2/26/14

From Steve Singleton... Abraham’s wait: Whose fault was it?

Abraham’s wait: Whose fault was it?

I had an “I get it!” moment recently when reading the call of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). Stephen in Acts 7:2 says God called Abraham while he lived in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran. That means we should understand Genesis 12:1 as a pluperfect: God HAD said to Abram…”, referring back to that previous calling while he still lived in Ur (see Genesis 11:31-32).

Did Abram obey that original calling? God had said, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household, and go to the land I will show you.” Is that what Abram did? At first, he only partially obeyed. He left his country, but he took his people and his father’s house with him (see Genesis 11:31-32 and 12:4).

I have always wondered why Abraham had to wait so long before Isaac was born. I think this is at least a partial answer: Abraham delayed in obeying God fully. He left Ur WITH his family and then under their influence lingered in Haran for who knows how long.

Genesis 31:30-35 and Joshua 24:14-15 indicate that originally Terah and family were idolaters, and even in Haran were not completely free of its pull. Living among the extended family, even in exile, meant Abram had the economic security of shared risk and the physical safety in numbers.

God had called him away from all that—idols, financial cushions, strategic protection—challenging him to trust his Shield and receive his very great reward (see Genesis 15:1). But Abram delayed in obeying fully. The text suggests that he put concern for his father ahead of obedience to his God.

Can we blame God that Abraham received the fulfillment of the promise so late in life? Whose fault was it?

Yet the New Testament only focuses on his eventual obedience, not on the delay, installing Abraham in the “Hall of Fame of Faith” (see Hebrews 11:8). God was patient and gracious in dealing with Abram the delayer, Abram the weak. Through long years of discipling He transformed him into Abraham the faithful, Abraham the friend of God.

That convinces me He will also be patient and gracious to me, the stumbling and delaying and only partially obedient pilgrim. He is patient and gracious, yes, but my persistent slowness to trust and obey delays the blessing He wants to give to me.
 
Want to dive deeper?
The life of Abraham is worth studying more closely, and many scholars have obliged by drawing us deeper. Take a look:
For sale:
6303596: Abraham... Called by GodAbraham… Called by God 
by Witness Lee / Living Stream Ministry
In a remarkable commentary on the life of Abraham from the Book of Genesis, Witness Lee presents Abraham as a genuine man, not unlike us all, fallen, but called by God. Like him, we have seen "the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" and have been attracted to follow Him. Like Him, we must learn the lessons of faith through trials, testing, and failure, in order to enter into the promises and blessings of God.
75320: Created to Be God"s Friend: Lessons from the Life of Abraham, softcover
Created to Be God’s Friend
by Henry Blackaby
From the example of the life of Abraham, Henry Blackaby will show you how to become God’s intimate friend. You will learn how God shapes those He loves into useful, joyful co-workers as they hear and respond to His call in everyday life. Created to Be God’s Friend is a remarkable study of our relationship with a personal God who is constantly working in each of our lives.
Read free online:
David Peabody – Patriarch of Hebron, or The Life of Abraham (1841).

Anonymous – The Christianity of Abraham: “Faith that worketh through love”: with Patriarchal Prophecy (1848).

Many thanks to brother Steve Singleton, for allowing me to post from his website, deeperstudy.com.

From Jim McGuiggan... THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH

THE FAITH OF THE CHURCH


It all depends, doesn’t it, on what we’re trying to produce. If we’re working to bring about a decent society where political freedom and societal justice is experienced, where people are nice to each other, pay their honourable debts and keep their commitments—if we’re working to produce that then our message will be shaped in a certain way.

If we want to produce Christians, followers of Jesus, who reflect his agenda in their lives and teaching and ordinances then our message will be shaped in another way.

The aims may overlap in some respects but they’ll be as different as day and night. I mean, we can’t produce Christians (Christ’s followers!) without producing people who are serious about keeping their word, about treating people kindly, being honourable in relationships and wanting justice for all. But even non-Christians can be serious about such things and some of them apparently are more serious about them than some professing Christians.

For all the similarities between the lives of a morally upright and kind non-Christians and a fine Christian—their message is fundamentally different. For the Christian the centre of everything is Jesus and what he means and stands for. Their calling—and it is a calling—makes them different; what is distinctive about their lives and thought is what they have found in Jesus.

Maybe that doesn’t matter! Maybe the only thing that matters is that we all be kind and give each other a break; that we all live and let live, that we all try to live by some “golden rule” and be morally upright—maybe the rest doesn’t matter!

Maybe!

But this much is clear—if that’s correct, then Jesus was dead wrong! If that’s correct then what is distinctive about the Christian faith is redundant and nonsense and in some ways pernicious!

I can understand non-believers thinking this and saying it but what is astonishing is for Christian leaders and a host of us followers thinking that the Christian faith is little more than our way of getting people to live lives of moral uprightness! 

It is no such thing!

The Church is the body of Jesus, the extension of the Incarnation made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ. The message is much more than “let’s all be morally upright people”—its Message is about Jesus, who he is and what he stands for and when that becomes sidelined by other agendas (like trying to make people more moral, growing large churches, offering personal, present peace and fine families and other interesting and sometimes good agendas)—when the Church’s immediate business is sidelined we’re obscuring God’s agenda in Jesus and that’s inexcusable.

©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... Lest We Drift Away ( Hebrews 2:1-4)



                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

                       Lest We Drift Away (2:1-4)

INTRODUCTION

1. The author of "The Epistle To The Hebrews" was concerned about the
   spiritual well-being of his initial recipients...
   a. They were fellow Jews who had become Christians
   b. His concern is that they not drift back into Judaism
   c. He deals with this problem in two ways:
      1) By emphasizing the superiority of Christ and the New Covenant
      2) By a series of exhortations for them to remain steadfast

2. In chapter one we saw...
   a. The superiority of Christ to the prophets - He 1:1-3
   b. The superiority of Christ to the angels - He 1:4-14

3. Now we come to the first of several exhortations - cf. He 2:1-4
   a. In which we find a warning about the danger of "drifting"
   b. The figure suggested is that of a boat...
      1) Drifting along at an almost imperceptible pace
      2) Carried along in the wrong direction by a subtle current

4. In this lesson, I want us to examine...
   a. The reasons behind such an exhortation
   b. Various "currents" that can cause us to "drift away"
   c. The key to avoiding "drifting away"

[Let's begin, then, with some...]

I. REASONS FOR THIS EXHORTATION

   A. THE REAL DANGER OF "DRIFTING"...
      1. It is possible for us to "drift away" from our salvation!
         a. We can certainly "neglect" our salvation - He 2:3
         b. Later, we will learn that we can "depart" from God - He 3:
            12-14
         c. Also, that one can so "fall away" that it becomes 
            impossible to renew them to repentance! - He 6:4-6
         d. One can reach a point where the sacrifice of Christ is no 
            longer available for their sins! - He 10:26-27
      2. The danger of "drifting" is very real!
         a. It is possible for a child of God to so sin as to be lost!
         b. Otherwise, such an exhortation as this is meaningless!

   B. THE DIGNITY OF THE ONE THROUGH WHOM GOD HAS SPOKEN...
      1. As noted in He 1:1-2, God now speaks to us through His Son
         a. We have seen that this Son is:
            1) Superior to the prophets - He 1:1-3
            2) Superior to the angels - He 1:4-14
         b. We have seen that this Son is:
            1) The appointed Heir of all things!
            2) The brightness of God's glory, the express image of His
               person!
            3) Our Sustainer and Redeemer!
            4) The "Firstborn" who receives worship
            5) "God" enthroned and anointed
            6) The "LORD" (Yahweh) who is the eternal creator
            7) The "Sovereign", reigning at God's right hand
      2. When God spoke through angels...
         a. His word proved steadfast
         b. Every transgression and disobedience received a just reward
            - He 2:2
      3. How much more, then, when He speaks through His Son!
         a. Will not His word prove just as steadfast?
         b. Will not every unrepented transgression and disobedience
            receive a just reward?
         -- Dare we neglect the Word of God spoken through His Son?

   C. THE CONFIRMATION GIVEN THIS REVELATION...
      1. The word spoken by the Son was confirmed by His apostles 
         - He 2:3
         a. Individuals who were eyewitnesses - Ac 10:39-41; 2Pe 1:16
         b. Men who endured much to serve Him - cf. 1Co 4:9-13
      2. The word spoken by the Son was confirmed even more! - He 2:4
         a. By God Himself, through signs, wonders, and miracles 
            - cf. Jn 10:37-38
         b. By the Holy Spirit, with gifts according to His will 
            - cf. 1Co 12:7-11
      -- Shall we neglect that Word to which such have born witness?

   D. WHAT WE LOSE IF WE "DRIFT AWAY"...
      1. We lose "so great a salvation"! - He 2:3
      2. It is a "great salvation", because it offers such things as:
         a. The forgiveness of sin
         b. Transformation of character by providing power over sin
         c. Assurance of God's fatherly presence
         d. A clear and peaceful conscience
         e. A glorious hope for eternity
      -- Dare we lose all this through "neglect"?

[Just as those who neglected the word spoken through angels (i.e., the
Law of Moses) lost their "promised land", so there are grave
consequences for those who neglect the salvation spoken of by the Son
of God!  Such "neglect" is possible when we "drift away".

Following the metaphor of drifting, what "currents" might cause one to
drift?]

II. "CURRENTS" THAT CAN CAUSE US TO DRIFT

   A. THE CURRENT OF "TIME"...
      1. In which we grow weary of doing good, a concern expressed in
         Ga 6:9
      2. As time passes by...
         a. We can gradually lose some of the fervor of our devotion 
            - e.g., Re 2:4
         b. We may begin to rest on past accomplishments, and cease 
            pressing forward - cf. Php 3:13-14

   B. THE CURRENT OF "FAMILIARITY"...
      1. As we become familiar with the truth, it may seem common place
         to us
         a. We may lose its sense of novelty
         b. We may take it for granted
      2. Like the Ephesians we may lose our "first love" - Re 2:4

   C. THE CURRENT OF "SOCIETY"...
      1. The tides of modern opinion can easily induce us - 1Co 15:33
      2. Bombarded by the secular humanism, false religions, and even 
         plastic "Christianity" offered as "truth", it is hard to 
         maintain the course!
      3. Such things can move us away from the simplicity and wisdom of
         our Lord! - e.g., 2Co 11:2-3

   D. THE CURRENT OF "THE FLESH"...
      1. Our warfare is not only without, but also within - 1Pe 2:11
      2. Our flesh is constantly waging war against our souls, and 
         against the Spirit who desires that we follow Him - Ga 5:16-17

   E. THE CURRENT OF "DAILY CONCERNS"...
      1. The constant pressure of daily cares, anxieties, duties, etc.,
         can distract us
      2. Jesus warned against this on several occasions - Lk 8:14; 
         21:34

[Any and all these things can slowly move us away from the Lord and His
great salvation if we are not careful!  However, as we return to our 
text, we can learn...]

III. THE KEY TO PREVENT "DRIFTING AWAY"

   A. WE MUST GIVE "THE MORE EARNEST HEED"...
      1. Imagine yourself in a canoe, in a river with a slow moving 
         current...
         a. Failure to pay constant attention leads to drifting
         b. The drifting may be subtle, but often by the time you 
            realize it, it is too late!
         c. Last minute corrections may be made, but even then one may
            still run into the brush, crash into the rocks, or go over
            the falls!
         -- Only by giving earnest heed can that be avoided
      2. So it is with our salvation!
         a. We must be "diligent" to the task at hand - cf. 2Pe 1:5,10
         b. There is no place to be half-hearted about this! - e.g., 
            Php 3:12-15
      3. Note that we must give the "more" earnest heed
         a. We are to be more earnest than those who heard the word of
            God spoken through angels (i.e., the Israelites)
            1) Because we have the word of God spoken through the Son
            2) Which pertains to a salvation greater than that enjoyed
               by them
            3) To whom more is given, more is required! - cf. Lk 12:48
         b. Are you more earnest in giving heed to what you have heard,
            than those saints in the Old Testament?

   B. WE MUST GIVE SUCH HEED TO THE "THINGS WE HAVE HEARD"...
      1. The "things we have heard" refer to:
         a. The Word of God spoken through His Son
         b. The great salvation
         -- I.e., the gospel of Christ in all aspects!
      2. How can we do this?
         a. The Bereans provide a good example - Ac 17:11
            1) In the way in which they initially listened ("received
               the word with all readiness")
            2) In the way in which they followed up ("searched the 
               Scriptures daily...")
         b. Certainly through:
            1) Earnest attention whenever God's word is proclaimed
            2) Earnest study of God's Word on our own
            3) Earnest study in preparation for our Bible classes
         c. With the sort of study of God's Word...
            1) Entered into with a prayerful devotion to God - Ps 119:
               18
            2) Concluded with a prayerful desire to please God - Ps 119:10-11
      3. Are you giving "the more earnest heed to the things we have 
         heard"?
         a. Another year has past; how did you do?
         b. Another year is already started; how will you do?

CONCLUSION

1. We have been blessed to receive "so great a salvation"...
   a. A salvation spoken to us first through God's own Son!
   b. A salvation then confirmed by God Himself, the Holy Spirit, and 
      those who heard Him!
   c. A salvation much greater than any offered before!

2. But please note carefully...
   a. One need not "reject" or "actively fight" against this great
      salvation to "receive a just reward"
   b. Those who simply "drift away" through "neglect" will also not 
      escape!
      1) Escape what?
      2) From what we learn later, it will be "much worse punishment"!
         - cf. He 10:28-29

Have you neglected this great salvation Jesus offers?  If so, may this
first exhortation found in "The Epistle To The Hebrews" move you to
repent, and cause you to give "the more earnest heed" to the gospel of
Christ!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading February 26


Bible Reading  

February 26

The World English Bible



Feb. 26
Exodus 7

Exo 7:1 Yahweh said to Moses, "Behold, I have made you as God to Pharaoh; and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.
Exo 7:2 You shall speak all that I command you; and Aaron your brother shall speak to Pharaoh, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land.
Exo 7:3 I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
Exo 7:4 But Pharaoh will not listen to you, and I will lay my hand on Egypt, and bring forth my armies, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
Exo 7:5 The Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh, when I stretch forth my hand on Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them."
Exo 7:6 Moses and Aaron did so. As Yahweh commanded them, so they did.
Exo 7:7 Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron eighty-three years old, when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Exo 7:8 Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,
Exo 7:9 "When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, 'Perform a miracle!' then you shall tell Aaron, 'Take your rod, and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it become a serpent.' "
Exo 7:10 Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, as Yahweh had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent.
Exo 7:11 Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers. They also, the magicians of Egypt, did in like manner with their enchantments.
Exo 7:12 For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron's rod swallowed up their rods.
Exo 7:13 Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he didn't listen to them; as Yahweh had spoken.
Exo 7:14 Yahweh said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is stubborn. He refuses to let the people go.
Exo 7:15 Go to Pharaoh in the morning. Behold, he goes out to the water; and you shall stand by the river's bank to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent you shall take in your hand.
Exo 7:16 You shall tell him, 'Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to you, saying, "Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness:" and behold, until now you haven't listened.
Exo 7:17 Thus says Yahweh, "In this you shall know that I am Yahweh. Behold, I will strike with the rod that is in my hand on the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.
Exo 7:18 The fish that are in the river shall die, and the river shall become foul; and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink water from the river." ' "
Exo 7:19 Yahweh said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your rod, and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their ponds of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.' "
Exo 7:20 Moses and Aaron did so, as Yahweh commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and struck the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
Exo 7:21 The fish that were in the river died; and the river became foul, and the Egyptians couldn't drink water from the river; and the blood was throughout all the land of Egypt.
Exo 7:22 The magicians of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments; and Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he didn't listen to them; as Yahweh had spoken.
Exo 7:23 Pharaoh turned and went into his house, neither did he lay even this to heart.
Exo 7:24 All the Egyptians dug around the river for water to drink; for they couldn't drink of the water of the river.
Exo 7:25 Seven days were fulfilled, after Yahweh had struck the river.


Feb. 26, 27
Mark 1

Mar 1:1 The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mar 1:2 As it is written in the prophets, "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.
Mar 1:3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make ready the way of the Lord! Make his paths straight!' "
Mar 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins.
Mar 1:5 All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.
Mar 1:6 John was clothed with camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey.
Mar 1:7 He preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and loosen.
Mar 1:8 I baptized you in water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit."
Mar 1:9 It happened in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Mar 1:10 Immediately coming up from the water, he saw the heavens parting, and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.
Mar 1:11 A voice came out of the sky, "You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Mar 1:12 Immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness.
Mar 1:13 He was there in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals; and the angels were serving him.
Mar 1:14 Now after John was taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God,
Mar 1:15 and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the Good News."
Mar 1:16 Passing along by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.
Mar 1:17 Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you into fishers for men."
Mar 1:18 Immediately they left their nets, and followed him.
Mar 1:19 Going on a little further from there, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John, his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets.
Mar 1:20 Immediately he called them, and they left their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired servants, and went after him.
Mar 1:21 They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught.
Mar 1:22 They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes.
Mar 1:23 Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out,
Mar 1:24 saying, "Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!"
Mar 1:25 Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!"
Mar 1:26 The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him.
Mar 1:27 They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!"
Mar 1:28 The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.
Mar 1:29 Immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
Mar 1:30 Now Simon's wife's mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.
Mar 1:31 He came and took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them.
Mar 1:32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to him all who were sick, and those who were possessed by demons.
Mar 1:33 All the city was gathered together at the door.
Mar 1:34 He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. He didn't allow the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Mar 1:35 Early in the morning, while it was still dark, he rose up and went out, and departed into a deserted place, and prayed there.
Mar 1:36 Simon and those who were with him followed after him;
Mar 1:37 and they found him, and told him, "Everyone is looking for you."
Mar 1:38 He said to them, "Let's go elsewhere into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because I came out for this reason."
Mar 1:39 He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons.
Mar 1:40 A leper came to him, begging him, kneeling down to him, and saying to him, "If you want to, you can make me clean."
Mar 1:41 Being moved with compassion, he stretched out his hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I want to. Be made clean."
Mar 1:42 When he had said this, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was made clean.
Mar 1:43 He strictly warned him, and immediately sent him out,
Mar 1:44 and said to him, "See you say nothing to anybody, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing the things which Moses commanded, for a testimony to them."
Mar 1:45 But he went out, and began to proclaim it much, and to spread about the matter, so that Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but was outside in desert places: and they came to him from everywhere.


From Gary.... Know and be known





A good friend of mine, Terri Justice, gave me the top picture some time ago.  Today, for some reason, I thought I would "play" with it.  You see the results above.  Same picture, different color adjustments. Well, recently, brother Larry Shatzer started a new series of studies on the book of 2nd Peter and since I have been reading this most every day, I naturally thought of the passage below AND also one from the "sermon on the mount"....

2 Peter, Chapter 1
 1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:  2 Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,  3 seeing that his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue;  4 by which he has granted to us his precious and exceedingly great promises; that through these you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust.

AND

Matthew, Chapter 7
21  Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.   22  Many will tell me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, in your name cast out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?’   23  Then I will tell them,I never knew you. Depart from me, you who work iniquity.’

Jesus, now there is a name that evokes a response!!!  To know and be known by him is of paramount importance!!!  But, how do we know him? Do we see him at face value (like the unadulterated photo at the top) or is our understanding of HIM colored by attitudes, prejudices or SIN (like the other pictures)?  To know and love Jesus is to want to be like HIM in thought word and deed; to seek him with a whole heart and never, ever be satisfied with our knowledge. If you haven't done this, why not begin today? You will see a change in your life, because that is what happens to disciples (learners).


PS. Thanks for the picture, Terri!!!