More than a sign or a motto...

This is a new meaning for me.  Forty five years ago, I would have said Thank God its Friday.  After I had children, it meant; Toes Go in First.  Today's meaning I like the best because it places things in the proper order of importance.  Here is the rest of the story...

Mark, Chapter 12
  28 One of the scribes came, and heard them questioning together. Knowing that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the greatest of all?”

  29 Jesus answered, "“The greatest is, ‘Hear, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one:  30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.  31 The second is like this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”"
 I could of course, shorten this to LOVE GOD AND DO WHAT YOU LIKE, but L.G.A.D.W.Y.L. just doesn't work at all.  The thing is, that if you really love God and HE IS FIRST, then the second command is no problem.  Why?  Because you would want to please HIM in everything and loving your neighbor becomes as natural as breathing. And by the way, the sign is really optional, what really counts is what you DO ABOUT IT!!!

Aug. 6 Ezra 7-8

Aug. 6
Ezra 7-8
Ezr 7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,
Ezr 7:2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,
Ezr 7:3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,
Ezr 7:4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,
Ezr 7:5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest;
Ezr 7:6 this Ezra went up from Babylon: and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given; and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of Yahweh his God on him.
Ezr 7:7 There went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.
Ezr 7:8 He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.
Ezr 7:9 For on the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon; and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God on him.
Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances.
Ezr 7:11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, even the scribe of the words of the commandments of Yahweh, and of his statutes to Israel:
Ezr 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect and so forth.
Ezr 7:13 I make a decree, that all those of the people of Israel, and their priests and the Levites, in my realm, who are minded of their own free will to go to Jerusalem, go with you.
Ezr 7:14 Because you are sent of the king and his seven counselors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your hand,
Ezr 7:15 and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,
Ezr 7:16 and all the silver and gold that you shall find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem;
Ezr 7:17 therefore you shall with all diligence buy with this money bulls, rams, lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink offerings, and shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 7:18 Whatever shall seem good to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do that after the will of your God.
Ezr 7:19 The vessels that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver before the God of Jerusalem.
Ezr 7:20 Whatever more shall be needful for the house of your God, which you shall have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house.
Ezr 7:21 I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers who are beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done with all diligence,
Ezr 7:22 to one hundred talents of silver, and to one hundred measures of wheat, and to one hundred baths of wine, and to one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.
Ezr 7:23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done exactly for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
Ezr 7:24 Also we inform you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, the singers, porters, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll, on them.
Ezr 7:25 You, Ezra, after the wisdom of your God who is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges, who may judge all the people who are beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach him who doesn't know them.
Ezr 7:26 Whoever will not do the law of your God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed on him with all diligence, whether it be to death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
Ezr 7:27 Blessed be Yahweh, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of Yahweh which is in Jerusalem;
Ezr 7:28 and has extended loving kindness to me before the king, and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes. I was strengthened according to the hand of Yahweh my God on me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.
Ezr 8:1 Now these are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king:
Ezr 8:2 Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush.
Ezr 8:3 Of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah; and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males one hundred fifty.
Ezr 8:4 Of the sons of Pahathmoab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah; and with him two hundred males.
Ezr 8:5 Of the sons of Shecaniah, the son of Jahaziel; and with him three hundred males.
Ezr 8:6 Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan; and with him fifty males.
Ezr 8:7 Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah; and with him seventy males.
Ezr 8:8 Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael; and with him eighty males.
Ezr 8:9 Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel; and with him two hundred and eighteen males.
Ezr 8:10 Of the sons of Shelomith, the son of Josiphiah; and with him one hundred sixty males.
Ezr 8:11 Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai; and with him twenty-eight males.
Ezr 8:12 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan; and with him one hundred ten males.
Ezr 8:13 Of the sons of Adonikam, who were the last; and these are their names: Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah; and with them sixty males.
Ezr 8:14 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud; and with them seventy males.
Ezr 8:15 I gathered them together to the river that runs to Ahava; and there we encamped three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.
Ezr 8:16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, who were teachers.
Ezr 8:17 I sent them forth to Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia; and I told them what they should tell Iddo, and his brothers the Nethinim, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring to us ministers for the house of our God.
Ezr 8:18 According to the good hand of our God on us they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brothers, eighteen;
Ezr 8:19 and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brothers and their sons, twenty;
Ezr 8:20 and of the Nethinim, whom David and the princes had given for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim: all of them were mentioned by name.
Ezr 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek of him a straight way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
Ezr 8:22 For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had spoken to the king, saying, The hand of our God is on all those who seek him, for good; but his power and his wrath is against all those who forsake him.
Ezr 8:23 So we fasted and begged our God for this: and he was entreated of us.
Ezr 8:24 Then I set apart twelve of the chiefs of the priests, even Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brothers with them,
Ezr 8:25 and weighed to them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering for the house of our God, which the king, and his counselors, and his princes, and all Israel there present, had offered:
Ezr 8:26 I weighed into their hand six hundred fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels one hundred talents; of gold one hundred talents;
Ezr 8:27 and twenty bowls of gold, of one thousand darics; and two vessels of fine bright brass, precious as gold.
Ezr 8:28 I said to them, You are holy to Yahweh, and the vessels are holy; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to Yahweh, the God of your fathers.
Ezr 8:29 Watch, and keep them, until you weigh them before the chiefs of the priests and the Levites, and the princes of the fathers' houses of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of Yahweh.
Ezr 8:30 So the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem to the house of our God.
Ezr 8:31 Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the bandit by the way.
Ezr 8:32 We came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days.
Ezr 8:33 On the fourth day the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed in the house of our God into the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, the Levite;
Ezr 8:34 the whole by number and by weight: and all the weight was written at that time.
Ezr 8:35 The children of the captivity, who had come out of exile, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve male goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering to Yahweh.
Ezr 8:36 They delivered the king's commissions to the king's satraps, and to the governors beyond the River: and they furthered the people and the house of God.

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

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE GALATIANS"

                              Chapter Four


1) To appreciate the significance and blessedness of receiving the 
   Spirit in our hearts (cf. Jn 7:37-39; Ac 2:38; 5:32; Ro 5:5; 
   8:11-17; 15:13; 2Co 1:22; 5:5; Ep 1:13-14; 3:16; 4:30)

2) To understand Paul's concern over the Galatians' observance of holy
   days (cf. Col 2:16-17; Ga 5:4)

3) To comprehend the implications of the allegory of Hagar and Sarah


In this chapter Paul continues and concludes his defense of the gospel 
of justification by faith in Christ, in contrast to seeking
justification by the works of the Law.  The previous chapter ended with
Paul making a practical argument, how that by faith they had become the
sons of God, the true seed of Abraham and heirs of the promise, when
they put on Christ in baptism.

The practical argument continues in the first part of chapter four as 
Paul describes the condition of those under the Law prior to the coming
of Christ.  They were "children", and really no different than slaves.
But when Christ came, He redeemed those under the Law and made it
possible for them to receive the adoption as "sons".  A special
blessing of this sonship was receiving the Spirit in their hearts, and
now they are no longer as a slave but as a son and a heir of God 
through Christ (1-7).

Paul then argues along sentimental lines.  After having come to know 
the true God and being recognized by Him, their observance of holy days
is indicative of a desire to return to bondage.  That greatly concerns
Paul, who would have them become like him.  He reminds them of their 
reception of him in the past, and he hopes that by telling them the 
truth he has not become their enemy.  Wishing he could be with them in
person and use a different tone, he feels like a woman going through 
labor again as he seeks to ensure that Christ is formed in them.  All
of this because he has doubts about them (8-20).

His final argument is an appeal to the Law itself, addressed directly 
to those who desire to be under it.  He reminds them of Abraham's two 
sons by Sarah and Hagar, and contends there are allegorical 
implications concerning the two covenants.  Hagar, the bondwoman who
gave birth to Ishmael, represents the covenant given at Mt. Sinai, and
corresponds to physical Jerusalem and the bondage of those under the
Law.  Sarah, Abraham's wife who gave birth to Isaac, represents the new
covenant and corresponds to the heavenly Jerusalem which offers freedom
to all who accept it.  With a reminder that those born of the Spirit 
can expect persecution by those born according to the flesh, Paul 
concludes his defense of the gospel of justification by faith in Christ
by proclaiming that those in Christ are of not of the bondwoman but of 
the free (21-31).



      1. The illustration of an heir (1-2)
         a. While a child, is no different than a slave, even though a
            "master" (1)
         b. Under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by
            the father (2)
      2. In like manner, they had been as children, in bondage to the
         elements of the world (3)

      1. At the right time, God sent His Son, born of woman, born under
         the Law (4)
         a. To redeem those under the Law (5a)
         b. That they might receive the adoptions as sons (5b)
      2. Because they are now "sons" (and not just "children")...
         a. God sent the Spirit into their hearts, crying out "Abba, 
            Father!" (6)
         b. No longer are they as "slaves", but as "sons", thus heirs 
            of God through Christ (7)


      1. They had come to know God, and to be known by God (8-9a)
      2. But they seem to desire to be in bondage again, returning to
         weak and beggarly elements (9b)
      3. Their observance of holy days gives Paul fear that his labor
         was in vain (10-11)

      1. A plea for them to be as he is (12)
      2. A reminder of their past relations with him (13-15)
         a. They had not allowed his physical infirmities to hinder
            their reception of him and his gospel (13-14)
         b. They were even willing to pluck out their own eyes for him
      3. Has he become their enemy because he tells them the truth? 
      4. They are being zealously courted by others, but zeal is good
         only when for the right cause (17-18)
      5. He labors over them again, that Christ might be formed in 
         them, wishing he could change his tone, but he has doubts 
         about them (19-20)


      1. For those who wish to be under the law, will you hear what the
         law says? (21)
      2. For we read Abraham had two sons (22-23)
         a. One of a bondwoman (Hagar), born according to the flesh 
         b. The other of a freewoman (Sarah), born through promise 
      3. These things are symbolic (24a)

   B. THE TWO COVENANTS (24b-31)
      1. The two women represent two covenants (24b-26)
         a. Hagar represents the covenant from Mount Sinai (the Law), 
            physical Jerusalem, and the bondage shared with her 
         b. Sarah represents a new covenant from Jerusalem above 
            (spiritual Jerusalem), which offers freedom to all
      2. As prophesied, the barren woman (Sarah) would have more 
         children (27)
      3. Those under the new covenant are like Isaac, children of 
         promise (28)
      4. Those born of the Spirit can expect animosity from those born
         of the flesh (29)
      5. But the Scripture says that the children of the free woman 
         (Sarah, the Jerusalem above) will be the heir (30)
      6. We are not children of the bondwoman but of the free (31)


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - Justification by faith:  The practical argument, continued (1-7)
   - Justification by faith:  The sentimental argument (8-20)
   - Justification by faith:  The allegorical argument (21-31)

2) What is the condition of a child, even though an heir? (1-2)
   - No different from a slave
   - Under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the

3) What was the condition of those under the Law? (3)
   - As children, in bondage under the elements of the world

4) When did God send His Son?  Why? (4-5)
   - When the fullness of time had come
   - To redeem those under the Law, that they might receive the 
     adoption as "sons"

5) As sons of God, what do we receive?  What is our condition? (6-7)
   - The Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying "Abba, Father!"
   - No longer a slave, but a "son" and an "heir" of God through Christ

6) What indication was there that the Galatians sought to be in bondage
   again? (8-10)
   - Their observance of days, months, seasons, and years

7) What did Paul fear? (11)
   - That his labor with them had been in vain

8) How had the Galatians received Paul when he first preached the 
   gospel to them? (14)
   - As an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus Himself

9) What were they apparently willing to do when Paul was with them?
   - They would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to Paul

10) What concern did Paul have in telling them the truth? (16)
   - Had he become their enemy?

11) Why did Paul wish he could be with them and change his tone? (20)
   - He had doubts about them

12) For those who desired to be under the Law, what story from the Law
    does Paul relate? (21-23)
   - That of Hagar and Sarah, and their sons

13) What do the two women represent? (24-26)
   - Two covenants
   - Hagar represents the covenant given at Mt. Sinai which gives birth
     to bondage, and relates to physical Jerusalem
   - Sarah represents the covenant in Christ, corresponding to the
     Jerusalem above which gives freedom to all

14) How are Christians like Isaac? (28,31)
   - We are children of promise
   - We are children of the freewoman, not of the bondwoman who
     represents the Law