4/1/14

From Jim McGuiggan... Let them come home!


Let them come home!

Two images regularly grip my attention. One is God coming down the steps of heaven with a baby in his arms to give to the world. The other is that baby now a young man, running back up the steps of heaven with a sinner by the hand. Bringing him home. This encapsulates the gospel.

David's beloved son Absalom had sinned grievously and was in exile. The continued severance was costly and it was interfering with kingdom business. Joab sent a wise woman of Tekoa to David and she said (2 Samuel 14:14), "God does not take away life; instead he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him." This too echoes the gospel.

Judging by how often we fail in this area it must be hard for us to remember with passion that we're all children of the one holy and loving Father. It must be very difficult for us to remember that we're all sinful children of the Holy Father. I say it must be very difficult for us because we really do shut one another out and treat one another as strangers, and worse. The elder brother in Luke 15 finds it easy to call the prodigal "your son" when he thinks the father hasn't been stern enough. He finds it difficult to remember that they're brothers of the same loving and generous father who divided the inheritance between them both. "Shut her out!" is the hiss from a sinister quarter. "She isn't worthy of her place in your family." Refuse to believe that and let her come home.

Pronouns
The Lord said,
"Say, 'We'."
But I shook my head,
Hid my hands tight behind my back and said,
Stubbornly,
"I."
The Lord said,
"Say, 'We.' "
But I looked upon them, grimy and all awry.
Myself in all those twisted shapes? Ah, no!
Distastefully I turned my head away,
Persisting.
"They."
The Lord,
"Say, 'We.' "
And I
At last,
Richer by a hoard
Of years,
And tears,
Looked in their eyes and found the heavy word
That bent my neck and bowed my head:
Like a shamed schoolboy then I mumbled low,
"We, Lord."
Not "My God" but "Our Father."

 written by Karel Wilson Baker, From "Contemporary Prayers and Readings," Prayer Book Press of Media Judaica.


From: Bert Thompson, Ph.D. ... Why Do People Believe in Evolution?

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=273

Why Do People Believe in Evolution?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

As we make our way through the pilgrimage called “life,” on occasion we stop to reflect upon the nature and meaning of our own existence, because such matters variously enthrall, excite, or intrigue us. Nowhere is this more evident than in regard to our ultimate origin. Few there must be who do not pause, at some point in their earthly sojourn, to ponder such topics as the origin of the Universe, the origin of planet Earth, the origin of various life forms on the Earth, and even their own origin and destiny.
Essentially, there are two fundamentally different, diametrically opposed, explanations for these phenomena. Each of these explanations can be viewed as a cosmogony—i.e., an entire world view, or philosophy, of origins and destinies, of life and meaning. One of these world views, known as the concept of creation, postulates that the Universe is here as the result of the purposeful, deliberate acts of a supernatural Creator Who—with wisdom, planning, design, and forethought—created the Universe and all animate and inanimate systems within it. An alternate and opposing world view, known as the concept of evolution, suggests that the Universe and all its animate and inanimate systems are here as the result of random, nonpurposive, naturalistic forces operating by chance over eons of time.
In 1960, G. A. Kerkut, the eminent British physiologist and evolutionist, authored a small-but-powerful volume titled, The Implications of Evolution, in which he defined not a single theory of evolution, but rather two different theories of evolution. One of those theories he labeled the Special Theory of Evolution (often referred to in the literature as “microevolution”), which suggests that minor changes, within narrow limits, can occur throughout all living things. While the Special Theory of Evolution allows for change within groups, it does not allow for change between groups. There is no controversy over this particular theory, which is accepted as correct by both creationists and evolutionists alike.
In addition to the Special Theory, however, Dr. Kerkut also defined and discussed what he labeled the General Theory of Evolution (often referred in the literature as “macroevolution”). After discussing the Special Theory, he contrasted it with the General Theory in these words: “On the other hand, there is the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form. This theory can be called the ‘General Theory of Evolution’ ” (1960, p. 157).
This is the idea commonly referred to as organic evolution, or simply “evolution.” Through the years, a number of investigators have defined evolution in a variety of ways. The same year that Dr. Kerkut offered his definitions, the renowned Harvard paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson wrote:
Evolution is a fully natural process, inherent in the physical properties of the universe, by which life arose in the first place, and by which all living things, past or present, have since developed, divergently and progressively (1960, p. 969, emp. added).
Previously, Dr. Simpson had defined the theory by suggesting:
First, there is the theory of evolution in the strict sense. This states that all living organisms have evolved from common ancestors in a gradual historical process of change and diversification. The theory rejects the notion that all organisms were designed and created at the beginning of time (1957, pp. 25-26, emp. added).
Notice the recurrent theme in the various definitions offered by evolutionists to explain their theory. First, evolution is regarded as a fully natural process. Second, no “external agent” (read “supernatural Creator”) is responsible for inanimate matter’s becoming animate; evolution “rejects the notion that all organisms were designed and created....” Third, all life forms have descended (evolved) from a common source that owes its own existence to inorganic matter. Fourth, evolution is a continual process of “change and diversification” which ultimately produces living organisms that develop “divergently and progressively.”

IS BELIEF IN EVOLUTION POPULAR?

Although atheistic evolution is not as old a viewpoint as creation, it has amassed a sizable following among certain segments of the population. Especially is this true in regard to the scientific community, where more often than not evolution is considered to be a fact proven beyond dispute. As one university biology textbook, used widely for almost two decades, suggested:
Organic evolution is the greatest principle in biology. Its implications extend far beyond the confines of that science, ramifying into all phases of human life and activity. Accordingly, understanding of evolution should be part of the intellectual equipment of all educated persons (Moody, 1962, p. 1x).
Yes, belief in evolution is popular in some circles. The question is: why?

WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION?

One of the most mind-numbing mysteries for those who do not believe in evolution is trying to understand the people who do. [Perhaps evolutionists feel the same exasperation in regard to creationists’ beliefs, but on that point I am less qualified to judge.] Such an observation is not intended to be derogatory, but is offered merely as a statement of fact. Many who believe in creation do so because they have seen the evidence that establishes the Creator’s existence. They understand that where there is a painting, by necessity there must be a painter. Where there is a poem, there must be a poet. Where there is a law, there must be a lawgiver. Where there is design, there must be a designer.
Because the Universe is intricately designed, creationists find it not only difficult, but impossible, to believe that it “just happened.” To them, suggesting that purely natural forces are capable of explaining the size, complexity, and organization of the Universe, and the delicate intricacies of life found within it, is illogical; the only rational conclusion is that there must have been a Grand Designer. Further, those who believe in creation do so because they have examined the empirical evidence, and are confident that a reasonable prima facie case can be made to support their conviction. Creationists contend that the evidence points not to a Universe that is self-created or self-explained, but to a Universe that is the result of creation at the hand of an omnipotent Creator.
As one who writes and lectures often on the topics of creation and evolution, I frequently am asked the question: “Why do people believe in evolution?” Often the question is phrased in what are intended to be complimentary terms: “Why is it that so many obviously intelligent people believe in evolution?” Neither question is easy to answer because generally the querist wants a simple, concise answer. It is difficult for him to understand why people whom he accepts as “obviously intelligent” believe a concept such as evolution that he, personally, considers so unworthy of acceptance or recommendation by intelligent people. It has been my experience that rarely is there a singular response that can provide an answer to such a question, because rarely is there a singular reason that can explain adequately why a person believes what he does. Especially is this true in regard to belief in evolution.
At times, the controversy that centers on the topics of creation and evolution has generated more heat than light. This does not necessarily have to be the case, however. In an open society, the topic of origins, and the varying views that people hold on origins, ultimately will be discussed; in fact, they should be discussed. But because the subject matter has to do with deeply held convictions, emotions often run high. One good way to avoid emotional entanglement, and the “more heat than light” syndrome that generally accompanies it, is to work diligently to comprehend the other person’s position as completely as possible, and therefore to discuss it as accurately and calmly as possible in any given situation. That task is made easier if there exists—at the beginning of the discussion—a basic understanding of why the person believes as he does. Again, especially is this true in regard to belief in evolution.
While it may seem somewhat of a truism to suggest that people believe in evolution for a variety of reasons, realization of this fact, and a legitimate exploration of the reasons people offer for believing what they do, can go a long way toward a better understanding of opposing views found within the creation/evolution controversy. With better understanding comes improved communication. And with improved communication comes increased opportunity for dialogue—which can set the stage for the presentation of other viewpoints that perhaps have not been considered previously (e.g., in this particular instance, persuading the evolutionist to consider the evidence for creation).
As I attempt to respond to the question, “Why do so many obviously intelligent people believe in evolution?,” O hope to be able to provide a better comprehension of the system of organic evolution, and of the people who accept it. Included among the reasons why people believe in evolution are the following.

Reason #1

There can be little doubt that many today believe in evolution simply because it is what they have been taught. For the past century, evolution has been in the limelight. And for the past quarter of a century or more, it has been taught as a scientific fact in many elementary, junior high, and senior high schools, as well as in most colleges and universities. Marshall and Sandra Hall have offered this summary.
In the first place, evolution is what is taught in the schools. At least two, and in some cases three and four generations, have used textbooks that presented it as proven fact. The teachers, who for the most part learned it as truth, pass it on as truth. Students are as thoroughly and surely indoctrinated with the concept of evolution as students have ever been indoctrinated with any unproven belief (1974, p. 10).
In their book, Why Scientists Accept Evolution, Bales and Clark confirmed such an observation. “Evolution,” they wrote, “is taken for granted today and thus it is uncritically accepted by scientists as well as laymen. It is accepted by them today because it was already accepted by others who went before them and under whose direction they obtained their education” (1966, p. 106). People believe in evolution because they have been taught that it is true.

Reason #2

To suggest that many people today accept evolution as true merely because they have been taught to believe it does not tell the whole story, however. Intellectual pride enters into the picture as well. Who among us does not want to present at least the appearance of being smart and well educated? Over the last century, we have been led to believe that if we wish to be considered intelligent, then we should believe in evolution, because intelligent people all over the world believe in evolution. As Henry Morris well stated the issue: “[T]he main reason most educated people believe in evolution is simply because they have been told that most educated people believe in evolution!” (Morris, 1963, p. 26).
Consider the hypothetical example of two college students discussing their professors and courses. One of the students, Joe, asks his friend, Mark, the following question: “Hey, Mark, do you believe in evolution? My professor says all smart folks do.” Honestly, what is Mark supposed to say? If he says, “No, Joe, I don’t believe in evolution,” by definition he has admitted to being outside the sphere of all the “smart folks.” On the other hand, if he says, “Yes, Joe, I do believe in evolution,” he may be admitting to a belief based not on an examination of the evidence, but on the idea that he does not wish to be viewed by his peers as anything but “smart.” Undoubtedly, many people today fall into this category. They do not accept evolution because they have seen evidence that establishes it as true. Rather, they believe it because doing so places them in the same category as others who are considered to be well educated and intelligent.

Reason #3

Further exacerbating the problem is the fact that evolution has been given a “stamp of approval” by important spokespersons from practically every field of human endeavor. While there have been those of renown from politics, the humanities, the arts, and other fields who openly have defended evolution as factual, in no other area has this defense been as pronounced as in the sciences. Because science has seen so many successes, and because these successes have been so visible and well publicized, scientists been granted an aura of respectability that only can be envied by non-scientists. As a result, when scientists champion a cause, people take notice. After all, it is their workings through the scientific method that have eradicated smallpox, put men on the Moon, prevented polio, and lengthened life spans. We have grown used to seeing “experts” from various scientific disciplines ply their trade in an endless stream of amazing feats. Heart surgery has become commonplace; organ transplants have become routine; space shuttles flying to the heavens have become standard fare.
Thus, when evolution is presented as something that “all reputable scientists believe,” there are many who accept such a statement at face value, and who fall in line with what they believe is a well-proven dictum that has been enshrouded with the cloak of scientific respectability. As philosopher Paul Ricci has written: “The reliability of evolution not only as a theory but as a principle of understanding is not contested by the vast majority of biologists, geologists, astronomers, and other scientists” (1986, p. 172). Or, as Stephen Jay Gould put it:
The fact of evolution is as well established as anything in science (as secure as the revolution of the earth around the sun), though absolute certainty has no place in our lexicon (1987, p. 64).
These kinds of statements leave the impression that evolution simply cannot be doubted by well-informed, intelligent people. The message is: “All scientists believe it; so should you.” And many do, because, as Marshall and Sandra Hall have inquired: “How, then, are people with little or no special knowledge of the various sciences and related subjects to challenge the authorities? It is natural to accept what ‘experts’ say, and most people do” (1974, p. 10). The simple fact is, however, that truth is not determined by popular opinion or majority vote. A thing may be, and often is, true even when accepted only by the minority. Believing something based on the assumption that “everyone else” also believes it often can lead to disastrous results. As Guy N. Woods has remarked: “It is dangerous to follow the multitude because the majority is almost always on the wrong side in this world” (1982, 124[1]:2).

Reason #4

Without a doubt, there are many who believe in evolution because they have rejected God. For those who refuse to believe in the Creator, evolution becomes their only escape. They generally make no pretense of believing it based on anything other than their disbelief in God. Henry Fairfield Osborn, one of the most famous evolutionists of the early twentieth century, suggested: “In truth, from the earliest stages of Greek thought man has been eager to discover some natural cause of evolution, and to abandon the idea of supernatural intervention in the order of nature” (1917, p. ix). Henry Morris noted: “Evolution is the natural way to explain the origin of things for those who do not know and acknowledge the true God of creation. In fact, some kind of evolution is absolutely necessary for those who would reject God” (1966, p. 98).
Sir Arthur Keith of Great Britain wrote: “Evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation, and that is unthinkable” (as quoted in Criswell, 1972, p. 73). Professor D.M.S. Watson, who held the position of the Chair of Evolution at the University of London for more than twenty years, echoed the same sentiments when he stated that “evolution itself is accepted by zoologists, not because it has been observed to occur or can be proven by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is incredible” (1929, 123:233). These kinds of statements leave little to the imagination, and make it clear that those who say such things believe in evolution not because of any evidence, but instead because they have made up their minds, a priori, that they are not going to believe in God.
In his text, Man’s Origin: Man’s Destiny, the eminent United Nations scientist, A.E. Wilder-Smith, observed that “Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism, rightly or wrongly, have been used everywhere in the East and West, in the hands of the atheists and agnostics, as the main weapon against the biblical doctrine of origins” (1975, p. 31). For the person who stubbornly refuses to believe in God, belief in evolution becomes automatic. Similarly, opposition to God as the Creator, the Bible and His Word, and the system of origins the Bible describes become just as automatic. Whenever a person rids himself of God, he simultaneously (even if unknowingly) embraces evolution. By his disbelief, he has eliminated creation as an option regarding his origin.

Reason #5

Another reason people offer for their belief in evolution has to do with the fact that there is so much evil, pain, and suffering in the world. No rational, well-informed person can deny the widespread and unmistakable occurrence of “bad” things that happen, often engulfing those who seem undeserving of such tragic events. To some, no explanation from religionists—regardless of how elaborately stated or elegantly defended that explanation may be—ever will provide an adequate answer to the conundrum of how an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God can allow atrocities to fill His specially created world.
Evolution, on the other hand, provides what appears to be a perfectly logical explanation for such a scenario. According to evolutionary dogma, throughout the history of the world various species (including man) have been engaged in a struggle for survival and advancement. Charles Darwin, borrowing a phrase from the English philosopher, Herbert Spencer, referred to it as “survival of the fittest.” The evolutionist—by the very nature of his theory—is forced to view the Universe and everything within it as the end result of numerous purposeless accidents. All living things, man included, exist on the Earth not because of any Grand Plan, but because of fortuitous occurrences that resulted from chance happenings in nature. And, to survive, and thrive, in such a world may seem to justify a “might makes right/strong subjugates the weak/to the victor go the spoils” attitude. It’s a jungle out there, and in the jungle it is the law of tooth and claw that prevails.
Since man is viewed as little more than a “naked ape” (to borrow the words from the book by that title, authored by evolutionary anthropologist Desmond Morris), why should he somehow be exempt from the perils that continually befall other species of animals? These animals live their entire lives with one eye looking over their shoulder, as it were, because they exist in a dog-eat-dog world with no set moral standard. Man, according to evolutionary theory, is no different. His claim to fame lies in the fact that (thus far) he stands on the last rung of the evolutionary ladder.
But nature confers on him no special rights, privileges, or protection. In a world where evolution is considered as true, and “survival of the fittest” is touted as nature’s way of weeding out the weak, it should be no surprise that evil, pain, and suffering exist. In fact, from the evolutionary vantage point, whenever competition occurs for such things as food supplies, adequate shelter, reproductive advantages, etc., humanity has to learn to cope with evil, pain, and suffering. Granted, at first this may sound harsh, but from the evolutionists’ perspective it is consistent, and offers an attempted explanation for the undeniable existence of “bad” things in our world. Unfortunately, all too often the answers offered by religionists for the problem of evil, pain, and suffering have fallen short of the mark, and as a result people have accepted evolution as providing a legitimate explanation for a very real problem in their lives.

Reason #6

As unpleasant as it is to have to admit it, some people believe in evolution because they have heard about, witnessed, or experienced firsthand the mistakes of religionists through the ages. Whether it is the offering of young virgins to an imaginary deity, the burning of alleged witches at the stake, or the adultery of a highly visible televangelist, the truth of the matter is that on occasion believers in God have set a very poor example—one that sensitive, thinking people naturally would have difficulty following.
To some, the very history of religion makes it suspect from the outset. Attempts to force people to accept a certain religion (as in the Crusades), or misguided attempts to squelch open discussion of important issues (as in the Catholic Church’s censure of Galileo), have left a bitter taste in the mouths of many. Add to that the hypocrisy of, or word spoken in anger by, a person who wears the name “Christian,” and the damage may be such that even in a lifetime it cannot be repaired. The result is that those who have been offended want nothing whatsoever to do with the God of the Bible, and as they reject Him, they also reject His account of the creation of the world in which they live.

Reason #7

While it is undeniable that some reject creation because of inappropriate conduct on the part of those who advocate it, nevertheless it is true that some reject God, and creation, to excuse or legitimize their own inappropriate personal conduct. In other words, they believe in evolution because it allows them to avoid any objective moral standard of behavior. It keeps them “out of reach” of any deity. It provides a subjective climate of situation ethics where any and all behavior, no matter how absurd or perverse, is acceptable. It nourishes a “do your own thing” attitude that precludes rules and regulations, in a vain attempt to circumvent the guilt that inevitably comes from doing wrong.
In the evolutionary scenario, humans are merely the last in a long line of amoebas, crocodiles, and orangutans resulting from fortuitous cosmic accidents. In such an arrangement, it is futile to speak of “personal responsibility.” There exists, in the grand scheme of things, no reason why one “ought” or “ought not” to act a certain way, or to do/not do a certain thing. Aldous Huxley stated the matter succinctly in his article, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist”:
I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning; consequently, assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find reasons for this assumption.... The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do.... For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom (1966, 3:19).
Were Huxley and his cohorts to abandon belief in evolution and accept the existence of God and the truthfulness of creation, it would have interfered with their “sexual freedom.” Realizing that, they freely chose instead to abandon belief in God. That left them with only one option—belief in evolution. It was not something they accepted because of the weight of the evidence. Rather, it was something they accepted because they wished to avoid any personal accountability to their Creator. Their actions belied their motives. As Guy N. Woods has remarked: “Convince a man that he came from a monkey, and he’ll act like one!” (1976, p. 514).

Reason #8

Lastly, we may state that some people accept evolution because they are convinced that it is the correct answer to the question of origins. They have examined the evidence and, on the basis of their examination, have concluded that evolution is the only plausible explanation for the Universe and all that it contains. These people generally are both sincere and open-minded. They are not attempting to rid themselves of the idea of God. They do not feel the need to be “intellectually correct.” They are not reacting to unkind treatment at the hand of religionists. They are not searching for a way to justify worldly behavior. They simply believe the evidence favors evolution, and thus have accepted it as the correct view of origins. What, exactly, is that evidence? Does it substantiate belief in evolution? And what is the creationist’s response to it? I invite your attention to future articles as we investigate these, and related, matters.

REFERENCES

Bales, J.D. and R.T. Clark (1966), Why Scientists Accept Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Criswell, W.A. (1972), Did Man Just Happen? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Gould, Stephen Jay (1987), “Darwinism Defined: The Difference Between Fact and Theory,” Discover, 8[1]:64-65,68-70, January.
Hall, Marshall and Sandra Hall (1974), The Truth: God or Evolution? (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Huxley, Aldous (1966), “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspective on the News, June.
Kerkut, G. A. (1960), The Implications of Evolution (London: Pergamon).
Moody, Paul Amos (1962), Introduction to Evolution (New York: Harper & Row).
Morris, Henry M. (1963), The Twilight of Evolution (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Morris, Henry M. (1966), Studies in the Bible and Science (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Osborn, Henry Fairfield (1918), The Origin and Evolution of Life (New York: Charles Scribner’s & Sons).
Ricci, Paul (1986), Fundamentals of Critical Thinking (Lexington, MA: Ginn Press).
Simpson, George Gaylord (1960), “The World Into Which Darwin Led Us,” Science, 131:966-969, April 1.
Simpson, George Gaylord, C.S. Pittendrigh, and L.H. Tiffany (1957), Life: An Introduction to Biology (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World).
Watson, D.M.S. (1929), “Adaptation,” Nature, 123:233, August 10.
Wilder-Smith, A.E. (1975), Man’s Origin: Man’s Destiny (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship).
Woods, Guy N. (1976), “Man Created in God’s Image,” Gospel Advocate, 118[33]:514,518, August 12.
Woods, Guy N. (1982), “ ‘And be not Conformed to this World,’ ” Gospel Advocate, 124[1]:2, January 7.

From Mark Copeland... Introduction To The Epistle Of James

                         "THE EPISTLE OF JAMES"

                   Introduction To The Epistle Of James

INTRODUCTION

1. Not everybody who grows old, grows up; there is a vast difference
   between AGE and MATURITY

2. Ideally, the older we are, the more mature we should be; but too
   often the IDEAL does not become the REAL!

3. The result is problems--problems in personal lives, in homes, and in
   churches
   a. Problems in these areas are caused by immaturity more than by
      anything else
   b. If Christians would just grow up, they would become VICTORS 
      instead of VICTIMS

4. The Epistle of James was written to help us understand and attain
   spiritual maturity:
   a. "...that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." (Jm 1:4)
   b. Or as translated by J. B. Phillips: "...any you find you have
      become men of mature character, men of integrity with no weak
      spots."

5. With this lesson, we shall begin a series of expository lessons
   based upon The Epistle of James, which I hope will help us all to
   reach this goal of spiritual maturity!

6. Beginning a study of a book of the Bible is something like preparing
   for a trip...you like to know ahead of time:
   a. Where you are going
   b. What you can expect to see
   -- So perhaps the best way to launch a study of The Epistle of James
      is to answer some important questions

[The first question is...]

I. WHO WAS JAMES?

   A. SEVERAL MEN BORE THIS NAME IN NEW TESTAMENT HISTORY...
      1. James, son of Zebedee and brother of John
         a. A fisherman, he was called by Christ - Mt 4:17-22
         b. Together with John, they were nicknamed "Sons of Thunder"
            because of their impulsiveness - cf. Mk 3:17 with Lk 9:
            51-56
         c. Killed by Herod in 44 A.D. - Ac 12:1-2
      2. James, son of Alphaeus
         a. Another of the apostles - Mt 10:3; Ac 1:12
         b. Very little is known about him
         c. There is no indication that this James wrote the epistle
      3. James, father of Judas the apostle
         a. He is even more obscure
         b. One of the few references to him is found in Lk 6:16
      4. James, the brother of our Lord
         a. He is the most likely candidate for the author of this
            epistle
         b. Even though he humbly identifies himself only as "a servant
            of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Jm 1:1)
         c. That Jesus had a brother named James is evident - Mt 13:55
            1) Who at first did not believe in Jesus - Jn 7:5
            2) But after the resurrection of Jesus and an appearance by
               Jesus to him, he became a disciple - 1Co 15:7; Ac 1:14
            3) Eventually becoming a leader of the church in Jerusalem
               - Ga 2:9
               a) When Peter was delivered from prison, he sent a special
                  message to James - Ac 12:17
               b) He played an important role in the conference at
                  Jerusalem - Ac 15:13-33
               c) When Paul visited Jerusalem, it was to James that he
                  brought greetings - Ac 21:18-19

   B. WHAT KIND OF MAN WAS JAMES?
      1. He must have been a deeply spiritual man to gain such 
         prominence in the church at Jerusalem
      2. Tradition tells us that he was a man of prayer
         a. This may explain the emphasis on prayer in his letter
         b. It was said that he prayed so much, his knees were as hard
            as a camel's!
      3. Again, tradition tells us that James was martyred in 62 A.D.
         a. That he was cast down from the temple, and then beaten to
            death with clubs
         b. That as he died, he likewise prayed "Father, forgive them,
            for they know not what they do."

[It most likely this man who wrote the epistle bearing his name.  The
next question is...]

II. TO WHOM DID JAMES WRITE THIS EPISTLE?

   A. "TO THE TWELVE TRIBES WHICH ARE SCATTERED ABROAD" (Jm 1:1)
      1. James wrote to Jews living outside the land of Palestine
         a. "Twelve tribes" most probably refers to people of Israel,
            the Jewish nation - Ac 26:6-7
         b. Since the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities, many of the
            Jews were scattered throughout different nations - cf. Ac 2:5-11
      2. James wrote his letter to Christian Jews
         a. At least nineteen times he addresses them as "brethren"
         b. That these were brethren "in the Lord" and not just brethren
            "in the flesh" is evident from Jm 2:1

   B. IT IS LIKELY THAT MANY OF THESE CHRISTIAN JEWS WERE POOR AND
      OPPRESSED...
      1. Being Jews, they would often be rejected by Gentiles
      2. Being Christian Jews, they would also be rejected by many of
         their own countrymen
      3. The letter indicates that most of these believers were poor,
         and some were being oppressed by the rich - Jm 2:6-7

[Another question is...]

III. WHY DID JAMES WRITE THIS EPISTLE?

   A. THE EPISTLE SUGGESTS THAT PEOPLE WERE HAVING PROBLEMS IN THEIR
      PERSONAL LIVES AND IN THE CHURCH...
      1. They were going through difficult trials
      2. They were facing temptations to sin
      3. They were hearers, but not necessarily doers
      4. Some were catering to the rich, others were oppressed by the
         rich
      5. Some were competing for positions in the church
      6. Improper use of the tongue was a problem, as was worldliness
      7. Some were straying from the faith

   B. THESE PROBLEMS ARE NOT MUCH DIFFERENT FROM THOSE OFTEN BESETTING
      CONGREGATIONS TODAY!
      1. Are there not in churches people who are suffering for one
         reason or another?
      2. Are there not members who talk one way, but walk another?
      3. Is not worldliness a serious problem?
      4. Are there not Christians who cannot control their tongues?
      -- It appears that James is dealing with very "up-to-date" 
         problems!

   C. BUT JAMES WAS NOT DISCUSSING AN ARRAY OF UNRELATED PROBLEMS...
      1. All of these problems had a common cause:  SPIRITUAL IMMATURITY
         a. These Christians were in need of "growing up"
         b. Look again at some the problems dealt with and you can see
            that each one of them is characteristic of little children:
            1) Impatience in difficulties - Jm 1:1-4
            2) Talking but not living the truth - Jm 2:14ff
            3) Lack of control over the tongue - Jm 3:1ff
            4) Fighting and coveting - Jm 4:1ff
            5) Collecting material "toys" - Jm 5:1ff
      2. This gives us a strong hint as to the basic theme of this
         epistle:  MARKS OF MATURITY IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
         a. In fact, James uses the word "perfect" several times, a word
            that means "mature, complete"
         b. By the expression "a perfect man" (3:2), James did not mean
            a sinless man, but rather one who is mature, balanced, one
            who is "grown-up"

   D. AND SO JAMES WRITES TO FULFILL A GREAT NEED:  THAT OF SPIRITUAL
      MATURITY...
      1. Spiritual maturity is one of the greatest needs in churches
         today
         a. God is looking for mature men and women to carry on His work,
            and sometimes all He can find are little children who cannot
            even get along with each other!
         b. As one person said, "Too many churches are playpens for
            babies instead of workshops for adults."
      2. James wrote to meet this need, so his epistle is very RELEVANT
         today!

[Finally, the last question to consider...]

IV. HOW CAN WE GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS EPISTLE?

   A. FIRST, WE MUST BE "BORN AGAIN"...
      1. Apart from spiritual birth there can be no spiritual maturity
      2. James writes with assumption his readers have been born again
         - Jm 1:18
      3. This "rebirth" is brought about by obedience to the Word of God
         (1Pe 1:22-23)
      4. It involves being "born again of water and Spirit" (Jn 3:5),
         traditionally understood to refer to baptism (cf. Mk 16:16;
         Tit 3:5)
      5. So to benefit the most of this study, we must have been born
         again through obedience to the truth (cf. Ac 2:38-39)

   B. SECOND, WE MUST HONESTLY EXAMINE OURSELVES IN THE LIGHT OF GOD'S
      WORD...
      1. James compares the Word of God to a mirror - Jm 1:22ff
      2. As we study the Word...
         a. We are looking into the divine mirror
         b. And seeing ourselves as we really are
      3. We must be honest about what we see and not merely glance at
         the image and walk away

   C. THIRD, WE MUST "OBEY" WHAT GOD TEACHES, NO MATTER THE COST...
      1. We must be "doers" of the Word, and not "hearers" only
      2. The "blessing" does not come in STUDYING the Word, but in DOING
         the Word - Jm 1:25

   D. FOURTH, WE MUST BE PREPARED FOR SOME EXTRA TRIALS AND TESTING...
      1. Whenever we are serious about spiritual growth, the ENEMY gets
         serious about opposing us!
      2. But if you wish to develop patience, you should expect some
         trials - Jm 1:3
      3. However, in the end it will be worth it! - Jm 1:12

   E. FINALLY, WE MUST MEASURE OUR SPIRITUAL GROWTH BY THE WORD OF
      GOD...
      1. We should not measure ourselves by comparing ourselves to other
         Christians - cf. 2Co 10:12
      2. But by the WORD OF GOD, and by the SON OF GOD!

CONCLUSION

1. Remember, not everyone who grows old, grows up
   a. There is often a vast difference between age and maturity
   b. Just because a Christian has been saved 10, 20, or 60 years does
      not guarantee that he or she is mature in the Lord

2. Mature Christians are:
   a. Happy Christians, despite the trials they face
   b. Useful Christians, overcoming the temptations that cross their path
   c. Christians who help encourage others and build their local churches

As we study The Epistle of James together, may we with God's help
grow and mature together...

Note:  Much of the material for this introduction was adapted heavily
from The Bible Exposition Commentary, Volume 2, by Warren W. Wiersbe,
pages 334-337.

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading April 1






Bible Reading  

April 1

The World English Bible


Apr. 1
Leviticus 19, 20

Lev 19:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 19:2 "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and tell them, 'You shall be holy; for I Yahweh your God am holy.
Lev 19:3 " 'Each one of you shall respect his mother and his father. You shall keep my Sabbaths. I am Yahweh your God.
Lev 19:4 " 'Don't turn to idols, nor make molten gods for yourselves. I am Yahweh your God.
Lev 19:5 " 'When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to Yahweh, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted.
Lev 19:6 It shall be eaten the same day you offer it, and on the next day: and if anything remains until the third day, it shall be burned with fire.
Lev 19:7 If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination. It will not be accepted;
Lev 19:8 but everyone who eats it shall bear his iniquity, because he has profaned the holy thing of Yahweh, and that soul shall be cut off from his people.
Lev 19:9 " 'When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, neither shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest.
Lev 19:10 You shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and for the foreigner. I am Yahweh your God.
Lev 19:11 " 'You shall not steal; neither shall you deal falsely, nor lie to one another.
Lev 19:12 " 'You shall not swear by my name falsely, and profane the name of your God. I am Yahweh.
Lev 19:13 " 'You shall not oppress your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning.
Lev 19:14 " 'You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind; but you shall fear your God. I am Yahweh.
Lev 19:15 " 'You shall do no injustice in judgment: you shall not be partial to the poor, nor show favoritism to the great; but you shall judge your neighbor in righteousness.
Lev 19:16 " 'You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people; neither shall you stand against the life of your neighbor. I am Yahweh.
Lev 19:17 " 'You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him.
Lev 19:18 " 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people; but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am Yahweh.
Lev 19:19 " 'You shall keep my statutes. " 'You shall not crossbreed different kinds of animals. " 'you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; " 'neither shall there come upon on you a garment made of two kinds of material.
Lev 19:20 " 'If a man lies carnally with a woman who is a slave girl, pledged to be married to another man, and not ransomed, or given her freedom; they shall be punished. They shall not be put to death, because she was not free.
Lev 19:21 He shall bring his trespass offering to Yahweh, to the door of the Tent of Meeting, even a ram for a trespass offering.
Lev 19:22 The priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering before Yahweh for his sin which he has committed: and the sin which he has committed shall be forgiven him.
Lev 19:23 " 'When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden. Three years shall they be forbidden to you. It shall not be eaten.
Lev 19:24 But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, for giving praise to Yahweh.
Lev 19:25 In the fifth year you shall eat its fruit, that it may yield its increase to you. I am Yahweh your God.
Lev 19:26 " 'You shall not eat any meat with the blood still in it; neither shall you use enchantments, nor practice sorcery.
Lev 19:27 " 'You shall not cut the hair on the sides of your heads, neither shall you clip off the edge of your beard.
Lev 19:28 " 'You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you. I am Yahweh.
Lev 19:29 " 'Don't profane your daughter, to make her a prostitute; lest the land fall to prostitution, and the land become full of wickedness.
Lev 19:30 " 'You shall keep my Sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary; I am Yahweh.
Lev 19:31 " 'Don't turn to those who are mediums, nor to the wizards. Don't seek them out, to be defiled by them. I am Yahweh your God.
Lev 19:32 " 'You shall rise up before the gray head, and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God. I am Yahweh.
Lev 19:33 " 'If a stranger lives as a foreigner with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.
Lev 19:34 The stranger who lives as a foreigner with you shall be to you as the native-born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you lived as foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.
Lev 19:35 " 'You shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in measures of length, of weight, or of quantity.
Lev 19:36 You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin. I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
Lev 19:37 You shall observe all my statutes, and all my ordinances, and do them. I am Yahweh.' "
Lev 20:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 20:2 "Moreover, you shall tell the children of Israel, 'Anyone of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who live as foreigners in Israel, who gives any of his seed to Molech; he shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones.
Lev 20:3 I also will set my face against that person, and will cut him off from among his people because he has given of his seed to Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name.
Lev 20:4 If the people of the land all hide their eyes from that person, when he gives of his seed to Molech, and don't put him to death;
Lev 20:5 then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all who play the prostitute after him, to play the prostitute with Molech, from among their people.
Lev 20:6 " 'The person that turns to those who are mediums, and to the wizards, to play the prostitute after them, I will even set my face against that person, and will cut him off from among his people.
Lev 20:7 " 'Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be holy; for I am Yahweh your God.
Lev 20:8 You shall keep my statutes, and do them. I am Yahweh who sanctifies you.
Lev 20:9 " 'For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death: he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.
Lev 20:10 " 'The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, even he who commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Lev 20:11 The man who lies with his father's wife has uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Lev 20:12 " 'If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have committed a perversion; their blood shall be upon them.
Lev 20:13 " 'If a man lies with a male, as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Lev 20:14 " 'If a man takes a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burned with fire, both he and they; that there may be no wickedness among you.
Lev 20:15 " 'If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death; and you shall kill the animal.
Lev 20:16 " 'If a woman approaches any animal, and lies down with it, you shall kill the woman, and the animal: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Lev 20:17 " 'If a man takes his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness; it is a shameful thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people: he has uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.
Lev 20:18 " 'If a man lies with a woman having her monthly period, and uncovers her nakedness; he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.
Lev 20:19 " 'You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother's sister, nor of your father's sister; for he has made naked his close relative: they shall bear their iniquity.
Lev 20:20 If a man lies with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.
Lev 20:21 " 'If a man takes his brother's wife, it is an impurity: he has uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless.
Lev 20:22 " 'You shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my ordinances, and do them; that the land, where I am bringing you to dwell, may not vomit you out.
Lev 20:23 You shall not walk in the customs of the nation, which I am casting out before you: for they did all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.
Lev 20:24 But I have said to you, "You shall inherit their land, and I will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey." I am Yahweh your God, who has separated you from the peoples.
Lev 20:25 " 'You shall therefore make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean fowl and the clean: and you shall not make yourselves abominable by animal, or by bird, or by anything with which the ground teems, which I have separated from you as unclean for you.
Lev 20:26 You shall be holy to me: for I, Yahweh, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, that you should be mine.
Lev 20:27 " 'A man or a woman that is a medium, or is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones; their blood shall be upon them.' "


From Gary... Enjoy


The Fountain — Marcel Lucien Grandjany


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1-LCnGojnw#t=40

Today, I met a next door neighbor who retired, as of this date.  We had a long conversation about retirement and I gave him a bit of advice: Do things that make you happy- EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! When I saw this video, I enjoyed it and thought you might as well.  This reminded me of something from the Old Testament...


1 Samuel, Chapter 16
 22 Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Please let David stand before me; for he has found favor in my sight.”  23 When the spirit from God was on Saul, David took the harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.


Simply put; enjoy this and your day- life is WAY TOO SHORT!!!