From Jim McGuiggan... Individualism devouring community

Individualism devouring community

The OT was well aware of the existence of the individual and religion was as personal in the OT as it is in the NT. The "individual" was "discovered" several times in European history and it really came home to the Christian religion at the Reformation; but it was in Post-Reformation days that "individualism" began to grow into the destructive virus it now is. The OT kept individualism in check by its focus and constant stress on the community, the nation of Israel, and even tribal independence in its extreme forms (seen in the book of Judges) is exposed as detrimental to everyone's welfare.

Oppression and injustice feeds the cause of "individualism," whether in or outside religion and an over-stress on "personal" religion undermines the sense of oneness and interdependence within the Church.

The ceaseless stream of "personal religion" and devotional books by authors and publishers feed this unhealthy hunger, this greed for "what's in it for me and mine?" material. "What's in it for our congregation?" Even the books that call for personal holiness (and how can you criticise what is absolutely essential—Hebrews 12:14?) tend to fragment us into individuals in pursuit of holiness; as if we weren't "a holy nation" and "a people" called out of darkness to proclaim his marvellous light! No wonder there's so much "church-shopping" going on; no wonder congregations have become branches of a supermarket chain and no wonder commitment to the Congregational expression of Jesus Christ is at such a low ebb. 

The OT in general and the prophetic voices in particular constantly called the people to remember their national history and not their history as individuals. Israelites were individuals within a redeemed nation and not a collection of individuals pursuing their own individual moral improvement. They each had a personal and individual relationship with Yahweh but they didn't have it independent of the nation! Christians each have a personal and individual relationship with God in Jesus Christ but they don't have it independent of the body of Christ!
We cannot despise or dispense with "the body of Christ" and please the Lord Jesus Christ!

He will not have it

From Mark Copeland... Marks Of Spiritual Immaturity (Hebrews 5:11-14)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

                Marks Of Spiritual Immaturity (5:11-14)


1. Just because one has been a Christian for many years, does not mean
   they are "mature"
   a. They may be like the person who had been teacher for twenty-five
      1) When she heard about a job that would mean a promotion, she
         applied for the position.  However, someone who had been 
         teaching for only one year was hired instead.
      2) She went to the principal and asked why.  The principal 
         responded, "I'm sorry, but you haven't had 25 years of 
         experience as you claim; you've had only one year's experience
         25 times."
      -- During that whole time the teacher had not improved!
   b. So it may be with many Christians; they have not grown, but 
      simply repeated their first year of spiritual life many times!

2. The lack of spiritual growth (i.e., spiritual immaturity) is a
   dangerous thing...
   a. For there may be blessings to be enjoyed in Christ that only the
      mature Christian can truly understand and appropriate
   b. If one remains spiritually immature, they do not come to fully
      appreciate their standing and blessings that they have in Christ!
   -- Deprived of a greater understanding, they are more susceptible to
      the wiles of the devil

3. The author of the book of Hebrews found himself faced with this
   a. He had much to say about Christ as our High Priest
   b. But the spiritual immaturity of his readers made it difficult
   -- And so he thought it necessary to temporarily digress - He 5:

4. How about you?
   a. Are you growing as a Christian?
   b. Or are you repeating your first year over and over again,
      remaining spiritual immature?
   -- Do you know how to determine whether you are spiritually mature?

[In our text we find some of the identifying "Marks Of Spiritual 
Immaturity", indicators that reveal when one is in need of "growing up"
spiritually.  For example, one mark of spiritual immaturity is...]


      1. This prevented the writer from continuing with his argument at
         the moment
      2. While the material he had to share was "hard to explain"...
         a. It wasn't so much the difficulty of the material itself
         b. As it was their own inability to receive it!
      3. That they had "become" dull of hearing may imply a 
         a. At one time they were not "dull of hearing"
         b. They may have been like the Bereans at one time, "who 
            received the word with all readiness" - Ac 17:11
         c. Indeed, most converts are truly "sharp" in their listening
            at the first
            1) They are excited about what they are learning
            2) They listen with great "readiness", and spiritual growth
         d. But it is not uncommon for apathy to set in, making one 
            "dull of hearing"
         -- When one becomes "dull of hearing", they begin to regress 
            to a state of spiritual immaturity

      1. Ask yourself these questions:
         a. Is the Bible dull?
         b. Are the Bible classes dull?
         c. Are the sermons dull?
         d. Is anything that is spiritual in nature (like singing, 
            praying) dull?
      2. If so, then you have become "dull of hearing"!
         a. If you listen at all, it will be to those who are willing 
            to "tickle your ears"
         b. And you will be susceptible to being mislead - 2Ti 4:3-4

[When one is "dull of hearing", it is only natural that the next "mark
of spiritual immaturity" will be evident...]


      1. They had been Christians for some time ("by this time you 
         ought to be teachers")
         a. They had time to learn, to grow
         b. A natural response to growth is to bear fruit
         c. One way we bear fruit is by teaching others
      2. In one way or another, they should have been able to teach 
         a. Perhaps not in a formal sense, for not all are gifted in 
            that way - cf. 1Co 12:29; Ep 4:11; Jm 3:1
         b. But all can share the good news and hope they have with 
            others - cf. Ac 8:4; 1Pe 3:15; Tit 2:3-5
      -- Their need for someone to teach them again "the first
         principles" demonstrated their spiritual immaturity

      1. Assuming that sufficient time has passed, are you teaching 
         a. Either formally as a teacher instructing others in the 
         b. Or informally by sharing your faith with others?
      2. Do you find yourself saying "I don't know what to say?"
         a. Then it sounds like you have forgotten "the first 
         b. And you need to have someone teach you again!

[If one has not progressed to the point where they are somehow teaching
others about Christ, then they are still spiritually immature!  One 
reason why this may be true is also another indicator of spiritual 

III. A DIET OF "MILK" (12b,13)

      1. Certainly it is needed for those who are "babes in Christ" 
         - e.g., 1Co 3:1-2
      2. Also for those who have regressed (as with the Hebrews) - cf.
         He 5:12b
      3. Such a diet includes what is described as "the first
         principles of the oracles of God" (later called "the 
         elementary principles of Christ" in He 6:1-3)

      1. Just as a physical baby must graduate to solid foods in order
         to grow to maturity
      2. So a "babe in Christ" cannot mature unless the diet goes 
         beyond the "first principles"
      3. Wiersbe offers an interesting explanation as to what may be 
         the difference...
         a. "milk" refers to what Jesus did on earth:  His birth, life,
            teaching, death, burial and resurrection
         b. "solid food" refers to what Jesus is now doing in heaven:
             e.g., His priesthood
      4. If our diet remains "milk only"...
         a. Then we will be "unskilled" (lit., without experience) in
            the word of God
         b. We will remain "babes" in Christ - cf. He 5:13

      1. Has it been limited to "milk"? 
         a. Has it even included "milk"?
         b. Some Christians may not even be getting the "milk" of the
      2. Are you getting any "meat"?
         a. Studying portions of God's Word that challenges your 
         b. Stay with us in this study in Hebrews, and you will be sure
            to get some!

[A "milk only" diet leaves one immature, and by default one who is 
"unskilled in the word of righteousness".  This will in turn produce 
another trait of spiritual immaturity...]


      1. Even the "milk" of the word is designed to train one's 
         a. By exposing us to the difference between right and wrong
         b. In this way our spiritual sense is "exercised"
      2. Then "by reason of use" we learn to "discern both good and 
         a. With clear examples set before us in the Scriptures, we 
            learn right from wrong
         b. We thereby develop the ability to "distinguish" between 
            good and evil
         c. We become able to apply general principles to specific
            1) Specific condemnation of a practice is not always 
            2) We can discern when something is more like the good, or
               more like the bad

      1. A babe in Christ often has difficulty discerning the 
         difference between:
         a. Good teaching (truth) and bad teaching (error)
         b. Good conduct (righteousness) and bad conduct (wickedness)
      2. Inability to discern leaves them open to being...
         a. "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of 
            doctrine" - cf. Ep 4:14
         b. Like "a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind...a 
            double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" - Jm 1:6-8

      1. Can you apply general principles to a specific situation, or 
         do you require a clear "Thou shalt not" to determine if 
         something is wrong?
      2. Are you able to recognize when a doctrine is true to God's 
      3. Or are you dependent upon someone else...
         a. To "spoon feed" you?
         b. To "take you by the hand and lead" you?
         -- I.e., to tell you what is right and wrong, what is truth 
            and what is error


1. There are certainly other indicators of spiritual immaturity...
   a. E.g., behaving in a carnal way
   b. E.g., possessing strife, envy, and jealousy - cf. 1Co 3:1-4

2. But in our present text we have focused our attention on the four 
   presented here...
   a. Dullness of hearing
   b. The inability to teach others
   c. A diet of "milk"
   d. The inability to discern
   -- All of these should serve as "warning signs" that something is 
      amiss in our lives as Christians, for they are truly "Marks Of
      Spiritual Immaturity"

In our next lesson ("The Peril Of Not Progressing"), we shall see why
it is so important to grow spiritually.  As Peter warned, growth is the
"antidote" to falling away:
   "You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware
   lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away 
   with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge
   of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now
   and forever. Amen." - 2 Pet 3:18

Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading March 6

Bible Reading  

March 6

The World English Bible

Mar. 6
Exodus 16

Exo 16:1 They took their journey from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departing out of the land of Egypt.
Exo 16:2 The whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron in the wilderness;
Exo 16:3 and the children of Israel said to them, "We wish that we had died by the hand of Yahweh in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots, when we ate our fill of bread, for you have brought us out into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger."
Exo 16:4 Then said Yahweh to Moses, "Behold, I will rain bread from the sky for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law, or not.
Exo 16:5 It shall come to pass on the sixth day, that they shall prepare that which they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily."
Exo 16:6 Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, "At evening, then you shall know that Yahweh has brought you out from the land of Egypt;
Exo 16:7 and in the morning, then you shall see the glory of Yahweh; because he hears your murmurings against Yahweh. Who are we, that you murmur against us?"
Exo 16:8 Moses said, "Now Yahweh shall give you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to satisfy you; because Yahweh hears your murmurings which you murmur against him. And who are we? Your murmurings are not against us, but against Yahweh."
Exo 16:9 Moses said to Aaron, "Tell all the congregation of the children of Israel, 'Come near before Yahweh, for he has heard your murmurings.' "
Exo 16:10 It happened, as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of Yahweh appeared in the cloud.
Exo 16:11 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Exo 16:12 "I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, 'At evening you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread: and you shall know that I am Yahweh your God.' "
Exo 16:13 It happened at evening that quail came up and covered the camp; and in the morning the dew lay around the camp.
Exo 16:14 When the dew that lay had gone, behold, on the surface of the wilderness was a small round thing, small as the frost on the ground.
Exo 16:15 When the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, "What is it?" For they didn't know what it was. Moses said to them, "It is the bread which Yahweh has given you to eat."
Exo 16:16 This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded: "Gather of it everyone according to his eating; an omer a head, according to the number of your persons, you shall take it, every man for those who are in his tent."
Exo 16:17 The children of Israel did so, and gathered some more, some less.
Exo 16:18 When they measured it with an omer, he who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack. They gathered every man according to his eating.
Exo 16:19 Moses said to them, "Let no one leave of it until the morning."
Exo 16:20 Notwithstanding they didn't listen to Moses, but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and became foul: and Moses was angry with them.
Exo 16:21 They gathered it morning by morning, everyone according to his eating. When the sun grew hot, it melted.
Exo 16:22 It happened that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for each one, and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses.
Exo 16:23 He said to them, "This is that which Yahweh has spoken, 'Tomorrow is a solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to Yahweh. Bake that which you want to bake, and boil that which you want to boil; and all that remains over lay up for yourselves to be kept until the morning.' "
Exo 16:24 They laid it up until the morning, as Moses asked, and it didn't become foul, neither was there any worm in it.
Exo 16:25 Moses said, "Eat that today, for today is a Sabbath to Yahweh. Today you shall not find it in the field.
Exo 16:26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day is the Sabbath. In it there shall be none."
Exo 16:27 It happened on the seventh day, that some of the people went out to gather, and they found none.
Exo 16:28 Yahweh said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?
Exo 16:29 Behold, because Yahweh has given you the Sabbath, therefore he gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Everyone stay in his place. Let no one go out of his place on the seventh day."
Exo 16:30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
Exo 16:31 The house of Israel called its name Manna, and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers with honey.
Exo 16:32 Moses said, "This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded, 'Let an omer-full of it be kept throughout your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.' "
Exo 16:33 Moses said to Aaron, "Take a pot, and put an omer-full of manna in it, and lay it up before Yahweh, to be kept throughout your generations."
Exo 16:34 As Yahweh commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept.
Exo 16:35 The children of Israel ate the manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land. They ate the manna until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan.
Exo 16:36 Now an omer is the tenth part of an ephah.

From Gary... Time and the ever present "NOW"

Today, the rain and the dreary cold has me feeling lethargic!!!  After a couple of hours, I said to myself: Now, Gary- now is the time to sit down and write!!!  And then I remembered this graphic and the quote.  These things are true, beyond any doubt, but something seemed to be missing.  Then, I remembered the following passage...

2 Corinthians, Chapter 6

Behold, now is the acceptable time. Behold, now is the day of salvation.

We can't change yesterday; for, what is done is completed and over with. Tomorrow is a possibility, but not a guarantee. We exist in the ubiquitous NOW and NOW is the time to get right and stay right with God!!!  When our NOW becomes the future and our future becomes our eternity, we will rejoice-- IF GOD SAVES US FROM THE PUNISHMENT WE SO RICHLY DESERVE FOR OUR SINS.  Whether or not our actions seems terrible to us, God hates sin, so getting rid of it and staying free of it should be of the utmost importance to us!!!  NOW, now is the time to begin to be more holy, more pleasing to God!!!!  OK, where do we go from here?  Well, seek truth- I mean REALLY SEEK IT!!!  When you are serious about this, turn to the book of Acts, Chapter two and read all about the first Gospel sermon (2:14ff..)  After his message, the Jews in attendance said...

 37  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Then Peter answers...
 38  Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are far off, even as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”  40 With many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!”

Want to know... just ask; I will be glad to help you be glad!!! I will make it a priority- for NOW IS THE TIME!!!!