From Ben Fronczek... Are You Serving Christ, Or Just wanting Him to Serve You?

Are You Serving Christ, or Just Wanting Him to Serve You?

Are You Serving Christ, Or Just wanting Him to Serve You?

Isn’t it great to be a Christian?
Most of us have learned that being a Christian has some real advantages.

-      We Saved from our sin

–      A healthy, morally clean life style

–     A new family, sometimes even closer and friendlier than our relatives

–     Good instruction, spiritual understanding, principles on how to raise our families, even wholesome  healthy environments like Christian camp.

–     We also have the hope of eternity in Heaven

–     And for many of us it’s like an oasis in the desert of life, in a world of corruption.
But sometimes our Christian walk our faith is challenged, and sometimes the best of us make foolish mistakes and fail by showing a lack of faith, commitment or love.

 It can happen to the best of us. It even happened to some of the most famous Bible characters. I would like to read one such account today, one that you are probably very familiar with…  

Read Luke 22:54-62   (Click on verse to read)

Peter denied even knowing Jesus. This was his friend, companion and Lord.  How could he have done that??
Peter was the guy who said that he would follow Him anywhere. He was the one that proclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God when Jesus asked, ‘Who do you say I am?’
How could he do what he did knowing all that he knew?

- Peter saw most of miracles that Jesus performed.

- He saw the Transfiguration

- He heard the Heavenly father tell him to obey Jesus because Jesus was his Son

- He even saw Jesus walk on water and did it some himself.
And then the rooster crows. How embarrassing as he looked into the eyes of Jesus who was looking at him. Here after the Jesus had been so good to him, and faithful to him, calling him out and teaching him to be his apostle to do many good works….and he chickened out!   How could he do what he did?

In my heart of hearts this is what I believe happened to him…. and many times to us

** You see up to this point in his life, his faith in Jesus, ‘his Christianity’ had served him well.

… After he had become a Christian, he was absorbed into a new and wonderful family, a very special group.

… He was practically spoon fed the word of God by the greatest teacher of all

… He was in the company of the Christ, the prophesied Messiah, the one who would become the King of kings and the Lord of Lords.

… He was in the company of the miracle worker

…Up to that point the Good Shepherd had taken good care of him.

Up to that point his faith and Christianity had been good to him, it had served him well.
Now all of a sudden maybe he realized that what he was about to do would affect his entire future. It may even cut it short…. and so fear set in.

All of a sudden his faith and Christianity was about to stop serving him and demand something instead.  And so all of a sudden he was faced with a whole new perspective as he stood there amongst those strangers.

? Had he really counted the cost of following Jesus?
He shrunk back, he was probably confused, scared, and embarrassed and simply told them, “I don’t know Him.

Some of us here can relate. Maybe you are in a situation, or have experienced something like this… You are a Christian and maybe have been one for a long time and your faith and Christianity  has served you well.

… Maybe those Christian principles have kept you out of trouble. You have had a good and healthy standard to live by where others you know my have taken the wrong path and are now troubled in some way.

…Maybe your Christian faith has helped you maintain and good relationship with your parents, spouse or kids.. Maybe it’s even why others like you so much.

…Maybe it has enabled you hang to around the right kind of people who won’t lead you astray.

…Maybe it has helped hold your marriage together or maybe it has even given you some degree of wisdom and ability to talk to and advise others.

But all of a sudden you come up against a wall like Peter and the next step for you is going to cost you something or demand some kind of sacrifice. All of a sudden it’s not you who is being served; rather it becomes your turn.
At this point do you back off and say, “This is a little more than I bargained for.”

-       Maybe you are working for a company and some policy has changes and they are wanting, or expecting you to do something that you know isn’t right. It may be unethical or even illegal. And in your heart of hearts you know that as a Christian you should not have any part it. You’ve got a choice, all of a sudden you faith, your Christianity could cost you your job. What are you going to do?

-       Maybe the Lord has put you in a situation or opened up door of opportunity to serve him in some special way.. maybe mentoring another who needs some direction, or maybe assisting a family who is in need, or maybe helping a neighbor’s kids or helping someone older who has no one else to turn to. But as you look at the opportunity you see that serving like Jesus is going to cost you; maybe time you think you don’t have, maybe patience, or maybe even money out of your pocket.  What are you going to do now that your faith and Christianity demands something from you?

Churches rise or fall based on how their members view this challenge. Some people leave one church and go to another because they do not feel like every need and whim is being met. Other churches grow because when members see a need they get busy and see it as an opportunity to serve Jesus.

I’ve heard of church members who’ve started some amazing programs on their own and some who gave large sums of money, sacrificially so that the work of the Lord could be done in their area unhindered.

I believe that faith, church attendance, and Christianity is not just about what we can get out if it, rather there will come a point where that which has served us so well will demand something of us. It may cost us time, it may cost you a job, a relationship, your reputation, money or even a confession of faith like Peter.

The question is, when faced with these real life situations, what are you going to do? I do not believe that the Church will ever become what Jesus meant it to become if it we only look to be served.

In Hebrews chapter 5 and 6, I believe the author addresses this problem and even challenges the early Christians of his time.

Read Hebrews 5:11-6:3  

11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. 
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.”

In this section I believe that the author is criticizing his readers for not growing up, not maturing in their Christianity. I believe he’s saying, ‘Come on guys, let’s get on with it. Let’s get to work!’

In the next couple of verse he even shares his concern about some of them falling away and leaving the faith because they refuse to mature. 

Read 4-6

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

And then the author gives an illustration and then nails it home.

First the illustration: 

Read 7-8  

7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”

Land that drinks in the rain and produces the useful crop represent those Christians who have fed on the word of God and then become fruitful… they will receive a blessing from God.
But the land that produced thorns and thistles describes the unfruitful Christian who after being fed and blessed does not respond favorably.

And then the author drives the point home in the next few verses: Read 9-12   

9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”

What will give is the strength and courage to take on the challenges that come our way as we walk with the Lord?  A sense of obligation? A sense of fear? A sense of pressure from the church, the preacher or the elders?  A sense of guilt?…No! (even though these have been used in many churches)

Rather, I believe the one thing that will give us more strength and courage, and the motivation, the drive, and zeal to meet these situations head on, is LOVE.  A deep love for God.
Why do you think Peter went off and cried his eyes out after denying Jesus? I believe it was because he didn’t love Jesus enough that day.  It was because of love he repented. And it was because of love he would go on to become one of the greatest spokesmen for the cause of Christ and was willing to be martyred as for the faith.

Love is such a powerful thing in one’s life.

I believe it comes down to just that…How much we love Him!  Why do people give up so easily and leave their spouse? Because they don’t love them enough. Why do parent or kids go without talking to one another for eyars on end? Because they don’t love them enough. Why don’t Christians afraid to speak up for Jesus and why do they serve..? Maybe they just don’t love Him enough.

As Christians I believe we can meet and overcome and do a lot, and even change the world if we  just grow up and mature like the Hebrew author writes. But that alone is not enough, there has to be a love for Jesus like Peter who finally learned to serve as Jesus Himself served.  That kind of love will empower us to do things we could never imagine on our own.

I challenge you to work on your relationship with our Lord. The more you love Him the stronger you will become and you may even be amazed how that love will empower you to do things you never thought you could do before.

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

From Jim McGuiggan... "God won't let the bad man hurt you"

"God won't let the bad man hurt you"

Our Western evangelical religion has slowly developed from a healthy personal religion in the Reformers, which when combined with an unhealthy rise of individualism has resulted in an over-personalised brand of "intimacy". While those whose standard of living is better than tolerable find great comfort in it a great host find this stress worrisome and guilt-generating. If we don't feel a great level of loving intimacy the fault must be ours because it can't be God's. Since this greater level "intimacy" is what the Bible promises (isn't it?) and it's what so many others profess we can feel left out, a bit envious of others and somewhat resentful toward God because we're left out (and that resentment breeds some more guilt). Then again, we might think that these others are professing more than they really "feel" and that breeds some doubt about their honesty and that breeds some more guilt at our cynicism and that in turn can nurture a growing frustration.

The intimacy so many of us look for is that "wooing" experience, almost romantic, at least always tender and emotion-laden—a certain kind of "emotion" laden. The word "love" doesn't help since it's so ambivalent. Much of what we see of love around us is tender touching, soft smiles, gentle tones, quiet laughter and a lot of verbal caressing. If God "loves" us it's hard not to think it's that kind of treatment we should be experiencing from him and feeling toward him in return.

But there are other kinds of "intimacy" that have their own verbal and body language. Strong friends who stand together against a world-spirit and know that they do, they don't have the same "wooing" experience. Troops in combat have another sense of camaraderie and brotherhood. In the middle of great conflict where righteousness is on the line and where injustice is the enemy and joy-filled freedom is the aim, there the "wooing" and genteel kind of intimacy isn't the kind the freedom-fighters treasure and feel and smile about.

But these other kinds of intimacy are real and they have their deep emotional content. There's a deep sense of assurance and contentment and so there is emotional warmth and security that the person at your shoulder is there; their presence pleases us! And knowing that when we're in trouble or danger that there are those who would come looking for us, that they'd pursue us to the gates of hell, and a few, a very few, would even go in through the gates to get us out—knowing all that is to experience and exult in an intimacy that is no less precious and felt than the sweet wooing that has its rightful place in life.

This ceaseless comparing of God's love for us with what goes on between lovers and parents and little children is injurious. To deny that God feels tenderness toward us manifestly goes against the biblical witness for when he came to us in and as Jesus Christ he expressed himself toward us in tenderness and gentleness. I don't know how we should describe God "in and of himself" as he is in the "land of the Trinity" but then none of us knows God "in and of himself" as he is in the "land of the Trinity". God has seen fit to choose not to be God without us. He has eternally chosen to be "God with us" and we know him in no other way.

Speaking only for myself in my own tiny and very limited experience, I can and do receive that truth by faith, nothing doubting, and it fills me with pleasure and warmth. Occasionally—only very occasionally—it makes the hairs on my neck rise when I "feel" the stirring of the air when God passes close by me in some moment or other.

I'm not opposed to us offering "intimacy" as part of one's relationship to God but I'm opposed to offering ceaselessly and almost exclusively that wooing kind of intimacy that means to set "our little hearts all aflutter."
A pox on that kind of teaching!

In light of texts like John 17:9-16 and Matthew 5:10-12, a glorious, loving, strong, affectionate, pursuing Lord Jesus said to his followers: "The only prayer I have for you of my Holy Father is that he keeps you from being swallowed up by the world-spirit. As to the rest, take heed to yourselves, you're in for a bit of a rough ride. The world-spirit didn't care for me since I came to wreck it and you can be sure it won't care for you." This is the same one that said to them, "Come what may, I will always be there with you! When you feel what I myself have felt, that you've been cut off from the rest of the people and isolated—remember, I'm with you."

©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... Obtaining The Glory Of Our Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)


               Obtaining The Glory Of Our Lord (2:13-17)


1. In clarifying possible misconceptions about the coming of Christ,
   Paul warned of two ominous events that must occur first...
   a. The falling away must occur - 2Th 2:3
   b. The man of sin must be revealed - 2Th 2:3

2. Both events portend a sad end for many people...
   a. The falling away would necessitate the apostasy of many people
   b. The man of sin would deceive many people who were perishing

3. Yet Paul writes of "Obtaining The Glory Of Our Lord"...
   a. Thankful that the Thessalonians appeared destined for that
      blessing - 2Th 2:13-14
   b. A blessing to be received when Christ comes - cf. 2Th 1:10
   c. A blessing for which Paul prayed diligently they would indeed
      receive - 2Th 1:11-12

[In our study I wish to address the question:  What is necessary for
"Obtaining The Glory Of Our Lord"?  From Paul's remarks in our text
(2Th 2:13-17), obtaining this glory is possible...]


      1. For which Paul was bound to give thanks - 2Th 2:13
      2. Which was evidence of God's love for them - 2Th 2:13
      3. From the beginning - 2Th 2:13
         a. Likely referring to God's election before the foundation of
            the world - Ep 1:4-5
         b. Which I understand to be general, not particular; corporate,
            not individual
            1) God chose the body of Christ, the church, to be the
               recipients of His grace and purposes predestined before
               the world began)
            2) Not select individuals, as per Calvinism
         c. While in the "corporate" sense this choice is unconditional
            and final, as "individuals" we must be  "diligent to make
            your calling and election sure" - 2Pe 1:10
            1) Just as Israel (as a nation) had been chosen by God to
               receive His blessings
            2) Yet individually, the Israelites had to "make their
               calling and election sure"
            3) Thus Paul would need to exhort the Thessalonians to
               "stand fast" - 2Th 2:15
      4. For salvation - 2Th 2:13
         a. Salvation from the wrath to come, as vividly described in
            2Th 1:7-9
         b. Salvation that will include participation in the glory to
            come - cf. 2Th 1:10; 2:14

      1. Through sanctification by the Spirit - 2Th 2:13
         a. They had been sanctified (set apart) by the Spirit
         b. This sanctifying work of the Spirit included:
            1) His work in revealing and confirming the Word of God
               through the apostles - Jn 17:17; He 2:1-4
            2) His work of regeneration and renewal in conversion - Ti
      2. Through belief in the truth - 2Th 2:13
         a. They had believed the testimony of the Spirit through the
            apostles - 2Th 1:10
         b. This was their part to become one of the chosen, God's elect
      3. Through the call of the gospel - 2Th 2:14
         a. Here is how it all came together...
            1) Through the preaching of the gospel God was calling them
            2) Those who believed the preaching of the gospel, were
               sanctified (set apart) by the Holy Spirit in their
         b. Thus set apart...
            1) They became God's beloved, part of His elect
            2) They were among the chosen to receive salvation

[This salvation, involving "Obtaining The Glory Of Our Lord", is
available to all who answer the call of the gospel, and believe the
truth concerning Jesus Christ.

But in light of the earlier warning of apostasy, and the danger of
deception by the man of sin, how can we "make our calling and election
sure" and obtain the glory of the Lord?  Paul's answer...]


      1. Similar to charges given to other churches - 1Co 15:58; Php 4:1
      2. Why such a warning, unless the danger of apostasy is real?
         a. The danger is real - cf. He 3:12-15
         b. The Scriptures are filled with many such warnings
      -- So we need to stand fast if we desire to obtain the glory of
         our Lord!

      1. Holding to the traditions of the apostles - 2Th 2:15
         a. Traditions are teachings "handed down"
            1) Such as those delivered by those apostles - cf. 1Co 11:2
            2) Whether by word (orally) or by epistle (written)
         b. The apostles' traditions were to be kept - cf. 2Th 3:6; Ac 2:42
            1) If we desire to stand fast, we must hold to the teachings
               of the apostles
            2) Like the Jerusalem church, we must continue steadfastly
               in the apostles' doctrine
      2. In the comfort of God's love and grace - 2Th 2:16-17
         a. God and Jesus have already:
            1) Shown Their love
            2) Given everlasting consolation and good hope by grace
            -- This God and Jesus did by saving them through the gospel
         b. Thus Paul prays that God and Jesus will also:
            1) Comfort their hearts - cf. 2Co 1:3-5
            2) Establish them in every good word and work - cf. 1 Pe 5:10
            -- Established and comforted, they would be able to "stand


1. "Obtaining The Glory Of Our Lord" is made possible only with the help
   of God, and from our text we learn that...
   a. God loves us
   b. Jesus Christ Himself loves us
   c. They have given everlasting consolation and good hope by grace
   d. They are willing to comfort our hearts
   e. They desire to establish us in every word and work
   -- For such reasons we should feel "bound to give thanks to God

2. Yet while God and Jesus stand ready to help us obtain the glory of
   the Lord, let's not forget our obligation...
   a. To believe the truth
   b. To accept the call of the gospel
   c. To stand fast
   d. To hold to the traditions of the apostles

Do we desire to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ?  May Paul's
words always serve to remind us how it is possible, and encourage us
never to become slack in our dedication to the Word of God!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading December 17

Bible Reading 

December 17

The World English Bible

Dec. 17
Amos 1-4

Amo 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
Amo 1:2 He said: "Yahweh will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds will mourn, and the top of Carmel will wither."
Amo 1:3 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Damascus, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron;
Amo 1:4 but I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, and it will devour the palaces of Ben Hadad.
Amo 1:5 I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and him who holds the scepter from the house of Eden; and the people of Syria shall go into captivity to Kir," says Yahweh.
Amo 1:6 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Gaza, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they carried away captive the whole community, to deliver them up to Edom;
Amo 1:7 but I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, and it will devour its palaces.
Amo 1:8 I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him who holds the scepter from Ashkelon; and I will turn my hand against Ekron; and the remnant of the Philistines will perish," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 1:9 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Tyre, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they delivered up the whole community to Edom, and didn't remember the brotherly covenant;
Amo 1:10 but I will send a fire on the wall of Tyre, and it will devour its palaces."
Amo 1:11 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Edom, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity, and his anger raged continually, and he kept his wrath forever;
Amo 1:12 but I will send a fire on Teman, and it will devour the palaces of Bozrah."
Amo 1:13 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead, that they may enlarge their border.
Amo 1:14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour its palaces, with shouting in the day of battle, with a storm in the day of the whirlwind;
Amo 1:15 and their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together," says Yahweh.
Amo 2:1 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Moab, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime;
Amo 2:2 but I will send a fire on Moab, and it will devour the palaces of Kerioth; and Moab will die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet;
Amo 2:3 and I will cut off the judge from their midst, and will kill all its princes with him," says Yahweh.
Amo 2:4 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Judah, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have rejected Yahweh's law, and have not kept his statutes, and their lies have led them astray, after which their fathers walked;
Amo 2:5 But I will send a fire on Judah, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem."
Amo 2:6 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Israel, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have sold the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes;
Amo 2:7 They trample on the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and deny justice to the oppressed; and a man and his father use the same maiden, to profane my holy name;
Amo 2:8 and they lay themselves down beside every altar on clothes taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.
Amo 2:9 Yet I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
Amo 2:10 Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
Amo 2:11 I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites. Isn't this true, you children of Israel?" says Yahweh.
Amo 2:12 "But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, 'Don't prophesy!'
Amo 2:13 Behold, I will crush you in your place, as a cart crushes that is full of grain.
Amo 2:14 Flight will perish from the swift; and the strong won't strengthen his force; neither shall the mighty deliver himself;
Amo 2:15 neither shall he stand who handles the bow; and he who is swift of foot won't escape; neither shall he who rides the horse deliver himself;
Amo 2:16 and he who is courageous among the mighty will flee away naked on that day," says Yahweh.
Amo 3:1 Hear this word that Yahweh has spoken against you, children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying:
Amo 3:2 "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth. Therefore I will punish you for all of your sins."
Amo 3:3 Do two walk together, unless they have agreed?
Amo 3:4 Will a lion roar in the thicket, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
Amo 3:5 Can a bird fall in a trap on the earth, where no snare is set for him? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when there is nothing to catch?
Amo 3:6 Does the trumpet alarm sound in a city, without the people being afraid? Does evil happen to a city, and Yahweh hasn't done it?
Amo 3:7 Surely the Lord Yahweh will do nothing, unless he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
Amo 3:8 The lion has roared. Who will not fear? The Lord Yahweh has spoken. Who can but prophesy?
Amo 3:9 Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, "Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria, and see what unrest is in her, and what oppression is among them."
Amo 3:10 "Indeed they don't know to do right," says Yahweh, "Who hoard plunder and loot in their palaces."
Amo 3:11 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: "An adversary will overrun the land; and he will pull down your strongholds, and your fortresses will be plundered."
Amo 3:12 Thus says Yahweh: "As the shepherd rescues out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be rescued who sit in Samaria on the corner of a couch, and on the silken cushions of a bed."
Amo 3:13 "Listen, and testify against the house of Jacob," says the Lord Yahweh, the God of Armies.
Amo 3:14 "For in the day that I visit the transgressions of Israel on him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar will be cut off, and fall to the ground.
Amo 3:15 I will strike the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory will perish, and the great houses will have an end," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:1 Listen to this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who tell their husbands, "Bring us drinks!"
Amo 4:2 The Lord Yahweh has sworn by his holiness that behold, "The days shall come on you that they will take you away with hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks.
Amo 4:3 You will go out at the breaks in the wall, everyone straight before her; and you will cast yourselves into Harmon," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:4 "Go to Bethel, and sin; to Gilgal, and sin more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days,
Amo 4:5 offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim free will offerings and brag about them: for this pleases you, you children of Israel," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 4:6 "I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in every town; yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:7 "I also have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city. One place was rained on, and the piece where it didn't rain withered.
Amo 4:8 So two or three cities staggered to one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:9 "I struck you with blight and mildew many times in your gardens and your vineyards; and your fig trees and your olive trees have the swarming locust devoured: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:10 "I sent plagues among you like I did Egypt. I have slain your young men with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camp, yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:11 "I have overthrown some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a burning stick plucked out of the fire; yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:12 "Therefore thus will I do to you, Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Israel.
Amo 4:13 For, behold, he who forms the mountains, and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought; who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the high places of the Earth: Yahweh, the God of Armies, is his name."

Dec. 17
3 John

3Jn 1:1 The elder to Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth.
3Jn 1:2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers.
3Jn 1:3 For I rejoiced greatly, when brothers came and testified about your truth, even as you walk in truth.
3Jn 1:4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth.
3Jn 1:5 Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers.
3Jn 1:6 They have testified about your love before the assembly. You will do well to send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God,
3Jn 1:7 because for the sake of the Name they went out, taking nothing from the Gentiles.
3Jn 1:8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
3Jn 1:9 I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn't accept what we say.
3Jn 1:10 Therefore, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly.
3Jn 1:11 Beloved, don't imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. He who does good is of God. He who does evil hasn't seen God.
3Jn 1:12 Demetrius has the testimony of all, and of the truth itself; yes, we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true.
3Jn 1:13 I had many things to write to you, but I am unwilling to write to you with ink and pen;
3Jn 1:14 but I hope to see you soon, and we will speak face to face. Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

From Gary... More than kisses...

Our minister, Larry Shatzer, often refers to our congregation as being small but mighty.  And for some reason (I haven't a clue WHY) I couldn't get those words out of my mind as I took my dogs for their morning walk.  And then I saw this picture.  Grandma was here; how appropriate!!!  She left behind kisses and a lot more.  So, I was reminded of one of the most famous grandmothers of all and what SHE LEFT BEHIND...

2 Timothy, Chapter 1
  1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, according to the promise of the life which is in Christ Jesus,  2 to Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 

  3  I thank God, whom I serve as my forefathers did, with a pure conscience. How unceasing is my memory of you in my petitions, night and day  4 longing to see you, remembering your tears, that I may be filled with joy;  5 having been reminded of the sincere faith that is in you; which lived first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and, I am persuaded, in you also.
Timothy was a great follower of God and it is easy to see how much Paul loved him.  Why? Because he was a sensitive young man of great faith.  Timothy had problems- hey, we all do, but there was something about him; something wonderful.  His sincere faith, first lived in his grandmother and mother echoed in his life as well.  Kisses are nice, but they wash off.  Faith can endure for a lifetime and beyond.  Never underestimate a grandma, for she can (and probably does) give more than kisses.  Today, if you have a "grandma" near- kiss her back, both of you will be glad you did!!!