From Jim McGuiggan... Housekeepers, miners and nobodies

Housekeepers, miners and nobodies

George MacDonald’s character, Curdie, came to the king’s house because the princess had told him to report to her there. At the door he met the officious housekeeper (who seemed to swell and fill the door) who rebuked him for his comings and goings and the fact that he (as she saw it) made a mess of things while he was there. "Don’t you know this is my house?" she barked. Curdie politely replied that he didn’t know that because he thought it was the king’s house. She responded, he responded, she called him insolent and oozing pride asked the poor ignoramus, "Don’t you see by my dress that I am in the king’s service?" Curdie, a young miner, wanted to know, "And am I not one of his miners?" 

"Ah, that goes for nothing," she snapped. "I am one of his household. You are an out-of-doors labourer. You are a nobody. You carry a pickaxe. I carry the keys at my waist. See!" 

But Curdie checkmated her with, "But you must not call one a nobody to whom the king has spoken." 

This is a hard lesson for us to learn. You understand that it isn’t that we’re all to function in the same place of authority with the same responsibilities. There are those that have been given authority over us and though often we don’t like that, there’s no community living without accepting the truth of it. Still, it’s a hard lesson to learn because we tend to be prideful and if we’ve haven’t been given the most sought after job, the one that attracts the attention and gets the big money, we’re inclined to whimper (and other things) a lot. Well, why not? We should be treated with respect and when we are stuck in a lower level position our "person-hood" is scorned and we can’t stand for that, can we? 

The sad thing is that some of us get the place we think we deserve and it doesn’t make us better. Like the officious housekeeper we balloon up and fill the doorways of life and are only content when we think we’ve surpassed the other peasants way below us. In that spirit it doesn’t matter to us, for example, that others would be better as rich people than we would be if we were made rich. It only matters that we are or get to be wealthy or prominent or acclaimed. 

Apparently Curdie had no trouble with any of that. He had a pure heart and was perfectly content to be the king’s miner. He didn’t need to have the keys to buildings hanging at his belt, didn’t need to minister to vast congregations, didn’t need to drive a big fancy car or be the belle of anyone’s ball. He was more than at peace within himself. He rejoiced in the dignity of being one that the king had spoken to and needed nothing more. 

You see this illustrated in reverse in Number 16 where the rebels weren’t as wise or as pure in heart as Curdie. Korah, Dathan and Abiram attacked Moses and Aaron because those two exercised authority over the assembly at large and restricted the priesthood to Aaron’s family. The rebels said that these two took too much on themselves because all the people of God are holy and they wanted to exercise the priesthood (16:1-4,10). Moses reminded them that this was God’s restriction but he goes on to remind these Levites that God had spoken to them and given them their own ministry (16:10). And that was where the problem was rooted. The leading rebels didn’t think their ministry was glorious enough—they wanted more. They thought they were being cheated, you see. They thought that having the priesthood keys at their belt would give them the dignity and recognition they deserved. Had they believed what Curdie knew, that no one to whom the King has spoken is "a nobody," they would not have despised the privileged place God had given to them. Though Curdie was a miner with a pickaxe in his hand he knew full well and with joyful contentment that he was one of the king’s servants and in this knowledge he glorified his ministry. 

You understand it wasn’t simply that Korah and company were despising their position, they were exalting themselves (compare Romans 12:3-8) and thought they were being robbed. And they weren’t opposing Moses alone; they were opposing God (Numbers 16:11)!  

It wasn’t a question about what God wanted. It was all about what these Levites wanted! It wasn’t an information problem; it was a heart problem. "I deserve and want more!"  

Poor souls. They talked as though they were suffering like the colonies in their most awful moments when France and Spain and Portugal and Britain were at their plundering worst. They talked as though they were Afro-Americans that were humiliated and robbed all those years under White supremacy in the USA. or they were Irish during the centuries when England plundered and bullied them. Doesn’t it make you want to throw up sometimes when people (ourselves included?) blessed to the skies whine on and on about wanting more. And those, Like Korah, Dathan and Abiram who take the lead in furthering a heart problem among the people of God have something to answer for as the entire Numbers 16 chapter shows. 

[It occurs to me that this is a great chapter to use to defend the status quo. It’s a good chapter to use to keep people "in their place". Hmmm. That’d be another heart problem, wouldn’t it?]. 

From Mark Copeland... The Peril Of Not Progressing (Hebrews 6:1-8)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

                  The Peril Of Not Progressing (6:1-8)


1. The normal Christian life is to be one of spiritual growth and 
   a. Starting as "babes in Christ", we feed on the "milk" of the Word
   b. As our spiritual senses are exercised to discern good and evil, 
      we are then able to progress to "solid food" (meat)
   -- In this way we are to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our 
      Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." - 2Pe 3:18

2. But as we saw in a previous lesson ("Marks Of Spiritual
   Immaturity"), not all grow as they should, and some of the 
   indications of immaturity are:
   a. Dullness of hearing
   b. Inability to teach others
   c. Diet of "milk" only
   d. Inability to discern good and evil - cf. He 5:11-14

3. But if we don't grow spiritually as we should, so what?
   a. Is spiritual growth really that essential?
   b. Is there a "danger" involved in not progressing spiritually?

[In the text before us (He 6:1-8), we find that indeed there is "The
Peril Of Not Progressing"; that it is possible for Christians to find
themselves in a very precarious situation.  

As we examine this passage, we note first...]


      1. Maturity in religious knowledge, as a MEANS - 1Pe 2:2; Jm 1:21
         a. We need the Word of God, that we may grow thereby
         b. By receiving the Word with humility into our hearts, it can
            save our souls
      2. Full development of spiritual life, as an ENDS - 2Pe 1:5-8
         a. To faith and knowledge, we must add the qualities of godly
         b. As we develop this godly character, we truly come to know
            the Lord

      1. Our text reveals that this involves teaching on such subjects
         a. "Repentance from dead works"
            1) I.e., turning from works which produce spiritual death,
               not life
            2) Paul describes such works in Ep 2:1-3; Ro 6:21
         b. "Faith toward God"
            1) I.e., that trusting conviction in God and His promises
               that is essential to pleasing Him - cf. He 11:6
            2) This faith is produced by the Word of God itself - cf. 
               Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
         c. "The doctrine of baptisms"
            1) In the first century A.D., there were many ritual 
               washings practiced by various sects of the pagans and
               a) Such practices needed to be carefully distinguished 
                  from Christian baptism
               b) Just as John's baptism was distinguished from baptism
                  into Christ - cf. Ac 19:1-5
            2) Today, it is important to understand the different kinds
               of baptisms practiced...
               a) Nearly all "Christian" religions practice some sort 
                  of baptism
               b) But most do not baptize for the reasons stated in the
                  Scriptures - cf. Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:1-6
         d. "Laying on of hands"
            1) In the early church, this was done for various reasons:
               a) By Jesus, and others with the gift of healing, to 
                  heal the sick - Lk 4:40; Mk 16:18; Ac 28:8
               b) By Jesus, to bestow special blessings upon others 
                  - Mk 10:16; Mt 19:13-15
               c) By the apostles, to impart the Spirit in a miraculous
                  measure - Ac 8:14-25; 19:1-7; 2Ti 1:6
               d) By church leaders, to appoint different ones for 
                  service - Ac 6:1-6; 13:1-3; 1Ti 4:14; 5:22
            2) Note that the laying on of hands was often accompanied 
               with prayer; perhaps the imposition of hands being the
               outward symbol of the prayer (Lightfoot)
         e. "Resurrection of the dead"
            1) A central theme of apostolic preaching was the 
               resurrection of Jesus - Ac 2:31-32; 10:40; 13:33
            2) They also preached in Jesus our own resurrection, which
               is our precious hope! - Ac 4:2; 24:15; 1Co 15:12-23
         f. "Eternal judgment"
            1) Another theme of apostolic preaching - cf. Ac 17:30-31;
            2) Also stressed in their epistles - cf. Ro 2:16; 14:10-12;
               2Co 5:10
      2. Understanding these concepts serves as the "beginning" of 
         spiritual growth!
         a. Sadly, some who have been Christians for years still "need 
            someone to teach you again the first principles of the 
            oracles of God;"
         b. Such people are still "babes" who "need milk and not solid
            food." - He 5:12

      1. Once we have laid the foundation, we need to build on it
      2. With an understanding of the doctrines previously described,
         we are ready to receive more difficult knowledge
         a. Such as the high priesthood of Christ - cf. He 5:9-11
         b. We might also add the work of Christ as our "King of kings
             and Lord of lords", as depicted in the book of Revelation 3. 

            By comprehending the "meatier" parts of the Word of God, we 
         are more likely to remain steadfast in our faith
      -- And so we need the attitude of striving toward perfection as
         described by Paul - Php 3:7-15

[Is this our attitude?  It should be, for as we continue to read in our
text, there is...]


      1. They "were once enlightened"
         a. This likely refers to their conversion - cf. He 10:32
         b. By the second century, the word "enlightenment" was used as
            a synonym for baptism (Justin, Apology, 1.61.65)
         c. The Peshitta Syriac translates the verse, "who have once
            descended to baptism" (Lightfoot)
      2. They "have tasted of the heavenly gift"
         a. The word "taste" suggests a deep personal experience - cf.
            1Pe 2:3; Ps 34:8
         b. Their tasting the "heavenly gift" refers back to the past
            experience of salvation...
            1) In which they experienced the forgiveness of sins
            2) In which they began to receive the spiritual blessings
               of being in Christ
         c. The clause "describes vividly the reality of personal
            experiences of salvation enjoyed by Christians at
            conversion (baptism)." (Behm, TDNT, I, 676)
      3. They "have become partakers of the Holy Spirit"
         a. This also refers back to their conversion - Ac 2:38; 5:32
         b. The word "partakers" (metochous) is significant...
            1) Christians are "partakers (metochoi) of the heavenly 
               calling" - He 3:1
            2) They are "partakers (metochoi) of Christ" - He 3:14
            -- So they are also partakers in the Holy Spirit! 
      4. They "have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the
         age to come"
         a. Again the word "tasted" suggests personal experience
         b. They had experienced the good things the word of God 
         c. They had experienced "the powers of the age to come"
            1) The "age to come" is likely the Messianic age, ushered
               in with the first coming of Christ, and consummated with
               His second coming (Lightfoot)
            2) The "powers of the age" they had experienced...
               a) Certainly included the "power" experienced by all 
                  Christians - cf. Ep 1:19; 3:20; 6:10
               b) But perhaps even "signs and wonders, with various 
                  miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit" - cf. He 2:4
      -- Can these be anyone other than true Christians who had once 
         believed in Jesus?

      1. It was now "impossible...to renew them again to repentance"
         a. It is apparent that Christians can "fall away"
            1) Paul warned that one can become "estranged from Christ" 
               and "fall from grace" - Ga 5:4
            2) Peter described those once saved whose "latter end is 
               worse than the beginning" - 2Pe 2:20-22
         b. Here we learn that some can fall away to the point they are
            beyond rescue!
            1) We cannot say when a person reaches that point
            2) But there is a point where renewal becomes impossible!
      2. In such a state "they crucify again for themselves the Son of
         God and put Him to an open shame."
         a. This is not a Christian who sins out of weakness or 
         b. This is one who knowingly and openly rejects Christ 
            1) It is one whose heart has been so hardened by sin that 
               in unbelief they have departed from the living God - cf.
               He 3:12-13
            2) It is one who despises Jesus, His blood, and the Spirit
               of grace - cf. He 10:29
         c. It is one thing to "yield" to sin contrary to the new life
            in Christ, it is another thing to "abandon" that new life 
            altogether! (Lightfoot)
         -- But such can happen if we are not careful to "go on to 

      1. Like unproductive branches, they are "rejected...whose end is
         to be burned"
         a. Having received blessings from God, they should have 
            produced good fruit
         b. But instead they are like thorns and briars, taking 
            nourishment but not producing useful fruit in return - He 6:7-8
      2. With a similar illustration, Jesus warned His disciples! - Jn 15:1-8
         a. By abiding in Him, we are able to bear fruit to God's glory
         b. But if we do not bear fruit, we will be cut off and


1. From this stern passage, we learn some sobering truths...
   a. Receiving wonderful blessings from God does not preclude the 
      impossibility of apostasy
   b. For those who fall away to the point of casting off their faith,
      destruction awaits!

2. In view of such truths...
   a. "The Peril Of Not Progressing" is very real!
   b. We need to heed the exhortation:  "let us go on to perfection"
      1) We cannot be content with spiritual immaturity
      2) We must be diligent to "press on" in our spiritual growth

Does this mean we must live our Christian lives with insecurity 
regarding our salvation?  No, for as we will see in our next lesson
("The Basis For Spiritual Security"), there are things upon which we
can base our hope and trust for the future.  But the warnings in this
passage should be heeded!

Brethren, what are you doing with the blessings you have received in 

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading March 7

Bible Reading  

March 7

The World English Bible

Mar. 7
Exodus 17

Exo 17:1 All the congregation of the children of Israel traveled from the wilderness of Sin, by their journeys, according to Yahweh's commandment, and encamped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.
Exo 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test Yahweh?"
Exo 17:3 The people were thirsty for water there; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?"
Exo 17:4 Moses cried to Yahweh, saying, "What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."
Exo 17:5 Yahweh said to Moses, "Walk on before the people, and take the elders of Israel with you, and take the rod in your hand with which you struck the Nile, and go.
Exo 17:6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb. You shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Exo 17:7 He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarreled, and because they tested Yahweh, saying, "Is Yahweh among us, or not?"
Exo 17:8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Exo 17:9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us, and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with God's rod in my hand."
Exo 17:10 So Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought with Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
Exo 17:11 It happened, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
Exo 17:12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side. His hands were steady until sunset.
Exo 17:13 Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Exo 17:14 Yahweh said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky."
Exo 17:15 Moses built an altar, and called its name Yahweh our Banner.
Exo 17:16 He said, "Yah has sworn: 'Yahweh will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.' "
Mar. 7, 8
Mark 6

Mar 6:1 He went out from there. He came into his own country, and his disciples followed him.
Mar 6:2 When the Sabbath had come, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many hearing him were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things?" and, "What is the wisdom that is given to this man, that such mighty works come about by his hands?
Mar 6:3 Isn't this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judah, and Simon? Aren't his sisters here with us?" They were offended at him.
Mar 6:4 Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own relatives, and in his own house."
Mar 6:5 He could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people, and healed them.
Mar 6:6 He marveled because of their unbelief. He went around the villages teaching.
Mar 6:7 He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
Mar 6:8 He commanded them that they should take nothing foFrom Gary V. Womack... DANIEL - KEEPING YOUR HEARTr their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse,
Mar 6:9 but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics.
Mar 6:10 He said to them, "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there.
Mar 6:11 Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"
Mar 6:12 They went out and preached that people should repent.
Mar 6:13 They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them.
Mar 6:14 King Herod heard this, for his name had become known, and he said, "John the Baptizer has risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him."
Mar 6:15 But others said, "He is Elijah." Others said, "He is a prophet, or like one of the prophets."
Mar 6:16 But Herod, when he heard this, said, "This is John, whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead."
Mar 6:17 For Herod himself had sent out and arrested John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, for he had married her.
Mar 6:18 For John said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife."
Mar 6:19 Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill him, but she couldn't,
Mar 6:20 for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.
Mar 6:21 Then a convenient day came, that Herod on his birthday made a supper for his nobles, the high officers, and the chief men of Galilee.
Mar 6:22 When the daughter of Herodias herself came in and danced, she pleased Herod and those sitting with him. The king said to the young lady, "Ask me whatever you want, and I will give it to you."
Mar 6:23 He swore to her, "Whatever you shall ask of me, I will give you, up to half of my kingdom."
Mar 6:24 She went out, and said to her mother, "What shall I ask?" She said, "The head of John the Baptizer."
Mar 6:25 She came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptizer on a platter."
Mar 6:26 The king was exceedingly sorry, but for the sake of his oaths, and of his dinner guests, he didn't wish to refuse her.
Mar 6:27 Immediately the king sent out a soldier of his guard, and commanded to bring John's head, and he went and beheaded him in the prison,
Mar 6:28 and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the young lady; and the young lady gave it to her mother.
Mar 6:29 When his disciples heard this, they came and took up his corpse, and laid it in a tomb.
Mar 6:30 The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught.
Mar 6:31 He said to them, "You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile." For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. From Gary V. Womack... DANIEL - KEEPING YOUR HEART
Mar 6:32 They went away in the boat to a deserted place by thFrom Gary V. Womack... DANIEL - KEEPING YOUR HEARTemselves.
Mar 6:33 They saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him.
Mar 6:34 Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
Mar 6:35 When it was late in the day, his disciples came to him, and said, "This place is deserted, and it is late in the day.
Mar 6:36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages, and buy themselves bread, for they have nothing to eat."
Mar 6:37 But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." They asked him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give them something to eat?"
Mar 6:38 He said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go see." When they knew, they said, "Five, and two fish."
Mar 6:39 He commanded them that everyone should sit down in groups on the green grass.
Mar 6:40 They sat down in ranks, by hundreds and by fifties.
Mar 6:41 He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves, and he gave to his disciples to set before them, and he divided the two fish among them all.
Mar 6:42 They all ate, and were filled.
Mar 6:43 They took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and also of the fish.
Mar 6:44 Those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.
Mar 6:45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat, and to go ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the multitude away.
Mar 6:46 After he had taken leave of them, he went up the mountain to pray.
Mar 6:47 When evening had come, the boat was in the midst of the sea, and he was alone on the land.
Mar 6:48 Seeing them distressed in rowing, for the wind was contrary to them, about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea, and he would have passed by them,
Mar 6:49 but they, when they saw him walking on the sea, supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out;
Mar 6:50 for they all saw him, and were troubled. But he immediately spoke with them, and said to them, "Cheer up! It is I! Don't be afraid."
Mar 6:51 He got into the boat with them; and the wind ceased, and they were very amazed among themselves, and marveled;
Mar 6:52 for they hadn't understood about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
Mar 6:53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore.
Mar 6:54 When they had come out of the boat, immediately the people recognized him,
Mar 6:55 and ran around that whole region, and began to bring those who were sick, on their mats, to where they heard he was.
Mar 6:56 Wherever he entered, into villages, or into cities, or into the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces, and begged him that they might touch just the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched him were made well.

From Gary... The color of a heart


 All the same picture, starting with the top left, first, I darkened it (top right) and then lightened it (bottom). Why? To show that even the same expression, when seen from a different perspective gives a slightly different message. Our understanding of what it is trying to communicate changes ever-so-slightly with each minute alteration. Apply this concept to our perception of the Almighty and then consider this Bible passage...

1 Corinthians, Chapter 2
  7 But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory,  8 which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.  9 But as it is written, 
“Things which an eye didn’t see, and an ear didn’t hear,
which didn’t enter into the heart of man,
these God has prepared for those who love him.”
  10  But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  11 For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God’s Spirit.  12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God.

If a picture be understood differently by the mere alteration of a little light, imagine what a little sin can do to our understanding of God?  Paul gives an illustration of this from personal experience...

Acts, Chapter 26
12  “Whereupon as I traveled to Damascus with the authority and commission from the chief priests,  13 at noon, O king, I saw on the way a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who traveled with me.  14 When we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 

  15  “I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ 

“He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.   16  But arise, and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose: to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will reveal to you;   17 delivering you from the people, and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you,   18  to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

The original picture just shows a smile and we may wonder what she is thinking, but in actuality, that knowledge is between her and God. However, it seems clear to me that WHAT she is thinking is a reflection what her life is like. Is it encumbered and darkened by sin or freed and illuminated by the light of life? If that is true of her, it follows that it also applies to us as well. Just think about it, OK? - I will...