A heavenly flag????

Everyone has been exposed the Olympics during the past week.  Its on all the TV channels and every newscast has something about it!!!  So, when I saw this picture, it reminded me of the American flag; something I have seen a lot of at the Olympics.  Its nice to see America get credit for something; even if it is only something as fleeting as a race. However, I believe its proper to give credit where it is deserved; every one of those Olympic contestants deserves to be there... they all represent their COUNTRIES!!!  Every one has trained for this, most of them for years!!!  These games may be a glorious spectacle, but more magnificent will be the time we spend in heaven because we exercised spiritual discipline in the here and now.  Here are a couple of passages that relate...

2 Timothy, Chapter 4
8 For bodily exercise has some value, but godliness has value in all things, having the promise of the life which is now, and of that which is to come.

1 Corinthians, Chapter 9
24 Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win.  25 Every man who strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible.  26 I therefore run like that, as not uncertainly. I fight like that, as not beating the air, 27 but I beat my body and bring it into submission, lest by any means, after I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected.

2 Timothy, Chapter 4
6 For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure has come.  7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.  8 From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing.  

The Olympic games are not a modern invention; athletes have been competing for over 2000 years.  Now, instead of just one nation competing within itself for a "crown " of honor, we have many nations vying for a gold medal worth about $25,000.  Imagine how much it must mean to win one of those gold "wonders"? Shift gears for a moment and consider the spiritual "games" we are in.  We have to endure the temptations and trials of sin and often ridicule and disapproval from unbelievers.  But, it will all be worth it when we receive the crown of righteousness when we enter heaven.  As beautiful as the American flag is, it is nothing compared to spending eternity with God in heaven.  Humm, I wonder if there will be a flag waving over our eternal home????

Aug. 4 Ezra 1-3

Aug. 4
Ezra 1-3

Ezr 1:1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Yahweh stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,
Ezr 1:2 Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth has Yahweh, the God of heaven, given me; and he has commanded me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah.
Ezr 1:3 Whoever there is among you of all his people, his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of Yahweh, the God of Israel (he is God), which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 1:4 Whoever is left, in any place where he sojourns, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with animals, besides the freewill offering for the house of God which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 1:5 Then rose up the heads of fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, even all whose spirit God had stirred to go up to build the house of Yahweh which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 1:6 All those who were around them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with animals, and with precious things, besides all that was willingly offered.
Ezr 1:7 Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of Yahweh, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put in the house of his gods;
Ezr 1:8 even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them to Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
Ezr 1:9 This is the number of them: thirty platters of gold, one thousand platters of silver, twenty-nine knives,
Ezr 1:10 thirty bowls of gold, silver bowls of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels one thousand.
Ezr 1:11 All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up, when they of the captivity were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem.

Ezr 2:1 Now these are the children of the province, who went up out of the captivity of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his city;
Ezr 2:2 who came with Zerubbabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mispar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:
Ezr 2:3 The children of Parosh, two thousand one hundred seventy-two.
Ezr 2:4 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy-two.
Ezr 2:5 The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy-five.
Ezr 2:6 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred twelve.
Ezr 2:7 The children of Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four.
Ezr 2:8 The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty-five.
Ezr 2:9 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred sixty.
Ezr 2:10 The children of Bani, six hundred forty-two.
Ezr 2:11 The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty-three.
Ezr 2:12 The children of Azgad, one thousand two hundred twenty-two.
Ezr 2:13 The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty-six.
Ezr 2:14 The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty-six.
Ezr 2:15 The children of Adin, four hundred fifty-four.
Ezr 2:16 The children of Ater, of Hezekiah, ninety-eight.
Ezr 2:17 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty-three.
Ezr 2:18 The children of Jorah, one hundred twelve.
Ezr 2:19 The children of Hashum, two hundred Twenty-three.
Ezr 2:20 The children of Gibbar, ninety-five.
Ezr 2:21 The children of Bethlehem, one hundred twenty-three.
Ezr 2:22 The men of Netophah, fifty-six.
Ezr 2:23 The men of Anathoth, one hundred twenty-eight.
Ezr 2:24 The children of Azmaveth, forty-two.
Ezr 2:25 The children of Kiriath Arim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred forty-three.
Ezr 2:26 The children of Ramah and Geba, six hundred twenty-one.
Ezr 2:27 The men of Michmas, one hundred twenty-two.
Ezr 2:28 The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty-three.
Ezr 2:29 The children of Nebo, fifty-two.
Ezr 2:30 The children of Magbish, one hundred fifty-six.
Ezr 2:31 The children of the other Elam, one thousand two hundred fifty-four.
Ezr 2:32 The children of Harim, three hundred twenty.
Ezr 2:33 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty-five.
Ezr 2:34 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty-five.
Ezr 2:35 The children of Senaah, three thousand six hundred thirty.
Ezr 2:36 The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy-three.
Ezr 2:37 The children of Immer, one thousand fifty-two.
Ezr 2:38 The children of Pashhur, one thousand two hundred forty-seven.
Ezr 2:39 The children of Harim, one thousand seventeen.
Ezr 2:40 The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy-four.
Ezr 2:41 The singers: the children of Asaph, one hundred twenty-eight.
Ezr 2:42 The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all one hundred thirty-nine.
Ezr 2:43 The Nethinim: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,
Ezr 2:44 the children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon,
Ezr 2:45 the children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub,
Ezr 2:46 the children of Hagab, the children of Shamlai, the children of Hanan,
Ezr 2:47 the children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah,
Ezr 2:48 the children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam,
Ezr 2:49 the children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai,
Ezr 2:50 the children of Asnah, the children of Meunim, the children of Nephisim,
Ezr 2:51 the children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,
Ezr 2:52 the children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,
Ezr 2:53 the children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Temah,
Ezr 2:54 the children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.
Ezr 2:55 The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Hassophereth, the children of Peruda,
Ezr 2:56 the children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,
Ezr 2:57 the children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth Hazzebaim, the children of Ami.
Ezr 2:58 All the Nethinim, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety-two.
Ezr 2:59 These were those who went up from Tel Melah, Tel Harsha, Cherub, Addan, and Immer; but they could not show their fathers' houses, and their seed, whether they were of Israel:
Ezr 2:60 the children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty-two.
Ezr 2:61 Of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Hakkoz, the children of Barzillai, who took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name.
Ezr 2:62 These sought their register among those who were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they deemed polluted and put from the priesthood.
Ezr 2:63 The governor said to them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, until there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.
Ezr 2:64 The whole assembly together was forty-two thousand three hundred sixty,
Ezr 2:65 besides their male servants and their female servants, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty-seven: and they had two hundred singing men and singing women.
Ezr 2:66 Their horses were seven hundred thirty-six; their mules, two hundred forty-five;
Ezr 2:67 their camels, four hundred thirty-five; their donkeys, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.
Ezr 2:68 Some of the heads of fathers' houses, when they came to the house of Yahweh which is in Jerusalem, offered willingly for the house of God to set it up in its place:
Ezr 2:69 they gave after their ability into the treasury of the work sixty-one thousand darics of gold, and five thousand minas of silver, and one hundred priests' garments.
Ezr 2:70 So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, lived in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.

Ezr 3:1 When the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.
Ezr 3:2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brothers the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brothers, and built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.
Ezr 3:3 They set the altar on its base; for fear was on them because of the peoples of the countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon to Yahweh, even burnt offerings morning and evening.
Ezr 3:4 They kept the feast of tents, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the ordinance, as the duty of every day required;
Ezr 3:5 and afterward the continual burnt offering, and the offerings of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of Yahweh that were consecrated, and of everyone who willingly offered a freewill offering to Yahweh.
Ezr 3:6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings to Yahweh: but the foundation of the temple of Yahweh was not yet laid.
Ezr 3:7 They gave money also to the masons, and to the carpenters; and food, and drink, and oil, to them of Sidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea, to Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
Ezr 3:8 Now in the second year of their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the rest of their brothers the priests and the Levites, and all those who were come out of the captivity to Jerusalem, and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to have the oversight of the work of the house of Yahweh.
Ezr 3:9 Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brothers, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to have the oversight of the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brothers the Levites.
Ezr 3:10 When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Yahweh, they set the priests in their clothing with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise Yahweh, after the order of David king of Israel.
Ezr 3:11 They sang one to another in praising and giving thanks to Yahweh, saying, For he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever toward Israel. All the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised Yahweh, because the foundation of the house of Yahweh was laid.
Ezr 3:12 But many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' houses, the old men who had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:
Ezr 3:13 so that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people; for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.

"THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS" Chapter Two by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS"

                              Chapter Two


1) To understand why Paul would refuse to circumcise Titus (but then 
   had Timothy circumcised later, as recorded in Acts 16:1-3)

2) To appreciate why it was necessary for Paul to rebuke Peter to his 

3) To understand why if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ's 
   death was in vain


As Paul continues defending his apostleship, he describes a meeting in
Jerusalem fourteen years after the one with Peter related in chapter 
one.  It was prompted by a revelation, and Barnabas and Titus went with
him to meet "those who were of reputation".  The meeting was private, 
but some false brethren were secretly brought in who sought to demand 
that Titus, a Gentile, be circumcised.  Paul refused, viewing it as an 
effort to bring them back into bondage from which Christ set them free 

The result of the meeting was that "those who seemed to be something" 
added nothing to Paul.  In fact, once they saw that the gospel of the 
uncircumcised had been given to him just as the gospel of the 
circumcised had been given to Peter, and once James, Cephas, and John  
perceived the grace that had been given to Paul, he was extended the 
right hand of fellowship.  They only asked that Paul be mindful of the
poor, something he was very eager to do (6-10).

The rest of the chapter describes a confrontation in Antioch between 
Peter and Paul.  Peter, who was visiting, at first was willing to eat 
with the Gentiles; but when some came from James, out of fear he 
withdrew himself.  Through his influence the rest of the Jews, even 
Barnabas, were carried away into hypocrisy.  This prompted Paul to 
withstand Peter "to his face", and to rebuke him in the presence of 
all.  In the course of his rebuke, Paul stressed that we are justified
by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law, otherwise Christ 
died in vain (11-24).



      1. Occurring fourteen years later, accompanied by Barnabas and
         Titus (1)
      2. Spurred to go by revelation, he communicated the gospel he had
         preached (2)
      3. Refused to allow Titus to be circumcised, as some brethren 
         desired who were secretly brought in to the meeting (3-5)

      1. Those who seemed to be something (reputation really made no
         difference) did not add anything to Paul (6)
      2. When those of reputation saw...
         a. That the gospel of the uncircumcised had been committed to
            Paul just as the gospel of the circumcised was to Peter
         b. That James, Cephas, and John perceived the grace given to
         ...they extended the right hand of fellowship to Paul and 
            Barnabas (9)
      3. They asked only that the poor be remembered, something Paul
         was very eager to do (10)


      1. Paul had to withstand Peter to the face, because he would not
         eat with Gentiles when those from James came to Antioch 
      2. Peter's example of hypocrisy influenced other Jews, even 
         Barnabas (13)

   B. PAUL'S REBUKE (14-21)
      1. Peter's hypocrisy (14)
         a. He himself, though Jewish, lived as a Gentile
         b. Yet he was compelling Gentiles to live as Jews
      2. A summary of Paul's rebuke (15-21)
         a. Jewish Christians realize that they are justified by faith
            in Christ, not by the works of the law by which no flesh 
            can be justified (15-16)
         b. If I seek to be justified by Christ through a means which
            cannot justify, isn't that making Christ a minister of sin?
         c. If I rebuild that which cannot justify and has been 
            destroyed (i.e., the law), won't I become a transgressor
            again? (18)
         d. Through the law, I have died to the law, having been 
            crucified with Christ; Christ now lives in me and the life
            I now live to God is a life of faith in the Son of God
         e. If righteousness comes through the law, Christ died in 
            vain, and the grace of God has been set aside (21)


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The meeting at Jerusalem (1-10)
   - The confrontation at Antioch (11-21)

2) How long was it before Paul returned to Jerusalem?  Who went with 
   him? (1)
   - Fourteen years
   - Barnabas and Titus

3) What prompted him to go?  What did he do there? (2)
   - A revelation
   - Communicated to those of reputation the gospel he had preached 
     among the Gentiles

4) What did some who were secretly brought in to this meeting try to 
   get Paul to do? Did Paul submit to their command? (3-5)
   - To have Titus circumcised
   - No

5) How do you reconcile Paul's refusal to circumcise Titus with the 
   fact that Paul later had Timothy circumcised? (cf. Ac 16:1-3)
   - Circumcision of a Jewish Christian as a matter of expediency was
     permissible; but circumcision imposed upon a Gentile as an element
     necessary for salvation was not!

6) When did those who "seemed to be something" add to Paul? (6)
   - Nothing

7) What two things prompted them to extend the right hand of fellowship
   to Paul and Barnabas? (7-9)
   - When they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcised had been 
     committed to Paul, just as the gospel to the circumcised had been
     committed to Peter
   - When James, Cephas, and John perceived the grace that had been 
     given to Paul

8) What was the only thing they asked of Paul? (10)
   - To remember the poor

9) When Peter came to Antioch, why did Paul find it necessary to 
   withstand him to his face? (11-12)
   - Because he was willing to eat with Gentiles at first, but when 
     certain men from James came, he withdrew himself out of fear

10) Who else was carried away by Peter's hypocrisy? (13)
   - The rest of the Jews, including Barnabas

11) Briefly describe Paul's main argument as found in verse 16.
   - One is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in

12) How did Paul live his life, once he had died to the law? (19-20)
   - Having been crucified with Christ, he lives by faith in the Son of
     God who loved Him and gave Himself for him

13) If righteousness can come through the law, what does that say about
    the death of Christ? (21)
   - It was in vain