From Ben Fronczek... Faith (Part 2)

Faith (Part 2)

In our first lesson we began to look at how truly important it is to have faith in our life. I talked about how debilitating it would be if we had no faith what so ever.

- You would never believe anything would work out for your benefit, leaving us to live a hopeless life.

- We would never be able to trust anyone.

- We’d never be able to step out on faith and try anything new, because courage and faith go hand in hand.

- We’d never be able to believe in anything we couldn’t prove, see, or touch with our own hands.

- We wouldn’t be able accept many of those historical and scientific facts that we’ve learned over the years. - And especially sad is the fact that we could not believe in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, angels, heaven or anything spiritual.  And so we would not only be condemned to a hell on earth, we would also be condemned to an eternal hell. Why? Because we are saved by our faith in God, in the saving work of Jesus, and what He has said to us in His word.

The ability to have Faith is such a blessing and so very important to each and every one of us. I also showed you from scripture that our faith is something that can protect us from the many temptations and negative emotions that we can be bombarded with.

The Apostle Paul instructed us in Eph. 6:16 to “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

When people put us down or try to discourage us it is our faith that says,  ”Wait just a minute, I am a child of  God and I know He loves me, so I don’t care what you think about me or what I can or cannot do… I can do all things through Christ who give me strength.”

During unfortunate times of tragedy, it is our faith that says, “I know God loves and cares for me and that He will work out all thing for the good of those who love Him. I believe He is in control and somehow everything will be all right.”

When people say, “I can’t believe that you really believe in all that religious mumbo jumbo.” Faith is what enables us to see God, accept that He is, and accept that within the pages of the Bible we see His eternal purpose and plan unfolding throughout history. Faith is what protects us from the devastation flaming arrows of discouragement, doubt, and unbelief.

I believe that when we are born we all begin with the same amount of faith, but for some reason 
some take more advantage of it and use it more than others. For some their faith remains small.
Why? Because I believe our faith is very much like a muscle. The more you use it, the more your 
exercise it, the stronger it becomes.

If you rarely use a muscle in your body it doesn’t mean that it is not there, it just remains small and weak. But the more we use it and press it to its limit the bigger and stronger it becomes. . And likewise faith grows as we use it. Even as it’s pressed to its breaking point, it grows stronger and stronger.

Some people talk about their faith; how much they love God and Jesus, how much they believe that the church and loving people is important, and then there are those who actually exercise that faith. (Consider James 2:18)

I read where someone said, “All of us have faith but it must be released, we can’t keep it locked up inside us. It has to be pulled out and expressed and used and that is done by Praying, Saying, and Taking action.”

PRAYING carries our faith filled request before the throne of God. And if it’s His will He will answer that prayer in His time. Your request may seem absolutely ridiculous to everyone else but He hears and cares about what’s important to you. And remember He is able to do more than we can ever ask or imagine.

Eph. 3:   
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.    - First of all here Paul says I pray that you all will come to understand how much God really, really, loves you. Why? So that you will be filled up with God. Then he says…   20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Paul lets us know here that God can do more than we can ever imagine .. thru His power that is in us. Prayer helps us to tap into that power and helps strengthen our faith even more

In Heb. 4:14-16 it says, 14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

We begin to exercise our faith first of all when we chose to approach God and talk to Him about what’s on our mind, believing that He is able to do some amazing things; because He loves and understands how hard life can be.

Then there’s Speaking: The there is something special, even powerful, about our words. What is in your heart will eventually come out of our mouth. In Matt. 15:18 Jesus said, “the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart.”        That’s why it’s important to pay attention to pay attention to what you say. Why? Because it helps you discover how much faith you really have. 

A person may listen to a hundred Bible teachings on faith, but you can tell whether or not that person truly has faith or not by listening to what they say.  If a person can still speak positively, with words of faith  even in a tough situation, that shows what kind of faith they have. But if all you hear from that person is complaining, and whining about their situation, or that saying something is impossible or can’t be done, or worked out, then that also tells you how little their faith is. That person is in danger.

Even if you are a little unsure about something verbalizing words out loud (the right words) in agreement with God’s Word will release faith and allow it to go to work in the Spiritual realm.
Words like; ‘I believe that if this is God’s will He is going to work this problem out for me because I love Him.’   Or, ‘If doing this is God’s will I believe He is going to help me through this situation, this problem, or He is going to help me with this new adventure, because I know that He loves me.’   I believe speaking words of faith over and over can push aside fear and doubts.

Those positive words of faith not only express your faith, they also re-fortify and build up your faith.

And then there are actually some Specific Actions we need to take to release our faith. When we begin to act on what we want to believe, God shows up.
When Peter literally stood up and stepped out of the boat into the water, His action showed that he had faith in God’s word when Jesus said, “Come.” It was at that point that God allowed the unimaginable to occur.

Most of the time faith requires that we step out. Peter was the only one who asked about and had the faith to walk out on the water, he was the only one who trusted God enough to take the first step.

Can you just imagine how great that story would have been if they all got out of the boat and walked to Jesus.

If what we want to do something, like Peter sometimes we just have to trust God and  have the faith to take that first step. He will never fail to help us finish if we keep our eyes on Him as we walk in faith step by step, day after day.

I believe that God wants our faith to keep growing and growing. But that’s not going to happen if you just shrink back in the corner and whine and complain, and do nothing to exercise that faith muscle because you know that it may be uncomfortable at times.

Just remember, the smaller one’s faith, the smaller the shield you have to protect yourself from those evil attacks when they come your way. The more you believe in God, and in your position in His love, and the more you keep praying and the more you keep stepping out on faith, the stronger you will become. You will have more confidence. You will complain less. You will do more and you will get things done without worrying all the time.

But I’m going to be honest with you’re here, just like there is a price to pay to build up your muscles in your body, there is a price to pay when it comes to building our faith.
I’m sure you’ve heard that saying, ‘No pain, no gain.’  In order to have a strong faith many times we have to step out of our comfort zone and step into the unknown ; like doing or trying something we have never done before. Maybe God puts something in your heart to go some place to do something you have never done before, knowing that  you will be a blessing to another and it will help you grow as a more faith filled person enabling you to do even greater things despite the anxiety you may have at first.

We just have to trust God and step out of the boat.

Some people do amazing things you can never imagine yourself doing.       Let me tell you something that you probably already know, that doesn’t just happen overnight or right away. That person’s faith grew from faith to faith. In other words it grew with each new step of faith they took.

You are amazed and admire what these people are doing with their life never having seen all little steps it took them to get where they are.

If you go to a gym and ask a trainer to help you build up your arm muscles he is not going to start you off with the heaviest weights to lift. He will probably start you off with something small, something he knows you can handle. And even using those small weights will cause your arms to become a bit sore. But the more you exercise and the stronger you become the more weight he will add.

Likewise, God is not going to give you any more than you can handle (even though many feel like He is pushing you to hard at times). As you move from task to task, or from one trial to another from one adventure to another, from one challenge to another, from faith to faith, you will grow stronger and you will eventually be the one amazing others.

This can have an effect on every part of your life; your walk with Christ, steps you will take to advance yourself in your career or business, even how far you will go to maintain and grow your relationship with others, even how you handle trials and troubles in life.

My Challenge for you this week is to trust Jesus and take those steps of faith. If you do so you will find yourself growing from faith to faith.

Present your request to God. Talk to Him knowing and believing that He can do amazing things with you and thru you.

Proclaim words of faith burying those word of fear, doubt or complaints.

 Trust God and take that first step. You just may be pleasantly surprised what you may find yourself doing.

Next week I hope to bring this lesson on faith down home on an every day level.
For more lessons click on the following link:

From Jim McGuiggan... Who did Peter write to?

Who did Peter write to?

Peter speaks to the “elect that are of the Diaspora.” Taking it at face value there’s no doubt that he wrote to Jews that lived outside Palestine. But 1:1 tells us that these Jews believed in Jesus the Christ. Eusebius the 3rd/4th century church historian takes it as it sits and says Peter wrote to Hebrews, Christian Hebrews in Asia Minor. It’s a fairly modern view (but nearly a consensus now) that he didn’t write to Jews—he wrote to Gentiles! This now established view is based on internal considerations.

J. Ramsey Michaels represents it well and he makes his points clear. After giving some reasons for thinking the book was written to Gentiles even though the address (and other things) points to Jews, thus generating what he says is “mixed signals,” he says this. “The best explanation of the data is that 1 Peter was written primarily to Gentile Christians in Asia Minor, but that the author, for his own reasons, has chosen to address them as if they were Jews.”

Is there any compelling reason for believing that Peter’s audience is anything other than Diaspora Jews? A number of points are offered but maybe I’m just not able to appreciate them. (It wouldn’t be the first time that that has happened.) It seems to me that what Michaels admits should be allowed to stand. Though he doesn’t believe the clear impression he says, “The clear impression is that the readers of the epistle are Jewish Christians.”

What suggests that they are Gentiles?

Various points are offered to support the Gentile audience view. The reader might think they are rather weak but she or he might think that a number of weaker arguments, taken together, might make the case. Perhaps, but then again, six weak arguments don’t really make one strong argument. They make six weak arguments.

They’re thought to be Gentiles because they believed in God through Jesus Christ rather than through the Torah or ancestral religion (1:21). The point being that if they had been Jews they would have come to faith in God through the Torah and ancestral religion. But NT writers would insist that it was precisely because Israel didn’t know God through Jesus Christ that they missed true faith in God.

In fact Acts 3:6-26 could easily be the development of the richness of 1:21. In that section Peter drives home to fellow-Jews that they shouldn’t be astonished at what they’ve seen and heard (3:12-13). They needed to know that it was the work of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. His fellows would have found it hard to believe because on their view their God wouldn’t have vindicated Jesus Christ, which in fact is what he did when raising him from the dead and glorifying him (3:15). And what’s more, it was through Jesus that the healed man had faith in and praised the God of Abraham in the temple (3:8,16). Peter goes on to call them to repent toward God and turn to him. Peter could easily insist to his fellow Jews that the only way to know God is through Jesus Christ. In fact, I would have thought that that was a central claim of Jesus himself when speaking to the Jews; that if they didn’t come to know the Father through him they didn’t come to know him at all. Why then would it surprise us if 1 Peter 1:21 is addressed to Jews?

They’re thought to be Gentiles because their past lives were vain and handed down (1:18). One might have thought that that might be as Jewish as Gentile. In Isaiah 29:13 God characterized the nation as one that worshiped him in vain because the teaching the leaders handed down were human structures. Christ made use of that text in Matthew 15:3-9 concerning the handed down teachings (traditions, 15:3) of the Elders that made worship vain. And was that the kind of thing the Hebrew writer in 9:14 was getting at—“dead works”? Peter reminds them that they had been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ rather than silver or gold. Might he not have been reminding them of the redemption teaching and practice under the Old Testament structure? See, for example, Exodus 30:11-16, Numbers 18:15-16 and Jeremiah 32:1-15. I think it’s as easy to see Jews in all this as it is to see Gentiles. Maybe there’s more in this point than I’m granting but it doesn’t seem nearly strong enough to offset a plain address that marks the letter: to Diaspora Jews.

They're thought to be Gentiles because they were once ignorant and driven by impulses and that sounds like Gentiles (1:14). Perhaps, but then Gentiles didn’t have a monopoly on ignorance or evil impulses. Romans 6:12,17,19 and 7:7 aren’t addressed only to Gentiles. And when it comes to ignorance Luke 23:34 is as surely directed at the Jews as at Gentiles. Peter himself tells his national leaders that it was out of ignorance that they slew the Messiah (Acts 3:17, and see Paul in Acts 13:27). Paul speaks of Israel’s ignorance in Romans 10:1-3 and in pointed sarcasm he implies a moral ignorance in Romans 2:17-24. You understand I’m not saying 1 Peter is written to Jews because it’s possible to cite such passages as these. I’m saying that maybe we should just let the 1:1 address stand as it is unless we have compelling reasons to do otherwise.

They are thought to be Gentiles because Peter says to them that once they were not God’s people but now in Jesus Christ they are (2:10). The background to this text is Hosea chapters 1 through 3, al of which should be read. Hosea, a prophet to the North, speaks God’s word concerning Israel in particular. There’s not a Gentile in sight. Because Israel has rejected God he has rejected her and says she is not his people. But the day would come when he would woo her and bring her back to himself under the rule of his servant “David”. The section is Jewish throughout and if Peter used it to speak to Jews it would be no surprise at all. In fact, so thoroughly Jewish is it that some have criticized Paul for using it of both Jew and Gentile in Romans 9:24-25

It looks like Paul applies these Hosea texts to both Jews and Gentiles in Romans 9:24-25. I say it “looks like” he does because I think there’s another option. But I don’t wish to take the discussion down another road so let’s take it for now that he does. We “know” Paul included Gentiles in his use of the text because he says so in 9:24. But what reason do we have for saying Peter excluded Jews?

They are thought to be Gentiles because they were called out of darkness. It’s true that Gentiles lived in darkness but are we to suppose Israel wasn’t called out of darkness? Why isn’t it reasonable to think of the darkness in Isaiah 8:19—9:2 out of which Jesus called Israel (see Matthew 4:15-16)? See Luke 1:79, Acts 26:18,23 and Romans 11:10 where God’s judgement on Israel is described as bringing them into darkness. Again, the point here is not that we can match Jewish darkness with Gentile darkness therefore Peter wrote to Jews. No, Peter says he wrote to Jews and talk of darkness should not offset that.

They are thought to be Gentiles because the description in 4:3-4 couldn’t possibly be of Jews. I think this is by far the strongest argument in favor of a Gentile audience and maybe it should be sufficient to make the case. The text says, “For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you to not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.”

But there are things to be said even here. Two things at least. In the Greek text Peter doesn’t say to his readers, “You have spent enough time living like Gentiles.” Many versions (there are a number of exceptions) read as if he had done just that. Now maybe that’s what he meant but it’s not quite what he said. The truth is, in 4:3 Peter said something like: “The years that have gone by are more than enough time for the kind of life that Gentiles purposed and have lived.” The Greek text doesn’t come out and say, “The years that have gone by are more than enough time for you to have lived out the purpose of the Gentiles.” (Personal pronouns are absent from the Greek text of these verses as Michaels himself reminds us.)

What if Peter is thinking of his fellow-Jewish Christians, an island of troubled saints in an ocean of pagan ungodliness, tempted to give way to bitterness, reprisals and envy? Might he not say by way of admonition and encouragement that the years had seen enough of that and that they had been called to something different? It could easily sound like an old man’s  summary of the wicked world. Bigg, in the ICC says, “One idea haunts the whole Epistle; to the author, as to the patriarch Jacob, life is a pilgrimage; it is essentially an old man’s view.”

[He goes on to say (4:4) that the Gentiles abused them because they wouldn’t run with them in the same excesses. It’s possible that Peter is saying that the Gentiles are shaking their heads that his readers are “no longer” running with them. Some versions render it that way. It might be the correct interpretation but there’s nothing in the actual text that says this.]

Let me summarize on 4:3-4 at this point. I’m suggesting that Peter doesn’t say his readers had lived like Gentiles in the past and that they called a halt to it. I’m saying that he might be admonishing his readers in a Gentile environment by saying that the passing (past) years had witnessed enough corruption lived out by Gentiles and that they should continue to resist it whether or not that means they suffer abuse.

But secondly, let’s take it that Peter is saying that his readers had in the past engaged in this ungodliness and excess but had called it to a halt. Would that prove his readers were Gentiles? Michaels thinks that no one would have spoken of Jews in the terms we find in 1 Peter 4:3. I find that surprising. Paul in Romans 3: 9-19 has a collage of scriptures that shows how wicked the Jewish people could become. In 3:9 he insists that Jews are no better morally than the Gentiles he has earlier described. Hosea and Amos are a scorching condemnation of a people that have sunk to drunken orgies, widespread sexual immorality, idolatry and the like. Yes, I recognize that some changes occurred after the Exile but idolatry and outrage continued after the Return, as Ezra and Nehemiah make clear. The Jewish corruption under Antiochus IV shows they were capable of much evil.

The book of James is written to Jewish readers, Christians and non-Christians. Chapter 4:1-4 is anything but praise! And 5:1-6 is a blunt condemnation of Diaspora Jews in their self-indulgence, cruelty and injustice. In Ephesians 2:1-3 Paul includes the Jews in the pursuit of evil lusts, following the world spirit. Here’s what the text says. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

All of that to say this, if 4:3 was a Peter’s description of his readers’ past life that still wouldn’t prove they were Gentiles.

1 Peter as addressed to Messianic Jews

I think Peter wrote to Jewish Christians who had been born again (compare John 3:3-5 and James 1:18 with 1 Peter 1:18—2:1)? They might have been, as many scholars have suggested, recently baptized believers who have “now” turned to Jesus Christ. If in their past they had been going along with the Gentiles those days are definitively gone and none too soon.

I think his use of Old Testament categories to describe them is right on target since these Jewish believers are the true Israel (compare Romans 9:6-7) because they received the Messiah as the precious cornerstone. They are contrasted with their leaders who rejected Christ (1 Peter 2:6-8 and Acts 4:10-11 where Peter uses the same text to the Jewish leaders). And it was the same Peter who in Acts 3:22-23 quotes Deuteronomy 18:15-19 saying that those who reject the coming Prophet will be “cut off from among the people.” Peter, like Paul, sees the true Israel as those who rejoice in Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The rest are cut off from among “the people”. That is, they are not classed as part of the true People of God.

When he likens their suffering to the suffering of the Servant Christ from Isaiah 53 could he not be including them with the concept of the “servant” as Paul certainly did in Acts 13:47 (the Lord commanded “us”)? Might that notion not be strengthened by Peter’s remark in 4:13 that their sufferings are “the suffering of Christ”?

Finally, in 4:3 Peter contrasts his readers with Gentiles. In light of 1:1 that should lead us to think they are Jewish. Michaels confesses that this is “striking” and goes on to speak of Peter’s “strong conviction that his Gentile Christian readers are actually Jews in God's sight.” So why not allow them to actually be Jews? (You might be interested in reading the comments on whether NT writers thought of Gentile Christians as “Jews”. Click here.)

©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, theabidingword.com.

From Mark Copeland... What Kind Of Men God Needs (1 Timothy 2:2)

                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                    What Kind Of Men God Needs (2:2)


1. Earlier in 2nd Timothy, we saw "What Kind Of Men God Makes" (2 Ti 1:7)...
   a. Fearless men
   b. Strong men
   c. Loving men
   d. Sound men

2. In 2Ti 2:2, we now find Paul giving a charge to Timothy...
   a. To teach others what Paul had taught him
   b. Who in turn would be able to teach others

3. In this charge we learn how the Lord's church was to propagate
   a. Those who are taught teaching others
   b. A continuous cycle of learning and teaching

[A very effective and quite adequate method, but it works only when the
right kind of men are to be found.  From our text (2Ti 2:2) , consider
"What Kind Of Men God Needs"; e.g., He needs...]


      1. Just as the Lord Himself was faithful, as was Moses - He 3:2
      2. Just as Paul himself was counted faithful - 1Ti 1:12
      -- Men whom the Lord can trust, depend

      1. Holding fast the pattern of sound words, in love and faith
         - 2Ti 1:13
      2. Continuing in the things one has learned - 2Ti 3:14
      -- Men who preach the truth of God, and practice what they preach

      1. Their own brothers and sisters among whom they will serve the
         Lord on their behalf
      2. Serving their brethren like Epaphras did the church at Colosse
         - Col 1:7
      -- Men whom the local church can trust, depend

[In other words, men "...who not only have received the grace of God,
and are true believers in Christ, but are men of great uprightness and
integrity; who having the word of God, will speak it out boldly, and
faithfully, and keep back nothing that is profitable, but declare the
whole counsel of God, without any mixture or adulteration; for the
Gospel being committed to their trust, they would become stewards, and
of such it is required that they be faithful; and therefore this is
mentioned as a necessary and requisite qualification in them..." (Gill).
From our text we note that God also needs...]


      1. Unless men are willing to be taught, God's method won't work!
      2. Timothy himself provides a good example:
         a. Willing first to be taught by his mother and grandmother
            - cf. 2Ti 1:5; 3:14-15
         b. Willing to go with Paul and be taught by him - cf. Ac 16:1-3
      -- Men who willing to be students first, then teachers

      1. Self-study is an important part of preparing to teach - cf.
         2Ti 2:15; 1Ti 4:13,15-16
      2. As illustrated by Ezra the priest -  Ezr 7:10
      -- Men who do not wait for others to teach them, but study on
         their own!

[In other words, men who take advantage of every opportunity to learn;
whether it be at the feet of someone else, or in the privacy of their
own study.  They love the truth that much!  Then notice that God


      1. Unless men are willing to teach others, God's method won't
      2. Again, Timothy provides a good example:
         a. What he learned from Paul, he was willing to tell others
            - cf. 1Co 4:17
         b. Paul could depend upon him to teach others - cf. 1Ti 1:3
      3. Teaching others makes one a faithful minister of Christ - 1 Ti 4:6
      -- Men who do not keep the truth they love to themselves, but
         share it with others!

      1. Not everyone serves as a teacher in a formal sense - cf. 1Co 12:29; Jm 3:1; Ep 4:11
      2. But everyone should be able to teach others something - cf. He 5:12
         a. Men have different abilities - cf. 1Pe 4:10-11; Ro 12:3-8
         b. Even those who serve with their hands can teach others how
            to do so
      -- Men who teach whatever skills and abilities they may have!


1. For the gospel to spread and the Lord's church to grow, God needs the
   right kind of men...
   a. Men who are faithful
   b. Men who are teachable
   c. Men who will teach
   -- I.e., men willing to serve the Lord!

2. This need is not limited to those of the male gender, the Lord also
   a. Older women who are willing to teach younger women - cf. Tit 2:3
   b. Young women who are willing to learn from them - cf. Tit 2:4-5
   -- I.e., women willing to serve the Lord!

In whatever way that is keeping with our abilities and God's will,
everyone should be both student and teacher.  Remember the words of the

   "A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to
   the next generation, They will come and declare His righteousness
   to a people who will be born, That He has done this." - Ps 22:30-31

   "Now also when I am old and gray headed, O God, do not forsake me,
   Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to
   everyone who is to come." - Ps 71:18

   "We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the
   generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and
   His wonderful works that He has done. For He established a
   testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He
   commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their
   children; That the generation to come might know them, The
   children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them
   to their children," - Ps 78:4-6

   "One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall
   declare Your mighty acts." - Ps 145:4

If everyone was a student and teacher like yourself, would the Lord's
church be in existence in the next generation...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading January 23

Bible Reading 

January 23

The World English Bible

Jan. 23
Genesis 23

Gen 23:1 Sarah lived one hundred twenty-seven years. This was the length of Sarah's life.
Gen 23:2 Sarah died in Kiriath Arba (the same is Hebron), in the land of Canaan. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
Gen 23:3 Abraham rose up from before his dead, and spoke to the children of Heth, saying,
Gen 23:4 "I am a stranger and a foreigner living with you. Give me a possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight."
Gen 23:5 The children of Heth answered Abraham, saying to him,
Gen 23:6 "Hear us, my lord. You are a prince of God among us. Bury your dead in the best of our tombs. None of us will withhold from you his tomb. Bury your dead."
Gen 23:7 Abraham rose up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.
Gen 23:8 He talked with them, saying, "If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,
Gen 23:9 that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he has, which is in the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me among you for a possession of a burying-place."
Gen 23:10 Now Ephron was sitting in the middle of the children of Heth. Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the hearing of the children of Heth, even of all who went in at the gate of his city, saying,
Gen 23:11 "No, my lord, hear me. I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. In the presence of the children of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead."
Gen 23:12 Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land.
Gen 23:13 He spoke to Ephron in the audience of the people of the land, saying, "But if you will, please hear me. I will give the price of the field. Take it from me, and I will bury my dead there."
Gen 23:14 Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him,
Gen 23:15 "My lord, listen to me. What is a piece of land worth four hundred shekels of silver between me and you? Therefore bury your dead."
Gen 23:16 Abraham listened to Ephron. Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver which he had named in the audience of the children of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the current merchants' standard.
Gen 23:17 So the field of Ephron, which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all of its borders, were deeded
Gen 23:18 to Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.
Gen 23:19 After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre (that is, Hebron), in the land of Canaan.
Gen 23:20 The field, and the cave that is in it, were deeded to Abraham for a possession of a burying place by the children of Heth.

Jan. 23, 24
Matthew 12

Mat 12:1 At that time, Jesus went on the Sabbath day through the grain fields. His disciples were hungry and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat.
Mat 12:2 But the Pharisees, when they saw it, said to him, "Behold, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath."
Mat 12:3 But he said to them, "Haven't you read what David did, when he was hungry, and those who were with him;
Mat 12:4 how he entered into the house of God, and ate the show bread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for those who were with him, but only for the priests?
Mat 12:5 Or have you not read in the law, that on the Sabbath day, the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are guiltless?
Mat 12:6 But I tell you that one greater than the temple is here.
Mat 12:7 But if you had known what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the guiltless.
Mat 12:8 For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."
Mat 12:9 He departed there, and went into their synagogue.
Mat 12:10 And behold there was a man with a withered hand. They asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day?" that they might accuse him.
Mat 12:11 He said to them, "What man is there among you, who has one sheep, and if this one falls into a pit on the Sabbath day, won't he grab on to it, and lift it out?
Mat 12:12 Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day."
Mat 12:13 Then he told the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out; and it was restored whole, just like the other.
Mat 12:14 But the Pharisees went out, and conspired against him, how they might destroy him.
Mat 12:15 Jesus, perceiving that, withdrew from there. Great multitudes followed him; and he healed them all,
Mat 12:16 and commanded them that they should not make him known:
Mat 12:17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying,
Mat 12:18 "Behold, my servant whom I have chosen; my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my Spirit on him. He will proclaim justice to the nations.
Mat 12:19 He will not strive, nor shout; neither will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
Mat 12:20 He won't break a bruised reed. He won't quench a smoking flax, until he leads justice to victory.
Mat 12:21 In his name, the nations will hope."
Mat 12:22 Then one possessed by a demon, blind and mute, was brought to him and he healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.
Mat 12:23 All the multitudes were amazed, and said, "Can this be the son of David?"
Mat 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "This man does not cast out demons, except by Beelzebul, the prince of the demons."
Mat 12:25 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
Mat 12:26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?
Mat 12:27 If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.
Mat 12:28 But if I by the Spirit of God cast out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
Mat 12:29 Or how can one enter into the house of the strong man, and plunder his goods, unless he first bind the strong man? Then he will plunder his house.
Mat 12:30 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who doesn't gather with me, scatters.
Mat 12:31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
Mat 12:32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is to come.
Mat 12:33 "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit.
Mat 12:34 You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
Mat 12:35 The good man out of his good treasure brings out good things, and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings out evil things.
Mat 12:36 I tell you that every idle word that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
Mat 12:37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
Mat 12:38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from you."
Mat 12:39 But he answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, but no sign will be given it but the sign of Jonah the prophet.
Mat 12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Mat 12:41 The men of Nineveh will stand up in the judgment with this generation, and will condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, someone greater than Jonah is here.
Mat 12:42 The queen of the south will rise up in the judgment with this generation, and will condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, someone greater than Solomon is here.
Mat 12:43 But the unclean spirit, when he is gone out of the man, passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and doesn't find it.
Mat 12:44 Then he says, 'I will return into my house from which I came out,' and when he has come back, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
Mat 12:45 Then he goes, and takes with himself seven other spirits more evil than he is, and they enter in and dwell there. The last state of that man becomes worse than the first. Even so will it be also to this evil generation."
Mat 12:46 While he was yet speaking to the multitudes, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, seeking to speak to him.
Mat 12:47 One said to him, "Behold, your mother and your brothers stand outside, seeking to speak to you."
Mat 12:48 But he answered him who spoke to him, "Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?"
Mat 12:49 He stretched out his hand towards his disciples, and said, "Behold, my mother and my brothers!
Mat 12:50 For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother."

From Gary... Too much is NOT ENOUGH

I wonder, how far back can YOU remember? Kindergarten, preschool or perhaps something earlier?  However far back you go, there will be times of goodness, caring and that fuzzy warm feeling that you just KNOW something GOOD happened.  Now, I am sure that as young children we all experienced times like this one, where the love was just a bit TOO MUCH, but HEY, that goes with being a baby and is something we all had to cope with (whether we actually remember it or not).   But what about the other side of the equation here- I mean the giver (in this case, the dog)?  What does it feel like to care for someone else; to put their needs above your own?  And what if you applied this as a spiritual principle in reference  to adults???? Paul writes the following...

1 Thessalonians, Chapter 2
  1 For you yourselves know, brothers, our visit to you wasn’t in vain,  2 but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as you know, at Philippi, we grew bold in our God to tell you the Good News of God in much conflict.  3 For our exhortation is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in deception.  4 But even as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who tests our hearts.  5 For neither were we at any time found using words of flattery, as you know, nor a cloak of covetousness (God is witness),  6 nor seeking glory from men (neither from you nor from others), when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ.  7 But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 

  8  Even so, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not the Good News of God only, but also our own souls, because you had become very dear to us.  9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail; for working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached to you the Good News of God.  10 You are witnesses with God, how holy, righteously, and blamelessly we behaved ourselves toward you who believe.  11 As you know, we exhorted, comforted, and implored every one of you, as a father does his own children,  12 to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into his own Kingdom and glory.  13 For this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when you received from us the word of the message of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you who believe.  14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the assemblies of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus; for you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews;  15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and drove us out, and didn’t please God, and are contrary to all men;  16 forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always. But wrath has come on them to the uttermost. 

  17  But we, brothers, being bereaved of you for a short season, in presence, not in heart, tried even harder to see your face with great desire,  18 because we wanted to come to you—indeed, I, Paul, once and again—but Satan hindered us.  19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Isn’t it even you, before our Lord Jesus at his coming?  20 For you are our glory and our joy. 

As a parent (and a grandparent for twenty plus years) I can tell you the job is NOT EASY!!!  Rewarding, yes; easy NO!!!  However, where there is love, even the impossible becomes do-able (somehow).  We all take for granted the love we receive as children and if we were blessed to have too much love- then all that means is... We have an excess to share.  Paul (and company) loved the Thessalonians; this much is obvious.  I wonder... is our love for the BRETHREN like that???  Ask yourself; if not-- WHY NOT???