12/18/13

From Ben Fronczek... Generosity

Be Generous

Generosity 

By Ben Fronczek

More than any time, this is the time of the year when most of us become a tad bit more generous. We think about buying Christmas gifts for those we love. Some donate to Toys for Tots. Some even help needy families have a nicer holiday by stepping in adopting a family for Christmas.
If there is one thing I am proud about being a Christian is the fact that through the ages Christians have notably been some of the most generous people ever.

We have been taught by our Lord Jesus Himself how truly important it is. I like the story he tells in Luke 10:25-37  (Click on verses to Read)

This is one of the most well known and loved stories that Jesus told. In it Jesus is teaching all of us, the kind of people that God’s wants us to become. In the story we probably have a Jew that is attacked while he travels and the only one that stops shows mercy on him is a Samaritan, someone most Jews turned their noses up to.

In the story we see a couple of key component that are lessons for us to learn:

First of all, this man who stopped to help overlooked any particular prejudices he or this Jew may have had. It did not matter whether this guy was black or white, Jew or Chinese. The man was hurt and needed assistance and he was going to help him.

Second, he was willing to stop and make the time to help, and he was also willing to get his hands dirty. The other two Jews that had passed by did not want to do either. They did not want to take the time out of their day, nor did they want to get their hands dirty and patch this guy up.

And third, we see that this Samaritan was not only willing to show mercy, we also see that he was generous; he dug down deep into his pocket to help this guy which he did not even know.
And so, how did Jesus end the story? By telling His audience, “Go and do likewise.”

Generosity is one of most prominent marks of Christian, or at least it should be… but even non-Christians can be very generous.

 And I believe the reason for this goes back to the fact that in Genesis and the creations account it tells us that we were all made or created in the very image of God. At our best we can imitate our Heavenly Father because He created us that way.

Like our Heavenly Father, He created us so that we can be generous, loving, merciful, just, and holy just like He is. But unfortunately having a free will, there are times when even the best of us choose a different path. At our worst and when we are least like our Heavenly Father, we are selfish, unloving, mean, prejudice, unmerciful, abusive and sometimes evil. Even though we are capable of acting like this, it is not the way God wants to see us act… just like we don’t want to see our own children portray these negative traits.

As a matter of fact, when we portray these positive God like traits by being generous, we are told over and over in scripture that great blessings will accompany such behavior.

I bring up the topic of being generous today because our church has decided to donate today’s collection along with money from our checking account  to the CHURCH OF CHRIST DISASTER RESPONSE TEAM  which is part of the relief effort going on in NJ and southern NY, which is helping in the aftermath the hurricane Sandy disaster.

Like in the story of the Good Samaritan, there are many people who are still hurting and need a lot of help. Even though many of us are not able to travel to that area and get involved in a hands-on way, we can at least show some generosity and send some money to help those who are already there.

What I find interesting is how the church quite literally began on a generous note; and was blessed for it as a result. In Acts 2 we read that after the first 3000 were baptized for the forgiveness of their sin and were added to the church, those early Christians began to share with one another right away.

Read Acts 2:41-47    

 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

What a special time this was, where people were taking care of the needs of one other, and happy to do so.

At this point in history the Church was growing by thousands. Here in Acts 2 we read that 3000 had been baptized. Then in Acts 4:4 we read that the number increased to 5000 men, not including all the women who believed.

At this point they seem to stop counting, but one thing the text does mention is the fact that they continued to be generous and care for one another’s needs. 

Read Acts 4:32-37      

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.”

Even later on in the New Testament we read how Christian churches would support one another in times of famine and disaster. At one point we read that the apostle Paul is going from one church to another trying to raise funds for Christians in Jerusalem because they were in great need because of a famine.     

Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-4  

“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.”

Then in his second letter to them Paul addresses this same issue again and how others were giving:   

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-9

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Paul continues to talk about this subject in this letter but then he gives them some God given principles to encourage their giving: 

Read 9:6-15 

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their giftsto the poor;     their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

Now there are some tremendous Principles seen here in this text regarding being generous:

1)    If you sow sparingly you will likewise reap sparingly. If your sow generously, you will reap generously. This implies that these is going to be some kind of return when you give and share with others. It may not be a fianancial gain, but God promises to bless your abundantly if you are generous with others.

2)    You should only give what you feel good about giving. Don’t give if you don’t want to, or if your feel pressure to, because…

3)    God loves a cheerful giver! Why, because that’s how He designed you!

4)    When you give in this manner, Paul tell us that God will somehow multiply what you have and will bless you even more abundantly so that you have even more to give.

5)    When you are generous and help others, this will cause more people to praise God because of what you have done in His name.

6)    Verse 15 says that being generous and giving is a gift in itself. I believe it is a gift from God Himself to share in His in some of His attributes.

The ability to give and help others is an amazing grace which first began with the Father. The greatest gift He has given us all beside life itself was the life of His one and only Son to redeem us and purify us of sin. But like any other gift you have to choose to accept this very special gift from Him. It’s like sending money to this relief effort and them sending the check back with a note saying, “No thank you, we don’t want your money.”  No one is obligated to accept God’s gift of Grace. We are not forced to accept Jesus. No one is obligated to enter the waters of baptism where we are told that this is the time and place where Jesus removes our sin (according to Colossians 2:11-13. No one is obligated to become part of God’s family, the church and enjoy the fellowship, camaraderie and hope that we have in Jesus.

Challenge:  My challenge for you this day; first is to accept this special gift of God, His Son and the salvation He can give you. I also would like to encourage you to be a truly generous person. It’s ok to be wise with your time, money, and possessions but don’t become unmerciful and selfish. There are those out there who need you, and God wants to use you to funnel His blessing through you, to them.

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

From Jim McGuiggan... "They do that all the time."

"They do that all the time."

I received a remarkable picture. It was of a tiny developing human (Samuel), still inside the mother’s womb, but his hand is reaching out of the womb and grasping the finger of a surgeon. The growing little human’s hand is fully developed and as the story via the link below will tell you, the surgeon tested the strength of the grip by trying (not too hard) to shake Samuel off but Sam would have none of it.

The sequence of pictures is absolutely riveting and in and of itself says more than the twisted tale that surrounds the surgeon (Dr. Bruner) and LIFE magazine (as Michael Clancy tells it). The story that LIFE magazine would have offered would have been marvellous enough. It purposed to write a story of medical brilliance and progress and intended to use a posed photograph of a marvellous operation to help a little developing human with spina bifida to make that point. They were going to use the picture of a 24 week-old tiny human but journalist and photographer Michael Clancy was hired by USA Today to cover the event involving a 21-week little human. He was astounded when he saw the uterus, untouched by anyone, shake and then an arm burst through and then withdraw, until only the hand was showing. At that point the surgeon offered his finger to Samuel and he grabbed it and held on.

Makes the heart leap! We have no reason to wonder at the skill and dedication of many in the medical profession—thank God for them! But doesn’t it take your breath away just to think of the drive for life in that tiny little human, 21 weeks old? Pay special attention to what the surgical nurse told Clancy when Sam burst through the uterus!

Maybe I should leave it at that and just let you wonder as you look at the pictures as I did. But maybe it’s important that you get a sense of how greed and a hunger for acclaim can slither into even moments like these. 

You must read Clancy’s entire account of what happened and see what you think of his account. See


For a lovely "sequel" to it all see also

©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... A Prayer Requested, A Prayer Rendered (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

               "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS"

             A Prayer Requested, A Prayer Rendered (3:1-5)

INTRODUCTION

1. On several occasions already, Paul has expressed prayers on the
   behalf of the Thessalonians...
   a. That they might increase and abound in love - 1Th 3:11
   b. That the Lord might establish their hearts blameless in holiness
      - 1Th 3:12
   c. That God might sanctify them completely - 1Th 5:23
   d. That God might count them worthy of His calling - 2Th 2:11
   e. That the name of the Lord might be glorified in them, and they in
      Him - 2Th 2:12
   f. That Jesus and the Father might comfort their hearts and establish
      them in every good word and work - 2Th 2:16-17

2. That preachers prayed for their brethren was not an uncommon
   practice...
   a. Paul prayed for his brethren often - cf. Col 1:9-11
   b. Epaphras also - cf. Col 4:12-13

3. Preachers need prayers also, and Paul did not hesitate to ask his
   brethren to pray for him...
   a. He asked those in Rome to pray for him - Ro 15:30-33
   b. He asked those in Ephesus for their prayers - Ep 6:18-20
   c. He asked those in Colosse to offer prayers in his behalf - Col 4:
      2-4

[As we continue our study of 2nd Thessalonians, we find Paul making a
similar request for prayer...]

I. A PRAYER REQUESTED (1-2)

   A. FOR THE WORD OF GOD...
      1. That the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified
         - 2Th 3:1a
         a. Paul wanted the gospel to spread unhindered
         b. He believed the Lord could "open doors" for the Word
            1) As He had done in the past - cf. 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12
            2) As Paul hoped He would in the future - cf. Col 4:3
      2. As it was in their case - 2Th 3:1b
         a. Paul's coming to them had not been in vain - cf. 1Th 2:1
         b. They had received the Word - cf. 1Th 2:13
         c. Indeed, the Word resounded from them into other areas - cf.
            1Th 1:8
      -- As preachers seek to spread the gospel, we need to pray that
         the Word will "run swiftly" (i.e., have free course)

   B. FOR THE MEN OF GOD...
      1. That they be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men - 2 Th 3:2a
         a. Paul had his share of such men, especially in Thessalonica
            1) Who forced him to leave town - Ac 17:5-10
            2) Who followed him to other towns - Ac 17:13
         b. For this reason, Paul beseeched his brethren to pray in his
            behalf:
            1) For deliverance, where possible - 2Th 3:2
            2) For boldness, when necessary - cf. Ep 6:19-20
      2. For not all are believers - 2Th 3:2b
         a. Not all believe the Word of the Lord
         b. Of those who don't, some mock, others persecute
      -- Preachers often bear the brunt of resistance and persecution in
         reaction to the gospel; such men are not super heroes (cf.
         1Co 2:3), they need our prayers!

[Certainly if Paul, called by God and commissioned by Christ Himself,
felt incomplete and inadequate without the prayers of his brethren, how
much more should preachers today!  Yet as Paul continues, we see that
preachers should also be praying for their brethren...]

II. A PRAYER RENDERED (3-5)

   A. FIRST, AN EXPRESSION OF CONFIDENCE...
      1. In the faithfulness of the Lord - 2Th 3:3; cf. 1Th 5:24
         a. Who would establish them
            1) As Paul prayed previously - 2Th 2:17
            2) As Peter prayed in his epistle - 1Pe 5:10
         b. Who would guard them from the evil one
            1) A wonderful assurance for the Christian - cf. 1Co 10:13;
               2Pe 2:9
            2) For which we should diligently pray - cf. Mt 6:13; Jn 17:15
      2. In the Lord concerning them - 2Th 3:4; cf. Php 1:6
         a. That they do the things he commands them
            1) As evidenced by their growing faith - cf. 2Th 1:3
            2) As illustrated by their abounding love - cf. 2Th 1:3
            3) As demonstrated by their enduring patience - cf. 2Th 1:4
         b. That they will do the things he commands them
            1) Their past performance gave Paul confidence regarding
               their future faithfulness
            2) Just as the Philippians' conduct gave Paul confidence
               - cf. Php 1:6-7
      -- Knowing the Lord's faithfulness to provide for His own, the
         faithfulness of Christians provides great confidence regarding
         their future!

   B. THEN, A PRAYER FOR THEM...
      1. That the Lord direct their hearts - 2Th 3:5a
         a. It is not enough that we seek to aim our hearts in the right
            direction
         b. We ought to seek God's assistance in this regard
            1) As David prayed for Israel and Solomon - cf. 1Ch 29:
               18-19
            2) As Solomon prayed for himself and Israel - cf. 1Ki 8:
               57-58
         c. We definitely need the help of God even in our desires to do
            good - cf. Php 2:13
      2. Into the love of God and the patience of Christ - 2Th 3:5b
         a. Into the kind of love God has for them
            1) Which God had taught them - cf. 1Th 4:9
            2) Which God demonstrates through Jesus - cf. 1Jn 4:9-11;
               3:16-18
         b. Into the kind of patience Jesus displayed
            1) Which He endured the cross - cf. He 12:1-3; 1Pe 2:21-23
            2) Which they continued to need in light of their
               circumstances - cf. 2Th 1:4
      -- Certainly every Christian needs to have a God-like love and
         Christ-like patience; this should be the prayer of every
         preacher for the souls with whom he labors!

CONCLUSION

1. In "A Prayer Requested, A Prayer Rendered", we are reminded of the
   need for prayers

2. Preachers need our prayers...
   a. That the gospel may have free course
   b. That preachers of the gospel not be hindered by the world

3. Preachers need to pray for their brethren...
   a. That the Lord will direct them in their spiritual growth
   b. That they will grow in love of God and patience of Christ

Happy is the church where both preacher and congregation do not hesitate
to say to one another:

                  "Brethren, pray for us." - 1Th 5:25

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011


From Gary... Bible Reading December 18






Bible Reading  

December 18

The World English Bible




Dec. 18
Amos 5-9

Amo 5:1 Listen to this word which I take up for a lamentation over you, O house of Israel.
Amo 5:2 "The virgin of Israel has fallen; She shall rise no more. She is cast down on her land; there is no one to raise her up."
Amo 5:3 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: "The city that went forth a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went forth one hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel."
Amo 5:4 For thus says Yahweh to the house of Israel: "Seek me, and you will live;
Amo 5:5 but don't seek Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and don't pass to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing.
Amo 5:6 Seek Yahweh, and you will live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, and there be no one to quench it in Bethel.
Amo 5:7 You who turn justice to wormwood, and cast down righteousness to the earth:
Amo 5:8 seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, Yahweh is his name,
Amo 5:9 who brings sudden destruction on the strong, so that destruction comes on the fortress.
Amo 5:10 They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks blamelessly.
Amo 5:11 Forasmuch therefore as you trample on the poor, and take taxes from him of wheat: You have built houses of cut stone, but you will not dwell in them. You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.
Amo 5:12 For I know how many your offenses, and how great are your sins-- you who afflict the just, who take a bribe, and who turn aside the needy in the courts.
Amo 5:13 Therefore a prudent person keeps silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.
Amo 5:14 Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be with you, as you say.
Amo 5:15 Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the courts. It may be that Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."
Amo 5:16 Therefore thus says Yahweh, the God of Armies, the Lord: "Wailing will be in all the broad ways; and they will say in all the streets, 'Alas! Alas!' and they will call the farmer to mourning, and those who are skillful in lamentation to wailing.
Amo 5:17 In all vineyards there will be wailing; for I will pass through the midst of you," says Yahweh.
Amo 5:18 "Woe to you who desire the day of Yahweh! Why do you long for the day of Yahweh? It is darkness, and not light.
Amo 5:19 As if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him; Or he went into the house and leaned his hand on the wall, and a snake bit him.
Amo 5:20 Won't the day of Yahweh be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?
Amo 5:21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I can't stand your solemn assemblies.
Amo 5:22 Yes, though you offer me your burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat animals.
Amo 5:23 Take away from me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Amo 5:24 But let justice roll on like rivers, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Amo 5:25 "Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, house of Israel?
Amo 5:26 You also carried the tent of your king and the shrine of your images, the star of your god, which you made for yourselves.
Amo 5:27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus," says Yahweh, whose name is the God of Armies.
Amo 6:1 Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who are secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come!
Amo 6:2 Go to Calneh, and see; and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. are they better than these kingdoms? or is their border greater than your border?
Amo 6:3 Those who put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
Amo 6:4 Who lie on beds of ivory, and stretch themselves on their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
Amo 6:5 who strum on the strings of a harp; who invent for themselves instruments of music, like David;
Amo 6:6 who drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the best oils; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
Amo 6:7 Therefore they will now go captive with the first who go captive; and the feasting and lounging will end.
Amo 6:8 "The Lord Yahweh has sworn by himself," says Yahweh, the God of Armies: "I abhor the pride of Jacob, and detest his fortresses. Therefore I will deliver up the city with all that is in it.
Amo 6:9 It will happen, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
Amo 6:10 "When a man's relative carries him, even he who burns him, to bring bodies out of the house, and asks him who is in the innermost parts of the house, 'Is there yet any with you?' And he says, 'No;' then he will say, 'Hush! Indeed we must not mention the name of Yahweh.'
Amo 6:11 "For, behold, Yahweh commands, and the great house will be smashed to pieces, and the little house into bits.
Amo 6:12 Do horses run on the rocky crags? Does one plow there with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness;
Amo 6:13 you who rejoice in a thing of nothing, who say, 'Haven't we taken for ourselves horns by our own strength?'
Amo 6:14 For, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, house of Israel," says Yahweh, the God of Armies; "and they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of the Arabah."
Amo 7:1 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me: and behold, he formed locusts in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and behold, it was the latter growth after the king's harvest.
Amo 7:2 It happened that, when they made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, "Lord Yahweh, forgive, I beg you! How could Jacob stand? For he is small."
Amo 7:3 Yahweh relented concerning this. "It shall not be," says Yahweh.
Amo 7:4 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me and behold, the Lord Yahweh called for judgment by fire; and it dried up the great deep, and would have devoured the land.
Amo 7:5 Then I said, "Lord Yahweh, stop, I beg you! How could Jacob stand? For he is small."
Amo 7:6 Yahweh relented concerning this. "This also shall not be," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 7:7 Thus he showed me and behold, the Lord stood beside a wall made by a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand.
Amo 7:8 Yahweh said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" I said, "A plumb line." Then the Lord said, "Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I will not again pass by them any more.
Amo 7:9 The high places of Isaac will be desolate, the sanctuaries of Israel will be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."
Amo 7:10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words.
Amo 7:11 For Amos says, 'Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.' "
Amo 7:12 Amaziah also said to Amos, "You seer, go, flee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
Amo 7:13 but don't prophesy again any more at Bethel; for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a royal house!"
Amo 7:14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was a herdsman, and a farmer of sycamore figs;
Amo 7:15 and Yahweh took me from following the flock, and Yahweh said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'
Amo 7:16 Now therefore listen to the word of Yahweh: 'You say, Don't prophesy against Israel, and don't preach against the house of Isaac.'
Amo 7:17 Therefore thus says Yahweh: 'Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided by line; and you yourself shall die in a land that is unclean, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.' "
Amo 8:1 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit.
Amo 8:2 He said, "Amos, what do you see?" I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then Yahweh said to me, "The end has come on my people Israel. I will not again pass by them any more.
Amo 8:3 The songs of the temple will be wailings in that day," says the Lord Yahweh. "The dead bodies will be many. In every place they will throw them out with silence.
Amo 8:4 Hear this, you who desire to swallow up the needy, and cause the poor of the land to fail,
Amo 8:5 Saying, 'When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may market wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel large, and dealing falsely with balances of deceit;
Amo 8:6 that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, and sell the sweepings with the wheat?' "
Amo 8:7 Yahweh has sworn by the pride of Jacob, "Surely I will never forget any of their works.
Amo 8:8 Won't the land tremble for this, and everyone mourn who dwells in it? Yes, it will rise up wholly like the River; and it will be stirred up and sink again, like the River of Egypt.
Amo 8:9 It will happen in that day," says the Lord Yahweh, "that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day.
Amo 8:10 I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will make you wear sackcloth on all your bodies, and baldness on every head. I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and its end like a bitter day.
Amo 8:11 Behold, the days come," says the Lord Yahweh, "that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Yahweh.
Amo 8:12 They will wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will run back and forth to seek the word of Yahweh, and will not find it.
Amo 8:13 In that day the beautiful virgins and the young men will faint for thirst.
Amo 8:14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, 'As your god, Dan, lives;' and, 'As the way of Beersheba lives;' they will fall, and never rise up again."
Amo 9:1 I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said, "Strike the tops of the pillars, that the thresholds may shake; and break them in pieces on the head of all of them; and I will kill the last of them with the sword: there shall not one of them flee away, and there shall not one of them escape.
Amo 9:2 Though they dig into Sheol, there my hand will take them; and though they climb up to heaven, there I will bring them down.
Amo 9:3 Though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out there; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent, and it will bite them.
Amo 9:4 Though they go into captivity before their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it will kill them. I will set my eyes on them for evil, and not for good.
Amo 9:5 For the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, is he who touches the land and it melts, and all who dwell in it will mourn; and it will rise up wholly like the River, and will sink again, like the River of Egypt.
Amo 9:6 It is he who builds his chambers in the heavens, and has founded his vault on the earth; he who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth; Yahweh is his name.
Amo 9:7 Are you not like the children of the Ethiopians to me, children of Israel?" says Yahweh. "Haven't I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?
Amo 9:8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord Yahweh are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the surface of the earth; except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob," says Yahweh.
Amo 9:9 "For, behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet not the least kernel will fall on the earth.
Amo 9:10 All the sinners of my people will die by the sword, who say, 'Evil won't overtake nor meet us.'
Amo 9:11 In that day I will raise up the tent of David who is fallen, and close up its breaches, and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old;
Amo 9:12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations who are called by my name," says Yahweh who does this.
Amo 9:13 "Behold, the days come," says Yahweh, "that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the one treading grapes him who sows seed; and sweet wine will drip from the mountains, and flow from the hills.
Amo 9:14 I will bring my people Israel back from captivity, and they will rebuild the ruined cities, and inhabit them; and they will plant vineyards, and drink wine from them. They shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
Amo 9:15 I will plant them on their land, and they will no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them," says Yahweh your God.

 

Dec. 18
Jude

Jud 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
Jud 1:2 Mercy to you and peace and love be multiplied.
Jud 1:3 Beloved, while I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I was constrained to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jud 1:4 For there are certain men who crept in secretly, even those who were long ago written about for this condemnation: ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:5 Now I desire to remind you, though you already know this, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who didn't believe.
Jud 1:6 Angels who didn't keep their first domain, but deserted their own dwelling place, he has kept in everlasting bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
Jud 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, having, in the same way as these, given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.
Jud 1:8 Yet in like manner these also in their dreaming defile the flesh, despise authority, and slander celestial beings.
Jud 1:9 But Michael, the archangel, when contending with the devil and arguing about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him an abusive condemnation, but said, "May the Lord rebuke you!"
Jud 1:10 But these speak evil of whatever things they don't know. What they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, they are destroyed in these things.
Jud 1:11 Woe to them! For they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in Korah's rebellion.
Jud 1:12 These are hidden rocky reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you, shepherds who without fear feed themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn leaves without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
Jud 1:13 wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever.
Jud 1:14 About these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones,
Jud 1:15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
Jud 1:16 These are murmurers and complainers, walking after their lusts (and their mouth speaks proud things), showing respect of persons to gain advantage.
Jud 1:17 But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:18 They said to you that "In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts."
Jud 1:19 These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit.
Jud 1:20 But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.
Jud 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
Jud 1:22 On some have compassion, making a distinction,
Jud 1:23 and some save, snatching them out of the fire with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh.
Jud 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep them from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory in great joy,
Jud 1:25 to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.




From Gary... A grand sight, indeed

























This morning I found myself viewing a lot of ads on the net about the new movies that are out for the holiday season.  And there are some good ones!!!   When I saw NASA's picture of the day, this morning, I associated it with floodlights that you might see at a "grand opening" of some sort.   These "pillars" are natural occurrences (although somewhat rare) that happen when flat ice-crystals are close to the ground and the weather is cold enough to prevent them from melting.  If you would like a more exact explanation, feel free to go to the following link and see how a professional astronomer describes this...  http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/astropix.html.  Anyway, these "pillars" remind me of searchlights that are used at the beginning of some movies.  Given the date on the calendar, my thoughts turned to the Gospel of Luke...

Luke, Chapter 2
 8 There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock.  9 Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people.  11 For there is born to you, this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  12 This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.”  13 Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying, 
  14 “Glory to God in the highest,
on earth peace, good will toward men.”

  15  When the angels went away from them into the sky, the shepherds said one to another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 They came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough.  17 When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child.  18 All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds. 

Many people feel that Jesus was born on December 25; personally I believe Jesus was on Rosh Hashana four years before the year "zero".  This was traditionally the time that great kings were said to be born.  Whenever Jesus was born, it was a time of great celebration for the world and one of great hope as well.  Were there great signs in the skies? Probably, based on the passage from Luke's Gospel. This much is certain: God did send his son, and his child was faithful even unto death, AND BECAUSE OF THIS WE HAVE THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE-- (IF WE OBEY HIS COMMANDS).  For those of you who do celebrate the 25th of December as Christmas, I wish you the very best of the season and a very merry "Christmas".  For those who still haven't obeyed the Gospel- There is still time.  Why do you wait?  As the apostle Paul said:

16 Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’ Acts 22:16



FYI... More information on Rosh Hashana can be found at...

http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday2.htm