10/1/14

From Jim McGuiggan... Deism: Ancient & Modern (2)


Deism: Ancient & Modern (2)


So the man with the clockmaker religion shut God outside the physical world. He had created it but God was now a prisoner outside the world with its "laws"; but that protected the religion of the clockmaker religious man (or so he thought). It meant that he could still believe God existed and shrug at the scientists that said they couldn’t see God anywhere in this (alleged) "creation". "Of course you can’t," this kind of believer said. "That’s because he’s outside the world and doesn’t venture into it or interfere with it." It had another tremendous advantage; it meant he didn’t have to explain the awful natural catastrophes that occurred in a world actively governed by the God that created the world. All he had to do was say, "You can’t blame God for these because he doesn’t govern the world—it runs all by itself. It’s simply ‘bad luck’ when these random events kill people. The awful Lisbon earthquake, for example, had nothing whatever to do with God. These catastrophes are mindless bad luck and it makes no sense to blame God or hold him responsible." And so they shrugged and were pleased and then told people just to be brave and that while these catastrophes were "meaningless" it was up to people to "invest them with meaning." Presumably they urged people to do this because if they didn’t do it the awful events would remain without meaning. For certainly God didn’t mean anything by them since he had absolutely nothing to do with them. They were as blind and mechanical and meaningless as the forces that mindlessly spewed them out. It’s all so simple! Shut God out of the world and he’s as innocent as a new-born babe in Job’s house.

But this religious outlook had its terrible price. If God is shut out then the Bible and all its major claims, leading up to and including its claims about Jesus Christ had to be rejected. Prayer was problematic in the extreme and certainly any divine activity in the world—a closed system, a world of unbroken cause and effect—was out of the question.

Some saw the cost as unbearable and wouldn’t pay it but they tried to sit on the fence. They shut God out and called catastrophes "random" (that is, mindless and purposeless chance happenings) but allowed him in to give blessings and bring good out of the catastrophes. They called tragedies and catastrophes random events because they produced pain and loss in the human family. They said, "See, these things can be explained altogether as the result of chance occurrences in wind and rain and other physical elements. And besides, what kind of God would cause the deaths of little children and those they love?"

But non-believers saw through that immediately.

For the same people insisted that when "the righteous" prayed for rain for their dying crops that God very often answered their prayers and sent the needed rain. 

But how could they say God sent the rain? Rain comes by itself—even the semi-clockwork religious man insisted on that! ("Sunshine and rain—it’s all random," he said.) "Check a rainfall out from its very inception to its end," said the non-believer, "and you’ll find it’s a chain of unbroken physical causes and effects. A whole series of mindless and non-purposing forces come together to produce rain. This can be explained altogether as the result of chance occurrences and physical laws." The non-believer reminded the fence-sitting religious man with a half clockwork religion that the elements involved in alleged answers to prayers are as "random" as those in floods and storms. Shut God out from wind and rain and sun and elements and you not only cut him off from "cursing" you cut him off from "blessing".

"But God is good," said the ‘semi-deist’ and the blessings are from him and the pain and loss is not."

"How do you know?" said the non-believer, "since one is as random as the other."

"The Bible says God is good and blesses us."

"The Bible also says God is good and sends calamities," said the non-believer.

"The Bible says God works to make the bad work out for good."

"The Bible also says God is good and sends calamities," the non-belliever insisted.

"The Bible says God works good out of the bad calamities."

"The Bible says God sends calamities—are you saying they are bad?" the non-believer asled.

"He used to send them but he doesn’t now."

"Where does the Bible say that? the non-believer wanted to know.

"Um..."

And if he sent then now would they be bad?" the non-believer asked.

"Yes, what kind of a God would cause the death of a child or take its Grandmother?"

"The Bible says God did kill children and grandmothers in the past. Was he bad then?"

"Um..."

The Adulterous Woman by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1277

The Adulterous Woman

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

One of the most misused, mishandled, and misapplied passages in the Bible is the narrative of the woman caught in adultery, recorded in John 8:1-11. [For a discussion of the technical aspects of this passage as a textual variant, see Woods, 1989, p. 162; McGarvey, 1974, p. 16; Metzger, 1971, pp. 219-222; Metzger, 1968, pp. 223-224]. This passage has been used by situation ethicists (e.g., Fletcher, 1967, pp. 83,133), libertines, and liberals to insist that God is not “technical” when it comes to requiring close adherence to His laws. The bulk of Christendom has abetted this notion by decontextualizing and applying indiscriminately the remark of Jesus: “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (vs. 7). The average individual, therefore, has come to think that Jesus was tolerant and forgiving to the extent that He released the woman from the strict restrictions of Bible law that called for her execution. They believe that Jesus simply waved aside her sin, and granted her unconditional freedom and forgiveness—though the Law called for her death (Leviticus 20:10). After all, isn’t it true that Jesus places people “in the grip of grace” (Lucado, 1996)?
Those who challenge these conclusions are derided as “traditionalists” who lack “compassion,” and who are just like the “legalistic” scribes and Pharisees who cruelly accused the woman and wanted her handled in strict accordance with Mosaic Law. Did Jesus set aside the clear requirements of Mosaic legislation in order to demonstrate mercy, grace, and forgiveness? A careful study of John 8:1-11 yields at least three insights that clarify the confusion and misconception inherent in the popular imagination.
First, Mosaic regulations stated that a person could be executed only if there were two or more witnesses to the crime (Deuteronomy 19:15). One witness was insufficient to invoke the death penalty (Deuteronomy 17:6). The woman in question was reportedly caught in the “very act” (vs. 4), but nothing is mentioned about the identity of the witness or witnesses. There may have been only one, thereby making execution illegal.
Second, even if there were two or more witnesses present to verify the woman’s sin, the Old Testament was equally explicit concerning the fact that both the woman and the man were to be executed (Deuteronomy 22:22). Where was the man? The accusing mob completely side-stepped this critical feature of God’s Law, demonstrating that this trumped-up situation obviously did not fit the Mosaic preconditions for invoking capital punishment. Obedience to the Law of Moses in this instance actually meant letting the woman go!
A third consideration that libertines overlook concerning this passage is the precise meaning of the phrase “He who is without sin among you….” If this statement is taken as a blanket prohibition against accusing, disciplining, or punishing the erring, impenitent Christian, then this passage flatly contradicts a host of other passages (e.g., Romans 16:17; 1 Corinthians 5; Galatians 6:1; 2 Thessalonians 3:6,14; Titus 3:10; 2 John 9-11). Jesus not only frequently passed judgment on a variety of individuals during His life on Earth (e.g., Matthew 15:14; 23; John 8:44,55; 9:41; et al.), but also enjoined upon His followers the necessity of doing the same thing (e.g., John 7:24). Peter could be very direct in assessing people’s spiritual status (e.g., Acts 8:23). Paul rebuked the Corinthians’ inaction concerning their fornicating brother: “Do you not judge those who are inside?… Therefore put away from yourselves that wicked person” (1 Corinthians 5:12-13, emp. added). Obviously, Paul demanded that Christians must judge (i.e., make an accurate assessment regarding) a fellow Christian’s moral condition. Even the familiar proof text so often marshaled to promote laxity (i.e., “Judge not, that you be not judged”—Matthew 7:1) records Jesus admonishing disciples: “…then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye” (vs. 5). The current culture-wide celebration of being nonjudgmental (“I’m OK, you’re OK”) is clearly out of harmony with Bible teaching.
So Jesus could not have been offering a blanket prohibition against taking appropriate action with regard to the sins of our fellows. Then what did His words mean? What else could possibly be going on in this setting so as to completely deflate, undermine, and terminate the boisterous determination of the woman’s accusers to attack Him, by using the woman as a pretext? What was it in Jesus’ words that had such power to stop them in their tracks—so much so that their clamor faded to silence and they departed “one by one, beginning with the oldest” (vs. 9)?
Most commentators suggest that He shamed them by getting them to realize that “nobody is perfect and we all sin.” But this motley crew—with their notorious and repeatedly documented hard-heartedness—would not have been deterred if Jesus simply had conveyed the idea that, “Hey, give the poor woman a break, none of us is perfect, and we’ve all done things we're not proud of.” These heartless scribes and Pharisees had the audacity to divert her case from the proper judicial proceedings and to humiliate her by forcibly hauling her into the presence of Jesus, thereby making her a public spectacle. Apparently accompanied by a group of complicit supporters, they cruelly subjected her to the wider audience of “all the people” (vs. 2) who had come to hear Jesus’ teaching. They hardly would have been discouraged from their objective by such a simple utterance from Jesus that “nobody’s perfect.”
So what is the answer to this puzzling circumstance? Jesus was striking at precisely the same point that Paul drove home to hard-hearted, hypocritical Jews in Rome: “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1). Paul was especially specific on the very point with which Jesus dealt: “You who say, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ do you commit adultery?” (vs. 22). In other words, no person is qualified to call attention to another’s sin when that individual is in the ongoing practice of the same sin. Again, as Jesus previously declared, “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5). After all, it is the “spiritual” brother or sister who is in the proper position to restore the wayward (Galatians 6:1).
Consequently, in the context under consideration, Jesus knew that the woman’s accusers were guilty of the very thing for which they were willing to condemn her. (It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the man with whom the woman had committed adultery was in league with the accusing crowd.) Jesus was able to prick them with their guilt by causing them to realize that He knew that they, too, were guilty. The old law made clear that the witnesses to the crime were to cast the first stones (Deuteronomy 17:7). The death penalty could not be invoked legally if the eyewitnesses were unavailable or unqualified. Jesus was striking directly at the fact that these witnesses were ineligible to fulfill this role since they were guilty of the same sin, and thus deserved to be brought up on similar charges. They were intimidated into silence by their realization that Jesus was privy to their own sexual indiscretions.
Observe carefully that with the withdrawal of the accusers, Jesus put forth a technical legal question: “Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn thee?” (ASV), or “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?” (vs. 10, KJV). The reason for Jesus to verify the absence of the accusers who had brought the charges against the woman was that the Law of Moses mandated the presence of eyewitnesses to the crime before guilt could be established and sentence passed. The woman confirmed, “No man, Lord” (vs. 11). Jesus then affirmed: “Neither do I condemn you….” The meaning of this pronouncement was that if two or more witnesses to her sin were not able or willing to document the crime, then she could not be held legally liable, since neither was Jesus, Himself, qualified to serve as an eyewitness to her action. The usual interpretation of “neither do I condemn you” is that Jesus was flexible, tolerant, and unwilling to be judgmental toward others or to condemn their sinful actions. Ridiculous! The Bible repudiates such thinking on nearly every page. Jesus was declaring the fact that the woman managed to slip out from under judicial condemnation on the basis of one or more legal technicalities. But, He said (to use modern-day vernacular), “You had better stop it! You were fortunate this time, but you must cease your sinful behavior!”
Incredible! The scribes and Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus in a trap. Yet Jesus, as was so often the case (e.g., Matthew 21:23-27), “turned the tables” on His accusers and caught them in a trap instead! At the same time, He demonstrated a deep and abiding respect for the governing beauty and power of law—the law that He and His Father had authored. Jesus was the only person Who ever complied with Mosaic legislation perfectly. He never sought to excuse human violation of law, nor to minimize the binding and authoritative application of law to people. Any interpretation of any passage that depicts Jesus as violating God’s law in order to forgive or accommodate man is a false interpretation, as is any interpretation that relegates law to a status of secondary importance (cf. Deuteronomy 6:24; 10:13; Psalms 19:7-11; Romans 7:12). Any interpretation of any passage that contradicts the teaching of other clear passages also is false. Jesus was not in sympathy with the permissive mindset of today’s doctrinally lax thinkers who soften doctrine and the binding nature of law in the name of “grace,” “freedom,” or “compassion.”

REFERENCES

Fletcher, Joseph (1967), Moral Responsibility (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Lucado, Max (1996), In the Grip of Grace (Dallas: Word).
McGarvey, J.W. (1974 reprint), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Metzger, Bruce (1971), A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Society).
Metzger, Bruce M. (1968), The Text of the New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press), second edition.
Woods, Guy N. (1989), A Commentary on the Gospel According to John (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

From Mark Copeland... To Whom Shall We Go? (John 6:67-69)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF JOHN"

                     To Whom Shall We Go? (6:67-69)

INTRODUCTION

1. When Jesus talked about being the Bread of Life, it troubled some
   people...
   a. He used figurative language, which sounded cannibalistic - cf. Jn6:51-59
   b. Difficult to understand, some were offended (those lacking in
      faith) - cf. Jn 6:60-65
   c. Many of His disciples left Him - cf. Jn 6:66
   -- Prompting Jesus to ask the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
      - Jn 6:67

2. Peter's response serves as the text of our lesson...
   a. "To whom shall we go?" - Jn 6:68a
   b. He acknowledged that Jesus alone has the words of eternal life
      - Jn 6:68b
   c. He also confesses their faith in Him as the Christ, the Son of the
      living God - Jn 6:69
   -- His question is one that we do well to ask today

[For the answers to our true purpose and mission in life, to find the
words of eternal life, "To Whom Shall We Go?"  There are many places we
could turn to, indeed many do turn to, but they are not the right ones.
For example, consider...]

I. TO WHOM WE COULD GO

   A. THE OPINIONS OF THE MAJORITY...?
      1. Many people look to whatever the majority believes
         a. E.g., what their peers thinks
         b. E.g., whatever the latest polls indicate
      2. But consider the words of Jesus, in describing the end of the
         majority - Mt 7:13-14
      3. If you followed the majority...
         a. In Noah's day, you would have perished in the flood
         b. In Joshua's day, you would have perished in the wilderness

   B. THE PRONOUNCEMENTS OF HUMAN WISDOM...?
      1. Many feel that human wisdom can lead them to truth and life
         a. Especially that pronounced by educated professors
         b. Or that pronounced by "pop" psychologists on talk shows
      2. But God's thoughts and ways are not always our own - cf. Isa 55:8-9
      3. In fact, God has chosen to save man in a manner specifically
         designed to confound those who depend solely upon human wisdom
         - cf. 1Co 1:18-29

   C. THE PROCLAMATIONS OF PREACHERS...?
      1. It is common for people to trust their preacher, priest, or
         pastor
      2. They reason that surely these "men of God" could not be wrong
         or lead them astray
         a. Yet Paul warned of how we can easily be misled - cf. 2 Co 11:13-15
         b. And Jesus warned about the "blind leading the blind" - Mt 15:12-14

   D. THE DICTATES OF OUR CONSCIENCE...?
      1. "Let your conscience be your guide" is the motto of many
      2. But our conscience cannot always be reliable
         a. Paul had served God with a good conscience throughout his
            life - Ac 23:1
         b. Even at a time when he was persecuting Christians! - cf. Ac 26:9-11
      3. Our conscience is like a clock, which works properly only if
         set properly

   F. THE DIRECTION OF OUR FEELINGS...?
      1. This is often where many people turn
         a. Who go by whatever "feels right"
         b. Who place stock in things "better felt than told"
      2. Yet the Bible declares the danger of trusting in "feelings"
         a. "There is a way which seems right...but its end is the way
            of death." - Pr 14:12
         b. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool..." - Pr 28:26
         c. "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not
            in man who walks to direct his own steps." - Jer 10:23

[None of these should be the ultimate source to where we turn if we are
looking for the words of eternal life.  As confessed by Peter, there is
only One...]

II. TO WHOM WE SHOULD GO

   A. JESUS CHRIST, SON OF THE LIVING GOD...!
      1. As Peter confessed in our text - Jn 6:68-69
      2. He is the one who provides "food which endures to everlasting
         life" - Jn 6:27,35,40
      3. He is the way, the truth and the life - Jn 14:6
      4. Upon this One has God "set His seal" - Jn 6:27
         a. I.e., confirmed Him to be the source of eternal life
         b. Through the miracles, and ultimately His resurrection - Jn 5:36; Ro 1:4
      -- Yet how does one "go to Jesus" when He no longer walks on the
         earth?  We must turn to...

   B. THE APOSTLES OF CHRIST, INSPIRED OF THE SPIRIT...!
      1. Jesus prepared and equipped His apostles to carry on and
         complete His work
         a. He told them of the Holy Spirit - Jn 16:7-11
         b. Who would guide them into all the truth - Jn 16:12-13
      2. To receive the apostles (apostolos, lit., one sent) is to
         receive Jesus - Jn 13:20
      3. Thus the apostles were authoritative spokesmen for Christ
         - e.g., 1Th 4:1-2,8; 1Jn 4:6; Jude 17
      4. They received all things pertaining to life and godliness
         - 2Pe 1:3
      5. They did not shun to proclaim the whole counsel of God - Ac 20:
         20-21,27
      -- But how do we "go to the apostles" when they no longer live on
         the earth?  We must turn to...

   C. THE NEW TESTAMENT, REPOSITORY OF THE WORD OF GOD...!
      1. The apostles wrote that we might benefit from their
         understanding- e.g., Ep 3:3-5
      2. We must view their words as the commandments of the Lord
         - e.g., 1Co 14:37
      3. Therefore we are to hold fast to what they taught - cf. 2 Th 2:15; 3:15; Jude 3
      4. As exemplified by the very first church in Jerusalem - Ac 2:42
      -- The words of the apostles preserved in their writings, can lead
         us to Him who alone has the words of eternal life!

CONCLUSION

1. To whom shall we go...?
   a. The answer must be "Jesus!"
   b. He is "...the Christ, the Son of the living God"
   c. He alone has "...the words of eternal life"

2. Where will you find Jesus...?
   a. Not in the words of modern theologians and filmmakers, who have
      sought to remake Jesus according to their own image
   b. But in the words of His apostles, eyewitnesses of His majesty and
      inspired by the Spirit to reveal all that we need to experience
      life and godliness

Don't let the cacophony of modern voices lead you away from Jesus and
His words of eternal life. Make sure that it is His apostles' writings,
the Word of God, that leads you to Him who is the way, the truth and the
life!

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading October 1


Bible Reading 

October 1

The World English Bible


Oct. 1
Psalms 121-124

Psa 121:1 I will lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from?
Psa 121:2 My help comes from Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.
Psa 121:3 He will not allow your foot to be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber.
Psa 121:4 Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Psa 121:5 Yahweh is your keeper. Yahweh is your shade on your right hand.
Psa 121:6 The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
Psa 121:7 Yahweh will keep you from all evil. He will keep your soul.
Psa 121:8 Yahweh will keep your going out and your coming in, from this time forth, and forevermore.
Psa 122:1 I was glad when they said to me, "Let's go to Yahweh's house!"
Psa 122:2 Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem;
Psa 122:3 Jerusalem, that is built as a city that is compact together;
Psa 122:4 where the tribes go up, even Yah's tribes, according to an ordinance for Israel, to give thanks to the name of Yahweh.
Psa 122:5 For there are set thrones for judgment, the thrones of David's house.
Psa 122:6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Those who love you will prosper.
Psa 122:7 Peace be within your walls, and prosperity within your palaces.
Psa 122:8 For my brothers' and companions' sakes, I will now say, "Peace be within you."
Psa 122:9 For the sake of the house of Yahweh our God, I will seek your good.

Psa 123:1 To you I do lift up my eyes, you who sit in the heavens.
Psa 123:2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to Yahweh, our God, until he has mercy on us.
Psa 123:3 Have mercy on us, Yahweh, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt.
Psa 123:4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scoffing of those who are at ease, with the contempt of the proud.
Psa 124:1 If it had not been Yahweh who was on our side, let Israel now say,
Psa 124:2 if it had not been Yahweh who was on our side, when men rose up against us;
Psa 124:3 then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their wrath was kindled against us;
Psa 124:4 then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul;
Psa 124:5 then the proud waters would have gone over our soul.
Psa 124:6 Blessed be Yahweh, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth.
Psa 124:7 Our soul has escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare. The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Psa 124:8 Our help is in the name of Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.

 
Oct. 1
2 Corinthians 11

2Co 11:1 I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you do bear with me.
2Co 11:2 For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. For I married you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ.
2Co 11:3 But I am afraid that somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve in his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
2Co 11:4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or if you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different "good news", which you did not accept, you put up with that well enough.
2Co 11:5 For I reckon that I am not at all behind the very best apostles.
2Co 11:6 But though I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not unskilled in knowledge. No, in every way we have been revealed to you in all things.
2Co 11:7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached to you God's Good News free of charge?
2Co 11:8 I robbed other assemblies, taking wages from them that I might serve you.
2Co 11:9 When I was present with you and was in need, I wasn't a burden on anyone, for the brothers, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my need. In everything I kept myself from being burdensome to you, and I will continue to do so.
2Co 11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, no one will stop me from this boasting in the regions of Achaia.
2Co 11:11 Why? Because I don't love you? God knows.
2Co 11:12 But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them that desire an occasion, that in which they boast, they may be found even as we.
2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as Christ's apostles.
2Co 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light.
2Co 11:15 It is no great thing therefore if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
2Co 11:16 I say again, let no one think me foolish. But if so, yet receive me as foolish, that I also may boast a little.
2Co 11:17 That which I speak, I don't speak according to the Lord, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.
2Co 11:18 Seeing that many boast after the flesh, I will also boast.
2Co 11:19 For you bear with the foolish gladly, being wise.
2Co 11:20 For you bear with a man, if he brings you into bondage, if he devours you, if he takes you captive, if he exalts himself, if he strikes you on the face.
2Co 11:21 I speak by way of disparagement, as though we had been weak. Yet however any is bold (I speak in foolishness), I am bold also.
2Co 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.
2Co 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I am more so; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths often.
2Co 11:24 Five times from the Jews I received forty stripes minus one.
2Co 11:25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. I have been a night and a day in the deep.
2Co 11:26 I have been in travels often, perils of rivers, perils of robbers, perils from my countrymen, perils from the Gentiles, perils in the city, perils in the wilderness, perils in the sea, perils among false brothers;
2Co 11:27 in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, and in cold and nakedness.
2Co 11:28 Besides those things that are outside, there is that which presses on me daily, anxiety for all the assemblies.
2Co 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is caused to stumble, and I don't burn with indignation?
2Co 11:30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that concern my weakness.
2Co 11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, he who is blessed forevermore, knows that I don't lie.
2Co 11:32 In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king guarded the city of the Damascenes desiring to arrest me.
2Co 11:33 Through a window I was let down in a basket by the wall, and escaped his hands.

From Gary... There remains a witness



























This picture from Walter Vogt is not a recent one; rather it is from the first day of Spring, 2014. How time flies!!! Spring has given way to summer (and the sweltering heat of Florida) and now Fall has arrived with its cooler temperatures- yes, even in Florida, it becomes cooler in Fall. I love to see the seasons change because this reminds of God's blessings. 


Acts 14:1-20 NASB
(1)  In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a manner that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks.
(2)  But the Jews who disbelieved stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brethren.
(3)  Therefore they spent a long time there speaking boldly with reliance upon the Lord, who was testifying to the word of His grace, granting that signs and wonders be done by their hands.
(4)  But the people of the city were divided; and some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles.
(5)  And when an attempt was made by both the Gentiles and the Jews with their rulers, to mistreat and to stone them,
(6)  they became aware of it and fled to the cities of Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, and the surrounding region;
(7)  and there they continued to preach the gospel.
(8)  At Lystra a man was sitting who had no strength in his feet, lame from his mother's womb, who had never walked.
(9)  This man was listening to Paul as he spoke, who, when he had fixed his gaze on him and had seen that he had faith to be made well,
(10)  said with a loud voice, "Stand upright on your feet." And he leaped up and began to walk.
(11)  When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have become like men and have come down to us."
(12)  And they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
(13)  The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
(14)  But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out
(15)  and saying, "Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, WHO MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM.
(16)  "In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways;
(17)  and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
(18)  Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them.
(19)  But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.
(20)  But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. The next day he went away with Barnabas to Derbe.


The change of seasons is a witness that God is and that he provides good things to everyone. It is hard for me to imagine the life that the apostle Paul lived, with all its turmoil, obstacles and suffering.  Yet, somehow he came through it all had courage to continue to preach the truth, even after being stoned. Think about it, after being stoned, he went back into the city!!!  What courage, what trust, what a man!!! Look out your window and notice the seasonal changes that Fall brings and remember Acts 14- God has blessed us all and he will give strength to those who love him to do seemingly impossible things!!!  Personally, I could do without the stoning business, but should that be my destiny, so be it!!!  Anyway, find a quiet moment today and reflect about the existence and provision of God.  And be thankful that it isn't snowing yet!!!