8/5/19

"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN" Three Stages In The Christian Life (2:12-14) by Mark Copeland


"THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN"

Three Stages In The Christian Life (2:12-14)

INTRODUCTION

1. Having charged his readers to observe an "old, yet new" commandment
   to love one another (1Jn 2:7-11), John takes a moment to
   specifically address various members of his reading audience - 
    1Jn 2:12-14

2. This section is rhythmical, almost lyrical, and raises a number of
   questions, such as these listed by Guy N. Woods in his commentary on
   1st John:
   a. Why did John use the present tense, "I write" {grapho}, in the 
      first three clauses, and "I have written" {egrapsa}, epistolary 
      aorist, in the second three?
   b. To what writing does he refer in the first instance?  In the second?
   c. What is the meaning of the word "children" in the first clause of
      each of the divisions?
   d. Why did he use the word "teknion" in the first reference to 
      children, and "paidion" in the second?
   e. In what sense is the reference to "fathers, children, young men" 
      to be taken, literal or figurative?

3. Many and various answers have been given to these questions; without
   going into detail, I believe the following answers to the above 
   questions have merit...
   a. We have here a simple form of Hebrew parallelism, where the same 
      thing is being said for the sake of emphasis
   b. In both instances, the writing to which John refers is this very epistle
   c. Unlike 1Jn 2:1,18,28; 3:7,18; 4:4; 5:21 where "children" appears
      to be a term of endearment for all believers, in 2:12,13 
      "children" seems to refer to a specific class of Christians
   d. Any distinction between "teknion" and "paidion" is likely not 
      significant, since John uses both as terms of endearment in this 
      epistle when speaking of all believers - cf. 1Jn 2:18 (paidion)
      with 1Jn 2:28 (teknion)
   e. Taken literally, the terms "fathers, children, young men" would 
      leave out many Christians (old men, old and younger women); 
      therefore, I take the terms to be figurative

4. With this understanding, I believe we find John addressing three 
   basic groups of Christians, who are at different stages in their 
   Christian life

[What we can glean from this section, then, is that there are "Three 
Stages Of The Christian Life", beginning with...]

I. THE STAGE OF INFANCY
   
   A. IN WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE "LITTLE CHILDREN"
      1. Both terms used by John normally refer to small infants
         a. teknion {tek-nee'-on} - diminutive of tekna; an infant
         b. paidion {pahee-dee'-on} - neut. diminutive of pais; a
            childling (of either sex), i.e. (prop.) an infant, or (by 
            extens.) a half-grown boy or girl (cf. Mk 5:39-42)
      2. Those who are new Christians, or immature Christians, are thus
         spoken of as "babes in Christ" - cf. 1Co 3:1; Ga 4:19; He 5:12-13
      3. This can be a difficult time, in which a Christian...
         a. Is still more carnal than spiritual - 1Co 3:1
         b. Can be a source of anxiety for those trying to lead them 
            along - Ga 4:19
         c. Needs to focus on the "milk" of the Word - He 5:12-13

   B. NEW CHRISTIANS CAN TAKE ENCOURAGEMENT FROM JOHN...
      1. Because their sins have been forgiven in Christ! - 1Jn 2:12
         a. Forgiveness is not based upon maturity or perfection
         b. But upon the blood of Jesus, and upon our willingness as 
            Christians to confess our sins - 1Jn 1:9
      2. Because they have "known the Father" - 1Jn 2:13
         a. I.e., they have fellowship with the Father, which is John's
            definition of "eternal life" - Jn 17:2-3
         b. They may be "babes", but they have "eternal life" in 
            Christ! - cf. 1Jn 5:11-12
         c. And John wants them to continue to believe! - 1Jn 5:13

[When a "babe in Christ" feeds upon the milk of the Word, making good 
use of the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, remaining in 
fellowship with the Father and sharing in "eternal life", it will not 
be long before they enter...]

II. THE STAGE OF YOUTH

   A. IN WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE "YOUNG MEN"
      1. As explained previously, I take the expression "young men" 
         figuratively
      2. It refers to all, male or female, young or old 
         chronologically, who are "strong in the Lord"
      3. I.e., all "who have overcome the wicked one" - 1Jn 2:13,14
         a. Not that they are perfect, or without sin - cf. 1Jn 1:8
         b. But that their faith has had time to be tested, and they 
            have demonstrated that they are truly "born of God" - 
            cf. 1Jn 4:4; 5:4-5

   B. THE SOURCE OF THEIR STRENGTH IS THE WORD OF GOD...
      1. Only as the Word of God "abides" (remains) in them are they 
         strong - 1Jn 2:14
      2. Even as David saw the value of letting the Word of God abide 
         in his heart - Ps 119:11
      3. For this reason, then, we need to heed the admonition of Peter
         - cf. 1Pe 2:2

[As one demonstrates time and again that they are strong in the Lord, 
they progress to the final stage of the Christian life...]

III. THE STAGE OF MATURITY

   A. IN WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE "FATHERS"
      1. Again, I take the term "fathers" figuratively
      2. It likely refers in this passage to Christians, male and 
         female, who have reached the highest stage of the Christian life
      3. The term "fathers" suggests...
         a. They have had experience, having progressed through earlier
            stages of the Christian life (infancy, strength)
         b. They have even produced spiritual offspring, by leading 
            others to Christ - cf. 1Co 4:14-15

   B. THEY "HAVE KNOWN HIM WHO IS FROM THE BEGINNING"
      1. The reference is likely to Jesus, who "was from the beginning"
         - 1Jn 1:1; Jn 1:1-2
      2. Is there a distinction being made by John?
         a. "Little children" have known "the Father" - 1Jn 2:13
         b. "Fathers" have known "the Son" (who was from the beginning)
            - 1Jn 2:13,14
      3. If so, perhaps it is this:
         a. As babes in Christ, it can be said that even in our infancy
            we can "know" the Father, that is have an intimate 
            relationship with Him and experience the eternal life which
            He gives
         b. But only with time, and with opportunity to "walk just as 
            He walked" (1Jn 2:6), can it be said that one has truly 
            come to "know" Jesus
            1) Therefore the admonition of Peter to "grow in the...
               knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" - 2Pe 3:18
            2) Which knowledge comes only as we develop the Christ-like
               graces found in 2Pe 1:5-8

CONCLUSION

1. The Christian life has much in harmony with physical life...
   a. There are definite stages in life
   b. Only through "growth" does one pass from one stage to the other
   c. But when growth does not occur, that is a sign of a serious malady!

2. There is a major difference, however...
   a. Physical growth usually occurs without much effort on our part
   b. Such is not the case with spiritual growth!

3. These verses that have served as the basis of our text, while they 
   are difficult in many respects, they ought to clearly impress upon 
   our minds several truths:
   a. There are different stages in the Christian life
   b. In each stage there are blessings to be enjoyed
   c. But little children need to become young men, and young men need
      to become fathers

May God grant us the grace needed to grow as we should, and enjoy the
full blessings in each stage of the Christian life!


Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Why Doesn't God Appear to Us to Prove that He Exists? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=5323

Why Doesn't God Appear to Us to Prove that He Exists?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Sometimes our unbelieving friends wonder why God doesn’t just appear to everyone on Earth and prove in person that He exists? Why doesn’t He show Himself to each generation of humanity so that everyone on Earth can see and hear Him and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is real? After all, according to the Bible, the Lord appeared “to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty” (Exodus 6:3), and He “spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). So why doesn’t He do the same for everyone else?
Christians freely admit that there are many specific things that we do not know about the infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient Creator of the Universe, including why He does or does not do certain things. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). There is no way to know the mind of God unless He chooses to reveal some of His ways to us. Moses wrote: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, emp. added). So has God specifically revealed why He has not appeared to every human being in the history of the world to prove His existence to them? The fact is, God does not expressly address this question in the Bible; but He does reveal enough to us about Himself and His creation to draw the following conclusions. 
First, even if God directly appeared to and spoke with every person on Earth, not everyone would believe in Him. After all, God revealed Himself to mankind in the first-century (John 1:1,14), speaking like “no man ever spoke” (John 7:46) and working all manner of miracles, including walking on water, healing the blind, reattaching severed body parts with the touch of His hand, and raising the dead. Yes, even though, for example, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and came back from the dead Himself, many still did not believe in Him (John 11:45-53; 12:9-11)—they rejected Him despite the fact that He (God) appeared to them face to face.
In 2012, renowned atheist Richard Dawkins was questioned about his unbelief in God. Specifically, he was asked, “What proof, by the way, would change your mind?” He quickly responded by saying, “That is a very difficult and interesting question because, I mean, I used to think that if somehow, you know, great, big, giant 900-foot-high Jesus with a voice like Paul Robeson suddenly strode in and said, ‘I exist and here I am,’ but even that, I actually sometimes wonder if that would….”1 Though Dr. Dawkins was interrupted, he clearly left the impression that even if God appeared to him, taking the form of a “giant 900-foot-high Jesus” with a mighty voice, even that encounter would probably not convince him.
Sadly, not only would many continue in their unbelief if God actually did appear to them, many more would reject His authority over them, even if they acknowledged His existence. Judas was among the closest friends and disciples of Jesus. He was the treasurer of the group. Yet, he was a thief who eventually betrayed the Lord. One might argue that Judas never believed (cf. John 6:60-71), which would only further validate our first point. But if he truly believed in Jesus as the Son of God, then he ultimately chose money over the Master; he chose sin over the Savior. He was not, and will not be, the last to make such choices. In fact, before any human being ever came to know God and subsequently reject His will, there were a number of angelic beings who did. They are created heavenly beings (Colossians 1:16) who knew (and know) God, but willingly chose to reject His will for them (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). So wicked and rebellious to the God of heaven did Satan become that he even tried to tempt God to sin (Matthew 4:1-11). Make no mistake about it, in no way does acknowledging God’s existence directly translate into loving Him and submitting to His will (Matthew 7:21-23). In fact, atheist Dan Barker demonstrated such rebelliousness in the Butt/Barker debate when he stated that, though he believes God “doesn’t exist,” “[i]f there is a hell and if the atheists get to the end of their life and discover, ‘Yep, I was wrong, there is a God….’ Then I would say to that God…‘you go to hell…. You do not have my respect.’”2
Third, God has already given every accountable person on Earth an adequate amount of evidence to come to a knowledge of His existence. The very reality of a material Universe (which could not have sprung into existence from nothing; nor is it eternal),3 testifies to the existence of a Creator. “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). In fact, “[s]ince the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Since the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been given the opportunity to see how “the things that are made” testify quite “clearly” on behalf of a powerful, invisible Creator. As the psalmist proclaimed, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (19:1-4).
So why doesn’t God appear to every person on Earth to prove that He exists? The short answer is: “Because He, as the sovereign Ruler of the Universe, chooses not to.” We may not know all of God’s reasons for why He chooses not to appear personally to every person on the Earth throughout every generation, but in no way does such a decision on His part prove (1) that He doesn’t exist, or (2) that He is unkind and unfair. The fact is, God has always given man adequate evidence for His existence—so much so that any person who refuses to acknowledge His existence is “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

ENDNOTES

1  “Q&A: Religion and Atheism” (2012), ABC Australia, April 9, http;//www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3469101.htm, emp. added.
2  Kyle Butt and Dan Barker (2009), Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), emp. added.
3  Jeff Miller (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, /apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=2786.


Why does God Sometimes Repent? by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=1166


Why does God Sometimes Repent?

by Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


Q.

Why did God “repent” regarding his decision to create man, and to destroy the city of Nineveh?

A.

On occasion, within Scripture we find the comment made that God “repented” of certain actions (or intended actions) on His part. For example, in Genesis 6 and Jonah 3, we find the following statements:
And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the ground; both man, and beast, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens; for it repenteth me that I have made them (Genesis 6:6-7, emp. added).
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil which he said he would do unto them; and he did it not (Jonah 3:10, emp. added).
Such texts represent God supposedly changing His mind and reversing His course of action (i.e., He “repented” of something). The adverb “supposedly” in the previous sentence, however, was chosen deliberately, since in each of the situations discussing God’s repentance, the change of heart or action actually occurred in man, not in God. Jehovah is just (Psalm 7:11, NKJV), and His laws are invariant. Therefore, when man, acting with free will, behaves in a manner worthy of the teaching he has received, God considers him righteous. The converse applies for transgressions of that law.
For instance, during the Patriarchal Age in which they were living, Noah and his contemporaries had received instructions on how to live righteously (see 1 Peter 3:18-20), and as long as they continued in this manner, God’s presence and blessings would abide with them. But when they became sinful and unrepentant, He no longer could condone their actions. As a consequence of their sinful rebelliousness, God withdrew His spirit (Genesis 6:3), and pledged to send a flood to destroy all mankind except Noah and his immediate family (6:7). God was grieved (6:6), not because He did not know that this series of events would happen, or because He somehow “regretted” having created man in the first place, but because, having given man the choice to serve Him or reject Him, man had chosen the latter with such unanimity. When we hear God described in terms such as “sad,” “joyful,” etc. that frequently are used to describe human emotions, we must remember that such descriptions are not intended to imply that God is emotionally vulnerable in the same way that humans are (cf. Acts 17:25). Rather, such descriptions are intended to show that God is compassionate and loving.
The examples described above (from Genesis 6 and Jonah 3) represent situations in which God’s actions were necessary because of the fact that man, although created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27), had morphed into a sinful creature. Thus, God’s decision to judge man via a universal flood, or to destroy the inhabitants of an entire city, was dependent upon man’s (negative) response to the conditions of righteousness that God had imposed at an earlier time via His divine commands. Such conditions might have been stated in explicit terms, or they could have been simply implied. In the case at Nineveh, for example, when Jonah preached that God would destroy the city, the conditions obviously were implied. A promise or threat does not have to be couched in a specific form to have meaning. God did not have to say in explicit terms, “If the people of Nineveh repent, then I will spare them; otherwise, I will destroy them.” The fact that the people did repent after Jonah’s preaching, shows that they understood God’s intended message. To use a more modern example; if a young child is about to touch something that he should not, and a parent firmly says to him, “No, don’t touch that,” the child fully understands that touching violates the wishes of the parent, and that punishment may ensue—even though the implied punishment is not specifically mentioned. Consider the following passage.
At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them (Jeremiah 18:7-10).
This passage is an explicit statement of the very principle under consideration here—i.e., God’s plan or rule of conduct in dealing with man. God’s promises and/or threats may be either directly stated, or implied. Whenever God, in reacting to a change of character or intent in certain persons, does not execute the threats, nor fulfill the promises He made to them, the reason is clear. If a wicked man turns from his wickedness, God no longer holds the threat against him. If a righteous man turns from righteousness to wickedness, God withdraws the previously promised blessings. It is precisely because God is immutable that His relationship to men, and/or His treatment of them, varies with the changes in their conduct. When the Scriptures thus speak of “God having repented,” the wording is accommodative (viz., written from a human vantage point). As Samuel Davidson has well said: “When repentance is attributed to God, it implies a change in His mode of dealing with men, such as would indicate on their part a change of purpose” (1843, p. 527). From a human vantage point, we view God’s act(s) as “repentance.” But, in reality, God’s immutable law has not changed one iota; only the response of man to that law has changed. Seen in this light, God cannot be accused of any self-contradictory attributes.
Men sometimes charge Jehovah with being an arbitrary Tyrant. They suggest that He has given capricious and meaningless commands, thereby taunting humanity and frustrating true loyalty. Such a charge cannot be substantiated, however, in light of the following principles.
First, the notion that God does anything whimsically or arbitrarily is not consistent with what we know of His wise and orderly nature. All that we are able to learn about the Lord, both from nature (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20, etc.), and through His verbal revelation (John Psalm 119:160; John 17:17), declares that His activity is characterized by deliberate intelligence. The ancient Greeks even called the Universe “Cosmos” —a term suggesting the arrangement of order that is displayed so marvelously in the material realm. Even the Bible, with its ingenious development and unfolding plan of redemption, pays tribute to the wisdom God.
Second, a multitude of evidences surrounding us, both in the book of nature and in the book of inspiration, argues for the love and benevolence of our Creator. Nowhere is this demonstrated more forcefully than in the gift of Jesus Christ, the Savior of all who come unto Him in humble obedience (Matthew 11:28-30; Romans 1:5; 8:32; 16:26). It therefore is not consistent with the known character of God to suggest that He ever would make demands upon the creature of His own image (Genesis 1:26), simply to taunt or to frustrate him.
Third, we must recognize that God is God, and man is man, and, due to the nature of the difference between them, we cannot always understand why God has acted as He has. As the apostle Paul put it: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!” (Romans 11:33). On the basis of what we do understand, though, we must learn to trust Him Who always does that which is right (Genesis 18:25).
Fourth, for the studious and discerning person, the wisdom in Heaven’s commands usually is apparent. For example, moral obligations, such as “do not murder,” or “do not commit adultery,” obviously are designed to enhance a peaceable social order, which, of course, facilitates the type of environment in which Jehovah’s redemptive plan can flourish. Morality is reasonable, as even the atheist admits. The late evolutionist of Harvard University, George Gaylord Simpson, stated that although “man is the result of a purposeless and materialistic process that did not have him in mind,” nonetheless “good and evil, right and wrong, concepts irrelevant in nature except from the human viewpoint, become real and pressing features of the whole cosmos as viewed morally because morals arise only in man” (1967, p. 346, emp. added). In his book, Ethics Without God, humanist Kai Nielsen admitted that to ask, “Is murder evil?,” is to ask a self-answering question (1973, p. 16). So far as creatures of the Earth are concerned, morality is a uniquely human trait—a fact that even unbelievers concede.
Sometimes, our greatest problem is in failing to see the reason for certain divinely instructed obligations. Let me introduce just one prominent example. Why did God command Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice? Does not this incident “smack” of capriciousness—a sort of cruel hoax upon the patriarch? Not in the least. First, it was intended as a test of Abraham’s obedience. Isaac was the only son of Abraham and Sarah, and the heir to God’s promise of a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3), so how better for God to test Abraham’s loyalty to Him than by asking Abraham to give up what was perhaps his greatest possession—his only son (cf. Hebrews 11:17-19). [God, of course, by preventing Abraham from completing the sacrifice, obviously never intended for Isaac to be killed, but merely wanted to demonstrate Abraham’s obedience—possibly for the sake of Isaac as much as for Abraham; cf. A.P. Staff, 2003.] Abraham’s obedient faith has been a blessing to countless thousands across the centuries.
Second, we must remember that the Canaanites of that region practiced human sacrifice as a way of life. This circumstance afforded an excellent opportunity of showing that an animal sacrifice was an acceptable atonement in exchange for human life. Third, this case provided a remarkable way to prefigure the death and resurrection of Christ, and thus prepare for that coming climax in the divine scheme (cf. Hebrews 11:17-19; John 8:56). It thus was not an arbitrary demand.
The more one carefully studies the nature of the God of the Bible, the more the “mystery” surrounding His actions dissipates. Let us, therefore, trust, and submit to Him Who has demonstrated His concern for us in a myriad of ways.

REFERENCES

Davidson, Samuel (1843), Sacred Hermeneutis Developed and Applied; Including a History of Biblical Interpretation from the Earliest of the Fathers to the Reformation (Edinburgh: Thomas Clark).
Nielsen, Kai (1973), Ethics Without God (London: Pemberton).
Simpson, George Gaylord (1967), The Meaning of Evolution (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press), revised edition.
A.P. Staff (2003), “Did God Tempt Abraham?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/589.

Why Do Men Reject God? by Wayne Jackson, M.A.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=224


Why Do Men Reject God?

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


Most people in the world, throughout the ages of history, have believed in some concept of a Supreme Being. They may have had a perverted sense of Who that Being is, but they were convinced that there is a Personal Power greater than man. Given the evidence available, faith is reasonable. That is why the psalmist declared: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). The Hebrew word for “fool” suggests one who is not thinking rationally.
Since unbelief is neither reasonable nor the norm, one cannot but wonder why some people become atheists. I am convinced, after reflecting upon the matter for many years, that religious disbelief does not result from logical conclusions based on well-researched data. Rather, generally speaking, emotional motivation of some sort is a primary causative factor.
Consider the following case. In 1996, Judith Hayes, a senior writer for The American Rationalist, authored a caustic, atheistic tirade titled: In God We Trust: But Which One? In this treatise, Mrs. Hayes revealed two clues as to why she left the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) and became an atheist.
As a youngster, she had a friend who was a Buddhist. Judith was very close to “Susan,” and she simply could not tolerate the idea that her friend, who did not accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God, might be lost apart from the biblical redemptive system. So, rather than carefully examining the evidence to determine whether or not the claims of the Lord (as set forth in the New Testament record—see John 14:6; Acts 4:12) are true, she simply decided, on an emotional and reactionary basis, that Christianity could not be genuine.
Eventually Judith married, but the relationship degenerated. Mrs. Hayes claims her husband was verbally abusive. Again, though, instead of considering the possibility that she might have been responsible for having made a bad choice in her marital selection, or that her husband decided on his own volition to be abusive (in direct violation of divine teaching—Ephesians 5:25ff.), she blamed God for her disappointment. “[H]ow could I possibly have wound up married to a tyrant? Why had God forsaken me?,” she wrote (1996, p. 15). God did not forsake her. He honored her freedom of choice, and that of her husband as well. Human abuse of that freedom is not the Lord’s responsibility.
The infidel William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) was known principally for his skeptical poem, Invictus. As a youngster, Henley contracted tuberculosis, and had to have one foot amputated. He suffered much across the years and became quite bitter. He wrote:
In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody, but unbowed.
His disbelief, however, was emotional, not intellectual.
The late Isaac Asimov once wrote: “Emotionally I am an atheist. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time” (1982, emp. added).
In one of his books, Aldous Huxley acknowledged that he had reasons for “not wanting the world to have a meaning.” He contended that the “philosophy of meaningless” was liberating. He confessed that the morality of theism interfered “with our sexual freedom” (1966, p. 19). This is hardly a valid argument for rejecting the vast array of evidence that testifies to the existence of a Supreme Being!
Here is an important point. When men have motives for resisting faith in God, and when—out of personal prejudice—they are predisposed to reject the Creator, they become “ripe” for philosophical skepticism.

REFERENCES

Asimov, Isaac (1982), “Interview with Isaac Asimov on Science and the Bible,” Paul Kurtz, interviewer, Free Inquiry, pp. 6-10, Spring. See also Hallman, Steve (1991), “Christianity and Humanism: A Study in Contrasts,” AFA Journal, p. 11, March.
Hayes, Judith (1996), In God We Trust: But Which One? (Madison: WI: Freedom From Religion Foundation).
Huxley, Aldous (1966), “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspectives on the News, Vol. 3, June.

Teachings of Jesus (Part 24) Warning About Being Spiritually Dull

http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=1859

Teachings of Jesus (Part 24) Warning About 

Being Spiritually Dull


I don’t know about you, but when I get over tired I become a bit dull witted.     If I am totally exhausted don’t ask me my opinion about something super important, or figure something out that’s critical, and don’t expect me to study out or memorize something too difficult. I just can’t. Maybe there are times you feel the same.
But there are other times when we can be sharper than a tack when it comes to some things, and dull as can be when it comes to other things. For example there are some guys who are extremely proficient at their job but when it comes to understanding their wife’s or children’s needs the light bulb seems to go out, and they are dull witted when it comes to those relationships.
In our text today, in Luke 12, Jesus warns some about being dull witted. The warning is not so much about being dull witted when it comes to understanding things of this world, rather I believe He warns us about being dull when it comes to spiritual matters.
Listen to what He says in Luke 12:54-56 54 He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. 55 And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. 56 Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?”
So what is Jesus talking about here? What weren’t these people seeing? Why did He accuse them of not being able to interpret the times?
I believe He was saying this because despite the fact that He was there teaching the most incredible lesson maybe ever heard, and despite the fact that He doing the most awesome miracles ever seen, including feeding thousands with just a few scraps of bread and just a few dried fish, and driving out demons, healing all kinds of infirmities, and even raising some from the dead, some just did not recognize who He was; that He was the prophesied Messiah who was to come.
He said you guys can interpret the weather by what you see. How is it that you cannot interpret the present time. I can almost hear Him saying or thinking, ‘Are you so dull witted that you do not recognize who I am and how blessed you are to have Me in your presence?’ They did not see Him for who He was despite the overwhelming evidence.
And sad to say, at times we can be just as dull witted when it comes to spiritual matters. The facts, the truths, even God’s word may be right there in front of us saying something, but we still don’t respond or heed God’s promptings. We too can grow dull in regards to spiritual matters.
The author of the Hebrew letter also addressed members of the Church concerning this matter. Listen what he writes starting in Hebrew 5:7              While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could rescue him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his deep reverence for God. Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. 10 And God designated him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. 11 There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.                                                 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.           When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.   Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. 10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.”NLT
Here the author of this Hebrew letter said that he could not go on and talk to these people about deeper spiritual truths because he accused some of being spiritually dull and they didn’t seem to listen very well. And because of that, when they should have been teachings others, he said that they are like babies that can only handle milk, or baby food, and he doesn’t want to have to keep going over the fundamentals over, and over, and over.
So what’s the problem here? Why are these people so dull spiritually? What are some things that led to this condition in them which can also happen in us? And what are some things that we can do to prevent this from happening to us?
1) To begin with the first thing we see is the fact that Jesus mentions in 12:56 that these people were hypocrites. In other words they we phonies. These Jews who apparently claimed to know the Old Testament scriptures, including what it had to say about the coming Messiah really did not really know them as much as they thought because they did not recognize the Messiah now that He was there right in front of them.
Doesn’t it make you angry or upset when people claim to know something, or how to do something but then you find out they don’t. It’s like the guy who claims to be such a great auto mechanic, but when you take your car to him to fix something simple he botches it all up. He is just a bag of hot air and a phony who doesn’t really know his stuff.
A lot of times people seem to be a know it all, and that kind of arrogance may even hinder or even blind them to certain truths. It may entail being a bit stubborn and may lead on to become a but un-teachable; hence leading to becoming a bit dull spiritually.
In Matthew 5:6 Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they shall be filled.”
I believe if one wants to avoid falling into the trap of becoming spiritually dull, one needs be open minded and keep craving, hungering, and thirsting after God, His will, His word, and everything else you can learn about Him.
I believing it’s important for a Christian to keep reading, and studying and learning about everything we can concerning spiritual matters. That will help keep our minds fresh, interested , involved and willing to serve.
#2) The Hebrew writer accused those spiritually dull readers he was writing to of being like a baby who was not ready for solid food. As you know, babies cannot feed themselves. They must be bottle fed or fed with a spoon. Part of spiritual ignorance is being spiritual laziness. They have to wait for someone to spoon feed them.
You should never totally depend on a preacher to feed you every spiritual meal you get. If you have a question, sometimes the best thing you can do is study and look for the answers on your own. Buy some books, look things up on the internet. Study out spiritual topics on your own or with a friend.
In Acts, we read that the Bereans were considered more noble than those in Thessalonica because they did not let Paul just spoon feed them, rather they went back and studied out what he told them on their own.
#3) Another thing that will help you stay on fire and keep you on your toes is to make it a goal in your Christian walk to be able to get to the point where you can lead or teaching others what you yourself have learned.
The Hebrew writer wrote, 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.”
If you don’t use and apply what you’ve learned, and if you don’t make an effort to teach others, then our worship and sermon time can easily go from something that should recharge and exhilarate you to become just another form of entertainment or another chore in your life.
4) And finally I also believe one essential thing that will help us from becoming spiritually dull is to put into practice what you have learned from God’s word; especially taking the time to show love and help others.
The Hebrew writer wrote, . 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.”
The Hebrew writer also lets us know that’s there is a real danger of falling away. Many of us know people who have turned their back on Jesus, and His Church.
Don’t allow yourself or others to fall that far away. Make a real effort to stay spiritually connected to God, the Church, and your fellow Christians. If you don’t, over time you may just find yourself slipping away and growing spiritually dull.
This does not happen overnight. It can happen very slowly over time. I say, take steps so that it does not happen. Listen to good Christian music, Fellowship with believers inside and outside the church. Read your Bible and some good Christian books. Make plans to teach a class, and guys offer to preach on some Sunday. And choose to move on to maturity and grow as a Christian.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566
All comments can be emailed to: bfronzek@gmail.com

Does God Occupy the First Place in Our Lives? by Roy Davison

http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/firstpla.html

Does God Occupy the First Place in Our Lives?

We need to ask ourselves this crucial question: Does God occupy the first place in my life?
As Creator, Sustainer and Source of all good, God deserves the first place in our lives.
Many are willing to serve God as long as it doesn’t cost them too much time or effort. They give God the crumbs of their lives, and - as far as they are concerned - He’ll just have to be satisfied with that. But He isn’t.
God never asks for more than we can give, but He does ask for the best we can give.
Under the old covenant, when people brought sacrifices to God, they were to offer Him only the very best. God did not accept a sacrifice that was second-rate or had flaws.
“When you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably? ... You also say, ‘Oh, what a weariness!’ ... And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?” (Malachi 1:8, 13). They kept the best for themselves and gave God what they wanted to be rid of anyway!
It was bad enough that they brought inferior offers, but they also complained: “What a drudgery!”
If serving God is a “weariness” to you, maybe you are just giving God the crumbs of your life, possibly from a sense of obligation or fear. But God is not pleased with scraps any more than you are. Giving God the plate-scrapings of your life can never bring the “joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
We must put God first in our hearts!
Jesus tells us: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37, 38).
When we give God the place of highest honor in our hearts, we will also put Him first in our lives. We will offer Him the very best we have. And we will find joy in serving the Lord, instead of experiencing it as drudgery.
We must love God even more than family and friends.
Jesus said: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37). 
Sometimes we are forced to choose between Christ and others. What if relatives or friends drop in as we are preparing to go to the assembly? Do we say: “We are going to worship God now. You are welcome to come along, or if you do not wish to do so, make yourself at home. We will be back in an hour or so.” Or do we think, “Too bad. Now I can’t go.”
How we react in such situations, shows who ranks highest in our hearts.
We must love God rather than the world.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).
To love the world does not necessarily mean that we love bad things. It can simply be that we love the things of this world, that “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches” are choking the word (Matthew 13:22). 
Among other things, this means that our love for God must be greater than our love for ourselves and our own enjoyment.
What if there is an exceptional opportunity to serve the Lord on a day we were planning to do something for our own enjoyment? Do we say: “I’m thankful for this great opportunity to serve the Lord.” Or do we say: “You know, I really feel bad about it, but I have a previous appointment.”
Is our free time so filled with “enjoying ourselves” that we have little time left for the Lord? If so, we are just giving God the crumbs. We love ourselves with all our heart, not God. And God is not pleased.
What if someone we know is in the hospital, but visiting hours are the same time as one of our favorite TV programs? Do we say: “I’m going to visit him this evening. He might need cheering up.” Or do we think: “What a shame that visiting hours are at such an inconvenient time! I’ll try to visit him tomorrow, or maybe next week.”
How does our Bible study time compare with our entertainment time?
Once when visiting a congregation, a brother took me to meet another brother in the Lord. After we knocked, he came nervously to the door and said: “Come on in. We’re watching such and such on TV.”
So we sat for about an hour watching TV. Finally, the brother I was with said: “Well, it’s getting late. I guess we need to be going.” Our “host” looked away from the TV just long enough to say: “Glad you dropped in. Come back anytime.” He didn’t even go with us to the door.
What do you think of the spiritual condition of someone like that? 
That rest and recreation are needed, is not being denied. We are discussing priorities and the difference between self-love and love for God and fellow man.
Once when Jesus’ disciples had just returned from a preaching trip, He told them: “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
Although they needed rest, as it turned out, something else became more important. “So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:32-34).
Notice that Jesus was moved with compassion. He had intended to have some time alone with His disciples for rest. But because He loved His fellow men, He put their welfare above His own comfort. He is, of course, the perfect example of how a man ought to put God first in his life.
There is only one first place.
We cannot give God, plus something else, first place in our lives. That is not possible. Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).
If we think we can have two things in first place, we are deceiving ourselves. One or the other ultimately takes precedence in our lives.
Mammon is the god of money. We can’t serve God and money. Is serving God more important to you than earning money? The headache, or the fatigue, that keeps you from the assembly, would it also keep you from going to work? What if you are offered a job that pays much more money, but one that would keep you so busy you would have little time to serve the Lord?
How you make such decisions shows what is most important in your heart.
Are we like the little girl who received two coins, one for herself and one for the collection. After she accidentally dropped one of the coins down the storm drain, she said: “Oh no, there goes the Lord’s money!”
For God, lukewarm is not warm enough! 
“These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness the Beginning of the creation of God: ‘I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth’” (Revelation 3:14-16).
The danger of being lukewarm is that it is easy to believe you are all right. A lukewarm person thinks: “Well, at least I’m not cold.” But lukewarm isn’t warm enough for God. He will spew us out of His mouth unless we repent.
A Christian must be dedicated.
Being dedicated means to be fully committed.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). 
Christianity is not certain things you do, it is a way of doing everything. The Christian gives himself fully in service to God and his fellow man. God occupies the first place in his heart and in his actions.
Does this mean that we should be fanatics?
No. In Ecclesiastes 7:16 we are warned: “Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: why should you destroy yourself?” 
There is a great difference between being fanatical and being dedicated. You want your family doctor to be dedicated, but not fanatical!
A fanatic is someone who has a blind, unreasoning and exaggerated zeal for something, accompanied by intolerance of others. Fanaticism is a form of arrogance. A fanatic exalts his own ideas, and will not even listen to the ideas of others.
A Christian must be patient, humble and caring. A fanatic is none of these. He is impatient, haughty and self-centered.
We must be dedicated, but not fanatical.
Christ expects us to be zealous in good works.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
Christ came to save us from sin. But it is not enough to avoid evil. We must be zealous in doing good.
Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
How do we put God first in our lives? 
Because of our devotion, we are steadfast in Christian activities: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Steadfast means resolute and unwavering.
To continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine we must both know the Scriptures and put them into practice. To continue steadfastly in fellowship we must attend the services of the church and seek fellowship with other Christians. Each Sunday we must feast at the table of the Lord. We must continue steadfastly in prayer. All these activities are involved in putting the Lord first in our lives.
We put God first by serving others. Jesus came to serve, not to be served (Matthew 20:28). We want to be like Him. Jesus told His disciples: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14).
The church is one body with each member’s function contributing to the well-being of the whole. Depending on our ability, we can visit the sick, help the poor, teach the gospel, help maintain the meeting place, or through other good works exalt God by serving others.
Does God occupy the first place in our lives? Do we give Him our best? Do we put Him first in our heart? Is our love for Him greater than our love for any other person or any thing? Is our love for Him greater than our love for ourselves and our own enjoyment? Are we dedicated, and zealous in good works? Do we give ourselves fully in service to God and man? Let us give God the highest position in our lives. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)

Bible Reading August 5, 6 by Gary Rose


Bible Reading August 5, 6

World  English  Bible


Aug. 5
Ezra 4-6

Ezr 4:1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity were building a temple to Yahweh, the God of Israel;
Ezr 4:2 then they drew near to Zerubbabel, and to the heads of fathers' houses, and said to them, Let us build with you; for we seek your God, as you do; and we sacrifice to him since the days of Esar Haddon king of Assyria, who brought us up here.
Ezr 4:3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the heads of fathers' houses of Israel, said to them, You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God; but we ourselves together will build to Yahweh, the God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.
Ezr 4:4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building,
Ezr 4:5 and hired counselors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Ezr 4:6 In the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
Ezr 4:7 In the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of his companions, to Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian character, and set forth in the Syrian language.
Ezr 4:8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort:
Ezr 4:9 then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions, the Dinaites, and the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Shushanchites, the Dehaites, the Elamites,
Ezr 4:10 and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Osnappar brought over, and set in the city of Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River, and so forth.
Ezr 4:11 This is the copy of the letter that they sent to Artaxerxes the king: Your servants the men beyond the River, and so forth.
Ezr 4:12 Be it known to the king, that the Jews who came up from you are come to us to Jerusalem; they are building the rebellious and the bad city, and have finished the walls, and repaired the foundations.
Ezr 4:13 Be it known now to the king that if this city is built, and the walls finished, they will not pay tribute, custom, or toll, and in the end it will be hurtful to the kings.
Ezr 4:14 Now because we eat the salt of the palace, and it is not appropriate for us to see the king's dishonor, therefore have we sent and informed the king;
Ezr 4:15 that search may be made in the book of the records of your fathers: so you shall find in the book of the records, and know that this city is a rebellious city, and hurtful to kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time; for which cause was this city laid waste.
Ezr 4:16 We inform the king that, if this city be built, and the walls finished, by this means you shall have no portion beyond the River.
Ezr 4:17 Then sent the king an answer to Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions who dwell in Samaria, and in the rest of the country beyond the River: Peace, and so forth.
Ezr 4:18 The letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me.
Ezr 4:19 I decreed, and search has been made, and it is found that this city of old time has made insurrection against kings, and that rebellion and sedition have been made therein.
Ezr 4:20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, who have ruled over all the country beyond the River; and tribute, custom, and toll, was paid to them.
Ezr 4:21 Make a decree now to cause these men to cease, and that this city not be built, until a decree shall be made by me.
Ezr 4:22 Take heed that you not be slack herein: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings?
Ezr 4:23 Then when the copy of king Artaxerxes' letter was read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went in haste to Jerusalem to the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power.
Ezr 4:24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and it ceased until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.

Ezr 5:1 Now the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem; in the name of the God of Israel prophesied they to them.
Ezr 5:2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem; and with them were the prophets of God, helping them.
Ezr 5:3 At the same time came to them Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and their companions, and said thus to them, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall?
Ezr 5:4 Then we told them after this manner, what the names of the men were who were making this building.
Ezr 5:5 But the eye of their God was on the elders of the Jews, and they did not make them cease, until the matter should come to Darius, and then answer should be returned by letter concerning it.
Ezr 5:6 The copy of the letter that Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, and Shetharbozenai, and his companions the Apharsachites, who were beyond the River, sent to Darius the king;
Ezr 5:7 they sent a letter to him, in which was written thus: To Darius the king, all peace.
Ezr 5:8 Be it known to the king, that we went into the province of Judah, to the house of the great God, which is built with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls; and this work goes on with diligence and prospers in their hands.
Ezr 5:9 Then asked we those elders, and said to them thus, Who gave you a decree to build this house, and to finish this wall?
Ezr 5:10 We asked them their names also, to inform you that we might write the names of the men who were at the head of them.
Ezr 5:11 Thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and are building the house that was built these many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.
Ezr 5:12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon.
Ezr 5:13 But in the first year of Cyrus king of Babylon, Cyrus the king made a decree to build this house of God.
Ezr 5:14 The gold and silver vessels also of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that was in Jerusalem, and brought into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor;
Ezr 5:15 and he said to him, Take these vessels, go, put them in the temple that is in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be built in its place.
Ezr 5:16 Then came the same Sheshbazzar, and laid the foundations of the house of God which is in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now has it been in building, and yet it is not completed.
Ezr 5:17 Now therefore, if it seem good to the king, let there be search made in the king's treasure house, which is there at Babylon, whether it be so, that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem; and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter.

Ezr 6:1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the archives, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon.
Ezr 6:2 There was found at Achmetha, in the palace that is in the province of Media, a scroll, and therein was thus written for a record:
Ezr 6:3 In the first year of Cyrus the king, Cyrus the king made a decree: Concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, let the house be built, the place where they offer sacrifices, and let its foundations be strongly laid; its height sixty cubits, and its breadth sixty cubits;
Ezr 6:4 with three courses of great stones, and a course of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king's house.
Ezr 6:5 Also let the gold and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which is at Jerusalem, and brought to Babylon, be restored, and brought again to the temple which is at Jerusalem, everyone to its place; and you shall put them in the house of God.
Ezr 6:6 Now therefore, Tattenai, governor beyond the River, Shetharbozenai, and your companions the Apharsachites, who are beyond the River, you must stay far from there.
Ezr 6:7 Leave the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in its place.
Ezr 6:8 Moreover I make a decree what you shall do to these elders of the Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king's goods, even of the tribute beyond the River, expenses be given with all diligence to these men, that they be not hindered.
Ezr 6:9 That which they have need of, both young bulls, and rams, and lambs, for burnt offerings to the God of heaven; also wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the word of the priests who are at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail;
Ezr 6:10 that they may offer sacrifices of pleasant aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons.
Ezr 6:11 Also I have made a decree, that whoever shall alter this word, let a beam be pulled out from his house, and let him be lifted up and fastened thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this:
Ezr 6:12 and the God who has caused his name to dwell there overthrow all kings and peoples who shall put forth their hand to alter the same, to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with all diligence.
Ezr 6:13 Then Tattenai, the governor beyond the River, Shetharbozenai, and their companions, because that Darius the king had sent, did accordingly with all diligence.
Ezr 6:14 The elders of the Jews built and prospered, through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. They built and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
Ezr 6:15 This house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.
Ezr 6:16 The children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.
Ezr 6:17 They offered at the dedication of this house of God one hundred bulls, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel.
Ezr 6:18 They set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which is at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses.
Ezr 6:19 The children of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
Ezr 6:20 For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure: and they killed the Passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brothers the priests, and for themselves.
Ezr 6:21 The children of Israel who had come again out of the captivity, and all such as had separated themselves to them from the filthiness of the nations of the land, to seek Yahweh, the God of Israel, ate,
Ezr 6:22 and kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for Yahweh had made them joyful, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.

Aug. 6
Ezra 7-8

Ezr 7:1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,
Ezr 7:2 the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub,
Ezr 7:3 the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth,
Ezr 7:4 the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki,
Ezr 7:5 the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest;
Ezr 7:6 this Ezra went up from Babylon: and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which Yahweh, the God of Israel, had given; and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of Yahweh his God on him.
Ezr 7:7 There went up some of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinim, to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king.
Ezr 7:8 He came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king.
Ezr 7:9 For on the first day of the first month began he to go up from Babylon; and on the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God on him.
Ezr 7:10 For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of Yahweh, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances.
Ezr 7:11 Now this is the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, even the scribe of the words of the commandments of Yahweh, and of his statutes to Israel:
Ezr 7:12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, to Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect and so forth.
Ezr 7:13 I make a decree, that all those of the people of Israel, and their priests and the Levites, in my realm, who are minded of their own free will to go to Jerusalem, go with you.
Ezr 7:14 Because you are sent of the king and his seven counselors, to inquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of your God which is in your hand,
Ezr 7:15 and to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, whose habitation is in Jerusalem,
Ezr 7:16 and all the silver and gold that you shall find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which is in Jerusalem;
Ezr 7:17 therefore you shall with all diligence buy with this money bulls, rams, lambs, with their meal offerings and their drink offerings, and shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God which is in Jerusalem.
Ezr 7:18 Whatever shall seem good to you and to your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, do that after the will of your God.
Ezr 7:19 The vessels that are given to you for the service of the house of your God, deliver before the God of Jerusalem.
Ezr 7:20 Whatever more shall be needful for the house of your God, which you shall have occasion to bestow, bestow it out of the king's treasure house.
Ezr 7:21 I, even I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers who are beyond the River, that whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done with all diligence,
Ezr 7:22 to one hundred talents of silver, and to one hundred measures of wheat, and to one hundred baths of wine, and to one hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much.
Ezr 7:23 Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be done exactly for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons?
Ezr 7:24 Also we inform you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, the singers, porters, Nethinim, or servants of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose tribute, custom, or toll, on them.
Ezr 7:25 You, Ezra, after the wisdom of your God who is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges, who may judge all the people who are beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God; and teach him who doesn't know them.
Ezr 7:26 Whoever will not do the law of your God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed on him with all diligence, whether it be to death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.
Ezr 7:27 Blessed be Yahweh, the God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of Yahweh which is in Jerusalem;
Ezr 7:28 and has extended loving kindness to me before the king, and his counselors, and before all the king's mighty princes. I was strengthened according to the hand of Yahweh my God on me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me.

Ezr 8:1 Now these are the heads of their fathers' houses, and this is the genealogy of those who went up with me from Babylon, in the reign of Artaxerxes the king:
Ezr 8:2 Of the sons of Phinehas, Gershom. Of the sons of Ithamar, Daniel. Of the sons of David, Hattush.
Ezr 8:3 Of the sons of Shecaniah, of the sons of Parosh, Zechariah; and with him were reckoned by genealogy of the males one hundred fifty.
Ezr 8:4 Of the sons of Pahathmoab, Eliehoenai the son of Zerahiah; and with him two hundred males.
Ezr 8:5 Of the sons of Shecaniah, the son of Jahaziel; and with him three hundred males.
Ezr 8:6 Of the sons of Adin, Ebed the son of Jonathan; and with him fifty males.
Ezr 8:7 Of the sons of Elam, Jeshaiah the son of Athaliah; and with him seventy males.
Ezr 8:8 Of the sons of Shephatiah, Zebadiah the son of Michael; and with him eighty males.
Ezr 8:9 Of the sons of Joab, Obadiah the son of Jehiel; and with him two hundred and eighteen males.
Ezr 8:10 Of the sons of Shelomith, the son of Josiphiah; and with him one hundred sixty males.
Ezr 8:11 Of the sons of Bebai, Zechariah the son of Bebai; and with him twenty-eight males.
Ezr 8:12 Of the sons of Azgad, Johanan the son of Hakkatan; and with him one hundred ten males.
Ezr 8:13 Of the sons of Adonikam, who were the last; and these are their names: Eliphelet, Jeuel, and Shemaiah; and with them sixty males.
Ezr 8:14 Of the sons of Bigvai, Uthai and Zabbud; and with them seventy males.
Ezr 8:15 I gathered them together to the river that runs to Ahava; and there we encamped three days: and I viewed the people, and the priests, and found there none of the sons of Levi.
Ezr 8:16 Then sent I for Eliezer, for Ariel, for Shemaiah, and for Elnathan, and for Jarib, and for Elnathan, and for Nathan, and for Zechariah, and for Meshullam, chief men; also for Joiarib, and for Elnathan, who were teachers.
Ezr 8:17 I sent them forth to Iddo the chief at the place Casiphia; and I told them what they should tell Iddo, and his brothers the Nethinim, at the place Casiphia, that they should bring to us ministers for the house of our God.
Ezr 8:18 According to the good hand of our God on us they brought us a man of discretion, of the sons of Mahli, the son of Levi, the son of Israel; and Sherebiah, with his sons and his brothers, eighteen;
Ezr 8:19 and Hashabiah, and with him Jeshaiah of the sons of Merari, his brothers and their sons, twenty;
Ezr 8:20 and of the Nethinim, whom David and the princes had given for the service of the Levites, two hundred and twenty Nethinim: all of them were mentioned by name.
Ezr 8:21 Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek of him a straight way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.
Ezr 8:22 For I was ashamed to ask of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way, because we had spoken to the king, saying, The hand of our God is on all those who seek him, for good; but his power and his wrath is against all those who forsake him.
Ezr 8:23 So we fasted and begged our God for this: and he was entreated of us.
Ezr 8:24 Then I set apart twelve of the chiefs of the priests, even Sherebiah, Hashabiah, and ten of their brothers with them,
Ezr 8:25 and weighed to them the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, even the offering for the house of our God, which the king, and his counselors, and his princes, and all Israel there present, had offered:
Ezr 8:26 I weighed into their hand six hundred fifty talents of silver, and silver vessels one hundred talents; of gold one hundred talents;
Ezr 8:27 and twenty bowls of gold, of one thousand darics; and two vessels of fine bright brass, precious as gold.
Ezr 8:28 I said to them, You are holy to Yahweh, and the vessels are holy; and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to Yahweh, the God of your fathers.
Ezr 8:29 Watch, and keep them, until you weigh them before the chiefs of the priests and the Levites, and the princes of the fathers' houses of Israel, at Jerusalem, in the chambers of the house of Yahweh.
Ezr 8:30 So the priests and the Levites received the weight of the silver and the gold, and the vessels, to bring them to Jerusalem to the house of our God.
Ezr 8:31 Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem: and the hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and the bandit by the way.
Ezr 8:32 We came to Jerusalem, and abode there three days.
Ezr 8:33 On the fourth day the silver and the gold and the vessels were weighed in the house of our God into the hand of Meremoth the son of Uriah the priest; and with him was Eleazar the son of Phinehas; and with them was Jozabad the son of Jeshua, and Noadiah the son of Binnui, the Levite;
Ezr 8:34 the whole by number and by weight: and all the weight was written at that time.
Ezr 8:35 The children of the captivity, who had come out of exile, offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel, twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven lambs, and twelve male goats for a sin offering: all this was a burnt offering to Yahweh.
Ezr 8:36 They delivered the king's commissions to the king's satraps, and to the governors beyond the River: and they furthered the people and the house of God.

Aug. 5, 6

Acts 21

Act 21:1 When it happened that we had parted from them and had set sail, we came with a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara.
Act 21:2 Having found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, we went aboard, and set sail.
Act 21:3 When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left hand, we sailed to Syria, and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload her cargo.
Act 21:4 Having found disciples, we stayed there seven days. These said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem.
Act 21:5 When it happened that we had accomplished the days, we departed and went on our journey. They all, with wives and children, brought us on our way until we were out of the city. Kneeling down on the beach, we prayed.
Act 21:6 After saying goodbye to each other, we went on board the ship, and they returned home again.
Act 21:7 When we had finished the voyage from Tyre, we arrived at Ptolemais. We greeted the brothers, and stayed with them one day.
Act 21:8 On the next day, we, who were Paul's companions, departed, and came to Caesarea. We entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him.
Act 21:9 Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
Act 21:10 As we stayed there some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
Act 21:11 Coming to us, and taking Paul's belt, he bound his own feet and hands, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit: 'So will the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and will deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.' "
Act 21:12 When we heard these things, both we and they of that place begged him not to go up to Jerusalem.
Act 21:13 Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus."
Act 21:14 When he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, "The Lord's will be done."
Act 21:15 After these days we took up our baggage and went up to Jerusalem.
Act 21:16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea also went with us, bringing one Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we would stay.
Act 21:17 When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly.
Act 21:18 The day following, Paul went in with us to James; and all the elders were present.
Act 21:19 When he had greeted them, he reported one by one the things which God had worked among the Gentiles through his ministry.
Act 21:20 They, when they heard it, glorified God. They said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law.
Act 21:21 They have been informed about you, that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children neither to walk after the customs.
Act 21:22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come.
Act 21:23 Therefore do what we tell you. We have four men who have taken a vow.
Act 21:24 Take them, and purify yourself with them, and pay their expenses for them, that they may shave their heads. Then all will know that there is no truth in the things that they have been informed about you, but that you yourself also walk keeping the law.
Act 21:25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written our decision that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from food offered to idols, from blood, from strangled things, and from sexual immorality."
Act 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purified himself and went with them into the temple, declaring the fulfillment of the days of purification, until the offering was offered for every one of them.
Act 21:27 When the seven days were almost completed, the Jews from Asia, when they saw him in the temple, stirred up all the multitude and laid hands on him,
Act 21:28 crying out, "Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, and the law, and this place. Moreover, he also brought Greeks into the temple, and has defiled this holy place!"
Act 21:29 For they had seen Trophimus, the Ephesian, with him in the city, and they supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
Act 21:30 All the city was moved, and the people ran together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple. Immediately the doors were shut.
Act 21:31 As they were trying to kill him, news came up to the commanding officer of the regiment that all Jerusalem was in an uproar.
Act 21:32 Immediately he took soldiers and centurions, and ran down to them. They, when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, stopped beating Paul.
Act 21:33 Then the commanding officer came near, arrested him, commanded him to be bound with two chains, and inquired who he was and what he had done.
Act 21:34 Some shouted one thing, and some another, among the crowd. When he couldn't find out the truth because of the noise, he commanded him to be brought into the barracks.
Act 21:35 When he came to the stairs, it happened that he was carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the crowd;
Act 21:36 for the multitude of the people followed after, crying out, "Away with him!"
Act 21:37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he asked the commanding officer, "May I speak to you?" He said, "Do you know Greek?
Act 21:38 Aren't you then the Egyptian, who before these days stirred up to sedition and led out into the wilderness the four thousand men of the Assassins?"
Act 21:39 But Paul said, "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no insignificant city. I beg you, allow me to speak to the people."
Act 21:40 When he had given him permission, Paul, standing on the stairs, beckoned with his hand to the people. When there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,