12/27/14

From Jim McGuiggan... Repentance is righteousness


Repentance is righteousness

I commit a crime and so I am a criminal! I'm subjected to a punishment that is judged to be what the crime deserves and it seems to be a fair judgment. While I am enduring the punishment I cherish the crime and regret nothing, so not only have I committed a criminal act I have the heart of a criminal. The heart that expressed itself in opposition to society in a specific act continues to oppose the righteousness to which society pays homage by imprisoning me. I may acknowledge the justice of the laws and the fairness of the punishment but that's as far as it goes—I am a foe of society and its laws which express its conception of social righteousness. (James 2:9-10 has this thought in mind.)

During the course of the imprisonment I have a change of heart. I come to regret my crime and come to see it for what it is—an unjustified act of criminal behaviour. But it isn't just the crime I now denounce; I denounce the criminal heart that expressed itself in that act. The change is a heart and attitude change as well as being a new response to a specific past act.

In this change, I the criminal have crossed over to the ranks of the righteous. I join with the judge and jury in support not only of the punishment I now endure but in support of the reasons and motivations that led them to establish the laws, find me guilty of breaking them and punishing me for it.

The deeper and more passionate my conviction on these matters grows the farther I am removed from the heart of a criminal. I can't alter the fact that I have committed the crime but if I have a thoroughgoing change of heart I am no longer the man who did. I now oppose the man who committed the crime and I oppose the man who for some time cherished it and had no commitment to justice.

The past act can't be undone but the past act can be judged in righteousness and a commitment can be made to a love for and a practice of righteousness from this day forward. As surely as the heart that conceived and effected the crime is a criminal heart, the heart that denounces and renounces the crime is a righteous heart.

The Christian in a biblical and religious setting would speak of "sin" and "repentance" and it would be the case that more than a single sin would be in view.

I commit a grievous sin (or one of the "respectable" sins), I'm judged and in some shape or form I'm punished by the community of believers. I sinned because I had the heart for it and though I'm enduring the inevitable sense of loss I'm bitter enough to feel no remorse much less repentance. If my crime is slander or adultery and I have no remorse or repentance I remain a slanderer or an adulterer (compare Matthew 5:21-23, 27-28). But if I have a change of heart (2 Timothy 2:25) and now in a penitent spirit I acknowledge the truth of God for which the assembly stood, I move from the sinner's camp and become part of the righteous community.

It would be correct to say of me he committed slander or adultery but it would not be correct to now say of me that I am a slanderer or an adulterer. Repentance is the form righteousness takes in someone who has sinned. Jesus, for example, could not personally repent because he had no sin to repent of so his righteousness was always a positive holiness. The rest of us, though we are sinners, are called to be righteous in our living (1 John 2:3-6 and 3:3, for example). We are not to conclude that Jesus holds us as enemies of righteousness because we sin for genuine repentance is righteousness. It is a mind-set, generated in us by the gracious God and in repentance we cross over to his side in the matter of sin (ours or another's).

The deeper and purer the repentance the less we are like the people we were when we sinned without caring. The deeper and purer the repentance the more our heart is like the heart of God. Can you imagine what we will be like as our repentance moves nearer and nearer the ideal?

[These remarks on repentance take into account only one aspect of the multifaceted riches of the biblical witness on repentance but I'm certain they aren't a distortion of that richer truth.]

Do Animals Have Souls? by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=582

Do Animals Have Souls?

by  Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

Q.

I know the Bible teaches that every human has an immortal soul. But do animals have souls?

A.

If you ever owned a dog, a cat, or any other kind of animal to which you grew attached, you may have wondered whether or not that animal had a soul. Men and women through the ages have pondered the same question. Animals— whose vast numbers stretch into the millions—are ubiquitous as our co-inhabitants on planet Earth. They serve as an unpaid, ever-dependable, and quite invaluable work force as they help the farmer plow a rough field or the blind person cross a busy city street. They account for a considerable portion of the total world food supply for humans. They provide joy and companionship for young and old alike. They are an undeniable boon to mental health, especially for sick children and the infirm elderly. Surely none among us would doubt the many benefits that accrue as a result of the presence of animals among us.
But do animals possess souls? And if they do, is their soul the same as a human soul? That is to say, is it immortal—will it eventually inhabit either heaven or hell?
The English word “soul” derives from a number of different words in the Old and New Testaments and is used in the Bible in a variety of ways. First, it is employed as a synonym for a living, breathing person. Moses wrote: “All the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls” (Exodus 1:5; cf. Deuteronomy 10:22). In legal matters also, the word soul was used to denote any individual. The Lord told Moses: “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, ‘If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments of the Lord concerning things which ought not to be done’ ” (Leviticus 4:2). When Jacob was speaking of himself in Genesis 49:6, he used the expression, “O my soul”—which meant simply “me.” In each of these instances, actual people—individually or collectively—were under discussion.
Second, the word soul can be used to describe the physical form of life that both men and animals possess and that ceases to exist at death. In their Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Brown, Driver, and Briggs noted that the word “soul” (Hebrew nephesh) often is employed to mean “life principle” (1907, p. 659). In Genesis 1:20,24,30, God spoke of the nephesh hayyah—literally “soul breathers” or “life breathers” (often translated as “living creatures” or “life”—cf. Leviticus 11:10). The writer of Proverbs observed in regard to animals: “A righteous man regardeth the life (nephesh) of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (12:10). Hebrew scholar Hugo McCord therefore suggested:
Then the translators realized that the first meaning of nephesh is “breath,” and so Genesis 1:20,24,30 and Genesis 2:7 all fit together in understanding Moses as saying that all animals and man too are breathers. Breathers, coupled with hayyah, “living,” the translators thought, would be well translated, in the case of animals, as “living creatures,” and in the case of man as a “living being” (1995, 23[1]:87-88).
Third, the word soul can be used to describe something that is immortal and thus never dies. In speaking of Rachel’s death at the birth of her son, Moses wrote: “And it came to pass, as her soul was departing (for she died)” (Genesis 35:18). While Elijah was at the house of a widow in the city of Zarephath, the woman’s son died. But Elijah “cried unto Jehovah, and said..., ‘O Jehovah my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again’” (1 Kings 17:21). Hezekiah celebrated the fact that the soul survives the death of the body: “But thou hast in love to my soul (nephesh) delivered it from the pit of corruption” (Isaiah 38:17).
Centuries later, the Lord Himself warned: “And be not afraid of them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28) When the apostle John was allowed to peer into the book “sealed with seven seals” (Revelation 5:1), he “saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God” (Revelation 6:9). Each of these passages is instructive of the fact that there exists within man a soul that survives the death of the body.
The question therefore becomes: Can the word “soul” be used correctly in referring to animals? The first definition obviously cannot apply to animals since animals are not persons. But the second definition most certainly would apply to animals. Compare the following passages. In Psalm 78:50 we find an example of the usage of “soul” as “life” when the writer said in speaking of the people of Egypt (who tried in vain to prevent the Israelites from leaving their country’s slavery) that God “spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence.” In this instance, the word “soul” (Hebrew nephesh) is used to denote the physical life of humans. But in Genesis 1:20,24, the identical Hebrew word is employed to speak of animals as “living creatures” (Hebrew nephesh hayyah). In this sense, then, yes, it is correct to say that animals have “souls”—since the word soul means only physical life. In responding to the question, “Do animals have souls?,” McCord wrote: “Yes, when the word soul, nephesh, only means ‘breath,’ as in Genesis 1:20 (ASV), ‘Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures,’ nephesh hayyah, literally, ‘living soul’” (1999).
But can the third definition be applied to animals? Do animals possess immortal souls that one day will inhabit heaven or hell? In this era of evolutionary fervor and an increasing fascination with all kinds of “rights,” we are reminded constantly that man shares a “kinship” with members of the animal kingdom that positively must not be overlooked. Michael Fox wrote:
There is indeed a kinship in the present diversity and evolutionary continuity of all life.... It is more important today than ever before for human beings to be aware of their kinship with all life. It is essential for our survival that we have a strong reverence for all forms of life as our kin... (1978, p. 121).
Those who do not believe in God or accept the Bible as His Word (and thus deny the existence of an immortal soul) generally perceive animals as man’s equal in almost every aspect. Thus, they often refer to animals as being not one whit behind humans in regard to how they should be viewed or treated. For example, in his book, The Case for Animal Rights, Tom Regan acknowledged that each human is “the experiencing subject of a life, a conscious creature having an individual welfare” (1987, p. 59). But he likewise viewed animals as “the experiencing subjects of a life, with inherent value of their own” (p. 59) and so he asked:
What could be the basis of our having more inherent value than animals? Their lack of reason, or autonomy, or intellect? Only if we are willing to make the same judgement in the case of humans who are similarly deficient. But it is not true that such humans—the retarded child, for example, or the mentally deranged—have less inherent value than you or I. Neither, then, can we rationally sustain the view that animals, like them, in being the experiencing subjects of a life have less inherent value. All who have inherent value have it equally, whether they be human animals or not. Inherent value, then, belongs equally to those who are the experiencing subjects of a life (p. 60).
This type of thinking—that men and animals both possess “inherent value equally”—has set the stage for those who profess a belief in God to set forth their claim that animals do indeed possess immortal souls. In his book, All Creatures Here Below, Frank Hoffman stated:
...if the animal sacrifice is the precursor, or type of the final sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, which is a mainstream Christian teaching, is God’s Word not also telling us that animals do have souls?... Now then, why are we reluctant to accept the fact that animals do have souls? Because we are still trying to hold on to some of our pride, and perhaps our greed. If we do not accept the fact that animals have souls, then we may have a self-acceptable excuse for the way we treat the rest of God’s creatures, which is not in accordance with God’s desire, but ours (1998, emp. added).
The position advocated by such writers is completely at odds with the teaching found in God’s Word. First, man and animals do not share kinship—all the claims of evolutionists (and those sympathetic to them) notwithstanding. The apostle Paul addressed this very point in 1 Corinthians 15 when he wrote: “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fishes” (v. 39, emp. added). As Stuart Walker correctly commented: “Genesis 1:26-30 and 2:7,21-25 clearly states that man was a special creation with no phylogenetic relationship to any other creature. Thus, there is a phylogenetic discontinuity between man and animals—we are not physically interrelated” (1991, 5[2]:21, emp. added). As Adam previewed the animals in the Garden of Eden for a mate and went about naming them (Genesis 2:18-20), this “discontinuity” became clear. Among all the animals that God had created, there was none that corresponded to him. Not one sufficed to remove him from his personal isolation of being “alone” (Genesis 2:18). As Walker went on to note:
Thus, we share in the life principle, but it is not the life principle itself that is precious.... Ontological continuity cannot be established upon the experiences of life, the intrinsic value of life itself, or physical parallels between animals and humans; rather, we are separated from the animal world by an impassable gulf—a chasm of essential difference in who we are (1991, 5[2]:22, emp. added).
Second, man was commanded to “subdue and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The Hebrew word for “subdue” (kabash) is described in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance as meaning “to tread down,” “to bring under subjection,” etc. The same word is used in Numbers 32:22, 29 and Joshua 18:1 where it is used to describe the subduing and pacifying of Israel’s enemies. To kabash, therefore, is to
face that which opposes us and is inimical in its present state to our goals and well-being, and bring it into conformity with our needs—completely pacifying it.... Thus it can be inferred that when God gave Adam dominion over the creative order, He was describing a pre-emptive authority which man would wield over the creation as he interpreted the cosmos and manipulated its functions to man’s benefit... (Walker, 5[2]:25).
Man’s “pre-emptive authority” over the creation, including the animal kingdom, was demonstrated quite forcefully in a single stroke when God granted mankind permission to kill and eat animals for food (Genesis 9:3-4). Interestingly, however, within the same context God specifically forbade manslaughter “for in the image of God made he man” (Genesis 9:5-6). If man “shares kinship” with animals or if animals possess immortal souls, why would God permit him to kill his own kin—relatives whose souls are no different than his own? As Neale Pryor commented: “Animals also have a ruach [a Hebrew word for “breath” or “life”—BT/SE] (Genesis 6:17). Killing one who has a ruach or nephesh would not necessarily constitute murder; otherwise animals could not be sacrificed or slaughtered” (1974, 5[3]:34). God’s prohibition against murder carried over even into New Testament times (Matthew 19:18). At the same time, however, God broadened the list of animals that men could kill and eat (Acts 10:9-14). Why was it that men could not kill other men, but could kill animals? The answer lies, of course, in the fact that animals were not created “in the image of God.”
Third, although it is true that at times the Bible uses the same terms to refer to the life principle/force in both humans and animals (e.g. Genesis 7:22), and although it is true that those terms may be used to refer to the immortal soul of humans (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Matthew 10:28), they never are employed by Bible writers to refer to an immortal soul in animals. In their Commentary on the Old Testament, Keil and Delitzsch observed:
The beasts arose at the creative word of God, and no communication of the spirit is mentioned even in ch. ii:19; the origin of their soul was coincident with that of their corporeality, and their life was merely the individualization of the universal life, with which all matter was filled in the beginning by the Spirit of God. On the other hand, the human spirit is not a mere individualization of the divine breath which breathed upon the material of the world, or of the universal spirit of nature; nor is his body merely a production of the earth when stimulated by the creative word of God. The earth does not bring forth his body, but God Himself puts His hand to the work and forms him; nor does the life already imparted to the world by the Spirit of God individualize itself in him, but God breathes it directly into the nostrils of the one man, in the whole fulness of His personality, the breath of life, that in a manner corresponding to the personality of God he may become a living soul (1982, 1:79-80, emp. added).
Man alone was created “in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26-27)—something that may not be said of animals. Walker therefore asked: “If the putative parallels either do not exist or are insignificant before God, what then is the critical essence of man that distinguishes him from all of creation, and what are the ramifications of this distinction? The key is found in Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18-25, and 9:5-7; it is that only man is created in the image of God” (1991, 5[2]:22, emp. added). Gary Anderson addressed this same point when he wrote:
Man’s concepts of spiritual values, his recognition of morals and his universal acknowledgement that he is responsible for his own behavior set him far apart from the animal world. That is to say, they have no immortal soul, as the following point documents. The spirit of man returns to God who gave it when one dies (Eccl. 12:7). Such is not said of the animal! Adam is called the son of God in Luke 3:38, obviously by creation. What animal is called the son of God or offspring of God? (1989, p. 76, emp. added).
Nowhere does God’s Word indicate that animals were created in God’s image. As Philip Hughes commented:
Only of man is it said that God created him in his image. It is in this charter of his constitution that man’s uniqueness is specifically affirmed as a creature radically distinguished from all other creatures. In this respect a line is defined which links man directly and responsibly to God in a way that is unknown to any other creature. Nothing is more basic than the recognition that being constituted in the image of God is of the very essence of and absolutely central to the humanness of man. It is the key that unlocks the meaning of his authentic humanity (1989, p. 30, emp. added).
But do animals have souls? Animals may be said to have souls—if the word “soul” is used as the Bible employs it in discussing members of the animal kingdom (i.e., to describe only the physical life force found within all living creatures). But if the word “soul” is used to refer to an immortal soul that one day will inhabit heaven or hell, then no, animals may not be said to possess a soul. This is the only conclusion that can be drawn, respecting the instruction on the subject found within the Word of God.

REFERENCES

Anderson, Gary L. (1989), “The Lord...Formeth the Spirit of Man within Him,” In Hope of Eternal Life, ed. Bobby Liddell (Pensacola, FL: Bellview Church of Christ), pp. 70-81.
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles Briggs (1907), A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (London: Oxford University Press).
Fox, Michael (1978), “Man and Nature: Biological Perspectives,” On the Fifth Day, ed. Richard K. Morris and Michael Fox (Washington, D.C.: Acropolis Books).
Hoffman, Frank (1998), “Of Life and Soul,” All Creatures Here Below [Online], URL: http://www.all-creatures.org/book/book-alcr3.html.
Hughes, Philip Edgecumbe (1989), The True Image (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1982 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
McCord, Hugo (1995), “What is the Soul,” Vigil, 23[11]:87-88, November.
McCord, Hugo (1999), “Do Animals Have Souls?,” personal correspondence.
Pryor, Neale (1974), “Abortion: Soul and Spirit in the Hebrew Language,” Spiritual Sword, 5[3]:33-35, April.
Regan, Tom (1987), The Case for Animal Rights (Clarks Summit, PA: International Society for Animal Rights).
Walker, T. Stuart (1991), “Animal Rights and the Image of God—Part II,” Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine, 5[2]:21-27, Spring.

From Mark Copeland... Jesus Blesses Little Children (Mark 10:13-16)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                Jesus Blesses Little Children (10:13-16)

INTRODUCTION

1. Jesus had just finished His teachings on the sanctity of marriage...
   a. As an institution ordained of God
   b. As a bond that should not be broken

2. When parents brought their little children...
   a. To be touched by Him - Mk 10:13
   b. To lay His hands on them and pray - cf. Mt 19:13

[It begins with frustration and indignation, but ends with valuable
teaching regarding discipleship and a touching scene of the Lord holding
and blessing the little children.  Let's begin by considering...]

I. THE NARRATIVE

   A. PARENTS BRING THEIR INFANTS...
      1. The verb tense suggest the parents' persistence ("kept on
         bringing") - Mk 10:13
      2. Mark uses a word (paidia) that can mean children up to twelve,
         while Luke uses a word (brephos) that indicates infants - Lk 18:15
      3. Mark later says Jesus "took them up in His arms", suggestive of
         infants - Mk 10:15
      -- The parents desperately wanted Jesus to touch and pray for
         their babies

   B. DISCIPLES REBUKE THE PARENTS...
      1. The disciples rebuke those who were bringing the children - Mk 10:13
      2. Perhaps they believed Jesus too important to be disturbed, the
         infants too insignificant
      -- The disciples again show mistaken zeal, as we are all wont to
         do

   C. JESUS REBUKES HIS DISCPLES...
      1. When Jesus saw what His disciples were doing, He was indignant
         - Mk 10:14
      2. The infants were to be allowed, "for of such is the kingdom of
         God" - ibid.
      3. In fact, one must receive the kingdom "as a little child" to
         enter it - Mk 10:15
      -- Jesus was angry with His disciples, but He used the opportunity
         to teach them

   D. JESUS BLESSES THE INFANTS...
      1. He first took them up into His arms, laid His hands on them
         - Mk 10:16
      2. He then blessed them, likely in the form of praying for them
         - cf. Mt 19:13
      -- While busy in His ministry, Jesus took time to pray for these
         babies

[The scene of Jesus blessing the little children is a touching one.
What applications might we draw from this episode in the ministry of
Jesus...?]

II. THE APPLICATION

   A. BASED ON EISEGESIS...
      1. Some use this passage to support infant baptism
         a. Though the earliest mention of infant baptism is around 200
            A.D.
         b. It began only after the doctrine of original sin developed,
            that infants are born in sin
         c. The practice increased as baptism became viewed as a sign or
            seal of the covenant God has with His people, akin to
            circumcision - cf. Gen 17:10-12
         d. This connection is further assumed from Paul's mention of
            baptism as a spiritual circumcision - cf. Col 2:11-12
         e. Yet both here and in Colossians, it is reading into the text
            (eisegesis) what is not there
      2. Contrary to Biblical evidence regarding baptism and the new
         covenant
         a. There is no real evidence of infant baptism in the
            scriptures
         b. The guilt of sin is not inherited - Eze 18:20
         c. Baptism requires faith and repentance, of which infants are
            incapable - Mk 16:16; Ac 8:37; 2:38
         d. In the new covenant, no one has to be taught to know the
            Lord; unlike the old covenant where infants had to be taught
            to know the Lord (infant baptism would make that distinction
            of the new covenant meaningless) - cf. He 8:6-13
         e. Paul's comparison of baptism to circumcision pertains to the
            act of cutting away, not of being a seal or sign of the
            covenant - Col 2:11-12
      -- Reading cherished views into the Scriptures is tempting, but is
         it rightly handling the Word of God? - cf. 2Ti 2:15

   B. BASED ON EXEGESIS...
      1. Receiving the kingdom
         a. Jesus used the children to teach qualities necessary to
            enter the kingdom of God
         b. Childlike virtues like trustful simplicity, unassuming
            humility - cf. Psa 131:1-2
         c. To receive the kingdom, we must be poor in spirit, meek
            - cf. Mt 5:3,5; Mt 18:3-4
      2. Receiving the children
         a. Jesus demonstrates His love for children, willingness to
            take time for them
         b. His disciples should show similar concern for little
            children
         c. Are we willing to make time for children?  Be good role
            models? - cf. Mt 18:6,10
      3. Praying for the children
         a. All children need our prayers, just as the parents requested
            for their infants
         b. Even though infants may not be in a state of sin, their time
            will come soon enough
         c. Especially in this day and age, where children are bombarded
            with so much evil
      -- Others may read into the scriptures, let's to read out of them
         what the Lord intended

CONCLUSION

1. Have we taken to heart the lessons Jesus intended for His
   disciples...?
   a. To receive the kingdom of God with a childlike trust and humility?
   b. To show an appreciation and love for little children?
   c. To pray for them and their parents?

2. May we as disciples of Christ never be too busy...
   a. To take time for the littlest of children
   b. To learn from them as to how we should be in the kingdom of God
   c. To pray for them, to encourage them in both word and deed

         "...for of such is the kingdom of God." - Mk 10:14

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary.... Bible Reading December 27



Bible Reading   

December 27

The World English Bible


Dec. 27
Zechariah 1-4

Zec 1:1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of Yahweh came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying,
Zec 1:2 "Yahweh was very displeased with your fathers.
Zec 1:3 Therefore tell them: Thus says Yahweh of Armies: 'Return to me,' says Yahweh of Armies, 'and I will return to you,' says Yahweh of Armies.
Zec 1:4 Don't you be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying: Thus says Yahweh of Armies, 'Return now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings;' but they did not hear, nor listen to me, says Yahweh.
Zec 1:5 Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever?
Zec 1:6 But my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, didn't they overtake your fathers? "Then they repented and said, 'Just as Yahweh of Armies determined to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our practices, so he has dealt with us.' "
Zec 1:7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of Yahweh came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet, saying,
Zec 1:8 "I had a vision in the night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in a ravine; and behind him there were red, brown, and white horses.
Zec 1:9 Then I asked, 'My lord, what are these?' " The angel who talked with me said to me, "I will show you what these are."
Zec 1:10 The man who stood among the myrtle trees answered, "They are the ones Yahweh has sent to go back and forth through the earth."
Zec 1:11 They reported to the angel of Yahweh who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, "We have walked back and forth through the earth, and behold, all the earth is at rest and in peace."
Zec 1:12 Then the angel of Yahweh replied, "O Yahweh of Armies, how long will you not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which you have had indignation these seventy years?"
Zec 1:13 Yahweh answered the angel who talked with me with kind and comforting words.
Zec 1:14 So the angel who talked with me said to me, "Proclaim, saying, 'Thus says Yahweh of Armies: "I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.
Zec 1:15 I am very angry with the nations that are at ease; for I was but a little displeased, but they added to the calamity."
Zec 1:16 Therefore thus says Yahweh: "I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy. My house shall be built in it," says Yahweh of Armies, "and a line shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem." '
Zec 1:17 "Proclaim further, saying, 'Thus says Yahweh of Armies: "My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and Yahweh will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem." ' "
Zec 1:18 I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold, four horns.
Zec 1:19 I asked the angel who talked with me, "What are these?" He answered me, "These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem."
Zec 1:20 Yahweh showed me four craftsmen.
Zec 1:21 Then I asked, "What are these coming to do?" He said, "These are the horns which scattered Judah, so that no man lifted up his head; but these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it."
Zec 2:1 I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand.
Zec 2:2 Then I asked, "Where are you going?" He said to me, "To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its breadth and what is its length."
Zec 2:3 Behold, the angel who talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him,
Zec 2:4 and said to him, "Run, speak to this young man, saying, 'Jerusalem will be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it.
Zec 2:5 For I,' says Yahweh, 'will be to her a wall of fire around it, and I will be the glory in the midst of her.
Zec 2:6 Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north,' says Yahweh; 'for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the sky,' says Yahweh.
Zec 2:7 'Come, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.'
Zec 2:8 For thus says Yahweh of Armies: 'For honor he has sent me to the nations which plundered you; for he who touches you touches the apple of his eye.
Zec 2:9 For, behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they will be a spoil to those who served them; and you will know that Yahweh of Armies has sent me.
Zec 2:10 Sing and rejoice, daughter of Zion; for, behold, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of you,' says Yahweh.
Zec 2:11 Many nations shall join themselves to Yahweh in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of you, and you shall know that Yahweh of Armies has sent me to you.
Zec 2:12 Yahweh will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.
Zec 2:13 Be silent, all flesh, before Yahweh; for he has roused himself from his holy habitation!"
Zec 3:1 He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Yahweh, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary.
Zec 3:2 Yahweh said to Satan, "Yahweh rebuke you, Satan! Yes, Yahweh who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn't this a burning stick plucked out of the fire?"
Zec 3:3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and was standing before the angel.
Zec 3:4 He answered and spoke to those who stood before him, saying, "Take the filthy garments off of him." To him he said, "Behold, I have caused your iniquity to pass from you, and I will clothe you with rich clothing."
Zec 3:5 I said, "Let them set a clean turban on his head." So they set a clean turban on his head, and clothed him; and the angel of Yahweh was standing by.
Zec 3:6 The angel of Yahweh protested to Joshua, saying,
Zec 3:7 "Thus says Yahweh of Armies: 'If you will walk in my ways, and if you will follow my instructions, then you also shall judge my house, and shall also keep my courts, and I will give you a place of access among these who stand by.
Zec 3:8 Hear now, Joshua the high priest, you and your fellows who sit before you; for they are men who are a sign: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant, the Branch.
Zec 3:9 For, behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes: behold, I will engrave its engraving,' says Yahweh of Armies, 'and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.
Zec 3:10 In that day,' says Yahweh of Armies, 'you will invite every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.' "
Zec 4:1 The angel who talked with me came again, and wakened me, as a man who is wakened out of his sleep.
Zec 4:2 He said to me, "What do you see?" I said, "I have seen, and behold, a lampstand all of gold, with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps thereon; there are seven pipes to each of the lamps, which are on the top of it;
Zec 4:3 and two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl, and the other on the left side of it."
Zec 4:4 I answered and spoke to the angel who talked with me, saying, "What are these, my lord?"
Zec 4:5 Then the angel who talked with me answered me, "Don't you know what these are?" I said, "No, my lord."
Zec 4:6 Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, "This is the word of Yahweh to Zerubbabel, saying, 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh of Armies.
Zec 4:7 Who are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you are a plain; and he will bring out the capstone with shouts of 'Grace, grace, to it!' "
Zec 4:8 Moreover the word of Yahweh came to me, saying,
Zec 4:9 "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house. His hands shall also finish it; and you will know that Yahweh of Armies has sent me to you.
Zec 4:10 Indeed, who despises the day of small things? For these seven shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. These are the eyes of Yahweh, which run back and forth through the whole earth."
Zec 4:11 Then I asked him, "What are these two olive trees on the right side of the lampstand and on the left side of it?"
Zec 4:12 I asked him the second time, "What are these two olive branches, which are beside the two golden spouts, that pour the golden oil out of themselves?"
Zec 4:13 He answered me, "Don't you know what these are?" I said, "No, my lord."
Zec 4:14 Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones who stand by the Lord of the whole earth."

 
Dec. 27
Revelation 15, 16

Rev 15:1 I saw another great and marvelous sign in the sky: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them God's wrath is finished.
Rev 15:2 I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who overcame the beast, his image, and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.
Rev 15:3 They sang the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, "Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God, the Almighty! Righteous and true are your ways, you King of the nations.
Rev 15:4 Who wouldn't fear you, Lord, and glorify your name? For you only are holy. For all the nations will come and worship before you. For your righteous acts have been revealed."
Rev 15:5 After these things I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened.
Rev 15:6 The seven angels who had the seven plagues came out, clothed with pure, bright linen, and wearing golden sashes around their breasts.
Rev 15:7 One of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever.
Rev 15:8 The temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power. No one was able to enter into the temple, until the seven plagues of the seven angels would be finished.

Rev 16:1 I heard a loud voice out of the temple, saying to the seven angels, "Go and pour out the seven bowls of the wrath of God on the earth!"
Rev 16:2 The first went, and poured out his bowl into the earth, and it became a harmful and evil sore on the people who had the mark of the beast, and who worshiped his image.
Rev 16:3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became blood as of a dead man. Every living thing in the sea died.
Rev 16:4 The third poured out his bowl into the rivers and springs of water, and they became blood.
Rev 16:5 I heard the angel of the waters saying, "You are righteous, who are and who were, you Holy One, because you have judged these things.
Rev 16:6 For they poured out the blood of the saints and the prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. They deserve this."
Rev 16:7 I heard the altar saying, "Yes, Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judgments."
Rev 16:8 The fourth poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was given to him to scorch men with fire.
Rev 16:9 People were scorched with great heat, and people blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues. They didn't repent and give him glory.
Rev 16:10 The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was darkened. They gnawed their tongues because of the pain,
Rev 16:11 and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores. They didn't repent of their works.
Rev 16:12 The sixth poured out his bowl on the great river, the Euphrates. Its water was dried up, that the way might be made ready for the kings that come from the sunrise.
Rev 16:13 I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, something like frogs;
Rev 16:14 for they are spirits of demons, performing signs; which go forth to the kings of the whole inhabited earth, to gather them together for the war of that great day of God, the Almighty.
Rev 16:15 "Behold, I come like a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his clothes, so that he doesn't walk naked, and they see his shame."
Rev 16:16 He gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew, Megiddo.
Rev 16:17 The seventh poured out his bowl into the air. A loud voice came forth out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, "It is done!"
Rev 16:18 There were lightnings, sounds, and thunders; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since there were men on the earth, so great an earthquake, so mighty.
Rev 16:19 The great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered in the sight of God, to give to her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath.
Rev 16:20 Every island fled away, and the mountains were not found.
Rev 16:21 Great hailstones, about the weight of a talent, came down out of the sky on people. People blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, for this plague is exceedingly severe.




From Gary... Pictures, parables, personalities and perceptions



Christmas is over, presents all unwrapped and quite soon everyone will be taking their tree and outside lights down. Then what? The New Year of course!!! And what do you think the New Year will be like?  Before you answer, take this simple test: 

One of the three pictures above is the original, guess which one? 

How we view the world around us will have a lot do do with how we view the future. And we are what we think about all day long. What do you think about? I mean, normally, NOT during the holidays? Again, how you answer this will in part determine your picture choice.

Then, there are the Scriptures to consider...

Matthew, Chapter 13 (WEB)
1 On that day Jesus went out of the house, and sat by the seaside.  2 Great multitudes gathered to him, so that he entered into a boat, and sat, and all the multitude stood on the beach.  3 He spoke to them many things in parables, saying, “Behold, a farmer went out to sow.   4  As he sowed, some seeds fell by the roadside, and the birds came and devoured them.   5  Others fell on rocky ground, where they didn’t have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of earth.  6  When the sun had risen, they were scorched. Because they had no root, they withered away.   7  Others fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and choked them.   8  Others fell on good soil, and yielded fruit: some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.   9  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 

  10  The disciples came, and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 

  11  He answered them, “To you it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but it is not given to them.   12 For whoever has, to him will be given, and he will have abundance, but whoever doesn’t have, from him will be taken away even that which he has.   13  Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they don’t see, and hearing, they don’t hear, neither do they understand.   14  In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, 
‘By hearing you will hear, 
and will in no way understand; 
Seeing you will see, 
and will in no way perceive: 
  15  for this people’s heart has grown callous, 
their ears are dull of hearing, 
they have closed their eyes; 
or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes, 
hear with their ears, 
understand with their heart, 
and should turn again; 
and I would heal them.’

  16  “But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.   17  For most certainly I tell you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which you see, and didn’t see them; and to hear the things which you hear, and didn’t hear them. 

  18  “Hear, then, the parable of the farmer.   19  When anyone hears the word of the Kingdom, and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes, and snatches away that which has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown by the roadside.   20  What was sown on the rocky places, this is he who hears the word, and immediately with joy receives it;   21  yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.   22 What was sown among the thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of this age and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.   23  What was sown on the good ground, this is he who hears the word, and understands it, who most certainly bears fruit, and produces, some one hundred times as much, some sixty, and some thirty.”

Notice some similarities between the picture choice and the parable? But, the parable goes a bit farther than the picture test- Even the disciples (Jesus' chosen ones) had a choice; to learn or not to learn.

We all make choices; some good ones and others to our detriment- but when it comes to really listening to what God says, the stakes are very high indeed. So choose wisely- and make it to heaven.

By the way- the black picture represents those with a pragmatic view of life; someone who just doesn't care about spiritual matters and sees the world in black or white terms.  The predominately blue picture shows those who are ruled by other things (like circumstances or emotions or other people) and the golden one (which is the original) makes me think of the golden streets of heaven.