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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
          Have you always had questions about different passages and books of the bible? Me too. Let's explore everything together and find out what God's Word actually says. Are you ready for a life-changing experience? Are you? Then come on!
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    Thu, Mar 31st - 7:30PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    Continuing to study verse one we notice another "let us" phrase.  Rather than a danger signal, this phrase is a challenge to each one of us.  We are challenged to lay aside all of our burdens and sin.  Thus we will become able to patiently run the race set before us.  If we stubbornly insist upon embracing our burdens tightly to ourselves then we will not be able to run any race, let alone serve God cheerfully.  We must get out of the grandstands and down onto the racetrack!  God has called each of us to run our race, to do whatever God has called us to do wherever He has called us to live and move and have our being.  So let us move out for Christ.

    Since God has mercifully saved us from sin, brought us into the holy place, and made us to sit in heavenly places we must therefore return His love for us by serving Him lovingly.  He's given to us His Holy Spirit.  Despite all that God has given to us, we still stumble and fall down, wandering around like a man lost in the dark.  Why do so many Christians live their lives like that?  The problem is that Christians do not go on with God.  They get saved, give a testimony of how they got saved, and that is all that they ever do.  And they wonder why they are so miserable and unhappy.  It reminds me of a story that J. Vernon McGee used to tell of a little girl who fell out of bed one night.  As the little girl began to cry, her mother rushed in and asked, "Honey, how come you fell out of your bed?"  The little girl replied, "I think I stayed too close to where I got in!"  That is the basic problem with many Christians today.  We stay too close to the place where we got into the faith.  We need to be moving onward for we are in a race.

    Win or lose, Christians are in a race.  This particular race is the only one in which everybody can win.  Read I Corinthians 9:24,26 and it is seen that Paul understood how he must endeavor to run this race in order to finish it and receive his prize.  In Galatians 5:7 Paul rebuked those believers who had started out running their race and then had halted.  He wished to know who had prevented them from continuing on.  

    We are to be encouraged by all of the saints who have run this race before us and have completed it.  This "cloud of witnesses" are cheering us on, encouraging us to keep on going.  All are saying to us to keep on moving out in faith.  But we must not forget that two conditions must be met in order for us to keep running this race.  "Weight" is a hindrance in a race.  Unnecessary weight slows the runner down and prevents them from finishing the race by sapping their strength.  

    In our Christian life there are a lot of things that are not exactly wrong in and of themselves, but we should not be carrying those weights around with us.  Doing so will prevent us from winning the race.  It is not a matter of right or wrong, it is a matter of casting off those things which will prevent you from winning the race.  The question we must then ask ourselves is:  Will this hurt my personal testimony?  Will this cost me the race?  Separationist Christians claim that we must not dance, go to the movies, listen to secular music, dress in bright colors, use cosmetics, or smoke tobacco.  Sorry, but all of those things are permissible in our walk of faith in Christ.  But they will have an impact upon our chances of winning the race.  Am I in a race?  Do I wish to win?  Am I looking toward Jesus?  Those are the important questions to ask oneself.

    Now we come to "the sin."  What is it?  We are sent back to the previous chapter by the "wherefore" which began this chapter.  What was the sin in the previous chapter?  None other than unbelief.  Unbelief is the sin, and there is nothing which will hold us back as unbelief will.  We will never be able to run the race as long as we are plagued by unbelief.  It holds us back.  We must ask God to "Help my unbelief!"  Feel like you do not have as much belief in God as you should, then ask Him for more belief.  Jesus did say to His disciples:  "You have not because you ask not!"  Do not forget to ask God for what you lack spiritually.

    That is all for tonight my friends.  Next time I shall cover the next three or four verses.  See you then!  Grace and peace today!

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Mar 31st - 1:16PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    " Love and a cough cannot be hid."

                                  ~George Herbert 

    13: And David took more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron:  and there were yet sons and daughters born to David (5:13). 

    There is the factual historical record.  God most definitely did not place His stamp of approval upon what David chose to do regarding more wives and concubines.  Polygamy is not something which God approves of, and we shall find out later on the consequences of these actions of David.  In his son Solomon it resulted in the division of the kingdom and finally brought about the Babylonian captivity.  Why?  Because David and Solomon were kings, were in positions of leadership, and their marital behavior was wrong.  God says that they were wrong in their actions concerning these women.  God's rules protect us from harm and provide us with maximum happiness and blessing. 

    14: And these be the names of those that were born unto him in Jerusalem; Shammuah, and Shobab, and Nathan, and Solomon,

    15: Ibhar also, and Elishua, and Nepheg, and Japhia,

    16: And Elishama, and Eliada, and Eliphalet (5:14-16). 

    We do not know very much about the first two siblings, but from Nathan eventually came Mary the mother of Jesus.  From Solomon came Joseph, Mary's husband.  Jesus Christ received of the blood lines and legal title to the throne of David through Nathan and Solomon.  God uses all circumstances to work good toward us.  David commits polygamy, God uses some of those offspring to continue the bloodline of Christ Jesus.  God does not forgive David and Solomon for their sin, He merely works around it while still holding these two men accountable. 

    17: But when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of it, and went down to the hold.

    18: The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim (5:17-18). 

    Remember when David fled from Saul and went to live among the Philistines?  Only Achish considered David to be a friend.  Now that David has returned to Israel and has been anointed as king over Israel, the Philistines are determined to eliminate him.

    19: And David inquired of God, saying, Shall I go up to the Philistines?  will You deliver them into my hand?  And God said unto David, Go up:  for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.

    20: And David came to Baal-perazim, and David struck them there, and said, The LORD has broken forth upon my enemies before me, as the breach of waters. Therefore he called the name of that place Baal-perazim.

    21: And there they left their images, and David and his men burned them (5:19-21). 

    We see how David turned to God and asked Him if he ought to go out to fight these people.  He did not just up and go fight them, he asked God.  We need to ask God if we ought to be opposing certain people, if we ought to be protesting against certain causes, or if we ought to consider purchasing a brand new vehicle. 

       22: And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the valley of Rephaim.
       23: And when David inquired of Jehovah, he said, Thou shalt not go up: make a circuit behind them, and come upon them over against the mulberry-trees.
       24: And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry-trees, that then you shall stir yourself; for then is Jehovah gone out before you to smite the host of the Philistines.
       25: And David did so, as Jehovah commanded him, and smote the Philistines from Geba until you come to Gezer (5:22-25). 

    God does not do things exactly the same way over and over again.  We can't assume that because God acted a certain way through me last time, that that is how He will act through me every time.  David was told to go against his enemy from a different direction the next time they came into conflict upon the valley of Rephaim.  David was told to listen for the sounds of marching to come from the tree tops before advancing upon the Philistines.  God was quite specific and remains quite specific in what He wants us to do also. 

    Next time I shall begin chapter six of II Samuel.  The theme of this next chapter is basically David's wrong and right attempts to bring the ark to Jerusalem.  It is applicable to our lives today and we need to read it and learn its lessons so that we do not continuously commit the same mistakes that David did.  Grace and peace be yours.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 30th - 6:42PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



     1: Therefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

     2: Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (12:1-2). 

    This chapter begins with warning against drifting along aimlessly for this will lead to a return to sinning in some form.  Sin hounds us relentlessly, seeking to insinuate itself into our lives. 

    The writer speaks of the peril of remaining stationary in our faith.  We can't become "couch potatoes" for sin shall suck us back down into the morass.  Verse one teaches that we are entered into a "race."  The Christian life is a race, and we must be prepared to endure it in order to be able to finish it.  It is not a sprint, but rather it is a marathon.  Perhaps one of the faults of Christians today is that of boasting of what they have done in the past, and not focusing upon what they can do right now.

    In a sense, spiritually we must fight off lethargy just like when trapped out in extreme cold conditions.  To allow ourselves to be lulled into sleep removes us from working for God.  We have to force ourselves to remain awake, something which the disciples failed to do repeatedly in the Garden of Gethsamane with Jesus.  We can't just sit still, we have to keep on moving forward.  My cup gets filled by God and there just is no way that I can hope to keep it filled at that same level the rest of my life by doing nothing. 

    "Therefore" we are told here to move on, and to live by faith.  This word unites chapter twelve with the previous chapter.  This great "cloud of witnesses" is another one of those groups of people which are pointed out to us in Hebrews.  Who are they?  Some feel that they are only those Old Testament prophets before the coming of Christ.  Perhaps for the apostles this was true, but for us today it also includes all of the saints who have gone on before us.  I am fairly confident that the witnesses are not sitting around watching us run our race today.  They have already run the race down here on earth and are finished.  They have left footprints which we can now follow.  The races which they ran can inspire us and encourage us to be more faithful.  Whether they became martyrs or not, they all ran their race by faith.  They all witness to us. 

    The Christian life is likened to a Greek race.  Athletes practice and exercise in order to perform at the highest level possible and be successful.  Baseball pitchers practice their various pitches so that they can throw them in any situation during a game.  Football players practice the exact same way in order to execute specific plays during important games.  They prepare themselves to run their races.  Professional basketball consists of a long 82 game schedule that is much like a marathon.  Players must be prepared to endure the rigors of the long season just to qualify to participate in the playoffs which lead to a championship series.  So the Christian is told to prepare themselves in like fashion to endure a life in which they are to serve God and others.  We are to keep our eyes fixed upon the prize which awaits us at the end of the race:  life in the New Jerusalem!

    That is all for today my friends.  I will continue with these two verses tomorrow.  Grace and peace be yours!

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 30th - 12:10PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "Why, why will we most gladly set days aside to honor the fathers of our nation---Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson---but draw back in dismay from giving honor to the Fathers of our Faith?"

                                ~Thomas Howard, Evangelical Is Not Enough 

    As a short refresher, nation Israel has spent seven long years locked in civil war between the tribe of Judah, led by David, and the other eleven tribes joined together as Israel.  Finally, Abner is murdered by Joab and Ish-bosheth was murdered by two members of the Beerothites.  The horrors of the conflict finally force the eleven tribes to parlay with David. 

     2: Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, you were he that lead out and brought in Israel:  and the LORD said to you, You shall feed My people Israel, and you shall be a captain over Israel (5:2). 

    My question for these representatives of the eleven tribes is this:  If you knew that God had informed David that he was the one to lead the nation, why have you been fighting against him for seven years?  I believe that they did not wish to submit to being under the authority of God.  But now they have no choice, unless they wish to be erradicated through continued rebellion. 

     3: So all the elders of Israel came to the king in Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD:  and they anointed David king over Israel.

     4: David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.

     5: In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months:  and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah (5:3-5). 

    Upon unification, Israel is about to enter into its greatest period of prosperity and expansion.  David is still a young man upon becoming king.  We are now to find out how Jerusalem became Israel's capital. 

     6: And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land:  which spoke to David, saying, Except ytake away the blind and the lame, you shall not come in here:  thinking, Daivd can't come in here.

     7: Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion:  the same is the city of David (5:6-7). 

    David understood that he couldn't possibly rule all eleven tribes effectively from the far southern city of Hebron.  So he chose to move the capital to Jerusalem.  But it is not an easy move for the Jebusites who live there choose to oppose him, underestimating his abilities. 

    In David's time Jerusalem was down near the Kidron valley.  The walls that surrounded the city in that time have been excavated down in that region.  Today's Jerusalem is closer to Mount Zion, where the palace of David was built.  Later still, below Mount Zion, the Temple was built.  David chose this place, it was his city.  Throughout the Psalms we can find David's love for these places.  Not everyone in history has loved Jerusalem.  Pontius Pilate hated the city and was only in it during the feast days to keep order.  Other times Pilate lived in Caesarea, located on the Mediterranean. 

    Interestingly the Jebusites refused David entrance into the city itself.  So David went and seized the strong hold of Zion.  He took control of the top of the mount and not the city proper, in essence controlling the best vantage point around the city.  The Jebusites discovered that they were overwhelmed before even realizing that there was to be a battle.

     8: And David said on that day, Whosoever gets up to the gutter, and smites the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David's soul, he shall be chief and captain.  Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house (5:8). 

    It is difficult to determine the exact meaning of what David spoke.  I suspect that "the lame and the blind" here could be those who were spiritually crippled and refused to trust in Jehovah. 

     9: So David dwelled in the fort, and called it the city of David.  And David built round about from Millo and inward.

    10: And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him.

    11: And Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, and cedar trees, and carpenters, and masons:  and they built David a house.

    12: And David perceived that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that He had exalted His kingdom for His people Israel's sake (5:9-12). 

    David grew mighty.  God was with him.  Hiram recognized he was an outstanding man.  David was in tune with God enough to understand why things were moving so quickly at this time.  It was not so much due to his physical efforts as it was due to God's efforts.  God blessed David's efforts in order to exalt God's kingdom so that the Israelites would know why things were going so much better now than in years past.  Today we must perceive that Christ has established us in our particular ministry, and that He has done so in order to exalt His kingdom for the benefit of His saints.

    That is all for today, beloved.  Next we will be finding out some of the wrong choices of David and his right choices.  We shall see some of the immediate consequences of his choices while we shall have to wait on the consequences of others.  Until then, may Christ become your Passover Lamb this season if He has not before now.  May you choose to experience His all-encompassing love and compassion rather than continue to fumble about in the spiritual darkness, wondering why things never turn out right.  Grace and peace be yours.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Mar 29th - 6:32PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    39: And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise (11:39).

    What promise didn't they receive?  God made many promises, and many of them received the promises that God made to them.  But the promise is His promise that He will raise them up and that there will be a kingdom established here on this earth.  They have not received that promise yet, because God is still calling out a people to His name, and, bringing many souls home to glory.  The reason is comes next:

    40: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect (11:40). 

    God has had us in mind all along!  That is grace on the part of God.  Very patiently God is calling to people to come out of this world and answer to His name, to become members of His royal family of believers.  Until His church is completed He is continuing to call out to people, if they hear His voice and respond then they may depend upon Christ as their Lord and Savior.

    This is a indeed a glorious feat being performed by our God.  But the truly wonderful testimony will come if ten, twenty, forty, years from today those who have professed faith in Jesus are still being faithful to Him then.  That will be a hallelujah moment for sure! 

    We ought to then be going about giving out messages from the Bible and not spending our days defending the Bible.  Let the Holy Spirit minister the Word to people as they hear or read it.  We are to simply preach the Word of God to those who have never heard so that they may have the opportunity to choose.  For those who have already chosen to believe, we are to preach the Word of God so that they may have their faith increased, or to be corrected of wrong thinking. 

    Back when the first airplane flew there were bystanders who said that they could not believe their eyes.  Well, today there are plenty of people who are just as blind spiritually.  They want it explained and proven to them.  If they were honest and were willing to repent of the sin in their lives and trust Jesus Christ then they would not need anything proven to them.  Blind is blind.  If you refuse to see then there is not much else I can say or do to convince you of your error in judgment. 

    At least we can know that there are multitudes all around us right here and now who can say "Amen" to what I have posted.  They know that faith works, that it is real, and that it is genuine.  My friends, have you decided yet to come on out of the land of make-believe and into the realm of reality?  Have you chosen to find out what Jesus Christ can really do for you?

    That completes chapter eleven of Hebrews.  There was a lot of things to comprehend in this chapter and much to ponder in order to incorporate it into our lives.  But now we move on to the next chapter of this book of Hebrews.  Chapter twelve's theme is about hope.  Chapter eleven was the faith chapter, twelve is the hope chapter, and thirteen will be the love chapter. 

    I hope that you will come back tomorrow when I begin investigating what all of the hope is about.  May the Son shine warmly upon you day by day, His grace and peace to adorn your shoulders as you go about your daily life.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Mar 28th - 9:50PM

    NLC



    I am finally finishing up my study in the new life in Christ.  Yes, it's true!  So, let's begin by looking at I Corinthians 13:1-3:

    "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

    And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

    And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing." 

    We were considering what God's idea of love was, and how that translates then into how we are to relate to other Christians.  Now we see that three basic groups of believers are represented in this passage.  There are the "givers" and the "pentecostals" and the "prophets."  You can provide other names besides what I have done, but you get the idea.  I can speak in tongues better than anyone else, but if I do not love the brethren then it is meaningless.  I can sell everything that I own, give it to feed the poor, but without love of the brethren it is meaningless.  I can give voice to prophecy, but without love of the brethren it is meaningless.  I can have more faith than anyone else around, but without love of the brethren it is meaningless.  I might have a breathtaking singing voice but if I do not love the brethren it is worthless, junk.  God wants us to love each other as He loves us.

    How am I to treat those who are not like me?  With unconditional love.  It means that I must love others without expecting anything in return.  That is what God does with us.  We all can't be singers up in the Praise Team, or preaching sermons in front of crowds of people.  We are to be who God designed us to be, and love our brethren.

    The next Scripture to consider is Psalm 40:1-3:

    "To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

    He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

    And He has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD." 

    We find here a basic principle that we all ought to follow devoutly.  Waiting patiently upon God.  In our current society it is all about rushing about, frantic to get our shopping done and pick up the kiddies from their various after school activities which are supposedly designed to enhance the kiddies' chances of being accepted into the best universities in the land.  We bathe outselves in noise all the day long, never allowing ourselves a minute of peace and quiet, never stopping long enough to simply wait patiently for God.  How can we manage to pray, if we refuse to discipline ourselves enough to stop doing things and quiet our souls for a heart-to-heart with God?  Don't you get it?  Satan wants us to run around like ants in a disturbed anthill.  Satan wants us to lose ourselves in music, and television, and the internet, and all of the myriad of other amusements out there.  He wants us to remain distracted, unable and/or unwilling to think clearly about what we are not accomplishing with our lives.  Are our children growing up into outstanding citizens?  Are they honest, integrity-driven individuals who stand up for their friends and refuse to take advantage of those who are less fortunate? 

    Anyways, this passage from out of the Psalms points out that God will deliver us from out of the depths of our troubles, and plant us firmly upon solid rock.  That rock is none other than Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.  God also provides us with a new song to sing.  The people who witness us as we go through our life with this "new song" become impressed, even fearful of the fact that they do not have such a song to sing in their lives, and leads them to come to Christ at the cross for forgiveness of their sins.  Is it supposed to be that everyone have the exact same kind of singing voice?  No, for then we would never have the privilege of listening to a quartet or duet, or an entire choir, sing with voices all melded together.  We would miss out on that blessing to our hearts.

    The last passage for us to consider today is I Peter 2:4-10:

    "To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

    You also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

    Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on Him shall not be confounded.

    Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,

    And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

    But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvellous light:

    Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." 

    Why is it significant that we are called "lively stones" rather than just bricks?  Both are commonly used to construct buildings, so what is the difference?  Well, bricks are rather uniform in dimensions; seen one you have seen 'em all.  But stones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.  People come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, we are not all conformed to one exact shape or size.  God wants us to understand that, to not forget that each of us is different from another in some way.  We are to embrace those differences and not use them to seperate or exclude others who are "not like us."  Just as it takes many stones or bricks to construct a building, it takes many people to build the church of God.

    Another point to take away from this passage is that Jesus Christ is the "rejected stone" of His people and inspite of this He has become the cornerstone of God's church.  To those people who are disobedient to God's laws and precepts Christ is a stumblingblock, offensive to their senses, someone to mock.  But to us who have believed, Jesus becomes precious for He has called us from out of spiritual darkness into His glorious light.

    Then we see that as we repent of our sins and turn away from those things which we used to do, we turn towards God and become members of a new royal priesthood, members of a chosen generation, all becoming part of one single body of unified believers in Christ Jesus.  His Holy Spirit teaches all of us the same message, the same truth, the same walk through life.  It does not matter what sort of culture we come from, or race, or creed, or status in life; we all become more like Christ every day and think more like Christ every day by reading God's Word and applying its precepts to our lives. 

    So, what do I do with these truths?  I realize that I am part of a much bigger picture in God's eyes.  It does not minimize me, it energizes me.  There are things which I must be doing, work which God wants me to accomplish, people who must be reached with the Gospel.  There are new disciples who are desperately in need of learning truth in God's Word so that they can survive in a hostile culture.  There are people who are in extreme need of just one person to listen to them, to care about them, to notice that they exist.  There are personal relationships that need to be created, kindnesses that need to be shown, love needing to be shared.  There are songs to sing, both alone and in conjunction with others.  There are prayers that need to be offered up to God in heaven, things which need to be asked for, thanks which needs to be given.  And in all things we are to praise God for who He is and for what He has done.  I must never forget that I am now part of God's team, even if I am only the "waterboy" I am still a valuable part of the whole team and I must do my work to the best of my ability.  Not everyone can be the quarterback, or the ace pitcher, or the goalie.  There are many things which must be done by the team, and it takes concerted efforts by every team member in order for the team to do what God sets before it. 

    I hope that this study has helped you understand what your part is in the body of Christ.  I hope that it spurs you to do further studying of God's Word and helps you become better prepared for whatever may lie ahead in the future.  Just remember:  God is good, all of the time! 

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Mar 27th - 12:43PM

    A MEANS OF INTERPRETING GOD'S WORD



    I wish to provide one way of figuring out what the Bible says.  Many parts of the Bible are perfectly clear about what is being told, but there are the prophetic sections which cause people all sorts of problems.  Some people want to designate them as being totally symbolic so that they do not have to face up to what they state will happen in the future.  Some want to spiritualize them, but doing so forces a loss of important facts of what will happen in the future.  So my intent is to offer to everyone who stops to read my blog a single wau of figuring out what prophecy means.  This particular method was presented by Paul Danielson and I give full credit to him for what I am going to post here.

    Anyone who has taken time to study God's Word knows that they quickly reach the point of Ecclesiastes 8:1:  "Who is as the wise man?  And who knows the interpretation of a thing?"  Thus we reach the bottom line, and it is to be able to know the interpretation of God's Word and to know that it is a true interpretation.

    Why is it important to know that the interpretation be true?  Because with a proper understanding and application of God's Word anyone may then arrive at the correct interpretation of any given passage of Scripture.

    Main Principle:  The Bible interprets the Bible.  The first mention is in reference to the Word of God as a whole.  The second mention is to God's Word in any of its parts.  Thus, if we wish to know the correct interpretation of a specific verse or chapter of Scripture, it must be examined in the light of the other parts, or whole of Scripture.  It can't be taken out of context and used all alone to construct ironclad doctrine.  

    Why is this the main principle?  Simply because it is clearly stated over and over in the Bible.  In I Corinthians 2:13 we can read, "comparing spiritual things with spiritual."  Or over in Isaiah 28:13, "But the Word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little..."  The context of verses 9-14 indicate that Isaiah is clearly speaking about the Word of God.  Furthermore, the passage in II Peter 1:20 speaks of God being the ultimate originator and writer of Scripture.  Thus Peter draws our attention to this principle with the warning that "...no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation."  "Private" is idios in the Greek and means, "One's own."  This passage thus teaches that all Scripture originates from God, not from the personal invention of any individual, and therefore its meaning must be that which God intended it to have---not merely the different understandings that various people may assign to it over the centuries.  II Timothy 3:16 points out, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"  and does not say that God physically wrote each and every word.  It is a preposterous claim to insist that the Bible can't possibly be God's Word if it were physically written by a group of men.  God, working in, and through, a variety of men over several centuries inspired them to write down exactly what He wished for us to know.

    Just as no individual has the right to interpret Scripture privately, so also no verse or truth in Scripture may stand alone, but finds its proper place from one or more other passages within the Bible as a whole.  The temptation is strong to simply select one or two verses then arbitrarily combine them with the knowledge of man to produce what seemingly is a logical deduction.  In doing this we are using the very words of Scripture, yet at the same time they are only being used to express our own thoughts, and not those of the Holy Spirit.  So care must be taken that no verse, or group of verses, be explained in a way which will be in conflict with what is clearly taught in the Bible as a whole.  One such example would be to always remember who God is, and that He can not be something which He is not.  

    Application of Principle:  First, it can be seen that there is a relationship between the Old Testament and the New.  One way of expressing this relationship is that "The New is within the Old concealed; the Old is within the New revealed."  Checking a few comparative verses should make this clear to you.  The "Lamb" of Isaiah 53:7,8 is interpreted in Acts 8:32-35 as being none other than Jesus Christ.  Now read Genesis 3:15 and see if the enigma of the bruised seed is not explained in Romans 16:20.  Then try Malachi 3:1 with Mark 1:2.

    Secondly, this principle is seen in the relationship of one verse to another.  It can be illustrated in a number of ways.  (1) Question and answer method:  What are the seven Spirits of God mentioned in Revelation 1:4?  Look at Isaiah 11:2 for the answer.  What is meant by being "born of water" in John 3:5?  Look for the answer in I Peter 1:23 and Ephesians 5:26.   (2) The identification of personalities within Scripture:  This can be clarified by comparing one portion with another.  The awesome creature found in Isaiah 27:1 is easily identified in Revelation 20:2.  The obscure Eliphaz and his son Teman of Genesis 36:11 take on special meaning when compared with Eliphaz the Temanite of Job 4:1 (check out Obadiah 9).  (3) Understanding the figurative language:  It is exciting when one verse is compared to another!  In Zechariah 13:7 we read that "the SHEPHERD and the SHEEP of the flock shall be scattered abroad."  Shall we only picture a herdsman and his flock, or do we not become excited at fulfilled prophecy when in Matthew 26:56 we can also read. "But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.  Then all the DISCIPLES forsook HIM, and fled."  Now go and read Daniel 2:32 and see if these "metalic terms" are not explained in the same chapter in verses 36-38.  Then, compare the "many waters" of Revelation 17:1 with the Bible's own interpretation in 17:15.  (4) Understanding individual word meanings:  In I Corinthians 7:26 a key word is "distress."  When this word and its context is compares eith the same word and its context in Luke 21:23, we begin to understand what Paul is talking about when he advises that, "for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be."  Another instance is the word, "sin" which first occurs in Genesis 4:7.  That the Bible defines and explains its own words is seen in this case in the many synonyms of sin sprinkled throughout Genesis 3-4 (naked, hid, afraid, beguiled, enmity, bruised, sorrow, cursed, thorns, thistles, seat, wroth, slew, fugitive, and vagabond).  Each of these descriptive words aid us in obtaining a Scriptural definition of the word sin.

    Thirdly, many other illustrations may be given to show that the Bible is its own best interpreter.  Here are a few for the reader who would like to utilize this approach in greater detail.

    (1)  By comparing Scripture with Scripture, one is able to better understand the historical setting of a given passage.  Examine Luke 11:51 in relation to II Chronicles 24:20,21; Psalm 3 in relation to II Samuel 15:14-17,29; Proverbs 1:8,10,15,; 2:1; 3:1 in the historical light of I Kings 12

    (2) By comparing Scripture with Scripture, one is able to better understand the Mosaic Law and its application in the life of the nation Israel.  Compare Deuteronomy 25:9 with Ruth 4:7-8.  The difficulty in understanding the sudden death of Uzzah in II Samuel 6:3-7 is solved when examined in the light of the law given in Numbers 4:15.

    (3) By comparing Scripture with Scripture, one is able to understand prophecy and its fulfillment.  Compare Isaiah 28:16 with I Corinthians 3:11 and I Peter 2:6.

    (4) By comparing Scripture with Scripture, one is able to understand types and antitypes.  For example, compare Jonah 1:17 with Matthew 12:40-41.

    For additional help in utilizing this principle there are at least three other valuable study tools one ought to have access to.  A good study Bible with cross references, a Bible concordance which gives references for where to find any given word throughout the Bible, and a topical Bible.  I would add that today it becomes more convenient to Bible study to have access to an electronic version of the Bible for you are able to search the Scriptures much faster than before.

    We must bear in mind that this pragmatic principle of Biblical interpretation can't be separated from a living relationship with Jesus Christ by faith and obedience to the very Word of God we have come to understand.  We must remember Proverbs 28:5 "...they that seek the Lord understand all things,"  and Psalm 111:10, "...a good understanding have all they that do His commandments."  Lastly, we must do this:  "I understand more than all the ancients, because I keep Your precepts."  

    I hope and pray that this principle will guide you to ever greater knowledge and understanding of God's Word.  God gave it to us for a reason, I believe we ought to work hard at understanding what it says to us in order that we might live it out in our lives each day.  God bless you!

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Mar 26th - 4:48PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    I will try again to post this message, last time Google Chrome crashed and I lost an entire posting to the ether.

    31: By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with them that did not believ, when she had received the spies with peace (11:31).  

    First, I want to say that part of the message God wishes us to get out of this verse is that when strangers come through the front door of our church we are to welcome them with warm smiles and genuine concern for their well being.  Even prostitutes!  God has said, "Whosoever will believe on the name of Christ Jesus shall be saved."  Even harlots.  Okay, back on topic.  Rahab lived in Jericho and these people had been hearing all sorts of things about these new people who were coming across the wilderness from out of Egypt.  Forty years they had probably been hearing things off and on about the Hebrews and their God.  Now, during rainy season and flood season, the Hebrews are camped on the opposite side of the Jordan River.  The people of Jericho probably thought that they were safe until after the flood season passed, they had time to concoct a defensive plan against the Hebrew hordes.  Oops!  No, there will be no time to prepare.  These people have miraculously crossed the rampaging Jordan River without losing anyone or anything!  And they are now encamped outside the city gates!  So when spies showed up at Rahab's door she knew who these people represented.  She had a choice to make.  She chose to believe what she had heard about their God, and she let them in.  She also chose to hide them at great risk to her and her household.  Jericho was a godless city teeming with wickedness and idolatry.  Rahab flexed her small amount of faith in the Hebrew God and opened up her home to strangers.  We can read her account over in the book of Joshua in chapter 2:9-11.  The spies gave her a pledge of safety and told her how to mark her home as being "hands off."  

    Did God arbitrarily destroy Jericho as some claim?  I would say no, He did not.  He had allowed information to filter in from the desert regions for forty years.  Then these inhabitants of Jericho got to witness what had happened to a couple of cities prior to the Hebrews arriving at their walls.  God gave them plenty of time to choose what to believe.  And they all chose wickedness rather than try living by God's rules, except for one harlot and her family.  One woman chose to trust God, and He saved her.  Since she was saved by faith, anyone else in Jericho could have also been saved by faith if they had so chosen to believe.  

    32: And what shall I say more?  for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets (11:32).  

    The writer points out that there are very many other examples of people choosing to live by faith in God.  All of the prophets of the Old Testament are living examples of faith in God.  Gideon for example thought of himself as being too small of a man, from too small of a family, from too small of a tribe, to do anything for God.  But God chose him, because he had faith in God.  God enabled him to do great things in service to God.  Do we today feel that there must be some great big show, some big demonstration, some big meeting if our ministry is going to be of the Lord?  God doesn't often move in such a fashion.  God begins with a small work in a person's life, and feeds it until it grows into something bigger over time.  It is up to us to remain faithful during the growth years.  

    33: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
    34: Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
    35: Women received their dead raised to life again:  and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection (11:33-35).   

    Daniel is spoken of here, Samson also, along with saints of Christ like Stephen.  Why face such persecution?  In order to obtain a resurrected life in Christ in due time.  The widow of Zarephath got her son back from death through the efforts of Elijah's faith in God.  How many saints have become martyrs over the centuries?  All did so in order to not lose their witness to the lost world.  Political leaders have attempted to persecute Christianity out of existence, it has not worked in the least.  If anything, persecution spreads faith in Christ even quicker for people are able to witness people's faith in action under duress.  

    36: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yes, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
    37: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
    38: (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (11:36-38).  

    Here we are introduced to another group of people.  Their victories did not come from out upon any battlefield.  They were not performing great feats for God in front of millions of people.  But they are heroes nonetheless.  Through everything which they had to experience, they remained faithful to Christ Jesus.  Back in verses 33-34 that group of people escaped the edge of the sword while subduing kingdoms and obtaining promises.  This group of people had just as much faith and yet suffered persecution.  Why?  They did not look upon it as though they were being tested by God; they knew that these things most likely would happen to them because of their faith in Christ.  

    Sometimes God delivers believers from the suffering, sometimes He does not.  It is according to His plan as to whether or not we will be delivered from the suffering in our lives.  Stephen was able to tell his persecutors that he was experiencing nothing that the prophets of old had not already experienced at the hands of the unbelievers.  He was the very first Christian martyr.  Saul of Tarsus was shown the great things which he must suffer for the sake of Christ, and he did not turn aside from his faith in Christ.  Jesus Christ has made it abundantly clear that in this world we shall experience pain, suffering, tribulation, and loss; but we are to be of good cheer for Christ has overcome the world and is with us always.  

    Some of those who have suffered greatly by maintaining their faith in Christ are the Waldensians, Albigenses, Hugenots, and the Scottish Covenanters.  And there scores of groups around our world who today suffer persecution on a daily basis because they proclaim the Word of God and courageously live a Christian life style.  We must not forget what has been written to us in I Peter 4:12-13:  "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:  But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy."  And then Paul made this statement to the Colossians:  "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the church (Colossians 1:24)."  Here we find that there are to be sufferings which must be endured for the sake of the entire body of Christians.  Christ's redemptive sufferings took place upon the cross.  But if we are to stand for Christ, we are going to have to pay a price for it.  Have you had to pay a price yet?  If not, perhaps you are not taking a firm enough stand for God.  Satan need not attack those who do not step out in faith and minister to others.  It is those who have discovered what true faith in God means that Satan becomes concerned about.  Great big  targets become painted upon our backs when we determine in our hearts to stand in the breach and defend our homes against godless propaganda and teachings.Satan's fiery darts must be directed at someone, and it those who are destined to do mighty things through faith in Christ that receive said darts.

    Today there are multitudes of saints who are suffering tremendously and paying a huge price for their faith.  They endure through faith in Christ.  They have more faith than I do I fear.  They have more faith than most of the believers who live in America for we are so affluent in our society that we have little concept of persecution.  So, let's not forget about the "others" in the world, they deserve our prayers each and every day.

    Well, beloved, that is all for today in this study.  I hope to post again tomorrow and finish up chapter eleven.  Until then, grace and peace be yours!

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Mar 25th - 12:22PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    ""The Bible knows nothing of solitary relgion."

                           ~John Wesley

    ""The Church cannot be content to live in its stained-glass house and throw stones through the picture window of modern culture."

                           ~Robert McAfee Brown 

     1: Then came all the tribes of Israel to David in Hebron, and spoke, saying, Behold, we are your bone and your flesh (5:1). 

    The eleven tribes came to David.  Finally, they exhibit some common sense by acknowledging that all of them are Hebrew, why are we fighting?  Civil war always tears a nation apart from the inside out and weakens it overall.  Civil wars frequently are followed by outside attacks from foreign governments seeking to take advantage of the situation. 

    America's worst conflict was its own civil war.  Common sense did not carry the day and prevent states from choosing to secede from the Union.  People did not stop and take a long hard look at the long term ramifications of such actions.  It took years upon years to recover from the hardships imposed upon people because of states choosing secession over remaining in the Union.

    Israel and Judah spent seven long years locked in civil war, killing each other, wasting resources and lives.  Finally, the division of the twelve tribes comes to an end, reunification takes place, wholeness is restored.  At that time this represented the entrance into the golden period of Israel.  It also represents/symbolizes the day when Christ will return and rule upon earth and usher in a glorious period of time spanning a thousand years.

    That is all for today my friends.  Next time I shall continue looking at this period of reunification of the twelve tribes and what it led to next in the history of Israel.  I pray that you have grace, peace, and love in your life today and in the days to come!

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Mar 24th - 3:49PM

    THE GLORY OF THE LORD



    "So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud:  for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God (II Chronicles 5:14)." 

    God showed His acceptance of Solomon's magnificent temple as His symbolic earthly dwelling place by the coming of the Shekinah glory cloud.  This had happened one other time before in the wilderness.  "Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34)." 

    But as the glory once departed when the Ark of the Covenant fell into the hands of the Philistines (I Samuel 4:22), so it would later also depart when Solomon's Temple was ransacked by the Babylonians and all was carried away into exile (II Chronicles 36:17-20l Ezekiel 10:18, 11:25).

    The Shekinah glory returned for a time when "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory (John 1:14)."  On one occasion Christ's glory was allowed to shine through even in a physical sense:  "And as He prayed, the fashion of His countenance was altered, and...they saw His glory (Luke 9:29-32)."  This took place on the Mount of Transfiguration where Moses and Elijah also appeared to the disciples.

    There is also a great day coming when the ascended Lord will return with His heavenly host and temple, "coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30)."  This gory will be present forever when the heavenly tabernacle, the New Jerusalem, comes to earth (Revelation 21:3-10), "having the glory of God (verse 11)." 

    Now in this present time, the body of each believer in Christ Jesus "is the temple of the Holy Ghost, therefore glorify God in the body (I Corinthians 6:19-20)."  "For God...has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Corinthians 4:6)."  We are to know this glory of God for we have been told that we have fallen short of "the glory of God."  Having fallen short of the mark, we must therefore strive to come to know this "glory of God."  Why?  Because He is coming back one day to dwell upon this planet and to make known that Christ Jesus is God of all.  Every knee will bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of everything.  I believe that within the burning bush which confronted Moses there was a large measure of this "glory of God."  Moses had been told to observe the holiness of the ground upon which he stood.  Moses undoubtedly basked in "the glory of God" while upon the mount in the wilderness, for when he came down with the stone tablets his face glowed. 

    So let us determine in our hearts to pursue God and not settle for falling short of "the glory of God."  Let us yearn to walk each day in such a fashion that we never push the Holy Spirit away.  We are to care for our bodies since they are now the temple for the Holy Spirit.  Let us heed the Spirit's call:  Come, come!  The gates to your prison cell stand open!  Come, and enter in to the Sabbath rest of Christ.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 23rd - 12:52PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



     1: And when Saul's son heard that Abner was dead in Hebron, his hands were feeble, and all the Israelites were troubled.

     2: And Saul's son had two men that were captains of bands:  the name of the one was Baanah, and the name of the other Rechab, the sons of Rimmon a Beerothite, the children of Benjamin:  (for Beeroth also was reckoned to Benjamin):

     3: And the Beerothites fled to Gittaim, and were sojourners there until this day.

     4: And Jonathan, Saul's son, had a son that was lame of his feet.  He was five years old when the tidings came of Saul and Jonathan out of Jezreel, and his nurse took him up, and fled:  and it came to pass, as she made haste to flee, that he fell, and became lame.  And his name was Mephibosheth (4:1-4). 

    Mephibosheth is an unusual name, and should be remembered for it shall come to attention once again later on.  But why were the Beerothites fleeing?  We shall see.

     5: And the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, Rechab and Baanah, went, and came about the heat of the day to the house of Ish-bosheth, who lay on a bed at noon.

     6: And they came into the midst of the house, as though they would have fetched wheat; and they struck him under the fifth rib:  and Rechab and Baanah his brother escaped (4:5-6). 

    These two brothers took it upon themselves to rid Israel of its king.  Perhaps if Abner had still been alive they would not have undertaken this action, but not that he is dead they counseled together and chose a course of action.  Obviously they believed that this was the proper course of action needed at this particular time.  As will be seen, they thought that this would make peace with David and they could receive a reward from him for solving a dilemna.  But what they did was bloody, ruthless, and ugly. 

     7: For when they came into the house, he lay on his bed in his bedchamber, and they struck him, and slew him, and beheaded him, and took his head, and got themselves away through the plain all night.

     8: And they brought the head of Ish-bosheth unto David in Hebron, and said to the king, Behold the head of Ishbosheth the son of Saul your enemy, which sought your life; and the LORD has avenged my lord the king this day of Saul, and of his seed (4:7-8). 

    These two men took the head to prove that Ish-bosheth was indeed dead.  They might be applauded for their determination, but they were foolish to believe that David would be ecstatic with their exploits. 

        9: And David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said unto them, As Jehovah lives, who has redeemed my soul out of all adversity,
       10: when one told me, saying, Behold, Saul is dead, thinking to have brought good tidings, I took hold of him, and slew him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his tidings.
       11: How much more, when wicked men have slain a righteous person in his own house upon his bed, shall I not now require his blood of your hand, and take you away from the earth?
       12: And David commanded his young men, and they slew them, and cut off their hands and their feet, and hanged them up beside the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth, and buried it in the grave of Abner in Hebron (4:9-12). 

    Rechab and Baanah were murderers of a king.  David had them executed as such.  Ish-bosheth had been David's opponent but had not been a dishonorable man and had not deserved to be killed while sleeping on his bed.  The brothers ought to have taken a moment to consider what had happened to the murderer of king Saul who had actively sought to kill David, if they had they might have reconsidered killing their own king who had done nothing to try and kill David. 

    That finishes this short chapter four.  Chapter five will provide us with the continuing efforts to reunify all twelve tribes of Israel.  Until we meet again, grace and peace be yours this day!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Mar 22nd - 12:22PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "We will neglect our cities to our peril, for in neglecting them we neglect the nation."

                              ~John F. Kennedy, Message to Congress, 1962 

        14: And David sent messengers to Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, saying, Deliver to me my wife Michal, whom I betrothed to me for a hundred foreskins of the Philistines.
       15: And Ish-bosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Paltiel the son of Laish.
       16: And her husband went with her, weeping as he went, and followed her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return: and he returned.
       17: And Abner had communication with the elders of Israel, saying, In times past you sought for David to be king over you:
       18: now then do it; for Jehovah has spoken of David, saying, By the hand of My servant David I will save My people Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, and out of the hand of all their enemies.
       19: And Abner also spoke in the ears of Benjamin: and Abner went also to speak in the ears of David in Hebron all that seemed good to Israel, and to the whole house of Benjamin.
       20: So Abner came to David to Hebron, and twenty men with him. And David made Abner and the men that were with him a feast.
       21: And Abner said unto David, I will arise and go, and will gather all Israel unto my lord the king, that they may make a covenant with you, and that you may reign over all that your soul desires. And David sent Abner away; and he went in peace.
       22: And, behold, the servants of David and Joab came from a foray, and brought in a great spoil with them: but Abner was not with David in Hebron; for he had sent him away, and he was gone in peace.
       23: When Joab and all the host that was with him were come, they told Joab, saying, Abner the son of Ner came to the king, and he has sent him away, and he is gone in peace.
       24: Then Joab came to the king, and said, What have you done? behold, Abner came unto you; why is it that you have sent him away, and he is quite gone?
       25: You know Abner the son of Ner, that he came to deceive you, and to know your going out and your coming in, and to know all that you do.
       26: And when Joab was come out from David, he sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from the well of Sirah: but David knew it not.
       27: And when Abner was returned to Hebron, Joab took him aside into the midst of the gate to speak with him quietly, and smote him there in the body, so that he died, for the blood of Asahel his brother.
       28: And afterward, when David heard it, he said, I and my kingdom are guiltless before Jehovah for ever of the blood of Abner the son of Ner:
       29: let it fall upon the head of Joab, and upon all his father's house; and let there not fail from the house of Joab one that has an issue, or that is a leper, or that leans on a staff, or that falls by the sword, or that lacks bread.
       30: So Joab and Abishai his brother slew Abner, because he had killed their brother Asahel at Gibeon in the battle (3:14-30). 

    From out of this large passage of Scripture we are informed of David's honest dealings with Abner in order to unite the twelve tribes under one king once more.  David's condition of having his first wife, Michal, returned to him causes some grief in the heart of her current husband.  Interestingly we do not find anything about Michal weeping and grief-stricken over being torn away from her current husband.  Now, Abner and David are ironing out this agreement without the knowledge of Joab, David's captain of the army.  Joab has been off on a military foray with a large portion of the army and when he returns to Hebron he finds out that Abner has come and gone.  He wants to know why the man was allowed to leave alive. 

    Still carrying a grudge against Abner for murdering his brother Asahel, Joab sends men out to ask Abner to come back so that Joab can speak with him.  Now, I am not the brightest lightbulb in the carton, but why come back and talk with the brother of a man you murdered?  It was rather obvious that Abner was not a totally honorable man in his dealings with others, so why believe that Joab would be honorable to the point of not shedding blood?  Well, Abner comes back to Hebron and Joab draws him over to the side of the gate into Hebron.  Importance?  Very much so.  See, Hebron was one of those peculiar cities of refuge.  Once inside a refuge city a person was safe from being killed in vengeance, until they went outside of the city gates.  Joab understood this, did not wish to violate this basic element of Jewish culture and thus he kept Abner just outside of the gate.  It was there that Abner was killed pretty much the same way he had killed Asahel.  Joab chose to not allow vengeance be God's, but to execute Abner at his own hand. 

    When king David heard of these events he lamented.  He understood that Abner's blood would be upon Joab and his family, not David's since David had been willing to deal honorably with the house of Saul. 

       31: And David said to Joab, and to all the people that were with him, Rend your clothes, and gird you with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner. And king David followed the bier.
       32: And they buried Abner in Hebron: and the king lifted up his voice, and wept at the grave of Abner; and all the people wept.
       33: And the king lamented for Abner, and said, Should Abner die as a fool dies?
       34: Your hands were not bound, nor your feet put into fetters: As a man falls before the children of iniquity, so did you fall. And all the people wept again over him.
       35: And all the people came to cause David to eat bread while it was yet day; but David sware, saying, God do so to me, and more also, if I taste bread, or aught else, till the sun be down.
       36: And all the people took notice of it, and it pleased them; as whatsoever the king did pleased all the people.
       37: So all the people and all Israel understood that day that it was not of the king to slay Abner the son of Ner.
       38: And the king said unto his servants, Know you not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?
       39: And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me: Jehovah reward the evil-doer according to his wickedness (3:31-39). 

    Here we find that David understood the deviousness that Joab had utilized to first entice Abner back to within striking distance, and then in killing him just outside of a city of refuge.  Why did David say that Abner died as a fool?  I think David figured that Abner ought to have insisted upon entering the city before speaking with anyone at the gate.  Abner should have suspected Joab's true intentions.  What message is there in this for us?

    Just as Israel had several cities designated as refuges against vengeance, so too, we have a "city of refuge" in Jesus Christ.  Every single sinner may enter in and be safe from vengeance of God against sin.  But regardless of how high a man's IQ is or what his position in life might be, if he stands outside of the place of refuge, he is utterly lost.  This is why it is so important to remain "in Christ."  The hard, cold, truth could be spoken at many a funeral:  "Today a fool has just died.  He would not turn to Jesus Christ who is the ultimate place of refuge."  Are you residing in Christ, safely within the walls of His refuge?

    That finishes up chapter three of II Samuel.  Next we will begin looking into chapter four in which the reunification of Israel continues to forge ahead.  We shall see more people who make  poor decisions, revealing their lack of honor and of comprehension of the will of God.  Personal greed, self service, and "brown nosing" all will be showcased and give us pause to wonder why mankind never learns from its ancient mistakes.  If we be so much smarter than our ancient counterparts, then why do we still behave the exact same way?  Oh, we have all of these fancy electronic gadgets, and appliances, and clothes, but inside of us nothing has changed at all. 

    I pray that Christ bless you today.  May you be filled with grace and peace.  May you make wise choices today, doing that which pleases God.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Mar 21st - 12:28PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "Sight is not faith, and hearing is not faith, neither is feeling faith; but believing when we neither see, hear, nor feel is faith; and everywhere the Bible tells us our salvation is to be by faith.  Therefore we must believe before we feel, and often against our feelings, if we would honor God by our faith."

                          ~Hannah Whitall Smith 

    Chapter three continues the account of the long civil war that raged within the nation.  Eventually David gained enough strength to achieve the upper hand.  Abner, after experiencing a fallingout with Ish-bosheth, deserted to David's side.  Joab, David's captain, suspected Abner and, seeking revenge for his brother Asahel's death, murdered him.

     1: Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David:  but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.

     2: And unto David were sons born in Hebron:  and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;

     3: And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur;

     4: And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;

     5: And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife.  Those were born to David in Hebron (3:1-5). 

    It is plainly seen that David had more than one wife.  This will create a great problem for David in the future.  God did not approve of this behavior.  Later on we shall find out what Absalom did to his father.  Who was Absalom's mom?  Maacah, daighter of Talmai, king of Geshur.  Who was this king of Geshur?  Looking back to I Samuel 27:8 we recall that David and his men invaded the Geshurites, the Gezrites, and the Amalekites.  He slew many of these people, including the king of Geshur, and as a result apparantly took the king's daughter captive.  Eventually she became married to David.  It will be their son who will cause great tragedy later on.  See, when sin is committed the consequences eventually become due and payable.  David sinned and he did not "get away with it."

      6: And it came to pass, while there was war between the house of Saul and the house of David, that Abner made himself strong in the house of Saul.

    7: And Saul had a concubine, whose name was Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah:  and Ish-bosheth said to Abner, Why have you gone in unto my father's concubine?

     8: Then was Abner very angry for the words of Ish-bosheth, and said, Am I a dog's head, which against Judah do show kindness this day unto the house of Saul your father, to his brethren, and to his friends, and have not delivered you into the hand of David, that you charge me today with a fault concerning this woman (3:6-8)?   

    Abner, who had been the chief captain of Saul's army, had pushed Ish-bosheth onto the throne of Israel.  Being an older man he probably tended to not listen to the young king.  Consequently Abner did something he should not have done, ever.

    See, it was the exclusive right of the man who was the successor to the throne to cohabit with the deceased king's concubines.  Abner trespassed on the rights of Ish-bosheth and then arrogantly became enraged when called out about it.  Frankly, the young king was justified in rebuking Abner, but Abner became so "wroth" with the king that he immediately began to formulate an "exit strategy."

     9: So do God to Abner, and more also, except, as the Lord has sworn to David, even so I do to him;

    10: To translate the kingdom from the house of Saul, and to set up the throne of David over Israel and over Judah, from Dan even to Beer-sheba.

    11: And he could not answer Abner a word again, because he feared him (3:9-11). 

    Abner made it plainly known his intention of leaving the house of Saul and ally himself with David.  Ish-bosheth did not dare say anything against Abner at this point for he had little to no army, and now no captain.  He was not a warrior like his deceased brother Jonathan.  He had been raised in the king's palace, amidst luxury and ease.  He feared Abner.

    12: And Abner sent messengers to David on his behalf, saying, Whose is the land?  saying also, Make your league with me, and, behold, my hand shall be with you, tobring about all Israel unto you.

    13: And he said, Well; I will make a league with you:  but one thing I require of you, that is, You shall not see my face, except you first bring Michal Saul's daughter, when you come to see me (3:12-13). 

    You will recall that Michal was David's first wife.  Saul had taken her away from David and given her in marriage to another man.  As if he did not already have enough wives, David requests that his very first wife be returned to him.  This will cause problems.  And yet, above all of these poor decisions, was a faith in God that never faltered nor failed.  More than anything else in his life David wanted a wonderful relationship with God.  We need to note this.  Inspite of all of our poor choices in life, as long as in our heart we genuinely desire to have a close relationship with Christ we can be forgiven by God and be known as someone who loved God.  David made mistakes, but he also repented of his sins once they become evident to him.  We need to do the same today.

    That is all for today, beloved.  Next time we shall follow this account of the agreement reached by David and Abner.  We will find out what the end results were.  I hope that you experience peace and calm in your life today, that you have the grace of Christ in your heart.  And may Christ shine down on you and His love then shine through you out into the world, just as the song lyrics say.

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Mar 20th - 12:05PM

    NLC



    As we embark upon our journey in a new life in Christ we need to come to understand what kind/s of spiritual gifts God has bestowed upon us.  To remain ignorant impairs our ability to walk effectively as a Christian.  So if we are unable to ascertain through our reading of Scripture what our particular gifts are, then it would be of immense benefit to take a well-designed, thorough spiritual gifts test.  Ephesians Four Ministries is an online resource which could be a possibility for you, although I am not endorsing them personally, simply as an example of what is available out there for you to use.  You can check them out at churchgrowth.org.  Once you find out what spiritual gifts you have been blessed with you can then seek out service in those areas within your congregation.  

    As always, in taking this sort of test you must be honest and open-minded.  Once you are able to find the position for which you are gifted fill it faithfully for the welfare of the body of believers.

    As most, if not all, believers today realize, there is a shortage of manpower for the work of the ministry within the church.  Far too many men either do not come, or they choose to sit on the sidelines and watch, making comments but not actually doing any of the work.  It is kind of like going to a football game in a large stadium.  Thousands upon thousands of people in need of some exercise yell at 22 men who need some rest.  A small group actually are actively working while the vast majority criticize or cheer their efforts while contributing nothing to the efforts down on the field.  The church body can't operate in this fashion and expect success, or to be healthy.  

    There is no need to wait for special invitations to come from the pastor.  God has already declared long ago, "For by grace you have been saed through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10)."  The grace of God that saves us is the exact same grace that calls us to serve Him.  God always welcomes a "walk-on" who will roll up their sleeves and work hard for the body of believers.  We must realize that no person ought to prevent us from doing what God has called us to go and do in serving Him.  May God grant us the grace to share our gifts with the rest of the body of believers and with the lost as seems appropriate.  This helps the body of Christ grow either physically or, just as importantly, spiritually and brings glory to God.

    One chapter in the Bible where we can discover some of the spiritual gifts that we can exercise on a daily basis is I Corinthian 13.  It is here that we find what is often called "agape love"  or charity.  Do you know of anyone who lives up to this definition of love?  We often fall short in some area, for only God lives up to this definition all of the time.  But we need to read this chapter and rediscover what changes we must work upon in our lives, in our thinking processes, in order to love people unconditionally even when we dislike their actions.  We can silently pray for people who stand in front of us in line, or who are driving erratically in front of us out on the freeway.  We can hold a door open for someone else.  We can ask people what we can do for them.  

    Lastly today I want to point your interest at I Corinthians 12:14-31.  The illustration of the body is used to drive home the importance of everyones' gifts.  In a body all of the parts working together, doing what they were designed to do, makes for successfully accomplishing things.  If our eyes refuse to see, or our ears refuse to hear, then there will be difficulties in doing things.  If our kidneys decide suddenly that they no longer think that they ought to be filtering our blood, then our health deteriorates and we could end up dying.  We must discover what it is we are suited for doing, and then go and do it to the best of our ability.  The apostles learned exactly what it was they were to do, and then they went out and did it without reservation until they could not do it anymore.  So, find out what your gifts are and do what God designed you to do for the rest of your life.

    That is all for this Sunday morning, beloved!  I post now for my congregation worships in the evening currently.  Be joyful.  Be peaceful.  Be loving.  Be there for people.  Be real.

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Mar 19th - 8:45PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    22: By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones (11:22).  

    Of all of the things which could have been said about Joseph concerning faith, and this is the one written of.  Out of the entire Old Testament there is probably no one who is more closely a type of the Lamb of God.  The analogy between the two men is striking.  Joseph was the best beloved son as was the Lord Jesus.  Joseph had a coat of many colors which set him apart from his brethren and gave him lordship over them; he had a vision and his brethren thought him to be a dreamer.  Jesus Christ, too, came with a message, and they thought that He was a dreamer.  Joseph obeyed God, Jesus obeyed God also and said that He came to do the Father's will.  Joseph's brethren hated him; Jesus Christ was hated by His own people.  Joseph was sent by his father to seek out his brethren; Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to seek out the lost.  Joseph found his brothers who were shepherds; shepherds came by night on the night Jesus was born.  Joseph's brethren mocked him, refused him, and planned to kill him; the same happened to Jesus Christ.  Joseph was sold into slavery; Jesus was sold out for thirty pieces of silver.  Joseph's coat was dipped in blood; the Roman soldiers gambled for Jesus' cloak.  While on a throne, Joseph gave bread to his people; Christ is the Bread of Life for all mankind.  While in Egypt, Joseph got a Gentile bride; Jesus Christ is calling out of our world a people who are to be His Bride.  Joseph finally made himself known to his brethren when they came to Egypt seeking salvation from starvation; one day Christ shall make Himself known to His brethren who come to Him seeking salvation from their sins.

    Joseph had faith in the dream given to him by God.  He did not doubt it, nor forget about it.  Tough times did not force him to give it up.  Good times did not cause him to forget about it.  When his brothers threw him into the pit and then sold him into slavery Joseph still had faith in God.  When Potiphar's wife falsely accused him and Joseph was thrown into prison for years he still kept his faith in God.  No, in Genesis 50:25 Joseph commanded his family to take his bones with them on the day in which they left Egypt.  This man remained faithful throughout his life serving God.

    23: By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
    24: By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
    25: Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season (11:23-25).

    Moses' parents were godly people who had faith in God.  They took a stand for God by defying the Pharaoh's orders that every Hebrew male child be killed.  Moses refused to be called an Egyptian.  Do we refuse to be called members of this world's culture and belief system?  Do we freely identify ourselves with it?  If so, can we then claim to have faith in Christ?  Are we willing to take a stand and identify ourselves with Christ?  It requires us to make a choice, one which forces us to change our minds, and our lifestyles.

    26: Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt:  for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.
    27: By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king:  for he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible(11:26-27).  

    Moses saw Christ's day and rejoiced, just as had Abraham.  Moses' faith allowed him to act.  Too many people today say that they believe but they sit and do absolutely nothing.  Faith reveals itself through action.  God saves us without our works, but the faith that saves produces good works afterwards.  Moses concluded correctly that upon viewing the invisible God that he need not fear Pharaoh.  Moses did not want to go back to Egypt because he felt he was undeserving of such a high honor by God, not because he was afraid.  "Who am I to go and save my people?"  He felt he was unworthy of such a high calling.  Frequently we too feel that way.  Why me,Lord?  It is me because God has chosen me for this task and He will enable me to accomplish it.

    28: Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them (11:28).  

    That one had to be based upon faith.  How could anyone have known what was going to happen to all of the firstborn?  It only became set in motion by the mouth of Pharaoh.  So Moses did exactly what God instructed him to do and told all of the Hebrews to do the same.  What was the result of his actions?  A verification of his faith in God.  If we never bother to step out in faith we will never receive validation of our faith.

    29: By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land:  which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned (11:29).  

    Whose faith was on display here?  The Hebrew people?  Or Moses?  It wasn't the Hebrew people, for when they saw Pharaoh and his army approaching in the distance they all started crying and whining about how things hadn't been THAT bad back in Goshen.  No, it was Moses who demonstrated his faith in God by going down to the water's edge and smacking it with his rod just as God had instructed him to do.  By faith the waters opened up and the seabed became dry land for the Hebrews to escape across.  The validation of faith?  The walls of water crashing back down upon the Egyptians as they raced across the seabed, thinking that the water would remain held back for them as well.  

    30: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days (11:30).  

    No natural phenomena explains this one away.  The Hebrews marched around Jericho each day doing exactly what God told them to do.  On the seventh day the walls fell down.  This event has been verified by archaeologists who have found Jericho's ruins.  

    Here in the life of Joshua we have the watch of faith.  Joshua had seen the captain of hosts of God and been told that their headquarters was up in heaven, not on the earth.  The heavenly hosts will defeat our enemies just they did for Joshua, if we do what God tells us to do.  God in essence told Joshua what to do, and then simply watch the results.  No fighting required.

    I am stopping there for today.  Next time I will be covering verses which talk about Rahab, Samson, Gideon, and the prophets.  Hope you come on back.  May Christ be alive to you, may you feel Him working in your life each day.  May you choose to look at each morning as if it were the very first morning breaking over the eastern horizon, the sun's rays blazoning the clouds in wondrous highlights and chasing the darkness away off to the west.

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Mar 18th - 12:46PM

    A SON OF THANKFULNESS



    "And she conceived again, and bare a son:  and she said, Now will I praise the LORD:  therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing (Genesis 29:35)." 

    Here is the testimony of Jacob's first wife, Leah.  This will be the fourth child that she has given birth to.  This verse contains the first mention of the Hebrew yadah, often translated as "praise" or "thank" or "thanks."  She even named her son "Judah" which pretty much is the same Hebrew word.

    God chose Judah to be the father of the tribe through which Christ would come into this world, even though there were three older brothers.  Every time Leah called Judah's name she was reminded of her original gratitude for the gift of this special son.

    Later on, Judah was willing to give his life for that of his younger brother Benjamin (Genesis 43:9).  This was a picture of what another member of the tribe of Judah would do for all of mankind centuries later. 

    In the very last reference to Judah in the Bible, this son of Judah is called "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" who will one day be acknowledged as King over all of the earth (Revelation 5:5).  The last mention of "thanks" in the Bible is when the elders in heaven cry out:  "We give You thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which are, and was, and are to come; because You have taken to You Your great power, and has reigned (Revelation 11:17)." 

    We do indeed have much for which we are to be thankful towards God, but most of all we are thankful for the Son of God, the Son of Man, Seed of Abraham, Second Person of the Trinity.  He is our Lord and Savior, and our coming King!

    That is all for now, beloved!  I pray that the remainder of this day, and this upcoming weekend, will be a blessing to you!  Grace and peace follow in your footsteps, wherever you may go.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Mar 17th - 9:05PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    As I pick up where I left off last time in this study, I wish to remind you that in marriage couples might as well forget about "rules and regulations."  At least until both partners are walking by faith.  And even when both are doing this their home will never be an ideal home.  It is impossible to accomplish in this world.  

    Husbands and wives always have things over which they disagree.  It is simply going to happen.  Look at Abraham and Sarah.  Abraham says we are moving down to Egypt for awhile.  Think Sarah meekly agreed to go along?  Somehow I do not think so.  Was Abraham correct in deciding it was a good idea to go live for awhile down in Egypt?  No, he was wrong and it almost cost him his wife to another man.  When the two of them returned to the Promised Land Abraham had problems with his nephew.  Later still, God had to show Abraham that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was a righteous and just thing to do.  Later still, God had to make it clear to Sarah that He could very well give her a child even as she aged past ninety years.

    Abraham and Sarah had the kind of home that we probably ought to have today.  It was far from perfect, but it was one in which the father loved God and trusted God.  Those qualities are far more important than rules and regulations.  We find that out when the day arrives when we argue with our spouse, or find out that we have a big problem with one of our children.  Are rules and regulations going to solve these problems?  No, only faith will find a solution.  We need to reach the place where we are willing to put our child upon the altar of sacrifice for God.  

    Beloved, if you find life is going hard with you at this time, that you are having severe problems, then God is trying to teach you something important.  You need to stop, pray for your eyes to be opened, and read God's Word to allow God to speak to you through it.  Allow God's Spirit to be your teacher, do not always run to your pastor or your Sunday school teacher.  We must learn that Abraham's worship of faith led to obedience in his life.  It is how he came to have his faith counted to him for righteousness sake (Romans 4:3).

    20: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come (11:20).

    Very little is said about Isaac.  Was he a faithful follower of God?   Probably since he was offered up as a sacrifice by his father.  He was willing to do that for his father.  The one thing pointed out in scripture is that Isaac blessed his two sons about the things to come in the future.  Isaac did not accumulate great amounts of wealth, or property, or flocks, or fame with the locals.  He dug wells, and lost them to others.  But Isaac informed his sons of the promises of God given to their grandfather.  

    21: By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff (11:21).  

    Jacob led a colorful life.  But this verse lists something from when he was on his deathbed.  Studying Jacob's life we discover that he is an illustration of human nature and of the fact that it is by grace that we are saved.  Except for the grace of God Jacob would have been lost.  Jacob had no merit in the eyes of God, which is exactly every person's position in the eyes of God.

    Today we get to hear all about prenatal, natal, and postnatal care and how important these are in shaping the life of the individual.  What can be said about Esau and Jacob while still within their mother's womb?  They were already striving with each other before ever being born!  Jacob was already seeking for the upper hand but had to settle for holding the heel of Esau as they were born.  Jacob was a heel-grabber at birth and remained one all of his life.  He was also a deceiver and an all around rascal.  And yet, God transformed his life.

    Jacob was a deceiver with his father.  God had promised Jacob the blessing but Jacob was impatient and couldn't wait, unlike David.  Instead of patiently waiting, Jacob fooled his brother into giving away his inheritance for a meal.  This resulted in him being forced to leave home and go live with his uncle Laban.  While living with Laban Jacob received some payback and yet, he did not learn his lessons and indulged in more deception.  Then one of his two wives indulged in deception with her father.  Jacob did not stop running his life by using just his wits until he was traveling back to his father's holdings.  There he ended up wrestling with God all night long with the result being that he became crippled.  

    Was deception done in Jacob's life?  Unfortunately, no.  One day his sons came and told him that their brother Joseph had been killed by wild animals, showing him their brother's torn and bloody multicolored coat.  And Jacob wept bitterly.  Joseph was his favorite son out of all of them.  

    However, at the end of Jacob's life his faith is lauded.  He had finally found faith in God later in life, perhaps after discovering that his son Joseph had not died after all.  Why was he leaning upon a staff?  Remember his wrestling match with God?  Obviously he suffered the effects of that endeavor for the remainder of his life.  Much of Jacob's life was spent in deception, sin, chicanery, and general crookedness.  But God did straighten his life out and brought him to a place where the man could worship God and be faithful to God.  We need to consider this picture placed before us for it reflects ourselves in today's world.  How long we insist upon relying upon our wits to solve our perceived, and real, problems will determine when, or if, we come to God in faith and become willing to worship Him in truth and in spirit.  Where there is confusion and deception, as long as there is faith anchored in Christ we can grab hold of Him and be extracted from out of that morass.  Without any faith in Christ we are alone in the grips of Satan and our own sin; our only hope then is our own ingenuity.

    That is all for today, beloved.  Next time we shall check on some more men of faith who came after Jacob.  We shall see how they handled the faith issue.  May Christ's grace, peace, and joy flood your soul each and every day!

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Mar 16th - 7:13PM

    NLC



    "Individual commitment to a group effort---that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
                                                            ~Vince Lombardi

    Each believer is a vital part of God's Kingdom, of God's family.  God pictures His children as a body made up of many members; the "hand" needs the "foot" and the "foot" needs the "eye."  All are important to the "body", and they must work together to be most effective.  Proverbs 30:27 says this:  "The locusts have no king, yet all of them go out in ranks."  The strength of the locust is their habit of moving forward as a single group.  One locust causes no stir, but thousands upon thousands of locusts together strike fear into people.  Fear is not what our goal in this world is, but believers need to band together and work together to accomplish what God desires to be done by us.  This concept can be found also in Romans 12:4-5:  "For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."  The body of believers has only one "head" though, and that head is Jesus Christ.  

    So, what are your gifts?  How are you using them to build up the body of Christ?  In team sports, if one player misses his/her assignment then the team is often not as successful in what it is attempting to do.  If one member of the church congregation chooses to not fulfill his/her gifted responsibility then the congregation as a whole is less effective and achieves less than what God intends for them.  

    The apostle Paul instructed the team members of the church in Rome to present their bodies as a living sacrifice and to have their minds renewed so they could know God's will and do God's will (Romans 12:1-2).  Then the apostle challenged them to genuinely consider their own gifts and to faithfully practice them for the benefit of the whole body of believers there in Rome.  We are forced to ask ourselves then, have we been tempted to envy someone else's gift or talent?  Do we overrate, or underrate,  ourselves or others' gifts?  Doing either of these things can damage ourselves and others, ruining important relationships within the body of Christ.  We are to always esteem what others do as being just as important as what we are doing.  We need to be on the alert for when we begin making excuses for not using our gifts.  We need to get up off of the bench and out into the harvest field, which is white for it is so ripe!  In order for the body of Christ to function properly, the body needs contributions from all of its various members.

    Well, with so many members in the body how do we get anything accomplished without all sorts of fighting?  The secret is found through unity with diversity which can lead to spiritual maturity of the body of believers.

    Flipping over to the Book of Corinthians it is seen in chapters 12 and 13 that there are some basic concepts God wants us to learn and then not forget.

    We have unity because:

    *   We have one Lord, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.
    *   We have one Spirit, and that is the Holy Spirit Who empowers us.
    *   We serve the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
    *   We serve as one member for the sake of the whole body.

    This unity concept is found in I Corinthians 12:1-13.  This unity is possible through each of us plugging into the same Holy Spirit who dwells inside of each of us.  We all end up with the same mindset and value system when we listen to only the urging of God's Holy Spirit within us.

    Our found diversity in I Corinthians 12:14-31 is because:

    *   That is what God has designed and displayed throughout His universe.
    *   That is what the body needs, and together we get more done.
    *   God loves each individual and He wants us to appreciate each other as well.

    Spiritual maturity as spoken of in I Corinthians 13.  We can only hae functional unity and diversity when we come to maturity through love/charity.  Love that is of God is loyal, unselfish, caring, edifying, and never-ending!  How are you doing?

    That is all for today, beloved!  Next time in this study I will write more about this concept of "the body of believers."  May Christ bless you with grace and peace this day.

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Mar 16th - 3:10PM

    TO BE FILLED AND FULFILLED



    "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Colossians 1:9)." 

    Here we can see that Paul sought for the Colossian Christians the full knowledge of the will of God for their lives.  Not partial but complete.  What a prayer!  Unceasingly praying for others, desiring that they might become filled with the complete knowledge of God's will for their lives.  That is showing how much you love them!  Paul prayed many things for many different groups of believers.  For the believers at Rome he prayed that they might be filled "with all joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13)."  For the Ephesian believers he prayed that they "might be filled with all the fulness of God (Ephesians 3:19)."  For the Philippian believers he prayed thusly, "And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment...Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11)."  And then he prayed for the Colossians again for their "full assurance of understanding (Colossians 2:2)." 

    All of these prayer requests constitute an ideal description of a complete Christian.  This is an ideal which we all ought to strive and pray for, for both ourselves and others.  Here is the list:

    "Filled with all joy and peace in believing."

    "Filled with the fruits of righteousness."

    "Filled with the knowledge of His will."

    "Filled with the Spirit."

    "Filled with all the fulness of God."

    "Filled with assurance of understanding."

    Do you get the message here today, beloved?  We are to be filled with God, not empty, not only partially filled.  The Greek word for "filled" is the same one as for "fulfilled."  So when we become "filled" with all these wonderful realities we achieve "fulfillment" of God's purpose in creating and redeeming us.  God's ultimate goal, of course, is for us to eventually measure up to "the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:13)." 

    Are you feeling like your life is empty, devoid of purpose?  Then perhaps your life is bereft of being "filled" with the Spirit of the Living God.  Does your life feel like it is lacking any sort of direction?  Then seek out God anew and become "filled" with the knowledge of what God wants you to do with your life.  Feel insecure in today's ever-changing world?  Then turn to God whole-heartedly, give Him your heart, and be "filled with assurnce of understanding" which comes through His Holy Spirit within you.  Are you struggling with loss of loved ones or imminent death of a spouse or child?  Then turn your face towards the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and through Him be "filled with all joy and peace in believing" that He has taken away all of your sins and washed you white as the newly fallen snow in winter.  Turn to God and He shall show you the abundant life promised in the New Testament.  You shall be free indeed!

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Mar 14th - 6:28PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



     9: By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
    10: For he looked for a city which had foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
    11: Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised (11:9-11).  

    If you recall, when God told Sarah at ninety years of age that she was to have child, she laughed because that was preposterous.  She couldn't wrap her mind around that concept, but God did give her the strength and power to believe Him.  We all need such strength and power today.  Remember the man who brought the demon-possessed boy to Jesus?  Jesus told that man that He could help him if he would but believe.  What did the man say in response?  "I believe.  Help my unbelief."  That man recognized his weak faith and that God needed to strengthen it more.  Obviously the man's belief became enough for Jesus did, in fact, heal that boy from being demon-possessed (Mark 9:17-27).  Sarah ended up with Isaac and represents the power of faith.

    12: Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable (11:12).  

    Because Abraham was faithful to God he ended up with a male offspring who would begin the process by which this verse would eventually become fulfilled.  But neither Abraham nor Sarah saw the fulfillment of this particular promise.  They trusted God to keep His word.  

    13: These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
    14: For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country (11:13-14).

    Walking in faith causes all of us to realize that we are simply pilgrims, sojourners, strangers down here on earth.  Our real home is up in heaven with Christ.  Faith does not look back to better times, it does not dwell upon the possessions which we have with us right now, it looks out into the vastness of the future.  Why?  Because out in the vastness of the future lies the Second Advent of Christ, the day when He returns to rule upon this earth for one thousand years.  

    As I prepare for the future I keep in mind the possibility that I may find myself living through the End Times.  If so, then I am going to need to supply food for myself and whoever may be alive and living with me.  So I am laying the groundwork now so that I am pretty much self-sufficient then.  I guess people would say that I am being pragmatic.  I say that I am taking God at His word.  If I am alive during the Tribulation Period then I will not be able to buy and sell anything after a certain point in time.  I will have to raise it myself.  

    15: And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
    16: But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly:  wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God:  for He has prepared for them a city (11:15-16).  

    Oh beloved, eternity will not see us roaming this earth like nomads in tents.  No, we shall be living in New Jerusalem and worshiping Christ each day.  

    As we all know, one can easily turn around and go back to living in the world if one is satisfied with the things of the world.  But a child of God, by faith, is moving ever onward and upward.  I desire a better country than America.  America is a fine country to live in right now, but it is not my eternal home.  I am on a pilgrimage which shall take me home to heaven one day.  I keep my eyes fixed upon that final destination no matter what may happen to me.

    17: By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son(11:17).  

    God instructed Abraham to take Isaac up the mount and to sacrifice him to God.  Some say this was wicked of God to do.  I say that Abraham understood the nature of God and remained faithful for he knew that God would not ultimately take the life of his only son that day.  He was proven correct.  It was a test of his faith in God.  This instance is also a picture of what God would one day accomplish through Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son.  Through God offering up His only begotten Son we are able to therefore receive the promises given.  

    18: Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall your seed be called.
    19: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also He received him in a figure (11:18-19).  

    God did not ask Abraham to offer up Isaac until he had come to the end of his life.  God does not test us beyond what we are able to handle (I Corinthians 10:13).  Thus God never asked Abraham to give up Ishmael.  First of all, Ishmael was not the promised son, and second of all, Abraham would not have done it.  Abraham did not even want to have to send Ishmael away, he would not have countenanced sacrificing him to God.  This is the way of testing of our faith.  God waits until we reach the proper place in our lives before He begins testing us with certain things.  

    We all are taught about the great promises which Abraham received of God.  But what did he actually receive during his lifetime?  He did not see the fulfillment of any great promises of inheritance, but God did give him a home.  When as a young man Abram lived in Ur of the Chaldees, he met and said to a beautiful young woman, "I love you, I want to live the rest of my life with you.  I want to marry you."  And they did get married.

    Then one day later on, Abram came home to Sarah and told her, "The living God has called out to me.  He wants me to leave this place and travel to an unknown place which He says He shall give me for a home."  Can you hear Sarah's response to that declaration?  "What in the world are you talking about?  All of our relatives live here, our friends live here, and your work is here.  Where exactly are you going?"  Abram's reply, "I simply do not know right now. God said He will lead me and I am to follow Him."  What did Sarah say to this?  "Okay, I'll go with you."  They had some faith, not a lot though.  Did just the two of them leave Ur?  No, they convinced papa and some of their relatives to go with them, you know for some comfort.  They arrived at Haran and hung around there for awhile until papa Terah finally died.

    At this point in time the two of them finally travel into the land where God wanted them to get to.  God had been attempting to get these two people away from their parents in order for them to establish a godly home for raising children in.  Remember God had established this principle way back in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  It made no sense initially, for neither Adam nor Eve had biological parents.  

    Abraham had lived in an idolatrous home up to this point in time.  This is made plain in Joshua 24:2.  Marriage has been given all sorts of rules and regulations over the years, but the first and foremost thing to do is to walk by faith in God.  

    That is all for today.  Next time I shall finish up these thoughts on verses 18-19.  Grace and peace be yours today!

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Mar 14th - 12:23PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    18:"It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him."

                                                 ~Abraham Lincoln 

    We resume studying II Samuel with a look at an event which will play an important role later on.

    18: And there were three sons of Zeruiah there, Joab, and Abishai, and Asahel:  and Asahel was as light of foot as a wild roe.

    19: And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to the left from following Abner.

    20: Then Abner looked behind him, and said, Is it you, Asahel? And he answered, It is I.

    21: And Abner said to him, Turn aside to your right hand or to your left, and lay hold on one of the young men, and take his armor. But Asahel would not turn aside from following him.

    22: And Abner said again to Asahel, Turn aside from following me: why should I smite you to the ground? how then should I hold up my face to Joab your brother?

    23: Howbeit he refused to turn aside: wherefore Abner with the hinder end of the spear smote him in the body, so that the spear came out behind him; and he fell down there, and died in the same place: and it came to pass, that as many as came to the place where Asahel fell down and died stood still.

    24: But Joab and Abishai pursued after Abner: and the sun went down when they were come to the hill of Ammah, that lies before Giah by the way of the wilderness of Gibeon.

    25: And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together after Abner, and became one band, and stood on the top of a hill.

    26: Then Abner called to Joab, and said, Shall the sword devour for ever? know you not that it will be bitterness in the latter end? how long shall it be then, before you bid the people return from following their brethren?

    27: And Joab said, As God lives, if you had not spoken, surely then in the morning the people had gone away, nor followed every one his brother.

    28: So Joab blew the trumpet; and all the people stood still, and pursued after Israel no more, neither fought they any more.

    29: And Abner and his men went all that night through the Arabah; and they passed over the Jordan, and went through all Bithron, and came to Mahanaim.

    30: And Joab returned from following Abner: and when he had gathered all the people together, there lacked of David's servants nineteen men and Asahel.

    31: But the servants of David had smitten of Benjamin, and of Abner's men, so that three hundred and threescore men died.

    32: And they took up Asahel, and buried him in the sepulchre of his father, which was in Beth-lehem. And Joab and his men went all night, and the day brake upon them at Hebron (2:18-32).

    Zeruiah was one of David's sisters, thus these three brothers were his cousins.  Asahel might have been very fleet of foot, but he was no match in hand to hand combat against Abner.  To Abner's credit he does warn Asahel to quit before he suffers death.  Asahel persists and so Abner runs him through with his spear.  This pretty much guarentees that Joab will have bitterness in his heart towards Abner.  There could easily be hatred and the desire to seek revenge.  Abner wisely calls out to Joab and attempts to end this confrontation before the bloodshed spreads even wider and deeper than it already has.  Joab shows remarkable character by not persisting in seeking revenge for his brother's death.  Perhaps he understood that what his brother had attempted to do was rather foolhardy and had contributed to his own death at the hand of Abner.  At any rate, Joab calls off his soldiers and allows Abner and his men to retreat to safety.

    David's men had killed some 360 of Abner's men and only lost 20 of their number.  We see that Asahel is given a burial next to his father in Bethlehem and then the remainder of David's men returned to Hebron at daylight.  David received a full report of the events that had transpired and ended with Asahel's death.  This completes chapter two.  A lesson to take away from this historical account is this:  Do not foolishly confront those who are physically capable of easily taking your life.  I have witnessed in my life many foolish people who run their mouths, arrogantly taunting others who are fully capable of putting them into a hospital with multiple broken bones.  Some have ended up receiving a thorough beating while others miraculously did not enter into any conflict.  We are warned by God to not allow our tongue to utter inflammatory words which will drag us into a physical battle.  We are to confront others in the love of Christ, speaking quietly and compassionately.  

    Next time we shall begin chapter three and find that the civil war continues in nation Israel.  We will discover what Abner's ultimate fate was to be.  Until then, grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric 



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    Sun, Mar 13th - 3:21PM

    NLC



    Shall we continue studying our new life in Christ?  We are studying our reactions to trials and tribulations and whether we ought to be growing spiritually during periods of suffering in our lives.  Let's look at three more verses that speak to this question.

    "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.
     For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
     For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who has subjected the same in hope,
     Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
     For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
     And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
     For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man sees, why does he yet hope for?
     But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.  
     Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  
     And He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  
     And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. 
     For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:18-29)."  A large passage which tells us many things besides suffering.  We are to expect trials in our life and we are to understand that all trials work together for our own good.  Verse twenty-eight says that for those who love God, all trials work together to bring about God's purpose in our lives.  The next verse then points out for us that since God knew ahead of time who would accept Christ into their hearts that He did predestinate them to become conformed to the image of Christ.  Christ became the "firstborn" of having a glorified body and this extends out to each person who accepts Christ into their hearts as Lord and Savior.  Verse eighteen points out how far short our sufferings fall when measured against the glory to come which will be dwelling within our bodies for all of eternity.  We are also to remember that all of nature groans and travails under the weight of sin, yearning for the day when Christ returns bodily to this world and begins His reign.  

    "Finally, you all be of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: 
     Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing. 
     For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:  
     Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.  
     For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  
     And who is he that will harm you, if you be followers of that which is good?  
     But and if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; 
     But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:  
     Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. 
     For it is better, if the will of God be so, that you suffer for well doing, than for evil doing (I Peter 3:8-17)."  Here we see that even though we focus upon doing good towards God and to others that we can still experience persecution, trials, and tribulations.  If we suffer because of righteousness sake then we are to be happy, content, for there is no need to fear the terror threatened by unbelievers.  They may kill our bodies, but they cannot kill our souls.  That is what the world can't comprehend about Christians.  We are confident that even though our body dies we still live on in spirit, and that one day God shall give us a glorified body that shall last for ever and ever.  So what do I do with this truth from I Peter?  I live my life unafraid of what others will, and can do to me physically.  I pray for them.  I go about doing God's work as He expects, not worrying about all of the fallout.  Do I do this obnoxiously?  No, I do not.  I must remain acutely aware of what those last couple of verses say.  Whatever I do in life, it must be done in order that I may have a clear conscience and those who persecute me will become ashamed of their efforts to falsely accuse me of evil and wickedness.

    "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 
     And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
     And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. 
     And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Revelation 21:1-4)."  Finally, here in the Book of Revelation, we see that when God brings down the new Jerusalem from heaven there will be many things which shall no longer exist in this universe:  death, sorrow, crying, pain.  These will be gone forever since sin shall no longer exist in this universe of ours.  It will have been taken captive and thrown into the lake of fire along with death.  Suffering will no longer exist for believers.  There will be absolutely no place for it in all of creation.  God promises us this.  God provides us with these promises in order to encourage us during our daily walk with Him.  It can become a long, dreary life, filled with suffering, pain, and loss.  Each of us are in need of encouragement, of bolstering, of being reminded of the reality of life.  Those who die in Christ will be seen again one day and they shall have glorified bodies.  God has promised it to be so.  We can take that to the proverbial bank and cash it in folks.  The death of each Christian ought to be a celebration of life, not wailing and hand-wringing over their not being here anymore.  They have moved on to a much, much, better place than where we remain.  

    Well, that is all for today, beloved.  Next time I shall write about what our part is in the body of Christ.  Until then, may Christ richly bless you and your family!

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Mar 12th - 1:12PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



     6: But without faith it is impossible to please Him; for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (11:6). 

    There it is laid out plain as day for us:  without faith it is impossible to please God.  Enoch pleased God not through his works but through his faith in God.  He did things God's way, believed God, walked with God.

    Rewards are either spoken of, or inferred, throughout this Book of Hebrews.  This is because emphasis is placed upon the Christian life.  Salvation is not a reward, it is a free gift.  We work for our rewards but not for our salvation.  And the kicker is this: we do our works in faith to Christ Jesus.  All we do, we do in faith.  Enoch diligently sought out God each and every day, he walked with God by faith.  Do you doubt that the Bible is God's Word?  Then you have a lack of faith in God.  Do you doubt that God is able to do what He says He will do in the Bible?  Then you have a lack of faith in God.  You are unable to please God while remaining in such a state of unbelief.

     7: By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith (11:7). 

    Noah may not have reached any of the Babylonians over his 120 years, but he surely won his family by his faith in God.  As we go back and review Genesis 6 we find that God had passed judgment upon the wickedness of mankind at that time.  We find that Noah was a just man and walked with God.  This walk with God entailed having faith in what God told him being taken as the truth.  Noah did not doubt that God was telling him the truth at all. 

    God told the man that He was going to destroy the world with water, all would perish.  There are indications that it might not have had to rain up until this point in time.  This would explain why so many people did not believe what Noah tried to explain to them repeatedly.  But Noah believed God and began to construct an ark exactly the way God described it to him.  It took years to build this boat. 

    We now come to Abraham, a man known as the man of faith.  It is how he is identified in God's Word.  This man is held up as th illustration of faith in the Book of Romans and Galatians.  Jesus Christ said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day:  and he saw it, and was glad."  In this man then, we shall see the  worship of faith.

     8: By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went (11:8). 

    We see that the worship of God leads to obedience to God.  It leads to work for God.  We do not need to browbeat anyone, or coerce anyone, into doing what God wants them to do.  That is not the way.  People need to make a voluntary choice to worship God, to believe God, and to then obey God.  In verse eight the most important word is "obeyed."   Abraham did not sit and endlessly question God or criticize God.  Abraham simply went, leaving everything familiar behind. 

    Going back to Genesis 12 we find that Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees and went off to Haran.  He remained there for some time before eventually reaching the land of Canaan.  Once reaching this point, God appeared to him and gave him the promise of all of that land to his descendants.  Everywhere this man went he built an altar to God in order to worship Him there.  All of it led Abraham to obey God for by faith he believed what God said to him.  We all need to learn this lesson shown to us by Abraham:  go where God says to go, do what God says to do while going there and do what He says to do once we get there.  In this way we will be obedient to God and shall then be blessed beyond our wildest dreams. 

    That is all for now beloved.  Next time we shall finish up looking at Abraham and also Sara.  May you enjoy this day, one of the last of this winter!  My prayers go out to all those affected by the earthquakes and tsunami which has affected Japan and other parts of the Pacific rim. 

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Mar 11th - 8:16PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



     4: By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts:  and by it he being dead yet speaks (11:4).  

    With Abel God set down the principle once and for all time that men and women must approach Him on the sole basis of faith, and that salvation will be by faith in Christ.  

    Let's return to the Book of Genesis and the story about these two young men.  We need to know without a doubt what it was that Abel had and Cain didn't have.  What was the difference?  In Genesis 4:1 we find that Eve became pregnant, gave birth to Cain, and said that she had received a man from the Lord.  She probably was thinking that she just gave birth to the man.  See, God had made it very clear to Adam and Eve that one day there would be coming one in her lineage who would bruise the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15).  Most likely they did not understand that the struggle with sin would last for centuries.  They could easily have believed that here was the "seed" who would rectify everything that had gone wrong.  Cain was not a savior, he was a murderer.

    In Genesis 4:2 we read that Eve also gave birth to Abel who became a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the earth.  Cain engaged in solid, earnest labor.  There was nothing wrong with his labor.  It would not appear that they were twins, that they were conceived separately and born separately.  Both boys were hard working individuals.  But there were differences between them.  

    Genesis 4:3 continues saying that in "process of time it came to pass" that Cain brought an offering to God which was of the fruit of his labors tilling the earth.  This phrase indicates that a time period passed, that it came to a close, and then Cain brought his offering.  This indicates a specific day, not just any day of the week.  We are therefore speaking of the Sabbath Day for these people belonged to the first creation, the old creation.  Verse three also indicates that Cain knew exactly where to bring his offering.  Abel also brought an offering, except his was of the flock.  God rejected Cain's offering and approved of Abel's.  Why?  Both young men brought an offering obediently to God.  Wasn't that sufficient?  No, it was not.  God had revealed that a lamb was to be offered for covering sin.  Why a lamb?  Because the lamb pointed to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God slain before the foundations of the world for the sins of the world.  Genesis does not say this, but Hebrews puts it to us.  By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than his brother.  It has never been that Cain failed to offer a sacrifice.  It has always been a matter of bringing the sacrifice which God has requested of you.  

    What is faith?  Romans 10:17 gives us, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."  Abel had a revelation from God and so did Cain.  But Cain ignored it, and he brought what he wanted to bring, something which he had produced through his works.  This is the first instance of someone bringing his works to God.  Today we have very many people still coming to God this exact same way:  coming by works.  

    But Abel brought lamb and he killed it.  If we had been there we may have been tempted to ask Abel, "Brother Abel, why are you bringing, and killing, a lamb?"  Abel would have replied, "Because God commanded it so."  "Do you think, brother Abel, that that little lamb takes away your sin?"  "Of course not,"  Abel would have said.  "I just told you that God commanded us to bring and kill it.  He told my father and mother that there is One coming through their line who is going to be a Savior, and that Person is the One to whom this little lamb points toward.  I am doing this by faith, looking to the time when a deliverer and a Savior will come."

    From the time of the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, to Cain and Abel, God had made it plain what the way to Himself entailed.  "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins."  We must all therefore come to God on the one basis that we are sinners and that the penalty for our sins must be paid before eternal life in heaven can become ours.  That is why the lamb foreshadowed the First Advent of Christ Jesus.  That is why the lamb was offered in faith.

    Abel's offering therefore pointed to Christ, and Abel came by faith, which is the way of salvation.  God has made it very clear to us:  Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Christ is the Way to God the Father; God gave Him to die for our sins.  Abel thus is the picture of our need to come through faith in Christ to God's throne.  We cannot avoid the shed blood of Christ and still believe that we can enter into heaven at the end of our days.  

     5: By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him:  for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God (11:5).  

    Genesis five is where we find Enoch mentioned first.  We find that Jared was Enoch's father and he lived some eight hundred years after siring Enoch.  Jared is said to have lived a total of 962 years.  It is inconceivable to us how someone could possibly live that long of a life.  But it happened.  When Enoch was 65 years old he sired Methuselah; and Enoch lived a total of 365 years.  You may be thinking "So Enoch did die."  No, he did not.  Reading further we discover that God took him.  Enoch had walked with God faithfully.  We receive nothing knowledge-wise about the other offspring mentioned, only about Enoch.  Did Enoch walk with God before Methuselah was born?  We simply do not know, only that he did walk with God after his first born son came into this world.  Perhaps the mere presence of his baby son forced him to rethink his priorities in life, to take a fresh look at reality.  Enoch "pleased God" and was translated out of this world before experiencing death.  Apparently this was the very first rapture of a person out of this world.  

    For those who believe that the church of believers will go through the Great Tribulation Period the case is made that Noah represents the example.  And it may very well be the case.  But Noah might also represent the multitude of people who come to believe in Christ during the Tribulation.  Some rightfully claim that at that particular time no one will be able to resist the temptation to believe in the Antichrist.  Except that we are told in the Book of Revelation that there are to be 144,000 Israelites who accept Christ as their Savior and are "sealed" against harm as they are to be preachers of the Word of God to the world.  As a Gentile, I am telling you that you really want to have settled the question of Christ in your mind before we enter the Tribulation Period.  Once we get to that point in history it will become impossible to accept Christ.  Those who are already believers probably will still be here on earth since Revelation states that Antichrist waged war against the "saints of God" and they all would have perished except God shortened the number of days made available to persecute Christians.  Christ kept His disciples from temptation after He left this earth and He shall keep us from temptation in the future.  We could easily say that Enoch represents the Church.  Enoch was kept from having to enter into the ark to be safe.  God could have kept him safe in the ark, but God translated him out of this world.  Proponents of a Pre-tribulation rapture base much upon these sorts of concepts.  But we must not lose sight of the fact of all that is said in Revelation.  If all believers are translated to heaven, then who is Antichrist persecuting?  Thus, we are forced to not go down this rabbit hole.

    So why was Enoch translated?  I am unsure, but perhaps it is because he is to be one of the two witnesses in the End Times who are to stand in Jerusalem and preach God's Word to all who can hear their voices.  These days I am of the mind that the rapture does not come until after all of these events have transpired.  There is the tension between those people who have chosen to accept the mark of the Beast in order to buy and sell merchandise and those who have refused to do so.  Why refuse to do so unless you believe in Christ instead?  There is the plague in which insect-like things come and search out those who have rejected Christ and simply wear them out with their agonizing stings.  Those who are believers in Christ are immune to attack.  So obviously Christians are present during much of the Tribulation Period.  We must not read more into I Thessalonians 4:16-17 than is there.  We must be quite careful to properly understand those verses in relation to everything else spoken in God's Word.

    That is all for tonight beloved.  Next time I shall continue with verses six, seven, and eight in which we discover Noah and Abraham.  We will also discover what it takes to please God.  May you have grace and peace in your heart.

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Mar 10th - 10:05PM

    NLC



    "I walked a mile with pleasure, She chatted all the way, But left me none the wiser for all she had to say.  I walked a mile with sorrow, And ne'er a word said she, But oh the things I learned from her, when sorrow walked with me."

                                        ~Robert Browning Hamilton 

    Results of suffering

    *   It is profitable for us if we learn to trust God in it (Hebrews 12:10).

    *   It makes us partakers of His holiness and righteousness (Hebrews 12:10-11).

    *   It can give us the pleasure of a powerful life as we allow others to see how God carries us through to victory (II Corinthians 12:9-10).

    We must remember that experiencing sorrow enables us to learn valuable lessons which strengthens our character.  We gain knowledge as to how to help others through similar circumstances, and to encourage them.  So, remember that you aren't to simply look for HOW you can get out of your troubles, but you are to look for WHAT you can get out of them in terms of wisdom and maturity! 

    Let's look at some examples of this in action.  Looking into Genesis 50:16-21 "But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive (verse 20)."  Here is how we are to view the various troubles that enter into our lives.  Others may mean evil toward us, but even in the midst of the evil perpetrated against us, God means it to do good.  Joseph was mistreated by his brothers but God turned it around for good several years later when a huge famine struck the region.  Joseph ended up through his brothers' evil actions becoming a very influential person in Egypt and able to then feed his entire family. 

    In reading II Corinthians 4 it can be seen that Paul felt the same way as had Joseph.  The Christian can rejoice in his/her tribulations for Christ is in us, and Christ works His will through us.  We are to remain focused upon maintaining our faith through any and all troubles, this then becomes a powerful witness to those around us who observe how we react to life's problems.  Even in death we can influence others.  While dying all we need utter is, "I forgive you, for you know not what you do,"  or "Thank you, I am now going home to be with my Lord."  We can comfort family and friends upon our deathbed, rather than wailing and weeping over not living longer.

    That is all for tonight my friends.  Next time I shall continue with three more passages that reflect upon how we are to react to trials and tribulations in our lives.  Peace be with you.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Mar 10th - 12:43PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "Keep your feet on the ground, but let your heart soar as high as it will.  Refuse to be average or to surrender to the chill of your spiritual environment."

                                                 ~A.W.Tozer 

     8: But Abner the son of Ner, captain of Saul's host, took Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and brought him over to Mahanaim;

     9: And made him king over Gilead, and over the Ashurites, and over Jezreel, and over Ephraim, and over Benjamin, and over all Israel (2:8-9). 

    We see here the division of the kingdom of Israel, and it presages the permanent division which will come in the future after Solomon's reign ends.  David is made king over the southern tribe of Judah, but the northern tribes follow after Ish-bosheth and set in motion the pattern for the distant future. 

    10: Ish-bosheth Saul's son was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and reigned two years.  But the house of Judah followed David.

    11: And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months (2:10-11). 

    Here is the civil war between the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom.  It depleted the resources and manpower of the nation overall.  It also shows the path that the northern kingdom chose to follow since once Ish-bosheth no longer reigned they continued to rebel against the anointed of God. 

    12: And Abner the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, went out from Mahanaim to Gibeon.

    13: And Joab the son of Zeruiah, and the servants of David, went out, and met together by the pool of Gibeon:  and they sat down, the one on the one side of the pool, and the other on the other side of the pool (2:12-13). 

    Abner and Joab attempted to negotiate a resolution by that pool.  But, when you have determined people on one side or the other who refuse to compromise, or to see reason, negotiation is almost impossible.  The attempts become futile, and that is what happens in this instance. 

    14: And Abner said to Joab, Let the young men now arise, and play before us.  And Joab said, Let them arise.

    15: Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ish-bosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David.

    16: And they caught every one his fellow by the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down together:  wherefore that place was called Helkath-hazzurim, which is in Gibeon.

    17: And there was a very sore battle that day; and Abner was beaten, and the men of Israel, before the servants of David (2:14-17). 

    This was supposed to be the solution, but as it turned out, all of the selected young men died in this contested battle by the pool.  And so a broader battle broke out and Abner and his men were beaten soundly by David's men led by Joab.  David is no longer the innocent shepherd who slew Goliath, but a veteran of many military campaigns.  He has attracted men of war to his side who are fiercely loyal to him.  David is a rugged man and quite talented at this sort of warfare.  Abner's army had superior numbers but still was defeated that day by David's men. 

    Next time we shall follow the flight of Abner and find out what happened to him.  Until then, beloved, may the grace and peace of Christ our Lord and Savior be with you all. 

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 9th - 12:44PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "There is no virtue so truly great and godlike as justice."

                                                          ~Joseph Addison

     1 : And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Juday?  And the LORD said to him, Go up.  And David said, Where shall I go up to?  And He said, Unto Hebron (2:1). 

    David sought out God's direction.  He did not simply personally choose where to go at this point in his life.  So too, we ought to seek out God's direction in our lives.  If we do not, then we can easily end up exactly where God would not want us to be.  In the kingdom of Israel there are problems brewing.  Abner, Saul's captain of the army, makes Saul's son Ish-bosheth the king over the eleven of the tribes of Israel.  Civil war is unavoidable.

    "After this" refers to the deaths of Saul and his sons out on the battlefield and the grieving of their loss by David and all of his men.  David now wants to know what to do.  He knows that he was anointed to be the next king of Israel, but he still is not about to barge on in unless God wishes this to be the moment.  He still waits upon the Lord.  We must learn this lesson and be patient and wait upon Jesus for direction.

    God told David to go to Hebron which is not very far from the Philistine border.  David is not to make a bold grab for complete power, but to go and make himself available to the people. 

     2: So David went up there, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal's wife the Carmelite

     3: And his men that werer with him did David bring up, every man with his household:  and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron.

     4: And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah.  And they told David, saying, That the men of Jabesh-gilead were they that buried Saul.

     5: And David sent messengers unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, and said to them, Blessed be you of the LORD, that you have showed this kindness unto your lord, even unto Saul, and have buried him.

     6: And now the LORD show kindness and truth unto you:  and I also will requite you this kindness, because you have done this thing.

     7: Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and you be valiant:   for your master Saul is dead, and also the house of Judah have anointed me king over them (2:2-7). 

    David went up to Hebron and brought his wives and all of his men and their families with him.  Once he settles down in Hebron his own tribe of Judah comes to him (since he has made himself available) and anoint him as their king.

    David found out who had actually buried Saul and communicated his gratitude to them for showing such respect to Saul.  David's good, and admirable, points often get overlooked because of his shortcomings.  But they are there nonetheless.  David was a wonderful man in many respects, and yet he had to pay a great price later in life because of his great sin in every day life.

    So after paying them compliments, David requests of them their loyalty/support.  He asks them to give their devotion to him as their king.  He does this in a very diplomtic fashion for he realizes that these people still have a legitimate successor to Saul's throne, namely his son Ish-bosheth.  Many times in our lives today we stumble upon situations in which we ought to deal with others in a diplomatic fashion so that they will consider our words respectfully.  We must consider our words before we utter them so that they do not offend anyone, if at all possible. 

    Well, that is all for today my friends.  Next time we shall find out what Abner had done while David moved himself to Hebron.  We shall discover how long David lived in Hebron.  Grace and peace on this rainy day in late winter!

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Mar 7th - 3:29PM

    II SAMUEL STUDY



    "To call a man evangelical who is not evangelistic is an utter contradiction."

                                             ~ G. Campbell Morgan 

    18: (Also he asked them to teach the children of Judah the use of the bow:  behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.) (1:18). 

    As we recall Saul, he did make some contributions to their culture.  The Israelites had had no iron weapons so Saul taught them to be archers.  The bow and arrow turned out to be a formidable weapon.  Here in North America the Indians used them to great success against the colonists and against other Indian tribes.

    19: The beauty of Israel is slain upon your high places:  how are the mighty fallen!

    20: Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph (1:19-20).  

    David shows us his talent in writing poetic psalms by describing Saul.  We also can see that David does not want the Philistines to know any more than is absolutely possible about these events.  Gath was the Philistine capital.  Askelon was in the Gaza strip and was quite close to Jerusalem.  Their concern was in allowing the uncircumcised Gentiles to triumph over God's people.  That would have been utter failure on their part and they knew God would be angry and dissatisfied with them. 

    21: Oh mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings:  for there the shield of the mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not been anointed with oil.

    22: From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty (1:21-22). 

    We can see again the reference made to Saul having been God's anointed king of Israel, even though Saul had separated himself from God's favor.  David treated it reverently, not wishing to intrude upon that relationship between Saul and Jehovah.  And David informs us that neither of these men were to be considered as cowards, that they had both fought valiantly in battle.

    23: Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided:  they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

    24: You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.

    25: How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!  O Jonathan, you were slain in your high places.

    26: I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant had you been to me:  your live to me was wonderful, passing the love of women (1:23-26).  

    Is this describing a homosexual relationship, as some claim it to be?  No, it is describing a deeply personal relationship between two men who came to feel as if they were, indeed, brothers by blood.  They looked out for each other's best interests, they did not do things which they knew would harm the other.  I believe one of the reasons David chose to not kill Saul was because he knew the grief it would cause Jonathan.  David did not choose the expedient path, he chose the patient path to the throne of Israel. 

    David was married to Jonathan's sister and yet he said that his feelings for Jonathan were deeper than for her.  Did he do Michal a disservice here?  We ought to wait and see before passing judgment upon this man. 

    For all of the heroism exhibited by David, and his devotion to serving God, he was not very successful in his love affairs.  Abigail is the only noble woman in all of his posse of women.  Bathsheba was not a noble woman.  Why was she up on her roof naked?  Yes, David had his problems with women, but he had no such issues with Jonathan.  I am sure that David missed his advice and company in the years afterwards. 

    27: How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished! (1:27) 

    I am sure that Jonathan's bravery and bent for tactics was remembered by David here.  Even as David will no longer be hounded and hunted at every turn by Saul, still he grieves over the killing of his king. 

    We are going to see in the next chapter that David is made king over Judah, but not Israel.  We are to meet Abner, who was Saul's captain.  Not all of Saul's sons had been slain out on the battlefield.  His younger son, Ish-bosheth was made king over the eleven remaining tribes and as a result civil war broke out.  This would apparantly presage what the future would hold for the Hebrews:  a divided kingdom.  After Solomon's death the kingdom became fractured, with a king ruling Judah and a king ruling over Israel.  But at this time the kingdom was to become unified under one king.  So the section which we are coming to is historical in nature.  Far from being uninteresting, we need to seek out and find spiritual lessons buried within its pages.  But that is for next time, beloved.

    May the grace and peace of Christ Jesus bathe you this day.  May you choose to walk in service to the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  May you realize that faith in God is not a leap into darkness nor is it guesswork. 

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Mar 6th - 11:59AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



     3: Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear (11:3).  

    We have two competing explanations for the origin of our universe today.  One is speculation, and the other is revelation.  By faith we accept revelation, and also, by faith you and I will accept speculation.  The question then becomes, which one will we choose to accept by faith?  The answer to this question then influences which world view we shall adhere to and become a proponent of.  Speculation has many theories and many of them have been abandoned over the years.  Right now the theory is evolution, but even evolution is passing out of style and being replaced with other derivations.  The unbelievers best efforts are based upon speculation, and this requires a lot of faith to continue believing in it.  

    The Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.  God's Word is more powerful than any atom, hydrogen, or neutron bomb.  God's Word is able to reveal sin and transform lives.  We have the choice, given to us by God, to either accept or reject His Word on how the universe was created.  We either believe the revelation, or we choose to go with our own speculation on how it all began.  Evolution is not scientific, for if it were then 99%, or more, of our scientists would agree with it being true.  That is not the case at all.  Faith must be anchored in something, it will either be speculation or revelation.  

    Faith means that you have a solid base for the origin of the universe.  I do not have to change my theory as scientific knowledge grows; it remains unchanged over the ages.  

    We approach a section of Hebrews where we are asked to consider the faith of various individuals.  Faith is not like some jewel, like a diamond, which is put in a case and admired from afar.  Faith is not something which is put on display, faith rests upon the Word of God and becomes operative in peoples' lives on a daily basis.  

    We are going to consider the experiences of three people who lived before the Flood, we can call them antidiluvians.  Abel is the first one, and in him we have the way of faith.  In Noah we have the witness of faith.  And in Enoch we have the walk of faith.  All of these persons walked by faith, lived by faith, and were saved by faith.

    This all of the time that I have right now, beloved.  'Tis time to say adieu.  Grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Mar 5th - 12:19PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    "The evidence of things not seen."  Continuing the discussion following verse one of chapter eleven, we have seen that faith is the substance of things hoped for---that is scientific.  The word "evidence" in the Greek is elegchos.  It is a legal term meaning "evidence that is accepted for conviction."  This term is used around twenty-three times in Plato's account of the trial of Socrates.  Evidence is something which you take into a court of law to prove your case before the judge or jury.  Our entire business world rests upon evidence.  Business is transacted upon faith.  Credit cards are issued on faith, the card holder uses the card on faith.  The business owner accepts the card on faith.  

    Thus faith is not a leap in the dark.  Faith is not a "hope so."  Faith is substance and evidence; substance for a scientific mind and evidence for the legal mind.  Anyone who really wants to believe can believe.  People believe a whole lot of extremely foolish things, but God doesn't want you to do that.  God wants your faith to rest upon the Word of God.

     2: For by it the elders obtained a good report (11:2).  

    Who are these "elders?"  They could be one of three possible groups.  They could just be a group of older people, or they could be members of the office of elder in the New Testament church.  Or they could be the Old Testament saints who were referred to in Hebrews 1:1 as the "fathers."  Abraham left his ancestral home on faith of finding a new, promised land.  Noah built an ark solely on faith that it would rain, something which he had never seen happen.  

    The trouble today is that when a crisis arises we tend to not rest upon Christ and lay hold of Him.  It usually is due to the fact that before the crisis came along we had not been resting in Christ anyways.  So we must learn to lean upon Jesus when the sun is shining so that when the storm clouds arrive we know how to continue to lean upon Him.  

    These elders received a good report not because they were such wonerful people.  It was because they believed God.  We are told that Abraham believed God by faith.  God put righteousness to his account because he believed God, not because Abraham did great works.  

    God desires each of us today to not only be saved by faith, but to also walk by faith.  Going out to the movies>  Walk in faith while doing it.  Going to work?  Walk in faith while on the clock.  Doing some yard work?  Do it in faith.  Practice your faith every day in everything that you do and then when the tough times come, and they will come, you will be well prepared to handle them in faith.  

    That is all for today my friends.  Next time in this study I will cover verse three which deals with cosmology and the origins of creation.  Then we shall begin to deal with the faith examples given to us in this chapter of Hebrews.  May Christ live through you today!

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Mar 3rd - 6:46PM

    NLC



    Reactions to Suffering in our world

    *   Grief is natural, but it ought to be tempered with hope:  "Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Hebrews 12:11)."  "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him (I Thessalonians 4:13-14)."  All during our sorrow we must keep in mind that since we are saved through Christ we shall be brought with Him at the last trumpet.  In Hebrews we see that even though while we are being chastened it is grievous, afterwards it will bring on the fruit of righteousness which is full of peace and contentment.  No matter how grievous our trials may be presently, we must remember that they shall end and we shall experience peace.  Christians ought to know that God will not allow their grief to run on forever, that He shall come and ease the burden.

    *   Depression can set in if you don't look to God in faith:  "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (I Peter 1:5-7)"  When despair strikes us, we must embrace our faith and not forget our salvation in Christ.  We must understand that Satan shall attack us with manifold temptations, attempting to defeat us.  Satan wishes us to think that we have no recourse to these temptations, that we must give in to them or despair of ever having a sanctified life.  Christians must understand that their faith must be tried, purified, made stronger through trials and tribulations.  In this way it shall result in praise and honor, and glory at the time when Christ Jesus reappears to all mankind.

    *   Bitterness can follow depression and corrupt others:  "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him:"  "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;(Hebrews 12:5,15)"  All that it takes to mess up many people in a congregation of believers is for just one believer to fall victim to tribulations and become bitter with God.  That one person can infect many others and cause a falling away from the family of God.  If God did not love you, care about you, then He would not bother with chastening you.  He would simply allow you to go and do whatever you felt like doing, whether or not it would harm you in the long term.  That is how parents raise their children whom they love.  They correct their behavior because they care about their future welfare as well as the present circumstances.  The bitter person grumbles, mumbles, gossips, slanders, and back stabs other believers and too often, the pastor.  They wish others to feel as bad about life as they do, even without consciously being aware of their intent.  We must be on guard continuously for this emotion's presence in the body of Christ and learn how to effectively deal with it in love.

    *   Giving up on life and the Lord, if not for faith:  "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks unto you as unto children, My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of Him (Hebrews 12:5)"  Many times we reach a point where we simply give up on God, we forget the lessons which we had learned.  "Faint" means to just swoon.  We can't throw our arms up in the air when we are rebuked by God and say, "Oh woe is me!  God hates me for He is bringing trials and problems into my life continually!"  God is just working to get your attention so that you will recognize that there is something in your life which needs to get changed, to be improved.  Strength of faith is what keeps us from reaching the point where we despise Christ and turn our backs upon God.  We must be training ourselves during the good times so that when the bad times come we are prepared to suffer through them and not lose our faith.  Pray to God, study His Word, put principles into daily practice, and we shall then be strong enough to survive the trials and tribulations when they come into our lives.

    *   Rejoice in the Lord; His promises will see us through:  "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."  "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (II Corinthians 12:9-10)."  It is imperative that we realize that pleasure can't be taken in being persecuted due to our wrong choices in life.  I choose to exceed the posted speed limit on a stretch of road I must not get angry and offended when the police pull me over and issue a speeding ticket to me.  I broke the law and must pay the penalty for doing so.  No, I am to understand the difference between persecution and consequences of my personal choices.  When I properly choose to follow God's will for my life and I consequently suffer persecution and/or reproach for doing so, then I can be glad for Christ told me that this would happen.  Paul understood this quite well.  He had a "thorn in the flesh" which caused him all sorts of distress, and yet he knew Christ would still make him strong enough to accomplish the tasks set before him.  Distributing Christian tracts around town gets the Word of God out to the public, but it can lead to people calling you all sorts of foul names, spitting on you, pushing you around, and threatening you physically.  You can stand up during a county fair at your booth and pronounce the Word of God concerning the redemption of sin and gaining entrance into heaven, pronouncing how much God loves everyone.  But be aware that this can lead to shouts of profanity, and perhaps even censure by local authorities.   But we are to rejoice in Christ during these times, for they indicate that we do that which pleases God immensely.  

    Well that is all for tonight.  Next I shall write about the results of suffering.  Until then, think about these things, pray about these things, and begin to live these things.

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Mar 3rd - 12:18PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "An American Indian was giving his testimony in a gathering of Christian members of his tribe.  He told of his conversion and of how in the beginning he felt as though he would never sin again; he was so happy in knowing His Savior.  But, he explained, as time went on he became conscious of an inward conflict, which he described womewhat as follows:

    "It seems, my brothers, that I have two dogs fighting in my heart:  one is a very good dog, a beautiful white dog, and he is always watching out for my best interests.  The other is a very bad dog, a black dog, who is always trying to destroy the things that I want to see built up.  These dogs give me a lot of trouble because they are always quarreling and fighting with each other."

    One of his hearers looked up and asked laconically, "Which one wins?"  The other instantly replied, "Whichever one I say 'Sic 'im' to."

    Surely there could not be a more apt illustration of the two natures in the believer.  "If we walk in the Spirit we shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh."  But if we pander to the flesh, we will be certain to go down in defeat.

                                               ~H.A. Ironside 

     11: Then David took hold of his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:

    12: And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until evening, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the LORD, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.

    13: And David said to the young man that had told him, Who are you?  And he answered, I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite.

    14: And David said unto him, How were you not afraid to stretch out your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed (1:11-14)? 

    Not surprisingly, David and his men wept and mourned the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, and of all of the people who had been slain in fighting the Philistines.  But, then David wishes to understand who this young man is, and how is it that he presumed that it was okay to slay the king of Israel who was anointed by God.  The young man reveals that he is a member of the Amalekites, those people who have been sworn enemies of the Hebrews since they crossed the wilderness after leaving Egyptian bondage.  IF this young man did, indeed, finish killing Saul then it is poetic justice since king Saul had been ordered by God to kill all of the Amalekites previously and Saul did not do so.  Being an Amalekite this young man was unafraid of killing Saul, Jehovah was not the god of the Amalekites, what did he care about the king having been "anointed" to be king over Israel?  But this was an important issue with David, if you remember, for he had had more than one opportunity to slay Saul and he had refused to do so simply because Saul was the anointed of God.  No one had the right to slay Saul for God had placed the crown upon his head.  David felt that it was up to God to remove Saul, not him nor any other person. 

    We must keep in mind that there is always danger in interfering with God's work.  Attempting to insert our wishes into God's program, plan, and interests leads to judgment being levied against us from heaven above. 

    15: And David called one of the young men, and said, God near, and fall upon him.  And he struck him that he died.

    16: And David said to him, Your blood be upon your head; for your mouth has testified against you, saying, I have slain the LORD's anointed.

    17: And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son (1:15-17). 

    David judged this Amalekite for having the audacity to slay the king of Israel.  If this young man had made up this story in order to impress David, it most certainly was a fatal mistake.  David's grief was very real, very genuine, for he understood the significance of God's anointed king having been slain.  David grieved over the loss of Jonathan, a friend and more of a "brother" than perhaps even his own biological brothers.  It was a huge loss for David.  In our lives, when we lose someone very close to us, we must allow our grief to be expressed and not try to bottle it up within ourselves.  That is a recipe for disaster down the road.  All of that pent up emotion will eat away at us from the inside-out. 

    Next time we shall continue along and discover how David became king over all of Israel, for it did not happen all at once.  May this day find grace and truth flowing from between your lips, and love in your embrace!

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 2nd - 8:54PM

    NLC



    "But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come out as gold (Job 23:10)."  


    The Refining of Suffering

    As God tries each of us we come out as gold.  As perhaps you know, gold does not come out of the ground in a pure form, it must be refined.  Something must be done to the gold ore to drive off the impurities and leave just the gold behind.  In the same process God must do something to us in order to drive off all of our impurities in order bring us closer to perfection.  What could that be?

    God's refining process...

    *   Exposes our weaknesses so we can work on them; "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure (II Corinthians 12:7)."  "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:(I Peter 1:7)"  Are we willing to go through the "fire" to become purer?

    *   Empties us of ourselves; "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me (II Corinthians 12:9)."  It is said that we never really know that God is all we need, until God is all that we have.  Remember, when we are weak God is strong.  Do you have a limp?  Then lean heavily upon Christ and revel in His grace and power.  Have a stutter?  Know that God's grace is all you need and that His strength will provide you with endurance through your trials.  Anything which you are unhappy about yourself can be handed over to Christ and allow Him to carry that burden for you.  Glory in those weaknesses and invite the Holy Spirit to lay His strength and power upon you.  

    *   Enlightens us more to the nature and person of God; "It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn Your statutes (Psalm 119:71)."  "That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of  His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death;(Philippians 3:10)"  Martin Luther said that his trials had been his Master's in Divinity.  As we go through difficulties in life we need to ask God to lift our eyes up above our problems and to show us something about Him.  If our lives are always perfectly comfortable without incident, we will not be likely to seek out knowledge about God and to learn His laws and commandments.  We will feel that we need nothing from God for we are providing for all of our needs.  Only through sufferings of my own will I come to truly understand, and enter into, the fellowship of His great sufferings upon that cross.  In this I can truly become conformable to His death and be reborn spiritually.

    *   Equips us to comfort others who are suffering; "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds by Christ.  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation (II Corinthians 1:3-6)."  All of the problems which we suffer through are providing us with the ability to help others who are experiencing a similar burden.  Our experiences enable us to connect with others and either comfort them, give them advice, or even to lead them to salvation in Christ Jesus.  Christ turned His sufferings upon the cross to our good and thus we are to do the same for others around us.  As Christ comforts us we are to comfort others as well.

    *   Establishes us more deeply in our faith; "But the God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (I Peter 5:10)."  The more suffering we go through, the stronger our faith will grow.  Christ shall not allow us to suffer continually, but He will finish it and have made us stronger character-wise because of it.  We will not question our faith in Christ for we will have lived it out during the suffering and seen our prayers answered.  

    Next time, beloved, I shall write about reactions commonly seen to suffering.  Come on back!  See you tomorrow.

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Mar 2nd - 1:26PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



     "Where there is faith, there is love;  Where there is love, there is peace; Where there is peace, there is God; And where there is God, there is no need."

                                                       ~Leo Tolstoy 

    A young Amalekite, who came out of the camp of Israel, finally makes it to Ziklag to report of the death of Saul and his sons.  This young man makes a rather foolish claim, and he suffers the logical consequences. 

     1: Now it came to pass after the death of Saul, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and David had spent two days in Ziklag;

     2: It came even to pass on the third day, that, behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head:  and so it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the earth, and did obeisance (1:1-2). 

    We open up II Samuel witnessing a young man, someone who survived the Philistine slaughter of Israelis, finally reaching Ziklag to report to David the fact that his enemy, Saul, is now dead.  The lesson here to still remember to this very day is this:  there will be turmoil and warfare for any nation, people, or individual, who is out of the will of God.  Isaiah spoke the truth in 57:21 of his book, in fact, he spoke it three times!  It was a very dark day for Israel back then.  King Saul dead, his sons dead, the army of Israel either slain or fleeing in absolute defeat, and entire cities abandoned and now occupied by the Philistines. 

    David had no idea what had transpired during that battle, he had been off recapturing his belongings and family from the raiding Amalekites.  Let us read about what this young man told David.

     3: And DAvid said to him, From where do you come?  And he said to him, Out of the camp of Israel have I escaped.

     4: And David said to him, How went the matter?  I pray that you tell me.  And he answered, That the people are fled from the battle, and many of the people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.

     5: And David said to the young man that told him, How do you know that Saul and Jonathan his son are dead?

     6: And the young man that told him said, As I happened by chance upon mount Gilboa, behold Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him.

     7: And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me.  And I answered, Here am I.

     8: And he said to me, Who are you?  And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.

     9: He said unto me again, Stand, I pray you, upon me, and slay me:  for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.

    10: So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen:  and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them here to my lord (1:3-10). 

    Is this young man being honest here?  If so, then we have a contradiction in the accounts of how Saul died.  Since he is an Amalekite, I think it much more likely that he came upon Saul after he had fallen upon his own sword.  He may even have been close by and overheard the request made of the armor-bearer, but this man did not kill king Saul.  He did go and strip the crown and the bracelet from off of the king's corpse to bring to David.  I believe that this young man sought to gain favor from the man who would become the new king of Israel.  It would appear that the man expected to be rewarded for killing the king who stood in the way of David's ascension to the throne.  How could David be considered this man's lord?  Israel and the Amalekites were enemies who had not figured out how to reconile their great differences.  Inconceivable at this point in time to believe such a pardon could be expected.

    Next time we shall discover what David's response to all of this would be.  May Christ's grace and peace be with you today!

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Mar 2nd - 7:11AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



     1: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (11:1).  

    Here is our definition of faith.  This verse succinctly informs us as to exactly what faith is.  The Greek word for "substance" is hypostasis. It is a scientific term, the opposite of hypothesis or theory.  It is that which rests upon facts.  In chemistry it would be the chemical which settles at the bottom of the test tube after you have made an experiment.

    In chemistry class you normally are asked to identify an unknown substance that is given to you.  You must go and perform experiments upon it; adding other known chemicals or compounds to it and observing the reactions, heating it up and observing the reactions.  All the while, you are writing down and recording your observations so that you can then determine what the unknown substance is.  If done properly, eventually you are able to narrow the possible choices down to one and only one.  That becomes reality.  And that is what faith is, it is a substance which is evidence of things not seen.

    Dr. A. T. Robertson once said that substance is "title deed."  What then is the "title deed?"  Why, it is the Word of God.  Our faith ought to rest upon the Word of God.  Faith must rest upon what God says, we must believe God.

    The question always is whether you believe God or not.  It is never "I've got intellectual problems" for that doesn't work.  What keeps man from the Word of God is sin.  Sin in our life keeps us from coming to God.  It is our "heart that believes unto righteousness."  When we are ready to give up our sin, the Holy Spirit will make real to us the Word of God, the Lamb of God.

    God has two ways in which men can come to Him today.  The first is that you can come to Him by works.  Oh yes, if you can present perfection in all of your works God will accept you.  Of course, the problem is that so far nobody has been able to do so.  Adam didn't and he lived in Paradise.  Soloman didn't and he lived in supreme wealthiness.  None of the Hebrews could and they lived as the Chosen People of God.  Attaining heaven by being perfect is impossible to do.  Therefore it is an unsatisfactory means to come to God, but many people today stumble along that path.

    The only other way to come to God is to come by faith.  Many people don't find faith a very satisfactory way and feel that "Faith is believing what you know ain't so."  They think that it is a leap in the dark, an uncertainty, or some sort of gamble.  If that is what you believe, then you do not have faith, because as verse one says, "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  That means faith rests upon a solid foundation.

    To very many people faith is a great big mystery.  They feel that it is only for those who are weak-minded, needing a crutch to get through life.  Faith to some is like belonging to a secret order into which you are initiated, and there are some mystical works which God will accept in place of good works if you just believe hard enough.  The demons do a magnificent job of believing, and they are not saved.  That is not faith.  Charles Spurgeon once said, "It is not your hold on Christ that saves you; it is Christ.  It is not your joy in Christ that saves you; it is Christ.  It is not even your faith in Christ that saves you, though that is the instrument.  It is Christ's blood and merit."  And that is what saves you, beloved.  Faith simply lays hold of it.  That is the substance.  Faith is that which looks to the Lord Jesus Christ, hoped for and unseen.

    Faith is not something which can be added to good works as some today believe.  They feel that it can be drizzled over the top of their good works like salad dressing or a fine sauce over a gourmet dish.  Faith is not the finishing touch, it is the beginning point.  

    Paul wrote to the Colossian believers, "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Colossians 1:9)."  To know the will of God is to know the Word of God.  Paul used the word epignosis which means "knowledge."  In that day there were Gnostics who professed to have super knowledge.  Paul told the Colossian believers that he desired them to have the true super knowledge which came from only God.  This was possible only by coming to know that the Bible is the Word of God, and allowing the Holy Spirit to make it real to them.

    And so faith rests upon the Word of God in every sense of the words.  My dogmatism comes from this Book.  It is why the writer of Hebrews said in 10:39, "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."  There are only two ways to go in this life.  Either you are going backwards, or you are going to go forwards.  That which is alive cannot stand still.  Out in the forest there regression and decay taking place, but there is also growth, development, and maturity.  Life demands that there be movement taking place.  

    That is all the time that I have this morning, beloved.  Next time I shall pick up where I have left off and I will write about the evidence of things not seen.  Hope you come on back and find out what that is.  May the grace and peace of Christ Jesus be yours today and in the days to come!

    ~Eric


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    About Me

    Name: Eric Rajaniemi
    ChristiansUnite ID: ejroyal
    Member Since: 2007-09-08
    Location: Bedford, Virginia, United States
    Denomination: Born-again, Church of the Brethren
    About Me: I refrain from any denomination as much as possible since my faith has to do with Jesus Christ and not denominations. My wife and I are charter members of Lake Side Church of the Brethren for they desire to follow the New Testament precepts. We hav... more

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