3/24/14

From Mark Copeland... The Pursuit Of Peace And Holiness (Hebrews 12:12-17)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

              The Pursuit Of Peace And Holiness (12:12-17)

INTRODUCTION

1. In "Running The Race Of Faith" (He 12:1-3), we saw the need to...
   a. Lay aside things that would hinder us, especially the sin of 
      unbelief
   b. Have endurance, even as Jesus endured hostility and the cross
   c. Focus our gaze on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, 
      whose own example should encourage us not to become weary and 
      discouraged

2. After reminding his readers of the value of the Lord's chastening, 
   the author of Hebrews returns to the metaphor of "running"...
   a. With a call to "run with style" - He 12:12-13
   b. With instructions to pursue peace and holiness - He 12:14
   c. With a word of caution, appealing to the example of Esau - He 12:
      15-17

3. One way to describe the Christian "race", then, is "The Pursuit Of 
   Peace And Holiness"
   a. How well are you doing in your pursuit?
   b. Do you know what it is you are to be running after?
   c. Are you aware of the possible pitfalls that can hinder you?

[To encourage excellence in regards to our pursuit, let's take a closer
look at the passage, beginning with...]

I. MAKING PREPARATION FOR OUR PURSUIT (12-13)

   A. A CALL TO "RUN WITH STYLE"...
      1. We are to "strengthen"...
         a. "the hands which hang down"
         b. "the feeble knees"
         -- A common figure of speech (Job 4:3-4; Isa 35:3), calling us
            to shake off all weariness, to be firm and strong
      2. We are to "make straight paths" for our feet, so that...
         a. "what is lame may not be dislocated"
         b. "but rather be healed"
         -- Another common expression (Isa 40:3-4), encouraging us to
            remove all that would hinder our progress (especially if we
            are weak)

   B. THE IMPLICATIONS OF THIS CALL...
      1. First, we must respond to this call to action
         a. This is something "we" are being called to do
         b. We can't expect God to do it all!
         c. While God will certainly help us, we must make the effort 
            - cf. Php 2:12-13
      2. This call to action is not limited to strengthening just 
         yourself
         a. Certainly there is the personal application
         b. But as concerned Christians, we should seek to:
            1) "strengthen the hands...and feeble knees" of others
            2) "make straight paths" for others - cf. 1Th 5:14
         c. Just as those who are "spiritual" should be concerned for 
            the weakness of others - Ga 6:1

[In a way, this call is similar to the one the Lord gave to Joshua 
(Josh 1:6-9), which Joshua later gave to Israel (Josh 23:6,11). Shall
we heed the call to "be strong and very courageous", i.e., to "run with
style"?

Now, for some thoughts about...]  

II. THE GOAL OF OUR PURSUIT (14)

   A. PEACE WITH ALL MEN...
      1. We should not be surprised to read that we are to "pursue
         peace..."
         a. Jesus is "The Prince of Peace" - Isa 9:6
         b. He died to make peace possible:  with God, and with man 
            - Ro 5:1; Ep 2:13-17
         c. He taught that peacemakers will be called the children of 
            God - Mt 5:9
         d. A key element of the kingdom of God is peace - Ro 14:17-18
         -- Therefore, we are to pursue peace with all men - Ro 14:19;
            12:18
      2. How does one "pursue peace with all men"?
         a. By seeking peace with God first - Prov 16:7
            1) We must first make our relationship with God what it 
               ought to be
            2) Through Jesus, we can be at peace with God - Ro 5:1
         b. Letting the peace of God rule in our hearts - Col 3:15
            1) The Lord is able to "give you peace always in every way"
               - 2Th 3:16
            2) How the Lord imparts peace:
               a) Through His Word - Ps 119:165
               b) Through prayer - Php 4:6-7
            -- If one is not at peace with himself, it is unlikely he 
               can be at peace with others
         c. By doing things that make for peace - Ro 14:19
            1) Such as being considerate of their conscience - Ro 14:
               13-21
            2) Seeking unity with compassion, love, tenderness, and
               courtesy; willing to respond to evil or reviling with a 
               blessing - cf. 1Pe 3:8-11

   B. HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO ONE WILL SEE THE LORD...
      1. As God is holy, so His children must be holy - 1Pe 1:14-16; 
         1Th 4:7
      2. How can one "pursue holiness..."?
         a. True holiness (sanctification) comes through:
            1) Faith in Jesus - Ac 26:18; cf. He 10:10,14
            2) The work of the Holy Spirit - 1Co 6:11; 2Th 2:13; 
               cf. Tit 3:5
            3) The Word of God - Jn 17:17,19
         b. We cooperate with God in pursuing holiness by:
            1) Offering ourselves as "slaves of righteousness" - Ro 6:
               19-22
            2) Perfecting holiness in the fear of God - 2Co 7:1
               a) Which includes cleansing ourselves from all 
                  "filthiness of the flesh and spirit" - 2Co 7:1
               b) Also putting on the "new man...in true righteousness 
                  and holiness" - Ep 4:24; cf. Col 3:9-14

[In many respects, this is what the Christian life is all about:  
pursuing peace and holiness!  How successful we are will depend on how 
diligently we avoid...]

III. PITFALLS THAT HINDER OUR PURSUIT (15-17)

   A. FALLING SHORT OF THE GRACE OF GOD...
      1. Without God's grace, none can be saved, pursue peace, or have
         the holiness necessary to see God!
      2. But do Christians need to concern themselves with falling from
         grace?  Consider...
         a. The warning not to neglect our great salvation - He 2:1-3
         b. The warning not to be hardened by sin - He 3:12-14
         c. The warning to be diligent - He 4:1,11; cf. 2Pe 1:10
         d. The warning against willful sin - He 10:26-31
         e. The warning not receive God's grace in vain - 2Co 6:1
         f. The warning not to fall from grace - Ga 5:4
         g. The warning to "look to yourselves, that we do not lose
            those things we worked for..." - 2Jn 8
         -- Indeed, if there were no possibility for one to "fall short
            of the grace of God", then there would be no need for us to
            be "looking diligently"
      3. For the Christian, however, God's grace can be just a prayer 
         away! - cf. He 4:16

   B. LETTING A ROOT OF BITTERNESS TO SPRING UP...
      1. Bitterness can be a stumbling block in our pursuit of peace
         a. It destroys the peace within the person who harbors it 
            (modern medicine has shown that emotions like bitterness 
            and anger can cause problems such as headaches, backaches,
            allergic disorders, ulcers, high blood pressure, and heart
            attacks, etc.)
         b. It can destroy the peace in the congregation where it 
            becomes manifest
      2. It also becomes a stumbling block in our pursuit of holiness,
         for the problems it creates cause many to become "defiled" 
         (unholy)
      -- If we are going to "make straight paths for your feet", then 
         we need to clip any root of bitterness "in the bud"!

   C. BECOMING A FORNICATOR OR PROFANE PERSON...
      1. Fornication is certainly a pitfall to avoid...
         a. Fornication is a generic term for any sort of sexual 
            immorality (including pre-marital sex, adultery, 
            homosexuality, etc.)
         b. It is contrary to God's will regarding our sanctification 
            - 1Th 4:3-8
            1) Later, we will read in Hebrews where God will judge 
               fornicators - He 13:4
            2) It will keep one out of the kingdom of heaven - 1Co 6:
               9-10; Ga 5:19-21
         -- Therefore, let us "Flee fornication!" - 1Co 6:18
      2. We must also not become a "profane person"...
         a. "A worldly person who profanes holy privileges by placing
            on them a worldly estimate." (B. W. Johnson)
         b. One does not have to overtly wicked; they can displease God
            by simply devaluing that which is important to Him!
         c. Such was the case with Esau... - cf. Gen 25:29-34
            1) There is no indication that he was a fornicator
            2) But he was a profane person because he did not proper 
               estimate the value of his birthright
            3) Though he later wanted the blessings of the birthright,
               it was too late; despite his tears, it was too late to 
               change his father's mind ("he found no place for 
               repentance")
         d. We can become "profane" by devaluing our spiritual 
            blessings...
            1) In Christ, we have a spiritual birthright (redemption, 
               fellowship with God, the hope of eternal life)
            2) But we can let careers, hobbies, friends, even families,
               come between us and the things of God
            -- Are we willing to "sell our birthright" for "one morsel 
               of food"?

CONCLUSION

1. As we run the race of faith, peace with others and holiness before 
   God should be our goal

2. To run the race with "style", we need to...
   a. Get in the proper form (lift the hands, strengthen the knees), 
      helping one another to do so
   b. Watch out for the pitfalls that can hinder us in our pursuit, 
      such as...
      1) Not utilizing God's grace to help you in your race
      2) Allowing bitterness to become a stumbling block
      3) Becoming a fornicator or profane person

As we run this "race", the words of the apostle Paul are appropriate...

   "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one 
   receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  
   And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all 
   things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for
   an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with 
   uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.  But I
   discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I 
   have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified."
                                           (1Co 9:24-27)

Are you running in such a way as to obtain the imperishable crown?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011


From Jim McGuiggan... ZIPPIDITY DO DAH


ZIPPIDITY DO DAH

Occasionally in the morning when I would work with Ethel I would speak to her in Duckese. I’m very fluent in it (especially in the specialized dialect of Duckese called Donald-Duckish). As I say, I’m very fluent in it and she was barely a beginner. As a matter of fact I couldn’t really get her to work on it at all but, as I used to tell her, I thought she’d pick it up in no time because I believe she had as much the gift for languages as I have. 

One morning after much coaxing and after many refusals she gave in and responded to my own accentless DD [I really am very good at it—even some ducks think I’m just a misshapen duck when I speak it]. As I was saying, Ethel said a few words in it. I asked her to repeat it because I didn’t quite catch it but she had already turned a little pink, covered her face and was calling herself some kind of idiot. That was the end of it. Still I will always remember and treasure her attempt to boldly go where she had never gone before.

It’s these little treasures that lovers share that give their world its distinctness—things they do together, things they know about each other, affectionate names they call each other that would sound utterly ludicrous to others, their favorite places, songs, stories and more. Such things build walls around their little world—not walls of exclusion; that’s not the aim. They’re walls of security, warmth, mutual acceptance and protection, intimacy and affection. That they exclude others is simply the inevitability of their closeness—a closeness no one can share for the history and commitment doesn’t exist with others and it’s a closeness of such a dimension that they don’t wish to share it with others.

They love each other in a way that they don’t wish to love anyone else in all the world.

In a society where people call each other things that should never be thought much less uttered it’s almost rescue to be able to look at people (many of whom I know) who, while they live very much in society, have their own private, tender, brave world in which either one would climb Mount Everest barefoot for the other.

I say it’s almost redemption because the evil of our world could easily drive a very sensitive person to despair—a despair that might be tinged with the notion that even God has given up on it; or worse, horror of horrors, that God is as helpless as the rest of us [you know, with the reality of human “free will” and all that]. To see such people, boys, girls, women, men, children, parents, friends and on a broader scale, socially caring people who simply can’t live their lives without pitching in to help the oppressed and the defenseless—to see those is a liberating experience. People like that deliver us from bone-deep paralysis of the spirit and tell us: “If there can be one of us there can be millions of us!” 

When people like that keep us from a dismay that approaches the level of despair they allow us to enjoy the simple pleasures of life as well. They help us to add harmless lunacy to our lives of deadly seriousness. I think both are needed for a balanced life.

Not long before Ethel went away I tried my hand at a little sewing. A few stitches came loose just below the zip on my favourite pair of trousers and I tried to fix it but I made a real hash of it so I asked Ethel if she could do it for me and she said she would. She’d been very ill for about six months and more especially in the final three weeks of that period but in God’s kindness she had so improved the change was remarkable. In any case, she still had moments of utter confusion and she had one when she began to work on my pants. 

She had them turned inside out and was working away when she called on me to cut the stitches around the zip; I cut a few and then she said rip it up further for me. I didn’t understand but somewhere down in my mind I suppose I thought she meant to do a thorough job—I’m sure I thought something like that, so I went ahead and ripped the zip nearly off. It was only when she asked me to cut the pocket off (which I did!!!!!!) that I realized she was off her head. So picture that, now I’m standing with my good pants, ripped up the front and most of one of the pockets in my hand and I’m the one that did it!.

Would you tell me which one of us was more “off the wall”?

When I later asked her about it she remembered clearly asking me to do it but she didn’t know why she would. Oh well.

We laughed about it for days and did until it lost a little of its shine. But for a longer while after that all I had to do was say the word “zip” or “pocket” and off we’d begin giggling and then to screaming with laughter and her accusing me of being the worst of two lunatics! 

I don’t say life’s every moment is entirely pleasant but it is a wonderful life.

Zip a dee do dah, zippity ay…………

From Gary... Bible Reading March 24






Bible Reading   

March 24

The World English Bible



Mar. 24
Leviticus 3, 4

Lev 3:1 " 'If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings; if he offers it from the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before Yahweh.
Lev 3:2 He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the Tent of Meeting: and Aaron's sons, the priests shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar.
Lev 3:3 He shall offer of the sacrifice of peace offerings an offering made by fire to Yahweh; the fat that covers the innards, and all the fat that is on the innards,
Lev 3:4 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away.
Lev 3:5 Aaron's sons shall burn it on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh.
Lev 3:6 " 'If his offering for a sacrifice of peace offerings to Yahweh is from the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.
Lev 3:7 If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before Yahweh;
Lev 3:8 and he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it before the Tent of Meeting: and Aaron's sons shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.
Lev 3:9 He shall offer from the sacrifice of peace offerings an offering made by fire to Yahweh; its fat, the entire tail fat, he shall take away close to the backbone; and the fat that covers the inwards, and all the fat that is on the inwards,
Lev 3:10 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away.
Lev 3:11 The priest shall burn it on the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire to Yahweh.
Lev 3:12 " 'If his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before Yahweh:
Lev 3:13 and he shall lay his hand on its head, and kill it before the Tent of Meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.
Lev 3:14 He shall offer from it as his offering, an offering made by fire to Yahweh; the fat that covers the innards, and all the fat that is on the innards,
Lev 3:15 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away.
Lev 3:16 The priest shall burn them on the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire, for a pleasant aroma; all the fat is Yahweh's.
Lev 3:17 " 'It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that you shall eat neither fat nor blood.' "
Lev 4:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 4:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'If anyone sins unintentionally, in any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and does any one of them:
Lev 4:3 if the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bull without blemish to Yahweh for a sin offering.
Lev 4:4 He shall bring the bull to the door of the Tent of Meeting before Yahweh; and he shall lay his hand on the head of the bull, and kill the bull before Yahweh.
Lev 4:5 The anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull, and bring it to the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:6 The priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before Yahweh, before the veil of the sanctuary.
Lev 4:7 The priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before Yahweh, which is in the Tent of Meeting; and he shall pour out all of rest of the blood of the bull at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:8 He shall take all the fat of the bull of the sin offering off of it; the fat that covers the innards, and all the fat that is on the innards,
Lev 4:9 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away,
Lev 4:10 as it is taken off of the bull of the sacrifice of peace offerings. The priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering.
Lev 4:11 The bull's skin, all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs, its innards, and its dung,
Lev 4:12 even the whole bull shall he carry forth outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire. Where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.
Lev 4:13 " 'If the whole congregation of Israel sins, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and are guilty;
Lev 4:14 when the sin in which they have sinned is known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for a sin offering, and bring it before the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:15 The elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before Yahweh; and the bull shall be killed before Yahweh.
Lev 4:16 The anointed priest shall bring of the blood of the bull to the Tent of Meeting:
Lev 4:17 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before Yahweh, before the veil.
Lev 4:18 He shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before Yahweh, that is in the Tent of Meeting; and the rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:19 All its fat he shall take from it, and burn it on the altar.
Lev 4:20 Thus shall he do with the bull; as he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this; and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.
Lev 4:21 He shall carry forth the bull outside the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bull. It is the sin offering for the assembly.
Lev 4:22 " 'When a ruler sins, and unwittingly does any one of all the things which Yahweh his God has commanded not to be done, and is guilty;
Lev 4:23 if his sin, in which he has sinned, is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish.
Lev 4:24 He shall lay his hand on the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before Yahweh. It is a sin offering.
Lev 4:25 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering. He shall pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering.
Lev 4:26 All its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin, and he will be forgiven.
Lev 4:27 " 'If anyone of the common people sins unwittingly, in doing any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and is guilty;
Lev 4:28 if his sin, which he has sinned, is made known to him, then he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has sinned.
Lev 4:29 He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering.
Lev 4:30 The priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar.
Lev 4:31 All its fat he shall take away, like the fat is taken away from off of the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a pleasant aroma to Yahweh; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven.
Lev 4:32 " 'If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish.
Lev 4:33 He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.
Lev 4:34 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar.
Lev 4:35 All its fat he shall take away, like the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them on the altar, on the offerings of Yahweh made by fire; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin that he has sinned, and he will be forgiven.


From Gary... Choices, choices and THE RIGHT PATH


intimidation ~ noun    uncommon
 1. the act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something
 2. the feeling of discouragement in the face of someone's superior fame or wealth or status etc.
 3. the feeling of being intimidated; being made to feel afraid or timid
 4. a communication that makes you afraid to try something

- Artha, The Open Thesaurus

 I wonder... what intimidates you the most;a politician, police officer, doctor, or perhaps someone who just has an aura of authority about them? Maybe just the leader of a group of your peers? Are you moved to submission by physical violence, threats of retribution against family or those close to you or economic implications by an employer forcing you to do his (her) will. Good questions, all!!! And then is there a hierarchy of obedience? This last question reminds me of a quote from the movie "A Few Good Men"


 (click to view)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jWwh58oNbE
(paste into your browser to view)

Excellent movie; watch it sometime. But, the question still remains... what do you do when faced with multiple choices of who to follow.  Here is one of the examples I like best from the Bible...

Acts, Chapter 5
  17  But the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy,  18 and laid hands on the apostles, and put them in public custody.  19 But an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors by night, and brought them out, and said,  20 “Go stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” 

  21  When they heard this, they entered into the temple about daybreak, and taught. But the high priest came, and those who were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But the officers who came didn’t find them in the prison. They returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison shut and locked, and the guards standing before the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside!” 

  24  Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these words, they were very perplexed about them and what might become of this. 25 One came and told them, “Behold, the men whom you put in prison are in the temple, standing and teaching the people.”  26 Then the captain went with the officers, and brought them without violence, for they were afraid that the people might stone them. 

  27  When they had brought them, they set them before the council. The high priest questioned them,  28 saying, “Didn’t we strictly command you not to teach in this name? Behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood on us.” 

  29  But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.  30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you killed, hanging him on a tree.  31 God exalted him with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins.  32 We are His witnesses of these things; and so also is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Well, you might say... that was then, things are different now. Wrong. As government encroachment upon our civil rights increases, we all will soon have to make a choice as to who to follow.  Pray that you might do the right thing, when confronted between a choice between the godlessness of government and the plain teachings of the Bible!!!  And it won't be a little bottle on a chair either; probably the IRS or the military will be their intimidation weapons of choice. But, keep this Acts quote (4:29) in mind, it just may help when you need it most!!!