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  • You are here: Blogs Directory / Education / Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20 Welcome Guest
    Eric Rajaniemi's Blog: James 1:22; Romans 1:20
          Have you always had questions about different passages and books of the bible? Me too. Let's explore everything together and find out what God's Word actually says. Are you ready for a life-changing experience? Are you? Then come on!
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    Tue, Nov 30th - 5:58PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    Let's continue following the Saul and David saga, shall we?

      1: And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.
      2: But Jonathan Saul's son delighted much in David:  and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my 
          father seeks to kill you:  now therefore, I pray you, take heed to yourself until the morning, and
          abide in a secret place, and hide yourself (19:1-2).

    The obvious theme for this chapter is that King Saul seeks to kill David, but his own son helps David escape.  We have seen Saul attempt to personally kill David, then he openly gives orders that David should be slain.  David's life is in constant jeopardy and he is to be hunted like an animal.  He becomes a nomad, a vagabond.  He lives in caves out in the wilderness, endures many hardships.  But the entire time he is living within the will of God and is being trained by God.  

    Jonathan goes, finds David and informs him of his father's intentions to kill him.  Jonathan tells him to go and find a place to hide for a time in order to be safe from harm.  Jonathan risks the wrath of his father because of a friendship that was more important to him than family.  

      3: And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will commune             with my father of you; and what I see, that I will tell you.
      4: And Jonathan spoke good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin
          against his servant, against David:  because he has not sinned against you, and because his
          works have been very good towards you (19:3-4).

    Jonathan has been thinking these things through and he has a plan of action to try and circumvent his father's plans.  Jonathan gets his father outside in a field and speaks glowingly of David his servant, not exaggerating anything.  He is simply reminding his father of David's great help in times of need.  Have you ever had to do that with your boss at work?  Defend a fellow worker from being unduly fired?

      5: "For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great                 salvation for all Israel:  you saw it, and did rejoice:  wherefore then will you sin against                   innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?
      6: And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan:  and Saul swore, As the LORD lives, he shall not be 
          slain.
      7: And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan showed him all those things.  And Jonathan brought           David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past (19:5-7).  

    This time King Saul listened to reason from his son and David was able to return to the palace.  But David did not relax his guard for he understood that his life was in continual danger from his King.

    May these verses comfort you in your times of turmoil and tribulation.  Having God with you enables you to endure safely the trials that come into your life.  God works all things ultimately for our good, for our benefit.  It is up to us to remain faithful to Him and be patient.  Grace and peace be yours today!

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Mon, Nov 29th - 6:21PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



     13: Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight:  but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (4:13).  

    There is nothing which we can hide from God.  Many of us work under the false impression that we are able to limit what God knows that we do.  We pray that He will give us certain things and do certain things for us, but think that we can withhold our true motives from Him.  Impossible.  God knows our motives before we even do.  Our lives are open books to God.  This is why we must confess everything to Him.

      14: Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession (4:14).

    Beginning with this verse and extending through verse 28 of chapter 7 we are to see that Christ is superior to the Levitical priesthood.  For Hebrew believers this was of paramount importance for they were used to approaching God through their high priest.  Their Levitical high priest only approached God once per year to offer blood sacrifice for the nation's sins for another year.  

    Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest now.  Paul draws all attention to Christ as the new leader of a new royal priesthood.  Much of the rest of this epistle will deal with this subject.

    What colors our thinking concerning a priest is the pagan notion of what it is.  A pagan priest blocked the way to God by claiming to possess some mystical power essential to entering the presence of God.  People had to go through this priest who claimed to have this access to the Most High.  This concept denies the finished work of Christ and the priesthood of all believers.  This is one of the great truths which we all need to know.  All of us need a priest, the Catholic Church has that correct.  We have a lack, we have a need, we need help.  A mediator or priest who can stand between us and God and bring us together is needed.  Christ is that Mediator, He is the only Mediator.  Every believer has personal access to God through Christ Jesus.

    Christ Jesus was not a priest while He was here on earth.  Jesus was a member of the tribe of Judah, not a priestly tribe at all.  He was in the kingly line.  Jesus came the first time as prophet speaking for God directly to the people.  He went back to heaven a priest to represent us to God.  When He was here He offered Himself upon the cross, and that is the function of a priest, but He had to wait until He returned to heaven to become our High Priest and King.

    Christ holds a threefold office:  1) He was a prophet when He came over nineteen hundred years ago; 2) He is a priest today; and 3) He is coming someday to rule as a king.  Past, present, and future.  

    Because of this truth we are to hold onto our profession of faith and belief in Christ.  This is not speaking about our salvation, but about our living for Christ. Christ died down here to save us, He lives up in heaven to keep us saved and to enable us to give a good witness.  God never asked us to live the "Christian life" under our own strength.  He expects us to allow Him to live the Christian life through us.  

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  I am unsure of any posting tomorrow since I will be traveling from Bedford, VA to Kingsport, TN and back again as I drop my daughter and grandsons off there in Tennessee.  But I pray that Christ richly blesses your prayers, and that He works through you to reach people all around you during this holiday season.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Nov 29th - 12:29PM

    NLC



    "Ignorance of God's prophetic outline, failure to know God's program for the Church, the nations, and Israel, is the cause of the overwhelming amount of error and misunderstanding of the events of the future."

                                            ~M. R. DeHaan 

    "And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another (Romans 15:14)."

    Knowledge enables us to do what for others?  We become able to admonish each other, to help each other remain true and faithful to Christ.  This knowledge must come from God, not from mankind.  We are talking about inner character here and not of scientific facts.  There must never be confusion about what truth God wishes to impart to us as believers.  Nothing that science can ever discover will nullify the existence of God.  It may very well emphasize the necessity for His existence even more.

    "For, brethren, you have been called unto liberty; only do not use liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another(Galatians 5:13)." 

    Liberty is not to used to feed the lusts of our flesh but to serve others in love.  With gentleness we are to generously use our time and our talents in meeting the needs of others.  My freedom is not to be used to force others to stumble and fall further into sin.  My example is to be a shining light for others to follow through inspiration. 

    "And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32)."

    "forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive (Colossians 3:13)."

    So what are we to do when another sins against us?  Are we to rant and rave at them?  Are we to scheme about how we shall get even with them?  Are we to spread evil gossip about them?  No.  When anyone either actually sins against us, or we think that someone has sinned against us, we are to forgive them.  We are to forebear, to hold our temper and our tongue, and to forgive them because God forgave us through Christ Jesus.  It is also said in the Bible that if we refuse to forgive those who wrong us that God will refuse to hear our prayers and we will have broken fellowship with Him.  We will have created a separation between us and God all over again.  This is not optional among believers in Christ, it is worded as "must."  This is a legal term which means "you will do this without question or argument." 

    All of these verses have related to how we may serve each other and also those who do not believe in Christ or God.  What better way to convince the unbeliever to at least reconsider their beliefs than by swamping them with good works and kindness.  These passages also relate to how we handle our friendships and deal with our relatives.

    I pray that these verses bless your heart and lead you to consider how to properly respond to people who say and do hurtful things to you.  Grace and peace be yours this day!

    ~Eric



    Comment (0)

    Sun, Nov 28th - 3:15PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



     12: For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (4:12).

    "For" is used here as a form of cement to hold together his argument.  Paul is logical in his presentation of the Gospel.  This little word is a hinge-word upon which Paul's argument hangs.  It might be a tiny hinge but a big door hangs upon the hinge.

    It could be argued here that "the Word of God" refers to the Logos and not to the written Word.  But in the Bible the written Word is called the living Word and so both are being referred to.  The Word of God is "quick" or alive.  "Powerful" comes from the Greek word energes, meaning "energizing."  The Word of God is alive and it energizes.

    The next phrase in this verse indicates the basic truth about the Word of God:  it cuts both ways.  It will cut those preached to and will cut the preacher.  Thus, do not preach anything that you are not preaching to yourself as well.  Sermons many times are intended for the person who is preaching them, as well as for anyone else who has ears to hear. 

    The Word of God must be accepted as the truth and be taught in every church in order for all of us to understand what each other is talking about when we get together to converse. 

    Next in this verse we discover that the Word of God is able to rip asunder our soul and spirit.  We need not waste time attempting to divine what separates our soul from our spirit since God's Word is fully able to that for us.  This verse goes even further, saying that the Word pierces the joints and marrow as well.  It will dig down into our flesh and make distinction of what is found there.  The Word of God will reveal what is true about us. 

    The Word of God is "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."  The Greek word for "discerner" actually means "critic."  There are very many critics of the Bible today but there still remains only one Critic and that is God.  None of us sit in a position to criticize the Word of God, and yet all one needs do is go to Yahoo Answers.com to find mountains of judgmental people voicing their anger in the religion and spirituality section.  All 60+ books of the Bible are in agreement.  They all present the same glorious story, they all present the same salvation.  No man knows enough to judge the Bible, rather it judges us. 

    The Bible does not stop with simply dealing with the actions of mankind.  It also critiques our thoughts and intentions.  What the hand does is because of what the heart has already thought (Matthew 15:19).  Jeremiah 17:9 says this, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"  No man can know what is in anyone's heart but God does know what resides there. 

    That is all for today my friends.  Tomorrow I hope to continue on into verse thirteen through fifteen.  I pray that you are richly blessed by Christ Jesus in all that you have done today!

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Nov 28th - 8:52AM

    NLC



    "The eternal stars shine out as soon as it is dark enough."
                                                                           ~Thomas Carlyle

    "Difficulties are stepping stones to success."
                                                                           ~Anonymous 

    Friendship is a precious commodity that we ought to value highly.  We are social creatures with the need to make meaningful connections to God and to other people.  That need runs so deep that betrayal in friendship leaves lasting emotional scars.  There are five instances in the Bible of people who took their own lives:  Samson (Judges 16:29-30); King Saul (I Samuel 31:4-5); Ahithophel (II Samuel 17:23); Zimri (I Kings 16:18); and Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5).  Four out of these five had betrayed the trust of a friend.  Samson was betrayed by two different women, while the other men had all betrayed friendships before their suicides.  It is good to have a good friend; it's better to be a friend who is good.

    Jonathan, the son of King Saul, was a loyal friend to David (I Samuel 18:1-4).  Jonathan loved David even though David was a rival to his own fame, his throne, and his father King Saul.  This man was an example of a great and godly friend.  We must ask ourselves:  Does my ego ever keep me from being closer to my friends?  Are there any friends I think of as rivals?  

    We Christians all have times during our lives when we are faced with overwhelming burdens that we simply can't handle alone.  This why God tells us in Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another's burdens."  As Christians we are not meant to go it alone in this life.  God has intended us to be members of a team depending upon each other for support.  Are we willing to help bear each other's burdens?  Are we willing to humbly allow others to help us?  Each question is a tough one and needs to be answered before we can walk like brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.





    What does it mean to not judge one another?  Does this mean that we can't tell someone that what they are doing is wrong?  There are other passages that speak of this matter, and Jesus said to do some self analysis first before attempting to correct anyone else.  If I point out to someone that they are being unfaithful I had better make sure that I am being faithful first otherwise I am being a hypocrite.  I am expected to speak with people and try to teach them better ways of living.  Will people feel as if I am being judgmental?  Most assuredly!  Will they feel as if I am being intolerant?  Most assuredly!  Should that stop me from speaking?  Most assuredly not!  Speak boldly in the power of Christ and in love so that the other person will become informed, leave it up to them to decide what to do with the information.  We are messengers of Christ, not judges (not yet!) or enforcers of Christ.  The Catholic Church forgot that important aspect of faith when it began to coerce people into converting to the faith.  Christ commanded that no one be coerced into believing, it must be a free choice.  The Crusades are a prime example of two religious belief systems attempting to coerce people into accepting their belief system over the other.  It was wrong based upon that premise.  This is why those who believe that Christians would institute religious law upon everyone in America if allowed control of the government are wrong.  If it were to happen it would be because there were people who did not comprehend, or chose to ignore, the words of Christ upon this matter.  The kingdom of God is not to appear in bodily form on this earth now.  That kingdom will appear when Jesus Christ returns to rule in person on this planet.  The Catholic Church, and all others who believe with them, are mistaken when they feel it is their job to create the kingdom of God before Christ returns.  Having fallen into this grave error so long ago, the Catholic Church is mired in a hierarchy feeding upon political power and global control of segments of population.  It suffers from a lack of accountability of its leaders and from a jaded past filled with killing and outright hate.  It can't be an effective spiritual leader of people  finding Christ, what they find is something entirely different.  But that is an entirely different topic!  Suffice to say, we are not to place things in the way of other people so that they stumble over them and fall into sin.  I am able to drink beer but I ought not to do so in front of a recovering alcoholic, nor should I have it in my refrigerator so that visitors can accidentally find it and then gossip about it to others.  I am to be considering what the effect will be upon others before I do something, I am not to be misleading them with my actions or my words.


     

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    Sat, Nov 27th - 6:02PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      9: There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.
    10: For he that is entered into His rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from His (4:9-10).

    These "people of God" are the believers in Christ Jesus.  Heaven will be a place of deep satisfaction, of real joy, and real blessing.  

    Once again, we see here reference to God taking a "rest" from His work at the end of creation.  He stopped, not because of fatigue but to establish a symbolic day of rest for us to look forward to.  This is the rest of completeness.  The initial creation was finished.  And now redemption is finished.  What God continues to create at this time are new believers in Jesus Christ.  He wishes to see this creation through to completion as well.  

    So we live in a universe in which there are a finite amount of atoms.  No more atoms are being created to increase the total number, they simply are endlessly reconfigured over and over.  The only new creation is what took place over at Calvary and on the Day of Pentecost.  "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature:  old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (II Corinthians 5:17)."  Sons and daughters of God are the only things which God is creating today, beloved.  There is a rest that is promised to them.  There is the rest of heaven coming to us one day, but He wishes us to have an enjoyable rest even now.  We ought to enjoy this life now, God rested and ceased from His labors and thus so are we.  We are to stop our own personal endeavors and to get engaged in pursuing those things God desires us to be working on.  There is nothing which we can offer to complete our salvation, God offers to each of us a completed salvation through trusting in Christ.

     11: Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (4:11).

    The apostle confirms the misery of those who do not believe; they shall never enter into this spiritual rest, either of grace here or glory hereafter. This is as certain as the word and oath of God can make it. As sure as God has entered into His rest, so sure it is that obstinate unbelievers shall be excluded. As sure as the unbelieving Jews fell in the wilderness, and never reached the promised land, so sure it is that unbelievers shall fall into destruction, and never reach heaven. As sure as Joshua, the great captain of the Jews, could not give them possession of Canaan because of their unbelief, notwithstanding his eminent valor and conduct, so sure it is that even Jesus Himself, and Captain of our salvation, notwithstanding all that fulness of grace and strength that dwells in Him, will not, cannot, give to final unbelievers either spiritual or eternal rest: it remains only for the people of God; others by their sin abandon themselves to eternal restlessness.  

    We ought to observe the end proposed-rest spiritual and eternal, the rest of grace here and glory later—in Christ on earth, with Christ in heaven. The way to this end prescribed-labor, diligent labor; this is the only way to rest; those who will not work now shall not rest later. After due and diligent labour, sweet and satisfying rest shall follow; and labor now will make that rest more pleasant when it comes. "The sleep of the laboring man is sweet," Ecclessiates 5:12.  Let us therefore labor, let us all agree and be unanimous in this, and let us energize one another, and call upon one another to this diligence. It is the truest act of friendship, when we see our fellow-Christians loiter, to call upon them to mind their business and labor at it in earnest.  Thus should Christians call upon themselves and one another to be diligent in duty; and so much the more as we see the day approaching.  Here we have proper and powerful motives to make the advice effectual, which are drawn from the dreadful example of those who have already perished by unbelief: "Lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."  To have seen so many fall before us will be a great aggravation of our sin, if we will not take warning by them: their ruin calls loudly out to us; their lost and restless souls cry to us from their torments, that we do not, by sinning as they did, make ourselves miserable as they are.

    Doesn't God desire each of us to reach the place that Mary was at, at the feet of Jesus?  Martha figured she was serving God back in the kitchen worrying over the meal.  It is Christian service, but it is not where God wants us to be all of the time.  God wants us to find our satisfaction sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ.  

    Wars must be won in order to have peace.  We need to lay hold of God in prayer, and in faith.  We need to allow ourselves to be used of Him.  This is critical for the only thing in this world that can rob you of this rest is your unbelief.  God is so worthy of our trust.

    That is all for today my friends.  I sincerely hope that you have had a wonderful Saturday.  May Christ richly bless you with grace and love today!  

    ~Eric



    Comment (0)

    Fri, Nov 26th - 7:33PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



     17: And Saul said to David, Behold my elder daughter Merab, her will I give you to wife: only be you valiant for me, and fight the LORD'S battles. For        Saul said, Let not my hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him. 
     18: And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king? 
     19: But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul's daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife. 
     20: And Michal Saul's daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him. 
     21: And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to               David, You shall this day be my son in law in the one of the twain. 
     22: And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king has delight in you, and all his servants love               you: now therefore be the king's son in law. 
     23: And Saul's servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Does it seem to you a light thing to be a king's son in law, seeing that I        am a poor man, and lightly esteemed (18:17-23)?  

    Saul forced him to take all instances of quarrelling with the Philistines and engaging them (v. 17), insinuating to him that this way he would do good service to his prince (be you valiant for me), and good service to his God (fight the Lord’s battles), and a kindness to himself too, for this way he would qualify himself for the honor Saul designed him, which was to marry his eldest daughter to David. This he had earned by killing Goliath, for it was promised by proclamation to the man that should do that exploit (ch. 17:25); but David was so modest as to not demand it, and now, when Saul proposed it, it was with design of mischief to David, to make him venture upon hazardous attempts, saying in his heart, Let the hand of the Philistines be upon him, hoping that he would some how be killed in battle; yet how could he expect this when he saw that God was with David? He did what he could to provoke him to discontent and mutiny, by breaking his promise with him, and giving his daughter to another when the time came that she should have been given to him, v. 19. This was as great an insult as he could possibly put upon him, and touched him both in his honor and in his love. He therefore thought David’s resentment of it would break out in some indecency or revenge, in word or deed, which might give him an advantage against him to take him off by the course of law. Thus evil men seek mischief.  When he was disappointed in this, he offered him his other daughter (who it seems had a secret kindness for David, v. 20), but with this intent, that she might be a snare to him, v. 21.  Perhaps he hoped that she would, even after her marriage to David, take part with her father against her husband, and give him an opportunity of doing David an unkindness.

    Wow!  What an unethical king!  Saul is deceptive, manipulative, devious, and self-deluded.  He thinks that he is so smart, that no one will comprehend what he is attempting to do.  What a brave man, Saul manipulates things so that David has vastly greater odds of being killed by the Philistines.  Saul insults David by promising him his eldest daughter in marriage but then giving her to another man instead.  Then once Saul gives his next daughter to David in marriage he figures that she will go along with his machinations.  Surprise!  Michal loves David.  Sorry dad!  Let's see how this scenario plays out, shall we?

     24: And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spoke David. 
     25: And Saul said, Thus shall you say to David, The king desires not any dowry, but a hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king's enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines. 
     26: And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king's son in law: and the days were not expired. 
     27: Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife. 
     28: And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul's daughter loved him. 
     29: And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's enemy continually. 
     30: Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass, after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by (18:24-30).

    Everything that king Saul attempts against David fails to go according to his plans and secret hopes.  "Go and get me 100 hundred foreskins from the Philistines!"  Done, and even better, here is twice as many as you asked of me.  Saul finally gives up this avenue of revenge and gives Michal to David as a wife.  Saul also finally realized that Michal would not play his game against David since she loved the man.  God was with David and why not?  David was God's choice to be king of Israel and thus He would look after his choice.  

    We need to remember this accounting for today there are many congregations which think it is their inherent right to kick any, and every, pastor out of their midst if they do things which they feel offend them.  Even if the pastor is going according to God's Word, they still feel it is okay to oust the person out and kick them on down the road.  A sad, sad, state of affairs.  

    Grace and peace on this day after Thanksgiving Day in America!  I hope and pray that none of you set yourself against a person chosen by God to lead, it will not end well for you if you do so.  Until tomorrow, may Christ richly bless you.

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Wed, Nov 24th - 1:35PM

    NLC



    ""Abstract Art:  A product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled, to the utterly bewildered."

                                                               ~Al Capp

    "Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."

                                                              ~G.K. Chesterton

    The truth today to be discovered is this:  Being a true friend and having a true friend is of great benefit and blessing to the Christian.  This comes to us from Proverbs 17:17; "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."  Do I have such a friend?  Even more importantly, am I such a friend?  Why is it so important to have such friends?  Look to Ecclesiasties 4:9-10; "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion.  But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up."  So what does Solomon's statement mean to me regarding friendship?  It means that I must love at all times.  I can't be a fair weather friend who cuts and runs every time that times get tough.  It also means that I can't be someone who backstabs those who consider me to be their friend.  That is not loving them.  It means that I do not leave my friend/s hanging out there in limbo.  It means that I have their back, I am there to support them no matter what.  I will defend them against slander and cheap shots, even when they are not present to defend themselves.  I look out for their best interests, not my own over theirs. 

    Question:  Should my friend require me to win their friendship each and every day?  Is that okay?  No.  Friendship means unconditional acceptance, there is total trust.  Friendship means someone who will give honest, godly counsel to me whenever I ask.  They are not "yes-men."  True friends challenge me to grow to my full potential as a Christian.  They "sharpen" my knowledge, my faith, my determination. 

    A true friend will tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly truth.  The truth can then change my life for the better.

    How do we then ruin friendships?  Let's be honest, we all screw things up from time to time throughout our lives.  This is something of which we must remain aware of in order to prevent the destruction of valuable relationships.  Again, let's look at the Book of Proverbs to find some ways that we mess things up.  "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (13:20)."  The obvious warning here is that if we associate with fools we will end up engaging in some gossip about our friend and will cause a break in trust.  "He that blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him (27:14)."  If I am insensitive to my friend's needs or moods I will ruin our friendship, I am to respect my friend.  "He that covers a transgression seeks love; but he that repeats a matter separtes very friends (17:9)."  Love is longsuffering when it comes to others' shortcomings in behavior.  A true friend will go and speak with the person and point out their error and what the results of it will be.  A true friend does not go out and spread gossip about a friend's behavior which is in need of change.

    That is all for today my friends.  I hope and pray that you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday for those of you living in America.  There is much to be thankful for, even in difficult economic times.  As my doctor would say, "Eat moderately, drink responsibly, and do some walking!" 

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Nov 23rd - 9:41PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      4: For He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works (4:4).  

    This is the Sabbath of which is being spoken of here.  God rested on the seventh day, and that was the Sabbath day.  However, today we do not observe the Sabbath as a day that we keep.  We do not do this since God has told us that we must enter into His rest, the real Sabbath.  God's sabbath rest is in Jesus Christ.  It is He who is the narrow gate, the only way to come to the Father.  

    I will offer up to you the way Dr. J. Vernon McGee used to put this.  "The way I understand the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Sabbath day is now this day of grace in which we live, and Christ, after he died on the cross and came back to life, went back to the right hand of God the Father and sat down.  he sat down, not because He was tired, but because He had finished our redemption.  So now He tells me, 'You rest in Me.'  I have a Sabbath day everyday for I rest in Christ."

      5: And in this place again, If they shall enter into My rest.
      6: Seeing therefore it remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief (4:5-6).

    Unbelief is what robs people of the rest of salvation, that steals away the rest of satisfaction and blessing which God can give to each person.  It is a wonderful rest that He desires to give to us!  Those to whom this was first preached were the Hebrews who came from out of Egypt, it remains being preached to us today.  

      7: Again, He limits a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time, as it is said, Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts (4:7).

    God does not say it is acceptable to wait until tomorrow, but it is today.  Today is the day of your salvation, right now, where ever you are, what ever you might be doing.  Trust in Christ right now.  That is what the writer of Hebrews is telling all of us.  If you hear His voice then do not harden up your heart and turn away from Him, do not reject Him.  

      8: For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day (4:8).

    Jesus Christ did not create another "day" of rest, He is the rest.  The Sabbath was made for mankind and Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath.  Christ fulfilled the Sabbath rest which had been practiced for centuries.  If we trust Christ He lets us enter into "Canaan" which today means fruit and blessings and joy in our lives.  

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Next time I shall continue along and show more about this "rest."
    Love and peace be your blanket this autumnal night!

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Nov 23rd - 2:03PM

    NLC



    "Has it ever struck you that the vast majority of the will of God for your life has already been revealed in the Bible?  That is a crucial thing to grasp."
     
    "Others think it's a choice between doing what we want to do and being happy, and doing what God wants us to do and being miserable."

                                                                        ~Paul Little

    An excellent place to read about pride and what its effects are upon relationships is Proverbs.  Read these references and give some thought to the issue of pride and how it can kill the spirit of a sports team, a church, a friendship, a workplace environment, or even a home.

    "When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom (Proverbs 11:2)."
    "Only by pride comes contention: but with the well advised is wisdom (Proverbs 13:10)."
    "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18)."
    "Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who deals in proud wrath (Proverbs 21:24)."
    "Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips (Proverbs 27:2)."
    "A man's pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit (Proverbs 29:23)."

    We have ample evidence of a lack of honor among our elected officials.  Pride is shown frequently by judges, state and federal representatives/senators, and governors.  Why do we put up with such behavior?  Because we do it ourselves much too frequently.  We have accepted bad behavior as being something which is inevitable.  It is not inevitable that we must accept such behavior.  To whom much responsibility has been given much is expected.  Heads of state must not engage in petty arguments with political opposition.  Judges must not break the laws that they uphold in their courtrooms.  Police officers must not accept bribes and stop enforcing our laws equally over all people.  Government elected officials must not become pawns of special interest groups but remain impartial in order to pursue the best interests of their constituents.  Government officials of all sorts must not cater to their lusts and compromise their ethics, let alone their morals.  The respect and integrity of each of these positions becomes compromised beyond repair each and every time an individual gives in to the temptations put before them.  It is a symptom of the greater problems of the American society in general.  Cultural standards are being compromised or eliminated in totality, without any regard as to what the longterm impact will be upon the society.  This also explains somewhat why our government is approaching bankruptcy.  Pride prevents our leaders from admitting that they have over extended our country's finances, and have done so out of shortsightedness and personal greed.  Until they are willing to admit their mistakes the government's budget will not become reduced enough to balance income with expenditures.

    We need to realize that we are never more like Satan than when we act in selfish pride and ambition and when we seek to be served rather than to serve.  Consider this passage from Isaiah:

    "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!  You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!  But you said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.'  Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit (14:12-15)."

    What pronoun does Satan use most often in this passage?  Is it indicative of him being concerned about others, or himself?  "I will" is what comes out of Satan's mouth repeatedly.  It comes out of our mouths altogether too frequently also.  We need to learn to appreciate who and what we have in Christ Jesus so that we may freely serve others rather than our own egos.

    I will leave you with this verse from I Peter:  "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time."

    May God exalt you at the proper time.  May grace and peace be garlands about your shoulders!

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Nov 22nd - 4:52PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      6: And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music.
      7: And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
      8: And Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands:  and what can he have more but the kingdom?
      9: And Saul eyed David from that day forward (18:6-9).

    How petty and insecure can a person be?  Jealous because someone was capable of rescuing Israel from slavery to the Philistines?  Saul proves how inadequate a person he is to be king of Israel.  He might have looked the part, but he sure does not have the inner character required to be a king.  Has David actively done anything to overtly threaten Saul?  No, he has not.  Even though David knows that God has chosen him to succeed Saul as king, he has done nothing but do whatever he can to help the king.  And Saul is ungrateful in his heart.  Obviously he would want the kingdom if he were in David's shoes and thus he transfers his inner feelings upon David.  David must desire the kingdom! 

      10: And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house:  and David played with his hand, as at other times:  and there was a javelin in Saul's hand (18:10).

    Here begins the physical breakup of the relationship between these two men.  Saul, the choice of the people, and David the choice of God. 

      11: And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it.  And David avoided out of his presence twice (18:11).

    Saul wanted David dead.  David dodged the spear and left the court of Saul in order to remain safe.  David could have remained and openly challenged the king, but it would have been wrong to do so.
     14: And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the LORD was with him.
     15: Wherefore when Saul saw that he behaved himself very wisely, he was afraid of him.
      16: But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them 
             (18:12-16).

    Despite all that Saul did, the people respected David and all of his actions.  David was an admirable young man in all that he was doing.  Saul witnessed that this young man whom he had attempted to kill with his own hand was acting wisely, this caused Saul to be very afraid of the young man.  Perhaps he had some inner feelings that this was how he had behaved when he had been walking closely to God at the very beginning.  But that intimate relationship with God was long gone and was not coming back.

    That is all for today my friends.  We shall continue this account of the relationship between David and king Saul next time.  Walk closely with Christ, seek His face early, and walk in His light.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Nov 22nd - 9:06AM

    NLC



    "The world is full of experiments for bringing deliverance to the race, but on the authority of the New Testament and in the light of nineteen centuries of history, I declare my conviction that the only hope of this world is the return of Christ to reign over the earth and to establish universal peace."

                                    ~A. J. Gordon 

    Here is a quotation that highlights the failures of mankind as it seeks to discover a means to save itself from itself.  History declares that humans are incapable of delivering themselves from their inherent self interest and wickedness.  Put any one of us in the proper circumstances and we will unerringly decide to do things that are unthinkable to us at all other times.  It is simply human nature. 

    Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:3-5).  It is crucial for us to know who and what we are in Christ.  This knowledge frees us to die to self and serve others.  This knowledge enables us to bridle our egos.

    How does this passage of scripture differ from what the world says our attitude ought to be?  The world tells us to look out for number one, to do unto others before they can do the same to us.  The world twists the pursuit of happiness into a race for pleasure at any and all costs irregardless of who gets harmed along the way.  Collateral damage is acceptable in the world, it is not acceptable to those who follow Christ.  Oh, we may recognize that collateral damage will, and most certainly does, happen in life but we do not think that it is acceptable.  We will choose to do something to help those who do become damaged, we will desire to heal those who become injured through the actions of others.  The Church of the Brethren seek to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation whenever possible.  They realize the need for healing to those who inevitably are injured through interacting with others in our world. 

    Why do you think Jesus said that the greatest person is the servant (Matthew 23:11-12)?  Could it be that the true servant is one who is loyal and faithful to his master in all matters?  Such a person affects more lives in a positive manner than the servant who is continually rebellious and churlish.  Christ also demonstrated this teaching after the last meal before His crucifixion.  Jesus desired to demonstrate that inspite of all of His power and majesty He was still more than willing to also serve the needs of the people before Him.  Authority was to come from the service of others' needs.  This means that one in authority must be more than willing to do whatever they ask others to do.  Jesus asks us to die in order to gain ourselves and newness of life; He did this first to show us the way.  Jesus told us that we have not because we do not ask the Father; He asked through prayer for many things in order to show us the way.  These are all things which we need to know in order to be able to serve.

    In reading John 13:1-20 we can find out what Jesus knew and how it then freed Him to serve.  In verse one we discover that Jesus knew His hour had come.  He knew that there was a Sovereign Plan.  The question for us:  Do we know that we are only a part of God's plan and NOT the one in charge?

    In verse three we can see that Jesus knew where He had come from.  Do we know that  we are created by God, and not by ourselves?  We are the creature, not the Creator.

    In verse three we also can see that Jesus knew where He was going.  The fact that He knew that He was going back to God was the "joy set before Him" as read in Hebrews 12:2.  With this knowledge Christ was able to endure the agony of the cross.  Do we know where we are going when we leave this physical world?  Self-denial here means honor in heaven.

    In verse three we also find that Jesus knew the source of His power was God.  We need to realize that if we have any success or position it is because God has allowed it.

    In verse eleven we find that Jesus knew that not everyone was a true believer in Him.  He was not naive, He was not gullible.  Do we know that we will be ill-treated at some point in our lives, just as Jesus was?  We still need to be a servant anyway!

    What lies underneath or behind just about every sin and vice known to man?  It has to be pride.  We demand that our way and our desires be placed ahead of others' wishes, or even needs.  This creates strife which appears in various forms:  greed, envy, jealousy, selfishness.  Pride produces conflict which ruins relationships.  Pride is a sin at the root of most of our interpersonal problems.  Too proud to admit we could be wrong.  Too proud to ask for help.  Too proud to realize that our job is who we perceive ourselves to be.  Think a little bit about some of the problems that you've had with others in the past, consider what was at the root of the conflict.  What was the real issue causing the strife between you and the other person?  Without too much excavation work you will find that elements of pride exist at the bottom of the problem.

    That is all for today, beloved.  Hopefully tomorrow I will continue with this section on service and pride.  Grace and peace be with you today as you continue preparing for Thanksgiving on Thursday! 

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Nov 21st - 9:43PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      1: Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it (4:1).

    This is a continuation of the warning written to us in the previous chapter concerning doubt and unbelief.  In verse one we encounter a "let us" phrase which we are to encounter many more times in this book. 

    There are always people who claim that this verse is a contradiction.  How can we be loved by God if we are to fear Him?  Or, they refer us to Romans 8:15 which points out that we have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.  And in II Timothy 1:7 Paul wrote about the same thing again.  But the fear spoken of here in Hebrews 4 is a different type of fear than what we are so used to in our world.  In our world we ought to fear rattlesnakes, black widow spiders, king cobras, great white sharks, and all sorts of other venomous animals.  They all have the capability to kill us.  But "fear" as it is used here in this verse means to be concerned about missing out on something important, very important. 

    Each saint of Christ ought to be very concerned about their ignorance of the Word of God.  What we don't know can, and will, have tremendous impact upon our future.  The apostle Paul is speaking of a good fear.  In Proverbs 1:7 we are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Therefore, if we do not fear God we remain ignorant. 

    What is the purpose of having this fear?  To remain ignorant is to jeopardize losing the promise left to us of entering into God's rest.  Paul is to speak much about rest in this chapter of Hebrews.  Eight times it is found in this chapter and right here it would appear that Paul is writing about "Canaan rest."  How many believers today are missing out on this type of rest?  Believers must really trust Christ and rest in Him.

      2: For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them:  but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it (4:2).

    This is the "rest" of salvation.  People heard the gospel message but did not believe it to be true, they had no faith.  Moses led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but he could not lead them into the Promised Land.  Joshua was able to lead them over the Jordan River into Canaan, but he was unable to give them rest.  Many of the Israelites were unable to ever find rest, the entire land was never completely taken into possession. 

    The world, the flesh, and Satan steal many of the blessings that God has for believers.  You and I live in a mean, wicked world.  It is not a place which is a friend of grace nor a friend of believers in Christ.  Too many believers have not yet discovered this fact.

      3: For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest:  although the works were finished from the foundation of the world (4:3).

    This is a discussion of salvation rest, the rest of trusting in Christ.  If you happened to know someone who professed to be a Christian and whom you really believed was a born-again saint, and they suddenly stopped living the Christian life and began acting like the world, if they stopped going to church services, stopped giving to further God's work, and stopped all participation in Christian activities, would you think that they had lost their salvation?  Or perhaps they never were a true Christian?  Can these activities cause you to lose what God had given to you?  Are they what salvation is actually all about?  If you think this way it can be simply that you do not trust Christ, and neither did they.  Believers can stray from the narrow path, they can doubt their salvation is real, but it does not mean that they are not saved in Christ.  It does mean that they have fallen out of grace and are struggling.  The solution is to pray to God, acknowledge any sin/s that they have committed, and begin their faith walk with God from the beginning once more.  Thus the importance of realizing that there is a rest, from God, of which He wants us to enter into.  To choose to not study the Word of God is to gamble on falling short of entering into the rest that Christ has to offer each of us.

    Next time, God willing, we shall discover Paul talking about the seventh day of the week as a day of rest and what it's meaning actually is.  I hope that you decide to return to this study.  May you begin to prepare your heart each day to bring thanksgiving to Christ, for He is our Horn of Plenty, our Cornucopia.  Everything which we now have comes from Christ and all that we shall have in the future will come from Christ as well.  Might as well begin practicing being thankful now!  Thank Him for loving you so much as to come to this earth in human flesh to bear the penalty of your sins just so that you could have eternal life with Him.  Thank Him for bringing peace into your heart and life, for reconciling your differences with Him and with other people.

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Nov 21st - 1:09PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      1: And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul (18:1).  









    Comment (0)

    Sat, Nov 20th - 7:43PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      16: For some, when they had heard, did provoke:  however not all that came out of Egypt by Moses (3:16).

    The thought here is that God was highly displeased that the people heard God but then chose to not believe.  They had had enough faith to come out of Egypt, but not enough to enter into the land promised to them.  

      17: But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 
      18: And to whom did He swear that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not?   
      19: So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief (3:17-19).

    What grieved the heart of God?  It was their unbelief.  That is sin in God's book.  To doubt God's Word is sin.  It is a sin which then leads to many others.  For the Israelites in the wilderness it led to worshiping a golden calf; it led to fornication, and it led to an absolute denial and rejection of God.  They decided that slavery back in Egypt was much better than walking by faith into the land promised to them by God.  It is unfortunate that today there are so many Christians who walk after the ways of the world.  

    Take notice of the question put to the Hebrews.  God was grieved with the group of Israelites who did not wish to enter into the Promised Land.  They chose to believe their spies rather than to believe what God had promised to do for them.  Only two spies trusted in God, Joshua and Caleb.  They reported that yes, there were giants and mighty people who lived over the Jordan, but God had promised to deliver the land into their hands.  They were the only members of their generation to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land.  

    The last verse of this chapter is an important one which you ought to underline.  It tells us what is robbing us of many blessings in our lives---unbelief.  

    That finishes up chapter three of Hebrews.  We now prepare to begin studying chapter four.  The general theme of this chapter is that Christ Jesus is superior to Joshua and that He is superior to the Levitical priesthood.

    May grace and peace flood your heart tonight beloved!  

    ~Eric


    Comment (0)

    Fri, Nov 19th - 12:23PM

    NLC



    "Contemporary society...does not value personal submission.  Rather, it teaches that the ideal, the highest position a human being can attain, is that of personal autonomy."

                                                                  ~Stephen B. Clarke 

    Paul admonished Timothy about wrong motivations in I Timothy 6:6-10:  "But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment.  For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.  But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang."  We can't allow ourselves to be motivated by temporary riches and possessions.  The "love" of money is the root of all evil and wickedness.  People get sold into slavery today because of more love for the money gotten rather than for the person being sold away.  Another false motivation is to fear man or peer pressure.  Too often we are motivated to do the wrong thing because we seek to please another person. 

    How about the following verses and their relevance to the fear of men?

    *   "The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?  The LORD is for me among those who help me; therefore I shall look with satisfaction on those who hate me (Psalm 118:6-7)."

    *   "The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in teh LORD will be exalted (Proverbs 29:25)."

    *   "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is:  fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person (Ecclesiastes 12:13)."

    *   "But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.  For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself allof, fearing the party of the circumcision.  And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy (Galatians 2:11-13)."  We must also recall Hebrews 13:5-6 and Luke 22:62 and be sure that we understand what caused Peter to deny Christ three times in rapid succession. 

    Being motivated to act according to achieving acceptance from other people is wrong.  It is wrong and it leads to becoming enslaved to this behavior.  We will be willing to sell our friends and our family members down the proverbial river just in order to gain the esteem of some other influential people in our life.  Cephas is an example of changing ones behavior dramatically when certain people come around to visit us.  He stopped eating with the Gentiles when some Jews came to visit him from Jerusalem.  He fell back into some very old customs so that the visitors would not condemn him and/or refuse to remain with him.  He was willing to sacrifice truth and obedience to God for the acceptance of unbelievers.  That is not the proper path to walk down in this life. 

    That is all today for our walk in the New Life in Christ!  May all of your fears pass away as you realize that Christ has promised to be with us, never leave nor forsake us, and to enable us to perform those tasks which God desires us to perform for Him.  As we are told in Colossians 3:22-24, we are to do everything to the best of our ability and to do it as if Christ Himself is the one asking us to it.  If we take this approach to our lives then we shall receive the reward God has reserved for us in heaven.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Nov 18th - 7:49PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      48: And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came and drew near to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. 
      49: And David put his hand in his bag, and took out a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth. 
      50: So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. 
      51: Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. 
      52: And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until you come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron. 
      53: And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents. 
      54: And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent (17:48-54).  

    To this engagement with the diminutive David the Philistine advanced with a great deal of state and gravity; if he must encounter a pigmy, yet it shall be with the magnificence of a giant.  This is hinted at in the manner of expression: He arose, and came, and drew near, like a stalking mountain, overlaid with brass and iron, to meet David. David advanced with no less activity and cheerfulness, as one that aimed more to do execution than to make a figure: He hastened, and ran, being lightly clad, to meet the Philistine. We may imagine with what disbelief and amazement the Israelites watched such a pleasing youth as this throwing himself into the mouth of destruction, but he knew whom he had believed and for whom he acted. Goliath was in no hurry, because in no fear, but confident that he should soon at one stroke cleave his adversary’s head; but, while he was preparing to do it solemnly, David did his business effectually, without any fanfare: he slang a stone which hit Goliath in the forehead, and, in the twinkling of an eye, felled him to the ground, verse 49. Goliath knew there were famous slingers in Israel (Jdg. 20:16), yet was either so forgetful or presumptuous as to go with the beaver of his helmet open, and there, to the only part left exposed, not so much David’s skill as God’s providence directed the stone, and brought it with such force that it sunk into his head, notwithstanding the impudence with which his forehead was brazened. See how frail and uncertain life is, even when it thinks itself beyond harm, and how quickly, how easily, and with how small a matter, the passage may be opened for life to go out and death to enter. Goliath himself has not power over the spirit to retain the spirit, Eccl. 8:8.  Let not the strong man glory in his strength, nor the armed man in his armor. See how God resists the proud and pours contempt upon those that voice defiance to Him and His people. None ever hardened his heart against God and prospered. One of the Rabbin thinks that when Goliath said to David, Come, and I will give your flesh to the fowls of the air, he threw up his head so quickly that his helmet fell off, and so left his broad forehead a fair mark for David. To complete the execution, David drew Goliath’s own sword, a two-handed weapon for David, and with it cut off his head, verse 51. What need had David to take a sword of his own?  His enemy’s sword shall serve his purpose, when he has occasion for one. God is greatly glorified when His proud enemies are cut off with their own sword and He makes their own tongues to fall upon them, Psalm 64:8.  David’s victory over Goliath was typical of the triumphs of the son of David over Satan and all the powers of darkness, whom He spoiled, and made a show of them openly (Colossians 2:15), and we through Him are more than conquerors.  The defeat of the Philistines’ army came as they relied wholly upon the strength of their champion, and therefore, when they saw him slain, they did not, as Goliath had offered, throw down their arms and surrender themselves servants to Israel (verse 9), but took to their heels, and thinking it to no purpose to oppose one before whom such a mighty man had fallen: They fled (verse 51), and this put life into the Israelites, who shouted and pursued them (David, it is probable, leading them on in the pursuit) even to the gates of their own cities, verse 52. In their return from the chase they seized all the baggage, plundered the tents (verse 53), and enriched themselves with the spoil. David’s disposal of his trophies is seen in verse 54. He brought the head of the Philistine to Jerusalem, to be a terror to the Jebusites, who held the strong-hold of Sion: it is probable that he carried it in triumph to other cities. His armor he laid up in his tent; only the sword was preserved behind the ephod in the tabernacle, as consecrated to God, and a memorial of the victory to His honor, ch. 21:9. 

      55: And when Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As your soul lives, O king, I cannot tell. 
      56: And the king said, Inquire whose son the stripling is. 
      57: And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 
      58: And Saul said to him, Whose son are you, young man? And David answered, I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite (17:55-58).  

    How could Saul not know who David was?  Because Saul was troubled by a spirit.  But they brought David into King Saul's presence carrying the severed head of Goliath.  David informed the king whose son he was.  

    This brings us to the end of chapter seventeen of I Samuel.  It has given us the account of how David stood up to the giant from Gath and beat him by relying upon his faith in Jehovah.  God honored David's faith and delivered the giant into his hand.  All of this was part of God's plan for David to become king of Israel.  At this point in time all of the people know who David is and what he has accomplished.  Think that this young man has a measure of fame and respect from his countrymen?  Think that any of us would gain uncommon respect and notoriety by trusting completely in Christ and having unwavering faith in Him?  Until next we meet here, grace and peace.

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Nov 18th - 1:08PM

    NLC



    "Much of our drive to build separate but equal facilities (for use by evangelicals) is the desire to forget the war we are in.  We can't forget it very well with drunks stumbling over our feet, so we go to "Christian" hotels.  Non-Christians upset us, not so much because they curse and party (we have worse sins of our own), but because they remind us of evaded responsibility.  From time to time this guilt gets intolerable (down deep we do love Christ), so we mount our chrome-trimmed chargers, and like knights of old, we gallop out of our castles in search of the dragon.  We usually find him in jail, or a skid-row mission or other captive audience (even a fraternity) where we can dump our gospel load and get out again with a minimum of personal involvement or time wasted.  Then back to the castle we tear, mission completed.  With the draw-bridge slammed shut behind us, we sing "Safe Am I" and settle down again.  Often our castle is psychological, but none the less real."

                                                      ~John Goodwin 

    In college and professional football games we normally can spot a roving camera hoisted high above the game in progress on the field.  These cameras record each play from a vantage point that allows for unblocked vision of what happened each time.  It usually gets referred to as "the eye in the sky, it don't lie."  The referees will consult this camera view from time to time throughout a game to verify calls that they have made upon the field. 

    The ultimate eye in the sky is God's.  He sees and knows everything we do, and why we do it.  "The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3)."  You may think that you know what other people are really thinking and feeling, but only God is equipped to actually know these things. 

    Since God sees us as we actually are, it becomes therefore rather important to be pleasing in His sight.  One who was considered to be great in the eyes of God was John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).  Why? 

    *   He was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:15).

    *   He was man of conviction (Luke 1:15; 7:24-28).

    *   He led people to Christ (Luke 1:16; John 1:6-8).

    *   He was humble.  Christ must increase but he must decrease (John 3:30).

    *   He realized his gifts and rejoiced in the Kingdom of God (John 3:27-36).

    *   He was willing to give his life for the truth (Mark 6:14-29).

    God alone is our Judge and LORD, someday we will have to give an accounting to Him.  Some who have been highly esteemed by the crowd will not be so highly honored by God, and some who have barely been known by any one will be greatly rewarded in heaven.  God sees every act and discerns every motive of our heart, let's therefore strive to be like John the Baptist.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Nov 17th - 8:27PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    In continuance of my last posting to this study, I direct our attention to II Corinthians 3 beginning with verse six which deals with Moses.  "Who also has made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit:  for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life."  The Law condemns us and kills us but the Holy Spirit gives us life.  "But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away."  We are not being told that the Law wasn't glorious; it was glorious, but that glory was meant to go away.  Now in verse eleven, "For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious."  Paul makes a contrast between the glory of the Law and that of the Holy Spirit through Christ Jesus.  If the glory of the Law made Moses's face shine, then how much more light is there in Christ Jesus?  "Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:  And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished (II Corinthians 3:12-13)."  Moses veiled his face so that people would not notice that the glow in his face was slowly fading away.  But the glory that came in the person of Jesus Christ does not fade away.  "But their minds were blinded: for until this day remained the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart."  Unbelief is not an intellectual issue as much as it is a heart issue.  As long as there is sin in your life which you refuse to give up you will be blinded to the truth.  The moment that your heart is ready to give up the sin, at that exact moment in time your "intellectual" problem will disappear like magic.  Christ will remove the veil away from your mind, and you can come to Him and be saved.  As we continue to read the following verses we discover that the Spirit comes into the heart and brings liberty with Him.  Then we reach those familiar verses, "...we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (II Corinthians 3:17-18)."  Oh, the future that awaits those who accept Christ and grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ.

    But let's return to verse 13 of this chapter of Hebrews.  As believers we must be aware of the deceitfulness of sin.  It is quite easy to reach a place where we feel as if our lives are satisfactory to God, although we are actually leading a wilderness life.  There can be men in the ministry who are totally dishonest; they are known to be liars, yet they are able to kneel on their knees and pray the most pious prayers ever heard.  And their conscience does not condemn them.  It does not condemn them for it has become hardened, it is blinded. 

      14: For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end (3:14).

    The Holy Spirit steps upon our toes also in this verse.  He applies these truths to our own hearts today.  We are in Christ and He belongs to us; just we belong to Him for He is in us.  We prove that we are members of Christ's household if we hold steadily to the confidence and the hope we have in Him until the very end of this age.  We are to rejoice in this hope. 

    We must also keep firmly in mind that the emphasis all along has been upon the rest which is ours if we trust in Christ.  There is revealed a fivefold rest:  (1) creation rest; (2) entrance into Canaan; (3) the rest of salvation; (4) the rest of consecration; and (5) heaven.  Thus far we have been spoken to about fully trusting Christ for salvation and for daily living.

      15: While it is said, Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation (3:15).

    This quotation from Psalm 95 is repeated to emphasize that these truths are not just for yesterday, but for all time.  What is the greatest sin in my life?  It would have to be unbelief.  Not trusting God as much as I ought to is continually something which I must fight against.  To fully, completely trust in God is the rest which the writer of Hebrews speaks about. 

    The people of Israel wandered in the wilderness because they had no faith to enter into the Promised Land.  Canaan does not represent heaven; it represents the place of spiritual blessing and victory. When Paul cried out, "O wretched man that I am!  who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"  it was the cry of a saved man who is a defeated Christian, who finds no satisfaction in Christ for he is not trusting in Him.  The problem:  lack of faith. 

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Let's all meet back here tomorrow and continue our study together! 

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Nov 17th - 1:05PM

    NLC



    "I shall tell you a great secret, my friend.  Do not wait for the last judgment, it takes place every day."

                                      ~Albert Camus

    "At the day of Doom men shall be judged according to their fruits.  It will not be said then, Did you believe?  but, Were you doers, or talkers only?"

                                      ~John Bunyan

    The will of God versus Worldly gain is today's topic.  "And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God remains forever (I John 2:17)."  What ought to motivate each of us is the eternal will of God.  Our purpose for living must rise above our own comfort and our own interests.

    Which of your personal goals have eternal elements joined to them?  In Matthew 16:24 Jesus Christ said that any one who desires to follow after Him needs to deny himself, take up his cross, and come with Him.  But what is the cross of which He refers?  I think that it isn't a physical one so much as it is an inner motivation.  What is it that drives us to do what we do?  We can think of Pat Tillman.  Here was a man who played professional football for a bit over a million dollars per year and yet he traded it all in order to go and serve in the military for around 17-18,000 dollars per year.  He served in Afghanistan as an Army Ranger where he was killed doing what he felt he needed to do.  He wanted to contribute to society and help people and so about the only place that he felt that he was satisfying that need was overseas in Afghanistan.  He listened to his inner voice and responded.  Yes, he died while serving in the military.  But I think that his heart was where God wanted it to be.  We need to be sure that our hearts are exactly where God wants them to be, we need to be picking up our crosses and carrying them. 

    The world wants us to seek out our own interests, our own desires.  It is designed to pull us on in with promises, and rarely rewards those who give in to its temptations.  Matthew 6:18-33 speaks about first seeking the kingdom of God.  This is necessary for the believer in order that their priorities remain correct.  Gain the kingdom of God and then all needed things will be given to you by God.  In John 5:41-44 we are warned against seeking out glory from others.  This appears in several forms:  peer pressure, status seeking, fame, popularity, position, wealth, portfolio performance, salary, accolades, awards, etc..  It all boils down to basically desiring affirmation from outside of oneself.  The sole proper place from which to receive this affirmation is from Jehovah, not from people around us.  Reading Proverbs 2:1-5 I find that I must protect my good name.  As the saying goes, "Our reputation proceeds us everywhere we go."  I must protect my reputation by paying attention to where I go, who I associate with, what I read, what I listen to, and what I do and say.  It becomes exceedingly difficult to serve God's will when our name carries a wicked reputation among the unbelievers.  Of course, reading Romans 12:1-2 points out to us that the path to changing how we think comes from reading, studying, and applying God's Word to our daily lives.  This process then changes our motivations and we find ourselves wanting to do good things for others which leads to us feeling good about ourselves. 

    So, from today's study it appears that we ought to be concerned about what we are doing today.  Do not think that it is alright to wait until you are about to die before changing your motivations for doing things.  God warns each to not fool themselves into believing that they will have sufficient time to change before their souls are required of them.  Death usually comes suddenly, and to us, unexpectedly.  Death is not easily fitted into a daytimer, it can't be effectively slotted into a schedule.  Death is not a respecter of persons either.  The rich and the poor both will die one day.  No matter how much, or how little wealth a person may have they eventually reach the exact same destination:  death and a grave.  What is important is what you do with the time given to you during your life.  Are you serving God, or are you selfishly serving your own lusts?  Are you living in freedom from the bondage of sin, or are you a slave to your private, personal, motivations which probably were formed during your childhood? 

    I encourage each of you to engage in personal evaluations several times each year.  Find out what your status actually is.  Most people remain too busy, too enslaved to frenetic lifestyles to even begin to contemplate why they do what they do, when they do it.  I hope that you will begin to take some time to discover who you are and why you are doing what you are doing today.  I am a person who learns what to do by reversing negative examples and finding what should be done.  That was a driver for perhaps the first 36 years of my life, until I took the time to figure out why I was doing that.

    Grace and peace and love be with you all!

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Nov 17th - 7:13AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      41: And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bore the shield went before him. 
      42: And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. 
      43: And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that you come to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 
      44: And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give your flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field. 
      45: Then said David to the Philistine, You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 
      46: This day will the LORD deliver you into my hand; and I will smite you, and take your head from you; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 
      47: And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give you into our hands (17:41-47).  

    Here we see the reaction of Goliath to David.  He only sees a youth approaching him armed with a stave of wood and wearing no armor.  To him this is a joke, worse, it is a slap in the face.  He feels that he is being disrespected by someone like David coming out to fight with him.  So Goliath talks some trash, threatening to give David's soon-to-be corpse to the wild animals to feed upon.  What is David's reply, is he scared of this giant?  No, David tells the giant from Gath that while he confronts David with sword and spear and shield David comes against him in the name of Jehovah.  David reminds Goliath that he has defied Jehovah and blasphemed His holy name.  David announces the intent of God to deliver Goliath into his hands in order that David may kill him and feed the dead bodies of the Philistines to the wild animals; all so that everybody shall know that God saves the Israelites through His power and wisdom, not with sword or spear.  The Israelites themselves are in dire need of being reminded of this fact.  

    So what are some spiritual lessons for us to learn from this passage?  Goliath represents the world; Saul represents Satan; and David represents the believer in Jesus Christ.  We have been admonished, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him (I John 2:15)."  We are to be in the world but not of the world.  We are just passing through on our way to heaven, we are sojourners or pilgrims.  What a difference between David and say, Samson.  Samson treated the Philistines almost as friends, even marrying one!  David, on the other hand, considered this Philistine as an enemy.  The Kosmos, the world system, which consists of all governments, educational systems, and entertainments, is the enemy of the believer today.  David's faith enabled him to go out, face the enemy, and defeat the enemy without first having to physically engage him in hand to hand combat.  "For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world:  and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith (I John 5:4)."  We have already covered these two verses in a previous study, but they dovetail right into this study of I Samuel.  This is the lesson which Joshua learned about at Jericho; the battle is the Lord's.  What else did David learn here?  That he would be unable to use the weapons of this world to fight against the world.  Very important lesson to keep in our minds there.  We have to use God's weapons.  We, as believers, must realize that the world is overcome only by our faith and confidence in Christ.

    Well, that is all of the time which I have this morning, beloved.  I hope this blog post helps put your daily struggles into better perspective.  We are continually at odds with the world and can only overcome it by our faith in Christ Jesus.  May grace and peace adorn your walk today!

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Nov 16th - 1:39PM

    NLC



    "There is no danger of developing eyestrain from looking on the bright side of things."

                                                                   ~Anonymous

    "We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it."

                                                                   ~George Bernard Shaw

    "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.  But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness (II Timothy 2:15-16)."  This is a challenge to believers.  We are to stay far away from engaging in empty chit-chat and philosophical ramblings which drag us far away from God's truth.  We are not to allow our hearts to become distracted from the work that God has assigned to us.  Paul also said, in Romans 12:1-2, that our lives are changed by the renewing of our minds.  What we feed into our minds flows down into our hearts and it will dictate our behavior.  So be very careful of what you watch, read, and listen to.

    Here are a few things which we all ought to be feeding into ourselves:

    *   John 1:1, 14  tells us that Jesus is "the Word."  He is the Logos, the Creator of everything that has been, and shall be created.  Here is where our path begins.  Jesus was there at Creation, to Him was given the privilege of creating our universe and everything in it.  It means that He knows quite intimately every detail of life everywhere.  There is an intertwining effect going on within the Bible.  God speaks, and Jesus is there.  He must be there, for He is the Word of God.  The Bible has been identified as being the "Word of God" and thus Jesus also becomes One with the Bible and all of its truth.  None of these things can be separated one from another, for they are all one and the same.  The Bible is the "inspired" Word of God given to very many different people to first orally hand down to new generations, and then to be written down for new generations.  There was no opportunity for things to have been slipped in unawares to God.  He would not have allowed those things to enter into His Word which was being given out to mankind, piece by piece. 

    So, the first step in renewing our minds daily is to recall that Christ is the Word of God and that He is the Creator.  Jesus is not some archangel who has been given lots of power and authority.  Jesus is above and beyond any of the angels.  He is superior to all of them.  Christ must be the One to whom we pray daily for it is He who is capable of creating change within us, in our hearts.

    Paul wrote down for us in I Corinthians 14:37 some commandments from Christ.  These are commandments and not just good advice.  These are pointedly made as commandments so that people take them seriously.  Anyone who does not obey them, anyone who discounts/ignores them is not God's child.  They are not a Christian.  Not according to God. 

    In Genesis 1:1-29 we are able to read about how God moved through Creation.  One thing which must be noticed is the repeated use of the term "let."  This word means to allow, or give permission.  I let my child go to the movies with his/her friends.  I let the grass grow longer before trimming it.  So much power resides within God that He is able to "allow" these things to become created.  He does not have to work or labor over them.  He speaks, it happens.  This is the kind of God who is looking out for us, who has sacrificed Himself upon a wooden cross for our sakes.

    Upon reading Matthew 5:18, John 10:35, and Psalm 119:89 we are taught that God's Word will last forever.  It is eternal.  Since Christ is the Word of God that means that He is eternal as well.  No matter from what angle you wish to approach Christ from, He is eternal and He is God.  We need to take this fact and allow it to run our lives.  Mankind's words are but temporary.  They come and they go.  Scientists rewrite their theories very frequently and we can't depend upon the "experts" to be correct.  Several years ago the "experts" told everyone to stop drinking milk because it was bad for your health.  Huh?  So many people listened and heeded their sage advice, not stopping to think about it at all.  Several years later the "experts" reversed their sage opinion about milk; they had discovered that it contained several vital nutrients that the human body required to have in order to be healthy.  So much for experts.  God teaches us to do everything in moderation, do nothing excessively.  And that piece of advice remains true no matter how many years go by!

    Upon reading Psalm 119:105 we find that God's Word, Jesus Christ, is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our walk through life.  So what do I do with that truth?  It means that daily I must, I must keep myself close to the mind of Christ in order that I may see clearly where I am going in life.  Christ said that He was the light of the world.  I must keep myself positioned where the light eliminates the darkness from around me and I can then see all obstacles in my way.  Walking in the dark means stumbling and falling over things which I never even knew were there.  This verse also points out the importance of clearly understanding what I am confronted with in this world.  The world system is not working in my favor, it is working against me and leading me astray from the source of eternal life. 

    Well, that is all for today my friends.  I hope these verses can help you draw closer to Christ or help you see the need to find Christ to begin with.  Grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Nov 16th - 7:15AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    There are many believers today who simply don't know what rest actually means.  It is because they have never entered into it for they must enter by faith.

      12: Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God (3:12).

    Can that be true of a believer?  Sure.  Many of the Hebrews who were led from out of Egyptian slavery believed in God and yet they suffered from a lack of belief.  There was not complete trust in God, only a partial trust.  Their sin was to not believe God, and that can be our problem today beloved.  We may believe God will forgive us of our sins but not believe that God will provide for all of our needs.  We may believe God will never forsake us but not believe that God will fight our battles for us.  We may believe God expects us to be fruitful but not believe that God will enable us to produce that good fruit.  Through our measure of unbelief we are then forced to wander aimlessly out in the "wilderness" until such time as we realize our error in belief.  Jesus told His disciples "oh you of little belief" because they were not understanding the shortcomings of their concept of "belief in God."  We do not ask of God because of a lack of believing that He will hear us and answer us.  That is a sin.  Unbelief is a sin. 

      13: But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (3:13).

    What is the need of exhorting one another every day?  What is the point?  Exhortation is to keep us from straying off of the straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life.  Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way.  Even once we enter in through Christ Jesus, even then the path to eternal life and reward remains a narrow one.  Our conduct can't become "loose" and our reputation must remain clean. 

    When I exhort you I am encouraging you to remain faithful to all that Christ has said in the Bible and to all that God has taught us through the Bible.  The second part of this verse has application to two groups of people.  First, it speaks to believers to beware of the sins in their lives that those sins do not steal away future blessings.  Second, it speaks to the unsaved people.  Unbelief in the heart steals salvation away from them.  People say that they have an intellectual problem that prevents them from believing in God and Christ.  It is simply not true.

    The accounting of the time Jonah spent inside of the great fish is an example of intellectualism being used as the excuse for not believing.  The intellectual claims that no one can live for three days and three nights inside of any fish.  That is most certainly true.  The problem is, the Bible never claimed that he did.  It states that Jonah was in the fish three days and nights.  If one does not believe in the resurrection of Jonah from inside of that fish then one will not believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from inside of that tomb.  Will they?  Intellectual problems are nothing other than heart problems. 

    That is all for this morning, beloved.  I pray that you have grace and peace in your life this day. 

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Nov 15th - 1:59PM

    NLC"



    "For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was---a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability.  But of late she appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers."

                                                         ~A. W. Tozer

    "Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27)."

    How does God speak to His people?  How can we be sure that it is God?  What is the difference between reading the Bible and studying it?  Do I actively seek how to apply it to my life?  Has God ever showed me something in the Bible that I needed to start doing or stop doing?

    "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17)."  God speaks to us through His Word.  It gives substance and foundation to our faith and thus to our lives.

    "Trouble and anguish have come upon me; yet Your commandments are my delight (Psalm 119:143)."  God's voice can be heard from within His commandments, in times of trouble, pain, and sorrow we can still be comforted by His statutes.

    "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of truth (II Timothy 2:15)."  Study of the the Bible is commanded for it helps us to correctly use it to conduct our lives properly.  To handle the truth in the Bible inaccurately is just as bad as not even knowing what is truth.  In properly understanding Biblical truth means to not be ashamed of anything contained within the Bible. 

    "For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day (II Timothy 1:12)."  Study of the Bible gives us confidence in our walk with Christ for we come to understand that what we have given to Christ is safely held in trust until the day that He returns to take us back home with Him.  We are to willingly suffer persecution knowing that He is with us and is strengthening us.  In truly knowing, and understanding, whom you believe in you gain assurance of being saved. 

    "The wicked have laid a snare for me, yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts (Psalm 119:110)."  God's Word is enough for us to detect and confront error.  If we learn truth that is contained within the Bible then we can avoid falling victim to false doctrine pushed forward by those who wish to ruin Christianity at its roots. 

    Colossians 2:7-8 and 3:16 point out to us how we can use God's Word to filter out all of our fears and superstitions.  Properly understanding what it is God wants from us, expects of us, and will do for us, allows our fears to fall away to the roadside.  Why should we fear once we comprehend the truth?  Mankind's philosophies and traditions are to be avoided, they are pitfalls which lead to bondage all over again.  To lift up our spirits during times of tribulation we are to sing songs, psalms, and hymns.  We are not to sing despondantly but in thankfulness, our hearts full of gratitude for what Christ our Lord has done for us and is continuing to do for us.

    That is all for this day, and I hope that it will lead you towards a deeper study of God's Word.  There is so much in His instruction manual that is able to help us in our daily walk.  To not take advantage of such a spiritual resource would be foolish indeed!  May your day be full of grace and love!

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Nov 15th - 6:38AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      33: And Saul said to David, You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for you are but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.  
      34: And David said unto Saul, Your servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: 
      35: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. 
      36: Your servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God. 
      37: David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with you. 
      38: And Saul armed David with his armor, and he put a helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. 
      39: And David girded his sword upon his armor, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them. And David took them off. 
      40: And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine (17:33-40).

    Goliath had come out each of forty days and defied any of the Israelites to come out and face him in single combat, winner take all.  None chose do so.  Then David came into camp bringing food for his brothers and to bring home a report on the progress of the battle for his father.  David heard Goliath's blasphemous speech and volunteered to go out and face this pagan.  King Saul caught wind of this and thus we pick up this account at that point.  Saul points out to David that he is not a good match-up with the size and skills of Goliath.  David counters with the fact that he already has experience with facing down things much larger and dangerous than he.  The king yields to David's persuasion and tries to outfit him in the king's armor and with a sword.  David quickly realizes that without some practice while wearing the armor and mail it is useless to go out and face the giant in this outfit.  Here is a valuable lesson for each of us today, beloved!  Let's not try to be something we are not, or try to do something we are not called to do.  If God has called you to use a slingshot then do not attempt to use a sword or a gun.  If God has called you to speak, then speak.  If God has called you to sing, then you had better sing my friend.  Too many of us are trying to do things which God has not called us to do, and not doing that which He has called us to do.  That leads to failure my friend, it leads to failure.  

    Why did David pick up five stones?  Was he unsure of his aim?  Did he believe he would have the time to reload his slingshot multiple times?  I think that the answer to these questions might be found later, in II Samuel 21:22 where it says that David killed the four sons of the giant in Gath.  I may be wrong, but it makes some sense.  If you kill someone's father, their offspring are likely to come seeking revenge.  At any rate, David equips himself with those items which he knows through much experience will allow him to effectively, and accurately, attack the giant Philistine from Gath.

    I hope if you know that you have been called by God to do something specific that you are not ignoring to do it.  That is a quick way to fall out of fellowship with Christ.  If you like doing certain things, don't think that God will only ask you to work in those areas.  He equips us to do whatever He decides to ask us to do for Him.  Study the lives of the apostles and you quickly learn that He gave them the words to speak, He gave them the boldness to preach His Word.  We are not to preach other than God's Word beloved.  

    I pray that you have blessed day, walking in the light rather than in darkness.  Grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Nov 14th - 3:00PM



      7: Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost said, today if you will hear His voice (3:7).

    We were faced with a “wherefore” in verse one and we are faced with another here in verse seven.  It is an important word for it is a swinging door that swings back into the past and then swings out into the future.  It also serves as a warning light along the roadway that leads to heaven.  It warns travelers to look both ways before moving on in life.

    Therefore in consideration of what has gone on before, and been said, since the word spoken by the prophets and by angels and by Moses was so important, what about the importance of the word spoken by Jesus?  

    “Today if you will hear His voice” begins the quotation from Psalm 95:7-11.

      8: Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
      9: When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years.
     10: Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known My ways.
     11: So I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.) (3:8-11).

    It is reasonable to assume that Christ is to be found in each and every Psalm, whether or not we are able to find Him there.  But He surely can be seen in Psalm 95.  

    This portion of Hebrews interprets this part of Psalm 95 and Israel is given as an example to us.  The Hebrews that came out of Egypt doubted God, and because of their doubt/unbelief they did not enter the promised land of Canaan.

    Mark in your Bibles the word “rest.”  There are to be many references to that word in this chapter and the next.  But we need to keep in mind that the term “rest” does not always mean physical rest.  

    First, is the rest of salvation.  Christ referred to this in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto Me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  In essence, He will lift the burden of sin from us.  He bore it for us upon the cross, our sins were forgiven, and we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.  Thus we do not have to do anything so that God will forgive us; Christ has already done it when He died for us.  All that we have to do is believe and receive Christ in our hearts.

    The people of Israel knew the rest of redemption.  They were no longer slaves in Egypt.  They came out by the blood on the doorposts.  They came out of bondage by the power of God.  God brought them through the Red Sea, across the wilderness, and delivered the Promised Land into their hands.  But then Jesus Christ told them in Matthew 11:29 to take His yoke upon them and to learn of Him for He was meek and lowly in heart, and they would find rest for their souls.  This was a different kind of rest for it was not the rest of redemption.  It was the rest of obedience, the rest of entering in and enjoying the Christian life.

    In Exodus 15:1 is recorded the song of Moses which the people sang as they came out of the land of Egypt where they had been slaves.  After they left the Sinai they were only an eleven day journey from Canaan.  But they doubted the power of God to deliver the land into their hands after they got the results from the spies which they had sent into Canaan to find out what was there.  The spies did, indeed, observe the wonderful land but they were far more impressed by the giants and strong people who inhabited the land.  They did not have to send anyone into the land ahead of themselves, God had promised He would take care of them.  They did not believe God.  They believed the majority of spy reports and thus God made them all spend the next forty years wandering the wilderness until that entire generation of adults had perished and were gone.  Unbelief forced them to miss entering into God’s rest.

    These people had believed God enough to come out of bondage, but not enough to enter into the Promised Land.  After all of the unbelieving adults had perished in the wilderness, then God led  the nation of Israel over another body of water and into the land of Canaan.  The entire process of how the Hebrews crossed the Jordan River and what they did once they all had reached the opposite shore is symbolic of Jesus Christ and what He accomplished upon the cross at Calvary.  But that is another study entirely.  

    Canaan was a physical place where the Hebrews would be able to achieve a measure of “rest.”  But Canaan is not heaven.  There is an eternal rest, and Jesus Christ gives that rest, but the question for today is, “Have you entered into the rest that believers are to have as they travel on this earth?”  The only way to be a rejoicing Christian today is to read and study the Word of God.  We are going to discover that the Word of God is quick and powerful, both the written Word and Jesus Christ.  The only way to remain close to Christ is to stay close to the Word of God.  Without a personal relationship with the Word of God our church membership is just a heavy yoke upon our necks, browbeaten to give money, to give of our time.  It becomes duty rather than a drawing to the loving and wonderful person of Christ Jesus.

    The Book of Hebrews speaks to those who have become saved but have not entered into the blessings of the Christian life.  They doubt God, they do not trust Him at His word, and thus they are forced to spend their lives out in the “wilderness.”
    Where did those people make the mistakes?  It was not in their minds, it was in their hearts.  The Hebrew believers were being warned to not make the exact same mistake as their distant forebears had committed.  This warning is passed on down to us also.  We are not to gamble and make the same error in our hearts.  If we do, then we shall not live the abundant life in Christ as God intends for us.  

    Beloved, until you and I not only accept Christ Jesus as our Savior, but walk with Him by faith and commit our lives to Him, we are not going to know anything about the joys of the Promised Land.  There are tremendous numbers of ‘wilderness Christians” in our congregations today.  The wilderness is a place of death, of unrest, of aimlessness, and of dissatisfaction.  If you suffer from any of these things then I say to you to execute a course correction in your life.  Commit your life to Christ, trust Him in everything.  Believe everything that He has said in the Bible to be truth.  Turn your family, house, business, bank accounts, career, over to Christ and allow Him to work through you, allow Him to lead you to where He wants you to be.  

    That is all for this afternoon, beloved.  I hope that you have already chosen to stay close to Jesus Christ. But if you haven’t, if you believe that it is not essential to do so, I pray that you stop to re-evaluate your position of belief.  Is your life really that joyful?  Is it satisfying in that you see other lives being changed from the heart?  Is God’s Word being spread freely around where you live?  If not, then perhaps you haven’t truly trusted God is telling you the whole truth.  You then need to simply trust that His entire Word is the truth, nothing in it is make-believe fables or fantasy.  God has given us an instructional manual for living our lives.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Nov 12th - 12:58PM

    NLC



    "I do not believe one can settle  how much we ought to give.  I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare."

                                                  ~C. S. Lewis

    "Jesus Christ is the supreme Example of giving."

                                                  ~George Sweeting

    In team sports, to have a successful team one must have a good playbook.  It should contain offensive, defensive, and special situation plays.  Any player who wishes to succeed must study and learn the playbook thoroughly so that during a game he does not have to refer to it, he has it memorized.  He also knows the assignment of other players on the team as well.  This way he has a complete picture of the play's design and objective.

    The Bible is God's playbook for His children.  When we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior it becomes the source of all our directions.  Know the playbook, learn your gifted position on the team, and carry out your assignment.  God and the team are counting on you!

    If we check out some verses we can discover the purpose of God's playbook.  "but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name(John 20:31)."  "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life (John 5:24)."  "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scirptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4)."  "And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.  He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.  I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life (I John 5:11-13)."  "Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience (Hebrews 4:11)."  "Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come (I Corinthians 10:11)."  From these verses we learn that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Christ of God.  We can have eternal life if we believe on His name.  We gain hope from those things which have been written in the Bible, they give us encouragement and strengthen our steadfastness and our faith.  We are given eternal life once we have Christ, those who reject Christ do not have eternal life in heaven.  These things are written in the Bible so that each of us may know that we have eternal life through Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Lastly, the Bible warns and exhorts mankind to not fall victim to disobedience and fail to enter into the "rest" of Christ.  The Hebrews failed to enter into their Promised Land for forty years because of unbelief and disobedience to God.  Let none of us become victims of the same sort of trap. 

    God's Playbook also includes sections on team conduct policy.  "...but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth (I Timothy 3:15)."  The church of Christ is to be the pillar and support of the truth.  Once we stray away from just the truth we are no longer functioning in these roles.  We must stick to the basics and not get caught up and lead astray with anything resembling non doctrinal topics. 

    I will give you a set of references for you to check out.  They give us a sense of the power of God's Playbook, the Bible.  Here they are:

    *  Jeremiah 5:14              *  Jeremiah 23:29

    *  Ephesians 6:17             *  Matthew 4:4

    *  Hebrews 4:12a             *  Hebrews 4:12b-13

    *  Acts 2:37                      *  Romans 10:17

    *  James 1:18                   *  I Peter 1:23

    *  Psalms 119:9                 *  Ephesians 5:26

    *  Acts 20:32                      *  II Timothy 3:16-17

    *  Psalms 119:105

    So get plugged into the playbook!  Learn your assignments!  Execute your assignment well!  Follow the code of conduct as delineated in the playbook so that your reputation, and that of the entire team, is not dirtied up.  Do everything as if the Coach was right there watching you do it in person!  Because guess what?  He is!!

    Have a glorious weekend!  I am soon off to the Virlina District Conference this afternoon.  I will post to this blog on Sunday.  Grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Nov 11th - 4:56PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      5: And Moses truly was faithful in all His house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;
      6: But Christ as a son over His own house; whose house we are, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end (3:5-6).

    The best thing that could be said of Moses was that he was a servant of God---never was he called a son of God.  Christ is the Son of God.  There is a significant difference between the servant in a house and the son in the house positionally.  Thus Christ is superior to Moses on two accounts:  being the Creator and being the Son of God.

    Paul was a great user of "ifs" as a method of argument and of logic.  Here we are told that we are part of Christ's house, IF we do something.  The something is remaining steadfast in being confident of our salvation and rejoicing in the hope we have, which is Jesus Christ Himself.  Thus Paul writes logically of how we become members of God's house if we hold to His truth and walk closely with Christ.  If we are sons and daughters of God and if we are partakers of the heavenly calling, we will be faithful and we will hold fast.  This is a proof that we are of God's house.

    It would seem that God allows cults to follow along after the spread of Christ to draw out of the church those who are not genuine believers.  I suppose it could be deemed a form of purification of the family of God. 

    The Bible can be used as a means of testing individuals.  If a person truly is a child of God they will hold to the Word of God without reservation.  They will love the Word of God and wish to hear it as often as they can. 

    Let's study this contrast being made between Moses and Christ Jesus.  Both individuals announced an ethical system.  Even those who are not of the faith concede the fact that Moses gave the greatest legal system ever given and that Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount gave a tremendous system of laws.  But there is a significant difference in the two.  The laws that came from God to Moses and then to the people had to do with conduct.  Jesus came and gave mankind laws which deal with character.  Christ's ethical demands present an unattainable standard, if we remain outside of Christ's saving grace in His death and resurrection.  Folk who in essence are legalists, proclaim that we are to keep the commandments spoken of in the Sermon on the Mount.  They are basically wrong in their view as for us to even approach this standard we must have redemption in Christ.  In Moses's time the people had to stand far off from where God was present, but now in the current age of grace God has spoken to us from the top of a hill called Calvary.  On that hill was a cross and on that cross there was broken, bruised, dying man who was more than a man.  He was God and by His death.  By His death on that cross has flowed down to this earth the grace of God.


    Praise be to God!  I am glad, and thankful, that He does not save by Law!  If He did, I wouldn't be part of the family of God.  Beloved, Jesus is superior to everything and everyone.  I would be thoroughly dismayed if all that I had was the Sermon on the Mount.  Please do not take that sermon and force yourself to keep the Beatitudes.  Consider how superior Christ is to the prophets and to Moses, bring yourself before Him humbly to thank Him and to request that His will be done in you and through you.

    That is all for tonight, beloved!  Next time I shall pick up with verse #7.  May grace and peace be a part of who you are.

    !Eric


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    Thu, Nov 11th - 7:14AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      12: Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul. 
      13: And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. 
      14: And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul. 
      15: But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. 
      16: And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days (17:12-16).

    We have in these verses the present state of David's family. His father was old (v. 12): He went among men for an old man, was taken notice of for his great age, above what was usual at that time, and therefore was excused from pubic services, and did not go in person to the wars, but sent his sons; he had the honors paid him that were due his age, his white hair was a crown of glory to him. David’s three elder brethren, who perhaps envied his place at the court, got their father to send for him to come home, and let them go to the camp, where they hoped to gain glory for themselves and eclipse him (v. 13, 14), while David himself was so far from being proud of the services he had done his prince, or ambitious of further privilege, that he not only returned from court to the obscurity of his father’s house, but to care, and toil, and (as it proved, v. 34) the peril, of keeping his father’s sheep. It was the praise of this humility that it came after he had the honor of a courtier, and the reward of it that it came before the honor of a conqueror. Before honor is humility. Now he had that opportunity of meditation and prayer, and other acts of devotion, which fitted him for what he was destined to more than all the military exercises of that inglorious camp could do.  

    And Goliath continued to harangue and blaspheme God and His army of Israelites for forty days.  No one stepped forward to face him in single combat, not even the king.

      17: And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for your brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp to your brethren; 
      18: And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how your brethren fare, and take their pledge. 
      19: Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 
      20: And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. 
      21: For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. 
      22: And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren. 
      23: And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spoke according to the same words: and David heard them. 
      24: And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid (17:17-24).  

    David's father wants an update on how his three sons are faring in the war camp.  Probably he is also seeking news of how the battle goes since he is now too old to go himself into battle anymore. So he sends his youngest son, David, back down to the war camp with some provisions for his three elder brothers and some cheese to give to the army.  While he drops off these provisions and salutes his three brothers in the trenches, here comes Goliath to utter his daily challenge.  David witnesses how the soldiers react to this man's challenge.  

      25: And the men of Israel said, Have you seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who kills him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel. 
      26: And David spoke to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that kills this Philistine, and takes away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God? 
      27: And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that kills him. 
      28: And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why did you come down here? and with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your pride, and the naughtiness of your heart; for you are come down that you might see the battle. 
      29: And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause? 
      30: And he turned from him toward another, and spoke after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. 
      31: And when the words were heard which David spoke, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him. 
      32: And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine (17:25-32).  

    Amazing isn't it?  Not a single man in the entire army dared go out and face the giant, even with magnificent rewards awaiting the one who could defeat him.  Goliath must have been extremely imposing standing out there in the middle of the plain.  

    So here comes David to visit his brethren in order to bring back a report to his father, and he witnesses this blasphemy being spoken against Jehovah, the Living God.  What is quite amazing is his brother Eliab's reaction to hearing David's voice.  David has asked a legitimate question, yet Eliab is angry at his brother.  Eliab slanders David's good name out of what I presume is envy.  All three elder brothers were seeking fame and glory in the army but most certainly were not brave enough to venture out to confront Goliath.  Only would they have been solid men of God they would have realized that God would have been with them in whatever they had attempted.  But no one in the army of Saul, including Saul, were God seeking men.  They did not have God with them, but David did.

    Eventually the king is brought word of what David has said and requests his presence.  David is not dismayed by Goliath's immense size nor his weaponry.  He knows God and trusts in God completely.  See, he understood that if you know and accept God then there is nothing to worry about nor fear.  God will provide you with the victory.  You simply must step out in faith and God will do the rest.

    That is all for this morning, beloved.  We are seeing in these passages that the size of our problem is not the issue.  The threatening nature of our problem is not the issue either.  What matters is whether we have accepted Christ into our hearts, are walking closely to Him, and obeying His commandments.  Christ will take care of the problem no matter how large or threatening it may be to us.  We must continue to be faithful to Him and continue our walk of faith each and every day.

    I pray that you do not allow the "giants" in your life to bully you around and stop you from being faithful to Christ.  Christ Jesus is greater than anyone or anything.  No sin is too great for Him to pardon.  Ask and you shall receive assurance, ask and you shall receive courage to face your problems and the endurance to see them through to the other side.  Grace and peace be yours today!

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Nov 10th - 1:02PM

    NLC



    "The gospel is not merely a message of deliverance, it is also a rule of conduct.  It is not merely theology, it is also ethics.  Like some of the ancient municpal charters, the grant of privileges and proclamation of freedom is also the sovereign code which imposes duties and shapes life."

                                                                     ~Alexander MacLaren

    "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season."(II Timothy 4:2)

    In our Christian life we need to stick to the basics.  There are times when someone must stand before us, hold up their Bible and proclaim, "Brethren, this is a Bible!"  Over in Acts 2:42 we are informed that the early believers devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  The apostles' teaching is found in the Bible and it is why Paul proclaimed what he did in the Biblical reference to start us off with today. 

    In order to be ready at any time to preach the Word we must have prepared ourselves beforehand.  This means that we must read and study God's Word on a very regular basis so that we have both knowledge and understanding of what is found within its pages. 

    "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (II Timothy 3:16-17)  The Bible is God's playbook for the Christian and it contains all of the resources needed in a believer's life.  It is the instruction manual.  Want to know what a Christian life ought to look like?  Study the Bible. 

    These two verses tell us that we can't cherrypick what Scripture to believe and which to not believe for ALL Scripture is inspired by God.  It is all profitable for either teaching, reproof, for correction, or for training in righteousness.  But perhaps that is exactly why so many of us refuse to be governed by all that is in the Bible?  We do not desire to be corrected or reproved.  We strain against the boundaries and restraints placed upon us, seeking to be free and independent of any and all authority.  Only there is no absolute freedom to be found anywhere upon earth.  Absolute freedom simply leads to chaos, for mankind must have some kind of social structure to reign in behavioral excesses by its members.

    So man needs to comprehend that in order to do good deeds consistently pleasing to God he must know the Word of God for it will equip him to do so.  Believers must study all Scripture in order to be taught new things, to be reproved of doing wrongful things, to be corrected when performing necessary things incorrectly, and to be trained in how to be righteous without becoming self-righteous.  True learning comes only from being corrected, from failing to do things properly.  We learn from our mistakes, from our errors.  God's Word is able to change our conduct and our ethics so that they align more closely to that of God. 

    That is all for today, beloved.  I pray that you choose to prepare yourself ahead of time, become knowledgeable of God's Word and understand what it is He is wanting us to do.  May grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Nov 10th - 7:06AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "The best armor is to keep out of range."

                                                           ~Italian Proverb  

       9: If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall you be our servants, and serve us. 

      10: And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. 
      11: When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid (17:9-11).

    Goliath, a giant, issues a defiant challenge to the entire army of Israel, and to king Saul.  What is their response?  Dismay and extreme fear!  Ever been there in your life?  How they defied Israel with their champion Goliath, whom they were almost as proud of as he was of himself, hoping by him to recover their reputation and dominion. Perhaps the army of the Israelites was superior in number and strength to that of the Philistines, which made the Philistines decline a battle, and stand at a distance from them, desiring rather to rely upon a single combat, in which, having such a champion, they hoped to gain the victory.  Wouldn't you decide to place all of your bets upon such a champion?  Israel had routed them the last time they had met in battle, this conflict was to regain face, regain a measure of status.  

    Let's look at this Goliath.  His immense size. He was of the sons of Anak, who at Gath kept their ground in Joshua’s time (Jos. 11:22), and kept up a race of giants there, of which Goliath was one, and, it is probable, one of the largest. He was in height six cubits and a span, v. 4.  Some scholars have made it out that the scripture-cubit was above twenty-one inches and a span was half a cubit, by which computation Goliath was short eight inches of four yard in height, eleven feet and four inches, a monstrous stature, and which made him very formidable, especially if he had strength and spirit proportionate.  He was well furnished with defensive armor (v. 5, 6): A helmet of brass on his head, a coat of mail, made of brass plates laid over one another, like the scales of a fish; and, because his legs would lie most within the reach of an ordinary man, he wore brass boots, and had a large corselet of brass about his neck. The coat is said to weigh 5000 shekels, and a shekel was half an ounce avoirdupois so it weighed around 150 pounds, a vast weight for a man to carry, all the other parts of his armor being proportionable. But some think it should be translated, not the weight of the coat, but the value of it, was 5000 shekels; so much it cost. His offensive weapons were extraordinary, of which his spear only is here described, v. 7. It was like a weaver’s beam. His arm could manage that which an ordinary man could scarcely heave. His shield only, which was the lightest of all his equipment, was carried before him by his esquire, probably for state; for being  clad in brass he didn't need a shield.  

    Thus was the man whom uttered the challenge to the Israeli army.  Come on out, and let me bludgeon your best man senseless!  Would you have gone out there to confront this huge man?  I am sure that I would have thought long and hard before venturing out there.  This was not to be some friendly joust, whoever won this one-on-one fight would have the loser's side become their servants.  

    That is all the time I have this morning, beloved.  We all have "giants" in our lives which challenge us and threaten to overcome us.  We need to be like David, which is what we shall see by the end of this chapter.  Grace and peace be with you as you go through this day!

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Nov 9th - 8:36PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      2: Who was faithful to Him that appointed Him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house (3:2).

    First the writer demonstrated the superiority of Jesus over the angels and then over the prophets.  Now he shows Jesus' superiority over even Moses, who brought down the Law from God to the Israelites.  

    Jesus was faithful to the Father who appointed Him as the Christ.  Jesus was faithful as He came down to earth from heaven to represent God to man, and He is faithful as he represents us to God.  This word "house" occurs seven more times in the next few verses. So, whose house is this?  Is this Moses' house, or the house of another?  I think that this refers to God's house.  Moses was faithful in God's house.  He was called to do a certain thing and he did it.

    Yes, Moses made some mistakes.  He recorded them and did not attempt to deny them.  He wrote the Pentetuch, but the mistakes are not in recording but in his actions.  God told him to speak to the rock and Moses struck it in anger instead.  The rock represented Christ and only needed to be struck once and no more.  There were other errors made by Moses but God only remembers the faithfulness that he had to Him.  So no matter who we are or what work God has given us to do, we are to be faithful to the end.

    In our daily lives, if we can't be loyal to the person under whom we are working we ought to leave and go work elsewhere.  If we aren't faithful to our boss then we aren't faithful to Christ either.  There is no middle ground in this issue.  We need to practice faithfulness everywhere in our lives otherwise we aren't being faithful to God at all.  

      3: For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who has built the house has more honor than the house (3:3).

    Moses was faithful to God's house but Christ Jesus is the one who built the house.  He is the Creator; Moses is the creature and there is the difference.  

      4: For every house is built by some man; but He that built all things is God (3:4).

    Mankind can build all sorts of things but must always remember that God has created all of the things which mankind uses to build anything else.  Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator of all and the sustainer of all.  He is superior to Moses.

    That is all for tonight my friends.  Peace be with you this night.

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Nov 9th - 1:41PM

    NLC



    We need to stop ourselves from time to time during our busy schedules, and ask ourselves:  "Am I frantically running through life in the wrong direction?"  Let's be honest, life comes at us quickly, and it can very easily get us turned around and going in the wrong direction.  It is what Satan loves to do to us.  Some people love to eagerly climb the ladder of success thinking that they are getting ahead of everybody else.  Only, at the end of their climb they discover that there is nothing of substance at the top, or they find out that the ladder simply leads to another ladder leaning in another direction.  On and on it goes, without end and ultimate satisfaction.  Jesus Christ said that we are foolish if we live only for the wealth and success of this world and remain "poor" towards God (Luke 12:16-21).  How many people thought that they had financial security for the remainder of their lives recently?  How many of them completely lost all that they had accumulated?  How many more lost so much that they are having to reconsider retirement?  What good will FDIC be when the government which guarentees that insurance goes bankrupt itself?  Poof!  All of your savings will go up in smoke.  Nothing which we gather and secure will remain safe for all time.  God soberly reminds us, "For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul (Matthew 16:26)?"  We must not get all caught up in trivial pursuits of wealth and property for they often end up turning us around and away from God.  Why risk everything and end up hearing one day, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:23)." 

    I ask you again to examine your heart concerning the foundation of your life.  If Christ Jesus is not at the foundation of who you are, then take a moment right now and bow your head in prayer and confess Him as your Lord and Savior.  Tell Him that you realize that you are a sinner and have selfishly sought to run your own life.  Ask Him to forgive you.  Tell Him you wish with all of your heart to build the rest of your life on Christ as your King and Savior.  Thank Him for dying upon the cross for your sin.  Ask Him to give you strength and grace to follow and obey Him each and every day.  Ask Him to come into your heart and change you from the inside out and make you a completely new creation.  Amen!

    There are only two types of people in our world:  the aints and the saints.  Biblically "saint" means one who is holy or set apart for God; a person whose beliefs are expressed in his character and his actions.  A saint is someone who has been born in the Spirit and is a true Christian.  There is no middle ground for a person is either a saint or they ain't.  Which are you?

    "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!  Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you--unless indeed you fail the test?  But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test (II Corinthians 13:5-6)."

    This is an examination that none of us can afford to fail, let alone to not take!  Here are some ways to examine ourselves:

    *   Am I aware of my sin and uncomfortable with it?  (I John 1:5-10)

    *   Do I have a heart to obey God's Word? (I John 2:3)

    *   Do I reject the evil world's system? (I John 2:15)

    *   Do I see less sin in my life? (I John 3:4-10)

    *   Do I love my fellow Christians? (I John 2:2-11, 3:10)

    *   Can I sense false teaching? (I John 4:1-3)

    *   Do I have the Holy Spirit dwelling within me? (I John 4:13)

    If we are doing all of the above things, we ought to then be straining toward the mark.  We should not become down on ourselves, or someone else, if postive changes are not happening as quickly as we feel they ought to be.

    "Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:12-14)."

    Are you willing to stretch yourself out to become all that God wants you to be?  New life in Christ begins with committing our lives to Him.  But growth in Christ is a continuous process which happens the rest of our lives.  Our faith is like a muscle that we strengthen through use, the more that we use it the stronger and bigger it becomes.  Exercise works best when implemented through planning.  So it is with our faith, our Christian life must be lived on purpose and faith exercised through careful planning. 

    I hope and pray that your faith will grow greater and stronger after studying out this post with its associated verses.  If you have questions, please leave them in the comments section at  the end of each post.  I promise to answer them if at all possible.  Grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Nov 9th - 6:49AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

                                   ~William Jennings Bryan

    "According to Edward Gibbon, in his classic work, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, there were five major causes for the decline and fall of the Roman empire.

         1.  The breakdown of the family and the increase of divorce.

         2.  The spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant spending.

         3.  The mounting desire for pleasure and the brutalization of sports.

         4.  The continual production of armaments to face ever increasing threats of enemy attacks.

         5.  The decay of religion into many confusing forms, leaving the people without a uniform faith.

    It is quite significant that these factors exist today in our modern world."

                                                               ~George Sweeting

      1:  Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belonged to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. 

      2:  And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. 
      3:  And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them (17:1-3).  

    This is a chapter which has been told in many communication mediums over the years.  It contains the accounting of the meeting between David and Goliath.  Israel is at war with the Philistines yet again.  These two forces are squared off against each other at opposite sides of a valley called Elah.  The opposing armies were essentially in a stand off, a sort of stalemate.  Neither side could decide if they actually wanted to enter the valley first to attempt a first strike against their opponent.  The Philistines are the actual aggressors for they have come to Judah, the Israelites are in a defensive posture protecting their homeland.  

      4:  And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 
      5: And he had a helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. 
      6: And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. 
      7: And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. 
      8: And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are you come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and you servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me (17:4-8).  

    If we assume that a cubit is equal to 18 inches, Goliath was about nine feet nine inches tall.  He was a big man.  He would have been a highly desired person on any professional basketball team.  The Philistines had obviously decided that it would benefit them if the outcome of the battle was determined by a one-on-one contest of skills.  They had selected Goliath to represent themselves and sent him to give challenge to the Israelites. 

    It is also obvious that the Philistines had been very watchful of what was going on with the Israelites.  They must have known that there had been a falling out between king Saul and Samuel the prophet.  They must also have known that Saul had become rather melancholy of late and so chose this moment to come against them in battle.  The church today must realize that her enemies are ever watchful, seeking out the most opportune time to confront and then attack her.  It is the same with individual believers.  Our adversary watches and waits for those times of weakness on our parts for then he will attack us and seek to seduce us away from our faith in Christ.

    That is all for this morning, beloved.  I shall continue tomorrow as we shall discover what Israel's reaction to this challenge from a giant was to be.  May you have abundant blessings this day!

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Nov 8th - 8:06PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      1: Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus (3:1).

    Now we find out that Christ is superior to even Moses, the great Patriarch of Israel.  The fashion in which this Book begins strongly suggests that Paul is the writer of this Book of Hebrews.  The word wherefore has been used as a type of hinge to present that which is logical.  Now in this opening verse it is like a swinging door which can open back and forth.  The reader must remember to look both ways for the writer is instructing us to look back at what has already been written and to look forward to what he will say.

    Paul was a Hebrew and he was writing to Hebrews who had accepted Christ.  We as Gentiles can take away practical application to our lives but the writer was identifying through the flesh with his Hebrew brethren.  They were "holy brethren" for they were separated from the world unto service to God.  

    Nation Israel had an earthly calling, these individuals had a heavenly calling.  The promises of the Old Testament given to Israel pretty much had to do with this earth.  They had been promised rain, fertile soil, bountiful crops, all of which are physical blessings.  This is not to mean that Israel was not given any spiritual blessings.  Physical things can be used in a spiritual manner.  Money, for example, can be used in a spiritual way; it is not very impressive if someone prays for something and then does not back it up with their pocketbook.  Pray for missions then you ought to give to missions to aid your prayer in coming to pass.  It is spiritual to give; Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive.  

    The brethren here have left behind their earthly calling, they have chosen to enter into the "now generation" of Christians.  In their case they have become Messianic Jews, or fulfilled Jews.  The writer of this book has set out to make it quite clear that they have moved into a different dispensation.  Before they offered up animal sacrifices according to the Mosaic system, and it was right to do.  But now it has become wrong for the sacrificial system has all been fulfilled in Christ.  Animal sacrifice is no longer of any value.  

    "Consider" comes from a Greek word which conveys the fact of faithful attention, giving of time, and perceiving thoroughly with the mind.  It denotes a large measure of due diligence on the part of the believer.  Therefore we are to give serious and careful thought to Christ.

    "The Apostle" denotes that Jesus is the first apostle in the most basic meaning of the word.  An apostle is one who is sent and Jesus Christ was sent by God the Father.  On top of everything which Jesus is, He is the messenger from God to mankind.  Through Christ mankind is able to receive the revelation of God and gain greater understanding of who and what God is.

    "And High Priest" brings out an aspect of Christ's overall work.  A High Priest goes in the opposite direction from an apostle.  The apostle comes from God with a message/information and speaks for God to man.  A high priest goes from man to God; he represents man before God.  So Jesus was first an apostle, then He was a high priest.  

    Today Jesus is our High Priest.  He took His blood up to heaven and offered it up on the Mercy Seat for all of our sins, once for all time.  He understands how we feel today.  He has gone back to heaven into God's presence and is there for you and me.  He is our Advocate, refuting the accusations Satan flings against us.

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Next time I shall move on to verse two and developing this concept that Christ is superior to Moses.  May grace and peace bedeck the doorways of your home.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Nov 8th - 2:24PM

    NLC



    "Besser stumm als dumm---Better silent than stupid."

                                                                ~German Proverb

    "We have all sinned, some more, some less."

                                                                ~Seneca

    I want to start out by looking at Matthew 7:13-28 and find three primary things upon which we can focus our attention today. 

    The Narrow and Wide Gates:  "Enter in at the strait gate:  for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in at that point:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it."  Verses 13-14 present us with two choices of how to believe and how to live our lives.  One is wide and does not offer many restrictions as to how to live your life, and yet it leads to death and destruction.  A majority of people choose to go this way.  The other is a narrow path and requires many choices be made in order to remain upon it.  Very few people readily choose to walk this way in life.  Thus, once I choose to follow Christ I have chosen the narrow way in life.  It means that not everything is okay to do, nor okay to even think about.  I would ask you, Which way are you going?  Is it a crowded road?  Or does it appear to fairly deserted?  The "narrow gate" is none other than Jesus Christ Himself.  To enter into the narrow way one must first accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  There is no other means to enter into the narrow way which leads to eternal life.

    A Tree and its Fruit:  Verses 15-23 warn the reader to beware false teachers/prophets for they can be identified by the deeds which they do.  Are they mainly looking for money?  Do they use the money for themselves, or do they help the poor and poverty stricken?  Each person is illustrated as being a tree; either it bears good fruit or bad fruit.  Good fruit means that they serve God by helping others, by being peacemakers and reconcilers.  Bad fruit means that they serve themselves by building huge structures that draw attention to themselves, their services direct attention upon the individual and not upon Christ.  They can even be wicked people.  What kind of fruit can be found hanging upon your tree?  What are the roots of your tree sunk into, the Bible or man's traditions?  Is science your idol?  Is the love of money and power your idol?  There is where the roots of your tree go.  We must always remember that we are not saved by our good fruit, but after we are saved God expects us to produce good fruit.  It could help you to read Ephesians 2:8-10 and consider those verses along with verses 15-23 of Matthew 7.

    The Wise and Foolish Builders:  Verses 24-29 speak about building something.  The illustration is about a house.  The house represents our lives.  If we hear Christ's teachings and do them, then we are like the man who built his house upon a rock and it was able to withstand the storm.  We are considered to be wise.  But if we choose to reject Christ's teachings when we hear them, then we are considered to be foolish.  Our house was built upon shifting sand and when the storm came the sands shifted with its force and our house falls apart all around us, perhaps even taking our lives with it.  The storms of life always come, it is only a matter of when.  So how is the foundation of your life?  How do you cope with life's storms?  Will your foundation withstand the coming judgment of God?  Is there a difference between knowing what Christ taught and doing what Christ taught? 

    There's a lot of stuff in this long passage of Scripture.  You ought to think about, talk about it, and most definitely pray about it.  There are some choices in our daily lives that are not really vital.  What I choose to have for lunch today, or what color socks I wear, is not very important.  Whom I cheer for in sporting events is not of consequence.  But spiritual choices are of the uttermost importance.  What do I think about Jesus Christ, is there life after death, do I have to pay for sin, and what is the cost of sin, are all vitally important questions which must be correctly answered.  There are just two choices in each case and they determine how we will live our lives.  It is why there are just two ways in this life:  the broad way and the narrow way.  The broad way believes that there is no Christ, or God; the narrow way believes and trusts in Christ/God.  The broad way does not believe that there is anything akin to sin; the narrow way recognizes that sin is embedded in our very bodies and in all of creation.  The broad way believes that either there is no afterlife or it is probably reincarnation and we simply try to be better; the narrow way believes that there is eternity facing us after this life and we must choose before we die how we wish to spend it.  The broad way believes that there is nothing to pay for; the narrow way believes that each person must pay the price of sin.  The broad way believes the cost of sin is to promise to be better next time; the narrow way believes that to not obtain forgiveness for sin means to forfeit one's life, that is the cost of sin. 

    So make sure that you are going through the narrow gate, be sure your "tree" has fruit of truth, and be sure you are building your life upon the rock of Christ Jesus, remaining obedient to Him and do not listen to religious traditions or the shifting morals of the world's value system.

    Grace and peace be with you all today!

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Nov 8th - 7:08AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      18: For in that He has Himself suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted (2:18).

    Another word that can be used in this verse instead of "tempted" is tested.  Christ was tested, not only during those forty days out in the desert wilderness, but for His entire life here on earth.  The question is asked, "Could Jesus have given in to the temptation/testing?"  The answer is no, He could not.  When we talk about being tempted to do something wrong, we mean being presented with the opportunity to do wrong and wanting to do wrong.  The opportunity is the testing but the desire is itself sin.  Jesus Christ never had that sinful desire to do wrong.  He was not a sinner but He most surely had the opportunity.  Satan tried to play upon His weakened physical condition out in the desert after having no food or drink.  Satan tested Christ but Jesus did not desire to give in to the temptation and could not give into it since He was God.

    So if Christ could not sin what was the purpose of the testing?  Was it just for show?  Jesus was tested to prove that God in the flesh.  The testing proved that He was who He said He was.  If Jesus of Nazareth had actually sinned it would have proven that he was not God in the flesh at all.  Thus, because of who He is, He can't sin.  Importantly also for us, Jesus was tempted in all points (Hebrews 4:15).

    "Succor" means to come to the aid of, help, or assist.  Jesus will come to the aid of you, He will help you avoid desiring to sin.  One thing that ought to come out of studying the Book of Hebrews is to have the knowledge that we have a High Priest.  He is alive at this very moment.  He sits at the right hand of God.  He is always available to us, there is no need to obtain an appointment ahead of time.  When I wake up in the middle of a dark night tossing and turning I can confidently turn to Christ for help.  My High Priest is up there in heaven waiting to help me through it.  He knows me and He understands me.  To Him am I able to bring my every burden.  When the stress becomes too great for me to bear anymore I can take, and give, it to Him.  No matter what happens, no matter when it happens, He is there and able to help us through it.  So, if His will is that I am to live through the End Times of the Great Tribulation Period then so be it!  I know that He will be with me every step of the way and that He will help me through the trials and the temptations that will confront me each day.  I am afraid that we do not use His services as we ought to nor as frequently as He desires us to.  We forget about Him and try to fight our battles all alone.  Beloved, Jesus is available and He wants to help you, you simply need to come to Him.

    That finishes chapter two of Hebrews.  Next time I shall begin chapter three whose general theme is that Christ is superior to Moses.  The Hebrews back then needed to understand, and remember, that Christ was better than Moses was.  See you back here for my next post!  Grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Nov 7th - 5:15PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      13: Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. 
      14: But the spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him. 
      15: And Saul's servants said unto him, Behold now, an evil spirit from God troubls you. 
      16: Let our lord now command your servants, which are before you, to seek out a man, who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon you, that he shall play with his hand, and you shall be well. 
      17: And Saul said unto his servants, Provide me now a man that can play well, and bring him to me. 
      18: Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him. 
      19: Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David your son, which is with the sheep. 
      20: And Jesse took an ass laden with bread, and a bottle of wine, and a kid, and sent them by David his son unto Saul. 
      21: And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armor-bearer. 
      22: And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, Let David, I pray you, stand before me; for he has found favor in my sight. 
      23: And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him (16:13-23).

    So we can see Samuel anointing David as the next in line king of Israel.  No one else knows that this is the case.  Samuel goes back home, David goes back to doing what he has been doing, which is tending sheep.  David has the Spirit of God upon him while Saul does not any longer have the Spirit of God upon him.  God gives an evil spirit to plague Saul.  It is logical to surmise that this evil spirit was Satan.  Saul lost God's support, his servants could easily see the change in his behavior, and they make suggestions to possibly cope with these new difficulties.  David comes to Saul's court and makes a positive impression.  Is that surprising considering that he has the favor of God?  At any rate, David has a position in the king's court and is able to soothe Saul's troubled soul with his music.  Will David take advantage of his access to the king?  Will he expedite his ascension to the throne of Israel?  That is something which we shall have to wait until the next chapter.  

    Thank you for stopping by my blog to read these posts!  It is an answer to my prayers when you do so.  I pray that each time you stop by that you are able to take at least one new thought with you when you leave.  I hope that this blog is able to help you strengthen your walk with Christ, that it helps point you in the correct direction so that you too can reach the goal at the end of the good race.  May grace and peace be with you this day!

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Nov 6th - 6:16AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      17: Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people (2:17).

    Jesus Christ came down to earth in the likeness of men.  We read this also in Philippians 2:7, "But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men."  This likeness was very exacting.  The curse of sin was to be more apparent; in poverty, temptation, and violent and uncalled for death.  Christ could have very easily been born into the Roman emperor's family with all of its wealth and power.  But He was born instead in poverty and in a common stable.  This so that He could know firsthand the effect of sin on humanity.  

    It is tragic whenever innocent people are forced to suffer cruelty and death.  How many times have we read, or watched on television, reports of ordinary people having been followed home and then beaten to death in the privacy of their living room or kitchen?  Who can make such things right?  We can only arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate the individuals responsible for such acts of brutality.  But one day Christ is going to make all things right.  

    Christ Jesus understood what real poverty was.  He was son to a carpenter who in those days was not a rich man by any means.  But He was living in a small town in which poverty was in plain view day in and day out.  Believe me, God knows and sympathizes with you and me concerning the things which we suffer through in our lives.  He understands the temptations, He understands the stress, and He understands the pain that we feel.  

    In the Middle East there is poverty today.  Especially among the Arabs, despite them having oil resources, there are large amounts of people who have almost nothing, living in camps.  These refugees have been living in these camps since 1948 when Israel was recreated for the Jews.  Their own Arab brethren do not permit them to integrate among their people.  What an interesting situation that is, but nevertheless a heartbreaking one.  Rich Arabs refusing to help their poverty stricken brothers and sisters.  But Jesus was born into such poverty.  Born into a race that was under the boot heel of Rome, in subjection to Rome.  Not born into a palace, He was born in a common stable.  In all points of consideration He was made like His brothers.  He was indistinguishable from any other person in the crowd of humanity living there in Nazareth.

    Jesus knew hunger, knew lack of clean clothes, knew the lack of sanitation, knew the lack of privacy, and He knew the lack of security.  He is fully capable of understanding our own fears and poverty for He grew up with the same all around Him.  

    Why was it necessary for God to come into our world in this fashion?  It was necessary, outside of fulfilling prophecy, so that He could become our High Priest and be merciful and faithful to us.  It was necessary in order that He could make reconciliation for the sins of all of the people.  Propitiation frequently gets substituted for "reconciliation" as Christ made a mercy seat for you and me to come to.  Whether or not we comprehend this, we need mercy.  God has an infinite amount of mercy available to us, we simply need to go to His mercy seat and get all that we need.  I required a large amount of mercy in my life, still require mercy even to this day.  I know that it is there, available to me in a never ending supply.  Feel that you need mercy?  Christ Jesus is the only place you can get God's mercy, you must go to Him to receive it in abundant supply!

    That is all for today, beloved.  I must soon embark upon a historical train ride with my two grandsons and other members of our church family for a six hour ride today.  I look forward to this time together with loved ones.  There will be many things which we shall learn this fine autumnal day!  May Christ bless you richly and work through you this day!

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Nov 5th - 1:23PM

    NLC



    I am embarking upon a new study series I hope will bring to the surface of our lives new faith, new confidence, and new ways of broadening our boundaries.  I imagine you are puzzled by the heading for this study.  What is NLC, what does it stand for?

    If we place our complete trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, our lives become completely new from the bottoms of our feet to the tip top of our heads.  Looking at II Corinthians 5:17 we see "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."  So NLC stands for new life in Christ. 

    From my wanderings across the internet I have concluded that not very many people actually comprehend what it means to become a new creature or that the old things have passed away.  What does it mean to be a new creation?  Does that describe you and me?  If so, in what ways am I new?  Let's study some verses and hopefully gain understanding. 

      3: If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do (Psalm 11:3)?  Of what importance is a foundation?  We can glean from the construction industry that a solid, stable, foundation is of utmost importance in order for a building placed upon said foundation to remain standing through all circumstances.  The foundation anchors all else built upon it.  It helps keep erected structures from toppling over.  It can offer protection during times of severe weather.  So whenever the foundation is destroyed, what can be done? 

     25: As the whirlwind passes, so is the wicked no more: but the righteous is an everlasting foundation(Proverbs 10:25).  Here we can surmise that there are different foundations in the lives of the wicked versus the righteous.  When turbulent times, hard times, come into the lives of the wicked their foundation crumbles and their lives fall apart completely.  This leads those people to choose suicide as a means out of their pain and despair.  Or they choose to break the law in an attempt to recoupe their financial and property losses thus spending perhaps the remainder of their lives in a prison.  But the righteous becomes an eternal foundation.  How?

        11: For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
       12: Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
       13: Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is (I Corinthians 3:11-13). 

    Here we learn that Jesus Christ is the only one capable of laying down a foundation in a life.  Christ has set one foundation for each life to be built upon and it is up to each person to build something of quality upon it.  Importance is placed upon the quality of the life which we build.  Why is this?  Because one day Christ will test each and every man's work with fire in order to determine what sort of work it actually is.  Was our work of gold?  Then it shall remain and become even more pure than before.  Was our work of wood, hay, or stubble?  Then it shall not remain as it will be consumed by the fire and there will be nothing left.  Questions arise over which "day" it shall be declared in.  What fire?  Why will it be made manifest? 

    Each person's works will be made manifest, or evident, so that it is clear as to what their true beliefs in life were.  If all of my works were motivated by personal greed, fame, or hatred, then those works will go up in flames when they are revealed and tested by fire.  I will be left with nothing to show for my life.  But if I have spent my life helping people, pointing people in the direction of Christ, educating people how to live Christ-like lives, then these things when tested by fire will react like the precious metals do:  the impurities that might exist within them will be purged out and the metal will become more pure than before.  That is what happens when you and I spend our lives obeying Christ.  This fire is going to be spiritual in nature, for God is a spiritual being and He is the One who shall reveal all in "the day."  This point in time would appear to be the day when God executes final judgment upon all mankind.  It is the day of final separation; of the goats from the sheep, the tares from the wheat, the lost sinners from the redeemed children of Christ.

       19: Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
       20: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone;(Ephesians 2:19-20) 

    Why is a foundation so important?  In this crazy, turbulent, ever-changing, world of ours we must have a firm foundation into which we are able to anchor ourselves.  What do we believe?  The answer to this question determines what sort of foundation anchors your life.  Do you believe in situational ethics and morality?  If so, then your life is depending upon that belief and when it doesn't consistently work then cracks appear in the foundation.  Have enough cracks appear and the foundation's integrity becomes compromised too much and it falls apart.  Your entire life falls apart, can implode,  for it no longer has a base to stabilize it during the stress of life.  If you believe that there are absolute standards of morality, of right and wrong, and that they never change then when the difficult times come into your life you know exactly where you stand.  You will know exactly what is going on.  Add to this a belief in Christ and you now have a foundation which is not going to change, it is not going to fail to support you, it will give you assurance that help is on the way.This is the importance of knowing, and accepting, that Christ Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the believer's life.  I am not the chief cornerstone, Christ is. 

    That is all for this study today, beloved.  Next time I will give you some NFLs of our new life in Christ.  Hope you come back for some more!  Until then, may Christ bless you with abundance and expanded horizons of opportunity to serve God.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Nov 5th - 7:34AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      4: And Samuel did that which the LORD spoke, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Come you peaceably? 
      5: And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. 
      6: And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before him. 
      7: But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart (16:4-7).

    This passage of scripture gives us some excellent spiritual principles.  Samuel had already told Saul, "To obey is better than sacrifice."  You and I show whether or not we are children of Christ by our love for God the Father.  It is not what we say in witnessing, it is not how much we sacrifice, it is whether or not we obey God.  The Christian life is one of reality, it can't be a life of "mask wearing" and pretense.

    I have run out of time this morning, beloved.  But I shall write more this evening to expand upon this blog.  Grace and peace be with you.

    7:20PM

    When God looks at us He looks at what is on the inside.  God checks out the condition of our heart.  Samuel obviously did the exact same thing that we would do today.  He checked out all of the men in front of him and picked the one who "looked" like he would make a good king.  Samuel did not take any time to discover their character qualities, did he?  Are we like that in our assessments of people?  

    God told the prophet not to make judgments based upon looks.  God never bases His decisions upon how we look, thank goodness!  

     8: Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, Neither has the LORD chosen this. 
      9: Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, Neither has the LORD chosen this. 
      10: Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD has not chosen these. 
      11: And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all your children? And he said, There remains yet the youngest, and, behold, he keeps the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come here (16:8-11).

    Jesse did not know whom Jehovah had chosen either.  David was only a mid teenage boy, no one anticipated him being selected to be king of the people.  In essence, David was just a shepherd.  Did Samuel consider his errand for God to be very important?  Yes, he did.  Jesse was told to send for his youngest son and have him come quickly.  

      12: And he sent, and brought him in.  Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to.  And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him:  for this is he (16:12).

    Some commentators say that "ruddy" means David had red hair.  In addition he was a good looking lad.  God does not hate beauty.  David was a handsome young man but he was not chosen by God because he was handsome.  He was chosen because of what was in his heart.  Despite David's many failures, he had a faith that never faltered.  David loved and trusted God and desired to walk with Him.  Yes, God took this man many a time out to the woodshed and chastised him severely for his shortcomings.  David took it as a man ought to, he was a man after God's own heart.

    And that completes today's post on I Samuel, beloved.  Next time we shall find out David's reaction to being the chosen of God to lead his people.  May Christ richly bless you and your family.

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Nov 4th - 1:38PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    "A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to "accept" Christ without forsaking the world."

                                               ~A. W. Tozer

    "Exhalation is as necessary to life as inhalation.  To accept Christ it is necessary that we reject whatever is contrary to Him."

                                               ~A. W. Tozer

    This entire process becomes a cycle of asking and becoming blessed by God through ever enlargening boundaries.  As we repeat those steps the cycle will keep multiplying what God is able to do in and through us.  It becomes exponential growth as others join with us in asking God for more blessings and more responsibility. 

    You and I can begin again, and again to ask God to bless us indeed and to enlarge our coasts, please!  With every new cycle completed we find that we are steadily moving into ever wider spheres of blessing and influence in the world.  We find ourselves having entered into an intimate relationship with Christ beyond anything which we have ever experienced or imagined. 

    We shall find ourselves stopped in our place, imobile because of the tears streaming down our faces in joy at being so overwhelmed by God's graciousness.  This is how we come to know without any doubts that God has opened heaven's storehouses because we asked.  And yet, we have not because we ask not.  How long will this go on before we finally realize Christ meant exactly what He said?  "Oh you of so little faith!  You have nothing simply because you do not believe that I will give you what you ask for in Me!  Thus you ask nothing of Me."  We must change this mindset of ours, brethren!

    Question:  Will you allow God to work in your life regardless of what He chooses to do?  Guarenteed it will be for your best.  Will you give in to His power and love and surprising plan for you?  If you choose to surrender to Him you will experience the joy of knowing God experiences deep pleasure and joy in you!  Too many of us believe deep down in our hearts that there is absolutely no way that God can be happy with what I am doing these days.  We effectively shut down the blessings pipeline from God with such thoughts. 

    The only thing that can breakdown this cycle of abundant living is sin.  It would be akin to the electric wires to your home suddenly being cut and you no longer had access to all of that available power coursing past your home.  Your house would sit in darkness, quiet of all humming sounds, no lights, no music.  All of the potential power for doing work would flow on past your home in the wires along the roadside. 

    One thing is certain however.  If you sin after experiencing the Jabez blessings, the deepest grief over being cut off from God will become your next experience.  It will be the pain of having once known the exhilaration of God working in you, and through you, at a higher level of fulfillment and then having it all slammed shut off.  It will create a "water hammer" effect within your soul.   We need to rush back to God whenever we commit sin and make things right with Him. 

    "So God granted him what he requested."

    How can I make Jabez's prayer mine?  A legitimate question.  Here are a few ways to get started upon this path:

    1)  Pray Jabez's prayer every morning , and keep a journal record of this.

    2)  Write out this prayer and tape it into the front or back cover of your Bible, your day-timer, on your bathroom mirror, or on the dash of your car.

    3)   Tell someone else of your commitment to your new prayer habit, and ask them to hold you accountable to the results.

    4)   Keep a journal record of all of the changes that come into your life, especially spiritual ones in which you are able to share Christ with people or help others to find their way out of darkness and back into the light.

    5)   Begin praying this prayer for your family, friends, and church family.

    Naturally, what we come to know about this prayer will not get us anything.  We can wallpaper the walls of our homes with this prayer and nothing will happen.  Only when we believe that something will happen and then do something next, then God's power is released and brings about a life change.

    What are God's borders?  What does He want done?  His borders encompass the entire earth for one thing.  His complete will for us is to reach the world with His message of redemption.  This is a vision which does not jump out at anyone immediately upon praying like Jabez.  But it is the eventual endpoint of faithfully praying that prayer each and every day.  Myself, I have expanded my borders by posting this blog since the fall of 2007 I believe.  I never thought that I would ever post to more than one study at a time, simply ain't got no time fo' it!  But here I am posting to three studies most days.  Jabez, man.  Expand your horizons, increase what you are doing for God's glory, and not your own.

    And each of us would come to understand that this is what we have been redeemed for.  To ask Christ to expand our ministries, to help us reach out and change more peoples' lives for Christ.  It would bring excitement to our lives, knowing that something was going to happen soon.  Our spiritual expectations would undergo a radical shift, swing into a higher gear, as we began to witness changes going on in our world all around us.  We would come to know that we were indeed praying in the will and pleasure of God.  We would know that this is what He intended for us all along:  to ask Him for the best He has in mind for us, and to ask for it with all of our heart, nothing held back.

    "And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!"  So God granted him what he requested."   ~I Chronicles 4:10

    Try this prayer, do so earnestly.  Prove whether or not God tells us the truth.  This is a life changer, your life will never be the same again!

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Nov 4th - 7:03AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      15: And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage (2:15).

    This is a powerful verse, pointing out several truths to us.  First, it reminds us of the fact that Satan was the entity who introduced sin to mankind.  In a very real sense he is able to claim that each sinner must die physically and spiritually.  He has been given the authority to demand that each sinner pay sin's penalty.  It is now fortunate that Christ has retaken the keys of death from Satan and created a means of salvation, of redemption from sin's penalty.  Secondly, we are reminded of all of those people who walk through life scared of aging/death, so much so that they will spend outrageous amounts of money on medical procedures to avoid looking old.  They are tightly in bondage to their fears.  All other people who live fearfully still are subject to bondage to sin because of the sin and must serve it and in doing so serve Satan himself.  This link is unavoidable, unless of course we accept the gracious gift of salvation from Jesus Christ.

      16: For truly He took not on Him the nature of angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham (2:16).

    In the Old Testament Christ took on the nature of angels.  He did this whenever He appeared as the Angel of the LORD.  These Hebrews understood that.  Then, when Christ left heaven and came to earth He passed by the angels and became a man among fallen men.  He took upon Himself the seed, the genetics, of Abraham.  Thus He came from the lineage of Abraham.  God began this work a way back in Genesis 3:15 where in the Garden of Eden He informed the two humans of what would happen in the distant future.  God later on told people that He would arrive through the Abrahamic line of descent.  Then even later He informed people He would be born in the tribe of Judah, of the family of David, of the nation of Israel.  He would be born of a virgin.  God erected enough "highway markers" throughout time so that everybody should have fund their way to Bethlehem to honor and praise the birth of Jesus.

    That is all the time I have this morning, beloved.  Next time I will discuss/comment upon the final verses of this chapter in Hebrews.  May grace and peace be abundant in your life.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Nov 3rd - 9:30PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    In chapter 16 we are to find the anointing of David to be king of Israel.  His ascension to the throne does not come quickly however.  Chapter 16 contrasts David with Saul.  David is God's man while Saul has become Satan's man.  God had given Saul several chances to show if he would be obedient to God.  God did not wait very long to reject Saul and find his replacement.  God knew where Saul's kingship was headed, Samuel had not realized this yet and needed a bit of time to reach the same conclusion.  The Israelites needed to come to realize what was going on since they had been the ones who had picked Saul to be their king.

    Today you and I are tested by God to see if we will be obedient to Him or not.  We need the help of the Holy Spirit to lead us in the right ways of God.  Hebrews 12:6 informs us that whom the Lord loves He tests.  In James 1:12 we find, "Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him."  So the believer will be tried, or tested, so that when he/she endures the temptation he/she may be blessed.

    Critics will claim extreme force was used in slaughtering the Amalekites.  Why was such extreme measures ordered by God?  Amalek was a son of Esau.  The Amalekites fought the Israelites when they were trying to get to the Promised Land.  These people had five hundred years in which to change their ways but they remained staunchly against God and His children.  So God judged them and sent the Israelites out to execute said judgment.  Thus we now come to the place where God chooses David to succeed Saul as king.  

      1: And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill your horn with oil, and go, I will send you to Jesse the Beth-lehemite:  for I have provided Me a king among his sons (16:1).

    Saul had Samuel still on his side.  Samuel loved him and hated to see him set aside, to be replaced by another man as king.  It had been painful to Samuel when he had to give that ultimatum to Saul about having been rejected and dismissed as king of Israel.

      2: And Samuel said, How can I go?  if Saul hears of it, he will kill me.  And the LORD said, Take a heifer with you, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the LORD.
      3: And call Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do:  and you shall anoint unto Me him whom I name unto you (16:2-3).

    Samuel clearly understands what sort of reaction Saul will have.  No opposition is allowed, remove all such competition.  But in this situation it is God who makes the choices.  He tells Samuel exactly what to do but nothing extra about what else will occur.  What he does not know can't be held against him by Saul, can it?  So Samuel travels to Bethlehem, invites Jesse and his sons to come to where he is sacrificing unto God.  That is the cover story to keep Saul content.

    I will pick up this account at verse four next time.  I pray that you come to understand that God continues to choose people to carry out His plans in this world.  If a pastor begins to turn away from walking the narrow path and refuses to repent and return to a right relationship with Christ then he will be rejected by God and another will be chosen in their place.  Same goes for Christian teachers, associate pastors, youth pastors, praise teams, leaders of men's/women's fellowships, and radio ministries.  

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Nov 3rd - 2:37PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    "I would suggest three evil devices make up most of Satan's repertoire. 

    The first is opposition.  The very name Satan means opposer, and he has opposed the work of God from the day he fell.  To the Christian he is the chief adversary.  I Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour."

    Another of Satan's devices is imitation.  Often he is more successful at imitation than he could be with blatant opposition.  Satan has always imitated God.  It was his desire to be like God that led to his fall in the first place.  Whatever God does, Satan is sure to substitute his own imitation.  When Moses demonstrated the power of God to Pharaoh with miracles, Satan enabled Pharaoh's magicians to imitate those miracles.  Throughout the Old Testament when God raised up His prophets, Satan countered by raising up false prophets.

    A third device of Satan is accusation.  He is called the "accuser of our brethren" in Revelation 12:10.  That same verse says that Satan accuses believers before God day and night.  It is the picture of one pointing his finger at others, accusing of wrongdoing, shortcoming, false motives, and sin."

                       ~George Sweeting

    Does God have favorites?  God does make His love available to all, and Jesus did come to earth so that "whosoever" might call upon His name and be saved.  No argument given there.  But when we consider Jabez, we could seemingly make a case that God does indeed have favorites.

    Very simply put, God obviously favors those who ask.  Jesus said what?  "You have not because you ask not."  If we pursue God and earnestly long for what He wants then He favors us with blessings beyond what others receive.

    Now, to say that I want to be "more honorable" in God's eyes is not to be interpreted as being arrogant or self-centered.  This phrase describes what God thinks; it is not me taking credit for myself.  I am living in the Spirit when I strive to obtain God's highest reward.  I am not competing with anyone else, I am not striving to get more than anyone else.  That's not my motivation.  Why do I strive this way?  Recall what Paul said?  "I press toward the goal for the prize (Philippians 3:14)."  He also looked forward to the time he could give an account of what he had done.  The accounting would only be to God, not to any one else. 

    What is the alternative?  That I do nothing like this and when I get to heaven (hopefully) I get to hear God say, "Well, Eric, let's take a quick look at your life, shall we?  Let Me show you what I desired for you and tried many times to accomplish through you but you would not allow Me to work through you to these ends."  Oh, what a tear-filled time that would be!  Oh, what shame should flow through my heart and mind at the realization of what I ignorantly turned my back to.

    Obtaining honor almost always means leaving comfortable assumptions behind us.  But in asking God for blessing does not require talent.  In Hebrews 11 we can look over a list, an honor roll, of saints.  All are mostly ordinary people, people who had faith in an extraordinary, miraculous God.  And they stepped out in faith to act on that faith!  They did not remain inactive, no, they became active, they went into motion.

    To enter into honorableness is as easy as realizing that the "now-ness" of serving God  can be as simple as asking people, "How may I help you?"  All that we must believe is that God wants to expand our borders at all times with every person and that God's powerful hand is directing us even as we minister to others.

    Here are some outlined steps for this entire process:

    *   Ask for and expect God's blessing for today.

    *   Plead for more ministry opportunities and step forward to receive them.

    *   Lean confidently upon the Holy Spirit to guide thoughts, words, and actions along with working within the supernatural realm to accomplish the impossible.

    *   Ask God to keep evil from spoiling the blessing which He desires to bring into being through you. 

    God already knows our gifts, our hindrances, and the condition which we are in presently.  God also knows something which we can't possibly know---every person who's in dire need of receiving God's touch through us.  God brings us to these people at exactly the right time and in the right circumstances.  If we are aware of what is going on, we will receive power to be Christ's witness to these people.  If we remain ignorant of what is going on, then these people simply pass us by and disappear back into the masses of humanity moving around each day upon this earth of ours.

    That is all for today my friends.  I hope you have gained some new insights into how prayer can impact your life in marvelous ways.  Until next time, may Christ richly bless you and your ministry!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Nov 2nd - 1:02PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    "Ability and learning contrasted.  Charles II once expressed his astonishment that such a learned man as Dr. Owen should go so often to hear Bunyan, the ignorant tinker preacher.  "Had I the tinker's ability, please your Majesty," was the reply, "I would gladly relinquish my learning."

                                                                        ~T. De Witt Talmage

    Logic says that Satan must oppose those who become the greatest threat to him and his kingdom and so the more God answers your Jabez prayers the more you need to be prepared to confront your adversary.

    But you and I can't be kept from evil all of the time.  One can't launch, by God's power, a D-Day offensive against the spiritual darkness of this present world  and evade contact with evil.  It is at these times we must implement II Corinthians 10:4, "the weapons of our warfare." 

    During the beginnings of the Promise Keepers movement there came a moment of crisis.  The leadership team was gathered in prayer before going out to the thousands of people gathered in the stadium below.  Members of the team continually stumbled over words in their prayers, opposition was present in the room as Satan wished to prevent them from being successful.  Eventually one person stood up and said, "Friends, the victory is already ours!"  He continued in prayer along these lines:  "Lord, it is Your will that we seek this blessing for countless men and their families!  We know that it is Your deepest desire to take more ground for the kingdom in this generation, on this day in history, in this stadium!  And we thank You for what You're going to do.  Father, it is Your profound and immovable purpose that Your Holy Spirit be here, is here now in our midst, moving already through the rows of gathering men.  You have come here to work in a supernatural dimension that even we can barely comprehend, but which we earnestly anticipate.  And at Your name, Lord Jesus, every other power on earth must bow or flee."

    During this prayer the rest of the team members broke through the oppression and began to praise and worship God.  Freedom of the Spirit had been witnessed by all.  The leadership team strode out into that arena to claim the victory God had already won for them.  The rest became history for the Promise Keepers.

    We need to stay out of the presence of temptation whenever possible but never, ever, live in fear or defeat.  By God's power we can keep our legacy of blessing safe.  Do you believe that a supernatural God is going to come to keep you from evil and protect your spiritual investment?  Stephen did even when faced with death by stoning.  Paul believed.  John believed.  Peter believed.  All of the apostles believed that God would show up to protect them.  Paul told the Colossians, and all of us, that God had made them, and us, "alive together with Christ having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in the cross (Colossians 2:13,15)."  Through Christ Jesus we can live in triumph!  We must live by claiming what has already been won, not live in temptation or defeat. 

    Tomorrow I shall write about entering into God's honor roll.  This is what happened to Jabez and it can easily happen to each of us.  Come back and join me in the home stretch of this study on Jabez, it will bless you and enrich your walk in faith.

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Nov 2nd - 6:08AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    11: For both He that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren (2:11).

    Most people do not properly understand what sanctified means. Sanctification when it is used in conjunction with the Holy Spirit has to do with the work of God in us. It is the work of His Spirit in the heart of the redeemed. But when it is used in connection with Christ, as here, it is not purification. It is not so much condition as it is position that we have in Christ. Christ, the Just, took the place of the unjust so that we could be brought to God. Christ brought us into the family of God.

    God is unashamed of calling us brothers. I would not think to call Him brother, but He considers us as brothers and sisters. Christ is the firstborn among many brethren. He is the head of the family and calls us brethren for we all become sons of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    12: Saying, I will declare your name unto My brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto you (2:12).

    Here is a quotation from Psalm 22 which is about the cross. Having come originally from the Old Testament some think that this speaks only to the Jewish brethren. But it mentions the church and that brings it to the current dispensation of grace. Congregation is the more proper word to be used in this verse and not church, but it still speaks to us today. Each of us belong to a congregation within the universal church of Christ.

    13: And again, I will put my trust in Him. And again, Behold I and the children which God has given Me (2:13).

    This is a quotation from Isaiah 8:17-18. It highlights how the Holy Spirit interprets Scripture and brings out the reference to Christ Jesus. We cannot eliminate the Christ from the prophets of the Old Testament. The New Testament prevents us from doing so.

      14: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (2:14).

    This statement explains many things to us.  It emphasizes the incarnation of Christ.  God came to man in a manner unexpected.  But they ought to have figured it out, because the prophets of old had made it clear in their prophecies that He would come this way the first time.  In order to redeem creatures made of flesh and blood God partook of flesh and blood.  This was necessary in order to defeat/destroy Satan who had the power of death over all flesh.  He had been given that power through sin.  But he does not hold that power any longer.  That authority was lost when Christ came and was crucified on the cross and then rose from the dead.  Why else were all of those people in the crowd yelling for Jesus to come down off of the cross if he truly was God?  Satan sensed the extreme danger of this event, but perhaps could not discern that it contained his own doom.  This retaking of control over death was necessary so that at the end of this age Christ will be able to do away with death altogether.  If He did not regain absolute power over death how could He destroy it?  So everything is done in steps, at its appointed time, in proper order, according to the will of God.  Satan had been given something and now it had become the time for it to return fully into the hands of Jehovah once more.  And as the captain of the starship always used to say, "Let it be so."

    So the Hebrews were looking for a King to liberate them from the oppression of the Romans and anyone else looking to rule over them.  They were expecting their Messiah to reinstitute their physical kingdom ruled from Jerusalem just as it had existed in their "golden years" of David and Solomon.  They simply misinterpreted the prophets' messages.

    Christ Jesus came the first time not to sit upon any throne, but to come as a little baby to die upon a cross.  His birth did not save anyone, and His life did not save anyone, it was His death that saves.  His death brought to us salvation and deliverance from spiritual and eternal death.  Now it is up to us to personally choose whether to accept this gift, or to reject it out of hand.

    That is all for this morning, beloved.  Tomorrow I plan on continuing this study and I hope you will return with me to this amazing book of Hebrews.  Until then, God willing, grace and peace be yours.

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Nov 1st - 1:20PM

    PRAYER OF JEBEZ



    "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God."  That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic---on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg---or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to."

                                                                    ~C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

    After asking for and getting supernatural blessing, influence, and power, Jabez might have thought that he could try anything and get it done.  It would seem logical to believe that such a person would pray for the hand of God to remain upon him and "Keep me through evil." 

    The obvious solution to avoid being eaten by the ravenous lion (Satan) is to stay out of the arena, or out of its territory.  So Jabez understood this aspect of life and asked that God keep him from evil, from having to fight against it.

    Here is how we may sustain a blessed life.  As our life rises above the ordinary and begins to invade new territory for God, whose turf do you think we tresspass upon?  Before this we needed to pray for supernatural power to work through our weakness, but now we need to pray for supernatural power to protect us from Satan's ability to trip us up and cause us to stumble and fall.

    A truism is that success brings with it greater opportunities for failure.  Great success tends to make us complacent, inattentive, and careless spiritually.  The longer your spiritual success continues the more attacks on you and your family can be expected.  Satan will fling distractions, oppostion, and oppression upon you and your family.  In fact, if none of these come your way you had better be very concerned!

    Each born again saint is redeemed for the front lines.  It is why praying to be kept from evil is sich an essential part of the blessed life.  We are "soldiers" of Christ, not to do physical battle with the unbelievers, but to engage Satan in spiritual warfare and retake territory once owned by him.  This is done by one person at a time repenting of their sins and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  This is how the world is changed for the better, not by throwing mountains of money at a problem thinking that this will "fix it." 

    Most Christians seem to pray only for strength to endure temptations, for victory over the attacks of our adversary.  They inexplicably fail to see that we ought to simply ask God to keep the temptation/s far away from us to begin with.  Looking to the model prayer which Jesus gave to all of us, we find that almost one fourth of its words ask for deliverance.  Nothing about spiritual insights or special powers, not one word about confrontation.

    Do you ask God to keep you away from temptation?  As much as God wants you to ask Him for more blessing, more responsibility, and more power, He wants you to ask for safekeeping from this world at large with all of its inherent evil.

    Without temptation we would not sin.  Jesus advised us that there was no temptation too great to resist and flee from as long as we asked God to empower us to avoid it.  We need to ask God to help us avoid temptation in our daily life.  This means avoiding situations which will lead to temptations too great to resist.  This means avoiding behaviors which will lead to temptations too great to resist.  We must realize that we are addicts when it comes to temptation.  Give in to a little bit of temptation and it will lead to more and more.  We won't be able to stop ourselves, we will be hooked. 

    Moving ever deeper into the land of the miraculous, we must pray that we will not have to fight unnecessary temptation.  And we can then expect to receive God's supernatural power to avoid it.  Temptation usually is the enemy's territory, not God's or ours.  Being tempted is not sinning, Satan would like us to think that it is, but it isn't.  Resisting temptation won't be on neutral ground either. 

    We can't rely exclusively upon our wisdom for the nature of evil is to deceive us with a little bit of the truth mixed with a lot of lies.  Adam and Eve were given just enough of the truth to mislead them in what they heard from the serpant.  Satan approached the human race at its peak of promise in the Garden of Eden and he was able to crush us with a little twist of the truth.  This is why it is paramount that we pray for God to protect us from deception.  We must be able to discern what is truth and what is not. 

    We can't rely exclusively upon our experience.  The deeper into new territory we move the less applicable becomes prior experiences.  The danger is not in standing at a precipice, or cliff, but it is in being unwatchful while standing there.  Indulge ourselves in pride or self-confidence at the wrong moment and it can create disaster.  Everything that you accomplish for God can quickly be erradicated by slipping into serious sin because you were not being alert and watchful.  Misjudgments can dangerous.

    We can't rely exclusively upon our feelings.  Do my feeling remain unchanged from moment to moment, or day to day?  No, they are highly variable.  In America our society is a culture that worships freedom, independence, personal rights, and the pursuit of happiness/pleasure.  We may respect those who sacrifice to get what they want.  But to be a living sacrifice?  To be crucified to self?  What's up with that?

    We must pray that God keep us from the temptation to be lead by our feelings and thereby forgetting God's truth.  I can't make decisions based solely upon my emotions for I will be misled. 

    That is all for today, beloved.  Next time I will write about witnessing for freedom.  I hope that you will come back to discover what that is all about.  Grace and peace be with you all today.

    ~Eric



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    About Me

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

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