From Ben Fronczek... Daniel – No Pork Chops Thank-You

Daniel – No Pork Chops Thank-You

Daniel Part 1    (By Ben Fronczek)


In Deut. Chapter 28, God promised to bless the Jewish nation as long as they remained faithful to Him and the covenant they had made with Him. He also warns them that if they turned their back on the covenant they made with Him and disobeyed His holy law, and if they chased after false foreign gods they would suffer the consequences until they repent.

But despite the numerous warnings over the years, the Jews turned their back on God and the covenant they had made with Him.  After sending Israel and Judah prophet after prophet to warn them to repent, God followed through with the promises made during the time of Moses. In Deut. 28 God told them that He would allow another nation that they did not know to come in and invade them. Their nation would be destroyed, only a few of them would survive, and some of their sons and daughters would be carried off in exile to a foreign land to serve their conquering king.

It is not only a Biblical fact it is also a historical fact that all this took place in 587BC. That leads us to the opening chapter of Daniel.

But before we read Chapter 1 there is one lesson I would like you to remember here: God does not forget the promises He makes, to bless or curse. He never forgets His promises!  

In 2 Peter 3:3-13 we read how some people made fun of and scoffed at the promises God has make. But Peter reminds and warns people that there is a great day coming.  

“Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives

Even though men are short-sighted and forget, God, and His word, and His promises last forever. They are never forgotten by Him, so we can take comfort in His promises..

Read  Daniel:1:1-4  

“In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.”
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring into the king’s service some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility— 4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.

Nebuchadnezzar conquered the Jews and some were carried off into exile as predicted. Then the king ordered that some of the finest young men be groomed and trained to serve in the royal palace.   

I believe we see our 2nd lesson here.  The king, (the enemy) was not  interested in the weak, the blind, the poor, the lame, nor the simple in his service, but rather he wanted Israel’s finest, those of noble or royal birth, those who not only looked good, but also those who were intelligent, wise and able to learn.  I would dare to say that our enemy the devil is just as cunning.  I believe he is more interested in enlisting those of us who are children of God. He already has the rest of the world so I believe he especially goes after those who have the most influence in God’s kingdom; the elders, the preachers, the Bible professors and Sunday school teachers, and those who are dedicated Christians. I believe he wants to win us over and into his service hoping that we compromise truth; maybe so that we will allow that which is untrue, even ungodly into our churches and schools to influence those who are weak.

Herein is where we learn from Daniel’s example.   

Read Dan. 1:5-16  

“The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”     So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.”

The Babylonian strategy was to take the brightest and best from each culture and make them Babylonian in their thinking and Babylonian in their religion.

Daniel and his friends were humble and smart enough not to balk at being renamed, they knew that sticks and stones and Babylonian spears can break their bones, but changing their names could not really harm them. Name back then had more significance than names today.

In Hebrew DANIEL meant:  “MY JUDGE IS ELOHIM.” Or GOD IS MY JUDGE                            

BELTESHAZZAR meant: “BEL (Lord of the World) PROTECTS THE KING.” ( Bel was the patron god of Babylon.)

HANANIAH meant:  UNDER YAHWEH’S GRACE. Or God’s favored
SHADRACH meant: UNDER AKU’S  Command  (another Babylonian god)


AZARIAH meant:  SERVANT OF YAHWEH. Jehovah has helped
ABEDNEGO meant: SERVANT OF NEGO. (their god of wisdom and Literature)

They could handle being renamed but when it came to changing what they had to eat and drink, that was another story. Long before we knew about germs and microbes and the nature of diseases, God knew. So He forbid the nation of Israel from eating certain foods that were prone to disease if not handled right. Foods like pork chops and crustaceans. Foods that the King likely to serve for dinner.

In addition, the Babylonians had a practice of offering their animals up to their gods as sacrifices before they ate them. So Daniel and his friends wanted to stay away from eating any meat that had been offered to idols. And this is where we see what Daniel and his companions are made of, and why I believe God preserved their lives and did not destroy them along with almost all the other Jews.

Neb. was trying to get them to do the very thing that God had told them not to do from the time of Moses. Neb. would have them turn their back on the Lord and what He commanded in His law. It was the very reason He allowed Babylon to conquer Judea in the first place. Even at a young age (probably around 16) Daniel and his companions recognized this and they made a decision not to eat the king’s food or drink the kings wine.

Another thing we see here is that Daniel and his friends never said anything negative about the Babylonians or their particular customs and eating habits.  They didn’t necessarily agree with all of it, but they were wise enough not to insult them and simply chose not to do that was against their moral and religious beliefs.  They simply chose to follow God’s way not matter what.

As I thought about this I could not help but ask myself, ‘In the land of the Jews where immorality seem to prevail  and the fear of God had faded away, how and where did these boy acquire the good morals and religious ethics that we see them possessing here?’

I can think of no place other than their home. Either one or both of their parents must have thought it important to teach their sons about God and what pleases Him even though everyone else was doing their own thing.  That up-bringing, the religious instruction, and hearts that loved and honored YAHWEH is probably what saved their lives and brought them to Babylon.

But here they were again, having to make a decision to do something different than what everyone else was doing. Before they probably acted different than everyone else in Israel, now they chose to be different than everyone else in Babylon. They simply chose to do what God asked of them before they were ever  captured.

But how could they do that? Why did they do that?
Well, they probably understood that God is in control.  They may have even understood why God allowed Babylon to conquer their homeland and why they were in the palace this foreign king.  It was all there in Deuteronomy 28. It was not a mistake. And maybe they recognized that God had placed them there for a purpose. So the culture did not threaten them. After all that they witnessed, they probably feared God more than they feared the king.

And because of their desire to obey God, rather than taking the easy way out they chose to obey God rather than this man. And what happens, God shows them favor in the eyes of the kings servant who would care for them.

Not only that, God blesses Daniel and his companions with healthy bodies, healthier than all the other young men. So the servant allowed Daniel and his companions to continue on with their diet.

So Here is Another lesson: 
If you want to be wise and set yourself on a course for success always chose to do what God wants you to do over what others want and expect of you. You don’t have do what everyone else is doing. You don’t have to go along with things that are popular in our culture, in your workplace, or school. Nor should we  be the one going around  complaining and criticizing the culture we live in or particular customs of others. Instead, live with freedom and peace of mind knowing that our God in heaven rules. Just live right, be a good example. Be salt and light and God will help you rise above and even lead others if you put Him first. He was even polite as he asked the servant of the king, by saying, ‘please’.

Read Daniel 1:17-21 

 “To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.
18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.  And Daniel remained there until the first year of King Cyrus.

Because Daniel and his companions remained faithful and true to Him, we read here that God continued to bless them with intelligence, wisdom and more over the next three years of their training. The text goes on to say that they were 10 timeswiser that anyone else in the kingdom.
I personally believe Daniel and his companions entered Babylon with more wisdom and understanding than any of those other young men from other conquered lands.  Why do I believe that? Because faithful Jewish boys in that day, as well as some today, are taught by their fathers to read, study, and memorize Scripture. And Scripture carries with it a promise of making your wise and smart. – This might explain why over 90% of all Nobel prizes have been won by ethnic Jews, even though ethnic Jews make up less than 1% of the world’s population. 
They study the scriptures.

The author of Ps. 119:99-100 wrote, 
I have more insight than my teachers, for I am always thinking of your laws.  100 I am even wiser than my elders, for I have kept your commandments.

Daniel and his friends had high I.Q’s. because they knew God’s word.
So our final lesson for today is seen right here. If you want to grow in wisdom and understanding, read God’s word, study it, digest it, even memorize it if you can. By doing so, the wisdom of God will become yours.

For more lessons click on the following link:

From Jim McGuiggan... 1 Peter 3:21

1 Peter 3:21

A reader wonders about some things in 1 Peter 3:21. This is a difficult text to get to the bottom of. Scholars differ widely on the passage and phrases within the passage so the rest of us need to be modest in our speech. Modest, but not speechless.

What does he mean when he says, "Baptism saves you"?

Whatever he means by it, he said it! In some real sense baptism is related to salvation in a functional way. Peter doesn’t say, "Baptism symbolically saves you." That would be to say that baptism doesn’t save you, it merely symbolises the fact that you have been saved. To say, "baptism symbolises the fact that you have been saved" makes sense; but it isn’t what Peter said. Had Peter said, "Faith saves you by the resurrection of Jesus from the dead" we wouldn’t hesitate to say that faith functions in a saving way. (Some of us speak as if we’re scared witless by water baptism.) What he did say was, "Baptism saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." We mustn’t be afraid of the doctrine of baptismal regeneration or self-salvation and so empty Peter’s words of their obvious meaning. Peter never believed that the mere application of water (a little or a lot) gave life with God to anyone! When we’re done explaining his words that "Baptism saves you" it’s important that we allow him to attribute to baptism some saving function. 

Baptism saves people!

(How it functions in a saving way is for further discussion.)

What does he mean when he says, "Not the putting away the filth of the flesh"?

Peter told his readers what baptism did—it saved them by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Before he tells them in what way baptism saves, Peter tells them what it does not do. Baptism doesn’t save by putting off the filth of the flesh.

He could mean that baptism isn’t meant to remove physical dirt from the body. We could imagine him saying that simply to underscore the importance of baptism’s function. It would be as if he said, "You understand, baptism is no mere bath in water after a dirty day’s work." Similarly, if a young man walked into a jeweller’s shop to buy a diamond ring for his soon-to-be wife and was taken back by the price the jeweller might say, "Yes, it’s expensive but this isn’t a piece of glass."

Or he might mean that baptism is not merely ceremonial, a Jewish-type purification rite that makes a person "clean". Certain washings, within the covenant, were required on different occasions when "sinners" needed to be cleansed. You see a lot of that in Leviticus.

He might mean what Oscar Brooks took him to mean. Brooks thought it meant something like, "Baptism saves you, but I don’t mean it takes away your tendency to sin or that it removes your sinful desires."

He might mean that baptism doesn’t have a place in the taking away of sins (it doesn’t purify a person from the moral filth of the sinful nature or past deeds).

My guess is he has none of these in mind. I think he’s saying that baptism saves you but not by making you right with God within the parameters of the flesh.

He’s writing to Jews whose past (as a nation) was based on their fleshly relationship with Abraham. That Abrahamic family (through Jacob) had consistently violated the covenant and polluted itself (they recapitulated the antediluvian behaviour). Fleshly Israel ceased to be covenanted according to the flesh because they persistently self-polluted. The flesh had failed and there was no curing of it—it had to be put to death. Some might have thought that baptism saved them by wiping that national filth away (as if it were another Jewish washing) and renewing their covenanted status as the fleshly elect. Baptism, on this view, doesn’t cleanse "the flesh" and make it acceptable—only death and resurrection takes care of the problem; it’s a new birth to a new inheritance.

In fact baptism signals the end of that phase of relating to God ("the end of all flesh"—Genesis 6:12-18 and here 3:19-21 and compare Romans 6:1-11 and 7:4-6 and 10:4, which have their own particular agenda but add point here). Baptism doesn’t relate to setting Jews right by curing the Mosaic violation as if baptism were a part of the Jewish covenant structure that supported the flesh—compare Hebrews 10:19-29. Baptism doesn’t relate to being born a Jew, it relates to being born again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3-4). It doesn’t save you by bringing you back to God within Mosaic parameters (as part of the fulfilment of Malachi 4 and John the Baptist’s ministry). It doesn’t ensure that we as Jews relate to God in the same old way.

Receiving this as plausible might lead us then to think of Christ being put to death in (the realm of) the flesh and made alive in (the realm of) the spirit. The "flesh" days are gone (Romans 10:1-4). If we grant that Peter is writing to Jews I think it sharpens the point. Christ didn’t purify the flesh he slew it in his dying and salvation in Christ occurs in being raised in and with him (think of 2 Corinthians 5:15-17 in this connection).

Baptism into Christ corresponds to the ancient scenario in which only a remnant was saved when the flesh was destroyed. Peter insisted in Acts 3:22-26 that Jews who reject the Messiah are cut off from among the people. Baptism (in its full richness) is like the Red Sea crossing (1 Corinthians 10:1) or the crossing of the Jordan into the inheritance (as recently, N.T Wright). After the water which ended all flesh is life beyond death, for a remnant in Noah’s day. After the water of New Covenant baptism, which is the end of the flesh (since in baptism they took on them the name of the exalted Christ), is resurrection life through Jesus Christ. As it was with Jesus (life in the flesh ended and life in spirit began) so it is with all those Jewish people that have accessed his death, there is the end of the flesh and resurrection life in the realm of the spirit through Christ’s resurrection. In Noah’s day flesh ended (and with it the old world—2 Peter 2:5) and they came out of the ark into a new world in a new beginning (see Genesis 1 creation language used in Genesis 9:1-3 and compare here, 3:22). So death (in Christ) to the realm of the flesh means entering into a new creation, the realm of the spirit (2 Corinthians 5:15-17).
It’s true of course that "flesh" has universal application but if Peter is writing to Jews (as I believe he is) the notion of "flesh" has that added specific use that we see in places like Romans and Galatians that focuses on Israel.

What does he mean when he says, "The pledge of a good conscience"? (NIV)
I believe that Peter wrote his book to Jews that had embraced Jesus Christ as God’s Christ and not to Gentiles (as the scholarly consensus claims). These were Jews that lived outside Palestine. See the following link for some justification of this claim.

Though there are difficulties in understanding just what the Hebrew writer meant, he did claim that there was that aspect of the Mosaic Covenant that didn’t reach down to the conscience of the worshipers (9:13-14, and see 10:1-2) though their "flesh" was purified. In contrast, he says, through Christ’s blood their consciences were purified from dead works to enable them to serve the living God. So OT sacrifices in some sense purified "the flesh" (my guess is that that’s a shorthand way of describing Israel’s relationship to God that is grounded in their physical relationship to Abraham). The whole sacrificial system was God’s gift to fleshly Israel (Romans 9:3-5) and by it they were marked out as God’s elect. Christ’s sacrifice (required by Israel’s sin since they consistently violated the old covenant—Hebrew 8:6-13) brought them to God at a different level on a different basis and in so doing delivered them from what were now "dead works". That is, adherence to the law that availed nothing or clinging to the violated covenant which could only pronounce their death. In addition the Hebrew writer speaks of consciences cleansed and bodies washed with pure water (10:21-22).
The nation as a national entity (not every individual—far from it) had walked away from God. But now they could return to God in a new way, apart from the old sacrifices, offering to God a commitment that rose out of a pure conscience, submitting to baptism that is the taking on the name of Christ and all that that involves. They had been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Christ out from the dead but they endured suffering and would face more. When critics challenged them to give the grounds for such a hope they were to give an "answer" (defence) that rose out of an honest and upright life (lived in the sight of God—compare 2:19).

They are to give a responsive defence/answer directed to their critics concerning their hope (which comes to them from God via the resurrection of Christ—3:16 and 1:3). And they give a responsive pledge to God in baptism to the offer of hope that comes via the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In so doing they are saved by the virtue in (the death and) the resurrection of Christ.

The lexical studies don’t end the dispute about the word rendered "pledge" in the NIV so in the end the student must draw his or her conclusion on the basis of what he or she thinks Peter means by the word he uses.

©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... The Seal On The Foundation ( 2Timothy 2:19)

                    "THE SECOND EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"

                   The Seal On The Foundation (2:19)


1. People don't like confusion, they want certainty...
   a. Especially in religious matters
   b. False religions and false teachers make it difficult

2. Yet there is a seal on the Lord's solid foundation - cf. 2Ti 2:19
   a. Paul likely has reference to the Lord's church
   b. Commonly pictured as a building erected on a solid foundation
      - cf. Ep 2:20-21; 1Co 3:9-10
   c. The word "seal" refers to an inscription, in which it was
      customary to inscribe the name and design of the edifice on the
      cornerstone - Barnes

3. Regarding the Lord's church, then, there is a twofold inscription on
   the foundation...
   a. First, a statement of comfort
   b. Second, a statement of caution

[This "seal" on the foundation provides both encouragement and warning
for all who would be members of the Lord's church as revealed in the
Bible.  Note the first half of the inscription...]


      1. There are many religions, many churches
         a. Many profess to know the Lord, most are sincere
         b. Which church is the true church?
      2. Who are truly saved?
         a. Not the majority - Mt 7:13-14
         b. Not the devout, necessarily - Ac 10:1-2; 11:14
         c. Not all who profess to know the Lord - Mt 7:21-23

      1. The Lord is building His church (called out ones) - Mt 16:18;
         1Th 2:12
         a. He is calling people through the gospel - 2Th 2:13-14
         b. He is adding to His church those who respond - Ac 2:41,47
      2. The gospel message is clearly proclaimed in the scriptures
         a. Calling for faith and baptism - Mk 16:15-16; Mt 28:18-20
         b. Calling for repentance and baptism - Ac 2:38
         c. Calling for baptism immediately - Ac 8:35-38; 10:47-48;
            1) For the remission of sins - Ac 2:38
            2) For dying with Christ and rising to walk in newness of
               life - Ro 6:3-7
            3) For putting on Christ - Ga 3:27

[If you desire religious certainty in a religiously confused world, the
first step is to let the Lord add you to His church by responding to the
gospel of Christ.  Now consider the second half of the inscription...]


      1. Division existed in the Lord's church in the beginning
         a. In Antioch, over circumcision and keeping the Law - Ac 15:
         b. At Corinth, over preacher-itis - 1Co 1:10-13; 3:3
         c. Among churches in Asia, due to the influence of false
            teachers - Re 2:14-15,20
      2. Division will always exist in the Lord's church
         a. Foretold by Jesus in His parable of the tares- Mt 13:24-30
         b. Foretold by Paul in his discourse to the elders - Ac 20:
         c. Foretold by Peter in his warning about false teachers - 2 Pe 2:1-3

      1. The solution is heeding apostolic authority
         a. Which the Lord gave to His apostles - Jn 13:20; Mt 28:20
         b. Which characterized faithful disciples in the early church
            - Ac 2:42; 1Th 2:13
         c. Which will characterize all the faithful today - 2Th 2:15;
            1Jn 4:6
      2. Our duty is to depart from iniquity
         a. From iniquity in our own lives - 2Co 7:1; Col 3:5-8
         b. From those who in continue in iniquity - 2Th 3:6,14
         c. From those who teach contrary to the apostles - 1Ti 6:5;
            2Ti 3:1-5


1. Whenever you are troubled by religious confusion...
   a. Take comfort in knowing that the Lord knows who you are
      1) Assuming that you have properly responded to the gospel
      2) Have you responded to the gospel of Christ?
   b. Take caution in making sure that you departing from iniquity
      1) Assuming that you let the apostles of Christ define what is
      2) Are you continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine?

2. With this seal we have both encouragement and warning...
   a. If you are saved, the Lord certainly knows it
   b. If you are saved, then act like it

As we look forward to the coming of Christ, we know the Lord is faithful
(cf. 1Th 5:23-24); but remember that we must do our part as well (cf.
1Th 5:21-22)...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading January 29

Bible Reading   

January 29

The World English Bible

Jan. 29
Genesis 29

Gen 29:1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came to the land of the children of the east.
Gen 29:2 He looked, and behold, a well in the field, and, behold, three flocks of sheep lying there by it. For out of that well they watered the flocks. The stone on the well's mouth was large.
Gen 29:3 There all the flocks were gathered. They rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stone again on the well's mouth in its place.
Gen 29:4 Jacob said to them, "My relatives, where are you from?" They said, "We are from Haran."
Gen 29:5 He said to them, "Do you know Laban, the son of Nahor?" They said, "We know him."
Gen 29:6 He said to them, "Is it well with him?" They said, "It is well. See, Rachel, his daughter, is coming with the sheep."
Gen 29:7 He said, "Behold, it is still the middle of the day, not time to gather the livestock together. Water the sheep, and go and feed them."
Gen 29:8 They said, "We can't, until all the flocks are gathered together, and they roll the stone from the well's mouth. Then we water the sheep."
Gen 29:9 While he was yet speaking with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep, for she kept them.
Gen 29:10 It happened, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban, his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban, his mother's brother, that Jacob went near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother.
Gen 29:11 Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.
Gen 29:12 Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah's son. She ran and told her father.
Gen 29:13 It happened, when Laban heard the news of Jacob, his sister's son, that he ran to meet Jacob, and embraced him, and kissed him, and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things.
Gen 29:14 Laban said to him, Surely you are my bone and my flesh. He lived with him for a month.
Gen 29:15 Laban said to Jacob, "Because you are my brother, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what will your wages be?"
Gen 29:16 Laban had two daughters. The name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel.
Gen 29:17 Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and attractive.
Gen 29:18 Jacob loved Rachel. He said, "I will serve you seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter."
Gen 29:19 Laban said, "It is better that I give her to you, than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me."
Gen 29:20 Jacob served seven years for Rachel. They seemed to him but a few days, for the love he had for her.
Gen 29:21 Jacob said to Laban, "Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in to her."
Gen 29:22 Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.
Gen 29:23 It happened in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him. He went in to her.
Gen 29:24 Laban gave Zilpah his handmaid to his daughter Leah for a handmaid.
Gen 29:25 It happened in the morning that, behold, it was Leah. He said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? Didn't I serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?"
Gen 29:26 Laban said, "It is not done so in our place, to give the younger before the firstborn.
Gen 29:27 Fulfill the week of this one, and we will give you the other also for the service which you will serve with me yet seven other years."
Gen 29:28 Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week. He gave him Rachel his daughter as wife.
Gen 29:29 Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah, his handmaid, to be her handmaid.
Gen 29:30 He went in also to Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with him yet seven other years.
Gen 29:31 Yahweh saw that Leah was hated, and he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.
Gen 29:32 Leah conceived, and bore a son, and she named him Reuben. For she said, "Because Yahweh has looked at my affliction. For now my husband will love me."
Gen 29:33 She conceived again, and bore a son, and said, "Because Yahweh has heard that I am hated, he has therefore given me this son also." She named him Simeon.
Gen 29:34 She conceived again, and bore a son. Said, "Now this time will my husband be joined to me, because I have borne him three sons." Therefore was his name called Levi.
Gen 29:35 She conceived again, and bore a son. She said, "This time will I praise Yahweh." Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.
Jan. 29, 30
Matthew 15

Mat 15:1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying,
Mat 15:2 "Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don't wash their hands when they eat bread."
Mat 15:3 He answered them, "Why do you also disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition?
Mat 15:4 For God commanded, 'Honor your father and your mother,' and, 'He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.'
Mat 15:5 But you say, 'Whoever may tell his father or his mother, "Whatever help you might otherwise have gotten from me is a gift devoted to God,"
Mat 15:6 he shall not honor his father or mother.' You have made the commandment of God void because of your tradition.
Mat 15:7 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,
Mat 15:8 'These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Mat 15:9 And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men.' "
Mat 15:10 He summoned the multitude, and said to them, "Hear, and understand.
Mat 15:11 That which enters into the mouth doesn't defile the man; but that which proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."
Mat 15:12 Then the disciples came, and said to him, "Do you know that the Pharisees were offended, when they heard this saying?"
Mat 15:13 But he answered, "Every plant which my heavenly Father didn't plant will be uprooted.
Mat 15:14 Leave them alone. They are blind guides of the blind. If the blind guide the blind, both will fall into a pit."
Mat 15:15 Peter answered him, "Explain the parable to us."
Mat 15:16 So Jesus said, "Do you also still not understand?
Mat 15:17 Don't you understand that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the belly, and then out of the body?
Mat 15:18 But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart, and they defile the man.
Mat 15:19 For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual sins, thefts, false testimony, and blasphemies.
Mat 15:20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands doesn't defile the man."
Mat 15:21 Jesus went out from there, and withdrew into the region of Tyre and Sidon.
Mat 15:22 Behold, a Canaanite woman came out from those borders, and cried, saying, "Have mercy on me, Lord, you son of David! My daughter is severely demonized!"
Mat 15:23 But he answered her not a word. His disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away; for she cries after us."
Mat 15:24 But he answered, "I wasn't sent to anyone but the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
Mat 15:25 But she came and worshiped him, saying, "Lord, help me."
Mat 15:26 But he answered, "It is not appropriate to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs."
Mat 15:27 But she said, "Yes, Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."
Mat 15:28 Then Jesus answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Be it done to you even as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that hour.
Mat 15:29 Jesus departed there, and came near to the sea of Galilee; and he went up into the mountain, and sat there.
Mat 15:30 Great multitudes came to him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others, and they put them down at his feet. He healed them,
Mat 15:31 so that the multitude wondered when they saw the mute speaking, injured whole, lame walking, and blind seeing-and they glorified the God of Israel.
Mat 15:32 Jesus summoned his disciples and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days and have nothing to eat. I don't want to send them away fasting, or they might faint on the way."
Mat 15:33 The disciples said to him, "Where should we get so many loaves in a deserted place as to satisfy so great a multitude?"
Mat 15:34 Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish."
Mat 15:35 He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground;
Mat 15:36 and he took the seven loaves and the fish. He gave thanks and broke them, and gave to the disciples, and the disciples to the multitudes.
Mat 15:37 They all ate, and were filled. They took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces that were left over.
Mat 15:38 Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.
Mat 15:39 Then he sent away the multitudes, got into the boat, and came into the borders of Magdala.

From Gary... BEYOND THE HIGHEST HEIGHTS... and then there is God


The weather this year is crazy, isn't it?  I noticed some pictures my friend Eric Cantin posted on facebook today- pictures of SNOW in FLORIDA!!!   This morning on my usual "dog walk", I was greeted by a cool, humid, drizzle. Yuk!!!  Where are the sunny skies, the warm temperatures- after all- this IS FLORIDA!!!  But, after a moment, I put things back into perspective.  Below zero temperatures in my native up-state New York, so a little rain and some coolness are really NO BIG DEAL!!!  Then, I saw this picture of mount Everest and thought of the following video that my friend Bruce Arnold sent me some time ago.  Talk about perspective!!!! This naturally brought me once again to one of my favorite passages of Scripture....
Psalm 8
 1  Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth,
who has set your glory above the heavens!
  2 From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength,
because of your adversaries, that you might silence the enemy and the avenger.
  3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
  4 what is man, that you think of him?
What is the son of man, that you care for him?
  5 For you have made him a little lower than God,
and crowned him with glory and honor.
  6 You make him ruler over the works of your hands.
You have put all things under his feet:
  7 All sheep and cattle,
yes, and the animals of the field,
  8 The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea,
and whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
  9 Yahweh, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Human beings can do all sorts of marvellous things; from treatment of diseases to erecting monumental buildings and even setting foot on another world.  Humans rule!!!  But they in turn are ruled, for there is one greater.  So great in fact that HIS GREATNESS IS BEYOND COMPREHENSION!!!   Look, look to the heavens to see HIS MAGNIFICENCE and then look inside yourself.  What a difference!!!  Today, find some "extra time" to spend in prayer thanking HIM for WHO HE IS and WHAT HE HAS DONE FOR US!!!  When you finish, you will NOT BE THE SAME!!!