Sorrow, sin and the path to true happiness

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It is cold in Florida this morning; somehow, I just can't seem to get warm!!!  So, I thought I would cheer myself up with a cup of hot coffee and some humor.  Bill Cosby is almost ALWAYS FUNNY, so one of the first things I did early this morning (about 6 am) was to view his video on "Dentists".  I can't explain it, but somehow a little laughter made me feel better (and the coffee didn't hurt either)!!!  One minute I was feeling cold and grumpy and the next laughing and feeling warmer.  Life is like that; feelings change, WE CHANGE!!!!  Unpleasantness can turn to happiness, sorrow into joy!!! But, what about the reverse?  Glance at these two verses and see what I am talking about...

Luke, Chapter 6
 21  Blessed are you who hunger now, 
for you will be filled. 
Blessed are you who weep now, 

25  Woe to you, you who are full now, 
for you will be hungry. 
Woe to you who laugh now, 
for you will mourn and weep. 

We are blessed with many material "things" in this country because of our founding fathers desire to have "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness".  And we still have our freedoms (sort of).  However, even IF America should somehow return to the way it was in the 1950's, sooner or later we will grow old and die.  Then who is laughing?  Only those who have looked beyond the things of this world; considered the true aspect of life- spirituality!!! It is easy to laugh at someone who is enduring a dentist visit, but do we laugh at the stupid, foolish and nonsensical things we all do--EVERYDAY???  Life is more than just being successful, rich or powerful-- its knowing God and living with HIM, everyday!!!  Its really looking at our life and seeing it as God must--though the prism of righteousness.  When we honestly review our life and see the errors (the sin) that beset us all, we will mourn and weep (vs 25 above).  At precisely that moment, Jesus can bring happiness and laughter and satisfaction again.  Not from a joke, or a skit or a "thing", but with love and forgiveness.  Something to think about on a cold January morning before the light of day!!!

Church Shopping

Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan

Church Shopping

That's an ugly expression but it reflects on an ugly thing that has become part of Western Christianity. In a world where individualism is pandemic and our "rights" have become a near obsession "church shopping" isn't too shabby a phrase to cover what we do. And yet, we ought to be shopping.
P.T. Forsyth a Scots theologian of some years ago became incensed when he thought of the way churches were viewed and viewed themselves. He thundered out against people asking what the church's programmes were like, what it could do for them as potential members or what its record of successes was like. He insisted that we shouldn't ask for its programmes or even its piety but instead we should ask, "What is your gospel?" He was blisteringly, scathingly and cuttingly right! For what difference does it make how successful it is as a religious body or how well it caters for the youth or how involved it is in community benevolence if its gospel is not the "gospel"?
I admitted at the beginning of these suggestions that there's something silly about pretending I could begin again. But I now know that what makes a church great and what makes a church the kind of church that I should urge my family to be involved with is one that knows and loves the gospel that centres in the God who ultimately revealed himself in Jesus Christ at the cross.
Not only do all Christians need to be part of a local congregation of Christ, they should be. We aren't strong enough to make it on our own. We are sub-Christian if we attempt to make it on our own. Christians have been added to the Body of Christ, which manifests itself in and as local assemblies.
But see to it that you look out for a congregation that focuses on the gospel of God. That understands what the church is and is not to be. A church that will feed you on the living bread of Christ. A church where the teachers take seriously their calling and work with scripture so that they will shape all the members for service to God in a body which is indeed the body of Christ.
All good advice no doubt but how do the inexperienced go about this? Yes, this is a tricky question. Well, when in trusting repentance you've been baptised into union with the living Christ you are his so trust him to help you find such a place. Tell him it's the kind of place you want because you're hungry to get to know and love him so you can reach out and bless others also. Rejoice in the hunger you feel for the rich truth of the gospel because it's God's work in you and fervently ask him for more. Listen to what's being offered, what's usually talked about in classes and from pulpits and you'll get to know if that church is parading itself or the Master. Is it ceaselessly "issue" oriented, endlessly asking for money to support its projects or is it clear that it's central business is to "grow"? If you've no reason to believe that God's redeeming work in Christ for the world is the vibrant centre of that church's faith and that reverent attention is paid to God's word you need to continue praying and looking. But if you have reason to believe that their benevolence, community outreach and moral development is fuelled by the big, rich truths of the gospel you should thank God and stick to that group like glue.

Bible Reading, Jan. 18

Jan. 18
Genesis 18

Gen 18:1 Yahweh appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day.
Gen 18:2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and saw that three men stood opposite him. When he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth,
Gen 18:3 and said, "My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please don't go away from your servant.
Gen 18:4 Now let a little water be fetched, wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.
Gen 18:5 I will get a morsel of bread so you can refresh your heart. After that you may go your way, now that you have come to your servant." They said, "Very well, do as you have said."
Gen 18:6 Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly make ready three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes."
Gen 18:7 Abraham ran to the herd, and fetched a tender and good calf, and gave it to the servant. He hurried to dress it.
Gen 18:8 He took butter, milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them. He stood by them under the tree, and they ate.
Gen 18:9 They said to him, "Where is Sarah, your wife? He said, "See, in the tent."
Gen 18:10 He said, "I will certainly return to you when the season comes round. Behold, Sarah your wife will have a son." Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him.
Gen 18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age. It had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
Gen 18:12 Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have grown old will I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"
Gen 18:13 Yahweh said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Will I really bear a child, yet I am old?'
Gen 18:14 Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the set time I will return to you, when the season comes round, and Sarah will have a son."
Gen 18:15 Then Sarah denied, saying, "I didn't laugh," for she was afraid. He said, "No, but you did laugh."
Gen 18:16 The men rose up from there, and looked toward Sodom. Abraham went with them to see them on their way.
Gen 18:17 Yahweh said, "Will I hide from Abraham what I do,
Gen 18:18 seeing that Abraham has surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him?
Gen 18:19 For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Yahweh may bring on Abraham that which he has spoken of him."
Gen 18:20 Yahweh said, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous,
Gen 18:21 I will go down now, and see whether their deeds are as bad as the reports which have come to me. If not, I will know."
Gen 18:22 The men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before Yahweh.
Gen 18:23 Abraham drew near, and said, "Will you consume the righteous with the wicked?
Gen 18:24 What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it?
Gen 18:25 Be it far from you to do things like that, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from you. Shouldn't the Judge of all the earth do right?"
Gen 18:26 Yahweh said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake."
Gen 18:27 Abraham answered, "See now, I have taken it on myself to speak to the Lord, who am but dust and ashes.
Gen 18:28 What if there will lack five of the fifty righteous? Will you destroy all the city for lack of five?" He said, "I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there."
Gen 18:29 He spoke to him yet again, and said, "What if there are forty found there?" He said, "I will not do it for the forty's sake."
Gen 18:30 He said, "Oh don't let the Lord be angry, and I will speak. What if there are thirty found there?" He said, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there."
Gen 18:31 He said, "See now, I have taken it on myself to speak to the Lord. What if there are twenty found there?" He said, "I will not destroy it for the twenty's sake."
Gen 18:32 He said, "Oh don't let the Lord be angry, and I will speak just once more. What if ten are found there?" He said, "I will not destroy it for the ten's sake."
Gen 18:33 Yahweh went his way, as soon as he had finished communing with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

Daniel: The Vision Of The Time Of The End, Mark Copeland

                          "THE BOOK OF DANIEL"

           The Vision Of The Time Of The End - I (10:1-11:1)


1. As mentioned in previous lessons, the second half of Daniel contains
   four visions...
   a. The vision of the four beasts - Dan 7:1-28
   b. The vision of the ram and the goat - Dan 8:1-27
   c. The vision of the seventy weeks - Dan 9:1-27
   d. The vision of the time of the end - Dan 10:1-12:13
   -- In which God reveals to Daniel many things about His purpose and
      plan in history, regarding the nation of Israel and the
      everlasting kingdom to come

2. In the tenth chapter, therefore, we find the beginning of the final
   vision recorded by Daniel...
   a. A vision that pertains to what will affect Daniel's people (i.e.,
      Israel) - Dan 10:14
   b. Describing what will occur "in the latter days, for the vision
      refers to many days yet to come" - Dan 10:14
   c. Its words were to be closed and sealed "till the time of the end"
      - Dan 12:9
   -- For such reasons this vision has been called "The Vision Of The
      Time Of The End"

3. But what is meant by the expression "the time of the end"?
   a. Is it the end of time as we think of it, when Christ returns?
   b. Or does it refer to the end of God's dealings with Israel as His
      covenant nation?

[As we seek to address this and other questions raised in this
difficult portion of Scripture, we first notice...]


      1. It occurred in the third year of Cyrus king of Persia, on the
         24th day of the first month (ca. 535 B.C.) - Dan 10:1,4
      2. Daniel had been in mourning (fasting) for three weeks - Dan10:2,3
      3. He was beside the Tigris river - Dan 10:4

      1. Daniel saw a certain man - Dan 10:5-6
         a. Clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with gold of Uphaz
         b. With a body like beryl
         c. His face like lightning, his eyes like torches of fire
         d. His arms and feet like burnished bronze in color
         e. His words like the voice of a multitude
      2. Only Daniel saw the vision - Dan 10:7
         a. The men with him did not
         b. They fled with great terror to hide themselves
      3. The impact on Daniel - Dan 10:8-9
         a. Without strength, his vigor turned to frailty (he was
            probably in his nineties!)
         b. When he heard the sounds of the man's words, Daniel was in
            a deep sleep with his face to the ground

[The similarity between this "certain man" and John's vision of the Son
of Man (cf. Re 1:12-17) have led many to wonder if this was a
Christophany (an appearance of the preincarnate Christ); but he may
have been only an angel.  As we continue, we next read of...]


      1. A hand touches Daniel, causing him to tremble - Dan 10:10
      2. The man addresses Daniel - Dan 10:11
         a. Calling him "man greatly beloved" - cf. Dan 9:23; 10:19
         b. For Daniel to understand, and to stand up
         c. For the man has been sent to Daniel
         -- Daniel stands up, but trembling
      3. The man comforts Daniel - Dan 10:12
         a. Telling him not to fear
         b. That he has come because of Daniel's humility, and desire
            to understand
      4. The man explains the reason for the delay - Dan 10:13
         a. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood him
            twenty-one days (the same time during which Daniel had been
            in mourning - cf. Dan 10:2-3)
            1) Spiritual warfare seems to have been taking place (cf.
               Re 12:7; Ep 6:12)
            2) The "prince" (angel?) of the kingdom of Persia had been
               withstanding him - cf. Dan 11:1
         b. But Michael came to help him who had been left alone with
            the kings of Persia
            1) Michael is described as "one of the chief princes"
            2) Later he is called "your prince" and "the great prince
               who stands watch over the sons of your people" - Dan10:21; 12:1
            3) Jude calls him "the archangel", who contended with the
               devil over the body of Moses - Jude 9
            -- Michael appears to have served as the guardian of the
               nation of Israel
      5. But now the man has come make Daniel understand - Dan 10:14
         a. What will happen to his people (Israel)
         b. What will occur "in the latter days", "many days yet to
         -- From what follows, the expression "latter days" appears to
            refer to the time leading up to the coming of the Messiah
            and into the Messianic period (Harkrider) - cf. Dan 2:28;
            Ac 2:16-17

      1. Daniel is initially speechless - Dan 10:15-17
         a. With his face turned to the ground
         b. But one with "the likeness of the sons of men" touched his
            lips (some think this may have been Gabriel, who had helped
            Daniel before - Dan 8:16)
         c. Daniel can now speak, but is overwhelmed with sorrow and
            without strength
      2. Daniel is strengthened - Dan 10:18-19
         a. By the touch of the one having the likeness of a man
         b. By the words bestowing love, peace and courage
         c. Ready now to hear what he has to say

      1. Though he must soon return - Dan 10:20
         a. To fight with the prince (angel?) of Persia
         b. To deal with the prince (angel?) of Greece yet to come
      2. Yet he will tell Daniel what is noted in the Scripture of
         Truth - Dan 10:21-11:1
         a. Adding that only Michael helps him against them (the
            angelic princes of Persia and Greece) - cf. Dan 10:13
         b. Adding that he had confirmed and strengthened him
            (Michael?) in the first year of Darius the Mede


1. At this point (Dan 11:2), "The Vision Of The Time Of The End" begins
   in earnest...
   a. Describing what will happen "in the latter days"
   b. Referring to what will occur "many days yet to come"
   -- Which we shall examine when we resume our study in the next

2. In these introductory remarks of the vision, we find a glimpse of
   the spiritual warfare that was going on "behind the scenes"...
   a. With angelic forces withstanding each other - Dan 10:13a,20
   b. With angelic forces helping each other - Dan 10:13b,21; 11:1
   c. With Michael introduced to Daniel as:
      1) "one of the chief princes" - Dan 10:13
      2) "your prince" - Dan 10:21
      3) "the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your
         people" - Dan 12:1

While there is little we truly know about this "spiritual warfare", and
to what extent it may be going on today, perhaps our study will
encourage us to take more seriously Paul's words:

   "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against
   principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the
   darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in
   the heavenly places."

   "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able
   to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand."

                                                   - Ep 6:12-13

What are we doing to take up the armor of God, that we might be strong
in the Lord and in the power of His might (cf. Ep 6:10-18)?
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011