From Jim McGuiggan... "Must" we sin?

"Must" we sin?

The question repeatedly arises if humans can be sinless. We hear some excusing of our sins because "we’re only human." The frivolous teeshirt claim The Devil Made Me Do It suggests the sort of thing I’m talking about. Others, much more serious, rant about God giving us certain drives and then condemning us for following them. I suppose a lot depends on the spirit in which the excuse is made; don't you think so? I don't mean that the spirit of the remark makes the excuse true or untrue; I mean it affects the way we hear it and very often affects the way we respond to it. If it sounds like it's excusing or making light of sin we find it more difficult to give it a balanced hearing.

If this response seems to meander quite a bit that might be because I'm that kind of thinker but it might also be because the question is rich and complex and I need to touch on related issues as I go along.

I'm one of those that think sin is inevitable. A view like that generates some questions that need answering; but to say that sin is not inevitable (that it's well within our ability to live sinlessly—to be holy within so that we fulfil all righteousness as well as avoiding all sinful doings)—that generates difficult questions also.

If we make the question abstract I'm sure it's theoretically possible for us not to sin. But as soon as we take into account several texts, the drift of the biblical Story and the existential reality I think we're (well, I am) compelled to say that we will sin. [There’s a fundamental difference between saying that we must sin and that we will sin. Where the element of choice exists (however weakened we might think it to be) there is no absolute must. We will not be able to determine the limits placed on our capacity to choose but we recognise there are some and He who knows everything knows how to judge in matters too great for us.

In Matthew 18:7 Christ speaks of the inevitability of situations that "cause people to sin". (Compare 1 Corinthians 11:19.) It's inevitable, he says, that people (will sin in) causing others to sin. As surely as there will always be poor among us there will always be sinners.

But in saying sin is inevitable he doesn't excuse people. "Woe to him/her by whom they come." He didn't think inevitability destroyed responsibility. The inevitability (in part) rises out of our self-shaping. Our environment and other elements work against us and we succumb and that in turn shapes us so that before the picture is fully drawn we're habituated.

Christ would say, "This is how it will be"; not "This is how it must be." Our life-situation is made up of many factors—many of them chosen and probably many more of them not chosen. When speaking of actual humans we can't isolate any of these factors. We isolate elements when thinking things through (for good reasons and so we can get clarity and understanding, etc) but in real life—life as it's lived by actual humans abstractions don't work.

It isn't unreasonable to say that a human can say no to a single temptation and from there to say, "If one, then ten, if ten then a thousand. If for a day then a week and if for a week a year, a lifetime." A human did that. Jesus Christ. But we need to bear in mind Pascal’s observation that it’s a mistake to say we can always do what we can sometimes do.

So to excuse our sin merely on the basis that we're "human" is the wrong way to put it. A human can say no to sin as well as yes. We certainly want the praise for the good we do (I mean nothing sinister in that) and we should be honest enough to take the blame for the evil we do. (Both these situations need developed—no one is good alone or sinful alone.)

But if sin is inevitable, is God righteous to hold us responsible for it? When we think of God's attitude toward us and toward our sin we usually think of our sin in terms of moral law and God as the moral Governor. We say that moral law demands flawlessness and if someone should say that we aren't capable of that then the issue of God's justice is raised. Does he demand what we (as actual humans) can’t possibly give? Might as well hold us responsible for not creating worlds as hold us responsible for not being sinless (if we aren't capable of it). But I don't think that's how the biblical Message presents our situation or the gospel case.

There was only one Adam and Eve; no one has ever been in the same situation—the world after sin entered in not the world into which they were placed. God does not hold people responsible for their sin in the same way he held Adam and Eve responsible for their sin. (That thought needs developed.)

God's eternal purpose and his coming to redeem us in and as Jesus Christ makes it clear that our sin does not damn us without the possibility of redemption in Christ. That is, if God had construed human sin to be utterly unforgivable then he would not and could not have offered us forgiveness via Christ. He held it (in line with his own holy love) both forgiveable and in need of forgiving.

I don't believe he deals with people on the basis of, "You aren't sinless therefore you are damned." I believe he says, "You are sinful and in need of redemption" and in holy generosity and grace he provides redemption and those who would wish life with him gain it through God’s grace unveiled in Jesus Christ.

But sin is not legal—it is relational. It is relational infidelity. The issue is not: "Have we fallen short of sinlessness in the eyes of the moral law?" The issue is: "Have we grieved the Holy Father by our sin? The scriptures don't teach about sin as an abstraction—they don't line humans up with a moral code that in the abstract demands nothing less than flawlessness if they are to be approved. They relate us as actual humans to a personal God who made us in his image and who in holy grace and generosity offers forgiveness and acceptance to those who have sinned against him.

It's true that this only changes the question from "can humans be sinless?" so that it becomes, "Can humans live without grieving the Holy Father?" The answer (in my view) remains: "It's inevitable that we will grieve the Holy Father." But it's an important change of perspective. In sheerly legal terms there is no forgiveness; but there can be forgiveness in a personal relationship if (as in this case) the Holy Father chooses—and he does choose.

He insists that our sin is in need of forgiveness—it isn't a light matter, something to be excused as "not our fault". The cross (among other things) makes it clear that God takes human sin as an inexpressibly serious matter because he views humans as worth bothering about. This leads me to say that our damnation lies not in our missing a quota of righteousness (required by moral law). Our problem is not that we don't give to some moral law what we can't give but that we won't give to God what we can give.

God offers us life with himself and the justification for that offer is found in himself; as he has shown in and as Jesus Christ. If God were not as Jesus Christ has shown him to be there would be no need for redemption nor would there be an offer of redemption. On the one hand sin wouldn't matter (because God is not the Holy Father) and on the other forgiveness would not be offered (because God is not the Holy Father).

My view, then, is that God is righteous in holding us responsible for our sins though it is inevitable that we will sin. Because, in my view we aren't held responsible for not being sinless; we are held responsible for not giving to God what we can give. We need to construe sin as a life’s direction and not merely as specific acts of evil. As responsible adults standing before God we sin because we’re sinners.

In construing all this (in my view) we are to think of it in light of the work of Christ and God's self-revelatrion in him and not apart from it. To begin reflecting on it all apart from the gospel is to abstract it from its biblical roots.

I think if we went to God and said, "It wasn't possible for me to live sinlessly through my long life," I think he would agree. If we went on to say, "Therefore it is unrighteous of you to condemn us for not being sinless," I think he would say, "But I don't condemn you for not giving me what you couldn't. I condemn you because you refused to give me what you could."

©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 Eric Lyons, M.Min. ... The Essentiality of Evidence in Christianity

The Essentiality of Evidence in Christianity

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Though “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” is mind-boggling, and though “His judgments and His ways” are “unsearchable” and “past finding out” (Romans 11:33; Deuteronomy 29:29), and even though finite man will never fully be able to wrap his mind around a holy, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, nevertheless, God has consistently dealt with mankind in rational ways providing the evidence needed for a reasonable faith. Consider, for example, how God has always ensured that enough evidence was available for honest, truth-seekers to know that He exists (cf. Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 7:7-8). Paul wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, emp. added). Since the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been able to clearly see how “the things that are made” testify on behalf of a powerful, invisible Creator. As the psalmist proclaimed: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth. And their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). The reason why “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1, emp. added), is because God has always given man adequate evidence for His existence. Sadly, the foolish person dismisses the evidence.
When the prophet Samuel addressed the nation of Israel at Saul’s coronation, he did not merely deliver an emotionally based speech. He commanded them, saying, “[S]tand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:7, emp. added). Similarly, Isaiah wrote: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’” (Isaiah 1:18, emp. added). Consider also the stark contrast between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In hopes of getting the attention of the bogus god Baal, these emotionally charged, pretend prophets “leaped about the altar,” “cried aloud,” and “cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them” (1 Kings 18:26,28)—all for naught. Elijah, on the other hand, had a rational faith that was grounded in the Word of God. He said to God, “I have done all these things at Your Word” (1 Kings 18:36, emp. added). His personal faith, as well as the message of faith that He preached, were rooted and grounded in the Heavenly revealed, rational Word of Almighty God. Biblical faith, after all, “comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
This same kind of rational, evidence-based faith and preaching can be found in the New Testament. Consider the actions and teachings of Jesus. He could have merely announced to the world that He was the Messiah. He could have only told people that He was the Son of God. He could have expected everyone simply to believe His claims that He was Heaven-sent, and never given His contemporaries any proof for His deity. However, even though there were occasions when Jesus chose not to offer additional proof of His deity (because of the hard-heartedness of many of His hearers; e.g., Mark 8:11-12), Jesus understood the essentiality of evidence. During His earthly ministry, He repeatedly gave ample proof of His deity. He noted how John the Baptizer bore witness on His behalf (John 5:33). He said, “[T]he Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me” (John 5:36, emp. added; cf. John 1:32-33; Matthew 3:16-17). He spoke of how “the Scriptures…testify of Me” (John 5:39, emp. added), and specifically noted how “Moses…wrote about Me” (John 5:46, emp. added). He also noted how His miraculous works bore witness to His deity (John 5:36). Jesus performed many miracles that demonstrated His power over nature, disease, demons, and death. He understood that His own verbal testimony alone would not convince anyone in a court of law (John 5:31; cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). Thus, at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem He told the unbelieving Jews, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, emp. added). Sadly, His foolish, stubborn enemies repeatedly rejected the irrefutable evidence that Jesus presented on His behalf.
Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus presented for His divinity was His miraculous resurrection. He could have risen from the dead and never appeared to anyone on Earth. He could have departed from the tomb and allowed speculation to run wild. Christianity could have begun on the back of uncertainty and mysticism. Instead, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). He appeared alive to Mary Magdalene, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the apostles, to James, and to over 500 disciples at once, most of whom were still living and could be questioned several years later when Paul, who also witnessed the risen Savior, wrote 1 Corinthians (15:5-8). Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3, emp. added), because He is the Head of a reasonable religion. The excitement, energy, and courage that early disciples manifested was grounded in the rock-solid proofs of Jesus’ resurrection (among other things, e.g., fulfilled prophecies). The emotional, energetic, evangelistic faith of 21st-century Christians must likewise be rooted firm and deep in evidence.
Jesus was not the only New Testament figure who demonstrated the necessity of a knowledge-based faith. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John packed their gospel accounts with confirmation of Jesus being the Christ. Consider just the beginnings of these four books. Matthew began his account of the Gospel by genealogically proving that Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham and David (Matthew 1:1-17). He then noted how Jesus was born of a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:18-25). Mark began “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) by quoting Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Mark proved prophetically that John the Baptizer was “the voice of the one crying in the wilderness,” and Jesus was “the LORD” (1:3). Luke also opened his account of the Good News with an appeal to evidence, knowledge, and understanding.
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (1:1-4).
Then there is John’s gospel account, which, from beginning to end, is packed with proof that Jesus is the miracle-working Son of God (1:3: 2:1-11; 20:30-31; 21:25). In fact, the stated purpose of his record of the various miracles of Christ (and there were many others John did not mention) was so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:30-31). If biblical faith is merely “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” which is one definition Merriam-Webster (on-line) gives for the word “faith” (2011), then why did John and the synoptic writers spend so much time offering proof for Who Jesus is? Answer: Because the truthful, reasonable facts of God, His Word, and His Son are the foundation of real faith (John 8:31-32; 17:17; Romans 10:17).
When the apostle Paul stood before Festus and King Agrippa, he spoke of those things “which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23-24). However, as Paul “made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’” (26:24). How did Paul respond? Did he answer with a mere emotional appeal? Did he welcome the idea of an unreasonable, unverifiable Gospel? Not at all. Paul humbly, but confidently, replied: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).


Sadly, most accountable people in the world will never accept the mountain of evidence for Christianity and become Christians (Matthew 7:13-14). But, those of us who choose to put our faith in God, Jesus, and His Word, can do so because “the truth” can be known (John 8:32), rightly obeyed (Romans 6:17; 10:12-13), and logically defended (1 Peter 3:15).

From Mark Copeland... The Follow-Up Of The Samaritans (Acts 8:14-25)

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

               The Follow-Up Of The Samaritans (8:14-25)


1. The conversion of the Samaritans was simple and straightforward...
   a. Philip preached Christ and the people heeded him - Ac 8:5-6
   b. They responded by believing and being baptized - Ac 8:12-13

2. Unique with the Samaritans' conversion is the follow-up that
   a. It has been described as one of the most extraordinary passages
      in Acts
   b. Used to teach various doctrines related to confirmation,
      sanctification, and spiritual gifts

[We must be careful not to draw conclusions contrary to the rest of the
Scriptures.  With that goal in mind, let's first review...]


      1. Hearing of the Samaritans' conversion, the apostles sent Peter
         and John - Ac 8:14
      2. Peter and John imparted the Spirit to the Samaritans - Ac 8:15-17
         a. While the Samaritans had been baptized, they had not
            "received the Spirit"
         b. The Spirit had not yet "fallen upon" any of them - cf. Ac 10:44-46; 11:15-17
         c. Through prayer and laying on of the apostles' hands, they
            "received the Spirit"

      1. He sought to buy the ability to impart the Spirit - Ac 8:18-19
      2. Peter rebuked him strongly, called upon him to repent and pray
         - Ac 8:20-23
      3. Simon asks Peter to pray for him - Ac 8:24

[Peter and John preached the gospel in many villages in Samaria on their
return to Jerusalem (Ac 8:25).  Now let's go back and look at some
questions frequently raised...]


      1. Why is it said the Samaritans received baptism by Philip, but
         not the Spirit?
      2. What does it mean "that they might receive the Holy Spirit"?
      3. What did the apostles have that Philip did not?
      4. Was this some sort of confirmation?  Second stage of

      1. Whatever Luke meant to "receive the Holy Spirit"...
         a. It required the apostles' laying on of hands
            1) Philip could not impart it, making it necessary for the
               apostles to come
            2) Simon could see that it was through the apostles' laying
               on of hands the Spirit was given - Ac 8:18
         b. It was something visible or audible
            1) It caught Simon's attention, who sought to buy the
               ability to impart it
            2) It was clearly something miraculous, perhaps speaking in
               tongues - cf. Ac 19:1-7
            3) It involved the Spirit "falling upon them," as with
               Cornelius - cf. Ac 10:44-46
      2. Was it actually the Spirit Himself, or something the Spirit 
         a. All Christians receive the Spirit upon obedience to the
            Gospel - Ac 2:38; 5:32; 1Co 12:13; Ep 1:13-14; Ga 4:6; 
            Ro 8:9-11
         b. But in NT times many (not all) Christians received miraculous
            gifts - 1Co 12-14
      3. Since the Samaritans had believed and been baptized (Ac 8:12,16)...
         a. They probably received the Spirit as any baptized believer
            normally would
         b. They apparently had not received the Spirit regarding
            miraculous gifts (see below)

      1. The expression "receive the Holy Spirit" is a metonymy =
         "receive spiritual gifts"
         a. Metonymy - A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is
            substituted for another with which it is closely associated
            1) E.g., "Washington" for the United States government;
               "Crown" for royalty
            2) E.g., "The pen is mightier than the sword" ("pen" stands
               in for "the written word"; "sword" stands in for "military
               aggression and force")
         b. What the Samaritans had not received were miraculous
            spiritual gifts that the Spirit often bestowed in the early 
            church - cf. 1Co 12:1-11
      2. The apostles of Christ had the ability to impart spiritual
         a. Paul imparted the "Holy Spirit" in this way - cf. Ac 19:1-7
         b. Paul hoped to impart such a gift to the Romans - Ro 1:11
         c. He imparted such a gift to Timothy - 2Ti 1:6
      3. The ability to impart spiritual gifts was limited to the
         a. Which is why Philip could perform miracles, but not pass
            the ability on to others
            1) The apostles had laid hands on him earlier - Ac 6:5-6
            2) Philip, like Steven, could then do miracles - Ac 6:7;
         b. Which is why it was necessary for Peter and John to come to
            1) If spiritual gifts came simply by praying, why send for
               Peter and John?
            2) It took an apostle for the spiritual gifts to be imparted!
      4. It was this ability to impart spiritual gifts that Simon wanted
         to buy
         a. He was not content to simply receive a spiritual gift
         b. He wanted that apostolic ability to impart spiritual gifts!
            - Ac 8:19


1. The ministry of Philip among the Samaritans had...
   a. Been confirmed by the miracles which Philip did in their midst 
      - Ac 8:6-7
   b. Resulted in true conversions when they believed and were baptized
      - Ac 8:12-13

2. Peter and John's mission to Samaria appears straightforward...
   a. To impart miraculous spiritual gifts by the apostolic laying on
      of hands
   b. Which served to establish the new converts in their faith - cf.
      Ro 1:11

Today, conversion occurs wherever people believe and are baptized (Mk
16:16; Ac 2:38; 22:16).  They are established in the faith when they
observe the apostles' doctrine (Mt 28:20; Ac 2:42) which was revealed and
confirmed by the miraculous gifts of the Spirit in the first century (cf.
He 2:1-4)...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

From Gary... Bible Reading May 20

Bible Reading  

May 20

The World English Bible

May 20
Joshua 21, 22

Jos 21:1 Then the heads of fathers' houses of the Levites came near to Eleazar the priest, and to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the heads of fathers' houses of the tribes of the children of Israel.
Jos 21:2 They spoke to them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, "Yahweh commanded Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with their suburbs for our livestock."
Jos 21:3 The children of Israel gave to the Levites out of their inheritance, according to the commandment of Yahweh, these cities with their suburbs.
Jos 21:4 The lot came out for the families of the Kohathites. The children of Aaron the priest, who were of the Levites, had thirteen cities by lot out of the tribe of Judah, out of the tribe of the Simeonites, and out of the tribe of Benjamin.
Jos 21:5 The rest of the children of Kohath had ten cities by lot out of the families of the tribe of Ephraim, out of the tribe of Dan, and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh.
Jos 21:6 The children of Gershon had thirteen cities by lot out of the families of the tribe of Issachar, out of the tribe of Asher, out of the tribe of Naphtali, and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh in Bashan.
Jos 21:7 The children of Merari according to their families had twelve cities out of the tribe of Reuben, out of the tribe of Gad, and out of the tribe of Zebulun.
Jos 21:8 The children of Israel gave these cities with their suburbs by lot to the Levites, as Yahweh commanded by Moses.
Jos 21:9 They gave out of the tribe of the children of Judah, and out of the tribe of the children of Simeon, these cities which are mentioned by name:
Jos 21:10 and they were for the children of Aaron, of the families of the Kohathites, who were of the children of Levi; for theirs was the first lot.
Jos 21:11 They gave them Kiriath Arba, named after the father of Anak (the same is Hebron), in the hill country of Judah, with its suburbs around it.
Jos 21:12 But they gave the fields of the city and its villages to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.
Jos 21:13 To the children of Aaron the priest they gave Hebron with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Libnah with its suburbs,
Jos 21:14 Jattir with its suburbs, Eshtemoa with its suburbs,
Jos 21:15 Holon with its suburbs, Debir with its suburbs,
Jos 21:16 Ain with its suburbs, Juttah with its suburbs, and Beth Shemesh with its suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.
Jos 21:17 Out of the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon with its suburbs, Geba with its suburbs,
Jos 21:18 Anathoth with its suburbs, and Almon with its suburbs; four cities.
Jos 21:19 All the cities of the children of Aaron, the priests, were thirteen cities with their suburbs.
Jos 21:20 The families of the children of Kohath, the Levites, even the rest of the children of Kohath, had the cities of their lot out of the tribe of Ephraim.
Jos 21:21 They gave them Shechem with its suburbs in the hill country of Ephraim, the city of refuge for the manslayer, and Gezer with its suburbs,
Jos 21:22 Kibzaim with its suburbs, and Beth Horon with its suburbs; four cities.
Jos 21:23 Out of the tribe of Dan, Elteke with its suburbs, Gibbethon with its suburbs,
Jos 21:24 Aijalon with its suburbs, Gath Rimmon with its suburbs; four cities.
Jos 21:25 Out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Taanach with its suburbs, and Gath Rimmon with its suburbs; two cities.
Jos 21:26 All the cities of the families of the rest of the children of Kohath were ten with their suburbs.
Jos 21:27 They gave to the children of Gershon, of the families of the Levites, out of the half-tribe of Manasseh Golan in Bashan with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the manslayer, and Be Eshterah with its suburbs; two cities.
Jos 21:28 Out of the tribe of Issachar, Kishion with its suburbs, Daberath with its suburbs,
Jos 21:29 Jarmuth with its suburbs, En Gannim with its suburbs; four cities.
Jos 21:30 Out of the tribe of Asher, Mishal with its suburbs, Abdon with its suburbs,
Jos 21:31 Helkath with its suburbs, and Rehob with its suburbs; four cities.
Jos 21:32 Out of the tribe of Naphtali, Kedesh in Galilee with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the manslayer, Hammothdor with its suburbs, and Kartan with its suburbs; three cities.
Jos 21:33 All the cities of the Gershonites according to their families were thirteen cities with their suburbs.
Jos 21:34 To the families of the children of Merari, the rest of the Levites, out of the tribe of Zebulun, Jokneam with its suburbs, Kartah with its suburbs,
Jos 21:35 Dimnah with its suburbs, and Nahalal with its suburbs; four cities.
Jos 21:36 Out of the tribe of Reuben, Bezer with its suburbs, Jahaz with its suburbs,
Jos 21:37 Kedemoth with its suburbs, and Mephaath with its suburbs; four cities.
Jos 21:38 Out of the tribe of Gad, Ramoth in Gilead with its suburbs, the city of refuge for the manslayer, and Mahanaim with its suburbs,
Jos 21:39 Heshbon with its suburbs, Jazer with its suburbs; four cities in all.
Jos 21:40 All these were the cities of the children of Merari according to their families, even the rest of the families of the Levites. Their lot was twelve cities.
Jos 21:41 All the cities of the Levites in the midst of the possession of the children of Israel were forty-eight cities with their suburbs.
Jos 21:42 Each of these cities included their suburbs around them. It was this way with all these cities.
Jos 21:43 So Yahweh gave to Israel all the land which he swore to give to their fathers. They possessed it, and lived in it.
Jos 21:44 Yahweh gave them rest all around, according to all that he swore to their fathers. Not a man of all their enemies stood before them. Yahweh delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Jos 21:45 Nothing failed of any good thing which Yahweh had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.
Jos 22:1 Then Joshua called the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh,
Jos 22:2 and said to them, "You have kept all that Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded you, and have listened to my voice in all that I commanded you.
Jos 22:3 You have not left your brothers these many days to this day, but have performed the duty of the commandment of Yahweh your God.
Jos 22:4 Now Yahweh your God has given rest to your brothers, as he spoke to them. Therefore now return and go to your tents, to the land of your possession, which Moses the servant of Yahweh gave you beyond the Jordan.
Jos 22:5 Only take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of Yahweh commanded you, to love Yahweh your God, to walk in all his ways, to keep his commandments, to hold fast to him, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul."
Jos 22:6 So Joshua blessed them, and sent them away; and they went to their tents.
Jos 22:7 Now to the one half-tribe of Manasseh Moses had given inheritance in Bashan; but to the other half gave Joshua among their brothers beyond the Jordan westward. Moreover when Joshua sent them away to their tents, he blessed them,
Jos 22:8 and spoke to them, saying, "Return with much wealth to your tents, with very much livestock, with silver, with gold, with brass, with iron, and with very much clothing. Divide the spoil of your enemies with your brothers."
Jos 22:9 The children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh returned, and departed from the children of Israel out of Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan, to go to the land of Gilead, to the land of their possession, which they owned, according to the commandment of Yahweh by Moses.
Jos 22:10 When they came to the region about the Jordan, that is in the land of Canaan, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, a great altar to look at.
Jos 22:11 The children of Israel heard this, "Behold, the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built an altar in the forefront of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that pertains to the children of Israel."
Jos 22:12 When the children of Israel heard of it, the whole congregation of the children of Israel gathered themselves together at Shiloh, to go up against them to war.
Jos 22:13 The children of Israel sent to the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, into the land of Gilead, Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest,
Jos 22:14 and with him ten princes, one prince of a fathers' house for each of the tribes of Israel; and they were everyone of them head of their fathers' houses among the thousands of Israel.
Jos 22:15 They came to the children of Reuben, and to the children of Gad, and to the half-tribe of Manasseh, to the land of Gilead, and they spoke with them, saying,
Jos 22:16 "Thus says the whole congregation of Yahweh, 'What trespass is this that you have committed against the God of Israel, to turn away this day from following Yahweh, in that you have built you an altar, to rebel this day against Yahweh?
Jos 22:17 Is the iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, although there came a plague on the congregation of Yahweh,
Jos 22:18 that you must turn away this day from following Yahweh? It will be, seeing that you rebel today against Yahweh, that tomorrow he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel.
Jos 22:19 However, if the land of your possession is unclean, then pass over to the land of the possession of Yahweh, in which Yahweh's tabernacle dwells, and take possession among us; but don't rebel against Yahweh, nor rebel against us, in building an altar other than the altar of Yahweh our God.
Jos 22:20 Didn't Achan the son of Zerah commit a trespass in the devoted thing, and wrath fell on all the congregation of Israel? That man didn't perish alone in his iniquity.' "
Jos 22:21 Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered, and spoke to the heads of the thousands of Israel,
Jos 22:22 "The Mighty One, God, Yahweh, the Mighty One, God, Yahweh, he knows; and Israel shall know: if it was in rebellion, or if in trespass against Yahweh (don't save us this day),
Jos 22:23 that we have built us an altar to turn away from following Yahweh; or if to offer burnt offering or meal offering, or if to offer sacrifices of peace offerings, let Yahweh himself require it.
Jos 22:24 If we have not out of concern done this, and for a reason, saying, 'In time to come your children might speak to our children, saying, "What have you to do with Yahweh, the God of Israel?
Jos 22:25 For Yahweh has made the Jordan a border between us and you, you children of Reuben and children of Gad. You have no portion in Yahweh." ' So your children might make our children cease from fearing Yahweh.
Jos 22:26 Therefore we said, 'Let's now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice;
Jos 22:27 but it will be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we may perform the service of Yahweh before him with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings;' that your children may not tell our children in time to come, 'You have no portion in Yahweh.'
Jos 22:28 Therefore we said, 'It shall be, when they tell us or our generations this in time to come, that we shall say, "Behold the pattern of the altar of Yahweh, which our fathers made, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice; but it is a witness between us and you." '
Jos 22:29 Far be it from us that we should rebel against Yahweh, and turn away this day from following Yahweh, to build an altar for burnt offering, for meal offering, or for sacrifice, besides the altar of Yahweh our God that is before his tabernacle!"
Jos 22:30 When Phinehas the priest, and the princes of the congregation, even the heads of the thousands of Israel that were with him, heard the words that the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the children of Manasseh spoke, it pleased them well.
Jos 22:31 Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest said to the children of Reuben, to the children of Gad, and to the children of Manasseh, "Today we know that Yahweh is in the midst of us, because you have not committed this trespass against Yahweh. Now you have delivered the children of Israel out of the hand of Yahweh."
Jos 22:32 Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and the princes, returned from the children of Reuben, and from the children of Gad, out of the land of Gilead, to the land of Canaan, to the children of Israel, and brought them word again.
Jos 22:33 The thing pleased the children of Israel; and the children of Israel blessed God, and spoke no more of going up against them to war, to destroy the land in which the children of Reuben and the children of Gad lived.
Jos 22:34 The children of Reuben and the children of Gad named the altar "A Witness Between Us that Yahweh is God."
May 20, 21
John 3

Joh 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.
Joh 3:2 The same came to him by night, and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him."
Joh 3:3 Jesus answered him, "Most certainly, I tell you, unless one is born anew, he can't see the Kingdom of God."
Joh 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb, and be born?"
Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most certainly I tell you, unless one is born of water and spirit, he can't enter into the Kingdom of God!
Joh 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Joh 3:7 Don't marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born anew.'
Joh 3:8 The wind blows where it wants to, and you hear its sound, but don't know where it comes from and where it is going. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Joh 3:9 Nicodemus answered him, "How can these things be?"
Joh 3:10 Jesus answered him, "Are you the teacher of Israel, and don't understand these things?
Joh 3:11 Most certainly I tell you, we speak that which we know, and testify of that which we have seen, and you don't receive our witness.
Joh 3:12 If I told you earthly things and you don't believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things?
Joh 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven, but he who descended out of heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.
Joh 3:14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
Joh 3:15 that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Joh 3:17 For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him.
Joh 3:18 He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn't believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.
Joh 3:19 This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.
Joh 3:20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed.
Joh 3:21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God."
Joh 3:22 After these things, Jesus came with his disciples into the land of Judea. He stayed there with them, and baptized.
Joh 3:23 John also was baptizing in Enon near Salim, because there was much water there. They came, and were baptized.
Joh 3:24 For John was not yet thrown into prison.
Joh 3:25 There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John's disciples with some Jews about purification.
Joh 3:26 They came to John, and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, the same baptizes, and everyone is coming to him."
Joh 3:27 John answered, "A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven.
Joh 3:28 You yourselves testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent before him.'
Joh 3:29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. This, my joy, therefore is made full.
Joh 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.
Joh 3:31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is from the Earth belongs to the Earth, and speaks of the Earth. He who comes from heaven is above all.
Joh 3:32 What he has seen and heard, of that he testifies; and no one receives his witness.
Joh 3:33 He who has received his witness has set his seal to this, that God is true.
Joh 3:34 For he whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for God gives the Spirit without measure.
Joh 3:35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.
Joh 3:36 One who believes in the Son has eternal life, but one who disobeys the Son won't see life, but the wrath of God remains on him."


From Gary... Learning, loving and doing!!!

For a long time, I had a problem with "love your enemies". Frankly, it sounded a bit ridiculous to love someone who is your enemy. Then, I learned the difference between love (with a heavenly love= agape) and love (with a friendly love [like]= phileo).   You don't have to like your enemies to do the best for them, but you do have to like your friends (well, most of the time anyway)!!!  And then I saw this picture again today!!!  Even though I have thought about the following passage from the Gospel of John many, many times, today it took on a deeper meaning for me; I hope it does for you as well!!!  John says..

John, Chapter 21
Joh 21:14  This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.
Joh 21:15  So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Tend My lambs."
Joh 21:16  He *said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" He *said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He *said to him, "Shepherd My sheep."
Joh 21:17  He *said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus *said to him, "Tend My sheep.

In the above, Love is the highest love; love is the friendly love. So, Jesus says to Peter- Do you (heavenly) love me twice and (friendly) love me once.  Peter refers only to (friendly) love and these difference DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!  However, instead of just thinking that Jesus is just trying to encourage heavenly love and the third time uses friendly love as a fall-back position, perhaps Jesus was just trying to see things through Peter's eyes and through that understanding MOTIVATE him!!!  Until today, I never noticed the "tend my lambs" and "shepherd my sheep" were blended into "Tend my sheep. So, perhaps the most important concept here is NOT the play one words, but Peter's transformation from inaction to caring for others. Like it or love it- just do it!!!

You know- you can learn a lot from dogs (and people too)!!!

Joh 21:14  τουτο ηδη τριτον εφανερωθη ο ιησους τοις μαθηταις αυτου εγερθεις εκ νεκρων
Joh 21:15  οτε ουν ηριστησαν λεγει τω σιμωνι πετρω ο ιησους σιμων ιωνα αγαπας με πλειον τουτων λεγει αυτω ναι κυριε συ οιδας οτι φιλω σε λεγει αυτω βοσκε τα αρνια μου
Joh 21:16  λεγει αυτω παλιν δευτερον σιμων ιωνα αγαπας με λεγει αυτω ναι κυριε συ οιδας οτι φιλω σε λεγει αυτω ποιμαινε τα προβατα μου
Joh 21:17  λεγει αυτω το τριτον σιμων ιωνα φιλεις με ελυπηθη ο πετρος οτι ειπεν αυτω το τριτον φιλεις με και ειπεν αυτω κυριε συ παντα οιδας συ γινωσκεις οτι φιλω σε λεγει αυτω ο ιησους βοσκε τα προβατα μου