3/20/14

From Jim McGuiggan... A True Story


A True Story

Their hopes were dashed; they huddled in locked upper rooms and moaned to each other as they walked the roads. They were fear-filled, ashamed of their cowardice and disappointed that the one they’d hoped would fulfil God’s promises to Israel had turned out a loser. In a real sense, more than any others they were unbelievers and that’s what he called them when he walked into the room and rebuked them for their stubborn unbelief (Mark 16:14, see Luke 24:25 and John 20:24-29).

We’ve heard the wise objection that Jesus should have appeared to unbelievers when he rose rather than to his followers. Only wise people who don’t know the text can speak that way because the only kind of people he appeared to was the unbelieving—his disciples didn't believe he was raised.

In any case, had he appeared to Pilate and he had become a believer we wouldn’t have been allowed to use his witness since it would be the testimony of a believer. If you don’t believe that, take a look at what happens when we speak of Jesus appearing to Saul, the unbeliever. To get around his testimony all kinds of explanations are offered, from epilepsy to heat stroke to suppressed guilt and consequent hallucinations.

This much we know from the NT record: something happened after the crucifixion of Jesus broke their hearts and spirits—something that galvanized them into fierce warfare with the powers that be, that made them rejoice and call suffering a privilege; something that enabled them to work miracles and persuade many thousands that God had not abandoned his promises. Their story was that Jesus was gloriously alive again, that they saw and spent time with him and that he was in their midst by his Holy Spirit who was making his presence felt by signs and wonders.

The New Covenant church (see Matthew 16:18) began in fulfilment of God’s promise that he would not abandon faithless Israel and that he would make a new covenant with them unlike the one he’d made with their fathers when he brought them out of Egypt (Luke 22:20, Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:6-13). These were Jews, the descendants of Abraham through Jacob and Jesus came to fulfil the promises God made to their fathers (Romans 15:8) and in Jesus as the critical moment God revealed and continues to reveal his faithfulness. The richness of God’s promises to Israel were greater than they could possibly have known and it was left to people like Peter (Acts), James (Acts 15) and to Paul in particular to reveal that Gentile (non-Jewish) blessing was wrapped up in Israel’s glory (see Romans 11:24 and context and 15:25-27).

To dismiss all this—which is the heart of the NT witness—and reduce the nature of the Church of God in Jesus to a mass of people who admire Jesus and select precious pieces of his teaching as a moral guide is to ignore the biblical witness altogether.

The NT church didn’t rise as a sad group who knew the gentle and kind man and couldn’t let his memory die. Jesus didn’t foresee that he’d be killed before he accomplished anything and so made a last minute attempt to give personal piety something to remember and feed on.

No, his death and resurrection were part of God’s eternal and cosmic purpose and his establishing of his church (as distinct from the Mosaic church of the Wilderness—Acts 7:38) was no ad hoc response to unforeseen events.

Does the description of the Church of God in Ephesians 1:1-14 sound like a spur of the moment thing? Does it read like something built out of the fragments of failure? Does it look to you like a “Plan B”? Does it read like a movement that humans came up with in the face of their disappointment?

As surely as Abraham was chosen of God and as sure as Israel was chosen by him and as sure as Jesus was God’s chosen (Matthew 12:18, 1 Peter 2:4) so the New Covenant people were the chosen of God (1 Peter 1:1; 2:9 and Ephesians 1:3-14) made up of Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 1:11-14 and 2:11—3:6).

To reduce the Church of Jesus Christ to a brotherhood/sisterhood of morally serious people whose primary aim is to grow in moral excellence is a tragedy! The NT is then read as a repository of “Principles to live by”; the kind of thing you can read in a Reader’s Digest or a Humanist Manifesto.

The Church’s business is not to show what nice people it’s made of and how you’d enjoy their company if you became a part of this or that congregation and nor is its business is to talk ceaselessly about how to get saved and go to heaven.

Its business is to be “the body of Jesus Christ,” to bear witness to a person! Jesus! Jesus!—in whom God has begun and will complete the redemption and glorification of his creation in keeping with his eternal purpose.

The Church did not appear by chance or as an after-thought or as a weak substitute for the real thing! The Church is not to determine its own nature but to embrace the truth God has revealed about her as she moves in Christ-imitating witness toward more truth and a greater likeness to her Lord into whose death and resurrection she was baptized and whose return she heralds in her Holy Communion!

Her place and destiny in this world was eternally planned and brought about. The world may smile at that as nonsense but the Church must take an entirely different view. Click here for a little more.

©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... Faith That Embraces The Promises (Hebrews 11:8-22)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

               Faith That Embraces The Promises (11:8-22)

INTRODUCTION

1. In the first seven verses of the eleventh chapter, we saw...
   a. Faith explained...
      1) As confidence of things hoped for
      2) As conviction of things not seen
   b. Faith exemplified...
      1) In Abel (faith worshipping)
      2) In Enoch (faith walking)
      3) In Noah (faith working)
   c. Faith emphasized...
      1) Without which it is impossible to please God
      2) We must believe He exists, and rewards those who diligently 
         seek Him

2. Another aspect of our faith pertains to "the promises" in which we 
   hope...
   a. We are warned not to fall short of what's been promised - He 4:1
   b. Faith (along with patience) is necessary to inherit the promises 
      - He 6:11-12

3. The faith which pleases God, then, is one that "embraces" God's 
   promises...
   a. In verses 8-22, we learn of the faith of those who "embraced the
      promises"
   b. Because of their faith, "God is not ashamed to be called their 
      God"

[Do we have the sort of faith that makes God unashamed to be called our
God?  To answer this question, let's use the text of our study to 
review...]

I. THE FAITH OF THE PATRIARCHS (8-12,17-22)

   A. THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM...
      1. By faith he "obeyed" - He 11:8
         a. When God called him to leave his country, he obeyed the 
            voice of the Lord
            1) Even though at first he did not know where he was going
            2) This is an example of conviction in "things not seen"!
         b. Here we see that faith and obedience are not contradictory
            terms
            1) Indeed, Jesus is the "author of eternal salvation to 
               all who obey Him" - He 5:9
            2) Is our faith an "obedient faith" like Abraham's? - cf. 
               Lk 6:46
      2. By faith he "sojourned" - He 11:9-10
         a. His faith required him to live "as in a foreign country"
            1) Even though it was the "land of promise", he and his 
               descendants could not have it for four hundred years 
               - cf. Gen 13:14-17; 15:13-21
            2) He therefore patiently waited for the city "whose 
               builder and maker is God"
               a) This suggests that the promises he embraced were more
                  than just those pertaining to the land of Canaan
               b) Later, we will see he had a heavenly hope as well!
         b. Our faith requires us to live "as in a foreign country"
            1) For we too are "sojourners and pilgrims" - 1Pe 2:11
            2) Is our faith a "sojourning faith" like Abraham's? - cf. 
               He 13:14
      3. By faith he "offered up Isaac" - He 11:17-19
         a. His faith required him to be willing to offer that which 
            was closest to him
            1) His son, Isaac - Gen 22:1-19
               a) Through whom the promises he embraced were to be 
                  fulfilled
               b) He assumed that God would raise Isaac from the dead, 
                  if need be, in order to keep His promises
            2) Thus he illustrated that confidence "in things hoped 
               for"!
         b. Our faith often requires forsaking things closest to us
            1) Our loved ones, even our own life! - cf. Lk 14:26-33
            2) Is our faith an "offering faith" like Abraham's? - cf. 
               Ro 12:1-2

   B. THE FAITH OF SARAH...
      1. By faith she received strength to conceive a child - He 11:
         11-12
         a. Though beyond the normal age of child-bearing - Gen 18:1-3;
            21:1-7
         b. Though she laughed when she first heard of God's promise, 
            she later "judged Him faithful who had promised"
         c. Through her faith, the promises of a great nation were 
            fulfilled!
      2. Our faith requires looking to God for strength, and trusting 
         He will provide
         a. We must look to God to "find grace to help in time of need"
            - He 4:16
         b. Is our faith a "receiving faith" like Sarah's? - Php 4:13

   C. THE FAITH OF ISAAC...
      1. He blessed Jacob and Esau regarding things to come - He 11:20;
         cf. Gen 27:1-40
      2. This illustrates how Isaac by faith "embraced" the promises

   D. THE FAITH OF JACOB...
      1. Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph when he was dying - He 11:21;
         cf. Gen 48:14-20
      2. His blessing involved the promises of God, showing how he 
         embraced them also

   E. THE FAITH OF JOSEPH...
      1. When he was dying, Joseph:
         a. Made mention of the departure of Israel out of Egypt
         b. Gave instructions concerning his bones - He 11:22; cf. Gen 50:24-26
      2. In so doing, he demonstrated that he had "embraced the 
         promises"!

[Such was the faith of the patriarchs. I purposely skipped verses 13-
16, for what is said there not only applies to Abraham and Sarah, but
to Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.

As we now turn to those verses, we learn in particular...]

II. HOW THEIR FAITH PLEASED GOD (13-16)

   A. THEY EMBRACED THE PROMISES... - He 11:13-16a
      1. They did not receive the promises during their lifetime
         a. Yet with faith they could see them afar off
         b. They freely confessed to be strangers and pilgrims on the
            earth
            1) This implies that they sought a homeland
            2) But what they desired was a better one, indeed a 
               heavenly country
      2. They died "in faith" (i.e., holding fast to the promises)

   B. THEREFORE GOD IS NOT ASHAMED OF THEM... - He 11:16b
      1. He is not ashamed to be called their God
         a. He is well pleased with them
         b. It was their faith embracing the promises that pleased Him
      2. He has prepared a city for them
         a. What they waited for, He has prepared - cf. He 11:10
         b. That which He has prepared is what we look for, too - cf. 
            He 13:14
            1) I.e., the new heavens and new earth - cf. 2Pe 3:13
            2) In which will be the "New Jerusalem," that "great
               city...descending out of heaven" - cf. Re 21:1-3,10ff
            3) Indeed, even now in a sense we have "come to Mount Zion
               and to the city of the living God, the heavenly 
               Jerusalem..." - He 12:22-24

CONCLUSION

1. What kind of faith pleases God?  Certainly a...
   a. "Worshipping faith" like that of Abel
   b. "Walking faith" like that of Enoch
   c. "Working faith" like that of Noah
   ...but also a "waiting faith" seen in the patriarchs (Abraham, 
   Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph)!

2. The faith that pleases God is one that "embraces the promises" made
   by God...
   a. Patiently waiting for their ultimate fulfillment, even if it 
      doesn't happen in one's lifetime
   b. But with conviction and confidence of "things hoped for" and 
      "things of unseen"...
      1) We will "obey" His calling
      2) We will "sojourn" here on earth
      3) We will "offer" up whatever He asks of us
      4) We will "receive strength" to do whatever He bids us
      5) And we will "make mention" of His promises from generation to
         generation!

3. This is the kind of faith...
   a. In those "who believe to the saving of the soul" - He 10:39
   b. In those of whom "God is not ashamed to be called their God"
      - He 11:16

May the Lord grant us grace and mercy to develop this kind of saving 
faith!

xecutable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading March 20






Bible Reading  

March 20

The World English Bible



Mar. 20
Exodus 34, 35

Exo 34:1 Yahweh said to Moses, "Chisel two stone tablets like the first: and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.
Exo 34:2 Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to me on the top of the mountain.
Exo 34:3 No one shall come up with you; neither let anyone be seen throughout all the mountain; neither let the flocks nor herds feed before that mountain."
Exo 34:4 He chiseled two tablets of stone like the first; and Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up to Mount Sinai, as Yahweh had commanded him, and took in his hand two stone tablets.
Exo 34:5 Yahweh descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of Yahweh.
Exo 34:6 Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, "Yahweh! Yahweh, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth,
Exo 34:7 keeping loving kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and disobedience and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children's children, on the third and on the fourth generation."
Exo 34:8 Moses hurried and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.
Exo 34:9 He said, "If now I have found favor in your sight, Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us; although this is a stiff-necked people; pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance."
Exo 34:10 He said, "Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been worked in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among which you are shall see the work of Yahweh; for it is an awesome thing that I do with you.
Exo 34:11 Observe that which I command you this day. Behold, I drive out before you the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
Exo 34:12 Be careful, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be for a snare in the midst of you:
Exo 34:13 but you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and you shall cut down their Asherim;
Exo 34:14 for you shall worship no other god: for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Exo 34:15 Don't make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, lest they play the prostitute after their gods, and sacrifice to their gods, and one call you and you eat of his sacrifice;
Exo 34:16 and you take of their daughters to your sons, and their daughters play the prostitute after their gods, and make your sons play the prostitute after their gods.
Exo 34:17 You shall make no cast idols for yourselves.
Exo 34:18 "You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month Abib; for in the month Abib you came out from Egypt.
Exo 34:19 All that opens the womb is mine; and all your livestock that is male, the firstborn of cow and sheep.
Exo 34:20 The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb: and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. No one shall appear before me empty.
Exo 34:21 "Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest: in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.
Exo 34:22 You shall observe the feast of weeks with the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of harvest at the year's end.
Exo 34:23 Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord Yahweh, the God of Israel.
Exo 34:24 For I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither shall any man desire your land when you go up to appear before Yahweh, your God, three times in the year.
Exo 34:25 "You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the Passover be left to the morning.
Exo 34:26 You shall bring the first of the first fruits of your ground to the house of Yahweh your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk."
Exo 34:27 Yahweh said to Moses, "Write you these words: for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel."
Exo 34:28 He was there with Yahweh forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread, nor drank water. He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
Exo 34:29 It happened, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the testimony in Moses' hand, when he came down from the mountain, that Moses didn't know that the skin of his face shone by reason of his speaking with him.
Exo 34:30 When Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come near him.
Exo 34:31 Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them.
Exo 34:32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them all of the commandments that Yahweh had spoken with him on Mount Sinai.
Exo 34:33 When Moses was done speaking with them, he put a veil on his face.
Exo 34:34 But when Moses went in before Yahweh to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and he came out, and spoke to the children of Israel that which he was commanded.
Exo 34:35 The children of Israel saw Moses' face, that the skin of Moses' face shone: and Moses put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Exo 35:1 Moses assembled all the congregation of the children of Israel, and said to them, "These are the words which Yahweh has commanded, that you should do them.
Exo 35:2 'Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of solemn rest to Yahweh: whoever does any work in it shall be put to death.
Exo 35:3 You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the Sabbath day.' "
Exo 35:4 Moses spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, "This is the thing which Yahweh commanded, saying,
Exo 35:5 'Take from among you an offering to Yahweh. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, Yahweh's offering: gold, silver, brass,
Exo 35:6 blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats' hair,
Exo 35:7 rams' skins dyed red, sea cow hides, acacia wood,
Exo 35:8 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense,
Exo 35:9 onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod and for the breastplate.
Exo 35:10 " 'Let every wise-hearted man among you come, and make all that Yahweh has commanded:
Exo 35:11 the tabernacle, its outer covering, its roof, its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, and its sockets;
Exo 35:12 the ark, and its poles, the mercy seat, the veil of the screen;
Exo 35:13 the table with its poles and all its vessels, and the show bread;
Exo 35:14 the lampstand also for the light, with its vessels, its lamps, and the oil for the light;
Exo 35:15 and the altar of incense with its poles, the anointing oil, the sweet incense, the screen for the door, at the door of the tabernacle;
Exo 35:16 the altar of burnt offering, with its grating of brass, it poles, and all its vessels, the basin and its base;
Exo 35:17 the hangings of the court, its pillars, their sockets, and the screen for the gate of the court;
Exo 35:18 the pins of the tabernacle, the pins of the court, and their cords;
Exo 35:19 the finely worked garments, for ministering in the holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest's office.' "
Exo 35:20 All the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses.
Exo 35:21 They came, everyone whose heart stirred him up, and everyone whom his spirit made willing, and brought Yahweh's offering, for the work of the Tent of Meeting, and for all of its service, and for the holy garments.
Exo 35:22 They came, both men and women, as many as were willing-hearted, and brought brooches, earrings, signet rings, and armlets, all jewels of gold; even every man who offered an offering of gold to Yahweh.
Exo 35:23 Everyone, with whom was found blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats' hair, rams' skins dyed red, and sea cow hides, brought them.
Exo 35:24 Everyone who did offer an offering of silver and brass brought Yahweh's offering; and everyone, with whom was found acacia wood for any work of the service, brought it.
Exo 35:25 All the women who were wise-hearted spun with their hands, and brought that which they had spun, the blue, the purple, the scarlet, and the fine linen.
Exo 35:26 All the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun the goats' hair.
Exo 35:27 The rulers brought the onyx stones, and the stones to be set, for the ephod and for the breastplate;
Exo 35:28 and the spice, and the oil for the light, for the anointing oil, and for the sweet incense.
Exo 35:29 The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to Yahweh; every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all the work, which Yahweh had commanded to be made by Moses.
Exo 35:30 Moses said to the children of Israel, "Behold, Yahweh has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.
Exo 35:31 He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship;
Exo 35:32 and to make skillful works, to work in gold, in silver, in brass,
Exo 35:33 in cutting of stones for setting, and in carving of wood, to work in all kinds of skillful workmanship.
Exo 35:34 He has put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
Exo 35:35 He has filled them with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of workmanship, of the engraver, of the skillful workman, and of the embroiderer, in blue, in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of those who do any workmanship, and of those who make skillful works.



From Gary... Crazy


Be prepared; life will hand you all sorts of crazy things!!!  So, why not combat crazy with crazy? No, I am not talking about genuine insanity, but rather of the ability to just "shake things up a bit" in difficult situations; to think outside the box, to be a bit unpredictable.  The Apostle Paul did and this passage from his second letter to the Corinthian church shows it...

2 Corinthians, Chapter 11

 16  I say again, let no one think me foolish. But if so, yet receive me as foolish, that I also may boast a little.  17 That which I speak, I don’t speak according to the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.  18 Seeing that many boast after the flesh, I will also boast.  19 For you bear with the foolish gladly, being wise.  20 For you bear with a man, if he brings you into bondage, if he devours you, if he takes you captive, if he exalts himself, if he strikes you on the face.  21 I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been weak. Yet however any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am bold also.  22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.  23 Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I am more so; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.  24 Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep.  26 I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers; 27 in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness. 

  28  Besides those things that are outside, there is that which presses on me daily, anxiety for all the assemblies.  29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I don’t burn with indignation?  30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that concern my weakness.

To boast without boasting, to prove your worthiness by being humble; now there is one crazy way to think.  But, then again, sometimes you have to shake things up a bit, just to get through to some people. Paul did just that- and it worked!!!  However, just think a bit about what he did- reread verses 22 and following.  You would think he would have given up, but he didn't. Crazy, right? No, for he believed Jesus who spoke to him (Acts 9). Perhaps, we would look at things differently if we actually believe what we read in our Bibles? Anyway, I like Paul's flexibility of reasoning and hope you do as well!!!  You may never be a "star" like Bugs Bunny, but if you do what you can for God in heaven, you may just be one of the brightest stars in heaven- and that is much higher goal anyway!!!