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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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    Sun, Oct 31st - 11:04AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    Now, beloved, we come to the heart of this chapter.

      9: But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man (2:9).

    Due to what the Lord Jesus Christ has done, we behold Him.  The word see does not mean a casual look.  It means we look upon Him with understanding.  We recognize that in Him is something which our finite minds can't grasp completely.  We look upon Him in faith, in trust, in wonder, in awe, and in worship.  All of this is contained within that phrase "We see Jesus."  Do you really "see" Jesus?  

    The next phrase in this verse focuses our attention upon the fact that God chose to be born into a flesh and blood body which was a little bit lower than the angels.  It is also implied that it was for a little time as well, that this was not to last an eternity.  Jesus is God's human name given to Him in prophecy.  Matthew 1:21 shows us that the angel announced what His name would be and why it would be.  

    The next phrase gives us the reason as to why God came to earth in the flesh.  It was to suffer death, to experience death for each and every human being.  This was the only method to redeem mankind, and it was to be done by dying upon the Cross of Calvary.   It is the only way to be redeemed today.  

    After suffering death for every human being, Christ was crowned with glory and honor because He willingly gave up His life for us.  Remember, “No man has a greater love than to give his life for another?”  How about if the person gives His life for everyone?  Yeah.  Some claim that God doesn’t know, or understand, the things which we feel and experience in life because He is eternal.  Jesus Christ was just as much Man as He was God.  It is why there had to be an immaculate conception.  God knew that He must become flesh and blood for a short time in order for His creatures to come to know that He understood completely what they went through in life.  Jehovah gave the second Person of the Godhead to mankind as a Passover Lamb, because He loves us so much.  Jesus is Jehovah, He is God.  He was and is God.  Jesus Christ is 100% man and at the same time He is 100% God.  Because of this He was given glory and honor up in heaven, something which wasn’t there before.

    When Christ Jesus died upon that rugged cross outside of Jerusalem, He experienced the effects of death for every single person who had lived, who was living, and who were yet to live.  Can you even begin to imagine what that feels like?  To bear the agony involved in billions of deaths within your body?  But that is exactly what God did on the cross.  This is the cup of which He referenced in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane while He cried tears of blood.  But not His will but that of the Father in heaven would He do.  God the Father enabled Christ to remain obedient and go the distance to the cross at Calvary.  Christ did this so that you and I today could be saved by grace also.

      10: For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings (2:10).

    Jesus was not just some man in whom God did something.  Jesus Christ’s humanity doesn’t mean that He was some very moral teacher.  It does not mean that He was a martyr to a cause.  It does not mean that He was setting a good example for everyone.  His humiliation accomplished two main things:  (1) It brought glory and honor to the person of Christ; and (2) it obtained man’s salvation by making man’s salvation possible.  Christ took humanity to heaven.  

    “It became” means that it was fitting for Him.  It was consistent with His person and purpose to bring many sons to glory in this fashion.

    The next section of this verse points out the fact that all of the created universe was made for Him and by Him.  Jesus Christ is the Creator of all.  Why does this universe exist?  It exists because Jesus wanted it to.  He also wanted it to exist in a very specific way.  That is the origin of this universe, it began in the mind of Christ.

    God’s current purpose is to bring many people into glory.  God’s future purpose is to put His King on His holy hill of Zion (Psalm 2).  God’s program is moving forward, it is not being slowed down by mankind’s stubbornness or wickedness.  It will not be quickened by the church’s efforts to evangelize the world either.  Man can’t affect God’s plans.  We must simply realize that God is calling out a special people for His name.  We are expected to help direct people toward Christ Jesus and allow God to do the rest.  

    The word captain in Greek means “originator or leader.”  A captain is one who initiates and carries through.  Jesus Christ, our captain, is the Alpha and Omega of everything.  Christ initiates and carries through on everything.  He is the author of our salvation and shall carry it through to its conclusion.  Through His sufferings here on earth He was made perfect in the sense of the completion of being prepared as the Ultimate Sacrifice for sin.  “Perfect” is from the Greek word teleioo, meaning “to carry to the goal; consummate; complete.”  God’s goal was to redeem as many of mankind as would believe on Christ.  

    God’s perfect life while He lived here on earth was insufficient to save anyone.  His virgin birth was insufficient to save anyone.  His teachings do not save anyone.  His miracles do not save anyone.  But His death upon that wooden cross does save us.  He reached completeness by dying upon the cross.  Out of unconditional love for mankind, God gave Himself to us on that cross in order that we could have the opportunity to be redeemed, to be reconciled to Him and gain eternal life in heaven.  God did not just throw the Bible down to us from heaven and say, “There you go!  Good luck!”  God  came down to earth and took upon Himself our humanity.  Because He suffered and died upon the cross for me and rose to new life, I am ready to trust in Him.  I am ready to love Him because of what He has done for me and all of mankind our of love for us.

    That is all for this study today, beloved.  Next time I shall attempt to cover the next three or four verses.  I hope today’s post gives you courage and strength of purpose to continue fighting the good fight of faith!  My prayers go out to you all on this wonderful last Sunday in October!

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Oct 30th - 8:35PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      31: So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD. 
      32: Then said Samuel, Bring hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. 
      33: And Samuel said, As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal (15:31-33).

    Saul is commanded to bring Agag into the presence of Samuel.  "Delicately" translates into being rather tentative for this man understood the "thin ice" upon which he was walking.  Agag even went so far as to suggest that killing must certainly be past. There could be no more killing.  Wrong sir.  Samuel pronounced judgment, as given to him from God, and then proceeded to chop this man into pieces.  Nobody today is getting away with wickedness, or adultery, or murder. God sees what they have done or are doing and He shall avenge one day.  We are to be patient.  Samuel executed judgment upon Agag the king of the Amalekites for the acts of wickedness which his people had committed for years against the Israelites. 

      34: Then Samuel went to Ramah; and Saul went up to his house to Gibeah of Saul.
      35: And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death:  nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul:  and the LORD repented that He had made Saul king over Israel (15:34-35).

    God repenting is not the same thing as Him changing His mind.  God had instructed Saul that to remain as king of Israel he would have to remain obedient to the will of God.  Since Saul did not do this then God removed His blessing from Saul's kingship.  God selected another man to become king after Saul's death.  Saul was selected by the people and did not make a very good king at all.  Samuel apparantly was deeply grieved over Saul's choices and actions in that he actively mourned for the man's approaching demise.  Samuel tried to get Saul to reconsider, to see the wrong that he was doing, but the king was stubbornly blind to his errors in judgment.  

    Friends, God's love of us will not stop Him from judging us.  He loves us and still executes judgment.  Our God is a holy, awesome, righteous, and just God as well as being an all-loving God.  I hope you will choose to join me next time as we begin chapter 16 of this book in the Old Testament.  Grace and peace be yours, and may God watch over you and your loved ones all of this day!

    ~Eric  


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    Sat, Oct 30th - 4:13PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      7: You made him a little lower than the angels; You crowned him with glory and honor, and did set him over the works of Your hands (2:7)

    Here we see reference made to Adam and Eve.  They were made in the Garden of Eden and were expressly given dominion over everything.  Angels were not put in charge, man was.  Now, Lucifer did succumb to pride and fell into sin while performing his God given duties in heaven around God's throne.  Lucifer wanted to take over and become just like the Most High God.  He eventually deceived about one third of the angels in heaven, convincing them, obviously, that he was right.  Jehovah kicked them all out of heaven.  Some of the angels were chained up and not allowed to roam freely throughout the remainder of creation.  The rest, along with Lucifer now called Satan, were cast out of heaven and now live on and around earth.  Satan and his cohorts do their best each day to assert control over creation and to dominate mankind.  

    Now we read in this verse that man was made a little lower than angels.  Therefore, in order to redeem mankind God came a little lower than the angels and became a man.  Why did God willingly leave the glory of heaven to come live down here on our dirty little planet?  Out of love for us, and to reveal Himself to us.  

    This verse reveals God's original purpose for mankind:  to have dominion/stewardship over all of creation.  Man will one day do what the angels can never do, rule over creation.  But man is no where near ready to rule anything.  Just look around our fair planet today.  Child abuse is rampant, violent crimes out of control, terrorist groups coercing entire nations, ethnic groups warring against each other.  We aren't ready for such a duty.  But one day in the future a remnant of people, those who choose to accept Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, will rule this world and beyond.  Through redemption God is going to brink mankind back to the place where he can rule.  Man lost his purpose back in the Garden of Eden, Christ came down from heaven in order to redeem that for us.  

      8: You have put all things in subjection under His feet.  For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him. But now we do not yet see all things put under Him (2:8).

    I did not put capitol letters for the pronouns in verse 7 for it would have been potentially confusing.  That verse speaks of both man and of Christ.  It is a dual purpose in what it reveals.  Here in verse 8 we see that man is not being described here but it is Christ.  Man did not ever have everything subjected to him.  The angels were not subject to Adam, the galaxies out in the universe were not subject to Adam either.  But every last thing in this entire universe has been made subject to Christ since His crucifixion and resurrection from the dead.  I do not say that what happens upon earth is exactly what God wishes to have happen.  Satan is the ruler of this world of ours at this time, not Christ.  Each Christian is actually a soldier holding down a beachhead until reinforcements arrive.  We live in occupied territory people, snipers take clear shots at us each and every day.  We take on damage/wounds every time we turn on our TVs or go out to work.  When Christ next returns there will then be a new ruler of the earth and at that time God's will will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  But not until that time.

    That is all for now my friends.  I will be posting on my study in I Samuel later on today.  Hope you stop by and follow along as we continue to explore the life of Saul.  May the Son shine brightly through you, may you reflect the Son's truth in all that you think, do, and say.

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Oct 29th - 9:20PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



      24: And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned:  for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and your words:  because i feared the people, and obeyed their voice (15:24).

    Here is a man who is the king of Israel and yet, he claims that he disobeyed God due to fear of the people over whom he ruled.  They voiced their feelings and he gave in to what they had to say.  Obviously his motivation was to not anger the people rather than to please God.  How are we at that one today, beloved?  Do we figure it is much better to placate our spouse rather than remain obedient to God?  I hope not.  Too many pastors/preachers attempt to please everyone.  You can't possibly do it.  Try to please everyone and someone will still be offended.  Compromise eventually corrupts the compromiser.  King Saul compromised himself and his position of authority.  We do it when we know that we ought to defend the line drawn in the sand, and yet we find ourselves taking one step over it and then redrawing the line simply to keep the peace in our family, or at work, or even in our church.  Each time we do so we lose another small piece of ourselves.

    Saul confesses his disobedience here, but is it genuine?

      25: Now therefore, I pray you, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.
      26: And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with you:  for you have rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD has rejected you from being king over Israel.
      27: And as Samuel turned around to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it tore.
      28: And Samuel said unto him, The LORD has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day, and has given it to a neighbor of yours, that is better than you.
      29: And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent:  for He is not a man, that He should repent (15:25-29).

    The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Saul was given the kingdom contingent upon him obeying God.  Some critics would immediately say that God changed His mind.  God didn't change His mind, He simply kept His promise.  Obey Me, Saul and you will remain king of Israel for a very long time.  Disobey Me and you will lose the position.  Saul is the one who changed and God remained unchanged.  That is how it is with us today in relationship to Christ.  He does not change from one day to the next, beloved.  We might, He does not.  We change our minds all the time, Christ does not.

      30: Then he said, I have sinned:  yet honor me now, I pray, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD your God (15:30).

    Is Saul sincerely repentant?  Look at what he wants Samuel to agree to.  Let's act like you still support me, and God still grants me favor.  Let's scam the people so that they won't know that God has rejected me as their king.  Sound like a man who sincerely repents of his sin?  Nope.  Saul desired to repent as long as he did not have to pay the penalty for being disobedient to God.  He is being a hypocrite, plain and simple.  I would also point out again the fact that Saul does not say, "so that he could worship his God."  It is Samuel's God he wishes to worship.  I get the distinct feeling that Saul has never completely accepted Jehovah personally as his God.  This distancing of himself from God helped in becoming thoroughly lost in his decision making as king.  

    I hope that you do not distance yourself from Christ.  To do so means that you are not giving yourself completely to Him, you hold back parts of your life so that you may control them.  You can't be a saint living life this way.  Lose yourself in Christ and through Christ you will find yourself all over again.  It is a process.  Come to the cross at Calvary, cast yourself upon Christ, but then move past that rugged cross of redemption and discover the wonder of renewed life in Christ Jesus!  Process.  Death, burial, resurrection.  This is the Way.  It is the Truth.  It is the Life Eternal.  Yes, it is definitely a narrow path at the outset, but at the other end it broadens out into infinite possibilities.  

    Next time we shall continue to study Saul's life as king, even as his time of reigning over Israel is on the decline.  Grace and peace be yours this day!

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Oct 29th - 12:53PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    "The mark of a saint is not perfection, but consecration.  A saint is not a man without faults, but a man who has given himself without reserve to God."
                                                                ~Brooke Foss Wescott

    "The instances are exceedingly rare of man immediately passing over a clear marked line from virtue into declared vice and corruption.  There are middle tints and shades between the two extremes; there is something uncertain on the confines of the two empires which they must pass through, and which renders the change easy and imperceptible."
                                                               ~Edmund Burke

    When we attempt to complete a task that is beyond our skills to do, we are forced to turn our attention heavenward and say to God, "Father, please help me in doing this work for Your kingdom!  I can't do this alone, it's much too big for me!"  Upon finishing your prayer you must then step out in faith to do and say that which could only come from God Himself.  Later your spirit will be shouting that that was God doing it, nobody but God could have done that!  God gave me the words to speak, He gave me the power to follow it all of the way through to completion!

    Here is where the Apostle Paul was writing from in II Corinthians 3:5-6; "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant."  Tragically God's hand is seldom experienced in today's congregations of believers.  They do not even miss it and do not ask for it.  The thought appears to be one of that this experience is only reserved for prophets and apostles, not for regular folk out on the streets.  As they inevitably reach points of certain failure in their endeavors within the church, they generally come to the wrong conclusion:  "I've gone as far as I can; I've ended up in the wrong place.  I have received all of the resources I can reasonably expect to get and thus I had better make a hasty exit from this project!"

    Jabez was the exact opposite of today's Christians.  He was absolutely sure that God's hand must be upon him in his life.  "The hand of the Lord" is a phrase found in the Old Testament (Joshua 4:24 and Isaiah 59:1) and in Acts 11:21 we can see it once again representing powerful things being done in the name of the Lord.  In the New Testament this phrase kind of transforms into the reference of "the filling of the Holy Spirit." 

    When Jesus spoke to His disciples about the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 He was bestowing both an incredible blessing and an impossible task.  Go into all of the world and preach?  How in the world can that be done?  Peter was a coward, Thomas had doubts, just about all of the rest were timid and fearful and in hiding after the crucifixion of Christ.  Girls by campfires appeared to be bolder and more compelling than the disciples. 

    Yet after Acts 1:8 all of them present were changed.  Those who were not believers couldn't explain the change.  But those who had been changed knew exactly what had happened.  The Holy Spirit came down from heaven and indwelt these people.  They were filled with God's miraculous power and were able to speak in different languages and thus could express the Gospel message to everyone they met.  In Acts 4:13 we begin to see that they were able to now speak boldly whereas before this they could not bring themselves to do so.  Miracles and mass conversions happened, healings took place. 

    When we ask God for His mighty presence and power, we will see awesome results that get explained only as from the "hand of God."  The early church constantly sought to be filled by God.  They were known as a community of people who spent immense amounts of time in prayer together, waiting upon God ans asking Him for His power.  They were unsatisfied with receiving a blessing just once, they sought out God's blessings continually.  We do not do this today in most of our congregations.  We give lip service to prayer time during the service, like it is something getting in the way of the important stuff like preaching the Word.

    Apostle Paul told the Ephesians to make being "filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19)."  When the last time that your church family got together and pleaded for the filling of the Holy Spirit?  When was the last time that you fervently and regularly petitioned God, "Oh, put Your hand upon me!  Fill me with Your Spirit!"?  This is why the Gospel spread so quickly throughout the Roman Empire.

    Like any loving father, God is watching and waiting for you to ask for the supernatural power He offers.  Looking II Chronicles 16:9 we can see that God is not scanning the horizon for saintly giants or seminary graduates.  He is eagerly seeking those who sincerely loyal to Christ.  Your loyal heart is one thing which He will not provide as part of His territory expansion program.  You and I are always just one fervent prayer away from miraculous Spirit-enabled accomplishments.  But we must ask every day for dependence upon God is what prayer is all about.

    Next time I shall write a little bit about being kept from evil.  May you earnestly pray to Christ to expand your boundaries, to give you a larger ministry in His kingdom so that you can return more honor and glory to Him.

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Oct 29th - 6:54AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      6: But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that You are mindful of him?  or the son of man, that You visit him (2:6)?

    This is the beginning of a quotation of Psalm 8:4-6.  We must ask ourselves just who do we think we are?  Are we such huge creatures that we demand recognition in this vast universe?  Are we the masters of our own destinies?  Are we even the true masters of this planet upon which we ride through space upon?  Can we prevent anything from striking this planet and destroying it?  Someone once said, "Man is a rash on the epidermis of a minor planet."  Whew!  But in many respects isn't that what we actually are?  Man stands about halfway, in the middle, in this physical creation.  Most importantly to mankind, the Lord of Glory, the second person of the Godhead, came from heaven and became Jesus, a man.

    "What is man, that You are mindful of him?"  We were created in the image of Jehovah.  We were meant to be His greatest creation of all.  When the appointed time came to offer up a perfect sacrifice to cover the sin-debt of every single person God came down from heaven to become a man, not an angel.  Of himself man is absolutely nothing.  Break down our bodies into its basic elements, put them up for sale on the market, and we would get perhaps two to three dollars.  Physically we are not very valuable.  Mentally we think we are something, but in reality we know very little.  What do we actually know about this vast universe?  What have we actually verified by going there in person?  The moon?  We spent billions of dollars to send men to the moon, and probably will spend that much to finish exploring the depths of our oceans.  To find what?  What are we willing to spend to go and explore the next planet in our solar system?  The galaxy?  Let's face it, man does not know very much at all.  We hypothesize, we conjecture, we extrapolate, and we observe from long, long, distances.  But we do not know from first hand observations very much about our universe.  Man is quite limited.  What is man to God that He is mindful of him?

    God visited us because he wanted to communicate with us, and He wanted to save us from our lost condition in order to restore us to a right relationship with Him.  He wanted to regain what had been lost in the Garden of Eden, our intimate relationship of love and service.

    Perhaps tonight I shall edit and add more to this posting.  I pray that this post will begin to make you consider why God even bothers with you.  What is so special about you that God would go to any effort at all to save you?  As the week ends here, may God's light shine on your face and in your heart!

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Oct 29th - 6:53AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      6: But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that You are mindful of him?  or the son of man, that You visit him (2:6)?

    This is the beginning of a quotation of Psalm 8:4-6.  We must ask ourselves just who do we think we are?  Are we such huge creatures that we demand recognition in this vast universe?  Are we the masters of our own destinies?  Are we even the true masters of this planet upon which we ride through space upon?  Can we prevent anything from striking this planet and destroying it?  Someone once said, "Man is a rash on the epidermis of a minor planet."  Whew!  But in many respects isn't that what we actually are?  Man stands about halfway, in the middle, in this physical creation.  Most importantly to mankind, the Lord of Glory, the second person of the Godhead, came from heaven and became Jesus, a man.

    "What is man, that You are mindful of him?"  We were created in the image of Jehovah.  We were meant to be His greatest creation of all.  When the appointed time came to offer up a perfect sacrifice to cover the sin-debt of every single person God came down from heaven to become a man, not an angel.  Of himself man is absolutely nothing.  Break down our bodies into its basic elements, put them up for sale on the market, and we would get perhaps two to three dollars.  Physically we are not very valuable.  Mentally we think we are something, but in reality we know very little.  What do we actually know about this vast universe?  What have we actually verified by going there in person?  The moon?  We spent billions of dollars to send men to the moon, and probably will spend that much to finish exploring the depths of our oceans.  To find what?  What are we willing to spend to go and explore the next planet in our solar system?  The galaxy?  Let's face it, man does not know very much at all.  We hypothesize, we conjecture, we extrapolate, and we observe from long, long, distances.  But we do not know from first hand observations very much about our universe.  Man is quite limited.  What is man to God that He is mindful of him?

    God visited us because he wanted to communicate with us, and He wanted to save us from our lost condition in order to restore us to a right relationship with Him.  He wanted to regain what had been lost in the Garden of Eden, our intimate relationship of love and service.

    Perhaps tonight I shall edit and add more to this posting.  I pray that this post will begin to make you consider why God even bothers with you.  What is so special about you that God would go to any effort at all to save you?  As the week ends here, may God's light shine on your face and in your heart!

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Oct 28th - 7:03AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "We are so accustomed to wearing a disguise before others that eventually we are unable to recognize ourselves".

                                    ~Francois, Duc De La Rochefoucauld

      22: And Samuel said, Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD?  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
      23: For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king (15:22-23).

    You may be thinking, "Well Eric, what in the world does this have to do with me?"  It has everything to do with us.  Any person can decide to make sacrifice and think that that is all he/she needs to do in order to be a Christian.  Christ sacrificed His life, right?  That is all I need to do likewise, sacrifice.  Wrong.  God takes greater delight in obedience to His Word than in sacrificial living.  Of course He wants us to be willing to sacrifice for Him and for others, but obedience is to come first.  Saul put sacrifices ahead of remaining obedient to God's will.  Fine, that was his choice.  But it meant that God would reject him as Israel's king. 

    In today's culture there is much of this informal and friendly approach to Jesus Christ.  People are focusing upon the "He is my friend" aspect and utterly forgetting that He is the God of Creation.  We need to be very careful how we think in regards to Christ.  Only thinking that Christ is our friend will ultimately translate into bringing Him down to our level of existence.  That would not be Biblical at all.  God has said, "You are My friends, if you do whatsoever I command you (John 15:14)."  Obedience is the central issue.  If we do what God commands of us then we are His friends. 

    Disobeying Christ is worse than being involved in witchcraft, as it is viewed that it is rebellion.  If anyone claims to be a child of God they had better show that they are obedient to Him.  Christ also said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments (John 14:15)."  So the important thing is to be correctly related to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Today to be a child of God is to know Christ personally.  This is what makes Christianity so different from all other world religions.  You can be any of those other religions without ever knowing their founder personally, but it does not work in Christianity.  To know Him personally means that your entire life will change, and change for the better.

    That is all for today on this study, my friends.  Come back tomorrow and we shall continue our study of I Samuel and learn about Saul's future.  Grace and peace be yours this day!

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Oct 27th - 7:21PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      2: For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward (2:2).

    An example of this would be the two angels who came to Sodom with the word that that city would be destroyed.  Sodom was destroyed exactly as they said.  Whenever an angel brought a message, you could depend upon it being carried out exactly as it was stated.  This statement prefaces a question:

      3: How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him (2:3).

    And this is the great question put to each and every person upon this world of ours.  How can we ignore such a great salvation gift which was spoken by Christ and was confirmed by eyewitnesses to whom it was given?  How can we ignore that and expect no consequences?  Yet many people today believe that with all of their being.  What other avenue of escape can there be?  Works?  How much is enough?  Be a good person?  How good and for how long?  Philanthropy?  How much is enough?  There simply isn't another way to know for sure that we have escaped judgment and have been forgiven all of the crappy stuff which we have done in our lives.

    There always seems to be a way that looks to be right to us, but ends up in exactly the same place:  condemnation due to sin.  What do I do to become lost?  Absolutely nothing, just keep on keeping on with what you are doing apart from Christ.  I can be utterly lost by simple neglect.

    What did Christ speak about this when He was walking amongst us?  Look to Matthew 11:28 and Luke 19:10 for starters.  Confirmation comes to us through His disciples who witnessed these things and have written of them for our benefit at God's direction.  

      4: God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with diverse miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will (2:4)?

    This would be in reference to the Day of Pentecost when those present in that room were indwelt by the Holy Spirit and infused with gifts in order to speak in various different tongues, or languages.  These gifts were to confirm the message to nation Israel.

    The warning given to the people back then is the exact same warning for us today.  Don't let God's spiritual truths drift on by us due to neglect, in essence taking them all for granted.

      5: For unto the angels has He not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak (2:5).

    What world is God talking about here?  It is not heaven.  The word used here for "world to come" is the same one used in Matthew 24:14 where we learn how the gospel of the kingdom is to be preached to all the world.  It means "inhabited earth."   So "world to come"  does not refer to heaven nor to eternity.  It does not mean this dispensation of grace in which we live today.  It is speaking of the messianic kingdom, the kingdom that is coming when Christ returns.  The millennial kingdom which is coming will not have angels ruling over mankind.  Angels have never ruled over anything in the past and shall not rule over anything in the future.  Angels are servants and messengers of God.  Someone else obviously will be ruling that world to come.  

    I will stop here for tonight, beloved.  I pray that Christ bless you richly upon reading this post.

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Oct 27th - 12:58PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    Having dared to ask for a larger ministry what do we do then?  Having received blessings on a magnitude we hadn't imagined possible, what do we do?  Once that rush of exhilaration passes on by with the blessings, don't we experience somewhat of a vacuum?  It can even feel like we are beginning to fall.  Perhaps our business expansion is outrunning our expertise and resources.  Perhaps those teenagers congregating in your kitchen are beginning to negatively influence your entire family.  Perhaps that greater ministry opportunity is requiring more skills than you realize that you have.

    These are common things to find once we ask for, and receive a larger portion from God.  We can begin to feel abandoned, afraid, and even a little angry.  Nothing wrong with those feelings though.  It means we are exactly where we ought to be spiritually speaking.  When I feel like there just isn't a way for me to do this job, then I am leaning upon Christ for my strength.  Or, I sure had better be!  As God's chosen ones, we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is assured, unless God is asked to step in.  Yup, it goes against common sense, contradicts our previous life experience, seems to disregard our feelings, training, and need for security, and it sets us up to look like a fool and a loser.

    But that is God's plan for His highest honored servants.  Dependence upon God, not independence, makes heroes of ordinary people like Jabez and you and me.  How does this get accomplished?  Through Jabez's cry out to God:  "Oh, that Your hand would be with me!"  With that request of God we release God's power to accomplish His will and bring Him glory through all impossibilities. 

    Jabez did not begin his prayer asking for this.  This request came after he had asked God to enlarge his coasts.  Once the boundaries expanded Jabez realized that he was going to be in dire need of God's help.  Once the tasks within God's agenda began to surface and become visible, then Jabez knew he needed divine assistance.  He could have tried to keep up under his own strength and talents, eventually becoming burnt out and falling by the wayside.  But Jabez chose to ask God for help.  To seek out God's blessings is probably an ultimate act of worship.  Asking for God's hand upon us is a choice to sustain and continue the awesome things that God has begun in our lives.

    This is what I would call "the touch of greatness."  We do not become great, our surrendered need turns into His unlimited opportunity.  God becomes the greater through us.

    Next time I will write some about the feelings we experience when we step out in faith to do big things in God's plan.  Come along with me as this is explored some more.  May Christ richly bless you, and keep you!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Oct 26th - 1:25PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    "The unexamined life is not worth living."

                                                            ~Socrates

    "What is the present, after all, but a growth out of the past?"

                                                            ~Walt Whitman

    I want to ask God to enlarge my life so that I can have a greater impact on others for Him.  Jabez did not simply ask God to give him more stuff, or more real estate for his own personal satisfaction.  No, Jabez's desire was for more influence, more responsibility, and more opportunities to make a difference for the God of Israel, for Christ Jesus.  Today, we ought to be desiring to do this for Christ. 

    Depending upon what version of Bible you are reading, territory can be translated also as coast, borders. This carries the same emotional impact as did the words homestead or frontier did for generations of American pioneers.  It represents one's own place, a place where there is plenty of room to grow.  In Jabez's time recent national history was the conquest of Canaan by Joshua and the subsequent partitioning of the Promised Land into pieces of land given to each of the tribes.  Jabez had looked around himself and concluded that he was born for more than what he saw.  He had obviously inventoried the fencelines and boundaries of his family's lands, calculated its potential and made a decision:  Everything that you have given to me, Lord, take it and enlarge it some more.

    Is it okay for me to ask God for more business if I am a business owner?  Most definitely!  Do business God's way and it becomes your ministry.  God will be waiting for you to ask for more.  Your business is the territory which God has given to you.  God expects you to touch lives and point people toward Christ.  God is to be glorified in all that you do in your business.  To ask Him to increase that opportunity brings Him glory and delight.

    If Jabez had happened to be woman, a wife, her prayer would have been to increase her family, multiply for Your glory the influence of my household.  Our home is the greatest, most powerful arena on earth to change a life for God.  I know, I have seen it happen more than once in my life.

    So, let's move those boundary lines!  Ask yourself:  "If the God of heaven loves me infinitely and wants me in His presence every moment, and if He knows that heaven is a much better place for me, then why in the world has He left me here?"  The answer:  God wants me to be moving out my boundary lines, taking in new territory for Him, and reaching people in His name.

    In today's congregations it is hard to get people involved in ministry, let alone ask for more to be given to them.  Most people think that there is too much going on in their lives as it is, why do I want to heap more onto myself?  But praying in faith for expanded horizons opens up the doors for amazing things to happen.  As the opportunities grow so also grows your ability and resources supernaturally.  God provides.  People will show up on the doorstep or at the table right next to you. They will initiate conversations that surprise you, and even them!  They will ask for something, and wait for you to respond.  They may not even be sure what that something actually is, but they are waiting for your reply.  These are Jabez moments, or appointments.  Perhaps they will be looking for help to save their marriage, or to save their relationship with their children, or to hold onto a full time job.  Whatever it is, we need to be ready to accept the opportunity that the Lord has brought to us and bring glory to Him. 

    Whatever our talents might be, we must live by God's math and not by our own.  We can call this by all sorts of names or labels.  It can be "living out your faith for others."  Or it can be a ministry.  Or it can be your "everyday Christian job."  Whatever it may be called, God is looking for a few good people who want to do more of it, because most believers seemingly shrink from living at this level of blessing and influence.

    Oh, we may get our numbers correct, but the math is all wrong.  No matter how many times we hear the message abut God's power to work through us, we simply do not get the meaning of that little word "through."  We quickly state that we want God to work through us when in reality we mean by or in association with us.  As long as we do things via our skills and talents we are not having God work through us, He is working by us and in association with our personal efforts.  Nothing miraculous there.  God told the Hebrews when they came out of captivity "Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit, says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6)."  Jesus Christ tells all of us the exact same thing.  Our God specializes in moving, and working, through normal people who believe in a supernormal God who will do His work through them.  God simply waits for the invitation to do so.  I am weak but He is strong.  But my faith is strong enough to ask God to expand my horizons and He works through me to make it so. 

    When we earnestly, and sincerely, beg God to bring us more influence and responsibility in order to honor and glorify Him, God brings the opportunities and people into our paths.  Trust that God will never bring someone to you whom you cannot help by His leadership and strength.  Sure you will feel some fearfulness, but you will also experience the tremendous exhileration of God carrying you along the crestwave as you are in the midst of doing it.  You become just like John, Peter, and Paul who were given the words to say at the moment they needed to say them.

    We must realize that when we pray for God to increase our boundaries that it means we are to have front row seats to miracles.  A miracle is an intervention by God to make something happen that normally wouldn't happen.  A miracle was what Jabez required in order to rise above his name and tranform his circumstances.  A miracle is what people need today in order to change their lives forever, to change their hearts forever. 

    Many Christians no longer believe miracles occur.  They have become pessimists.  Miracles do not have to shatter natural laws.  When Elijah prayed for it to stop raining, God merely directed the natural cycle of drought and rain. 

    The most exhilarating miracles in life always start with a bold request to expand God's kingdom a lot.  Taking little steps does not require God.  Taking big, huge, terrifying steps requires God's presence and power to accomplish.  Lord, use me; give me more ministry for You!  God will always intervene when you put His agenda ahead of yours.  Not my will but Your will be done, Lord! 

    Next time I will write some about feeling the touch of greatness in our lives, just the way Jabez must have felt it.  Until then, walk in the light of Christ and let His truth shine out through you and enlighten your corner of this dark world of ours!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Oct 26th - 7:10AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



     16: Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell you what the LORD has said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on.
     17: And Samuel said, When you were little in your own sight, were you not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed you king over Israel?
     18: And the LORD sent you on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
     19: Why then didn't you obey the voice of the LORD, but did fly upon the spoil, and did evil in the sight of the LORD?
     20: And Saul said unto Samuel, Yes, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
     21: But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD your God in Gilgal (15:16-21).

    Samuel reiterates what God has done for Saul, and what God had told Saul to do to the Amalekites but Saul still doesn't understand what he has done wrong!  It is right there in front of his eyes, yet he is blind to it.  Verse 17 highlights what the issue becomes too often when we begin a work of the Lord.  We begin it by being humble but later on, once we have become successful in it, we become swell-headed, full of pride.  We forget that it is God who is working through us and begin to lose our perspective by believing we are the ones accomplishing this mighty work.  We become exactly like king Saul.  

    Now we need to notice how Saul couches his words.  He does not say that he has kept the choicest animals to sacrifice to "his" God, does he?  It is Samuel's God for whom Saul has kept the animals for sacrifice.  Saul never took ownership of God for himself, it has remained distant as someone else's God.  Saul does not take responsibility for not slaughtering all of the animals as God had instructed him, he places the blame on the people.  He is not a very good ruler. 

    Beloved, we as Christians must take ownership of Christ's sacrifice upon the cross.  Without taking God's free gift of salvation as our own we shall never become born again, we will never become redeemed of our sins.  A Christian can't keep himself distant from God, he must claim ownership and become intimate with God on a personal level.  A Christian is not someone who pays lip service to God, as Saul did, but is someone who eagerly seeks to learn more and more about his God and how to serve Him each day.  Saul relied upon his physical skill sets and did not seek to reach out to God and learn as much as he possibly could about Him.  If he had he would have learned how to do things which would have guarenteed his kingship.  Instead he did things as he saw fit to do them and ultimately was replaced by David as king of Israel.

    That is all for this morning, beloved.  May Christ richly bless you my brothers and sisters!

    ~Eric.


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    Mon, Oct 25th - 7:46PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    Here in chapter two of Hebrews we find Christ had come to earth as a man, and in doing so He became lower than the angels.  Within the womb of the virgin Mary He was created as a man and took upon Himself all of our humanity.  In this way Christ Jesus became the revealer of God, and the representative of man.  This will become clearer as we go through this book.

    Christ represents me in heaven; He stands before God's throne to advocate for me.  I don't know about you, but I get the definite feeling that the men and women we have elected to "represent" us in our state and federal capitals are not representing us at all.  They appear to be out for themselves and their own little agendas and programs.  The major reason they are interested in us is when it comes voting time, and suddenly they all become "just like me." 

    But Christ Jesus does represent us before God in heaven.  It is a comfort to know that there actually is someone who is on our side.  It is necessary that we have someone advocating for us since Satan is the accuser of the brethren and seeks to accuse each and every believer of not qualifying for salvation. 

    First, we saw Christ higher than all of the angels, and now we will see Him being lower than the angels when He came in the flesh to walk this earth.  He was made in the likeness of a man so that He could come to know all that we feel and experience in life. 

    Now, there are two places in which believers can live.  They can live out in the desert and have a wilderness experience, or they can enter into the blessings of God by spiritually crossing over the Jordan River.  This analogy is found in the physical crossing of Israel into the Promised Land.  God warned them at Kadesh-Barnea that they would miss out on His full blessings if they did not enter into the land of promise.

    We, as believers, cross that Jordan River in Christ Jesus through His death and resurrection.  Joshua physically led his people across the Jordan River while Jesus Christ spiritually leads His children across the Jordan into newness of life. 

      1: Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip (2:1).

    Because this last revelation was so superior to the Old Testament dispensation and came from Christ who is superior to angels, we are to pay special attention to the warning.  To neglect our spiritual lives is tragic for in doing nothing we are lost and headed towards the lake of fire. 

    What must I do to be saved?  The answer is found in Acts 16:31.  What must i do to be lost?  Nothing.  God does not have anyone on trial.  Those whom He saves today are those who turn to Christ Jesus.  Being lost is our natural condition, to change that requires something to be done.

    Neglect is a great danger, no matter what area of our lives it occurs in.  The person who is given the news that they have contracted cancer and proceeds to procrastinate on getting treatment will discover that neglecting to make this decision is tragic.  The cancer does not wait for you, it continues to grow and spread. 

    To hear the gospel message and neglect to do anything with it is infinitely more tragic.  Many people hear the message and even give mental agreement to it, but then do nothing else about it.  Or they believe that they have more time in which to live and then turn to God.  They do not realize that they are in the river in a canoe without a paddle and that they are quickly approaching a waterfalls which they will not survive.  Once you go over the falls it is too late to make amends and accept Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Everyone who hears the gospel message needs to become a part of the "now" generation.  Now is the accepted time of salvation, now is the day of salvation.  This Book of Hebrews warns us about this common trap used effectively by Satan.

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Next time I shall delve through the next several verses which will provide us more warning to pay attention to what God has already said.  Grace and peace be with you all.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Oct 25th - 2:12PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    "Dreams are the touchstones of our characters."

                                                      ~Henry Thoreau

    "One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living.  We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon---instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today."

                                                     ~Dale Carnegie

    Maybe you feel deep down in your heart that you just aren't a candidate for blessings.  Or, you are a Christian who thinks that once you're saved God's blessings sort of drizzle all over your life at a predetermined rate, no matter what you might do, or not do.  No effort is required of you.

    Or, maybe you are a ledger type Christian, you tally up the spiritual deposits and withdrawals.  If you have recently been unusually blessed by God then you feel you ought not to expect, much less ask for, God to bless you some more. 

    Do you realize that this type of thinking is a sin?  Consider Moses' request of God on Mount Sinai.  "Show me Your glory(Exodus 33:18)."  Moses asked to be allowed a much more intimate understanding of God.  Did God deny him?  No, God honored his request, "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth(Exodus 34:6)."  And eventually, after describing Himself more fully to Moses, God did show him His glory. 

    Isn't that incredible?  God's nature is to have infinite goodness in so much abundance that it overflows into our unworthy lives.  So why not get into the habit of daily asking God to bless you, and to bless you a lot?  He's fully able and wishing to do so.

    The thing we all need to remember is this:  God's bounty is limited only by us, not by His resources, not by His power, not by His willingness to give.  Jabez was blessed just because he refused to let anything get in the way.  Nothing is larger than God's nature, and God's nature is to bless.

    For God to inlcude this account of Jabez's prayer and blessing shows us that it is not who you are, or what your name is, or what your parents do for a living, or what your parents decide for you, or what "destiny" has for you.  What counts is knowing who you want to be and going to God and asking for it.

    And so through a simple believing prayer you and I can change our future.  We can change everything.

    Beloved, next time I am going to write to you about making a mark for God.  What did Jabez ask for?  What should each of us be asking God for?  Asking for normal things in life isn't very lifting spritually speaking when they appear.  But asking for that which is currently out of our reach, for that which is incredible, now, when it does appear we can know that a miracle has happened.  We get excited.  We get pumped up with energy and joy.  And then we go back and ask God again for something more!  Why stop?  Think that God can't possibly do better?  Think that God must have emptied out His blessings sack on that one?  How can it be possible when He is an infinite God? 

    May you experience joy, peace, and love this day!  May the merciful God of Creation answer you prayers.  Until we meet here once more, grace and peace by yours.

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Oct 24th - 8:26AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    10: Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,

    11: It repents Me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all the night (15:10-11).

    Saul had chosen to not do what God had commanded him to do regarding the king of the Amalekites and all of the cattle and other animals. Was Saul more interested in obtaining “booty” for himself? Saul forgot that he and the Israelites were bringing judgment upon the Amalekites for God.

    We can see here that Samuel is immensely unhappy over this turn of events. Not only did the Israelites choose Saul, but Samuel also chose Saul. However, God has rejected Saul for the man returned to his former ways rather than continue on with his change of heart. Samuel must execute God’s orders, for even Samuel can see how Saul has disobeyed and must be judged for his sins.

    12: And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal.

    13: And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be you of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD (15:12-13).

    How often do we attempt to make a similar claim to God? Hey God, I have done what you have ordered me to do, it’s all good, right? It’s not all good. Unless we have done exactly what God has asked of us, and have done it exactly the way He has asked us to perform it, then it is not all good for we have been disobedient.

    In Saul’s mind everything that he went out and did was good. He has rationalized it all away in his mind. Now notice what Samuel says to him.

    14: And Samuel said, What means then this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?

    15: And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD your God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed (15:14-15).

    Ahh, Saul, Saul, Saul! He acts like it was the people who decided to spare these animals, that it was they who were disobedient. He is doing some damage control without even realizing that he is in trouble.

    In our societies today we can find similar hypocrisy at work. The liquor industry always makes much noise about how much in taxes they obediently pay each year and of how much they give to charitable causes each year. Our media giants love to report on these things as well. But how much do the alcoholics cost our societies each year? See, mankind always has the tendency to cover up our wicked businesses with good works. This tendency creeps into the activities of God’s people as well. We remain disobedient to God and then try to compensate through pious works.

    Saul fails to recognize that he is the king and therefore he is responsible for reigning in the people and making sure that they do what God had asked be done.

    That is all for today, beloved. May Christ richly bless you and answer all of your prayers expediently.

    ~Eric



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    Sat, Oct 23rd - 8:52PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      10: And You, Lord, in the beginning had laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Your hands:
      11: They shall perish; but You remain; and they all shall grow old as does a garment;
      12: And as a vesture shall You fold them up, and they shall be changed:  but You are the same, and Your years shall not fail (1:10-12).

    This is a quote from Psalm 102:25-27.  Again we are given information about Christ as being God, and God being the Creator of everything.  This physical world will pass away but God remains for ever. 

      13: But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool (1:13)?

    This is a quote from Psalm 110:1, which is often quoted in the New Testament.  This verse also places the Jehovah Witnesses in a sticky position for how could Christ be the archangel Michael in view of this statement credited to God?  Believing that Christ is an angel is an untenable position given what the Bible teaches.

      14: Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation (1:14)?

    And here we discover that angels minister, look out for, those people who in the future will become heirs of salvation through grace. Angels do not minister to those who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, as indicated by Scripture.  Notice, I say as indicated by Scripture. 

    Christ is the Son; angels are servants, Christ is King; angels are subjects.  Christ is the Creator; angels are creatures.  Christ waits for the appointed time when His enemies shall become His footstool.  These passages set out before the reader the deity of Christ and the exaltation of Christ.  It explains the relationship between God and the angels and those who are going to be redeemed.

    That is all for tonight my friends.  Next time I shall begin chapter two which deals with the humanity of Christ Jesus.  It is a chapter which brings out the humiliation of Jesus Christ.  I hope you return to learn more about this book of the Bible.  Pray without ceasing, ask God to give you wisdom, to enlarge your horizons, to give you a caring heart for people.

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Oct 22nd - 1:19PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    So, why not just ask Christ to bless you?  Could it be possible that God actually wants each of us to be this selfish in our prayers?  That He wants us to ask for more, and more again, day after day and week after week?  Too many saints feel that they shouldn't impose upon God in such a fashion.  But here was Jabez, asking to be blessed more and then receiving his request from God!

    As far as we can figure out, Jabez lived in southern Israel during the  time of the Judges.  His mother gave him his name and in Hebrew it means "pain."  Not the most propitious of beginnings in life.  For whatever reasons Jabez's mother experienced pain during the pregnancy, the birth, or perhaps from abandonment by the child's father.  We just do not know those specifics.  None of this made any difference with young Jabez as he became more honorable than all of his brothers.  He made a name for himself through integrity, through character.  But in those ancient times your name impacted a person's future.  It defined who you were.  Thus, the great impact when these people were told that if they rejected Christ then their name would be erased from out of the Book of Life.  They clearly understood that this meant that they would not exist, they would be dead for all intents and purposes.  Names meant much, much more back then than they do, for instance, in America today.  Jacob and Naomi named their two sons Mahlon and Chilion.  These mean "puny" and "pining."  Neither child lived past early childhood.  Jacob meant "grabber."  Solomon meant "peace,"  and that is what he was, being the first king of Israel to reign without going to war.  So Jabez's name did not give him much to  hope for. 

    Yet Jabez found a way around his name.  He had listened to all of the the teachings about how God Jehovah had freed his forefathers from slavery in Egypt, delivered them from their enemies, and helped them become a land of plenty.  God appeared to be a God of miracles and new beginnings, so why not ask for one for himself?

    Jabez putting "indeed" at the end of his request would be like my using all capital letters on the internet.  He placed very great emphasis upon this request, it was urgent.  Do we place such emphasis or urgency upon our prayer requests to God?  Or do we barely mutter them, no energy involved in speaking them?  Fervent prayer effects much, coming from a righteous man!  That is what God's Word says to me, and I fervently believe it to be absolutely true.

    What must we understand before we can ask God for such a thing?  I think that we have to comprehend what "blessing" means.  Is it really going to mean what we normally do as we bless the food we are about to eat?  Somehow I just don't think so.

    To bless in the Biblical sense means to ask for, or impart, supernatural favor.  We are not asking for more of what we could get for ourselves.  No, we are imploring for the wonderful, unlimited goodness that only God has the power to know about and to give.  Here is the richness that the writer of Proverbs referred to:  "The Lord's blessing is our greatest wealth; all our work adds nothing to it(10:22)." 

    Did Jabez try to coerce God into specifics on what form the blessing was to be in?  No.  He left it entirely up to God to decide what it would be, where, when, and how.  Perhaps that is how we ought to approach prayer.  Perhaps we ought to radically trust in God's good intentions toward us, and shed the old thought process which doubts all authority figures.  Perhaps in this fashion we could gain for ourselves exactly what God intends for us.  This way our thoughts become God's thoughts, eh?

    Here is a guaranteed by-product of sincerely asking God's blessing:  your life will be full of miracles.  How to know that this will happen?  Because God has promised it.  It has happened in my life, it will happen in your life.  "Ask, promised Jesus, and it will be given to you(Matthew 7:7); "You do not have because you do not ask(James 4:2)."  There is no limit to God's goodness, but if we fail to ask Him for a blessing then we do not get allthat we were supposed to have.  We can't ask Him for more than He has to offer us, it is impossible.  So we must remember that each and every time that we fail to ask something of God we guarantee to not have something.  Cause and effect.  Jabez did not fail to ask God for a blessing.  He boldly went where few men choose to go!  Can you hear the Star Trek music, can you?  Boldly go to throne of God, Christ is already there to advocate for you, gain blessings from the living God. 

    That is all for today, beloved.  Next time we shall find out about God's nature to bless.  Come on back, you hear?  If you have any questions give me a holler.  I'll do my best to answer them for you.  I may even tell you that I simply do not know.  May Christ richly bless you today!

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Oct 22nd - 7:10AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    "God often comforts us, not by changing the circumstances of our lives, but by changing our attitude toward them."

                                            ~S. H. B. Masterman

    The word angel, Greek aggelos, means "messenger" and can be applied to a human or divine messenger.  There is an order of spiritual creatures which we can see in the Bible.  I will do a future study exclusively on angels which will educate us as to exactly what and who they are.  At any rate, the angels are called the "host of heaven."  That implies that there are quite a few of them around.  Scripture indicates that their numbers are not diminished or increased in any fashion.  We also know that they have an important role in God's plan, but that Christ is superior to them.


      8: But unto the Son He said, Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever:  a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
     9: You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows(1:8-9).

    These verses are a quotation from Psalm 45:6-7 revealing it as a messianic psalm.  Psalm 45 informs us that One is coming through the line of King David who will rule in righteousness.  According to the writer of Hebrews this One is the Lord Jesus Christ.  Christ has the right to rule in righteousness and God has not given this right to rule all of Creation to any angel.  

    Christ will rule over the entire world with righteousness, but He hates iniquity and thus He shall do away with it.  What can be another entire study is the fact that during His thousand year reign on earth there will be no iniquity, there will be absolute worship of Christ.  Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord.

    In this verse we have God the Father calling God the Son God!  Christ is God manifested in the flesh.  Just as God was veiled to the Hebrews by the clouds of smoke or the pillar of fire in the wilderness, so too, is he veiled in the flesh to everyone in the New Testament.  What are you and I to call Christ?  We are to call Him God.  Jesus Christ is the Lord of lords and the King of kings and one day shall govern over the entire universe, including the angels.  

    That is all for this morning, beloved.  May Christ richly bless you my brothers and sisters!

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Oct 21st - 1:06PM

    PRAYER OF JABEZ



    I invite you to call upon God just as Jabez did long ago.  Let's look into this person and their prayer and discover if there is anything which could transform our lives today. 

    One Dr. Richard Seume once challenged a man that in order to obtain a bigger vision for his life he needed to sign up to be a gimper for God.  Dr. Seume explained that a gimper was someone who always does a little more than what's required or expected. 

    Our text is this:  "Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers:  and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bore him with sorrow.  And Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!  And God granted him that which he requested(I Chronicles 4:9-10)."  Jabez wanted to be more and do more for God.  End of Bible story.  There is no more mention of Jabez.  Jabez requested more from God and God granted his request.  What did this man do torise above the rest?  Why did God choose to answer his prayer?  Why did God choose to include this information in His Word?

    Here is a man, hidden away in the least-read section of the least-read book of the Bible, or at least one of the least-read books of the Bible.  Here, in the first nine chapters of this Book of the Bible are found the genealogy of the Hebrew people.  Boring stuff for so many of us!  Long lists of unfamiliar and difficult to pronounce names, some five hundred or more of them.  No wonder too many of us skip right over this part of God's Word.  But, what do we miss out on by so doing?

    Forty-four names into the boredom something happens.  A story of a man is inserted into this listing of names!  Two verses long, and then we are thrust right back into the roll call of Judah, just as if nothing had ever changed at all.  Two verses!

    Something important must be contained within these two verses otherwise God would not include them for our reading benefit.  All that we can ascertain about Jabez is this:  His mother named him because she had sorrow as she bore him.  He was more honorable than his brothers.  He prayed an unusual prayer, only one sentence long.  Things ended extraordinarily well for him.

    Something about Jabez's prayer, his simple direct request of God, changed his life and left a permanent mark in Israel's history books.  As we look closer at this prayer we notice he made four requests which do not appear to be very big at all.  But upon even closer observation there is to be found a gigantic paradigm shifter that flows opposite to how you and I usually think.

    I ask you, When was the last time God worked through you in such a way that you knew beyond doubt that God had done it?  When was the last time that you saw miracles taking place on a regular basis in your life?  If you are like most, you can't honestly answer those two questions, can you?  How can I even ask for that type of experience?

    I hope that you will reach the point in this study where you will desire to reach for a life that is more honorable for God.  Not intending to imply that you would wish less for others, but that you will accept nothing but God's fullest blessing in your life.  That you would long for that day when you stand before Him and hear, "Well done!"

    That is all for today, beloved.  Come back to join me in this new study.  Let's discover how to transform our lives, and do so together!  May Christ richly bless you my brothers and sisters!

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Oct 20th - 7:13AM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    "Our greatest danger in life is in permitting the urgent things to crowd out the important."

                       ~Charles E. Hummel

    "How completely satisfying to turn from our limitations to a God who has none.  Eternal years lie in His heart.  For Him time does not pass, it remains; and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years.  God never hurries.  There are no deadlines against which He must work.  Only to know this is to quiet our spirits and relax our nerves.  For those out of Christ, time is a devouring beast."

                       ~A. W. Tozer

      6: And again, when He brought in the first begotten into the world, he said, And let all the angels of God worship Him(1:6).


    This verse is a quotation from Psalm 97:7 and Deuteronomy 32:43 in the Septuagint version.  The angels of God are mighty, they are knowledgeable, they are fast, but they all are inferior to Christ.  The angels are Christ's ministers, they are His worshipers.  We also see here a mention of "the first begotten" which specifies time.  God brought Him, the first begotten, into the world.  This implies that Christ came into our world after it's formation during Creation.  Christ as the first begotten of God obviously was not created before anything else was.  Also obviously, "first begotten" does not mean physical birth but refers to a position. 

      7: And of the angels He said, Who makes His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire(1:7).

    Here is a quotation from Psalm 104:4.  The angels are God's ministers.  Paul uses the Old Testament to show that the angels are below Christ Jesus.  This is an important concept to get straight in our minds otherwise we would stray from the truth.  We must not wander away from the fact that there is a living Christ at God's right hand at this exact moment.  We can not know what a day will bring out in our lives.  But Christ knows.  He is at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  Christ is the living God.

    Now angels were very important to the Hebrews.  They were considered as next to the throne of God.  They knew, through the Old Testament, that angels had appeared to many of their descendants and to the prophets of old.  

    Angels may appear to certain individuals, but demons are also out there in the world and will appear to us as angels of light.  When someone thinks that they see Mary the mother of Jesus they have seen a demon who is deliberately deceiving them.  But it is undeniable that angels do appear to us from time to time, otherwise why would we be admonished to be hospitable to strangers?  Study out that concept in regards to angels on your own.

    It must be pointed out that humans never become angels upon their deaths.  God made this universe so that there are visible and invisible things existing in it.  This fact is revealed to us in Colossians 1:16 where we are told that Christ created things invisible and visible.  You and I can't see atoms, but they are there.  They are simply one of many "invisible" things in our universe.  Mankind did not arise from animals, he was created by God.  Yes, we have much in common with the visible animal kingdom on this planet.  But appearances can be quite deceiving, can't they?  It is logical that we have much in common physically with all other lifeforms on earth, we are all carbon based.  

    That is all that I have time for right now, beloved.  May Christ richly bless you all!

    ~Eric


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    Tue, Oct 19th - 7:06AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "Discipline is the soul of an army.  It makes small numbers formidable; procures success to the weak, and esteem to all."

        ~George Washington, Letter of instruction to the Virginia regiments, July 29, 1759

    "You can judge the quality of their faith from the way they behave.  Discipline is an index to doctrine."

                                     ~Tertullian

      4: And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah.

      5: And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley.
     6: And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them:  for you showed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt.  So the Kenites departed from the Amalekites(15:4-6).

    The Kenites were descendants of Moses' father-in-law.  They are referred to in Judges 1:16 and 4:11-17.  Saul showed an act of mercy which no pagan nation of that day would have practiced, it was what God wished to have done.

      7: And Saul struck the Amalekites from Havilah until you come to Shur, that is over against Egypt.
      8: And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
     9: But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them:  but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly(15:7-9).

    Saul had been obedient to God's will in this matter up to this point.  Now we see how he reinvents what God had said to him.  Saul decided that it would be okay to spare the Amalekite king.  Saul decided that it was better to spare the best of the animals and of that which he deemed was good.  He commanded his men to destroy all of that which was worthless and/or wicked.  Sounds good, doesn't it?  The only problem with Saul's choices is that he was not being obedient to God's Word.  God had explicitly told him what he was to do to the Amalekites in order to execute divine judgment upon these people for what they had perpetrated against the Hebrews so long ago.  Saul decided that he knew better than God what was right.  We do the same thing today.  We read what God says in His Word and we change it into what we think it ought to say, or mean.  Especially those parts that offend us, challenge us to change, or condemn our actions/thoughts.  We will choose to believe that Christ is an angel rather than admit to ourselves that He is God, the Eternal Living God.  We will choose to believe that the cost of sin is not the shedding of blood.  We will choose to believe that salvation means that I was born into a Christian home.  We will choose to believe that everyone will end up in heaven and not have to change their behavior to get there.  We will choose to believe that life is just an accidental gathering of chemical compounds, that our universe just accidentally began.  We will choose to believe in angels but not demons.  We will choose to believe that God has limitations, but that man can achieve anything he sets his mind upon to achieve.  We will choose to believe that man is basically good in his heart, even though the evidence each and every day indicates otherwise.  We choose to believe, or not believe, in God.

    That is what Saul did, he did not simply follow what God had told him to do.  He chose to do otherwise.  He was disobedient, and what's worse, Saul was totally unaware of what he was doing wrong.  Because he couldn't see, or understand, why he should do what God had asked of him, he chose to do things differently.  Comprehension of God's plan is not requisite of our obeying Him and simply doing things the way He commands us to do them.  In the doing of them we will end up discovering the "why" of the matter.  

    That is all for today, beloved.  Next time we shall discover how God reacts to this disobedience of King Saul.  I hope that all of you return to continue in this study of I Samuel.  May Christ richly bless you my brothers and sisters in Christ!

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Oct 18th - 8:00PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



      4: Being made so much better than the angels, as he has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they(1:4).

    Jesus Christ is superior to the angels.  This verse refutes the claims of the Jehovah Witnesses and some of the Seventh Day Adventists that Christ is Michael the archangel.  Here it is laid out plain that Christ is much better than the angels and that He has achieved a more excellent name than any of them.  Christ can't be Michael the archangel.  Scripture refutes any such claim.

    Angels were prominent in their ministry to Israel in the Old Testament/Covenant.  The Law was given by angels (Psalm 68:17, Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19).  Cherubim were woven into the fabric composing the veil of the tabernacle and they were fashioned of gold for the mercy seat.  We can read of how Isaiah had a vision of the seraphim.  And in the Book of Revelation we find the angels involved in ministry of judgment during the End Times.  

    We must be rather careful regarding angels.  Their ministry is not directly connected with the church of saints.  The redeemed are children of God, how can an angel provide more for us than God Himself?  The Holy Spirit indwells the redeemed, the power of the living God resides within them, why any need for angelic assistance?  Yes, angels do the bidding of God, yes they even watch over those people who will repent of their sins but have not yet done so.  But we do not have angels which guard us from harm.  

    Perhaps we suffer from this "angel affliction" due to the many paintings from the early church period depicting angels.  The Sistine Chapel is chock full of angels on its ceiling.  Angels may very well be everywhere around us, but they are there doing the will of God, not locked in on watching over us each and every day.  We have to do with a living Savior, beloved.  We need to keep our minds off of angels and center them upon Christ.  Christ is superior to angels.

    "Angel" means a messenger.  Angels worship God and Jesus Christ.  They are created creatures.  In the Old Testament there are occasions where it can be argued that the "pre-incarnate Christ" appeared as "the angel of the Lord."  But in the New Testament Christ becomes a man, and having assumed human form, He does not appear as the Angel of the Lord any longer.  He appears as the God-Man.  

      5: For unto which of the angels said He at any time, You are My Son, this day have I begotten You?  And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son(1:5)?

    Beginning with this verse there are going to be a series of quotations from the Old Testament.  Several of these quotes come from the Psalms.  The Psalms actually give us a more complete picture of Christ than do the Gospels.  

    "You are My Son"  is quoted from Psalm 2:7.  In Acts 13 we find Paul's great sermon at Antioch in which he quoted this exact same verse.  Paul emphasized that this did not refer to Christ's birth in Bethlehem but to His resurrection after the cross.  No angel could save any one from their sins.  No angel is capable of rising from the dead.  No angel could redeem anyone by substituting themselves on the cross for mankind.  Only Jesus Christ was able to do this for mankind.  Christ was begotten from the dead, He was the First fruits of the resurrection.  

    "I will be to Him a Father..."  is a quotation from II Samuel.  This is a promise made to King David when God made the covenant with David.  This promise was fulfilled in Christ.  Here we are confronted with the Son versus Father puzzle.  If we reject the concept of the Godhead/Trinity, we are at a loss to explain this verse.  We must then resort to saying that God is a liar.  However if we hold true to what God teaches within His Word we arrive at the conclusion that the second Person of the Godhead is Christ, that He created everything that was created, and that He came to earth in human form to die to pay the debt for our sins.  God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are the other two Persons of the Godhead and we must never confuse this issue.

    That is all for tonight my friends.  May grace and peace follow you all of your days.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Oct 18th - 7:40AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how he could look up into the heavens and say there is no God."

                                      ~Abraham  Lincoln

    "It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion."

                                       ~Francis Bacon, Essays of Atheism

      1:Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint you to be king over His people, over Israel:  now therefore listen unto the voice of the words of the LORD.

      2: Thus says the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.
     3: Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, and camel and ass(15:1-3).

    Why the extreme measures undertaken in slaying the Amalekites?  The answer to that often put forward question by atheists can be found in the Book of Esther.  Haman, who almost succeeded in destroying the entire Jewish race, was an Amalekite.  God knew the true character of that entire people, which was revealed in their unprovoked and malicious attack upon Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 17:8-16).

    We find here that Samuel reminds Saul once more that he had been anointed to be king over the people and that there had been great expectations placed upon him because of that anointing.  Saul is commanded to listen to what God had to say to him.  

    Samuel is also relaying God's words about remembering that Amalek came against Israel in the wilderness and struck down their people from behind.  Moses gives us more on this event over in Deuteronomy 25:17-19.  God is now wanting Saul to fulfill the promise given to the people in Deuternomy.  Leaving the Amalekites alone would only have allowed them to cause further destruction in the future.  I know that unbelievers claim that this proves God is a murderer and unloving being.  But how can we as mortal, finite, beings fathom the thought process of an eternal, infinite being?  How do we as imperfect, selfish, covetous, beings comprehend a being who is perfect, just, holy, and righteous?  How can we begin to think that we can pass judgment upon God?  

    That is all for today in this study, beloved.  Next time we shall find out how king Saul executed his marching orders given to him by God.  Did he follow them perfectly?  Or did he interpret them according to his own understanding?  I invite you to come back and find out!  May Christ's infinte grace and peace be with you all of this day.

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Oct 16th - 3:58PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "Thou shalt not kill, but need'st not strive officiously to keep alive; 'Thou shalt not steal' - an empty feat when it's more lucrative to cheat."
                                                                     ~Arthur Hugh Clough

      36: And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them.  And they said, Do whatsoever seems good to you.  Then said the priest, Let us draw near unto God.
      37: And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines?  will You deliver them into the hand of Israel?  But He answered him not that day.
     38: And Saul said, Draw you near, all the chief of the people:  and know and see wherein this sin has been this day.
     39: For, as the LORD lives, which saved Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.  But there was not a man among all the people that answered him(14:36-39).

    Isn't it interesting that king Saul is so ready to sentence his own son to death?  This man simply can't see that his oath to the people to not eat any food after having fought in a battle  was wrong.  It would seem that he does not even bother to speak about this with his son to gain some understanding as to why Jonathan chose to eat the honey.  Saul is unwilling to step up and apologize to the people for forcing such an oath upon them at that specific time.  He can't admit that he was wrong.  Saul says someone other than himself has sinned.  There was a goodly segment of his army that knew the truth of the matter.  They stood quietly by.  Saul claims that the reason God will not answer his request is because Jonathan disobeyed him.  The people stood in silence because Saul was their king, whom they had chosen.    What is noteworthy here is that not a single person shouted "Off with Jonathan's head!"  

      40: Then said he unto all Israel, Be you on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side.  And the people said unto Saul, Do what seems good unto you.
     41: Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect lot.  And Saul and Jonathan were taken:  but the people escaped.
     42: And Saul said, Cast lots between me and Jonathan my son.  And Jonathan was taken.
     43: Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what you have done.  And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in my hand, and, lo, I must die(14:40-43).

    Was this something which someone ought to die from?  Should the man who was responsible for the victory over the Philistines be sentenced to death for eating some honey when he did not even know that he wasn't supposed to?  I think that we all would say no, he shouldn't die for something like this.

    44  And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.
     45  And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who has wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he has wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not. 46 Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place(14:44-46).

    Saul was more than willing to kill his own son rather than admit that it was his sin which was the cause of God's silence.  I truly believe that Saul was already jealous of the attention which Jonathan had achieved through his military victories over the Philistines.  Saul obviously believes that all credit and all glory are supposed to belong to the king.  But the army of the people remained rather silent during all of Saul's accusations and threatenings.  Then, when Jonathan's life was actually in danger they voiced their thoughts and feelings on the matter.  Saul then changed his mind and did not pursue the Philistines.

    In all of these events, Saul reveals how he is not a man of God.  God had not selected him to be king over all Israel, the Israelites were the ones who picked him to be their king.  But once Saul screwed up by trespassing into the arena of the priest, once he did that God chose someone else to become a true king over Israel.  Instead of being God's man Saul actually becomes Satan's man.  From this point forward Saul does not obey God, he follows his own schemes and plans.  But that is something which we shall discover as we study this out in coming days.  How Saul's descent from walking with a heart which was after God terminated in demonism and the occult will cause many to pause to and consider a similar path being followed by America.
     

    47:  So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed them. 
    48: And he gathered an host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them. 
    49: Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchishua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal: 
    50: And the name of Saul's wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host was Abner, the son of Ner, Saul's uncle. 
    51: And Kish was the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel. 
    52: And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him(14:47-52).

    Saul reigned through turbulent and unsettled times.  He waged war against everyone.  We learn that Israel and the Philistines waged war continuously against each other.  Saul would see valiant, strong men and immediately would absorb them into serving him exclusively.  King Saul relied exclusively upon the physical skill sets of his army, he had cast aside the power of Jehovah.  This is something which too many of us fall victim to each and every day.  We rely upon what we can figure out, what we can accomplish using our talents and skills.  We ought to be relying upon Christ and what He can do through us.  Our skills are limited but Christ's skills are without any limit.

    That completes chapter fourteen of I Samuel and leads us onward to chapter fifteen where we shall discover Saul's rebellion.  I hope that you return to learn more about the fate of Saul.  I pray that you have the gift of salvation in your heart, that you rely upon Christ to enable you to reach out to those around you and change their lives.

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Oct 15th - 8:35PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high(1:3).

    "Brightness" means the outshining; it means the effulgence.  Our solar system's star gives us a fine example of this.  We can't know the glory of our Sun because we can't look directly at it with our naked eyes; it would blind us.  We know about the sun from what we can observe of its effects upon us and everything around us.  In like fashion we would know very little about God apart from the revelation that God gave to us in His Son.  Jesus Christ is the brightness that we see.  No one has seen God, but we know about Him through Jesus Christ.  

    The Greek charakter translates as "express image" and it would be like a steel engraving.  Our English word character comes from this.  Jesus Christ is the revelation of God, His express image, because He is God.  He is not simply the printed words; He is the steel engraving of God because He is the exact copy.  As the apostle Paul said, "In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."  

    "Upholding all things by the word of His power."  Baby Jesus while He lay in that manger could have spoken the universe out of existence, or any of us.  Jesus created everything, and He sustains everything with His power, His eternal power.  

    How much power does it require to hold the entire universe together?  Mankind has learned about the atom and what holds it together.  If we split it apart lots of energy is released.  Where does all of that power originally come from?  How did that program of holding atomic particles together come into being?  God created it, and gave it purpose.  Christ is the Creator of all things and He is the Preserver of all things.  Our universe is an organized system which would fly apart if not for God's sustaining power being supplied to it.  The universe would break down just like our automobiles and would require repairs, just like our automobiles.  Christ is not passively holding things up, He is actively involved in everything all of the time.  This is why one can look down the very long tunnel of the Big Bang Theory and still find Christ gazing patiently out, wondering what took them so long to get there.

    "When He had by Himself purged our sins."  While sustaining everything that exists Christ still purged our sins, cleansed us.  All at the same time.  There is no purgatory which people must go through, for Christ purged our sins.  Christ paid the penalty for each of us.  The purging was done while He hung upon that cross.  Because of what Christ willingly went through you and I are accepted in the Beloved.  Each person that comes to Christ receives a full redemption and complete forgiveness of sins, there is nothing partial about it.

    "Sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high."  Jesus Christ received a glory and a majesty when He went back to the Father's throne in heaven.  This was something which He had not had while He was here on earth.  There is something in heaven that was not there 2500 years ago.  There is a glory which now has a Man with nail-pierced hands and feet with a spear wound in His side.  These marks are in His glorified body and will allow everyone to properly identify Him when they meet Him one day.  

    Position is mentioned in this verse and it causes many people some confusion.  Some claim that it indicates that Christ is not God for He is tired and must sit down.  Others claim that this means that Christ can't possibly be God for he is sitting beside God's throne. What the phrase "sat down" implies is that when Christ finished redemption He sat down for it was now complete, it was finished.  Here we see what the seventh day of Creation actually meant.  God rested on the seventh day.  There was nothing more for Him to do at that time, it was finished.  

    Our work seems to never be done, does it?  At the end of the day we usually feel that there still are things that ought to get done.  Christ completed redemption of mankind and thus we are complete in Him.  Colossians 2:9-10 tells us, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. And you are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power."  Christ and God must be one and the same for all principality and power dwell in Him and that is the exact same definition of God the Father.    How can God be seated simultaneously on two thrones in heaven?  I do not know, I only know that He is eternal and nothing is impossible with Him.  Just because we can't comprehend how something could be does not negate it from existing in fact.  For a long time no one could comprehend that all of the solid objects in our world are actually mostly empty space, but it is very true nonetheless, is it not?

    Here is something which I think we tend to overlook today in the church:  Christ died down here to save us; now He lives up in heaven to keep us saved.  He has a ministry of intercession up in heaven, a ministry of disciplining His saints.  Christ is still involved in our lives, and He is available to us.

    Beloved, what do you need today?  Do you need mercy?  Grace?  Do you need help with some problems?  Do you need some wisdom?  What ever it may be, you ought to go to Him for it.  Ask Him to intervene in your behalf and He will work it out according to His will.  Buddha can't help you, none of the founders of modern religions can help you.  God can, and will, help you.

    Jesus Christ is alive today and is the One who can help us.  Christ took with Him a glory to heaven, it is that body in which he paid for our sins and obtained redemption for you and me.  He gave Himself; He shed His precious blood that you and I might have eternal life with Him in heaven.

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  I am moving slowly here, I know.  But it is necessary for there is a richness to be discovered in each of these opening verses of Hebrews.  Next we shall find out whether of not Christ is superior to the angels.  Hope to find you back to study God's Word!  Grace and peace be yours.

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Oct 15th - 12:56PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "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. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ

    "A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none; a Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to everyone."

                                           ~Martin Luther

      24:And the men of Israel were distressed that day:  for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eats any food until evening, that I may be avenged on my enemies.  So none of the people tasted any food.

      25: And all they of the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground.

      26: And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth:  for the people feared the oath.

      27: But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath:  wherefore he put out the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened(14:24-27).

    Saul's son did not have any idea that his father had issued this strange oath.  Jonathan was just arriving back from having won the battle against the Philistines.  He's hungry, he sees the honey dripping from the honeycomb, so he reaches out and eats.  Can you hear the audible gasp escaping from the lips of those people within sight of what he is doing? 

      28: Then answered one of the people, and said, Your father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed be the man that eats any food this day.  And the people were faint.

      29: Then said Jonathan, My father has troubled the land:  see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.

      30: How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found?  for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines(14:28-30)?

    Everyone was weary from the long day of impending battle with its tension and stress.  Some of them had pursued the fleeing Philistines and actually fought that day.  They all needed something to eat, something to restore their energy.  Saul preferred to focus upon his personal need to wreak vengeance upon his enemies rather than tend to the needs of his people.  More of his true character is showing through.

     31: And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint.
       32: And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew them on the ground: and the people did eat them with the blood.
       33: Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, You have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day.
       34: And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew them there.
       35: And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD(14:31-35).

    Saul most certainly sounds good in what he says to the people.  But there is an underlying falseness to what he is saying.  Saul even went so far as to erect an altar to God to offer up animal sacrifices.  He had forgotten that God valued obedience far more than sacrifice.  Who had been obedient to God?  Saul or Jonathan?  Saul had transgressed into the office of the priest, Jonathan had obeyed God and trusted in Him.  Saul had issued an ill-advised oath for no one to eat anything after their battle; Jonathan ate to refresh himself after having slain many Philistines that day upon trusting in God.  Next time we shall find out what happens to Jonathan. 

    May grace and peace be yours today, and all throughout this weekend.  May you become a servant to all and be free indeed.

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Oct 14th - 8:59PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    Has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds(1:2).

    God completed His revelation to mankind through Jesus Christ His Son.  This is why once the Book of Revelation closes there is no more from God.  Anything else He might say at this point from heaven would be repetitious.  We shall not hear from God anew until Christ returns to reign for the thousand years leading up to the Great White Throne Judgment.

    "Us" refers to those to whom God had spoken to through the prophets of the Old Testament, the Hebrews.  Since the Father has given His final word in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is the final word for you and me also.  The second Person of the Godhead is before us.  

    "Spoken to us by His Son" points out that Christ is superior to all of the previous prophets because the revelation is filled up in Him.  He fulfills the prophecies written about Him.  He completes the Law.  Through the Apostles we have received the full revelation of God from God.

    "Whom He has appointed heir of all things."  Christ is heir of all things.  So what about John 1:3?  "All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made."  If Creation is His, for He created it, how can He be the heir of all things?  Well, He did come to earth and took upon Himself our humanity.  Adam, the first man, was given dominion over the entire creation.  He was not a gardener, he had rulership.  He got to name everything.  He may have had great control over things, before he sinned and lost it all.  

    When Christ came to this world, He became a man.  He performed miracles.  He had control of the human body and of nature; He could calm storms, He could feed throngs of people, He could raise the dead.  He recovered what Adam seemingly had lost.  Jesus Christ is heir to the rebirth into newness of life.  Once He died, was buried, and rose again, He was born again.  All those who follow after Him as born again saints are His inheritance.  What's more, in Romans 8:16-17 it tells us "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ..."  Joint-heirs does not mean equal heirs.  See, in our world when an inheritance is left to us as joint-heirs in a will, it means that someone else has the control of the inheritance and they manage the estate.  Jesus Christ is the heir, we are the joint-heirs, He is in control, and He may put you or me in charge of a little part of the universe or a big part of the universe.  Christ recovered what Adam had lost, and more.  Christ has made us joint-heirs with Himself.  None of the prophets was ever made such an offer.  Christ is superior to the prophets.

    "By whom also He made the worlds."  The Greek word for "worlds" is aion.  It means "ages" so this goes beyond just being the Creator.  This gives purpose to everything.  Christ is the heir who gives the program for the future. He made all of the ages.  He created everything and He did it for a reason.

    This provides us with this fact:  the Bible makes sense because God had a reason for the things which He did and He has a reason for the things he continues to do.

    The original program was that Adam and Eve live in the Garden and have dominion over it.  One, and only one, condition was laid down.  Do not eat the fruit from a certain tree.  Nothing wrong with the fruit.  It was a test of obedience.  They failed miserably.  One rule, and they couldn't hack it.  The problem there was with the pair of human beings.  It is still with the humans to this day!

    God has a program and purpose in everything and for everything.  Abram was tested to see if he would obey and go in search of a new land to call his own.  Moses was tested and given the Law as a test of mankind.  Today you and I live under grace.  We could not be saved by the Law, it was not given to us in this age, and we couldn't keep it even if we tried.  God can't save us according to our works.  God can save us by perfect works, but we can't achieve perfection on our own.  So our imperfect works fall short of His perfect standard.  God had to save us another way, and it is by grace that we are saved.

    The growing trend in scientific thought today is that our universe is speeding along through time and space without any driver at the wheel.  An interesting analogy, for when a car loses its driver, while speeding along normally there is a wreck.  But our universe has been speeding along for millions upon millions of years without any wreck!  How can that be?  Things are in dependable places in the cosmos and remain there.  The planets in our solar system can be predicted as to where they will be, and they end up being there as predicted!.  It has direction, it has purpose.  It moves in a logical, reasonable way.  God created it, gives it purpose, and sustains it.

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Focus upon the fact that Christ came to us in order to give us the remainder of information which we needed to be saved.  He came and gave us the information we need so that we can live effectual Christian lives.  Grace and peace by yours.

    ~Eric


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    Thu, Oct 14th - 12:43PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "Humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes unacceptable any supernatural or cosmic guarentees of human values."

                                               ~The Humanist Manifesto I

    "As in 1933 (the date of the Humanist Manifesto I) humanists still believe that traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God, assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith.  Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter.  Reasonable minds look to other means for survival."

                                               ~The Humanist Manifesto II

      1: Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bore his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that is on the other side. But he told not his father.
       2: And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which is in Migron: and the people that were with him were about six hundred men;
       3: And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, I-chabod's brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD's priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone.
       4: And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh.
       5: The forefront of the one was situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah.
       6: And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.
       7: And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in your heart: you turn; behold, I am with you according to your heart.
       8: Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.
       9: If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.
       10: But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD has delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us.
       11: And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come from out of the holes where they had hid themselves.
       12: And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armourbearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will show you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armourbearer, Come up after me: for the LORD has delivered them into the hand of Israel.
       13: And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him.
       14: And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armourbearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were an half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow.
       15: And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.
       16: And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another.
       17: Then said Saul unto the people that were with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armourbearer were not there(14:1-17).

    There we have the particulars of how Jonathan and his armorbearer stepped out in complete faith in God and allowed God to work through them.  Two men slew about twenty men.  Perhaps Jonathan originally thought to find out if that narrow pass would be an excellent ambush point against the Philistines.  All we do know here is that the two ended up approaching the Philistine's garrison on the other side of the pass and they killed everyone there.  Meanwhile King Saul was where?  Waiting under a pomegranate tree quite a distance from where Jonathan was.  So what was Saul's reaction here?

     18: And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring here the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel.
       19: And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that was in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw your hand.
       20: And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture.
       21: Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan.
       22: Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle.
       23: So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven(14:18-23).

    First, Saul shouldn't have moved the ark of the covenant down to the field of battle.  This is how they had lost it once before.  God had not directed him to do this, Saul decided all by himself to order its movement to the battlefield. 

    Saul thought that by bringing out the ark he would become triumphant over the Philistines.  Little did he realize that his son had already taken the proper steps in the eyes of God.  Jonathan's strategy won the battle on the human side of things.  God took care of the larger issue of numbers.  This was a miraculous victory for Israel, they did not really have to physically repel the larger Philsitine forces since God took care of that for them.  Saul still isn't getting the message.  Rely upon God, God will be with you no matter the circumstances nor the odds against your success.

    That is all for today my friends.  Next time I shall goon to the next part of Saul's rule where his own son inadvertently disobeys him and what the consequences of that become.  May God bless you and keep you, may you come to understand that which God desires you to do for Him.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Oct 13th - 7:13PM

    STUDY IN HEBREWS



    As we begin this study it is worthy to note that the book of Romans reveals the necessity of the Christian faith while the Book of Hebrews reveals the superiority of the Christian faith.  In this epistle our Lord Jesus Christ is presented in His high priestly office.  We ought to also discover the inherent falsehood in any assertion made that today's professing church is "the true vine."  It is also false to lay claim that the professing church is "the olive tree."  Scripture is quite clear on this matter, Christ Himself is the vine, and the remnant of saints who truly serve Christ are the olive tree.  

    It has long been apparent that the Western church did not truly accept what the book of Hebrews said.  The reason being that the church wished to take over the position of Israel.  They adopted all of the promises God made to Israel and spiritualized them, applying them to themselves and ignoring God's future purposes in nation Israel.  I am not attempting to say that we can't find application in our Christian lives from the promises made by God to Israel.  Those promises can mirror what God promises us and they also provide us with assurance that what God promises He delivers.  This position is what explains why the church became so anti-Semitic and persecuted the Jews.  We must understand that a Hebrew is a Hebrew, and when he becomes a Christian he still remains a Hebrew.  When any of us become saved we do not lose our nationality, it merely brings us into a new family, the family of God which is the Church of Christ.  

    There is much evidence that the apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Hebrews.  The author had been jailed, he wrote from Italy, his companion was Timothy, and the writing is quite similar to Paul's.  It would also appear that Peter identified the author of this letter as being Paul (II Peter 3:15-16).  The time of this letter's writing must be before A.D. 70, as you will discover as we go along in our study.  

    Returning to the thought that this epistle reflects the superiority of Christian faith we find the use of the comparative word better, which happens thirteen times.  It tells us that the Law was good, but that grace, under Christ, is better and that the glory that is coming is going to be the best.  The word perfect happens fifteen times.  This letter to the Hebrews challenges us.  Let us occurs thirteen times, and let occurs five times.  

    Two verses are going to be found by us that convey this "better way."  As we study this letter we are to consider the Lord Jesus Christ.

     God, who at sundry times and in diverse ways spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets(1:1).

    We need to remember that this letter was directed at Hebrew believers who stood at the crossroads of two great dispensations.  The dispensation of Law had just come to an end.  The temple sacrifices which had been so meaningful in all of their lives were rendered meaningless.  What God had previously required had now become sinful for believers to practice.  Meant originally for Hebrew believers of that day, it is very meaningful to you and to me today.  

    The Hebrew believers knew God, and thus the writer begins with God.  Just as in mathematics there are certain "facts" which must be established prior to trying to understand how numbers relate to each other, so it is with Christianity.  The Bible does not spend any time attempting to prove the existence of Jehovah God.  If the Bible does not try do so, why do we?  If the created universe all around us does not inspire belief in an intelligent Creator then there is something seriously wrong with our thinking and perception of reality.  We find the assumption that God exists.

    A second assumption that we find is that God has spoken.  If we hadn't already received a written revelation from Him it would be intelligent for us to wait for such a revelation from Him.  It is logical that an intelligent Creator would get a message through to us.  Just such a message has come through to us in the form of the Bible.  This first verse of Hebrews makes it a fact that the Scriptures are divinely inspired Word of God.  

    "Sundry times" does not speak of time as we think of it.  God spoke to Moses, but not the same way that He spoke to Abraham.  In speaking to Abraham God did not mention anything about the Law.  There were no Ten Commandments and Ordinances for the Tabernacle.  Later on God told King David that there would be coming a King within his lineage who would be a Savior.  When David was an old man God came and told him that that King who was coming would be his Savior.  Moses had been told that they would not have an earthly king for God would be their king.  God gives out His truth as He sees fit, not as we would desire it to be done.  Thus the entire Bible must be read and understood in order to get the complete truth which God has given out to mankind through His Word.

    "Diverse ways" means that God used different means of communicating.  Abraham was visited in dreams, as was Joseph.  Moses was spoken to while he was awake, as was Joshua.  God spoke through dreams, visions, the Law, types, rituals, history, poetry, and through prophecy.  God used very many writers over a very long period of time to communicate His Word to us.  

    God does not waste His time proving that He exists.  If you wish to come to God, you must first believe that God is.  

    "Spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets."  A prophet is one who speaks for God and speaks of things yet to come.  Sometimes those things would come quite soon and other times they would not happen for a very long time.  And yet, with all of the many prophets contained within the Old Testament they could only give us a partial revelation of God.  Something was still missing, a vital piece of the puzzle was lacking.

    That is all for tonight beloved.  I will continue this study tomorrow night with verse two where we shall find what that missing piece to the puzzle is.  May our Lord and Savior bless you with grace and peace!

    ~Eric


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    Wed, Oct 13th - 12:45PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "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."

                                                          ~Paul Little

    "Religions are man's search for God; the Gospel is God's search for man.  There are many religions, but one Gospel."

                                                          ~E. Stanley Jones

    And Samuel arose, and got himself up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin.  And Saul numbered the people that were present with him, about six hundred men.

    And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin:  but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.

    And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies:  one company turned unto the way that lead to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual(13:15-17).

    Fighting is imminent.  Are the people armed, or disarmed?  Today, there are people who are trying determinedly to disarm Americans.  Most of them believe that if guns and ammunition are prohibited and/or destroyed somehow war and killing will be erradicated from our experience.  Some of them believe that if a gun law is passed and honest, law-abiding citizens are disarmed  then murders will disappear.  Why?  The criminals will still get their hands upon guns, they do it illegally, and will continue to do so.  All that gun control laws accomplish is to put honest people at the mercy of the criminals with the guns.  Honest people will be violated repeatedly.  Attempting to eliminate murder from society this way is a simplistic, idealistic, and foolish method of thinking.  People only change from within; change their heart, change the person.  Eliminate guns and people will seek out other means to commit murder, perhaps even more gruesome means than with a gun.

       18And another company turned the way to Beth-horon: and another company turned to the way of the border that looked to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.
       19: Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears:
       20: But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock.
       21: Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads(13:18-21).

    The Israelites had been disarmed by the Philistines, not even a blacksmith remained to manufacture spears and swords.  A sad state of affairs.  But the Israelites were imaginative and took their files and sharpened up the cutting edges on all of their mattocks and other farming implements.  Yes, they had to do this in the sight of the Philistines, but they were still able to sharpen up those implements.  So their enemy knew exactly what they had for "weapons."  Today gun control laws inform criminals of exactly what their victims can have for "weapons."  Criminals are then able to plan accordingly, sound fair to you?  Sound like a workable plan for solving murders and high crime rates across the nation? 

      22: So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan:  but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.

      23: And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash(13:22-23).

    The only men with swords were Saul and Jonathan.  The rest carried sharpened farm implements with which to fight with. 

    That finishes this chapter and brings us to chapter fourteen where Jonathan gains another military victory.  His father, once again, takes credit for it and establishes a habit of jealousy.  Next time we shall follow this developing story to find out what happens to these two men.  I pray that you return tomorrow to study chapter fourteen of I Samuel with me.  Grace and peace be with you this day!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Oct 12th - 1:05PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "Any nation that thinks more of its ease and comfort than its freedom will soon lose its freedom; and the ironical thing about it is that it will lose its ease and comfort too."

                                                                           ~W. Somerset Maugham

    And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him.

    And Samuel said, What have you done?  And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash(13:10-11).

    Oh, the foolishness of impatience!  Saul was unwilling to wait for Samuel.  Saul presumed to do the priestly duties that belonged only to Samuel, because circumstances seemingly were falling apart all around him.  Saul thought that he had three good reasons for not waiting for Samuel (in essence not waiting for God):  (1)  the people were scattering away from him; (2)  the Philistines were coming en masse; and (3)  Samuel was late.  Saul did exactly what so many of us do every day.  He was rationalizing.  He was already laying blame elsewhere. 

    Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD:  I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering(13:12).

    Do you actually believe Saul?  Did it sound to you like he had to force himself into making that burnt offering?  It sure didn't sound like it to me.  Saul was lying to Samuel. 

    And Samuel said to Saul, You have done foolishly:  you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which he commanded you:  for now would the LORD have established your kingdom upon Israel for ever.

    But now your kingdom shall not continue:  the LORD has sought Him a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be captain over His people, because you have not kept that which the LORD commanded you(13:13-14).

    Saul had been told at the beginning that if he obeyed God he would be blessed, but if he disobeyed, there would be judgment.  Even rulers must obey God, or pay the price.  America today needs a ruler who obeys God, a Congress that is ruled by God.  The nations of our world need to be ruled by people who obey God, and not their lusts and/or needs.  What everyone must realize is that this won't happen until Jesus Christ returns to rule upon this earth.  Until that time we are to spread the good news of salvation through the blood of Christ.  When Christ returns the second time He comes to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.  Every knee shall bow before Him and every tongue shall confess that He is God without exception.

    Saul has screwed up royally and God has already chosen another man to become king in his stead.  Samuel doesn't even know who this individual is.  It has not yet been revealed.

    That is all for today, beloved.  I would direct your attention back to today's quote.  I fear that that is the large problem within American society today.  I hope that over the next four to six years it can be changed for the better.  May Christ's grace and peace reign over your soul!

    ~Eric



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    Mon, Oct 11th - 8:08PM

    STUDY IN TITUS



    But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain(3:9).

    Without question, we are to defend the faith.  But we aren't supposed to be doing it by argument or debate.  We can't whip people with our intellectual arguments and then expect them to have changed hearts.  They will not be won for Christ in that fashion.  We are to not argue over the law, over genealogies, or foolish questions.  They are a waste of time and gain us nothing.  Examples of such topics of conversation would be demonism, satanism, vampires, zombies, and Jesus Christ's marital status.  It is more profitable to talk about the Holy Spirit who can come to dwell within your heart and lead you to understand God's Word.  If the Holy Spirit dwells within you then you need fear no demon possessing you for we are told in I John 4:4, "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."  There is no need for us to become sidetracked or distracted by extraneous debates.

    A man that is a heretic after the first and second admonition reject(3:10).

    Believers are told to reject those who refuse to be corrected and wish to oppose the Word of God.  We are to separate ourselves from these people, even though we continue to pray for them to be saved.  

    Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sins, being condemned of himself(3:11).

    The heretic is one who has turned away from following the truth.  They are compromised in their thinking/beliefs and sin.  They are the ones who end up condemning themselves through their words, their thoughts, and their actions.

    When I shall send Artemas unto you, or Tychicus, be diligent to come unto me to Nicopolis:  for I have determined there to winter.

    Bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them.

    And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

    All that are with me salute you. Greet them that love us in the faith.  Grace be with you all.  Amen(3:12-15).

    Paul gives a final reminder to do good works.  He requests diligence of Titus to travel to where he will spend the winter.  Titus was not to dilly-dally, he wasn't to procrastinate, he was to come as quickly as possible.  "Good works" must be learned; what are good works and what aren't.  Paul ends with a word of salutation.  He informs Titus that everyone that is with him give greetings.  This is how we ought to treat each other, giving and accepting of greetings and the offering of grace.

    That completes the book of Titus.  Next time I shall begin studying the book of Hebrews.  I sincerely hope that you will return and join me in this intriguing study.  May grace be with you.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Oct 11th - 12:53PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "He who cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself."

                                                                       ~George Herbert

    "The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity."

                                                                       ~Arthur J. Balfour

    In chapter thirteen of I Samuel, the real nature of Saul slowly begins to show itself.  His son Jonathan got the victory at Michmash, but Saul took credit for it.  Saul presumes to intrude into the priest's office.  On and on it goes.  Let's take a closer look at these events.

    Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

    Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Beth-el, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin:  and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.

    And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it.  And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear.

    And all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and that Israel also was had in abonination with the Philistines.  And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal(13:1-4).

    Here the true character of Saul is showing through.  Only he can have the glory in battle for he is the king.  And he does this theft of recognition to his own son no less.  Did Saul give even a small amount of credit to Jonathan and his men?  None.  Obviously Jonathan was a capable military leader.  How do you think he felt at what his dad did to him?  We fathers need to be well aware of this when we interact with our children today.  In essence, Saul blew his own horn. 

    Wasn't Saul aware of the fact that he was creating an organic weakness within his own army by taking false credit for this victory?  Obviously not.  Don't you think that there segments of the army that would begin to question Saul's leadership?  Sure, it would only be human nature to do so.  As believers, we can't fall victim to this snare whenever we find ourselves in postions of leadership.  We can't take credit for doing something which another actually accomplished instead.  Credit must be given when it is due to another. 

    And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude:  and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Beth-aven.

    When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits(13:5-6).

    The expected reprisals come from the Philstines.  They gathered up everyone they could find and amassed an army to fight against Israel.  The Israelites are scared stiff!  They are running for their lives to hide wherever they can find a place which looks remotely good cover. 

    Now we get to witness how Saul handles this crisis, how he makes his executive decisions.  Does he make choices according to how God has instructed him?  No, he makes his own choices thinking that they are perfectly acceptable.

    And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed:  but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.

    And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings.  And he offered the burnt offering(13:8-9).

    Oh no!  Saul gets impatient and decides that he must do what Samuel normally did.  He does not want to wait on God, he decides that he knows best and acts upon it.  Saul has no clear idea why intruding into the priestly office will be bad, he simply must act to eliminate the fears of his people.  Saul has trespassed into a realm in which he has absolutely no authority to enter.  He has sinned against God.  That new heart which God had blessed him with just a couple of years earlier obviously has reverted to the kind of heart which he had been born with.  Saul was able to rationalize his actions by measuring them against his own standard, not measuring them against God's standard.  We must be sure to not fall into this deadly trap ourselves as we make choices each day.  Saul is to discover that there are consequences to his actions, consequences that are unexpected. 

    Next time, God willing, we shall follow Saul's life and find how this all plays itself out over time.  For one thing, we haven't read what Samuel's reaction to Saul's actions will be, nor have we been informed of what God thinks of all this.  Come back tomorrow, beloved, and find out what the outcome to Saul's trespass will be.  May Christ's grace and peace clothe you this day.

    ~Eric



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    Sun, Oct 10th - 9:43PM

    STUDY IN TITUS



    But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared.

    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost(3:4-5).

    Verse three pictured us as we were before we came to know Christ.  We must understand that becoming a Christian isn't about turning over a new leaf; we will find ourselves writing the same old things on the new leaf that we wrote on the old leaf.  New Year's resolutions don't make us a Christian.  We are not saved based upon works of righteousness, good deeds, that we have done.

    Salvation is not something coming from out of us, it comes to us from God according to His mercy.  Christ died for us and paid the penalty for our sins, God is willing to extend mercy to us; it is according to His mercy that He saved us.  Being infinite in nature, God has infinite mercy to extend to mankind.  Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you have done, God can save you today because Christ died for you.  He paid the sin debt for you.  He brings to you His righteousness.  

    "Washing of regeneration" means total cleansing.  "Washing" comes from the word for laver.  In the Old Testament the laver stood in the court of the tabernacle, later in the Temple, and represented this rite of regeneration.  In Titus this washing is what Jesus spoke about in the third chapter of John:  "...Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God(John 3:5)."  The water represents the Word of God---the Bible will wash you.  The Word of God has a sanctifying power, a cleansing power.  Applying it daily to our minds renews our minds and allows us to become more like Christ as we align our thinking closer, and closer, to His.  The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to assist us in becoming born again and also renews us daily through bringing back into remembrance those passages which we have previously read.

    Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.

    That being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life(3:6-7).

    Everything that God does there is a surplus.  He does exceedingly abundantly above all that we can possibly think or even imagine to ask for.  All of this comes to us through the person of Jesus Christ.  Our justification does not originate from within us, it comes from the grace of God.  Being justified we then have become heirs through our hope of eternal life.  Yes, we are bond servants of Christ, but we are also children of God and heirs with Christ.  There is an inheritance waiting for us.

    This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that you affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.  These things are good and profitable unto men(3:8).

    Our being saved by the grace of God does not exempt us from doing good deeds.  Rather, we are to be very careful to maintain good works.  This is something which must be continually affirmed within the church.  

    You see, after God has saved you, He is going to begin speaking to you about doing some good works that He has lined up for you.  Until you are saved God is not interested in any good works which you might decide to do.  Those works will be tainted by your personal agenda, your personal faults, your personal sins.  So, come to Christ just as you are and God will save you.  Then God will talk to you about producing good works which will please Him.  These good works will touch other peoples' lives and change them for the better since they will come to know Christ also.  You may not come to know how many lives you have touched until you reach heaven and find out the final tally when you meet them there.  

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Next time, God willing, we will discover the things which we are to avoid.  May Christ's grace and peace be with you all!

    ~Eric


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    Sun, Oct 10th - 8:48AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you:  but I will teach you the good and the right way(12:23).

    Many people have the gift of prayer, which they can utilize from the privacy of their home and which no one can prevent them from using.  Samuel heard his countrymen's request and he reassured them that he would pray for them unceasingly.  He also went so far as to tell them that he would also teach them, and to teach them "the good and the right way."  The good and the right way is exactly what Jesus Christ taught everyone while He walked this earth, and now it is what each and every Christian ought to be teaching their children, their spouses, their coworkers, their neighbors, and whoever else is interested.  

    What good is prayer?  It is the means to communicate with God.  It is the means to effect change in someone else's life.  It can't be stopped.  Imprisonment can't prevent it.  Torture can't prevent it.  Verbal harassment can't prevent it.  It is an action which can be done 24/7 and never an audible sound heard to escape the person's lips.  

    Are there people which are in need of our prayers?  Most assuredly!  There are millions upon millions of needy, poverty-stricken people around this globe who are in desperate need of our prayers.  You probably have at least one family member who is in need of your prayers because of health or emotional concerns.  In America, at this time, there are thousands upon thousands of people who have lost their jobs, their savings, their homes, and their sense of self.  All are in need of our prayers even though we may not even know who these people are.  But we need to pray unceasingly for them to come to a saving knowledge of Christ who is able to comfort them and to help them through these hard times.

    Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great tings He has done for you.

    But if you shall still do wickedly, you shall be consumed, both you and your king(12:24-25).

    If you are a sports fan, and have gone to any games, you have a very good idea of how dedicated sports fans can be.  They go to every home game without fail, dress up in their team's colors, and usually identify themselves with one specific player on their team.  They cheer their team on and are despondent when their team stumbles and falls in defeat.  Their hearts are completely engaged in the game, their enthusiasm level is maximum.  Too bad that Christians normally are not so engaged with Christ.  Their enthusiasm level appears many times to be non existent!  We need to begin putting our hearts into our service to Christ, we need to put on our team's colors and get out and cheer our team on!  We need to get pumped up!  

    Samuel stated it very plainly to the Israelites.  "Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart."  That was the bottom line in Samuel's day, and it is the bottom line today, beloved.  For if we continue to act wickedly we shall be consumed, it is a promise from God.  

    That is all for today.  I hope you all return tomorrow to continue this study of I Samuel.  May Christ richly bless you my friends!

    ~Eric


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    Sat, Oct 9th - 7:52PM

    STUDY IN TITUS



    Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work(3:1).

    Right at the outset Paul mentions that the church must have law abiding members.  Believers in Christ are to obey the laws of the land in which they live unless those laws conflict or contradict their duty and relationship to God.

    That forces us to face the question of what do we do when the laws of the land conflict with our duty and relationship to God.  Should a man who is drafted into the military go out to war when his real Christian conviction says to him differently?  In America conscientious objection has been acceptable in the past, but may not be in the future.  He could request assignment to noncombat duties.  It would take courage and conviction to follow through with that sort of decision.  

    Another choice would be to run away in order to avoid the draft.  Making this choice shows disloyalty to your nation, or cowardice.  Neither is acceptable for a Christian.  God commands us to be loyal to our country and government for He has ordained this to be so.  Breaking the law is not an option in this case.  

    The church must therefore teach that its members are to be subject to the governments that are placed over us.  We are to be good citizens.  If we do not agree with the person holding a particular office it does not mean that we disrespect the office.  I may not like the manner in which a police officer cites me for speeding, but I am to respect the uniform, the position which he holds.  He represents that part of our society which is to protect our persons and our property.  His position upholds the laws of our land.  

    Christian men and women are to go out and simply preach and teach the Word of God and allow God to change the hearts of men and women who hear His Word.  This is how society becomes changed for the better, one person at a time from the inside out.  The church is not to get involved in politics.  

    To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men(3:2).

    We are not to malign anyone, there is to be no "bad-mouthing" anyone.  We are not to repeat any gossip or hearsay.  We are not to be rumor mongers, spreading false stories about anyone.  But, if any church member is found to be doing something evil, that person ought to be named.  Paul called out certain individuals who were evil, who loved this world more than they loved Christ.  We are to be gentle in our speech, in our actions, and in our thoughts.  Meekness is not a weakness, it is inner strength which allows us to maintain a balance inside of ourselves through good and bad times.

    For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving diverse lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another(3:3).

    Here the unsaved people are illustrated clearly for us.  We are immediately reminded that we also were this exact same way.  The unsaved are foolish in their beliefs.  They are foolish in what they say.  Disobedience is prominently a trademark of their thoughts and actions.  They think it perfectly alright to break laws, they simply rationalize the ocurrances away.  They are deceived in their thinking of what is truth, what is real, what is factual, and what is purely theoretical.  In their self-deception they become enslaved to diverse lusts thinking that through the seeking for pleasure they will become happy and "find their true selves."  Instead they end up living their lives full of anger, rage, envy, and become hateful towards others.  They discover that they desire what someone else already has, and they must have it for themselves.  Laws become broken in their endeavors to obtain what they desire and they rationalize to themselves that they were entitled to have what they sought.  It becomes a psychological mass of entangled webs of lies and deception which much of the time never are deciphered and straightened out.  The law-breaker simply becomes incarcerated and perhaps sensationalized in the media for the crowd amusement.  The believer in Christ is informed to never forget where he/she came from, to never forget so that they can recognize the same sort of thing in others whom they can minister to.  It is how God uses us to touch other people's lives and help direct them to Christ Jesus who changes lives.

    That is all for today, beloved.  God willing, we shall gather here again and study more of His Word.  Come back to learn more of what God has to say to you!  May you have the grace and peace of Christ Jesus for ever more!

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Oct 8th - 12:33PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "In a broken nest there are few whole eggs."

                                                              ~Chinese Proverb

    "The fine edge of character had been blunted in the Rome of the second century A.D.  The stern face of the traditional father of the family had faded out; instead we see on every hand the flabby face of the son of the house, the eternal spoiled child of society, who has grown accustomed to luxury and lost all sense of discipline. ...Some evaded the duty of maternity for fear of losing their looks.  Some were not content to live their lives by their husband's side."

                                        ~Jerome Carcopino, Daily Life in Ancient Rome

    And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for your servants unto the LORD your God, that we die not; for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king(12:19).

    So these people even realize the error of their doing.  How long they will keep this thought in mind, that remains to be seen.  But they at least were able, for a short time, to see the error in their thinking that having a king to rule over them would make them acceptable to neighboring nations and allow them to live safely amongst the pagans.  Don't we still fall victim to this sort of thinking today, beloved?  Don't we convince ourselves that we are safe from persecution because we live in America?  Do not some Christian groups feel that they are safe and acceptable to the rest of society by becoming wealthy, by accumulating stuff?  We delude ourselves in thinking this way, for God does not intend for us to live this way at all.  We are to depend upon Him for leadership in our lives, in our relationships, in our labors.

    And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not:  you have done all this wickedness:  yet don't turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart(12:20).

    Beloved, we must not allow our past sins and errors in judgment spoil our life today and tomorrow.  No matter who you are or what you may have done, if you will turn to the LORD for salvation and forgiveness, God will accept and abundantly bless you.  Do not listen to your unbelieving friends and associates who tell you that God couldn't possibly forgive you for what you have done.  Listen instead to God, who says that no sin is too great to be forgiven.  God says to come to Him and be forgiven.  Don't allow the past to destroy the future and also ruin the present for you and those around you.  Movement is required of you, move towards God and away from what you have done in the past.

    And don't turn aside:  for then should you go after vain things, which can't profit nor deliver; for they are vain(12:21).

    We are to hold onto God only.  Leave the "stuff" alone.  Too many congregations within the church are experimenting with methods.  We do not need more methods, God has provided exactly what is needed and we need nothing else.  We need to leave off of pursuing vain things which are simply amusements to distract us.  We need to keep our focus upon Christ and His Word.  The Bible needs less defending and more explaining and proclaiming.  The good news needs to be declared, and not questioned.  Believers are to walk the narrow way, turning neither to the right nor to the left.  How else are we to remain close to Christ?  How else are we to renew our minds daily and become more and more like Christ?

    For the LORD will not forsake His people for His great name's sake:  because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people(12:22).

    Now, God made this statement specifically about Israel, however we can also know that it is true for saints of Christ today.  Christ stated clearly that He would never leave nor forsake the believer in His name.  He also stated that believers were His peculiar people.  Thus, God is pleased in that He made us His people through Jesus Christ.  We can find similar language being used in the Book of Hebrews in 13:5. 

    Why did God choose to make the nation Israel?  To find an answer we must look to God and not to people.  Why did God choose to make a new priesthood through Christ?  Look to God and not the people.  Perhaps God chose you, the important thing is that God does the choosing and we are not to listen to the nay sayers.  Rejoice in the fact that He has extended grace to you, be thankful.  Isn't it better to be on the Lord's side?  Isn't it better that He is our Savior?  Upon salvation through Christ we are no longer against God and He is no longer against us.  We are friends.  God wants to help us, to protect us.  God is able to save completely.

    That is all for this warm, sunny Friday afternoon, beloved!  I pray that you all have a blessed weekend.  I hope that you will come back tomorrow and study I Samuel with me.  Grace and peace be yours now and always!

    ~Eric



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    Thu, Oct 7th - 12:42PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "If a thing is old, it is a sign that it was fit to live.  Old families, old customs, old styles survive because they are fit to survive.  The guarentee of continuity is quality.  Submerge the good in a flood of the new, and the good will come back to join the good which the new brings with it.  Old-fashioned hospitality, old-fashioned politeness, old-fashioned honor in business had qualities of survival.  These will come back."

                                                                       ~Anonymous

    But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers(12:15).

    Rebellion has always been in the human heart.  We have a fierce vein of independence which gets us into trouble more often than not.  To zealously seek to be independent of God means that God's hand will be against you.  If people will serve and worship God, then He will bless them abundantly.  Rebel against Him and judgment will result.  What Samuel told the Israelites way back then still holds true today with us.  This is reflected in the quote above to start this post off today. 

    Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.

    Is it not wheat harvest today?  I will call unto the LORD, and He shall send thunder and rain; that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the isght of the LORD, in asking for a king.

    So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day:  and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel(12:16-18).

    It wasn't Elijah who first called up a storm from God.  It would seem that this action is the final "Amen" on Samuel's life as a spokesman for God.  It was a demonstration to all of the people of God's power, and God's response to a godly person.  It didn't require days or weeks before God responded to Samuel's request.  It apparently happened rather quickly, as we will discover next time as we continue on in this chapter.

    May the grace and peace of Christ be with each of you today.  Walk in the light, speak truth, watch out for your adversary, remain in Christ.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Oct 6th - 2:08PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

                                                                                   ~Mark Twain

           And Samuel said unto the people, It is the LORD that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
       7: Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which He did to you and to your fathers.
       8: When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.
       9: And when they forgot the LORD their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
       10: And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.
       11: And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you dwelled safe.
       12: And when you saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, you said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.
       13: Now therefore behold the king whom you have chosen, and whom you have desired! and, behold, the LORD has set a king over you(12:6-13).

    Samuel reminds all of the people how God has helped them in past times.  He also reviews their present state of affairs.  He takes pains to drive home the point that the people have chosen Saul as their king.  The voice of the majority of the people does not mean that the choice of the people is therefore the voice of God in the matter.  Usually the minority is closer to determining the will of God.  God had already chosen David, the people chose Saul, as the first king of Israel.  What a huge difference between the choices of the people versus that of God! 


    If you will fear the LORD, and serve Him, and obey His voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both you and also the king that reigns over you continue following the LORD your God(12:14).

    God never outright rejects people's choices, He always gives opportunity for them to not rebel against Him.  God gave Saul opportunity to serve Him and to follow Him.  God gives each of us today ample opportunity to follow and serve Him as well.  I pray that I never make the choices that King Saul eventually began to make.  I never want to go there.  I wish to fear God, serve Him, obey His voice and not rebel against Him so that I may continue following Him all the days of my life.

    That is all for today, beloved.  God willing, we shall meet here again tomorrow and continue studying this chapter in I Samuel.  I hope you will decide to join me as continue studying King Saul's reign over Israel.

    ~Eric



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    Wed, Oct 6th - 6:53AM

    STUDY IN TITUS



    Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world(2:12).

    God doesn't wish to reform this current world.  He is redeeming people who accept Christ Jesus.  The gospel doesn't appeal to Christ-rejecting people to try and do better, or to attempt to turn over a new leaf.  People who have rejected Christ must try and get all that they can out of this present world, for it is all that they have.  God does not try and educate mankind to the dangers of rejecting Christ, He simply asks mankind to accept Christ, and live eternally.  God does not seek to reform you; He desires to redeem you.

    This verse begins where the previous verse left off.  Christ is the grace of God, who came bringing salvation for all who believe and He also teaches us that as we reject ungodliness and lusts we ought to then live in certain ways.  These ways are to be done soberly, righteously, and godly.  Believers are to to live their lives for God and to avoid "worldly lusts and ungodliness."

    Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ(2:13).

    Here is the next event in God's program for mankind:  Christ Jesus coming to take His church out of this world.  This verse reveals for us Paul's teaching of Jesus's deity.  Our hope is the coming glorious appearing of Christ, who is the great God, the Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  There is no other god before Him, there will be no other god after Him.  This is the Alpha and the Omega, the firstfruits of the new born, the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Here is why I can sing a new song each and every morning. My Lord and my God is coming back!  He has not forgotten me here on earth!  He knows exactly where I am and what I am doing!  He shall return to bring me home to where He is!  There is my blessed hope.  Is it yours also?

    Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works(2:14).

    And here we find the love of God toward all mankind.  Before any of us were even close to being worthy of His love, God gave Himself for us.  While we were only thinkinng of how much we could gain for ourselves at anyone else's expense, God only wanted to redeem us from our slavery to sin.  God desired to break apart our bondage to living only for ourselves, satisfying only ourselves.  In redeeming man God seeks to purify a peculiar people to serve Him, people who eagerly seek to do good works that reflect God's will.  Since God paid a price to redeem us, we are no longer "owners" of ourselves.  We are purchased goods.  "Peculiar" does not translate into being weird, or freaky.  It means these people have separated themselves from the rest of mankind and have dedicated themselves to doing things God's way, doing things to please God.  The good works come after you are redeemed by God from your previous way of life.  Here is why it is possible for prostitutes to become Christians, or serial killers, or child molesters.  God redeems man from the cesspool of carnal living and places man upon a higher plane of existence serving Him.

    These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.  Let no man despise you(2:15).

    Believers are not to allow anyone to despise them because of their choice to live godly lives.  They are to teach all of these things found in the New Testament boldly, exhorting and rebuking with authority.  The saints of Christ are not supposed to be wimpy teachers of the Truth.  We are to stand tall and speak clearly, and firmly, the Word of God to all who are willing to listen.  We are not to waste our time on those who utterly reject God's Word; we are to kick the dust off of our shoes and move on to the next person as is illustrated in the Bible.  However, we surely can continue to pray regularly for those who reject Christ and ask God to work in their hearts and draw them to His Son in order to be redeemed.  Prayer can't be prevented by anyone, so practice it daily!

    That finishes chapter two of Titus.  Next time I shall begin chapter three whose theme concerns the church doing good works.  We have discovered so far in this letter to Titus that God wants the church to be an orderly, organized, association of believers.  God wants the church to be sound in its doctrine.  Now we are to learn the church is to do good works.

    Until we meet here again, may God richly bless you and keep you.  May God watch over you and me until we meet one day in heaven.  What a day that will be!

    ~Eric



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    Tue, Oct 5th - 12:24PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "The most terrible thing about materialism, even more terrible than its proneness to violence, is its boredom, from which sex, alcohol, drugs, all devices for putting out the accusing light of reason and suppressing the unrealizable aspirations of love, offer a prospect of deliverance."

                                                                    ~Malcolm Muggeridge

    And now, behold, the king walks before you:  and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you:  and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day(12:2).

    Samuel grew up living inside of the tabernacle of God.  He was always in public view.  All of the people knew what sort of person Samuel was for they had been able to watch him grow up.  Today, we find men and women entering public life as they seek public office.  The vast percentage of us never get the facts concerning their past lives, what they have done before they ever step forward to run for public office.  Too many times people simply accept them at face value and elect them into office.  Too many times, of late, the elected official's past deeds finally catch up with them.  The hero becomes the goat.  This was not the case with Samuel, everyone knew him very, very, well.  But all was not well in this picture.  The people knew Samuel, but they also knew his sons just as well.  They did not accept them to lead them in the future, they desired to have a king to rule them instead of God.  Were there certain character flaws in his sons?  We do not know here.  Let us continue studying.

    Behold, here I am:  witness against me before the LORD, and before His anointed:  whose ox have I taken?  or whose ass have I taken?  or whom have I defrauded?  whom have I oppressed?  or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind my eyes with it?  and I will restore it to you(12:3).

    What a bold statement to be made out in public!  Samuel was extremely confident that over his entire lifetime in serving God he had never taken any bribes, he had never used his position to get wealthy.  He had always resisted the temptation.  Samuel was an outstanding man of God.  Nobody that day stood forward to accuse him of taking anything in ill-gain from anybody.  It is too bad that we can't say this of all of our congressmen and women.  Perhaps, if it were so today, we would not find ourselves with a federal government which is teetering on bankruptcy.

    And they said, You have not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither have you taken ought of any man's hand.

    And he said unto them, The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness(12:4-5).

    All of the people confirm that Samuel has lived a clean life before all of them.  He can withstand the scrutiny of the spotlight, there are no skeletons in his closet.  He has no hidden mistress, no substance abuse issues lurking in the background.  Samuel invokes God and Saul as witnesses before the people and the people agree in unison. 

    That is all for today, beloved.  Samuel stands in stark contrast to those who live in the public eye in our day.  Samuel was a man with character, integrity, truth, passion, compassion, and love of God.  Not one person could honestly stand up and accuse him of any wrong-doing. It would be ever so nice if that could be the rule today with our elected officials at all levels of government.  We the people, we need to do our job much, much, better.  Starting this year we the people must learn all that we can about those running for office and are seeking our vote.  We must not simply accept the bytes thrown at us by the media as being the truth.  We must seek out the facts in order to view the true person.  Then we may discover who we shall decide to vote for.  As always, the choice is ours to make.  I just hope that "we the people" begin to make wise choices when we choose to vote.

    I hope and pray that you return to follow along with this study in I Samuel for there are some basic principles that all of us need to become aware of, and live our lives by, coming up in this book.  I hope that the grace and peace of Christ be with you this day!

    ~Eric 



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    Mon, Oct 4th - 8:05PM

    STUDY IN TITUS



    Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you(2:8).

    Paul tells Titus to teach the young men to practice sound speech in order to take all condemnation away from the unbelievers.  If no opening is given, no accusations can be brought forward which have legitimacy.  Our conversation today ought to reveal the fact that we are children of God and that we love the brethren.

    Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again(2:9).

    Here is another group of people being addressed.  Servants are expected to serve obediently.  In the early church there were very many servants, and slaves.  It is estimated that 90% of the names appearing on the walls of the catacombs are those of slaves or ex-slaves.  The gospel met the needs of that segment of society in that particular day.  What segment of our society will the gospel meet the needs of today, and tomorrow?  

    The thought behind obedience  is that they were to respond to their masters as if it were Jesus Christ Himself as being their master.  In all that they were asked to do they were to do well.  They were expected to give it their best effort each and every day, not arguing, nor complaining about what they were told to do.  Are we like that today?  Do we comply with our employers' requests?  Or do we complain, drag our heels in completing tasks, or simply refuse to do what we are asked to do?  As Christians we can't do any of those things, for if we do, we are doing so to Christ Himself.  Christian work can be done anywhere, working for anybody.  This is possible for we are to do everything "as unto the Lord."

    Not purloining, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things(2:10).

    Purloining is stealing.  Businesses lose millions and millions of dollars each year because employees steal from them.  Christians ought not to be thiefs.  Believers in Christ are to be faithful employees.  Adorn in Greek gives us our English word "cosmetics."  So we are to apply plenty of God's doctrine to ourselves.  We ought to have a kind tongue, be sincere, and be real in our love of others.

    For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men(2:11).

    Paul states the gospel, putting a foundation under these people.  We are soon to find Paul stating this gospel in basically three tenses.  Here in this verse is the past tense for Christ has already appeared and brought salvation to all mankind.  

    The grace of God is how God saves us.  The gospel is good news and it is also the power of God unto salvation.  Paul is instructing Titus to demand of the Cretans that they live lives that show the gospel.  That is where to find the power of God, within the gospel.  Christians have no excuse for living lives of defeat and failure when they have access to the power of God, the same power that raised Christ Jesus from the grave.

    Once again I will repeat these distinctions.  God does not save us by His love, and He doesn't save us by His mercy.  "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)."  Mercy is the compassion of God that moved Him to send a Savior to mankind to deliver them from the power of sin.  If one man could be saved by the mercy of God, all mankind would be saved.  It would not have been necessary for Christ to die on the cross.  God loves mankind but He didn't save any of us by His love.  Love is the divine motive, but God is not only love.  He is righteous and holy and just.  The holy demands of God, His just claims, and His righteous standard had to be met completely.  The immutable law of justice makes love powerless to save.  Therefore, Christ, by dying for our sins, met the holy demands of god's justice, and He can now save us by grace.  While we were still guilty, Christ paid the penalty.  Grace is not complicated or implicated with human efforts.  God does not ask for your cooperation, neither does He require it.  God doesn't ask for your conduct or your character in order to save you.  He only asks us to believe Him, to trust Him, and to accept Christ.  This is the only way to salvation and eternal life.

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  May the grace and peace of Christ Jesus be with you all.

    ~Eric


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    Mon, Oct 4th - 8:08AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    "On one occasion Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, the agnostic lecturer of the last century, was announced to give an address on hell.  He declared he would prove conclusively that hell was a wild dream of some scheming theologians who invented it to terrify credulous people.  As he was launching into his subject, a half-drunken man arose in the audience and exclaimed, "Make it strong, Bob.  There's a lot of us poor fellows depending on you.  If you are wrong, we are all lost.  So be sure you can prove it clear and plain."

    No amount of reasoning can nullify God's sure Word.  He has spoken as plainly of a hell for the finally impenitent as of a heaven for those who are saved."

                                                                                  ~George Sweeting

    And the people said unto Samuel, Who is he that said, Shall Saul reign over us?  bring the men, that we may put them to death(11:12).

    Suddenly, people are recalling that there were a few who questioned the wisdom of making Saul king over them.  Now they are willing to gather them up and kill them. 

    And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day:  for today the LORD has wrought salvation in Israel.

    Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom therAnd all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly(11:13-15).

    Saul impressed everyone with his leadership against the invading Ammonites and now they confirm him as their king.  It would be quite easy to begin thinking that Saul was the perfect choice to become king over Israel.  He made great choices against those mean Ammonites, right?  Well, Saul is certainly starting out a great ball of fire.  How does his life story end however. 

    Now we begin chapter twelve and we shall find Samuel being slowly replaced by King Saul as the leader of Israel.  Authority is transferred from the prophet-priest to the king.

    And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that you said unto me, and have made a king over you(12:1).

    This basically is the last speech of Samuel.  He was an outstanding man of God, but now has been succeeded by King Saul.  Israel chose a king rather than God to rule them, to lead them.  God would still continue to bless the people if they obeyed His laws and statutes.  Saul was their king, God would give the man every opportunity to walk a life of serving Him.

    That is all for today, beloved.  Hopefully tomorrow I will continue this study so that we all can discover just how King Saul carries out his reign from upon the throne of Israel.  Until then, may manifold blessings come your way as you serve Christ, our Lord and Savior!

    ~Eric



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    Sat, Oct 2nd - 9:05AM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



    Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people:  and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept.

    And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What ails the people that they weep?  And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh.

    And the spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly.

    And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them into pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever does not come out after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen.  And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent(11:4-7).

    Some things to note in this passage: Saul is thinking God's way at this time.  Saul is still within the will of God in his actions.  Another thing is that Saul identifies himself with Samuel.  He is not going it alone, or his way.  Lastly, the people came in support due to two fears:  that of what Saul might do, and fear of what the Ammonites threatened to do to them.  The take away here is that the "fear of the LORD" fell upon the people and they responded in kind.  Obviously the fear of God does not force people to turn tail and run away from Him, rather, they are drawn to Him for they respect what He is capable of doing.

    And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.

    And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall you say unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, To morrow, by that time the sun be hot, you shall have help. And the messengers came and showed it to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad.

    Therefore the men of Jabesh said, To morrow we will come out unto you, and you shall do with us all that seems good unto you.

    And it was so on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together(11:8-11).

    So Saul takes a head count and finds that he has an army of 330,000 men.  He splits them up into three groups and proceeds to engage the Ammonites in battle.  I am under the impression that Saul surprised them and that aided in the ensuing slaughter of the Ammonites.  How massive a defeat was this for the Ammonites?  No two men remained together, the survivors ran away separately in different directions.  

    After reading this passage I an saddened by the fact that Saul did not continue walking with God his entire life.  Immense victories were not factual proof, in Saul's mind,  of God's power and authority over all creation.  The military victories became translated into proof that Saul was the originator of those successes.  

    Anyway, next time we shall find that the peoples' opinion of Saul changes drastically after this battle with the Ammonites.  Isn't it amazing how much success affects other people's perceptions of someone's qualifications to hold a leadership position?  Rather than seriously checking out the person's character people too often choose those to lead who have shown the ability to "get things done."  Shouldn't we find out how those people get things done?  Perhaps their methods leave undesirable side effects which cause even more problems.  

    May Christ bless you with grace, peace, and love today!

    ~Eric



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    Fri, Oct 1st - 6:41PM

    STUDY IN TITUS



    That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

    To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed(2:4-5).

    For a couple of decades at least women in America have been hammered into accepting the idea that they aren't to love their children and their husbands as much as women in ages past.  That is too confining to the concept of women being liberated and free.  The problem behind this type of thinking is that women are to then be liberated totally from any roles in society.  It confuses our sense of family, of mothers, and of what to expect from women in the workplace.  Not all aspects of having women out in the workplace are negative, far from it.  But thought was not given to how women were to react to the stresses of the workplace.  Or how would this giving of equality work itself out at home.  Or how families would react to mothers not being in the home for 8-10 hours five days per week.  Children have been left out to dry, left to fend for themselves emotionally.  How did we decide to fix that problem?  We have labored to give our children equality as well.  Wonder why American society suffers from so many problems?  Try pondering the long term impacts socially of two parent wage-earners and single mother households.  No parent around for long stretches of time, leaving the children in other adults' hands or left on  their own totally.  Women arrive home stressed out from work and then must deal somehow with their families.  It is asking much from our women, perhaps too much.  It also asks much from our children, evidently way too much.

    Then we are informed here in verse 5 that the older women are to be discreet.  This word means having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially speech.  The older women are to be teaching this to the younger women. Chaste means innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse; pure in thought and act; to be modest.  Does this sound like the way our young women are being raised and especially taught in our public school systems today?  The elder women are again to be teaching the younger women to be chaste.  

    Mothers ought to be staying at home in order to work there.  There is much for them to do there, simply read Proverbs 31 and it is clear how much work there is that they can do.  And all of it would be beneficial to their families and to themselves.  We also find in verse 5 what has caused the women's liberation movement so much anger and even hatred of God.  Wives are to be obedient to their husbands.  This is unacceptable to liberation of women, for they interpret it to mean that husbands can order their wives around to do whatever they feel like having them do.  It is not so, a simple reading of the New Testament refutes their claims of male tyranny within Christianity.  Of course, it does not help at all to have men who misread this verse, and others, to go out and abuse their wives and children while talking about how much they serve Christ.  In fact, they do not even have to abuse their spouses or children.  All they have to do is act as if they are king of their little kingdom and what they decide is all that is important.  Do that and the damage is already done.

    Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded.

    In all things showing yourself a pattern of good works:  in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity(2:6-7).

    Paul addresses young men.  I get the impression that Titus was expected to begin teaching the young men.  The end result was for these young men to show a pattern, a trend, of good works.  The doctrine which they were to follow in was to produce in them purity, gravity, and sincerity.  They were to be men who did not dissemble, did not become drunk with alcohol, or engage in gossiping and name-calling.  The young men were to show their total faith in the Word of God.

    That is all for tonight, beloved.  Next time I shall continue with this line of thought and then get into verses which show us that the church must preach the grace of God to all peoples.  May you find your life filled to overflowing with the grace, peace, and love of Christ our Lord and Savior!

    ~Eric


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    Fri, Oct 1st - 12:39PM

    I SAMUEL STUDY



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

                                                          ~John F. Kennedy, Message to Congress, January 30, 1962

    How prophetic were President Kennedy's words back in 1962?  How healthy and vibrant are the largest of our cities today?  How successfully have we eliminated juvenile delinquency and crime in the inner core of our large cities?  It speaks volumes of how utterly lost, as a nation, we have become over the past fifty years.

    And they ran and brought him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.

    And Samuel said to all the people, See him whom the LORD has chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.

    Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house.

    And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.

    But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace(10:23-27).

    Here we find a very familair phrase, "God save the king!"  The English still utter this phrase today.  Samuel finally points out to all of the people that here is the man chosen by God to be their first king, just as they had requested.  Then Samuel told them all about the type of kingdom they would have, wrote it down in a manuscript, and presented it to the LORD within the tabernacle.  Samuel then dispersed the crowd, told them to return to their homes.  Saul went to his home as well, but the people who did not believe nor listen to God began to mumble and gripe about this choice for king.  Isn't this the tendency today?  Someone becomes leader and there is always a small group who whisper doubts and/or think that one of them ought to be the leader instead.  Rather than offer their full support to the leader they will drag their heels in whatever they are assigned to do, and will help to make all efforts become a failure. 

    Now we move slightly ahead in time as we begin chapter 11.  The enemies of Israel make plans to attack and begin to flex their muscles.

    Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabesh-gilead:  and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve you,

    And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenent with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.

    And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days' respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel:  and then, if there be no man to save us, we will come out to you(11:1-3).

    The men of Jabesh have been placed between a rock and a hard place.  Nahash wishes to humiliate Israel.  He wants to make a distinct statement which no one else can misinterpret.  The people of Jabesh-gilead needed deliverance, they needed a leader.  Next time we shall find out what happened when these messengers reached Saul's home.  God willing, we shall meet here once more to open up His Word and to study it and apply it to our lives.

    ~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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