From Jim McGuiggan... A Sweet Story

A Sweet Story

The Balaam story in Numbers 22—23 makes it clear that Balak saw Israel as something to be cursed and Balaam saw Israel as an opportunity to make himself rich. I wonder what weary Israel thought of itself just at that particular time? We know this: He who knew her, really knew her, knew her as the nation that had broken his heart for a generation in the wilderness and as the nation that would break it again and again. All the more remarkable, then, that he said of her (Numbers 24:5): “How beautiful are your tents O Israel.”

We don’t have to guess what the powers in Jerusalem thought of the NT church (Acts 4—5), of what the people of Ephesus who worshipped Artemis thought of the new people among them (Acts 19:1-41) or how they were received by the Gentile world. There are suggestions throughout the various NT letters that their opinion of themselves varied with their experience and, of course, at some levels it matters what the Church thinks of itself. But ultimately it matters only what God thought and thinks of her. She is what he says she is and not what society or the world powers think—not even what they themselves think (see the Lord’s remarks to the seven churches in Revelation 2—3).

So what is she really?

A clear description has been given of her from various sources that all combine and go in the one direction. Here’s how it goes often enough.

Jesus, that poor soul, was too high-strung for a world like this. He was a good man, gentle and grieved by the evil and suffering he saw all around him. He cared a lot about the poor and probably worked many psychosomatic cures. You know how caring people can do that for hurting hearts.

His sensitivity might even have unhinged the poor thing because he said things like he was the light of the world, that the dead would all arise one day when they heard his voice, that if people wanted life they would have to feed on his flesh and blood, that he was God’s unique Son and that if he was killed he’d rise again—things like that. (Of course, though his later disciples said he did, we can’t really be sure he said any of these things; but if he did we’re not to jeer, we should pity him because his sensitivity could easily have driven him harmlessly mad.)

When it came to his teaching—the material that makes sense, that is—we find his teaching matching his actions. It would be too much to say he was original for much of what he said he had learned from his Jewish heritage but his beautiful life would have added strength to his teaching.

In any case, it’s a hard old world and his people, especially the leaders, had had enough of him and for some reason that we can only guess at they did away with him. Sad as it is, like every other human he stayed dead and by now he has turned to dust in some unknown grave, but you know, he was dearly loved! So it’s as though someone wrote over his tomb: “Gone but not forgotten!” For indeed he wasn’t forgotten and his followers gathered together to remember him and keep his wise, gentle sayings alive.

We can almost hear them now as they shared his beautiful sayings with one another and anyone who would listen. “You remember how he used to say things like, ‘Love one another…treat one another right…live in peace…work out your differences between one another.’ Ah, yes, a dear gentle soul, we won’t soon see another like him. And may we having gathered together to fondly remember him all leave this place and be better friends and neighbours because as long as we do he’ll always be alive in the world.”

And that is how the Christian movement started. It’s (at its best) a vast number of people who wish to follow the teaching and lifestyle of that beautiful 1st century figure. We can safely ignore all the extraneous materials we find written about him and try to follow (most of) his central moral teachings because, after all, the thing that counts is how we are to treat one another in this life—the rest is irrelevant.

Indeed, a sweet story!

And I suppose that there are some who really believe it.

©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 Gary...

I especially like today's post; Jim tells a tale that sounds good, but in reality has nothing to do with the heart of Christianity- Jesus as sacrifice for our sins. Sometimes its a good thing to think like this, but be very, very careful when you do. At this point, you might find it useful to open your Bible and turn to 1 Corinthians, Chapter 15:1-9 and read for yourself... truth!!!

From Mark Copeland... Faith That Overcomes The World (Hebrews 11:23-40)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

               Faith That Overcomes The World (11:23-40)


1. What kind of faith leads "to the saving of the soul" (He 10:39)?
   a. It is "Faith That Pleases God" - He 11:1-7
      1) That has confidence and conviction in things hoped for, in 
         things unseen
      2) That believes God is, and that He rewards those who seek Him
      3) That worships like Abel, walks like Enoch, and works like Noah
   b. It is "Faith That Embraces The Promises" - He 11:8-22
      1) Obeying God when He calls, even it means sojourning as a 
         pilgrim, or sacrificing that which is most precious to you 
      2) Receiving strength from God to do His will (Sarah)
      3) Declaring the promises of God from generation to generation 
         (Isaac, Jacob, Joseph)

2. Saving faith is also "Faith That Overcomes The World", concerning
   a. The apostle John wrote in 1Jn 5:4-5
   b. We have many examples in He 11:23-40

[In the last half of chapter eleven, then, we are reminded how in the
Old Testament those with faith were able to "overcome the world".  How
such faith overcame the world may vary.  To see how, let's begin by 


      1. They hid Moses for three months - cf. Exo 2:1-3; Ac 7:20
         a. They saw he was a "beautiful" ("good", "proper", "not 
            ordinary") child
         b. They were not afraid of Pharaoh's command - cf. Exo 1:22
      2. It was their faith that gave them courage to withstand the 
         king's edict
      -- With such a small beginning, by faith they "overcame the 
         world" of Egypt

   B. THE FAITH OF MOSES... (24-28)
      1. He refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter - He 11:
         a. He chose to suffer affliction with God's people rather than
            enjoy sin's temporary pleasures
         b. He esteemed the reproaches of Christ more valuable than the
            treasures of Egypt
         -- Through faith "he looked to the reward" (he had confidence
            in "things hoped for", i.e., that heavenly reward)
      2. He forsook Egypt - He 11:27
         a. It was not the wrath of the king that he feared
         b. It was the invisible God he feared - cf. Mt 10:28
         -- Through faith "he endured" (he had conviction in "things
            unseen", i.e., God)
      3. He kept the Passover and sprinkling of blood - He 11:28
         a. He believed in God's warning regarding the death of the 
            firstborn- Exo 12:1-30
         b. He had Israel sprinkle the blood of the lamb on the lintels
            and door posts
      -- By faith, Moses "overcame the world" of Egyptian bondage!

      1. They passed through the Red Sea - He 11:29
         a. They walked through it on dry land - Exo 14:21-22
         b. The Egyptians who followed them perished in the sea - Exo 14:23-28
      2. They destroyed the city of Jericho - He 11:30
         a. They walked around the city for seven days - Josh 6:1-20
         b. Thirteen times they encircled the city, showing their faith
            in God rather than in their own military might
      -- By faith, Israel "overcame the world" of Egypt and Palestine!

      1. She had received the two spies from Israel with peace - Josh 2:1-24
      2. Therefore she did not perish with the unbelievers - cf. Josh 6:22-25
      -- By faith, Rahab "overcame the world" of sin and unbelief!

[Through faith, Israel receive the promised land as God had told 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Josh 21:43-45). In the process, by faith 
they overcame what obstacles the world placed before them.  Even a 
Gentile sinner like Rahab became a recipient of the promise by her 

But the need for faith did not stop there. As we continue, we see
examples of...]


      1. There is not enough time for the author to describe the faith
         of others in detail
      2. Such as:
         a. Judges like Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah
         b. A king like David
         c. A prophet like Samuel, and the rest of the prophets
      -- But what the author does provide is that which follows...

      1. Through faith, people such as these...
         a. "Subdued kingdoms"
            1) Joshua, in conquering Palestine - Josh 12:7-24
            2) David, in conquering neighboring nations - 2Sa 5:4-25;
         b. "Worked righteousness" (administered justice)
            1) Samuel, as judge - 1Sa 12:4
            2) David, as king - 2Sa 8:15
            3) Solomon, as king - 1Ki 3:28
         c. "Obtained promises"
            -- The nation of Israel, receiving the promised land - Josh 21:43-45; 23:14
         d. "Stopped the mouths of lions"
            1) Samson - Judg 14:6
            2) David, protecting sheep - 1Sa 17:34-37
            3) Daniel, in the lions' den - Dan 6:21-22
         e. "Quenched the violence of fire"
            -- Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego, in the fiery furnace - Dan 3:23-25
         f. "Escaped the edge of the sword"
            1) David, fleeing King Saul - 1Sa 23:19-29
            2) Elijah, fleeing Jezebel - 1Ki 19:8-10
            3) Elisha, whom the King of Israel wanted murdered - 2 Kin 6:31-32
         h. "Out of weakness were made strong"
            1) Samson, after his hair was cut - Judg 16:29-30
            2) Hezekiah, who was given fifteen years of life - Isa 38:
         i. "Became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of 
            1) David, in defeating Goliath - 1Sa 17:50
            2) Jehoshaphat, in defeating Edom - 2Ch 20:1-30
            3) Hezekiah, whose faith led to the slaughter of 185,000 
               Assyrian soldiers - 2Ki 19:1-36
      2. Also through faith...
         a. "Women received their dead raised to life again"
            1) The widow of Zarephath, via Elijah - 1Ki 17:17-24
            2) The Shunamite woman, via Elisha - 2Ki 4:8-37
         b. "Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, to obtain
             a better resurrection"
            1) Eleazar, in the Maccabean period between the Testaments 
               - 2 Macc 6:30
            2) Also, seven brothers and their mother tortured by 
               Antiochus Epiphanes - 2 Macc 7:9-36
            -- Such events would have been well known by the Hebrew 
         c. "Others had trials of mockings, scourgings, chains and 
            1) Micaiah, the prophet - 1Ki 22:24-28
            2) Jeremiah, the prophet - Jer 20:1-3; 37:11-21; 38:1-13
         d. Some were:
            1) "Stoned" - Zechariah, son of Jehoida the priest - 2 Chr 24:20-22
            2) "Sawn in two" - the prophet Isaiah, according to 
            3) "Tempted" - Daniel, as a youth - Dan 1:8-21
            4) "Slain with the sword" - Uriah the prophet - Jer 26:
         e. Some wandered about:
            1) "In sheepskins and goatskins" - Elijah - 2Ki 1:8
            2) "Being destitute, afflicted, tormented" - Elijah - 2 Kin 17:2-6; 18:9-10

      1. Certainly not the praise of the world! - He 11:38
         a. Many had to wander in deserts and mountains, live in dens 
            and caves (Elijah)
         b. But in truth, the world is not worthy of them!
      2. They did obtain a good testimony... - He 11:39a
         a. As stated regarding the elders in He 11:2
         b. As stated regarding Enoch - He 11:5
      3. Yet they did not obtain "the promise" during their lifetime 
         - He 11:39b-40
         a. They did receive some of the promises, such as the promised
            land - cf. He 11:33
         b. But they did not receive "the" promise
            1) They did not live to see the coming of the promised 
               Deliverer (Christ)
            2) Nor did they experience the "perfection" which Christ 
               now offers
               a) The Law could not make them "perfect" - He 9:9-10; 
               b) But Christ can! - cf. He 9:11-14; 10:11-14
      4. What they did not receive during their lifetime, they did with
         the coming of Christ!
         a. For Christ died to redeem them as well as us! - He 9:15
         b. They are now made "perfect" just as we are - He 11:40; cf.
            10:14; 12:22-24
            1) Note the phrase "the spirits of just men made perfect"
               in He 12:23
            2) Those who in the past "should not be made perfect apart
               from us" are in Christ "made perfect"!


1. Through faith, they truly overcame the world...
   a. Sometimes their victory was miraculous; often it was not
   c. Their ultimate victory was that they "died in faith" - He 11:
   -- And now, they enjoy the fruit of faith:  bliss in the presence of
      the Lamb! - cf. Re 7:9-17

2. Through faith, we can also overcome the world...
   a. Faith in Jesus as the Son of God will give us the victory! - 1Jn 5:4-5
      1) Victory over the world's temptations
      2) Victory over the world's persecutions
   b. The victories we win may not be as impressive as those listed in
      this chapter, but if we are "faithful until death", the reward 
      will be the same! - cf. Re 2:10

May this great chapter with its heroes of faith, serve to motivate us 
to grow in the faith which...

      * Pleases God!

      * Embraces The Promises!

      * Overcomes The World!

We may not win the praise the world, but we will receive the praise of
God, for such is the faith which leads "to the saving of the soul"!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... And I went to sleep...



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Last night was just a "normal night". I turned in about 11 p.m. , but for some reason awoke about 3:30, pet the dogs a few times and went back to sleep without problem. I awoke about 8:30, feeling refreshed and happy. Refreshed because I had more than usual amount of good sleep and happy because of a dream I had.  I dreamt of the last judgment and I was acquitted before God because Jesus vouched for me. You would wake up feeling happy too!!! I wasn't awake too long before I realized WHY I had this dream. I had read Mark chapter 13 yesterday (which is today's reading posted on the blog- I always read a day ahead), forgotten about it, but subconsciously I REMEMBERED!!!  And here is the portion that relates to my dream....

Mark, Chapter 13
 1 As he went out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Teacher, see what kind of stones and what kind of buildings!” 

  2  Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone on another, which will not be thrown down.” 

  3  As he sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately,  4 “Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign that these things are all about to be fulfilled?” 

  5  Jesus, answering, began to tell them, “Be careful that no one leads you astray.   6  For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he! ’ and will lead many astray. 

  7  “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, don’t be troubled. For those must happen, but the end is not yet.   8  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places. There will be famines and troubles. These things are the beginning of birth pains.   9  But watch yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will stand before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them.   10  The Good News must first be preached to all the nations.   11  When they lead you away and deliver you up, don’t be anxious beforehand, or premeditate what you will say, but say whatever will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 

  12  “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death.   13  You will be hated by all men for my name’s sake, but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved.   14  But when you see the abomination of desolation,  spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,   15  and let him who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter in, to take anything out of his house.   16  Let him who is in the field not return back to take his cloak.   17  But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babies in those days!   18  Pray that your flight won’t be in the winter.   19  For in those days there will be oppression, such as there has not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be.   20  Unless the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved; but for the sake of the chosen ones, whom he picked out, he shortened the days.   21  Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there!’ don’t believe it.   22  For there will arise false christs and false prophets, and will show signs and wonders, that they may lead astray, if possible, even the chosen ones.  23  But you watch. 

“Behold, I have told you all things beforehand.   24  But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light,   25  the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken.   26  Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.   27  Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky. 

  28  “Now from the fig tree, learn this parable. When the branch has now become tender, and produces its leaves, you know that the summer is near;   29  even so you also, when you see these things coming to pass, know that it is near, at the doors.   30  Most certainly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things happen.  31  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.   32  But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.   33  Watch, keep alert, and pray; for you don’t know when the time is.

Now, I know the passage from Mark relates to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., but remember, we are dealing with MY SUBCONSCIOUSNESS.  Frankly, I do not know how to put the vivid images I dreamt into words, so I thought to do it with pictures.  And what better images could there be than that of the sisteen chapel painted by Michelangelo you see at the top of the post.  Everyone makes choices every day as to how they will lives, but think about it- Aren't dreams relating to spiritual things better than a thousand other things you could have dreamt about?  Who says Bible reading doesn't affect you? I can testify it does- even to the core of the essence of my subconscious. Nice choice, great results.... jealous yet????