Life, beyond the bottle

When I worked for Essex Specialty Products in the mid-eighties, I was employed as a chemical technician.  My supervisor was a chemist with one wacky sense of humor.  He would start each day by telling a joke, then later he would tell a second joke that intertwined with the first and so it would go on until just before I went home.  His genius (besides chemistry) was the everyday his last joke not only related to the one before it, but also to the first one he told that day.  It seemed to me that he viewed life as a sort of perverse joke, because I think he did this to keep from having the problems of life get to him.  The above picture and my recollection of my former boss reminded me of the first chapter of Ecclesiastes...

Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1
 2 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”  3 What does man gain from all his labor in which he labors under the sun?  4 One generation goes, and another generation comes; but the earth remains forever.  5 The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hurries to its place where it rises.  6 The wind goes toward the south, and turns around to the north. It turns around continually as it goes, and the wind returns again to its courses.  7 All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again.  8 All things are full of weariness beyond uttering. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.  9 That which has been is that which shall be; and that which has been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.  10 Is there a thing of which it may be said, “Behold, this is new?” It has been long ago, in the ages which were before us.  11 There is no memory of the former; neither shall there be any memory of the latter that are to come, among those that shall come after.

  12 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.  13 I applied my heart to seek and to search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under the sky. It is a heavy burden that God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.  14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a chasing after wind.  15 That which is crooked can’t be made straight; and that which is lacking can’t be counted.  16 I said to myself, “Behold, I have obtained for myself great wisdom above all who were before me in Jerusalem. Yes, my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.”  17 I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.  18 For in much wisdom is much grief; and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

Life is filled with problems and no matter what you do, you are going to get some.  Its discouraging, disheartening, depressing and demoralizing... this life we lead.  All sorts of things happen to us... just look at the picture and read the list-- it will scare you.  the thing is: you can joke about it all you want, but no matter how trivial you try to make it, sooner or later--- you will have to get serious.  When you do, you will probably turn philosophical and it is but a small step from there to the search for God.  Life is more than bottled medicine with a warning label that is unbelievably long; it goes beyond intelligence and wisdom, it is a spiritual journey which can lead to heaven.  And... I hope to see you there!!!

Bible Reading, Nov. 8

Nov. 8
Isaiah 49-52

Isa 49:1 Listen, islands, to me; and listen, you peoples, from far: Yahweh has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has he made mention of my name:
Isa 49:2 and he has made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand has he hid me: and he has made me a polished shaft; in his quiver has he kept me close:
Isa 49:3 and he said to me, "You are my servant; Israel, in whom I will be glorified."
Isa 49:4 But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to me is with Yahweh, and my reward with my God."
Isa 49:5 Now says Yahweh who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, and that Israel be gathered to him (for I am honorable in the eyes of Yahweh, and my God is become my strength);
Isa 49:6 yes, he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth."
Isa 49:7 Thus says Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers: "Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship; because of Yahweh who is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."
Isa 49:8 Thus says Yahweh, "In an acceptable time have I answered you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you; and I will preserve you, and give you for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritage:
Isa 49:9 saying to those who are bound, 'Come out!'; to those who are in darkness, 'Show yourselves!' "They shall feed in the ways, and on all bare heights shall be their pasture.
Isa 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun strike them: for he who has mercy on them will lead them, even by springs of water he will guide them.
Isa 49:11 I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted.
Isa 49:12 Behold, these shall come from far; and behold, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim."
Isa 49:13 Sing, heavens; and be joyful, earth; and break forth into singing, mountains: for Yahweh has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted.
Isa 49:14 But Zion said, "Yahweh has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me."
Isa 49:15 "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, these may forget, yet I will not forget you!
Isa 49:16 Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
Isa 49:17 Your children make haste; your destroyers and those who made you waste shall go forth from you.
Isa 49:18 Lift up your eyes all around, and see: all these gather themselves together, and come to you. As I live," says Yahweh, "you shall surely clothe you with them all as with an ornament, and gird yourself with them, like a bride.
Isa 49:19 "For, as for your waste and your desolate places, and your land that has been destroyed, surely now you shall be too small for the inhabitants, and those who swallowed you up shall be far away.
Isa 49:20 The children of your bereavement shall yet say in your ears, The place is too small for me; give place to me that I may dwell.
Isa 49:21 Then you will say in your heart, 'Who has conceived these for me, seeing I have been bereaved of my children, and am solitary, an exile, and wandering back and forth? Who has brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where were they?' "
Isa 49:22 Thus says the Lord Yahweh, "Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and set up my banner to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.
Isa 49:23 Kings shall be your nursing fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers: they shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, and lick the dust of your feet; and you shall know that I am Yahweh; and those who wait for me shall not be disappointed."
Isa 49:24 Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives be delivered?
Isa 49:25 But thus says Yahweh, "Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him who contends with you, and I will save your children.
Isa 49:26 I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine: and all flesh shall know that I, Yahweh, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."

Isa 50:1 Thus says Yahweh, "Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, with which I have put her away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities were you sold, and for your transgressions was your mother put away.
Isa 50:2 Why, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it can't redeem? or have I no power to deliver? Behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stink, because there is no water, and die for thirst.
Isa 50:3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering."
Isa 50:4 The Lord Yahweh has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words him who is weary: he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught.
Isa 50:5 The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward.
Isa 50:6 I gave my back to the strikers, and my cheeks to those who plucked off the hair; I didn't hide my face from shame and spitting.
Isa 50:7 For the Lord Yahweh will help me; therefore I have not been confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be disappointed.
Isa 50:8 He is near who justifies me; who will bring charges against me? Let us stand up together: who is my adversary? Let him come near to me.
Isa 50:9 Behold, the Lord Yahweh will help me; who is he who shall condemn me? Behold, all they shall wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat them up.
Isa 50:10 Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely on his God.
Isa 50:11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who gird yourselves about with firebrands; walk you in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled. You shall have this of my hand; you shall lie down in sorrow.

Isa 51:1 "Listen to me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek Yahweh: look to the rock whence you were cut, and to the hold of the pit whence you were dug.
Isa 51:2 Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him, and made him many.
Isa 51:3 For Yahweh has comforted Zion; he has comforted all her waste places, and has made her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of Yahweh; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
Isa 51:4 "Attend to me, my people; and give ear to me, my nation: for a law shall go forth from me, and I will establish my justice for a light of the peoples.
Isa 51:5 My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the peoples; the islands shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust.
Isa 51:6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment; and those who dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.
Isa 51:7 "Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; don't you fear the reproach of men, neither be you dismayed at their insults.
Isa 51:8 For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation to all generations."
Isa 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of Yahweh; awake, as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Isn't it you who did cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the monster?
Isa 51:10 Isn't it you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?
Isa 51:11 The ransomed of Yahweh shall return, and come with singing to Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their heads: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isa 51:12 "I, even I, am he who comforts you: who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass;
Isa 51:13 and have forgotten Yahweh your Maker, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and fear continually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he makes ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor?
Isa 51:14 The captive exile shall speedily be freed; and he shall not die and go down into the pit, neither shall his bread fail.
Isa 51:15 For I am Yahweh your God, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar: Yahweh of Armies is his name.
Isa 51:16 I have put my words in your mouth, and have covered you in the shadow of my hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and tell Zion, 'You are my people.' "
Isa 51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, Jerusalem, that have drunk at the hand of Yahweh the cup of his wrath; you have drunken the bowl of the cup of staggering, and drained it.
Isa 51:18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she has brought forth; neither is there any who takes her by the hand among all the sons who she has brought up.
Isa 51:19 These two things have happened to you. Who will bemoan you? Desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword; how shall I comfort you?
Isa 51:20 Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of Yahweh, the rebuke of your God.
Isa 51:21 Therefore hear now this, you afflicted, and drunken, but now with wine:
Isa 51:22 Thus says your Lord Yahweh, and your God who pleads the cause of his people, "Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of staggering, even the bowl of the cup of my wrath; you shall no more drink it again:
Isa 51:23 and I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, who have said to your soul, 'Bow down, that we may walk over you;' and you have laid your back as the ground, and as the street, to those who walk over."

Isa 52:1 Awake, awake, put on your strength, Zion; put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean.
Isa 52:2 Shake yourself from the dust; arise, sit on your throne, Jerusalem: loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, captive daughter of Zion.
Isa 52:3 For thus says Yahweh, "You were sold for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money."
Isa 52:4 For thus says the Lord Yahweh, "My people went down at the first into Egypt to sojourn there: and the Assyrian has oppressed them without cause.
Isa 52:5 "Now therefore, what do I here," says Yahweh, "seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? those who rule over them mock," says Yahweh, "and my name continually all the day is blasphemed.
Isa 52:6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he who does speak; behold, it is I."
Isa 52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
Isa 52:8 The voice of your watchmen! they lift up the voice, together do they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when Yahweh returns to Zion.
Isa 52:9 Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for Yahweh has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem.
Isa 52:10 Yahweh has made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Isa 52:11 Depart you, depart you, go you out from there, touch no unclean thing; go you out of the midst of her; cleanse yourselves, you who bear the vessels of Yahweh.
Isa 52:12 For you shall not go out in haste, neither shall you go by flight: for Yahweh will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.
Isa 52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.
Isa 52:14 Like as many were astonished at you (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men),
Isa 52:15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand.

Nov. 8
2 Timothy 2

2Ti 2:1 You therefore, my child, be strengthened in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2Ti 2:2 The things which you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit the same to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
2Ti 2:3 You therefore must endure hardship, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2Ti 2:4 No soldier on duty entangles himself in the affairs of life, that he may please him who enrolled him as a soldier.
2Ti 2:5 Also, if anyone competes in athletics, he isn't crowned unless he has competed by the rules.
2Ti 2:6 The farmers who labor must be the first to get a share of the crops.
2Ti 2:7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
2Ti 2:8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, of the seed of David, according to my Good News,
2Ti 2:9 in which I suffer hardship to the point of chains as a criminal. But God's word isn't chained.
2Ti 2:10 Therefore I endure all things for the chosen ones' sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2Ti 2:11 This saying is faithful: "For if we died with him, we will also live with him.
2Ti 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us.
2Ti 2:13 If we are faithless, he remains faithful. He can't deny himself."
2Ti 2:14 Remind them of these things, charging them in the sight of the Lord, that they don't argue about words, to no profit, to the subverting of those who hear.
2Ti 2:15 Give diligence to present yourself approved by God, a workman who doesn't need to be ashamed, properly handling the Word of Truth.
2Ti 2:16 But shun empty chatter, for they will proceed further in ungodliness,
2Ti 2:17 and their word will consume like gangrene, of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus;
2Ti 2:18 men who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past, and overthrowing the faith of some.
2Ti 2:19 However God's firm foundation stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let every one who names the name of the Lord depart from unrighteousness."
2Ti 2:20 Now in a large house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of clay. Some are for honor, and some for dishonor.
2Ti 2:21 If anyone therefore purges himself from these, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, and suitable for the master's use, prepared for every good work.
2Ti 2:22 Flee from youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
2Ti 2:23 But refuse foolish and ignorant questionings, knowing that they generate strife.
2Ti 2:24 The Lord's servant must not quarrel, but be gentle towards all, able to teach, patient,
2Ti 2:25 in gentleness correcting those who oppose him: perhaps God may give them repentance leading to a full knowledge of the truth,
2Ti 2:26 and they may recover themselves out of the devil's snare, having been taken captive by him to his will.

Revelation, Chapter 4, Mark Copeland

                        "THE BOOK OF REVELATION"

                              Chapter Four


1) To consider the implication of the vision of God on His throne

2) To note that this vision along with the one in chapter five will set
   the stage for what follows


The visions of Revelation now begin in earnest.  Upon seeing a door
standing open in heaven and hearing a trumpet-like voice promising to
show him of things which must take place, John is transported to the
throne room of God.  He describes what he sees and hears with vivid and
colorful imagery.  The One on the throne radiates like white and red
sparkling stones and is surrounded by an emerald rainbow.  The colors
may reflect the characteristics of God, such as His holiness,
righteousness, justice, and mercy (1-3).

John takes special note of twenty-four elders clothed with white robes
and crowns of gold, sitting on thrones around the throne of God.  
Summers and Hailey suggest that they depict the twelve patriarchs of 
Israel and the twelve apostles, who represent the redeemed of both 
covenants now united in Christ.  Note that in 5:8-9 they do seem to
speak in behalf of the redeemed (4).

From the throne proceed lightnings, thunderings, and voices, which may
illustrate the divine power and judgments coming from God.  Before the
throne are seven lamps of fire, explained as the seven Spirits of God.
This likely symbolizes the Holy Spirit in His work of illumination and
revelation of God's word to man (Summers).  A sea of glass like crystal
is also before the throne, perhaps symbolizing the transcendence of God
that presently separates God and His people (5-6a).

Then there are four living creatures, similar in some respects and yet
different in others, united in their constant praise of God for His
eternal holiness.  Though not exactly like the cherubim seen by Ezekiel
(cf. Ezek 1, 10), they appear to serve similar functions.  Hailey
suggests they may be a special order of heavenly beings, perhaps the
highest and closest to the throne, who serve God's majestic will
(6b-8).  As the four living creatures praise Him who sits on the
throne, the twenty-four elders join in by falling down, casting their
crowns before the throne, and praising God as the Eternal Creator

This scene, along with the one in chapter five, appears designed to set
the stage for what follows.  At the outset, we are shown the first
guarantee of ultimate victory:  God is on His throne! (Summers)  The
praise offered by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders
reinforce the truth that the One on the throne (and therefore in
ultimate control) is none other than the Lord God Almighty, Eternal and
Holy, the Creator who holds all things together.  He is therefore
worthy of glory, honor and power!  He is the one to revere, not man!



      1. After seeing the Lord and hearing the letters addressed to the
         seven churches
      2. Upon seeing a door standing open in heaven, and hearing a
         trumpet-like voice
         a. Being told "Come up here"
         b. In which he will see "things which must take place after

      1. The One on the throne
         a. Like a jasper (sparkling white)
         b. And a sardius stone (fiery red) in appearance
         c. With an emerald rainbow (various shades of green) around
            the throne
      2. The twenty-four elders
         a. Sitting on twenty-four thrones around the throne
         b. Clothed in white robes
         c. With crowns of gold on their heads
      3. Other elements around the throne
         a. Lightnings, thunderings, and voices proceeding from the
         b. Seven lamps (the Seven Spirits of God) burning before the
         c. A sea of glass, like crystal, before the throne
         d. Four living creatures in the midst and around the throne
      4. The four living creatures
         a. Unique characteristics
            1) The first was like a lion
            2) The second was like a calf
            3) The third had a face like a man
            4) The fourth was like a flying eagle
         b. Similar characteristics
            1) Each had six wings
            2) Full of eyes in front and back, around and within
            3) Do not rest day or night, praising the holiness of the
               Eternal God


      1. Whenever they give glory, honor, and thanks
      2. To Him who sits on the throne, the Eternal One

      1. Who fall down before Him who sits on the throne
      2. Who worship Him who lives forever
      3. Who cast their crowns before the throne
      4. Who proclaim God worthy to receive glory, honor, and power
         a. For He created all things
         b. And by His will they exist and were created


1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The throne scene (1-8)
   - God praised as the Creator (9-11)

2) When the Lord has finished with His letters to the churches, what
   does John see? (1)
   - A door standing open in heaven

3) What does John hear?   What is he told he will see? (1)
   - A voice like a trumpet, saying "Come up here..."
   - Things which must take place after this

4) What is the first thing he notices? (2)
   - A throne set in heaven, and One sitting on the throne

5) How does John describe the appearance of the One on the throne? (3)
   - Like a jasper (sparkling white like a diamond) and a sardius stone
     (fiery red)

6) What is the color of the rainbow around the throne? (3)
   - Like an emerald (various shades of green)

7) What is around the throne? (4)
   - Twenty-four elders with crowns of gold, clothed in white robes,
     siting on thrones

8) What proceeds from the throne? (5)
   - Lightnings, thunderings, voices

9) What stands before the throne? (5)
   - Seven lamps of fire burning (the seven Spirits of God)

10) What lies before the throne? (6)
   - A sea of glass like crystal

11) What is seen in the midst and around the throne?  How are they 
    described? (6-8)
   - Four living creatures
   - One like lion, one like a calf, one with a face like a man, and
     one like a flying eagle
   - They have all have eyes in front and back, around and within, and
     six wings

12) What do they proclaim without rest, day and night? (8)
   - "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to

13) Whenever the four creatures offer glory, honor, and thanks to God,
    what happens? (9-10)
   - The twenty-four elders fall down before God on the throne
   - They worship Him, casting their crowns before the throne

14) Why do the twenty-four elders deem God worthy of glory, honor, and
    power? (11)
   - He created all things, and by His will they exist