be a body suited to the spirit, fit for the eternal realm, just as this physical body is suitable for this world.
In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul stressed the resurrection of those who would be raised to eternal life. The Bible does not describe the resurrection-body of unbelievers.
"And just-as we have worn the image of the terrestrial, we should also wear the image of the heavenly." (v. 49).
As man is here on earth, he bears the image of the earthly, but in heaven he will bear the image of the heavenly. The earthly cannot pass over into the heavenly. Thus, the apostle described the difference between the body in which the Christian now lives and the body in which he shall live hereafter---a contrast of the body before death with the body after the resurrection. "It" ---the body before death---is corruptible; "it" ---the body at the resurrection---is incorruptible. The body placed in the tomb will be raised, though in a transformed, imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual condition.
‘Twas sown in weakness here
‘Twill then be raised in power:
That which is sown an earthly seed
Shall rise a heavenly flower.
In one sense, the resurrection-body will be the same body as it was before death, and yet not the same body. It will be the same in whatever is necessary to personal identity and yet not the same in its material and use. Paul taught these things about the resurrection-body: the natural body will be raised a spiritual body, man's identity will be preserved, and the raised body of the righteous will be refined and glorified.
God is Good, Love you all,
6 Now these things took place as examples [Grk: tupos] for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
Paul recalls some of Israel's early history to the Corinthians to instruct them on their behavior. He calls the historical events of Israel: examples (Grk: tupos, ie types). As we are learning, the Bible uses type and antitype relationships for the purpose of placing the type against the antitype to make comparisons.
Paul is identifying in this passage specific Israelite historical events as types. He is telling the Corinthian church not to behave like the types. So he's telling them to compare themselves to the Israelite historical types. Therefore, we, the church today, represented here by the Corinthian church, are the antitypes.
What does Paul tell us about our historical types in 1 Cor 10?
11 Now these things happened to them as an example [Grk: tupos], but they were written down for OUR instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
He then gives us a warning, a promise, and an instruction
1 Corinthians 10:12-14 (ESV)
Because, our historical examples that typify us, DID all these things. Read and learn how God dealt with them and apply those lessons to us today. — Scott R
7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin."
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
"I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,"
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity;
"I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,"
Who determines what is right or wrong? Is there such a thing as morality? If so, who determines what is moral and what isn't? Any one individual? A family of individuals? A group of individuals? A nation of individuals? The consensus of all individuals? A majority of individuals? From a naturalistic point of view, concerning the electro-chemical reactions that are living things, whose electro-chemical processes are any better or worthy of making a moralistic determination than any other individual's processes?
However, from God's point of view, God the Creator reserves that right for Himself,Isaiah 45:18-19
18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!):
"I am the Lord, and there is no other.
19 I did not speak in secret, in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right.
The solution to how we deal with sin, (as outsiders or as Christians), begins with God... more to follow.
Luke 6:20 says,
"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
Matt. 5:3 says,
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (NKJV)
The poor have no influence, power or help, therefore, they are downtrodden and oppressed by men. The poor put their trust in God. Thus, they are "poor in spirit." They realize they are dependent on God. There is no haughtiness of attitude thinking they have no need for anything or knowledge. But they look to God for their every need, especially spiritual needs.
That is why Jesus said,
"For theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: "Cursed before the LORD is the man who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho: "At the cost of his firstborn son will he lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest will he set up its gates." Joshua, filled with the Holy Spirit uttered this oath and curse. This was God's way of saying that if Israel ever goes the way of the people of Jericho, full of idolatry and sin, and forsakes God and not heeding his warnings, they would be cursed and accursed. It took five-hundred years for this to happen, and the word of God stands forever. We see in 1 Kings 16:30-31, "Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him." So because of evil kings, the people turned their backs on God and forgot his word. As the head goes, so goes the body, we read in 1 Kings 16:34, "In Ahab's time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun." The people no longer feared God and didn't take him at his word. This man Hiel rebuilt Jericho in spite of the well known curse of Joshua to the peril of his oldest and youngest sons. It is possible to get to the point where sin blinds you from the truth of God's word. God is patient with us, but if we are no longer walking with him and are unrepentant of sin, we too will be cursed. To God be true!
A while back in our Wednesday Bible class we went over when Jesus passed through Jericho,and healed some people there as he was making his way to Jerusalem. At the time we also looked at a brief history of Jericho's past.
Jericho was the first city in the Promised land to be conquered by Joshua and Israel. The land of Canaan and Jericho in particular represented everything that can go wrong with a nation that turns its back on God. Jericho worshipped false gods, and that form of worship enticed the people by incorporating sexual activity in their corrupt worship. They had temple priests and priestesses who were known as temple prostitutes, and both men and women would have to pay their dues by visiting them for their services in order to have them bless their land and their crops and their harvests.
God tells us that the false gods they worshipped were actually demons, and being of Satan, who was called a murderer from the beginning, required the people of Jericho to offer their children by fire, which they willingly did. They were a people in a constant downward spiral of ever-degrading sin, getting worse and worse over time so that they reached a point of no return, they saw no need of repentance and what started out as a prophecy and curse from Noah on his son Ham and his son Canaan after the flood due to their evil heart, their evil attitude that was unrepented of over the span of 1,000+ years turned into an entire nation being so corrupt that God told Israel to devote them to destruction. God told Israel not to even spare anyone. Young and old, men, women and children along with all of their animals were to be put to the edge of the sword. They were punished for unrepented evil behavior, sexual immorality and idolatry to name a few.
That behavior is enough to make God curse. We need to examine our lives to see if we have any unrepented of sin and change.
This is the first of two great confessions that Peter himself will make about our Lord. Peter's confession told Jesus, and us posteriorly, that he believed there was no one else to turn to that could possibly fit the mold that he has made to be the Messiah. There was nobody else that could do the miracles he did. Peter knew he was from King David's lineage, he knew scripture very well for an "uneducated Galilean" so he recognized him, having been a disciple of John the Baptist along with Andrew, James and John, he was waiting for him to come upon the scene. When he arrived John the Baptist pointed him out to the disciples and made witness and confession of his own concerning Jesus. John said to them and all who were in attendance that day in the Jordan river saying, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said a man who comes after me has surpassed me because he existed before me. I did not recognize him but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit,' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God."
After hearing John's confession, they leave him and followed Jesus because he had the words of eternal life. From being with him for a little more than a year and a half and experiencing everything Jesus did and said, they came to not just believe, but know he was the Son of God.
Our Wednesday evening bible class is in the middle of Jesus' lesson on the bread of life in John chapter six. In it he says, "For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." Of course Jesus is speaking in figurative words which are about spiritual matters of belief in him. This statement horrified many who were listening to Jesus in the synagogue in Capernaum. Not every heart that hears the word is willing to accept it, for various reasons. But having faith is all about the heart that is willing to listen and accept the word of God, for they recognize that only God can fill that empty hole in their life. So they are the ones who open the door to their heart when they hear Jesus knock, and they invite him in. And they are taught of God, and the word is in their mouth and in their heart as Isaiah prophesied about. As for many of the Lord's disciples that day, they turned their backs on Jesus and stopped believing. It was a difficult teaching that many of the disciples couldn't accept. But those who were truly seeking God, those who were truly seeking the Messiah, those who sought after the Savior were patient in their judgment of the matter. They stayed with Jesus because they could tell that he was filling that empty place in their hearts that belongs exclusively to God.
Inside of us there is what is called the "Eternity Gene", and Solomon tells us about it, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in their hearts, yet so that man can't find out the work that God has done from the beginning even to the end." We have a natural desire to seek out God. Jesus tells us in Matthew that it should be ourfirst priority in life, "But seek first God's Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well." Also a chapter later, "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened." For Peter, he searched for the Messiah along with his brother and friends, and when they found him, they stuck with him, even after this difficult teaching. When asked by the Lord if they wanted to leave too, Peter gives the greatest confession of the Lord in the bible. "Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Peter understood the spiritual aspect of what Jesus was trying to teach. That makes him a true believer and worshipper.
News about Jesus spread far and wide in the Holy Land including in the regions of the Gentiles, such as Samaria, Galilee and Phoenicia. After Jesus taught in the synagogue in Capernaum where many of his disciples turned away after hearing his teaching on the "Bread of Life," he and his disciples withdrew north along the seacoast to the region of Phoenicia. Other than to get away from the crowds and in particular, the Pharisees and scribes who questioned him as to why his disciples broke the traditions of the elders, he had no apparent reason to be way up there...or did he?
Though the Son of Man was sent to save the lost sheep of Israel, under the right circumstances Jesus would have mercy on gentiles who showed true faith. Jesus was met by a Canaanite woman who had that kind of faith. In Matthew 15:21-28, the story reads,
Jesus went out from there, and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon. Behold, a Canaanite woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, you son of David! My daughter is severely possessed by a demon!" But he answered her not a word. His disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away; for she cries after us." But he answered, "I wasn't sent to anyone but the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But she came and worshiped him, saying, "Lord, help me." But he answered, "It is not appropriate to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs." But she said, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Be it done to you even as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that hour.
How did this gentile woman hear of Jesus? How did she know how to properly address him as "Lord, and Son of David?" We are not told in the story, but someone witnessed to her about Jesus being the Christ. How this woman came to know about the Lord is really quite simple. In our Wednesday bible class we learned that Jesus quoted from Isaiah to describe to the crowd in the synagogue that nobody can come to him unless they are called first by the Father and that they would be taught by Him. (Is. 54:13, Jn. 6:37-46)
The Father, through his blessed word taught this woman, she heard the gospel somewhere and she believed it! She threw herself at Jesus feet and pleaded her case for her daughter and worshipped him. She wouldn't take "no" for an answer, and in humility, she lowered herself to the level as a dog who would eat the bread crumbs of the Living Bread of Jesus that fell off the table and onto the floor, she loved God and needed the Messiah's help so badly, she showed Jesus her true belief in him and he rewarded that faith by healing her daughter. Just from eating the crumbs on the floor of the bread of life she showed great faith. God's word, the true bread from heaven saves!
How hungry are you? Jim
Since the beginnng when God created mankind, he made them vegetarians. He gave them all fruit bearing trees to eat from (except one) and the seeds from the grasses of the field, which they would harvest and make bread from. So bread has always been in man's diet. For most of man's history they lived under agricultural societies and its main product was bread. Bread would sustain them through good times and bad times, through times of plenty and times of famine. You have to admit that just the thought of homemade bread can get your mouth watering as you imagine its smell and taste, it is the original comfort food. Bread sustained their lives, and they were dependent on it. When Moses led Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness, God provided them with a special, never before seen bread, a bread from heaven. This bread was a test to them to see if they would be obedient to him.
Exo 16:4, Then Yahweh said to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not."
The people gathered it and said, "What is it." Which in Hebrew is "manna," so that's what they called it. So for forty years they ate manna from heaven. But by Numbers 11:6, they were complaining about it saying,
"Now our appetite is gone and there is nothing at all to look at except this manna."
The people started loathing the bread from heaven. In Dt. 8:2-3 Moses had to explain to the people why they had to eat this bread for so long.
"You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."
While fasting for forty days in the desert, going without bread and being very hungry, Jesus quoted part of this verse when Satan tempted him to turn stones into bread to eat, he said,
"Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
In our Wednesday bible study we are about to go over one of the "I Am" statements that Jesus uses for himself to describe part of his role and nature in God's scheme of redemption.
In the gospel of John, 6:35 Jesus says, "I am the bread of life." He tells his people that he is the bread that comes down from heaven and that they needed to eat this bread to have eternal life. So we have our daily bread sustaining the physical body for life in this life on earth, and God's word through Jesus sustaining our souls for daily life in this life and for the next life in heaven as well.
Don't you think that mankind today is being tested the same way Israel was tested in the desert, to see if we would follow his instructions in regard to the bread he gives us. Brothers and sisters, there is a difference as to how much of the bread we can eat that Jesus gives us than what the Israelis were aloud to eat. Jesus didn't set a limit as to how much of the bread he offers that we can gather, in fact, dare I say, that we've been invited to an unlimited buffet! So savor God's word daily and share it with others, and enjoy the bread; the body of the Lord weekly with the saints. Isn't it fitting that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the house of bread?
Often in my quiet times with the Lord as I reflect on the lessons I've learned from his word, I will muse about how first century Christians had an advantage over us by being in his presence and hearing him speak and teach God's truth and work spectacular miracles. I can't help but think what a rock solid faith we would have, even to the point where it would no longer be faith, but fact, unquestionable and undeniable...reality, how could it not? But as I climb back up out of the rabbit hole of deep thought, and add up all the facts, I realize that we are really not disadvantaged at all.
When I evaluate my own faith, I know that there is nothing anyone can say to me that would make me change my mind about my belief in God, his word and 'what is unseen'. When we consider all the first hand eye witnesses that did see Jesus perform miracles and teach God's word and no detractor could refute anything Jesus said or did, and gave no proofs against them, the only conclusion you can honestly make is that those things are true and are then to believed, which we have.
When each subsequent generation of believers taught the next generation after the first century, Christians spread the blessed gospel to them, obeying Christ's command to teach all men what he taught them, you see the splendid endless cycle of 'teaching and belief' that has gone on over the centuries right up to us. One generation teaching the next, so that even the miracles that we didn't see first hand we can believe with all certainty because those who were first hand eye-witnesses wrote it all down for us; and by God's powerful word he preserves the integrity and reliability of it for us.
There-in lies the reason I have stopped thinking that we are disadvantaged being so far removed from the beginnings of Christianity; we have a reliable chain of witnesses and God's powerful word protecting all that we have come to believe in. Plus this, Peter, even though he was a firsthand eye-witness of miracle after miracle still had at times a weak faith and doubted. When he asked the Lord to command him to come out on the water, he had the faith to get out of the boat, but because of the ferocious wind and waves, after his first few steps, he took his attention and focus off of the Lord and focused on what scared him, and he started sinking, and he did the only thing a person can do when they're about to be swallowed up by 'life's problems', he cried out, "Lord save me!"
The aposle Paul encourages us with these words, 'walk by faith, not by sight.' Peter was walking by sight and not by faith. As we all have to do, we sometimes have to learn the hard way, and sometimes we need to repeat a mistake several times before we 'get it'. For us who have never 'seen', we have to "Fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen, is eternal. Let's not lose our focus, the Lord and his mission work. That is the only way to please God, we must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. We have an advantage over those who did 'see', Jesus said to Thomas, when he finally believed that Jesus rose from the dead, "Blessed are those who believe and have not seen."
Friends- be focused and BELIEVE! Jim
Jesus' first disciples became his very close friends, and confidants. Simon Peter, James and John, and on occasion Andrew were witness to events and explanations that the others were not.
The "Three", Peter, James and John were selected by the Lord to see the raising of Jairus' daughter from the dead (Mk. 5:21-24, 35-43), and they got to witness the Lord transfigure into his Glorious state on the mountain (Mk. 9:2-13),and were trusted to stand watch while Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before he was betrayed by Judas (Mk. 14:32-42). Jesus spoke privately to the three along with Andrew and explained to them the signs of his coming and destruction of Jerusalem and final judgment (Mk. Chapter 13).
The Lord was particularly close to James and John because he knew them well and they were his first cousins. John was referred to as "the disciple whom Jesus loved", and their mother Salome, Zebedee's wife was Jesus' mother, Mary's, sister. We know this from comparing the same event as written by Matthew and Mark.
Mar 15:40-41, 'There were also women watching from afar, among whom were both Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome; who, when he was in Galilee, followed him, and served him; and many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.'
Mat 27:55-56 'Many women were there watching from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, serving him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.'
So, Salome was one of the women who would support the Lord's work financially and see to their needs. We now can understand perhaps why James and John put their mother up to asking Jesus for a very special request of letting her sons sit on Jesus left and right side of his throne in heaven, seeing there was a need to oblige this request because of family ties of closeness and financial support. Though it wasn't within the Lord's purview to grant such a request, he asked the men if they were willing to drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? To which they answered, "We are able." Jesus said they would indeed go through the same trials and those words rang true nearly fifteen years later when king Herod Agrippa had James killed with the sword. So sadly, Salome experienced the same grief over the loss of a son as her sister Mary had. It must have been comforting and amusing for Jesus to have family so close that such a request could be asked.
So close were John and Jesus that Jesus committed the care of his own mother to the apostle John while he hung on the cross to redeem mankind. And what love was shown to his mother in that while he was in such pain and agony, he still had the presence of mind to make final care arrangements for his mom. Mary lost and gained a son that day. We can confidently say that Mary and her sister Salome and all the other women who attended to Jesus needs, along with Jesus brothers who were now believers because of the resurrection, were with the eleven apostles and disciples totaling 120 believers in that upper room on the day of Pentecost.
And from all of those they won the world for Christ, whom now we are part of that family too! —Jim
Life in the first century for Christians was full of ups and downs; they had periods of fear and uncertainty, and times of joy and exultation. There was continually a fear of persecution, imprisonment and death, but it was balanced by the blessings from God and his unconditional love for his children and their hope of heaven.
Paul experienced all of those ups and downs, and from prison he wrote some of his most powerful letters. The brothers and sisters of the early church could have walked around with long faces with all the turmoil they had in the world at that time, but they did not.
Paul issued an apostolic command while jailed, that was based on a moral obligation that every Christian is under, then and now. That moral obligation is to rejoice! Paul in his Philippian letter in 4:4 said, "Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again rejoice!" Twelve times Paul uses the word; 'rejoice' in his letter, as he encouraged the bretheren to be at peace and of good cheer despite the suffering they were going through. By choosing to be happy and rejoice, in spite of the afliction they were experiencing shows the inner peace and hope of salvation they have in the life to come.
Jesus too told his followers, "Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven."
"Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in various trials, that the proof of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes even though it is tested by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ— whom not having known you love; in whom, though now you don't see him, yet believing, you rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory— receiving the result of your faith, the salvation of your souls."
In light of all the turmoil in our present lives, and in this crazy world in which we live, these words ring just as true for us.
So, Rejoice! Jim
As the year 2020 draws to an end and we reflect back on all that has happened, what a year 2020 has been. We have never experienced anything like it. The elephant in the room of course that can't help but be noticed was COVID-19. Never in our lifetime has anything changed every aspect of our life like this pandemic.
Sadly it looks as though we will continue to be "plagued" by this pandemic into 2021. Look at the hysteria it has caused the people in the world that have no hope or trust in God. Because of this malevolent virus and the negative effect it has on hopeless people, we have seen; the worst and the best of leadership throughout our land, political strife, civil unrest, and disobedience and violence. Christians have faith in the Holy Living God of Heaven and Earth and we know that he is in control, nothing that has been happening on earth has escaped his attention, and yes, he has been caring for and has been protecting us all the way. Most of the good decisions being made in this country are being made by leaders who acknowledge and believe in God, and so we thank God for them. We see that it is the Godless who are causing all the strife and division in our country, so this behavior doesn't come as a surprise to us, after-all, hasn't one of their leaders said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste"? In view of all that is happening around us do not let it change our focus on what is important in this life; our love of God and love for our fellow man.
So as we head into 2021, keep your chin up, mask on and march forward, though maintaining six feet apart and try to keep your sense of humor. Keep in mind Proverbs 17:22 which says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up your bones." Do not let what is happening all around us crush your spirits, follow Paul's advice to the Philippians, "Rejoice in the Lord always! I will say it again, REJOICE!!!" My sister Laura sent me an email that had the year 2020 in review. I found it amusing, so I'm passing on to you.
Just ten days before the crucifixion, Jesus and His disciples set out for Jerusalem, they had been in Jericho where Jesus gave them specifics about what was going to happen there.
He told them that the Son of Man would be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they would condemn Him to death, and would hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day, He would be raised up.
With the weight of the world on His shoulders, and knowing in full detail what would soon happen, Jesus still had the wonderful and loving attitude He always had. His love for mankind didn't waiver.
Many of us, if we were in His circumstance, would be terrified, angry, so consumed with "trying to get out of it," we would unlikely notice or care about someone else who had problems.
But not Jesus. He stuck to the mission to seek and save the lost, He still put others first. He left us with such good examples of grace under fire. In the face of meeting His own death, observe Jesus' love for the unfortunate.
Mat. 20:29-34, "As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed Him. And two blind men sitting by the road, hearing that Jesus was passing by, cried out, "Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!"
(Mark's retelling of this event mentions that one of the men's name is Bartimeus. By these men calling Jesus, "Son of David," it is an acknowledgement to their faith in Him because that is the same as calling Him Messiah)
The crowd sternly told them to be quiet. (The crowd that followed actually tried to silence them...can you imagine? But isn't that like the world and Satan? They will do everything to keep a soul from finding the Lord's salvation.)
But they cried out all the more, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" And Jesus stopped and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
(They showed their determination to get the Lord's attention and their efforts were rewarded. Jesus knew what they wanted, and He wanted to heal them because He loved them, He just wanted them to express it and ask for it out of faith.)
They said to Him, "Lord, we want our eyes to be opened." Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes; and immediately they regained their sight and followed Him."
Mark's account mentions that after Jesus healed them He said, "Go, your faith has made you well." He dismisses them. After having compassion on them and giving them sight, a life altering event, going from blackness to seeing clearly, they received their sight, believing in Jesus, the Light of all men.
They ignored Jesus dismissing them and followed Him. We don't know for how long they went with them on Jesus journey to Jerusalem, I would like to think that they became disciples of Jesus. Just think about the events that their new eyes were to behold in the next week.
Jesus is God's compassion in action. Cling to Him brothers and sisters!
To establish truth or guilt God required that a matter be established by eyewitnesses who could give testimony.
Moses writes in Dt. 19:15,
"One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall a matter be established."
Jesus likewise used this standard for his church. Mat. 18:16,
"But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established."
And Paul also used it in his second letter to the Corinthians 13:1,
"This is the third time I am coming to you. At the mouth of two witnesses or three shall every word be established."
So God himself provided to Mary and Joseph people who would give eyewitness testimony to establish as truth the words spoken by the angel Gabriel. First are the shepherds who came and saw the baby Messiah in the manger and told Mary and Joseph all that happened to them and what they heard. Then came the Maji from the east and worshipped the King of the Jews that was born. When the mother and father of our Lord took him to the temple to present him to God, we had both Simeon and Anna take the child and prophesy about him and bless them and praise God for getting to see the consolation of Israel.
God himself also gave eyewitness testimony concerning his Son. At Jesus baptism, at the transfiguration and at the market place when the Greek men were seeking audience with Jesus, God thundered from heaven,
"This is my Son whom I love, with him I am well pleased.",
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased-listen to him!" and,
"I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again."
Brothers and sisters it is a well established fact that Jesus is the Christ, the King of kings and the son of the Living God of heaven.
The proclamation of great news is often made into a special event. When a young couple decides to tie the knot and get married, careful consideration is given to what kind of announcement cards are used. Often the available cards to pick from are just not good enough and they end up designing their own special announcement card. The same is true in announcing the birth of a child, a lot of thought goes into how that will be done.
My daughter Amy, told Ruth and I, that she was going to have another child and came up with a rather fun and unique way to tell us what the sex of the child would be. She brought over a black balloon filled with either pink or blue paint and a bow and arrow and attached it to a tree and had me pop the balloon with the arrow... yes, it did put a lot of pressure on me to show off my bow skills, but much to my amazement I popped the balloon and pink paint exploded all over, announcing to us that Amy and David were going to have a baby girl. To me, that was better than an announcement handed to me on a silver platter!
God, no doubt, had the most elaborate announcement of all time concerning the birth of his son. God sent first, an angel to proclaim the birth of the Christ child to some shepherds who were tending their flock at night.
"And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them,
'Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.'
And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!'
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another,
'Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.'
And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them."
Such great news needed a great announcement and God gave exactly that. Though Joseph and Mary were very poor, God our father provided the most glorious birth announcement anyone could ever want.
As we enter our study of Peter, it is important to point out that we are entering a new "era" or "dispensation" in the bible known as the Christian era or Christian dispensation. An era is a period of time characterized by a notable historical event that has occurred. Such eras include the pre-flood and post- flood eras where the great global flood of Noah's time is the historical event that marks the period of time on earth before and after the flood. In our dispensation, the birth of our Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth is the single most significant event the world has ever known; God being born as a man and living among his creation. It was an event even more significant than the flood itself which destroyed the world's sinful inhabitants at that time. It is more important because the birth of the Christ Child will bring everlasting life to all of mankind who believe in him. The words era and dispensation vary slightly in that dispensation is a more descriptive word to illustrate important aspects in the moments of God's dealings with man.
Daniel Webster describes the word dispensation this way:
"That which is dispensed or bestowed; a system of principles and rites enjoined; as the Mosaic dispensation; the gospel dispensation; including, the former the Levitical law and rites; the latter the scheme of redemption by Christ."
You know what? They talked funny in the Puritan Era so; a dispensation is a significant moment in time marked by a historical event in which a method or scheme of the unfolding of God's love,mercy, and grace that God uses to carry out his will for the redemption of mankind. Synonyms for dispensation are; administration, stewardship, management and economy. There are three major dispensations throughout the bible. The Patriarchal, the Mosaic and the Christian dispensations. As a biblical excersize, see if you can determine times, places and events that mark the various dispensations in the bible. Examine also these bible passages that use these words for dispensation. 1 Cor.9:17; Eph.1:10; 3:2,9; Col.1:25; 1 Tim. 1:4
As we establish the main characters in our study of Peter, God first shows us in the gospels of Matthew and Luke the family of Joseph and Mary, and Zacharias and Elizabeth. They are related through the maternal side; Mary and Elizabeth share the same blood. When the angel Gabriel announces God's plan of salvation to Mary and that she would carry God's Son, the Messiah, he gives her a sign of proof that her relative (kinswoman, possibly a cousin or second cousin) who is old and barren is in her sixth month of pregnancy. So this family has two miracle babies! Nothing is impossible with God. And that also makes Jesus and John related. These two children would grow up to be so vitally important to not just Israel, but to the whole world. John would be the harbinger, ushering in and making the people ready for the Messiah who was to follow.
Peter may have been one of John's disciples along with Andrew his brother and their fishing partners James and John. So these four men were keeping a watchful eye out for the messiah. James and John we can trace through Matthew, Mark and John's account of the crucifixion, and of who were there of the women that followed Jesus and witnessed his death are the sons of Mary's sister Salome, making them first cousions of Jesus. Mary and Joseph had children themselves and they are: James, Joseph, Simon and Judas and daughters though not mentioned by name, making them half brothers and sisters. So if we were to see a gathering of this holy family, they would be: Zacharias, Elizabeth, John, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, James, Joseph, Simon, Judas, Jesus' sisters, Zebedee, Salome, James and John. Look at all the names in this family and you see many of them contributed greatly for the cause of Christ.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zachariah in the temple, he announced God's plan for he and his son in the scheme of redemption. The angel made seven points to him that we can see become fulfilled as we read the gospel story.
The points are:
Likewise the angel told the details of God's plan of salvation as revealed to Mary and Joseph with these points:
As we go through our study, look for these points and make note of them; this will show you God's invisible hand at work, exercising his providence and will to fulfill his word.
As we enter the gospel period of time in our Wednesday study, we are introduced to two families; Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth and Mary and her betrothed Joseph. It is a very wonderful time to say the least because we read of supernatural events taking place which causes great excitement in these families and their communities. God sends an angel; Gabriel, to Zachariah and to Mary, to announce to them that God would bless them with a child. To Zachariah, his wife who was barren would be blessed with a child that would be the 'Elijah' that was to come and make straight paths for the Messiah and to Mary he told her that she would bear the Son of the Most High and that God would give him the throne of his father David and that his kingdom would have no end. It may have even been the angel Gabriel who came to Joseph in a dream after he had contemplated divorcing his wife quietly and explained to him that the baby conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit and that the child would save his people from their sins. The lives of these four people would be changed forever as well as the lives of the people of the whole world. I would highly encourage you to read these particular stories from the gospel because they are an excellent revealing of our Christian history, they can be found in; Luke 1:5-56 and Mat.1:18-25. They aren't only just a lesson in history for us but there are lessons we too can apply in our lives. One such lesson is about belief. In Zachariah's case he doubted when Gabriel told him God's plan, he said to Gabriel, "How will I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife is advanced in years." He was immediately punished for his disbelief by being struck mute. Mary had an attitude that should be emulated by all believers, her response was, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And Joseph too was faithful in his due dilligence and took Mary as his wife. Let's have good and positive attitudes in our lives and service to our Lord as we seek to serve him too. For his glory! Jim
God's people in the Old Testament went through many trials that tested their faith and allegiance to God. Exodus 20:20 (NASB) Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." God knows that man is prone to sin. God loves us and knows that sin can enslave us and be our 'master'. He is a jealous God and wants all of our devotional focus on him, not idols. We are to have no other gods except him, today we may not bow before an image made of wood or stone, but we create idols of other types in our lives that are sinful. Paul tells the Philippians, 3:18-19,"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things." The phrase "whose god is their belly" means; our carnal appetites can become our gods or idols in this life and that makes us enemies of Jesus. If unrepented of, our idol worship can cause us to be eternally lost.
Sin can so consume us it literally can deceive us and blind us to the lost spiritual state we are in. Israel found that out the hard way, they rejected all the prophets who warned them to repent and their sin got so bad that the Assyrian kings killed many of them and carried the rest of them away. Judah too soon found itself in the same predicament years later. 2 Chr.36:16 "but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until Yahweh's wrath arose against his people, until there was no remedy." No remedy; nothing could fix or heal them, they were in spiritual hospice waiting to die. God had to destroy them to get their attention, most of them were slaughtered and a remnant were exiled to Babylon for 70 years. John tells us that there is sin that leads to death, I believe it is sin that is unrepented of that has become an idol in our life, John then concludes his letter by saying, "Little children, keep yourselves from idols."
— Jim L
As we have stated in our Wednesday evening bible study: The Apostle Peter, we are "setting the table," so to speak, to set up the mood of the day.
I ask you to read 2nd Chronicles 36 and if you have the gumption, the book of Daniel also. These verses from the bible have some rich history we can go over to better help us understand what Israel and Judah in particular just went through that shapes their thinking and attitudes during Peter's day.
If you read the book of Daniel, pay particular attention to the dreams of both the king of Babylon and Daniel himself because they both cover the world empires that will be of interest to us.
Happy reading and I can't wait to discuss these topics in class with you.
See you then. Jim
It may be difficult for some of us to imagine that an all powerful eternal God has walked with mankind on earth through all the ages; but it's not difficult for us to imagine one who reigns from heaven and directs the affairs of man from there. But we do have a God who is a "hands on God", and has interacted with his creation on an intimate level, face to face even.
The apostle John tells us in John 1:18 (NRSV)
So it took the Son of God to actually reveal the Father to us through his life and teachings.
John further tells us, John 14:6-11 (NRSV)
Jesus said to him,
Philip said to him,
Jesus said to him,
So the oneness of the Godhead is shown to us in Jesus' statement. When we see Jesus, we see the Father, for they are one in purpose and mind. Jesus has interacted with his creation in many different forms.
In the Garden of Eden we see it is in the form of the eternal being, "Jehovah Elohim", which is "LORD God." He was the first law giver, and gave Adam the Law of Sin and Death to follow, yes — Jesus did that. — Jim
Having completed a study in the elementary teachings of Christ, we will be examining the life of Simon the son of John whom the Lord gives the nick-name Peter.
Peter is one of my favorite characters in the bible because he is an average working class guy who has many flaws and many wonderful traits. Jesus saw great potential in Peter and mentors him to become the 'Rock' which he saw him as.
This class will be for young teenagers who want a deeper understanding of our faith so that they may have a faith of their own and become a Christian one day, so the 'milk' of God's word will be taught; plus there will be plenty of 'meat' to chew on in this class for the mature audience as well.
My expectaion for this class is that upon its conclusion, we can all be of the same mind that if God can use a person like Peter in his ministry, he can use me too! I hope to see you all this Wednesday.
In his service — Jim
Lately, in preparation for our future class on the book of Hebrews, we have been exploring the concept of types & antitypes. The idea came as a result of looking at Adam (referred to by Paul as a "type of" Christ) & Jesus in Romans 5:12-21, baptism and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, in Romans 6:1-11, and Peter, when talking about the flood, mentions that the "antitype" (of the flood), namely baptism, now saves us, 1 Peter 3:20,21. We learned that types & antitypes are for making comparisons. You can hold the type up closely against the antitype for contrasting effect (juxtapose). This is what the Bible does in Romans 5, 6 and 1 Peter 3, as mentioned above.
Last Sunday night, in the PM sermon, we looked at Ephesians 5:21-33, where Paul makes the comparison between the husband, wife relationship and the relationship Christ has with His church. Paul used this comparison to instruct us on how we ought to behave in our marriage relationships, emphasizing that this contrast was intended for us to make the comparison. In fact, he says, "Therefore," and states the law of marriage. Then says, "This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church." (i.e. because God wanted to show man the importance of His relationship with His church, He designed marriage.)
In other words, the marriage relationship AS a type of Christ and His church IS THE reason marriage exists!
Marriage is the ONLY authorized relationship for sexual union because God designed it (marriage) to show the relationship of Christ and His church. That is why all other sexual unions are wrong (because they don't show the relationship Christ has with His church). Not because of some "phobia" we may be accused of having.
Further, Jesus connects the dots for us when He was asked what was proper behavior regarding marriage. He says, "Have you not read that He who created them FROM THE BEGINNING (predating Moses) made them male and female, and said, 'THEREFORE, '" and He states the law of marriage, (i.e. because I made them male & female, they are to be married), Matthew 19:3-6.
THE REASON why God made us male and female is to be married and our marriage was DESIGNED to show the relationship of Christ and His church. And that IS WHY marriage between a man and a woman is the ONLY relationship that is RIGHT for sexual union and ALL OTHER relationships are NOT. See 1 Corinthians 6:13b-20.
— Scott R (The power of the type and antitype)
One of the things Hebrews reveals is a series of comparisons between Angels and Jesus, Moses and Jesus, Jesus and Melchizedek, and the Levitical High Priest and Jesus our High Priest, all showing the superiority of Jesus. Not to mention comparisons between the Tabernacle and Heaven, the old and new covenants, and between animal sacrifices and Jesus' sacrifice.
But, there are other things mentioned too. In the passage of Hebrews that identifies and contrasts the elementary teachings to teachings for the mature Christian we find a context that is the book of Hebrews in miniature. The Hebrew writer is in the middle of a deep discussion when he stops to give a criticism, a list of elementary teachings, and a warning to his audience. After the warning he returns to his discussion right where he left off. We see this cycle of instructing & warning repeated over several times.
The instruction is aimed to address the warnings the writer presents to his audience to help them maintain their walk with Christ. Some warnings are listed.
Take time to read Hebrews and see for yourself how the writer tailors his instruction to the warnings he presents. Give careful thought to his message. It is as pertinent today as it was 2,000 years ago.
— Scott R
Thanks to Jim Lokenbauer for an excellent study on “the elementary teachings about Christ” from Hebrews 6:1,2.
Jim plans on taking us through a study on the Apostle Peter next. We’re looking forward to his class.
Following that, I would like to present a class on the book of Hebrews. It is in the context of discussing difficult Biblical ideas that the Hebrew writer tells us what the elementary teachings about Christ are. This Biblical definition of what constitutes the basic/elementary principles/doctrine that are foundational to the Gospel appears almost incidentally. Without this list we would be left to our own opinion/understanding of what forms the basics of the oracles of God (Hebrews 5:12).
The book of Hebrews is a case study of the “meat” of the gospel. In our Hebrews class we will take a look at the arguments the author makes with a mind of trying to understand what he is saying and for what purpose.
While Jim is on vacation, I plan on presenting, over the next Wednesday or two, a brief overview of the book of Hebrews. We will identify the structure, outline, and some arguments of the book and look for clues to what was motivating the writer to pen the book. Hopefully this will stimulate interest for everyone to read & study the book of Hebrews in preparation for the future class.
See you Wednesday Evening —Scott R
By the power of Jesus' word he created the heavens and the earth and holds everything together by it (Ps.33:6, Heb.1:3) Creation was the start of time, year zero. In that same year, he established his law to Adam and Eve, the law of sin and death. Through the twisting of God's word Satan deceived the first couple and got them to break that law. Mankind chose to listen to Satan and therefore has been under his influence ever since. God has a plan to redeem mankind and save them from the power of Satan and his fate.
Two thousand years later, God Jesus established a people who would be God's chosen people. He appeared to Abraham and gave him three great promises; a family, a land, and a Savior Messiah from his bloodline that would bless the world.
Two thousand years after that, the Savior was born in Bethlehem through the lineage of King David, the fulfillment of the third promise to Abraham. He taught the people the gospel of the kingdom of God; repentance and obedience and love and peace are the core of those teachings.
These are some of the reasons as to why Jesus came down from heaven.
"I must preach the good news of God's kingdom." (Luke 4:43)
Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. (Mat.5:17)
Jesus was born King of the Jews and came to testify to the truth. (John 18:37)
Jesus came to die on the cross to redeem mankind. (John 3:16, 12:27-33)
John tells us in his first letter 1 Jn.3:8,
"He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."
It has been nearly two thousand years since Jesus died on the cross and rose again to redeem mankind back to himself and destroy the works of Satan. It seems like these two thousand year periods are marked with significant religious events, the only promise yet to be fulfilled is Jesus second coming which will bring about the destruction of creation and the end of time. It's also when the resurrection and Judgment Day occurs and the unbelievers and Satan and his army of demons will be thrown into the lake of fire, and the redeemed will enter heaven for eternity.
And you know what? Two thousand years passing is upon us, are you ready? —Jim
Jesus our master and savior knows how to mold and shape each of his disciples into his image.
In Paul, James and John, and Peter we have men who had the spirit of the sons of thunder. Their thought processes were worldly and carnal and not on the things of God. Saul (Paul) delivered on his murderous threats, James and John seriously wanted to rain down fire on the Samaritans and incinerate them and were jealous over others calling on the name of the Lord besides them and Peter forcefully took Jesus aside and rebuked the Son of God for revealing that he was going to Jerusalem to be killed by the gentiles.
In each of these events, the Lord showed his wisdom in dealing with each of them, whether it was a sharp rebuke or blinding light he knew how to get through to them to redirect their thoughts and actions to do his will.
Examine their attitudes in these verses. Act 9:1, Mar 9:38, Mat 16:23, Luke 9:53-55. Their manner of spirit was worldly, thinking only from the human viewpoint, they could've easily been influenced by the evil one while walking according to the flesh (Eph 2:1-3; 6:10-13). That should make us stand up and take notice, they were with the Lord and were still carnal minded and/or influenced by the evil one.
Thankfully the one whom they called "Lord" is stronger than he who is in the world. Unfortunately, Judas Iscariot, who was very carnal minded, never changed spiritually and his faith and life was influenced and destroyed by Satan. We as humans have so many obstacles to overcome to be faithful to Jesus and be led by the Spirit, but God is faithful!
The greatest challenge to our faith is what baggage we carry around with us from our lives prior to becoming Christians. Also our own frailties and weaknesses and lack of biblical knowledge are hindrances too. It is only through prayer, reading and studying God's word, being a part of a body of believers, and keeping God's word at the forefront of our thoughts that can remedy this. We need to carry our cross daily as we go through our lives so as to influence our decisions and actions that we can be the clay that's set apart for noble purpose for the Master Potter to transform us into something special. If we will believe we'll be set free by his words and if we reject him we'll be judged by Jesus' words.
John 8:31-32, "So, Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.' "
John 12:48, "There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day."
Let us be ready. —Jim
Matthew chapter 25 has three parables that depict the Savior being away on a long journey, as He is right now. Upon His return, which will be His second coming, it shows how He deals with His followers, not those who don't believe and reject Him in this life, but His followers.
The first is the Ten Virgins. It shows two types of believers, wise and foolish.
(Hebrews 9:28 "so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.")
(Matthew 25:13 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.")
The second parable is the Talents, three are given talents acording to their abilities.
(Romans 12:6-8 "We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.")
(John 15:8 "By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.")
The final parable which we will go over in detail this coming Wednesday bible study, is called the Final Judgment, or the Sheep and the goats, and it may surprise you just who exactly are the goats.
After God created the heavens and the earth and all that was in them, He planted a garden in Eden and placed man there to tend to it. In the middle of the garden God planted two special trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He told man that he was free to eat from any of the trees except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were commanded not to eat from that tree or the punishment of death would come upon them.
Presented to mankind was a choice,
After time, the two innocent souls were confronted by that age old protagonist Satan, who through trickery and twisting the word of God beguiled Eve and the woman and the man ate of the forbidden fruit, breaking the only command they were given.
After God meted out judgment and punishment on them all, deferring man's death sentence till a latter time at the end of all time, a final judgment day, He instituted temporary systems of atonement using animal sacrifices. He also removed their access to the tree of life.
Because of the original couple's sin and condemnation, a death sentence was presented to all mankind, because all have sinned, all will die. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the only man to have led a sinless life which meant He was righteous in the sight of the law and by Him being willing to be crucified illegally made Him the perfect atoning sacrifice to take away man's sin. By having faith in Jesus Christ, believing that He is the Son of the Holy Living God of Heaven, and that God raised Him from the dead, we receive mercy and grace from that loving God and we have peace with Him.
Since Jesus death burial and resurrection, mankind is now faced with a new choice, believe in Jesus Christ as your personal savior and have future access to the tree of life, or reject the Savior and face eternal condemnation in the lake of fire.
Tree of Life references;
Gen.2:9, 3:22, 3:24, Rev.2:7, 11, 22:14
Soon we'll be studying the sixth and final elementary teaching; eternal judgment.
Immediately following the resurrection, judgment on mankind happens and the destruction of creation takes place. According to Peter's account, the heavens and the earth and everything in them will be burned up. The gospel gives us so many warnings of the judgment to come. Even as Jesus was casting out evil spirits, they knew who Jesus was, the Messiah, the Son of God! They actually gave testimony as to who He was! Listen to these testimonials.
"What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?"
When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and bowed down to him, and crying out with a loud voice, he said, "What have I to do with you, Jesus, you Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, don't torment me." and after that meeting all of the disciples were believers
Demons also came out of many, crying out, and saying, "You are the Christ, the Son of God!" Rebuking them, he didn't allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.
As we were going to prayer, a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. Following Paul and us, she cried out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us a way of salvation!"
The evil spirit answered, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?"
Those demons knew Jesus was the Son of God, that salvation was through Him, that there was coming a day of judgment and that they would be tormented for all eternity.
Brothers and sisters! With the belief and knowledge the bible gives us, let us not be out-evangelized by demons! Time may be short and hell is an awful horrible place, we need to tell others about Jesus, God is being patient with us, He doesn't want anyone to suffer this fate, and wants all to repent!
"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
As the hymn goes,
"Will your sheaves be many, will you garner any for the gathering at the harvest home?"
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