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Post  Admin on Tue 20 Aug 2019, 8:54 am

Deuteronomy 11:16
(16) Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

Verse 16 gives us a clue in preventing deception. God says, "Take heed to yourselves." What does this tell us? This means pay attention! Take care. Guard yourself. Watch out. We cannot just skip our way into the Kingdom of God. It will take a great deal of effort.

Does not Christ tell us to "watch and pray always" (Luke 21:36)? But He does not say to watch just world events. One of the things that we have to watch most closely is ourselves.

"Take heed to yourselves"—what we are allowing yourself to do; what we are getting involved in; who our friends are, how much time we are spending on this, that, and the other thing. How close is our relationship with God? That is what we must watch and take heed of.

God wants us to jealously protect our spiritual growth. Once we develop a trait of godly character, we should never give it up! Guard that eternal life that has been built within us—by God's grace and our yieldedness.

Most of the time, people become deceived because they are not watching what is going on. They are in "la-la land." Something intrudes into their lives, and they follow it because they have no strength to resist. They have not been watching themselves.

God's way requires constant vigilance. "Watch and pray always," Jesus says. Our guard has to be up against deception all the time. We have to have our antennas out, making sure that what we hear is true. Thus, if we become deceived, whose fault is it? Is it God's or ours? God says, "Take heed to yourself." He has shown us the way to live. He has revealed it to us. He has left nothing hidden that we need to know. So whose fault is it, if we get tripped up? We are not going to be able to accuse God of it. So who is left? We are.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 19 Aug 2019, 10:58 am

Exodus 20:4-6
(4) "You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; (5) you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (6) but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 

New King James Version   

Many do not perceive the difference between the first and second commandments. The first stresses the uniqueness of the Creator God, who is the Source of truth, right values, and standards that will produce right relationships. It deals with what we worship. An idol is something we make and assign value to here on earth, but God comes into our life from beyond this physical realm.

The second commandment covers a specific area of idolatry, God's spirituality. Jesus says we must worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). God wants us to worship, be devoted, and respond to what He is and what He is doing, not what we think He looks like. He wants us to emulate His character and the way He lives. The second commandment deals with the way we worship.

The second commandment's most obvious aspect governs the use of physical "helps" or "aids" in worshipping the invisible, spiritual God. It prohibits the use of anything that represents God or could become an object of veneration. It forbids any kind of likeness of Christ such as crucifixes, pictures, and statues.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 18 Aug 2019, 10:44 am

Matthew 5:43-45
(43) "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' (44) But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, (45) that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 
New King James Version   

Jesus says this to help us grasp the marvelous, obliging, and almost overwhelming generosity and magnanimity of God's approach toward His creation. He acts this way despite all that we have thoughtlessly and self-centeredly done against Him personally and His creation, which certainly includes other people both converted and unconverted. Regardless, He still gives and gives some more. Why? Because this is the way that He is by nature, setting us an example of what He wants us to become in our natures too.

Do not be misled, though. He is not a thoughtless, wealthy, spendthrift sap. He does all this giving with purposeful wisdom, and especially so with His children that He is now preparing for His Family Kingdom.

When dealing with His children, His giving nature does not change. It is, however, more directed and focused on their preparation for their future in His Kingdom. Yes, He directly tests us, but because we are the apple of His eye, He provides us with the comfort and encouragement of I Corinthians 10:13:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

Thus, we are given assurance that even in the midst of the difficulties necessary for our preparation to inherit the Kingdom as co-heirs with Christ, He will generously supply our needs.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 17 Aug 2019, 11:37 am


  1 Peter 2:24-25
(24) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. (25) For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 
New King James Version   
The most brutal example of divine justice is found in the New Testament, not the Old. We see the most violent expression of God's wrath and justice in the crucifixion of His own Son. If anybody had room to complain that He was not being treated fairly, it was Jesus Christ, who was not guilty of even one sin! He was the only innocent person who ever lived, yet He suffered a horrible, cruel death. If we were to become upset or offended at something that seems to be unjust, this would be it.
The crucifixion, similar to the Flood, the casting out of the Amorites, and so forth, is simultaneously the most just and the most gracious act in history. It would have been absolutely diabolical of God to punish Jesus if His Son had not first voluntarily taken on Himself the sins of all the world. Even though He was innocent to that point, once He took upon Himself that concentrated load of sin, He became the most repugnant thing that ever existed on earth before God. He became an obscene and accursed thing, and God executed His wrath. He acted in total impartiality. God could not overlook sin, even when it touched His Son.
Jesus Christ did this for us. Christ took the justice that was to fall on us, and He paid for it with His priceless life. It is the "for us" aspect that displays the majesty of the grace of God.
We cringe at God's justice because it is so unusual, since most of the time He is so gracious. Human nature deceives us into taking it for granted, but we need to keep it in mind because it just as integral to His character.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 16 Aug 2019, 12:01 pm


2 Corinthians 13:5
(5) Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. 
New King James Version   
We generally take one of two approaches to self-examination. The first is something on the order of, "I'm no good. I've never lived up to my expectations. I'm just worthless."
Some of us hail from some pretty painful backgrounds. A handful have been molested and feel worthless because of it. Others have been told they were useless from childhood and have a very low opinion of themselves. Many have just had terrible experiences that have left scars, making accurate self-examination very difficult.
We may not like ourselves, and we wonder how anyone else could like us—especially God. We may look at ourselves, at the plethora of mistakes that dot our past, and judge ourselves harshly. In some cases, we feel we are unworthy to take the Passover.
The second approach to self-examination is just the opposite. Here we give ourselves a quick once-over and go on our way. Like the man in James 1 who looks in the mirror, sees what he is, but immediately forgets, some of us fail to give our lives a thorough evaluation.
We may think, "Well, in Romans 7 it shows that Paul sinned. He didn't want to, but the sin in him caused him to. Man will never be perfect until the return of Christ. If Paul couldn't overcome sin, then I guess that God knows that we really can't get out all the sin. I'll try, but if it's too hard, I'm sure that God will understand." A person who uses this approach may feel he is taking the Passover seriously, but in fact has not done a proper self-examination.
— John O. Reid (1930-2016)
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Post  Admin on Thu 15 Aug 2019, 4:12 pm

Romans 6:4
(4) Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 
New King James Version   
The word "with" will be the focus of our attention as we seek to understand more thoroughly our identification with Christ. The scripture says we were buried "with" Christ. Jesus was literally buried in the heart of the earth in a tomb because He was dead. The apostle Paul states in Romans 7:9, "For I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died." Like Paul, we are buried "with" Him by means of baptism.
We tend to take the word "with" for granted because we use it so commonly; it is a little preposition we stick in front of another word and hardly notice. But what does it mean? It means "in the company of." Every time we see the word "with" preceding Christ in a context that includes us, we are "in the company of" Him. It has a few other alternate usages such as, "a member or associate of," "characterized by," "possessed of," and many more. In fact, the American Heritage College Dictionary shows twenty-seven closely related but specifically different usages.
Romans 6:6 adds to being baptized with Christ, "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin." We are not only baptized with Him, we are also crucified with Him. Christ became sin to pay for our sins, suffered crucifixion, and died. We die when God reveals to us the knowledge of sin and we repent, accept the blood of Christ, and commit ourselves to be His disciples.
Our relationship with Christ is so close that we are perceived as sharing with Him His experiences. His experiences were literal and physical, and ours are every bit as literal and individually meaningful to our fulfilling God's will but are spiritual. Each "with Him" statement shows we are on the same path in His company.
The relationship is of such closeness that Paul describes it in Galatians 2:20 as, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
Paul expands further on this in Colossians 2:12-13:
[You were] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses.
Thus, resurrection with Him is added to the experiences we share as members of Christ.
However, all of this places us under certain obligations. Paul continues with this theme in Colossians 3:1, "If you then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God." Becoming new men in and through Christ, we are charged with making the Kingdom of God our top priority in life. Even in this, though, we seek the Kingdom in His company.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 14 Aug 2019, 9:58 pm


  Genesis 1:26-28
(26) Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (27) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (28) Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." 
New King James Version   
As God created, it is extremely significant that of all He created, only one creation is in His image, mankind. This is important to the purpose God is working out. Also, it is significant that of all the creatures God created, only mankind is given dominion over anything else, animate or inanimate.
Verses 26 and 28 show the first inkling of man's awesome potential. We are in God's likeness and His image, and have been given dominion in order to fulfill that potential.
If one looked up the word "image" in a Hebrew dictionary, it would not be very satisfying, being a typical textbook definition. It merely means "a shadowing forth, a phantom, a sketch, an outline." It gives the impression of a mere shape, a stickman. However, it has another, more interesting definition that means "whatever makes a man remarkable or procures respect."
The word "likeness" is commonly thought by linguists to mean nothing more than an intensification of the word "image." Even though it is a different word, its meaning is very similar. Putting those two words together, the Hebrew clearly shows that we are remarkable, especially in comparison to all other life. We are in the image of God.
Though we are remarkable, we are merely an outline, a mere copy or representation. We are illusory compared to God, because He is the reality.
The word “image” deserves further examination. The word "image" could evoke different mental images depending upon one's perspective. Over the past several decades in the United States, "image" has acquired a deceptive application that obscures its true meaning. This application skews one's understanding, interfering with the meaning God intends.
For example, today, a politician hires a publication firm to create an image for him that the people will find acceptable, and, thus, vote him into office. If someone is trying to find employment, they dress a certain way to project a particular image for employers to perceive. Corporations also try very hard to find the right image before the public.
To an American, an “image” has subtly come to mean "the illusion of what something is presented to be" rather than "the essence of what it really is."
In Hebrew, the word translated "image" is not "a deceptive illusion." Rather, image means "the likeness of one subject expressed in another." This difference is important. It means, "the likeness of one subject, God, expressed in the other, man." The verse indirectly says that man is very much like God.
The Hebrew meaning is frequently used in English in reference to family resemblance or characteristics. We say that a child is the spitting image of his father or his mother, possibly referring to physical or social traits.
The "image" is no illusion; it is the reality. It is the family trait. It is the essence of reality.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 13 Aug 2019, 12:34 pm

Luke 21:36
(36) Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." 
New King James Version   
Luke 21:36 is frequently interpreted to mean that we should be closely watching current events so we know how close we are to Christ's return. The common paraphrase of this command is "watch world news, so that as you begin to see prophecy unfold, you can escape the horrors of the Tribulation."
This interpretation has led to a cottage industry of sorts within the church. A tremendous amount of effort is put into commenting on world events and tying them into biblical prophecy. The underlying assumption is that God wants us to have our finger on the pulse of the news, and this knowledge—combined with prayer—will make us worthy to escape all those prophesied things. But does this assumption agree with Scripture?
In fact, the Greek word translated "watch" has nothing to do with looking at events or keeping world news under close observation. Even without examining the underlying Greek, we can tell from the context that Jesus has something else in mind. Verse 36 begins, "Watch therefore," signaling that it concludes or summarizes previous material. We cannot understand verse 36 until we know what preceded it.
Verses 34-35 provide the context for Jesus' command to "watch":
But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Clearly, Jesus' message is not an admonition to watch world events so that we will know when He will return. Instead, His instruction is to watch ourselves, which is what "take heed to yourselves" suggests. He is talking about being vigilant about our own spiritual state, as well as being circumspect and spiritually awake as we go through life. The danger is that, if we do not "watch" ourselves—that is, continually take stock of our condition and responsibilities—self-indulgence and material concerns will distract us, and we will find ourselves spiritually unprepared when the end comes.
Luke 21:36, then, is not an injunction to be glued to CNN, FOX, the Drudge Report, or any other news source. In fact, a subtle danger exists in being too caught up in current events, as it can distract us from the more vital spiritual preparation. The upshot is that the Day will come, and we do not know when.
Watching events unfold is not what makes us "worthy to escape," but our cooperation with God as He forms His character image in us does. Thus, in addition to prayer, we have to be vigilant in our covenant with Him. We have to "take heed" to ourselves constantly, examining our walk and how we are seeking and imitating God.
The Greek word translated "watch," at its most basic, means "to be sleepless," implying continuous and wakeful concern, such as being on watch when a loved one is ill. It means to be intent or to exercise constant vigilance over something, as a shepherd watches over his sheep or a leader watches over his charges (Hebrews 13:17). Watching signifies a state of being untouched by any influence that may cloud the mind; one "watching" guards against drowsiness or confusion. Hand-in-hand with "pray always," it denotes being alert for spiritual dangers and beguilements. Obviously, this state will not transpire from following—or even deeply analyzing—current events.
— David C. Grabb
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Post  Admin on Tue 13 Aug 2019, 9:07 am

Matthew 25:34-40
(34) Then the King will say to those on His right hand, "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: (35) for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; (36) I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me." (37) "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? (38) When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? (39) Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?" (40) And the King will answer and say to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me." 
New King James Version  
When we show pity, compassion, and kindness to those in difficult straits, we are practicing the merciful attitude that God expects each of His children to exhibit at all times. Of course, He does not want us to be so soft-hearted that we become an easy mark for those who would take advantage of us, but He does want us to develop a keen sense of discernment that realizes when mercy is a better option than the strict application of rules.
Undoubtedly, each of us would lend a helping hand to another who was in physical need, but there are other situations in which a physical need is not apparent that also require us to extend mercy. Particularly, we need to learn to employ mercy in our dealings with each other on a daily basis. To put it into today's language, everyone has bad-hair days, and on some days, even a normally lovable person can be very difficult to live with.
Age differences lend themselves to misunderstandings. We may still carry prejudices that rear their ugly heads from time to time, causing friction. Oftentimes, we just do not think before we speak. Mistakes made in the past can seem to hang over us like a cloud and never go away, and thus we do not feel forgiven, affecting our attitudes. And of course, we all have different backgrounds and came from situations in which we perhaps lived our lives in certain shameful ways. Each of these problems can ignite trouble with our closest family members and friends.
The problem that all of us face in making righteous judgments is that we cannot see into the other person's heart; we do not really know their intentions and attitudes. We have a hard enough time understanding ourselves, let alone someone else! In Jesus' comments about judgment in His Sermon on the Mount, He cautions us about being too critical: "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3). Therefore, if we have to make a judgment call, it is far better to lean toward patience, forbearance, and mercy.
So, when we find ourselves offended by anyone, rather than responding in kind, we should apply the principle of giving a soft answer (Proverbs 15:1), turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39), and extending tender mercies (Colossians 3:12).
Satan would like us to hang on to evil thoughts about another, to hold a grudge against a brother, or to arrive at church with a resentful attitude toward a fellow Christian, but Jesus Christ wants us to remember Matthew 18:35: "So My heavenly Father will [pass judgment against] you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." Just as He forgave each of us from the heart, He wants us to learn to forgive others in the same generous, merciful way.
In my forty-plus years in the church, I have made almost all of the mistakes a person can make with his mouth, and realizing this, I have truly appreciated those who have extended mercy and forgiveness to me. They have taught me a great lesson by their spiritual maturity: that I, too, had better extend mercy and kindness to others.
What does God require of us? He tells us plainly in Micah 6:8: "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?"
— John O. Reid (1930-2016)
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Post  Admin on Mon 12 Aug 2019, 10:17 am

Genesis 19:14
(14) So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, "Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!" But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.
New King James Version   
In Lot's family was a measure of contempt. Lot seemed to his sons-in-law to be joking. It is as if they said, “Who cares for anything you say?” Was Lot's wife different? She looked back. Lot's daughters? They escaped, and then proceeded to involve Lot in one of the vilest sins in the entire Bible, incest. Contempt is not unusual for a lingerer, for they are despised by their families, who cannot deal with the person's inconsistency. They are hot, then cold. They blow this way, then that. They command, “Do this,” but they do something different. Their lives do not live up to the words that they say. Lot was a man whose works burned, but he himself was saved (I Corinthians 3:15).
This is not a way that God wants His children to live. Even though He mercifully intervenes and saves, He wants His children to enjoy the best of the abundant life and to be prepared for His Kingdom.
Most are familiar with Herbert Lockyer's series of "All" books: All the Prayers of the Bible, All the Parables of the Bible, All the Promises of the Bible, All the Women of the Bible, etc. In All the Men of the Bible, he says that Lot is the representative man:
Perhaps there is no figure in the Bible who represents so many men of today as Lot of Sodom. Where you will find one Abraham, one Daniel, or one Joshua, you will find a thousand Lots.
Lot had much wealth, but he did not have the abundant life of God because of his choice to coexist with the world, whose constant degenerate pressure virtually destroyed his true spirituality. Lot was not a sinner in the normal sense, but a spiritually small and lean man.
There is an interesting contrast between Abraham and Lot. Abraham was probably exceedingly wealthier than Lot, but Abraham lived in a tent, while Lot lived in a house. This clearly shows that Abraham lived his life in such a way that everybody understood that Abraham was just a pilgrim. He did not put roots down in this world, while Lot, his nephew, did.
Lot was converted but carnal. He was a man of weak faith. His hopes and dreams were in the world, and his interest was in the things of this world. Lot had the same vision as Abraham, but by choice, he was firmly anchored in the world. All of Lot's goodness was virtually wasted because his spiritual life was going nowhere.
One might say that, because Lot was "saved," there is more than one way to skin a cat. There might be many poor ways of skinning a cat, as well as some good ways, too. But there is only one best way to skin a cat. Why not choose the best way of doing it? That is the lesson of Lot's life. Why let our works that we have built burn up? Instead, why not do things the way God says?
God was not in all of Lot's thoughts (Psalm 10:4) because he was living by sight. Lot might very well be what we might call the quintessential second-generation Christian. He believed, but all of his passion was spent pursuing the amusements of this world. Lot, whose faith was weak at best, was not committed like Abraham was. The whole aim of Abraham's life was to give glory to God, while Lot, though righteous, lived by sight (II Corinthians 5:7). His aim was essentially to grasp at life, to do it now and enjoy it, rather than work to develop his relationship with God.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 11 Aug 2019, 10:33 am

1 Timothy 2:3-4
(3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, (4) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

  Ephesians 4:13
(13) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 
New King James Version   Change Bible versions

If it is God's will that we be saved and grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ, why is it so hard? If God is working with us, should this not be easy? Our first response to this is very likely, "Well, I guess it's just that I am so evil"; "It must be human nature"; or "I'm so bad God must not be hearing my prayers." Some get so weary with the difficulty that they say, "God will just have to take me as I am."

All these justifications may indeed be factors, but they are not precisely correct because most of us have some besetting sin or sins that we fail miserably to overcome time after time. Why, if it is God's will, do we not overcome them more easily?

The sin need not be easily recognizable by others, as Paul writes to Timothy that "some men's sins are clearly evident" (I Timothy 5:24). It can be a hidden sin, though we are well aware of it, know it is evil, and feel constant guilt and self-condemnation because of our weakness before it.

It can be a sin of omission and not a sin of commission, in which one is directly guilty of bringing loss or pain upon another. Perhaps the failing concerns acts of kindness or mercy that we have frequently and consistently failed to do to relieve another's burden, but we know of it and are convicted of its seriousness.

This is the key to understanding why spiritual growth is so hard. Consider one's original conversion. Why did this even occur? Romans 2:4 says, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance." This happened only because God was revealing Himself and making us conscious of factors of life we had never before felt with that force. It moved us to repent and throw ourselves on His mercy. In reality, it was the only option He held open to us because we felt powerless to go in any other direction. Can we overcome death? The key is our awareness of powerlessness as the first essential element to spiritual growth.

In II Corinthians 12:10, Paul makes this point. "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." In chapter 13:4, he adds emphasis to this by saying, "For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you." Just as a prerequisite to conversion is recognizing and acknowledging our utter failure in the face of sin and death, so also is a deep consciousness of our frailty required in the face of overcoming and growth in following God's way and glorifying Him.

Without this overriding sense of dependence, we will never turn to God in the first place. Without this sense of need, we will not continuously turn to Him because our passivity in this will declare that in reality, like the Laodiceans, we think we need nothing and are sufficient unto ourselves. We will be like the confident Peter, who, boasting that unlike others he would never desert Christ, immediately fell flat on his face in spiritual failure. The secret of growth in Christian character largely lies in realizing our powerlessness and acknowledging it before God.

Perhaps John 15:5 will now have more meaning. Jesus says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." It does not mean that without Him we could never design an automobile or send a rocket to the moon. It means that we could produce nothing of a true, godly, spiritual nature within the calling of God that truly glorifies Him.

Just in case we think He is saying more than He really means, think about the following commands. Jesus says in Matthew 5:44, "But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." He adds in Matthew 6:31, "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'" If these are challenging, try I Corinthians 15:34: "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame."

We have a long way to go. It is time to stop playing church—realizing that judgment is now on us—and turn to God with all our heart. He promises that, if we do this, He will hear from heaven and respond. We must constantly keep in mind that God is the Potter with the power to mold and shape as He wills. As the clay, our job is to yield, realizing even the power to submit comes from Him.

To understand this from an even broader perspective, we must consider how mankind has acted in its relationship with God beginning with Adam and Eve. They said, "God, stay out of our lives. We don't need you. We will do this ourselves." Therefore, rather than choosing from the Tree of Life, they chose from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. All mankind has copied this approach down to the Laodiceans, who say they are rich and increased with goods and need nothing. It will continue even to those who will curse and blaspheme God during the final plagues in the Day of the Lord (Revelation 16:21).

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 10 Aug 2019, 9:38 am

Ephesians 6:10-13
(10) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 
New King James Version   
In conclusion, be strong—not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless strength. Put on God's complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil's craftiness. For our fight is not against any physical enemy: it is against organizations and powers that are spiritual. We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world, and spiritual agents from the very headquarters of evil. Therefore you must wear the whole armor of God that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. (Phillips)
It is clear that we are fighting a spiritual war against enemies who are far greater in numbers, intelligence, subtlety, and power than Israel had to wage war against in terms of the Amalekites, the Moabites, and so forth. In addition, our enemy is invisible.
Paul tells us to "stand," a military term for holding on to a position. In effect, before one can launch an attack, he must first hold the position he is in. In the Phillips translation, the word "against" is used four times, probably to stress the determined hostility that our enemy has. The Christian soldier is confronting something that, as a soldier, he could not overcome except that he himself also has invisible help to draw upon as a resource.
In military strategy, perhaps one of the most basic of all rules is never to underestimate the enemy. Our struggle is not merely against human foes, yet we find, in other places, that it is a war to the death. In fact, here in Ephesians 6, this idea is hidden in the Greek. It is a war to the death against supernatural forces. The word "powers" denotes those who aspire to world control, and ancient writers used the term to designate the savior gods of pagan religions. That is who we are fighting against—demons!
Our warfare, then, has all the trappings of a literal war, but it is something that we cannot see yet happening nonetheless. The qualities that we need to fight this war are not things we have inherently. We have to be given them by God. Our relationship with God is of supreme importance as to whether we are going to have the proper resources to fight this battle. We have to go to Him to get them, and we also need to be on good terms before He gives them to us.
One of the most valuable of all of these resources is the mindset that we are involved in a war. There are times when we, as a soldier, are going to face privation and hardship. There are going to be times of pain—both physical and mental. There are going to be times of sorrow that may lead us to depression or even bitterness. There will be occasions when we will be in fear and feel a great sense of insecurity. There are times we will win our battles, but other times we will lose and thus feel guilty and maybe depressed. There are going to be times of obedience that give a feeling of exhilaration and of being in control, as well as times of disobedience when just the opposite will be the effect.
There will also be times when we will be aware that God is disciplining us—sometimes in terms of punishment for sin and at other times in training to prepare us to master what we are doing. There will be times of sacrifice and even times of death. Nevertheless, all of these are part and parcel of a soldier's life.
— John W. Ritenbaug
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Post  Admin on Fri 09 Aug 2019, 11:28 am

Luke 13:10-17
(10) Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. (11) And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. (12) But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, "Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity." (13) And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. (14) But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, "There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day." (15) The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? (16) So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?" (17) And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. 
New King James Version  

In Luke 13:10-17, Christ heals another chronically ill person on the Sabbath. This time, though, He did not wait for anyone to ask Him questions. The episode plainly discloses the redeeming and liberating intention of God's Sabbath. When Jesus says, "You are loosed," the ruler of the synagogue reacts immediately because to him the Sabbath meant rules to obey rather than people to love.

Jesus replies in verses 15-16 by emphasizing the Sabbath principle:

The Lord then answered him and said, "Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?"

Christ makes a play on words here. He uses the same verb, "loose," to describe the ox and donkey as He does the woman being "loosed" from Satan through healing.

Jesus acts against the tradition of the Pharisees, but no where challenges the binding obligation of keeping the Sabbath. Rather, His example shows that we should make merciful evaluations to help others cast off their heavy burdens. He argues for living the true values.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 08 Aug 2019, 10:11 am

Galatians 6:7-8
(7) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (8) For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 
New King James Version   

What a man sows follows the universal law of "kind reproduces kind." We cannot get cabbage from brussels sprout seeds, nor carrots from radish seeds—no matter how much the seeds may look alike. They are simply not of the same kind.

If we planted corn and got pumpkins, we would be greatly surprised. Similarly, if we gossip about our friends, we should not be surprised to find that we do not have as many friends as before or that people are more guarded in their relationships with us. The seeds of gossip can produce only one kind of fruit—bad! Every action produces results, and every result tends to be of the kind that was sowed.

Jesus confirms this principle in human conduct:

You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:16-18)

A second principle is at work on this earth among living things. In the reproductive process there is a powerful tendency toward increase. Simple observation of our lawns establishes this truth—weeds!

When we put these two principles together, we find that no matter what a man sows, unless something intervenes to interrupt the cycle, more will be produced than was sown. One can fake living according to Christian standards and morals for a while, but no matter how careful a person is, the fruit produced by his life will betray him. As Numbers 32:23 says, "But if you do not do [as God commands], then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out."

No one knows how long it will take and how much fruit will be produced, but sin will produce spiritual weaknesses, even though they are concealed with great energy and hypocrisy. Bitterness, divisiveness, weak understanding, confusion, and spiritual lethargy will surface. Many variables affect how much and how soon the fruit will appear, but because of the principle of increase, it is certain that more will be reaped than was originally sown.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 07 Aug 2019, 10:37 am

Matthew 24:14
(14) And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. 
New King James Version   

This verse is frequently interpreted as a command—or at least used to justify a certain course of action—but the plain fact is that it is a prophecy. It is a statement of a definitive future event, rather than an instruction.

Consider for a moment what this prophecy does not say. There is no mention, either in the verse or in its context, of who will have done this preaching. It does not say whether one individual will preach it or two individuals, one organization, seven organizations, or an angel. This verse just says it will be done.

Matthew 24:14 also does not tell us the time involved in preaching the gospel, except to say that it happens before the end. It does not indicate whether it is preached over the course of several decades, or whether it takes 42 months, or whether there is a singular announcement that all the world hears at the same time through some form of mass media.

This verse also says nothing about how this preaching will be accomplished. There is no mention of television stations, radio programs, websites, Internet streams, or any other technology. The verse simply says that it will be done. Only God knows exactly how it will be fulfilled.

— David C. Grabb


'This Gospel of the Kingdom Shall Be Preached'
by David C. Grabbe
Forerunner, "Prophecy Watch," May-June 2011
https://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Library.sr/CT/PW/k/1526/Gospel-of-Kingdom-Shall-Be-Preached.htm
Matthew 24:14 has been one of the most-quoted scriptures during the last few decades of the church of God: "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."

As we know, the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium, which is the fulfillment of the gospel of the Kingdom of God. By the time Jesus Christ returns, the good news of His Kingdom will have been preached, and the end of the present age will have come. Everyone on earth will have heard that message, and some will have repented while others will have been destroyed. But the Kingdom that has been anticipated for thousands of years will finally be a reality.

This verse is frequently interpreted as a command—or at least used to justify a certain course of action—but the plain fact is that it is a prophecy. It is a statement of a definitive future event, rather than an instruction.

Consider for a moment what this prophecy does not say. There is no mention, either in the verse or in its context, of who will have done this preaching. It does not say whether one individual will preach it or two individuals, one organization, seven organizations, or an angel. This verse just says it will be done.

Matthew 24:14 also does not tell us the time involved in preaching the gospel, except to say that it happens before the end. It does not indicate whether it is preached over the course of several decades, or whether it takes 42 months, or whether there is a singular announcement that all the world hears at the same time through some form of mass media.

This verse also says nothing about how this preaching will be accomplished. There is no mention of television stations, radio programs, websites, Internet streams, or any other technology. The verse simply says that it will be done. Only God knows exactly how it will be fulfilled.

Sanctified and Sent

When Jesus Christ was on earth, He preached this same gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; Mark 1:14-15). However, something foundational happened before He began preaching the gospel and performing the various miracles that showed He was from God. Something essential happened before He could preach and perform works as a man. We can find what this was in John 10:36-38:

. . . do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, "You are blaspheming," because I said, "I am the Son of God"? If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.

The key element appears in verse 36. Jesus says that He was sanctified before He was sent into the world. He was set apart in order to do all that He did, and that certainly includes the preaching of the gospel. His three-and-a-half-year ministry was the result of the sanctifying done by the Father.

The gospel accounts are overflowing with statements by Christ that show that all of His words and actions had their source in the Father. His preaching of the gospel is no exception. The content of His message and the power to proclaim it both came from the Father.

Jesus testifies in Luke 4:18 that He was "anointed" to preach the gospel to the poor, another way of saying that He was set apart. He says that He could do nothing of Himself, but only what He saw the Father do (John 5:19, 30). He declares that the works He did bore witness that the Father had sent Him, meaning He was being directed by the Father (John 5:36-37; 8:18). He asserts that He could do nothing of Himself, but He could speak only as the Father taught Him and of what He had seen while He was with the Father (John 8:28, 38). He states that He did not speak on His own authority, but that the Father commanded Him in what He should speak (John 12:49).

John the Baptist demonstrates this same principle when saying, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven" (John 3:27).

All of these statements set the stage for understanding Christ's preaching. When Jesus went about preaching the gospel, saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15)—the only reason it had any effect is because He had been sanctified—set apart—by the Father to do this.

When Jesus said that it was the Father who was actually doing the works, the preaching of the gospel was one of them (John 10:32; 14:10). This means that, regardless of what human instrument God uses or what method He employs, the reality is that it is God who preaches the gospel! If He is not the Source of everything, as He was for Jesus, then it is a work of man and not of God, and "the weary workers toil in vain" (Psalm 127:1, paraphrase).

It actually does not take anything miraculous to know what the true gospel is or to speak the words. In fact, when Jesus sent the disciples out to preach the gospel, they did not even have the Holy Spirit. They were not even really converted yet, though they had been called. Even so, if something is going to be accomplished, it will be as a result of God's sanctification, which the disciples had. That is the consistent biblical pattern.

The bottom line, then, is that the gospel is not preached through human effort or human will. It is proclaimed through submission to God's leadership. If submission to God is absent, the works that God desires will not be produced. If men go outside God's will—however well-intentioned they may be—their words, to borrow from Shakespeare, may as well be the proverbial "tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Spiritual Preparation

In his book, Of God and Man, theologian Aiden W. Tozer could clearly see what the priority of the church should be in this regard: "The popular notion that the first obligation of the church is to spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth is false. Her first obligation is to be spiritually worthy to spread it."

First things must come first. Spiritual preparation must precede physical activity. We already saw that God sanctified Jesus Christ to do what He did, and yet He still went through thirty years of preparation before preaching for three and a half. The fruits of Herbert Armstrong's life and ministry bear out that he, too, was prepared and sanctified to do what he did—something that had not been done for 1,900 years and has not been done since.

Not all of us have the exact sanctification. Not everyone has been set apart to do what Paul did, or what Peter did, or what John did, or even what Herbert Armstrong did. They received a specific calling, a specific sanctification to do what they did. God directed these men as He saw fit, and they submitted to Him. Nevertheless, He does not direct everyone to do the same thing. There are many offices in God's House, and many functions within the Body of Christ (see I Corinthians 12:1-11, 28-30).

However, if we have been called by God, we have been given a general sanctification (I John 2:27). We have already been set apart from the world (John 17:6). What is more, we are being sanctified (Hebrews 2:11). We are being purified and having God's character and nature created in us. This is the work that the Creator is doing. This is what Tozer called being "spiritually worthy," and what we call "go[ing] on to perfection" (Hebrews 6:1). This is the foundational, underlying, core responsibility of each of God's children, regardless of whether another, more specific sanctification is added to it.

We are assured in Matthew 24:14 that the gospel of the Kingdom will be preached. God will see it done. He will preach it through whatever means, by whatever agency, and in whatever time He has already ordained. The question for us, then, is whether we will be in alignment with Him and usable by Him so that we can be directed by Him as He completes His work. However, this will be successful only if we let Him lead, rather than assume we already know what He is doing.

Because God is the One who preaches the gospel, and because He sanctifies and prepares His servants to perform His will, He also determines the results of His various works. For 1,900 years, it was not His priority to preach the gospel in a major way. We know this because it was not done. During the last century, a major witness was made because God had ordained it be so. He controls the results and the effects of His preaching. His word does not return to Him void, but it will accomplish what He pleases (Isaiah 55:11). Thus, when we look out today at the various efforts to preach the gospel, and we do not see the same results, it is because something else is God's priority—not that we are not trying hard enough.

Spiritually Worthy?

Is it possible that the church is not yet "spiritually worthy" to be involved in making a witness to the world? In its present spiritual condition, could the church end up making a witness against God rather than for Him? If a witness is being made against God, does it even matter if the true gospel is spoken?

A simple example will illustrate this. Many readers will recall from Herbert Armstrong's autobiography that he talked about God having to humble him before He could use him. Humility is a function of not only being able to see God's hand, but also then submitting and giving deference to that Creator who is so far superior to His creation. Yet today, we do not see humility among those claiming to be Herbert Armstrong's successor. Instead, we frequently see competition, strife, one-upmanship, and derision.

The reason for this is quite simple: The focus is on something other than God! Is God divided (I Corinthians 1:13)? Does God war against Himself? Can a true and faithful witness be made if the church is focused on things other than God?

When God sanctifies one servant, that sanctification will not interfere with the sanctification that He gives to another servant. Conflict arises from people taking on responsibilities that God has not given them. John the Baptist recognized that his sanctification did not supersede Christ's authority, so he told his followers, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). There was no conflict there.

On the other hand, the twelve disciples argued among themselves about who would be greatest, and there was conflict. Without learning this simple lesson, could today's church of God handle twelve such leaders? It was not until the disciples had matured into the twelve apostles that they finally got it. Then they were each humble and self-controlled enough to recognize the limits of what God had given them to do, and not encroach into another's territory (see II Corinthians 10:12-16). They feared God rather than seeking a name or position for themselves!

The bottom line is that we cannot insert ourselves into God's plans. God already knows what will be done, how it will be done, when it will be done, and whom He will use to do it. Our task is to be close enough to God that we recognize His guidance of our lives and to be practiced in submitting to it. When the time comes for Matthew 24:14 to be fulfilled, it will be, according to what God has ordained.

However, whether or not we play a part in the fulfillment of that prophecy, our focus is to be the sanctification that God has already given us. It is through that process of becoming holy and going on to perfection that we become "spiritually worthy" and able to be used by God in whatever capacity He ordains—large or small.

Our goal should not be to fulfill Matthew 24:14. Our goal is to get to the place where we, like Jesus Christ, "always do the will of [our] Father" (John 8:29)—no matter what His will may entail. God is doing far more than just making announcements. He is creating us in His image (Genesis 1:27), and that requires a lifetime of submission and a level of focus and energy far beyond simply preaching to the unconverted world. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
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Post  Admin on Tue 06 Aug 2019, 10:03 am

John 17:23
(23) I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. 
New King James Version   
Consider for a moment how much God must love Jesus Christ. After all, they have been working together side-by-side for literally countless years—all eternity—in perfect harmony.
Relatively few couples are blessed with outstanding marriages that last fifty years or more. After so long, the depth of their relationship must be close and intimate. If that happens between two human beings in fifty years, what would it be like after a few billion? It would be intimate beyond our comprehension. Such is the depth of God's love for Christ—far beyond our comprehension.
In this verse, Jesus is asking God to reveal two things to the world: that God sent Him and that God loves us as much as He loves Jesus Christ.
Understanding the full impact of this verse hinges on a little, two-letter word "as." One definition is "to the same extent or degree; equally." Equally implies no more, no less. This definition makes Jesus' request staggering in its implications! It means we can truthfully say that there is not a being in the universe—including Jesus Christ—whom God loves more than us. Each individual whom God has called can say the same thing. God loves us all at the same incredible, beyond-our-comprehension level.
This statement also shows Christ's unbelievable love for us. He has been with God forever, yet the Son feels no animosity that our Father loves us just as much, unlike the elder brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In fact, in His prayer Christ is asking God to broadcast this fact to the world! Christ is preeminent in position and responsibility—but not in the Father's love. As the perfect Parent, He does not love any one child more than the others.
To underscore this equality of love, notice how other Bible translations handle the word "as." They use words like "even as," "just as," "in the same way," "with the same love as," "as much as," and "just as much as." All emphasize the equality of the Father's love.
On the authority of Jesus Christ, the same Jesus who has been with God forever, we know the Father loves us as much as He loves Jesus—no more, no less. If we consider how much He must love Christ after spending billions of years working together in perfect harmony, that is exactly how much He loves us. The true depth of that love is definitely beyond our comprehension. It takes faith to believe this simple statement of fact.
— Pat Higgins
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Post  Admin on Mon 05 Aug 2019, 9:00 am

  Mark 15:42-46
(42) Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, (43) Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (44) Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. (45) So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. (46) Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. 
New King James Version 

Several points stand out in this passage:

» Evening was beginning—at best Joseph had only about three hours before sunset, when the Sabbath would begin. The task of preparing and applying the spices for burial required work, which is expressly forbidden on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-10). Additionally, Deuteronomy 21:22-23 demands that an executed criminal be buried before nightfall, and the Jewish law of the time required all dead bodies to be buried before a Sabbath or a feast day (John 19:31).

» Before he could take the body down, Joseph had to go before Pilate and receive permission. At first Pilate did not believe Jesus had died so quickly, so he called the centurion of the crucifixion detail to verify it (Mark 15:44-45). This delay must have taken at least a half hour.

» After being granted the body, Joseph went to a local shop and bought several yards of fine linen in which to wrap Jesus. With the help of Nicodemus, he then took the body down, wrapped it in the linen—along with about a hundred pounds of spices—and placed it in the tomb (John 19:39-41).

With all this activity and work between the various locations, Joseph and Nicodemus must have had very little daylight left when they finally rolled the stone over the entrance to the tomb. On this point all the accounts again concur; sunset was very near (Matthew 27:57; Luke 23:54; John 19:31).

No one disputes that Jesus was laid "in the heart of the earth" at sunset. If, as we have shown, He was buried for exactly 72 hours, He was also resurrected at sunset—not at dawn!

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 03 Aug 2019, 11:30 pm

 John 13:14
(14) If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version
The common explanation for this is that it teaches us to learn humility by doing good for others, by doing acts of service or kindness for our brethren. This is certainly a good lesson that we can take from Christ's example, but we can perhaps derive another from it.
In John's account, what did Jesus suggest that the washing of feet symbolized? He tells Peter that the washing of his feet symbolizes forgiveness of his sin to return him to a "clean" relationship with God. It is only logical to deduce that God expects nothing less from us in response to the sins of our brethren. In the section of the Sermon on the Mount on prayer, Jesus says: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15).
No doubt, God puts a very great emphasis on our relationships since our lives are to reflect His character. If we have begun to "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27), would we be a good example of His love for us if we held grudges, hated our brother, or would not forgive another? Obviously, no. Putting on Christ demands that we "put off" these carnal destroyers of relationships and replace them with Christian virtues.
Peter asks Christ, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" (Matthew 18:21). Christ's answer should give us a clue to how He feels about this issue. Peter had ventured a number he thought would be sufficient to establish his forbearance. Christ, though, pulls out all the stops, telling him that there is no set limit: "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (verse 22). We are indeed fortunate and can be thankful that same unlimited forgiveness applies to us when we need God's mercy.
The following verses, Matthew 18:23-35, is the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The servant was deeply in debt to his master, and when he sought relief, his master forgave him his gargantuan debt. Then the tables turn. Another man owed him a small amount and could not repay it. Instead of following his master's example, the servant forgot the mercy he had just received and had the man thrown into prison!
Verses 34-35 sum up the story: "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." The language Christ uses leaves little room for exclusions. He Himself, in the agony of crucifixion, says without reservation, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). His plea applies, not only to those who cried out for His death and nailed Him to the stake, but to all, past and future, who would be just as responsible as they were and need God's forgiveness. That includes everybody.
— Bill Keesee (1935-2010)
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Post  Admin on Fri 02 Aug 2019, 10:24 am

 2 Timothy 2:15-18
(15) Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (16) But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. (17) And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, (18) who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 
New King James Version  
In this era of the church, the one that we are living in, we have our own problems with certain doctrinal matters. The first century also had problems with certain doctrines that they had to deal with. The very first bridge that they had to cross had to do with justification—justification by faith in the blood of Jesus Christ.
This was a new concept, which is why God commissioned the apostle Paul to write so much about justification by faith—not by works, not by earning justification, but by faith in what God said and what Jesus Christ did. This doctrinal instruction takes up much of the books of Romans and Galatians.
The second bridge they had to cross was law and grace. Even today, people like to separate the two, as if a Christian cannot believe in law and grace at the same time. The apostles had to convince the people that law and grace are not opposed to one another, but work in harmony to complete the process of justification and then sanctification. God not only forgives us, but He also gives us gifts by His Spirit by which we can be sanctified unto holiness, the middle part of the process of salvation, which absolutely cannot be left out.
The third thing is the second coming of Christ. As time passed, the pressure mounted and the return of Jesus Christ became increasingly important in the minds of people. It naturally led people to believe that they had plenty of time to overcome, and it seemed to work to cast them adrift. This is why Paul says that the Hebrews were neglecting their salvation.
In Matthew 24:42, we find that Jesus anticipated this. He really understood human nature. Incidentally, do you want to know what it is that causes people to go to sleep spiritually, so that you can be aware? It is not a hard principle at all to understand. It is having to face so many difficulties, so many pressures, that one becomes weary with facing them. This is a simplification, but it is true. When people have to face so many stresses, they become apathetic and say, "What's the use?" We need to stir ourselves up and recognize that this can happen to us.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 01 Aug 2019, 11:59 am

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
(1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. (2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 
New King James Version  

I Corinthians 8:1 says, "Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies [builds up]." "Puffs up," when opposed to "edifies," implies tearing down, destruction. Paul is saying that pride has the power to corrupt the bearer of knowledge. This statement is part of the prologue to the great chapter on love, written because the Corinthians had allowed their emphasis to drift into the wrong areas. Even as a gift from God, knowledge has the potential to corrupt its recipient, if it is unaccompanied by love.

Paul thus begins chapter 13 by contrasting love with other gifts of God. He does this to emphasize love's importance, completeness, permanence, and supremacy over all other qualities we consider important to life and/or God's purpose.

Prophecies end because they are fulfilled. The gift of tongues is less necessary today as then because of the widespread use of English in commerce, politics and academia. Its value depends on specific needs. Knowledge is increasing so rapidly that old knowledge, especially in technical areas, becomes obsolete as new developments arise. Yet the need for love is never exhausted; it never becomes obsolete. God wants us to use it on every occasion.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 31 Jul 2019, 10:38 pm

As King David said, "Wash me thoroughly 
from my iniquity, and cleanse me from
my sin." 
( Psalms 51:2 *NKJV )
We all hope that the Lord will wash away our sins when
we repent, and thus remove them from "The Book of Life."
Wash Day......... .. 
Monday, Wash Day 
Lord, help me wash away all my selfishness and vanity, so I 
may serve you with perfect humility through the week ahead. 
Tuesday, Ironing Day 
Dear Lord, help me iron out all the wrinkles 
of prejudice I have collected through the years so that I may 
see the beauty in others. 
Wednesday, Mending Day 
O God, help me mend my ways so I will not 
set a bad example for others.
Thursday, Cleaning Day 
Lord Jesus, help me to dust out all the many faults I have been 
hiding in the secret corners of my heart. 
Friday, Shopping Day 
O God, give me the grace to shop wisely so I may purchase 
eternal happiness for myself and all others in need of love. 
Saturday, Cooking Day 
Help me, my Saviour, to brew a big kettle of brotherly love and
serve it with clean, sweet bread of human kindness. 
Sunday, The Lord's Day 
O God, I have prepared my house for you. Please come into my
heart so I may spend the day and the rest of my life in your 
presence. 
Now if this message has inspired you in any way or you feel that 
it can brighten someone else's day, please Post on your Wall. 
Remember, to "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is 
fighting some kind of battle." Amen
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Post  Admin on Tue 30 Jul 2019, 12:54 pm

2 Corinthians 1:17-19
(17) Therefore, when I was planning this, did I do it lightly? Or the things I plan, do I plan according to the flesh, that with me there should be Yes, Yes, and No, No? (18) But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. (19) For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 
New King James Version   Change your email Bible version

Does God speak and not act? Even Balaam understood that when God's Word goes forth, it accomplishes what He sent it to do. There is no ambiguity on this matter; God's promises are sure. He never deceives, and there is never inconsistency or fickleness in Him. He is always true. Jesus called Himself "the truth" (John 14:6), and in Revelation 3:14 His title is "the faithful and true witness."

Similarly, Paul states that his, Silvanus' and Timothy's declarations, their preaching about God, were also faithful, unvarnished, unexaggerated, and uncolored. They did not change the truth or shade it in any way. Jesus says He came into this world to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). Paul felt he was under sacred obligation to do the same and maintain a character of the strictest veracity in every respect. Perhaps our greatest obligation on earth is for us to imitate our Redeemer's faithfulness. It does not become an individual who professes to trust in the faithful God to be shifty and unreliable in word and deed.

This is a very high pinnacle for us to strive for, but we must try, though we know we will not be saved as a result. Perhaps because we know our salvation does not depend on our works, there is a subtle persuasion not to be as careful as we should.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 29 Jul 2019, 11:17 am

  John 18:36-37
(36) Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (37) Pilate therefore said to Him, 'Are You a king then?' Jesus answered, 'You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.' 
New King James Version   

Pilate was concerned that Jesus was interfering in the politics of his day, but Jesus told him that, even though He was born to be King, His Kingdom was not of this world. Christ will establish His rule on earth as King of the world at the appointed time He returns.

While Jesus did preach to the world by warning it (Matthew 4:25; 5:1), He remained separate from its politics. His primary audience was His disciples, whom He taught God's way of life. He called them out of this present, evil age—out of its customs, philosophies, and ways—to a life of separation from the world (II Corinthians 6:17). He told them, “Follow Me.”

He did not mean for Christians to leave the world physically. He knew they must live in it, but He taught that they should not be of it. In His final prayer, He requests, “I do not pray that you should take [My disciples] out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:15-16). Thus, Christ's disciples live in this present world as if they were foreigners, guests of the nations where they reside, as ambassadors for Christ and His coming Kingdom.

When God calls a person to repentance and conversion, He summons them to forsake former allegiances and transfer all loyalty to Christ. As Paul writes in II Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

— Martin G. Collins
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Post  Admin on Sun 28 Jul 2019, 9:30 am

Matthew 24:3-4
(3) Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (4) And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 
New King James Version  
Christ is saying that an increase in lying and deceit will be a hallmark of the end time. Jesus speaks particularly of religious deception, especially of those who "will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (verse 5). Most likely, He did not mean those who acclaimed themselves to be the Messiah, but those who would use Jesus' name to preach falsehood. Every "Christian" church of this world professes Christ as Savior, but do their ministers preach the truth He brought? Are many "Christians"—1.9 billion strong around the world in 1996—being deceived by a false gospel? This prophecy is fulfilled every Sunday around the world.
But it affects not only Christians. The other religions of man are no more honest than this world's Christianity. Regarding the ninth commandment, Judaism's "great" rabbis of the past have made exceptions to allow for deceit and lying. For example, they would allow a Jew to lie to Christians and other "heathens," but it was a great sin to lie to another Jew. The Talmud maintains and endorses falsehoods about Jesus, vilifying Him with names and alleging He was illegitimate.
Islam fares no better. It purports that God chose Ishmael over Isaac and the Arab peoples over the Israelites, but it uses large chunks of Israelite history to fill out its past. It claims Mohammed is a greater prophet than Jesus, and that he ascended to heaven on his horse from the site of the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Its adherents believe that killing infidels will earn them a place in heaven, spawning worldwide, state-sponsored terrorism.
The many Eastern religions range from polytheism and animism to abstract, existential philosophies. None teach the truth about the great questions of life. For example, regarding life after death, Eastern religions run the gamut from nihilism to reincarnation, while none preach the Kingdom of God. Some espouse living a moral life, and others take a more epicurean stance, but none teach all of the Ten Commandments. Billions of people have been and are being deceived by these false faiths.
The latecomers to the smorgasbord of this world's religions are the New Age groups. They often blend, or syncretize, traditional beliefs with some form of mysticism, spiritism, or rank demonism. Some of these call Jesus one of the "enlightened masters" or call Him an embodiment of Lucifer or, like some of the Gnostics, believe He was "the first emanation [creation] of God." Whatever the case, such religions have deceived millions and led them farther away from the truth of God.
Jesus' instruction, however, is simple: Be vigilant not to be deceived. Through the apostle Paul, He teaches, "Test all things; hold fast what is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). In I Timothy 6:20, he writes, "Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge."
In his next letter to Timothy, Paul expounds further:
Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit [which] dwells in us. (II Timothy 1:13-14)
Once we have proved what is right and true by the faith and love of God, we must never let anyone persuade us otherwise! We have the strength to hang on to it through God's own power.
— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 27 Jul 2019, 9:30 am

  Ecclesiastes 7:29
(29) Truly, this only I have found: 
That God made man upright, 
But they have sought out many schemes."
New King James Version   
This verse is especially thought-provoking as an Old Testament insight into what is called the Doctrine of Original Sin. It plainly asserts that God did not create man for the purpose of sinning.
Through the millennia, mankind has shown a persistent and strong proclivity to blame God for all his troubles. We are indeed created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). God gave us a spirit (Job 32:8), and by it, we have the ability to understand and harness many of the powers that He placed within our nature and environment. But Ecclesiastes 7:29 clearly indicates that man, specifically Adam and then all humanity after him, including women, have deliberately chosen to sin.
This point appears in the final part, “But they have sought out many schemes.” Time and history have proven repeatedly that we do not always do things constructively. We seem to pollute everything we touch, creating new problems with each generation, most of which we cannot solve. Potential problems exist now that could, except for God's mercy, wipe life itself from the face of the earth.
We could loosely interpret verse 29 as, “God made man to be upright, but man has defeated himself by his own schemes. He strives to do things his way. He goes to so much trouble to make trouble for himself instead of reading God's Book, believing it, and submitting to it.”
Mark Twain is highly respected as a writer, but according to contemporary accounts, he was sarcastic and cynical about God and life in general. By means of his skilled writing, he managed to hide from the public his hatred of God, Christianity, and life itself. However, in Huckleberry Finn, his most popular and critically acclaimed novel, he portrays God, and Christians especially, as ignorant, pharisaical, and silly, demanding dolts, killjoys who take all the fun out of life.
Twain blamed God for all of mankind's troubles. On these thoughts, he wrote a book in the last few months of his life, Letters to Earth, and it so offended his daughter that she would not allow it to be published until thirty years or so after his death, fearing it would destroy his reputation. In another place he wrote, “Whoever has lived long enough to find out what life is, knows how deep a debt of gratitude we owe to Adam, the first great benefactor of our race. He brought death into the world.”
Thank God that there is also a Last Adam! By virtue of His sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection, we can by God's grace receive the quality of life God intended from the beginning. We do not have the wisdom to solve all the deep mysteries of life, but from our experiences, we should be wise enough to look within ourselves and see the deadly sin in our hearts, asking God to be our Savior through Jesus Christ.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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