From Jim McGuiggan... Christian Advantage? (3)

Christian Advantage? (3)

In the battle against sinning we feel sure that the Christian has an advantage over everyone else. Taking that to be true, how are we to explain it?

It’s commonplace to read that God gave the Torah as covenant law to Israel and they weren’t able to keep it but that in the prophets God promised a time when he would send the Spirit (via the Messiah) and that would transform them so that they could/would keep it. [Ezekiel 36:26-27 illustrates the point made.] We hear that Moses was sent with law without grace and Jesus brought grace. The difference, many writers have assured us, is the presence and absence of the Spirit. Israel didn’t have it and the Christians do. [Click here for another view.]

If that were true then not only would Israel be incapable of keeping God’s covenant, the Christians would (not just could) keep it by the presence of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus Christ.

But for numerous reasons that view won’t work—won’t work at all.

The Hebrew writer was speaking of pre-Christ Jews when he extolled their lives of courage and devotion to God by faith (Hebrews 11). He didn’t see the ancient people as unable to live gloriously before God and he said he didn’t have the time to list the names of those he could have listed who did live gloriously before God. When it came to living out lives of faith, the Jesus-believing Jews he was writing to were no better than their ancient and worthy predecessors. In fact, the Jesus-believing Jews who had the Holy Spirit (see Hebrews 2:1-4 and 6:4-5) were being called to renew their faith and loyalty to God in light of the example of ancient Jews who, many people tell us, didn’t have the Holy Spirit. How do we account for that?

It’s true of course that the Hebrew writer pointed out Israel’s consistent and persistent failures but we’re not to deny the reality of tens of thousands down those years who were devout lovers of God and who remained faithful to him. But more to the point, the Hebrew writer doesn’t suggest that Israel as a nation was unable to live by God’s covenant Torah—they weren’t unable, they were unwilling. It wasn’t that God gave them an “unkeepable” Torah and then condemned and punished them for not keeping it. Their crime as a national unit was that they refused to give God what they could and should have given him—loving loyalty! Click here. We’re not to think the failure of Israel as a nation meant that every individual Jew was a wicked apostate. The Lord God aided the ancient Israelites by his Spirit and as a nation they could have lived faithfully before him as a long line of glorious individuals did, and they wouldn’t do it.

Nor are we to think that the names listed in Hebrews 11 were some special group, given a sort of “second blessing,” an extra “charge of divine power” to enable them to be faithful—an extra charge that God didn’t give to the rest of the nation. That won’t work!

If the people he was writing to in Hebrews had that extra divine charge they wouldn’t have been in the process of apostasy; they’d have been as faithful as the ancient worthies the writer lists. If they didn’t have an extra divine charge then he was using the divinely charged list in a devious way. “Look at all these ancient worthies; they’re your examples; they’re just like you and yet they remained faithful”—when all the while they were not like his readers.

None of this makes sense.

Whatever advantage Christians have in the area of moral capacity and strengthening, it’s nothing like some “spiritual magic,” some “Holy Spirit energizing”—an electrical charge for the “spiritual muscles”. There is no divine wand-waving, no mystical infusion of direct spiritual/moral power, no ceaseless miracle-working that makes the Christian impervious to temptation.

And whatever advantage they have, masses of them aren't convinced they have it as they will tell you themselves. Whatever advantage they have makes them no better than ancient pre-Jesus worthies. Whatever advantage they have at the simple "moral" level, a host of them compare unfavorably with many of the non-Christians they live among.

Write me and explain that to me.

From Eric Lyons, M.Min. ... The Cause of Cuttlefish


The Cause of Cuttlefish

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Two colorful, eight-legged cephalopods, known as cuttlefish, recently graced the cover of the journal New Scientist. With bluish-green blood, iridescent skin color, feeding tentacles that shoot from their mouths like birthday party blowers, and eyes like something from a Batman movie, it is no surprise that the editors of New Scientist used the term “alien” in its description of the cuttlefish; the animals do look bizarre—plain and simple. Make no mistake, however, these creatures are anything but simple. In fact, just above the cuttlefish was the cover title, “Alien Intelligence: Secret Code of an Eight-Legged Genius” (Brooks, 2008, emp. added). Michael Brooks, author of the feature article, declared that the cuttlefish is “the world’s most inventive mollusk” (2008, 198[2653]:31, emp. added) with a “sophisticated system for talking to one another” (p. 28, emp. added). Scientists have documented “around 40 different cuttlefish body patterns, many of which are used to communicate with other cuttlefish” (p. 29). At other times, cuttlefish send “tailor-made” signals to predators (p. 29, emp. added).
Even more incredible than their communication skills, is the cuttlefishes’ ability to blend in to their surroundings. Brooks described them as having “the world’s best camouflage skills” (p. 29). Similar to how these mollusks (cuttlefish have an internal shell called a cuttlebone, thus, scientists classify them as mollusks) communicate with other animals via a variety of body patterns, they also move their bodies into a variety of positions in hopes of staying hidden. For example, while swimming next to large seaweed, a cuttlefish can mimic the grass’s motion by positioning and waving its eight arms in a similar way that the seaweed sways in the water. This makes it very difficult for both attackers and possible prey to locate the cuttlefish. In a recent study, scientists placed either horizontal or vertical stripes on the walls of cuttlefish tanks. How did the cuttlefish react? According to Dr. Roger Hanlon, “If the stripes were vertical they would raise an arm. If the stripes were horizontal they would stretch their bodies out horizontally” (as quoted in Brooks, p. 31). Amazing! Cuttlefish can even change the texture of their skin to mimic the shape of certain barnacle-encrusted rocks or corals.
Finally, what must give other sea life more problems than anything is the cuttlefish’s ability to change color—and to do it so quickly. A cuttlefish can change the color of its entire body in the blink of an eye. If this mollusk wants to change to red, it sends signals from its brain to its “pigment” sacs (called chromatophores) to change to red. Cuttlefish can hide from other sea life by changing to the color of sand or seaweed. They can also appear as a strobe lights, blinking “on an off” very quickly. So extraordinary are these “masters of camouflage” (p. 28) that government researchers are even “looking into the possibility of copying cuttlefish camouflage for use in the military” (p. 31). Researchers are enamored with “how cuttlefish achieve their quick and convincing camouflage” (p. 30). Nevertheless, “[i]t’s highly unlikely that anyone could achieve that same level of camouflage” (p. 30). Scientists admittedly find it difficult “mimicking the colour-matching abilities of the cuttlefish...and its texture-matching ability, which utilizes the muscles beneath it” (p. 30). In fact, “[n]o one knows exactly” how cuttlefish match their backgrounds so effectively, especially since “[e]xperiments have shown that cuttlefish don’t look at their skin to check how well it matches the background” (p. 31, emp. added). What’s more, if, as scientists believe, this animal is colorblind, only seeing in shades of green (p. 31), how does it always choose the color most helpful (like changing to the color of sand when on the ocean floor)?
Cuttlefish are remarkable creatures. Evolutionists have called the animal a “genius.” Scientists admit that cuttlefish are “sophisticated,” “intelligent,” “tailor-made” creatures with a “secret code.” Yet the very first word Michael Brooks used in his New Scientist article to explain the existence of cuttlefish is “evolution” (p. 29). But how can intelligence arise from non-intelligence? How can something “tailor-made” have no tailor? No one would suggest that Morse code is the product of time and chance, yet Brooks and other evolutionists would have us believe that the cuttlefish’s “secret code” is the product of millions of years of mindless evolution (p. 31)? Preposterous! Nature cannot explain the cuttlefish. The real Code-Giver, the Intelligent Designer Who “tailor-made” the cuttlefish, is God. He “created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind” (Genesis 1:21).


Brooks, Michael (2008), “Do You Speak Cuttlefish?” New Scientist, 198[2653]:28-31, April 26.

From Gary... Bible Reading May 25

Bible Reading   

May 25

The World English Bible

May 25
Judges 7, 8

Jdg 7:1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the spring of Harod: and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
Jdg 7:2 Yahweh said to Gideon, The people who are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, My own hand has saved me.
Jdg 7:3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead. There returned of the people twenty-two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
Jdg 7:4 Yahweh said to Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down to the water, and I will try them for you there: and it shall be, that of whom I tell you, This shall go with you, the same shall go with you; and of whoever I tell you, This shall not go with you, the same shall not go.
Jdg 7:5 So he brought down the people to the water: and Yahweh said to Gideon, Everyone who laps of the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set him by himself; likewise everyone who bows down on his knees to drink.
Jdg 7:6 The number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water.
Jdg 7:7 Yahweh said to Gideon, By the three hundred men who lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand; and let all the people go every man to his place.
Jdg 7:8 So the people took food in their hand, and their trumpets; and he sent all the men of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the three hundred men: and the camp of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
Jdg 7:9 It happened the same night, that Yahweh said to him, Arise, go down into the camp; for I have delivered it into your hand.
Jdg 7:10 But if you fear to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp:
Jdg 7:11 and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your will hands be strengthened to go down into the camp. Then went he down with Purah his servant to the outermost part of the armed men who were in the camp.
Jdg 7:12 The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like locusts for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand which is on the seashore for multitude.
Jdg 7:13 When Gideon had come, behold, there was a man telling a dream to his fellow; and he said, Behold, I dreamed a dream; and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to the tent, and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.
Jdg 7:14 His fellow answered, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: into his hand God has delivered Midian, and all the army.
Jdg 7:15 It was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and its interpretation, that he worshiped; and he returned into the camp of Israel, and said, Arise; for Yahweh has delivered into your hand the army of Midian.
Jdg 7:16 He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put into the hands of all of them trumpets, and empty pitchers, with torches within the pitchers.
Jdg 7:17 He said to them, Look on me, and do likewise: and behold, when I come to the outermost part of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so you shall do.
Jdg 7:18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, For Yahweh and for Gideon.
Jdg 7:19 So Gideon, and the hundred men who were with him, came to the outermost part of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch, when they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and broke in pieces the pitchers that were in their hands.
Jdg 7:20 The three companies blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands with which to blow; and they cried, The sword of Yahweh and of Gideon.
Jdg 7:21 They stood every man in his place around the camp; and all the army ran; and they shouted, and put them to flight.
Jdg 7:22 They blew the three hundred trumpets, and Yahweh set every man's sword against his fellow, and against all the army; and the army fled as far as Beth Shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath.
Jdg 7:23 The men of Israel were gathered together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after Midian.
Jdg 7:24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, Come down against Midian, and take before them the waters, as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan. So all the men of Ephraim were gathered together, and took the waters as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan.
Jdg 7:25 They took the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian: and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond the Jordan.
Jdg 8:1 The men of Ephraim said to him, Why have you treated us this way, that you didn't call us, when you went to fight with Midian? They rebuked him sharply.
Jdg 8:2 He said to them, What have I now done in comparison with you? Isn't the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?
Jdg 8:3 God has delivered into your hand the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison with you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.
Jdg 8:4 Gideon came to the Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men who were with him, faint, yet pursuing.
Jdg 8:5 He said to the men of Succoth, Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me; for they are faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.
Jdg 8:6 The princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?
Jdg 8:7 Gideon said, Therefore when Yahweh has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.
Jdg 8:8 He went up there to Penuel, and spoke to them in like manner; and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered.
Jdg 8:9 He spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
Jdg 8:10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the children of the east; for there fell one hundred twenty thousand men who drew sword.
Jdg 8:11 Gideon went up by the way of those who lived in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and struck the army; for the army was secure.
Jdg 8:12 Zebah and Zalmunna fled; and he pursued after them; and he took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and confused all the army.
Jdg 8:13 Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle from the ascent of Heres.
Jdg 8:14 He caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described for him the princes of Succoth, and its elders, seventy-seven men.
Jdg 8:15 He came to the men of Succoth, and said, See Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?
Jdg 8:16 He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
Jdg 8:17 He broke down the tower of Penuel, and killed the men of the city.
Jdg 8:18 Then said he to Zebah and Zalmunna, What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor? They answered, They were like you. Each one resembled the children of a king.
Jdg 8:19 He said, They were my brothers, the sons of my mother: as Yahweh lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not kill you.
Jdg 8:20 He said to Jether his firstborn, Up, and kill them. But the youth didn't draw his sword; for he feared, because he was yet a youth.
Jdg 8:21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise and fall on us; for as the man is, so is his strength. Gideon arose, and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescents that were on their camels' necks.
Jdg 8:22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, Rule over us, both you, and your son, and your son's son also; for you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.
Jdg 8:23 Gideon said to them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: Yahweh shall rule over you.
Jdg 8:24 Gideon said to them, I would make a request of you, that you would give me every man the earrings of his spoil. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
Jdg 8:25 They answered, We will willingly give them. They spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his spoil.
Jdg 8:26 The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescents, and the pendants, and the purple clothing that was on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were about their camels' necks.
Jdg 8:27 Gideon made an ephod of it, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel played the prostitute after it there; and it became a snare to Gideon, and to his house.
Jdg 8:28 So Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, and they lifted up their heads no more. The land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.
Jdg 8:29 Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house.
Jdg 8:30 Gideon had seventy sons conceived from his body; for he had many wives.
Jdg 8:31 His concubine who was in Shechem, she also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.
Jdg 8:32 Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
Jdg 8:33 It happened, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and played the prostitute after the Baals, and made Baal Berith their god.
Jdg 8:34 The children of Israel didn't remember Yahweh their God, who had delivered them out of the hand of all their enemies on every side;
Jdg 8:35 neither did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shown to Israel.

From Mark Copeland... Paul's Early Years As A Christian (Acts 9:19-30)

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

              Paul's Early Years As A Christian (9:19-30)


1. When people think of the life of Paul (Saul), they are likely mindful
   a. His persecution of the church prior to his conversion
   b. His vision of the Lord on the road to Damascus
   c. His three missionary journeys recorded in the book of Acts
2. What may not be as well-known are the years immediately following his
   a. His conversion likely took place around 35-36 A.D.
   b. His first missionary journey began 45 A.D.
[What was Paul doing during his early years as a Christian?  Knowing the
zeal of Paul, it was not likely an idle time of his life.  This period
began with...]


      1. Immediately after his conversion, Paul began preaching - Ac 9:19-20
      2. To the amazement of those who heard him - Ac 9:21-22

      1. Paul did not stay in Damascus long after his conversion - Ga 1:15-17
      2. He went to Arabia, the desert area east and south of Damascus
      3. How long he stayed is uncertain, though it is thought to have
         been the greater part of three years - Ga 1:18
      4. What he did is unknown, though some think it was a time of
         personal reflection, and of revelations from the Lord - Ga 1:11-12
      1. He returned from Arabia to Damascus - Ga 1:17
      2. Some time later an attempt was made to kill him, which he
         escaped - Ac 9:23-25
      3. Years later he recounted his narrow escape - 2Co 11:32-33

[Damascus was the first place Paul preached (Ac 26:19-20), and the first
place he experienced persecution.  It would not be the last place for
either experience!  Leaving Damascus, Paul made his...]


      1. At first, the church was afraid to receive him - Ac 9:26
      2. Barnabas (cf. Ac 4:36-37) introduced him to the apostles - Ac 9:27
      3. He saw Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days - Ga 1:18
      4. He also saw James the Lord's brother - Ga 1:19
      1. He was given free access to the church - Ac 9:28
      2. He proclaimed boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus - Ac 9:29
      3. He disputed with the Hellenists (Grecian Jews) - Ac 9:29
      1. The Hellenists attempted to kill him - Ac 9:29
      2. Paul was warned by the Lord in a vision - Ac 22:17-21
      3. The brethren send him to Tarsus by way of Caesarea - Ac 9:30

[Paul had now become a dangerous enemy to his former friends.  His
testimony concerning the Lord and his own conversion was difficult to
answer, and the opposition was willing to do anything to silence him! At
this point Paul returned home (Tarsus) and spent...]


      1. The place of his birth - Ac 22:3
      2. It became the center of preaching in the surrounding regions of
         Syria and Cilicia - Ga 1:21
      3. Churches in Judea heard of his preaching - Ga 1:22-24
      4. Little else is known of this period of Paul's life, though it
         may have been a time when:
         a. Churches in the area were established - Ac 15:23,41
         b. Paul suffered persecution not recorded in Acts - 2Co 11:24-26 
         c. He had the vision of Paradise - 2Co 12:1-4
      1. Occasioned by the arrival of Barnabas - Ac 11:25
         a. Who introduced him to the Jerusalem church earlier - Ac 9:26-27
         b. Who traveled with him on his first missionary journey later
            - Ac 13:1-4
      2. Who had come from Antioch of Syria, the site of a new and
         growing church - Ac 11:19-24


1. "Paul's Early Years As A Christian" was a time of...
   a. Relative obscurity, out of the limelight in comparison with later
   b. Service and experience which prepared him for the work to come

2. In our zeal to be of great service to the Lord...
   a. Don't discount the need for time spent in preparation, and
      preliminary acts of service
   b. How we serve in small things will determine our usefulness in
      greater things

As Jesus told His other apostles in their time of training...

   He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and
   he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. - Lk 16:10

As we have ability and opportunity, even if it be seemingly
insignificant, let us be faithful so that Lord might one day find us
useful for greater service...

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

From Gary... A little help from a friend

Have you ever really, really needed help to do the most basic things?  The accompanying feeling of depression is one of the hardest aspects of being helpless.  In this world, we go about our business, do what we have to do and for many of us, that IS OUR LIFE.  But, let something life-changing happen and suddenly WE NEED OTHERS!!!  No one likes to think about it, but the fact is that we will not be here forever. Ultimately, we will die and then what? Jesus gives us the answer...

John, Chapter 14 (NASB)
Joh 14:1  "Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
Joh 14:2  "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
Joh 14:3  "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
Joh 14:4  "And you know the way where I am going."
Joh 14:5  Thomas *said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?"
Joh 14:6  Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Want to go to heaven- think JESUS!!!  You and I might not know the way, but Jesus does!!!  Just think about it; that's all I ask!!!