From Jim McGuiggan... And Be Thankful

And Be Thankful

It's right that we want to please God because of what he has done for us. It's gratitude and one of the marks of the world's degeneracy in Romans 1 was that it lacked gratitude (1:21). So thankfulness as a response to his holy grace is to be expected in and from us.

But there's more to being thankful than being "thankful". The grateful response rises out of the awareness that something wonderful has been given to us, has happened in and to us. To eat food with thankfulness (1 Timothy 4:3, for example) involves enjoying it, receiving it with pleasure. To be thankful means more than to say "thank you" and it's more than feeling that as a responsibility however true that is. It is to receive with joy and to appreciate the loveliness and the richness of the gift. It is to respond first and foremost to the Giver but it involves a heart response that has recognised the beauty and richness of the gift.

We ask for a fish and he gives us a serpent? We ask for a loaf and he gives us a rock and we say "thank you"? We're in danger of drowning and he helps us by throwing us an anchor and we thank him? One of the joys of the Lord is that our joy is made full in his joy (John 15:11). God isn't slow to put us to grief if that serves his holy purpose but he doesn't purpose to grieve us forever. Blessing and life are his ultimate aim. So if he puts us to grief we continue to trust him and when he blesses us richly (as he does) with life and fellowship we are to enjoy it, we are to be thankful. This is a fit response to grace! If he gives you a lovely meal, eat it with pleasure and if he leads you to hunger live and learn. If he gives you salvation--rejoice in it and think it delicious. So, rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice.

Is Denominationalism Scriptural? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Is Denominationalism Scriptural?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

What is a “denomination”? Does God approve of denominations? These are extremely significant and critical questions. They deserve answers from the Word of God.
When we go to the New Testament and examine God’s Word with a view toward ascertaining what His will is with regard to religion, we find that there is a clearly defined system of religion—God’s religion—in the New Testament. It is the religion of Christ that has come to be called Christianity. We also find that Satan does everything he can to blur the distinctions that God wants observed. We should not be surprised at that. Think about the great hoaxes that have been perpetrated upon mankind. For instance, the doctrine of evolution is almost universally believed by the scientific elite of many societies. So it is with many political, philosophical, and religious systems of thought like Communism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Those who have examined the evidence—objective truth—on these matters know that those systems of thought simply are not true. Yet large numbers of people adhere to them. Large numbers of people believe the tenets of those systems.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul spoke about the fact that Satan endeavors to take advantage of people. He said that we should not let Satan take advantage of us, “for we are not ignorant of his devices.” The word “devices” could easily have been translated “schemes.” We must be aware of the fact that Satan uses deceitful, deceptive ploys in an effort to trick people to get them to believe and practice various things that simply are not true. In a similar statement, Paul used the phrase “wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). Most people are oblivious to this fact. Many people do not even believe that Satan exists—anymore than they believe that God exists. Yet if the New Testament is true, it is clear there is a Satan, and he will do all he can to fool, trick, and deceive people. He wants to blur distinctions that God wants observed—distinctions that are scriptural and biblical.
It is clear that this is the case with denominationalism. Consider the following dictionary definitions (American, 2000, p. 485). The term “denominate” means “to give a name to; designate.” “Denomination” is “[a] large group of religious congregations united under a common faith and name and organized under a single administrative and legal hierarchy; a name or designation, especially for a class or group.” “Denominator” refers to “[t]he expression written below the line in a common fraction that indicates the number of parts into which one whole is divided.” “Denominationalism” is “[t]he tendency to separate into religious denominations; sectarianism.” Think about these meanings for just a moment. The very word “denomination” means a named or designated division. Denominationalism occurs when religious people and groups divide and segregate themselves on the basis of different designations or church affiliations and different doctrines.
Have you gone to the New Testament and read Jesus’ prayer for unity in John chapter 17? There He prayed against religious division, and prayed to God that believers in Christ would be unified! Paul made the same point to the church of Christ in Corinth: “I beseech you brothers by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Here is a passage that says denominations are not even to exist! “Let there be no divisions among you.” If a denomination is a “designated division,” then denominationalism is clearly unscriptural! It is against the will of Christ. The passage continues, “but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
I assure you, I have nothing against any particular religious group. I have no biases or prejudices against any one church or denomination. But we must go to Scripture and be objective in our appraisal of New Testament truth. It is clear when we go to the Bible that denominationalism, though viewed innocently by millions of people worldwide, is an approach to religion that is out of harmony with New Testament teaching. God does not want denominations to exist. He wants all of us to understand His will in the New Testament, and then to bring our lives into conformity and our spirits into submission to that will.


Denominationalism conflicts with New Testament teaching on a variety of subjects. Consider New Testament teaching on the subject of the one church. Passages like Isaiah 2:1-5 and Daniel 2:44 predicted that one day God would set up a kingdom, a church, a house—what Isaiah called the “Lord’s house.” In Matthew 3:2, John the baptizer preached that people should repent and get ready because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church.” In Mark 9:1, He said, “[T]here are some standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God come with power.” These passages speak of the same institution. In Acts 2, we find the actual establishment of Christ’s church on Earth. Jesus Christ Himself built His church in the city of Jerusalem in approximately A.D. 30 on the day of Pentecost. Its inception is described in Acts 2.
In Colossians 1:13, Paul spoke of Christians as those who had been removed by God from darkness and translated into the kingdom of His dear Son. In Ephesians 1:22-23, the body of Christ is referred to as the church, and later we are told that there is only one (4:4). Those two passages alone should cause us to recognize that the existence of denominations is out of harmony with God’s will. Ephesians 4:4 says there is one body. That body is the church of our Lord. He established it; He built it; He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20: 28). If there is only one church, God is not pleased with the division, the named designations, of competing churches with various names, doctrines, and practices. In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul wrote to Timothy that he might know how to conduct himself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God. Most people just do not realize that New Testament truth is that simple, that plain, and that uncomplicated. The denominationalism that has gripped western civilization is so entrenched and so entangled in the minds of people that they seem to be unable to detach themselves from it, and to go back to the New Testament to get a clear conception of the New Testament church. They seem unable or unwilling to embrace pure New Testament teaching and to repudiate all denominationalism.
Another concept that we find clearly depicted on the pages of the New Testament is the idea of scriptural names, that is, names for both the church itself and names for individual members of that church. In Romans 16:16 we find the expression “churches of Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 1:2, we have a reference to “the church of God.” In 1 Corinthians 3:16, we find “the temple of God.” And in Ephesians 4:12, we have the phrase “the body of Christ.”
These expressions are not intended to be technical nor formal names for the church. They are descriptions. They are labels that describe Christ’s church. Additional ones may be found as well. Most of the time in the New Testament, Christ’s church is just referred to as “the church.” But here is the point: Most of the names that people are giving to their churches today are not in the New Testament. They therefore are formulating names and founding churches that cannot be found in the New Testament. That’s denominationalism!
The same thing is true with regard to the names that God wants individual Christians to wear. In Isaiah 62:2, the prophet foretold that God with His own mouth would give a name to His people. We find the fulfillment of that prophecy in Acts 11:26. The name that God wants individual members of His church to wear is the name “Christian.” In Romans 1:7, we find the term “saints,” and in Acts 5:14, we find the term “believer.” In other passages we find the word “disciple” and family names like “brother” and the “family of God.” The names that denominations and their members wear are conspicuously absent from the New Testament.
New Testament truth on the matter of names is simple. How contrary to that New Testament pattern are the churches and the individuals who have taken the names of men and applied them to themselves and their churches. Some churches designate themselves by a particular practice or doctrine. I urge you to study your New Testament and realize that God is not pleased with manmade names. He will not sanction or extend His grace to groups and individuals who have chosen to stray from His will and His pattern for religion. Those who formulate for themselves their own religions, their own churches, and their own names, will be rejected by God. The Bible records that down through the annals of human history, God has never tolerated human invention in religion.
The same is true with regard to worship. The New Testament contains specific instruction concerning how God wants to be worshipped. Yet in the denominational world, all sorts of worship practice may be found. For instance, in the New Testament, Christians met for worship on the first day of the week—Sunday. Acts of worship took place on other days—for example, New Testament Christians could and did pray anytime, anywhere. But Sunday is pinpointed in New Testament Christianity as the special day on which Christians gather together to worship God (Acts 20:7). Christians are required by God to attend worship assemblies. Yet many people in our day never attend worship services, and apparently think, “Hey, I can be a Christian at home and worship God in my own way; nothing says that I have to go to church to worship with other Christians.” Most people have not read their New Testaments. The Bible teaches the necessity of assembling in Hebrews 10:25. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). He was referring to the church. So if I am going to put the church first and seek it first in my life, obviously I am going to assemble with the church—fellow Christians—for worship on Sunday.
A further contrast between denominationalism and the New Testament church pertains to what Jesus would have us to do in the realm of music in the church. In Ephesians 5:19, Paul wrote: “[S]peaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” New Testament instructions for musical worship are that simple and unencumbered. There is no authority in the New Testament for playing musical instruments in worship to God. There is no authority in the New Testament for performance groups like choirs and praise teams. The music in the New Testament is very clearly congregational, vocal singing. It’s that simple.
We also find that communion, the Lord’s Supper, was served in the New Testament to Christians on the first day of the week. Acts 2:46 and 20:7, and 1 Corinthians 11:20-34 and 16:1-3 inform us that the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament church was observed every first day of the week. All Christians partook of both the fruit of the vine and the bread. In addition, every first day of the week Christians are to contribute a percentage of their income to a general treasury so that the church may carry on its work. Acts 2:42 speaks of the importance of continuing in prayer. Praying is a part of Christian worship. The same verse speaks of continuing in the apostles’ doctrine, i.e., the teaching, preaching, and examining doctrinal truth. These five acts of worship are part and parcel of public worship assemblies—no more and no less.
Yet churches all over the land are not patterned after the one church of the Bible. They have unscriptural names for their church and for their individual members. Their worship services engage in many practices that are not taught in the New Testament. Their activities are mere inventions and doctrines of men (Matthew 15:9). Do we want to be exactly what Jesus wants us to be according to the New Testament?
The same is true with God’s plan of salvation. What does the New Testament teach with reference to how one becomes a Christian? So much diversity and widespread misconception exists. Most religious groups teach salvation is solely by faith, without any further acts of obedience. They say that all you have to do is “accept Jesus as your savior,” which means orally saying, “I believe in Jesus Christ, I accept him into my heart as my personal savior.” Denominationalism teaches that at that moment the person is forgiven of sin and he becomes a Christian. The New Testament does teach that a non-Christian must believe (Mark 16:16)—but that is not all. He or she also must repent of sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38), confess Christ with the mouth (Romans 10:10), and then be immersed in water with the understanding that the blood of Jesus washes away sin at the point of water baptism. Acts 22:16 indicates that it was at the moment that Saul was immersed in water that his sins were washed away (cf. Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21). Most people in the religious world believe that a person is forgiven of sins before they are immersed. But, once again, that is a departure from New Testament teaching.
The New Testament is equally explicit on the subject of Christian living. It is frightening that American civilization as we have known it is deteriorating and moving away from the fundamental behaviors that were common to our way of life from our inception as a nation. But it is happening. Many people are showing the same lack of knowledge and disrespect for God’s instructions in this area as they are in the other areas we have noted. Our society is getting farther away from the Bible. Many do not even believe the Bible to be a supernatural, inspired (i.e., God-breathed) book. They think it is just a collection of Jewish myths, a bunch of fairy tales, and the writings of mere men.
We have reason for alarm. Any civilization that does not structure itself around the mind of God as revealed on the pages of the Bible, cannot last for long. Look back over the centuries of human history and you will see this truth. Every nation that rejected God and His principles for living, eventually deteriorated from the inside out and fell to pieces, crumbling into the dust of human history. American civilization is rushing headlong down that same course. So what does the Bible teach concerning Christian living and Christian morality?
For example, regarding marriage, Genesis 2:24 and Matthew 19:9 are sufficient to demonstrate how far our society has deviated from God’s will. Those verses show that God’s will is that one man (never married before) marry one woman (never married before) and that those two individuals remain married for the rest of their lives. Only death should separate them. And only one exception is given to that rule. If one of those mates is sexually unfaithful, God permits the other mate, the innocent partner, to divorce the guilty mate for fornication, i.e., for sexual unfaithfulness, and to marry an eligible partner. The New Testament is that clear and that simple. Yet our society as a whole is so far from that simple teaching that it is frightening to consider whether we could ever recover our spiritual and moral senses.
What about the use of alcohol? People all over our society consume alcoholic beverages in restaurants, in homes, on airplanes, and at ball games. You cannot go to a football game without people freely drinking alcoholic beverages without giving it a second thought. They appear oblivious and unconcerned about the fact that the Bible speaks definitively and decisively against consuming intoxicating beverages (e.g., Proverbs 23:29-35). If you are honest and love God and desire to follow His will, you will examine what the Bible teaches on this matter.
What else is occurring in our society? People use foul language and take God’s name in vain. How often do we hear people say, “O my God”? The expression has saturated our society. But the Bible condemns the vain use of God’s name (Exodus 20:7; Ephesians 4:29). It is sin, and it offends God. Likewise, the practice of lying and deceiving is commonplace, though God hates such acts (Proverbs 6:17; Ephesians 4:25).
What about gambling? The lottery has been legalized in most states, along with horse racing and other forms of gambling. Large numbers of people flock to these activities as if they are perfectly acceptable and moral. My friend, I don’t mean to offend you in any way, but I am telling you that the Bible speaks decisively and clearly against these practices. They are immoral, they are unchristian, and they are ungodly (Matthew 7:12; Ephesians 4:28; 5:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 6:9-10).
Our society says, “People ought to be free to believe what they want. Don’t be judgmental. You don’t have any right to say they are wrong.” But such propaganda is wrong. God has a right. He is the Creator, and He said in His Word that we must know His truth, and we must be right about that truth, and we must obey that truth (Hebrews 5:9). Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). He also said, “[Y]ou shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Paul spoke about the time when people would not want to hear healthy teaching (2 Timothy 4:3). They would reject it. But God wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).
The New Testament teaches that we must stay with God’s words. We are not free to deviate, or to believe and practice whatever we choose. We must not do it (2 John 9; 1 Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:8). In the final analysis, denominationalism is what results when humans assert their own religious inclinations, formulate their own religious doctrines, and originate their own churches. Solomon’s words ought to cause every single person to refrain from affiliation with denominationalism: “Every word of God is pure. He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words lest He reprove you and you be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6).


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.

From Mark Copeland... Mindful Of The Things Of God (Mark 8:31-33)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                 Mindful Of The Things Of God (8:31-33)


1. As Jesus travelled near Caesarea Philippi, He made the first of three
   predictions concerning what awaited Him in Jerusalem... - Mk 8:31; 
   cf. Mk 9:31; 10:33-34
   a. He must suffer many things
   b. He must be rejected and killed, and rise again in three days

2. Peter's response was adamant...
   a. He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him... - Mk 8:32
   b. Peter's words:  "Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen
      to You!" - cf. Mt 16:22

3. In turn, Jesus looks at His disciples and then rebukes Peter...
   a. "Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of
      God, but the things of men." - Mk 8:33
   b. Matthew reveals that Jesus also said:  "You are an offense to
      Me..." - Mt 16:23

[Peter's outburst of concern for Jesus was only natural.  But Jesus'
rebuke reveals an important lesson in being "Mindful Of The Things Of
God."  Let's first consider that...]


   A. AS STATED...
      1. "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My
         ways" - Isa 55:8
      2. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways
         higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
         - Isa 55:9

      1. By His view of suffering in the scheme of redemption - Mk 8:31-33; Lk 24:26-27,44-46
      2. By His view of greatness versus ours - Mk 10:42-45
      3. By His view of beauty versus ours - 1Pe 3:3-4
      4. By His view of money versus ours - Lk 16:13-15

[Clearly the mind of God and the things of God come from a higher plane
than the mind of man.  Peter failed to appreciate this.   How can we be
sure that we are ever "Mindful Of The Things Of God"...?]


      1. Our feelings
         a. This is often the standard of right and wrong for many
            1) Who go by whatever "feels right"
            2) Who place stock in a religion "better felt than told"
         b. Yet the Bible declares the danger of trusting in our
            1) "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end
               is the way of death." - Pr 14:12
            2) "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool..." - Pr 28:26
      2. Our conscience
            a. "Let your conscience be your guide" is the motto of many
         b. But consider:  "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
         c. Our conscience is not always reliable
            1) Paul had served God with a good conscience throughout his
               life - Ac 23:1
            2) Even at a time when he was persecuting Christians! - cf.
               Ac 26:9-11
      3. Our wisdom
         a. Many feel that through their own wisdom they can determine
            right and wrong
         b. God has chosen to save man in a manner designed to confound
            the wise - 1Co 1:18-29
         c. For us to know God's will, it was necessary for Him to
            reveal it to us - 1Co 2:9-12
            1) This He has done through His Spirit-inspired apostles
            2) Who in turn shared it with us through their writings - Ep 3:1-5

      1. In how to be saved
         a. Some seek to be saved by good works
         b. Others by faith only
         c. We must trust in Jesus and His apostles - Mk 16:15-16; Ac 2:38; 22:16
      2. In how to worship
         a. Some want to offer what pleases them
         b. Others want to offer what pleases others
         c. We must trust in the commands and will of the Lord - Mk 7:6-7,9; Col 3:17
      3. In how to live
         a. Some want to make themselves #1
         b. Others want to make work or family #1
         c. We must trust Jesus and the Word of God - Mt 6:33; 1Ti 6:17-19; 2Ti 3:16-17; 2Pe 1:3


1. We can only be "Mindful Of The Things Of God" when we...
   a. Humbly submit to what is revealed in the Word of God
   b. Refuse to let our feelings, conscience, or wisdom be our guide

2. Otherwise, we are "Mindful Of The Things Of Men", where we...
   a. Become an instrument of Satan! - cf. Mk 8:33
   b. Become an offense to Jesus! - cf. Mt 16:23

Have you given much thought as to whether you are "Mindful Of The Things
Of God"...?

   "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are
   above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your
   mind on things above, not on things on the earth." - Col 3:1-2

   "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the
   renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and
   acceptable and perfect will of God." - Ro 12:2

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading December 16

Bible Reading  

December 16

The World English Bible

Dec. 16
Joel 1-3

Joe 1:1 The Word of Yahweh that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel.
Joe 1:2 Hear this, you elders, And listen, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?
Joe 1:3 Tell your children about it, and have your children tell their children, and their children, another generation.
Joe 1:4 What the swarming locust has left, the great locust has eaten. What the great locust has left, the grasshopper has eaten. What the grasshopper has left, the caterpillar has eaten.
Joe 1:5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
Joe 1:6 For a nation has come up on my land, strong, and without number. His teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a lioness.
Joe 1:7 He has laid my vine waste, and stripped my fig tree. He has stripped its bark, and thrown it away. Its branches are made white.
Joe 1:8 Mourn like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth!
Joe 1:9 The meal offering and the drink offering are cut off from Yahweh's house. The priests, Yahweh's ministers, mourn.
Joe 1:10 The field is laid waste. The land mourns, for the grain is destroyed, The new wine has dried up, and the oil languishes.
Joe 1:11 Be confounded, you farmers! Wail, you vineyard keepers; for the wheat and for the barley; for the harvest of the field has perished.
Joe 1:12 The vine has dried up, and the fig tree withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all of the trees of the field are withered; for joy has withered away from the sons of men.
Joe 1:13 Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests! Wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the meal offering and the drink offering are withheld from your God's house.
Joe 1:14 Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, to the house of Yahweh, your God, and cry to Yahweh.
Joe 1:15 Alas for the day! For the day of Yahweh is at hand, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.
Joe 1:16 Isn't the food cut off before our eyes; joy and gladness from the house of our God?
Joe 1:17 The seeds rot under their clods. The granaries are laid desolate. The barns are broken down, for the grain has withered.
Joe 1:18 How the animals groan! The herds of livestock are perplexed, because they have no pasture. Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
Joe 1:19 Yahweh, I cry to you, For the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.
Joe 1:20 Yes, the animals of the field pant to you, for the water brooks have dried up, And the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.
Joe 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh comes, for it is close at hand:
Joe 2:2 A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn spreading on the mountains, a great and strong people; there has never been the like, neither will there be any more after them, even to the years of many generations.
Joe 2:3 A fire devours before them, and behind them, a flame burns. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them, a desolate wilderness. Yes, and no one has escaped them.
Joe 2:4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen, so do they run.
Joe 2:5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
Joe 2:6 At their presence the peoples are in anguish. All faces have grown pale.
Joe 2:7 They run like mighty men. They climb the wall like warriors. They each march in his line, and they don't swerve off course.
Joe 2:8 Neither does one jostle another; they march everyone in his path, and they burst through the defenses, and don't break ranks.
Joe 2:9 They rush on the city. They run on the wall. They climb up into the houses. They enter in at the windows like thieves.
Joe 2:10 The earth quakes before them. The heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Joe 2:11 Yahweh thunders his voice before his army; for his forces are very great; for he is strong who obeys his command; for the day of Yahweh is great and very awesome, and who can endure it?
Joe 2:12 "Yet even now," says Yahweh, "turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning."
Joe 2:13 Tear your heart, and not your garments, and turn to Yahweh, your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and relents from sending calamity.
Joe 2:14 Who knows? He may turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meal offering and a drink offering to Yahweh, your God.
Joe 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion! Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly.
Joe 2:16 Gather the people. Sanctify the assembly. Assemble the elders. Gather the children, and those who suck the breasts. Let the bridegroom go forth from his room, and the bride out of her chamber.
Joe 2:17 Let the priests, the ministers of Yahweh, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, "Spare your people, Yahweh, and don't give your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?' "
Joe 2:18 Then Yahweh was jealous for his land, And had pity on his people.
Joe 2:19 Yahweh answered his people, "Behold, I will send you grain, new wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied with them; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.
Joe 2:20 But I will remove the northern army far away from you, and will drive it into a barren and desolate land, its front into the eastern sea, and its back into the western sea; and its stench will come up, and its bad smell will rise." Surely he has done great things.
Joe 2:21 Land, don't be afraid. Be glad and rejoice, for Yahweh has done great things.
Joe 2:22 Don't be afraid, you animals of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness spring up, for the tree bears its fruit. The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
Joe 2:23 "Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh, your God; for he gives you the former rain in just measure, and he causes the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain, as before.
Joe 2:24 The threshing floors will be full of wheat, and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
Joe 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the great locust, the grasshopper, and the caterpillar, my great army, which I sent among you.
Joe 2:26 You will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied, and will praise the name of Yahweh, your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and my people will never again be disappointed.
Joe 2:27 You will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else; and my people will never again be disappointed.
Joe 2:28 "It will happen afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions.
Joe 2:29 And also on the servants and on the handmaids in those days, I will pour out my Spirit.
Joe 2:30 I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.
Joe 2:31 The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes.
Joe 2:32 It will happen that whoever will call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the remnant, those whom Yahweh calls.
Joe 3:1 "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
Joe 3:2 I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will execute judgment on them there for my people, and for my heritage, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations. They have divided my land,
Joe 3:3 and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.
Joe 3:4 "Yes, and what are you to me, Tyre, and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Will you repay me? And if you repay me, I will swiftly and speedily return your repayment on your own head.
Joe 3:5 Because you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my finest treasures into your temples,
Joe 3:6 and have sold the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem to the sons of the Greeks, that you may remove them far from their border.
Joe 3:7 Behold, I will stir them up out of the place where you have sold them, and will return your repayment on your own head;
Joe 3:8 and I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hands of the children of Judah, and they will sell them to the men of Sheba, to a faraway nation, for Yahweh has spoken it."
Joe 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations: "Prepare for war! Stir up the mighty men. Let all the warriors draw near. Let them come up.
Joe 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weak say, 'I am strong.'
Joe 3:11 Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves together." Cause your mighty ones to come down there, Yahweh.
Joe 3:12 "Let the nations arouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
Joe 3:13 Put in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the winepress is full, the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great."
Joe 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of Yahweh is near, in the valley of decision.
Joe 3:15 The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Joe 3:16 Yahweh will roar from Zion, and thunder from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth will shake; but Yahweh will be a refuge to his people, and a stronghold to the children of Israel.
Joe 3:17 "So you will know that I am Yahweh, your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. Then Jerusalem will be holy, and no strangers will pass through her any more.
Joe 3:18 It will happen in that day, that the mountains will drop down sweet wine, the hills will flow with milk, all the brooks of Judah will flow with waters, and a fountain will come forth from the house of Yahweh, and will water the valley of Shittim.
Joe 3:19 Egypt will be a desolation, and Edom will be a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
Joe 3:20 But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
Joe 3:21 I will cleanse their blood, that I have not cleansed: for Yahweh dwells in Zion."
Dec. 16
2 John

2Jn 1:1 The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not I only, but also all those who know the truth;
2Jn 1:2 for the truth's sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever:
2Jn 1:3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
2Jn 1:4 I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, even as we have been commanded by the Father.
2Jn 1:5 Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
2Jn 1:6 This is love, that we should walk according to his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don't confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.
2Jn 1:8 Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward.
2Jn 1:9 Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10 If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him,
2Jn 1:11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.
2Jn 1:12 Having many things to write to you, I don't want to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy may be made full.
2Jn 1:13 The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen.

From Gary... At the precipice

This is simply- WRONG!!!! The audacity of this sign is astounding!!! In a world that is increasingly evil; open encouragement of criminals and terrorists is a sign that we are crossing a threshold of pending destruction!!!  In times like these, one would do well to read the 64th Psalm!!!

Psalm 64 (WEB)
 1  Hear my voice, God, in my complaint.
Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
  2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked,
from the noisy crowd of the ones doing evil;
  3 who sharpen their tongue like a sword,
and aim their arrows, deadly words,
  4 to shoot innocent men from ambushes.
They shoot at him suddenly and fearlessly.
  5 They encourage themselves in evil plans.
They talk about laying snares secretly.
They say, “Who will see them?”

  6 They plot injustice, saying, “We have made a perfect plan!”
Surely man’s mind and heart are cunning.
  7 But God will shoot at them.
They will be suddenly struck down with an arrow.
  8 Their own tongues shall ruin them.
All who see them will shake their heads.
  9 All mankind shall be afraid.
They shall declare the work of God,
and shall wisely ponder what he has done.
  10 The righteous shall be glad in Yahweh,
and shall take refuge in him.
All the upright in heart shall praise him!

Now that you have read the Psalm- reread it!!!  God will ultimately overcome ALL evil and those you follow HIM will praise him for what HE has done!!!!  I am saddened by the sheer sight of this advertisement, but at least its message is out-in-the-open for us to contemplate.  And the 64th Psalm is a good place to start!!!!