Letting go...

This picture reminds me of my younger brother Dave.  We are only about a year and a half difference in age, but the difference between us is remarkable.  He was always the adventurous one, first to do anything; try anything, while I have always been more laid-back and careful.  I view this picture and somehow we are young again, playing on the swing set in the back yard.  Dave is trying to see how high he can go and the legs of the swing-set are beginning to come out of the ground as he goes higher and higher... and then he lets go!!!  Why? Because he can of course!!!  Impetuous, daring, bold and perhaps a tad foolhardy are thoughts that come to mind.  And those same thoughts happen when I think of the apostle Peter....

Matthew, Chapter 14
 22  Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.  23 After he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the mountain by himself to pray. When evening had come, he was there alone. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, distressed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  25 In the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It’s a ghost!” and they cried out for fear.  27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying “Cheer up! It is I! Don’t be afraid.” 

  28  Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the waters.” 
  29  He said, “Come!” 

Peter stepped down from the boat, and walked on the waters to come to Jesus.  30 But when he saw that the wind was strong, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 

  31  Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand, took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”   32 When they got up into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Those who were in the boat came and worshiped him, saying, “You are truly the Son of God!”

Peter was always the first to speak up, to reach out, to do something (sort of like my brother Dave).  But, Peter had a weak side, too; one that is shown when he saw the strength of the wind.  His fear almost sunk him, but fortunately for him, Jesus was close-by!! I like Peter, because he always tried to do the right thing!  Even though he didn't always succeed, he tried and that is the important thing.  Peter had doubts, but continued to grow in faith.  And the first step in that process is being willing to let go!!!  Fear, doubt and mistrust need to be overcome and then growth can occur.  Let go of the things that prevent you from growing spiritually and allow God to perform the miracle of growth in your life!!!  Gary-- listen and learn-- YOU NEED TO LET GO!!!!


Spending Time with Jim McGuiggan


Believers are eager to exalt God in every way. This is a profoundly good thing and it’s appropriate! There’s something irksome in the cozy faith of many public preaching figures that leads them to speak of God in terms that suggest he’s their “buddy” or their “chum”. They offer us a ceaseless stream of conversations they say they’ve had with God in which they say to him, “You what?” or “You must be joking!” or speech of that nature. It would be [perhaps] tolerable if the settings for these conversations were of extreme anguish or profound complexity—the kind of thing we find in the prophets and the psalms. But no, they happen in the shower, the tone is jocular and the audience responds with laughter at the expected places. We expect unbridled speech from desperate men and women in desperate situations but…
God is God and not “our pal upstairs”!
Reverent scholars are now reviewing the NT use and meaning of the word “Abba”—and they should. Light-hearted coziness is not becoming in our relationship with God. Little children may pull on the dress of a queen or drag the spectacles off a king but we expect more of them as they mature. Even parents are to be treated with due respect.
Balance isn’t easy to define and perhaps more difficult to find.
Still, in our eagerness to honor God we need to have balanced views of him. His glory and power is beyond our imagining and so we should rejoice with trembling [Psalm 2:11]; but we do have reason to rejoice because we have learned that God’s unimaginable power is in the service of his unfathomable love [see Ephesians 3:19]!
No one “out-powers” God, “out-thinks” him, “out-suffers” or “out-loves” him! Because he is so far above and beyond us we should be astonished that he cares for us and comes to us in faithfulness to redeem us—and yet, because he out-loves us we should not be surprised that he did just that in keeping with his eternal purpose to glorify the human family with eternal life.
A mother tries to fight off the firemen so she can run into the burning building to rescue her babies! We aren’t astonished! A father without hesitation leaps into a raging river to rescue his child! We aren’t astonished! Good friends risk all to deliver their friends and even strangers give their lives for people they don’t know. You heard the stories! You’ll recall Moses and Paul sharing the same feeling about their people [see Exodus 32:31-32 and Romans 9:1-3]. In the face of some of these cases we shake our heads in admiration but before many of them we feel no surprise for we too know what love for our beloved ones is. Love doesn’t want to be unscathed, completely free of hurt or loss. Love gives for the beloved. There is an expected response from lovers [see Isaiah 49:15; Matthew 7:9-11; Luke 15].
If human lovers give and give and give and search and search and search should we be astonished that God came looking for us?
It’s a bit late for us to grovel before him begging him to love us and seek our redemption.
Sauntering into God’s presence in that breezy way is out of order. So is groveling! One's an insult and the other's tragic ignorance.
No one out-loves the sovereign God! 

Bible Reading, Jan. 24

Jan. 24
Genesis 24

Gen 24:1 Abraham was old, and well stricken in age. Yahweh had blessed Abraham in all things.
Gen 24:2 Abraham said to his servant, the elder of his house, who ruled over all that he had, "Please put your hand under my thigh.
Gen 24:3 I will make you swear by Yahweh, the God of heaven and the God of the earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live.
Gen 24:4 But you shall go to my country, and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac."
Gen 24:5 The servant said to him, "What if the woman isn't willing to follow me to this land? Must I bring your son again to the land you came from?"
Gen 24:6 Abraham said to him, "Beware that you don't bring my son there again.
Gen 24:7 Yahweh, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house, and from the land of my birth, who spoke to me, and who swore to me, saying, 'I will give this land to your seed.' He will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there.
Gen 24:8 If the woman isn't willing to follow you, then you shall be clear from this my oath. Only you shall not bring my son there again."
Gen 24:9 The servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter.
Gen 24:10 The servant took ten camels, of his master's camels, and departed, having a variety of good things of his master's with him. He arose, and went to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor.
Gen 24:11 He made the camels kneel down outside the city by the well of water at the time of evening, the time that women go out to draw water.
Gen 24:12 He said, "Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham.
Gen 24:13 Behold, I am standing by the spring of water. The daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water.
Gen 24:14 Let it happen, that the young lady to whom I will say, 'Please let down your pitcher, that I may drink,' and she will say, 'Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink,'--let her be the one you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master."
Gen 24:15 It happened, before he had finished speaking, that behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel the son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher on her shoulder.
Gen 24:16 The young lady was very beautiful to look at, a virgin, neither had any man known her. She went down to the spring, filled her pitcher, and came up.
Gen 24:17 The servant ran to meet her, and said, "Please give me a drink, a little water from your pitcher."
Gen 24:18 She said, "Drink, my lord." She hurried, and let down her pitcher on her hand, and gave him drink.
Gen 24:19 When she had done giving him drink, she said, "I will also draw for your camels, until they have done drinking."
Gen 24:20 She hurried, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again to the well to draw, and drew for all his camels.
Gen 24:21 The man looked steadfastly at her, remaining silent, to know whether Yahweh had made his journey prosperous or not.
Gen 24:22 It happened, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden ring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold,
Gen 24:23 and said, "Whose daughter are you? Please tell me. Is there room in your father's house for us to lodge in?"
Gen 24:24 She said to him, "I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor."
Gen 24:25 She said moreover to him, "We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in."
Gen 24:26 The man bowed his head, and worshiped Yahweh.
Gen 24:27 He said, "Blessed be Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his loving kindness and his truth toward my master. As for me, Yahweh has led me in the way to the house of my master's relatives."
Gen 24:28 The young lady ran, and told her mother's house about these words.
Gen 24:29 Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban. Laban ran out to the man, to the spring.
Gen 24:30 It happened, when he saw the ring, and the bracelets on his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, "This is what the man said to me," that he came to the man. Behold, he was standing by the camels at the spring.
Gen 24:31 He said, "Come in, you blessed of Yahweh. Why do you stand outside? For I have prepared the house, and room for the camels."
Gen 24:32 The man came into the house, and he unloaded the camels. He gave straw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet and the feet of the men who were with him.
Gen 24:33 Food was set before him to eat, but he said, "I will not eat until I have told my message." He said, "Speak on."
Gen 24:34 He said, "I am Abraham's servant.
Gen 24:35 Yahweh has blessed my master greatly. He has become great. He has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male servants and female servants, and camels and donkeys.
Gen 24:36 Sarah, my master's wife, bore a son to my master when she was old. He has given all that he has to him.
Gen 24:37 My master made me swear, saying, 'You shall not take a wife for my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live,
Gen 24:38 but you shall go to my father's house, and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son.'
Gen 24:39 I said to my master, 'What if the woman will not follow me?'
Gen 24:40 He said to me, 'Yahweh, before whom I walk, will send his angel with you, and prosper your way. You shall take a wife for my son of my relatives, and of my father's house.
Gen 24:41 Then will you be clear from my oath, when you come to my relatives. If they don't give her to you, you shall be clear from my oath.'
Gen 24:42 I came this day to the spring, and said, 'Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, if now you do prosper my way which I go--
Gen 24:43 behold, I am standing by this spring of water. Let it happen, that the maiden who comes forth to draw, to whom I will say, "Give me, I pray you, a little water from your pitcher to drink,"
Gen 24:44 and she will tell me, "Drink, and I will also draw for your camels,"--let her be the woman whom Yahweh has appointed for my master's son.'
Gen 24:45 Before I had done speaking in my heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder. She went down to the spring, and drew. I said to her, 'Please let me drink.'
Gen 24:46 She hurried and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, 'Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink.' So I drank, and she made the camels drink also.
Gen 24:47 I asked her, and said, 'Whose daughter are you?' She said, 'The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bore to him.' I put the ring on her nose, and the bracelets on her hands.
Gen 24:48 I bowed my head, and worshiped Yahweh, and blessed Yahweh, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughter for his son.
Gen 24:49 Now if you will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me. If not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left."
Gen 24:50 Then Laban and Bethuel answered, "The thing proceeds from Yahweh. We can't speak to you bad or good.
Gen 24:51 Behold, Rebekah is before you. Take her, and go, and let her be your master's son's wife, as Yahweh has spoken."
Gen 24:52 It happened that when Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed himself down to the earth to Yahweh.
Gen 24:53 The servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and clothing, and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave precious things to her brother and her mother.
Gen 24:54 They ate and drank, he and the men who were with him, and stayed all night. They rose up in the morning, and he said, "Send me away to my master."
Gen 24:55 Her brother and her mother said, "Let the young lady stay with us a few days, at least ten. After that she will go."
Gen 24:56 He said to them, "Don't hinder me, seeing Yahweh has prospered my way. Send me away that I may go to my master."
Gen 24:57 They said, "We will call the young lady, and ask her."
Gen 24:58 They called Rebekah, and said to her, "Will you go with this man?" She said, "I will go."
Gen 24:59 They sent away Rebekah, their sister, with her nurse, Abraham's servant, and his men.
Gen 24:60 They blessed Rebekah, and said to her, "Our sister, may you be the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and let your seed possess the gate of those who hate them."
Gen 24:61 Rebekah arose with her ladies. They rode on the camels, and followed the man. The servant took Rebekah, and went his way.
Gen 24:62 Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he lived in the land of the South.
Gen 24:63 Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the evening. He lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming.
Gen 24:64 Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel.
Gen 24:65 She said to the servant, "Who is the man who is walking in the field to meet us?" The servant said, "It is my master." She took her veil, and covered herself.
Gen 24:66 The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.
Gen 24:67 Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife. He loved her. Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

Joel - The Day Of The Lord (2:28-3:21) by Mark Copeland

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                 Joel - The Day Of The Lord (2:28-3:21)


1. In our previous lesson on Joel, we saw that...
   a. Joel's prophecy was occasioned by a plague of locusts - 1:2-4
   b. He proclaimed the plague as a warning from God - 1:15-16
      1) If the people would not repent, "the day of the Lord" would
         come and bring greater destruction - 2:1-5
      2) If they did repent, then material blessings would  follow 
         - 2:12-14
   c. Joel therefore called for a national repentance - 2:15-17a
   d. Evidently his work was effective, for he describes the blessings
      that had come - 2:21-27

2. We also noticed some lessons to be learned from the book...
   a. The value of natural calamities (can serve to turn men to God)
   b. The nature of true repentance - 2:12-13
   c. The character of the Lord - 2:13b
   d. "The day of the Lord", when referring to God's judgment on a city
      or nation, can be averted - cf. also Jer 18:7-8; Jonah 3:1-10

3. In this lesson, we shall complete our survey of Joel by reading 
   a. With attention to the prophetic element of this passage
   b. Offering comments concerning its interpretation

[Let's begin with a careful reading of this passage...]


      1. God's Spirit will be poured out on all flesh - 2:28-29
      2. Wonders in heaven and earth to appear before the coming of 
         "the day of the Lord" - 2:30-31
      3. There shall be deliverance in Mount Zion and Jerusalem - 2:32

      1. God will judge all nations on account of His people - 3:1-3
      2. Specifically mentioned are Tyre, Sidon and Philistia - 3:4-8
         a. Who had mistreated God's people
         b. Who shall be treated as they treated others
      3. The nations are called to do battle - 3:9-12
         a. "Prepare for war!"
         b. Come to the "Valley of  Jehoshaphat", where the Lord will
            judge the nations
            1) Jehoshaphat means "God shall judge"
            2) The valley referred to may be the Kidron near Jerusalem
      4. The outcome - 3:13-17
         a. There will be a great harvest
         b. "The day of the Lord" is described...
            1) As near in this "valley of decision"
            2) In which the heavenly bodies are diminished and shaken
         c. While God's people find shelter and strength in Him
         d. The Lord will be known and dwell in Zion, Jerusalem forever
            remaining holy

      1. Judah shall be blessed by a "fountain...from the house of the
         Lord" - 3:18
      2. Egypt and Edom will be desolate because of their violence 
         - 3:19
      3. Judah and Jerusalem shall abide forever, acquitted of their 
         guilt - 3:20-21

[Such is the prophetic message of Joel.  What he SAYS is clear enough.
What he MEANS is something else!  Here are a few thoughts on...]


      1. "it shall come to pass afterward" - 2:28
         a. This period of time is clearly defined by Peter in Ac 2:
         b. In which he applies it to the events on the Day of 
      2. "in those days and at that time" - 3:1
         a. The same period of time as described in 2:28-32
         b. I.e., at some point during the Messianic age
      3. "in that day" - 3:18
         a. The context places this AFTER "the day of the Lord"
         b. I.e., at some point during the Messianic age, but not until
            AFTER the judgment of the nations in the "Valley of 

      1. Certainly 2:28-29 refers to a period beginning with the 
         events described in Acts 2
         a. Peter said "this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" 
            - Ac 2:16
         b. An inspired statement pinpointing when this prophecy began
            to be fulfilled
      2. However, there are different opinions regarding Joel 2:30-3:21
         a. "The day of the Lord" in 2:30-31 is variously interpreted
            1) The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD
            2) The final coming of the Lord
         b. The judgment  in the "valley of Jehoshaphat" in 3:1-17 is
            variously interpreted as:
            1) Figurative, by some; literal, by others
            2) Referring to no specific judgment, by some
            3) Referring to a specific judgment at some time, by 
               1) E.g., after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD
               2) E.g., The "Battle of Armageddon" prior to the 
                  "millennium" - Re 16:14-16
               3) E.g., the battle after the "millennium" described in
                  Re 20:7-10
         c. Various views are also offered for the blessing of Judah 
            and Jerusalem in 3:18-21
      -- With such differences in interpretation, one should not be 

      1. The passage is not to be taken literally
         a. It would be physically impossible for ALL the nations to 
            gather in the "Valley of Jehoshaphat" - 3:2,12
         b. The "Valley of  Acacias" is located on the other side of 
            the Jordan River, making it geographically impossible to be
            watered by a stream from Jerusalem - 3:18
      2. This passage speaks in terms meaningful and comforting to 
         Israelites in Joel's day
         a. The prophecy was initially given to comfort them, give them
            hope for the future
         b. Therefore prophetic elements are described in terms to 
            which they could relate
            1) E.g., deliverance in their capital, Jerusalem - 2:32
            2) E.g., judgment upon those enemies who oppressed them 
               - 3:1-8
            3) E.g., desolation of such enemies as Edom and Egypt 
               - 3:19
            4) E.g., blessings to befall the nation and the land 
               - 3:18,20-21
      3. But it refers to spiritual realities fulfilled with the coming
         of the Messiah!
         a. Salvation and deliverance will indeed come out of Zion and
            Jerusalem - cf. 2:32 with Lk 24:44-47; He 12:22-24
         b. God will judge the enemies of His people - cf. 3:1-17 with
            Re 4-20 (esp. Re 20:7-10)
         c. In the end, God's people will prosper and the wicked will 
            be desolate - cf. 3:18-21 with Re 21-22 (esp. Re 22:1-2)
      4. This is true whether or not any particular event is referred 
         to in this passage
         a. I lean toward the view that "the day of the  Lord" in this
            passage is the FINAL JUDGMENT when the Lord comes again
         b. Others think that it refers to the DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM
            in 70 A.D
         c. Whatever one's interpretation, the application is the 
            1) The means and source of salvation:  The Lord Himself 
               - 2:32
            2) The day of the Lord is coming!
               a) A terrible day for the wicked - cf. 3:14-16a
               b) But for God's people there is shelter and strength 
                  - cf. 3:16b
               c) And in the end, blessings for the people of God, 
                  while their enemies lie desolate - cf. 3:18-21


1. In studying "The Minor Prophets"...
   a. Determining the proper INTERPRETATION is certainly a worthy goal
   b. But determining the proper APPLICATION is our essential task!

2. If this be true, then the crucial question is this:  Have we found
   that salvation, deliverance, shelter and strength which only the Lord
   can provide when the final "day of the Lord" comes?

To know where to look, one should carefully read Peter's sermon on the
Day of Pentecost, after he had quoted Joel - cf. Ac 2:22-39

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011