An unusual sonrise

This picture is not manipulated. It was on NASA's picture of the day.  Taken in Sweden, it shows an unusual green flash; rare, but it does happen!!!  It was cloudy this morning, so I didn't see the sunrise, which I like to do every chance I get.  In the early 70's, I worked for Norton company in upstate New York on the overnight shift.  Most of the time, several of us would go to the coating preparation room (glue room) in the second story to watch the sunrise.  I still remember those wonder occurrences!  Luke recounts the story of Zacharias, who having been struck dumb for disbelieving an angel, finally acknowledges God's will and names his son John.  That's not all he says...

Luke, Chapter 1 (LITV)

  57 And the time was fulfilled to Elizabeth for her to bear, and she bore a son.  58 And the neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord magnified His mercy with her, and they rejoiced with her.  59 And it happened on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child and were calling it by his father's name, Zacharias.  60 And his mother answered, saying, Not so, but he shall be called John.  61 And they said to her, No one is among your kindred who is called by this name.  62 And they signaled to his father, what he might desire him to be called.  63 And asking for a writing tablet, he wrote, saying, John is his name. And all marveled.  64 And instantly his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed , and he spoke, blessing God.  65 And fear came on all those living around them. And in all the hill country of Judea all these things were talked about.  66 And all who heard laid them up in their hearts, saying, What then will this child be? And the hand of the Lord was with him. 

  67 And his father Zacharias was filled of the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,  68 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, because He visited and worked redemption for His people.  69 And He raised up a Horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David;  70 even as He spoke through the mouth of His holy prophets from the age before :  71 Salvation from our enemies, and from the hand of all those hating us,  72 to execute mercy with our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant, 73  the oath which He swore to our father Abraham,  74 to give to us, that we being delivered out of our enemies' hand, in order to serve Him without fear,  75 in consecration and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.  76 And you, child, will be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, Mal. 3:1  77 to give a knowledge of salvation to His people by remission of their sins,  78 through the tender bowels of mercy of our God, in which the Dayspring from on high will visit us,  79 to appear to those sitting in darkness and in shadow of death, to direct our feet into theway of peace. Isa. 9:2  80 And the child grew, and became strong in spirit. And he was in the deserts until the day of his showing to Israel. 

What's the most beautiful sunrise (Dayspring, here) you can remember?  I remember many, but the day I actually SEE JESUS will be one that I never will forget!!!  Now, THAT WILL BE A SONRISE THAT I WILL REMEMBER FOREVER!!!

Bible Reading, Mar. 3

Mar. 3
Exodus 13

Exo 13:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Exo 13:2 "Sanctify to me all of the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of animal. It is mine."
Exo 13:3 Moses said to the people, "Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand Yahweh brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.
Exo 13:4 This day you go forth in the month Abib.
Exo 13:5 It shall be, when Yahweh shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month.
Exo 13:6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to Yahweh.
Exo 13:7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and no leavened bread shall be seen with you, neither shall there be yeast seen with you, in all your borders.
Exo 13:8 You shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'It is because of that which Yahweh did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.'
Exo 13:9 It shall be for a sign to you on your hand, and for a memorial between your eyes, that the law of Yahweh may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand Yahweh has brought you out of Egypt.
Exo 13:10 You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.
Exo 13:11 "It shall be, when Yahweh shall bring you into the land of the Canaanite, as he swore to you and to your fathers, and shall give it you,
Exo 13:12 that you shall set apart to Yahweh all that opens the womb, and every firstborn which you have that comes from an animal. The males shall be Yahweh's.
Exo 13:13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and you shall redeem all the firstborn of man among your sons.
Exo 13:14 It shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is this?' that you shall tell him, 'By strength of hand Yahweh brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage;
Exo 13:15 and it happened, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that Yahweh killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of animal. Therefore I sacrifice to Yahweh all that opens the womb, being males; but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.'
Exo 13:16 It shall be for a sign on your hand, and for symbols between your eyes: for by strength of hand Yahweh brought us forth out of Egypt."
Exo 13:17 It happened, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God didn't lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt;"
Exo 13:18 but God led the people around by the way of the wilderness by the Red Sea; and the children of Israel went up armed out of the land of Egypt.
Exo 13:19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the children of Israel swear, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones away from here with you."
Exo 13:20 They took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.
Exo 13:21 Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, that they might go by day and by night:
Exo 13:22 the pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, didn't depart from before the people.

Mar. 3, 4
Mark 4

Mar 4:1 Again he began to teach by the seaside. A great multitude was gathered to him, so that he entered into a boat in the sea, and sat down. All the multitude were on the land by the sea.
Mar 4:2 He taught them many things in parables, and told them in his teaching,
Mar 4:3 "Listen! Behold, the farmer went out to sow,
Mar 4:4 and it happened, as he sowed, some seed fell by the road, and the birds came and devoured it.
Mar 4:5 Others fell on the rocky ground, where it had little soil, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of soil.
Mar 4:6 When the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.
Mar 4:7 Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit.
Mar 4:8 Others fell into the good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing. Some brought forth thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times as much."
Mar 4:9 He said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."
Mar 4:10 When he was alone, those who were around him with the twelve asked him about the parables.
Mar 4:11 He said to them, "To you is given the mystery of the Kingdom of God, but to those who are outside, all things are done in parables,
Mar 4:12 that 'seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest perhaps they should turn again, and their sins should be forgiven them.' "
Mar 4:13 He said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How will you understand all of the parables?
Mar 4:14 The farmer sows the word.
Mar 4:15 The ones by the road are the ones where the word is sown; and when they have heard, immediately Satan comes, and takes away the word which has been sown in them.
Mar 4:16 These in like manner are those who are sown on the rocky places, who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy.
Mar 4:17 They have no root in themselves, but are short-lived. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they stumble.
Mar 4:18 Others are those who are sown among the thorns. These are those who have heard the word,
Mar 4:19 and the cares of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Mar 4:20 Those which were sown on the good ground are those who hear the word, and accept it, and bear fruit, some thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times."
Mar 4:21 He said to them, "Is the lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn't it put on a stand?
Mar 4:22 For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light.
Mar 4:23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear."
Mar 4:24 He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you who hear.
Mar 4:25 For whoever has, to him will more be given, and he who doesn't have, even that which he has will be taken away from him."
Mar 4:26 He said, "The Kingdom of God is as if a man should cast seed on the earth,
Mar 4:27 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he doesn't know how.
Mar 4:28 For the earth bears fruit: first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.
Mar 4:29 But when the fruit is ripe, immediately he puts forth the sickle, because the harvest has come."
Mar 4:30 He said, "How will we liken the Kingdom of God? Or with what parable will we illustrate it?
Mar 4:31 It's like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, though it is less than all the seeds that are on the earth,
Mar 4:32 yet when it is sown, grows up, and becomes greater than all the herbs, and puts out great branches, so that the birds of the sky can lodge under its shadow."
Mar 4:33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it.
Mar 4:34 Without a parable he didn't speak to them; but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.
Mar 4:35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let's go over to the other side."
Mar 4:36 Leaving the multitude, they took him with them, even as he was, in the boat. Other small boats were also with him.
Mar 4:37 A big wind storm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so much that the boat was already filled.
Mar 4:38 He himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion, and they woke him up, and told him, "Teacher, don't you care that we are dying?"
Mar 4:39 He awoke, and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" The wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
Mar 4:40 He said to them, "Why are you so afraid? How is it that you have no faith?"
Mar 4:41 They were greatly afraid, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"

"YES, BUT...." by Gary V. Womack

"YES, BUT...."

Every parent has surely been faced with the response, "Yes, but..." when telling their children to do something or when explaining why they wanted them to do it. Such an exchange has often marked the ensuing of a "clashing of the wills" where only one comes out victorious. All too often the child has been allowed to "win out" by avoiding the will of the parents. But there are those parents who will "stick to their guns" and teach their children the valuable lesson of submission to authority and the proper respect for authority that God demands of all people.
Adults are no exception to the rule when it comes to a pitting of our will against that of another. We have all been guilty of saying, "Yes, but...." either verbally or inwardly when faced against someone with whom we disagreed. Many an employee has done this with their employer when they disagreed with a particular order or demand on how a job was to be done. (Isn't it amazing how everyone's way of doing the job is always better than the way the boss wants it done?) We all value our opinion and are reluctant to surrender it to another without at least some kind of a defense.
It is imperative for us to understand that, while we have a will, it is not always appropriate that it be honored to satisfy our own gratification. Peter made this clear when he wrote, "Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to the governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men - as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." (1 Pet. 2:13-17) We do not live in a Burger King society where we can always "have it our way."
Jesus, as our perfect example, did not always do His own will - even though He was God in the flesh. He said, "...I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." (Jn. 5:30) "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." (Jn. 6:38) This is no greater demonstrated than at Gethsemane when "...He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed." (Mt. 26:37) and He prayed, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (vs. 39)
Our petty disagreements that challenge our will pale in the face of such great sacrifice as Jesus demonstrated. Yet we often forget in the moment of decision and allow our will to dictate our own desires rather than that which is for the greater good.
Wisdom and good judgment demand that our will conform to that which does not appeal to the lusts of the flesh in favor of that which stands in contrast as matters of moral and spiritual principles. This is especially true in regard to how we dress during these hot days of summer. Comfort and fashion of the day often gives place to immodesty and that which is indecent. Paul admonished Timothy to teach that "...women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation...which is proper for women professing godliness..." (1 Tim. 2:9, 10)
While the body is telling us to seek relief from the heat by putting on less clothing, our conscience should be telling us otherwise. Hence, there is a conflict of our will against the flesh. Paul discussed this inward battle in the latter part of the seventh chapter of his letter to the Romans. He concluded that "I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." (Rom. 7:21-23)
We lose this battle when we give into the flesh and toss caution to the wind by putting on that which is comfortable but provocative. In doing so, we tempt others to sin with their eyes. Jesus said, "...that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Mt. 5:28) "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers...will inherit the kingdom of God." (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) How important is your will to be comfortable or fashionable compared to the soul of someone whom you may encourage to commit adultery in their heart?
Short pants that reveal the leg can be an enticement to the eye that is inclined to look. Sheer clothing or low cut blouses may also be comfortable, but they can cause the death of a soul that surrenders its will to lust for that which is off limits. Keep this in mind as you choose your clothing. You can dress fashionably and in reasonable comfort without compromising the law of moderation and decency.
The attitude that we must guard against is that which replies to truth and reason by saying, "Yes, but..." "I know that's what the bible teaches, but..." The justifications that follow include things like, "...but what about the way I feel about this?" "...but don't I have a right to be happy?" "...but what I think about it is my business." "but you just don't understand." The bottom line is, am I willing to surrender my will for a higher principle?
If you ever find yourself giving in to your own will when you know it isn't the right thing to do, remember the parable that Jesus told about the two sons. "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.' He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of the father?" (Mt. 21:28-31) Which one surrendered his will in order to do the right thing?
Our will is something that truly belongs to us - something that we can actually sacrifice that is of value to us and by which we can prove to God that we love and honor Him above ourselves while saying, "Yes, therefore..."

- Gary V. Womack­ - July 2005



A man can get out of bed at three o'clock on Saturday morning to go fishing, but when you talk to him about Sunday morning bible classes, he can't get up that early on Sunday! WHY THE DIFFERENCE?
A man can go a hundred miles on Friday night to a ball game but is too tired to get out for the worship on Sunday and Wednesday nights! WHY THE DIFFERENCE?
A man can take his family to an amusement park and spend considerable money but can't afford to give more than a dollar to the Lord! WHY THE DIFFERENCE?
A man can be on the membership committee at the civic club and canvass among his friends for prospective members but can't make the right approach when asked to do personal work for the Lord! WHY THE DIFFERENCE?
A man can take an aspirin and go to work despite an annoying headache, but a similar headache is considered a good reason for missing the worship! WHY THE DIFFERENCE?
- Author Unknown -

This little article appeared in a bulletin over 25 years ago which I found the other day. I don't know who the author was, but he raised some interesting questions that are as appropriate today as they were those many years ago. Certainly they are very thought-provoking and the question of "why the difference" is worthy of our consideration.
The "difference" involves an attitude of heart and where our focus is in regard to what we consider to be of greater importance. It is a contrast between the choices of that which is physical and that which is spiritual in nature. This ought to cause us to consider where our priorities are and how we appear to God as He looks into our hearts. Though we may sing "Oh how I love Jesus", our choices may demonstrate otherwise.
Indeed, there are always those who find every excuse to be somewhere else or do something other than to assemble with their brethren to worship God. When we compare the attitudes of heart between these and David, the contrast is sharp. David said, "I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the Lord.'" (Psm. 122:1)
There is no doubt that we tend to talk about that which interests us the most. So, when brethren claim to not know how to talk to others about the Lord and salvation, they stand in stark contrast to Jeremiah who said that the word of God "...was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not." (Jer. 20:9) We see this same passion in those early Christians living in Jerusalem who, during great persecution "were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria..." and at tremendous risk of life, "went everywhere preaching the word." (Acts 8:1, 4)
It is not uncommon to find those who will put in the collection plate whatever is "left over" after first spending on their own entertainment. Paul warned of those who are "...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God." (2 Tim. 3:4) When we contrast the difference between these and the Macedonians of Paul's day, the difference is quite obvious. Notice, "...in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality, for I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing" to give. (2 Cor. 8:2-3)
That which motivated the Macedonians to give as they did is the same key to faithfulness that contrasts so distinctly against those who are indifferent. They "...first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God." (2 Tim. 3:5) Paul described this same kind of allegiance to God in the drastic change that turned him from persecutor to preacher, and the resulting life that he lived after his conversion. "I have been crucified with Christ; It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Gal. 2:20)
When people heed the call of God's word, and respond to it, there is a change that should take place. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works." (Tit. 2:11-14) We are to become different from the world as God's own "special people."
Those who are Christians "...are sanctified in Christ, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord..." (1 Cor. 1:2) If we have been "sanctified" (set apart) by the Lord, certainly we should "...sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts..." (1 Pet. 3:15) If He holds a special place in our hearts, our focus in life will always be with Him as our purpose, our motivation and our confidence. This will make us different.
It is certain that the rest of the world will notice that we are different. Our choices of greatest interest will distinguish us from the rest of the world whose focus is on the physical gratification of the flesh. Therefore, "...they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation..." (1 Pet. 4:4) But this difference goes deeper than just an outward distinction that others can see. It goes to our very heart - "For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said; 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.'" (2 Cor. 6:16) He is the difference!
What will make the difference on the day of judgment? "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him....He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left." (Mt. 25:31, 33) Read the rest of that chapter and "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." Gal. 6:7-8)
- Gary V. Womack - January 2005

A new day will come by Jim McGuiggan

A new day will come

For me, the finest character in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was Sam. Samwise Gamgee, the loyal friend and protector of Frodo Baggins, the bearer of the ring. He’s selfless, brave and pure of heart and if it were not for him, Frodo would never have completed his destiny with honour. He not only had a profound depth of character he had a profound vision of the big picture. One of my teachers, ten year-old Michael Dunn, brought this piece to my attention; a piece that occurs near the end of The Two Towers.
At one point Frodo is overcome by the ring he bears and is near to giving himself up to the evil power and Sam saves him in the nick of time. Still blinded by the ring’s power, Frodo pulls his sword on Sam and has it at his throat.
"It’s me, it’s your Sam, don’t you know your own Sam?"
Frodo recovers and confesses the job’s too much for him.
"I can’t do this Sam."
"I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here, but we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered, full of darkness and danger they were. Sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when there’s so much bad that had happened? But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.
A new day will come, and when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those are the stories that stay with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. How folk in those stories had lots of chances for turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something."
"What are we holding on to Sam?"
"That there’s some good left in this world Mr. Frodo…and it’s worth fighting for."
There’s so much that is gospel-like here. In light of the Story, the one that matters, there are things and people and a glorious Lord worth fighting for, worth living for and worth dying for. Is this not Hebrews 11:32-40? Does it not help you to want to continue the war until the return of the King?
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

A familiar tune? by Jim McGuiggan

A familiar tune?

"Mind you own business!"
But you’re my business, you matter to me, it causes me searing pain to see you self-destruct.
"Leave me alone. Don’t lecture me! It’s my life not yours."
Not my life? But you’re my life.
"Get over it."
Just like that, huh. You can dismiss me with ease so I’m supposed to be able to do the same with you.
"I don’t want you worrying about me. I didn’t ask you to."
Then don’t do the things we both know are self-destructive! You think I want to worry about you? I’d rather be happy for you. Your success is my success. You tell me not to worry and then you do the things that create worry in me.
"I can take care of myself. I didn’t ask you to butt into my life or worry about me."
You didn't what? You made me believe that I mattered to you as you matter to me. You made me love you; and you made yourself critically important in my life so that your happiness is mine and I thought mine was yours.
"Maybe, but my choices are my own and nobody’s business but my own."
If you insist on ducking out on life there’s nothing I can do to stop you; but somebody needs to tell you plainly that you’re talking drivel. Your choices are yours, sure, but you’re making choices for me too; and the idea that your choice of the abyss is nobody’s business but yours is pathetic. You allowed yourself to become important to people—no, not just "allowed" it, you worked at it like a beaver, and now you’re all tangled up in their heartstrings. Every move you make affects them. You aren’t just choosing misery and ruin for yourself, you choose misery for others; and then you have the cheek to tell them to butt out and don’t lecture you.
"Look, I want you to leave me alone! Got that? Leave me alone!"
Well, I’ll have to since that’s what you want. I’ll be around if you want help—you know where to find me. But when you’re alone and gnawing on your bones and whimpering to yourself that you’re a tragic figure bearing an intolerable burden, just remember what I told you. You’re bringing the roof down on others as well, so don’t kid yourself that you’re a member of some exclusive fellowship of the doomed. When you’re wallowing around, so out of it that you’re oblivious to what you’re up to, there are people like me that watch in pain-filled horror at what’s happening to you. You want me to leave you alone? In some ways that's way too late. If you had wanted me to really leave you alone you shouldn’t have come into my life and made me love you. Vanish without trace if you must--and that's a horrible thought to me--but for pity's sake stop talking nonsense!

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy for allowing me to post from his website, the abiding word.com.

Matthew:Blind Leaders Of The Blind (15:12-14) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                 Blind Leaders Of The Blind (15:12-14)


1. Who can you trust regarding religious matters today?
   a. Many people trust their preacher, priest, or pastor
   b. They assume that "a man of God" must be trustworthy

2. Yet the Bible does not always speak highly of religious leaders...
   a. Paul warned about "savage wolves" not sparing the flock of God
      - Ac 20:29-30
   b. Peter wrote of "false teachers" bringing in destructive heresies
      - 2Pe 2:1-2
   -- Such men would knowingly destroy the people of God

3. Not all those who mislead do so knowingly...
   a. Jesus told His disciples about "blind leaders of the blind"
      - Mt 15:12-14
   b. Being "blind" themselves, they may not be aware of how they
      mislead others

4. The end result is still the same, however...
   a. Those misled still "fall into the ditch" and are destroyed Mt 15:14; Isa 9:16
   b. Whether led by a "false teacher", or by a "blind leader"

5. That we ourselves might not blindly follow a blind leader...
   a. What are some of the characteristics of a blind leader?
   b. How can we be sure not to be misled by a blind leader?
   -- These are the questions we hope to answer in this study

[While Peter had much to say about false teachers (cf. 2Pe 2), Jesus
had much to say about blind leaders...]


      1. This was the case of the Pharisees in Mt 15
      2. They were willing to put their traditions above God's word 
         - Mt 15:3,6,9
      3. Blind leaders today will do the same
         a. Teaching as doctrine their traditions
         b. Not knowing that what they teach comes from man, not God

      1. This was the case of the Pharisees in Mt 23, where they are
         called "blind" five times
      2. They made fine distinctions between the types of oaths one
         could swear - Mt 23:16-22
      3. Blind leaders will often do the same today
         a. Making fine distinctions so that one need not keep God's
         b. Saying some commands of God are essential to salvation, and
            others not

      1. Again, the Pharisees were guilty of this, for which they were
         called "blind guides"
      2. They left undone the "weightier" matters of God's law - Mt 23:
         a. They stressed tithing, but neglected justice, mercy, faith
         b. Thus they would strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel
      3. Blind leaders today often do the same, but in reverse...
         a. They are quick to stress the "weightier" matters, and leave
            what they consider the "lighter" things undone
         b. But Jesus said we should do both, leaving neither undone!

      1. The "blind Pharisee" worked only on the outside - Mt 23:25-28
         a. Concerned with keeping the traditions of ritual cleansing
         b. Willing to put up with extortion, self-indulgence,
            hypocrisy and lawlessness
      2. Today, blind leaders are happy with the appearance of 
         a. Big buildings, large crowds
         b. Accepting people into the church without challenging them
            to true repentance

      1. From this passage (Mt 23) in which Jesus assails the 
         Pharisees, we glean some other characteristics of those who
         were blind leaders
      2. Summarizing these quickly...
         a. They say and do not, binding heavy burdens on others - Mt 23:1-4
         b. They do their works to be seen of men - Mt 23:5
         c. They love the attention and special treatment by others 
            - Mt 23:6-7
         d. They wear religious titles, though Jesus condemned it - Mt 23:8-10
         e. They fail to truly show the way to the kingdom of heaven 
            - Mt 23:13
         f. They use their religion to make money and impress others 
            - Mt 23:14
         g. They don't make people better, they make them worse! - Mt 23:15
         h. They honor the men of God who went before them, but are
            more like those who persecuted the people of God - Mt 23:

[Sadly, this sounds like many religious leaders today, especially some
on TV!  If we are not careful, we can easily be led astray by them.  
This leads to our next point...]


      1. We need to have the same attitude as the Bereans - Ac 17:11
         a. When Paul came to town, they "received the word with all
         b. This describes how they listened to Paul - paying close
            attention to the things he was teaching
      2. We must first give all teachers a fair and careful hearing
         a. Seek to understand exactly what they are saying
         b. It requires that we be good listeners
      -- Many are misled because they have never learned to listen
         carefully to what is being taught them! (How well do you

      1. This was another noble quality of the Bereans - Ac 17:11
         a. Having listened carefully, they then went home and compared
            what Paul said to the Scriptures
         b. They did not simply accept whatever Paul said
      2. Unfortunately, many today are Biblically illiterate...
         a. They do not follow along in their Bibles when someone is
            teaching or preaching
         b. They do not read their Bibles daily
      -- Failure to do these things leaves one in a blind condition,
         unable to discern what is the word of God, or some teaching
         and tradition of man!


1. What will be the end of blind leaders, and those who follow them?
   a. Like plants, they will be "uprooted" by the Heavenly Father - Mt 15:13
   b. Together they will both "fall into a ditch" - Mt 15:14
   c. Though very religious, thinking that they serve the Lord, Jesus
      will tell them:  "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who
      practice lawlessness!" - cf. Mt 7:21-23

2. Who are to blame, if people are misled by blind leaders?
   a. The blind leader will be held accountable, but not totally
   a. If people are blind, it is only because they have closed their
      own eyes - Mt 13:15

May the example of the Bereans remind us of what is necessary not to be
misled by blind leaders, and may we so see and hear that what Jesus
said will be true of us:

   "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they
   hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous
   men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear
   what you hear, and did not hear it."  (Mt 13:16-17)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

eXTReMe Tracker 

Matthew:Beware Of Leaven (16:5-12) by Mark Copeland

                        "THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW"

                       Beware Of Leaven (16:5-12)


1. In the course of His public ministry, Jesus was often challenged by
   the Pharisees, along with the Sadducees...
   a. They questioned why He ate with sinners - Mt 9:11
   b. They accused His disciples of breaking the Sabbath - Mt 12:1-2
   c. They accused His disciples of violating the traditions of the
      elders - Mt 15:1-2
   d. They sought to test Him by asking for a sign - Mt 16:1

2. Jesus therefore warned His disciples concerning these religious
   a. They were "blind leaders of the blind" - Mt 15:12-14
   b. The disciples were to beware of their doctrine - Mt 16:5-12

3. Jesus described their doctrine as "leaven" (yeast)...
   a. Used in the making of bread, leaven gradually spreads through
      the dough, making it rise
   b. Jesus used the figure of leaven to describe the spread of His
      kingdom - Mt 13:33
   c. But in Mt 16:6, He uses it to depict the pernicious doctrines of
      the Pharisees and Sadducees - Mt 16:11-12

[What were the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees that Jesus
warned about?  Are there modern Pharisees and Sadducees that we should
beware of today?  To answer these questions, let's begin by taking a
look at...]


      1. A religious and political group noted for its conservatism
         a. They were strict observers of the Law of Moses
         b. They also adopted "the traditions of the elders", 
            interpretations of the Law that had been handed down 
            - cf. Mk 7:1-5
      2. Jesus described them as "blind leaders of the blind" - Mt 15:
         a. They made the commandments of God of no effect by their
            traditions - Mt 15:3-6
         b. They were hypocrites, teaching one thing and practicing
            another - Mt 15:7-8; 16:3; 23:1-4, 27-28; cf. Lk 12:1
         c. They did their works to be seen of men - Mt 23:5
         d. They loved the attention and special treatment by others 
            - Mt 23:6-7
         d. They wore religious titles - Mt 23:8-10
         e. They prevented others from finding the way to the kingdom
            of heaven - Mt 23:13
         f. They used their religion to make money and impress others
            - Mt 23:14
         g. They didn't make people better, they made them worse! - Mt 23:15
         h. They made distinctions where God did not - Mt 23:16-22
         i. Though sticklers for some commandments, they ignored others
            - Mt 23:23-24
         j. They honored men of God who went before them, but were more
            like those who persecuted the people of God - Mt 23:29-31

      1. Many people accuse those who stress the keeping of God's 
         commands as legalists, and therefore "Pharisees" today - but 
         a. The words legalism, legalist, are not found in the 
            Scriptures - they are labels often used to defame those who
            seek to encourage the keeping of God's commands
         b. Jesus never faulted the Pharisees for strict adherence to
            the Law itself
            1) Only for making the commands of God of no effect by 
               their traditions!
            2) Only for leaving some commands of God undone while doing
         c. If calling for strict observance of God's commandments 
            makes one a legalist, then Jesus was a legalist!
            1) While the Law was in force, He expected it to be taught
               and observed down to its smallest detail - Mt 5:17-19
            2) He expected His disciples to surpass the Pharisees in
               their righteousness - Mt 5:20
            3) He called for His disciples to express their love for
               Him by keeping His commandments - Jn 14:15,21,23
            4) He promised His love and friendship to those who would
               keep His commandments - Jn 15:10,14
            5) He expected disciples from all nations to observe 
               whatever He commanded His apostles - Mt 28:19-20
         d. If calling for strict observance of God's commandments
            makes one a legalist, then the apostles were legalists!
            1) Paul stressed the keeping of commandments - 1Co 7:19;
               1Th 4:1-2
            2) John stressed the keeping of commandments - 1Jn 2:3-5;
               3:22-24; 5:2-3
      2. The true Pharisees today are those who:
         a. Teach and practice traditions of men, instead of the 
            commands of God
         b. Teach one thing, while practicing another
         c. Do things to be seen of men, wearing special garments and
            asking to be called by religious titles
         d. Do not truly show people the way to the kingdom of heaven
         e. Use religion to make money and impress others
         f. Make distinctions where God has made none
         g. Stress some commands, but neglect others as unnecessary

[Such are the Pharisees of today, who often condemn others as
"legalists" (as a way to deflect the charge that their lives and 
teachings are contrary to the commandments of our Lord).

Now let's take a look at...]


      1. A religious and political group noted for its liberalism
         a. Included many powerful members of the priesthood - Ac 5:17
         b. They insisted only the laws found in the Pentateuch (first
            five books of the OT) were binding
         c. They rejected "the traditions of the elders", 
            interpretations of the Law that had been handed down
         d. They did not believe in the resurrection, spirits, angels 
            - Ac 23:8; Mt 22:23
         e. They did not believe in rewards or punishment after death,
            nor in heaven or hell
      2. Jesus charged them with two faults - Mt 22:23-29
         a. They did not know the Scriptures
            1) Even those scriptures they held to be true!
            2) For Jesus used a statement in the Pentateuch to show
               their error - Mt 22:31-32; Exo 3:6
         b. They did not know the power of God
            1) Like many liberals, they were influenced by rationalism
            2) They assumed that if they could not conceive or 
               comprehend something, it could not be
            3) They failed to believe what Gabriel and Jesus both knew:
               that with God, nothing is impossible! - Lk 1:37; 
               Mt 19:26

      1. Those who take some portions of God's word, but reject the 
         rest; such as:
         a. Those who heed only the "red-letter" words of Jesus
         b. Those who will accept the words of Jesus, but not His 
         c. Those who accept the words of His apostles, but hold that
            all of Jesus' teachings in the gospels are Old Covenant 
         -- The apostles' words are just as authoritative (Jn 13:10;
            Ac 2:42; 1Co 14:37), and so were the words of Jesus 
            spoken during His earthly ministry (Mt 28:20; Ac 20:35;
            1Ti 5:18b; Lk 10:7)
      2. Those who accept human reason over divine revelation
         a. Many will not accept a Biblical doctrine unless it "makes 
            sense" to them
         b. A dangerous position to hold, since God has chosen to 
            confound the wise and arrogant with the foolishness of the
            gospel message - cf. 1Co 1:18-31
         c. Some doctrines revealed may contain elements beyond man's
            ability to fully comprehend (such as the mystery of 
            godliness:  God manifested in the flesh - 1Ti 3:16; or the
            nature of the Godhead itself)
         -- A child-like trust is more becoming of a Christian - cf. 
            Mt 18:3; Ps 131:1-3
      3. Those who rule out the power of God
         a. Who reject any doctrine, any promise, of the Scriptures if
            conceived as not being physically possible
         b. Such as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, the
            miracles of Jesus, the resurrection of the dead
         -- Once we accept the premise that with God all things are
            possible, we cannot reject Biblical testimony or doctrine
            just because it does not fit our preconceived ideas of what
            is possible


1. Is there a need to "Beware Of Leaven" today?
   a. Are there modern-day Pharisees and Sadducees?
   b. Are there doctrines that can permeate and spread through the 
      Lord's church like leaven?

2. The answer to such questions is a resounding "Yes!"
   a. Such doctrines abound in the denominational world around us
   b. Much error that makes its way into the church usually falls into
      one of two categories:
      1) Traditions of men proclaimed as doctrines (like the Pharisees)
      2) Doctrines of the Bible rejected as impossible (like the

And so the warning by Jesus is just as great today:

 "...beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." (Mt 16:11)

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

eXTReMe Tracker