Religion

NEWLETTER BIBLE STUDIES

     Sun City Community Church puts out a Newsletter every two months.   For some time now Pastor Greg Merrill has been writing a short Bible Study for it.   We are listing on this page those studies by the titles in alphabetical order.   Those below without dates are yet to be published and sent out in the regular mail.  Those that have dates have already been mailed at the time of dating.   New studies that are added to this list will be inserted where they belong alphabetically.        Feel free to comment on Our Facebook Page


                                               ACCURACY OF 2 SAMUEL 15:7 IN THE KJV


    "And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the King, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the LORD, in Hebron."  The KJV follows the Masoretic text which says "forty years".  We should ask the question "forty years after what?"  Because many critics today don't know how to answer that question, and don't understand why the King James Version of the Bible and Masoretic text both have "forty years" in the narrative of 2Sa 15:7, they have assumed in was a mistake and have changed it to "four years."   They try to make this forty years relate more to Absalom, than understanding it has more to do with David.     These critics miss the significance of two key biblical concepts:  forty years, and anointing.  In the Bible, "forty" is the number of thoroughness or completeness with respect to trials or missions.   40 years of wilderness wanderings, 40 days of fasting by both Elijah and Jesus; Saul, David, and Solomon all ruling 40 years, are just a few examples.

   "Anointing" was intrinsically linked to the conferring of divine authority for prophets, priests, and kings.  With this in mind, "after forty years" in 2 Samuel 15:7 appears to mean after forty years had passed since David was anointed to receive kingly authority.  This passage deals with who was to have the authority to be king, David or Absalom.

People were also to learn that they were not to interfere with God's anointed.  Absalom says in 2 Samuel 15:4: "Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice."   Instead of God's choice of David, Absalom wanted to usurp God's authority, and be king.

    The Masoretic text that the KJV used, says in this verse "after forty years."  That doesn't mean it had to be exactly 40, but at least 40.  Remember, David had been anointed when he was still a boy, quite some time before actually becoming king, and also with this story involving Absalom.   This gives us a better understanding of why 2Sa 15:7 says "after 40 years" whereas the "after 4 years" that some modern Bibles give us tells us nothing of why those 4 years are mentioned.


A THOUSAND YEARS!


   Many Christians think they die and go to Heaven FOREVER!  The Bible doesn't teach that.  1Co 15:51-53 and 1Th 4:13-18 tell us how we will be raptured; Revelation chapters 4-19 speak of a seven year Tribulation Period; and then in Rev 20:1-4 it speaks of reigning with Christ here on earth for A THOUSAND YEARS!   Let's use the year 2020.  If the Rapture took place in that year then the 1,000 year reign would begin in 2027.  The devil would be bound until 3027 (Rev 20:2).  The Great White Throne judgment (Rev 20:11) would then take place thereabouts (3027), and then we would be with Christ in the New Heaven on New Earth (Rev 21:1) FOREVER!   Imagine that first 1,000 year reign from say 2027-3027.  That is a long time.   Go back 1,000 years from 2020 to 1,000 a.d.  From that year Christopher Columbus would still be almost 500 years in the future.  Advance forward from 1492 (Columbus), 284 years to 1776 when the USA declared independence from England.  It would still be about 244 years until the present in 2020.   492 years plus 284 years plus 244 years and we complete 1,000 years.  That is a lot of years to live.  Isa 65:20 speaks of "natural" people living very long lives in corruptible bodies during Christ's 1,000 year reign, just like people were living before the flood (Gen 5).   Adam lived to be 930 (Gen 5:5) and Methuselah live to be 969 (Gen 5:27).   Though there will be many people born during Christ's Millennial Kingdom of reigning on earth, those of us that die, later receive our resurrected and glorified bodies at the Rapture, and then after the 7 year Tribulation entered into the Millennial Kingdom will experience those 1,000 years in those CHANGED (1Co 15:51) bodies.  They will be incorruptible, not aging, decaying, or dying.   Though we will never become God or gods, we will be like God (1Jn 3:2).  To God, a 1,000 years is like a day, and a day is like a 1,000 years (2Pe 3:8).  TIME will not "drag" for us, neither will it "race" by.  Though it is easier to say "We are going to die and then go to live in Heaven forever.", let us understand what the Bible really says.


                  AMOUNT OF ETERNALLY LOST IN RELATION TO ETERNALLY SAVED


   Will more people be lost than saved forever?  It appears so.   Jesus said in Mt 7:13,14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”   If more are lost than saved, that would not mean God was wrong or failed.  All could be saved, but they choose not to trust Christ to be saved.   We will not eternally mourn those that were lost, but will eternally rejoice over those that were saved.

   It currently appears that man’s total history can be divided up into 7,000 years, from creation to man’s final judgment.  The first 2,000 years can be thought of as roughly the time from Adam until “Noah’s” flood.   The first person that was ever born, Cain, rejected God’s plan of reconciliation after he murdered his brother.   Some followed God, but it seems most in that time period did not, as only 8 people (1Pe 3:20) chose to take God’s way (the ark that was lifted up above the waters, as Jesus would be lifted up upon a cross).   The next 2,000 years, until Jesus’ time, God raised up and dealt with the Jewish Nation, who much of that time also rebelled against God.  Man then crucified Jesus, and most of the world has followed false religions (Mt 7:21-23) or atheism ever since, being the last 2,000 years.   Jesus will come again, seemingly very soon, to reign as King over the world for 1,000 years (Rev. 20:1-7), but man will be lead by Satan once again at the end of that 1,000 years to rebel against Him (Rev. 13:4).    

   Through all six of the dispensation time periods of man’s history (Innocence, Conscience, Human Government, Promise, Law, Grace, with a future seventh dispensation of the Millennial Kingdom still to come), the majority has chosen to rebel against God.  More people are living in this world than ever before, yet Christians are in the vast minority.  How fortunate Christians are to have come to be saved, rather than being like most of the rest of the people in the world who have chosen to go the other way.  Though from all this we would conclude that more people will be lost than saved, it would seem many souls would be saved during the 1,000 years of Christ's reigning visibly and bodily from Jerusalem in the future.  That possibly could prove that in Mt 7:14 Jesus was speaking about people in previous time periods, and not including multitudes that might be eternally saved during His millennial kingdom.  So the definitive answer to our original question found in the title of this study is still unknown.


                                                               BINDING SATAN?


   This study will not be a study on combating Satan, but on the expression "binding Satan", which is neither found in the Bible, or a sound doctrine.  There are certain Christians and churches that believe they have the power to BIND Satan?  They may cite Mt 18:18 where Jesus says "Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven."  The verse continues to say "and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  Satan isn't mentioned here because it is not speaking of binding Satan, but (maybe to your great surprise) is speaking of binding Christians, Christians that have committed a trespass, a fault against another Christian, have been confronted about it, and have remained unrepentant, and unreconciled to the Christian, as well as two or three witnesses, and the church, as we read the full context in verses 15-20.  1Ti 1:19,20 speaks of "such" unrepentant Christians when it says "…faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away…of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.  2Th 3:6 gives us direction regarding such as well when it says "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition (good doctrine regarding living in righteousness) which he received of us.  Verses 14,15 speak of how the church should distance themselves from the unrepentant Christian, but how we are still to hold them as a brother (family); with the desire that they repent and be brought back into the fellowship of the church.  "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.  Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."  This admonishment is to be with the goal of achieving the last part of Mt 18:18, the loosing of the brother, allowing him back into the fellowship of the church.  Ga 6:1 brings out the humble attitude we are to have as we seek their restoration to fellowship with the church; "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness (strength under control); considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.   Regarding "binding Satan", not even the archangel, Michael, sought to "bind" him, but simply said "The Lord rebuke thee." Jd 9; so let's not confuse church discipline of a Christian that is at "fault" with the false teaching of "binding Satan."


                                                            BLESS THE LORD


     Ps 134:1 says "…bless ye the LORD…".   Ps 34:1 says "I will bless the LORD…", but what does it mean to bless the Lord?  Stop reading for a minute and see if you can put the answer to that question into words.    Such phrases as "Praise the Lord", "Worship the Lord", and "Bless the Lord" can be often used in a church setting, but let's make sure we can explain these phrases in descriptive words so that we truly understand them, can communicate that understanding to others, and actually put these phrases into a daily, practical practice, and not just let these phrases become idle church talk.

    The famous blessing in Numbers 6:24 begins with "The LORD bless thee…" and then goes on to say various ways He can do that.  The elder says unto Gaius in 3 John 2 "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."  This is saying a blessing without actually using the word "bless", but gives a little clearer understanding.   In Ruth 2:4 the servants say to the rich land owner, Boaz, "…"The Lord bless thee."   They would probably mean that the Lord keep him financially prosperous, in good health, and content, looking favorably on them as well. Below is what is found in the dictionary:

bless |bles|    verb [ trans. ]

(of a priest) pronounce words in a religious rite, to confer or invoke divine favor upon; ask God to look favorably on : he blessed the dying man and anointed him.

• consecrate (something) by a religious rite, action, or spoken formula.

• (esp. in Christian Church services) call (God) holy; praise (God).

• ( bless someone with) (of God or some notional higher power) endow (someone) with a particular cherished thing or attribute : God has blessed us with free will.

• express or feel gratitude to; thank : she silently blessed the premonition which had made her pack her best dress.

• ( bless oneself) archaic make the Christian gesture of the sign of the cross : the poor parson, blessing himself, brought up the rear.

• used in expressions of surprise, endearment, gratitude, etc. : bless my soul, Alan, what are you doing? | Lenore, bless her heart, had done just that.

PHRASES

bless you! said to a person who has just sneezed. [ORIGIN: from the phrase (may) God bless you.]

ORIGIN Old English blēdsian, blētsian, based on blōd [blood] (i.e., originally perhaps [mark or consecrate with blood] ). The meaning was influenced by its being used to translate Latin benedicere ‘to praise, worship,’ and later by association with bliss .


How are we to bless the LORD?   Please Him by paying attention to Him, what He has made around you, what He is doing around you, and what He says to you in the Bible.  Please Him, not by ignoring Him, but by responding positively to Him in worship, praise, obedience, and service.  Please Him by declaring the various aspects of His goodness to Him and to others.  Challenge:

Write down on paper or computer what you are going to do today to "bless the LORD", and then do it.


                                                        CONSIDER THE OPPOSITE

   I have found it helpful at times to "consider the opposite" when studying a particular verse.   Such is the case with Isaiah 53:3.  "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him: he was despised, and we esteemed him not."  In this verse we see that Jesus was "despised." As I "consider the opposite" I can focus also on how Jesus is loved, adored, and worshipped by millions.   (As we consider opposites, these opposites are not contradictions, but two views of our same Lord.)  Isaiah says He was "rejected of men."   I can also focus on how Jesus was "received."  "He came unto his own, and his own received him not (rejected).  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God..." Jn 1:11-12.  Isaiah says he was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."  Heb 12:2 says "…who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross."  Next, Isaiah says "…and we HID as it were our faces from him."   Hebrews 12:2 also says "LOOKING unto Jesus", (not hiding our face from Him).  Jesus said "…and him that cometh to me (not hiding from Him) I will in no wise cast out."  This is the opposite of rejection.  From the Psalms we can see that we are to FACE the Lord with trust and joy, not hide from Him.   "I have set the LORD always before me.   As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness" Psalms 16:8 and 17:15.   Like in Isa 55:6, there are a number of verses in the Bible that tell us to "Seek the Lord."  Isaiah repeats that "he was despised" and we remember this was followed by "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief."    I also can REPEAT that we can focus on being joyful.  "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and AGAIN I say, Rejoice."  Phil 4:4.  Isaiah 53:3 ends with the phrase "and we esteemed him not."  When we "consider the opposite" we consider what it means to "esteem" someone, rather than to esteem them NOT.   "To esteem" means "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements, due regard for the feelings, wishes, and rights, of others."    Jesus is the second person of the Trinity of God, perfect in all His attributes, all- powerful, perfectly holy and loving, having created the universe, and having died on the cross to provide salvation to all that will receive Him.  Because of this, we should "DEEPLY ADMIRE" Him.  Regarding His "feelings and wishes" we should consider what the Bible reveals about them, how He feels and what His "will" is.   Regarding His "rights" Rev 5:12 says "…Worthy is the Lamb (Jesus) that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."  He has the right to, and is worthy of our total love, obedience, devotion and worship.

   So as we look at the negativity that was shown in crucifying Jesus, we can also focus on the great positivity, "considering the opposite" of it, and what gloriously came because of it, our eternal salvation in glory with God.   As you read the Bible, some time you might want to "consider the opposite" on certain verses and see if you better appreciate what God is saying, as we have done with Isaiah 53:3.


July/Aug 2018                         CONSIDER YOUR THOUGHTS  (Part 1 of 2)  


      As the original draft for this particular Bible Study in our church newsletter was way too long, I am going to break it up to be put into two newsletters, and trust that these will stand on their own, rather than all together as just one study.  As we live out the rest of our lives on earth, we should remember that we are in a continual, spiritual warfare, and that the battle is for the minds and souls of people.  In this battle, we that are already Christians, need to remember that there is still a battle between good and evil for our own attention, and for the thoughts of our minds.  It is our mind, and our will, that controls what we continue to think on, and what we do and say.   Dt 30:19 says "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing, and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:"  Just as the Israelites where given a choice between life and death, blessing and cursing, we can make our own choice about what we think upon.   Instead of letting the various medias of the world dominate our thoughts, let us meditate upon what God has communicated to us in His written Word, and thus may we think upon the things God would have us think upon, Phil 4:8.  

     Meditation has to do with "focused thinking" that takes conscious aim at a subject.   Eastern meditation has to do with one trying to "empty" their mind, with detaching one's self from the things around them, and grasping "nothing."   Unfortunately a lot of our university students today have "mastered" this kind of "non-thinking."  "Biblical" meditation is just the opposite.  Biblical meditation has to do with thinking about God's Word; with detaching from sin and the sinful philosophy of the world system, and grasping "God."    "Be still, and know that I am God:" Ps 46:10.  "My soul shall be satisfied…when I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches." Ps 63:5,6.  "I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways." Ps 119:15.   Josh 1:8 "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.  1Ti 4:15 "Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all."  Ps 119:99   "I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy testimonies (God's words) are my meditation."   In Mk 12:30 Jesus adds the word "mind" to His quote of Dt 6:5 when He says "and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."   When there are 58 verses in the Bible on meditation, let us not be negligent to give time to this contemplation upon God's written Word.


Sep/Oct 2018                          CONSIDER YOUR THOUGHTS  (Part 2 of 2)


       Ungodly thoughts will come into our minds from various sources, but we are to be on guard against them and "cast them down," not continue to think on them, but on thoughts that God would have us think.  We see categories of what God would have us think upon when we read in Phi 4:8 "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."   So when we have these ungodly thoughts, let us follow the admonition of 2Co 10:5.   "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

     Sometimes our thoughts have to do with how we think we compare to other Christians.   Ro 12:3 says "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith."

Phi 2:3 "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."  We are not to be among the "number" of people that compare themselves with others so as to think themselves better than them.  "For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves (speak well of themselves): but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." 2 Co 10:12.

So when we start thinking too highly of ourselves let us remember Pro 27:2.  "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips."

     God doesn't just speak to the nation of Israel, or to the church, or to favored individuals through history, or to those dedicated Christians we look up to; but God speaks to the entire population of the earth when He says in Jer 6:19 "Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people (wayward, ancient Israel), even the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not listened to my words, nor to my law, but rejected it."  See how important it is to live by God's Word.  God speaks to the entire world saying he will bring "evil" (judgment) upon those that ignore His Word.  So as we consider our own opinions of ourselves, and our thoughts in general, let's remember the old adage "Garbage in, garbage out."  Let us guard our minds against the garbage in the dumpsters of most TV programs, of many Internet websites, of many movies, books, and magazines, and of so many other areas that want to fill our minds with ungodliness, rather than godliness.  God will have us give an account one day, on the diet we let our minds feast upon, and how we have used our bodies and spirits in this world, Romans 14:12; 1 Co 6:19,20.  Let us live for His glory, think good thoughts, and one day give a "good" account.


                                                         COULD JESUS HAVE SINNED?

   Could Jesus have sinned?  No!   Jesus has always been God, and God can’t sin.   Jesus has never had a sinful nature, unlike all humans, except Adam and Eve.   Adam and Eve started out without a sinful nature, just like Jesus, except they weren’t God, while Jesus was.  No angel started out with a sinful nature.   Lucifer was holy, until he sinned.  But no angel was God either.   Both humans and angels were given free will to choose between right and wrong, good and evil, righteousness and sin.   There were both angels (about 1/3, Rev 12:4), and the first two humans that began without a sin nature, but chose to sin, “fell”, and their sin natures began.  

   But Matthew and Luke both tell us how the devil tempted Jesus.   How could he have actually been “tempted” if he could not sin?  Jesus said the devil had nothing in him, no sin nature to get his grips on or to get him to make the choice to sin (Jn 14:30).   Then what does it mean that the devil “tempted” him?    Did Jesus ever think about, contemplate, or was pulled toward sinning?  No.   He has always been God, pure righteousness, that has nothing in him that desires in any way to sin.   We can easily get the wrong idea from this English word “tempted” in our modern language.   But it was used centuries ago for the same idea that we have of being “tested.”   God allowed Jesus to be tested by the devil from without, but the God-man Jesus never had any inclination from within his pure heart to sin, like the pure-hearted angels that became demons, but had never been God.

    The story goes that a railroad company built a trestle across a deep gorge, but a town wasn’t brave enough to ride in it for fear of falling to their death if the trestle collapsed under the weight of the train.   The company had 100% faith in their trestle and knew it COULDN’T collapse, so they set up a public test; not to see if it would fail, but to prove that it wouldn’t fail.  They loaded the train with as much weight as they could, far more than what passenger weight could ever be.   They rain the train across the trestle to the other side, put the train in reverse and backed it up across again, and did this all day long, showing the people that the trestle didn’t even shake at all, it was so strongly built.   The same is true when the devil “tempted” Jesus.   It only showed that nothing could encourage him to disobey God, to sin; and that He was ideally suited to be our Savior.   We can have complete confidence in Him, and He is worthy of the highest praise.  Jesus asked his adversaries "Which of you convinceth me of sin? John 8:46.  "Who can show that I have ever sinned?", he was asking.  Heb 4:15 says he was in all points tempted like

as we are, yet without sin."   If 1Jn 3:9 speaks of Christians when it says "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."; how much more would it be applicable to Jesus?


                                                DID SATAN HAVE THE GOODS?


   In Mt 4:8, 9 and Lk 4:5, 6 Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, shows Jesus all their glory, and then tells Jesus “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.”   Did Satan actually have all this to give to Jesus, or was he lying?  If Satan were lying, wouldn’t Jesus, or Paul, or the Holy Spirit let us know this?  Though the Bible says that Satan is the father of lies (Jn 8:44), the Bible doesn’t tell us Satan was lying here.  On the other hand if Satan actually had the power to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world there would be no need for these spiritual leaders to say otherwise.

   Of course God is the ultimate ruler of the universe, and of this earth as well, but does He not allow man and Satan to rule it for a time to show what things become when God’s rule is rejected and theirs is followed?    When we look at this present chaotic earth, doesn’t it make sense to say it is this way because Satan is presently ruling the kingdoms of the world and all those that have rebelled (or been born into rebellion) against God.   Do not verses like Jn 8:32-36 show us that the unsaved are presently captives and slaves to sin in this present world?

   Dan 4:17 tells us that God gives the kingdoms of men to whomsoever He will.   In the beginning God gave headship over to Adam (Gen 1:28), but when Adam sinned Adam advocated this headship, through no desire of his own, to Satan.    Satan is referred to by Jesus as “the prince of this world” in Jn 14:30.   Satan is referred to as “the god of this world” by Paul (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) in Eph 2:2 and Col 4:4.  Eph 6:12 speaks of ranks of evil, spiritual rulers in this world.   If Satan was lying to Jesus, and Jesus knew He was lying, it seems unusual that Jesus would not point this out to him and us.   It is the natural thing to take a Biblical passage at face value, rather than think that what Satan was saying, and how Jesus didn’t call him on it, was actually Satan lying.    It only takes one lie to become a liar, and though Satan is called “the Father of lies” and we know that he is deceptive; the Bible nowhere says that EVERYTHING Satan says is a lie.   Satan said “For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone” Lk 4:11, 12.   None of that was a lie.  It was truly all written in Ps 91:11, 12.   That proves that the statement Christians occasionally hear that “Every time Satan speaks it is a lie.” is not true.  From this study, one should come to the realization that Satan really did have the power to give Jesus the kingdoms

of the world, but on Satanic terms, which Jesus refused.


                                    (A Word About the)  DOCTRINE OF ELECTION


     There is a doctrine/teaching that is called in the Bible “election”.    There are two ways this doctrine can be taught, but they can not both be correct.  Those that call themselves “Calvinists” would say that “election” teaches that God chose who was going to be saved and who wasn’t, and that He made that choice by some “mysterious sovereignty” of His that we don’t understand.   The other way to teach “election” is to say that “God told us in order to be saved we must repent, call on Him to be saved, and receive the Lord Jesus as our Savior, trusting that His death on the cross paid for our sins.”  This is our choice, by our own free will, and that if we make this choice to receive Jesus in this way, God “elects” to save us.  By His omniscience and foreknowledge, God knows in advance what choice we will make, but He doesn’t MAKE US choose to trust Christ.  People have these two opposite interpretations because of how they interpret the same verses differently.  It can be interpreted correctly or incorrectly.

   If one just takes the phrase of Jn 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” out of context, one can teach this doctrine as a Calvinist.  But if one looks at more of the context of this chapter one sees that Jesus is not choosing these particular people to be saved, because they are already saved.   He is choosing these saved people to bear much fruit.  In v. 2 He speaks of them as being “in Me.”   He speaks of them as “branches” being in Him the true vine.  That does not describe unsaved people to be chosen to become saved.  He also speaks of branches, being taken away, pruned, cast into a fire if they don’t bear fruit.   This is not speaking of unsaved people or saved people losing salvation.  It isn’t talking about the Christian’s salvation, but about their work of fruit bearing.  1Co 3:13 says “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire…”   “If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” v.15.   In v. 19 Jesus says “If you were of the world” (unsaved), the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world (not unsaved) but I chose you out of the world…”   He is not saying that while we were unsaved He chose us out of the world to be saved, but that while we were saved (out of the world) He chose us to bear fruit.   He wasn’t going to bear this fruit Himself all alone, but in and through us.     


                                                                                                            DONE AWAY


    1Co 13:10 is a controversial verse because of the word “perfect”, which in the original meant “complete”.  “But when that which is perfect is come, than that which is in part shall be done away.”  “That which is in part” is usually agreed to be the spiritual‘sign gifts’among the other spiritual gifts which are the subject of chapters 12-14.  The ‘sign gifts’ were the GIFTS OF knowledge, healings, miracles, prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

      Some believe “perfect” refers to either Jesus or His second coming.  Others believe “perfect” refers to the COMPLETION of the writing of the Bible.  There would have been a lot less discussion on this verse if it had been more clearly stated.  Even after the Bible was COMPLETED the word “Bible” itself never appears in it.  That probably has something to do with WHY it is not used in 1Co 10:13.  

     Also found in these three chapters on spiritual gifts is what is stated in 12:28.  “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”  In 13:10 we are told that (at least some of ) the spiritual gifts, that which is in part, shall be done away; “prophecies, they shall fail (cease); tongues, they shall cease; knowledge, it shall vanish away” (verse 8).  The question is WHEN?   One’s answer then depends on whether they think “perfect” refers to Jesus’ second coming, or to the completion of the writing of the Scriptures.  One either thinks these gifts are still in existence today, or that they have ceased, been done away.  Those that believe they have ceased are called cessationists.   If they have not ceased, where are the apostles, prophets, miracles, healings, and tongues in our church?  There is an obvious difference between knowledge and the gift of knowledge.  We obtain knowledge through going to schools, reading, and being taught in other ways as well.   The gift of knowledge was received from God immediately without any of that.  So though some gifts have been done away, what they accomplished in the past can still be accomplished in another way today.  God still can heal people and do miracles, but He does this usually through answers to our prayers, not through people that He has given those spiritual gifts, originally as credentials they were God’s spokesmen.  Much more can be said on this subject, but space does not permit.  Prove all things, hold fast that which is good in this study (1Th 5:21).  “Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” 2Ti 2:7.

                                          (Understanding) ECCLESIASTES 3:11

  

    "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." Ecc 3:11    Though I review this memory verse regularly, I still wasn't understanding it at times.  Modern versions of the Bible changing the word "world" to "eternity" were not helping me to understand it better either, so I took the time to pray and meditate on it, and came to understand it as written below.

   The first word of the verse, "He", is referring to God.   The phrase "in his time" refers to the "end" of time, seeing the completion of mankind's history in this present evil world, seeing "the big picture" that God sees, not just the minute part that we as individuals see of our own small lifetime.   In our lifetime we see bad things continuing in this world we live in throughout our entire lives.  We don't see them coming to an end.  We don't see, yet, with our physical eyes all evil removed and Jesus sitting on the throne of the new heaven and earth that Isa 65:17 and Rev 21:1 speak of.   In "the world" that Ecc 3:11 brings to my mind, is not "the world" spoken of in Jn 3:16, the people of the world that Jesus came to save, but that "present evil world" system that Gal 1:4 speaks of.   God doesn't love THAT evil world, for it is not the world that God created, but the EVIL world that came about because of the sin of Lucifer, Adam, and Eve.   Sinful, unregenerate man, the unsaved, do not look at GOD'S world with eyes of faith in Him and His written Word, but just with their physical eyes at this present evil world.  Opposite of the command in 1 John 2:15 to NOT love the world, this evil world so many love and cling to, is "set" in the heart of evil mankind, as our holy God has become separated from people because of their sin.  God, though, has planned from eternity and is working on making the way of reconciliation with God a reality in individual's hearts so that they might no longer be separated from God, but united with God.  Through the Bible, God has revealed to the "spiritual" man (1Co 2:14-16) the beauty God will bring to the end of man's story, so that we may understand God's work and plan from beginning to end.  As we look at Ecc 3:11 again, might we see it as God, in His time, will make every thing beautiful, and the unsaved natural man doesn't understand this because he is so absorbed with the things of the world that he doesn't see "the big picture" that God has revealed to us.


                                   EYE HATH NOT SEEN, (A fuller understanding of 2Co 2:9)                              


    2Co 2:9 has been cited often out of context, and then repeated in the same way by others out of context, until it is commonly misunderstood by the general body of many Christians.   It is a quote of Isaiah 64:4, which was originally written to the readers of the Old Testament in a time in which many things that would be REVEALED in the New Testament were still a mystery to them.  It says "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."  Of course this is true, but what is it speaking about?   Often this verse is cited and then we hear about Heaven; how that what is in Heaven is so great that it hasn't even entered into the heart of man what God has prepared (in Heaven) for them that love him.   That statement may be true, but to use this verse to say we do not know about the things in Heaven is not what 2Co 2:9 is speaking about.   Just the opposite of NOT KNOWING, the very next verse says "But God hath REVEALED them unto us by his Spirit:…"

   We actually do know, when we know this verse is speaking of things revealed in the new revelation of the New Testament.    The Holy Spirit inspired writers of the New Testament to write down "what eyes had not seen, ears had not heard, and things that had not entered into the heart of man" up until the time of the writing of the New Testament.  But this is not speaking of the things that are in Heaven.  These things that had NOT BEEN SEEN OR HEARD OR ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN are spoken of in v.7 as "a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:"  V. 8 says "Which none of the princes of this world knew: (prior to the writing of the NT)…"   They hadn't seen it or heard it, neither had it entered into their heart.  It was a mystery to them, but has been revealed to the readers of the New Testament.   In v.11 we are asked "what man KNOWETH?…”    It then states "the things of God knoweth no man, …"  This is referring to men that the Spirit of God did not reveal these things to prior to the writing of the NT.    But then v.11 goes on to say "but the Spirit of God", or the Spirit of God knows.  This is the same Spirit that v.10 says that God used to REVEAL them unto us (those writing the New Testament down for God, and those that would read it).  V.12 says that "we" have received this Spirit that we might KNOW.  V. 14 says "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:…neither can HE KNOW THEM, because they are spiritually discerned."  Christian, we are not "the natural man".   We are indwelt by the Spirit of God, Who speaks to us through the written Word of God, and has revealed to us in the New Testament what was previously hidden, a mystery, and unknown before the New Testament was written.   "God hath REVEALED them unto us by his Spirit", 2Co 2:10.


                              (Those boring)  GENEALOGIES AND BIBLICAL NAMES


 "Have you ever heard or thought that the genealogies of Jesus in the Bible are boring?  Well look at the meanings of all these names below and see an awesome revelation of a message to us from God in these names, and see if you still think they are boring."

Below left, is just a part of the list of 72 names between Adam and Jesus found in Matthew 1:13-16.

Below right, is a message in the revelation of the meanings of the list of names in 1 Chronicles 1:1-4


NAME            MEANING                                      NAME               MEANING

Abiud             My Father is glorious                  Adam                (Man, made in the image of God),

Eliakim            My God will raise up                  Sheth                     substituted (by)

Azor                   a helper,                                    Enosh                     frail man (and)

Zadok                the Just (One)                           Kenan                    lamented.

Akim                  will the Lord raise up!              Mahalaleel        The blessed God

Eliud              My God is my praise!                   Jered                      shall descend

Eleazar            God will help!                                       Henoch                       teaching

Matthan           May the gift of                                     Methuselah                 his death shall send

Jacob               Jacob, (the one who grasped the heel)  Lamech                      to the despairing and humble

Joseph                  increase (in greatness)!                     Noah                           consolation (and) rest.

Emmanuel       For God is with us,                                Shem                   

Jesus Christ         the Messiah and Savior of                 Ham  

                             those called out of (Babylon).            Japheth       (The message of the two sentences above

                                                                                                                   is given to the entire world, which came

                                                                                                                     out of the loins of  Shem, Ham, and

                                                                                                                         Japheth after the flood.)

You can find the rest of the names/meanings with this URL

                   http://1260d.com/bible-names-code-adam-jesus/


One last group of just three names, that often might be hurriedly read through by us, yet is fitting to close this little study with.

They are found in the very first verse of the Book of Zechariah, and then are repeated again in verse seven.  

They give a part of the lineage of Zechariah, and the meanings of their names when read as a sentence give us a little message.

       Zechariah      The LORD remembers,

       Berechiah            the LORD blesses,

       Iddo                     at the appointed time!


The LORD remembers us that have been reading His written Word, the Bible (as well as this Bible Study in this newsletter), and the LORD blesses us with the messages in the meanings of these names, and the LORD does it at the appointed time, when we read and receive (Acts 17:11; 1 Th 2:13) and appreciate what has communicated to us!


                                                              GOD LOVES US


    God loves us.  Yes, you know that, but can you find where the Bible tells us that?  Perhaps John 3:16 comes to mind.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but has everlasting life."  Aside from that, do any other verses come to mind?  How about those same numbers, but in First John.  "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." 1Jn 3:16.  Possibly you're familiar with Ga 2:20, but usually don't focus on the second to the last phrase of this verse.  "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, WHO LOVED ME, and gave himself for me."  We might also overlook the statement of God's love for us in John 17:23.  "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me."  God was very clear to declare His love to the nation of Israel when he had Malachi write in the very second verse "I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us?"  Do you ever question God's love for you like that?  Looking at First John again we see in 1Jn 4:11 "Beloved, if God so loved us (as v. 10 also says), we ought also to love one another."  Verse 9 shows how God loved us when it says "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."  Does v. 16 describe you when it says "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us."?  1Jn 3:1 calls our attention to God's love for us when it says "BEHOLD, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God:".  The next verse again begins by calling us "Beloved", not just by the writer, John, but by the Author, God.  "Beloved, now are we the sons of God,..." "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath made us alive together with Christ," Eph 2:4,5.  Eph 5:2 tells us "And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,…"   As Christians, we are members of Christ's Church, and in Eph 5:25 it says "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it."  Yes, the Bible is rightly called "God's love letter to us" because there is so much in it that demonstrates and declares His love for us.  Let us bask in that love, and obey, serve, and worship God out of a love for Him He so dearly deserves.

    

                                                                      GOD, NOT US

    

    As we go through this Bible study, keep in mind that God has His part in how we are to live our lives, but we also have our part.   Our part includes making our own choices whether we are going to believe God or not; whether we are going to receive Christ as Savior and Lord and be saved or not, whether we are going to follow Him through our lives in obedience or not, whether we are going to persevere in this or not, whether we are going to keep reading our Bibles and praying or not.   On the other hand let us realize that we cannot save ourselves (Eph 2:8), and without Christ we cannot do anything, and especially anything that is spiritually prosperous and of value (Jn 15:5).

   “Know ye that the LORD he is God: IT IS HE THAT HATH MADE US, AND NOT WE OURSELVES;…"  Our very existence is because of God, not just because our parents wanted to bring us into this world, and we certainly had no desire one way or the other in whether we would be conceived or not, or born alive or not.  Not only has God made us, but by Him we continue to consist (exist, and stay in one piece), Col 1:17.

   2Co 5:18 contains these words: "and all things ARE OF GOD, who hath reconciled us to himself BY JESUS CHRIST,…"   Though we are Christians, one might think because of our sin, we should be alienated from God; but because of Christ’s work (and our having submitted to that work in receiving Christ as Savior) we have been received back into God’s fellowship.   That is one of the aspects of being "saved."

   "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that NOT OF YOURSELVES; it is the GIFT OF GOD: not of works" Eph 2:8,9.   Choosing to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord, is not work, or “a work.”  It is submission of our will to allow Jesus Christ to work on our behalf to save us.  It is similar to when a person gives permission to a doctor to perform heart surgery on them.   The patient doesn't do any of the work during this surgery, but must give the doctor written permission beforehand to do the work, and then the doctor (and their medical team) does all the work while the patient is "completely under" an anesthetic.


   "FOR IT IS GOD which worketh in you both to will and TO DO of HIS good pleasure."   Phil 2:13.  Having once saved us, God continues to work in us to conform us into the people that will think and live as He would have us to live.  "NOT that WE are sufficient OF OURSELVES to think anything as OF OURSELVES; but our sufficiency IS OF GOD;"   2Co 3:5.   We cannot save our selves, neither can we be what God wants us to be by our own power.   But it is not by the power of God alone either.   It is a mutual experience of our willfully and voluntarily submitting ourselves to God, and after we do this, of God then continuing His work in us.  May we daily, willfully submit ourselves to doing what God would have us do in walking with Him and serving Him, and leave what only He can do in us and through us to Him.  To God be the glory.     


                                                          GOING FISHING WITH JESUS


   Mark 1:17 says "And Jesus said unto them, follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men."   Do we have to go "door to door"?  No.    Do we have to speak to people "face to face"? No.   Do we have to know the Bible real well?  No.   Do we have to leave our home?  No.  Does it have to be at a set time?  No.  Do we have to have a human partner?  No.  This might not be the best or the most elaborate way, but God can use it.   If you know how to use the Internet, prepare to "cut and paste" or just "copy" the following two URLs.


[MEDIA=youtube]NLDrNCVW9Vc[/MEDIA]

http://www.suncitycommunitychurch.com/discipleship-training.html

Go on Facebook and search for the name of any person.  Open up their page and click on "Message", then "paste" the two URL's in their message box, and press "enter".

Then click on "friends" on their page.  If it says "No friends to show."  Then go to "search" again and type in any name and do what you just did before.   If the person has a number of friends listed, click on one and "message" them the same URLs by hitting "paste".

   Just keep doing this and you will be fishing with Jesus, sending a video that presents the gospel with the first URL, and sending them discipleship training material with the second URL.   Whether they are receptive to these or not is between them and God.  Our part in this fishing is just to get the message before them, just as a fisherman gets the bait before the fish.   It is then up to the fish whether he takes it or not.  You probably won't know the outcome till you arrive in Heaven, so just leave the outcome to Jesus (Isa 55:10-11).  If we don't send these URLs (or fish for souls in some other way) we may never catch anything, but if we do send them who knows how many souls will be caught by Jesus, but at least we will have gone fishing with Him, and that is what He has asked us to do.   If you send "too many" people the URL's, you may get a "warning" from Facebook to "slow it down", so don't overdo it.  God bless the fishing.


                                                              GRASSHOPPERS, Isa 40:22


   In late July of 2019, harmless grasshoppers invaded Las Vegas.  Isa 40:22 says “It is he (God) that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as GRASSHOPPERS.”     As I considered the number of grasshoppers in my own Las Vegas backyard, I noticed some similarities between these insects and how the human inhabitants of this world really are as grasshoppers.   Not only are they numerous and can be found alone or in large crowds, they also are not very good survivalists.   At times I would see a grasshopper fly into my swimming pool.  I have no pleasure in the death of grasshoppers (Eze 18:32), so on several occasions I would reach in my hand and lift out a grasshopper to save it.  Almost immediately I would feel the relatively great strength it had in its legs as it would quickly jump out of the hand that just saved it from drowning.  I wouldn’t think grasshoppers have a very long lifetime expectancy.   People in the world really don’t live that long either, and are doomed to drowning in this wicked world of sin if they don’t call on the Lord to save them; and yet when the Lord attempts to save them they usually leap as far away from Him as possible.   Half the time these grasshoppers would leap out of my hand right back into the water, just like sinners that turn away from God when they have opportunities to receive Jesus as Savior.   I would then give them another chance to be saved and scooped them out again.   Some would jump back in the water, others would allow me to carry them to safety, to bask in the warmth of where I set them.   They don’t seem to navigate very well (like many humans meandering through this life), and not only find themselves landing in swimming pools that will kill them, but often fly right into posts supporting covers over patios.  Ouch.  How many dead grasshoppers I found lying about?  Grasshoppers are not given a Bible to read, nor do they have a benevolent Holy Spirit to woo them into being saved and adopted into God’s family.  They have no consciousness of God at all.  With all God does for us, let us not live life like the grasshopper, but let us seek and receive what God offers us.  


                                                              HELL or the GRAVE


     Our English Bibles use the terms “grave,” “pit,” “hell,” and “lowest hell,” but they do not all refer to the grave we dig for a dead body.  The founder of the modern Jehovah Witnesses, Charles Taze Russell,  came across a verse in the King James Version of the Bible where the word for "grave" was written as “hell.”   Seeing he didn’t like the doctrine of “Hell” (a place of torment, holding the spirits of people that had died without having received and obeyed God's way of having their sins paid for), he used this verse as an excuse to say Hell didn’t really exist at all, and said what was referred to as “hell” in the Bible was actually just “the grave.”

    Ps 16:10 in the KJV says "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."  A modern version renders this "For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay."  It is our soul or spirit that goes to Sheol/Hell in the heart/center of planet Earth, while our bodies decay in graves on the surface of the earth.

       The commentary of Jamieson/Faucett/Brown is helpful in this study of the phrase "wilt not leave my soul in hell" where it reads

       "—abandon to the power of (Job 39:14; Ps 49:10). Hell as (Ge 42:38; Ps 6:5; Jon 2:2) the state or region of death, and so frequently—or the grave itself  

     (Job 14:13; 17:13; Ec 9:10, &c.). So the Greek Hades (compare Ac 2:27, 31). The context alone can settle whether the state mentioned is one of suffering

      and place of the damned (compare Ps 9:17; Pr 5:5; 7:27)."

    In Mark 9:43-50 we see Jesus speaking of "hell":  "into the fire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not,"  in other words, the torment is not put out (quenched), and the dead people are not annihilated (as some assume some decaying or burning process comes to an end when there is no more person existing because they have been totally devoured by "their worm).  No, hell is a holding place of torment, until Hell is needed no more because all of its occupants will be led from it to the Great White Throne of Rev 20:11, be judged, and then be cast into The Lake of Fire for eternity, Rev. 20:14-15.  In that passage we see death and hell being cast into this lake of fire, meaning their will be no more dying, and no more being held in Hell, a TEMPORARY place of torment, for their judgment will have then been taken place and torment in the lake of fire will be eternal.  

                                                  

                                               HELP IN STUDYING YOUR BIBLE                                                      


   Before the Internet, many people were very dependent upon their pastor to get their Bible questions answered.   Pastors had gone to Bible College, Seminary, and if older, had years of studying the Bible themselves.   Over these years they would have purchased and collected many books to have for studying the Bible and religious subjects.   These would be housed in their own “libraries” at home and at their church office.   Often, pastors and other Christian "leaders" would recommend new Christians to buy a "study" Bible, a good commentary, and a Bible dictionary.   Now that we have the Internet, all these books can be found on line for free.   They are not limited to a pastor’s home or church building, or even to hard copy books we purchase.  Access to all those books and much more can be carried in one’s pocket or purse, if they have a smart phone.  Laptop computers and thumb-drives also allow one to transport information anywhere you are, and of course there is the desktop computer, if it has access to the Internet, as well.  

   Though most pastors still enjoy people asking them Bible questions, one can simply get on the Internet, use Google, Bing, or some other search engine, type in their question or desired subject, and get much information in return; text, pictures, graphs, charts, maps, and even videos.   Though there are many sites one can go to for help in Bible Study, just by going to one site (The Bible Hub), one has access to an enormous “library” of Bible information.  This site  has it’s own search engine to write your questions in, and gives one a selection of 19 Bible versions and allows one to quickly select the book, chapter, and verse one wants to study.  After that, one can quickly view and compare it in version after version.   At the same time one has a number of Bible commentaries to view on that verse.  There are word studies, Bible analysis, dictionaries, devotionals, and even sermons that can be viewed.   After using all these resources to do your own study, one can seemingly be transformed into an “expert” in the field of study they have  completed.    To visit the Bible Hub use the following URL.  https://biblehub.com/   Enjoy!


Jan/Feb 2019                   HOW IS OUR SPIRIT CLOTHED AFTER DEATH?


     How is our spirit clothed after death?  2 Corinthians 5:1 gives us the answer in the phrase "a building of God."  This is not a building made or given to us by God.

This house is God Himself.  God is not going to give us a house or a mansion or a similar "dwelling place" to live in.   He is going to have us live inside Himself.  This is not a house made up of wood or stucco.   It is made up of God.   The building is God Himself.  We will be housed in God.  Let's look at the verse and then the words that make up the verse.

    "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

   "Earthly" means it is located on earth, not that it is made 'of' earth.   This earthly "house," is a physical place of abode, a place we live in and have our home.

     Before it speaks of our future house after our death, it speaks of our earthly house, our human, physical body.

   "Of," of this tabernacle, made up of, what it is made of; blood, bones, muscles, etc., etc.   Some houses are made of wood, stone, or some other material things.       

   "This tabernacle" (body) is like a tent, a temporary abode of our spirit.  People usually camp in tents, but don't permanently live in them.  This tabernacle is the corruptible, mortal human body we live in temporarily until our spirit leaves it at death.  

   "Dissolved" speaks of the processes our dead bodies go through at cremation, or under the sea, or in a casket over time.  

   "Building of" what the building is made of; not wood or stone, but God Himself.  It is not a building made of wood, but a building "of God," not made by God, but the building is God.  

    "An house" refers to God Himself.   It (He) is "not made."    Isaiah 43:10b tells us that "God" was not made.

    "With hands"   Earthly, physical, human homes, are made by human hands, but not God.

     "Eternal in the heavens."   This is not referring to empty houses having existed forever in the past, or houses that Jesus has been working on, preparing for saints since his resurrection and ascension.   These are not houses waiting for people on earth to die and have their spirits come and live in them.  No!  It is referring to God Himself, eternal in past and future.  (See also Psalms 27:4.)                                                                                                                          

    Verse 2 speaks of desiring to be clothed with our "house from heaven".  Clothed with God.  

Will we be in a heavenly mansion distinct from God, and not God himself?  No.  We will be in a "house" that is God?  Do other verses speak about being "in God"?    See Jn 6:56; 14:20; 15:5; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:1; Eph 1:1,4-7; Phi 1:1; Col 1:2; 2:7,10.  When Jesus says "In my Father's house are many 'dwelling places/mansions', He is not speaking specifically of Heaven being our house, but of God Himself (in Heaven) being our house, Jn 14:2.  In the same verse Jesus says He is going to prepare a place for us.   He doesn't say He is going to Heaven and preparing a mansion, a place with walls and furniture.  No.  He is going to the cross to prepare the way by dying and providing the payment for our sins.  He is not preparing the place we will live in, which is God Himself, but preparing the way for us to be accepted by God through our sins being paid for.   There are "many dwelling places" (Jesus says), for there is space for many people to live, all in God.  God wants to be so close to us that He ordained that He would be in us and we in Him.  This is how Jn 14:10,11 can say that God the Father and God the Son live in each other.  Ps 71:3a says "Be thou (God Himself) my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort:..."  Ps 90:1 "LORD, thou (God Himself) hast been our dwelling place..."

      There are a number of verses that may not be teaching of this EXACT idea of literally living in God once we no longer are living in our physical body, but give us an idea that we live and will live IN God     1 Co 1:30.  "But of him are ye in (inside) Christ Jesus.   Ro 13:14, "but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ."  Now having looked at 2Co 5:1 in this way, look at Psalms 91:1-2 and see if it seems more meaningful.   Read your Bible again and see if other verses don't start to jump out at you.


Mar/Apr  2018                                               INSPIRATION


                                                               By Pastor Greg Merrill


                     PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE FROM THE POINT OF A SPIRITUAL SOLDIER


I woke up this morning thinking along a particular line, so I wrote it down in the back of my Bible, and thought I would also share it with others.


Live the Christian life and read the Bible, not just to endure the troubles in this life, not just to get by, not just to obtain blessings in this life and for eternity, but to keep in mind, since the time of the Garden of Eden, Man lives in the midst of a war between God and Satan, Good and Evil, and I am not just a stranger and a pilgrim upon this earth, but I am to be a soldier in the Lord’s army.  I am not here to pursue my own pleasure and welfare; I am here to battle for righteousness; I am here to fight against evil; I am here to rescue spiritual P.O.W.s, to support the Lord’s other soldiers and help those that are wounded.  I must continue training to stay spiritually fit for battle, and help others train as well.  I am to keep this in mind as I yearly read through the Bible and as I daily live on.       


May/Jun 2018                                           I'VE GOT A SECRET   


    There once was a TV show called "I've Got a Secret".  A guest would whisper an interesting fact/secret about themselves to the host of the show, and then a panel of four would ask questions and try to guess what the secret was.

    The writer of the Biblical Book of Zephaniah also "had a secret."   It was the meaning of his name, which meant "The Lord is my Secret".  But Zephaniah is not the only one with a secret, for all Christians have the LORD as well, and He should be the secret to why we have peace in the midst of a world of turmoil.

    A well known song of the past says    

                            "It is no secret what God can do.   What He's done for others He'll do for you.

                              With arms wide open, He'll pardon you.  It is no secret what God can do."  

    According to Philippians 4:6-8 we are not to be worrying about anything, but thankfully bringing our troubles to God, and resting in the peace that He will provide because of our trust in Him.  Some have sought for security in personal relationships, in getting a good job, and in building up finances, among other things, but the Christian's security is to be in the LORD.

"He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."    Ps 91:1.

Being under the shadow of the Almighty, though I walk through the valley of (even) the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, Ps 23:6.

    Finally, the Bible says  "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God…" Dt 29:29,

       but Ps 25:18 also says "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant."     

Because the unbelieving people of the world do not generally seek God or read His Word, God's plans for them remains a secret to them;  but God is willing to share that secret with all who will trust in Him.  The Lord would have people seek and discover the wonderful "secrets" that are revealed in His written Word.   May we fully utilize those "secrets" of God we have discovered already, seek to discover and utilize more, and share these wonderful blessings from God with others as well, for these are not secrets meant to be kept secret, but to share.


                                                             JERUSALEM


     Tony Bennett loved San Francisco;  Frank Sinatra New York, New York; Glen Campbell Galveston; Johnny Cash Jackson Mississippi; at least they did in song.  They probably loved a number of cities, but no one has ever had a love for a city like God's love for Jerusalem.  It is the capitol city of the nation He raised to represent Him on earth, Israel.  It is where Jesus not only would die, but rise from the dead in glorious victory.  It is the city from where Jesus will one day rule the Earth for 1,000 years and on into eternity.

    Jerusalem occurs 660 times in the Old Testament and the synonym Zion occurs 158 times. Jerusalem occurs 146 times in the New Testament and Zion occurs 7 times, for a total mention by these names of 971 times, not counting other names it is known by such as Ariel, and "The city of David."  

    Jerusalem has come under attack more than any other city in history, just like the name of God and Jesus have.  We can read of unfamiliar names in Ezra 4:8 that speak of enemies' desires against Jerusalem:  "Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king (of Media Persia…as did Tatnai, the governor, and Shetharboznai sent a letter to his successor, Darius, another king of Media-Persia, Ezr 5:6)."

    Lk 21:24 prophesied how Jerusalem would fall (in A.D. 70) and what would become of it for some 2,000 years:  "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations; and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."  The times of the Gentiles still exists today.

Men like the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and former President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, continued to say in modern history what Ps 83:4 spoke of thousands of years ago:  "They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance."

    Though men and women have been viciously attacking Israel and Jerusalem through the centuries, God will one day actually gather world armies against Jerusalem for Him to defeat them personally, showing the world His true loyalty and care for Jerusalem and Israel.   Zec 12:2,3 "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.  And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it."  Zec 14:12 "And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth."

    God blesses Jerusalem:    Zec 12:10a "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications:"

    God calls for us to pray for Jerusalem:   Ps 122:6  "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee (Jerusalem)."

    God will replace the Jerusalem that men have raised up in what we know of in past and present history with a New Jerusalem that will descend from Heaven:

     Rev 21: "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."

Today in the USA government there are people that know and believe these scriptures, and people that don't know or believe them.  You can tell who is who by whether they support Israel or not.   The least we as Christians can do is have an interest in Jerusalem, and to pray for this city and it's people.  In the end, Jerusalem wins!


                                                        JESUS GETS A PROMOTION


    I was amazed to find that Wuest in his Greek Word Studies of the New Testament doesn't even address 1Pe 3:22.   I guess he thought the words were clear enough that THEY didn't need any further explanation.  It is a verse I have spent little time on in the past, but oh how glorious it has just become to me.  I have added it to my memory verses.  

    Try to first imagine when Jesus was walking the earth in His flesh, nothing outstanding about His appearance that would draw attention to Him; no halo, no typical look or dress that is depicted in the pictures artists have drawn of him.  In those days there was no famous "look" about Him that would make Him easy to recognize on sight by those seeking to arrest Him.  After walking the dusty trails of Galilee, He looks tired.  His feet need washing, and He could use some sweet smelling perfume, if you know what I mean.  Imagine those in His life that are not impressed with Him.  Even as a baby, Herod the Great wants to kill Him.  At twelve years old, even Mary and Joseph lose sight of Him.  As an adult, Herod Antipas, soldiers, and priests mock Him, spit upon Him, and pluck out His beard (Isa 50:6).  Pilate cries "Behold the man", as if that was all He was.  Even eleven out of twelve disciples were slow to point out who He really was.  Peter had to be give the words by God the Father to say "Thou art the Christ!"   He is despised and rejected of men, not recognized for who He was.  Then we read 1Pe 3:22.  "Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him."  No wonder He said in His prayer the night before the crucifixion "Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me:…", Jn 17:24.  People that have come into some kind of greatness upon earth have made famous the line "If they could see me now!", referring to how they have been promoted in life, or climbed "the corporate ladder".  No one has gone from such lows to such highs as Jesus; from being mocked, scourged, crucified, and forsaken by God and men, to ascending into Heaven, attaining all the authority and power of what it is to be God; all in Heaven, including angels, authorities, and powers being made subject unto Him.  Jesus didn't just get "A" promotion, He got "THE" promotion!  There never has or will be any greater promotion than that.   So many in His life on Earth looked blankly at Him at times with no conscious or recognition of all that He was.  What about us?  Do we get a weakness in our knees and in our hearts that moves us to humbly fall before Him in utter worship?


                                                            LEAVING JESUS


    After we spend time in our daily devotion, after we spend time in prayer, after we spend Sunday morning in church, do we just seemingly leave Jesus behind?  For a time are we not similar to those Christians Paul wrote to in Galatia, though we may not be turning to "another gospel", but are still distracted by the things of the world?  "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:" Ga 1:6.  Consider the following persons in the Bible that, at least for a time, left Jesus behind.


   Let's start with a look at many of His disciples in Jn 6:66.  "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."  In Jn 8:9 we read the following of those His words convicted.  "And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst."


While Jesus was on the cross, for a time, Mt 27:46 tells us that God the Father left Him.  "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Even Satan is said to have departed from Him in Lk 4:13.  "And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season."  (Of course that's a good thing.)


In 2Th 2:3 it speaks of how there will be a "falling away", an apostasy, a forsaking of Christ and the basic tenets of the faith when it says "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;"

Don't be mislead to think that Heb 6:4-6 teaches that anyone can lose their salvation, for this passage is only speaking of people that had been exposed to the things of God (including Jesus) and then chose to leave them all behind.  "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

    Let us join with the Psalmist who said in Ps 18:21 "For I have kept the ways of the LORD, and have not wickedly departed from my God."  See also 2Sa 22:22.  



                                                                    LUCIFER


      When you hear the name "Lucifer", who comes to your mind?  Some have probably named a pet or horse this, but most people know this is the name of the Devil, Satan.  Of course they may learn that the name refers to the Devil from the movies, or from TV, or perhaps in Sunday School or Church.  This name has been used in paperback novels and in other literature as well.  But many Christians will never learn this or read of this name in the modern Bibles they have.  Some of them have this name, but many have chosen to leave this name out.  Even the old King James Version of the Bible only uses this name one time.  It is found in Isaiah 14:12 where, like Ezekiel 28:11-19, it records the first sin, which brought the fall of Lucifer.  Lucifer (the light bearer) now would be called "Satan" (the adversary).     Is this just coincidence, or did Satan himself have some influence in modern translators choosing to leave the name "Lucifer" out of some of their Bibles.   Satan doesn't like to draw the attention of Christians to himself, because Christians are indwelt by the God Satan dispises, the God that empowers them and exposes in the Bible how Satan can be defeated daily, and how Satan will eventually be cast into The Lake of Fire where he will be tormented day and night forever and ever, Rev 20:10.  You see where the name of "Lucifer" is used extensively is in places where Christians should not be spending there time; trashy movies, trashy books, and other ungodly media.

    There is nothing wrong with the names of Judas, Ebenezer, Benedict and Adolph, unless you connect them or associate them to Judas Iscariot, Ebenezer Scrooge, Benedict Arnold, and Adolph Hitler.  "Lucifer" is a beautiful name meaning "light bearer", but since his great sin of pride led to his great fall from God's presence and approval, the name "Lucifer" now is associated with the most evil being that will ever exist.   The same Bible version that omits the name "Lucifer" also changes the recording of what happens to the Antichrist and the False Prophet that make up the unholy, evil trinity along with Satan in the few years before Jesus returns visibly to rule and reign on the Earth for a thousand years (Rev 20:10) .   For hundreds of years people knew the Scriptures said that at the end of the thousand years Satan would be cast into The Lake of Fire where the Antichrist and False Prophet "are", (having been cast into it a thousand years prior at the beginning of Jesus' Millennial Kingdom.   From this modern version one would could easily misinterpret that when these two had been caste into this lake of fire they were totally burned up out of existence, totally annihilated.   Seeing unbelievers will also be caste into the lake of fire, it could wrongfully be assumed that they too would be annihilated.  Such a thing would be untrue, and unjust, and also lead many to remain in their selfish lifestyles rather than turn their lives over to the godly leading of Christ.    The men that wrote the original Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek were so inspired (2Ti 3:16) by God and led of Him, that when they wrote them they came out exactly as God intended, as He would have them be, and not as men might want them to teach, and with no mistakes or errors.  Truly the original manuscripts were the very Word of God, not of men (2Th 2:13).


                                                           (The)  KINGDOM OF GOD


    Was "Pope" Peter the First One in the Kingdom of God?   The Old Testament alludes to the "Kingship of God" in 1Ch 29:11  "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou are exalted as head above all.   This was written long before Peter's time, so Peter wasn't the first one to enter into THIS kingdom.  In fact Andrew had come to Jesus before Peter, as Andrew brought Peter to Jesus (Jn 1:40-42).

    The kingdom of God takes in consideration of all that is under God's domain, and various aspects of this kingdom exist in various time periods, such as before Christ's first coming, during His earthly ministry, after His ascension, and after His second coming.  The ancient Jews looked forward to a visible kingdom when the Messiah would come and reign on earth.  Some say the kingdom has already been instituted, while others say it won't be instituted until Jesus reigns.   Some speak of a "seed stage" of the kingdom as being now, and a "mature stage" when Christ reigns.  Others, in referring to the different aspects of when the kingdom is manifested use the term "already and not yet" when thinking of it's early, invisible stages coming before its still future more visible stage.  Because of the various theological positions people take, there is no perfect unity among religious leaders on this subject.   Psalm 45 declares God as King, and psalms 96-99 present Him as reigning.  When some Christians speak of "world evangelization" they use the term "kingdom of God".  

     Regarding all that is said above and more, there have been a number of Christian leaders that have come up with various teachings on "The Kingdom of God" which deal with these various ideas of the kingdom.  In Psalm 2:6 and Psalm 24:7 both prophesy of Jesus being king.   On the morning He was crucified, Jesus discussed with Pilate the subject of Him being King and having a kingdom not of this world, John 18:33-37.   Jesus holds the positions of Prophet (DT 18:18), Priest (Heb 4:14), and King (Rev 19:16).  In whatever understanding we have of "The Kingdom of God", let us submit to Him, and honor Him well in the positions he holds.


                                           NAME ENDINGS IN THE BIBLE            


    Ever notice how many names in the Bible end with "ah" (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Elijah)?     In Hebrew the “-ah” suffix may connote the feminine form.  For instance one has “Sar” (meaning “lord, prince”) and “Sarah” (meaning “lady, princess.”) There is also the name “Yah” (or “Yahu”) meaning “God”. This may be added to the end of names like Isaiah, meaning “God Saves;” and Nehemiyah (Nehemiah) meaning “God Comforts.

    In most of these cases (except Sarah) you are seeing that these names have a shortened version of the name of God in them. In English, this is often spelled as “iah”, but it might be more accurate to spell as “yah”.    Notice the "ah" ending in Ps 83:18 with the name "JEHOVAH", and in Ps 68:4 with the name "Jah". Names we are familiar with in English, originally had different endings with "ah" or "ahu":  Isaiah (originally Yeshayahu), Jeremiah (originally Yermiyahu), Elijah (originally Eliyahu), Josiah (originally Yoshiyahu), Nehemiah (originally Nehemiyah), Azariah (originally Azariyah).  Also consider a Prime Minister of Israel's name, Netanyahu.   So the meaning of all of the names above deal with "God."   Also consider names ending with "el", such as Ezekiel, Michael, and Daniel.  El, as in Elohiym, is made up of two letters: Aleph, and Lamed.  "El", like "ah", also refers to God.

Though they are not tied to the name of "God", there are a lot of names ending with "us":  This is the structure of Latin.  Timotheus, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus, Quartus, all found inRo 16:21-23, associated with the Latin city of Rome.   Typically “-us” is nominative masculine singular in the 2nd declension, so often male names or last names end in “-us”.  Not all of them do but it’s  the way Latin works.  Girls often took one of the names of their father, cut of the “-us” and added an “a”. For example, Julius Caesar’s daughter’s name was Julia.  We also see this with the names "Paul and Paula", "Alex and Alexa."  The same is done in Spanish: "Juan" and "Juana", "Gabriel" and "Gabriela", "Angel" and "Angela".  In Spanish we find a lot of names that end with "o", showing that it is a male name:  Ernesto, Gregorio, Roberto.  The English version of these is easily recognizable; Ernest, Gregory, Robert.

   So the next time you read through a list of names in the Bible, pay attention to the endings of those names.  There is meanings in names of the Bible, and God wants us to learn from meanings, if you catch my meaning.

                                                                 NEW MAN RENEWED                         

     "…ye have put off the old man…and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.:"  Col 3:9,10.

   When we are born physically we only have the old nature, the fallen sinful nature.  When we receive Christ as Savior and are born again we also receive a "new nature" at the exact same time, and thus have then two natures, the old and the new.  These are called the old and new man in this passage.  The "renewing" of the new man is an ongoing process throughout the time of first becoming a Christian until we physically die.  It could be called "ongoing, practical sanctification."   The moment we are saved, we receive the new nature, which is positionally sanctified, set apart from sin.  That position never changes, but practically speaking we are not always set apart from sin, because as long as we have the old nature we will continue to sin from time to time.

   Though positionally we are always sanctified (set apart from sin), practically we need to be constantly being "renewed", being brought back to a practical position of being set apart from sin that matches our positional sanctification of being set apart from sin.  "Renewing" can start with applying 1Jn 1:9 ("If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.") and then it is more fully "renewed in knowledge" as Col 3:10 says.   The "knowledge" that this is speaking of is first "intellectual" knowledge of God and His Word, and then "experiential" knowledge of God and His Word, which comes through applying God's Word to our lives, interacting with God in real and practical ways, and not just knowing ABOUT God, but actually knowing God PERSONALLY here and now.   God doesn't just bestow the "new nature" upon someone for no reason at all, or when God simply wants to.   For a person to obtain the "new nature" they must make their own choice first to receive Christ as Savior and Lord, and call on Him to be saved.   God will not bestow the new nature before they do that.   The same goes for the new nature being renewed.   God doesn't do that for us unless we choose to read or hear the Bible and obey what He/it tells us to do.  How often should we want to have our new nature renewed?  This renewing process should be a daily choice (if not conscious choice) on our part.   We should be daily reading the Bible, confessing and repenting of our sins for daily cleansing and renewal, whether we are consciously expressing that desire in exact words to that effect or not.   Think of how much closer our walk would be, how much more pleasing we would be to God, if we began each day with the habits of reading God's Word, talking to Him about what we read, and then striving to obey what He says for us to do.


                                                                   OUR LIFE


    First the Bible tells the Christian that they have life, and then it tells them how they should live that life.  First we have natural life through God giving it to us in creation.   Ac 17:28  "For in him we live, and move, and have our being;"   Next, we have spiritual, eternal life, unity with God, once we repent of our sins and call upon the Lord to save us.   1Jn 5:11-13  "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."  Jn 10:10b  "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."  1Jn 4:9  "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him."

    How shall we then live?  1Pe 2:24  "Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness:"  2Co 5:15 then says  "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again."  Paul testified in Phil 1:21  "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."  God created us, body, soul, and spirit (Ge 2:7; Zec 12:1; ITh 5:23; Heb 4:12).  As Christians, just as a sheep does not control it's own life, but it's shepherd, we are not "our own boss", "the captain of our own soul".  Ps 100:3 tells us "Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hat made US, and not we ourselves; we are his people (we belong to Him), and the sheep of his pasture(He provides for us from resources that are His)."  In Jn 10:27, 28 Jesus says "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; neither shall any many pluck them out of my hand.: and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish."  We are not just protected by His hand, we are under the rein of His hand.   It is the use of the rein that turns and stops a horse, and can even at times tell a horse to go forward.

    In 1Co 6:20 we read "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."  We owe our very existence to God, as well as the way we live our life.  Our aim should be to please and serve Him, not ourselves; to follow and obey His thoughts and ways, not just our own.  How much better our lives would be if we did things His way; He who knows all things, has all power, all wisdom, Who's way is best, and Who cares for us much more than we even care for ourselves.  Our greatest aim should not be that we receive God's greatest blessing (though that would be the result), but that in living for God, God would receive the greatest glory.


May/Jun 2019                                OUR LORD JESUS, THE BRANCH

        As we study the Bible, we find that Jesus is referred to in several verses as "The Branch."  

                Read these following verses and picture JESUS as you read "Branch."


Isa 4:2  "In that Day shall the BRANCH of the LORD be glorious and beautiful…"    

11:1,2  "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a BRANCH shall grow out of his  

             roots.  And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,…"  

Jer 23:5,6  "behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous BRANCH,  

             and a King (Jesus) shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.  

            …and this is his name…THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."  (See Phil 3:9)

Jer 33:15 "In those days, and at that time, will I cause the BRANCH of righteousness to grow up unto

            David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land."

Zec 3:8b  "…for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH."

Zec 6:12b "…Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH, and he shall grow up out of his place

                (Heaven), and he shall build the temple of the LORD."

   In John 15:5 we Christians can see our relationship to Jesus is like branches, like Father like son.

"I am the vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."

   Long before any verse in the Bible was written, God named the constellations and the main stars of those constellations (Ps 147:4).  He gave them names that would tell the story of Christ to the world.  "As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, WHICH HAVE BEEN SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN:" Lk 1:70.    Man didn't exist when the world began (not until the 6th day), but the stars God named existed on the 4th day and possibly before that, with their light hidden.    Ps 19:2 & Ro 10:18 tell of them speaking, by way of the meaning of their names, to all the people of the world, of every century, every day and night.  In just one of the constellations, The Virgin (Virgo, the first one in God's procession of them across the sky), there is a star whose ancient, God-given name is "Tsemech", Hebrew for "The Branch."   Another star is named "Zerah" (The Seed).  A number of verses in the Bible refer to Jesus as "The Seed."   We have seen how He is referred to as the Branch, and we know that both Mary gave birth to Him while she was a virgin, and that the nation of Israel is also referred to in Scripture as "The Virgin" (Isa 37:22).  

   Within this constellation (Virgo) is also a small group of stars called "Comah," that ancient star charts pictured as a boy (Jesus) on the lap of the virgin.  Not only is there all this Biblical correlation to Jesus in this one constellation of "The Virgin", there is correlation to the various aspects of the life of Christ in the battle between God and the Devil in the rest of the 47 ancient constellations, but space doesn't permit me to share that here.  Jesus, the Seed, The Branch; and Isaiah 9:6 says “His name shall be called ‘Wonderful’”.


                                                            PRAISE THE LORD                   


     It has been my experience that in many churches times of praising the Lord have not been very long, and usually consist of what God has done for people in physical terms; healings, financial blessings, obtaining jobs, acquiring new friends, and many other such physical and humanly relational things that have to do directly with the person giving the praise.  Jn 7:18 says "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory."  These praises mentioned above may rightly be praising God, but they also all have to do with one's self, and there is nothing wrong with them, but when we limit our praise of God to just those things that He has specifically done for us individually, often people have nothing they want to say, or take very little time in saying it.   I believe God is pleased with these kinds of praises, but that He would be pleased much more if we would also praise Him regardless of our personal, immediate, or recent benefit.  The Bible has many, many verses that tell us to praise the Lord.  Of course many of these are in "The Praise Book" of the Bible, the book of Psalms.

The last five Psalms (146-150) all begin with the admonition to "Praise Ye the LORD."  Paul quotes Ps 117:1 when he says in Ro 15:11 "…Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people."  "I will bless the LORD at all time: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."  Ps 34:1.  In addition to the Psalms, Heb 13:15 says "…let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."  "And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great." Rev 19:5.  

   So in addition to our personal benefit, we can also praise God for His individual attributes, all which are perfect.  His power and knowledge have no limits.

He is the only One that can create anything out of nothing.  He knows everything about everything, whether it concerns the past, present or future.  He has always been in existence, has always been good, and only has done good.  He has never been mistaken, or made a mistake.  In fact He can continually be praised for the truth "that because He is so great and praiseworthy, no matter how great the amount, praise of Him can never be all inclusive,

praising all of Him that could possibly be praised."  With this being the case, it seems times of praising God in churches should not be short, but long; should not have any times of silence, but should have to be restrained almost by command, in order to include such things as preaching, teaching, music, and worship.   Let us not feel guilty or that we are being selfish when we praise God for what He has done for us individually; and on the other hand let us not feel that we are being "holier than thou" or "preachy" when we praise God for those things that are continually true and current about Him, whether they are only about us directly and recently or not.   Praise the Lord!


Jul/Aug 2019                                          PREPARE YOUR HEART

   When David prayed for the people he said "…prepare their heart unto thee." 1Ch 29:18.  Have you ever prayed for God to change your heart, or someone else's heart?  In this preparation process, just as a farmer makes changes in the soil before planting anything, or a sculptor makes softening changes in the clay before sculpting it, God makes changes in one's heart for it to be ready to receive Him and His Word, or to do His will.  There is no one so exalted in life that they are beyond God's touch.  "The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water; he (God) turneth it whithersoever he will."

   In Jer 18:4 "the vessel…was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it."  God was speaking of Israel, but He may as well have been speaking to us as individuals.  We are not perfect, and need changes.  Jer 18:6 "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD.  Behold, as the clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in mine hand…"  Before a doctor even prepares for surgery, they ask us to prepare by not eating the night before.  Before God would use Ezra in the land of Israel, Ezra in the land of Babylonia would prepare his own heart.  "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments." Ezr 7:10.

   With Pharaoh (in Moses' day) God had a hardening effect on his heart.  With Hezekiah, many years later, God had a softening effect on his heart.   Like Pharaoh, godly King Hezekiah was facing his own problems, and God said he would die.  Yet by answered prayer God gave him fifteen more years of life.  Though he experienced bitterness (hardship), in Isa 39:15 Hezekiah says "…I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul."   Even though he had always lived a good life before God, and could have chose to be angry with God for the troubles he now faced, Hezekiah chose the better way to respond to the hardship God allowed in his life.   We can respond to our troubles with hardness of heart, anger and complaining, or we can respond with softness of heart, depending on how we yield to God.  Paul said "…for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Php 4:11.

    As Pastor Dan has been teaching us from Luke 8, God compares the different types of people's "hearts of receptivity to Him" as different types of "soils" to be planted in.

May our hearts not be fields of neglect that we have not prepared for Him, but may we prepare them for Him to plant seeds that will yield a bountiful crop of the fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:22, 23), and may we be sculpted into beautiful works of art that are also used in practical ways that God will be pleased with.


                                                PRONOUNCING WORDS IN THE BIBLE                     

      To start with one might ask "Is it that important that Biblical words are pronounced correctly?   To answer a question with a question, would you care if         you met your young new doctor and they were mispronouncing medical terms, or if you sat in on your grandchild's fourth grade teacher-parent orientation and the teacher was mispronouncing educational terms?  You might wonder how qualified they are to really speak in these specific fields.   Some Bibles have pronunciation helps for Biblical names and other difficult words to help us learn and communicate the Bible well.  If we are going to learn the words of God, we might as well learn how to pronounce them correctly, and not lead educated people to think we are noticeably lacking in our familiarity with the Bible.  

     The words "blessed" and "cursed" are two words that are associated both secularly and Biblically, and each is usually pronounced in two different ways, depending on how they are being used.   "Blessed" can be an adjective meaning holy, in which case it is pronounced with two syllables: "Blessed is the name of the Lord."  "Blessed" can also be the past tense of the verb "to bless", in which case it is pronounced with one syllable: "The priest blessed the bread." One syllable is the present passive participle of "to bless".

    "Cursed" can be pronouced "krst" or 'ˈkrsɪd".    When used as the past tense of the verb "to curse" it is always the former: "He stubbed his toe and cursed."  When used as an adjective the former is used for the predicative: "This house is cursed.", but either can be used for the attributive: "This cursed house."  If one was cursing it themselves when making the pronouncement they would pronounce it "krsɪd": “I can’t find anything in this curs-ed house.”. But if they believed it to have been cursed by someone else and they were just acknowledging it they would use "krst": I will not stay overnight in this cursed house.”. Of course they could always add their own curse to it: “I will not stay overnight in this curs-ed house.”   The OED, Cambridge and Merriam-Webster definitions each list both pronunciations but don't provide guidance on when to use each; the Oxford Learner's Dictionary, interestingly, claims the first pronunciation is used when something is literally under a curse, while the second is for metaphorical usage (describing something unpleasant or annoying).

   Nowadays, is "krsɪd" simply used when someone wants something to sound dramatic and portentous, or is there more to it than that?  People do use it to add color and an archaic savor.  "krsɪd" is thought of by some as mostly being used in archaic, poetic forms, where one needs the extra syllable to fit the meter, making it sound better.   ˈkrsɪd" has an old-fashioned feel.  Many examples can be found in Shakespeare or religion.  "krsɪd" is almost never used as a verb anymore, although it might be used in contemporary poetry for metrical purposes.

   Whether you read the old King James Version or a modern version of the Bible, be aware of the various, acceptable ways of pronouncing "blessed", "cursed", Biblical names, geographical locations, and other such items.  Many have grown accustomed to incorrect pronunciations, but let us not shun to incorporate corrections when we become aware of them.


                               PROPHETIC MEANING OF THE FEASTS OF LEVITICUS 23


   Sometimes we may think that the things in the Old Testament concerning ancient Israel have no significance for us today.  Always remember 2Ti 3:16.  As we take a brief look at the Jewish feasts of Leviticus 23 let us keep in mind that God has a wider scope of vision here than just ancient Israel.  Each of the eight verses we will look at from Lev 23 shine prophetic light on what God has in store for the church and for each Christian as well.  Restrict by space here, only highlights are given below.

   Lev 23:5 speaks of the "Passover."  The first "Passover" was when God passed over the Israelites that obeyed him by putting blood on their door posts and lintels.  This was to forever be done as a memorial to God delivering the Jews from ancient Egypt.  But for the church and individual Christian, this also pictures how Christ delivers us from the penalty of sin.

   Lev 23:6 speaks of "The Feast of Unleavened Bread."  This was symbolic of the sinless and perfect offering that the Jews were to receive in its eating.  They ate this unleavened bread (having no yeast, a symbol of sin) as well as the passover lamb.  Jesus is our "Lamb of God" that takes away our sin (Jn 1:29) as well as our Bread of Life (Jn 6:35, 56).

   Lev 23:10 speaks of "First Fruits".   This symbolized God's provision for the Jews.  The Jews were to give a sheaf of the first fruits of their harvest, along with a lamb offering, each year, to the priest, for the Lord.  This symbolized that we all are to give our very best to the Lord from what He has blessed us with, first, before we think of ourselves.

   Lev 23:16 speaks of "Fifty days."  This was the feast of Pentecost, 50 days (including 7 sabbaths) after the Passover, when a NEW offering was given.  Seven (the number of completion) speaks of the completion of the Old Covenant.  Jesus died at Passover, and 50 days later at Pentecost the church was born when the Holy Spirit came to indwell the believers in the upper room.  They then entered into the New Covenant age of being forgiven through the eternal agency of Christ's blood rather than the temporary agency of animal blood sacrifices.  

   Lev 23:22 speaks of "Harvest."   Though not one of "the 7 feasts", this verse described conditions on the harvest was to be done.   To the Jews in dealt with a natural harvest of plant life.   Spiritually speaking it symbolizes the spiritual harvest of people being born again spiritually during "The Church age" (Jn 4:34-38; 1Co 4:15).

   Lev 23:24 speaks of "Trumpets."  This was a feast in which work was to stop and trumpets blown.  The Jews were to obey this but did not understand that it would picture "The rapture of the church."  At the rapture, our labors will cease and Christ comes for us with "the trump of God", 1Co 15:52; 1Th 4:16.

Lev 23:27 speaks of "A Day of Atonement."  Souls were to be AFFLICTED.   No work was to be done by the obedient.  Sins would be atoned.  Both through sinful disobedience, and through atoning obedience suffering came.   This speaks of "The 7 year, future Tribulation period".  Great Tribulation/Suffering will come through disobeying God, and also through obedience to God in disobeying the Antichrist's demand to receive his mark of 666.  See Rev 13:16-18; 14:11-13.

Lev 23:34 speaks of "The Feast of Tabernacles."  No work was to be done during this week, but thoughts were to be focused on when God dwelt with the Jews during their 40 years of wilderness wanderings, providing all their needs.  This speaks to both the Church and "believers" of Israel of when Christ reigns on Earth with them visibly and physically for 1,000 yrs, providing all they need.


                                                      REIGNING WITH CHRIST                               


       The last phrase in Rev 22:5 says "they shall reign for ever and ever."     As I was pondering whether "they" referred to "God the Father and God the Son" along with the Holy Spirit, being a reigning of the Trinity of God; or whether it was referring to "Christians" and all true followers of God throughout the Old Testament, I noticed I had already written in the past some cross references to this verse, so I looked them up and found the answer that I want to share with you.     In Rev 22:3 (part of the context along with v. 5) it speaks of God's "servants".   As Christians we are often thought of as the "servants" of God.

Paul refers to himself as a servant of God in Tit 1:1.  James refers to himself as a servant of God in Jas 1:1.  Peter refers to Christians as "servants of God" in 1Pe 2:16.  Even demons referred to Paul and the Christians with him as "servants of the most high God" in Ac 16:17.  Throughout the Bible we also read of Cherubim, Seraphim, and other "living creatures" that are also there with God in Heaven, and of course "serve" Him in various capacities.  So Rev 22:3 could include all of these in the use of the word "servants", as well as those of us that will be joining them one day.   But will we actually "reign" with God?   Ro 8:8 says we are "joint-heirs" with Christ and will be "glorified" together with Him, but will we actually "reign" with Him?  Other verses are much clearer on this subject.    2Ti 2:12 specifically uses the word "reign" when it says "…we shall also reign with him:…"   Rev 5:10 says "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall "reign" on the earth.  Rev 22:6 says "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall "reign" with him a thousand years."   So there we have the answer to our question.  Rather than using the word "reign", 1Co 6:2-3 uses the word "judge" when they say "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? … Know ye not that we shall judge angels?…"  In Lk 19:11-27 Jesus gives a parable and speaks of a kingdom, using the word "reign" in vv.14 and 27; and speaks about servants having "authority" over cities.  Here God also shows that His servants will reign in the future, and so when we read of this, and more, in the Bible it should be quite clear that though we are at times called servants (as well as "friends" in Jn 15:13-15) we also will be "reigning" with Christ one day.


Mar/Apr 2019                                            RESURRECTION


      When we think of Easter, the one word that always should come to mind is "resurrection".  In fact many Christians would rather not say "Happy Easter" but "Happy Resurrection Day".  The Bible doesn't just speak of the resurrection of Jesus (in the four gospels and Acts), but the topic of the resurrection can be found in all of the five major TIME PERIODS of Bible history after the first 11 chapters of Genesis, which are "The Law", "The Prophets", "New Testament History" (The four gospels, and the book of Acts), "The Epistles", and "The book of Revelation".  

      "The Law" is the oldest of these time periods, records how everything began, and is found near the beginning of our Bibles.   Though the story of Job is not found in the section of books of the Bible we call "The Law", Job's story took place during this time period, probably some 500 years before Moses, in the time of Abraham, about 2,000 B.C.   Regarding the subject of "resurrection" Job writes in Job 19:26 "And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God".   So in the first of the five time periods that the Bible can be divided into, we find Job speaking of the resurrection.

      In the second time period of "The Prophets", we find the resurrection spoken of by one who was both a prophet and Israel's greatest king, King David.    He says in Psalms 16:10b "…neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."  The body of Christ (the Holy One) would not decay in a grave, but would be raised from the dead!  In this same section of "The Prophets", Daniel also writes on the subject of resurrection when he speaks of how the believing JEWS will be resurrected at the end of the Tribulation Period.  "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth (in graves) shall awake (rise from the dead)", Dan 12:2.  See also Isa 26:19.

     In the third time period, "New Testament History", we find that "resurrection of resurrections" in the resurrection of Him that IS "The Resurrection" (Jn 11:25).  In Mt 28:6 the angel declares "He is risen.", using what has become a "cry of Easter"!  In this same section Jesus also speaks of the resurrection of believers in John 5:28,29a.  

"…all that are in the graves shall hear (my) voice, And shall come forth, they that have done good (believers), unto the resurrection of life…"

      In the fourth time period of the Bible, "The Epistles", Paul speaks of both the resurrection and the rapture in 1Co 15:51-53 and 1Th 4:13-18.  "… We shall not all sleep (die)…we shall all be changed,… the dead shall be raise… the dead in Christ shall rise…we which are alive…shall be caught up…in the clouds…" This is when most of the believers that Jesus was referring to in Jn 5:29a are resurrected, though there will be Tribulation saints (believers) that are resurrected later.

     Finally, we come to the fifth time period of Bible history, the Book of Revelation, and this is where we find the account of the fulfillment of what Jesus said in the last part of Jn 5:29 where he said "…and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."  This is when the unbelievers are resurrected right before they are to be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment, which is recorded in Rev 20:12.   This resurrection of unbelievers of course is not a joyous occasion at all, unlike the resurrection of believers who have all called on and received Jesus as their Savior.

     During this "Easter season" may we find ourselves celebrating our inclusion in the death, burial, and resurrection of Him that died in our place, paying for our sins; who rose from the dead, and who will one day raise from the dead all that place their trust in Him as well.  


                                                            SATAN'S TIMELINE


   At first there was nothing but God.   Then God began to create other things.   He created the angels, including Lucifer.   Lucifer sinned, as recorded in Isa 14:12-17 and Eze 28:11-19, and then would be called "Satan" (adversary).   God then created Adam and Eve.  Satan appeared as a serpent in the Garden of Eden with Eve in Genesis 3.  When Job was alive (probably near the beginning of the time of Abraham), Satan would walk "to and fro" upon the Earth, and then appear in Heaven to give report before God (Job 1 & 2).  Satan (and the angels that rebelled with him, Rev 12:4) had access to both Heaven and Earth.  When people that trusted and obeyed God died, their spirits didn't go to Heaven at that time (where Satan and demons still had access), they went to a place called Paradise in "the heart of the Earth", later called "Abraham's bosom" which Jesus speaks about in Luke 16:22.   Jesus would go there between His death and resurrection, Mt 12:40.  Though the angels were originally with God in Heaven, and Lucifer and the angels that rebelled with him still had access and at times stood before God in Heaven (Job 1 & 2), there came a time where Satan and his demon-angels were cast out of Heaven.  The time was coming that Jesus would die on the cross, go to Paradise in the heart of the Earth, and set the spirits (of those people that had died having placed their faith in God) free from Paradise, and escort them to Heaven (Eph 4:8-9).   They would not go to a Heaven where Satan and demons had access.  No.  When Mary was pregnant with Jesus, God cast Satan and his demon-angels out of Heaven down to the Earth, Rev. 12:1-10, preparing Heaven for people to live there.  Because this happened at this time, it is no surprise that when we read of the earthly life of Jesus in Matthew - John we see many instances of the activities of these demons.  We read of people being demon-possessed and of Jesus and the disciples casting out demons (Mk 1:39; Lk 10:17-20).  Jesus also distinguished between where demon-angels roamed and where "the angels in heaven" were, in Mark 13:32.  Satan and "most" of the demons are not in Hell today, nor do they have access to Heaven, but are free to roam the Earth.  Satan is the "god" of this world (2Co 4:4).  In the Old Testament "age" (including the time of Mt, Mk, Lk, and Jn), followers of God died and went to Paradise.  Since the time of Jesus' resurrection, followers of God (Christians) die and go to Heaven.   There is coming a time when "an angel" (messenger of God, Jesus most likely) will bind Satan for 1,000 years and cast him into a "bottomless pit", Rev 20:1-3.  At the end of that time God will allow Satan to be free again, in which time Satan will lead a rebellion against God, which will quickly be defeated by God (Rev 20:7-9), and Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Rev 20:10).


Nov/Dec 2019                   SAYING "GRACE" BEFORE MEALS


    Why should we say "grace" (say a prayer of thanks) before eating or having a meal?  Whether we acknowledge God or not, He is the ultimate source of our food, our being, our very existence.  "For in him we live, and move, and have our being.", Ac 17:28.  If it wasn't for God we wouldn't exist.  If it wasn't for God nothing else would exist either, and we wouldn't have any food to sustain us.  Therefore since God gives us food, we should give Him "thanks" for it.  Now this is not just human reasoning, or common sense.  We are given examples in the Bible of three great men of God giving thanks to God before eating.  The first example we will look at is Samuel.  Saul was looking to find Samuel when Saul was told "As soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place TO EAT: for the people will NOT EAT until he come, because he doth BLESS the sacrifice; and afterwards they EAT that be bidden…" 1Sa 9:13.  

   The next example we now look at is in Ac 27:35 where for a considerable amount of time without eating because of working to avoid being shipwrecked, Paul finally told those with him in the ship what was going to become of them, and to EAT; but before they did it says "…he took bread, and GAVE THANKS  to God in presence of them all…"  Paul was now living as a Christian, and he was setting us an example of blessing food.  In 1Co 11:1 he says "Follow me, as I follow Christ."  So lets follow this example.  An even greater example than Paul is the example of the Lord Jesus, Himself.  The greatest man of God is the God-Man, Jesus Christ.  Before He feeds the 5,000 in Mt 14:19-20 it says "…looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.  And they did all eat,…"  

    Though under the law of Moses, God had set restrictions on the Jews of what they could and could not eat [in order to see if they would obey His instructions and live under His authority (Lev 11; Deut 12:15; Deut 14)], in the New Testament God gives Peter a vision of God's new way of viewing Gentiles and what could and could not be eaten in Acts 10.  Verse 12 speaks of "all manner.. of beasts" and then Peter is told by God to "kill, and eat" additionally saying "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common (unclean).   Peter learned to eat as Gentiles ate, Ga 2:12 records, but one day when some Jews were approaching, he forsook

this to please these Jews (instead of God, John 12:43).  Paul, being present, withstood him to the face, rebuked him (Ga 2:11).   In 1Ti 4:3-5 we find these words concerning how some would depart from the faith: "Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats (foods) which God hath created to be received WITH THANKSGIVING of them which believe and know the truth.  For every creature (creation) of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:  For it is sanctified by the word of God (like these verses given above) and prayer (saying "Grace", giving thanks to God for the food we are about to eat.

    So let's not just give thanks and say a prayer before our meals, but let's do it with the Biblical understanding from God of why we are doing it, and do it with true thanksgiving.  "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1Th 5:18.  


                                                               (The) SIN LIST


    In the Bible there are a number of places where various sins are listed for us.  Consider the following four passages, stopping on each sin listed to consider it individually, and see if you "relate" to any of these sins.  Remember "If we confess our sins (in repentance, turning from them) he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1Jn 1:9.  God "abundantly pardons" Isaiah 55:7 tells us.  

    Pro 6:16-19 "These six things doth the LORD hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him;  A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood.  An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."  Ro 1:29-31 "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful;"  Ga 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things (habitually without repentance before God) shall not inherit the kingdom of God."  2Ti 3:2-5 "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof; from such turn away."

    It is good for us to evaluate our lives from time to time.  But let us not just play "clean up", using 1Jn 1:9, but let us be proactive and "preventative" and live according to Ro 6:11-14.  "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace."  God bless.


Nov/Dec 2018              THANKSGIVING  FOR  GOD’S  CHRISTMAS  GIFT


     Our first 10 months of each year can find us facing many news stories of trials around the world, if not trials in our own lives.  These stories can sometimes overwhelm us, and don’t usually stop after the 10th month.  But each year we always have two months to end our year with, where we can find some relief from the secular part of our lives, including worldly news, to concentrate even more on the spiritual side of our lives.  The 11th month brings us “Thanksgiving,” a national holiday in which we can remember the many blessings that God has brought our country, as well as the rest of the world through the centuries.  The 12th month brings us Christmas, in which to contemplate the most precious gift of “the Christ Child,” who came to earth to die for our sins, offering us eternal life instead of eternal condemnation.  In possession of this gift of eternal life, all temporary trials of this world should fade in comparison.  Paul wrote in Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”  In this modern age, we have access to, and are surrounded and bombarded with, news stories every day; news which is more negative than positive.  On the other hand we have access to “the good news,” the Word of God, in which we can counter the bad news of the world by hearing of God’s great love for us.  O that we would read our Bible as much as we listen to the secular news on the TV and Internet.  

    Our year ends with one other holiday, which is New Year’s Eve.  While the worldly minded (Ro 6:6) may think of staying up till midnight to “see the new year in” with partying, the spiritually minded might think of all that God has given us in this year to be thankful for, and all the potential that the upcoming year has for us in our near future.  New Year’s is usually a time of hopeful expectancy; hoping that the new year will bring good things, and that it will hopefully be better than the previous year.  A message that I would like to include in this Bible study is that age old message to dedicate this year to a time of more ”personal Bible study,” studying for yourself at home, not just listening to Bible studies and sermons prepared by others in the church.

    As this page of the newsletter is suppose to be a “Bible study”, not just a “message” with some Bible verses tucked in; I would like to briefly consider Psalm 100:  “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness, come before his presence with singing.  Know ye, that the Lord he is God;   It is he that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.”

    As Psalm 100 was written in Israel’s ancient history, it’s call to give thanks to God predates our call in the USA to give thanks to God by some 3,000 years.  At thanksgiving time in the USA, scriptures are often read.  Some scriptures often read at Christmas time are Matthew 1:23; Micah 5:2; Haggai 2:7; much of Luke 2; and others like Isaiah 6:7 which says “For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”  

    As there is so much political division in our country right now, it would serve us well to remember that Christ will someday come again in the flesh to visibly head the government of this world; and to rein in righteousness, bringing peace and unity to the world for 1,000 years (Rev 20:1-7).  Even that time period will come to an end when Satan is loosed and allowed to lead a revolution against Christ, that He will quickly and powerfully defeat.  The rebels will be imprisoned forever in a lake of fire (Rev 20:15), while the followers of Christ will enjoy peace and glory for the rest of eternity.  As we contemplate the peace and glory that awaits us, might we live each day among a world of people that may know nothing about this peace, who know not the Prince of Peace, and who do not have the power to conduct themselves in peace toward their fellow men.  May we conduct ourselves in peace before them, manifest peace in our hearts and lives, be that “light of the world” Christ would have us to be (Matt 5:14) and allow Him to use us to draw people to His releasing power from sin, anger, discontent, hopelessness, and all the other negative aspects of a life without Him, so that they too might be able to experience the eternal blessing of peace.


                                                       THE CHURCH WITHOUT BLEMISH


    "…Christ…loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it would be holy and without blemish."  Ephesians 5:25-27

   These words will ultimately be fulfilled when Christ calls believers (the church) to meet Him in the air (1Co 15:51-53; 1Th 4:16-17), but because the time of that is in the unknown future, don't let that stop you from seeing how it applies to you in the here and now.  In Eph 5:26 Christ is also setting apart (sanctifying) the individuals that make up the church, and cleansing them now in the present, each time they apply 1Jn 1:9 to their lives.  "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  This present, ongoing cleansing is spoken of here in Ephesians, as we individually live in obedience to the Word of God, being cleansed by Christ because of that obedience.

   Of course at times there will always be sin in the life of the Christian, until Christ calls the entire Church and transforms it to perfect righteousness forever.  Just as our human bodies get dirty every day from interaction with this dirty world and need to be cleansed, so we spiritually get dirty by sinning occasionally in this same world, and need daily spiritual cleansing (1Jn 1:9).  But Christians are not to sin as a lifestyle, and wear stains of sin and wrinkles of disobedience continually through their earthly lives (Ro 6:11-14).  The Church is to reflect the righteousness of Christ by living holy lives.   We are to live  CLEAN lives, and when we get dirtied by our occasional sin, we are to go to Him immediately in confession and repentance of that sin, for cleansing.  Imagine the mother of a five year old boy that lives in the country.  She washes his play clothes and lets him wear them outside.   She doesn't want him to immediately lie down and roll in the dirt, but she doesn't realistically expect him to stay clean all day either.  When Christ forgives our sins as we daily confess them to Him, He doesn't expect us to just go right out and sin again, but He understands that while we still live in this present world with our sinful nature, we will sin again, and again be in need of His cleansing.  What He would appreciate is that we at least try to keep from sinning for at least a little while so that He can present that part of the church to himself "a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it would be holy and without blemish" at least for a while, and that church would represent Him to this lost and dying world.  In this way, at times we will picture what the church will eventually and continually be for eternity, without sin.


                                                        THE REST OF YOUR LIFE


    Pastor Dan Newburn of Sun City Community Church, in Las Vegas, often says "May the rest of your life be the best of your life."  This is a good statement, but could bring thoughts of disagreement if one is only focusing on their "natural" rather than spiritual life.  As we leave our youth and middle aged years, our bodies and minds start to decline and the rest of our life may appear to be an example of diminishing returns, and not at all the best of our life.  With that in mind, if the best of our life is still future (the rest of our life), than that future best of our life of losing our physical beauty, physical strength, and sharp mental faculties does not say much for the life that we have already live.  The life we have already lived also becomes more and more the greater percentage of the life that we will completely live in this life time.    But when our focus is on our spiritual life, where our focus should be, to say "May the rest of your life be the best of your life" suggests that are spiritual life should be getting better and better as we grow in the Lord.  But to grow in the Lord does not come automatically.  We have to strive after it and work on it.  Let's look at some scriptures that would back that up.  "But thou, O man of God, flee these (worldly) things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness." 1 Ti 6:11.  "But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  To HIM be glory both now and forever, Amen. 2 Pe 3:18.  "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Ro 6:11.  "And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." 2Co 5:15.  "He must increase, but I must decrease." Jn 3:30.  "That the communication of thy faith (what others say about your Christian life) may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus." Plm 6.

   So for the rest of our life to be the best of our life we must strive to put Christ first in our daily lives, to put some effort in to prayer, Bible study, and serving God in practical ways.  Like Paul, may our attitude be "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Phi 1:21.


Sep/Oct 2029              THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF HIS INHERITANCE


  "Riches", "Glory", "Inheritance", all great words of wealth and prosperity; not the wealth and prosperity of this earthly life which soon is gone, but that which is much, much greater, much more satisfying, and belongs to the people of  God forever.  We find these words in Eph 1:18.  "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the 'RICHES OF THE GLORY OF HIS INHERITANCE' in the saints."

    Ro 8:16-17 says "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then HEIRS; heirs of God, and JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also GLORIFIED together."  1Pe 1:3-4 says "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to AN INHERITANCE incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, RESERVED in heaven for you,"  What a great inheritance to look forward to.  But what is this inheritance?   Someone said "It is not money that benefits us, but what money can buy; material things like food, clothing, and shelter, as well as things that serve us, please us, entertain us, and satisfy us."  

If an American billionaire were to tell a primitive aborigine in the remotest part of Australia that they wanted to shower them with the best riches that the world could afford, that aborigine would have no idea of what those riches were.  We also can hardly imagine what the RICHES OF THE GLORY OF HIS INHERITANCE for us is either.  It far surpasses all the known riches of this entire world.  This present world doesn't promise eternal life, or the total elimination of pain and sorrow.  Words like "boredom, disappointment, fear, anxiety, frustration, ignorance, inability" and many more will no longer be needed.  We will be filled with words of praise, admiration, blessing, satisfaction, joy, love, contentment, and glory.  Paul, being aware of all this, writes to us in Ro 8:17 saying "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."  Oh what glory we presently can be anticipating while we live for Christ in this present world.  "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:" Col 1:12.


                                                                  THE THREE EARTHS


     Just as the Bible speaks of three heavens (where the birds fly, where the stars are, where God the Father sits), it also speaks of three earths.  These are not three separate planets (or different places like the heavens), but the same planet.  The surface of this planet undergoes significant changes to distinguish the Earth in three different ways and times, so is referred  to as the three earths.

   Gen 1:1  "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."  This is the original and first earth of Creation.

   2Pe 3:5-7,10  "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth (the original Earth of Creation) standing out of the water and in the water; 6 Whereby the world that then was (after Creation), being overflowed with water (the flood Noah saw), perished; 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now (the current condition of the Earth we still live on), by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein (our current Earth) shall be burned up."

   Rev 21:1 "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth (the condition of the Earth after the current surface of the Earth is burned up); for the first heaven and the first earth (both the Earth of Creation and the way the Earth was between the end of Noah's flood throughout our current time) were passed away, and there was no more sea."  So there are three earths mentioned in the Bible, the one of Creation (Gen 1-9), the one that existed after that all the way through Christ's Millennial Kingdom, and the condition the Earth will be in for eternity after the Great White Throne Judgment.  

    Note: though it is not referred to as a New Earth, the condition of the Earth during Christ's Millennial Kingdom will be such as allowing the "Lion to lie down with the Lamb".   With Christ ruling bodily and visibly from Jerusalem, Jesus will be in control of the weather of the world.  He did not "rule" the world at His first coming, but did show how that He could calm the storm.  With Christ ruling; hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and air pollution will be under His control, and He is the Prince of Peace, not subject to forces of nature or man's past air pollutants, so the earth at that time will be unlike it is today.


                                                            THINGS WE KNOW


    Ever hear someone say "No one knows" or "No one can know"?  Just in the little book of First John alone God gives us more than twenty things we can know.  For sake of space, I won't write out all the words of each verse, and I will leave it to you read the context on your own, but look at all the things First John says we know.   (There are even additional verses in this book that use the past tense, speaking of what we have known.)

    "…we do know that we know him (Jesus)" 2:3.  "…hereby know we that we are in him." 2:5.  "…we know that it is the last time." 2:18.  "…ye know all things." 2:20.  "…ye know it (the truth)…" 2:21.  "…ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him." 2:29.  "…we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him;" 3:2.  "And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins;" 3:5.       "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." 3:14.  "…we know that we are of the truth," 3:19.  "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God:" 4:2.  "…Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." 4:6.  "…every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." 4:7.  "Herby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us,…" 4:13.  "…we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments." 5:2.  "…ye may know that ye have eternal life…" 5:13.  "…if (since) we know that he hear us, …, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." 5:15.  "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not;…" 5:18.  "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." 5:19.  "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ." 5:20.

   We have not a "hope so" religion.   We have a "know so" relationship with our God that wants us to KNOW, and has revealed to us in the writing of the Scriptures what we can know beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I know that I know that I know these things 100 percent.  We can know with absolute certainty, as sure as we can know that God is reliable.


                                                             We Sheep Ps 95:7     

           "For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand."


   God has created all humans, but those that have chosen to obey and worship Him are referred to as His people.  In a more picturesque and illustrative way, God refers to us as His "sheep".  This is the kind of verse we need to not just read, but think about.  At least three things could come to mind as we think about the sheep in "Bible times".   First, sheep often had a shepherd that provided for their every need.   He sheltered them, led them to feed in pastureland, led them beside still waters to drink, kept them with other sheep for various benefits, protected them from danger, and tended to wounds or ailments.  But then there is the second thing we can think of, a flip-side to the first.   They first benefited from association with the shepherd, but the shepherd didn't just do this for their good, but for his good.  The sheep were to PRODUCE wool he could use or sell for money to buy other things.  This brings us to the third thing we should think about.  Not only were sheep to produce wool, they were expected to reproduce, making more sheep, and not only this, but they could also be called on to be a SACRIFICE.  This was a total sacrifice, not just that they were to give up something, but to give up their very life.  Ps 95:7 begins "For he is our God:"   We are to worship Him as God.  Next "we are the people of his pasture".   The pasture belongs to Him, but He uses it to provide what we need to live.  Finally we are "the sheep of His hand."   He is a "hands-on" God.  He cares for and tends to us personally and directly.   The phrase that ends this verse and leads into verse 8 is "To-day if ye will hear his voice,".  This is both hypothetical, meaning it may not happen, but also "directive", meaning it is telling us to do something.  We are told to "hear" (obey) what He tells us, and to not harden our hearts (as when the Jews rebelled against God in the wilderness with Moses when hard times came against them.)  Sheep have individual personalities.  Some like to stay as close to their shepherd as possible.  Some like to wander off, and sometimes get into big trouble.  Others are somewhere in-between.  Where are you when it comes to your relationship with the Lord?  Do You see how He provides for you?  Do You realize that He wants to see some good things produced in and through you that can be a blessing to HIm and others?  Finally, we are called on in Ro 12:1 to be a LIVING sacrifice.  Are you?  How would God have You respond to Ps 95:7?


                                          WHAT GOD SHOULD RECEIVE FROM US


      Revelation 4:11 says "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things, and for they pleasure, they are, and were created."  Let's look at these words as they relate to God: "glory", then "honor", and then "power".  

    "Glory."  This involves giving God credit, praise, and recognition for Who He is, what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do.  God should receive much glory from us.

     "Honor."  A demonstration(s) of the giving of that credit, praise, and recognition.  In the past people use to say "Hip, hip hooray" or sing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to honor a person.   Today we sing "Happy Birthday" to a person to honor them on the anniversary of that person's birth.   We honor other people by giving speeches, awards, plaques, trophies, and sometimes valuable gifts/presents.  At the end of the World Series they gave "The Most Valuable Player Award" and also a brand new truck to one player.  Some people have been given ticker tape parades down major boulevards before thousands of people.  We should give God honor by bowing our head before Him in prayer;  kneeling before Him in prayer; prostrating ourselves before Him in worship!   We should give Him honor by serving Him through giving, through doing good works, through enthusiastically testifying to what great things He has done in the ancient past, in the present, what He will do in the future, and what He has done in our own lives!

     "Power."   God is omnipotent, already has all power; so we are not giving Him power to increase the power He already has.  No, we are giving Him glory and honor with power; not quietly but loudly; not in secret or privately, but publicly; not with restraint but with enthusiastic energy and force.   Those people we honored with parades were not honored with three weak Cub Scouts pulling them in red wagons, but with large floats and powerful, Cadillac convertibles.  Let's honor God with power.

     Revelation 5:12 says "Saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing."  Again, this is not speaking of the power and riches and wisdom, etc. that He already and has always possessed, but that which comes from us.   We are to recognize Him powerfully.  We are to give Him our riches (that which is valuable to Him); our love, our loyalty, our service, our worship.  We are to give Him the wisdom we use in exalting HIM rather than in exalting ourselves; in putting HIM supreme over everything.   We are not to worship Him weakly, but with all our "STRENGTH".   Again, we are to honor Him and give Him glory as was explained in the commentary on Rev 4:11.  Then Rev 5:12 ends with our giving God "blessing."   This is declaring our well-wishes for God; our desire that all these good things spoken of here come to reality for and upon Him.  Let's give God what He rightfully deserves!


                                                        WHAT IS OUR LIFE ALL ABOUT?


   What is our life all about?  Is it growing enough physically, mentally, and socially so that when we turn five we can begin to go to school?  Is it working hard enough to get good grades in school so that we graduate on schedule?  Is it about finding what interests you in life, doing well enough in school to be able to get a good job that satisfies your interest and makes enough money to leave your parents and get out on your own?  Is it about learning how to interact and enjoying being with with both same sex and opposite sex friends alike?   Is it about finding a spouse?   Is it about starting a family and then taking care of that family physically, financially, and socially?  Even before going off to kindergarten, is life about balancing having fun and also chores to be done.  Is it about all through life having fun, spending time with friends and  family, and still being responsible to take care of yourself, your living space, and your responsibilities towards those around you and society in general?  Is it about maintaining food, clothing, transportation, and shelter, and having more than just the basics?  Is it about sports, music, entertainment, TV, social media, and keeping up with the news at home and abroad?  Is it about accomplishing commendable things, leaving a legacy, and making it easy for someone to one day give you a descent eulogy?Many of these things are good and right, but is this all there is, or has God got something even more important, yes, more commendable that He would have us invest our lives in to find His ultimate approval?

    How would GOD have us view this life?   Is it not to be a life spent learning about God, calling on Christ to be saved, walking with God, talking to God, fellowshipping with God, serving God, and helping others to know God?  Does not Phi 2:21 state how God would have us all look at our individual lives?  "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain."    Mic 6:8 "He hath shown thee, oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires of thee; but to do justly, and to love mercy, and TO WALK HUMBLY WITH THY GOD."

    When one comes to the end of their life and stands before God to give an account (Ro 14:12; 2Co 5:10 for the saved, Rev 20:12 for the unsaved) what will God be concerned with?  How much will He be concerned with the first paragraph of this Bible study, and how much will He be concerned with the second?

    As I spend so much time on memorizing Bible verses, reading through the entire Bible each year, studying the Bible, teaching Bible studies, praying for people in writing on the "Christian Forums" site on the Internet, I could ask myself if I am living life as I should, or wasting my time.   Is it wasting time to be spending it on the things of God?  One could be doing all these things "in the flesh" and not really spending time with God, or one could do these things sharing them with God, as one does them.  I don't think God would see that as a waste of time, but be pleased with it as He was pleased with Enoch walking with Him (Ge 5:24).  What is your life all about?


                                   (Understanding the) WHEEL OF ECCLESIASTES 12


    In Ecc 12:3 we find some of the parts of an old person's body described in "poetical" terms:  The hands are "the keepers of the house", the legs "the strongmen", the teeth "the grinders", and the eyes "those that look out of the windows".  In v. 6 the spine is called "the silver cord", the skull "the golden helmet".  

I have always like these poetic analogies, but I was having trouble understanding the last two in v. 6, as commentators explain the “pitcher” to be our veins, and the “wheel” to be our heart.   I thought of a chariot wheel, and I thought of a potter’s wheel, but neither seemed to picture our heart to me.   Then it came to me.   How about a WATER wheel?   That fits the picture of our heart and veins well.   Notice the picture below.   The water current of the stream moves the wheel with pitchers all around it, so the pitchers fill up with water and then carry that water above the surface to be poured in a trough where it can be used by the people on land.  This is just like how our blood flows into our heart (the wheel), our heart pumps it into our veins (the buckets), and the veins carry it to where it can be used in the body.