Mon, Nov 30th - 12:31PM
Me and My Problems, Are they all Gone?
The Problem of facing impossibilities.
We shall be working from John 6:1-14 in this segment of our study. Life includes situations that seem impossible to solve. We do everything we know to work them out. Too often, the end result is that we have made things worse. At the same time, we create a basis for frustration and worry. Still attempting to handle the impossible, we add to our worry all sorts of human ingenuity, burning up energy in great quantities until we collapse in exhaustion. The impossibility becomes our "Waterloo," when all the while God wanted to use it as a bridge to Himself. He designs these impossibilities with you and I in mind. So now we are going to observe a miracle that will give us some necessary insight into our own responses when faced with the impossible.
I. The Specialist.
The proper perspective is always dependent upon an accurate view of God's ability. God's a specialist in working with the impossible. Thanks to the Biblical writings of both Jeremiah and Luke, God's abili ty is described for us.
A. Jeremiah 32:17. "Ah Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You." Are you catching that last part? Nothing is too difficult, or hard, or complex, for God!
B. Jeremiah 32:27. "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?" Once again, God affirms what the prophet had spoken ten verses earlier.
C. Luke 18:27. Jesus said, "The things impossible with men are possible with God." We can see consistency between this verse and with the much earlier verses in Jeremiah. We may find many things which appear impossible to solve but God is able to solve all things.
II. The Setting is found in John 6:1-5a. John deals with men facing an impossible situation. This miracle is the only one mentioned by all four of the gospel writers and it is the only account in which Jesus asked the advice of someone else. It is the only time Jesus performed such a miracle before a sizable crowd. John's account is preceded by five other chapters in which we find that Jesus chose His disciples and sent them out for ministry. After a time of aggressive preaching, they returned to their master exhausted and emotionally worn out. The Lord desired to be alone with them as they recuperated. They left the crowd and crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, finding a place on the mountain to rest and enjoy the solitude and privacy. An enormous crowd followed them, much to their surprise. Matthew 14:21 tells us there were 5,000 men, plus women and children. They were out in a barren place and without food, the crowd became hungry. Was Christ our Lord caught by surprise? Of course not! Jesus had already explained to His disciples that He was God's Son and God in the flesh. Now came their chance to see God in action...to move from theory to reality.
III. The Test is found in John 6:5b-9. In order to demonstrate to all of them what they had learned while being with Him, Christ gave them a project, a test of sorts. Seeing the approaching multitude of people, Jesus asked, "Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?" We get two reactions to this question posed by God.
A. Philip's reaction. "Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for every one to receive a little." Philip only saw the size of the problem, not the size of his master's ability. He didn't even answer the question. God asked, "Where do we go?" Philip answered, "How much?" The proper response here would have been, "With us it is impossible, but with You Messiah all things are possible!" Philip behaved like a statistical pessimist. How many of us fall into this category?
B. Andrew's reaction. "There is a lad here, who has five barley loaves, and two fish; but what are these for so many people?" The first part of his response was great; too bad he did not stop right there! Rather, he undermined his position by also focusing on the size of the problem. He appeared to be a hardworking and diligent man; after all, he wasn't ignorant of the resources of the multitude. Many of us are like Andrew---hardworking and diligent, but shot down by the prospect of the odds against them. A note here, the fish indicated by the grammar were small fish and the barley loaves were close to being the size of pancakes. This was the food of poor people of that time period.
IV. The Miracle is found in John 6:10-13. In a very simple fashion, Jesus had the disciples search the crowd on the mountain slope. He involved them in the impossible event. Where Philip had calculated minimums, Jesus gave the crowd multiplied bread and fish beyond what they could eat. After everyone finished eating, Jesus had the disciples go and collect all of the leftovers in baskets. Lo and behold! Each disciple ended up with a full basket of bread and fish! Twelve baskets. What are three things that we today should note about this miracle?
A. Jesus used faithless disciples in performing the miracle.
B. He provided more than was needed.
C. He silently rebuked their lack of faith.
I will stop there for today beloved. Think about how this applies to our lives today. In what ways are we still just like those disciples? God willing, I shall continue this tomorrow. May the grace and peace of Christ be with you all this day!
Sat, Nov 28th - 3:27PM
Book of Isaiah Study
I mentioned last time about Cyrus being named in chapter 44 as a "shepherd" of God's. The question then becomes, "Why was Cyrus marked out like this two centuries before he was born?" There could be three reasons. Primarily it was for identification. When Cyrus did appear on the world scene, there would be no misunderstanding about whom Isaiah had spoken. Cyrus would be the one responsible for issuing a decree that would return the nation Israel to her "promised land."
Another reason why Isaiah called this man by name through the revelation of God was so that his accuracy could be demonstrated. If Isaiah was accurate about Cyrus in two hundred years then he would be accurate in his prophecy concerning the One born of a virgin, Immanuel, God with us. Immanual was to come some 700 years later.
God uses nations to do His will on earth. God used Assyria to take the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity. Then He used Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and take the southern kingdom into captivity. These were kingdoms ruled by wicked men and later God judged both for what they had done. When we get to heaven we ought not to be too surprised upon finding Cyrus to be there. We will be surprised by those who we do find in heaven, and we will equally be surprised by those whom we do not find in heaven.
What is interesting is that God said that Cyrus "shall perform all My pleasure" and not just His will. Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar both did God's will only.
Thus says the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut(45:1).
This is a remarkable prophecy given out by God to Isaiah. Cyrus did not appear for another two hundred years. Cyrus came from out of Persia. Ruins of his tomb has been found in Pasargadae, Iran, and you cannot read the inscription without recognizing that he was a humble man who trusted God. Most of the ancient great rulers were braggerts and liars. The records that they left behind magnified their greatness(similar to our politicians of today?) and cannot be trusted as being accurate. But this Cyrus was different. He made no great claims; he did not boast, and yet, he conquered the known world!
Also, we should notice that God calls Cyrus "his anointed," a title that applies only to Jesus Christ. Why would God give this title to Cyrus? It is because Cyrus was to carry out the will of God and delivered the Israelites from captivity and permitted them to return to the land of promise. He also encouraged those Israelis who did not return to their homeland to send rich gifts of gold, silver, and precious gems with those who were returning home. In this respect Cyrus was a "type" of Christ and a foreshadowing of the One who was to come.
"The two leaved gates" appears to be a reference to the gates of Babylon which shut Israel out from returning to their homeland. Cyrus commanded for those gates to be opened and they were not shut, Israel was free to return home.
I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you might know that I, the LORD, which call you by your name, am the God of Israel(45:2-3).
God promised to prepare the way home ahead of them. God promised to finance the restoration of Jerusalem and the Temple, the people did not have to figure out how to come up with the money. Perhaps this is something that today's saints need to remember? Cyrus re-apportioned the spoils of the fallen Babylonians so that materials could be purchased by the Israelites upon arriving back in their homeland.
That is all for this post. My apologies to you for the delay in completing this post. I lost DSL signal over the weekend and was locked out of the internet. I hope and pray that each of us would remember that God provides for His people. I need to never forget that what God asks us to do He will also finance through His own means. We need to remain faithful and trust Him completely. Until next time we meet here, God willing, may you receive a double portion of faith.
Fri, Nov 27th - 3:12PM
Book of Isaiah Study
And none considers in his heart, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh, and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree?
He feeds on ashes: a deceived heart has turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?
Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for you are My servant: I have formed you; you are My servant: O Israel, you shall not be forgotten of Me(44:19-21).
As I mentioned last time, idol worshippers who form images from wood need to stop and think this whole thing through to its logical conclusion. The same holds true for those who fashion statues or paint murals with the end result of being prayed and worshipped to. Those who view these items as something to worship and/or pray to become idolaters in their own turn. The followers of evolution must realize that they are among those spoken of in verse 20 where the idolater is deceived and cannot know that they clutch to themselves a lie. We can also see that God reminds Israel that they are God's servant and He has not forgotten them nor shall He ever forget them.
I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions and as a cloud your sins: return unto Me; for I have redeemed you.
Sing, O you heavens; for the LORD has done it: shout, you lower parts of the earth: break out into singing, youmountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.
Thus says the LORD, your redeemer, He that formed you from the womb, I am the LORD that makes all things; that stretches out the heavens alone; that spreads abroad the earth by Myself;
That frustrates the tokens of the liars, and makes diviners mad; that turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolish;
That confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers; that say to Jerusalem, You shall be inhabited; and to the cities of Judah, You shall be built, and I will raise up the decayed places thereof:
That says to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up your rivers:
That says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perfrom all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, You shall be built; and to the temple, Your foundation shall be laid(44:22-28).
Here is evidence of salvation. Redemption is spoken of by God concerning Israel. It is also evidence of redemption and salvation waiting for us. God informs all of the natural world to rejoice in that He has redemption in His right hand. Here is evidence given that God alone created the heavens and the earth, that there was no "Master-Laborer" working alongside of Him. Christ, who is God, was the Creator of all that we can see.
We see reference made to King Cyrus and to what he would allow the Israelites to do. Cyrus would call an end to their captivity and help them to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple for he was deemed by God to be His servant in these matters. Keep in mind that at this point in time Cyrus would not be born for another two hundred years. Not many pagans have been named as "shepherds" by God. This man was one of the few.
That completes chapter 44 of Isaiah and leads us on into chapter 45 with its theme of the calling of Cyrus before he was even born and the creation of the universe. God willing we shall all meet here once again to further our study of God's Word and our own understanding of the knowledge contained within its words.
Thu, Nov 26th - 6:06PM
Book of Isaiah Study
And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for Me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them show unto them.
Fear you not, neither be afraid: have not I told you from that time, and have declared it? you are even My witnesses. Is there a God beside Me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.
They that make a graven image are all of them vanity; and their delectable things shall not profit; and they are their own witnesses; they see not, nor know; that they may be ashamed.
Who has formed a god, or molten a graven image that is profitable for nothing(44:7-10)?
Here we see God has put forward the premise, or claim, that no can foretell the things that are yet to come, only God can. We ought not be afraid of what the future holds for God has already told us what to expect. We are His witnesses to the entire world. There are no other gods beside Jehovah. Those that engage in idolatry will be witnesses to themselves for they are blind and deaf to the truth and shall stay that way in order to become ashamed of themselves. Mankind attempts to fill that spiritual void inside of themselves by creating idols that they worship. That is backward thinking. We can't make a god, God made us!
Behold, all his fellows shall be ashamed: and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; yet they shall fear, and they shall be ashamed together.
The smith with the tongs both works in the coals, and fashions it with hammers, and works it with the strength of his arms: yes, he is hungry, and his strength fails: he drinks no water, and is faint(44:11-12).
The crafter of metals works hard in forging a god from some metal, but this labor weakens him and reveals that he is but a man. After all of his labor, talent, time, and money that he puts into making a god, what does he obtain? Nothing! He obtains an object that is beautiful, but it is nothing. Man creates his images from out of that which God had already created and thinks that it represents some god! Such arrogance and ignorance of truth.
The carpenter stretches out his rule; he marks it out with a line; he fits it with planes, and he marks it out with the compass, and makes it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man; that it may remain in the house.
He hews him down cedars, and takes the cypress and the oak, which he strengthened for himself among the trees of the forest: he plants an ash, and the rain does nourish it.
Then shall it be for a man to burn: for he will take thereof, and warm himself; yea, he kindles it, and bakes bread; yea, he makes a god, and worships it; he makes it a graven image, and falls down thereto(44:13-15).
God continues with His polemic against idolatry and points out the inconsistencies of making images for worship. The idol cannot feed you, it cannot warm you, it cannot find food for you, it cannot save you in times of tribulation.
|He burns part thereof in the fire; with part thereof he eats flesh; he roasts roast, and is satisfied: yea, he warms himself, and says, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire:|
And the residue thereof he makes a god, even his graven image: he falls down unto it, and worships it, and prays unto it, and says, Deliver me; for you are my god.
They have not known nor understood: for He has shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand(44:16-18).
The only practical thing to be done with the wood left over from making an idol from out of wood is to burn it to heat oneself or to cook food. Anyone who creates an image and prays to it has made themselves an idol. Sorry those of you who pray to Mary and to all of the other saints in the Catholic Church, God condemns your actions as being idolatry. They can never lift us up, bring us joy, or ever save us from sin. In verse 18 we find that due to their failure to know or understand, God has blinded them and caused their hearts to become hardened.
God willing, next time I shall continue in this chapter and we shall see that God speaks of redemption, but the Israelites refuse to hear any of it. May the grace and peace of Christ our Lord be with you all.
Wed, Nov 25th - 1:29PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of Defection, Pt. 2
C. Defection flourishes under loose leadership. We find from verse 8 that Jeremiah had observed the effects of leaders who were not plugged into the Word of God. They had veered from walking a straight path with God and had begun doing things according to what they thought must be right. Almost without exception today, it is the shepherds, the leaders, who err first and then the sheep follow their example. The problem is not one of isolated, individual erosion, but the slipping of an entire congregation instead. Our leaders establish the pace.
D. Defection involves two specific sins: forsaking the true God and finding an empty substitute. From verse 13 we find these are laid out fairly plainly. The substitutes are always empty, never providing the satisfaction envisioned beforehand. First people turn away from the true God and then they go after strange theories, believing them to be true and factual. They become deluded, their judgment clouded, their logic convoluted and contradictory. They become unstable in their principles and in their general thinking.
E. Defection provides its own consequences. From verse 19 we find God's assertion that our own wickedness will correct us. The defector is usually the last one to realize the unavoidable truth declared by God. The debt owed to God for defection will not, cannot, be discounted; its full price is painfully high and must be paid for in full.
A Simple Remedy for Defection.
From Jeremiah 3:12-13 the message God gave Jeremiah spells out His desire for those who choose other paths. God said to Jeremiah, "Go and proclaim these words...Return, faithless Israel...I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the Lord your God..." Return and acknowledge. In Luke 15 this is what the prodigal son did. He returned to the home from which he had earlier defected and admitted his wrong to his father. In return he gained back the happiness and security he'd once enjoyed in his home with his father and brother. Is this not applicable to believers today? And especially, isn't this applicable to lost sinners who have not yet repented of their sins? Don't they need to learn that all they have to do is admit that they have transgressed against Holy God? Sure. Many of us do not like to have to admit that we have screwed up royally. We will deflect the blame from ourselves by trying to transfer it to others around us. This is what Adam and Eve attempted to do in the Garden of Eden and it has not changed one bit over thousands of years. Too many of us also become angry at our friend/s when they elect to turn back to God by acknowledging that they have sinned against God. In doing this we become akin to the "other" brother in the parable of the prodigal son. He became angry with his father for allowing his brother back into his good graces and throwing a huge feast in his honor. We may feel left out, overlooked, or even angry at God because we do not understand why that person has been accepted by God but we have not.
In summary, we have found that there is no clearer picture of national defection than the kingdom of Judah during Jeremiah's day. We found that defection happens slowly, steadily over a period of time. Sometimes this can span generations as efforts are made to mislead people gently down a slippery slope to outright disobedience and dismissal of God. That is the present case in America today. We found that defection begins to happen during times of prosperity or blessing. If leadership is loose with the facts, with truth, with ethics, and with morality then it is not very long before the people will begin to follow along down the exact same path. We found that the first step is in forsaking God; people no longer trust God completely for they have allowed doubts to creep into their thoughts. Then they are given over to believing all sorts of foolish falsehoods and theories about everything. They cannot see the truth for they have become spiritually blind.
Of course, each of us must apply each of these five principles to ourselves and find out where we actually stand in relation to being ready to defect from God back into the lost world of darkness. Those principles in which we are forced to admit to ourselves that they are applicable to us should spur us on to making changes in our lives to reverse the trends we have found. This should become a "mirror" of sorts to be used by us to discover flaws in our Christian lives. The obvious preventative measure in all of this is that we need to read the Bible regularly and study it continually. We need to check what others tell us against what God has said in His Word. In this fashion we can filter out falsehoods early on and protect ourselves from accepting inaccurate claims of how to live as a Christian. If we have read and studied God's Word properly we can then know how to recognize lies and misleading statements of fact. If we know what God's Word says, then we will be content and joyful of heart with great faith in Christ looking forward to the day when He returns. We will be motivated to continue running the race that Christ has put before us until we obtain the goal. We will be moved, and convinced, of the necessity to love everyone just as we love ourselves.
That concludes this part of the study on problems. Next time, God willing, I will begin looking at the problem of facing impossibilities. How we handle inpossibilities that enter into our lives will be a witness of our maturity in Christ and will pave the way to changing the lives of lost people all around us. May Christ bless each of you abundantly during this Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. May He become your Horn of Cornucopia, your Horn of Plenty, throughout the entire year and not just for one day.
Tue, Nov 24th - 6:10PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Chapter 44 of the Book of Isaiah contains a call from God to Israel as His chosen one.
Yet now hear, O Jacob My servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen:
Thus says the LORD that made you, and formed you from the womb, which will help you; Fear not, O Jacob, My servant; and you, Jesurun, whom I have chosen.
For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My spirit upon your seed, and My blessing upon your offspring:(44:1-3)
This I believe, is a reference to the Pentecostal pouring out of the Holy Spirit, which to corresponds to Joel 2:28-32. Joel's prophecy was not fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. Peter said in substance, "This should not amaze you, because this is similar to what will take place in the last days." How do we know this wasn't fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost? Here are the reasons that I can give to you: (1) Joel said, "I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood...(2:30-31)". This is the same type of reference that we find in Revelation concerning the End Times. (2) The record in Acts tells us that the Spirit was not poured out on all people, but Joel said: "...I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh..."(2:28). In Acts there were first 120 disciples, then 3,000 believers; never "all" and after over 1900 years it still is not "all." Thus, Joel's prophecy is coming in the future.
Now we come to a great speech against idolatry.
And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses.
One shall say, I am the Lord's; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the LORD, and surname himself by the name of Israel.
Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God(44:4-6).
When Israel returned from their captivity they renewed their covenant with Jehovah. We can see here a more veiled allusion to the Gentiles being welcomed into the fold with the Israelites. We can also see here similar language as is used by Christ in the Book of Revelation, "I am the first and I am the last."
That is all for today my friends. God willing, all of us shall gather here again and continue this study! May grace and peace adorn your footsteps!
Tue, Nov 24th - 10:03AM
What is Faith?
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen(Hebrews 11:1).
I borrow this from Dr. McGee's Edited Messages on Hebrews. In the Book of Hebrews can be found endless spiritual diamonds, gems that can give each of us, as believers, a lift of spirit. They can increase our determination to walk more closely with Christ and they can increase the amount of faith that we have in Christ and His written Word. The four chapters leading up to our text lay out for us the reality of what the Ten Commandments and the Ordinances of the Tabernacle were actually meant to do for everyone. We find out that Christ was being pictured within everything that was found in the Tabernacle and within everything that was accomplished within the Tabernacle. Thus we arrive at chapter eleven and find the word "Now" in verse one. This signifies an explanation is coming, a revelation of what was spoken of in verse 38 of chapter 10.
The Greek word for "substance" is hupostasis. 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 compound which settles to the bottom of the test tube after you have completed your experiment. It has also been translated as "title deed." What is the title deed? What is the substance? It is none other than the Word of God my dear friends. If your faith does not rest upon the Word of God, it is not biblical faith at all. It has to rest upon what God has said. It means to believe God.
As to the question of whether or not to believe God, do not attempt the liberal "I've got intellectual problems" excuse, because that does not work. The only thing that keeps people from the Word of God is sin. It is the sin in your life that keeps you from coming to God. It is the heart that needs to believe, it is "the heart that believeth unto righteousness." When you are ready to give up your sin the Holy Spirit will make real to you the Word of God. It is God Himself who will enable you to comprehend the reality of His Word.
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(1:9)." To know the will of God is to know the Word of God. He prayed that they might know the Word of God. The Greek word for "knowledge" which Paul used is epignosis. There were Gnostics in that day who professed to have super knowledge. Paul told the Colossians that he wanted them to have super knowledge which was genuine by knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, and he believed that the Holy Spirit would make it real to them.
Therefore faith rests upon the Word of God. Our dogmatism comes from the Book. There are only two ways to go, beloved. Either you are going backwards, or you are going forwards. Anything that is alive cannot stand still. Out in the forest there is regression and deterioration taking place daily, but there is also growth and development. Nothing alive out there is standing still, it simply cannot.
"The evidence of things not seen." In the Greek the word is elegchos. It is a legal term meaning "evidence that is accepted for conviction." This is evidence you take into court to prove your case before a judge.
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 a legal mind. If you really want to believe, you can believe. You can believe a lot of foolish things, but God doesn't want you to do that. He wants your faith to rest solely upon the Word of God. He awaits your choice in this matter. He is closer to you this very second than the air that you are inhaling and exhaling. His arms are ever spread wide to welcome you into His loving embrace. As the prodigal son, He desires to throw a tremendous feast to honor your return home to heaven. It shall be the party of parties! God has drawn near unto you, He has been calling to you, now it is time for you to choose what direction you will go. Is it to be forward, or will it be backward? I hope and pray that you choose to not try and stand still, this is impossible to do in life.
Mon, Nov 23rd - 12:47PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of Defection
One of the saddest sight in all of the world is the backslidden believer; the Christian who once loved God and walked closely with Him, but now is wandering in disobedience and rebellion all over again. Since this is not an unusual sight we shall investigate this problem of defection from Christ. We will be looking at Jeremiah 2 as our reference point in Scripture. Now defection from Christ is not always obvious or public in nature. But there is not a single church today working for Christ and His kingdom that does not have people defecting from its ranks.
A General Survey of Jeremiah's address
From a reading of Jeremiah 2:1-19 we find out about an unusual king who reigned over the southern nation of Judah from about 640-609 B.C. His name was Josiah. He assumed the throne at the ripe old age of eight. At sixteen he began to seek after the Lord and gave himself to Him. At twenty he overturned all the idols of Baal and Asherah. He swept the land clean and a spiritual awakening came like a fresh, cool breeze in the desert. When Josiah died, his countrymen returned to the attitudes of their past. Jeremiah, who became the prophet of doom, lived in this transition period. For nearly forty years his words were ignored by his hearers: he lived to see his nation's demise, when the people were carried away into captivity by Babylon. His message of warning had been directed to those engaged in defection. So let's look at his address:
A. Looking back into the past...God remembers - From verses 1-5 we see that God reminds them all of why they had days of blessing, love, and devotion.
B. Looking at the present...God rebukes - From verses 4-13 we see that God points out to them that they have turned their backs upon the One who provides living waters and have thought that they can provide all of the water that they need through their own deeds.
C. Looking to the future...God reveals - From verses 14-19 we see God pointing out that the peoples' own wickedness shall correct them in their ways. No fear of God existed within the people, they felt that they could do whatever they pleased without any reckoning to be dealt with later on. Judah ultimately paid a very dear price for their spiritual wickedness. Hopefully, America will heed the messages being preached from many church pulpits these days and will not continue to walk away from God and His statutes. To do so has its own consequences and they are not pretty.
Specific principles regarding defection
These things that were true about defection in the days of Jeremiah are still true today; time has not changed them at all. We will spare outselves much heartache and sorrow if we pay close attention to each principle taken from this prophet's address.
A. Defection does not occur suddenly - From verses 5-7 we find a generational implication put forward. Spiritual erosion took place over time, which we find to be true in the natural world around us regarding physical erosion. Defection has its hidden roots in the thought life, makes its way down into the heart, then into the action of life.
B. Defection most often occurs in times of blessing - From verse 7 we can see that the times were not ones of tribulation or stress but were times of plenty. This principle is repeated several times in the Bible: in time of prosperity David plunged himself into ruin. On the heels of great revival Jonah defected. Soon after his victory on Mt. Carmel Elijah begged God to let him simply die. Defection's roots sprout while we are on the mountain tops, not in the valleys.
That is all for now on this study my friends. Next time, God willing, I will cover three more principles and then give a simple remedy for fighting defection. Until then, may the Prince of Peace give you liberally of the assurance of His grace. May you walk closely with your God all of this day.
Mon, Nov 23rd - 6:55AM
Book of Isaiah Study
Good day my friends and please accept my apologies for tarrying so long from continuing this study in the Book of Isaiah. The Lord lay upon my heart that other topics be placed upon this blog before moving on in Isaiah. But we are now back after about a two week hiatus and we shall be moving along once more!
Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare you, that you may be justified.
Your first father had sinned, and your teachers have transgressed against Me(43:26-27).
This is a reference to Abraham. Assuredly the Scriptural record shows that man's failures and sins. Leaping to mind was his lying to Pharaoh about Sarah, his wife. Your teachers means "interpreters" who are those who had interpreted God to the people and they had had faults and sins. The same is true even today. Those who interpret God's Word for the people have faults and sins. But in the Old Testament times there were Samson, Samuel, and David who all did mighty deeds for God but were also guilty of comitting great sins against God. It simply reminds all of us today that we are human beings that make errors.
Verse 26 can be read more than one way. First, it could be implying that the people were attempting to reason with God and thus through rational argument gain pardon from their sins. If so, this would be a vain act for God cannot be used in this fashion. Or, this verse could be pointing out for all of us that the only reasonable way to go is to put God in remembrance of His prior promises made to His people, repent of our sins, and humbly ask God to allow the both of you to speak together about our sins and forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ. This latter way is the most fruitful and the only one through which any of us can enter into a peaceful relationship with God once more.
Therefore I have profaned the princes of the sanctuary, and have given Jacob to the curse, and Israel to reproaches(43:28).
And here is an accurate reflection of the present condition of Israel. They have no peace today because they have turned their back from the living and true God, Jehovah. They shall not have peace until they repent and return to worshiping Him which means accepting Christ has already come and that He is their Messiah.
We come now to chapter 44 which continues this theme found in 43. That last chapter ended on a rather dark note of judgment handed out to Israel but now we are moving into the light of the coming kingdom and the promise of the Holy Spirit, which we enjoy today.
We are going to find a satire against idolatry in this chapter. It seems to be a recurring theme for this section of Isaiah. It also seems that the human heart has a way of repeatedly turning away from God and to some sort of idol. Today we do not go after graven images but anything to which a person gives him or herself instead of the true God is an idol. It can be your career, the making of money, seeking fame, pleasure, sex, alcohol, self-adoration, or business. These all are our idols today.
That is all for today. Next we shall begin looking into chapter 44 to find out what is spoken about the Holy Spirit. God willing, we shall meet here again to continue reading and studying His Word! Grace and peace be with you all of this day.
Thu, Nov 19th - 12:49PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all gone yet?
Let's see about finishing up this section today, eh? We come to the problem of the legalist in our lives.
C. How do I handle the legalist? There are several options that exist. These are not designed by rudeness, but by reality. We all need to notice how Jesus Himself handled the Pharisees.
1) Graciously ignore him/her.
2) Take them aside and tell them where you stand scripturally.
3) Go on doing what you know to be right in God's eyes.
We must not become burdened down in endless discussions over why we must observe all of God's commandments to the letter. We must clearly explain through quoted scriptures as to why we believe the way we do about the Law and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work on the person's heart. Great debates are not what is desired here.
D. If no one is looking, can I do what ever I please? I give a very careful and qualified "Yes." God is always looking. We're never totally alone and we're never to do what displeases Him. But if something is not directly spelled out as wrong in God's Word, and if God has shown us that we may exercise our liberty, and if it is not going to stumble anyone else then in the privacy of our homes and experience, we may enjoy it.
E. If I am in a public place and I want to enjoy something, should I? The answer to this question centers around the weaker brother or sister. "If one of the unbelievers invites you, and you wish to go, eat anything that is set before you, without asking questions for conscience sake. But if anyone should say to you, 'This is meat sacrificed to idols,' do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience sake; I mean not your own conscience, but the other man's(I Corinthians 10:27-29a)."
Perspective for the Christian:
1) If you seek balance...be informed of your liberty and enjoy. But keep the right attitudes in mind regarding your weaker brothers and sisters in faith. You do not want to give them the wrong ideas by your behavior.
2) If you are weak...grow up! Get a grip of the real teachings of the Word of God concerning your deliverance from codes and demands and laws.
3) If you are a legalist...ask God to soften your heart toward Himself. Keep your critical spirit from wounding even those who are balanced and spiritually strong.
Yes, it can be frustrating to realize that not all is black and white when it comes to studying the Bible. Much is either right or wrong, but it is those gray areas that show us the need to study further in order to establish principles. You and I need to daily ask ourselves which type of Christian we are: weak, legalistic or balanced. In doing this we can quickly evaluate our condition and make necessary corrections with ourselves before we hurt people all around us.
That is all for today beloved. God willing, next time I shall begin looking at the problem of defection in our lives. I hope that you will come back to study how this issue is an ever growing concern in the Church today. Grace and peace be yours today!
Wed, Nov 18th - 2:58PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
Problems with the Doubtful Things
We all are aware of the necessity of obedience, but we wrestle with the proper exercise of our Christian liberty. How do we fully enjoy our rights and the grace of God without offending other people...or is it even possible? With the aid of I Corinthians 8 and 10, we can find out what God has to say about this very real problem of doubtful things. The Corinthian Christians had written to Paul, they asked for his counsel on certain issues---the advisability of marriage, consumption of meat sacrificed to idols, spiritual gifts, the collection for the distressed saints living in Jerusalem. The chief taboo of their day was the eating of meat related to idol sacrifice. Paul's answer has great revelance for us today, though the taboos have changed.
A. Problems in Corinth - We find that there was an overall problem that should concern us today, and then there was one problem that was specific.
1) Generally. Sacrificing meat to idols was as common an activity among the unbelievers of that day as is the drinking of a cocktail with a meal in our modern society; many Christians were saved out of that sort of life-style. There were two kinds of idol worship: public worship and private observance. In public sorship an animal belonging to the government was sacrificed in front of the citizens of Corinth who were gathered to extol their pagan deity. Only a portion of the animal was sacrificed, while the remainder was divided up and sent first to the priests and then to the temple. In the temple the food was either consumed in the temple restaurant where it was served to the public, or it was sold through the temple meat market. On the other hand, in private worship the meat was owned by the worshiper engaged in sacrifice. Again, only a portion of the animal was sacrificed, but the remainder was often served at a dinner party which the individual would host.
2) Specifically. The Christian of the first century was faced with three different problems.
a. The restaurant problem(I Corinthians 8:10). Should the believer patronize the temple restaurant and enjoy a delicious steak dinner?
b. The meat problem(10:25). Should the believer shop for his meat at the temple market?
c. The private dinner party problem(10:27). Should the believer go as a guest to the home of one serving food from his personal sacrifice?
B. Principles for the Christians - In Paul's day, the taboo was meat sacrificed to idols. Today, it is a variety of involvements. The principles that Paul applies to the Christians who had been former idol worshipers can be applied to us today. Though in this study I am keeping with the problem of meat, keep in mind the modern equivalents that each of us face in our lives. We must live balancing two principles.
1) The Principle of Liberty - We can find in I Corinthians 8:1-6 that there is a "tone" in the text which speaks of liberty. In other words, we who have been informed that we no longer have to live according to a code of ethics to please God, know that we have our liberty. Idols are nothing. We have been informed, delivered, and freed from those things that once bound us, that once enslaved us.
2) The Principle of Love - We find in 8:7-13 that there must be love of my fellowman mixed with my liberty in Christ in order that I do not cause my brother or sister to stumble and fall. This stumbling can be either physical(addictive behavior) or it can be spiritual(not attending prayer meetings, mishandling God's Word, not enforcing commandments of Christ evenly within a congregation). We are warned against hurting our weaker brothers and sisters in Christ. We must edify them, not lead them to sin.
C. Prescription for the Christian. The assembly at Corinth was filled with men and women who had knowledge of their liberty and could patronize the temple meat market without any concern or uneasiness. They could serve the meat at home to guests and it wouldn't bother them. In such a situation, however, three kinds of people einvolved, each relating to the problem in a different way. There were the weak: These were believers who lacked knowledge, were easily offended, and had their eyes on other Christians; though sincere in their walk, they could easily be mislead. There were the legalists: Though the term is not used in Scripture, the concept is (Galatians 5:1-15). These are persons who possess a fleshly attitude, conforming to a code for the purpose of exalting self---a classic example is the Pharisee. There were the free: These know their liberty in Christ, enjoy their freedom, but voluntarily restrict themselves out of love, that God may be glorifed. They do this for the weak brother or sister, not for the legalist. In light of all of this, five questions should then be considered.
1) What should I give up? What one person should give up perhaps another should not. Where the Bible lists specific things as being sinful, there is no question for there is no gray area. These things are wrong regardless of where we live. However, our concern is with the gray areas where Scripture doesn't spell out the desired behavior. There are two things that govern what we should give up:
a) That which causes me to stumble and to be weakened.
b) That which causes my brother/sister to stumble or to be weakened.
2) How do I maintain balance? No matter where we live, we will have people around us who will object to some aspect of our conduct. Two questions help us to determine the balance we should seek:
a) Is the objecting person, the critic, really trying to grow in the Lord, or is he on the sideline sniping, gossiping, criticizing, or bickering?
b) How many are going to be affected by what I do in my liberty? If I am in an area where something is viewed by the entire Christian public as wrong, I haven't the right to exercise my liberty.
That is all for today my friends. God willing, I will continue tomorrow and cover how to handle the legalist and how to conduct myself when no one is watching. Until then, grace and peace be with you all.
Tue, Nov 17th - 3:32PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
We continue with the final two requests made by Paul while he was in the dungeon at Rome.
3) For Reading Material: In verse 13 Paul requested that books be brought with them. Paul was an itinerant missionary who had a library. The term used here suggests volumes other than Scripture. Paul enjoyed the writings of the ancients; men who ministered to the mind of this great thinker. He wished to continue expanding his understanding of people. He had no sermons to prepare, no audience to speak to. He simply wanted the Scriptures and his other books to keep his mind active.
4) For the Scripturs: Again, in verse 13 Paul mentions "especially the parchments." He must have had his own personal copies of letters written by other Apostles, a copy of the Old Testament which he knew almost by heart.
Paul's example to us - Loneliness has its way of winning victory. No one is ever completely immune to its insidious touch. If we exercise the right disciplines, however, we can obtain the upper hand on this problem. From Paul's experience, we can find four practical suggestions for those who fight loneliness today in our hectic, crowded world.
A. Seek out some close friends.
B. Keep yourself in good shape; take care of your needs.
C. Expand your mind with challenging books.
D. Get into the Word of God on a regular basis.
Let's look at four questions that all of us need to regularly ask ourselves:
* Who can I rely on for companionship when I go through periods of loneliness?
* What are some things I can begin to do to comfort and strengthen my body? Perhaps write down a short action plan?
* What great books can I read to stretch my mind? If I read great books then I can begin to think great thoughts! Perhaps begin a short list of Christian authors to select a first great book from?
* How can I find more intimacy in the reading of the Bible? I should pray my thoughts to God.
One last tidbit: Look at Psalm 25 to see a lonely man. Try to identify all of the emotions and feelings that can be seen in these 22 verses. Notice all of the sensations that accompany this man's loneliness.
That finishes this part of our study of Problems. God willing, next time I will delve into the problem of "doubtful things." These are those things that are not "black or white" in nature when it comes to doctrinal concepts. These are things that fall squarely into the gray area spiritually. Until then, draw closer to your God, pursue Him with loving determination each and every day.
Mon, Nov 16th - 12:44PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problem of Loneliness
In this busy, over-populated age of ours it may seem strange that loneliness could ever be a problem to anyone. The fact remains, however, that just being busy and being around a lot of people does not make for an immunity against loneliness. Nor is it true that being a Christian automatically keeps us from feeling alone. Loneliness has been called the most desolate word in the world. It knows no barriers and invades the life of anyone and everyone. It attacks the poor and the rich. What can bring loneliness into our lives? Death, disappointment, sickness, unfamiliar surroundings, travel, and boredom. At the end of the Apostle Paul's life, he was held a prisoner in a Roman dungeon where he had to deal with the problem of loneliness. So, maybe if we make our way back into history we can sidle up alongside Paul and observe him in action. Perhaps we can then learn from Paul how to better handle this problem of loneliness.
Paul's situation and reasons for loneliness - If we turn to II Timothy 4:9-22 we can find in this letter his last printed communication. The chain of events that led up to this moment in his life was desperate. Paul's life was at stake. Since his Damascus encounter with Christ, that life had been full, rich, rewarding...it had also been persecuted. Paul was lonely because of:
1) His Location: He was in a dungeion, we must keep that in mind. His thoughts did not come from a pastor's comfortable study or a nice hillside retreat next to the ocean. He was confined in a cell.
2) His Relationship to Others: He was all alone as is seen in verses 9-12. Though Luke was with him, he was accustomed to being with groups of people. The only voices he could hear were his own, the guards, and his friend Luke.
3) The Time of Year: The days just before winter were upon him, as seen in verse 21. Daylight was short, the days were colder than even during the summertime within the dungeion. He no doubt could feel the dropping temperature and he probably began to think about the coming winter. Being older now, Paul no doubt did not endure the cold weather as easily as when he was a young man. Shortness of daylight in itself can trigger feelings of loneliness and depression.
4) His Future: Death was near as can be seen from verse 6. This experienced man of God that he was, could clearly see the end approaching.
5) His Thoughts: In verses 16-17 we see his nostalgic memories surfacing. He looked back to the bittersweet circumstances of his past. No one would support him during his very first defense but then he came to understand how the Lord stood with him and strengthened him.
Paul's Requests lead to Remedies for Loneliness - The items that Paul requested in his hours of isolation were the only things that sincerely satisfy all of us in life; apart from Christ Jesus. So what did Paul ask for?
1) For Companionship: From verses 9 and 11 we see that in writing to Timothy, his younger friend, he stated: "Make every effort to come to me soon...Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service." The story of John Mark is of interest to us because he was the missionary who deserted Paul in Pamphylia while on his first missionary trip. He was the reason why Paul and Barnabas parted ways as recorded in Acts 15:36-40. Paul's attitude had changed toward Mark since the time that Mark had offended him. In fact, Paul now knew of what service the man could be to him. We learn here that specific companions can eliminate the isolation that leads to loneliness. Paul who was a strong-willed individual was able to admit his weakness and reach out to others for help. We all today need to remember this point. He obviously figured out that admitting weakness (loneliness) was different from having a weak character. In fact, such admissions require great strength.
2) For Bodily Comfort: Here in verse 13: "When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus..." The dungeon was cold and damp, it was going to become even colder in the coming weeks ahead. He wanted a specific garment. The word "cloak" suggests a long-sleeved coat. Perhaps it was the one that had been with him since the stoning of Stephen. If so, it was a cloak rich in history and it was a reminder of who he had once been.
I will halt right here today, my friends. Next time, God willing, I will continue with the final two requests made by Paul. Until then, I pray for Christ to "whelm" you during times of tribulation. I pray that if you are involved in a period of loneliness at this time that you can begin to walk your way back out of it through some of the items already written down today. I pray that this study can become a "loneliness buster" and lead you back into the realm of light and happiness!
Fri, Nov 13th - 12:45PM
Me and My Problems, Are They all Gone?
The Problems of Anger, Pt. III
Illustrations of unjustifiable anger are, once again, not exhaustive...they are simply representative. But each one cited here represents something sinful.
Anger is unjustifiable:
1) When anger comes from the wrong motive - In Luke 15:25-32 we have a situation where anger sprang from the motive of jealousy. The prodigal son had a prodigal brother. The former gets all of the press, but the latter deserves our attention here. The other prodigal's bout with anger occurred when his repentant brother returned home after a season of very loose living. The father's arms openly received the wayward son; the brother's arms were closed. When Jesus presented this illustration, He said of the other prodigal, "...He became angry, and was not willing to go in(to the celebration)..." He spoke impudently to his father, pointing out the many pluses of his service to his father while his brother had shamelessly wasted his inheritance. The discussion was stained by jealousy. Rather than be joyous over his brother finally coming to his senses and coming home, the other brother chose to be offended, envious, and angry at his brother AND father. He could not understand why his father would be so happy at the return of a wayward son.
Another situation surfaces in Daniel 3:12-13 when Nebuchadnezzar entertained anger based upon the motive of pride. An immense image of this man had been sculpted of gold and erected so that those in his realm would bow down before it and worship him at an appointed time. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to bow, and Nebuchadnezzar became gripped by "rage and anger."
2) When anger occurs because we don't get our way - In Jonah 3:10-4:9 a prophet of God lost the battle with anger. He witnessed an entire city turn to God. Nineveh was the capitol city of Assyria. Jonah might have been a prophet, but he was bigoted and a racist. He did not want to see the people turn to God...instead he wanted to see Nineveh destroyed. Since he failed to get his way, he went off to a hillside and sulked in his anger.
3) When anger comes because we react too quickly, without investigating the facts - The counsel of both Solomon and James illustrates this point. Notice their words:
"The end of a matter is better than its beginning; patience of spirit is better than haughtiness of spirit. Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosom of fools(Ecclesiastes 7:8-9)."
"This you know, my beloved brethren. But let every one be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger(James 1:19)."
In other words, we cannot be yearning to fly off the handle in anger at people around us. We must work on being quick to listening to others but slow to speak our peace and to lose our tempers. Stop and think things through before passing judgment of any kind.
Exhortations on dealing with anger
a) Learn to ignore petty disagreements - Proverbs 19:11; 20:3
b) Refrain from close association with anger-prone people - Proverbs 19:19; 22:24-25
c) Keep close check on your tongue - Proverbs 15:1; 21:23
d) Cultivate honesty in communication without letting anger build up - Proverbs 27:4-6
e) If anger is not controlled, it will destroy you - Proverbs 25:28; 29:20
In summary, we have found here that there are at least three situations in which anger is unjustifiable. We have also found reference to exhortations which warn us and advise us in dealing with this problem in our lives. Am I associating, hanging out with, people who routinely get angry and lose their tempers? Am I guilty of having a tongue that is wagging incessantly? Am I able to ignore petty, minor disagreements and perceived offenses? Do I get angry with God because He decides to save someone who has treated me abusively rather than cast them into the depths of hell? Or, am I joyous and happy when anyone is saved? Do I keep a close check on how much I talk and what I am saying? Do I pray to God to help me control my anger and ultimately to overcome it? Just because I differ in my beliefs or opinions with others, it does not mean that I become angry with them. God made each of us different for a specific reason, we need to respect that decision of His.
And that my friends completes our study of the problem of anger in our lives. God willing, next time I will begin looking at the problem of loneliness. Until then, love one another just as Christ loves each of us. Pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ, wherever they may be found all around our world. Ask God to give them strength, courage, and joy! Ask that He increase your faith, and theirs! Amen.
Wed, Nov 11th - 5:55PM
Me and My Problems, Are they all gone?
The Problem of Anger, Pt. II
Some examples of justifiable anger - Here are some examples, by no means exhaustive, that help us gain some perspective on when anger is justifiable.
1) When God's Word and will are consciously disobeyed by God's people. From out of Exodus 32:19-20 we find an example of "in man's case." Here is an account of justified anger held by Moses, who, after receiving the Ten Commandments, returned to the base of the mountain only to find his people dancing before a golden calf in a lewd and profane fashion. "In God's case," we can find in I Kings 11:1-4, 9-10 an occasion when God became angry with a man (Solomon) because he allowed his heart to be turned away to other gods/idols, ceasing to observe those things he had been commanded to do.
2) When enemies move into realms outside their rights and jurisdiction. From Isaiah 5:20-25 we find stern warning in his prophecy to those who change God's standards and values into distortions , replacing them with what seems best from a sinful, rebellious perspective. Three times this warning...woe...is used. A couple examples of this should be noted: I Samuel 11:1-6 reports an instance when the Spirit of God came "mightily" upon Saul and he became angry because an Ammonite leader tried to take away the rights of the citizens of Jabesh-gilead; I Kings 16:29-34 reveals that God became angry because King Ahab had married a Baal-worshipper (Jezebel) and forced his people to worship her pagan deity. Verse 33 is quite an indictment against Ahab and his wrong choices.
3) When children are dealt with unfairly by parents who know better. In both Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 we read how Paul established the point that fathers have no right to provoke or exasperate their children's anger. When children are unfairly handled or openly mistreated or abused, our anger, when aroused, is justified. What we feel on the child's behalf is right.
I am going to give you 30 scriptural references to anger. I hope that you take the time to read and study each of them, see how they may relate one to another. Here they are:
Genesis 4:6 Proverbs 15:18
Genesis 18:30 Proverbs 22:24
Genesis 39:19 Proverbs 29:22
Genesis 49:7 Ecclesiastes 5:17
Exodus 22:24 Isaiah 5:25
Exodus 32:19 Isaiah 51:17
Deuteronomy 13:17 Isaiah 54:8
Nehemiah 9:17 Isaiah 64:9
Esther 1:12 Jonah 4:4
Job 5:2 Matthew 5:22
Job 9:13 Galatians 5:20
Psalm 30:5 Ephesians 4:26
Psalm 37:8 Hebrews 3:10
Psalm 38:1 James 1:19
Proverbs 14:29 James 1:20
Is it possible that this is the first time that you have ever really given any thought about anger as being God-given? Maybe you have never considered anger as justifiable. How can we handle the tension between "Be you angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:26)" and "For the wrath of man does not work the righteousness of God (James 1:20).? Can it be that man's wrath can only work in the flesh and not in the spirit? Could that be why Christ tells us to deal with it each day and not to let it carry over day after day? Can it be that anger follows a progression and wrath is further along that continuum and so it must be dealt with before it can blossom into full fledged rage?
How might this passage be misused?
|1||Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.|
|2||Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise;|
|3||That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.|
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6).
Could parents misinterpret this to allow them to expect their children to obey everything they tell them to do? Even if it is obviously anti-God in spirit and nature? Or perhaps fathers might decide that they are never provoking the wrath of their children. Obviously the correct view is that parents raise their children up in the nurture and admonition of God. That means teaching them to love others as themselves after loving God with all of their heart, soul, and mind.
That is all for tonight beloved. Next up in this study is to be some illustrations of unjustifiable anger. God willing, we will meet here again. The grace and peace of Christ be with you all.
Tue, Nov 10th - 12:56PM
From out of darkness and into the Light!
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:12-13)."
By God's grace we have been snatched from out of Satan's darkness and have been placed in the kingdom of light. But we still live in a dark world that is hostile to the light. We are therefore soldiers of light, but as with any army, we are not to act independently, but instead "as a good soldier of Jesus Christ(II Timothy 2:3)", we must follow the orders of our commander and act according to established guidelines. We cannot become "loose cannons" and act any way that we see fit.
The Supreme Commander in this battle of light versus darkness is none other than God the Father, for "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5)." "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear(Psalm 27:1)?"
Perhaps our field commander can be perceived to be none other than Jesus Christ, carrying out the will of the Supreme Commander. He did say, "I am the light of the world: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12)." "I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me (John 6:38)."
We are then the infantry, the footsoldiers, the light brigade, as it were. We must act like what we are: "You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)", "You are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober (I Thessalonians 5:5-6)." Upon salvation each of us becomes translated from darkness into the light of day. We go from being creatures of the night to heirs in the kingdom of light, children of the day. We become enlisted into the Army of Christ and are expected to follow the established guidelines for effective service to the King. We are expected to be awake, aware, sober, disciplined, and sober.
Our marching orders, our objective, and the acceptable methods are to be found in the "war manual", the Bible. "Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path (Psalm 119:105)", "For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light (Proverbs 6:23)." Christ's Army is not a physical entity that goes about shooting and killing unbelievers. It is not a body of believers who strive to force everyone in their society to worship Jehovah. Christ's Army is composed of people who are sold out to their Lord and Savior and their desire is to live according to the guidelines that He has given to us in His Word. Their objective is to find a relevant way to share their story with others, to demonstrate the love of God in their personal lives. They must defend the "walls" of their home and family against ungodly influences which seek to enter in and corrupt the minds and hearts of their loved ones. They are more than willing to defend Truth against the forces of Darkness and their deceptions. It is a marathon race, endurance is required, self-control a must. We must train ourselves just as professional athletes train in order to perform at their best. Christ expects nothing less than our best efforts but also is fully aware that we are not yet perfect and shall make mistakes. When we fail we must then repent and ask Christ to forgive us and then, equally as important, we must forgive ourselves. So, Onward Christian Soldiers! Hold the Fort, For Christ Is Coming! This is our Holy Calling, what more could we ask?
Mon, Nov 9th - 7:54PM
Me and My Problems, Are they all gone?
The Problem of Anger
We will be working from Ephesians 4:26-27. One of the most persistent and disturbing problems the saints of Christ face is their anger. It has a way of disarming and frustrating us, of taking away our testimony, of affecting most every area of our life. In struggling with anger, our determinations to improve seem as feeble as our attempts to keep it in check, to keep it under our control. Anger comes in many forms; from irritation all the way to rage and uncontrollable temper; from inner uneasiness to actual displays of violence.
A Definition of Anger - Anger is an emotional reaction of hostility that brings personal displeasure, either to ourselves or to someone else.
Various Phases of Anger - This emotion does not remain the same. Left unchecked, it moves through stages of intensity.
1) Anger begins with mild irritation - The irritation may perhaps be innocent. It is a mild feeling of discomfort brought about by someone or something.
2) Anger turns from irritation to indignation - Indignation is the feeling that something must be answered back, that there must be an avenging or a punishment. This can go unexpressed.
3) Anger changes from indignation to wrath - Wrath has the idea of expression. This stage turns from feeling to expression.
4) Anger switches from wrath to fury - Fury characterizes violence, a loss of emotional control.
5) Anger grows from fury into rage - Rage is a temporary loss of sanity.
Paul's letter to the Ephesians is perhaps one of the most practical components of the New Testament. Chapter 4 offers us down-to-earth advice about this problem of anger. From our text three observations can be made:
* Anger is a God-given emotion. Just as God has given us the emotion of compassion, He's given us the emotion of anger. Our pattern of emotions was designed by Him. As true as it is that someone who shows no compassion is inhuman, so it is with the person who shows no anger. Our text says, "Be angry..."
* Anger is not necessarily sinful. Our text has a qualifier, "Be angry, and yet do not sin..." There are times when the emotion of anger is appropriate. If we are angry due to just cause, we are not to carry that anger to the point of sin.
* Anger must have safeguards. Paul put it this way, "...Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity." And so we are given two safeguards to be considered.
Safeguard #1 - We must not prolong our anger into the night. In Paul's day the closing of the day occurred with the setting of the sun. We can't afford to sleep on wrong feelings. Forgiveness must be in our heart at the day's end.
Safeguard #2 - We must not express our anger in such a way that we are weakened and the devil produces his character through us. Unchecked, uncontrolled anger may lead to satanic involvement in our lives.
That is all for today beloved. God willing, next time I shall speak about examples of justifiable anger. Until then may you walk in the light of Christ.
Sun, Nov 8th - 4:44PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Thus says the LORD, which makes a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters;
Which brings forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise: they are extinct, they are quenched as tow.
|Remember you not the former things, neither consider the things of old.|
Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert (43:16-19).
Here we see the Lord reminding Isaiah and all of Israel of what feats He has performed already in their past. Are we to dwell upon what has happened in the past? No, we are to continually look toward the future for we are now new creations in Christ. In verse 19 we begin to be given some inklings of the imminent coming of Christ.
The beast of the field shall honor Me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My people, My chosen (43:20).
In addition to being informed of the fact that even the beasts shall give honor to God, we find yet another reminder of the equally important fact of God's provision for His chosen people. It began with believers, moved on to include Israel, and once again it is with believers in Christ. I so not know about any of you, but I know that I need to know that Christ is not going to let me go thirsty or hungry out here in the "desert" and "wilderness" of this world.
This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise.
But you have not called upon Me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of Me, O Israel.
You have not brought Me the small cattle of your burnt offerings; neither have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not caused you to serve with an offering, nor wearied you with incense.
You have bought Me no sweet cane with money, neither have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices: but you have made Me to serve with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities (43:21-24).
Jehovah states the facts: I have made you for Me, you are to showcase My praise. But you people have only tested My patience with your rebelliousness. You have not brought any acceptable sacrifices before Me. The Israelites had only tasked God with their sins and iniquities. I see myself in this lot. I have overly tasked God with my iniquities and lack of acceptable sacrifices. I must do much better. I shall do better for I realize that God made me for Himself. I belong to Him, and to Him alone. I was but a gift of God's to my biological parents. They were to raise me up in the way that I was supposed to go, and then let me proceed upon my life's journey. That is what I am supposed to do with my children also, and my grandchildren if so needed. I am to encourage everyone to do just this with their children.
I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember your sins (43:25).
Praise God for these two promises! I am so glad that He will not remember my past sins, and that He erases them from all existence. Of course, it remains for me to accept that fact and forgive myself too. He tells the Israelites here that their sins shall be forgiven and forgotten by Him upon their accepting His Son as their Messiah. We all are playing upon the same level ballfield, there are no favorites with God in this matter of salvation.
That is all for today beloved. God willing, next time I shall explore the remaining verses of chapter 43 and begin chapter 44. Until then, grace and peace be yours this fine day!
Sat, Nov 7th - 8:32PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Future judgment, deliverance, redemption of Israel
Yes, before the day was I am He; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand: I will work, and who shall let it (43:13)?
That little word let in this verse often is said to mean "hinder." I think of how the word is used in Revelations and I think of "allow." Who has the power to even state, "I allow God to perform His work?" The point being that there is no mortal being or immortal being who has the ability to allow or disallow any of God's works.
Thus says the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships (43:14).
The ultimate destruction of Babylon is being foretold. We ought not lose any notice of the fact that God iterates here that He is the redeemer of men.
I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King (43:15).
God takes responsibility for creating Israel. He is their King and let every anti-Semite take note. When the Lord Jesus came to earth and made His claim to Kingship, Israel knew that He was claiming to be Immanuel, "...God with us (Matthew 1:23)." The instructed Israelite understood this quite well, there was no ignorance on their part.
So we see that God claims Israel because He created them. We will see next time that shall speak of the fact that even the beasts of the field honor Him. But that is next time. Until then, God willing, I ask that He give you strength, encouragement, grace, and His peace which goes beyond all comprehension.
Sat, Nov 7th - 11:03AM
Me and My Problems, Are they all gone?
We have arrived at the point of taking a look at a Biblical family who were a family of worriers. We are to see clearly what the consequences can readily become when we allow worrying to take control of our lives for extended periods of time.
To find this particular family, let's turn to the Book of Genesis. Abraham was a notable worrier. God had promised him a descendant; which obviously meant that he would not die until he had a son. Sarah was meant to be the one to whom the son would be born. Is this how the scenario played however? No. When a famine forced them to go to a foreign land, Abraham forgot God's promise and feared for his life, and his wife's. He believed that because of Sarah's beauty, she would be claimed by powerful foreign officials who would see her and desire her for their own. He was mostly afraid that he would be killed outright, and so with his eyes firmly upon himself, he conceived a plan based upon a lie. He was worried. Speaking to Sarah in Genesis 12:12-13, he said: "...It will come about when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, "This is his wife;" and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say that you are my sister so that it may go well with me..." Doesn't sound as if Abraham was worrying about how it would go with Sarah, does it? Only worrying about himself. The actual promise God gave Abraham concerning an heir is found in Genesis 15: "And Abram said, Behold, to me You have given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be your heir; but he that shall come forth out of your own loins shall be your heir." Did Abraham and Sarah rest easy and completely trust in God's promise? No. Chapter 16 tells us what steps Sarah decided to take on her own, because she was worrying about how that promise could come to pass. And so due to her incomplete trust in God's Word she acted in her own understanding and asked her hand maiden to go in to Abraham and sleep with him so that a child could be born to Abraham. Could adultery possibly work? No. What ended up being created once this child was conceived was a broken relationship between the hand maiden and Sarah. Abraham was 86 at this time. Once God's child of promise was born to Abraham by Sarah the dynamic had already been put into place for conflict between the two sons of Abraham. That conflict has continued to this very day in our world. Worry repeated itself, as found in Genesis 20. Years later Abraham's son, Isaac, acted out the same scene with his wife(Genesis 26:1-7). He also created a worrier. His son, Jacob, in worry acted deceptively toward his brother Esau, whom years earlier he had offended (Genesis 31-32). Did this trend stop here? No it did not. Jacob then received in kind what he had practiced upon his own brother Esau and his father Isaac. Does it sound like worrying gets us any sort of benefits in this world of ours? No it does not. Worrying puts us squarely in temptation's way to do things under our own understanding, and not according to God's purposes and will for our lives. We end up trying to accomplish God's will through our own ill-conceived works and the results are not pretty.
Timely Prescription for Worry:
There are four words to help us put this entire study into practice. Each represents a discipline in which we all need to engage in.
A. Presence...Claim the presence of God in your life. (Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 28:20).
B. Promises...Get into the Word of God and learn of His assurances (Psalm 37:4-5, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 26:3-4).
C. Prayer...Maintain communication with God, built around specifics (Psalm 55:22, Philippians 4:6-7, I Peter 5:7).
D. Patience...Don't allow Satan to sell you short and steal the victory that could be yours (Psalm 27:14, Isaiah 40:31, Romans 8:25).
Concluding insights: What are some results of worrying? Stress, frustrtion, ulcers, nailbiting, gray hairs, headaches, migrains and a much shorter life span. Worrying produces ill-effects in our lives, nothing positive comes of worrying. We need to live out Matthew 6 and not worry about what tomorrow may bring, or not bring. Worry causes unhealthy feelings towards others. We do not know why, but we allow our anxiety to spill over into our relationships. We can easily ruin our close relationships by allowing ourselves to worry about things. We must always remember that Christ has said that He came to give us life, and to give it to us abundantly. That tells me that I should not worry about anything.
Well, I certainly hope that this study has/will help you in properly dealing with worry in your life. I know that it has helped me. You know, it is true what that popular song said years ago: Don't worry, be happy. Next up in this study on our problems is the issue of anger. Don't miss it! Until then, grace and peace be with you all this day!
Fri, Nov 6th - 12:49PM
Me and My Problems, Are They All Gone?
Let us turn to Matthew 6:25-34 and check out the significant address that Christ used to clarify His message and ministry. This speech stood out in stark contrast to the mainstream teachings of that particular day's religious professionals, the Pharisees. God's conclusions about worry are just as meaningful today as they were to 1st century listeners. Let's look at them now:
1) Worry keeps us from enjoying what we have - From verse 25 we find this, "...Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing?" Worry focuses our attention upon what we do not have, or upon what we might lose, and strips away the enjoyment of what we already possess. It prompts us to assume responsibility that is not ours to handle.
2) Worry makes us forget our worth - From verse 26 see this, "...Are you not worth much more than they (the birds who neither sow, reap, or gather food into barns)?" Worry makes us forget that God is not the heavenly Father of birds, but He is the heavenly Father of man. It makes us feel forgotten, overlooked, and unimportant. If He will feed a bird, which is a lesser creature, He surely will feed us without fail.
3) Worry is completely useless - From verse 27 we find, "And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span?" The reference is to the fact that none of us have the ability to add time to our lifetimes or to increase our physical height. Quite the contrary, worry results in subtraction, not addition. It leads to the loss of sleep, the loss of time, the loss of peace, the loss of energy, and ultimately to the loss of length of lifetime. Our lives will be shortened by our constant worrying over things, it will not be improved nor increased by being anxious.
4) Worry erases the promise of God from your mind - Within verses 30-32 we find this: "...Do not be anxious then, saying, "What shall we eat...drink...wear...Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things." We tend to forget what King David learned: "I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread (Psalm 37:25)." God's love for man motivates Him to care for those who walk with Him. Nothing can separate the saint from that love, as can be read in Romans 8:38-39.
5) Worry is characteristic of the heathen, not the Christian - Looking at verse 32 we can see this: "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek..." When any of us exclude God's personal involvement in our life, we have no one substantial on whom to lean. For all practical purposes, the worrier is alone and on their own and lives as the one who lives without God in their life.
That is all for today beloved. Next time I shall introduce a family of worriers to you, a well known family found in the Bible. We shall see what the fruit of worrying can become. Until then, may our God show you His presence in your life. May you hear His voice calling to you from the high places. May you heed His voice which may be heard from every part of creation.
Wed, Nov 4th - 10:17PM
Me and My Problems, Are they all gone?
The problem of worry.
Does it seem to you that many of today's Christians seem to have a motto of Why trust when you can worry? Our minds are frequently tired with worry...our spirits are often weighed down. This worry from yesterday's guilt adds to our anxiety over tomorrow's uncertainties. We find ways to hide our worry from others. We even go so far as to find new names for it: "concerned," "troubled," "disturbed," "interested," and "bothered." Irregardless of what name we decide to put upon it, this still boils down to worrying; anxiety, mental distress, lack of inner peace, and preoccupied agitation. How can we battle this issue of worrying? I want to direct our attention on Christ's counsel, then look at a series of five arguments against worry from out of Matthew 6:25-34.
Worries tend to be in one of three categories: worry about death(whether your own or of a loved one), worry over guilt, and worry about daily problems. That last one seems to chew away at most of us in some form.
A biblical perspective: The word "worry" in our English language does not appear in the text of the King James Bible. But the concept does. Such words are used as "anxiety," "care," "trouble," and "concern." In the New American Standard Bible text of Matthew 6:25-34, the term "being anxious" is utilized to convey the concept of worry, and it is used six times. This begs the question: What does it mean to be anxious?
A practical definition: To be anxious is to be divided or distracted. The thought is that of being so mentally ill-at-ease that the individual is distracted. Such people cannot do what they are supposed to do, or may want to do, because they are divided in their thinking. They experience a lack of focus. An excellent example of this is Martha in Luke 10:38-42 "Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Here the word used is "cumbered." Martha was worrying about serving the meal. She became distracted with all of her preparations. Mental distraction, or worry, leads to agitation. It does this because the person with the problem of worry is caught in the middle. Martha took her agitation to the Lord, seeking His assistance in forcing Mary to come back into the kitchen to help her with serving. What was our Lord's answer to her? Did He agree and tell Mary to go and help her sister with serving food to Him? No, He informed Martha that she was worrying about many things but there was only one "needful" thing: getting close to God and listening to what He had to say. Jesus told Martha that this "needful" thing was not going to be taken away from Mary. Martha needed to stop worrying about "things" and stop, and begin to get closer to God and listen to what He was saying.
We may very well begin to see ourselves in Martha. Busy serving our guests at church, unable to pull ourselves away in order to listen to God's Word being preached. We have too many things to get straight before the service is done! It must be just right! Worrying, worrying, worrying! All the while, God is speaking to those out in the sanctuary and we are missing out on the "needful" thing. We need to become more aware of what God considers important and focus upon those things rather than become lost in unnecessary busyness while serving our Master.
This is all for tonight my friends. God willing, I will cover more of this passage in Matthew 6 when this study is picked up once again. Until then, grace and peace be yours.
Tue, Nov 3rd - 7:07PM
Book of Isaiah Study
Fear not: for i am with you: I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.
Even every one that is called by My name: for I have created him for My glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears(43:5-8).
God states here in clear language that He shall regather the nation. It has in fact happened. God also states here that even those who are called by His name, Christians, shall be gathered. This speaks to the time of the end which is described in the Book of Revelation.
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and show us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth.
You are My witnesses, says the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me(43:9-10).
God invites all the peoples of the world to get together and find anyone who can show us former things, who can produce witnesses who may justify their claims. If mankind cannot do this then they need to hear God and just admit that it is truth. The purpose of choosing the Hebrew people was so that the world could know and believe God and understand that God is the Living God, the one and only. This also speaks to us as Christians today, we have the same purpose given to each of us. We have been chosen so that the world can know and believe in God.
I, even I, am the Lord; and beside Me there is no saviour(43:11).
Here is a clear declaration by Jehovah that there is only one way to obtain salvation: through Him. Out of all of the religions of our world, only Christianity guarentees personal salvation. Other religions have quite a program, but they do not guarentee salvation of your soul. They may offer alternate realities, regeneration so that you may try to correct the mistakes made in previous lifetimes, or even coming back as an animal, but they do not claim to give you reunification with any god. They can't conceive of such a thing.
I have declared, and have saved, and I have shown, when there was no strange god among you: therefore you are My witnesses, says the Lord, that I am God(43:12).
In plain English God is saying that as long as believers do not go into idolatry nor give into sin that He shall bless them. It held true for the Israelites and it holds true for us today as believers. We are to witness to the world that He is God, that He is Jehovah.
That is all for today my friends. God willing, I shall look into the verses that deal with future judgment, deliverance, and redemption of Israel. Until then, may Christ's grace envelop you and your family, may the Holy Spirit speak to your heart each and every night while you sleep.
Tue, Nov 3rd - 12:40PM
Who can be our Intercessor?
"Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yes rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34)."
Who can intercede for me today? My biological father, or mother? Perhaps in some matters they are capable to do so. Perhaps a lawyer in a courtrooom of law may intercede on my behalf before a judge. Perhaps a good friend may intercede for me in a personal conflict with another person. But who is able to intercede for me in the case of spiritual sin? Who has the ability to cover the cost of my debt to God? Is there any mortal man who can do this for me? The answer is no, there is no one who is capable, nor probably even willing, of interceding before God on my behalf.
One of the most glorious truths of the Christian life is that the Lord Christ Jesus, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, now lives to intercede for us before God the Father. In John 17 we can find the greatest example of intercessory prayer in the Bible. Christ Jesus poured out His heart for His disciples, "I pray for them,I pray not for the world, but for them which You have given Me, for they are Yours(John 17:9)." But that was not the end of His prayer! "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word (John 17:20)." That's us today people! Hallelujah! Christ Jesus prayed for us away back then, and He prays for us today!
Then what is it He prays for us? First, He prays for our security. "Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one, as We are (John 17:11)." That is security in numbers! I've got you and you've got me. And God has us all in His safe keeping. Then He prays that we might have real victory over sin and the devil. "I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil (John 17:15)."
Christ's next request through prayer is: "Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth (17:17)." Our sanctification therefore comes through God's Word, not through some special experience or feeling. He prays for our unity with each other and with Him. He sends us out into this current world just as He sent out His disciples long, long ago. Christ desires us to become the carriers of the glory of which He gives us. As we become perfect in unity it allows the world to become aware of of the fact that God sent Jesus to us and that God has loved all of them just as much as He loves Jesus.
Finally, He prays for our ultimate glorification. "Father, I will that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am; that they may behold My glory, which You have given Me (17:24)." God wants us to be with Him where He is. We are not to left behind once we accept Christ as our Savior. Right now we cannot behold God's glory and survive the experience. But once we have been given glorified bodies that are just like Christ's, then we will be able to gaze directly upon His glory and we shall smile broadly and bow down low in giving Him all praise, honor, power, and glory! We shall be able to walk in His Holy presence, hear His voice, see Him as He really is. What a glorious day that shall be, beloved! It is a day that I yearn for even now.
So what? We can be assured that God will grant these requests of His beloved Son, and these things shall come to pass for us once we accept and trust in Jesus Christ. That is the door to heaven, the door to truth, the door to love, the door to eternal life. All that is left to do is to go, grasp the handle, and open the door. It is up to each of us to decide...
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