From Jim McGuiggan... LUKE 15, THE PARTY


Maybe we have, but I can’t help thinking we’ve never really felt happiness until we’ve felt the astonishment of being someone who knew and felt beyond any doubt that you had no “right” to be at a magnificent party that’s filled with the sights and sounds of celebration; and yet there you are.

Not only have you found yourself there but you found yourself to be the source of all the joy—the source of all the JOY

No conquering hero you! You haven’t been to war and carried yourself gallantly, no bronze star, no purple heart, no medal of honor, no citations for self-sacrifice; you’ve done nothing to make your Father proud. So why are you there? Why were you almost carried into the home and ushered later into a hastily put together celebration?

This is a party where everybody fusses over you, cries over, laughs over, dances with you until you come to believe the incredible—it isn’t a dream; you really and truly are wanted; sincerely loved and sincerely welcomed!

You finally believe [almost altogether] it isn’t tolerance you’re hearing—it’s joy! The smiles are real! Happy chaos, laughing bedlam and perhaps hardest of all to believe is this: your presence is the engine that drives the entire thing! You're why the Father has thrown this party!

See that man over there? The older man who’s grinning from ear to ear; you’re now and then catching phrases and words that he’s half shouting above the noise as he makes the rounds through the happy crowd—“Yes…came…night before…” “Have no words…” “My…heart…all joy…I…beside myself…” You recognize him, of course, that’s your Father. The only one in that crowd that hasn’t quite “got it”—even yet—is the one knows in his bones that he has no right to be there—you!

But outside the house, out there in the dark of the evening when parties are enjoyed, in the “darkness outside” there’s a man who’s not only stunned but one who’s filled with resentment that one such as you should be made so much of. You, the one who not long ago generated so much pain in the Father’s heart; the sulking outsider rages at it all. 

He knows you, don’t you see—he has “the facts” and he has heard “the story” that has made the rounds about you. Some of the things he has heard are indeed true and no one knows that better than you; no one feels the shame as you do. The one thing he never knew and the one thing he might never understand is this: your Father’s love is fathomless and ceaseless and that is the sole grounds for the lighted house, the music and dancing, the eating and drinking, the laughter and the sound of your name that’s called over and over again in a happy tone. Poor thing, because he doesn't love you he sits outside in the dark and will not come in despite the Father's longing and so, awful image, he continues outside in the dark.

But it isn’t only you that aggravates him—there’s something about the generosity of the Father that he can’t get his head around. Such generosity is beyond him because, God pity him, such love is beyond him. This means he's only able to think that such a party should be thrown only for someone like him. People without heart not only doubt the Father, they doubt the friends of a Father like that. [“Soft on sin, don’t you know.”]

Listen, there’ll always be someone who thinks you shouldn’t make it to the party! And you may be tempted to condemn yourself to misery because you know they’re around, hovering, keeping their distance, hinting a fault, suggesting, implying, speaking by their coolness, rolling their eyes when they see you smile—all the while hoping that they’ll steal your joy, a joy your Father and his friends wish you to experience. And you, still not able to fully believe because your past haunts you, allow their opinion to be as powerful as the Father’s warm embrace.

It may be extremely difficult and it may take a long time for you to get used to the lovely clothes the Father has put on you or the honored place in his presence he has given you, but do your best. The Father’s opinion of you, the joy he says you bring him, the happiness in his heart that you have returned is worthy of your trust. 

Trust him! For he is the one who watched the road day after day, longing to see you coming home. Your critics didn’t watch out for you, hoping for your return; they didn’t call you into the Father’s heart and they didn’t die for you.

There’s no denying your ragged and pig-stained clothes when you first came back up the road from who knows where but there’s no denying either the best clothes and the party! So as often as you can for as long as you can, put on your silly hat, inflate your balloons, ring your little bells and blow your whistle and take His word for it—you’re home and loved beyond measure. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength and live out your life in peace and commitment.

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

Has Satan Always Existed? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Has Satan Always Existed?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

From a very early age, children learn about the righteousness of God and the wickedness of Satan. We teach children that God is the loving, powerful, and all-knowing Creator and Sustainer of life Who wants them to live right and go to heaven. We also tell them that there is an evil being called Satan who is very influential in the world, and who is doing everything he possibly can to keep them out of heaven. Many Sunday mornings in Bible class, children either sing or study about these two beings. This time of study certainly is worthwhile because children are taught to obey God (John 14:15) and to resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8). In time, however, if young people are not offered additional teaching about the origin of Satan and the eternal nature of God, many inadvertently begin to form a picture in their minds of two opposing “gods” who are at war with each other. Like two heavyweight boxers exchanging punches in the middle of a ring, children begin to think of God and Satan as two equally opposing “forces.”
Although little is suggested in the Bible about Satan’s beginning, we can know that Satan is a created being. Unlike God, the Bible teaches that Satan is not omnipotent (1 John 4:4), omnipresent (cf. Job 1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Luke 4:6; Revelation 20:1-10), or eternal (cf. Deuteronomy 33:27; Psalm 102:27). Furthermore, in speaking of Jesus, Paul wrote: “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16, emp. added). The apostle John was inspired to write: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3, emp. added). Who made all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible? Jesus (the Word—John 1:14). Thus, the Bible teaches that Satan is one of God’s created beings. He had a beginning just like you, me, and everything else that exists other than God.
But just because God created Satan, does not mean that He created him as an evil being. Rather, God created him good, and then he chose to become evil. The Bible indicates that Satan was one of the angels who lived in heaven, but he (along with other angels) rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven. The apostle Peter said that “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). Another inspired writer wrote: “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). Since the Bible also refers to the devil as “the ruler of demons” (Matthew 12:24), and speaks of “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41, emp. added), it is very likely that the devil is the leader of a group of rebellious angels that was expelled from heaven to eventually spend eternity in hell.
Thus, unlike the philosophy of dualism (made popular by the Persian—Zoroaster), which teaches that an eternal good being and an eternal evil being exist and oppose one another, the Bible teaches that the Godhead is the only eternal entity. Although Satan is not to be taken lightly, it is a blessing to know that he cannot snatch us from the love of God if we are unwilling to allow him to do so (Romans 8:37-39), nor can he tempt us beyond what we are able to bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). God alone is deity, and He alone deserves our praise and adoration.

From Mark Copeland... The Triumphal Entry (Mark 11:1-11)

                          "THE GOSPEL OF MARK"

                     The Triumphal Entry (11:1-11)


1. From chapter eleven forward, the events of Mark’s gospel take place
   in or near Jerusalem...
   a. From His triumphal entry to His resurrection from the dead
   b. Occurring within the time span of eight days

2. The first day is often remembered as "Palm Sunday"...
   a. In which Jesus made a triumphal entry into the city
   b. Accompanied by crowds who laid branches on the road before Him as
      He road into town on the colt of a donkey

[The significance of this event was not understood by His disciples
until later (Jn 12:16).  With the benefit of hindsight and further
revelation, let’s first take a closer look at...]


      1. Jesus and His disciples draw near to Jerusalem - Mk 11:1
         a. By way of Bethany ("house of dates") and Bethphage ("house
            of unripe figs")
         b. Two small villages near the Mount of Olives between Jericho
            and Jerusalem
      2. Jesus arranges for two disciples to get a colt - Mk 11:1-3
         a. A colt on which no one sat
         b. By foreknowledge or previous arrangement, Jesus knows the
            owner will consent
      3. The disciples get the colt just as Jesus predicted - Mk 11:4-6

      1. Jesus mounts the colt - Mk 11:7
         a. It is brought to Him, clothes placed on it, and He sits on
         b. Matthew mentions two animals, likely the mother to calm the
            colt - Mt 21:2,7
      2. Many spread their cloths on the road, others cut leafy branches
         and place them on the road before Jesus on the colt - Mk 11:8
         a. The significance of the clothes placed before Him might be
            found in 2Ki 9:12-13
         b. John mentions palm branches - Jn 12:13
      3. Many praise Jesus as He rides the colt - Mk 11:9-10
         a. Crying "Hosanna!" ("Save!" or "please save!") - Ps 118:25
         b. "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!" - Ps 118:26
         c. "Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that comes in
            the name of the Lord!"
         d. "Hosanna in the highest!"
      4. Jesus enters Jerusalem - Mk 11:11
         a. He goes straight to the temple, and looks around
         b. But the hour is late and so He does not stay

      1. Jesus returns to Bethany with the twelve - Mk 11:11
      2. Where He likely stays each night during the week (until the
      3. Likely at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus - Jn 12:1-2

[With this brief look at the narrative, let’s offer...]


      1. Matthew explains that all this was in fulfillment of prophecy
         - Mt 21:4-5; Zech 9:9
      2. Some view the short visit to the temple as fulfilling prophecy
         - cf. Mal 3:1

      1. The actions and words of the crowd reflect Messianic
         anticipation - Mk 11:10; Jn 12:12-13
      2. Earlier some had tried to force Jesus to become a king, but He
         refused - Jn 6:15
      3. Many were looking for the Messiah to be a physical king, but
         Jesus made it clear that His kingdom was not of this world
         (i.e., a spiritual kingdom)
         a. To the Pharisees - Lk 17:20-21
         b. To Pilate - Jn 18:36
      4. Paul made it clear that the kingdom was spiritual, not physical
         - Ro 14:17; 1Co 15:50
      5. Jesus’ selection of the colt indicated the spiritual nature of
         His kingdom
         a. Normally kings would ride on a horse, symbolizing war and
         b. But the donkey symbolized peace, befitting the nature of His
            kingdom - cf. Isa 9:6

      1. How exciting it must have been on that day!  The anticipation!
         The joy!
      2. The praise of Christ reached eternal heights after His
         ascension - Re 5:8-14
      3. Today, we can join in the praise of Christ each Lord’s day!
      4. And we can look forward to praising Jesus when He returns, when
         we will be glorified together with Him! - 2Th 1:10


1. What a triumphal entry that will be when Jesus returns...!
   a. Not to offer Himself for sin, as He did with His first coming
   b. But to offer eternal salvation for those who believe! - He 9:27-28

2. But that will be a day of salvation for those who eagerly await
   a. For others, it will be a day of condemnation - 2Th 1:7-9
   b. For others, it will be a day of destruction - ibid.

As we await His "triumphal entry" at the last day, let us faithfully
serve Him today in His spiritual kingdom of righteousness, joy, and

      "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!
             Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"
                              Luke 19:38

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary... Bible Reading January 5

Bible Reading  

January 5

The World English Bible

Jan. 5
Genesis 5

Gen 5:1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, he made him in God's likeness.
Gen 5:2 He created them male and female, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.
Gen 5:3 Adam lived one hundred thirty years, and became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth.
Gen 5:4 The days of Adam after he became the father of Seth were eight hundred years, and he became the father of sons and daughters.
Gen 5:5 All the days that Adam lived were nine hundred thirty years, then he died.
Gen 5:6 Seth lived one hundred five years, and became the father of Enosh.
Gen 5:7 Seth lived after he became the father of Enosh eight hundred seven years, and became the father of sons and daughters.
Gen 5:8 All the days of Seth were nine hundred twelve years, then he died.
Gen 5:9 Enosh lived ninety years, and became the father of Kenan.
Gen 5:10 Enosh lived after he became the father of Kenan, eight hundred fifteen years, and became the father of sons and daughters.
Gen 5:11 All the days of Enosh were nine hundred five years, then he died.
Gen 5:12 Kenan lived seventy years, and became the father of Mahalalel.
Gen 5:13 Kenan lived after he became the father of Mahalalel eight hundred forty years, and became the father of sons and daughters
Gen 5:14 and all the days of Kenan were nine hundred ten years, then he died.
Gen 5:15 Mahalalel lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Jared.
Gen 5:16 Mahalalel lived after he became the father of Jared eight hundred thirty years, and became the father of sons and daughters.
Gen 5:17 All the days of Mahalalel were eight hundred ninety-five years, then he died.
Gen 5:18 Jared lived one hundred sixty-two years, and became the father of Enoch.
Gen 5:19 Jared lived after he became the father of Enoch eight hundred years, and became the father of sons and daughters.
Gen 5:20 All the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty-two years, then he died.
Gen 5:21 Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah.
Gen 5:22 Enoch walked with God after he became the father of Methuselah three hundred years, and became the father of sons and daughters.
Gen 5:23 All the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty-five years.
Gen 5:24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
Gen 5:25 Methuselah lived one hundred eighty-seven years, and became the father of Lamech.
Gen 5:26 Methuselah lived after he became the father of Lamech seven hundred eighty-two years, and became the father of sons and daughters.
Gen 5:27 All the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty-nine years, then he died.
Gen 5:28 Lamech lived one hundred eighty-two years, and became the father of a son,
Gen 5:29 and he named him Noah, saying, "This same will comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, because of the ground which Yahweh has cursed."
Gen 5:30 Lamech lived after he became the father of Noah five hundred ninety-five years, and became the father of sons and daughters.
Gen 5:31 All the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy-seven years, then he died.
Gen 5:32 Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah became the father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Jan. 5,6
Matthew 3

Mat 3:1 In those days, John the Baptizer came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,
Mat 3:2 "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"
Mat 3:3 For this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight."
Mat 3:4 Now John himself wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
Mat 3:5 Then people from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him.
Mat 3:6 They were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
Mat 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism, he said to them, "You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Mat 3:8 Therefore bring forth fruit worthy of repentance!
Mat 3:9 Don't think to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I tell you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Mat 3:10 "Even now the axe lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that doesn't bring forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire.
Mat 3:11 I indeed baptize you in water for repentance, but he who comes after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.
Mat 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn up with unquenchable fire."
Mat 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.
Mat 3:14 But John would have hindered him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?"
Mat 3:15 But Jesus, answering, said to him, "Allow it now, for this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed him.
Mat 3:16 Jesus, when he was baptized, went up directly from the water: and behold, the heavens were opened to him. He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming on him.
Mat 3:17 Behold, a voice out of the heavens said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

From Gary... Of coming attractions...

My sister-in-law (Karen Rifenberg) posted this picture on Facebook today and I like it so much that I thought I would use it this very day. These are called Polar Stratospheric clouds, but I like their other name- Nacreous clouds.  Why? Because nacreous means pearly (I had to look that one up) and once I learned that word, obviously the association of pearly and heaven reminded me of the following...

Revelation, Chapter 21 (WEB)
 9  One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were loaded with the seven last plagues came, and he spoke with me, saying, “Come here. I will show you the wife, the Lamb’s bride.”  10 He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,  11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, as if it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal;  12 having a great and high wall; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.  13 On the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.  14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.  15 He who spoke with me had for a measure, a golden reed, to measure the city, its gates, and its walls.  16 The city is square, and its length is as great as its breadth. He measured the city with the reed, Twelve thousand twelve stadia. Its length, breadth, and height are equal.  17 Its wall is one hundred forty-four cubits, by the measure of a man, that is, of an angel.  18 The construction of its wall was jasper. The city was pure gold, like pure glass.  19 The foundations of the city’s wall were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald;  20 the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprasus; the eleventh, jacinth; and the twelfth, amethyst.  21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Each one of the gates was made of one pearl. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.  22 I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its temple.  23 The city has no need for the sun, neither of the moon, to shine, for the very glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb.  24 The nations will walk in its light. The kings of the earth bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.  25 Its gates will in no way be shut by day (for there will be no night there),  26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it so that they may enter.

I wish I had a mental image of what all those stones (vss. 19f.) are but, perhaps someone out there has a picture and can help me with that. But, pearls, well, I CAN visualize those.  What does a pearl the size of a city gate would look like? WONDERFUL, of course!!!  Life is good, especially when you have something to look forward to; and what could possibly be more wonderful than HEAVEN???  And, I know that it is real- because Jesus was resurrected from the dead and lives!!!  

Remember 1 Corinthians chapter 15:1ff.???? 
1 Now I declare to you, brothers, the Good News which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand,  2 by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.  3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  6 Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep.  7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  8 and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.  9 For I am the least of the apostles, who is not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the assembly of God.  10 But by the grace of God I am what I am. His grace which was bestowed on me was not futile, but I worked more than all of them; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  11 Whether then it is I or they, so we preach, and so you believed.

Because HE lives, we have HOPE, we have a FUTURE, and we have LIFE (now and in the next world as well). Believe and live the Christian life, for the best is yet to come!!!