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BIBLE STUDY on VERSE

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Post  Admin on Sun 05 Jan 2020, 5:27 pm

Obadiah 1:3-4
(3) The pride of your heart has deceived you,
You who dwell in the clefts of the rock,
Whose habitation is high;
Youwho say in your heart, "Who will bring me down to the ground?"
(4) Though you ascend as high as the eagle,
And though you set your nest among the stars,
From there I will bring you down," says the LORD.

New King James Version  

Pride deceives one into believing and eventually doing wrongly. What does it deceive a person into believing?

In this context God quotes Edom as saying, "Who will bring me down to the ground?" Edom dwelt in the mountainous country southeast of Judea, and Petra was their stronghold. They thought their combination of military strength and impregnable position made them impossible to defeat. Yet notice what verse 4 adds: "'Though you exalt yourself as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,' says the LORD."

What had pride done? It had deceived them into believing they were secure, self-sufficient, quick-witted, intelligent, and strong enough to withstand anybody. This clearly illustrates that pride's power lies in its ability to deceive us into believing in our self-sufficiency. Even in our everyday relationships with other people, this is a serious deception, but when the deception involves our relationship with God, the level of seriousness reaches alarming proportions.

The Edomites looked at their stronghold and then at themselves and their enemies. They concluded they were stronger than all—they were impregnable! Their evaluation was in error because they left God out of the picture. Therein lies much of the problem concerning pride. Against whom do we evaluate ourselves? Pride usually chooses to evaluate the self against those considered inferior. It must do this so as not to lose its sense of worth. To preserve itself, it will search until it finds a flaw.

If it chooses to evaluate the self against a superior, its own quality diminishes because the result of the evaluation changes markedly. In such a case, pride will often drive the person to compete against—and attempt to defeat—the superior one to preserve his status (Proverbs 13:10). Pride's power is in deceit, and the ground it plows to produce evil is in faulty evaluation.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 04 Jan 2020, 8:21 pm

Zechariah 4:10
(10) For who has despised the day of small things?
For these seven rejoice to see
The plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
They are the eyes of the LORD,
Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth."
New King James Version   
"For who has despised the day of small things?" No one who understands God and what He is working out looks down on the times when only insignificant things seem to be accomplished. Those who understand what God is doing know that the day of small things must take place before the big things can happen.

This is primarily an encouragement to the Two Witnesses. Their work will appear as nothing to begin with. Nevertheless, they will not despise it because they know that small things must happen before bigger things can take place, the things that will really put them on the map during the final 3½ years. But the small things that happen before that time—in measuring the altar, the Temple, and the worshippers (Revelation 11:1)—will set the stage for their major work.

It is important to realize—from the historical point of view—that even when this Temple was finished, the people moaned about it: "This is nothing like Solomon's Temple!" It seemed a small thing in itself, and it was. It was just a bare representation of the original Temple that David built through Solomon. Nevertheless, it was necessary. The small things that happened back then—the Jews returning from exile with a great many of the Levites and the priests, building the Temple, putting a wall around the city, and eventually colonizing most of the old land of Israel (particularly around the Sea of Galilee)—made the birth and ministry of Jesus Christ possible. He had to have a Temple to come to.

So, all these small things that happened with this tiny number of people who came back from Babylon, and all the work that they did over a hundred years or so, prepared the way for the very "big thing" of the first advent of Jesus Christ (meaning His entire life, His ministry, His death, and His resurrection). Without the small things, that big thing would never have happened.

God was preparing for the big thing through the small things, and He does that all the time. Thus, any faithful person will not despise the times when only small things are happening, because they mean that big things are coming and that they should prepare themselves for them.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 03 Jan 2020, 6:37 pm

Amos 2:4
(4) Thus says the LORD:
" For three transgressions of Judah, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
Because they have despised the law of the LORD,
And have not kept His commandments.
Their lies lead them astray,
Lies which their fathers followed.

New King James Version

Law in Amos 2:4 refers to instruction, not legislation and its enforcement. From a verb that means "to throw," its root describes casting lots or throwing dice. When lots or dice were cast, God revealed His will in the way they landed (Proverbs 16:33; see Leviticus 16:8-10; Acts 1:26). At times lots were used in making judgments in criminal cases in which God's will needed to be ascertained (Joshua 7:13-25). Thus, by setting a legal precedent, the casting of lots served to give instruction in other cases in which the same basic principles of behavior were involved. God's will—His law—was taught to His people through the casting of lots.

This instruction process implies a teacher-student relationship. When the Israelites rejected God's instruction contained in His law, they rejected the Instructor as well. Their relationship with Him quickly deteriorated.

Commandment means "to engrave or cut into stone," suggesting its permanence and immutability in contrast to temporary and changeable lies. The law comes from an unchangeable, righteous, and pure God in contrast to fickle and iniquitous men.

Judah's despising of God's law and revelation of Himself was internal—from the heart (Psalm 78:37; 81:11-12; Jeremiah 5:23). The personal and social failures Amos records are evidence that the people had rejected the truth. So it is with us: God wants to change our hearts so He can change our actions and turn around our lives.

In every area of life, Israel perverted the truth of God to accommodate the ideas of men. In the final tally, they loved lies rather than the revelation of God (II Thessalonians 2:11-12). Thus Amos says that God's people despised His law. They made the mistake of devaluing their calling and considered it common. Believing they were God's elect, they thought they were irrevocably saved. With this attitude it was only a matter of time before spiritual and moral complacency set in. As the church of God, we cannot allow ourselves to slip into this attitude because we, too, would fall into immorality.

If that occurs, God must pass judgment because His justice is the same for everybody (Colossians 3:25; I Peter 1:17). God's laws govern the people on the outside as well as the people on the inside. No matter what makes Israel or the church distinctly different, His judgment is always righteous. When God could not change Israel's immorality through His prophets, He had to punish them. So will He punish an apostate church.

It is easy to see why this book is written to the end-time church. The people of America and the British Commonwealth are already in the moral and spiritual condition of the people of Israel and Judah in the time of Amos. Members of God's church come out of such a world. Just as Israel's privileged position became a curse, so will it be for the Christian who ultimately rejects his calling (Hebrews 6:4).

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 02 Jan 2020, 6:51 pm

Matthew 25:1-13
(1) "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. (2) Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. (3) Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, (4) but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. (5) But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. (6) "And at midnight a cry was heard: "Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!" (7) Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. (8) And the foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." (9) But the wise answered, saying, "No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves." (10) And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. (11) "Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, "Lord, Lord, open to us!" (12) But he answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you." (13) "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
New King James Version   

The Parable of the Ten Virgins pictures the church waiting for the Bridegroom's return. Because of an unexpectedly long delay, He finds half the virgins unprepared when He finally arrives.

In weddings of that time, the bridegroom traditionally led a procession of bridesmaids from where they waited to his home. Since the procession almost invariably took place at night, each bridesmaid was expected to supply her own torch or lamp. If the bridegroom came later than expected, the bridesmaid needed to be prepared with extra torches or oil for her lamp.

The difference between the wise and the foolish virgins in the parable is not that one group did not have oil, but that one group did not have enough for the unexpectedly long delay. When the cry went out, their lamps were still burning, but they were sputtering and going out. Oil, of course, represents God's Holy Spirit. The wise virgins, like the faithful and wise servant of Matthew 24:45-51, are prepared. They make sure that they remain in contact with the dispenser of oil, as is implied when they say to the foolish virgins, "No, . . . go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves" (verse 9). The wise had been in recent contact with the dispenser of oil, whereas the others apparently had dallied around. Going frequently to the dispenser, the wise, when the bridegroom arrived, had an adequate supply to trim their lamps and go into the marriage supper. The lesson is preparedness through vision and foresight.

Because it is an internal state, preparedness cannot be transferred. That is evident in the reaction of the virgins. It is a matter of the heart, an intangible that accrues by spending long periods of time under many circumstances with the Dispenser of the Holy Spirit. What cannot be transferred to those who are unprepared are matters of attitude, character, skill, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. They are personal attributes that are built and honed over months and years.

When one needs a skill immediately, how much time does it take to learn it? If a man suddenly needed the skill to repair an automobile, and he had never done any work on one, he may as well have no hands at all! It works the same way with spiritual attributes. Preparing for eventualities is the lesson of this parable. The wise virgins prepared for the eventuality that it might take longer for the bridegroom to come—they showed foresight and vision, and they entered the wedding feast. The others did not.

The oil cannot be borrowed either. In no way can it be passed from one person to another. We cannot borrow character or a relationship with God. The parable teaches us that opportunity comes, opportunity knocks, and then opportunity leaves. The foolish failed to face the possibility that the bridegroom would come later than expected, and when they were awakened, they had no time to fetch any oil and fill their lamps.

No one can deliver his brother. Each person determines his own destiny. No matter how close we are, even if we are one in flesh as in marriage, a husband cannot deliver his wife, and a wife cannot deliver her husband. Nor can we deliver our children. Everyone stands on his own in his relationship with God. God makes this clear in Ezekiel 14:14: "'Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,' says the Lord God." Though it is a hard lesson, it should motivate us to discipline ourselves, to exercise self-control, to be alert, and to give our attention to our spiritual priorities. Thus, each person determines his own destiny.

Equating the foolish virgins with their modern counterparts, the Laodiceans, their faith is perfunctory. Their church membership is routine, merely going through the motions. They have enough faith that they at least show up for church services. They have beliefs and character and motivation—but not enough!

The Bridegroom's refusal to admit the five foolish virgins (verse 12) must not be construed as a callous rejection of their lifelong desire to enter the Kingdom. Far from callous, Christ's rejection is entirely justified because these people never make preparations for their marriage to Him. In the analogy, though they realize they have met their future mate and admire Him, they never develop the relationship. In a sense, they have already rejected Him. Thus, an additional lesson in this parable is that our relationship with God must be worked on continually.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 01 Jan 2020, 1:18 pm

Numbers 12:4-9
(4) Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!" So the three came out. (5) Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. (6) Then He said,
"Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream. (7) Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house. (8) I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?" (9) So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed.

  Hebrews 3:2
(2) who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.
New King James Version   

How would we like to be accused as Moses was, then witness God Himself make a dramatic entrance and hear His voice boom out in poetry in our defense, saying that we are without peer amongst all the people? God says to Moses, "There is no one like you." He was without peer among the holy. That is pretty impressive! It has not happened very often in mankind's history.

But, on the other hand, there has only been one Moses. There were a number of ordinary prophets, who had to be content with visions and dreams, but God spoke to Moses personally. Moses was in a class by himself. Nobody on earth was more intimate with God than Moses, and, as a result, Moses was entrusted with God's estate. And Hebrews 3:2 comments, "Moses also was faithful in all His house."

"All His house" is a figure of speech, indicating that "house" is put for itself (that is, the building) and everything in it. What is normally in a house is a family. Moses, then, was faithful—he was without peer—in all of God's Household, God's Family.

Nobody was faithful like Moses was faithful, therefore he could interpret God's will to Israel with full authority. God backed His prophet up, saying that Miriam and Aaron were completely out of line. This is why He says, "Why were you not afraid to speak against [or, accuse] My servant Moses?"

It is clear what set Moses apart from others: He was faithful. This can be seen when he is contrasted to the rest of Israel, the very people that he was leading, who comprised God's Family at that time. They were anything but faithful! In fact, the reason that the Israelites failed was because of their lack of faith. And without faith, of course, one cannot be faithful.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Wed 01 Jan 2020, 1:15 pm

Numbers 12:4-9
(4) Suddenly the LORD said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!" So the three came out. (5) Then the LORD came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. (6) Then He said,
"Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the LORD, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream. (7) Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house. (8) I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the LORD.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?" (9) So the anger of the LORD was aroused against them, and He departed.

  Hebrews 3:2
(2) who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.
New King James Version   Change Bible versions

How would we like to be accused as Moses was, then witness God Himself make a dramatic entrance and hear His voice boom out in poetry in our defense, saying that we are without peer amongst all the people? God says to Moses, "There is no one like you." He was without peer among the holy. That is pretty impressive! It has not happened very often in mankind's history.

But, on the other hand, there has only been one Moses. There were a number of ordinary prophets, who had to be content with visions and dreams, but God spoke to Moses personally. Moses was in a class by himself. Nobody on earth was more intimate with God than Moses, and, as a result, Moses was entrusted with God's estate. And Hebrews 3:2 comments, "Moses also was faithful in all His house."

"All His house" is a figure of speech, indicating that "house" is put for itself (that is, the building) and everything in it. What is normally in a house is a family. Moses, then, was faithful—he was without peer—in all of God's Household, God's Family.

Nobody was faithful like Moses was faithful, therefore he could interpret God's will to Israel with full authority. God backed His prophet up, saying that Miriam and Aaron were completely out of line. This is why He says, "Why were you not afraid to speak against [or, accuse] My servant Moses?"

It is clear what set Moses apart from others: He was faithful. This can be seen when he is contrasted to the rest of Israel, the very people that he was leading, who comprised God's Family at that time. They were anything but faithful! In fact, the reason that the Israelites failed was because of their lack of faith. And without faith, of course, one cannot be faithful.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 31 Dec 2019, 9:55 pm

Luke 4:16-19
(16) So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. (17) And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
(18) "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
(19) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."
New King James Version   

Every one of the actions in verses 18-19 has to do with words. Everything that came out of Him came out of an absolutely pure heart. He said, "I'm going to preach the gospel to the poor." The poor are those deprived or powerless, and the reason for His preaching was to give them vision and hope. Moses gave the enslaved Israelites good news of a similar sort: "God is going to free us and lead us to our own land."

Then Christ says, "I'm going to heal the brokenhearted." He means those whose hearts are broken in repentance. It is as if He says, "I'm going to take care of all your past mistakes. I will heal you and give you comfort so you can start out the journey to the Kingdom of God in good spiritual condition."

After this He says, "I'm going to preach deliverance to the captives." He will inspire enthusiasm and give hope for a bright future. He will recover the sight of the blind. He will provide truth, and therefore direction and clear thinking, to people. He will set them at liberty by forgiving them of their sins—and keep them free. He will preach the acceptable year of the Lord—the time is now—and instill them with urgency. Each of these steps is Him working on our mind.

Hardly any of us have moved an inch, as it were, since our calling. Most of us live in the same general area in which we were called. Even if we did move around the country, we are still under the same human government. Our location does not matter to God. He is after our mind. He wants to change the heart until it is pure like His Son's. In all of these functions, God is working on the mind by means of His word, His truth, empowering us through an educational process, and by the addition of His Spirit to make the best possible use of our free moral agency in our lives.

John 1:12 says—in the chapter where Jesus is identified as the Word of God, the Logos, and as the Light of the world, which is the truth of God that points out the way—that we are given the right to be sons of God. The word "right" is an accurate translation, but the marginal reference is better: "authority." Perhaps an even better word is "empowered," which is the Greek word's real meaning. We are empowered to become part of the Kingdom of God. That empowerment has come by means of God's calling, the revelation of His purpose through His Word, and all the other instruction that is necessary for the accomplishment of the great purpose God is working out.

That Word He has revealed to us is pure and unadulterated. It is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 30 Dec 2019, 9:30 pm

Isaiah 33:14-19
(14) The sinners in Zion are afraid;
Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
“ Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?”
(15) He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:
(16) He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure. (17) Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
They will see the land that is very far off.
(18) Your heart will meditate on terror:
“ Where is the scribe?
Where is he who weighs?
Where is he who counts the towers?”
(19) You will not see a fierce people,
A people of obscure speech, beyond perception,
Of a stammering tongue that you cannot understand.

New King James Version   

This prophecy, beginning in verse 14, falls within a prophecy of judgment against Assyria. The sinners and hypocrites in Zion can be one of two things: The phrase can certainly apply to the land of Israel, Zion being a part of Jerusalem where the Temple was built. The prophet could be alluding to the fact that there are hypocrites among the people of Israel. It can also be dual and refer to the church, because God frequently symbolizes the church by using the name "Zion." There can be, among those who are part of the church of God, sinners and hypocrites.

These people are responding to the harshness of the prophecies aimed at Assyria, and they are wondering, "Who can ever survive this?" God, through the prophet, gives an answer about who will be able to survive what is coming: "He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppression, who gestured with his hands refusing bribes, who stopped his ear from hearing of blood shed and shuts his eyes from seeing evil." If a person does rightly, if he lives righteously, God extends protection to them so that they will not have to go through the terrible times that are coming.

Where will this protection take place? He says at a "fortress of rocks." The stronghold of rock will be a place where it will be necessary for food and water to be provided. It is such a wilderness, so desolate, that sustenance will have to be provided, and the implication is that it will be provided miraculously by God. The place is so desolate, so forsaken, such a wilderness, that it will not support life to any great degree. Certainly, it is dry, maybe getting only two or three inches of rain a year, but that's not enough to grow anything. It will not support life.

The comments regarding the scribe, "Where is he who weighs, where is he who counts the towers?" are indications of military personnel, personalities in an army. One translation says the scribe is "the general who comes," and that has to be tied to verse 19 because the people in this place of protection—those who have lived uprightly—are not going to see the army that is coming against Israel.

Here we begin to see clearly a turn in Scripture, as it begins to provide admonishments and encouragements urging people to make an effort to try to be in this place of safety, to turn their life aright, to produce qualities that God will look for in the people who will receive His protection from what is coming.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 29 Dec 2019, 7:41 pm

 Genesis 3:17-19
(17) Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat of it":
"Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.

(18) Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.

(19) In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return."
New King James Version  

Some commentators make a great deal out of the fact that God addresses this curse to adam rather than to "the man" (ish in Hebrew), seeing this as proof that this curse was to fall on all mankind. This semantic argument means very little in the end, since both ish, the man named Adam, and adam, mankind, received the effects of the curse, just as both Eve and all other women have suffered from her curse.

English-speaking peoples have a saying that "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach." God, of course, understood this, and thus His curse on Adam centers on eating. In fact, eating is a major theme of the first three chapters of Genesis (see 1:29-30; 2:9, 15-17; 3:1-6, 11-13).

Eating, however, stands for more than simply nourishing the body; it is one small part of mankind's daily struggle to survive his hostile environment, planet earth. The Garden of Eden was a place where man's work "to tend and keep" what God had made was pleasurable, fulfilling, and probably not overly strenuous. The earth worked with the man to produce his needs for food, clothing, shelter, and whatever other need he might have.

Once God pronounced his curse, though, the ground—from which comes all material wealth and produce—turned uncooperative. Instead of man and nature united in productive labor, the situation became man versus nature, a competition for dominance. Now, man would have to use all his physical and mental powers to subdue the earth.

The earth would yield its fruit only after a man forced it through hard labor in plowing, planting, watering, cultivating, and reaping. Animals from insects to deer to wolves, fearful of man, would become pests and destroy his crops, herds, possessions and even his life on occasion. Materials for building homes, crafting tools, making clothing, and manufacturing items would be gathered only by raping the land of minerals, metals, wood, and stone.

The earth would protest through natural processes like earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, wildfires, erosion, and infertility. Denuded of trees, the land would become a desert. The weather would turn foul, sending too much or too little rain. Windstorms like hurricanes and tornadoes would devastate vast stretches of territory. The sun would beat down mercilessly or withhold its heat for long stretches.

Such was the situation Adam and Eve faced after God drove them from the Garden of Eden. For six thousand years all their descendants have struggled to survive the harsh conditions of life separated from God and in competition with nature. Surely it has affected their eating, but it has also had an impact on every other endeavor of mankind—from breaking horses for riding to blasting satellites into orbit. Men accomplish nothing except by the toil of hard work and overcoming the obstacles the environment places in their way.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 28 Dec 2019, 2:50 pm

James 4:4
(4) Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
New King James Version   

To have a warm, familiar attitude with this world is to be on good terms with God's enemy. What does it mean, in more practical terms, to be a friend of the world? It is to adopt the world's set of values and wants, to desire what the world wants instead of choosing according to divine standards or divine truths.

In other words, if a person does that, he has actually made himself subject to Satan because Satan is the god of this world! That is a choice that we want to avoid. The worldly person will almost invariably choose to satisfy himself and take action on his desire, which eventually produces confusion, division, and war. It cannot be otherwise because the spirit of the world is the spirit of Satan, and laws are at work that will produce what they are designed to produce.

That was the problem in the congregation to which James wrote. If another apostle had been writing it, such as the apostle Paul did in I Corinthians 3, he would say, "You are yet carnal." These were converted people but still carnal, and they were showing it through their choices. It was not that they did not have the Spirit of God but that they were still so weak spiritually. They were choosing to fall back on what they had in the way of character, understanding, knowledge, and vision from the world, and by this, they showed that Satan was still dominating their lives.

This is understandable because Satan is a wily and powerful adversary—but he can be overcome and defeated. Christ did it, and we can too because Christ is in us.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 27 Dec 2019, 5:18 pm

Ecclesiastes 6:9
(9) Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of desire.
This also is vanity and grasping for the wind.

New King James Version  

The problem with a divided, unfocused mind is that it is, as we would say today, all over the place, seeking fulfillment in a host of things, pursuing a wide variety of goals, but rarely, if ever, coming to grips with the pursuit of revealed truth.

Many of us have television to thank for having a mind like this as it has played a major role in destroying peoples' attention span. The attention span of Americans is now getting down into the neighborhood of seven minutes: the length of time between advertising on television. We have a hard time focusing for any period of time, and television is constantly pushing its mind-numbing banalities into our minds, making it difficult for us to do what is absolutely necessary for us to do, that is, to spend time in heartfelt prayer and study, seeking God. The chances are very great that we sit down to read the Bible, and our eyes get heavy, and we struggle to fight off sleep. It happens because we have no passion for Jesus Christ.

God is teaching us what defragments our mind: seeking Him with a passionate desire to be like Him. This works to make our minds one with His.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 27 Dec 2019, 2:40 pm

Romans 11:29
To get a proper understanding of the context of that verse, let’s read Romans 11:25-29, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” 

Romans, chapters 9-11deal mainly with the ‘setting aside’ of the nation of Israel as the favored people of God because of their unbelief.  The Lord Jesus lamented the rejection and unbelief of Israel in Matthew 23:37where He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”  The Lord came to save the Jews as we read in Matthew 1:21, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”  The Lord told the Samaritan woman in John 4:22that, “…salvation is of the Jews.”  However, this favored nation refused to accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, or Christ.  Because of that, the nation of Israel was cut off as we read in Romans 11:20, which tell us that, “…because of unbelief they were broken off…” 

In the day we now live in, the Lord has opened the way of salvation to all who come to Him by faith.   Romans 10:12-13says, “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  While the Lord’s ‘earthly people’, Israel, has been set aside, His Heavenly people, the church, is being filled with all who believe, Jew or Gentile.  We read in Acts 2:47that, “…the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” 

But what about all those promises the Lord made to the nation of Israel?  Has He now changed Him mind because of their unbelief?  No, He has not!  Romans 11:29tells us, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”  This means that the blessings and promises of the Lord are unchangeable.  What He has promised to Israel, He will perform.  There will come a day, when Israel is taken up once again as the chosen people of God.  During the seven-year Tribulation period, the Lord will once again raise up this nation and will bless them according to His promises.  As we read in Romans 9:26-27, “And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.” 

There is also a wonderful and practical truth to Romans 11:29.  We can rest assured that when the Lord makes a promise to us, there is nothing that can change that promise.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Titus 1:1-2, “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness; In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”  While the world is full of broken promises, we can rest assured that the Lord never breaks a promise that He makes to us.  We read in Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised.)”  (133.4)
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Post  Admin on Thu 26 Dec 2019, 10:10 pm

Amos 5:4-6
(4) For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:
"Seek Me and live;
(5) But do not seek Bethel,
Nor enter Gilgal,
Nor pass over to Beersheba;
For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity,
And Bethel shall come to nothing.
(6) Seek the LORD and live,
Lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
And devour it,
With no one to quench it in Bethel—

New King James Version  

Beersheba played a role in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Though the event for each was a little different, something was said to each that is significant to our lives, especially in light of the Holy Spirit.

Abraham's incident at Beersheba is written in Genesis 21:22-24:

And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol, the commander of his army, spoke to Abraham, saying, "God is with you in all that you do. Now therefore swear to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have sojourned." And Abraham said, "I will swear."

In this event, Abimelech utters the words that become central to what Beersheba came to represent to the Israelites: "God is with you in all that you do." A pagan king observed Abraham's life as one that reflected godliness.

In Isaac's incident at Beersheba, recorded in Genesis 26:23-24, God Himself utters the assurance necessary for Isaac to trust Him: "Then He went up from there to Beersheba. And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, 'I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham's sake.'" Like Isaac, we need assurance, we need to believe, that God is with us.

In Jacob's case, he is on his way to Egypt to meet with Joseph, filled with a stressful mixture of joy and fear, when the event of Genesis 46:1-4 occurs:

So Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, "Jacob, Jacob!" And he said, "Here I am." And He said, "I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes."

Thus, at Beersheba, each of the three patriarchs receives assurance of the companionship of God. What might have been the reaction of the Israelites when Amos said, "Don't pass over to Beersheba"?

It is a pastor's responsibility, not only to help to build peoples' trust in God, but also from time to time to sow doubt about their condition or standing before God. This is necessary because we often assume that all is well in our relationship with God. Amos filled not only the role of prophet but also of pastor of these wayward people, who were falsely confident in their standing with God.

An analysis of Paul's writings shows that his tactics at meeting church problems varied. At times, he energetically battered the opposition's position, and at others, he merely asked questions accompanied by some well-placed, incisive, solid, logical reasoning. In Amos 5:5, the prophet uses some strong imperatives, then turns to a recitation of matters the Israelites would have immediately recognized as accurate, even though they might not have accepted the truth of his statements.

Could these people have assumed - because of the general prosperity in Israel - that God was with them in all they did, despite all the evidence of their sinfulness Amos observed during their festival in Beersheba? Were they blind to the fact that prosperity is no guarantee that one is righteous before God?

The essence of the "God is with you" promise is that all is well and peace exists between God and a person; there is no barrier or constraint between them, and harmony reigns. Thus, the two can walk together because they have an understanding (Amos 3:3) - in fact, they may even have a covenant.

Amos had many reasons to believe that their assumption that God was with them was on shaky ground. First, in Amos 5:6, he briefly warns them of the fire of God's judgment, an allusion to the Day of the Lord, soon to fall upon them. He knows they are not seeking God to walk in His steps, so he proceeds to list a number of their sins. Finally, in verses 18-20, he shows them that they had no fear of the consequences of their way of life.

They truly assumed that everything was okay between them and God despite the sorry record of their sins that Amos laid before them! They completely ignored the fact that they, in reality, lived their lives apart from God. They really did not know the God they claimed to be walking with!

Consider the seriousness of verses 14-16:

Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the LORD God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Therefore the LORD God of hosts, the Lord, says this. . . .

Nowhere else in the Bible do three successive verses feature the awesome name, "the LORD God of hosts," underscoring His leading the armies of heaven! Amos is making a very strong point by drawing their attention to the sovereign, omnipotent God of Armies, who is so far above us He is out of sight. These complacent people might choose to believe they were walking with Him, but it begs the question, did this great God want to walk with them as they were?

Adam would have happily remained in the Garden, provided he could hide, but God knew He could not allow such a condition to continue. What good would it do Adam? The Israelites' complacency had been telling them that, when the Day of the Lord arrived, God would side with His people, making it a day of great glory for them. Instead, Amos informs them that it would be just the opposite! It is a time of wailing and disaster (verses 16-17). They had been feeding themselves on false hopes. God says, "I will pass through you"!

In saying, "Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the LORD God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken" (verse 14), Amos admonishes them to seek holiness. He is urging them to see that it is not just a way or rule of life, but a means of life. Hebrews 12:14 confirms its importance, ". . . without holiness no one will see the Lord." When the people of God follow the way that accords with God's will, they come into possession of life. We must never presume God's grace or take it for granted. We must always fervently seek and submit to the will of God in order to be in His Kingdom.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 24 Dec 2019, 4:45 pm

  Deuteronomy 6:4
(4) "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!

  Malachi 3:6
(6) "For I am the LORD, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
  Romans 11:29
(29) For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

  Hebrews 1:12
(12) Like a cloak You will fold them up,
And they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not fail."
  Hebrews 13:8
(8) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
New King James Version   

God's mind is absolutely undivided. In practical application, this means that His sovereignty can never be separated from His love; His grace cannot be separated from His omniscience; His judgment cannot be separated from either His mercy or His wrath. God is absolutely constant because His faithful providence cannot be separated from any other of His attributes. God is whole and complete. Under every circumstance, He is never confused or uncertain about what to do. He is always headed in the same direction, which is to complete His purpose.

It is absolutely impossible for Him to do anything that is not wise and at the same time loving. It is He who tells us how to live and how to be like Him. What God is has awesome ramifications for us because we are so different, and He wants us to be like Him, to be one with Him, to be whole, to be complete, to be undivided in mind like Him.

There are problems here because becoming this way requires a measure of cooperation from us. Compared to God, our mind is all over the place, and thus we are so easily distracted from our focus.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 23 Dec 2019, 1:23 pm

Romans 7:22-25
(22) For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (25) I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.
New King James Version   

Was Paul a novice in the faith when he wrote the book of Romans? God would hardly allow a novice to write Scripture. The apostle Paul was one of the most mature Christians who ever walked the face of the earth. But he saw himself being torn—the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. Paul was in the middle, having to make the choice. If he had not grown spiritually, he would never have seen the conflict; his mind would have passed right over it. Thus, on the one hand, Paul delighted in his understanding of the purpose and perfection of God's law, yet on the other, that insight produced much dismay in him because he could see how far short he fell, from time to time, of its perfection.

The existence of this inward conflict is not a sign that the
 person is not sanctified. As long as we are in the flesh, we will never be entirely free of this struggle. Human nature does not go down without a fight. It must be overcome! In a way, this evil entity within us actually becomes part of the means of our perfection.

Overcoming is a long process, and it requires diligent and humbling effort to subdue our human nature. However, we must never allow ourselves to fall into the attitude that all of our effort is somehow justifying us before God—even though it pleases God and gratifies us. The holiest of our actions, the holiest of the actions of the holiest saints, are still full of imperfections and defects. Even some of these are done from the wrong motive. They could even qualify as being nothing more than a splendid sin in God's sight. Nevertheless, we are saved by grace through faith. Even with that, God requires that we make an effort to do what we can on our part.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 22 Dec 2019, 11:29 am

Ecclesiastes 3:10-14
(10) I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. (11) He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. (12) I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, (13) and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
(14) I know that whatever God does,
It shall be forever.
Nothing can be added to it,
And nothing taken from it.
God does it, that men should fear before Him.

New King James Version  

Some commentators describe Ecclesiastes 3:12 as negative because they understand the phrase, “there is nothing better,” as implying something “second-best.” They almost seem insulted that God has “tossed them a crumb.” But look again at what God has counseled that we should do! In verse 12, He advises us to rejoice and do good in our lives, and in verse 13, to eat, drink, and enjoy the good of our labor because these things—the food, the drink, and the ability to labor—are gifts of God.

If we reword these verses into the first-person voice, it reads, “There is nothing better than that I should be joyful and do good as long as I live, and to eat and drink and take pleasure in all my work—this is God's gift to me.” How much good can be accomplished in a life lived with the attitude that He counsels us to live with? What does God more specifically mean by “do good”? What He means should be taken in a moral and ethical sense. To do good is to do good works, and that is our assignment all the time! God is most certainly not tossing us a crumb.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that doing good is the very reason for our calling! “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Regardless of a trial God may have specifically assigned us, doing good works is always our assignment, whether within that specific trial or free from whatever particular discipline the trial might normally impose.

Thus, in Ecclesiastes 3:10-14, God is telling us to take joy in His employment of us before the world in doing good at home for those we live with, doing good work on the job, doing good in serving the brethren, and doing good within our community as we have occasion, using our spiritual gifts to the best of our abilities.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 21 Dec 2019, 10:05 pm

1 Kings 11:4-6
(4) For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God, as was the heart of his father David. (5) For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. (6) Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not fully follow the LORD, as did his father David.
New King James Version   

Notice that this occurred when he was old and his heart had almost stopped following the Lord. He did go after the Lord, but he did it in a haphazard way. Solomon is perhaps the most vivid example of a Laodicean in the entirety of the Bible (Revelation 3:14-22).

His downfall began with laxity toward being careful about keeping God's commands regarding idolatry. Laxity is the first stage of lawlessness. The more lax he became, the more double-minded he became. A double minded person loses his grip. It is like trying to grasp two different objects in one's hands. If one is not really sure which he wants to hang onto, and his mind is playing back and forth between them, his grip will loosen on one or the other, because he will want to let go of the one in order to secure the other, if he feels he has a better chance with the other.

In Solomon's case, it is his mental, spiritual grip that is suspect. He gradually came to the place where he was not really hanging onto anything but straddling between choices. This made him become increasingly unstable, unsettled, and even deceitful until he became completely reintegrated into the world. He began to be moved almost entirely by human nature once again.

Why is the first commandment listed first? It is the most important of all the commandments. God wants to draw special attention to it because it is the one that is also most easily broken.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Fri 20 Dec 2019, 4:24 pm

2 Thessalonians 2:13
(13) But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
New King James Version   

Sanctification is also known as becoming holy (Ephesians 1:4) and being conformed to His image (Romans 8:29). It cannot be left out of God's purpose because it is the step whereby we are transformed into the image of His Son, as well as into the image of the Father. It is in this step that we begin to take on the characteristics of the Family—where we begin to think and act like the current members of the Family of God. The character, the mindset, the attitudes, the perspective, the way we think, the way we look at things begins to become just like the God's.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:14, 16 that "a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. . . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works." Sanctification—if it is taking place in a person—cannot be hidden. Why is God so concerned about sanctification? Because 1) this is the step in His purpose in which the major portion of the transformation takes place, and 2) it can be seen—this is how we make a witness! Thus, when Paul sees the working faith, the laboring love, and the patient hope of the Thessalonians, he writes:

. . . remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God. (I Thessalonians 1:3-4)

Seeing the fruits of their lives, he knew that they had been begotten by God—that they had God's Spirit—because they had begun "looking" like the Family. Therefore, if a person claims to be a son of God but habitually lives in sin—he is deceiving himself. Those qualities that identify his "spiritual ancestry" begin to show. "Family ties" can be seen.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Thu 19 Dec 2019, 9:57 pm

Genesis 2:16-17
(16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; (17) but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."
New King James Version   

The second death is only mentioned by name in the book of Revelation. However, as a theme, it winds throughout the Bible, always lingering in the background. But to see this, we need to understand how the Bible uses the term “death.”

There is a physical application as well as a spiritual implication, and it requires discernment to understand how the word “death” is being used in a given context. The physical application is simply the end of a human being's life, whether through age, disease, accident, or violence. The breath of life leaves the person, consciousness ceases, and the body begins to decay. This is the fate of all human beings.

But the Bible also uses death to describe the spiritual state of people who are undoubtedly physically alive. Notice Romans 5:12: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

The death that entered the world through Adam's sin was not physical death. Adam was a flesh-and-blood human being, so his body was naturally subject to entropy. The fact that he was created as flesh meant that, at some point, his heart would stop, and the breath of life would leave. Even if he had lived a sinless life, he still would have died when his body ceased to function. Adam was never immortal; he needed to eat of the Tree of Life to live forever (Genesis 3:22). When Adam sinned, he immediately entered a state of spiritual—not physical—death, which contributed to the foundation of Satan's deception that life continues after sin.

As it remains today, Satan's treachery was effective and destructive because, like Adam, we typically live on—physically—after sinning. While Adam's physical death was a foregone conclusion due to his being fleshly, it was not the death that entered the world through his sin. Instead, spiritual death entered the world at that point and spread to all of his offspring. His sin destroyed the union mankind had with God (see Isaiah 59:1-2), without which there is no life. Accordingly, separated from God, mankind has no future beyond physical death unless God acts. The wages of sin is eternal death, and there will not be everlasting life unless God gives it as a gift.

Later in the same context, Paul substitutes the word “condemnation” for “death”:

And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense [Adam's sin] resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. . . . Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. (Romans 5:16, 18)

Adam did not physically die in the instant he sinned, but at that moment, he was brought under eternal condemnation. This is why Jesus said things like “let the dead bury their own dead” (Matthew 8:22; Luke 9:60). Those who had not been called into a relationship with God were living in a state of death—condemnation—despite going about the normal activities of life. These people were devoid of spiritual life; they were the spiritual “walking dead.”

A major reason for Christ's incarnation was so that mankind could be redeemed from this state of death—condemnation—and given an opportunity for eternal life. Thus, He says, “If anyone keeps My word he shall never see death” (John 8:51). The Jews did not grasp His meaning: Those who keep His Word will never see eternal death; they will not lose the eternal life that comes from knowing the Father and Christ (John 17:3) following the Father's call (John 6:44, 65). However, He implies that those who have His Word and do not keep it will return to a state of condemnation.

— David C. Grabbe
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BIBLE STUDY on VERSE - Page 11 Empty Re: BIBLE STUDY on VERSE

Post  Admin on Wed 18 Dec 2019, 11:46 pm

Proverbs 26:2
(2) Like a flitting sparrow, like a flying swallow,
So a curse without cause shall not alight.

New King James Version  

We can understand "curse" in several ways: as the invoking of evil or misfortune upon another, or as the evil or scourge itself. The proverb primarily deals with invoking a curse against another when no justification for doing so exists. Such a curse is akin to the aimless flitting of birds, suggesting that it will have no effect. It will not "hit" its intended target.

We can definitely consider the tragedies of September 11 as a curse. However, God undoubtedly approved of it, or it never would have happened. This curse hit, and it hit hard. Therefore, we must conclude that there was more than ample justification for it falling upon this nation. The death toll was approximately 3,000 people, a horrendous figure to be sure, but it pales when compared to just one other death-toll figure: Every day in the United States over 4,000 human lives are snuffed out of existence by abortion. In the 30 days following September 11, 120,000 lives ceased to exist. Of those 120,000 abortions, 95% of them—114,000—occurred solely for the mother's convenience!

Is it any wonder that God cries out in Ezekiel 7:23, "Make a chain, for the land is filled with crimes of blood, and the city is full of violence." George Mason, whose great influence can be seen in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, wrote that sin "brings the judgment of heaven upon a country. . . . By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence [God] punishes national sin by national calamities." George Washington declared in his First Inaugural Address, "We ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained."

The apostle Paul states in Romans 9:14. "What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not!" As a people, we are guilty and fully deserve anything He in His loving wisdom decides to inflict upon us. Most assuredly, we are not innocent victims. Individually, few of us have sinned against any of the people, groups, or nations that may have done this, but as citizens, we are part of this nation, and our well-being rises and falls with it. We have eagerly accepted God's overflowing abundance of material blessings with which He showered this nation. So when He judges that we need to be brought down a peg—or many pegs—we would do well to consider deeply the many ways we may have offended the great God who created us and gives us every breath of air we breathe.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Tue 17 Dec 2019, 5:44 pm

Genesis 3:1-5
(1) Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden"?" (2) And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; (3) but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, "You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die."" (4) Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. (5) For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
New King James Version 

The word “shrewd” more closely captures Satan's character than "cunning." Shrewd means “sharp and clever in a selfish way.” Though “cunning” is not incorrect, “shrewd” has clearer connotation.

To be cunning and shrewd like Satan indicates malevolent brilliance—with the emphasis on malevolent. He is seeking to kill. His cunning is like that of a tiger, silently padding through the jungle with eyes malevolently seeking something to kill and eat.

Consider how clever his tactic was. He subtly made a suggestion rather than an argument to discredit God's authority, casting doubt about God's credibility. Satan asked, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'"

Through the tone and inflection of his voice, Satan implied that there was doubt that God told them the truth. This is shown by the way Eve replied; she corrected him. She knew from the inflection of his voice that he was really asking a question and casting doubt. When she replied, she over-corrected.

Like a good salesman, the serpent got his victim to agree with him, getting the victim to say “Yes, yes, yes,” and then, "I'll buy it!" Eve was already influenced when she gave her reply because she over-corrected.

Satan successfully magnified God's strictness in her mind, reminding her that the way is narrow. She began to agree with him, thinking about God in terms the serpent wanted her to think. She began to agree, saying “Yes, yes, yes” to the salesman's ploys.

Satan immediately minimized the penalty, saying an outright lie, "You shall not die" (3:4). Then to clinch the sale, he offers her a reward: "You shall be like God" (3:5). What a price she paid! Satan offered a reward that must have seemed so big to Adam and Eve that they could not afford to reject it. What he offered was enough to reorient their lives.

They did not catch the complete significance of what he offered, but enough to know it was big. He offered the self to become the dominating focus of life; "You shall be God." He completely reoriented their lives by turning their focus away from obedience to God toward obedience to the self. He gave them the right to choose and to set the standards of right and wrong. They bought it hook, line, and sinker.

From that point on, mankind has viewed God as a rival and competitor rather than a friend—Someone with whom to compete and outwit rather than cooperate, for they were now gods too!

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Mon 16 Dec 2019, 5:38 pm

 Ecclesiastes 7:21-22
(21) Also do not take to heart everything people say,
Lest you hear your servant cursing you.
(22) For many times, also, your own heart has known
That even you have cursed others.

New King James Version  

Solomon deals with what might be a lingering effect of the paradoxical trial found in verse 15. While the individual endures what transpires, it attracts the attention of others, usually close friends and family members—and they talk. This kind of talk has a tendency to intensify the trial's discomfort.

The talking might be better called “gossip,” but that is not an absolute because it may be sincere, well-intentioned conversation. Even if it is sincere, well-intended, and in no way malicious, the one experiencing the paradox may take it very hard, making overcoming more difficult.

Human nature is prone to take advantage of another's hard times, pointing out and passing on what it thinks are his or her mistakes or outright character weaknesses. But for that other person, it is like taking a punch to the gut. Every one of us will be on the receiving end of gossip, maybe even frequently.

Why is it so difficult to deal with? It damages our pride, our opinion of ourselves. The best defense against it is a clear conscience, that is, to be innocent of what the gossiper supposes of us and to be consistent in goodness, a fruit of God's Spirit. Such a person can patiently weather the passing of the gossipy storm clouds.

Though He was perfectly innocent, Jesus had to endure the taunts of others. Should we expect to escape the same? Thus, verse 22 follows with the reminder that we are in all likelihood guilty of practicing the same against others. What goes around comes around. What one sows, one also reaps (Galatians 6:7). It is a character weakness to give in to the hurt feelings, forgetting that none of us is infallible, and we might have given cause for the grief now coming back on us.

Can we remember the times we lost our tempers and called somebody a “stupid idiot”? Can we remember when we cut somebody off on the highway and given others grief? How many times have we forgotten, been late, or been outright careless in our self-centeredness? Since we have not been absolutely pure in character ourselves, we cannot claim the high ground above others, maintaining we do not deserve the gossip.

God's counsel through Solomon is that it is best just to take our licks, repent, and do better in the future without feeling we have the right to complain.

— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sun 15 Dec 2019, 11:32 am

Hebrews 10:1
(1) For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.
New King James Version   


Scripture clearly teaches that the Old Covenant ceremonies are symbolic of essential, New Covenant, spiritual truths. Further, the author reinforces this by saying they are "a shadow of good things to come." The verb "having" in Hebrews 10:1 is a present active participle, expressing continuous or repeated action. This means that the Old Covenant ordinances of divine service and the sanctuary are still valid and effective teaching vehicles.


Where there is a shadow, there must also be a reality. In this instance, the reality is the life of Christ—the reality we are to strive to emulate as closely as we can, "as dear children," as Paul puts it, to be "a sweet-smelling aroma" to God (Ephesians 5:1-2).


In Luke 24:27, Jesus buttresses this concept while instructing the two men on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection: "And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Jesus draws teaching from the books of Moses to show parallels with His own life.


Be careful not to make the careless mistake of thinking of the offerings as childish, insignificant, primitive, or barbaric. Undoubtedly, they are different from what we are culturally familiar. However, these quoted scriptures make it clear that God intended all along to use them as teaching vehicles. To those under the Old Covenant, the offerings looked forward to what would occur. We look back on what occurred and accept the spiritual intent of the teaching as applicable to us under the New Covenant.


The sacrifices of Leviticus stood at the heart of the worship of God under the Old Covenant. The overall image we may retain from them may indeed be of an endless number of bulls, sheep, goats, and birds slaughtered and burned with profound solemnity on a smoking altar. However, there is absolutely no doubt that they prefigured the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in His death by crucifixion. Less understood is that they also foreshadowed the depth of His consecrated devotion to God and man in His life. Even less understood is how they demonstrate the life we also are to exemplify as living sacrifices.


Is not being living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, and not being conformed to this world but being transformed by the renewing of our minds into the image of Christ our Redeemer, to be at the center of our lives once we are redeemed (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:13)?


— John W. Ritenbaugh
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Post  Admin on Sat 14 Dec 2019, 4:52 pm

Luke 13:10-13
(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.
New King James Version   

Luke describes the woman as crippled by “a spirit of infirmity eighteen years” and “bound” (verse 16) by Satan. Without denying the historicity of the event, Luke's placing this miracle at this point in his narrative has obvious symbolic value. Jesus' mission among the Jews was to “loose” them from crippling influences and bring them to uprightness. This miracle is a graphic example of Jesus making a literally crooked woman upright.

Jesus healed her by His words and by touching her. He could have healed her by a word only, and as seen in other miracles, He did not even need to be in the same place, city, or country. However, in laying His hands on her, He shows everyone the value of her obeying God and coming to Him. Had she refused, He could not have touched her. Nothing good comes to those who disregard God's Word (Romans 2:8; II Thessalonians 1:8; I Peter 4:17).

People often pray for the “touch” of God upon their lives, which is not a bad prayer. Yet, if we want God to touch us, we must draw near to Him. We cannot keep our distance from Him in fellowship. We must walk closely with Him at all times if we want His influence upon our lives.

— Martin G. Collins
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Post  Admin on Fri 13 Dec 2019, 9:09 pm

2 Corinthians 11:14-15
(14) And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. (15) Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
New King James Version   

The Bible does not typically portray practitioners of the occult and the demons behind them in a particularly macabre way. We moderns have been conditioned to imagine Satan, his demons, and their human minions as dark beings of pure ugliness, bearing attributes of horror and death. We have swallowed this deception from our historical culture and from the images presented by the media to entertain the masses and make millions of dollars.

Yet, while God's Word warns us against Satanic deceptions, it does not provide the standard horror movie images. In fact, it often does just the opposite, cautioning us with the fact that the Devil and his demons do their best to appear as appealing to our senses as they can be. From what we see in Genesis 3, the serpent did not repulse Eve; to her in her innocence, he was logical and quite convincing. In Ezekiel 28, the description of the king of Tyre, a type of Satan, lauds him as “the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (verse 12). It describes a creature whose beauty and magnificence turned his heart proud and corrupt (verse 17).

Though he and his demons have been cast down, at least some of their beauty remains, for Paul tells us in II Corinthians 11:14-15: “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers [servants] also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” Demons do not always look like snakes, dragons, gargoyles, or goblins but have the ability to appear attractive to us when it suits them. If accosted by a ghoul, we would shrink in horror and flee. Demons, though, are all about deception, and appearing as good and beautiful is far more subversive. People are far more likely to trust a physically appealing person than an old hag or troll.

Thus, while the tone of I Samuel 28 is at times stressed, suspicious, and fearful—as one would expect when encountering demonic powers—there is nothing blatantly horrifying or even ugly in the narrative. This tells us that a demon, being manipulative to the extreme, will appear to a person in a way that he thinks will work best for his purposes. A demon will stoop to whatever trick he deems necessary, even to appearing as a minister of righteousness.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh 
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