From Ben Fronczek... The Devil’s Favorite Tool – Discouragement

The Devil’s Favorite Tool – Discouragement

The Devil’s Favorite Tool – Discouragement

To begin with I would like to read you a story from Luke’s Gospel account.

Read Luke 24:13-21a

“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him.  17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked.  “About Jesus of Nazareth,”they replied. “He was a prophet,powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”

There is nothing so devastating as having lost hope. It seems that these men lost all hope. The one they had hoped to be the redeemer of Israel, was in their minds dead. With the death of Jesus, came the death of their hope. We have all lost hope in some sense, at some point in our live. Maybe you did not get the job that you wanted. Maybe the bottom fell out of your  business, or maybe you lost a good job. Maybe it was because of a health issue and you thought there was no hope for you or a loved one.  Maybe your family gathered around the grave of a child, and through tears you asked, “Why God?”  Maybe your family has been torn apart by strife. Or your children are rebellious. Or, your parents are suffering from a loss of memory. Or things just did not turn out the way you hope they would.

In our midweek Bible study we are looking at the life of Joseph. I believe the story Joseph was one of the greatest stories recorded in the Bible.  As one reads the story of Joseph, if you did not know the entire story including how it ends, you would probably wonder why God was allowing this young man to suffer through so much unwarranted trouble. First we read about how Joseph was his dad’s favorite son. Even though his family was blessed by God, we also read about how dysfunctional that family was. Jacob’s household was plagued with feelings of jealousy, envy, unwholesome completion, envy and rage. As a young man Joseph was also exposed to deception, polygamy, incest, and murder. Then we read about the poor treatment and hatred his brothers had for him, eventually selling him into slavery. And then he was later falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife who said that he tried to seduce and rape her, and so he ends up in prison. What probably really confused Joseph was the fact that he knew that he was innocent and didn’t do anything wrong or anything to deserve such treatment. After he correctly interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh’s Cupbearer and Baker, he asks the cupbearer to speak to the Pharaoh on his behalf. But we read that he is left in jail forgotten for another two full years before he is remembered. Talk about a hopeless situation and a reason to be discouraged, depressed and led to despair. In class we talked about how we would feel if we were in Joseph shoes. And I found the list of emotions similar to what people feel today when we get discouraged and loose hope:  Feeling of resentment, bitterness, hostility, anger, hurt, and discouragement, maybe even some feeling of agitation or revenge. But the wonderful thing about Joseph in this story is the fact that Joseph doesn’t seem to let these feeling get the best of him.  Even though many could perceive his life as cursed and unfortunate, Joseph remained faithful to God, and to those over him, and to his responsibilities. The author does not record one negative word about Joseph or his conduct even though he suffered one disappointment after another.

We like to come to church here and sing up lifting songs and hear a positive message, but there are times when that is simply not where we are. Sometimes we just feel down and out, maybe even angry because things are not going the way we hoped. Or maybe we feel guilty because we are not as strong and faithful as Joseph seem to be here. So what are we do? First of all we need to realize that these feeling are bound to come at different times in our life. If you are human everything is not going to go your way and sometime even the best of us will be disappointed. What matters is how you are going to handle these disappointments, and how you are going let them affect others around you.

Here is an example… Listen to what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:8-11

  8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us again. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us,  as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.”

To despair is to lose all hope, or to be overcome by a sense of futility or defeat. The Apostle Paul said he despaired of life. It seems like he was just ready give up and die.
But based on this text, he and his companions eventually recognized God’s hand in their situation. Comfort and peace comes upon the child of God when he or she realizes that God is ultimately in control even in their most disastrous, heart wrenching moments of our life. The Lord, is still Lord even over great personal tragedies, and with Him no situation is ever meant to lead us to despair. In this text Paul goes on to say that he recognized that some of those disappointing things that happened in his life happened

#1 so that he might not rely on or depend on himself, but rather on God, who can raise the dead. Later in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10,  Paul said that he realize it is when things were at their worst and he was the weakest, he was really stronger because it was in those moment of weakness that he would lean on his Lord more than ever.

#2. In the text he also implied that he recognized that God is the one in control and the one that could deliver him, and he recognized He had delivered him over and over again throughout his life and would do it again.

#3. And because of that reality, knowing that God has and would continue to deliver him, Paul said that he learned to set his hopes on Him, no one else.

#4. And because so many prayed for him, many more would give thanks for the answered prayers .

I want to give a few more reasons why I believe we should not lose hope. First is because the WORD OF GOD GIVES HOPE.

Romans 15:4 says;  

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide, we might have hope.”

The stories of old are there for us to read and show us that God is in control and works in the lives of mankind. The scriptures are meant to give us hope. We may think that our problems our unique, that what we are feeling is unique, but God has preserved stories of individuals that experienced trouble, some far worse than ours, & yet survived and grew stronger because of them. God ministered to them in their situations and there is no reason why we should believe that He isn’t doing the same for us today. The same Lord and God who worked in the lives of the saints of old, is working with us today. These stories have been preserved for us that we might have hope, and to reassure us that God is still involved in our lives, and that He cares for us. The stories in the Bible are also meant to give us hope and so too are the promises.

The Bible is just loaded with promises that should give us comfort and hope. I like what it says in Hebrews 13:5, it says   

“…For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 28:20 where He said,

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Like a loving parent who watches over their children maybe without them even knowing it, our Lord watches over us. He was with Joseph in prison. He was with David when Saul wanted to kill him. He was with Daniel in the lion’s den. He was with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace.

No matter what our situation, it is important for us to remember God’s word; not only the promises He made, but also the stories of how He took care of His own over and over and over again. If you focus more on God’s word and what He has preserved for us and less on your disappointments, it should help you in those times of despair and help you become hopeful again.

The second reason for hope is the Cross of Jesus Christ. If the cross communicates any message, it most definitely should remind you how much God loves you and me. Do you actually think that God would send His son into the world and allow Him to suffer the humiliation and pain He suffered, or do you think He would allow His son to be nailed to a wooden crossbeam to save us from our sins if He did not have an incredible amount of love for us? You may be sad, and you may not understand why you did not get that job,  or why a family member died in an accident, you may not understand why things don’t go the way you planed.  But if you want to feel better you need to believe that God is ultimately in control and will work all things out for your good and He’ll do that because He really, really loves you. It’s crucial and imperative for us to know and believe that He may be protecting us from something, or He may have something else better in mind, or what we want is not in our best interest, or what you may want may upset a whole chain of events that only He can see.
If you remember His deep love for you and me, it will help you in those difficult times of despair and it will help re-ignite feeling of hope again.

Before I end this lesson I like to share a story with you I read this past week about a yard sale that the devil conducted. It goes like this:

The devil was holding a yard sale one day and displayed his most useful tools, marked at different prices, on a table. Lying side by side were some of his most notable implements of destruction: hatred, envy, jealously, deceit, lust, lying and pride- all on sale. But over to the side of the yard on display was a worn-out tool that cost more than all the others combined. The tool was labeled DISCOURAGEMENT. When asked why it was more expensive than the other tools, the devil responded, “It’s more useful to me than any of the others. When I can’t bring down my victims with the rest of my tools, I use discouragement, because so few people realize it belongs to me.” Nothing paralyzes us, nothing stops us in our tracks like discouragement and its partner in crime, hopelessness. Discouragement and hopelessness are no respecters of persons. They keep the unemployed, unemployed. The homeless, homeless. The sick, sick. They can even draw the most powerful ministry to its knees. When you’re overcome with discouragement and hopelessness, you can’t pray, you can’t worship and you become a victim of your environment. Discouragement and hopelessness drain you of courage, vision, faith, expectation and the will to make a difference in the kingdom of God . If the devil can get you discouraged and hopeless, then he has successfully neutralized you. You are left with only enough energy to feel sorry for yourself.

Conclusion: Are you tired of being discouraged? You don’t have to stay that way. Whether or not the situation changes, you can experience joy, peace, and contentment.
For the believer, circumstances don’t have to dictate emotions.

Allow Scripture and God’s love for you to permeate your mind and heart. Don’t dwell on the disappointment, rather keep busy, lean upon the Lord and His promises and discouragement will lose its foothold, and you will eventually become joyous and fruitful, and hopeful again.

To read more Sermons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566

From Jim McGuiggan... Punishment——God and government

Punishment——God and government

God’s law as expressed in scripture is vast and complex. The bulk of the laws we read in the Old Testament are to enable Israel to live in covenant relationship with God. They have nothing to do with what we today would call criminal (penal) law. The rules and regulations are to shape the believing society and be the glue that holds it together. (Disputes could arise where no crime was involved and the disputants went to the judge or elder who settled the issue and everyone went back to life.) Glad allegiance to Yahweh included worship as well as proper social relationships so there are laws about how worship was to be shaped and practiced (large sections in Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and the whole book of Leviticus make the point). These laws were not given so that Israelites would have an opportunity to offend. God’s instruction about the kind of fire to be used in worship by the priests was not given so Nadab and Abihu would have something to break and so sin (see Leviticus 10).

And laws governing social behavior such as "Honor your father and mother" were not laid down so that children could have a commandment to break. "Honor your father and mother" is not criminal law but the laws that laid out sanctions against law-breakers come under that heading. Penal laws exist not because there are other laws but because people break the other laws.

Aside from the primary directives, God’s laws changed with the changing face and situation of the Israelite society. For example, many of the laws in the Pentateuch became redundant when the temple replaced the Tabernacle. Laws governing the collection of manna and how Israel was to camp in the wilderness reflected current situations and were set aside when the situation changed. Nothing became redundant that was essential to Israel’s self-understanding as God’s elect servant, working with him to gain larger ends.

When God punishes the sinner personal and relational factors are always present. The righteous God sees us as moral beings with whom he wants a personal relationship and in pursuing that he uses punishment as one of his instruments. The ultimate aim is always to produce in sinners a moral state (repentance) that expresses itself in righteousness and in the pursuit of "the good" as envisioned by God.

Whatever a secular society’s vision of "the good" is, it makes laws to promote that vision. Again, law is a complex and changing reality of course because human society is a complex and changing reality and it need laws to take that into account. At the simple level we have traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, stop signs and the like so that accidents and traffic gridlock can be avoided and to enable us to take advantage of these aids there are laws that govern their use. The lights and crossings and the rules connected with them are not introduced so that people can have an occasion to offend. The rules governing the flow of traffic are laws true enough but criminal law and the question of punishment only enters when someone ignores or chooses to ignore them but in and of themselves they have nothing to do with crime. These laws govern a series of societal needs and are intended to see that a society gets what it needs so that while the laws introduce restrictions they restrict in order to enable. (In the OT the choice of a special priesthood excluded all but the family of Aaron but one reason for the restriction was to enable the whole nation to worship, something they couldn’t do if they all had to crowd into the little Tabernacle. (See The Blessing of representation.) It’s true, of course, that along with the rules to govern the use of traffic lights society brings in sanctions against those who pay no attention to the rules but the whole mass of criminal law exists because there are criminals. Law is indispensable if humans are to live in a functioning society (rather than in anarchy) and criminal law is inevitable because we will continue to be law-breakers.

Because all people in society don’t want and can’t have a personal relationship with one another they settle for less. Since they don’t care much for the inner moral state of others except where it affects their freedom and rights they settle for the process that makes their fellow-citizens law-abiding and initiate criminal proceedings were they must. Clearly there are those for whom moral states and behavior are vitally important and those who care little for such questions as long as their human rights are permitted (this itself is a moral issue of great magnitude). Society can’t stand still until these serious moral questions are exhaustively studied, debated and infallible guidance given on them so they express their majority opinions through elected officials. The laws laid down express the current opinion of the majority and the courts render judgements in light of those laws irrespective of the moral state or arguments of individual citizens. So what society via government with the support of armed forces is after is law-abiding-ness whether or not the individual or society at large has any moral convictions. For this reason we often hear statesmen and stateswomen definitively separate legal questions and moral questions. A former Prime Minister here in the UK said, "If you want morals go to your clergyman." At one level this makes perfect sense; nevertheless even people who are so definitely convicted lean on "natural law" as the basis for the human rights which they think should be enshrined in a free society. Whatever we say when pressed, we would insist that human rights and the things that are necessary to achieve those for people are moral rights and a society is "righteous" when it moves to see that they’re gained for the people at large.

This leads to the point of a just society’s punishment of criminals. The capacity and power to punish like every other capacity and power can be abused but we need not take the abuse of it as the only face it has. As Aristotle reminds us, we’re not to take a diseased and stunted tree as the norm for trees. Giving punishment its best face and leaving society’s "the good" to be defined only in general terms, it’s clear that punishment by society needs to be seen as moral and righteous.

It would be immoral for society to knowingly punish a known innocent person. It would be immoral for a society to knowingly punish a person known not to be accountable by reason of mental disability or some other pronounced condition that renders a free choice out of the question. So when a society punishes via government and court structures it wishes to have the approval of "universal moral law" (natural law) even when the crimes are lower level infringements. It is never right to knowingly punish the innocent or knowingly over-punish the guilty no matter how insignificant the offense or punishment attached to the offense. (See Deuteronomy 25:1-3 on over-punishing.) Finding a place for "morals" in governing may be difficult but in the end everyone without exception—either openly or by smuggling them in—appeals to right and wrong. We hear gang-members or police in some parts of the world talk about "a righteous" shooting, by which they mean that it was justified, it wasn’t a mistake and, more to the point, it wasn’t unwarranted.

Societal "righteousness" is shaped and indicated by the values it upholds and seeks to nurture, and society punishes to express that righteousness against the offender’s unrighteousness. Society’s righteousness exists prior to the crime and it is expressed as laws that promote the well-being and moral rights (there’s that phrase again) of the citizens. When it deals with a criminal, society’s righteousness takes the form of punishment, which is society’s homage to the righteousness it stands for. So whatever the criminal thinks or feels, society insists that there is a righteousness to which it is committed and will work to uphold. Once more, punishment is a form that society’s righteousness takes when dealing with a criminal.

In punishing a murderer or rapist society describes itself as valuing the person murdered and acts out that value. But in punishing them it also says to all would-be murderers that it values the lives of all who might be murdered. So that the judgement of one murderer or rapist is a word about murder and rape as potential acts as well as deeds done. Here we’d have specific and general deterrence. That murderer or rapist has been deterred by imprisonment and other would-be murderers or rapists are warned and society at large is better pleased with and therefore more committed to the rule of law so there is a further deterrent effect.

Imagine that the penitent transgressor now sees his crime as unrighteous, deplores it and genuinely commits to promoting the righteousness of the society that just recently acted against him. In such a case the murderer now stands outside his crime, he now rejects the mind-set of a murderer and rejects the justification he offered himself. His state of mind is an anti-murder state of mind. That is, while there is no way to undo the act, he has comprehensively and genuinely condemned the heart that produced the act and is only able to do it because his heart is a changed heart.

Punishment may not be able to achieve such a change of heart in which case the righteousness of the society in the form of punishment failed to gain something it aimed for but it did accomplish some of what it meant to do. But if society did gain a change of heart in the criminal by its dealing with him that would be more than righteousness making itself present in the form of distress inflicted, it would be righteousness echoed in the offender’s heart. It would be righteousness triumphing over the unrighteousness that the offender had championioned. (In the religious and theological realm in such a case we would see Christ truly and fully defeating sin in the person of the sinner—Christians would call it the repentance of faith..)

©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.

From Mark Copeland... There's A Great Day Coming! ( 2 Thessalonians 1:7-12)


                  There's A Great Day Coming! (1:7-12)


1. The Thessalonians endured much adversity for the cause of Christ...
   a. From the very beginning they were persecuted for their faith - cf.
      Ac 17:1-9
   b. Initially, it was a matter of grave concern for Paul - cf. 1 Th 3:1-5

2. Yet the Thessalonians persevered, giving Paul...
   a. Great joy and comfort - cf. 1Th 3:6-10
   b. Good reason to boast of their faith and patience - cf. 2Th 1:4

3. To encourage them even more, Paul reminded them that their labor was
   not in vain...
   a. Their suffering would make them worthy of the kingdom of God
      - 2Th 1:5
   b. God would one day repay those who troubled them - 2Th 1:6

4. The "day of recompense" will occur when Jesus returns...
   a. The events of that day would make their suffering for Christ
   b. Indeed, like the hymn we often sing, "There's A Great Day Coming!"

[As we continue our study of 2 Thessalonians, we find Paul describing
this "great day" as...]


      1. The Greek word for "revealed" is apokalupso, "an uncovering,
      2. Right now, Jesus is in heaven
         a. As such He is hidden from the world's view
         b. But one day He will be revealed by appearing - cf. Col 3:1-4;
            Tit 2:13; He 9:28
      3. When that occurs, it will be from heaven
         a. Coming with His mighty angels - 2Th 1:7; cf. Mt 16:27
         b. Coming in flaming fire - 2Th 1:8; cf. 2Pe 3:7,10-12

      1. He will be glorified, i.e., be "honored" - 2Th 1:10,12
         a. Now, many people reject Him, despise Him, use His name in
         b. Then, people will bow and confess His name - cf. Php 2:9-11
      2. Note that He will be glorified "in His saints" - 2Th 1:10,12;
         cf. Jn 17:10
         a. Much of the honor Jesus will receive will be because of His
         b. For what He was able to accomplish through His life, death,
            and present ministry in heaven (i.e., turn sinners into
            saints!) - e.g., Php 1:20; 1Pe 2:9

      1. He will be "marveled at", "wondered at", "held in admiration"
      2. By those who believe - 2Th 1:10
         a. Those who accepted the testimony of the apostles - cf. 1 Th 2:13
         b. Those who trusted in Him with the eyes of faith while He was
            still "hidden"

[What a "great day" it will be for Jesus when He comes to be revealed,
glorified, and admired!  Yet as we continue we note that it will be a
"great day" for another reason, for it will be...]


      1. A time of rest - 2Th 1:7
         a. To those who have been troubled
            1) With persecutions and tribulations - cf. 2Th 1:4
            2) For the sake of the kingdom of God - cf. 2Th 1:5
         b. This rest involves the kingdom of God in her future glory
            1) Referred to by Jesus in His parable of the tares - Mt 13:41-43
            2) Beautifully depicted in the revelation given to John - Re 21:1-7
      2. A time of glory - 2Th 1:12
         a. Not only will Jesus be glorified, but also His disciples
            ("you in Him")!
         b. Because of their persevering faith - cf. 1Pe 1:7
      -- Made possible by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ! - 2 Th 1:12b

      1. A time of vengeance - 2Th 1:8
         a. Bringing just recompense - cf. He 10:30-31
         b. On some because they persecuted Christians - 2Th 1:6
         c. On others because they "knew not God" - 2Th 1:8
            1) The most important thing in this life! - cf. Jer 9:23-24
            2) Yet many refuse to know Him - cf. Ro 1:18-21,28
         d. On all who "obey not the gospel" of Christ - 2Th 1:8
            1) Note well, the gospel must be obeyed! - cf. He 5:9; 1 Pe 4:17
            2) That is because the gospel contains commands to obey,
               such as the commands to believe, confess, repent, and be
               baptized - cf. Ro 10:9,10; Ac 2:38
      2. A time of punishment - 2Th 1:6,9
         a. In the form of "tribulation"
            1) A form of righteous repayment
            2) Especially for those who troubled God's people
         b. In the form of "everlasting destruction"
            1) Destruction that lasts forever! - cf. Mt 26:41,46
            2) Destruction from the presence and power of the Lord!
               - cf. Re 14:10,11


1. In view of these words, "There's A Great Day Coming!"...
   a. For some, it will be a terrific day, one to anticipate - cf. 2 Pe 3:12-14
   b. For many, it will be a terrible day, one to fear - cf. Mt 7:13-14,

2. What will this "great day" bring to us?
   a. Rest and glory?
   b. Vengeance and punishment?

3. The answer lies in how we answer two questions...
   a. Do we know God?
   b. Have we obeyed the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?

If you have not, why not today?  If you have, then may this sobering
passage encourage you to remain faithful, so that Paul's prayer for the
Thessalonians will be fulfilled in your life as well:

   "...that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and 
   fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of
   faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may 
   be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of
   our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
                                                 - 2Th 1:11-12

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading December 14

Bible Reading  

December 14

The World English Bible

Dec. 14
Hosea 9-12

Hos 9:1 Don't rejoice, Israel, to jubilation like the nations; for you were unfaithful to your God. You love the wages of a prostitute at every grain threshing floor.
Hos 9:2 The threshing floor and the winepress won't feed them, and the new wine will fail her.
Hos 9:3 They won't dwell in Yahweh's land; but Ephraim will return to Egypt, and they will eat unclean food in Assyria.
Hos 9:4 They won't pour out wine offerings to Yahweh, neither will they be pleasing to him. Their sacrifices will be to them like the bread of mourners; all who eat of it will be polluted; for their bread will be for their appetite. It will not come into the house of Yahweh.
Hos 9:5 What will you do in the day of solemn assembly, and in the day of the feast of Yahweh?
Hos 9:6 For, behold, they have gone away from destruction. Egypt will gather them up. Memphis will bury them. Nettles will possess their pleasant things of silver. Thorns will be in their tents.
Hos 9:7 The days of visitation have come. The days of reckoning have come. Israel will consider the prophet to be a fool, and the man who is inspired to be insane, because of the abundance of your sins, and because your hostility is great.
Hos 9:8 A prophet watches over Ephraim with my God. A fowler's snare is on all of his paths, and hostility in the house of his God.
Hos 9:9 They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah. He will remember their iniquity. He will punish them for their sins.
Hos 9:10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness. I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at its first season; but they came to Baal Peor, and consecrated themselves to the shameful thing, and became abominable like that which they loved.
Hos 9:11 As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird. There will be no birth, none with child, and no conception.
Hos 9:12 Though they bring up their children, yet I will bereave them, so that not a man shall be left. Indeed, woe also to them when I depart from them!
Hos 9:13 I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place; but Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.
Hos 9:14 Give them--Yahweh what will you give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.
Hos 9:15 "All their wickedness is in Gilgal; for there I hated them. Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of my house! I will love them no more. All their princes are rebels.
Hos 9:16 Ephraim is struck. Their root has dried up. They will bear no fruit. Even though they bring forth, yet I will kill the beloved ones of their womb."
Hos 9:17 My God will cast them away, because they did not listen to him; and they will be wanderers among the nations.
Hos 10:1 Israel is a luxuriant vine that puts forth his fruit. According to the abundance of his fruit he has multiplied his altars. As their land has prospered, they have adorned their sacred stones.
Hos 10:2 Their heart is divided. Now they will be found guilty. He will demolish their altars. He will destroy their sacred stones.
Hos 10:3 Surely now they will say, "We have no king; for we don't fear Yahweh; and the king, what can he do for us?"
Hos 10:4 They make promises, swearing falsely in making covenants. Therefore judgment springs up like poisonous weeds in the furrows of the field.
Hos 10:5 The inhabitants of Samaria will be in terror for the calves of Beth Aven; for its people will mourn over it, Along with its priests who rejoiced over it, for its glory, because it has departed from it.
Hos 10:6 It also will be carried to Assyria for a present to a great king. Ephraim will receive shame, and Israel will be ashamed of his own counsel.
Hos 10:7 Samaria and her king float away, like a twig on the water.
Hos 10:8 The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, will be destroyed. The thorn and the thistle will come up on their altars. They will tell the mountains, "Cover us!" and the hills, "Fall on us!"
Hos 10:9 "Israel, you have sinned from the days of Gibeah. There they remained. The battle against the children of iniquity doesn't overtake them in Gibeah.
Hos 10:10 When it is my desire, I will chastise them; and the nations will be gathered against them, when they are bound to their two transgressions.
Hos 10:11 Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke on her beautiful neck. I will set a rider on Ephraim. Judah will plow. Jacob will break his clods.
Hos 10:12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap according to kindness. Break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek Yahweh, until he comes and rains righteousness on you.
Hos 10:13 You have plowed wickedness. You have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, for you trusted in your way, in the multitude of your mighty men.
Hos 10:14 Therefore a battle roar will arise among your people, and all your fortresses will be destroyed, as Shalman destroyed Beth Arbel in the day of battle. The mother was dashed in pieces with her children.
Hos 10:15 So Bethel will do to you because of your great wickedness. At daybreak the king of Israel will be destroyed.
Hos 11:1 "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
Hos 11:2 They called to them, so they went from them. They sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to engraved images.
Hos 11:3 Yet I taught Ephraim to walk. I took them by his arms; but they didn't know that I healed them.
Hos 11:4 I drew them with cords of a man, with ties of love; and I was to them like those who lift up the yoke on their necks; and I bent down to him and I fed him.
Hos 11:5 "They won't return into the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian will be their king, because they refused to repent.
Hos 11:6 The sword will fall on their cities, and will destroy the bars of their gates, and will put an end to their plans.
Hos 11:7 My people are determined to turn from me. Though they call to the Most High, he certainly won't exalt them.
Hos 11:8 "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned within me, my compassion is aroused.
Hos 11:9 I will not execute the fierceness of my anger. I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of you; and I will not come in wrath.
Hos 11:10 They will walk after Yahweh, who will roar like a lion; for he will roar, and the children will come trembling from the west.
Hos 11:11 They will come trembling like a bird out of Egypt, and like a dove out of the land of Assyria; and I will settle them in their houses," says Yahweh.
Hos 11:12 Ephraim surrounds me with falsehood, and the house of Israel with deceit. Judah still strays from God, and is unfaithful to the Holy One.
Hos 12:1 Ephraim feeds on wind, and chases the east wind. He continually multiplies lies and desolation. They make a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried into Egypt.
Hos 12:2 Yahweh also has a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his deeds he will repay him.
Hos 12:3 In the womb he took his brother by the heel; and in his manhood he contended with God.
Hos 12:4 Indeed, he struggled with the angel, and prevailed; he wept, and made supplication to him. He found him at Bethel, and there he spoke with us,
Hos 12:5 even Yahweh, the God of Armies; Yahweh is his name of renown!
Hos 12:6 Therefore turn to your God. Keep kindness and justice, and wait continually for your God.
Hos 12:7 A merchant has dishonest scales in his hand. He loves to defraud.
Hos 12:8 Ephraim said, "Surely I have become rich, I have found myself wealth. In all my wealth they won't find in me any iniquity that is sin."
Hos 12:9 "But I am Yahweh your God from the land of Egypt. I will yet again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the solemn feast.
Hos 12:10 I have also spoken to the prophets, and I have multiplied visions; and by the ministry of the prophets I have used parables.
Hos 12:11 If Gilead is wicked, surely they are worthless. In Gilgal they sacrifice bulls. Indeed, their altars are like heaps in the furrows of the field.
Hos 12:12 Jacob fled into the country of Aram, and Israel served to get a wife, and for a wife he tended flocks and herds.
Hos 12:13 By a prophet Yahweh brought Israel up out of Egypt, and by a prophet he was preserved.
Hos 12:14 Ephraim has bitterly provoked anger. Therefore his blood will be left on him, and his Lord will repay his contempt.

Dec. 14
1 John 4

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, don't believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1Jn 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God,
1Jn 4:3 and every spirit who doesn't confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God, and this is the spirit of the Antichrist, of whom you have heard that it comes. Now it is in the world already.
1Jn 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.
1Jn 4:5 They are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them.
1Jn 4:6 We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God doesn't listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
1Jn 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God.
1Jn 4:8 He who doesn't love doesn't know God, for God is love.
1Jn 4:9 By this God's love was revealed in us, that God has sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
1Jn 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1Jn 4:11 Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another.
1Jn 4:12 No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love has been perfected in us.
1Jn 4:13 By this we know that we remain in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
1Jn 4:14 We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world.
1Jn 4:15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him, and he in God.
1Jn 4:16 We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him.
1Jn 4:17 In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world.
1Jn 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.
1Jn 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
1Jn 4:20 If a man says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn't love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
1Jn 4:21 This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother.

From Gary... Greetings

Today, as I sit in front of my computer, I decided to do something a little different.  I just sat there a few minutes, just staring at the blanks screen, hoping an idea might just "come to me".  Then, from outside, I heard my wife watering the plants and I remembered how important she is to me and for that matter, virtually everyone I have known.  I wished my daughters could come to Florida for the holidays- but that simply isn't going to happen.  And my thoughts turned to all those I have known from the northern states- New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, to name just a few. How hard it must be for them, with the recent heavy snow and the cold.  Many names flooded my mind- Bruce, Harry, Muriel, Vivian, David, Loretta, Kevin, Darlene, Melissa, (all my grand-kids as well) Betsy, Ron, Jean and many others came to my mind.  After a few minutes, I realized what I was doing and that I had read something like that before. And, it was then that I recalled one of my favorite passages of Scripture.  Read on, but I warn you- some of the names are hard to pronounce....

Romans, Chapter 16
  1 I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the assembly that is at Cenchreae, 2 that you receive her in the Lord, in a way worthy of the saints, and that you assist her in whatever matter she may need from you, for she herself also has been a helper of many, and of my own self. 

  3  Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,  4 who for my life, laid down their own necks; to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the assemblies of the Gentiles.  5 Greet the assembly that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first fruits of Achaia to Christ.  6 Greet Mary, who labored much for us.  7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and my fellow prisoners, who are notable among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.  8 Greet Amplias, my beloved in the Lord.  9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys, my beloved.  10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus.  11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet them of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord.  12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who labor in the Lord. Greet Persis, the beloved, who labored much in the Lord.  13 Greet Rufus, the chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers  who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them.  16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. The assemblies of Christ greet you.

I don't recall most of these names being listed anywhere else in Scripture, so the first couple of times I ever read this- it meant very little to me.  After awhile though, I realized how much Paul cared for these PEOPLE!!!  Sometimes, just expressing that is enough!!!  For we all need other people- especially those who we care about and those who share the same feeling toward us.  But, by this time, you are probably wondering "WHY IN THE WORLD DID HE PUT THAT JAPANESE MAPLE TREE IN THE POST?"  Answer: just for those who needed something pleasant to look at and know someone was thinking of them on a cold and dreary (almost winter) day.  If you didn't see your name, I am bad.  Please remember that I am a bit forgetful and I probably will remember you a couple of hours from now!!!  Can't help but wonder how many People Paul forgot to greet...