12/16/13

From Gary.... Bible Reading December 16



Bible Reading   

December 16

The World English Bible



Dec. 16
Joel 1-3

Joe 1:1 The Word of Yahweh that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel.
Joe 1:2 Hear this, you elders, And listen, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?
Joe 1:3 Tell your children about it, and have your children tell their children, and their children, another generation.
Joe 1:4 What the swarming locust has left, the great locust has eaten. What the great locust has left, the grasshopper has eaten. What the grasshopper has left, the caterpillar has eaten.
Joe 1:5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
Joe 1:6 For a nation has come up on my land, strong, and without number. His teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a lioness.
Joe 1:7 He has laid my vine waste, and stripped my fig tree. He has stripped its bark, and thrown it away. Its branches are made white.
Joe 1:8 Mourn like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth!
Joe 1:9 The meal offering and the drink offering are cut off from Yahweh's house. The priests, Yahweh's ministers, mourn.
Joe 1:10 The field is laid waste. The land mourns, for the grain is destroyed, The new wine has dried up, and the oil languishes.
Joe 1:11 Be confounded, you farmers! Wail, you vineyard keepers; for the wheat and for the barley; for the harvest of the field has perished.
Joe 1:12 The vine has dried up, and the fig tree withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all of the trees of the field are withered; for joy has withered away from the sons of men.
Joe 1:13 Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests! Wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the meal offering and the drink offering are withheld from your God's house.
Joe 1:14 Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, to the house of Yahweh, your God, and cry to Yahweh.
Joe 1:15 Alas for the day! For the day of Yahweh is at hand, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.
Joe 1:16 Isn't the food cut off before our eyes; joy and gladness from the house of our God?
Joe 1:17 The seeds rot under their clods. The granaries are laid desolate. The barns are broken down, for the grain has withered.
Joe 1:18 How the animals groan! The herds of livestock are perplexed, because they have no pasture. Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
Joe 1:19 Yahweh, I cry to you, For the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.
Joe 1:20 Yes, the animals of the field pant to you, for the water brooks have dried up, And the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.
Joe 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh comes, for it is close at hand:
Joe 2:2 A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn spreading on the mountains, a great and strong people; there has never been the like, neither will there be any more after them, even to the years of many generations.
Joe 2:3 A fire devours before them, and behind them, a flame burns. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them, a desolate wilderness. Yes, and no one has escaped them.
Joe 2:4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen, so do they run.
Joe 2:5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
Joe 2:6 At their presence the peoples are in anguish. All faces have grown pale.
Joe 2:7 They run like mighty men. They climb the wall like warriors. They each march in his line, and they don't swerve off course.
Joe 2:8 Neither does one jostle another; they march everyone in his path, and they burst through the defenses, and don't break ranks.
Joe 2:9 They rush on the city. They run on the wall. They climb up into the houses. They enter in at the windows like thieves.
Joe 2:10 The earth quakes before them. The heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Joe 2:11 Yahweh thunders his voice before his army; for his forces are very great; for he is strong who obeys his command; for the day of Yahweh is great and very awesome, and who can endure it?
Joe 2:12 "Yet even now," says Yahweh, "turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning."
Joe 2:13 Tear your heart, and not your garments, and turn to Yahweh, your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and relents from sending calamity.
Joe 2:14 Who knows? He may turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meal offering and a drink offering to Yahweh, your God.
Joe 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion! Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly.
Joe 2:16 Gather the people. Sanctify the assembly. Assemble the elders. Gather the children, and those who suck the breasts. Let the bridegroom go forth from his room, and the bride out of her chamber.
Joe 2:17 Let the priests, the ministers of Yahweh, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, "Spare your people, Yahweh, and don't give your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?' "
Joe 2:18 Then Yahweh was jealous for his land, And had pity on his people.
Joe 2:19 Yahweh answered his people, "Behold, I will send you grain, new wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied with them; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.
Joe 2:20 But I will remove the northern army far away from you, and will drive it into a barren and desolate land, its front into the eastern sea, and its back into the western sea; and its stench will come up, and its bad smell will rise." Surely he has done great things.
Joe 2:21 Land, don't be afraid. Be glad and rejoice, for Yahweh has done great things.
Joe 2:22 Don't be afraid, you animals of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness spring up, for the tree bears its fruit. The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
Joe 2:23 "Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh, your God; for he gives you the former rain in just measure, and he causes the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain, as before.
Joe 2:24 The threshing floors will be full of wheat, and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
Joe 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the great locust, the grasshopper, and the caterpillar, my great army, which I sent among you.
Joe 2:26 You will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied, and will praise the name of Yahweh, your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and my people will never again be disappointed.
Joe 2:27 You will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else; and my people will never again be disappointed.
Joe 2:28 "It will happen afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions.
Joe 2:29 And also on the servants and on the handmaids in those days, I will pour out my Spirit.
Joe 2:30 I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.
Joe 2:31 The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes.
Joe 2:32 It will happen that whoever will call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the remnant, those whom Yahweh calls.
Joe 3:1 "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
Joe 3:2 I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will execute judgment on them there for my people, and for my heritage, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations. They have divided my land,
Joe 3:3 and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.
Joe 3:4 "Yes, and what are you to me, Tyre, and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Will you repay me? And if you repay me, I will swiftly and speedily return your repayment on your own head.
Joe 3:5 Because you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my finest treasures into your temples,
Joe 3:6 and have sold the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem to the sons of the Greeks, that you may remove them far from their border.
Joe 3:7 Behold, I will stir them up out of the place where you have sold them, and will return your repayment on your own head;
Joe 3:8 and I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hands of the children of Judah, and they will sell them to the men of Sheba, to a faraway nation, for Yahweh has spoken it."
Joe 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations: "Prepare for war! Stir up the mighty men. Let all the warriors draw near. Let them come up.
Joe 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weak say, 'I am strong.'
Joe 3:11 Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves together." Cause your mighty ones to come down there, Yahweh.
Joe 3:12 "Let the nations arouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
Joe 3:13 Put in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the winepress is full, the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great."
Joe 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of Yahweh is near, in the valley of decision.
Joe 3:15 The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Joe 3:16 Yahweh will roar from Zion, and thunder from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth will shake; but Yahweh will be a refuge to his people, and a stronghold to the children of Israel.
Joe 3:17 "So you will know that I am Yahweh, your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. Then Jerusalem will be holy, and no strangers will pass through her any more.
Joe 3:18 It will happen in that day, that the mountains will drop down sweet wine, the hills will flow with milk, all the brooks of Judah will flow with waters, and a fountain will come forth from the house of Yahweh, and will water the valley of Shittim.
Joe 3:19 Egypt will be a desolation, and Edom will be a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
Joe 3:20 But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
Joe 3:21 I will cleanse their blood, that I have not cleansed: for Yahweh dwells in Zion."

 
Dec. 16
2 John

2Jn 1:1 The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not I only, but also all those who know the truth;
2Jn 1:2 for the truth's sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever:
2Jn 1:3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
2Jn 1:4 I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, even as we have been commanded by the Father.
2Jn 1:5 Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
2Jn 1:6 This is love, that we should walk according to his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don't confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.
2Jn 1:8 Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward.
2Jn 1:9 Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10 If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him,
2Jn 1:11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.
2Jn 1:12 Having many things to write to you, I don't want to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy may be made full.
2Jn 1:13 The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen.

From Mark Copeland... The Man Of Sin (2 thessalonians 2:3-12)







               "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"

                        The Man Of Sin (2:3-12)

INTRODUCTION

1. In correcting misconceptions about the Lord's return, Paul wrote that
   two events must occur
   before the Lord returns...
   a. The falling away must come - 2Th 2:3
   b. The man of sin is revealed - 2Th 3:3

2. Our previous lesson focused on the falling away, and how...
   a. The apostasy of many was foretold by the apostles - cf. 1Ti 4:
      1-3; 2Pe 2:1-2
   b. The history of the church gives evidence of a departure from the
      faith - cf. 1Jn 2:18-19
   c. We must be diligent lest we too fall away - cf. He 2:1-3

3. We now direct our attention to what is said about "the man of sin"...
   a. Who will be revealed before Christ comes
   b. Who will be destroyed when Christ is revealed

[As we examine our text (2Th 2:3-12), let's first consider what we can
about...]

I. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE MAN OF SIN

   A. WHAT THE SCRIPTURES REVEAL...
      1. His perverse character - 2Th 2:3
         a. A man of "lawlessness" - having no regard for God's law
         b. A son of "perdition" - one begotten for destruction
      2. His God-defying activity - 2Th 2:4
         a. He opposes and exalts himself
            1) Above all that is called God
            2) Above all that is worshiped (including Jesus)
         b. He sits as God in the temple (the church?)
         c. He shows himself that he is God!
      3. His present restraint and future revealing - 2Th 2:5-8
         a. He was being restrained at the time Paul wrote
            1) The Thessalonians knew what was restraining him
            2) For Paul had told them when he was with them
         b. Even so, the "mystery of lawlessness" was already at work
            1) His lawless influence was already spreading
            2) But it was hidden (still a mystery), to be revealed only
               when that which restrains was removed
         c. He would be revealed when the restraining force was removed
      4. His relation to Satan - 2Th 2:9-10
         a. His coming will be according to the working of Satan
         b. His coming will be with all power, signs, lying wonders
         c. He will exercise unrighteous deception among those who are
            perishing
      -- Who or what is this "man of sin, the son of perdition"?

   B. WHAT SOME HAVE SUGGESTED...
      1. One view is that the man of sin is one particular individual
         a. Who will arise with great power and deceive many just before
            Christ returns
         b. Who is the "antichrist" spoken of by John in 1Jn 2:18
         -- This view is held by pre-millenialists, and some
            amillenialists (e.g., William Hendricksen, Edward J. Young,
            Anthony Hoekema)
      2. Another view is that the man of sin is a series of individuals
         a. Perhaps a successive line of men with the same general
            character
         b. In this sense many have applied it to the Roman papacy
            1) This was first suggested by a pope himself!
               a) Gregory the Great (550-604 A.D.) said that whoever
                  arrogates to himself the tile of "universal priest" is
                  a forerunner of antichrist (cf. Hendricksen)
               b) It was not long before patriarchs of Rome began to
                  claim such distinction
            2) Many Protestants view the papacy as the "man of sin"
               (e.g., Luther, Barnes)
               a) Noting the similarity between what is said about the
                  man of sin, and what the Roman papacy became
               b) Suggesting that either the Holy Spirit or the Roman
                  empire was what was "restraining" the lawlessness that
                  was just beginning and would eventually lead to the
                  apostasy and revelation of the man of sin
      -- In the absence of any particular individual to arise so far, I
         am prone to think the latter view may be the correct one

[While there may be some question as to the actual identity of the man
of sin, there is no doubt what unfortunate souls will be misled by his
influence...]

II. THE DECEPTION BY THE MAN OF SIN

   A. THOSE WHO WILL FOLLOW THE MAN OF SIN...
      1. Those who are perishing will be the ones deceived - 2Th 2:
         10-12
         a. Those who do not have a love for the truth, that they might
            be saved
         b. Those who do not believe the truth
         c. Those who have pleasure in unrighteousness
      -- People whose priority is pleasure-seeking rather than truth-
         seeking will be prime candidates for deception!
      2. Those who believe the lie will be strengthened in their
         delusion - 2Th 2:11-12
         a. God Himself will send a strong delusion!
         b. Since they do not have a love for the truth, He will
            strengthen their love for a lie!
            1) As he hardened Pharaoh to resist Moses - cf. Exo 9:12-21
            2) And the Israelites, who resisted the gospel - cf. Ro 11:
               7-25
      -- The delusion will not be against their will, but will harden or
         strengthen them in their desire to follow error

   B. THOSE WHO WILL RESIST THE MAN OF SIN...
      1. Will be those who have a love for the truth - cf. 2Th 2:10
      2. Will be those who believe the truth - cf. 2Th 2:12
      3. Will this be true of us?
         a. Do we love the truth?
         b. Do we even know the truth?
         c. Do we take the time to learn the truth (i.e., study the
            Bible)?
         d. Do we place our trust in the Bible (i.e., believe and obey
            it)?
      -- Our attitude and treatment of God's Word will determine whether
         we will be susceptible to deception by the man of sin

[We cannot afford to be complacent with truth if we do not want to be
misled by the man of sin!  Finally, those who love and believe the truth
of Christ can take comfort in knowing what is said regarding...]

III. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE MAN OF SIN

   A. THE DECISIVE NATURE OF HIS DEFEAT...
      1. He will be consumed and destroyed by the Lord - 2Th 2:8
      2. His end will be similar to that of those who know not God and
         obey not the gospel of Christ - cf. 2Th 1:7-9

   B. THE TIMING OF HIS DEFEAT...
      1. This will happen at the coming of the Lord - 2Th 2:8
      2. The Lord will destroy the man of sin with the brightness of His
         coming! - 2Th 2:8
      3. Just as the Lord will destroy Satan at His coming - cf. Re 20:10

CONCLUSION

1. As with many prophetic passages, there has been a lot of foolish
   speculation...
   a. In every generation, attempts have been made to identify the man
      of sin
   b. In the 20th century alone, from Kaiser to Hitler to Hussein, etc.
   c. Many have spoken, confident in their identification, only to be
      proven wrong with time

2. What is important, indeed necessary, is that we be ready for whatever
   comes...
   a. Whether the man of sin proves to be a specific individual
   b. Or whether the man of sin is indeed a series of individuals, such
      as the papacy

3. How shall we be ready for whatever comes?
   a. Have a strong love for the truth
   b. Believe in the truth
   c. Obey the gospel of Jesus Christ
   -- Only then can we be confident that we are in a right relationship
      with the Lord

Is your love and faith in the truth sufficient not to be misled by the
man of sin, or is your love for unrighteousness setting you up to be
deceived even more?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Jim McGuiggan... Why God punishes (2)

Why God punishes (2)

God is not "a punishing machine" but the Bible everywhere insists that when God punishes the guilty that he does it in line with his holy loving character. There’s nothing vindictive about him so punishment administered by him is not a tit for tat response and however difficult it is for us to accept—especially when we’re enduring chastisement or reflecting on the pain and distress in the world—it is never overkill. He knows about the overkill complaint and responds to it in Isaiah 2:23-29.

So why does he punish? He punishes for a complex of reasons. He punishes as a deterrent—special and general. See Why God punishes. He lovingly punishes to discipline (Hebrews 12:4-13 and Revelation 3:19) and so forth.

Ultimately I suppose that God punishes to bring sinners back to himself that we might have life with him. And the "him" that he wants us to have life with lives in holy righteousness of which he himself is the source and standard. That means he cannot live in fellowship with sinners unless they pay homage to the holiness and righteousness of the God that alone can give them life. Let me say that again, God cannot offer life and fellowship to sinners at the expense of his holiness or that suggests he can fellowship impenitent evil! That is, God is light and impenitent sinners cannot have life with him because they choose to be darkness. There’s nothing arbitrary about it. In light of all this, then, God punishes to bring sinners to a moral state. They cannot be brought to sinlessness—it’s too late for that—but they can be brought to repentance and repentance is the sinner’s heartfelt homage to the righteousness that pursued him.

Elizabeth Moberly with a single incisive thrust bursts the balloon of much "wise" advice about dispensing with punishment and many half-baked notions on punishment. She reminds us that punishment or reward if they are to do what is best they will focus on righteousness and not reward or punishment. It’s all very well, she teaches us, to reward good behavior but we leave the door wide open for doing the right thing in order to get the reward so that goodness is sidelined and reward is the ultimate end. And unless punishment is carried out in the light of moral ends we invite people to do the right thing without any thought of righteousness. In one case it’s "let’s the reward" and in the other it’s "let’s avoid the punishment" and in no case is it being right and doing right because this is righteousness.

You understand that the biblical notion of righteousness is not some abstract framework—it is likeness to God who is the source and shape of righteousness. So the Christian would insist that it isn’t enough to say we should be righteous simply to be righteous. No, the Christian would say we’re to be like our Father in heaven if we want to be called the children of God (see Matthew 5:20,43-48, Luke 6:35-36 and John 14:9).

So the place of punishment administered by God in a sinful world is aimed at producing life that can only exist in relationship with him. And that relationship is only possible with him if holy righteousness is held to be of paramount importance. All the judgement that has fallen and falls on the world in light of sin comes to focus in Jesus Christ who shared that judgement with us.

©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 Ben Fronczek... Veterans Day





Veterans Day  

How many of you ever felt unappreciated?   Silly question. We’ve all felt unappreciated at one time or another. Moms sometimes feel unappreciated for all that they do around the home, all the cooking, all the cleanings, washing all the clothes and so much more. Sometimes men feel unappreciated for all that they do at home, or at work. Many times kids even feel unappreciated for what contributions they make. But when I think about a Veteran and what many of them had to do, and what many of them had to sacrifice; and then not be remembered, it’s sad.  Veteran’s Day, is also known as Armistice Day, or Remembrance Day in other countries is celebrated on Nov.11th , the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.  President Dwight Eisenhower made it a holiday and signed it into law In 1954, saying “on this day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought on the seas, in the air, on the foreign shores, and let us re-consecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

 I believe Veteran’s Day is all about showing our appreciation, and giving honor to those men and women who gave so much for us and the causes our great nation.  We feel bad and don’t feel appreciated, maybe because no one thanked us for washing the floor or doing the dirty dishes.  But what did those Vet’s do? Some made great sacrifices, not only giving their time and effort, many were put in harm’s way where they trembled with fear on a day to day basis. Some were forced to fight and kill other human beings. Some were injured, shot, crippled and even lost body parts. Some became prisoners of war and were tortured. And for some it cost them their mental health because of what they saw. And others made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their life.  And how do some honor and remember their sacrifice?  By holding a Veteran’s Day Sale event to get people out to go shopping!          I’m sorry but I think that is pathetic! At least Hoffman’s car wash is offering our vets and active soldiers a free car wash for the day to honor them.
 So what does it mean to honor?  Honor is an ancient word which can have numerous meanings depending on how it is used.  

For today’s purpose I want to use it as it is used in Exodus 20.  

“Honor, thy father and thy mother” 

 This is a commandment from God to do something.  Yes, honor involves doing something.  So how should we honor our veterans?  First I think that we need to look at what honor is.  Webster’s dictionary summarizes it to mean “the showing of merited respect”.

 In his video series Hidden Keys to Loving Relationships, at one point Gary Smalley took a Stradivarius violin worth $500,000 and passed around his audience. As it moved from one person to another it was handled with the greatest care and gasps of awe could be heard. He later explained that his audience was demonstrating honor as they beheld that violin. Because of what it was they were showing ‘merited respect’.

Observing Veteran’s Day should be about showing honor, respect, and pride for those who served in our place. It is something we should do.  It’s not just about taking advantage of a 30 or 40% off sale at Sears, or about watching old war movies on TV. But rather it’s good to take a few moments to remember their sacrifice and say thank you shows some respect, appreciation and recognition to those men and women for they have done.

Today all the churches in the our area have decided to ring their church bells at 11:00 AM for two minutes to honor our Veterans. And as we do this I ask you think about these men and women with honor and respect. I also ask you to pray for those who are alive and who may still be in the military. Pray for those who are injured or permanently handicapped.  And I also ask you to pray for those who have lost their loved ones. Pray for the survivors left behind. And pray that this nations will always be a nation that chooses it’s battles wisely and seeks the road of peace first.
Ring Bell.     Then Sing Soldiers of Christ Arise.
Wars and conflicts have been a tragic part of our human experience ever since our banishment from the Garden of Eden.

• The attempt at resolving our differences through the point of the spear, the edge of the sword, the barrel of the gun, or targeted missile, has sadly not brought us any closer to an end of hostilities.

• The Great War, World War I, was regarded as “the war to end all wars” – the horrors and enormous cost in lives lost and resources spent, was hoped and believed to be sufficient to make the very thought of another war “unthinkable”.

• But just 21 years later we were again embroiled in another bitter World War in Europe, the Pacific, and North Africa that resulted in a total of 62 million deaths from 27 countries.

• Since then, and among the wars and conflicts of other nations, we have endured the Korean War, the Cold War, Vietnam, Boznia, Somalia, Desert Storm, Afghanistan, Iraq and the bitter ongoing War on Terror.

I recognize and acknowledge that there are passages like Isaiah 2:4 that talks  of a day coming when people will  

“beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

But there is still a battles to be fought on a spiritual level. While the outcome has already been determined by Christ’s victory over sin and death (See 1 Cor. 15:56-57), daily battles rages on. The enemy, the Devil, seeks to rob God of glory by leading men and women on a pathway of rebellion (See Eph. 2:1-2).

So it becomes important for Christians to take time every now and then to review our understanding of this ongoing spiritual war lest we become casualties in this great battle. Simply put, Satan wants to destroy you.
Listen to what Paul says in our text about the nature this spiritual warfare.

• Ephesians 6:10-13 says Our adversary in this warfare is the Devil. He is         constantly scheming to ruin mankind.

•. Here are some of Satan’s schemes for unbelievers.

-  2 Corinthians 4:4 says he blinds the minds of unbelievers.

-  Matthew 13:19 says he snatches away the Word of God.

-  2 Timothy 2:24-26 says he sets traps for the unwary so that they oppose the Lord servants (See).

-  2 Corinthians 11:13-14 says that he masquerades as an angel of light   to deceive men and women.

-  In Acts 5:1-6 we see that he fills hearts so that some lie.

-  In 1 Thess. 2:18 we see that he can hinder a servant of God from doing His work

-  In Eph. 4:26-27 it says that he can destroy the unity of a church by creating discord.

-  And Rev 2:10 reminds us that he can lead those in the world to persecute the church.
1 Peter 5:8 reminds us that the Devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. A battle for your soul goes on every day.

So what do we do? Paul tells us to put on armor in (See Ephesians 6:14-17).
For this great spiritual conflict, God loans us His armor (See Isaiah 59:17).

A. Paul tells us to put on belt of truth and buckled it around your waist. “Truth” here may refer to the Gospel of Truth, but more likely, it is speaking of the quality of truthfulness in how we relate to each other as those who have new life . Start lying and you get in trouble and you get caught in his trap.

B. Then he says put on the breastplate of righteousness. By putting on God’s righteousness, believers are committed to being imitators of our Lord and so doing the right thing in all our dealings (See Ephesians 4:24).

C. Then fit your feet with the readiness that comes from the Gospel of peace. With this equipment the believer is ready to share the good news of the Gospel. It is only through the death of Christ that anyone can be have peace with God (See Ephesians 2:17-18).

D. Then we are to take up the shield of faith. Faith is the impregnable shield that extinguishes all of the flaming arrows of the Evil One. Lose faith and you are in trouble.

E. Take the helmet (which is) salvation. Turn your back on the salvation that Christ wrought for you and you are definitely in trouble and you have fallen into Satan’s hands.

F. Then he says to take up the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. This is an important offensive weapon meant to be used in close combat with the enemy (See Matthew 4:1-10). Jesus used it when tempted.

The Bible instructs every Christian to put on the full armor of God. Simple qualities like righteousness and faith can deflect what the enemy may fire at us. In Ephesians 6:18-20 Paul also tells us  to pray in the Spirit.  (at all times). Even though we may be aware of our adversary and put on the armor of God, in order for the Christian to stand firm we need that connection to God which only comes by praying in the spirit. It’s our line of communication with our commander and chief.

Conclusion:
Do not become complacent and  unaware of the Devil’s schemes; Put on the armor of God so that we can stand firm; and be bold enough to witness to others. Even the apostle Paul wrote that he was concerned that after preaching to so many that he himself would lose his salvation and be disqualified from receiving his heavenly reward. In I Cor. 9:27 he said he does what he has to do to make sure he doesn’t lose out.  Likewise we need to do the same. We need to stay connected to God through prayer and draw strength from Him by gathering together regularly with his fellow soldiers in Christ for support.

For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566

From Gary... The depths of happiness

























My guess is that the woman who is swinging is in her late 50's or perhaps early 60's.  Looks like snow on the ground, so perhaps it is late fall or a very early spring.  Now swinging is usually done for enjoyment, but where is her smile?  Old folks do smile don't they?  If you don't know the answer to that one, then perhaps we have never met.  But, happiness is different things to different people; we are not all the same.  Happiness shows up in the oddest places; here is one of them...

Acts, Chapter 26
  1 Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak for yourself.” 

Then Paul stretched out his hand, and made his defense.  2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, that I am to make my defense before you this day concerning all the things that I am accused by the Jews, 3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. 

  4  “Indeed, all the Jews know my way of life from my youth up, which was from the beginning among my own nation and at Jerusalem;  5 having known me from the first, if they are willing to testify, that after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.  6 Now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers,  7 which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving night and day, hope to attain. Concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa!  8 Why is it judged incredible with you, if God does raise the dead? 

  9  “I myself most certainly thought that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  10 This I also did in Jerusalem. I both shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them. 11 Punishing them often in all the synagogues, I tried to make them blaspheme. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. 

  12  “Whereupon as I traveled to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests,  13 at noon, O king, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me.  14
 When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 

  15  “I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ 
“He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.   16  But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you;   17  delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you,   18  to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ 

  19  “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,  20 but declared first to them of Damascus, at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.  21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple, and tried to kill me.  22 Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen,  23 how the Christ must suffer, and how, by the resurrection of the dead, he would be first to proclaim light both to these people and to the Gentiles.” 

  24  As he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are crazy! Your great learning is driving you insane!” 

  25  But he said, “I am not crazy, most excellent Festus, but boldly declare words of truth and reasonableness.  26 For the king knows of these things, to whom also I speak freely. For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 

  28  Agrippa said to Paul, “With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?” 

  29  Paul said, “I pray to God, that whether with little or with much, not only you, but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these bonds.” 

Paul was in chains and yet he says he is "happy" (verse 2)?  Doesn't seem to make sense, does it?  Festus didn't think so, and thought Paul was "crazy"!!!  The way I see it, Paul had tried to follow God all of his life and when Jesus showed him the error of his ways, he was glad to know and follow the truth- THE REAL TRUTH!!! The depths of happiness that only a Christian can know is grounded in the knowledge that ultimately there will be fellowship with God Almighty for eternity.  That changes everything!!!  The only question I have at this point is: I wonder, did Paul have a smile on his face when he spoke these words?  Is it possible to be happy without smiling?  Review- look at the picture again and make up your own mind!!!