DAILY MEDITATIONS WITH YOUR CAT BY KATHERINE E.

TAPLEY-MILTON

Devotions With Your Cat Index

1) A CASHLESS SOCIETY COMING SOON
Revelation 14:9-11 “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Shawn Arbeau wrote an article on a website titled, “The Cashless Society” which Comments on the world economy revolving completely around plastic money and the antichrist. She explains: “The Computerized World Many financial institutions across the world have adapted to the change towards the cashless society by implementing electronic funds transfer via automated teller machines (ATM’s) and of late, the internet. By having a simple plastic card, society could completely eliminate the need for cash. The benefits range from the end user through to the government and the merchants. The end user now has no worries about being robbed; there is no cash to steal. Society no longer has to worry about thieves because there is no more cash to steal. Society no longer has to spend enormous amounts of tax dollars supporting our criminal/jail system due to the reduced crime in this area. Merchants now reduce the amount of paper trail they have and can use computerized systems to handle this for them. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Once we take a step back and look at the big picture, we notice that there is a very dark side to this indeed. The key point to understand here is what everything revolves around, and the answer to that would be the government. Suddenly, under this new system, the government has total control over everything we do. It can suppress or oppress society where it hurts the most and that is money. It can also be used to control social laws; to ensure what society has decided is “correct” social behavior. (MORROW, G, 1984, A computerized cashless society, Creative Computing, 10 (11), 271) Privacy Under Attack: Although there are many advantages to utilizing a cashless society, one of the main disadvantages is the disappearance of the privacy of individuals. There may be a large portion of society that may object to “Big Brother” observing their every move. One opinion of this is that if you are not doing anything wrong, than what do you have to fear? The other side of the coin is what business is it of anyone else what I am doing if I am not adversely affecting anyone else. As one assistant professor put it: ‘People value their ability to make some of their purchases using cash, with absolutely no record, electronic log, or audit trail of those transactions, as a way to safeguard their privacy. (Brown, 1997)’ The Evil Electronic Cash – the microchip: It would not be doing the topic justice if a very real hurdle was not addressed as an obstacle to be overcome in the future. This obstacle pertains to religious connotations that are interpreted by many religious people as end time prophecy being fulfilled as outlined in the Holy Bible. Electronic Cash can take on many forms; bank cards, credit cards, debit cards, mobile phones, electronic banking, ATM’s, EFTPOS, etc, the list is almost un-ending. To purchase off particular websites an individual must use electronic cash in one form or another. A cheque or cash would be scoffed at; these types of businesses are simply not interested in catering for that

section of the market. A view held by a lot of Christians is that electronic cash is the vehicle that will introduce the cashless society, and in time, the implanted microchip on all human beings that wish to buy and sell. This view is deeply founded in their belief in the Holy Bible, in particular the passages that refer to the end of time. Revelation 13:16-18 refers to the last days which Christians should be aware of: ‘And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.’ In the future whoever controls the cashless society will be able to track every human beings’ spending habits, activities, and travel. To take the antichrist’s number will mean certain damnation.” http://csusap.csu.edu.au/~darbea01/#_Toc78730022 However, if you are a Christian the Lord promised in 2 Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Are you watching for his appearing?

2) A CAT’S INCREDIBLE JOURNEY
1 Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Sugar the cat ran an incredible race of 1,500 miles to get back to her original owners. Her persistence and endurance were astounding. The website http://www.kittens-lair.net/history-and-famous-cats/amazing-true-stories-about-cats.html tells Sugar’s astounding story: ‘ One of the nicest stories about a cat's power to travel or remember long distances... is about Sugar. Sugar was a cream-colored, part-Persian who was living with a family in Anderson, California. When her family had to move to Oklahoma they felt that Sugar was just too afraid of cars to go through such an ordeal and so they very reluctantly left Sugar behind with a neighbor. Fourteen months later, in Oklahoma, a cream-colored semi-Persian cat leaped on the shoulder of the woman from Anderson, California while she was working outside her new home. Although the woman thought the cat looked like Sugar, she had her doubts. Would a stray cat jump happily onto the shoulder of a stranger? Not likely. But it also seemed unlikely that a cat could cross half a continent of desert and mountain ranges! All doubts were ended, however, when she petted Sugar and felt the unique bone deformity that defined Sugar's left hip. And then she knew for sure it was Sugar when she called the old neighbor in California. Not only did the neighbor remember Sugar's unique bone formation, but she told the Anderson family that Sugar had stayed with her for only two weeks before disappearing! Sugar travelled more than 1,500 miles through land even a mountain lion would find harsh...to a place she had never been....to get back to the family she loved and missed.’ Sugar the cat is a shining example of endurance and perseverance -- qualities which we as Christians should develop. Paul says in Hebrews 12:1 : “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”. Are you focused on finishing the race and getting

rid of hindrances to your spiritual life? When the going gets tough do you quit or do you look to God for strength?

3) A CHILD’S HYMN
Matthew 18:4 “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” The following hymn was written for children by the famous author, Charles Dickens. He was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on February 7th 1812 and died in 1870. Many of Dickens writings championed the poor and downtrodden, but this poem is a tender prayer for children. A CHILD'S HYMN Charles Dickens Hear my prayer, O heavenly Father, Ere I lay me down to sleep; Bid Thy angels, pure and holy, Round my bed their vigil keep. My sins are heavy, but Thy mercy Far outweighs them, every one; Down before Thy cross I cast them, Trusting in Thy help alone. Keep me through this night of peril Underneath its boundless shade; Take me to Thy rest, I pray Thee, When my pilgrimage is made. None shall measure out Thy patience By the span of human thought; None shall bound the tender mercies Which Thy Holy Son has bought. Pardon all my past transgressions, Give me strength for days to come; Guide and guard me with Thy blessing Till Thy angels bid me home. Matthew 18:10 says, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is

in heaven.” Dickens’ child’s hymn has good theology in it and can be applied to adults as well. Do you confess your sins and shortcomings to God and ask for his protection? Do you teach your children to do so?

4) CHOSEN PEOPLE
Deuteronomy 14:2 “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” Why would God choose the Jews to be his special race? Was this blatant favouritism, an affront to all other races? On the website: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/gods_chosen_people.html, the author discusses this problem: “The common assumption of many sceptics is that God chose the Jews just to give them some sort of preferential treatment. In reality, the Bible says that the Jews were selected to be a blessing to all the nations of the world. In fact, the same passages that says that God chose the Jews also says that God does not show partiality and commands the Jews to love other peoples. The Old Testament indicates that the Jews were not prospered because of their righteousness, since they were a stubborn people. "However, the main way that the Jews were to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth was that the Messiah was to be born through the line of David. Beginning with the third chapter of Genesis, the Old Testament tells how the Messiah was to come as the Saviour of the world, These prophecies specifically state that the Messiah was to be God in human flesh, who would be the Son of God. The Messiah would establish the new covenant and would die as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all people. The "curse" of being chosen: Being chosen as the people through whom God would send the Messiah was no walk in the park for the Jews. God expected His chosen people to strictly follow His moral laws and not follow the evil ways of their neighbours. Because they failed to be faithful to God, the Jews were scattered among the nations, where they "profaned the name of the Lord." However, after their 70 year exile in Babylon, the God gathered the Jews back to Israel in preparation for the coming Messiah.” Matthew 2:6 declares, “ And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” The New Testament says about Christians in 1Peter 2:9 that “ ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” We are a chosen generation as Christians and called to holy living. What can you do to lead a holier life? Are there sins that you need God’s help with to stop? Are there ministries that God is calling you to do?

5) A MATTER OF FAT
Judges 3:21 “And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly: And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.”

In the Old Testament, Eglon, King of Moab was so obese that the dagger he was killed with stuck in his abdomen and could not be pulled out. In an article called, “Obesity: weighty matters” the author states: “The world is getting weightier and the trends suggest that it will continue. Why is obesity such a problem - and what can be done about it? Obesity is more than just a disease. It is also about more than just eating too much. As the American Obesity Association says, "No human condition – not race, religion, gender, ethnicity or disease state – compares to obesity in prevalence and prejudice, mortality and morbidity, sickness and stigma." Trends in obesity The American Obesity Association has identified some general and regional trends in obesity, among them: * In many developing countries, obesity co-exists with undernutrition – a body mass index of less than 18.5 (see panel below). * In economically advanced regions of developing countries, prevalence rates of obesity may be as high as in industrialised countries. * Globally, women generally have higher rates of obesity than men do, although men may have higher rates of overweight. * Prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents is on the rise in both developed and developing regions. * Obesity is relatively uncommon in African and Asian developing countries, although when present, it is more prevalent in urban than in rural populations. * In the region of the Americas, obesity rates for both men and women are increasing in both developed and developing countries as well as countries in transition ….* Some countries in the eastern Mediterranean region report high obesity prevalence in adults, particularly women. The prevalence rates for women in this region are generally higher than for women in most industrialised countries. * The prevalence of obesity has increased by about 10 per cent to 40 per cent in the majority of European countries over 10 years…. Obesity – and being overweight – is an epidemic. There are more than one billion overweight adults in the world, at least 300 million of whom are clinically obese. In the US, over 65 per cent of adults are obese or overweight.... In the UK, 22 per cent of the population is estimated to be obese and 75 per cent overweight. There is no doubt that it is an increasing health problem that is showing no signs of going away …. The latest study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 112,000 deaths are associated with obesity each year in the US. Obesity is responsible for 9,000 premature deaths each year in the UK, where the Department of Health estimates that current trends suggest that one in three adults and a fifth of all children – a total of 13 million people – will be obese by 2010… . The good news is that studies show that even a modest cut in weight in people who are obese or overweight improves their chances of better health.” http://www.gsk.com/infocus/obesity.htm The Bible sometimes uses the word “fat” to mean prosperous. For example in Proverbs 15:30 the Bible says, “The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart: and a good report maketh the bones fat.” Are you overweight and need to go on a diet or are you “ fat” in the sense of being spiritually prosperous?

6) A MEASURE OF WHEAT FOR A PENNY
Revelation 6:6 “And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; …” We all know that planet earth is in trouble. Overpopulation, global warming, and running out of oil are going to increase the distress level of earth’s dwellers. During the seven year

tribulation a whole day’s wages will only barely pay for a day’s worth of food. Everything in the modern world requires petroleum products to function. Kevin Moore on a website titled, “Surviving Oil Crash: Soft Landing or Hard” says: Once the supply of oil begins to decline we should anticipate an escalating price (initially to $100/barrel) as consumers compete for what is left [and probably reaching $1,000/barrel before 2025] Superimposed on this gloomy scenario is the rampant growth of the Chinese economy: every month China requires more oil than it did the month before to supply the increasing numbers of factories and vehicles located there. China has been committed to changing from a largely peasant-agricultural society to an industrialconsumer society and has made considerable progress along that path, but still has a long way to go. Resources and the environment will collapse long before it completes the transition. Even if oil supply were to increase by 2% or 3% per annum (a physical impossibility), demand would still outpace supply very soon. We do not know which will hit first, but either demand for oil will outstrip supply while supply is still rising [marginally] or the supply will decline and supply will fail to meet demand very soon. The oil age is therefore almost over: we need to plan for a world in which oil will become increasingly expensive and difficult to obtain and in which there is no replacement for oil http://www.oilcrash.com/articles/survivng.htm . On the website called “Life After the Oil Crash” the author asks” “Are all forms of modern technology actually petroleum products?" The answer is “Yes”. It's not just transportation and agriculture that are entirely dependent on abundant, cheap oil. Modern medicine, water distribution, and national defense are each entirely powered by oil and petroleum derived chemicals. In addition to transportation, food, water, and modern medicine, mass quantities of oil are required for all plastics, all computers and all high-tech devices. Some specific examples may help illustrate the degree to which our technological base is dependent on fossil fuels: Automobiles: The construction of an average car consumes the energy equivalent of approximately 20 barrels (840 gallons) of oil. Ultimately, the construction of a car will consume an amount of fossil fuels equivalent to twice the car’s final weight. It's also worth nothing that the construction of an average car consumes almost 120,000 gallons of fresh water. Fresh water is also rapidly depleting and happens to be absolutely essential to the petroleum refining process as each gallon of gasoline requires almost two gallons of water for refining. Computers: The construction of the average desktop computer consumes ten times its weight in fossil fuels. Microchips: The production of one gram of microchips consumes 630 grams of fossil fuels. According to the American Chemical Society, the construction of single 32 megabyte DRAM chip requires 3.5 pounds of fossil fuels in addition to 70.5 pounds of water. The Environmental Literacy Council tells us that due to the "purity and sophistication of materials (needed for) a microchip, . . . the energy used in producing nine or ten computers is enough to produce an automobile. In his book "The Nine Nations of North America", author Joel Garreau explains in graphic detail just how much energy it takes to fashion a typical microprocessor: microchips are not made one by one. They are printed in a batch on a silicon wafer, say, four inches in diameter. Each time a layer of stuff is printed on this silicon wafer, the wafer must be treated so the stuff you've laid on will stay there. This process is achieved through the application of monumental quantities of energy. In effect, as each layer of the circuit is laid on, the whole wafer is "baked" at temperatures sometimes high enough to reach the outer limits of technology. The Internet: Contrary to popular belief, the internet consumes tremendous amounts of energy. Author John Michael Greer explains: The explosive spread of the internet, finally, was also a product of the era of ultra cheap energy. The hardware of the internet, with its worldwide connections, its vast server farms, and its billions of interlinked home and business computers, probably counts as the largest

infrastructure project ever created and deployed in a two decade period in history. The sheer amount of energy that's been invested to create and sustain the internet beggars the imagination. Recent estimates indicate the infrastructure necessary to support the internet consumes 10% of all the electricity produced in the United States. The overwhelming majority of this electricity is produced using coal or natural gas, both of which, as explained momentarily, are also near their global production peaks.”: http://www.lifeaftertheoilcrash.net/ God said in Revelation 3:1718 to the church at Sardis,“ Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see.” Jesus Christ is coming back soon to save us from global disaster. Do you watch for his appearing?

7) A NECESSARY KIND OF WEEDING
Hebrews 8:12 “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” Painful memories and the historical consequence of our sins sometimes cause us great anxiety. However, the Lord has said that he will forget our sins and treat us with mercy. We have to forgive ourselves as well as the following poems suggests. Weeding In the Garden of Our Soul by Amber "V" Moonstone 4/15/08 Some days we need to take the time to weed; When those days emerge We should promptly purge All the dead roots of the past in order to heal negativity cast on to our present state that fills our emotional plate. Run in your garden of pleasure, weeding as you measure the time it takes to plant seedlings like diamonds given to kings, these seedlings will grow and sprout and spread nourishment all about, remembering the child within, that is free to feel and begin, healing wounds of old, by forgiving what is told, within the Weeded garden of your soul. http://authorsden.com/visit/viewPoetry.asp?id=222697

In Malachi 4:2 God promises, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.” We cannot forget the past, but we can know that it is forgiven in Christ and that takes the agony out of it. Do you need to weed the garden of your soul?

8) A PRISONER WHO IS FREE
Galatians 6:7 “ Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” David Ewart is incarcerated, but he has a testimony about how Jesus saved him, after he lost everything in the world that was meaningful to him. The websitehttp://www.precioustestimonies.com/PrisonerDocs/Ewart.htm has his story:“My incarceration is the direct result of my sin; not one great huge sin, but a change of my behaviour. It took Satan time to destroy my value system and my strong beliefs. My temptation, subsequently my fall from grace, was like the frog that is placed in cool water with a very low flame under the container, as time goes by, the water heats up and the frog is cooked, never knowing what happened! I am incarcerated in a California prison, with a sentence of 34 years to life. The first time that I will be eligible for the parole board, will be the year 2015, which at that time I will be 71 years old. I am a first time offender. My heart feels concern for the individuals that are hearing this testimony, and what I feel compelled to say is: Stop playing with sin; God will not be mocked. He will not be mocked now or tomorrow. There is always going to be a consequence for your sin. I do not care how smart you think you are - He is much smarter. I do not care how clever you are - He is more clever. I do not care what your IQ is - He created your IQ! My crime of murder was committed in 1993, 17 years after I had given my heart to Jesus Christ. After my conversion, I sold my clothing business in Southern California, and went to Bible College and Graduate School. I felt I had been "Called" into the ministry. I grew in human knowledge about the "Word of God" and the vocabulary that goes along with being a Christian. There were times that I could hear His voice and great signs and wonders happened around me. My family and I would pray and doors would open, people called us the "perfect" family. After my graduation from Graduate School, I became a schoolteacher and a lay minister. For years I followed this path. Then I let Satan rob my joy. Through some circumstances that are not important now, I became bitter towards the Church. I had taken my eyes off of Jesus and became very prideful in my accomplishments. I felt I could do it on my own; why couldn't I? I was an educated man, who was a teacher and a minister. I even made it to the ranks of college professor - I was teaching in a graduate school at the time of my arrest. My two beautiful children had both grown and married. My wife and I had just celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. I had been faithful for all those years. Then, while I was at a conference, the oldest story in the world happened to me - older man meets younger woman. It was infatuation from the first moment we laid eyes on each other. It seemed we had everything in common. We talked and talked for the duration of the conference, which was one week long. We both were married and not happy in our relationships with our spouses. My mind ran with the emotional and fulfilling attention that she poured out on me. I had in my mind ... made myself like a sponge for any type of attention. I had changed my beliefs! I told myself that I owed myself a new relationship. What deception! As time continued I became more and more

confused about who I was - the whole time thinking that I was on top of things. Talk about deception! Remember, I knew what the Word of God said about marriage, temptation, sin and adultery. Even though I never committed the physical act of adultery with this woman, it still had me taking my wife's' life - literally. My consciousness of the situation finally came to a point of decision. For the first time in months I prayed and I felt the Lord tell me to confess my sin to my wife and repent for my behaviour. I did, but then we argued, and my anger got out of control. It resulted in my murdering her. I know my thought patterns are what controlled my behaviour. I left myself wide open for satanic attack. I did not resist the devil's temptation, as James 4:7 says to do, and my anger turned into uncontrollable rage before I knew it. There is no one to blame except myself. I am not looking for sympathy either. I simply feel God wants me to express how important it is to keep your eyes on the Lord and seek to obey His Word - in all things. We are under attack all the time….” Have you thought of contributing to a prison ministry in you’re area by donating calendars (very popular with the inmates) or going into the prison and witnessing? Matthew 25:43 warns, “I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.” The prison ministry is not for everyone, but if the Lord calls you to it you to it you will be blessed.

9) A SERIAL KILLER AND PORNOGRAPHY
Galations 6: 7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Psychologist, James C. Dobson interviewed serial killer, Ted Bundy and Bundy’s words give a chilling message against pornography and how involvement in it led him to become a killer. “Ted Bundy, an infamous serial killer responsible for the murder of as many as 50 young women and girls, granted an interview to psychologist James Dobson just before he was executed on January 24, 1989. In that interview, he described the agony of his addiction to pornography. Bundy goes back to his roots, explaining the development of his compulsive behavior. He reveals his addiction to hard-core pornography and how it fueled the terrible crimes he committed. James C. Dobson: ‘It is about 2:30 in the afternoon. You are scheduled to be executed tomorrow morning at 7:00, if you don't receive another stay. What is going through your mind? What thoughts have you had in these last few days?’ Ted: ‘I won't kid you to say it is something I feel I'm in control of or have come to terms with. It's a moment-by-moment thing. Sometimes I feel very tranquil and other times I don't feel tranquil at all. What's going through my mind right now is to use the minutes and hours I have left as fruitfully as possible. It helps to live in the moment, in the essence that we use it productively. Right now I'm feeling calm, in large part because I'm here with you.’ JCD: ‘For the record, you are guilty of killing many women and girls.’ Ted: ‘Yes, that's true.’ JCD: ‘How did it happen? Take me back. What are the antecedents of the behavior that we've seen? You were raised in what you consider to be a healthy home. You were not physically, sexually or emotionally abused.’ Ted: ‘No. And that's part of the tragedy of this whole situation. I grew up in a wonderful home with two dedicated and loving parents, as one of 5 brothers and sisters. We, as children, were the focus of my parent's lives. We regularly attended church. My parents did not drink or smoke or gamble. There was no physical abuse or fighting in the home. I'm not saying it was "Leave it to Beaver", but it was a fine, solid Christian home. I hope no one will try to take the easy way out of this and accuse my family of contributing to this. I know, and I'm trying to tell you as honestly as I know how, what

happened. As a young boy of 12 or 13, I encountered, outside the home, in the local grocery and drug stores, soft core pornography. Young boys explore the sideways and byways of their neighborhoods, and in our neighborhood, people would dump the garbage. From time to time, we would come across books of a harder nature - more graphic. This also included detective magazines, etc., and I want to emphasize this. The most damaging kind of pornography - and I'm talking from hard, real, personal experience - is that that involves violence and sexual violence. The wedding of those two forces - as I know only too well - brings about behavior that is too terrible to describe.’ JCD: ‘Walk me through that. What was going on in your mind at that time? ‘ Ted: ‘Before we go any further, it is important to me that people believe what I'm saying. I'm not blaming pornography. I'm not saying it caused me to go out and do certain things. I take full responsibility for all the things that I've done. That's not the question here. The issue is how this kind of literature contributed and helped mold and shape the kinds of violent behavior….’ I knew it was wrong to think about it, and certainly, to do it was wrong. I was on the edge, and the last vestiges of restraint were being tested constantly, and assailed through the kind of fantasy life that was fueled, largely, by pornography.” http://www.tldm.org/news6/bundy.htm Ted Bundy commented later in the interview that just because he was going to be executed, it wouldn’t stop the killing. He warned that there are lots of serial killers like him on the loose. Today children can get worse pornography on the Internet than Ted Bundy had. 1 Corinthians 6:18 commands us to, “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.” Are you or your children involved in pornography? If so pray for help and stop reading or watching it. Pornography is the only sin mentioned in the Bible that is against your own body and it can harden the heart as no other sin.

10)

A SPICEY BIBLE

Exodus 25:6 “Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,” Spices that were common in biblical times were aloe, cumin, cassia, cinnamon, coriander, frankincense, myrrh, saffron, mint, dill etc. . . These condiments were used as food flavourings, medicines, and to embalm the dead. The Biblical story of Joseph tells that his brothers sold him to spice merchants that were Ishmaelite from Gilead who were transporting balm, myrrh, and gum to Egypt. Genesis 37:23-25 reports, “And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmaelite came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.” Another mention of Biblical spices is in the Tabernacle when God ordered Moses to obtain the finest spices for His sanctuary. Exodus 30: 22-26 “Moreover the

LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus two hundred and fifty shekels, And of cassia five hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, and of oil olive an hin: And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil. And thou shalt anoint the tabernacle of the congregation therewith, and the ark of the testimony….” When the Queen of Sheba went to meet King Solomon, 2 Chronicles 9:1,mentions that she brought gifts of including spices, “And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to prove Solomon with hard questions at Jerusalem, with a very great company, and camels that bare spices, and gold in abundance, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.” Finally, after Jesus was crucified, Nicodemus brought a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes to anoint Christ’s dead body. The Lord’s body was wrapped in linen and spices. John 19:40 says, “Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” Next time you get the chance, experiment with some herbs from the Bible. Look for some recipes for Biblical spices and get to know some of the herbs that were used in the Old and New Testaments. It just may bring Biblical history alive for you.

11)

A TALE TOLD BY AN IDIOT?

Job 7:3 “So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me.” Both Job and Shakespeare’s character, Macbeth, have lost their joy of living. Job says that his life is disdainful and meaningless and Macbeth says that life is “a tale told by an idiot”. In Job’s case his suffering was caused by Satanic attacks and calamity followed calamity. However, Macbeth’s had committed murder and was suffering from a guilty conscience. Shakespeare was very pessimistic about life, and it is no wonder. During his lifetime the Bubonic plague had killed many in Europe, and the theatre where Shakespeare performed his plays was burned down. Shakespeare’s bleak view of life is shown in Act 5 of Macbeth: MACBETH. ”To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 23-8)

“Macbeth is inside Dunsinane castle still confident that no matter what Malcolm's soldiers try, they can never kill him. He is speaking of his invincibility when a woman screams within the castle. Seyton, Macbeth's servant, goes to see what the noise was about. While he is gone Macbeth confesses that he has been a part of such great evil and seen such terrible sights that such screams no longer startle him. Seyton returns to tell Macbeth that Lady Macbeth has died. The king says that she should have died at a time when he could mourn her. A messenger runs in to tell Macbeth that as shocking as it seems, it looks as if Birnam wood itself is approaching Dunsinane. Macbeth begins to panic at the news because the prophecy of his downfall is beginning to unfold. He orders his men to put on their armour and prepare to fight so that at least they will die wearing their armour.” In Ecclesiastes 1:13-14 King Solomon said, “And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” In Galatians 2:20 Paul asserted, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Life can seem meaningless if you don’t have Jesus, but in Jesus we are to love God and other people. Life is not just a tale told by an idiot. It was created perfect by God and man ruined it. However, we have the hope of heaven to look forward to. Matthew 5:12 says, “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:” Are you bogged down with the feeling that life’s futile? Do good deeds with Christ’s help and then you can look forward to a heavenly reward. (All references from http://www.bookrags.com/notes/mac/PART25.html)

12)

AARON: MOSES’ RIGHT HAND MAN

Exodus 4:14-15 “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.” For the most part Aaron was a loyal spokesperson for Moses and performed priestly functions. However, when Moses was on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments., Aaron sinned and bowed to the Israelites wishes to make a golden calf to worship. He also sinned again when he protested Moses’ marriage to an Ethiopian woman. Wikipedia has the following to say about Moses’ right hand man: “Aaron (‫ ,)אהרן‬or Aaron the Levite flourished about 1200 BC ֲַֹ (traditionally 1597 BC) was, according to biblical accounts, one of two brothers who play a unique part in the history of the Hebrew people. He was the elder son of Amram and Jochebed of the tribe of Levi. Moses, the other son, being three years younger, Exodus 7:7 and Miriam, their sister, several years older Exodus 2:4; Exodus 6:16; Numbers 33:39. Aaron was the greatgrandson of Levi Exodus 6:16-20 and represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming

the first High priest of the Hebrews. While Moses was receiving his education at the Egyptian royal court and during his exile among the Midianites, Aaron and his sister remained with their kinsmen in the eastern border-land of Egypt. Here he gained a name for eloquent and persuasive speech; so that when the time came for the demand upon the Pharaoh to release Israel from captivity, Aaron became his brother’s "nabi", or spokesman, to his own people Exodus 4:16 and, after their unwillingness to hear, to the Pharaoh himself Exodus 7:9 In the end Aaron was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because of the following incident recounted in the Old Testament. Numbers 20:10 explains: “And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” Aaron’s devotion to the Lord waxed and waned and he was punished for it. What about your devotion to the Lord? Is it consistent? Do you worship the golden calf (idols) sometimes? (All references from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron)

13)

ABRAHAM LINCOLN FOR PRESIDENTS DAY

Ecclesiastes 2:20 “Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair of all the labour which I took under the sun.” Abraham Lincoln is famous for saying: “People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” http://quote.robertgenn.com/auth_search.php?authid=1178 Yet the 16th president of the United States suffered from bipolar illness and had deep depressions. In one of his down moods he wrote, “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better I cannot tell; I awfully forebode I (will) not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better, it appears to me”. http://home.att.net/~rjnorton/Lincoln84.html Without question Lincoln was subject to periods of melancholy throughout his life. His own term for it was "the hypo" (short for hypochondriasis). Lincoln was probably a believer in the doctrine of fatalism. Additionally, he was somewhat superstitious. However, his ability to cope with whatever depression afflicted him, especially late in life, was enormous. Using various means.... work, humour, fatalistic resignation, or even religious feelings... he generally did not allow the depression or melancholy to interfere with his work as President. He overcame this depressive aspect of his personality with a powerful inner strength and will. An official statement from the American government says that, “Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved

an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion. The spirit that guided him was clearly that of his Second Inaugural Address, now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C.: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds.... "On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln's death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.” http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/al16.html In John 16:33 Jesus says, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Are you drowning in a sea of melancholy? Jesus promises support for you. Latch onto Him.

14)

ABSALOM, OH ABSALOM

2 Samuel 16:8 “The LORD hath returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead thou hast reigned; and the LORD hath delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom thy son: and, behold, thou art taken in thy mischief, because thou art a bloody man.” After David’s sin with Bathsheba, the Lord told him that the sword would not depart from his kingdom. Absalom, who was David’s own son, staged a rebellion against his father. The sequence of events that brought this on was: “Absalom’s beautiful sister Tamar was ruined by his half-brother, Amon, who was David’s oldest son. (3:2) Absalom had a dual purpose in mind when he found out what Amon had done: he wanted to revenge Tamar by killing Amon, but at the same time he would be removing the obvious heir to the throne. Absalom took matters into his own hands and killed Amon; then he fled to Gentile territory to hide away with the relatives of his mother. (13:37 & 3:3) In chapter 14 Joab interceded for Absalom and tricked David into bringing his wayward son back home. Absalom wasted little time in building a loyal group of followers. He openly criticized his father’s administration and secretly stole the hearts of the people. After a time Absalom determined his movement was strong enough to risk open revolt. It is not surprising that Ahithophel, David’s counsellor, sided with the rebels for it was his

granddaughter, Bathsheba, that David had taken.(11:3 with 23:34) It looked as though Absalom would be successful and steal the crown from his father.” Absalom’s rebellion go to the point that in 2 Samuel 13:30 the Bible says, “And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left.” In the end Absalom was killed and it brought heavy grief to David. In 2 Samuel 18:33 the Bible reads, “And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!” Do you have a wayward son or daughter that is rebellious? Carry on the ministry of intercessory prayer for him or her. http://www.thebiblestudypage.com/kings_10.shtml)

15)

ABSOLUTE TRUTH

John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto The Father, but by me.” Our society has abandoned absolute truth for relative truth, therefore with everybody believing something different, the main value we are supposed to have is tolerance. In the first century Rome and Greece, nobody cared if you believed in Jesus – in Greece there were more gods than there were people. The rub came when people said that Jesus was the only way. All of Christ’s apostles with the exception of John were put to death for saying that Jesus is the only way to be saved. The following poem illustrates the relativism our society endorses: “I bow to the one who signs the cross. I bow to the one who sits with the Buddha. I bow to the one who wails at the wall. I bow to the OM flowing in the Ganges. I bow to the one who faces Mecca, Whose forehead touches hold ground, I bow to the dervishes whirling in the mystical wind. I bow to the north, to the south, to the east, to the west. I bow to the God within every heart. I bow to the epiphany To God’s face revealed. I bow. I bow. I bow.” God frowns on worshipping other gods and idols. He says in Deuteronomy 30:17-18, “ But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.” We are still required to love people of all religions, but we are not to cave into situational ethics and relativism. If someone’s house was on fire you would tell them, but it is more important to tell them that Jesus Christ is the absolute truth.

16)

ANIMAL INSTINCTS

Psalm 32:9 ``Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.`` A president of a bible college once said that if a person’s thoughts were projected on a screen, that person would take a gun and shoot themselves. Often we downplay our baser instincts and reprehensible behaviour and glorify our good deeds, deluding ourselves into thinking that we are good people. Sins that were not even mentioned fifty years ago are flaunted today, so our society makes it hard to be moral. Gospelway.com offers a commentary on this: ``There can be little doubt that morals in our society are declining, and people often wonder why. May I suggest a few reasons? First, our liberal schools teach our children humanistic evolution, which leads them to believe that they are just advanced animals. Then they learn situation ethics, which leads them to believe that humans have no absolute standards of right or wrong, just like animals. Then, just to make sure they know how to act like animals, they are given obscene reading assignments and are taught sex education without moral guidelines. Meanwhile, liberal-minded publishers, broadcasters, and musicians flood our homes with obscenities, violence, and sexual perversion, portraying people who live like animals on TV, movies, magazines, and the Internet. And proponents of abortion and assisted suicide crisscross the land advocating the right to kill our unborn, sick, and elderly, just like animals do. Then the liberal politicians tell us there is nothing they can do about all this, because crooks and perverts have the right to live like animals! If we seek to restrain the conduct of our children, liberal-minded psychologists teach parents that they have no right to punish their children when they act like animals. And some animal rights activists even uphold the conduct of animals as justification for all this. So, we reap the consequences of our folly as crime rates skyrocket and gangs and juvenile delinquency run out our ears, and liberal-minded sociologists wonder why our children are acting like animals! Perhaps saddest of all, liberal-minded preachers keep silent or even condone all this as perfectly innocent. But if there is a God who made us - and there is - then perhaps before we let our animal instincts run away with us, Psalm 32:10-11 warns ``Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” Are you obeying the Lord and seeking to do His will, or are you being like a stubborn mule sitting down on the trail`` In what ways can you improve your moral perspective to line up with God's revealed truth? (All references from http://www.gospelway.com/topics/morality/animalliving.php)

17)

AMY CARMICHAEL SUPER- SAINT

Matthew 16:15 “ And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Amy Carmichael had a painful disease called “neuralgia” and was bedridden a lot of the time. However, after her conversion she was determined to become a missionary in spite of her ill health. At first, no one would take her on as a missionary, but eventually she got to go to Japan on a rat and cockroach infested ship. During the voyage Amy managed to win the captain to Christ and was a wonderful testimony. In Japan Amy got so sick that the doctor recommended another climate. She then went to India and started rescuing girls who had been dedicated to gods and forced into prostitution to get money for the temple priests. In this Amy risked death or imprisonment. She was sentenced to go to jail, but actually did not go. Eventually, Amy Carmichael became bedridden, but from her bed she continued her missionary work and wrote moving poetry. The following is one of her poems. Hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand? I hear thee sung as mighty in the land, I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star, Hast thou no scar? No wound? No scar? Yet, as the Master shall the servant be, And pierced are the feet that follow Me; But thine are whole. Can he have followed far Who has nor wound nor scar? Psalms 109:22 says, “For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me” and in the book of Job 24:12 Scripture declares, “ Men groan from out of the city, and the souls of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.” The person who was wounded the most was Jesus and he extends a nail-scarred hand to you. Will you take it?

18)

AN AFTERLIFE IN HEAVEN

Revelation 21:4-17 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” Recently, a book has been published titled, Heaven is Real: Lessons on Earthly Joy – From the man who spent 90 Minutes in Heaven. It is authored by Don Piper and Cecil Murphy. Pronounced dead after a car accident in 1989, Don Piper says

that he has seen heaven. He explains: “I know it was real because I experienced it ... I’ll also say that when I reached heaven, I had a kind of body – and words cannot explain it. I can say that my body was perfect and there were no scars and I never felt any pain. The earthly shell that was my soul’s container lay there under the tarp on that bridge. The real me – the inner me –stood at the gates of heaven in the presence of those who had gone before me.” Whether or not this testimonial is true, no one can say. However, the Bible does promise believers a future Paradise in which all pain and sorrow will vanish much life much like Piper’s experience of heaven. Revelation 14:13 says, “ And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. and Revelation 15:1-5 describes, “ And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”

19)

ONE OF THE WORLD’S FIRST BILLBOARDS

Deuteronomy 27:2-8 “And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee.” God commanded the people of Israel to set up a billboard using stones and plaster and no iron tools to write His laws on. In a Torah commentary the author explains: In Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 27:2-8) God made his third Covenant (b’rit) with Israel: “You have affirmed this day that Adonai is your God, that you will walk in His ways, that you will observe His laws and commandments, and that you will obey Him. And Adonai has affirmed this day that you are … His treasured people … and that He will set you … high above all the nations … and that you shall be … a holy people….” Moses and the Levitical priests then sealed the covenant by proclaiming, “Silence! Hear, O Israel! Today you have become the people of Adonai your God.” In the first Covenant, the one that God made with Abraham, God guaranteed Abraham many children and various land boundaries, the Covenant of the Tribes of Israel. In the second Covenant, the one at Mount Sinai, God revealed the laws to the Israelite people and granted an eternal agreement and a guarantee that can never be rescinded. In effect with these two Covenants, God has made Israel both a nation and a religion. The third covenant is set to take effect upon the peoples’ entry into the Promised Land: “When you have entered the land that Adonai your God is giving you….” A primary focus of Parashat Ki Tavo is the blessings and curses to be proclaimed by the Levitical priests once the Israelites had crossed the Jordan

and entered the Promised Land. The Parashah describes a ceremony that is to take place on the neighboring mountains of Gerizim and Ebal. The people are to erect a huge stone monument on Mount Ebal, inscribe on it the entire Torah, and bring offerings. Then the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin are to assemble on Mount Gerizim to hear the blessings, while the tribes of Dan, Napthali, Reuben, Gad, Asher and Zebulun are to assemble on Mount Ebal to hear the curses. God wanted his people to know his laws so they were written on these ancient billboards, perhaps the world’s first holy advertisement. (All references from http://www.tbsoc.org/torahcommentaries/KiTavo_DvarTorah.pdf) Are you a good advertisement for God?

20)

AN EVENING MEDITATION

Ps 104:23 “Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” Anatolius was a Greek who in 458 AD wrote the following song for evening: The day is past and over; All thanks, O Lord, to thee; I pray Thee now that sinless The hours of dark may be: O Jesu, keep me in Thy sight And guard me through the night. The joys of day are over; I lift my heart to thee, And ask Thee that offence less The hours of dark may be: O Jesu, keep me in Thy sight And guard me through the coming night. The toils of day are over: I raise the hymn to Thee And ask that free from peril The hours of dark may be: O Jesu, keep me in Thy sight, And guard me through the night. Be Thou my soul’s preserve, For Thou alone dost know How many are the perils Through which I have to go: O loving Jesu, hear my call And guard and save me from them all.

Coptic literature says that, “According to the Synaxarion, Anatolius was a general of Persian origin under Diocletian. When the persecutions began he confessed his faith. Diocletian tried in vain to have him persuaded away from his faith by the general Romanus. From here the Coptic text continues. The scene is set in Antioch. Anatolius, having been tortured because of his opposition to the apostasy of Diocletian, is praying. Jesus appears to him, cures, and comforts him. As Anatolius leaves to go to the emperor, he stumbles over the corpse of a dead man in the square and raises him. The crowd acclaims him, and the emperor is informed. He charges Anatolius with magic and tortures him by fire. Because the martyr endures the tormenting without visible suffering, 800 people are converted to Christianity”. Whether this is true or not cannot be determined, but Anatolius’s evening song still blesses us today. Even Jesus needed to rest in the evening as Matthew reports. After a hard day of ministering and healing the crowd Jesus needed solitude. Mt 14:23 says, “And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.” (All references from http://www.dacb.org/stories/egypt/anatolius.html) Do you come apart to pray and rest before you come apart?

21)

AN UNSHAKABLE FUTURE

Revelation 21:10-14 ‘And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.’ When the Titanic started off on her maiden voyage one of the confident seamen boasted that, “God Himself couldn’t sink the Titanic!” However, tragedy happened soon after that according to Britannica.com: “The British luxury passenger liner Titanic sank on April 14-15, 1912, en route to New York City from Southampton, Eng., during its maiden voyage. The vessel sank with a loss of about 1,500 lives at a point about 400 miles (640 km) south of Newfoundland. The great ship, at that time the largest and most luxurious afloat, was designed and built by William Pirrie's Belfast firm Harland and Wolff to service the highly competitive Atlantic Ferry route. It had a double-bottomed hull that was divided into 16 presumably watertight compartments. Because four of these could be flooded without endangering the liner's buoyancy, it was considered unsinkable. Shortly before midnight on April 14, the ship collided with an iceberg; five of its watertight compartments were ruptured, causing the ship to sink at 2:20 AM April 15. Inquiries held in the United States and Great Britain alleged that the Leyland liner Californian, which was less than 20 miles (32 km) away all night, could have aided the stricken vessel had its radio operator been on duty and thereby received the Titanic's distress signals. Only the arrival of the Cunard liner Carpathia 1 hour and 20 minutes after the Titanic went down prevented further loss of life in the icy waters.” No matter what man builds it is only temporary, however, our

home in heaven is going to be permanent and unshakable. 1Peter 1:4 says that we go “To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,” Are you laying up treasures in heaven or are you seeking glory on this earth? The only sensible thing to do is to live for eternity. (All references from http://www.britannica.com/titanic/01_01.html)

22)

AN UNUSUAL PASSENGER: A STRANGE ROUTINE

Galations 6:7-10 warns, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Macavity the cat had some strange habits that have been reported in the British press at: http://www.thecattherapist.com/cat_tales.htm#cat_bus: “From The Daily Mail, London, 9th April 2007: Bus drivers have nicknamed a white cat Macavity after it has started using the No 331 several mornings a week. The feline, which has a purple collar, gets onto the busy Walsall to Wolverhampton bus at the same stop most mornings - he then jumps off at the next stop 400m down the road, near a fish and chip shop. The cat was nicknamed Macavity after the mystery cat in T.S Elliot's poem. He gets on the bus in front of a row of 1950s semi-detached houses and jumps off at a row of shops down the road which include a fish and chip shop. The cat, nicknamed Macavity, has one blue eye and one green eye Driver Bill Khunkhun, 49, who first saw the cat jumping from the bus in January, said: "It is really odd, the first time I saw the cat jumping off the bus with a group of passengers. I hadn't seen it get on which was a bit confusing. The next day I pulled up on Churchill Road to let a couple of passengers on. As soon as I opened the doors the cat ran towards the bus, jumped on and ran under one of the seats, I don't think any of the passengers noticed. Because I had seen it jump off the day before I carried on driving and sure enough when I stopped just down the road he jumped off - I don't know why he would catch the bus but he seems to like it. I told some of the other drivers on this route and they have seen him too. Since January, when the cat first caught the bus he has done it two or three times a week and always gets on and off at the same stops. Passenger, Paul Brennan, 19, who catches the 331 to work, said: ‘I first noticed the cat a few weeks ago. At first I thought it had been accompanied by its owner but after the first stop it became quite clear he was on his own. He sat at the front of the bus, waited patiently for the next stop and then got off. It was was quite strange at first but now it just seems normal. I suppose he is the perfect passenger really - he sits quietly, minds his own business and then gets off.’ Habits are powerful forces which can make or break us. God expects us to develop godly habits to discipline our sinful natures. If we don’t discipline ourselves to do Bible study, Scripture memory, and prayer everyday we will soon backslide and suffer the loss of eternal rewards. Are you developing habits that will bring you closer to God? Or our your habits entangling you in worldly pursuits? Romans 8:7 cautions, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”

23)

ANGELS, GOD’S MESSENGERS

Luke 22:43 “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.” There is a lot of misinformation about angels today. Many Hollywood movies often feature a hero who has been evil, then gets a second chance to do good when he or she is turned into an angel. This concept of angels is unbiblical. People are not turned into angelic beings when they die. Angels were created separately from human beings. Some New Age teachings encourage people to pray to angels, however, this concept is not found in Scripture and is against God’s will. The Catholic Encyclopaedia talks about the role of angels in the Scriptures: “The angels of the Bible generally appear in the role of God's messengers to mankind. They are His instruments by whom He communicates His will to men, and in Jacob's vision they are depicted as ascending and descending the ladder which stretches from earth to heaven while the Eternal Father gazes upon the wanderer below. It was an angel who found Agar in the wilderness (Genesis 16); angels drew Lot out of Sodom; an angel announces to Gideon that he is to save his people; an angel foretells the birth of Samson (Judges 13), and the angel Gabriel instructs Daniel (Daniel 8:16), though he is not called an angel in either of these passages, but "the man Gabriel" (9:21). The same heavenly spirit announced the birth of St. John the Baptist and the Incarnation of the Redeemer, while tradition ascribes to him both the message to the shepherds (Luke 2:9), and the most glorious mission of all, that of strengthening the King of Angels in His Agony (Luke 22:43). The spiritual nature of the angels is manifested very clearly in the account which Zacharias gives of the revelations bestowed upon him by the ministry of an angel. The prophet depicts the angel as speaking "in him". He seems to imply that he was conscious of an interior voice which was not that of God but of His messenger.. Such appearances of angels generally last only so long as the delivery of their message. To learn more about angels look up Scripture references referring to angels and their ministry to human beings. (All references from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01476d.htm) In a transforming moment Jacob, in a dream, saw angels. The Bible says, Genesis 28:12 “And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” God called Jacob “Israel” after his encounter with the angels. Are you falling for Hollywood or New Age versions of angel? God wants you to know the real thing in heaven.

24)

ANGER

Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice and Colossians 3:8 warns, “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” At http://www.apa.org/topics/controlanger.html The American Psychological Association says the following about anger: in the paper,“Why Are Some People More Angry Than Others?” According to Jerry Diefenbaker, PhD, a psychologist who specializes in anger management, some people really are more "hot-headed" than others are; they get angry more easily and more intensely than the average person does. There are also those who don't show their anger in loud spectacular ways but are chronically irritable and grumpy. Easily angered people don't always curse and throw things; sometimes they withdraw socially, sulk, or get physically ill. People who are easily angered generally have what some psychologists call a low tolerance for frustration, meaning simply that they feel that they should not have to be subjected to frustration, inconvenience, or annoyance. They can't take things in stride, and they're particularly infuriated if the situation seems somehow unjust: for example, being corrected for a minor mistake. What makes these people this way? A number of things. One cause may be genetic or physiological: There is evidence that some children are born irritable, touchy, and easily angered, and that these signs are present from a very early age. Another may be sociocultural. Anger is often regarded as negative; we're taught that it's all right to express anxiety, depression, or other emotions but not to express anger. As a result, we don't learn how to handle it or channel it constructively ... Research has also found that family background plays a role. Typically, people who are easily angered come from families that are disruptive, chaotic, and not skilled at emotional communications.” The Bible says that anger is genetic – we all inherited it from Adam when he fell from grace. While it may be beneficial to take an anger management course, anger is sin and we need God’s help to deal with it. Submit your anger problem to God today! Psalms 2:12 cautions us to “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

25)

ANNE FRANK’S CAT

Pr 18:24 “ A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” People get very attached to their pets, probably because pets accept them unconditionally and are always there for them. Some wealthy people have even left their entire fortunes to a cat or dog. Anne Frank whose famous diary is a classic had a beloved cat. Wickipedia states, “Moortje was Anne Frank’s cat that she had to leave with neighbours ... when she went into hiding with her family to escape Nazi persecution of Jews on July 6, 1942. Anne said that Moortje was female... . . Several people, including Anne's friends Jacqueline van Maarsen and Eva Geiringer commented on the fact that Moortje was an exceptionally good-natured cat that loved to be picked up and cuddled, and Van Maarsen remarks in the Anne Frank biography Roses From the Earth that Moortje would even placidly accept tub baths from Anne, remarkable for any cat. Anne wrote about the day the Frank family went into hiding (and the day she left

Moortje behind): "At seven-thirty we too closed the door behind us; Moortje, my cat, was the only living creature I said good-bye to. According to a note we left for Mr. Gouldschmidt, she was to be taken to the neighbours, who would give her a good home." - written 8 July 1942 about events that happened on 6 July 1942. One month later she writes in her diary about how much she is missing Moortje: "I miss Moortje every moment of the day and no one knows how often I think of her; whenever I think of her I get tears in my eyes."(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Frank%27s_cats) The Bible says that Jesus sticks closer then a brother. He can comfort you when no one else can. I think that God made pets and friends to show us some earthly comfort. But Jesus gives us eternal comfort. Proverbs 27:9 reports that, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.”

26)

ARE PAST LIVES REAL?

Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” In the book, “ Coming Back, A Psychiatrist Explores Past-Life Journeys” by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., M.D., the author asks, “ Have we lived before? Do we live again? Many people, religious and nonreligious alike believe that we do. Hindus think that we die and return in a sort of endless cycle of death and renewal. Some Orientals, for instance, believe that if you are laden with sin when you die, you will return again as a human in order to be given the chance to purify yourself. Hindus believe that you shall reap as you sow: a bad person in this life comes back as something unappealing, such as an insect, in the next. Some people believe that they can return to those past lives almost at will. They believe that hypnosis can tap an area of their brain that stores all or part of the lives they have lived like a file cabinet stores old tax records. This process of hypnotically getting at these past lives is called, “past life- regression”… Normal, psychologically healthy people actually see themselves in ancient cultures, living lives in longago eras. They find themselves wearing the dress of the period and often find themselves surrounded by conversation of the time.” The problem with past lives is that everyone wants to come back as somebody famous. How, then could George Washington have thousands of souls? Another problem is that the Bible says in Hebrews that we only die once. Although some of the past life stories seem convincing, they are merely deceptions. Timothy 4:1 says “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” Don’t be duped by past life regression therapy or people who claim that they have lived thousands of years ago. There are enough problems to deal with in just one life, let alone multiple lives. Matthew 6:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

27)

AS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH

Matthew 24:37-39 “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Before Jesus comes again our society will look like Noah’s society was before the flood. In Noah’s day people were apathetic, violent, and materialistic. They would not heed God’s warning of impending doom. We all know that planet earth cannot last the way it is going and that Judgement Day is coming, however most people just ignore that fact and go to the mall shopping. On the website, Let Us Reason, the author writes, “Life will be normal until… It will occur during a time of prosperity when people are buying, selling, marrying, planting, and harvesting. This has to occur before the tribulation since the earth will be devastated by the judgments and wrath of God during the tribulation period. For example, Almost all the grass and trees will be destroyed and almost all the water will be turned to 'blood' (undrinkable) Those will NOT be normal times. They ate, drank, married right up until the time Noah entered the ark. Then the destruction of the flood suddenly came and they were destroyed. In Noah’s day there was plenty of warning, but no preparedness. Why? Because they didn't heed him, they mocked. Most of the Church has become indifferent about the second coming replacing it with Church triumphal, making his kingdom on earth, but the bible clearly states the earth will be just like Noah's day, which is not a pretty scene….Gen. 6:11-12 declares that, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” Today we live in a world constantly threatened by terrorism, in our cities we have hate crimes, drive by shootings, mothers killing their own infant children, parents killing their children, children killing parents, inhuman behaviour is becoming the norm, we have run amuck having no restraints. Why? Because there is no law, no real accountability, it’s lawlessness. The more tolerance today the less morals we have. There is a relationship between the two, no standard and anything goes. In Israel’s apostasy at the end of the Book of judges reads just as our society today, “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” People go to suicide because they have no hope. Euthanasia is becoming an accepted alternative. Light is called darkness and darkness is light. In Satanism up is down, and down is up. It will be a time unlike any other where lawlessness will be the way people live. We already see this occurring. Terrorism, hate crimes our behaviour has no restraints, lawlessness is increasingly becoming the norm of society. .. . In 1993, William Bennett released his Index of Leading Cultural Indicators. His evaluation of the problem in the past was “Over the years teachers have been asked to identify the top problems in America's public schools. In 1940 teachers identified talking out of turn; chewing gum; making noise; running in halls; cutting in line; dress code infractions; and littering. When teachers were asked the same question in 1990, it was a completely different assessment they identified drug abuse; alcohol abuse; suicide; rape; pregnancy; robbery; and assault.” In the last several years we can also add terrorists threatening, mass murder.” Revelation 9:21 says that, “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” Are you looking forward to Jesus Christ’s return or are you not heeding the warnings in Scripture? Are

you getting in the ark of safety or are you going to get left behind? (All references from http://www.letusreason.org/Proph.8.htm)

28) BANQUETING WITH ABRAHAM, ISAAC, AND JACOB
Revelation 22:3-4 “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their forehead.” If an non-Christian asks us what heaven will be like what would we tell them? Mark Dunagan of the Beaverton Church of Christ paints a picture of some of the future scenes we will experience in heaven: “Jesus pictured the righteous as reclining at table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Matthew 8:11). Now and then famous people will be asked to make up a list of the 10 people in history, past or present to form the ideal dinner party. On most lists, Jesus of Nazareth is the first guest invited. Heaven means being in the eternal company of the best people who ever lived. Imagine the conversations! If you relish stimulating conversation, being around truly good and wonderful people, hearing exciting and intriguing stories, then just imagine hearing every detail of what happened in Egypt and the wilderness, from Moses himself! The entire life of Adam and Eve! The things which John said would fill books which the world itself could not contain (John 21:25). Hebrews chapter 11 gives us a good look into the type of people that will be found in heaven, "men of whom the world was not worthy" (11:38). Along the same line, in heaven there will be no more dealing with difficult people, "and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it" (Revelation 21:27). Hendriksen notes, "This means that the chief obstacle to progress will have been completely removed. Neither sin nor the curse is able to dwell there at all. Now it would seem to me that minds unobscured by sin will make better progress in knowledge than minds obscured by sin; that hearts no longer oppressed by the results of sin will advance more readily in inner delight than hearts that are thus oppressed" (p. 77). This comment really should make us think: What is life like without sin or the desire to sin? What is the quality of life, contentment, meaning, purpose, etc…without sin? What thoughts could I think, what goals could I reach, if there wasn't any sin to get in the way? Clearly, we will never become Divine ourselves, for we are created beings. But does that mean that we won't continue to grow in knowledge, understanding, and similar qualities? Heaven is truly a place in which all self-imposed obstacles have been removed. Just think of the possibilities! A place where you can really reach your ultimate potential for goodness, happiness, righteousness, and so on! "but are like angels in heaven" (Matthew 22:30). http://www.ch-ofhrist.beaverton.or.us/Heaven_1.htm However, those without salvation will not be permitted in heaven. In Matthew 22:11-13 it says, “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there

shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Have you got your wedding garment on? Will you get to enjoy heaven?

29)

BARABBAS, THE MOVIE

Matthew 27:17 “Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” A speculative story with a fresh perspective called “ Barabbas” was made into a movie in 1962, starring Anthony Quinn. Wikipeda comments: “The film begins shortly before the crucifixion of Christ, with Pontius Pilate (Arthur Kennedy) offering to release either Jesus Christ or Barabbas in keeping with the local custom. As the Bible story goes, Barabbas is the one the crowd wants released, and Pilate releases him. Barabbas leaves and returns to his friends. His friends are glad to see him, but Barabbas wants to know where his lover Rachel is (Silvana Mangano). They inform him that Rachel had changed while he was away, and was following the teachings of Christ. Rachel soon returns, but she is not overjoyed to see Barabbas again. During their reunion Christ is crucified. As Christ dies the sky turns dark. Shaken by this, Barabbas goes to witness the crucifixion. Afterwards he goes to witness Christ being sealed in the tomb. On the third morning Barabbas goes to the tomb to find the tomb open, and Christ gone. Rachel tells him that Christ has risen, but Barabbas dismisses this as illusion, or that his followers had taken his body. He goes to see Christ's followers to demand what happened to the body - they do not know where he is but do believe he is risen. Soon, Rachel's teachings lead to her being stoned to death by the same men who had Jesus crucified. When Barabbas comes across them later while robbing a caravan, he assaults one of the men. For this, Barabbas is arrested by the Roman authorities. Pilate decides not to execute Barabbas, but instead sentences him to a life sentence in the sulfur mines of Sicily. Barabbas is taken to the mines where the medallion designating him the property of the Emperor is placed around his neck. He manages to survive a hellish existence for the next 20 years in the mines. Eventually he is chained to Sahek (Vittorio Gassman), who was sent to the mines in punishment for letting slaves escape. Sahek was also a Christian - and had carved a cross on the back of his medallion. At first Sahek hates him, but the two men eventually become friends. After some time Sahek becomes too weak to work, and is about to be killed - but the mine is destroyed in an explosion. Sahek and Barabbas are the only survivors. After they recover from their injuries they are sent to the fields to work. As the only survivors of the disaster, they catch the eye of the wife of the local prefect - who is due to leave for Rome to become a Senator. She insists that they be brought along… . Once in Rome the men are trained to become gladiators by Torvald (Jack Palance) - the top gladiator in Rome. During this training Sahek is overheard speaking about his faith, and is executed by Torvald. The next day Torvald and Barabbas battle in the Colosseum, with Barabbas winning. Impressed, the Roman Emperor Nero sets Barabbas free. Barabbas finds the remains of Sahek, and takes him to the catacombs where the local Christians are worshipping for a proper burial. The movie ends in the aftermath of the Great Fire of Rome. Barabbas confronts Roman soldiers and tells them that he is a Christian. Barabbas dies by crucifixion in the persecutions that followed the fire. Although the movie uses artistic license to interpret what the life of Barabbas might have been like the Bible says in Mark 15:7,11,15 “And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.” Whether

Barabbas continued his life of crime or whether he eventually got saved is a matter of speculation. However, if Barabbas had been crucified instead of Christ we would not have salvation. Acts 4:12 says of Jesus, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” If you can watch the Barabbas movie. It tells a lot about Roman culture at the time of Christ. Tell Jesus that you are grateful for his suffering and anguish on the cross that allowed you to be saved. (All references from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barabbas_(1962_film)

30)

BEING A MODERN DAY WATCHMAN

Ezekiel 3:17 “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.” In the Old Testament the role of watchman was vital to the safety of the community. The website, “How to be a Watchman”, explains, “ In ancient times, when there were no electronic gadgets, nor even clocks, the role of the watchmen was crucial to the whole community he was part of. It was his job to literally watch for incoming visitors, messengers, enemies, and anything unusual so that the people would be alerted to these. In the roster of the night watchman he would be watching for the morning star in order to arouse people to be ready to start the day's work. Only a few citizens would work as watchmen, but all the citizens were meant to watch and respond as was appropriate for them to what the watchman's message was! This is why Jesus said we should all "watch and pray". However God does give some people the time, and the high watchtowers of radio, TV, Internet, letters, etc., to 'man' for Him. And of course, just as all citizens were expected to report anything 'suspicious' in their areas, so now we are being asked the same. Some of us feel a responsibility to adopt this role spiritually, in today's world, especially as we long for the "Coming of the Day". The element of encouragement is perhaps the most vital, as we remember the lovely hymn that says, "weary was our hearts with waiting, and the night watch seems so long, but the Triumph Day is coming and we hail it with a song!" Oh if only it could be really soon! SO what might be some guidelines for the modern 'watchman'? ACCEPTING THE ROLE. One would seek to be really right with God, loving His Word and His people. Willing to consider the whole Word of God, by the Holy Spirit for themselves. It is hard to be different, but we must listen and answer to the above truthfully, not according to some 'great' teacher or preacher, unless the Spirit witnesses with 2 or 3 witnesses they are speaking for God. It is almost an advantage not to have to answer to an organization, or congregation but speak even a painful truth. This is why we must pray urgently for all preachers and teachers. Jesus warned of false prophets, (even some who are Christians) and some are very plausible! Some are only partly right. There needs to be a willingness to wait sometimes, to be lonely and to question with discernment.

31) UNDERSTANDING

GOD'S PRIORITIES.

The basic truths of the Word of God are unchangeable, and need to be memorized. 1. God has a plan and a timetable in His heart, climaxing with the coming back of Jesus. 2. The Gospel being taken into all the World is His greatest longing so that some from every 'tribe', and 'ethnic group' (nation), and language will be represented before the Throne! … . 3. The 'time of rebellion' is part of God's clearly stated and foreseen result of giving mankind a 'free-will'. It must break his heart, as it breaks ours, for all that is involved in seeing such tragedy! The world is not going to 'get better'. Some, even believe that it is this that God is using to bring many people to Himself and will be the means of purifying His true Church. God loves to turn evil into blessing as in the death of Jesus! But persecution of Christians is also a part of the result of increasing wickedness. 4. The restoration of Israel, is His covenanted promise, geographically, physically, and spiritually. He has restored the Land as a country, the State of people, and will increase the trickle of Messianic Believers to when "all Israel will be saved" and become the Holy nation, He always planned, to be a "blessing on the Earth". 5. God also desires for all His People, true Bible-reading Believers to be one! http://www.watchmanspost.com/watchman/watchmansguidelines.html In Isaiah 27:6 the Bible says, “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.” Are you acting as a watchman/watchwoman?

32) BEING CRUEL TO ANIMALS LEADS TO BEING A KILLER
Proverbs 12:10 “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” People that abuse animals often end up as killers. Proverbs says that the righteous person is concerned about his animals and treats them well. On the Internet at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_killer the article on serial killers comments: One of the known warning signs of certain psychopathologies, including anti-social personality disorder, also known as psychopathic personality disorder, is a history of torturing pets and small animals, a behaviour known as zoosadism. According to the New York Times, "[t]he FBI has found that a history of cruelty to animals is one of the traits that regularly appears in its computer records of serial rapists and murderers, and the standard diagnostic and treatment manual for psychiatric and emotional disorders lists cruelty to animals a diagnostic criterion for conduct disorders. "A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well, including one patient who had murdered a young boy." Robert K. Ressler, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's behavioural sciences unit, studied serial killers and noted," Murderers like this [Jeffrey Dahmer] very often start out by killing and torturing animals as kids."Cruelty to animals is one of the three components of the MacDonald Triad, indicators of violent antisocial behaviour in children and adolescents. According to the studies used to form this model, cruelty to animals is a common (but not with every case) behaviour in children and adolescents who grow up to become serial

killers and other violent criminals. It has also been found that animal cruelty in children is frequently committed by children who have witnessed or been victims of abuse themselves. In two separate studies cited by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), roughly one-third of families suffering from domestic abuse indicated that at least one child had hurt or killed a pet. In Luke 13:15 it says, “The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?” Even the Pharisees took care of their animals on the Sabbath, when they wouldn’t do any other kind of work.. Are you kind to your animals? It seems that cruelty to animals mushrooms into cruelty to people.

33)

BELIEVERS’ JUDGEMENT DAY

Romans 14:10 “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” Even though Christians are saved we shall still face judgement regarding our works. In 1Corinthians 3:13,15 it warns that, “ Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. On the website www.pawcreek..org the author comments about the coming judgement right after the rapture of the church: “The Judgment Seat of Christ will transpire immediately after the rapture of the church. While there is no detail of this event it is clear that it happens during the seven years of the great tribulation. While the judgments of God are in the earth, the Lord of His church will judge, reward, celebrate, and prepare us for our return to reign with Him on the earth. The Revelation of Jesus Christ is replete with our preparation to return on white horses following Christ to set up His kingdom on earth. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean." (Revelation 19:11-14). ‘The rapture of the Bride is a judgment in itself. In His infinite and omniscient wisdom, He will scan all the years of human history. Every man or woman who is blood washed and set apart to Him (dead or alive) will be resurrected, glorified, and caught up to meet him in the air.’ "Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:40-42). A judgment is involved in the taking and leaving. Judgment Seat of Christ Somewhere in the heavens every resurrected saint of God will appear together before the Lord of the Church. The Father Himself will preside at the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15) of unbelievers but His Son will judge the Bride. The judgment will include reward and positions of authority. During the

tribulation, the saints will judge the world. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?" (I Corinthians 6:2). How are you living? Are you living so that Christ will be pleased with you on Judgement Day or are there behaviours and attitudes that you need to change? Will Christ say, “Well done” or will you be ashamed? Quotes taken from: http://www.pawcreek.org/articles/endtimes/BelieversAtTheJudgmentSeatOfChrist.htm

34)

BIBLICAL FLYING OBJECTS

There is a lot of debate about flying saucers today. Some believe it is all nonsense, caused by an overactive imagination, and others testify that they have seen the real thing. However the Bible mentions some flying objects that were genuine. At the “keyway” website the author describes some Biblical examples: ” The Pillar: "And they moved on from Succoth, and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. And The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night; the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people." (Exodus 13:20-22 RSV) Manoah and the angel:"So Manoah took the kid with the cereal offering, and offered it upon the rock to The Lord, to him who works wonders. And when the flame went up toward heaven [see Heavens Below, Heavens Above] from the altar, the angel of The Lord ascended in the flame of the altar while Manoah and his wife looked on; and they fell on their faces to the ground." (Judges 13:19-20 RSV) Elijah's "chariot's of fire" "And as they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven …. And Elisha saw it and he cried, "My father, my father! the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more." (2 Kings 2:9-12 RSV) Ezekiel and the creatures of wings and wheels: "As for the likeness of their faces, each had the face of a man in front; the four had the face of a lion on the right side, the four had the face of an ox on the left side, and the four had the face of an eagle at the back. Such were their faces. And their wings were spread out above; each creature had two wings, each of which touched the wing of another, while two covered their bodies. And each went straight forward; wherever the spirit would go, they went, without turning as they went. In the midst of the living creatures there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches moving to and fro among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures darted to and fro, like a flash of lightning." "Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel upon the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of a chrysolite; and the four had the same likeness, their construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. The four wheels had rims and they had spokes; and their rims were full of eyes round about."(Ezekiel 1 4-9) Ezekiel’s description of the flying objects and strange beings goes on for quite a long time. Instead of speculating about flying saucers, why not study the Biblical flying objects? There are more in Revelation 4:8-9 ‘And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to

come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,’ Revelation 5:6 ‘And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders,’ Get some reliable commentaries and do a Bible study on the Bible’s flying objects. Both Ezekiel and Revelation are written in an apocalyptic style of writing which is hard to understand. However, pray and dig into these passages. God rewards those that seek His truth. (All references from http://www.keyway.ca/htm2003/20030811.htm)

35)

BIGGER BARNS

Luke 16:17-19 “And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” The rich man had a bumper crop and was planning to expand his warehouses, then sit back and have a party. It was highly unusual in those days to have a surplus, as most people lived on 20% of their earnings. The following song captures the spirit of materialism and our obligation to the poor. (The Parable of the Rich Fool in Luke 12:13-21) To: "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" "Bigger barns are what I need!" So a rich man said one day. "From my worries I'll be free when my wealth is stored away." "Fool!" God said, "Today you'll die! Will your wealth mean anything? All life's blessings really lie in my life that wealth can't bring." "Bigger barns are what we need for our money, gadgets, more!" Lord, we're tempted to believe having wealth, we'll be secure! Somewhere children cry for food or to have a doctor's care. Can our bigger barns be good when poor neighbors know despair? God of love, we long to know what will make us truly blest. Jesus taught us long ago wealth won't give us peace or rest. You are our security! Safe in you, we serve, O Lord. May we find we're rich indeed when we're sharing with the poor.” For the wealthy landowner, the perpetual party never happened. Luke 20-21 comments, “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Death comes unexpectedly. We are to lay up treasures in heaven, not this earth.

36)

BILLY SUNDAY: BARE FISTED EVANGELIST

Matthew 10:27 “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.” Billy Sunday was a nineteenth century major league baseball player who gave up the mound to preach to millions. On the website, “Faith Hall of Fame” his life and work are briefly described: “William Ashley Sunday was born in Ames, Iowa as the son of a Civil War soldier, on November 19, 1862. Because his father died when he was less than a year old, "Billy" was raised in an orphanage. His young days were hard, working in a hotel and later for Colonel John Scott. During high school young Sunday worked as a janitor. In 1883 he joined the "White Sox," becoming a professional baseball player; he played in the major leagues for seven years. He was converted to Christ in 1886 through the street preaching of Harry Monroe of the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. Sunday gave up his baseball career in March, 1891 to become an assistant YMCA secretary. After three years of work at the YMCA and acting as assistant to Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, Sunday began preaching in his own services. He was ordained to the ministry in 1903 by the Presbytery of Chicago. Sunday preached in the army camps during World War I and later held city-wide meetings in the various cities across America. He refused to accept invitations offered him to go abroad. In one meeting in Philadelphia over 2.3 million attended his crusade during a period of eight weeks. Sunday held campaigns for over twenty years and literally "burned out for Christ." At the close of each service throngs of people came forward and grasped the evangelist's hand to signify their conversion. Such action was called "hitting the sawdust trail" because the tabernacle floors were covered with sawdust. Sunday was noted for acrobatic feats on the platform as he preached. The worst ever said of him was that he occasionally let his humour run wild; the best ever said about him was that he reached a million lives for Christ - the drunken, the down and out, the homeless, the common man. His blazing-fisted bare-handed evangelism lives in American history. He was probably a factor in preparing the country for the passage of the nineteenth (Liquor prohibition) Amendment to the US Constitution.” http://www.eaec.org/faithhallfame/billysunday.htm Billy Sunday’s preaching was like that described in Luke 4:18 which says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”. Are you spreading the Gospel? Not everyone is called to preach, but we are called to witness. Are you helping people “hit the sawdust trail”?

37)

BONHOEFFER

Acts 22:20 “And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.” (the apostle Paul)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a neo-orthodox, German theologian who became a preacher, radio broadcaster, and author who resisted Hitler. Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazi regime at the age of 39. Christianity, Bonhoeffer came to believe, meant not just professing faith but really putting into practice Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. When Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in the early 1930s, his convictions were tested dramatically. Adolph Hitler and the Nazis were just coming to power. What should Bonhoeffer do about them? He spoke out, urging his fellow Lutherans to reject as idolatry the Nazi claim that the Fuehrer and the state deserved allegiance above that owed to God. Bonhoeffer also condemned Nazi persecution of the Jews, urging the Christian Church to stand with the Jews and all victims. He also helped some Jews escape. By the late 1930s, Bonhoeffer realized that, for him, even though he respected pacifism and non-violence in principle, Hitler's war-making and injustice required resistance. A Christian must act, he insisted, so he joined a conspiracy to oppose Hitler. It seemed a lesser evil than doing nothing. Bonhoeffer became part of a resistance cell inside German military intelligence. On trips abroad, he tried to get Allied support for the German resistance, but he was not successful. In 1943, Bonhoeffer's fellow resisters tried to kill Hitler but failed. The Gestapo identified Bonhoeffer as part of the plot, arrested him, and sent him to prison. Earlier, in a widely influential book, THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP, Bonhoeffer had condemned what he called cheap grace -- accepting God's love without cost. At the same time, he extolled costly grace -- grace that requires radical obedience, even the willingness to die for one's beliefs, which Bonhoeffer did.” Paul talks about the martyrdom of Stephen when Stephen paid the ultimate price for his Christian beliefs. In James 2:1 the Bible says, “ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? Also in James 2:17 we are warned, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Are you living an easy believism or are you willing to stand up for your faith? Are you willing to pay the cost of discipleship by living out your faith courageously even though it costs you?

38)

BORN TO WORSHIP

Cats were worshiped in ancient Egypt because they guaranteed the food supply. They ate the rodents which consumed the grain stores. On the judithstock website it says: “Laws were created at that time to protect cats, since they were held in such high regard. Due to the cat's exalted status, a religious order of cat worship developed that lasted for more than 2,000 years. The cat goddess Bastet became one of the most revered figures of worship. Bastet had the body of a woman and the head of a cat. Associated with fertility, motherhood, grace, and beauty, Bastet's largest temple was in the city of Bubastis. The word for cat in ancient Egypt was "mau," similar to our "meow," a universal cat word. Inscription on the royal tombs in Thebes read: "Thou art the Great Cat, the avenger of the gods, and the judge of words, and the president of the sovereign chiefs and the governor of the holy Circle; thou art indeed…the Great Cat During the reign of the Pharaohs, it was considered a capital crime to kill or injure a cat, even if the cat died through an unfortunate accident. If a house caught fire, the rule went like this—cats first, humans second. If a cat should die of natural causes the entire household went into elaborate mourning with chanting and pounding of chests as an outward sign of grief. The body of the cat had to be wrapped in linen and delivered to the priest who inspected the cat's body to be certain the cat had

died a natural death. After death the cat's body was embalmed, wrapped again in linen, decorated and either buried in special cemeteries or entombed in temples. Thousands of cat mummies were preserved in a huge temple at Bubastis. Mouse mummies were also found in the tombs, to assure that the cat had food for the journey into the afterlife. In fact, the Egyptians so loved their cats that cats mummies far and away out numbered human mummies found in Egypt. Over 300,000 cat mummies were found in one excavation alone at Beni-Hassan in the 1800s. No matter what culture you look at around the world it is clear that man is born to worship. Some cultures worship snakes, monkeys, cows, etc. and they make the mistake of worshipping the creature rather than the Creator. Romans 1:25 says,” Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.” Let us worship the Creator and not the idols in our lives. (All references http://www.judithstock.com/Speaking_of_Animals/History_of_Cats/history_of_cats.htm

39)

BROTHER LAWRENCE

Psalms 73:28 “But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.” Brother Lawrence who lived from 1611-1691 was a Carmelite brother who inspired all those who met him. His writings are still popular with Protestants and Catholics alike. “The Lighthouse Trails Research project comments: “[T]he 17th century [French] monk, Brother Lawrence, developed a technique--mostly through inspiration and intuition--which leads to results akin to those developed by the continued practice of either Zen or mindfulness meditation. In The Practice of the Presence of God, he wrote: "This made me resolve to give the all for the All: so after having given myself wholly to GOD, to make all the satisfaction I could for my sins, I renounced, for the love of Him, everything that was not He; and I began to live as if there was none but He and I in the world ... I worshipped Him the oftenest that I could, keeping my mind in His holy Presence, and recalling it as often as I found it wandered from Him. I found no small pain in this exercise, and yet I continued it, notwithstanding all the difficulties that occurred, without troubling or disquieting myself when my mind had wandered involuntarily. I made this my business, as much all the day long as at the appointed times of prayer; for at all times, every hour, every minute, even in the height of my business, I drove away from my mind everything that was capable of interrupting my thought of GOD. Such has been my common practice ever since I entered into religion." From Western Mystical Traditions (Quote by Brother Lawrence from First Letter) http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/brotherlawrence.htm In Matthew 22:37 the Bible says, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” It seemed that brother Lawrence achieved this state of devotion on a daily basis. Are you practicing the presence of God? Are the people around you inspired by your single-minded devotion to the Lord? If you haven’t already read, “Practicing the Presence of God” reading it is a good place to start.

40)

BUILDING ON SAND

Matthew 7:26 “ And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:” In Matthew Jesus gives a contrast between the wise man who built his house on a rock foundation and the foolish man that built his house on sand. When the storm came the house on sand was destroyed, but the one on rock stood firm. On a Christian website the author asks, “How do you react when a severe thunderstorm is in the area? Do you worry that your house will suffer destruction? Are you concerned the effects of wind and rain are going to move it off its foundation and cause its collapse? You might if it was built with a faulty foundation of shifting sand. Jesus said some people have lives that are like the house built on sand. When life is going smooth all is well but when the storms came . . . Jesus concluded the Sermon on the Mount with the following words: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” Jesus pictures here two different houses. Both appear to be well built. The big difference in the two is the choice of foundation. One chose solid, unmovable rock for the foundation. It was secure when the storms came, it stood firm, the owner was not afraid of the storms. The other home was built on shifting sands, and when the storms arrived it did not survive, it was destroyed. Jesus said one man was wise the other foolish. What are you building your life on? What happens when the storms of life come? Some build on the latest offering of pop psychology. Some choose to the promises of material wealth. Another option some choose is the latest offering form the self-help crowd. All these are foundations of sand for the people trying to build with Jesus. The key to building a life with the solid foundation is hearing and then practicing what Jesus teaches. Not just hearing, hearing and doing.” The vain philosophies of this world are just a foundation of sand, build your life on the Word of God and confess your sins to Jesus. Building on rock will see you through the storms of life. (All references from http://members.aol.com/warnersccc/072703.htm)

41)

CASKET FOR A CAT

Ecclesiastes 3:19-20 “ For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” Anyone who owns a pet and is attached to it can understand the woman who had a full scale funeral for her cat. The grief when a pet dies can be very severe. On the website titled

“Cat Tales” the following story is told about the pet lover. “The most unusual funeral I have ever participated in took place a couple of years ago. A lady telephoned me at work, inquiring about infant caskets. She was preparing for the death of her old and much-loved cat that was soon to pass away. The lady came out to my funeral home that day and I showed her all of our infant caskets. She purchased a rather expensive one for her cat. I pride myself on customer service, so as I helped her put the casket in her car, I told her that when the cat died, I'd be glad to come out to the house and help her close the casket. I didn't think I'd ever hear from her again, but a few days later she called me up and said her cat had died. She said she would like me to do more than just help her close the casket: she wanted me to arrange a complete funeral for her cat. It would take place at her house, but she asked me to provide a hearse and a limousine. I also found a minister to say a few words at the graveside service. I went over to the house the night before the funeral to deliver some prayer cards the family had ordered. The house was lit with candlelight, and in the center of about twenty glowing candlesticks lay the cat in his casket. It was the most interesting thing I have ever seen. I was impressed with how the cat had been placed in the casket, sort of lying on his side. He looked very peaceful. I wouldn't have been sure how to put a cat in a casket if they had left it up to me. The family had made all the arrangements with the cemetery themselves and told me that they had purposely let the cemetery officials believe that they were burying their own child instead of a cat. Although they asked me to keep their secret for them, I explained that I wasn't going to lie. Except for the fact that it was for a cat, the funeral was like hundreds that I had performed before. After I solemnly closed the small casket and placed it in the hearse, the sombre procession drove to the cemetery, where the catholic priest gave a eulogy. There were only a handful of mourners. After everybody left, the gravedigger came over and asked me for a burial-transit permit. A burial-transit permit is the legal paperwork needed to bury a person, which obviously I didn’t have. I said, "This is a cat." He seemed very surprised, but the cat got buried anyway. Because of the fall of man everything on this earth dies, including the animals. God warned Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:17 and said, “ But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” When God creates a new heaven and a new earth there won’t be any more death to create sorrow. Are you grieving over a person, a pet, or a favorite object? Remember that heaven we won’t have to sorrow anymore. John 16:22 “And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”(All references from http://www.catstale.info/index.php/funeral/

42)

CAT HERO DIALS 911

1 John 4:14 “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” The following report from, The China Daily gives a story about a feline hero that saved its owner’s life in an emergency. COLUMBUS, Ohio: “Police aren't sure how else to explain it. But when an officer walked into an apartment on Thursday night to answer a 911 call, an orangeand-tan striped cat was lying by a telephone on the living room floor. The cat's owner, Gary Rosheisen, was on the ground near his bed having fallen out of his wheelchair. Rosheisen said his cat, Tommy, must have hit the right buttons to call 911. "I know it sounds kind of weird,"

Officer Patrick Daugherty said, unsuccessfully searching for some other explanation. Rosheisen said he couldn't get up because of pain from osteoporosis and mini strokes that disrupt his balance. He also wasn't wearing his medical-alert necklace and couldn't reach a cord above his pillow that alerts paramedics that he needs help. Daugherty said police received a 911 call from Rosheisen's apartment, but there was no one on the phone. Police called back to make sure everything was OK, and when no one answered, they decided to check things out. That's when Daugherty found Tommy next to the phone. Rosheisen got the cat three years ago to help lower his blood pressure. He tried to train him to call 911, unsure if the training ever stuck. The phone in the living room is always on the floor, and there are 12 small buttons including a speed dial for 911 right above the button for the speaker phone. "He's my hero," Rosheisen said.” As Christians we have a hero in Jesus Christ who has saved us from eternal damnation. How many dangerous situations has Jesus saved you from in the last 6 months or a year? Make a list and thank him for his protection. (References from: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200601/04/eng20060104_232711.html) Psalms 4:8 says,“ I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.”

43)

CAT SPIRITUALITY

Proverbs 28:1 “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” The word “cat” does not appear in the Bible at all, but the closest thing there is to a feline is a lion or tiger, members of the cat family. The following is a poem about the virtues and spirituality of a house cat. Jubilate Deo by Christopher Smart (2001) “For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry. For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him. For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way. For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness. For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer. For he rolls upon prank to work it in. For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself. For this he performs in ten degrees. For first he looks upon his forepaws to see if they are clean. For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there. For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the forepaws extended. For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood. For fifthly he washes himself. For sixthly he rolls upon wash.

For seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat. For eighthly he rubs himself against a post. For ninthly he looks up for his instructions. For tenthly he goes in quest of food. For having consider'd God and himself he will consider his neighbour. For if he meets another cat he will kiss her in kindness. For when he takes his prey he plays with it to give it a chance. For one mouse in seven escapes by his dallying. For when his day's work is done his business more properly begins. For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary. For he counteracts the powers of darkness by his electrical skin and glaring eyes. For he counteracts the Devil, who is death, by brisking about the life. For in his morning orisons he loves the sun and the sun loves him. For he is of the tribe of Tiger. For the Cherub Cat is a term of the Angel Tiger. For he has the subtlety and hissing of a serpent, which in goodness he suppresses. For he will not do destruction, if he is well-fed, neither will he spit without provocation. For he purrs in thankfulness, when God tells him he's a good Cat. For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon. For every house is incomplete without him and a blessing is lacking in the spirit … .” http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/661.html In the Millennial Kingdom Isaiah 35:9 promises “No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there:” Are you looking forward to the day when you can pet a lion just as you would a cat? The peaceable kingdom is coming in the near future.

44)

DON’T SPURN THE CAT

Pr 6:15 “Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.” Agnolo di Tura of Siena’s, description of the Black Death (after 1347) was as follows: “ …They would swell beneath the armpits and in the groin, and fall over while talking. Father abandoned child, wife husband, one brother another; for this illness seemed to strike through breath and sight. And so they died. None could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship. Members of a household brought their dead to a ditch as best they could, without priest, without divine offices…And they died by the hundreds, both day and night, and all were thrown in those ditches and covered with earth... And so many died that all believed it was the end of the world." “The pandemic of the 1300s, commonly known as the Black Death, is one of the most significant outbreaks of the Plague to date, killing a quarter of the entire population of

Europe; Today that would be like wiping out everyone in the state of Texas.” Medieval people believed that cats were witch’s familiars and felines were killed in great numbers. This worsened the plague outbreaks, because the rat population exploded. Because people spurned the cat they suffered quick destruction. Life is fragile and the New Testament warns: (All references from http://www.jyi.org/features/ft.php?id=566 ) Eecclesiasts 8:8 comments, “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death: and there is no discharge in that war; neither shall wickedness deliver those that are given to it.”

45)

CATS, SHIPS, AND SUPERSTITIONS

Hebrews 13:9 “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.” Cats on ships have a long history. They served practical functions, but they were also worshiped as idols by superstitious sailors. “Cats have been carried on ships for a number of reasons, the most important being that mice and rats, which would inevitably find their way aboard a ship, could cause considerable damage to ropes and woodwork. More serious was the threat they posed to the stores the ship carried. Not only could they devour the foodstuff carried to feed the crew, if the ship was carrying grain or similar substances as part of its cargo, then they could cause economic damage as well. Rats and mice were also sources of disease, an important consideration when the ship could be at sea for a long period of time. Cats naturally attack and kill these rodents. Cats therefore performed a valuable service by catching mice, rats, and other pests. They also have a high ability to adapt to new surroundings, and were therefore highly suitable for service on a ship. They also offered companionship as well as a sense of home and security to sailors, who could be away from home for long periods, especially in times of war. Sometimes worshipped as deities, cats had long had a reputation as magical animals and numerous myths and superstitions sprang up amongst the unusually superstitious seafaring community. They were considered to be intelligent and lucky animals, and a high level of care was directed toward them to keep them happy. Some sailors believed that polydactyl cats were better at catching pests, possibly connected with the suggestion that extra digits give a polydactyl cat better balance, important when at sea. In some places polydactyl cats became known as "ship's cats"… . Cats were believed to have miraculous powers that could protect ships from dangerous weather. Sometimes, fishermen's wives would keep black cats at home too, in the hope that they would be able to use their influence to protect their husbands at sea. It was believed to be lucky if a cat approached a sailor on deck, but unlucky if it only came halfway, and then retreated. Another popular belief was that cats could start storms through magic stored in their tails. If a ship's cat fell or was thrown overboard, it was thought that it would summon a terrible storm to sink the ship and that if the ship was able to survive, it would be cursed with nine years of bad luck. Other beliefs included, if a cat licked its fur against the grain, it meant a hailstorm was coming; if it sneezed it meant rain; and if it was frisky it meant

wind.” What myths and superstitions do you believe? Are you worshipping something other than God? Mark 7:7 warns “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (All references from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship's_cat )

46)

THE CALLENGE OF A PAGAN SOCIETY

Exodus 20:3 “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” In his book, The Trouble with Jesus, Joseph M. Stowell concludes, that after a brief return to God after 9/11 American society returned to paganism. He states:“ Paganism describes a society that embraces a wide-open spirituality, with a multiplicity of gods and no central moral authority. The only rule that paganism jealously guards is that no one god has final and exclusive rights as the only one true god. Paganism allows your god as a preference but never as the singularly pre-eminent God. Waking up to the reality that paganism is the new religious configuration of our nation demands a shift in our thinking and a new strategy if we are to advance the cause of the One and Only Jesus. When we lived under the cultural consensus of secularism, our stand for morality was constantly challenged. Because of our unflinching commitment to the Biblical absolutes of right and wrong, we were viewed as reactionary, oppressive, and dangerous. Now, in our pagan culture, it is our message, the message of the ‘only way’ Saviour, that is challenged. If we dare stick up for Jesus by affirming His claims, we are considered to be arrogant, intolerant, and divisive.” Exodus 23:33 warns, “They shall not dwell in thy land, lest they make thee sin against me: for if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” Although paganism is rampant in society Christianity has had a big influence in pagan cultures before. Paul and the apostles planted churches in the first century when in Greece it was easier to find a god than a man. Also, in the Old Testament the Jews brought monotheism into pagan cultures that had many gods. In Acts 17:18 Paul preached the gospel in a pagan society. “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoics, encountered him. And some said, ‘What will this babbler say?’ other some, ‘He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.’ Do you have the courage to speak about Christ being the only way to God in a society that censors that?

47)

CHARACTISTICS OF A CULT

Revelation 2:15 “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” Paul mentions a cult that was prominent in the 1st century. It was an organization that God hated, but how do we recognize cults today? The website cbn.com gives an explanation: “Practically every cult has certain characteristics that can tell the careful observer that something

is wrong. For instance, what does a group think about Jesus? Jesus Christ is God, Lord of all, the only source of salvation. Invariably, a cult will put something else on an equal footing with Christ. It will have a ritual that is equal to Christ, or it will have a doctrine equal to Christ, or it will have a leader who is equal to Christ. In other words, even if it acknowledges Christ as Saviour, it will say that you need something else before you can get into heaven. Cults teach that salvation comes through Christ, plus their little unique way. Some cults do not acknowledge Christ at all. They may make Him coequal with their religious teachers or with certain great men of history. The quickest way to recognize a cult is by its treatment of Jesus. Second, cults frequently attempt to instil fear into their followers. The followers are taught constantly that salvation comes only through the cult. "If you leave us, you will lose your salvation," they say. The third area has to do with the exaltation of the leader of the cult. Cults often center around a man or woman who is trying to gain power, money, or influence from manipulating people. This appears to be the case in the Unification church with Sun Myung Moon. In the Children of God, Moses David Berg is an autocratic leader. In the People's Temple, Jim Jones drew attention to himself and asked his followers to die with him. A true leader who serves Jesus Christ has one goal, and that is to exalt and manifest Jesus. When someone says he has unique insight into God or is the special one that God has anointed to reach the world, you are dealing with cultic behaviour. A final mark of a cult is the unwillingness of the leaders to let the people grow up. A true shepherd will do everything he can to bring Christian people to maturity as quickly as he can. He will not seek to avoid necessary teaching, nor will he try to keep people from maturity. Many cults perpetuate spiritual dependence so that their followers lose the ability to make independent, rational decisions. Often techniques of brainwashing are used to create robot-like behaviour. Although there are other marks of cultic behaviour, these seem to be the ones that stand out.” The Lord wants us to love truth and hate heresy. Revelation 2:6 “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” Remember, however, that going inside a cult is like going inside a lions den. Unless a person is specially called by God to challenge cult members and has thoroughly studied their doctrine beware of having your faith turned upside down. (All references from http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/CBNTeachingSheets/FAQ_cult.aspx)

48)

CHARLES WESLEY

Isaiah 40:1 “ Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” John and Charles Wesley started Methodism in the eighteenth century. Charles lived from 1707-1788 and was the eighteenth child of the vicar who pastored the Anglican Church in Epworth, England. He is less known than his brother John, and someone wrote of Charles that, “If ever there was a human being who disliked power, avoided prominence, and shrank from praise, it is Charles Wesley.” In 1738, Charles read Isaiah 40 and realized that he was to live by faith. With his brother and some of their friends he sang:

“When shall my wondering soul begin? How shall I all to heaven aspire? A slave redeemed from death and sin, A brand plucked from the eternal fire! How shall I triumph raise O sing my great Deliverer’s praise?” Charles Wesley was three times as productive as William Wordsworth . The following is one of his hymns on mercy: Depth of mercy! Can there be mercy still reserved for me? Can my God his wrath forbear, me, the chief of sinners, spare? 2. I have long withstood his grace, long provoked him to his face, would not hearken to his calls, grieved him by a thousand falls. 3. I my Master have denied, I afresh have crucified, oft profaned his hallowed name, put him to an open shame. 4. There for me the Savior stands, shows his wounds and spreads his hands. God is love! I know, I feel; Jesus weeps and loves me still. 5. Now incline me to repent, let me now my sins lament, now my foul revolt deplore, weep, believe, and sin no more. In 1739 Charles Wesley’s first hymn book came out and was immediately popular. Find some of his hymns in your church’s hymn book and today and absorb the inspiration from this great preacher/poet. Psalms 25:10 declares. “All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.”

49)

BEING CRUEL TO BE KIND

John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”

My husband adores our 18 pound grey and while cat. Merlin. For years he treated him with tidbits of raw hamburg, milk, pork, and anything else he desired. Merlin would do all sorts of cute tricks to get these treats. However, one day he became very ill. His urinary system was blocked with crystals and he had to have a very expensive intervention done by the vet. Apparently, getting the things he desired was almost fatal to the cat. Since then Merlin has been on a strict diet of only prescription cat food and veterinary authorized treats and as long as he sticks to that he is healthy. However, he still has the memory of what all those goodies tasted like and he begs relentlessly every time the milk jug comes out. It seems that we have to be cruel to be kind to him. I think this story has a parallel with how God handles us. Sometimes we crave things that are not good for us spiritually and God takes them away from us for our own good. We may still plead to the Lord to get these things back in our lives, but God denies us what we still crave. At times we think He is being cruel to us, but He really is being kind. Hebrew 12:5-7 says: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as a discipline, God is treating you as sons.”

50)

CHILD SLAVERY

Amos 5:24 “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” Child slavery is a sad reality in some countries. “The total number of children involved in the industry in South Asia is very difficult to assess, but in India the South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude estimates that between 200,000 and 300,000 children are involved, most of them in the carpet belt of Uttar Pradesh in central India. Similar numbers may be working in Pakistan and up to 150,000 in Nepal. There are two main advantages of child labour to the carpet makers: -their very low wages and their docile acceptance of terrible working conditions; -- their good eyesight, which allows them to perform intricate work in very poor light. As a result, many of the children, who may begin working as young as 6 or 7 years old, are severely ill by the time they are adults. Their eyesight is damaged and lung diseases are common as a result of the dust and fluff from the wool used in the carpets. To make matters worse, many of the children employed in the industry have been separated from their families. The carpet industry is very complex, but is generally controlled by the export companies. These exporters arrange, either directly or through contractors, for a carpet to be produced on a particular loom. The looms are normally owned by small entrepreneurs and range from single looms in private houses to small factories

with 30 or more looms. The exporter supplies the wool and design and after a price and quality is agreed, the loom owner is responsible for producing the carpet to specification. Agents for the loom masters and owners find their workforce from a variety of sources. The children may be their own children and other children from within the village. These remain in their own family. The child labour may also be obtained from other areas (normally poorer regions) by purchasing or coercing children from Bihar in north-east India to Uttar Pradesh; or from small villages in Nepal to Kathmandu; or from outlying villages to small towns in Pakistan; and even children trafficked from other countries, such as children imported from west Nepal to Uttar Pradesh. Removed from their families, these are, without doubt, the worst sufferers. All the children work long hours for very little pay. Indeed, in many cases, particularly when they live at the looms, their wages are reduced to pay for food and lodging, or they may receive no pay whatsoever, for example, where the loom owner applies their wages to cover the advances given to their parents and the agents who brought them in the first place. This is a form of debt bondage. In the past ten years, there has been a gathering movement in India, Pakistan and Nepal to end the exploitation of so many children in the industry. This activity has been supported by the Anti-Slavery Society. As a result, the UN Working Group on Contemporary Forms of Slavery and the International Labour Organization have called on the Union Government (ie, the federal government) in India and the federal government in Pakistan to enforce their own laws and to stop the use of child labour.” http://www.anti-slaverysociety.addr.com/carpets.htm cclesiastes 5:8 observes, “If thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter: for he that is higher than the highest regardeth; and there be higher than they.”

51)

CLEANLINESS AND FILTH

Ezekiel 36:25 “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.” Cleanliness and filthiness are two opposing themes in the Bible. “The Dirty Old Man” is a poem about a man called “Dirty Dick” who ran a hardware shop in London on Leadenhill Street. His shop and his person were notoriously filthy and he died in 1809. The following poem was written by William Allingham and had Dirty Dick as his subject. THE DIRTY OLD MAN. In a dirty old house lived a Dirty Old Man; Soap, towels, or brushes were not in his plan. For forty long years, as the neighbors declared, His house never once had been cleaned or repaired. 'T was a scandal and shame to the business-like street,

One terrible blot in a ledger so neat: The shop full of hardware, but black as a hearse, And the rest of the mansion a thousand times worse. Outside, the old plaster, all spatter and stain, Looked spotty in sunshine and streaky in rain; The window-sills sprouted with mildewy grass, And the panes from being broken were known to be glass. On the rickety sign-board no learning could spell The merchant who sold, or the goods he'd to sell; But for house and for man a new title took growth, Like a fungus,--the Dirt gave its name to them both. Within, there were carpets and cushions of dust, The wood was half rot, and the metal half rust. Old curtains, half cobwebs, hung grimly aloof; 'T was a Spiders' Elysium from cellar to roof. There, king of the spiders, the Dirty Old Man Lives busy and dirty as ever he can; With dirt on his fingers and dirt on his face, For the Dirty Old Man thinks the dirt no disgrace. From his wig to his shoes, from his coat to his shirt, His clothes are a proverb, a marvel of dirt; The dirt is pervading, unfading, exceeding,-Yet the Dirty Old Man has both learning and breeding. Fine dames from their carriages, noble and fair, Have entered his shop, less to buy than to stare; And have afterwards said, though the dirt was so frightful, The Dirty Man's manners were truly delightful. Upstairs might they venture, in dirt and in gloom, To peep at the door of the wonderful room Such stories are told about, none of them true!-The keyhole itself has no mortal seen through. That room,--forty years since, folk settled and decked it. The luncheon's prepared, and the guests are expected, The handsome young host he is gallant and gay, For his love and her friends will be with him today. With solid and dainty the table is drest, The wine beams its brightest, the flowers bloom their best;

Yet the host need not smile, and no guests will appear, For his sweetheart is dead, as he shortly shall hear. Full forty years since turned the key in that door. 'T is a room deaf and dumb mid the city's uproar. The guests, for whose joyance that table was spread, May now enter as ghosts, for they're every one dead. Through a chink in the shutter dim lights come and go; The seats are in order, the dishes a-row: But the luncheon was wealth to the rat and the mouse Whose descendants have long left the Dirty Old House. Cup and platter are masked in thick layers of dust; The flowers fallen to powder, the wine swathed in crust; A nosegay was laid before one special chair, And the faded blue ribbon that bound it lies there. The old man has played out his part in the scene. Wherever he now is, I hope he's more clean. Yet give we a thought free of scoffing or ban To that Dirty Old House and that Dirty Old Man.

In John 13:10 the apostle writes, “Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.” Christ was talking about salvation when he mentioned that eleven of his disciples were clean. Judas was the one that was still unclean. Is your soul clean before God or could it use some house cleaning by the Holy Spirit?

52)

CLONED KITTY

Genesis 1:25 “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” CC the kitten is cloned and cute, however, the act of cloning brings up some serious moral issues. At About.com, CC’s story is described: “It was announced by researchers at the College of Veterinary medicine, Texas A&M, that a kitten named "CC" (short for Carbon Copy) has been successfully cloned. She is developing normally for a kitten her age and appears healthy. CC was born on December 22, 2001, and the announcement was made on Valentines Day, after DNA analysis confirmed that she was indeed a genetic clone (a genetic copy of the donor). She was cloned from cumulus cells, which surround mammalian eggs before ovulation. This is not an easy cell type to gain access to if the technique were to become widely used. The nucleus DNA

from a cumulus cell of a female three-colored (tortoiseshell or calico) cat was transplanted into the cytoplasm of another cat's egg cell from which the nucleus had been removed. The egg was then kick-started into life with an electric shock. The resulting embryo was then implanted into the surrogate tabby mother. An earlier attempt by the Texas team to clone a kitten from a tom's mouth cells failed. There were 87 attempts to transfer cloned embryos to eight female cats. Only one live clone succeeded, which shows there is still much to be learned about this process. This cloning followed previously successful cloning of sheep, rabbits, mice, pigs, a Boer goat, a Brahma bull, and a disease-resistant Angus bull. Texas A&M researchers are also aggressively working to clone dogs and horses, although dog cells have been found to be more resistant to cloning than those of cats. The knowledge gained from cloning these animals could greatly affect several areas of science and medicine. With each new species cloned, more is learned about how this technology might be applied to improving the health of animals and humans. Animal cloning may become a useful tool for investigating human and animal disease. The Texas A&M “CopyCat” effort was supported by $3.7 million from the Missyplicity Project, aimed at creating clones of a mixed-breed dog named Missy. It has been reported that this funding came from John Sperling, the founder of the University of Phoenix and a friend of Missy's owner, who prefers to remain anonymous. Such research is also funded by Genetics Savings & Loan, a commercial enterprise with the aim of capitalizing on the cloning of pets. The company claims their work is governed by certain ethical rules. However, it's unlikely that cloing pets will be come a common practice. The initial cost is $20,000, although many pet owners have taken advantage of the "Gene Banking" provided by that organization, at a relatively cheap $895. For those who do have the money and desire to try to recreate a beloved pet, a warning is given that it will not be the same cat. There will be differences in coloration. The pattern of pigmentation in multi-coloured animals is affected by genetic and developmental factors. The cloned kitten would not inherit the memories of the donor cat and its personality would also most likely be different, since these traits are not controlled by genetics. Cloned animals also tend to be larger than normal and have been shown to suffer from immune system problems. So, if you have money to burn, a much better way to do it would be to donate to a shelter or rescue organization. They could do so much good with that kind of donation. Then while you're there, find one or more kittens/cats to take home with you, and start some new memories with other little beings that have their own wonderful qualities to discover and love.” http://cats.about.com/od/advocacy/a/clonedcat.htm Cloning is man’s arrogance tampering with God’s creation. Already, human genes have been put into a pig and the result is a monster with abnormal muscle, that does not look like a normal pig at all. It is only a matter of time before humans are cloned, and more monsters may be created. God created man and beast and said that his creation was good. There are more than enough people and animals on are planet already, without distorting nature and producing freaks. In Genesis 1:21 the Bible says, “God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” Also, in Genesis 1:31 it says, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Do you see God’s creation as good? Do you thank Him for it? If science wanted to clone a human being would you protest on moral grounds? COLLECTING TAX : AN ANCIENT CUSTOM

Luke 20:22-25 “ Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s. And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.” An old Irish proverb cynically waxed poetic about taxes: “Tax his tractor, tax his mule; tell him, taxing is the rule. Tax his oil, tax his gas, tax his notes, tax his cash Tax him good and let him know, that after taxes, he has no dough. If he hollers, tax him more; tax him till he's good and sore. Tax his coffin, tax his grave, tax his sod in which he's laid. Put these words upon his tomb, "Taxes drove him to his doom." Once he's gone, we won't relax. We'll still collect inheritance tax.” http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Quotes/ProvbsSayings.html Taxing people is not a modern invention. In Exodus 20:11-16 the Bible makes the first mention of taxation, “When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them. This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD. Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD. The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls. And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.” The four different kinds of taxes in the Bible are as follows: 1. the tax (telos) on merchandise and travellers #Mt 17:25 2. the annual tax (phoros) on property #Lu 20:22 23:2 3. the poll-tax (kensos, "tribute,") #Mt 17:25 22:17 Mr 12:14 4. the temple-tax ("tribute money" two drachmas half shekel,) #Mt 17:24-27 comp. #Ex 30:13 ( Easton’s Revised Bible Dictionary) In 1 Peter 2:13 says, “ Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:” Are you grumbling about your taxes? Think about what the Lord has to say about taxation.

53)

COMPASSION FATIGUE

Matthew 9:36 “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” When people talk about “compassion fatigue” it means having difficulty tending to other peoples’ needs. The following article comments on what compassion fatigue is and how to overcome it so that you are not permanently burned out. “Overcoming Compassion Fatigue taken from PSPinformation.com - Help along the way You're drained, tapped out, have little energy to give others. We’ve all been there. Usually, after a little break we revive and step back up to the plate. What happens, however, when these feelings don’t pass - going beyond fatigue and turning into something much worse, like apathy? This could spell trouble for those caring for an elderly parent or sick child, or for health care professionals rendering care to others. In this interview, one of the nation's leading medical experts talks about compassion fatigue, a condition that plagues many individuals working in and out of the home. What actions can you take to prevent this serious occupational health hazard and risk to caregivers in general? Q: What is compassion fatigue? A: This term has replaced the more familiar term "burn-out." It refers to a physical, emotional and spiritual fatigue or exhaustion that takes over a person and causes a decline in his or her ability to experience joy or to feel and care for others. Compassion fatigue is a one-way street, in which individuals are giving out a great deal of energy and compassion to others over a period of time, yet aren’t able to get enough back to reassure themselves that the world is a hopeful place. It’s this constant outputting of compassion and caring over time that can lead to these feelings. Q: What causes it? A: Compassion fatigue comes from a variety of sources. Although it often affects those working in care-giving professions - nurses, physicians, mental health workers and clergymen - it can affect people in any kind of situation or setting where they’re doing a great deal of caregiving and expending emotional and physical energy day in and day out. Q: Who is most at risk of developing compassion fatigue? A: Although those in the health care and mental health professions are most at risk of developing these feelings, it is not limited to these arenas. It affects those who don’t work outside the home as severely as those who do. Take someone who is actively engaged in taking care of a family member, especially during a crisis period when there is a higher need to give out feelings of compassion and sensitivity. If the crisis doesn’t pass quickly and the individual continues functioning at this level, he is just as susceptible to compassion fatigue over time as those in high-risk professions. Q: What are some telltale signs of compassion fatigue? A: First, you should understand that it’s a process. It’s not a matter of one day, you’re living your life with a great deal of energy and enjoyment, and the next, you

wake up exhausted and devoid of any energy - both physical and emotional. Compassion fatigue develops over time - taking weeks, sometimes years to surface. Basically, it’s a low level, chronic clouding of caring and concern for others in your life - whether you work in or outside the home. Over time, your ability to feel and care for others becomes eroded through overuse of your skills of compassion. You also might experience an emotional blunting - whereby you react to situations differently than one would normally expect .Q: If you have this condition, what can you do? A: The most critical need is to acknowledge that you may be experiencing it. All of us have multiple demands and energy drains in our lives - some positive, some negative - which all require a great deal of emotional and physical attention. There are, however, many hands-on things you can do to mitigate the feelings of compassion fatigue. For one, start refocusing on yourself. Before you can tend to and be sensitive to the needs of others, you have to take care of your own well-being. This can be as simple as getting plenty of rest, becoming more aware of your dietary and recreational habits, and cutting out negative addictions in your life like nicotine, alcohol and caffeine. Remember, the healing process takes time, as does the development of the problem.”http://www.hrss.net/links/inspire/inspire_comfat.html The story of the prodigal son tells of God’s compassion on his wayward children. Luke 15:20 says, “And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.” Jesus never suffers from compassion fatigue. Are you suffering from compassion fatigue? Take some time to rest and then ask God to help you recover.

54)

CREMATION OR BURIAL?

Genesis 25:8-10 “ Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.” Some people feel that burial of the dead is wrong and that cremation is to be preferred because of space considerations. In an article titled, “Cremation: What Does God Think?” David W. Cloud comments: “Cremation, as just described and as practiced today in the more technically advanced nations, no longer has the physical ghastliness associated with cremations performed in the less developed parts of the world. The modern method, as we have seen, incorporates the use of an exceedingly hot incinerator which reduces the body to ashes quickly, and the entire process is done out of the view of loved ones and the public. Not so in places like South Asia, where we lived and served Christ for ten years. It would seem that any Christian who could stand beside the “holy” River Bagmati in Kathmandu, Nepal, and observe the burning of the body of a Hindu and the heathen death rituals, would cast aside in repulsion every thought of cremation being an acceptable Christian practice. A few years ago I stood three or so feet from a burning corpse with a missionary pastor from Singapore and his wife who were visiting us. The head was already burnt beyond recognition and the skull was split open due to internal expansion from the heat of the fire. The lower legs and feet were unscorched, as they were protruding from the pile of burning wood and stubble upon which the man’s body lay…. Would you treat your loved ones so? Is this an acceptable Christian practice? No sir, cremation is a heathen practice. It

is of heathen origin and serves heathen purposes. Why do the Hindus and those of other heathen religions cremate? It has a connection with their belief in reincarnation. There is nothing Christian about cremation. We were standing that day, as I have many other times, observing cremation in the surroundings from which the practice arose--idolatrous, Christ- less heathenism. GOD’S PEOPLE HAVE ALWAYS PRACTICED BURIAL. At the outset let me answer an objection sometimes made at this point. The objection is, “Yes, God’s people in the Bible practiced burial. The example is clearly there. But are we bound to follow these examples; they are not direct commands?” The answer is given in Romans 15:4. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning ...” And again in 1 Corinthians 10:11 we read, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” In these passages God is telling us that we are to follow the Bible’s examples as well as its direct instructions. Following are just a few examples. Abraham was buried (Genesis 25:8-10), Sarah was buried (Genesis 23:1-4); Rachel was buried (Genesis 35:19-20); Isaac was buried (Genesis 35:29);Jacob was buried (Genesis 49:33; 50:1-13); Joseph was buried (Genesis 50:26);Joshua was buried (Joshua 24:29-30); Eleazar was buried (Joshua 24:33); Samuel was buried (1Samuel 25:1); David was buried (1 Kings 2:10); John the Baptist was buried (Matthew 14:10-12); Ananias and Sapphira were buried (Acts 5:5-10); and Stephen was buried (Acts 8:2).EVEN WHEN BURIAL WAS DIFFICULT. Even in difficult circumstances God’s people in olden days practiced burial. For example, Joseph’s body was kept for over 400 years in Egypt and then carried through the 40 years of wilderness wanderings before being buried in Palestine, the Promised Land. We read of this in Genesis 50:24-25; Exodus 13:19 and Joshua 24:32. How much simpler it would have been for the Israelites to have cremated Joseph, then carried his ashes with them in a tiny container! But this they refused to do. Joseph, a follower of the one true God, a man who looked forward to the bodily resurrection, was given an honorable burial. From this important example, we learn that even if cremation is less expensive or easier than burial, it is still to be rejected, as the Israelites rejected the economical and simpler way to carry Joseph to the Promised Land. BURIAL LOOKS FORWARD TO RESURRECTION “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom.8:22-23). See also 1 Cor. 15:20-23; 2 Cor. 5:1 and 1 Cor. 15:51-57. In Acts 8:2, Paul writes: “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” Do you have plans to be cremated or do you plan to be buried when you die?

55)

CRYSTALS, A PRETTY DECEPTION

Deuteronomy18:9-12 “When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.”

New age advocates promote crystals, special angels, and tell people that they are little gods. It is very popular among them to say “Namaste” or “I bow to the divine in you”. However, these occult practices are detested by God. On the website bibleinfo.com the author says: “Many people regard crystals as possessing mystical power that can be utilized for healing purposes. Some believe that crystals can also stimulate spiritual growth and bring about a positive transformation in life's experience. The use of 'sacred stones' for mystical purposes was common among the pagan peoples of the Bible Lands. Called amulets, these magical charms were made in the form of small pendants attached to a necklace or bracelet. They were worn to protect a person from negative energies, evil and injury, and also to bring good luck. God uttered a stern warning to the false prophetesses of Israel, who in their apostasy had adopted the pagan practice of wearing amulets. It's in the Bible, Ezekiel 13:18, 20 & 21 NIV. "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: 'Woe to the women who sew magic charms on all their wrists and make veils of various lengths for their heads in order to ensnare people. Will you ensnare the lives of my people but preserve your own? I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds, and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. I will tear off your veils and save my people from your hands, and they will no longer fall prey to your power.'" Miracles, signs and wonders can often be the work of Satan. It's in the Bible, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 & 10 NIV. "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing." True healing comes from the Lord. It's in the Bible, Psalm 103:2-4 NIV. "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion." At the Second Coming of Jesus, practitioners of the occult will be prohibited from entry into the glorious New Jerusalem. It's in the Bible, Revelation 22:14 & 15 NIV. "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood." Don’t be deceived by new age practices that are not new, but are found in the Old Testament. What could you say to a new age person that is playing with crystals and the occult? Look up more Scripture verses about dabbling in the magic arts and warn those who are in danger of God’s displeasure. (All references from http://en.bibleinfo.com/topics/topic.html?id=52)

56)

DABBLING IN THE DEVILISH

Deuteronomy 13:1-3 “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” It is popular today to inquire into things that are occultist. This can range from reading horoscopes, to having palms read, playing with Tarot cards, getting one’s fortune told, or even

devil worshipping. On the surface all this seems harmless and fun. However, it is playing with very dangerous forces. Even the church is not exempt from this kind of evil. At one church yard sale they were trying to sell a Ouija board to raise money for church activities. However, the Lord tells us not to inquire into the future and the occult. From church groups called "spiritual seekers" to belief in Eastern mysticism and instruction in the occult A Course in Miracles, socalled Christians are wading in spiritually heretical waters with no thought of drowning. But unless their spiritual eyes are opened, drown they will, for warnings against such activities are frequent and uncompromising throughout the Bible. “Many professing Christians are unfamiliar with basic tenets of Christian faith and Scripture, and herein lies the danger. Linda P. Harvey warns: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge," said the prophet Hosea (4:6). So we have Christian churches that not only deny the truth of God's word, but seem to go out of their way to flaunt their doubts, believing this is enlightened and progressive. As Scripture records, this is an age-old story. Antedeluvian society strayed from God and eventually received severe judgment. Pre-exilic Israel and Judah of the first millenium B.C. intermingled pagan idolworship and occultism with Hebrew faith and tradition; God was not amused. As recorded in well-attested Old Testament writings, this apostasy was the subject of the dire warnings of Hebrew prophets from Elijah to Ezekiel. All but a small remnant ignored the warnings; the kingdoms of Israel and Judah were attacked, their cities burned and people killed or enslaved. Far from a minor theme, these consequences of attempting to blend pagan belief with God's commands form what is probably the central historical event in the history of the nation of Israel, and one of the major fulfilled prophecies of the Old Testament. These events were evidence that there really is a God out there, and the imprint of His hand on history is undeniable for those who take the time to study Scripture.” http://www.missionamerica.com/witchcraft.php?articlenum=6 Isaiah 8:19-20 “ And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” Don’t displease God and harm yourself by dabbling with the devilish.

57)

NINE CIRCLES OF HELL

Psalms 55:23 “But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.” Dante Alighieri “Divine Comedy” was written between the dates of 1308-1321. It is an Italian epic poem that is thought of as one of the greatest works of world literature. Although Dante’s theology indulges in a lot of speculation about hell, he does portray it as a place of torment with evil companions to bunk with. On a website titled, “The Physical Structure of the Inferno” the author states, “Dante's Hell is shaped like a funnel that extends all the way to the center of the earth. It is situated underneath the city of Jerusalem, which is at the center of the northern hemisphere. Opposite Jerusalem, at the center of the southern hemisphere is the mountain of Purgatory. Lucifer is immobilized at the bottom of Hell, where he fell after the defeat in his rebellion against God. This funnel is made of nine circles. The first circle is the

widest and, progressively, the ninth circle is the smallest. This ninth circle surrounds Lucifer. Each circle is reserved to a different category of sinners: Upper Hell: the Incontinent 1st circle: Limbo. Reserved for the souls of the just people who never knew Christ, and those (especially infants) who died without baptism and never committed a sin. Here Dante encounters the ancient philosophers and poets. 2nd circle: The Lustful. Dante talks to Francesca da Rimini, who tells him how she became involved in an adulterous affair with Paolo, her brother in law. Landscape: a violent storm which tosses around the souls. Minos guards this circle. 3rd circle: The Gluttonous. ... Ciacco gives Dante the first prophecy of his future exile. Landscape: heavy steady rain. Three-headed Cerberus is the guardian. 5th circle: The Wrathful and Sullen. These souls are submerged into the river Styx, which surrounds the city of Dis. The wrathful emerge from the dirty waters while the sullen are completely submerged. Lower Hell: Violence and Fraud The city of Dis: …. The Heretics. Dante enters the city and sees a huge cemetery filled with open tombs with fire coming out of them. One of the tombs contains the souls of the Epicureans.7th Circle: The Violent. Introduced by the Minotaur, this circle is divided into three rings: 1) Violent Against their Neighbors (tyrants and murderers). These souls are plunged into a river of boiling blood: the river Phlegethon. They are watched over by the Centaurs. (Also included are those who are violent to themselves and others.) 8th circle: Fraud. It is called Malebolge because it is divided into ten bolge (ditches).1) Panders and Seducers. These souls are scourged by horned demons. ….6) Hypocrites. These souls, mostly monks of the Jovial order, walk slowly, clothed in heavy caps of lead. Dante talks to two of them from Bologna. 7) Thieves. These souls keep changing into snakes. Dante recognizes (among others) Vanni Fucci, who predicts the defeat of Dante's party, the Whites, and his exile from the city. 9th circle: Treachery. It is divided into four sections. The sinners are in a frozen lake, Cocytus. This circle is surrounded by the Giants. One of them, Antaeus, takes Dante and Virgil and puts them down into the ice. In Deuteronomy 32:22 God talks about hell and his anger. “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” However, Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Are you afraid of hell? Or are you trusting in Jesus to save you from hell no matter how many circles it has? If you are converted it is imperative to speak to the lost about Jesus. Hell is a terrible destination. (All references from http://hhhknights.com/curr/human/2/hellinferno.html)

58)

DEATH: THE MODERN TABOO?

I Corinthians 15:53-58 (KJV) “ For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” We live in a society that does not like to mention death. In Victorian society sex was a taboo and not to be discussed in polite society, but death has become taboo in our culture. One

hundred years ago people died at home and so did farm animals. Now people die in the sterile environment of a hospital room. Funeral homes have become sanitized as “Slumber Parlours” and some of them are even drive troughs. The following poem by Lord Alfred Tennyson talks candidly about the reality of death. All Things will Die Clearly the blue river chimes in its flowing Under my eye; Warmly and broadly the south winds are blowing Over the sky. One after another the white clouds are fleeting; Every heart this May morning in joyance is beating Full merrily; Yet all things must die. The stream will cease to flow; The wind will cease to blow; The clouds will cease to fleet; The heart will cease to beat; For all things must die. All things must die. Spring will come never more. O, vanity! Death waits at the door. See! our friends are all forsaking The wine and the merrymaking. We are call�d�we must go. Laid low, very low, In the dark we must lie. The merry glees are still; The voice of the bird Shall no more be heard, Nor the wind on the hill. O, misery! Hark! death is calling While I speak to ye, The jaw is falling, The red cheek paling, The strong limbs failing; Ice with the warm blood mixing; The eyeballs fixing. Nine times goes the passing bell:

Ye merry souls, farewell. The old earth Had a birth, As all men know, Long ago. And the old earth must die. So let the warm winds range, And the blue wave beat the shore; For even and morn Ye will never see Thro� eternity. All things were born. Ye will come never more, For all things must die. A psychiatrist asserted that the two chief fears of the human race are death and insanity. People will go to extremes to “beat” death. Hollywood stars sometimes have their bodies frozen, hoping that science will be able to revive them at some later date. Other wealthy persons ingest special supplements that are supposed to slow down the aging process and cheat the Grim Reaper. However, Paul triumphantly trumpets “O death where is thy sting?” If you are a Christian you have victory over death and the grave. You will be resurrected to eternal life. Genesis 27:2 says, “And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:”

59)

THE LONELIEST DAY OF THE YEAR

In Matthew 1:23-25; 2:1-2 the Scripture proclaims,“ Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of

Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” Although Jesus may not have been born on December 25th, that is the day we celebrate his birth. The following snippets from newspapers around the world tells what happened on December 25th in world history.. U.S.A. 1900: In Kentucky a small pox epidemic was raging with hundreds of people stricken. The mortality rate was 20% and health authorities demanded that every person in the state be vaccinated. India 1927: Sixteen Indian sailors revolted and quit their posts when they heard that their ship was going to America. They were terrified that they would perish to death from the cold. The rebellious sailors were thrown in prison. Great Britain 1948: An Anglo-American pact signed in London would allow certain gifts to the British from the U.S. to be mailed without customs or freight charges. Charitable organizations sending relief packages to groups or individuals in Britain were exempt from tariffs. Korea 1950: U.N. soldiers

fighting communists in a very cold Korea celebrated Christmas with 42 Catholic priests and double that amount of Protestant ministers. One soldier commented, “This is the loneliest day of the year.” However, the biggest headline is that Jesus was born in Bethlehem to save us from hell and from ruin. Matthew 1:21 affirms, “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

60)

DEMONS AND EVIL

Deuteronomy 18:10 “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,” Our society is promoting wizards, witches, and many forms of evil. An article on the biblestudents.com website says: "The Scriptures expressly show that the fallen spirits would be held under restraint for a long time, and that those restraints would gradually be relaxed in the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4.) Thus, it is not surprising to watchers to note that the chains are being gradually loosened, and that these ’wicked spirits’ have greater liberties than ever before. ’BE NOT HIGH-MINDED, BUT FEAR.’ There is still danger to those who ’don’t believe in spirits,’ and who regard as superstitious the Bible narratives of how our Lord and the Apostle cast out demons, and how all wizards, witches, mediums and others who proposed to hold communication with the dead were strictly prohibited in Israel. There is more danger to the self-confident, who ’dare investigate anything,’ and who boast ’a mind of their own,’ than of the humbler ones who say ’let us fear to tamper with what God has forbidden.’ The beginning of the trap is a bait to curiosity -- a visit to a ’medium, ’a séance’ with friends, at a neighbour’s home." After the Holy Spirit left Saul, he was found enquiring information from a medium. Samuel 28:7 says “Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. (All references from http://www.biblestudents.com/Angels_Demons.cfm) “To Endor, Saul resorted to consult one reputed to be a witch on the eve of his last engagement with the Philistines 1Sa 28:7. It is identified with the modern village of Endur, "a dirty hamlet of some twenty houses, or rather huts, most of them falling to ruin," on the northern slope of Little Hermon, about 7 miles from Jezreel.” (Easton’s Revised Bible Dictionary.) 1 Samuel 28:3 -13 says, “Now Samuel was dead, and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, even in his own city. And Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land. And the Philistines gathered themselves together, and came and pitched in Shunem: and Saul gathered all Israel together, and they pitched in Gilboa. And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart greatly trembled. And when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee. And the woman said unto him, Behold, thou

knowest what Saul hath done, how he hath cut off those that have familiar spirits, and the wizards, out of the land: wherefore then layest thou a snare for my life, to cause me to die? And Saul sware to her by the LORD, saying, As the LORD liveth, there shall no punishment happen to thee for this thing. And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul. And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.” Later in Samuel 31:2 the Bible says, “ And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul‘s sons. 1 Samuel 31:3 “And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.” Saul’s life ended in suicide which was probably a punishment for his dabbling in the occult.

61)

DETERMINING WANTS AND NEEDS

Ecclesiastes 10:19 “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: But money answereth all things.” People who live beyond their means will always be in the hole financially, and a lot of us do not distinguish between what is essential and what is frivolous. Clever advertisers create artificial needs in us, claiming their products are essential to our well being, when in fact they are not. The following article written by Jeffrey Strain, in “Frugal Living” discusses the difference between wants and needs. “So you want to become wealthy? While there is no single road to getting there, it's a sure bet that one principle is in place for those who keep their wealth over a lifetime. Live beneath your means. Spend less than you make. Don't spend more than you can afford. It doesn't come any simpler than this. If you want to create wealth, you have to learn to do this. It doesn't matter if you make $10,000 a year or $1 million, if you don't learn how to master the step of spending less than you earn, you'll never create lasting wealth. While the concept is simple, chances are you are not following it. In all likelihood, you are living paycheck to paycheck, treading water. No matter how hard you try, you never seem to get ahead. Even when the raises come, the money still disappears just as fast. If this sounds like your situation, you probably have not mastered the difference between needs and wants. First, it's important to realize that wants and needs are not the same. When you read that sentence, you probably said to yourself, "Of course, everyone knows that." Again, while everyone may know this intellectually, it is a good bet that you aren't completely honest with yourself when it comes to the things you purchase. How many times have you heard (or for that matter said yourself) "I absolutely need (fill in the blank)" when in reality the meaning was "I really want (fill in the blank)?" I can't live without those shoes...I will die if I can't have that ring...I simply have to have that car...the list can go on and on. Please don't get me wrong. These are phrases that we all use. That is why it is important to step back and remember that wants and needs are not the same. It's important at this point to make clear that taking the time to critically look at your current lifestyle

and what are the true needs versus those things that are convenient wants will go a long way in saving you money and enabling you to spend less than you make…. Here is a list. Take a few moments to jot down what is a need and what is a want. 1. shoes; 2. designer suit; 3. water; 4. large apartment ; 5. bed ; 6. ice-cream ; 7. lottery tickets; 8. car ; 9. entertainment center ; 10. club membership; 11. lunch; 12. concert tickets; 13. trip to Hawaii;14. medicine; 15. necklace ; 16. computer ; 17. daily espresso; 18. cellular phone; 19. golf clubs; 20. furnishings. Unfortunately, the answers to these questions are not completely black and white. What may be a want for one person may be a necessity for another person. For example, let's take a look at a computer. If you make your livelihood on the computer, then a computer is a necessity for you. If you only use a computer to play the latest online games, then it isn't. Knowing this, we can still make some pretty good guesses as to what are wants and what are needs from the above list for most people. Shoes (and clothing in general), water, bed, car, lunch, medicine and furnishings are good bets to be needs. Now that doesn't mean that the latest model, 4 wheel drive sport utility vehicle with all the extras counts as a need for most people, but basic transportation to make a living does. A large apartment, computer and cellular phone may or may not qualify as a need depending on your particular circumstances while a designer suit, ice-cream, lottery tickets, entertainment center, club membership, concert tickets, trip to Hawaii, necklace, daily espresso and golf clubs all probably fall into the want section. If you can take the time to start being honest with yourself, you will find that a lot of the things which you assumed were an absolute necessity until now are in reality nothing more than wants. Once you distinguish between the two and look at these issues objectively, you have placed yourself in the position to live within your means by simply asking yourself whether or not an item or service you are about to purchase is a need or merely a want. http://www.stresslesscountry.com/wantsneeds/index.html Material goods don’t last that long. They get broken, or moldy, or obsolete. The best thing one can possess is eternal life. God says in Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Are you living beyond your means to impress others or to indulge yourself? Go to Jesus to get your deepest needs met.

62)

DEVIL’S HANDMAIDEN OR DEVOTED WIFE?

Job 2:7-10 “ So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes. Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse God, and die. But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.” Everybody tends to vilify Job’s wife as the one who is trying to lead her husband astray spiritually. She is portrayed as a defeatist, while Job is exonerated as a patient saint. However, Job wasn’t really patient and the motives behind his wife’s command to “curse God and die” are unclear. On the website, “Job’s Wife, Angry, Bitter, and

Wrong” the patriarch’s wife is discussed: “Job's wife (Job 2:9; 19:17; 31:10) has been called everything from the "adjutant of the devil" to the "faithful attendant upon her husband's misery". She is introduced after Job, one of the richest and greatest men of his time, has lost all of his cattle, flocks, camels, and all his children. Moreover, he is suffering from a loathsome disease, probably leprosy. As he sat outside the city walls, Job still did not blame God. His wife, probably not so faithful and certainly not so patient, cried out, "Dost thou still retain thine integrity! Curse God, and die" (Job 2:9). No doubt Job's wife regarded a quick death as better than long-drawnout suffering. In those days sudden death was supposed to result from cursing God. In this statement we see Job's wife as an ordinary, normal woman. Though a dutiful wife, she probably failed to suffer with her husband in his hour of agony and by doing so she failed to share with him the marvellous VICTORY of trusting God in spite of not understanding Him. There is another side, however, to Job's wife. She had endured her husband's affliction, even the loss of all their children and all their material possessions, and had survived these trials. Like her husband, she was bewildered amid so much calamity. Such a piece of advice as she gave him in his affliction could have been inspired by sympathy and love. Probably she would rather have seen him die than endure such great suffering. In the next scene where she is depicted, we find her turning from her husband (Job 19:17), because his breath is so offensive on account of the disease from which he suffered. Though Job's wife is not mentioned in the closing chapters, we learn in 42:14 that three daughters, Jemima, Kezia, and Keren-happuch, as well as sons, were later born to him. Probably Job's wife arose to new joy, just as he did, and regretted her own lack of faith when she had advised him to "curse God, and die." In Job 42:15-17 the Bible talks about Job’s new family and his restoration, “And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations. So Job died, being old and full of days.” We can only assume that Job’s wife shared in his prosperity after the severe calamities. Whether she was a the devil’s handmaiden or a devoted wife we are not told. Do you accept only good from God and not evil? Will your faith survive a series of catastrophes? In the end, Job got a Hollywood ending to his life. (All references from http://www.momof9splace.com/jobswife.html) Job 42:10-17 reports,“ And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.”

63)

DEWY THE CAT’S ADOPTION

Philippians 1:5 “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”

Dewy the cat was a pathetic, half frozen kitten, but he was adopted by a library and given a good home. We have been adopted by God and can look forward to a glorious future in heaven. “SPENCER, Iowa -- One of the world's most famous felines, Dewey Readmore Books, died Wednesday in the arms of librarian Vicki Myron who had acted as his "mother" for most of the last 19 years. Dewey was adopted as the library cat at the Spencer Public Library in January 1988 when he was found in the book drop on a cold Monday morning. Myron said the thermometer read minus 10 degrees when she reported to work that day. Once in the building, she heard a muffled whimpering sound and she and another librarian soon uncovered one very small, very chilly yellow kitten under a pile of books. "We didn't know if someone abandoned him or if a Good Samaritan found him on the street and shoved him in the book drop to get him out of the cold," she explained. "His paws were frozen. We warmed him up and fed him and he just purred and cuddled. From day one, we felt he'd be the right personality for the public. He's always loved people and meetings." Dewey attained instant fame. News and television crews came from as far away as Japan to do stories about him. At last check, Myron said she found 222 "hits" for Dewey's name at the Internet site "Google." Myron said she knew she had a celebrity on her hands when she conducted the contest to name the library's kitten shortly after he was found. While previous library contests had attracted only a dozen or so entries, a total of 387 names were submitted. Dewey Readmore Books was named after the Dewey Decimal System that is the cataloging system used in many libraries. The cat's celebrity (status) brought him pen pals in England, Canada, South Africa, Belgium and France, in addition to adding to the approximately 100,000 visitors the library sees each year. The TV staff from Tokyo didn't believe me when I told them people their vacations just so they could stop here to meet him," Myron explained last year. "But then a family from Rhode Island came in just to have their picture taken with him. They were on vacation and rented a car in Minneapolis just so they could drive down here and see Dewey. Dewey's fame also helped raise thousands of dollars for the library.” Although Dewy the cat got a tumour and died, we are adopted by God and even allowed to call Him “Daddy”. Romans 8:15 Says “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” What does being adopted by God mean to you? Look up Romans 8:23. We are not cosmic orphans, we are adopted into God’s family. Dewy’s full story can be found at: http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2006/12/01/news/top/12e475adbdb7159286257 2370014ef50.txt

64)

DINASOURS AND THE BIBLE

Job 40:15 “Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.” According to evolutionists dinosaurs lived millions of years ago and the reason that they disappeared is a mystery. Did humans and dinosaurs live side by side or did they live at separate times in history? The website answersingenesis.org says, “In the Bible, in Job 40:15-24, God describes to Job (who lived after the Flood) a great beast with which Job was familiar. This great animal, called ‘behemoth,’ is described as ‘the chief of the ways of God,’ perhaps the biggest land animal God had created. Impressively, he moved his tail like a cedar tree! Although some

Bible commentaries say this may have been an elephant or hippopotamus, the description actually fits that of a dinosaur like Brachiosaurus. Elephants and hippos certainly do not have tails like cedar trees! Actually, very few animals are singled out in the Bible for such a detailed description. Contrary to what many may think, what we know now as dinosaurs get more mention in the Scriptures than most animals! So dinosaurs—all the different kinds—must have lived alongside of people after the Flood… . Interestingly, the word ‘dragon’ is used a number of times in the Old Testament. In most instances, the word dinosaur could substitute for dragon and it would fit very nicely. Creation scientists believe that dinosaurs were called dragons before the word dinosaur was invented in the 1800s. We would not expect to find the word dinosaur in Bibles like the Authorized Version (1611), as it was translated well before the word dinosaur was ever used. Also, there are many very old history books in various libraries around the world that have detailed records of dragons and their encounters with people. Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly for creationists), many of these descriptions of dragons fit with how modern scientists would describe dinosaurs, even Tyrannosaurus. Unfortunately, this evidence is not considered valid by evolutionists. Why? Only because their belief is that man and dinosaurs did not live at the same time! However, the more we research the historical literature, the more we realize there is overwhelming evidence that dragons were real beasts, much like our modern reconstructions of dinosaurs, and that their existence has been recorded by many different people, even just hundreds of years ago. What Happened to Dinosaurs? Evolutionists use their imagination in a big way in answering this question. Because of their belief that dinosaurs ‘ruled’ the world for millions of years, and then disappeared millions of years before man allegedly evolved, they have had to come up with all sorts of guesses to explain this ‘mysterious’ disappearance… . In a recent evolutionary book on dinosaurs, ‘A New Look At the Dinosaurs,’ the author made the statement: ‘Now comes the important question. What caused all these extinctions at one particular point in time, approximately 65 million years ago? Dozens of reasons have been suggested, some serious and sensible, others quite crazy, and yet others merely as a joke. Every year people come up with new theories on this thorny problem. The trouble is that if we are to find just one reason to account for them all, it would have to explain the death, all at the same time, of animals living on land and of animals living in the sea; but, in both cases, of only some of those animals, for many of the land dwellers and many of the seadwellers went on living quite happily into the following period. Alas, no such one explanation exists’ (Alan Charig, p. 150). But, one such explanation does exist. If you remove the evolutionary framework, get rid of the millions of years, and then take the Bible seriously, you will find an explanation that fits the facts and makes perfect sense: At the time of the Flood, many of the sea creatures died, but some survived. In addition, all of the land creatures outside the Ark died, but the representatives of all the kinds that survived on the Ark lived in the new world after the Flood. http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/2.asp Job 40: 16-24 says about dinosaurs, “Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares. Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?” Some

dinosaurs may still exist in jungles or locks. Read Job 40-41 to get a detailed description of Leviathan which was a dinosaur.

65)

DISASTER OR DELIVERANCE?

John 14:1-3 “ Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Today even secular authorities are realizing that our planet earth cannot keep going on as it is. With global warming and a looming oil crisis everyone is worried about the future. The heavenshope.com website comments on our looming global crisis: “According to scientists, the biggest problem facing civilization right now is not terrorism or AIDS. It might surprise you that it is over-population, survival in the face of dwindling resources. Respected French scientist and oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997), who was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1985, said "Our survival is no more than a question of 25, 50 or perhaps 100 years."As far back as 1789, Thomas Malthus studied population growth in Europe and stated that "population was increasing faster than food production, and he feared eventual global starvation." - "World population grew at an unprecedented rate after 1945... Massive population growth resulted from improved public health measures and successful attacks on many traditional diseases." - The encyclopaedia of World History, 2001. It is obvious that technology-driven advances have created increased mortality - people live longer. But that's not the only factor influencing the normal rate of population growth. Whatever the factors are, the world is concerned right now about overpopulation. We are running out of space to hold people on this earth. The resources - food, shelter, medicine, energy, etc - are just not enough. Where are these global problems leading? Where is the solution to earth's problems? Is God listening to us?” Matthew 24:27 declares that Christ will come again. It says: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” If you believe in Jesus you can look forward to a new heaven and a new earth with everlasting Paradise. Although we need to be good stewards of earth’s resources, we need not worry about the coming calamities on planet earth.(All references at http://www.heavenshope.com/solution.htm and www.prb.org)

66)

DOGS IN THE BIBLE

Kings 9:36 “Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel

shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:” In the Bible dogs were not the cute cuddly pets that we see them as today. The term “dog” in the Scriptures was used by Jews to refer to Gentiles, and the apostle Paul used the term “dogs” to refer to those who had heretical doctrines. Dogs were also unclean animals to the Jews just like pigs were. “Dog (was) an animal frequently mentioned in Scripture. It was used by the Hebrews as a watch for their houses, Isa 56:10 and for guarding their flocks. Job 30:1 Then also, as now troops of hungry and semi-wild dogs used to wander about the fields and the streets of the cities, devouring dead bodies and other offal, 1Ki 14:11; 21:19,23; 22:38; Ps 59:6 and thus became so savage and fierce and such objects of dislike that fierce and cruel enemies are poetically styled dogs in Ps 22:16,20 moreover the dog being an unclean animal, Isaiah 66:3 the epithets dog, dead dog, dog's head, were used as terms of reproach or of humility in speaking of one's self. 1Sa 24:14; 2Sa 3:8; 9:8; 16:9; 2Ki 8:13” http://www.bible-history.com/smiths/D/Dog/ “There are many dogs in the countries where the Bible was written, but the people do not like them as well as we do, and do not let them live about their yards and houses. So the dogs go wandering about without any master, and live on whatever they can find in the streets or around the markets. In the fifty-ninth Psalm you will find the verse: "They return at evening; they make a noise like a dog, and go round about the city,"and a little farther on you will see, "Let them wander up and down for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied." These verses show that the dogs wandered about in those days just as they do now. Sometimes when they do not find enough to eat, they become very fierce and cruel, so that you would be afraid to meet one of them. There is a sad story in some of the chapters of the two books of Kings, in which you will find these dogs mentioned. There was a very proud and wicked queen, named Jezebel, and she tried to make her husband, king Ahab, do all the evil she could. Once Ahab wanted a piece of ground that was near his palace, so that he might have it made into a garden, and he asked the owner of it, whose name was Naboth, to sell it to him. But Naboth was not willing, because he used it for his vineyard, and because his father had given it to him before he died. Then Ahab was very angry about it, and acted just as I have seen some foolish children do when they were not pleased. He went into his great splendid house, and laid himself down on the bed; then he turned his face towards the wall, and when it was dinner time he would not get up or eat any thing. So his wife Jezebel asked him what was the matter; and when she found out, she told him that he need not be troubled, for she could get that vineyard for him. Then she contrived to have Naboth killed by stoning, and when he was dead king Ahab took the vineyard. Now you may be sure God was displeased with such wickedness as this, and you will think it was very right that he should punish the cruel Jezebel. Do you think her husband Ahab ought to be punished too? I do; because he knew that his wife was going to kill Naboth, and yet he did not try to keep her from doing it. I think he was as wicked as she. After Ahab had taken the vineyard, God sent to him the prophet Elijah to say to him these words, "Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine." And of Jezebel he said, "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel." Now see how the word of God was fulfilled, just as he had said.” http://kids.christiansunite.com/Animals_Dog.shtml What other passages can you find about dogs in the Bible? Look in a Bible commentary to see all the meanings of “dog” in the Bible. Some Scripture verses mentioning dogs are: Psalms 22:16 “For dogs have compassed me: the

assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.” Matthew 7:6 “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

67)

WHEN DONKEYS SPEAK

Some may think it incredible that a donkey would speak, however Numbers 22:28 reports “And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” Baalam was a man who got messages from God, however he had a head knowledge rather than a heart knowledge of God.. Balak, king of the Moabites sent high placed messengers asking if Baalam would curse the Jews. Baalam was very interested in getting the large sum of money for this curse and planned to do it. However, his donkey was misbehaving. It veered off of the path and refused to budge three times, embarrassing Baalam in front of the princes. The donkey could see a sword blocking the path and Baalam could not. Three times Baalam beat the donkey severely and suddenly the Lord spoke through the donkey’s mouth. Numbers 22:30-31 states: “And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. Numbers 22:37 -23:5 “And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour? And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak. And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjathhuzoth. And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people. And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven rams. And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram. And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and I will go: peradventure the LORD will come to meet me: and whatsoever he sheweth me I will tell thee. And he went to an high place. And God met Balaam: and he said unto him, I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram. And the LORD put a word in Balaam‘s mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak. And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether. And the LORD met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus. And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.” Baalam begged God for forgiveness and in the end did not curse the people of Israel. In fact, Baalam’s message from God to the king of Moab was that that the people of Israel would prosper and be blessed. In the end Baalam got a heart knowledge of God through an amusing and shocking incident when his donkey spoke. This goes to show that God sometimes uses humour to get his point across, when we won’t listen to anything else.

68)

DON’T GO PUTTING OUT FLEECES

Judges 6:39 “And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew.” Many people struggle to find God’s will for their lives, but making sagacious decisions based on God’s moral will and within the freedom of grace is really what God wants. God’s will is not going to fall out of the sky in neat little packages. Most of God’s will is found in Scripture and rational decisions. The disciples said, “We thought best.” (Thesolonians 3:1,2). Gideon and his fleece are often mentioned as standards for finding God’s will, however, Gideon was already told what God wanted him to do. In Judges 7:13-15 the Bible says: “And when Gideon was come, behold, there was a man that told a dream unto his fellow, and said, Behold, I dreamed a dream, and, lo, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the host of Midian, and came unto a tent, and smote it that it fell, and overturned it, that the tent lay along. 14 And his fellow answered and said, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: for into his hand hath God delivered Midian, and all the host. And it was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and the interpretation thereof, that he worshipped, and returned into the host of Israel, and said, Arise; for the LORD hath delivered into your hand the host of Midian.” Putting out a fleece on the threshing floor was Gideon’s way of strengthening his faith by asking God to perform miracles. However, the quest for wisdom in decision making comes progressively over time with much Bible study. The next time you have an important decision to make don’t put out fleeces. Study Scripture, talk to godly people, and pray. Dan Lu Vander Ludgt has the following advice on putting out fleeces: “Gideon is listed as one of the heroes of the faith ( Hebrews 11:32 ), and he "put out the fleece," not only once, but twice! However, before we follow Gideon's example, we should take a closer look at some of the specific circumstances in his case, and then consider what other Scripture passages say about looking for a sign from the Lord. Considering the dangerous and frightening nature of the angel's instructions, it is easy to understand Gideon's weakness of faith and his desire for further confirmation. But, even though we can sympathize with his fears, Gideon himself realized that he was risking God's anger when he asked for further signs ( Judges 6:39 ). In light of Gideon's trepidation in the face of such a seemingly impossible task, God graciously granted him the further signs he requested. However, this shouldn't be taken as an indication that God normally approves of such a method for confirming His will ( James 1:5-8 ). Scripture elsewhere clearly warns against asking for such signs. The Old Testament law itself prohibited putting God to the test ( Deuteronomy 6:16 ), and this specific principle was confirmed by Jesus when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness ( Luke 4:12 ). In 1 Corinthians 10:9, the apostle Paul pointed to severe consequences that resulted from such doubt ( Numbers 21:6 ), and Luke describes how the father of John the Baptist was struck mute ( Luke 1:18-20 ) for doubting the message of an angel. Of course, it is important to define what a person means when they say that they are "putting out the fleece." If they mean that they are carefully studying their situation for general

indications of God's leading, they are doing what they should. But if they are demanding, like Gideon, that God give them immediate guidance by fulfilling a specific "sign" that they impose on Him, they are putting God to the test in a way that is forbidden. Like sorcerers and occultists who try to control supernatural forces through spells and incantations, we may think we can control God with such demands. But our heavenly Father has no interest in making His supernatural power accessible to our whims. His goal is for us to know Him personally, in a relationship founded and dependent upon faith. Proverbs 3:5-8 ). http://www.rbc.org/questionsDetail.aspx?id=46064

69)

DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES

Genesis 37:19-20 “ And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Joseph incurred the hatred and jealousy of his brothers to the point that some of them wanted to kill him. His dream from God was rapidly turning into a nightmare and he was sold into slavery. At the bible-sermons.org.uk website the following explanation is given for the animosity towards Joseph: `The reason for the accusation is spoken by Moses in verse 3 of Genesis 37. We are told that "Israel loved Joseph more than all his children." (Genesis 37:3) Because of this, some have accused Israel of favouritism. Others have condemned him and said he was over-indulgent. Many speak of his excessive love for one at the expense of the other and thereby making Joseph his pet. There are a number who say we can understand why the jealousy and hatred of Joseph's brothers was such because Israel fomented it. Joseph himself has been censured for his dreams and for telling them as if he himself invented his dreams or was in control of his dreams or he was the source, the genesis, the author of his dreams. We have no evidence to show that Joseph was either cocky, `proud or too sure of himself. He was mature we can say at age seventeen according to Genesis 37. And although in his dreams Joseph's father rebuked him and yet at the same time Jacob had the insight and foresight to sense that his rebuke must be measured because it may be God has purpose for the lad that he himself does not understand. After Joseph had suffered slavery and prison`, his own personal nightmare he rises to the highest in post in the land. Genesis41:41-42 says, And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph‘s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;” In the end Joseph’s dreams were realized from a life of nightmares. (All references at http://www.bible-sermons.org.uk/text-sermon/906-jacobs-lovefor-joseph)

70)

EARLY CHRISTIANS WERE PACIFISTS

Isaiah 2:4 “And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” The Roman Empire demanded military conscription from the ages of seventeen to sixty, with the older men being forced to serve in the garrison. BibleStudents.com explains: “The rise of Christianity led to a rapid growth of conscientious objection. According to A. Harnack, C.J. Cadoux, and G.J. Herring, the most eminent students of the problem, few if any Christians served in the Roman Army during the first century and a half A.D.; and even in the third century there were Christian conscientious objectors.” “That many early Christians accepted the injunctions of the Sermon on the Mount quite literally is certain and their attitude brought them into much the same kind of conflict with the Roman authorities which conscientious objectors of our own time face in dealing with the military authority. G.C. Macgregor (The New Testament Basis of Pacifism) points out that ‘until about the close of the third quarter of the second century the attitude of the church was quite consistently pacifist.’ Harnack’s conclusion is that no Christian would become a soldier after baptism at least up to the time of Marcus Aurelius, say about A.D. 170 (Militia Christi, p. 4). After that time, signs of compromise became increasingly evident, but the pacifist trend continues strong right up into the fourth century.” “During its first three centuries of existence, the Christian church was opposed to war and other forms of violence. Christian opposition to war early expanded into a denial of the rightness of all coercive action on the part of the civil power. Thus arose that form of conscientious objection which has been designated as political non-participation.” “For years many Christians regarded service in the army as inconsistent with their profession. Some held that for them all bloodshed, whether as soldiers or executioners, was unlawful.” “During a considerable period after the death of Christ, it is certain…that his followers believed He had forbidden war, and that, in consequence of this belief, many of them refused to engage in it, whatever were the consequences, whether reproach, or imprisonment, or death. These facts are indisputable: ‘It is as easy,’ says a learned writer of the 17th century, ‘to obscure the sun at midday, as to deny that the primitive Christians renounced all revenge and war.’ Of all the Christian writers of the second century, there is not one who notices the subject, who does not hold it to be unlawful for a Christian to bear arms.” http://www.biblestudents.com/Christian_View_of_War.cfm When Jesus Christ was born it says in Luke 1:79 that He was, “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” It is possible that some day there may be conscription in our country, what choice would you make? Would you fight or would you be a pacifist?

71) THE PASCHAL SERMON OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Luke 24:2-3 “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.” St. John Chrysostom was a fourth century preacher who preached a sermon that is still used in the Orthodox church the night before Easter Sunday. However, it certainly is a good message for Easter itself. The following is part of St. Chrysostom’s messge:

“No one need lament poverty, for the kingdom is seen as universal. No one need grieve over sins; forgiveness has dawned from the tomb. No one need fear death; the Savior's death has freed us from it. While its captive He stifled it. He despoiled Hades as He descended into it; it was angered when it tasted His flesh. Foreseeing this, Isaiah proclaimed: "Hades," he said, "was angered when he met You below." It was angered because it was abolished It was angered because it was mocked It was angered because it was slain. It was angered because it was shackled. It received a body and encountered God. It took earth and came face-to-face with heaven. It took what I saw and fell by what if could not see. Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are overthrown. Christ is risen and demons have fallen. Christ is risen and angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life rules. Christ is risen and not one dead remains in the tomb. For Christ, having risen from the dead, has become the firstfruits of those that slept. To Him be the glory and the dominion, forever.” Amen. A short biography of him is given at Wikipedia says that: “John was born in Antioch in 349.[6] Different scholars describe his mother Anthusa as a pagan[7] or as a Christian, and his father was a high ranking military officer.[8] John's father died soon after his birth and he was raised by his mother. He was baptised in 368 or 373 and tonsured as a reader (one of the minor orders of the Church).[9] As a result of his mother's influential connections in the city, John began his education under the pagan teacher Libanius. From Libanius John acquired the skills for a career in rhetoric, as well as a love of the Greek language and literature.[10] As he grew older, however, he became more deeply committed to Christianity and went on to study theology under Diodore of Tarsus (founder of the re-constituted School of Antioch). According to the Christian historian Sozomen, Libanius was supposed to have said on his deathbed that John would have been his successor "if the Christians had not taken him from us".[11] He lived with extreme asceticism and became a hermit circa 375; he spent the next two years continually standing, scarcely sleeping, and committing the Bible to memory. As a consequence of these practices, his stomach and kidneys were permanently damaged and poor health forced him to return to Antioch.[12] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom

72)

EMPATHY TAUGHT BY A CAT

Romans 12:10, 15 “Be kindly affectioned to one another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; … Rejoice with them that do rejoice and weep with them that weep…”. (KJV) I suffer from severe, clinical depression and many people don’t understand my emotional pain. However, I have an orange tabby cat named, “Sir Lancelot” who really knows the principle of empathy. When I am crying he licks the tears off of my cheek. He also goes around the house meowing very plaintively, warning my husband that I am feeling down. Instinctively, he knows just what to do to lend comfort. He extends his paw and lies on the bed beside me. My pain becomes his pain. Many Christians could take a lesson from Sir Lancelot’s example. The Bible says “to weep with them that weep” – in other words show empathy. However, a lot of Christians try to jolly up a depressed person or make them feel ashamed of their mood disorder. Instead of getting preachy and judging a depressed person, those who are Christians should show compassion and lend support. Depression is a serious illness that can end in death.

73)

AN ESSAY ON MAN

Hebrews 2:7 “Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:” Alexander Pope wrote this poem in 1734 as an attempt to explain God’s ways to man. Wikipedia comments that, It is concerned with the part evil plays in the world and with the social order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God’s purposes, he cannot complain about the existence of evil and must accept that Whatever is, is right. More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe. The essay, written in heroic couplets, comprises four epistles. Pope began work on it in 1729, and had finished the first three by 1731. However, they did not appear until early 1733, with the fourth epistle published the following year. The poem was originally published anonymously. Pope did not admit to its authorship until 1735.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Essay_on_Man An Essay on Man “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan The proper study of Mankind is Man. Placed on this isthmus of a middle state, A Being darkly wise, and rudely great: With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side, With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride, He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest; In doubt to deem himself a God, or Beast; In doubt his mind and body to prefer; Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err; Alike in ignorance, his reason such, Whether he thinks to little, or too much; Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd; Still by himself, abus'd or disabus'd;

Created half to rise and half to fall; Great Lord of all things, yet a prey to all, Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd; The glory, jest and riddle of the world.” Epistle 2, 1 Although mankind has a fallen nature in Hebrews 2:9 the Scripture says, “ But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Jesus put aside His privileges as God and became a mortal so that He could save us. Alexander Pope warns us “presume not God to scan”. In other words we are not to question God’s purposes. Are you questioning God? You will only find peace in submission to Him.

74)

EVEN ATHIESTS HAVE FAITH

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” No matter where you go in the world, every culture worships something. Man is born to belief and certainty about something. Even atheists have assumptions that they operate on. Theologians call it a “god-shaped hole” which resides is each soul. On the website: http://revisedfaith.wordpress.com/2007/09/29/what-is-faith/ there is a discussion about faith, reason, and atheism. Faith is being certain of what we do not see. How can you be certain? There’s many ways. God lives in my life. I see it in many things that a know wouldn’t happen if He wasn’t there. I talk to him everyday. Many times I can feel him in me (though I must be sincere and that is not always, but yet it is many times, or at least some times). A famous writer once said: “Who has seen the wind? Neither I nor you; but when the leaves hang trembling, the wind is passing thro”. Christina Rossetti. God is like the wind, but only in the sense that I cannot actually see him, but I can rather feel him. The bad part: you will most probably start to feel him in you, only after you believe and He comes to live in you. If everybody could feel God, then there would not be any atheists! Every sane person would believe He exists, the same way every sane person knows the wind. Faith is being sure of what we hope for. My hope is put in God, that He rescued me from the natural consequences of my own faults (as said in John 3:16, the Bible), and that I will be in His very presence after I die. If I am certain that He exists, then I can also be sure that I’ll be with Him in heaven, as He promised me. But I have found also that this definition is quite global. It applies to every-day life and also to people that don’t believe in God. Everybody is sure of something he just “hopes” for. How can this be? Imagine I asked many people when did the universe come to existence. I would get all kind of answers. But what if the universe, regardless of any answer, came to exist just 5 minutes ago? What if it just popped out into existence with everything that is in it, including the evidence of millions of years of fossils, including the Bible, including our memory, our beliefs, this blog, my alarm clock already set at a certain hour? What if everything just started to exist 5 minutes ago, with the evidence an even memories from our past being false? Extremely few people would believe that. Why? Because it couldn’t happen? No. Rather, because it’s not practical to think like that. People just have “faith”

that the universe didn’t pop into existence 5 minutes ago. When you say goodbye to someone, you say “Bye! See you tomorrow”. Then you implicitly show “faith” in that a tomorrow will exist. How can you say the sun will even come up tomorrow?? “Because it has always has come up” is not an excuse. Maybe tomorrow it just doesn’t (in any case, the sun doesn’t actually “come up” anyways). So everyday people show faith in something. They hope there will be a tomorrow, they hope their memories about their loved ones are true, they hope the universe existed at least more that 5 minutes, they hope they are alive, but all these they do naturally and they usually don’t stop to think about it. That is because they have “faith”. They are sure the sun will come out tomorrow, so they don’t even worry about spending time on nonsense. Atheists, and I mean those that say “There is no god”, have a lot of faith. By asserting that, they are proposing an active statement of faith, surprisingly similar to “There is a god”. And I would say they have more faith that theists, because they cannot possible sure that there is no god, unless they are a god themselves or have somehow searched through every corner of the universe. Atheists that say “I don’t believe on this or that god”, or that say “I just don’t think about God”, or say “I don’t have a religion” also have faith. They have faith in the sense that they hope their position is the better (and they are really sure about that!), because if it is not, and there is a god, then they have everything to lose (their eternity). While the theist needs less faith in his position, because if he is wrong and there actually is no god, then he has nothing to lose.” When the diciples were out in a storm Luke 8:25 reported, “And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him?” How is you faith? Will it withstand the storm of adverse circumstances or criticism from unbelievers? What could you do to strengthen your faith?

75)

EVOLUTION OR DEVOLUTION?

Genesis 2: 7 “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Some Christians say that the theory of evolution is the greatest hoax of the 21st century. If we are just higher primates, then we don’t have to answer to God or behave in a moral manner. The Bible makes it clear that Adam and Eve were specially created and that the human race did not begin when two amoebas got together and produced life. Genesis mentions that fish, birds, and animals were separately created by God. Fish did not become birds, and birds did not turn into animals. Genesis 1:22-26 “And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle,” The Lucid Café at http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96feb/darwin.html gives a brief history of

evolutionary theory and Darwin. Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. He was the fifth child and second son of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgwood. Darwin was the British naturalist who became famous for his theories of evolution and natural selection. Like several scientists before him, Darwin believed all the life on earth evolved (developed gradually) over millions of years from a few common ancestors. From 1831 to 1836 Darwin served as naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle on a British science expedition around the world. In South America Darwin found fossils of extinct animals that were similar to modern species. On the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean he noticed many variations among plants and animals of the same general type as those in South America. The expedition visited places around the world, and Darwin studied plants and animals everywhere he went, collecting specimens for further study. Upon his return to London Darwin conducted thorough research of his notes and specimens…. Darwins theory of evolutionary selection holds that variation within species occurs randomly and that the survival or extinction of each organism is determined by that organism's ability to adapt to its environment. He set these theories forth in his book called, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) or “The Origin of Species” for short. After publication of Origin of Species, Darwin continued to write on botany, geology, and zoology until his death in 1882. He is buried in Westminster Abbey. Darwin's work had a tremendous impact on religious thought. Many people strongly opposed the idea of evolution because it conflicted with their religious convictions. Darwin avoided talking about the theological and sociological aspects of his work, but other writers used his theories to support their own theories about society. Darwin was a reserved, thorough, hard working scholar who concerned himself with the feelings and emotions not only of his family, but friends and peers as well.” There is some evidence that Darwin repented and renounced his evolutionary theory on his deathbed, but his family denied it. http://whazgood.com/wordpress/archives/7 In Genesis 6:5-6 it says “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. ” The human race could have ended there, but God saved man through Jesus. Man was devolving until Christ gave us a new nature through salvation. Now we are evolving. In 2 Corinthians 3:18 Paul declares, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Are you evolving or devolving?

76)

EXERCISING THE BODY AND THE CONSCIENCE

1 Timothy 4:8 “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” No matter what your age or shape, you should exercise daily. Not only does exercise tone your body so you can wear your favorite jeans, it strengthens your muscles, keeps your bones strong, and improves your skin. And there are more benefits of exercise -- increased relaxation,

better sleep and mood, strong immune function, and more. Let’s look at some of the incredible benefits of exercise, then talk about how you can get started. An article by WebMD extols the virtues of daily physical activity: “Benefits of Regular Exercise: Weight ControlBecause exercise helps use up oxygen, it causes your body to burn stored fat and helps you maintain a normal weight. For instance, if you walk 4 miles a day, four times a week, you can burn about 1,600 calories, or nearly half a pound a week. If you don’t change your diet at all and keep walking the same distance over six months, you'll lose 12 pounds. Walk the same distance for a year and you’ll drop 24 pounds! The neat thing about exercise is you don’t have to do it all at one time. After all, not many teens have time to walk 4 miles after school! But you can do 4 miles in short bursts throughout your day. Here’s an idea of how to work that much exercise into your daily regimen: Take a 1-mile walk on a treadmill before school. Then, take a 1-mile walk around the track during school lunch period. Take a 1-mile walk after school with friends or the family dog. Take a 1-mile walk on the treadmill while watching your favorite show before dinner. If you stay with the walking program, you’ll see benefits with: Weight loss, Muscle strengthening and definition, Stronger bones, A lower heart rate, Better mood, An improved complexion. Most people know that exercise keeps muscles strong. But did you know that strong muscles burn more calories? Muscle mass is metabolically active tissue. In other words, the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn even when you’re not working out. Studies estimate that for each pound of muscle you add to your body, you will burn an additional 35-50 calories per day. So an extra 5 pounds of muscle will burn about 175-250 calories a day, or an extra pound of fat every 14-20 days. Because guys have more muscle mass, they burn calories faster and lose weight more easily than girls. So girls need to work out daily to stay strong and in shape. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/benefits-of-exercise The apostle Paul says in Acts 24:16 “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” Go ahead and exercise and keep the temple of the Holy Spirit in shape, however, put more effort into developing godliness.

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EXISTENTIAL NAUSEA

Eccelsiastes:2-7 “ Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” It seems that King Solomon has a sense of futility when he considers the human condition. He keeps saying that every pursuit in life is like chasing the wind. Jean Paul Sartre writes about the futility of life in his book, Nausea: “I live alone, entirely alone. I never speak to anyone, never; I receive nothing, I give nothing… When you live alone you no longer know what it is to

tell something: the plausible disappears at the same time as the fiends. You let events flow past; suddenly you see people pop up who speak and who go away, you plunge into stories without beginning or end: you make a terrible witness. But in compensation, one misses nothing, no improbability or, story too tall to be believed in cafes. [14-5] People who live in society have learned to see themselves in mirrors as they appear to their friends. Is that why my flesh is naked? You might say - yes you might say, nature without humanity… Things are bad! Things are very bad: I have it, the filth, the Nausea. [29] The Nausea is not inside me: I feel it out there in the wall, in the suspenders, everywhere around me. It makes itself one with the café, I am the one who is within it. [31] I grow warm, I begin to feel happy. There is nothing extraordinary in this, it is a small happiness of Nausea: it spreads at the bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of out time - the time of purple suspenders, and broken chair seats; it is made of white, soft instants, spreading at the edge, like an oil stain. No sooner than born, it is already old, it seems as though I have known it for twenty years. [33] I can't say I feel relieved or satisfied, just the opposite, I am crushed. Only my goal is reached: I know what I have to know; I have understood all that has happened to me since January. The Nausea has not left me and I don't believe it will leave me so soon; but I no longer have to bear it, it is no longer an illness or a passing fit: it is I”. [170] Jean-Paul Sartre. Nausea. Trans. Lloyd Alexander. New York: New Directions Publishing, 1964. However, unlike the “existential nausea” that Sartre is stuck with King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14 “ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Existentialism is atheistic , however, Christianity sees us as loved and watched by God. Do you feel a futility in your life? If so remember that in Hebrews 12:1 Paul encourages, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, an let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

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AARON THE BROTHER OF MOSES

Exodus 4:14-15 “ And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.” For the most part Aaron was a loyal spokesperson for Moses and performed priestly functions. However, when Moses was on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments., Aaron sinned and bowed to the Israelites wishes to make a golden calf to worship. He also sinned again when he protested Moses’ marriage to an Ethiopian woman. Wikipedia has the following to say about Moses’s right hand man: “Aaron (‫ ,)אהרן‬or Aaron the Levite flourished about 1200 BC ֲַֹ (traditionaly 1597 BC[1]) was, according to biblical accounts, one of two brothers who play a

unique part in the history of the Hebrew people. He was the elder son of Amram and Jochebed of the tribe of Levi. Moses, the other son, being three years younger… Exodus 7:7-16 says, “ And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river’s brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand. And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.”… Miriam was several years older than Moses and Aaron Exodus 2:4; Exodus 6:16 ; and Numbers 33:39. Aaron was the great-grandson of Levi Exodus 6:16-20 and represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High priest of the Hebrews. While Moses was receiving his education at the Egyptian royal court and during his exile among the Midianites, Aaron and his sister remained with their kinsmen in the eastern border-land of Egypt. Here he gained a name for eloquent and persuasive speech; so that when the time came for the demand upon the Pharaoh to release Israel from captivity, Aaron became his brother’s "nabi", or spokesman, to his own people Exodus 4:16 and, after their unwillingness to hear, to the Pharaoh himself Exodus 7:9 ( information taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aaron) Exodus 6:3 proclaims, “ And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, and gave them a charge unto the children of Israel, and unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.”

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FAITH IN SPITE OF BAD CIRCUMSTANCES

Habakkuk 17-18 “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the cattle stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” In the beginning of the short book of Habakkuk, the prophet asks the Lord “Why?” and “How Long?” He is told that the fierce, war-like Chaldeans or Babylonians are going to descend on Israel and Habakkuk is shocked and appalled that a less godly and cruel nation is going to be allowed to attack Judah. At first, Habakkuk really struggles with the injustice of it all and questions God. Hampton Keathley IV , Th.M. comments, “Have you ever finished watching the evening news with all the violence and injustice in the world and in frustration asked, Why isn’t God doing something? Why do the wicked and the dishonest people prosper. Why do they get elected to the White House? Well, that is not a new feeling. A prophet named Habakkuk felt that way around 620 B.C. and wrote a book about it. Habakkuk’s name means to “embrace” or “wrestle.” As is usually the case, his name has something to do with the message of the book. I

think it relates to the fact that he was wrestling with a difficult issue. If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there has to be evil, then why do the evil prosper? What is God doing in the world? We discussed a similar thought coming from the Israelites in Zephaniah 1:12. They said God did not do good or evil. They thought God was not involved and so continued in their sin. Habakkuk is one of the good guys. He fears God and does what is right, but it is getting him no where…. Habakkuk expresses the attitude that many righteous people have. He is outraged at the violence and injustice in his society. He lists six different problems. His list is repetitious, but it emphasizes just how bad things were. There was sin, wickedness, destruction and violence, no justice in the courts, and the wicked outnumbered the righteous. Does this sound like our society? This points us to another principle we can learn from Habakkuk. God doesn’t always give us the answers we want or expect. We usually have it in our mind how we want God to answer our prayers. When He does it differently, how do you respond?” http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=975 Habakkuk 3:2 responds, “ O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.”

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THE BLIND HYMN WRITER: FANNY CROSBY

Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” Being handicapped by blindness never stopped Fanny Crosby from being a prolific hymn writer. There are hundreds of her hymns that are still sung in churches today. On the “Faith Hall of Fame” website some of her background is given: “Frances Jane Crosby was born into a family of strong Puritan ancestry on March 24, 1820. As a baby, she had an eye infection which an incompetent doctor treated by placing hot poultices on her red and inflamed eyelids. The infection did clear up, but the result was that scars formed on the eyes, and the Fanny became blind for life. A few months later, Fanny's dad became ill and died. Mercy Crosby, widowed at 21, hired herself out as a maid while Grandmother Eunice Crosby took care of little Fanny. Fanny's grandmother took on the education herself and became the girl's eyes, vividly describing the physical world. Grandmother's careful teaching helped develop Fanny's descriptive abilities, she also nurtured Fanny's spirit. She read and carefully explained the Bible to her, and she always emphasized the importance of prayer. When Fanny became depressed because she couldn't learn as other children did, Grandmother taught her to pray to God for knowledge… . In her own day, the evangelistic team of Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey effectively brought Fanny Crosby's hymns to the masses. Today many of her hymns continue to draw souls to their Savior for both salvation and comfort: " Blessed Assurance," "All the Way My Savior Leads Me," "To God Be the Glory, " "Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior," " Safe in the Arms of Jesus," "Rescue the Perishing," "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross," "I Am Thine, O Lord," and many more. Though her hymn writing declined in later years, Fanny was active in speaking engagements and missionary work among America's urban poor almost until the day of her death in 1915. She sought to bring others to her Savior not only through her hymns but through her

personal life as well. What happened when Fanny died? Perhaps one of her later hymns tells it best: When my lifework is ended and I cross the swelling tide, When the bright and glorious morning I shall see, I shall know my Redeemer when I reach the other side, And His smile will be the first to welcome me. I shall know Him, I shall know Him, And redeemed by His side I shall stand! I shall know Him, I shall know Him By the print of the nails in His hand. Fanny Crosby was probably the most prolific hymnist in history, writing over 8,000 hymns. As many as 200 different pen names were given to her works by hymn book publishers so that the public wouldn't know she wrote so large a number of them. She produced as many as seven hymns/poems in one day. On several occasions, upon hearing an unfamiliar hymn sung, she would inquire about the author, and find it to be one of her own! About her blindness, Fanny said: "It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me." If I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind...for when I die, the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour." http://www.eaec.org/faithhallfame/fanny_crosby.htm In Colossians 3:16 Paul commands, “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Are you singing to the Lord.? Look in a hymn book and see how many of Fanny Crosby’s hymns you can find.

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FARTHER ALONG

1Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” The grand old hymn called, “Farther Along” was written by J. B. Stevens and J. R. Baxter. It was based on a nineteenth century hymn titled, “Farther Alone”. In 1938 it was recorded at Sun Records studios by the Howell Hillbillies and Elvis Presley. It has comforted many distressed souls ever since. The words ring out the expectation of complete understanding of life’s perplexities in Paradise. Farther Along Words: Traditional Tempted and tried will oft' me to wonder

Why it should be thus all the day long; While there are others living about us, Never molested, though in the wrong. Farther along we'll know more about it. Farther along we'll understand why; Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine We'll understand it all by and by. When death has come and taken our loved ones Leaving our homes so lonely and drear; Then do we wonder how others prosper Living so wicked year after year. Farther along we'll know more about it. Farther along we'll understand why; Cheer up my brother live in the sunshine We'll understand it all by and by. Often I wonder why I must journey Over a road so rugged and steep; While there are others living in comfort, While with the lost I labour and weep... The refrain “farther along” echoes Paul’s sentiment in Corinthians of dim understanding now, but complete understand in the future. Daniel 12:10 “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”

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FASTING

Luke 18:12 “ I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.” “ Fasting is a spiritual discipline that is not talked about a lot today. However, it can be an experience that brings one closer to God. Of course if a person has medical problems like diabetes it may not be possible to fast from food. However, a fast from television or some other comfort may do just as well as fasting from food. The following Bible study website comments, “Fasting has been practiced far a long time by man with some of its history traceable to certain heathen people, as well as there being a number of references to it in the Bible. The actual Hebrew word for fasting does not occur until after the time of Moses. The passages which you cite in your question use the expressions "afflict your souls" (KJV), "humble your souls" (NASV), "deny yourselves" (NIV). However, Isaiah 58:3 and Psalm 35:13, among other passages, help us to understand this as probably a reference to fasting. So, it is obvious that

fasting was something that was practiced by those under the old law. When one comes to the New Testament, again there are a number of references to fasting. Jesus fasted, Matthew 4:2. Zaccheus fasted, Luke 18:12. Cornelius fasted, Acts 10:30. There was fasting before Barnanbas and Saul were selected and sent out as missionaries from the church at Antioch, Acts 13:2. Jesus taught about fasting in Matthew 6:16-18; 9:14-15; Mark 2:19; Luke 18:12. However, it is not specifically commanded for Christians. In Matthew 6:16-18 Jesus taught how to give, how to pray, and how to fast, indicating that all three were important. It should be noted, though, that both praying and giving are public acts of worship, Acts 2:42 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, while fasting is never so designated. It would therefore fall into the area of being a part of one's private spiritual life. For how long and how often one should fast, each individual must determine.... Thus with fasting, there is no specific command, but each individual Christian must determine that matter. It certainly can be a source of great spiritual blessing and strength.” (http://www.studythebible.com/question/default.htm) To boost your spiritual life plan a half-day of fasting and prayer. Look up the Bible verses mentioned about fasting and be prepared to get closer to God. Joel 2:12 admonishes, “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:”

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FASTING AS A SPIRITUAL DICIPLINE

Acts 14:23 “And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.” Fasting is not a spiritual discipline that is talked about a lot in the church, but the apostles used it as a practice. If you are healthy enough to fast, you will find that it is the heavy artillery of spiritual warfare. Bill Bright has the following to say regarding fasting for spiritual purposes: Fasting was an expected discipline in both the Old and New Testament eras. For example, Moses fasted at least two recorded forty-day periods. Jesus fasted 40 days and reminded His followers to fast, "when you fast," not if you fast. Fasting and prayer can restore the loss of the "first love" for your Lord and result in a more intimate relationship with Christ. Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God (Psalm 35:13; Ezra 8:21). King David said, "I humble myself through fasting." Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life. The Holy Spirit will quicken the Word of God in your heart and His truth will become more meaningful to you! Fasting can transform your prayer life into a richer and more personal experience. Fasting can result in a dynamic personal revival in your own life-and make you a channel of revival to others. Fasting and prayer are the only disciplines that fulfill the requirements of II Chronicles 7:14: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." If you fast, you will find yourself being humbled as I did. You will discover more time to pray and seek God's face. And as He leads you to recognize and repent of unconfessed sin, you will experience special blessings from God.” In Joel 2:12 it says, “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:” Are you ready to try the heavy artillery of spiritual discipline. If you are able to fast

you will be blessed by God. If for a medical reason you can’t fast from food perhaps you could fast from television or some other activity to show God that you are serious about getting closer to Him. http://www.billbright.com/howtofast/

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FATHER BREBEUF

Acts 22:20 “And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.” The apostle Paul after his conversion to Christianity admitted that he conspired in the death of Stephen. Centuries later, the Jesuit martyr, Father Jean de Brefeuf, worked with the Huron Indians in Quebec. Little is known about his early life, but he had a passion for the Indian people. In order to bring the gospel to the Huron’s he became proficient in their language and was Canada’s first ethnologist. Father Brefeuf lived with the natives from 1626-1629 and became known as a loving and honourable man. However, due to an outbreak of illness and the Huron’s reluctance to embrace the faith the Jesuits or “black robes” as they were called faced many obstacles and even death. On March 16, 1649, 1,200 war-like Iroquois attacked and Father Brebeuf and some other Jesuits were martyred. In his article “Jean de Brebeuf 1593-1649” by Angus Macdougal he writes: “Brebeuf was assailed with blows to his head, face, shoulders, loins, and legs. Yet all he thought of was his beloved Hurons now fellow captives. ‘My children’ he said to them, ‘let us lift our eyes to heaven at the height of our afflictions; let us remember that God is the witness of our sufferings, and will soon be our exceeding great reward. Let us die in this faith; and let us hope from his goodness the fulfillment of his promises. I have more pity for you than for myself; but sustain with courage the few remaining torments. They will end with our lives. The glory which follows them will never have an end.” Father Brebeuf was selfless in his agony and praised God much like Stephen did when he was stoned to death. The Bible mentions the word “martyr” only in two places in the King James Version. In Revelation 2:13 it declares, “ I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” Would you be willing to martyr yourself for the sake of Christ?

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FEAR OF THE CAT

Job 37:1 “At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place.”

Have you ever hear of “Ailurophobia”? It means that a person has a morbid fear of cats. A website on cat phobias explains, “Amazing that it is to the millions of us that adore cats there are folks that do not share our admiration of felines. They are simply not cat people. Their preference of an animal as a pet may be a dog, rabbit, ferret or some other creature. And then there are those that cannot tolerate even being near to a cat. They may break out in a sweat at the sight of a cat, have difficulty breathing, and may even become hysterical. They have a fear of cats. This phobia of cats is not that uncommon. It may not get talked about that much but plenty of people suffer with it. After all, people are likely to understand and sympathize if you are afraid of snakes. Snakes could be venomous. Folks understand also the fear of large dogs, wild animals, rats and even understand being afraid of tiny mice. But how many folks would understand if you have a fear of cats? After all mousers are generally inoffensive, if sometimes haughty and independent. Cats are cute, cuddly, soft and like to be stroked (sometimes). They do not bark at you if you walk by their owner's house, they very rarely attack humans. What is there to be afraid of? Often, those with a cat phobia can't tell you exactly what their fear of cats is. The phobia may be deep seated and all that the sufferer knows is that they've been afraid of cats for as far as they can remember. It may be they had a bad experience with a cat as a very young child. Toddlers do not know how to pick a cat up or be gentle when petting a cat. Sometimes too, toddlers will prod, poke or even hit a pet. When treated in this way, a cat may give a warning hiss, or worse a scratch. An incident like this at an impressionable age may install a healthy respect for felines in many of us. In others it could install a fear of cats that lasts long after the incident is forgotten. Not all those that have cat phobia learnt to be afraid in this way, parents sometimes transfer their own anxieties about cats on to their children. So, if a friend stiffens and backs away when your sweet, innocent kitty prowls into the room, it may be more than a case of your friend not liking cats. She may be scared of them in the same way some people would be scared of being in the same room with a spider. Can this fear of cats be overcome? Most often it can with professional help. Of course, the sufferer has to want to overcome the fear. As a person could get through life without much close contact with cats there may not be a great incentive to seek help. There are many different methods touted for tackling cat phobia. Sometimes the phobia can be beaten with just a few sessions. Always seek advice from a qualified professional.” http://www.best-cat-art.com/fear-of-cats.html In Genesis 9:2 the Bible says “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.” Those with Ailurophobia should take courage. Do you have phobias that you need to conquer? Pray that God will give you the strength to conquer them.

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FEARLESS, JACK THE CAT

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

A report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation tells the story of extreme feline courage when a clawless tabby cat pursued a bear up a tree not once, but twice. Size did not matter to Jack the cat. We could take a lesson from his fearless attitude. The story reads as follows: “Clawless kitty chases bear up tree”: Last Updated: Saturday, June 10, 2006 | 9:43 AM ET “Who needs a guard dog when Jack the elderly suburban housecat is on duty?The 10-year-old New Jersey tabby defended his neighbourhood turf earlier this week by chasing a wandering black bear up a tree — twice. West Milford residents Suzanne and Jack Giovanetti first noticed a bear huddled in a tree in their backyard on Sunday afternoon. Sitting beneath the tree: A sevenkilogram, orange-and-white, declawed neighbourhood cat named Jack. The bear remained in the tree for about 15 minutes, frequently looking down at Jack. When it slid down the tree and ran off, Jack was hot on its heels. Suzanne Giovanetti told the Star-Ledger of Newark that the cat was hissing at the bear as it gave chase. The bear climbed up into a second tree until Jack's owner, Donna Dickey, called the cat home. "The cat sauntered back toward the group, rubbing up against everyone," said the newspaper. As soon as the cat left, the bear clambered down the tree and walked into the woods. Dicey told the newspaper that Jack is territorial, frequently chasing small animals from their yard. She believes the cat may have mistaken the bear for the family's chocolate Labrador retriever. Giovanetti, who said she's never bonded with the neighbourhood cat, said she was always a little afraid of Jack. "Now, I think I fear him more," In Psalm 27:14 we are encouraged to, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” When Christ’s apostles were frightened , He told them in John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” What are you afraid of? Debt? Illness? Being alone? Losing Your Job? Give your fears to Jesus and pray for courage. Be fearless like Jack the cat.

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A NEW TWIST ON THE FIREY FURNACE

Daniel 3:16-18 “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Many people have heard the Bible story of the three brave Jews who defied a furious foreign potentate and ended up thrown into a blazing furnace. However, not as many have heard how the pharaoh’s intended means of destruction – the servants building the fire --were destroyed instead. T. Austin Sparks (1888-1971), a British Baptist, preached a sermon titled, “Nor Smell of the Fire” and pointed out: “How wonderfully above the situation these three men were! With the prospect of the trial, with the threat over their heads, how utterly careless about answering the king! "We have no need to answer thee in this matter." There was a settled confidence of heart, the outcome of an integrity of life and walk before God. Their concern was that they should not in any respect be found in compromise of their relationship to the Most High God. Threaten them with a fiery furnace, they are quite above it all. And the first effect of the bringing of these men into that trial justified their confidence, because the very means that were used of the enemy to compel them into the fire were consumed by the fire. If our lives are in an utter position in

relation to the Lord Whom we confess and serve, we have no need to fear the fire. We shall certainly be wise not to invite the fire; but in the course of our life and our testimony, if and as the fire comes we have no need to fear. The very means that the enemy uses to bring about the fiery condition will be consumed. That is a very solemn word for any who would be found creating fiery conditions for the saints.” Daniel 3: 24-29 tells, “Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonished, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counselors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them. Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”

88)

FIESTY SENIOR SAVES PET FROM WILDCAT

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” A very elderly woman saved the life of her beloved feline by rescuing it from certain death in the jaws of a wildcat. The newspaper “Wyman Township” in Maine carried the following article on April 20th, 2005: “A 90-year-old woman grabbed a bobcat by the tail to free her beloved pet cat from the wildcat's mouth. Mildred Luce, who lives alone, said the action began one recent day when she looked outside her window and saw the bobcat lying on its side with the head of her 20-year-old cat, Smudge, in its mouth. Luce ran out the door, grabbed an aluminium snow shovel and pushed it down on the bobcat's neck. But it held on tight. "Then I took hold of its head with my hand and pulled on its tail, and Smudge popped out," she said Smudge hightailed into the house with the bobcat hot on her heels. Once inside, the wildcat calmed down and appeared more bewildered than aggressive, Luce said, wandering from room to room before walking into the bathroom. A neighbour whom Luce had called for help secured the door until Warden Mark Rollins arrived and snared the animal hiding behind a shower curtain. Luce was upset by the episode, even more so because her other cat, 5-year-old Foxy, had been mauled the week before and died two days later.” In Psalms 31:24 the Bible says, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.” What kind of wild cats are you wrestling in your life? Are you depending on God to give you courage in dealing with life’s problems? The story about the elderly lady fighting a wildcat should inspire us to live with

courage. In Revelation 21:8 God declares, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” That’s not to say that you are going to hell if you have a fearful nature, but this verse indicates that God does not like cowardly behaviour.

89)

ORDERED TO FIGHT

I Timothy 6:12 “ Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” John Charles Ryle (1816-1900) was a prolific writer and evangelical preacher. He became the first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool. In the following excerpt from one of his classic sermons he portrays the Christian life as a tremendous struggle with evil. “The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death, he is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence, and security, He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and dose along the way to heaven, like one travelling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world he may be content with such notions, but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his lines laid down very plainly in this matter. He must 'fight.' With whom is the Christian soldier meant to fight? Not with other Christians. Wretched indeed is that man's idea of religion who fancies that it consists in perpetual controversy He who is never satisfied unless he is engaged in some strife between church and church, chapel and chapel, sect and sect, party and party, knows nothing yet as he ought to know. Never is the cause of sin so helped as when Christians waste their strength in quarrelling with one another, and spend their time in petty squabbles. No, indeed! The principal fight of the Christian is with the world, the flesh, and the devil. These are his never-dying foes. These are the three chief enemies against whom he must wage war. Unless he gets the victory over these three, all other victories are useless and vain. If he had a nature like an angel, and was not a fallen creature, the warfare would not be so essential. But with a corrupt heart, a busy devil, and an ensnaring world, he must either 'fight' or be lost.” 2 Timothy 4:7 reads, “ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”

90)

FINDING GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE

Genesis 24:42-46 “And I came this day unto the well, and said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: Behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink; And she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the woman whom the LORD hath appointed out for my master’s son. And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she

went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee. And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder, and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made the camels drink also.” Many people agonize about finding God’s will for their lives -- who they should marry, what college they should go to, what career to study for, and other life altering choices. Reverend Bruce Goettsche comments: “Alice in Wonderland came to an icy fork in the road. Panic stung her as she stood frozen by indecision. She lifted her eyes toward heaven, looking for guidance. Her eyes did not find God, only the Cheshire cat leering at her from his perch in the tree above. "Which way should I go?" blurted Alice.'That depends, . . . ."said the cat, fixing a strange smile on the confused girl. "On what?" Alice managed to reply, "On your destination. Where are you going?" queried the Cat. "I don't know, . . . " stammered Alice. "Then," said the cat, with a grin spreading wider, "it doesn't matter. "Many of us feel like Alice in Wonderland, we stand at some crossroads in our life and don't know which road to take. The difference between us and Alice however is that we DO know where we are going. We are children of the King and we are headed to eternal life in His presence. But, do you see, that is part of the problem. It would be easier to look at the decisions of life and conclude that it didn't matter which way we choose. But because we belong to Him . . . it does matter. We know that when we live according to His will, we will know His blessing and experience His joy. Jesus says, "he who does the will of God is my brother and sister."(Matthew 12:50); Jesus also tells us to pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven." (Matthew 6:10) (Taken from http://www.unionchurch.com/archive/072599.html). Abraham’s servant asked for a tangible sign so that he could chose the right wife for his master’s son and he was given that sign. Other ways of determining God’s will are listed at: http://www.biblehelp.org/elusivewill.htm1) The written Word of God (Bible); 2) His soft quiet voice in our heart (Holy Spirit); 3) Circumstances in our lives; 4) Experiences of other believers. If you want to know if robbing a bank is God’s will then looking at Scripture should deter you from committing the crime. However, if you want to know whether you should go overseas as a missionary the direction of prayer, your own talents, and the wise counsel of godly Christians who know you will help you decide. If you do make the wrong choice in spite of good intentions remember that God forgives. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

91)

FORTITUDE

Joshua I:9 “ Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Fortitude is a word we do not hear much any more. It is regarded as an old-fashioned terminology. The Concise Oxford Dictionary gives the definition of fortitude as, “courage in pain or adversity”. Every time the Lord asks something challenging of believers He prefaces His remarks by telling the individual not to be afraid. Matthew I:20 says: “ But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Also, the opposite of fortitude – cowardice is frowned about by God.. In

Revelation 21:8 being “fearful” is listed right along with other heinous types of sins. The passage reads, “ But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” That does not mean you are going to hell just because you are timid, but it will make it impossible to stand up for your Christian faith in a hostile world or cope with catastrophes like illness, bereavement, financial reverses, unemployment, or natural disasters. The Catholic Encyclopedia says, “ Fortitude as one of the gifts from the Holy Ghost is a supernatural virtue, and passes beyond the Aristotelian range. It is what, as Christians, we must always have in mind in order to make our actions acceptable for eternal life. But we still keep hold upon the natural principles of fortitude as those whereon grace has to build. In the spiritual life of the ordinary Christian much that Aristotle has said remains in its own degree true, though we have to depart especially from the master's insistence upon the field of battle. Our exercise is mainly not in war strictly so-called, but in moral courage against the evil spirit of the times, against improper fashions, against human respect, against the common tendency to seek at least the comfortable, if not the voluptuous. We need courage also to be patient under poverty or privation, and to make laudable struggles to rise in the social scale. I requires fortitude to mount above the dead level of average Christianity into the region of magnanimity, and if opportunity allow it, of magnificence, which are the allied virtues of fortitude, while another is perseverance, which tolerates no occasional remissness, still less occasional bouts of dissipation to relieve the strain of high-toned morality and religion.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06147a.htm The Lord wants to stiffen your spine and give you fortitude. Pray for this Christian virtue today!

92) FRANKENFOODS: WORSE THAN THE TOWER OF BABEL
Acts 14:17 “ Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” Today, man is in a position where he can alter life radically at the cellular level. God gave us food that was good for us, but now the genie is out of the bottle and fish molecules are being put into tomatoes or human genes placed in pigs. Tampering with the DNA of life is worse than building the Tower of Babel and is more arrogant too. In an article titled, “Frankenfoods: The Truth at Last” Geoffrey Lean warns: "Genes have, as feared, escaped in pollen from GM crops, creating 'super weeds' which are resistant to herbicides; and GM foods - which Mr Blair said he was happy to feed his children - may indeed damage human health. Lord Melchett, who was arrested for uprooting GM crops, calls the reports a 'break-through' and Peter Ainsworth, the shadow environment secretary, says they show the Government must 'put caution first'. The first report, by English Nature, bluntly concludes that it is 'inevitable' that super weeds will emerge in Britain if GM oilseed rape is grown here. A Canadian Government study found them at every site examined and discovered that the GM genes 'travelled' more than

730 metres from the crops. But, alarmingly, the report adds that the genes spread so readily that even multiplying this distance many times over will do little to reduce the danger. It concludes that the contamination 'is almost impossible to prevent unless the crops are very widely dispersed.' It can say that again. Studies carried out by the National Pollen Research Unit for the Soil Association suggest that genes from oilseed rape could travel four miles, not just creating super weeds but endangering organic agriculture. Organic farmers say they cannot co-exist with GM technology, and that the public would be denied the chance to buy uncontaminated food if such crops were grown widely in Britain. And that is not the only danger. Once the super weeds get established, the report says, only highly toxic chemicals will get rid of them. The Canadians still use 2,4-D, an ingredient of the infamous herbicide Agent Orange that was used in Vietnam and is banned in Britain. The second report is, if anything, even more remarkable. It comes from the Royal Society which has been one of the most ardent proponents of GM technology in Britain. In 1998 it produced a report extolling its potential benefits for 'agriculture, food quality, nutrition and health'. But now it has evidently had second thoughts. A working group of the society, including some leading GM supporters, now reluctantly concludes that the foods may damage health after all. http://campaignfortruth.com/Eclub/200202/frankenfoods.htm God told Israel in Leviticus 26:19 “And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:” Creation is being altered to mankind’s detriment. Are you willing to speak up against the violation of God’s creation?

93)

FULFILLING ONE’S MEANING FOR LIFE

Matthew 10:39 “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Victor Frankl was a psychiatrist who endured the terrors of the German Concentration Camps during World War II. In 1946 he wrote a book titled, “Man’s Search for Meaning” in which he developed a therapy called “logo therapy” or “soul therapy”. His book was designed to find a meaning to life and the following quotes indicate what he thought about meaning and fulfilling one’s responsibility. Frankl wrote: On Discovering the Meaning of Life "The meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected." p.157 "What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment." p.171 "We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by doing a deed; (2) by experiencing a value; and (3) by suffering." p.176 On Fulfilling One's Task: "A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how."p.127 "It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life - daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual." p.122 (Above quotations reprinted from: Frankl, Viktor E., Man's Search for Meaning, Washington Square Press, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1963.)

Jesus told us that we find meaning in life by sacrificing ourselves to do His work. Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Frankl and Jesus Christ would agree that we find meaning by doing a deed, by experiencing a value, and by suffering. However, for the Christian it is doing good deeds for God, having Biblical values, and partaking in Christ’s suffering. In Phillipians 3:10 the Bible exhorts, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” Are you a living sacrifice for God or are you living for yourself and for your own pleasure? Only Jesus Himself can enable us to have meaning and purpose in our lives. Pray that God will enable you to do what you are supposed to be doing in life.

94)

GAMBLING AND THE CHRISTIAN

Proverbs 28:22 “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” Our society is obsessed with gambling, but should a Christian frequent the casinos? GotQuestions.org discusses this issue: “What’s wrong with gambling? Gambling is a difficult issue because if it is done in moderation and only on occasion, it is a waste of money, but it is not necessarily "evil." People waste money on all sorts of activities. Gambling is no more or less of a waste of money than seeing a movie (in many cases), eating an unnecessarily expensive meal, or purchasing a worthless item. At the same time, the fact that money is wasted on other things does not justify gambling. Money should not be wasted. Excess money should be saved for future needs or given to the Lord's work - not gambled away. Gambling in the Bible: While the Bible does not explicitly mention gambling, it does mention games of "luck" or "chance." As an example, casting lots is used in Leviticus to choose between the sacrificial goat and the scapegoat. Joshua cast lots to determine the allotment of land to the various tribes. Nehemiah cast lots to determine who would live inside the walls of Jerusalem and who wouldn’t. The apostles cast lots to determine the replacement for Judas. Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast in the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” Nowhere in the Bible is gambling or "chance" used for entertainment or presented as an acceptable practice for followers of God. Casinos and lotteries: Casinos use all sorts of marketing schemes to entice gamblers to risk as much money as possible. They often offer inexpensive or even free alcohol, which encourages drunkenness, and thereby a decreased ability to make wise decisions. Everything in a casino is perfectly rigged for taking money in large sums and giving nothing in return, except for fleeting and empty pleasures. Lotteries attempt to portray themselves as a way to fund education and/or social programs. However, studies show that lottery participants are usually those who can least afford to be spending money on lottery tickets. The allure of "getting rich quick" is too great a temptation to resist for those who are desperate. The chances of winning are infinitesimal, which results in many peoples’ lives being ruined. Why lottery proceeds do not please God: Many people claim to be playing the lottery or gambling so that they can give the money to the church, or to some other good cause. While this may be a good motive, reality is that few use gambling winnings for

godly purposes. Studies show that the vast majority of lottery winners are in an even worse financial situation a few years after winning a jackpot than they were before. Few, if any, truly give the money to a good cause. Further, God does not need our money to fund His mission in the world. Proverbs 13:11 says, “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” God is sovereign and will provide for the needs of the church through honest means. Would God be honoured by receiving donated drug money, or money stolen in a bank robbery? Neither does God need or want money that was "stolen" from the poor by the temptation for riches. http://www.gotquestions.org/gambling-sin.html In Proverbs 6:6 the Bible talks about how we should do honest, hard work, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” Are you trusting in games of chance to make money or are you working like the ant?

95)

GEORGE MUELLER

Phillipians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” George Mueller was a Prussian missionary who in his youth had lived a life of revelry and dissipation. However, when he became converted he became a passionate missionary who was famous for running his orphanages on faith. On the website, “Faith Hall of Fame” it describes Mueller: “George Mueller has proved to the world the truth of Philippians 4:19 and he will always be remembered as the man who got things from God. His testimony is an inspiration to Christians everywhere. Three weeks after his marriage, he and his wife decided to depend on God alone to supply their needs--never again to approach people about them. Now he felt led to relinquish his small salary as a preacher completely. Wishing that all support be spontaneous, he put a box in the chapel for his needs; determining never to run into debt, and to get his needs supplied only by requests to God Himself. This was October, 1830. When he died, in March 1898, 68 years later, he had obtained from God more than any one else who ever lived - seven and a half million dollars.” An incident at the orphanage which typifies George Mueller’s bold faith in God in the following: “One morning the plates and cups and bowls on the table were empty. There was no food in the larder, and no money to buy food. The children were standing waiting for their morning meal, when Mueller said, "Children, you know we must be in time for school." Lifting his hand he said, "Dear Father, we thank Thee for what Thou art going to give us to eat." There was a knock on the door. The baker stood there, and said, "Mr. Mueller, I couldn't sleep last night. Somehow I felt you didn't have bread for breakfast and the Lord wanted me to send you some. So I got up at 2 a.m. and baked some fresh bread, and have brought it." Mueller thanked the man. No sooner had this transpired when there was a second knock at the door. It was the milkman. He announced that his milk cart had broken down right in front of the Orphanage, and he would like to give the children his cans of fresh milk so he could empty his wagon and repair it. No wonder, years later, when Mueller was to

travel the world as an evangelist, he would be heralded as "the man who gets things from God!" http://www.eaec.org/faithhallfame/georgemuller.htm In Habakkuk 2:4 the prophet says,“ but the just shall live by his faith.” Are you depending on faith in your life or are your depending on the arm of flesh?

96)

GLOBALISM AND THE COMING TRIBULATION

Mark 4:19 “And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.” Os Guiness who is an author and social critic said the following about globalism, consumerism, and our erosion of Christian values: “1. We are living in a world that is moving on and melting down. Moving on - never have so many people been virtually human perpetual motion machines as they are today. We have not conquered history, but we have effectively conquered geography. The old categories of close, near, and far away mean less than they used to. Melting down of institutions - the difference between a solid world and a liquid world. Example - traditional marriage was till death do us part, a very solid institution. Then came serial monogamy - still one man, one woman, but for the moment. Then in the 60's we have cohabitation - one man, one woman, seeing how it works out. Now, we have semi-detached couples, those who are married and get together when they want to. Now, we have polygamy, polyamory and soon there will be talk of humans and animals. There is a meltdown in Christian institutions. In the bible belt, marriage is eroding as much as in liberal Massachussetts. Churchmanship is also melting down - see Barna's book Revolution. The only thing revolutionary about this is lack of adherence to the church. This is a meltdown of the church. Barna is an exceedingly bad sociologist, and a worse theologian. Modern people say - no ties, no tears. The great American mantra for all problems is "move on." 2. We are living in a world where life is fired at us point blank. We have a 24-7 lifestyle with no margins. Kenyans - all westerners have watches, no westerners have time. Africans don't have watches, but Africans have time. Philippinos say westerners have gods on their watches. We have the clock culture enthroned. The clock is probably the most decisive European invention ever. Our world is driven by time. 3. We are living in a world in which everything is up for sale. In America, before the 19th century, value was according to what it took to put into the making of the product, whether it's thought or muscle. Today value is determined by satisfaction. One of the great propulsions for this was the introduction of the credit card - where you bring together debt, desire and democracy. First ads - "this will take the waiting out of wanting." This consumer society drives everything - marriage and churchmanship. On the surface they are fulfilling our desires. This surface promise is fraudulent - you will want to buy the next one or go on the next vacation, etc.. The whole thing is stoking the machine of dissatisfaction. The calculating, consumer mentality is in everything. It would be silly to buy a stock and keep it till death do you part. This mentality affects friendships, marriage, church, etc. .” http://jollyblogger.typepad.com/jollyblogger/2006/10/a_few_thoughts__2.html In Revelation 3:10 the Bible says regarding the Great Tribulation, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” We are in perilous times, but the Lord will soon rapture His church. Are you ready for turbulent times? Trust your life into God’s hands.

97)

GLUTTONY

Proverbs 23:21 “For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.” How many sermons have you heard on gluttony? Are you or someone you know committing this sin? At http://www.gotquestions.org/gluttony-sin.html the author points out: “ Gluttony seems to be something that Christians like to ignore. We are often quick to label smoking and drinking as sins...but for some reason gluttony is accepted or tolerated. Many of the arguments used against smoking and drinking, such as health and addiction, apply equally to overeating. Many believers would not even consider having a glass of wine or smoking a cigarette, but have no qualms about gorging themselves at the dinner table to the point that they feel like they are going to explode. This should not be ... .Proverbs 23:2 proclaims, ‘Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.’ Physical appetites are an analogy of our ability to control ourselves. If we are unable to control our eating habits, we are probably also unable to control other habits such as those of the mind (lust, covetousness, anger), and unable to keep our mouth from gossip or strife. We are not to let our appetites control us, but rather we are to have control over our appetites …. God has blessed us by filling the earth with foods that are delicious, nutritious, and even pleasurable. We should honour God's creation by enjoying these foods, and by eating them in appropriate quantities. “ Gluttony is a subject that is not popular in sermons, since the pastor and many of his congregation are overweight. Sometimes people are overweight for medical reasons such as the side effects of medication or diabetes and these people are not overeating. However, churches often encourage gluttony by too many fellowship suppers and activities revolving around food. The church wouldn’t offer an alcoholic a beer so why is it tempting foodaholics with food? Perhaps you could influence you church or Bible study group to serve fruits and vegetables, instead of sweets and fattening food. You could also get involved in feeding the hungry at soup kitchens, food banks, or in the Third World. Deuteronomy 21:20 frowns on gluttony, “ And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.”

98)

GODLY MARRIAGE

Hebrews 13:4 “ Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Normal people are like sandpaper when they live together. There always comes a time when they rub each other the wrong way. However, even in the Garden of Eden

God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone, so He created Eve for companionship. The divorce rate in American is 40-50%, but God has honoured the institution of marriage. On the website http://www.christianadvice.net/christian_marriage.htm the author says: “Marriage is said to be "honourable" (Heb. 13:4), and the prohibition of it is noted as one of the marks of degenerate times (1 Tim. 4:3). It is is used to represent the union between God and his people (Isa. 54:5; Jer. 3:1-14; Hos. 2:9, 20). In the New Testament it represents the love of Christ to his saints (Eph. 5:25-27). The Church of the redeemed is the "Bride, the Lamb's wife" (Rev. 19:7-9). Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Hebrews 13:4) . What are marital duties for men and women? To the men . .The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.(1 Corinthians 7:3). Since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.(1 Corinthians 7:2). So, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."Matthew 19:10 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.Ephesians 5:33. By law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.Romans 7:2 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.1 Corinthians 7:4 . Christian Marriage requires submission of both partners! "You wives must submit to your husbands' leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord. For a husband is in charge of his wife in the same way Christ is in charge of His body the church. (He gave His very life to take care of it and be its Savior!) So you wives must willingly obey your husbands in everything, just as the church obeys Christ." Ephesians 5:22-24, TLB. A wife must not separate from her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:10) For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.Ephesians 5:23 . Ephesians 5:21, NIV. "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." "And you husbands, show the same kind of love to your wives as Christ showed to the church when He died for her. . . That's how husbands should treat their wives, loving them as parts of themselves. For since a man and his wife are one, a man is really doing himself a favour and loving himself when he loves his wife! Husbands should honour their wives. Peter 3:7, TLB. "You husbands must be careful of your wives, being thoughtful of their needs and honouring them as the weaker sex. Remember that you and your wife are partners in receiving God's blessings, and if you don't treat her as you should, your prayers will not get ready answers." In order to get along with your marriage partner the following verse is very important:. Ephesians 4:2 commands, “ With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;”

99)

GOD’S ACRE

Luke 20:36 “Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”

Those people that are sleeping in the dust of the cemetery are awaiting their eternal future. Some will be resurrected to heaven and others will be condemned to hell. Henry Wordsworth Longfellow calls the graveyard “God’s Acre” in the following poem. GOD'S-ACRE. I like that ancient Saxon phrase which calls The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just; It consecrates each grave within its walls, And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust. God's Acre! Yes, that blessed name imparts Comfort to those who in the grave have sown The seed that they had garnered in their hearts, Their bread of life, alas! no more their own. Into its furrows shall we all be cast, In the sure faith that we shall rise again At the great harvest, when the archangel's blast Shall winnow, like a fan, the chaff and grain. Then shall the good stand in immortal bloom, In the fair gardens of that second birth; And each bright blossom mingle its perfume With that of flowers which never bloomed on earth. With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod, And spread the furrow for the seed we sow; This is the field and Acre of our God, This is the place where human harvests grow! By HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW. http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/1/6/7/8/16786/16786.htm In Romans 6:5 Paul writes, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:” When the Archangel blows the trumpet what eternal destiny are you looking forward to?

100)

GOD’S PSYCHIATRY

Psalm 23:2-3 “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s

sake ….” The book, “God’s Psychiatry” by Charles L. Allen was written in 1953 before the advent of most psychotropic medications, and claims that psychiatry is really the domain of the spiritual advisor. He claims that the word “psyche” can be translated to mean “breath, soul, mind, reason” and the word “iatreia” means “healing or restoring”. The two words together make up the word “psychiatry” which Allen asserts should mean restoring of the soul. … Allen prescribes the Twenty Third Psalm, the Ten Commandments, The Beatitudes, and The Lord’s Prayer. His theory is that the individual is psychologically unhealthy because in some area of his or her life God’s spiritual laws are being broken. Allen comments, “My mail has brought me many letters from people telling me of their problems. I have not found one in need of the healing of his or her mind or situation where I have not also found that somewhere back down the line in that life one of the basic principles that I write about in this book was violated. So, I say that most of all we need God’s Psychiatry.” On the cover of his book, Allen claims that anybody can change their life in seven days by following his spiritual advice. Like a psychiatrist writing out a prescription for Paxil, Allen prescribes meditating on the Twenty Third Psalm five times a day. He says, “The scientist knows the law of God. He sees it in the precision of the universe. The physician will tell you that there are certain laws of health – to disobey them is to die. The psychiatrist understands that a man’s pattern of thinking must be along right lines. To turn off the track is to become unbalanced.” Allen expands these points by commenting that just as certain as the law of gravity, God’s fixed spiritual laws are broken at man’s psychological peril. He claims that he has never seen a mentally ill person, but only persons who are spiritually ill. While meditating on the 23 psalm is certainly beneficial, some people have problems severe enough to warrant taking medication and professional help. However, obeying God’s spiritual laws and memorizing the 23rd Psalm will definitely bring a blessing. Psalm 23: 4-6 declares, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

101) GOD’S REDEMPTIVE PURPOSES THROUGH ISREAL
Ezekiel 36:24-26 “ For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”

There is a lot of anti-Semitism in our world today and the news camera is always focused on the Middle Eastern conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Many radical Moslems would like to see the Jewish race exterminated entirely and giving land for peace will never appease them. For centuries, God’s chosen people have been persecuted, culminating in the Holocaust which murdered 6 million Jews. Jim Gerrish writes on his website: http://www.churchisraelforum.com: “When I was a young preacher I felt that God often changed his mind about people. If he chose one group of people and they didn’t work out, he would just cast them on the rubbish heap of nations and chose someone else. I was sure at the time he had now chosen my denomination. Obviously, I had not clearly thought out the implications of such a theology. If God could cast away others, then he could certainly do the same with me and my group. Later in life, I learned that God is not capricious with his choices. Incredibly, God has only one plan, because unlike man, he sees the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:9-10). His plan is and always has been Israel. Throughout the ages God has been busy with his plan. As one old preacher said, "God plans his work and works his plan." We don’t have to look far in the Bible to glimpse that Israel is God’s eternal plan. We Christians are not the plan, but only are a part of the plan because of God’s great grace. Bible teachers and preachers have known for a long time that one can tell the importance of a subject by the frequency of its use in scripture. When we check this out in the authorized version we find that Israel appears 2567 times, compared to the Church, which appears only 78 times. This should tell us something about God’s overall plan. Let us look into it a little further. THE PLAN OF THE PEOPLE: The people of Israel, or the Jewish people, are the most unusual and special people on the face of the earth today. This is clearly borne out in scripture. In Deuteronomy 7:6 we read: "For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." As we read on in the book of Deuteronomy, we discover something else about the Jews that is simply astounding: "When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel" (Deut. 32:8 ) However, God doesn’t just want to play favorites with people. He chose Israel for his own world-wide redemptive purposes. It was the eternal plan that his redeeming grace to the world would flow through Israel; that the Gospel of salvation would come to the whole world through them. “Why not study about some Jewish traditions like the Sabbath or Passover? Maybe you could get your church involved. Try some Jewish cuisine like Matzo bread or extend a hand of friendship to a Jewish person. Isaiah 51:3 predicts, “ For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”

102)

GOD’S VALENTINE TO US

I Corinthians 13 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity

I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.” Throughout the centuries many different cultures have associated romance a with the middle of February. The Romans had an erotic festival of Lupercalia in which tickets were drawn to partner males and females. The early Christians however, frowned on this practice and told participants to take a name of one saint and copy their life for one year. This was very unpopular, so the church picked the martyred St. Valentine who died on February 14th to replace the sinful feast of Lupercalia which occurred on the 15th. The facts have been shrouded in the mists of time, but Saint Valentine was allegedly the subject of adoration by a blind girl whom he had healed. Before his execution he supposedly wrote a letter and signed it “Your Valentine”. The first Valentine card ever sent was in 1415 by Charles, the Duke of Orleans who wrote endearments to his wife from prison. By the 18th Century elaborate factory- made Valentine’s Day cards with Cupids and hearts started appearing and most were hand delivered. In the Bible a lengthy love letter is found in “ 2 Song of Solomon 2: 1-12, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. 4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. 6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please. The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice. My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” God’s defines what the essence of love is in the love chapter of I Corinthians 13 in which He majestically defines what love is and how we should apply it. Read it today and you will know what real love is. The prophet Jeremaiah declared in Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

103)

GOOD FRIDAY

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Isaiah 53 is known as the suffering servant chapter which prophesies Christ’s death and the redemption of sinners. Charles Spurgeon in a sermon delivered at the Music Hall located at the Surrey Gardens in 1858 commented, “ He who reads Christ’s life, as mere history, traces the death of Christ to the enmity of the Jews, and to the fickle character of the Roman governor. In

this he acted justly, for the crime and the sin of the Saviour’s death must lay at the door of manhood. This race of ours became a deicide and slew the Lord, and nailed its Saviour to a tree. But he who reads the Bible with the eye of faith, desiring to discover it’s hidden secrets, sees something more in the Saviour’s death than Roman cruelty, or Jewish malice: he sees the solemn decree of God fulfilled by men, who were the ignorant, but guilty instruments of his accomplishment. He looks beyond the Roman spear and nail, ...up to the Sacred Fount, whence all things flow, and traces the crucifixion of Christ to the breast of Deity.” Spurgeon points out that Christ didn’t die to make God loving, He died because God was loving and wanted to redeem a fallen humanity. The following poem from his sermon illustrates this. “‘Twas not to make Jehovah’s love Toward his people flame, That Jesus from the throne above A suffering man became. ‘Twas not the death which he endured, Nor all the pains he bore That God’s eternal love procured, For God was love before.” Hebrews 2:9 proclaims, “ But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

104)

IS IT ALL VANITY AND CHASING THE WIND?

Ecclesiates 2:17 “ Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me: for all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Solomon pointed out the futility of life and Hamlet, in one of Shakespeare’s plays took, that once step further and contemplated suicide. Hamlet must have a fear of hell though because he fears taking his own life and facing eternal repercussions. He says: “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay, The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, The undiscover'd country from whose bourn No traveller returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? However, Solomon comments: “ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

105) HAVE YOU EVER FALLEN ASLEEP DURING A SERMON?
Acts 20:9 “And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.” Does a sermon make you feel like dosing off? The archbishop of Dublin, T.S. Lindsay in 1928 wrote: “It is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles that one Sunday, during the evening service at Troas, a young man went to sleep during the sermon, and fell out of the window with fatal results, which St. Paul, by the exercise of his miraculous power, was fortunately able to rectify. St. Luke assigns two reasons for this somnolence, first that there were many lights in the room, which no doubt, exhausted the air, and secondly the sermon was a long one.” It is possible that Paul kept on preaching until dawn. Chrysostom was also known for his lengthy sermons and Puritan sermons always were very long. Sermons are shorter today and the ventilation is better, but some people still dose off. David Padfield comments, “Preachers have always had to put up with those saints who sleep during services….I have met a few folks who had a habit of "sinking into a deep sleep" during periods of "worship." Have you ever wondered why these people decide to catch up on their sleep while the gospel is being preached? It could be the preacher is boring. However, it has been my observation that "sleeping saints" don't really care who is preaching they're going to sleep regardless. Let me offer a few suggestions as to why they sleep: The Late Show: Those who stay up Saturday night to watch the late, late show usually can't keep their eyes open on Sunday morning. Their problem is one of priorities. The gospel of

Christ rates well below reruns of World War II movies and the latest slasher films. Medication: I've known several brethren who could not stay awake because of their medication. This is not their fault, they try their best to participate and I admire them for attending in spite of physical infirmities. Lack Of Interest: Here is the major cause of "sleeping sickness." If someone were to lecture on how to make a million dollars in real estate, these folks would find a way to stay awake, even if they had to put toothpicks in their eyelids to keep them open. Working The Midnight Shift: I truly admire those who put in a full nights work and get home just in time to get ready for morning services. Many people would stay home and sleep, but these brethren really want to worship God. They show their family and their brethren where their true priorities are. What should we do with "sleeping saints"? When I lived in Evansville, Indiana we had one man who was a perpetual embarrassment, not only because he slept during services, but sometimes he even snored. One Sunday he slept through all of the sermon, the invitation song and the closing prayer as well. Someone woke him up as we were leaving the building. One lady suggested we should have just turned out the lights and left him there. I had another idea, but it involved the use of Crazy Glue, and some thought it was not appropriate. If a person sleeps during periods of "worship" those who sit near them need to find out why. Those who sleep during services are a hindrance and detriment to the growth of any congregation. Visitors and our own children can see their lack of commitment to the Lord.http://www.padfield.com/1995/sleep.html Proverbs 6:10 says, “ Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 4 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. Sleeping through a sermon brings on spiritual poverty. Are you dosing off when the sermon starts or are you taking notes and learning?

106)

HAVE YOU SEEN A GHOST?

Luke 24:37-39 “But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Many people believe that a dead person can turn into a ghost that haunts houses or castles. Even Christ’s disciples thought that Jesus was a ghost when he appeared to them after his resurrection. What is the Christian supposed to think about ghosts? Are they “unrested spirits” that wander the earth? Are they figments of peoples’ overactive imagination or something more sinister? On the website: http://www.angelfire.com/mi/dinosaurs/ghosts.html, the author gives his opinion on what ghosts really are: “The Bible says that one third of the angels rebelled against God (see my page on Satan for more info). Satan (Lucifer) was the angel in charge of this rebellion. These angels were punished by being banished from heaven. Satan hates man. Man has a relationship with God that angels could never have. Man was made in the image and likeness of God. Satan is jealous of this and hates us for it. He wants to deceive human kind into rejecting God, so that man will share the same punishment that he is destined for. Satan knows that one single lie won’t be effective in deceiving everyone. So he came up with several. Some men would be deceived by Ghosts and reincarnation. Others would adopt an evolutionary philosophy, that the world created itself without God. Others would be deceived

into believing in pagan gods, etc... I believe (and the Bible says) that Satan sends fallen angels to earth to deceive us. Satan wants us to doubt the existence of God. He wants man to share in his punishment. Part of this deception is the appearance of "ghosts". Satan wants man to believe that these are the spirits of people who have died. That they have overcome the chains of death and returned. This is opposite of what the Bible says happens when we die. By being presented with these spirits one tends to question if the Biblical destination after death is the correct one. Because if ghosts exist, then clearly heaven does not. The truth is these "ghosts" are not the spirits of men and women, but rather fallen angels masquerading as our loved ones. If man believes that he becomes a ghost or is reincarnated at death, he will exclude the possibility of heaven as his eternal home and God as his Father. Some "ghosts" have appeared to humans claiming that they want to "help" them. They posses a knowledge that only that person could know. Which is convincing to the person involved. But what that person fails to realize is that angels have existed since God created the world. Angels are "older" than us, and older than our loved ones. They can easily retain knowledge about that persons life that "only they could know". Other "ghosts" are clearly out to cause harm. Such is the case in hauntings. The Bible gives definitive evidence that people don’t turn into ghosts. It says in Job 14:10 “But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.”

107)

HAVING THE COURAGE OF YOUR CONVICTIONS

Ac 22:20 “And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) was a neo-orthodox, German theologian who became a preacher, radio broadcaster, and author who resisted Hitler. Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazi regime at the age of 39. The website: file:///D:/My%20Documents/Bonfhoffer.html says about him: “Christianity, Bonhoeffer came to believe, meant not just professing faith but really putting into practice Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. When Bonhoeffer returned to Germany in the early 1930s, his convictions were tested dramatically. Adolph Hitler and the Nazis were just coming to power. What should Bonhoeffer do about them? He spoke out, urging his fellow Lutherans to reject as idolatry the Nazi claim that the Fuehrer and the state deserved allegiance above that owed to God. Bonhoeffer also condemned Nazi persecution of the Jews, urging the Christian Church to stand with the Jews and all victims. He also helped some Jews escape. By the late 1930s, Bonhoeffer realized that, for him, even though he respected pacifism and nonviolence in principle, Hitler's war-making and injustice required resistance. A Christian must act, he insisted, so he joined a conspiracy to oppose Hitler. It seemed a lesser evil than doing nothing. Bonhoeffer became part of a resistance cell inside German military intelligence. On trips abroad, he tried to get Allied support for the German resistance, but he was not successful. In 1943, Bonhoeffer's fellow resisters tried to kill Hitler but failed. The Gestapo

identified Bonhoeffer as part of the plot, arrested him, and sent him to prison. Earlier, in a widely influential book, THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP, Bonhoeffer had condemned what he called cheap grace -- accepting God's love without cost. At the same time, he extolled costly grace -- grace that requires radical obedience, even the willingness to die for one's beliefs, which Bonhoeffer did.” Paul talks about the martyrdom of Stephen when Stephen paid the ultimate price for his Christian beliefs. In James 2:1 the Bible says, “ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? Also in James 2:17 we are warned, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Are you living an easy believism or are you willing to stand up for your faith? Are you willing to pay the cost of discipleship by living out your faith courageously even though it costs you?

108)

HEALING BY PURRING

Psalms 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Have you ever been sick and had a cat come to you and purr? There seems to be evidence that a cat’s purr can be very healing. Brother Veritus’ website comments: “The Cat's Purr Frequency - (The) optimal frequency for bone stimulation is 50 hertz. The dominant and fundamental frequency for three species of cats' purrs is exactly 25 to 50 hertz: the best frequencies for bone growth and fracture healing. The cat's purr falls well within the 20 — 50 hertz anabolic range, and extends up to 140 hertz. All members of the cat family except cheetahs have a dominant or strong harmonic at 50 hertz. The harmonics of three cat species fall exactly on, or within, 2 points of 120 hertz, a frequency which has been found to repair tendons. Cats Help Heal Themselves With Their Purr: A few veterinarians have said that the purr is only a vocalization of contentment, and most people believe that. But Elizabeth's research analysis shows it's not true. Cats will purr when they are injured and in pain as well as when they are content. In one case, a cat had broken its femur and the femur was sticking out. But it was purring, so it can be assumed that purring is not always a sign of contentment. Some people claim that cats purr when they're injured because they're humming to make themselves feel better. That makes absolutely no sense. If you've ever broken your leg or an arm and you find yourself in the emergency room, are you whistling "Dixie"? Purring takes a lot of energy. It's created by both the diaphragm and the larynx. Getting a diaphragm to move for something other than breathing is difficult, it takes energy. When there is pain and suffering, our bodies are traumatized and they shut down non-essential activity. Since cats purr when they are severely injured or dying, it has to be survival-related. "Put a cat in a room with a bunch of broken bones — the bones will heal." According to Elizabeth, that statement is an old veterinarian's adage and it's still taught in veterinary schools to this day. That's the first thing she came across when she started out with this research. But no one has done any studies on it. The type of frequencies that are found in the cat's purr are good for healing muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries, as well as for muscle strengthening and toning. They are good for any type of joint injury, wound healing, reduction of infection and swelling, pain relief, and relief of chronic pulmonary disease. Authors of the veterinarians' surgery manual say that what it basically comes down to is that, compared to other animals, cats simply don't get chronic pulmonary disease, muscle and tendon

injuries, bone diseases, and a lot of other things that dogs get. The purr seems to be a constant strengthener and toner for the muscles. People like to say, "Oh, that's just coincidence," but it can't be. The odds of its being coincidence are like three billion to one… . Any veterinary orthopedic surgeon will tell you how relatively easy it is to mend broken cat bones compared with dog bones. Dog bones take much more effort to fix and longer to heal. There is excellent documentation of cats' quick recovery from such things as high-rise syndrome, which was first mentioned by Dr. Gordon Robinson and later studied and reported in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. They documented 132 cases of cats' plummeting an average of 5.5 stories from high-rise apartments, with some of them suffering severe injuries. But interestingly, 90 percent of these cats survived. Most cats that fell from seven stories or more managed to live. The record for survival from heights is 45 stories! Is there a difference between a cat's purr of contentment and the purr of a cat that's been injured? Apparently there is no difference. It's machine-like. The purr is nearly the same across species: The ocelot, chervil, and domestic cat are all create an identical sound. Elizabeth showed this data to an architectural engineer who measures building vibration, and he asked if she were into mechanics, since the signal appeared to be so regular. He was greatly surprised when she told him that he was looking at the analysis of a cat's purr. It's totally unlike any other animal's vocalization. Of course, she purred loud and long until we both fell asleep. So, I wonder, is it helpful for people to hold their purring cat close to their bodies? Elizabeth says that from a scientific standpoint she would have to say she doesn't know since there is no evidence. She goes on to say that for something to be scientifically therapeutic, it has to be exactly the right strength, loudness, and amplitude. However, she did say that as a healer, she says: "yes, it absolutely", it can be helpful to sleep with you cat. You, yourself, may have noticed that when you're not feeling well, your cat will often come up to the part of your body that's aching and start to knead you with their paws, purr and get that meditative look in their eyes. They could be trying to help.” http://www.luisprada.com/Protected/the_cats_purr_for_healing.htm God put cats on this earth to bless us and there will probably be lots of cats in heaven. In Revelation 5:13 it says, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Are you grateful for your pets and the fact that God made them so special?

109)

HEALING FROM HELL

Revelation 13:3 “And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” Not all healing is from God, because those involved in the occult can heal as well. Sometimes sick people are so desperate to be healed that they don’t care where their healing comes from. Sandy Simpson on the website: http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/divinehealing.html comments: “Paranormal/Demonic Healing has been in existence in the world practically since the creation. It is the oldest healing art. But the problem with this type of healing is that it is a (1) lying wonder and (2) opens the door to demonic influence, demonization, even possession. A lying wonder is not necessarily a false wonder or false miracle, but it is, more importantly, a miracle claimed to be from God but

whose source is really from the devil. It is important to understand that actual healing can come from a lying wonder. But it is a type of healing that leads the person into bondage to the enemy. It is often used to confirm the alleged power of an individual, but behind it come the deceptions of the enemy. It's like a fish trap. The bait in the trap is real food and will nourish the fish that eats is, but after he is finished he is inside of a trap, whether or not he realizes it. There is much evidence also that suggests that this type of healing is a shell game of the enemy. By that I mean that the original condition was caused by the enemy, then when it is brought to a faith healer, witch doctor or shaman, the enemy cleverly lifts that condition only to replace it with other forms of demonization. This type of healing also, in many documented cases, may eventually lead to suicide and death. We must also remember that lying begets lying. People who get this kind of healing become part of the deception themselves, in turn deceiving others. It is an insidious form of healing that must be avoided at all costs. (a) Immediate to slow : This type of healing can be immediate to slow. I have seen documentary evidence of miraculous Paranormal/Demonic Healings at the hands of shaman (including Christian "faith healers"). The length of the problem all depends on what the enemy wants to accomplish with the healing. (b) May last for awhile, but usually temporary This is one fairly good indicator to test the difference between Divine and Paranormal/Demonic Healing. It is my studied opinion that this type of healing is usually temporary or a "shell game" as I previously indicated. Repeated treatments are necessary, either for the original problem or for the string of problems caused as a result of continued demonization. (c) Usually hard to verify There are very visual cases of this type of healing where people have apparently been healed, making it very hard to discern the difference between Biblical Divine and Paranormal/Demonic Healing. But for the most part this kind of healing is usually of problems that are hard, if not impossible, to verify. This is because Satan is the master of the occult, the hidden. He loves to makes fools of people with his lies and deception. (d) All glory to man and the devil while lip service to God This is the point to watch most closely. Test and see who gets the glory. In Biblical Divine Healing all the glory goes to God. In Paranormal/Demonic Healing glory to God may be given lip service, but most of the glory actually goes to men and the enemy. Satan, by causing people to place their faith in the "power", "it", "the river", "the force of faith" or some faith healing guru, usurps worship for himself that belongs to God. God does not use Paranormal/Demonic Healing to heal. God does not validate the work of shamans, faith healers, false teachers or false prophets. As stated before, Divine Healing can occur any time… . Paranormal/Demonic Healing is to be avoided at all costs. It is the most dangerous. It has nothing to do with Biblical Divine Healing as was demonstrated by Jesus Christ and the Apostles, but it can look the most like it of any of the modes of healing. “ The Biblical command for healing is found in James 5:14 which says,” Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:” If you are sick stick to the Biblically sanctioned method of healing, don’t go to new age healers or those involved in the occult. Sickness and pain are normal experiences in life. Romans 8:22 says “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”

110)

FINISHING STRONG IN OLD AGE

Numbers 13:30 “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” You don’t have to be a has-been in old age. In Caleb’s day many of the young men were too terrified to fight the “giants” in the Promised Land. However, Caleb who was well into his eighties wanted to attack them right away. He was a feisty senior citizen! The following poem taken from “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll is an inspirational view of getting older. The Old Man's Comforts And How He Gained Them By Robert Southey 'You are old, father William,' the young man cried, 'The few locks which are left you are grey; You are hale, father William, a hearty old man; Now tell me the reason, I pray.' 'In the days of my youth,' father William replied, 'I remember'd that youth would fly fast, And Abus'd not my health and my vigour at first, That I never might need them at last.' 'You are old, father William,' the young man cried, 'And pleasures with youth pass away. And yet you lament not the days that are gone; Now tell me the reason, I pray.' 'In the days of my youth,' father William replied, 'I remember'd that youth could not last; I thought of the future, whatever I did, That I never might grieve for the past.' 'You are old, father William,' the young man cried, 'And life must be hast'ning away; You are cheerful and love to converse upon death; Now tell me the reason, I pray.' 'I am cheeful, young man,' father William replied, 'Let the cause thy attention engage; In the days of my youth I remember's my God. And He hath not forgotten my age.' In Genesis 15:15 the Bible says about Abraham, “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.” He became a father when he was past fathering children.

111)

HEALTHY WAYS TO REACT TO A CRISIS

Proverbs 27:10 “Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.” In his book, “How to Be a People Helper” Dr. Gary Collins comments, “Most of us move along from day to day, meeting the problems and challenges of life in a more or less efficient manner. Periodically, however, a situation arises which is so novel and threatening that our usual ways of handling problems no longer work. Suddenly, we are forced to rely on new and untried methods to deal with the tension that has come into our lives. In the past people usually turned to relatives on such occasions, seeking their advice and accepting their help and sympathy. In many parts of the world this still takes place, but in North America things are different. We are a mobile people who move frequently and are often far away from family members who could give the greatest support in times of crisis. In the absence of relatives, therefore we turn to neighbours, friends, fellow church members, and pastors. The following list from. H.J Clinebell Jr.’s “Basic Tyes of Pastoral Counselling” is the healthy way to meet a crisis: Face the fact there is a problem; Attempt to Understand the Situation More Fully; Open channels of communication with friends, relatives, pastors, our others that may be able to help you; Face up to your negative feelings of guilt, anxiety, or resentment and consider actions and alternative ways of viewing the situation so that you can deal with these feelings. Separate the changeable from the unchangeable in the situation and accept that which cannot be changed. Explore practical ways of coping with the problem, and take steps (however small) in handling the problem in a practical way. Accept responsibility for coping with problems, even problems which seem to have arisen from situations beyond your control. Draw closer to friends and family, especially those that are helpful Pray about the matter, honestly sharing your concerns with God. Do not forget the sovereignty of God, who loves mankind and is both aware of our crises and concerned about us. These ten steps to deal with a crisis could apply to you or someone you know that you are trying to help when the moment of crisis strikes. Remember that God still loves you even when you are in great personal pain. In Psalm 18:18 King David exclaims, “They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.”

112)

HEAVEN A PERMANENT HOME

John 14:2-3 “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

In the book, Heaven, a Place, a City, a Home, by Edward M. Bounds he expounds, “Heaven is place. Out of the region of all fancy it is taken and put into the realm of the actual, the local. The revelations of the bare fact that death does not end all, death cannot end all; that man must exist to all eternity, that the future maybe one of unutterable bliss, -- that is the fact. This fact may have many colourings, many symbols, but these are not the main things, nor of the main thing. Heaven does not float around. It is not made of air, thin air. It is real, a country, a clime, a home sacred affinities draw to the spot. Divine assurance settles and fixes the fact … . One of the main ideas contained in the heavenly symbol is place, location, a settled place, in contrast with a pilgrim state, unsettled and temporary.” The Bible confirms that Abraham expected heaven to be a real place. Hebrews11: 8 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” We can rest assured that we are not going to be disembodied souls floating around in space. Like Abraham we are looking for a heavenly city and an actual physical Paradise. Try and look up some verses about heaven as a place, a home. The following poem about heaven underlines the truth about God’s grace. A Poem About Heaven (Author Unknown) I was shocked, confused, bewildered as I entered Heaven's door, Not by the beauty of it all, by the lights or its decor. But it was the folks in Heaven who made me sputter and gasp-the thieves, the liars, the sinners, the alcoholics, the trash. There stood the kid from seventh grade who swiped my lunch money twice. Next to him was my old neighbor who never said anything nice. Uncle Bill, who I always thought was rotting away in hell, was sitting pretty on cloud nine, looking incredibly well. I nudged Jesus, "What's the deal? I would love to hear Your take. How'd all these sinners get up here?

God must've made a mistake. And why's everyone so quiet, so somber? Give me a clue." "Hush, child," said He. "They're all in shock. No one thought they'd see you." http://www.naturalhealthtechniques.com/Inspiration/a_poem_about_heaven.htm

113)

HELL IS REAL

Isaiah 66:24 “ And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.” Bill Wiese has just written a book titled, “23 Minutes in Hell” in which he claims that he was taken to hell and saw what it is like. Whether or not this actually did happen is only speculation, but he does give some Biblical sounding descriptions of what hell is like. He says, “I was horrified as I heard the screams of an untold multitude crying out in torment. It was absolutely deafening. The terror-filled screams seemed to go right through me, penetrating my very being. I once heard of a television special where the reporter spent the night in prison, just to experience prison life first hand. The prisoners were crying, moaning, and yelling all night long. He stated that he couldn’t sleep because of all the noise. This place where I stood was far, far worse. … I struggled to gather my thoughts. ‘I’m in hell! This is a real place and I’m actually here!” The Bible says in Proverbs 27:20 that “ Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” Wiese goes on to describe other aspects of what hell is like,” The flames were intense, but the darkness seemed to swallow up the light. The skyline was barely visible. The darkness was somewhat like a black hole. I have heard scientists say that within our universe’s black holes , the pull of gravity is so strong that it actually stops light from travelling, and it cannot escape the hole. The darkness of hell is like that. It is so dark that it seemed to hinder any light from travelling.” (page 10) Hell is definitely a placed to be shunned at any cost and stay as close to God as possible. In Isaiah 5:14 the Bible says, “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that rejoiceth, shall descend into it.” The Scriptures promise us that if we believe in Jesus Christ we can look forward to enjoying the pleasures of heaven. Matthew 18:3 says, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” How many people have you warned about the dangers of hell? Make sure to double your efforts to let people know that hell is real and that they can go to heaven if they believe in Jesus.

114)

HERBS: GOD’S GIFT TO MANKIND

Proverbs 27:25 “The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered.” Before drugs were invented all medicine was herbal. Most drugs have unpleasant side effects and today people are looking to herbal medicine for healing. Some herbalists say that God gave us a plant to treat every illness. Prevention Magazine comments: “Though herbs have been used for hundreds of years to heal, scientists are finally starting to substantiate these plants' abilities to alleviate arthritis pain, reduce high blood sugar and cholesterol, and help with many other conditions. They're even discovering amazing new powers in some herbs, such as the ability to kill cancer cells and help problem drinkers curb their alcohol intake. "Herbs and other natural remedies can be as effective as traditional treatments, often without the same negative side effects," says Roberta Lee, MD, medical director of the Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. So here are 10 super healers you'll want to add to the all-natural section of your medicine cabinet--and even to your favorite recipes! Folding one or two of them into your cooking every day can yield big benefits.” http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/10-best-healing-herbs According to Prevention magazine the top ten herbs for healing are turmeric, cinnamon, Holy Basil, St. John’s Wort, garlic, Andrographis, Sea Buckthorn, Kudzu, ginger, and Rosemary. Hebrews 6:7 says, “ For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:” Herbs can be a source of healing, but make sure that they don’t conflict with your prescription medication. Have you thanked God for herbs lately? Hebrews 6:7 declares,“ For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:” In Genesis 2:8-9 the Bible describes, “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” Before sin entered the world Adam and Eve were herbivores, But after they fell, then they ate meat. “In ancient times, herbalism, like life in general, was mixed with magic and superstition. Today, with our scientific methods we can determine what is superstition and what is fact. Many traditionally used herbs have been put to the scientific test and many have proven to possess remarkable curative powers. This is one reason for the renewed interest in herbalism that we are seeing today. Herbs are often proving to be effective and safe alternatives to dangerous and costly drugs. Today, we truly have the best of both worlds. And we are no longer limited to the herbs that are found in our region, for we now have access to plants from around the world. Please do not self diagnose and self treat with herbs, this possibly would not be a reliable way to be cured; always see a professional doctor before using herbs for medicinal purposes.” Katarina Eriksson, Head Gardener, Perennials and Herbs http://www.huntingtonbotanical.org/Rose/Subrosa/43/herbs.htm

115) HERDING CATS: FELINE TIPS ON PEOPLE MANAGEMENT
1 Chronicles 13:1-4 “And David consulted with the captains of thousands and hundreds, and with every leader. And David said unto all the congregation of Israel, If it seem good unto you, and that it be of the LORD our God, let us send abroad unto our brethren every where, that are left in all the land of Israel, and with them also to the priests and Levites which are in their cities and suburbs, that they may gather themselves unto us: And let us bring again the ark of our God to us: for we enquired not at it in the days of Saul. And all the congregation said that they would do so: for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people.” Herding cats – picture that scenario in your mind and think about what a difficult task that would be if that were your job. Cats are independent, try to be in control of the situation at all times, and definitely don’t like to be told what to do! Managing people, from pubescents to prima donnas, can be equally as challenging. Substitute the word “people” for “cats” as you practice the following Ten Tips, and you’ll be well on your way to successful people management while maintaining your sanity, a sense of humor, and perhaps a shred of your dignity. Lead Without Commanding. Ordering cats to do anything is a waste of everyone’s time and talents. Cats usually respond better to non-threatening, non-aggressive leadership, and are more likely to accept leadership if it is offered and not imposed. Earn Their Trust. Cats need to know that their leader can be relied upon to be truthful, fair, consistent, and supportive. Respect must be given before trust can be earned. Respect who the cat is and you’ll eventually be rewarded with its trust. Trust is mutual – you must also trust the cat. Be Real. Be yourself, and be genuine about it. Kids, dogs, cats – they all can spot a phony, a posturer, a BS'er, from a mile away, and they always seem to know who really doesn’t like them, no matter how you try to disguise it. On the positive side, they also sense who does like them. Give Them Space. Cats do things for their reasons, not yours. Cats need freedom to move about without restrictions or judgment. Cats need space just to be cats. They need permission to explore, to wonder, to learn, to take charge of their own actions and responsibilities. Provide Lots of Rewards. Cats need to feel valued and affirmed for who they are and what they do. Rewards, even small treats, mean a lot and are always appreciated. Be generous with praise – and don’t expect any in return. the issue.. Be Clear About Boundaries. Cats need to know their limits. Be clear, consistent, and firm about the rules and boundaries. A spray water bottle and a loud “NO!” work wonders if used only when necessary (NOTE: the spray bottle technique isn’t recommended for people, even though it may be tempting at times…). Keep the Litter Box Clean. Well, there are some messes that must be cleaned up as a part of any manager’s job, aren’t there? Maintain a clean, safe environment in which to do your business, and you’ll have much happier cats! http://ezinearticles.com/?Herding-Cats:--Ten-Tips-for-Managing-People&id=238026 Don’t think that leadership is a cake walk. God said the following about Jesus, “ For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

116)

HEZEKIAH: A GODLY KING

II Chronicles 32:7-8 “ Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.” A lot of the kings of Israel turned out to be wicked, however, Hezekiah was a godly king who ruled well and who opposed idolatry. Hezekiah also stopped paying tribute to Israel’s enemies and was intelligent in his defence of Jewish territory. He did not trust in the arm of flesh, but in the power of God. The following description in the Britannica encyclopaedia tells Hezekiah’s story. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9040348/Hezekiah: “Hezekiah reigned at a time when the Assyrian empire was consolidating its control of Palestine and Syria. His father had placed Judah under Assyrian suzerainty in 735 BC. Hezekiah may have taken part in a rebellion against King Sargon II of Assyria (reigned 721–705 BC), which the Assyrians apparently crushed in the year 710. At the accession of Sennacherib (705–681 BC), further rebellions broke out all over the Assyrian empire. Hezekiah may have been the leader of the rebellion in Palestine, which included the city-states of Ascalon and Ekron and gained the support of Egypt. In preparing for the inevitable Assyrian campaign to retake Palestine, Hezekiah strengthened the defences of his capital, Jerusalem, and dug out the famous Siloam tunnel (2 Kings 20:20, 2 Chronicles 32:30), which brought the water of the Gihon springs to a reservoir inside the city wall. Sennacherib finally put down the rebellion in 701 BC, overrunning Judah, taking 46 of its walled cities, and placing much conquered Judaean territory under the control of neighbouring states. While Sennacherib was besieging the city of Lachish, Hezekiah sought to spare Jerusalem itself from capture by paying a heavy tribute of gold and silver to the Assyrian king, who nevertheless demanded the city's unconditional surrender. At this point Jerusalem was saved by a miraculous plague that decimated the Assyrian army. This event gave rise to the belief in Judah that Jerusalem was inviolable, a belief that lasted until the city fell to the Babylonians a century later. Contradictory dates for Sennacherib's invasion are given in the Book of Kings, and he may possibly have invaded Judah a second time near the close of Hezekiah's reign. In his religious reforms, Hezekiah asserted Judah's inherited Hebrew traditions and practices against imported cults of the Assyrian gods. He thus tried to achieve both political and religious independence for Judah, but the catastrophe of 701 BC left among his people an unmistakable yearning for an ideal king who would restore the golden age of David. ”In II Chronicles 32:32 – 32 the Scriptures say, “Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefist of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.” Look up Hezekiah in Amos and Isaiah and learn more about what made this king so faithful and godly. Remember that we are supposed to leave the fighting of our battles to the Lord and not the arm of flesh.

117)

THE HIDDEN GOD

Isaiah 45:15 “Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God Israel, the Saviour.” In the Old Testament God was physically present and visible. He dramatically parted the Red Sea for the Jews fleeing the Egyptian army, and after the Exodus He became a pillar of fire by night and a cloud in the daytime to guide them. Although there was plenty of sinning going on there weren’t too many atheists back then. God appeared also in visions, dreams, and theophanies. Moses saw the miracle of the burning bush. . In the New Testament Christ did a lot of healings and miracles to show that He was the Son of God. At Pentecost tongues of fire showed the presence of the Holy Spirit. Yet the prophet Isaiah declared that God deliberately hides Himself. In Jeremiah 29:13 we get a clue as to what God expects of us. He commands: “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” The Lord seems to want a whole-hearted effort in searching for Him. But many Christians secretly ask, “Why doesn’t God make Himself visible and perform obvious miracles today? Wouldn’t more people get saved?” Although we don’t fully know all the reasons why God hides Himself we are privileged to have his written will in the Bible and the indwelling Holy Spirit to guide us. People in the Old Testament didn’t have that. It is interesting to note that God’s name is never mentioned once in the book of Esther yet His mighty hand is evident all through the book. Although God is hidden He is still our Sovereign and our saviour. There is no one else to go to .The following poem was written by William Cowper who suffered a lot of mental anguish. God Moves in a Mysterious Way God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform; He plants His footsteps in the sea And rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable mines Of never failing skill He treasures up His bright designs And works His sovereign will. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take; The clouds ye so much dread Are big with mercy and shall break In blessings on your head. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face. His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower. Blind unbelief is sure to err And scan His work in vain; God is His own interpreter, And He will make it plain. Isaiah 55:8 points out , “ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways saith the LORD.

118)

HONEY

Mr 1:6 “And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;” Sugar used to be a commodity that only the royalty could afford. Queen Elizabeth I had black teeth because of her sugar habit. Most of her subjects ate honey that they found instead. Today individual North Americans eat a staggering 149 pounds of sugar a year. Sugar leads to tooth decay, too much insulin which creates constant hunger, makes people overweight, and may be a factor in developing diabetes. At http://www.femhealth.com/BenefitsofHoney.html the benefits of consuming honey are explained: “Honey has long been recognized as a natural remedy and has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. “Perhaps your parents failed to mention it when they discussed the birds and the bees with you, but honey has long been known to have a multitude of healing powers with everything from relieving a sore throat, allergies, healing wounds, etc. It also goes great with peanut butter... . Research shows that a spoonful of honey is more effective than DM cough syrup in treating coughs - and is safe for children over 12 months old, according to Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, December 2007. Other research from the University of California, ... reveals that honey consumption raises antioxidant levels. Honey soothes on contact and has well-established antioxidant and antimicrobial effects, which helps explain its contributions to wound healing.” In the study, 25 people were told to eat between four and 10 tablespoons of buckwheat honey, depending on their weight, each day for a month. They could eat the honey in almost any form, but it couldn't be baked or dissolved in tea. Many chose to eat straight from the spoon. Antioxidant levels rose in the participants. Antioxidants provide defence against free radicals, which cause cell damage.” John the baptist was not the original health food nut. Adam and Eve probably had honey on the Garden of Eden. The Bible says that the fear and judgements of God are even sweeter than honey. Psalm 19:9-10 “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

119)

IT’S HARD KEEPING THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT

Exodus 20:12 “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” Deuteronomy 5:16 “Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

Leviticus 19: “Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the LORD your God” What does the word “honour” mean? In Hebrew the word for honour is “kabed”. The following website defines honour as: wide-ranging verb; no one specific behavior is commanded children may respond in multiple ways to honor parents (respect, esteem, concern for, affection, love, consideration, appreciation, nurture, forgiveness. . .) involves positive acts to help them, bring them joy, improve their lives “obedience is not at the center of what it means to honor” command directed primarily at adults (to protect parents from being driven out of their home / abused when they could no longer work) includes among its meanings “be heavy” suggesting “give weight to.” Parents should be treated with seriousness. ( http://www.stjohnadulted.org/cmd_05.htm#Honor%20and%20fear%20/%20revere) The problem with keeping the fifth commandment is when your parents have been either verbally or physically abusive. There are parents that are obnoxious alcoholics who have wrecked their homes or who have destroyed the self-esteem of their children by constantly telling them that they won’t amount to anything and that they are stupid. How does one honour an abusive parent? The Lord tells us to forgive our enemies, including hurtful parents. Hebrews 11:25 says “ And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” That doesn’t mean we have to go back into the abusive situation and put ourselves at risk all over again, but that we divest ourselves of the hatred we have in our hearts. Someone said that hatred in the soul is like burning down the house to get rid of the rat. Can you honour the parents that hurt you or do you still have some forgiving to do?

120)

HOW HAS THE HUMAN RACE SURVIVED?

Genesis 6:6 “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Have you ever wondered how the human race has survived? Well, it almost didn’t. In Genesis, because of the evil that man was doing, God was sorry that he made the human race and sent a flood over all the earth. Only eight people survived. Noah and his family plus the animals were saved by staying in the ark. One particularly dark period in history was when the bubonic plague struck. It must have looked to those living during that period that the whole human race was going to be wiped out. The website, “Epic Disasters” comments on the plague: The Black Death 1300s - 1400s, with further outbreaks into the 1700s. The Black Death is the name commonly given to the epidemic outbreaks of bubonic plague that killed nearly a third of

the population of Europe—as many as 34 million people. It is said to have killed similar numbers in China and India. The Middle East also was hit hard. Although no totals are known, a 1348 1349 outbreak may have killed 400,000 in Syria. Similar numbers for Africa are reasonable. So, the total worldwide almost certainly reaches close to 100 million. The reason this is not considered the worst, however, is that the Black Death killed those 100 million over a period of 200 years. The Great Influenza killed that number in six months. The Black Death is traditionally attributed to one of the three forms of the plague caused by the bacterium Y.pestis (bubonic, pneumonic and septicemic). Some modern researchers, however, think it may have been caused by an Ebola like virus, or anthrax.” The following poem describes the Plague: Back in the 14th century A deadly disease struck, Your family and strangers you would bury It was just sheer bad luck, Death to the affected normally came within a week. From Asia to Europe to England. Rats on a ship were to blame, so to speak It’s flea bit you at sea but then quickly spread to land. The Pope issued the Clement VI decree Named after the longest survivor Priests didn’t visit the sick you see As some sick were known to die within the hour The decree was an automatic remission of any sin. The disease was the Bubonic Plague It was so deadly killing everyone not just kin, How, why, where and when? People were still vague. The symptoms started with a headache, Then chills, fever and vomiting Feeling too tired to stay awake, Sores all over that burn, burst and sting .Daylight was to bright to stand, People laid smelling and badly bleeding inside, Many graves were dug by hand, Homes were burnt and over 25 million died. The Culprit was The Oriental rat flea Carrying a bacterium called Yesinia pestis, In four different forms across the sea, He jumped off a rat onto people without a miss. Black buboes rash the most deadly form, Bubonic. Airborne form, affected lungs Pneumonic. Most rare form was the Septicemic. Last form affecting the digestive system Enteric. . When breathing their very last breath, The sick were belived to be in Great pain, A result of collective name, The Black Death

Then in the 19th century, it came back again. http://allpoetry.com/poem/2356301. Instead of destroying the human race God gave it a saviour. In Timothy 1:10 the Bible proclaims, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”. People can try all kinds of religions to obtain salvation, but in Isaiah 43:11God proclaims, “I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”

121)

HOW HAVE THE MIGHTY FALLEN

2 Samuel 1:27 “ How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” The graveyard in Westminster Abbey is basically no different than any other burying place. It is full of lifeless bones. They are royal bones where the mighty kings and queens have fallen. Death is the great equalizer. The following poem comments on the royal cemetery. ON THE TOMBS IN WESTMINSTER ABBEY Mortality, behold and fear What a change of flesh is here! Think how many royal bones Sleep within these heaps of stones; Here they lie, had realms and lands, Who now want strength to stir their hands, Where from their pulpits sealed with dust They preach, "In greatness is no trust." Here's an acre sown indeed With the richest royallest seed That the earth did e'er suck in Since the first man died for sin: Here the bones of birth have cried "Though gods they were, as men they died!" Here are sands, ignoble things, Dropt from the ruined sides of kings: Here's a world of pomp and state Buried in dust, once dead by fate. By FRANCIS BEAUMONT. In Corinthians 5:4 the apostle Paul writes, “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” Are you facing your own mortality? You may think that you are indispensable, but eventually you will end up in the same condition that

the princes and princesses in Westminster Abbey did – a pile of bones waiting for the Resurrection.

122)

HOW MANY ANGELS ARE THERE?

Hebrews 1:7 “And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire.” Thomas Aquinas was an Italian theologian who lived from 1225-1274. He was called the “Angel Doctor” because he wrote extensively about angels and debated about how many angels could fit on the head of a pin. On a website called, “Angel Light” the number of angels is discussed: How many angels are there? While searching for the answer to this question, I found that there were only a few scripture references about numbers of angels. ”Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” ~Matthew 26:53 Daniel 7:10”A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Heb 12:22 “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place”. ~Psalms 68:17 In the first verse, after Jesus is arrested and one that was with Jesus cut off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest. Jesus said that he could pray to his Father and he would send 12+ legions of angels. A legion is said to consist of 3,000 to 5-6,000 men---36,000 to 72,000 angels. In the remaining verses, there are thousands upon thousands of angels innumerable. There are only 2 angels that are specifically called by name - Michael and Gabriel. Michael “But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” ~Daniel 10:13 “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” ~Daniel 10:21 ”And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” ~Daniel 12:1 “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke thee’.”~Jude 1:9 “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,” ~Revelation 12:7 From these few scriptures we can see that Michael is a warrior. In Daniel, a "messenger" was sent to Daniel to tell him of things to come. The messenger was delayed by the kingdom of Persia and Michael came to help him. Michael also fights against the "dragon" in heaven. Gabriel: “And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision”. ~Daniel 8:16 ”Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation” ~Daniel 9:21 “And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings”. ~Luke 1:19 “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God

unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,” ~Luke 1:26. In the above scriptures in Daniel, Daniel had a vision and sought to know the meaning of it. Gabriel was sent to Daniel to tell him of the meaning of the vision. Gabriel came again to Daniel while he was praying to tell him of times to come. Gabriel flew swiftly away. Gabriel also appeared to Zacharias to tell him of the great news that his wife Elizabeth will bear a child and they are to call him John. When Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant, Gabriel was sent from God to Nazareth to tell Mary of the most wonderful news! Jesus! He also told her of the great news of her cousin Elizabeth who was going to have a child also! There is another occurrence in the Bible where there is a reference to an angel's name. “And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour? “~Judges 13:17 “And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret?”~Judges 13:18 In the above scripture, an angel is sent to Manoah and his wife to tell them of the son they will conceive Samson. The response of the angel when Manoah asked of the angels name was that of a mystery! The word "secret" (Hebrew) means wonderful! http://www.angelslight.org/bibleangel.html When Jesus comes back, Matthew 16:27 declares, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Angels are important in God’s creation, however we are warned not to worship them. In Colossians 2:18 the Bible warns “ Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,”. Many New Age devotees like to worship angels, but we are to worship the God who made them. Have you felt the ministry of angels?

123)

HOW TO KEEP OUT OF THE DIVORCE COURTS

Heb 13:4 “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” The Bible says that God hates divorce, however, many marriages end up that way. What are the things that couples can do to make their marriage last? The website: http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/5-secrets-to-living-happily-everafter?page=2 gives five methods to keep your marriage healthy. 5 Secrets to Living Happily Ever After: By Susan Seliger We’ve all read the statistics: Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Are the lucky couples who continue to love and lust and live in relative harmony just that -- people whom the fates have blessed? Over Cupid’s dead body! Love isn’t a present that gets handed to you; it’s a special kind of learned behavior. WebMD consulted the marriage and relationship experts to learn the best advice for a good marriage – five secrets to long-lasting love. “We’re born with the capacity to have a happy marriage, but we still have to work to develop it,” says Howard Markham, PhD, co-director of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of

Denver and co-author of Fighting for Your Marriage. “Having a good marriage takes education,” Markham says. “We have to unlearn some bad habits and acquire other good ones.”Other experts WebMD consulted agree. The couples who remain close and content are the pioneer-spirited among us who share the same secret formula: When problems crop up, they don’t give up. They use the following five basic pieces of advice for a good marriage that can help every couple live (more) happily ever after. 1. Listen Up! “Everybody has the need to be listened to and fully understood,” says Jack Rosenblum, PhD, co-founder (with his wife of 29 years) of “Loveworks” couples’ workshops and co-author of Five Secrets of Marriage from the Heart. You need to make your partner feel heard, even if that means pushing aside some anxiety or sitting on your hands rather than offering advice when your partner needs to talk. Sometimes “mirroring,” or simply repeating what your spouse has said, is enough to let him or her know that you’ve been listening. For example, say something like, “I understand you’re upset because I didn’t take out the trash.” Or “I hear that you want to talk about what happened at the office today.” Provide evidence that you’re paying attention to your partner’s concerns. 2. Set aside regular couple time. “Early on in a relationship couples talk as friends, they do fun things,” says Markham. “But over time, those ways of connecting change.” Work, family, financial woes, all have a way of overtaking daily life and eroding the sense of fun that brought you two together in the first place. Bring the fun back – even if you have to schedule it in the calendar once every week. Sharing a physical activity, like a bike ride or a walk around the block, is especially good for lifting your spirits along with your heart rate. Activities like going out for an intimate dinner, staying at home and playing music from your college days, or watching a favorite movie (will help you both remember why you chose each other. If cash is in short supply, trade off babysitting with a friend and plan a picnic in the park. There are 168 hours in a week: make a commitment to devote at least two of those hours to your marriage every week. 3. Don’t throw things. Of course, you and your partner are not going to agree about everything. But in expressing disagreement to your partner, playground rules apply -- no insults, name calling, or throwing things. “If you disagree, do it in a civil way,” says Jack Rosenblum. “Don’t make the other person wrong, don’t say he’s stupid. Instead, say, ‘You think we ought to do this. I have another thought about it.’” If your disagreement seems to be escalating, call a mutually agreed upon time-out, and make a plan to continue the discussion after a cooling-off period. Keeping things on a calm, even keel is better for your blood pressure and your marriage. When in doubt, follow Ogden Nash’s sage advice for resolving conflicts: To keep your marriage brimming With love in the marriage cup, Whenever you’re wrong, admit it, Whenever you’re right, shut up. 4. Turn up the heat. “If your sex life is diminishing or you’re not having sex as often as one partner in the relationship would like, then you have to make getting your intimate life back on track a priority,” says Markham. “It’s ironic that when we’re wooing our partners, we make this tremendous effort, and after we get into a relationship, we put that on the back burner.” Think about your partner as someone you want – and someone you want to entice to fall in love with you over and over again. “Pay attention to your grooming, be romantic, don’t take your partner for granted,” advises Markham. “Think about your mate as someone you want to end up in bed with at the end of the evening.” 5. Ask for what you want – nicely. “If there’s something you’d like your spouse to do, you have three choices,” says Rosenblum. “Keep it to yourself and let it fester; bad rap them to your

friends; or talk about it. The best choice is to talk about it.” How’s he supposed to know that you wish he’d bring home flowers or that a back rub would be a dream come true? Tell him – simply, sweetly, and directly. Don’t drop obscure hints – this is not a test to see if he or she loves you. It’s about giving yourself permission to ask for what you want and requesting it lovingly – without accusations or guilt-tripping. If a few weeks go by and you still don’t get those roses, have a second conversation. “Gee, I don’t know what to make of the fact that I told you I’d love to get flowers once in a while and you haven’t bought any.” If he gets defensive and discussion becomes impossible, you might consider seeing a marriage counselor who can offer advice for a good marriage. But more than likely he’ll explain he’s not good at buying flowers, he passed a shop and thought about it but didn’t know which flowers to buy. Tell him roses or daises will do just fine. Most of us -- men and women alike -- don’t realize that even small gestures go a long way to making our mates, and our marriages, happy. Matthew 19:5 says of marriage: “And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?”

124)

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE PROPERLY

2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Studying the Bible is essential to success in your Christian life, but it cannot be just a random selection of verses or chapters. The Scriptures have progressive revelation starting at the dawn of humanity in Genesis and ending in the triumph of God in his millennial kingdom described in Revelation. On the website http://www.wikihow.com/Study-the-Bible the author makes some suggestions about Bible study. Of course there are many more methods as well, but start with just a few good ones. Have the right attitude. This is an unavoidable prerequisite to understanding the Bible. Having a proper attitude consists of the following: Salvation. Christianity teaches that the Bible is the divine word of God to his people, and therefore non-Christians will fail to grasp the spiritual concepts. They may read the simple denotations but cannot see past them. Therefore, a "born-again" heart is held as the first and foremost requirement. Desire. The Bible should be approached with an earnest, disciplined desire to learn from it. This desire should not be a passing indulgence swayed by mood swings, but a steadfast need. The "dry oatmeal approach" ("the Bible is bland and boring but nourishing") is a far cry from the genuine "double-fudge brownies approach" ("I just can't get enough of it!"). Be excited about the Bible if you believe it to be God's word; don't treat it like a chore. The starving man is the one who gets the most out of his food. Submission. Many Christians simply cherrypick their way through Scripture, selecting passages that suit their lives and ignoring the rest. A true eagerness towards God's word should be accompanied by a willingness to change based on what

is read. Obedience is key. Get a Bible. Choose a translation to use during your study. You should generally stick with only one translation, as this provides consistency. Avoid "paraphrase" translations the likes of The Message. Four great translations that stick closely to the original text are the King James Version (KJV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV) and the Revised Standard Version (RSV). Get rid of all distractions. Turn of the television or radio. Put the snacks and food bowls away. Unless you're studying with a group, try to seclude yourself as much as possible. This is alone time between you and God. Pray. Ask God to help you interpret his word before you even begin. Mankind can only have a limited understanding of an eternal spiritual being. Keep in communication with the Lord before, during, and after studying the Bible. Read a book. Select a book of the Bible to study (see "Tips") and read it. Read the entire book from the beginning. Try to read the book in one sitting (you may want to divide especially lengthy books). Be thoughtful and patient as you read. Put in energy and concentration. Read the book again. And again. And again. Read the book repeatedly to give yourself a better understanding of it. Repetition will help cement the book into your memory, and you will pay attention to more and more each time. G. Campbell Morgan would not attempt to study a book before he read it at least thirty times. Look around in books or the Internet for more tips on proper Bible study and remember that a text out of context is a pretext. In Ephesians 3:4, the apostle Paul said, “ Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.”

125)

HYSSOP

Exodus12:22-23 “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.” Hyssop in the Bible is associated with purification and expunging sins. It was part of the protection from the grim reaper that killed the firstborn before the Exodus, but it also had its medicinal uses as well. The following Christian website explains: “Hyssop is one of the most oft- mentioned aromatic herbs and essential oils in the Bible, coming third after only Myrrh and Frankincense. According to Dr. David Stewart in his book Healing Oils of the Bible, Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) was used by the ancients for “purification from sin, addictions and destructive habits” as well as “respiratory relief, decongestant, expectorant, repeller of evil spirits” - as it was used to the repel the evil spirit of the Angel of Death during the tenth plague. Hyssop is a scrubby, fragile plant of the mint family, Lamiaceae (or Lamiateae). The aroma of hyssop is bitter and sweet. Traditionally a “strewing plant,” the stems and leaves carry an essential oil which is useful for treating respiratory complaints and may support the immune system. Hyssop is also helpful in stimulating alertness and to relieve anxiety, arthritis, asthma, respiratory infections, parasites, sore throats, and more. Of the Passover story in particular, he says, “While the symbology of the blood of the lamb saving the sons of the Israelites has strong

significance for Christians, it is also interesting to note that the ancient Hebrews... believed that the scent of hyssop would repel evil spirits. God’s instructions were to ‘strike’ the lintel and door posts, which would have bruised the hyssop leaves and released the scent of its oil. http://naturalmedicine.suite101.com/article.cfm/hyssop_the_lost_herb_of_passover) The hyssop plant is easy to grow and has a pretty purple blossom. Today, we see it as a decorative or medicinal herb, not necessarily a spiritual defender. In the New Testament, Paul says in Hebrews 9:19 “ For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,….”

126)

IN FOR THE LONG HAUL

Psalms 86:15 “But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.” The first ever cross-country trek from San Francisco to New York was achieved in 1903 in a Packard car which made the excursion in 52 days. The Packard was a luxury vehicle built in Detroit, Michigan. Packards first rolled off the line in 1899 and the last were manufactured in 1958. Today they are a highly sought after collectors’ item. The Antiques Road Show comments, “By the early 1900s, cars powered by gasoline had begun to sell widely throughout the United States. Oldsmobile launched mass production of automobiles in 1901; Henry Ford improved the assembly line and was able to churn out his legendary Model T in just 93 minutes. But while Ford was selling cars for $440, the Packard Motor Company focused on luxury cars whose prices began at $2,600. Many dignitaries and heads of state took great pride in owning a Packard. Soon after cars began to catch on in the U.S., toy manufacturers started producing miniature versions for children to ride in and play with. Pioneer was a leading producer of children's riding toys, including the Packard car presented here. It dates from 1914 and features pedals that allowed children to propel the car forward.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/tg/pedalcar.html In the Sanfancisco/New York race the driver had to have “patient endurance” or “longsuffering”, since the Packard at that time would only go thirty miles an hour. The following website comments on this fruit of the spirit. “Longsuffering is also be referred to as patience. Patience is being mild, gentle, and constant in all circumstances. The real test of patience is not in waiting, but in how one acts while he or she is waiting. A person who has developed patience will be able to put up with things without losing his or her temper. Scripture tells us in James 1:4 "But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting (lacking) nothing." Reaching this point is definitely a process which takes a lot of practice. However, we can learn to enjoy life where we are while we are waiting for what we desire.” http://www.christcenteredmall.com/teachings/fruits/longsuffering.htm Just as the driver of the Packard endured the stress of the race, so God is in it for the long haul for each of us. He does not give up on us even if we are sinful or impatient. Paul writes in Heb 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

127)

IN TIME OF WAR

James 4:1-2 “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.” It has been said that since WWII has been fought we have become embroiled in World War III. In James it says that war is caused by lusts. This could be lust for oil, lust for territory, or lust for power. The following poem was written during World War II by Alfred Noyes. A Prayer in Time of War Thou, whose deep ways are in the sea, Whose footsteps are not known, To-night a world that turned from Thee Is waiting at Thy Throne. The towering Babels that we raised Where scoffing sophists brawl, The little Antichrists we praised The night is on them all. The fool hath said . . . The fool hath said. And we, who deemed him wise, We who believed that Thou wast dead, How should we seek Thine eyes? How should we seek to Thee for power Who scorned Thee yesterday? How should we kneel, in this dread hour? Lord, teach us how to pray! Grant us the single heart, once more, That mocks no sacred thing, The Sword of Truth our fathers wore When Thou wast Lord and King. Let darkness unto darkness tell Our deep unspoken prayer, For, while our souls in darkness dwell, We know that Thou art there. Poets.org has the following background information on the poet.

Alfred Noyes was born on September 16, 1880, in Wolverhampton, England to Alfred and Amelia Adams Noyes. His father, a grocer and a teacher, taught Noyes Latin and Greek. Noyes attended Exeter College, Oxford, but left before he earned a degree. At the age of twenty-one he published his first collection of poems, The Loom Years (1902), which received praise from respected poets such as William Butler Yeats and George Meredith…. His autobiography, Two Worlds for Memory, was published in 1953. Alfred Noyes died on June 25, 1958, and was buried on Isle of Wight. http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/674 The war we see in our living rooms is external, but with all of us there is a fight within. In 1 Peter 2:11 it says, “ Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;” Are you fighting a war with the passions of the flesh? Overeating, drinking, gambling, being a shopaholic? Ask Jesus to help you win against this battle.

128)

INTERCESSORY PRAYER

Genesis 18:27 “And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: 28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.” Charles H. Spurgeon called “the prince of preachers” in the nineteeth century preached a sermon on intercessory prayer and Abraham’s intercession for Sodom before it was destroyed. Spurgeon said: “With what importunity did he approach the Lord on the plains of Mamre, when he wrestled with him again and again for Sodom; how frequently did he reduce the number, as though, to use the expression of the Puritan, "He were bidding and beating down the price at the market." "Peradventure there be fifty; peradventure there lack five of the fifty; peradventure there be twenty found there; peradventure there be ten righteous found there: wilt thou not spare the city for the sake of ten?" Well did he wrestle, and if we may sometimes be tempted to wish he had not paused when he did, yet we must commend him for continuing so long to plead for that doomed and depraved city.” Spurgeon continues: But further, while we might commend this duty by quoting innumerable examples from the lives of eminent saints, it is enough for the disciple of Christ if we say that Christ in His holy gospel has made it your duty and your privilege to intercede for others. When he taught us to pray, he said, "Our Father," and the expressions which follow are not in the singular but in the plural—"Give us this day our daily bread." "Forgive us our debts"; "Lead us not into temptation"; evidently intending to set forth that none of us are to pray for ourselves alone, that while we may have sometimes prayers so bitter that they must be personal like the Saviour's own—"Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me"; yet, as a rule, our prayers should be public prayers, though offered in private; and even in secret we should not forget the church of the living God. By the mouth of Paul how frequently does the Holy Ghost exhort us to pray for ministers! "Brethren," says Paul, "pray for us"; and then after exhorting them to offer prayers and supplications for all classes and conditions of men, he adds, "And for us also that we may have boldness to speak as we ought to speak." While James, who is ever a practical apostle, bids us pray for one another; in that same verse, where he says, "Confess your sins the one to the other," he says, "and pray one for another," and adds the privilege "that ye may be healed," as if the healing would not only come to the sick person for whom we pray, but to us who offer the prayer; we, too, receiving some special blessing when our hearts are enlarged for the people of the living God.

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0404.htm Part of Job’s restoration was to offer up intercessory prayer for his friends who had tormented him when he was ill. Some Christians smitten by chronic illness or disability have an important ministry of intercessory prayer which is done in secret. Yet, intercessory prayer is a sublime ministry for every Christian. Job 42:10,12,15,16 And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, even four generations.”

129)

IS THE BLACK HORSE GETTING READY TO RIDE?

Revelation 6:5-6 “And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” “New Scientist” on its website reports that a famine may be on the way because of the Ug99 fungus. With the population of the world outstripping the production of food on this planet it leaves the world’s food supply in a precarious state. “New Scientist” says: “Killer fungus spells disaster for wheat. A WHEAT disease that could destroy most of the world’s main wheat crops could strike south Asia’s vast wheat fields two years earlier than research had suggested, leaving millions to starve. The fungus, called Ug99, has spread from Africa to Iran, and may already be in Pakistan. If so, this is extremely bad news, as Pakistan is not only critically reliant on its wheat crop, it is also the gateway to the Asian breadbasket, including the vital Punjab region. Scientists met this week in Syria to decide on emergency measures to track Ug99’s progress. They hope to slow its spread by spraying fungicide or even stopping farmers from planting wheat in the spores’ path. The only real remedy will be new wheat varieties that resist Ug99, and they may not be ready for five years. The fungus has just pulled ahead in the race. Ug99, a virulent strain of black stem rust (Puccinia graminis) was identified in Uganda in 1999. Since then it has invaded Kenya and Ethiopia and, last year, Yemen. From previous fungal invasions, scientists expected the prevailing winds to carry Ug99 spores to Egypt, Turkey and Syria, and then east to Iran, a major wheat-grower, buying them some time. But on 8 June 2007, Cyclone Gonu hit the Arabian peninsula, the worst storm there for 30 years. “We know it changed the winds,” says Wafa Khoury of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, because desert locusts the FAO had been tracking in Yemen blew north towards Iran instead of northwest as expected. “We think it may have done that to the rust spores.” This means, she says, that Ug99 has reached Iran a year or two earlier than predicted. The fear is that the same winds could have blown the spores into Pakistan, which is also north of Yemen, and where surveillance of the fungus is limited. There could be more unpleasant surprises in store. On mature wheat, the fungus reproduces asexually to release billions of identical spores. If the spores drift onto a barberry bush (Berberis vulgaris), however, they switch to sexual reproduction, and so could swap genes with other stem rusts to produce completely new variants. Iran is a hotspot for

barberry. Scientists have now found out how Ug99 took hold, says Rick Ward of CIMMYT, the wheat breeding institute in Mexico that started the Green Revolution. “It turns out most of Kenya was planted with a wheat variety that contained only one gene for rust resistance, SR24,” he told New Scientist … .Without such fears, says Khouri, “it is hard to convince donors to take preventive actions, when people are not starving now”. But that may not be far off. “People will start starving if Ug99 cuts harvests enough to push up grain prices,” warns Ward. The problem is that crop breeding is slow. It usually takes at least five years to cross disease-resistant lines with wheat varieties adapted to local conditions in the world’s wheat-growing countries, then grow enough seed to plant fields threatened by Ug99. http://www.newscientist.com In the world’s history there have been many famines before. Genesis 41:56-57 says, “And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.” The Pale horse will be riding in the near future. Are you ready for Jesus to come? 1 Corinthians 15:52 the New Testament says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

130)

ITCHING EARS

2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” Noam Chomsky is a social critic who has strong views on the media. He believes that in a democracy the government doesn’t control the people by guns and tanks, but by manipulating them through the media. On the website: http://www.zmag.org/chomsky/talks/9103-mediacontrol.html he comments: “Public relations is a huge industry. They're spending by now something on the order of a billion dollars a year. All along its committment was to controlling the public mind.... ...The corporate executive and the guy who cleans the floor all have the same interests. We can all work together and work for Americanism in harmony, liking each other. That was essentially the message. A huge amount of effort was put into presenting it. This is, after all, the business community, so they control the media and have massive resources... Mobilizing community opinion in favor of vapid, empty concepts like Americanism. Who can be against that? Or, to bring it up to date, "Support our troops." Who can be against that? Or yellow ribbons. Who can be against that?... The point of public relations slogans like "Support our troops" is that they don't mean anything. They mean as much as whether you support the people in Iowa. Of course, there was an issue. The issue was, Do you support our policy? But you don't want people to think about the issue. That's the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody's going to be against, and everybody's going to be for, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn't mean anything, but its crucial value is that it diverts your attention.... That's all very effective. It runs right up to today. And of course it is carefully thought out. The people in the public relations industry aren't there for the fun of it. They're doing work. They're trying to instill the right values. In fact, they have a conception of what democracy ought to be: It ought to be a system in which the specialized class is trained to work in the service of the masters, the people who own the society. The rest of the population ought to be deprived of any form of organization, because organization just causes trouble. They ought to be sitting alone in front of the TV and having drilled into their heads the message, which says, the only value in life is to have more commodities or live like that rich middle class

family you're watching and to have nice values like harmony and Americanism. That's all there is in life … .. The conception of democracy is the one that I mentioned. The bewildered herd is a problem. We've got to prevent their rage and trampling. We've got to distract them. They should be watching the Superbowl or sitcoms or violent movies. Every once in a while you call on them to chant meaningless slogans like "Support our troops." You've got to keep them pretty scared, because unless they're properly scared and frightened of all kinds of devils that are going to destroy them from outside or inside or somewhere, they may start to think, which is very dangerous, because they're not competent to think. Therefore it's important to distract them and marginalize them. “ Paul talk about a time when people will have “itching ears” and will not believe the truth. In John18:37 the apostle explained: “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? The devil is the father of lies and makes this world into a web of lies, however, Jesus is the truth.

131)

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Genesis 32:28 “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” In Genesis 25:19-28, the Bible tells prophetic story about the Isaac’s twin boys – Jacob and Essau who became the Arabic and Semitic people. “Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddam-aram. Rebekah was the sister of Laban. 21 Isaac pleaded with Jehovah to give Rebekah a child, for even after many years of marriage, she had no children. Then at last she became pregnant. And it seemed as though children were fighting each other inside her! "I can't endure this," she exclaimed. So she asked the Lord about it. And he told her, "The sons in your womb shall become two rival nations. One will be stronger than the other; and the older shall be a servant of the younger!" And sure enough, Rebekah had twins. The first was born so covered with reddish hair that one would think he was wearing a fur coat! (some references say "cloak" or "mantle" or "hairy garment") and they called his name "Esau," like "hair" in Hebrew. 26 Then the other twin was born with his hand grabbing Esau's heel and his name was called "Jacob," meaning "grabber" or "cheater." Isaac was threescore years old when the twins were born. And the boys grew; and Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors; and Jacob was a farmer, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison; but Rebekah loved Jacob.” From that moment on Jacob and his brother were the opposite in character, manners, and habits. Jacob's mother doted on him, therefore increasing the hostility between the brothers. One day Esau, who appears to be the hungriest man in the Bible, came back from hunting and smelled a special stew that Jacob had made. It was made of lentils or small beans, which were common in Egypt and Syria. These were considered a delicacy at the time. Esau was so ravenous that he said, "I am at the point to die"(Genesis 25:32). Cunningly sensing an advantage, Jacob retorts, "Sell me ... thy birthright"(Genesis 25:31). This was his father, Isaac's inheriheritance intended for the first born which was a double portion and would have made him the family priest. However, Esau with the smell of lentil stew in his nostrils, gives in to his appetite and sells his birthright for the tasty dish. Except for the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, there was never a meal that cost a man so much. Jacob was forced to leave home for fear of his brother's anger. In his flight from

home, Jacob one night dreams of a ladder extending from heaven to earth with the God of his family standing above it. It is then that Jacob wrestles with God and has his name changed to “Israel”. Genesis 32: 24-28 records, “And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?” Jacob’s wrestling with God left him with a permanent limp and Jacob’s new name signaled new behavior.

132)

JEREMIAH: THE WEEPING PROPHET

Jeremiah 3: 9-16 “ Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes.” Jeremiah was known as “the weeping prophet” which is evident in the book of Lamentations authored by him. The website http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=101185 comments: “Jeremiah, called out during a nationwide revival. Jeremiah, called under the rein of King Josiah who had all the pagan God’s destroyed. In 627 BC this boy – this teenager – this kid heard the voice of God call him out from the crowd, to do an unusual thing for an extraordinary God. Jeremiah of course responded like not just a teen would, but as most of us with an excuse with a line of reasoning…trying to at least sound rational. “Look God, I’m just a kid, and this is a man’s job.” “Who’s gonna listen to what I have to say.” “Who’s going to respond to what I have to say.” “Surely you could find somebody else more suited, more qualified for this job.” God’s response to Jeremiah’s refusal can be seen in Jeremiah1:5 “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD. Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy,” In Lamentations chapter three, Jeremiah wails about his afflictions and hardships, but he still trusts in the Lord and his mercy. There is an interesting parallel between the prophet’s suffering and his steadfast faith. Do you feel too young or too old to serve the Lord? Regardless of your age, the Lord will equip you for ministry. Has hardship made you bitter? You cannot top

Jeremiah’s grief or bitterness. In Lamentations 3:5-26 “ He hath builded against me, and compassed me with gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places, as they that be dead of old. He hath hedged me about, that I cannot get out: he hath made my chain heavy. Also when I cry and shout, he shutteth out my prayer. He hath inclosed my ways with hewn stone, he hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces: he hath made me desolate. He hath bent his bow, and set me as a mark for the arrow. He hath caused the arrows of his quiver to enter into my reins. I was a derision to all my people; and their song all the day. He hath filled me with bitterness, he hath made me drunken with wormwood. He hath also broken my teeth with gravel stones, he hath covered me with ashes. And thou hast removed my soul far off from peace: I forgat prosperity. And I said, My strength and my hope is perished from the LORD: Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” Do you have great sorrow in your life? Tell God about it and ask for trust in Him again.

133)

JEROME: A SAINT WHO LOVED SCRIPTURE

John 7:38 “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” The website “Christian History and Biography: 131 Christians Everybody Should Know” writes about Jerome who was born in 345 and translated the Vulgate. One of Jerome’s favorite sayings was: "Make knowledge of the Scripture your love … Live with them, meditate on them, make them the sole object of your knowledge and inquiries." The website continues, “ Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius, thankfully known as Jerome, was probably the greatest Christian scholar in the world by his mid-30s. Perhaps the greatest figure in the history of Bible translation, he spent three decades creating a Latin version that would be the standard for more than a millennium. But this was no bookish egghead. Jerome was also an extreme ascetic with a nasty disposition who showered his opponents with sarcasm and invective… Creator of the Vulgate: A wealthy student of Jerome's founded a monastery in Bethlehem for him to administer (it also included three cloisters for women and a hostel for pilgrims). Here he finished his greatest contribution (begun in 382 at Damasus's instruction): translating the Bible into everyday Latin (later to be called the Vulgate, meaning "common"). Though there were Latin versions available, they varied widely in accuracy. "If we are to pin our faith to the Latin texts," Damasus had once written to him, "it is for our opponents to tell us which, for there are almost as many forms as there are copies. If, on the other hand, we are to glean the truth from a comparison of many, why not go back to the original Greek and correct the mistakes introduced by inaccurate translators, and the blundering alterations of confident but ignorant critics, and, further, all that

has been inserted or changed by copyists more asleep than awake?" At first Jerome worked from the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint. But then he established a precedent for later translators: the Old Testament would have to be translated from the original Hebrew. In his quest for accuracy, he consulted Jewish rabbis and others. One of the biggest differences he saw between the Septuagint and the original Hebrew was that the Jews did not include the books now known as the Apocrypha in their canon of Holy Scripture. Though he still felt obligated to include them, Jerome made it clear that he thought them to be church books, not fully inspired canonical books. (Reformation leaders would later remove them entirely from their Bibles.) After 23 years, Jerome completed his translation, which Christians used for more than 1,000 years, and in 1546 the Council of Trent declared it the only authentic Latin text of the Scriptures. Sadly, the text of the Vulgate that circulated throughout the Middle Ages was a corrupt form of Jerome's work, encumbered by copyists' errors. (In the late sixteenth century, corrected editions were published.) Jerome's work became so widely revered that until the Reformation, translators worked from the Vulgate; not for a thousand years did scholars again translate directly from the Greek New Testament. And ironically, Jerome's Bible added impetus to the use of Latin as the Western church's language, resulting centuries later in a liturgy and Bible lay people could not understand—precisely the opposite of Jerome's original intention. For Jerome, however, his scholarship gave him an appreciation of the Word of God he carried for the rest of his life: "Make knowledge of the Scripture your love … Live with them, meditate on them, make them the sole object of your knowledge and inquiries." http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/special/131christians/jerome.html In 2 Timothy 2:15 the Bible commands, “ Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Do you love Scripture? Do you study it deeply? Apart from following God, studying His word should be a top priority.

134)

JOHNATHAN EDWARDS ON CHARITY

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 “ If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” The great preacher, Johnathan Edwards who lived from 1703-1758 and started a revival called, “The Great Awakening” in New England preached a sermon titled “Christian Charity”.The duty here enjoined, is giving to the poor. “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: — Thou shalt surely give him.” Here by thy poor brother is to be understood the same as in other places is meant by neighbor. It is explained in Lev. 25:35 to mean not only those of their own nation, but even strangers and sojourners. “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner.” The Pharisees indeed interpreted it to signify only one of their own nation. But Christ condemns this interpretation, Luke 10:29, etc. and teaches, in contradiction to their opinion, that the rules of charity, in the law of Moses, are to be extended to the Samaritans, who were not of their nation,

and between whom and the Jews there was the most bitter enmity, and who were a people very troublesome to the Jews. We may also observe how peremptorily this duty is here enjoined, and how much it is insisted on. It is repeated over and over again, and enjoined in the strongest terms. Deu. 15:7, “Thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother.” Verse 8, “But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him.” Verse 10, “Thou shalt surely give him.” Verse 11, “I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy.” Moreover, God strictly warns against objections, Deu. 15:9, “Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought, and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.” The matter concerning the seventh year, or year of release, was thus: God had given Israel a law, that every seventh year should be a year of release; that if any man had lent anything to any of his poor neighbors, if the latter had not been able to repay it before that year, the former should release it, and should not exact it of his neighbor, but give it to him. Therefore God warns the children of Israel against making of this an objection to helping their poor neighbors, that the year of release was near at hand, and it was not likely that they would be able to refund it again before that time, and then they should lose it wholly, because then they would be obliged to release it. God foresaw that the wickedness of their hearts would be very ready to make such an objection. But very strictly warns them against it, that they should not be the more backward to supply the wants of the needy for that, but should be willing to give him. “Thou shalt be willing to lend, expecting nothing again.” We may observe here several enforcements of this duty. There is a reason of this duty implied in God’s calling him that is needy, our brother: “Thou shalt not shut thine hand from thy poor brother.” And Deu. 15:9, “Beware that thine eye be not evil against thy poor brother.” And verse 11, “Thou shalt open thine hand wide to thy brother.” We are to look upon ourselves as related to all mankind, but especially to those who are of the visible people of God. We are to look upon them as brethren, and to treat them accordingly. We shall be base indeed, if we be not willing to help a brother in want. — Another enforcement of this duty is the promise of God, that for this thing he will bless us in all our works, and in all that we put our hands unto; a promise that we shall not lose, but gain by it (Deu. 15:10).” What are you doing about giving charity to a brother? Are you able to adopt a child in the Third World? Are you giving support to reputable Christian charities that work with poor persons in underdeveloped countries? Is there a daily habit in your life that up could give in order to buy starving family a goat or a pig? Is there someone sick or aged in your community that needs a helping hand? In 2 Corinthians 9:7 Paul says, “ Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

135)

JOHN DONNE AND THE HUMAN CONDITION

Job 30:17 “My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest.” John Donne was born in Bread Street, London in 1572 to a prosperous Roman Catholic family - a precarious thing at a time when anti-Catholic sentiment was rife in England. His father, John Donne, was a well-to-do ironmonger and citizen of London. Donne's father died suddenly in 1576, and left the three children to be raised by their mother, Elizabeth, who was the daughter of epigrammatist and playwright John Heywood and a relative of Sir Thomas

More. .. .” Because of a secret marriage Donne was thrown into prison and his political career was ended. As a result, the King told Donne that he could only serve in the church. “Donne had refused to take Anglican orders in 1607, but King James persisted, finally announcing that Donne would receive no post or preferment from the King, unless in the church. In 1615, Donne reluctantly entered the ministry and was appointed a Royal Chaplain later that year. In 1616, he was appointed Reader in Divinity at Lincoln's Inn (Cambridge had conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity on him two years earlier). Donne's style, full of elaborate metaphors and religious symbolism, his flair for drama, his wide learning and his quick wit soon established him as one of the greatest preachers of the era. Donne’s “Meditation I” talks frankly about God, sickness, and the human condition: “VARIABLE, and therefore miserable condition of man! this minute I was well, and am ill, this minute. I am surprised with a sudden change, and alteration to worse, and can impute it to no cause, nor call it by any name. We study health, and we deliberate upon our meats, and drink, and air, and exercises, and we hew and we polish every stone that goes to that building; and so our health is a long and a regular work: but in a minute a cannon batters all, overthrows all, demolishes all; a sickness unprevented for all our diligence, unsuspected for all our curiosity; nay, undeserved, if we consider only disorder, summons us, seizes us, possesses us, destroys us in an instant. O miserable condition of man! which was not imprinted by God, who, as he is immortal himself, had put a coal, a beam of immortality into us, which we might have blown into a flame, but blew it out by our first sin; we beggared ourselves by hearkening after false riches, and infatuated ourselves by hearkening after false knowledge. So that now, we do not only die, but die upon the rack, die by the torment of sickness; nor that only, but are pre-afflicted, super-afflicted with these jealousies and suspicions and apprehensions of sickness, before we can call it a sickness: we are not sure we are ill; one hand asks the other by the pulse, and our eye asks our own urine how we do. O multiplied misery! we die, and cannot enjoy death, … Is this the honour which man hath by being a little world, that he hath these earthquakes in himself, sudden shakings; these lightnings, sudden flashes; these thunders, sudden noises; these eclipses, sudden offuscations and darkening of his senses; these blazing stars, sudden fiery exhalations; these rivers of blood, sudden red waters? Is he a world to himself only therefore, that he hath enough in himself, not only to destroy and execute himself, but to presage that execution upon himself; to assist the sickness, to antedate the sickness, to make the sickness the more irremediable by sad apprehensions, and, as if he would make a fire the more vehement by sprinkling water upon the coals, so to wrap a hot fever in cold melancholy, lest the fever alone should not destroy fast enough without this contribution, nor perfect the work (which is destruction) except we joined an artificial sickness of our own melancholy, to our natural, our unnatural fever. O perplexed discomposition, O riddling distemper, O miserable condition of man!” Taken from the website http://www.online-literature.com/donne/393/ Donne’s Meditiation I echos Job’s complaints: Job 71-6 “Is there not an appointed time to man upon earth? are not his days also like the days of an hireling? As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow, and as an hireling looketh for the reward of his work: So am I made to possess months of vanity, and wearisome nights are appointed to me. When I lie down, I say, When shall I arise, and the night be gone? and I am full of tossing to and fro unto the dawning of the day. My flesh is clothed with worms and clods of dust; my skin is broken, and become loathsome. days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and are spent without hope.” However, when Job finally meets God he says in , Job 19:25 “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:” Has illness weakened your faith? Are you looking forward to

Christ’s second coming as Job mentioned? Remember that God did come through for Job in he end.

136)

JOHN HARVEY KELLOGG

Psalms 43:5 “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of Kellogg’s cornflakes, was very concerned about what people ate and the state of their health. On the website called, “Great American Quacks” it says, “In 1876, at age 24, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg became the staff physician at the Battle Creek Sanitarium (The San), a position he would hold for 62 years. Kellogg was not a true quack. His surgical skill was admired by the Doctors Mayo. A vegetarian, he advocated low calorie diets and developed peanut butter, granola, and toasted flakes. He warned that smoking caused lung cancer decades before this link was studied. Kellogg was an early advocate of exercise and "biologic living." Nonetheless, Dr. Kellogg engaged in questionable medical practices. The San offered hydropathy, electropathy, mechanotherapy and radium cures. For a time, Kellogg promoted "Fletcherizing" or chewing food until it slithered down the throat. He changed his mind about Fletcherizing when he decided that excessive chewing destroyed the fiber content of the food. Kellogg opposed (all) sexual activity . http://www.museumofquackery.com/amquacks/kellogg.htm Kellogg was a Seventh-day Adventist until mid-life and gained fame while operating the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which he ran on the church's health principles. Adventists believe in a vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and a regimen of exercise, among other things, a regiment that Kellogg followed. Kellogg was an especially strong proponent of nuts, which he believed would save mankind in the face of decreasing food supply. Though mainly renowned nowadays for his development of corn flakes, Kellogg also patented a process for making peanut butter and invented healthful "granose biscuits." At the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Kellogg held classes on food preparation for homemakers. Sanitarium visitors engaged in breathing exercises and mealtime marches to promote proper digestion of food throughout the day. Because Kellogg was a staunch supporter of phototherapy, the sanitarium also made use of artificial sunbaths. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Harvey_KelloggIn 1 Corinthians 3:17 Paul warned that, “ If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” We don’t have to be as extreme as Mister Kellogg was about our health, but God does expect us to maintain our body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Do you have good health habits or do you need to discipline yourself to exercise, eat well?

137)

KATHERINE VON BORA

Proverbs 12:4 “A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband: but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones.” Martin Luther was well into middle age when he got married to an ex-nun, Katherine von Bora who proved to be very resourceful and congenial as a mate. The websitehttp://chi.gospelcom.net/DAILYF/2002/01/daily-01-29-2002.shtml describes her life: “Born on this day, January 29, 1499, Katherine was destined to set the tone for Lutheran families. But first she had to escape from her cloister. Luther had a hand in that. When he learned that Katherine and others wanted out, he conferred with a friend of his. Merchant Kopp often delivered herring to the convent. One evening in 1523, he bundled twelve nuns into his wagon and packed them in the empty fish barrels! Several of the nuns returned to their families; Luther helped find homes, husbands, or positions for the rest. Within two years after their fishy ride, all of the nuns had been provided for except one--Katherine. Gradually, through the persuasion of friends and his father--and Katie's own impish suggestion--Luther married her himself. She was 26, he was 42. Luther was living in the building that had been the Augustinian monastery at Wittenberg. Katie took over its operation in 1525, the year of her marriage. She cleaned the place up and brought order to Luther's daily life. Soon Luther wrote, "There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage. One wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before." After a year of marriage he wrote another friend, "My Katie is in all things so obliging and pleasing to me that I would not exchange my poverty for the riches of Croesus." Katie managed the family finances and freed Luther for writing, teaching, and preaching. Luther called her the "morning star of Wittenberg" since she rose at 4 a.m. to care for her many responsibilities. She took care of the vegetable garden, orchard, fishpond, and barnyard animals, even butchering the stock herself. Had she not been a hard-working woman of pure character, the reformation might have suffered. For centuries, the Reformer's family served as a model for German families. Luther viewed marriage as a school for character: Family life helps train Christians in the virtues of fortitude, patience, charity, and humility. This is because all families have their problems, and his was no exception. But in addition to their own six children and the four orphans they raised, there were as many as 30 students, guests, or boarders staying in the monastery, all of whom came under Katie's care. Katie also nursed Luther's many illnesses with herbs, poultices and massages. Katie survived her husband by six years, dying in 1552. She lived long enough to see all her children (except Magdalena, who had died at the age of fourteen) achieve positions of influence. One of the last things she said was "I will cling to Christ like a burr on a topcoat." In Proverbs 31:10 it asks: “ Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.”

138) KILLED FOR TOUCHING THE ARK OF THE COVENENT
1 Chronicles 13:7-9 “And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab: and Uzza and Ahio drave the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all their might, and with singing, and with harps, and with psalteries, and with timbrels, and with cymbals, and with trumpets. And when they came unto the threshingfloor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled.” Why was Uzza killed for trying to stabilize the Ark of the Covenent? It doesn’t seem fair. The Church of God website explains: “David wanted to bring the ark back from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem. In doing so, he had the ark carried on a new cart. As they were going, the oxen stumbled and Uzza put his hand on the ark to steady it - to keep it from falling. Because Uzza touched the ark, God killed him (I Chron. 13:1-10). This is an example of disobedience which ended in disaster. The ark should have been carried on the shoulders of the Levites, not on a new cart (Numbers 7:9; Deuteronomy 10:8). Secondly, Numbers 4:15 warned the Levites when carrying the holy things they were not to touch any of it lest they die. The parallel account in II Samuel 6:6-7 explains that God smote Uzza for “his error.” The word error is rendered rashness in the margin. It was a rash act to touch the ark. of God that even the Levites were forbidden to touch. The ark was so holy that at one time God killed over 50,000 Israelites for profaning it by opening and looking inside of it (I Samuel 6:19). I Chronicles 15:2 shows us that David later realized what he had done wrong. He learned after the death of Uzza how the ark should be transported - by being carried on the shoulders of the Levites. David told the Levites to sanctify themselves so that they could carry the ark. Because they hadn’t carried the ark at first, God made a breach upon them. David said they hadn’t sought God after “the due order” (I Chronicles 15:12-13). When they did everything according to God’s instructions, they were able to bring up the ark with joy (I Chron. 15:15, 25-26). The principle to learn is that we must do exactly as God commands - not “reason” or water down His instructions. Also, we must deeply respect anything He has made holy - i.e., the Sabbath, Holy Days, etc.”http://cog-ff.com/BibleStudy/html/scripture_references_0.html Uzza paid for disobedience and this shows us that God takes our sin seriously. Are you obeying God or are there areas in your life where you are disobeying?

139)

LAUGH AND THE WORLD LAUGHS WITH YOU …

Luke 6:21 “ Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.” Nearly everybody quotes the saying “laugh and the world laughs with you; Weep and you weep alone”, however the background to this quote is seldom mentioned. At The Trivia-Library.com the history of this platitude is as follows: “These lines begin "Solitude," first published in the Feb. 25, 1883, issue of the New York Sun. The author was Ella Wheeler, and the inspiration for the poem came to Miss Wheeler on a day in early February, when she was to attend the governor's inaugural ball in Madison, Wis. She was

on a train, enroute to the celebration, when she noticed a young woman dressed in black sitting across the aisle from her. Since the woman was crying, Miss Wheeler sat next to her and sought to comfort her for the rest of the journey. When they arrived, the poet was so depressed that she wondered how she could possibly attend the scheduled festivities. Later on, with the incident behind her, Miss Wheeler prepared for the inaugural ball. As she looked at her own radiant face in the mirror, she suddenly recalled the sorrowful widow. It was at that moment that she wrote the opening lines of "Solitude": “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; Weep, and you weep alone.” She sent the poem to the Sun and received $5 for her effort. In May, 1883, "Solitude" appeared in Miss Wheeler's book Poems of Passion. While most of the book was second-rate verse, it received much attention from the press, because readers assumed that Miss Wheeler, a single woman, had herself experienced all that she had written about. Consequently, she and her book were called "indecent," "shocking," and "disgraceful." (In actuality, Miss Wheeler was the daughter of a Wisconsin farmer, and her exposure to the "real" world was very limited.) Condemnation from the critics served only to spark the public's imagination, and the poetry book enjoyed great financial success. When Miss Wheeler married Robert Marius Wilcox, she prepared to step out of the limelight. However, in 1885 author John A. Joyce produced the second edition of his “A Checkered Life”, a book of personal reminiscences. At the end of the book was a collection of Joyce's poems, one of which was titled "Laugh and the World Laughs with You." The poem was, word for word, a reprint of "Solitude." Mrs. Wilcox immediately challenged Joyce to produce evidence of his authorship. And she offered to donate $5,000 to any reputable charity of Joyce's choosing-the sum to be given in his name-if he could prove that she was not the actual author of the poem. While no one else disputed the fact that Mrs. Wilcox had authored the poem, Joyce refused to abandon his claim. Throughout the rest of his life, he continued to reprint the poem as his own. Before he died in 1915, he had the first two lines of "Solitude" emblazoned on his tombstone in Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Ever since the poem was originally published in 1883, its opening lines have frequently been misquoted as "Laugh, and the world laughs with you; / Cry, and you cry alone." In 2 Corinthians 1:4 Paul talks about God, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” If you are a Christian you don’t cry alone. Is there someone distressed that you can comfort?

140)

CHALLENGES TO TAKE DURING LENT

Mark 14: 32-34 “ And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch.’ Lent is a time of solemn reflection and preparation for Good Friday when Christ was crucified. Some people give up sweets or a favourite food; however The Ship of Fools website offers some creative alternatives to the traditional Lenten abstinences: http://www.shipoffools.com/lent/index.html “Welcome to 40 Ideas for Lent, where we offer creative ideas for prayer, thought and action – as contributed by Ship of Fools readers – for the

six weeks leading up to Easter. A big thank-you to everyone who emailed us with ideas, which ranged from "sing your favourite hymn out loud" through to "drink one beer less than you're used to!" Click below for an idea per day over the 40 days of Lent, taking us from Ash Wednesday to Easter Saturday (excluding Sundays). The first 22 days are below: Day 2 – Thur 7 Feb: Give... and keep giving Day 3 – Fri 8 Feb: Stop and say -- STOP AND SAY Stop what you are doing. And say this... May I never forget this moment. Free from my past, unknowing of the future; alive only to now on Planet Earth. Do this at least three times today. "Glory to you for every step of my life's journey. For every moment of glory. Glory to you, O God, from age to age." – Gregory Petrov Day 4 – Sat 9 Feb: Cut down on plastic bags Day 5 – Mon 11 Feb: Read the Psalms Day 6 – Tues 12 Feb: Midweek worship Day 7 – Wed 13 Feb: Kettle prayers -- Boil the kettle and repeat Scripture verses. Day 8 – Thur 14 Feb: Travel at suppertime -- Eat like you are in a foreign country. Day 9 – Fri 15 Feb: Door-watching -- Record how you feel about open or closed door experiences. Day 10 – Sat 16 Feb: Go on a carbon fast -- learn more about global warming Day 11 – Mon 18 Feb: Sing! Day 12 – Tues 19 Feb: Give blood Day 13 – Wed 20 Feb: Look out for life in space -- Go out and observe the stars and planets on a clear night. Day 14 – Thur 21 Feb: Eat an unknown fruit Day 15 – Fri 22 Feb: Worship elsewhere Day 16 – Sat 23 Feb: Take food where it's needed -- live food to the local food bank or a shelter. Day 17 – Mon 25 Feb: Breathe -- Tune in to the miracle of breathing and how God sustains you. “Men go abroad to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering." – St Augustine Day 18 – Tues 26 Feb: Release a book-- Donate a book to a local library, hospital, or prison. Day 19 – Wed 27 Feb: News from elsewhere -- Read the news from a different slant by choosing a different newspaper. Day 20 – Thur 28 Feb: Turn talk into prayer -- Pray for everyone you meet today. Day 21 – Fri 29 Feb: Upload a Psalm Day 22 – Sat 1 Mar: Send a message – Email or telephone someone you haven’t contacted in awhile. If you have a computer, look up the website the Ship of Fools website and try out some of these suggestions which are in greater detail. However, if you are not on the Internet the suggestions here will give you a lot to think about during Lent.

141)

LIFE FROM DEATH

Genesis 19:24-26 “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” The Dead Sea doesn’t have any life in it other than a few one-celled organisms, however its minerals and mud can bring many health and industrial benefits. Also, this location is now believed to be the site where Sodom and Gomorrah were located before God destroyed them. The website “Encarta” describes the dead sea: “Bounded on the west by Israel and the West Bank and on the east by Jordan, the Dead Sea forms part of the Israeli-Jordanian border. The surface of the Dead Sea, 418 m (1,371 ft) below sea level as of 2006, is the lowest water surface on earth. The lake is 80 km (50 mi) long and has a maximum width of 18 km (11 mi); its area is 1,020 sq km (394 sq mi). The Dead Sea occupies a north portion of the Great Rift Valley. On the east the high plateau of Moab rises about 1,340 m (about 4,400 ft) above the sea; on the west the plateau of Judea rises to half that height. From the eastern shore a peninsula juts out into the lake. To the south of this peninsula the lake is shallow, less than 6 m (less than 20 ft) deep; to the north lies its greatest depth. The Dead Sea is fed mainly by the Jordan River, which enters the lake from the north. Several smaller streams also enter the sea, chiefly from the east. The lake has no outlet, and the heavy inflow of fresh water is carried off solely by evaporation, which is rapid in the hot desert climate. Due to large-scale projects by Israel and Jordan to divert water from the Jordan River for irrigation and other water needs, the surface of the Dead Sea has been dropping for at least the past 50 years. Environmental groups, led by Friends of the Earth, launched a “Let the Dead Sea Live” campaign in 2001 to preserve the lake and its unique environmental qualities. In September 2002, Israel and Jordan agreed to construct a 320-km (199-mi) pipeline that would link the Dead Sea with the Gulf of Aquaba to slow down the process of evaporation of the lake’s waters. If the shrinkage is allowed to continue, it is likely that the Dead Sea might disappear altogether by 2050. Nearly nine times as salty as the ocean, the Dead Sea contains at a depth of 305 m (1,000 ft) some 27 percent solid substances: sodium chloride (common salt), magnesium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium bromide, and many other substances. Because of the density of solids in the water, the human body easily floats on the surface. The lake contains no life of any sort except for a few kinds of microbes; sea fish put into its waters soon die. The Dead Sea is economically important as a source of potash, bromine, gypsum, salt, and other chemical products, which are extracted inexpensively. The shores of the Dead Sea are of growing importance as a winter health resort. The llake is closely associated with biblical history; the sites of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are believed to lie beneath the lake.” The Bible shows the concept of life out of death. John 12 24-25 says, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” Are you dying to self and letting God bring life out of death? (All references from http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/RefArticle.aspx?refid=761556205)

142)

LIVING GREEN IS BIBLICAL

Genesis 1:1-2,10 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.” Sometimes Christians fail to be good stewards of the earth because they know it will be destroyed by fire in the end. However, God said that His creation of the earth was good and therefore it is an insult to God to abuse the earth and its resources in a wanton way. Although we do not bow down and worship mother earth it is incumbent on us not to waste resources. You can start with the following four tips from the website: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/energy-environment2007/tips_environmental_energy_a1.asp?caret=4d Buy a power strip. Did you know that your appliances use electricity even when they are turned off? It's called a phantom load, or vampire power. As much as 75 percent of the electricity used to power home electronics and small appliances is used while they're turned off, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The Ohio Consumers Council estimates that it costs consumers $40 to $100 a year. $ Factor: The simple solution is to unplug small appliances and electronics when you aren't using them. Or plug them into a power strip and turn the power strip off when you aren't using those items. Power strips cost $10 to $20 each and can save you up to $100 a year, depending on how many electronics you have. Simply unplugging one television, computer monitor and fax machine when you aren't using it will save you about $6 a month. Plan meat purchases carefully. Only purchase as much as you know you'll need or use. The average person wastes more than 22 pounds of edible store-bought meat each year. Given that is takes 5 pounds of grain and 2,500 gallons of water to produce just one pound of beef, that's more than 100 pounds of wasted grain and 55,000 gallons of wasted water per person. $ Factor: You do the math: At 22 pounds of waste per person, an average family is wasting about 100 pounds a year -- at $3 to $9 a pound. Cut back use of bottled water. Just because it's in a bottle doesn't mean it's better than what comes out of your tap -- or even as good. Some bottled waters are tap water, while others are from a spring or natural aquifer (in which case it will likely say "spring water" or name the source). If label language includes something along the lines of "purified drinking water," it could be simple tap water or tap water that is run through additional cleaning mechanisms. The bottles for water amount to 4 billion pounds of plastic and cost $70 million to bury annually. Recycle or look for glass bottles -- one of the cleanest recycling materials. $ Factor:

A six-pack of bottled water can cost at least $2.50 if not more. And better water isn't always more expensive, so do your homework. Look on the company's Web site for a recent analysis of the Use bars of soap (not antiperspirant varieties) versus liquid wash. It's less expensive, and it saves packaging waste. Not to mention that body wash is primarily water, so the fuel costs for transporting it are higher because it weighs more. $ Factor: The average bar of soap lasts for about 20 showers, whereas a 16-ounce bottle of body wash lasts for an average of 80 showers. But body wash costs on average more than four times as much as soap. There are many more tips on the Internet and in books. There is not question that God wants us to live green. Look at your own life. What could you differently to not waste resources? Start a compost? Use cloth diapers? Recycle? Luke 11:48 warns “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

143)

THE LOVE OF THE TRUTH

2 Theselonians 2:10 “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” We live in a web of lies, because the devil is the father of lies. However, as Christians we have to stand up for the truth no matter how unpopular or out of fashion it is.. In the 19th century there was an explosion of conversions in England, however, today people seldom ever go to church except to be married or buried. The Gospel Way website comments: “Throughout history, many people have paid supreme prices for truth. Many Old Testament prophets were imprisoned, tortured, and even slain because they stood for the truth. All but one of Jesus' apostles were killed for preaching the true gospel. And surely the greatest example of one who paid the price for truth is Jesus Christ Himself. When asked whether He was the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus affirmed it to be true. And it cost Him His Life. Do you love the truth enough to die for it? Some people do not even care enough to study to learn the truth. In America, spiritual truth is easily available. It is found in the Bible, which is God's word (John 17:17). The Bible is found in nearly every home, and can be purchased in every city. But many people are not willing to study the Bible to learn the truth. Other people may know the truth, but are afraid to take a stand. Unlike faithful men in the Bible, many people will fail to stand for the truth if someone just makes fun of them a little bit. What happens to people who do not have a love for truth? 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 says those who do not love the truth will perish, because they will "believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." But for those who love the truth enough to study diligently and learn it, Jesus said: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32)”. http://www.gospelway.com/topics/bible/love-truth.php

144)

MAKING A DEAL WITH THE DEVIL

Heb 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” In the famous play called, “Dr. Faustus”, written by Christopher Marlow in the sixteenth century, the chief character is Doctor Faustus who makes a deal with the devil for earthly wealth and fame through alchemy. Faust’s plan is to make a deal with the devil to get what he wants on earth and then before he dies repent and go to heaven. The character Mephostophilis explains the Faustian bargin, “Whereby he is in danger to be damned, Therefore the shortest cut for conjuring, Is stoutly to abjure the the Trinity, And pray devoutly to the prince of hell.” However, Fausts’ scheme to have the best of both this world and the next doesn’t work out as he had planned , because he doesn’t repent. Many people make a Faustian bargain with the devil. They want to live it up in this world and put off repenting and getting saved. Sadly, for many death strikes them down before they have made their peace with God.

145)

MAN AGAINST GOD

Revelation 22:3,4 “An there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve Him: And they shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads. (KJV) Friedrich William Nietzsche was born on October 15th, 1844 and was a German philosopher who critiqued religion and morality. He has become an important influence in modern philosophy and is most famous for his blatant atheism. Nietzsche wrote: “After Buddha was dead, his shadow was still shown for centuries in a cave – a tremendous, gruesome shadow. God is dead; but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we still have to vanquish his shadow, too.” He also commented, “ Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life’s nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in ‘another’ or ‘better’ life.” Nietzsche believed, “Not necessity, not desire - no, the love of power is the demon of men. Let them have everything - health, food, a place to live, entertainment - they are and remain unhappy and low-spirited: for the demon waits and waits and will be satisfied.” In the end, Nietzsche went insane and it has not been determined whether he died from syphilis or whether his atheism caused the complete mental breakdown. In any case he was definitely a man against God. The dilemma facing man today is how to find meaning in his suffering. Some existentialist philosophers like Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus insist that life and suffering are meaningless and absurd – nothing more than a bad joke. However, Helen Keller who was both hearing impaired and blind addressed the issue of suffering by saying, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” Also, along the same lines, Winston Churchill’s advice was, “When you are going though hell, keep on going,. Never, never, never give up.” Perhaps the meaning of

suffering is the possibility of refining the soul so that the person is more loving and tolerant; less selfish and less brutish. 2 Corinthians 4:17 observes, “ For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”

146)

MAN AGAINST MAN

John 3:19 “ And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Man’s inhumanity to man has created untold suffering throughout the ages, making history a bloodbath of wars and a study in the perversity of human nature. In modern times one famous man who has spoken out against man’s brutality to his fellow men is Eli Wiesel, a Jew, who suffered though the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. Wiesel, was born in Sighet, Romania and had his happy childhood shattered in 1944 when all the Jews in his village were taken to Auschwitz. There his mother and sister were put to death. Wiesel was then sent to Buchenwald to be tormented by the Germans and had his father die there. In 1945 he was liberated by the U.S. Third Army when he was sixteen. As a result of seeing thousands of victims sent to the gas chambers, Wiesel lost his faith in God, but later in life went back to some of his Jewish roots. In 1986, he won the Nobel Prize for Peace. Wiesel’s most famous book called “Night”, which is somewhat like his life story, became a best seller throughout the world. He commented later that, “not to transmit an experience is to betray it.” In his memoirs called “And the Sea is Never Full”, Wiesel wrote of his time in the concentration camp: “The silence … is a silence unlike any other. It contains the screams, the strangled prayers of thousands of human beings condemned to vanish into the darkness of nameless, endless ashes. Human silence at the core of inhumanity. Deadly silence at the core of death. Eternal silence under a * moribund sky.” Wiesel has chosen to deal with his trauma of seeing man’s inhumanity to man by writing about it, although that does not take away the psychological and spiritual scarring of experiencing the Holocaust. In an interview on television he admitted that his memories of the death camps have not faded, but have grown more intense with age. John gives the reason for man’s inhumanity to man. He says that man rejected the light and preferred his dark, evil deeds. Let us choose to live in the light. Jeremiah 17:9 declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” *“moribund” means close to death or extinction

147) MAN MADE MONSTERS: SIGNS OF THE END TIMES
Daniel 12:4 “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”

We are definitely living in what the Bible calls the “end times” when man’s knowledge is exploding and the potential for evil is increasing rapidly. An article titled, “Genetic Engineering: Playing God?” written by Keya Kamat warns: “Biotechnology can now cross animals with plants, leaving the vegetarian confused. The scientific world today has the power to alter the very fabric of nature, by transferring characteristics not only between plants , but cross-altering animals, plants and human beings. Genetic engineering which is without ethical limitation has a serious impact on the environment of animals and plants. It violates our relationship with the natural world. Most people believe animals have a right to live their lives free from human interference with their original genetic structure. Also, that animals can never serve as models of human disease -- just because they’re much too different. But scientists still keep trying -- after all, the human transplant market is worth well over $ 6 billion per year! Biotechnology in recent years has been progressing in leaps and bounds. It represents a quantum leap in the exploitation of animals, allowing humans to move genes from one species of animal into another totally different species. Scientists and biotech companies in some major countries of the world want to create new animals that produce more and ‘better’ meat, give up their valuable products such as wool more easily, and have organs that can be used in human transplants. It doesn’t stop there... many of the genetically modified crops now being field-tested in the US (and around the world) could not only have a devastating Jurassic-Park type impact on the global eco-system, but also hit agriculture-based third-world economies dependent on cash crops. Genetic engineering is a one-dimensional ‘reductionist-science’ that ignores the wider dynamics of life systems. Genetic engineering primarily involves the introduction of genes containing DNA (deoxyribo-nucleus acid) procured from humans or animals into cells of bacteria, yeast or other animals. One of the outcomes is termed ‘Transgenic Animal’. These transgenic animals cannot be bred by natural/traditional selection or artificial insemination. Donor females are given hormone injections and hormone impregnated sponges are also inserted directly into their reproductive tracts, so as to make them produce lots of egg-cells. This process has been termed ‘superovulation’. These eggs are then artificially inseminated either manually or surgically. Next the embryos are collected by further surgery or slaughter. These embryos are then injected with foreign DNA containing the genes of preferable traits, and then transferred into foster mothers, by surgery again. It takes 80 donors and recipient animals to produce only one transgenic cow -if everything works perfectly -- which is VERY rare. Once the transgenic animal is produced, its suffering just about starts... for example, non-porcine genes have been added to pigs, producing animals with gastric ulcers, liver and kidney disorders, lameness, damaged eye-sight, loss of coordination, sensitivity to pneumonia and diabetic conditions. Genetic engineering research is most often carried out on animals such as pigs, mice, sheep, farm animals, fish and sometimes, even on some plants such as the tomato, tobacco and corn… Some biotechnologists go to the extent where it becomes a game for them --- playing around with genes of animals. This might result in some ghastly creature produced just to satisfy someone’s whims and fancies… . Pigs are also grown transgenetically, so that their organs can be transplanted into humans. Transgenic pigs were first produced in 1985. Scientists have succeeded in making the required organs in pigs capable of producing human cells. These proteins they hope will trick the human immune system while transplanting the organ(s) so that the recipient does not react to the foreign tissue. Another example is that of sheep that have been injected with hormones, bioengineered to cause woolshedding to produce the so-called ‘self-shearing’ sheep. This is done in Australia, where, unfortunately for the sheep, the climate is mostly hot and sunny. As a result, some sheep experience an increased rate of abortion. WHERE ON EARTH WILL IT ALL END? In another

bizarre experiment, Indian scientists at the Nimbalkar Research Institute, Phaltan, Maharashtra, have, by artificial insemination, created an animal with goat-head and the body of a cow. This animal grows fatter faster and the volume of meat has therefore increased… . Scientists claim that they can, and will make genetically-altered animals that will help cure human diseases and illnesses; well, transgenic research has been going on for nearly 20 years, and it still has not cured a single human illness. But illnesses like diabetes, blindness, lameness and cancer (among others) have all been produced unexpectedly in animals subjected to these ridiculous experiments. Genetic engineering at lengths such as these, are a symbol of consumerism gone berserk. Is it really fair that animals and their environment face the brunt of our insatiable curiosity? Considering that "to err is human" the probabilities of a mis-judgment or mis-step or mis-reaction resulting in a catastrophe are very high. And in such an eventuality, it will be next to impossible to trick the genie (or ‘gene’) back into the bottle (test-tube).” http://www.jesus-issavior.com/End%20of%20the%20World/Genetics%20Nightmare/playing_god.htmIn 2 Timothy 3:1 Paul warns, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” Genetic engineering could be an unimaginable holocaust in the hands of a world dictator. 2 Peter 3:11 cautions us, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,”. Are you living a holy, sober life now that Rapture of the church and our Lord’s Second Coming are so near?

148)

MAN OF CONSTANT SORROW

2 Samuel 22:6 “The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;” In recent years, the Appalachian lament "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" has become popular in urban folksong circles, in part through the performance of the Stanley Brothers and of Mike Seeger. No study of this haunting piece is available; the earliest text I have found was printed about 1913 in a pocket songster hawked by Dick Burnett, a blind singer from Monticello, http://www.fortunecity.com/tinpan/parton/2/girl.html In the movie, “Brother Where Art Thou” the song “Man of Constant Sorrow” became popular. There are themes of perpetual suffering, love, and death in the lyrics. Ecclesiastes 2:23 says about mankind, “For all his days are sorrows, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.” Man of Constant Sorrow I am a man of constant sorrow I've seen trouble all of my days I bid farewell to old Kentucky Place where I was born and raised All thru this earth I'm bound to ramble Thru storm and wind, thru sleet and rain

I'm bound to ride that Northern railroad Perhaps I'll take the very next train For six long years I've been in trouble No pleasure here on earth I've found For in this world I'm bound to ramble I have no friends to help me now It's fare you well, my own true lover I never expect to see you again For I'm bound to ride that northern railroad Perhaps I'll take the very next train Your friends they say that I'm a stranger You'll never see my face no more There is just one promise that's give We'll meet on God's golden shore I am a man of constant sorrow I've seen trouble all of my days I'm going back to California Place where I was partly raised http://www.whitegum.com/introjs.htm?/songfile/MANOFCON.HTM This is a sad, old world. In Genesis 3:17 after humanity’s fall God declared, “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;” We as human beings live in constant sorrow from the fall. Illness, decay, and a warped nature plague us, but in heaven everything will be restored.

149)

MARKETING THE CHURCH

James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” In our capitalist society, many churches have turned into money machines to market their organization, a fact that Jesus Christ is probably very displeased about. At http://www.theexaminer.org/volume8/number1/organize.htm the author talks about the state of a lot of churches: “One of the greatest enemies Christianity now has or has ever had is organized religion. Jesus clearly foresaw and plainly foretold the great conflict between Christianity and organized religion: "They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that

whosoever killeth you will think that they doeth God service" (John 16:2). Every great religious awakening since John preached in the wilderness, or since Elijah was fed by the ravens in the woods, has been led by consecrated men and women who were ostracized and persecuted by religious people because the doctrine they preached was disintegrating to religious institutions. Religious people have committed nearly every crime in the catalogue of iniquity to build up, strengthen, and maintain organizations Christ never authorized. All denominational organizations use the power of organization against men and doctrine whenever the interests of organized religion demand it. They have to do this in self-defense. This explains why there is now, has always been, and always will be a conflict between Christianity and every form of ecclesiastical organization. There was no organization in Christianity during the New Testamentperiod but worshipping assemblies or local congregations, and there was little of what the world now calls organization in a local congregation. There was not an uninspired official dignitary in the whole kingdom of Heaven down to the close of the New Testament period greater or more honourable than elders or bishops in local congregations, and it is exceedingly problematical whether they were officers in the full sense which that term now bears. The Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel (I Cor. 9:14), but there were no fixed salaries or salaried positions in denominational organizations, great or small, in the kingdom of heaven, to constitute a boodle, breed corruption, and build up an ecclesiastical 'pie-brigade' on the hunt for easy jobs with big salaries and high honours. Jesus explained that there were no high places of official honours in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 20:25-26). This is but another way of saying the kingdom of God is not a denominational organization, but a holy life and a spiritual fellowship. The church is a spiritual body, and not a denominational organization. All efforts to control and direct men and women in whom God, by the Holy Ghost, dwells and works, by organizations formed and directed by men, but unauthorized by the Holy Scriptures, are really efforts to control and direct God by human wisdom and authority. In its last analysis, it is an effort of men to govern God and make Him subservient to the vanities, caprices, and judgments, not to say the wickedness of frail humanity. God will not work under the dictation and authority of men, and to the extent people imbibe the spirit of organized religion they lose the power of the Holy Ghost. All forms of ecclesiastical organization are lacking in the power of individual piety and personal consecration, and this lack grows more apparent as the organizations grow older, stronger, more cumbersome, and come more fully under the spirit of organized religion. The tendency in them all is toward decay in personal consecration and individual piety. There are too many high honours, big salaries, costly edifices, and moneyed institutions and corporations in organized religion to harmonize with the spirit of the Man of Sorrows and the Friend of sinners, who had not where to lay his head. Men who manage the complicated business affairs and the far-reaching financial schemes of denominational organizations have little time to take part in the work of individual evangelism. There is too much dependence upon organizations, and not enough emphasis upon personal consecration. The individual is lost in the institution.” In the book of James it says that true religion is helping widows and orphans, and in Psalm 82:3-4 the Bible commands us to “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.” Scripture also exhorts us in Matthew 28:19 to “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” When marketing the church becomes more important than following the Great Commission and extending a hand of mercy to the needy, the church is an abomination to the Lord.

150)

MARRIAGE AND FORGIVENESS

Ephesians 5:21 “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” To keep a marriage together there has to be a lot of mutual forgiveness and acceptance of each other. The University of Arkansas Agriculture’s website says about forgiveness in marriage: “Some problems don't need to be discussed. Some problems are problems only because we are tired. Sometimes we just see the world in a different way from our partner. There are some things (such as physical features and personality quirks) that are not going to change. We may as well laugh about them and forget them. Some problems need to be discussed. They are best handled when both people feel peaceful. Such problems can be discussed in a way that invites help. "My evenings are very stressful. If you can help me for a while after work, we will have time to be together later." The many problems between partners can build up and leave a distaste or resentment. That is where forgiveness can help. Forgiveness is a choice to let resentment go. We choose to accept and enjoy another person. We choose to distill the helpful and positive out of the total experience of a relationship. Sometimes it is easier to get past bad feelings when we talk with a trusted friend or write in a journal. Rather than focus on the anger, it can help to try to see things from our partner's perspective. We can choose not to dwell on bad memories and resentments. We can have a positive thought ready to replace petty complaints about our partner. There is a funny quirk in human nature that we often focus on the tiny detail that is annoying. When a person has a broken tooth, the tongue will not leave it alone. If the car has a dent or scrape, it can become the only thing we see. That tendency may be useful when we are dealing with things that can and should be fixed, but many small dents should merely be ignored. They are a part of the traffic of life. In every relationship there are many dents and scrapes. John Gottman, a marriage therapist and researcher observes that the healthiest couples tend to see problems as temporary. Rather than dwell on the troubles, happy couples look for the good, dwell on it, and believe it to be the core of their relationship. He encourages us to "find the glory in our marital story." Of course forgiveness does not mean tolerating bad behavior. No one should have to be abused. If a person is regularly abused in a relationship, that person should seek counsel and may need to leave the relationship. Yet most of the scrapes and dents in marriage don't need to keep us from enjoying a growing and loving relationship - if we learn to forgive… .What tools have you discovered help you forgive your partner? Distraction? Humor? Relaxation? When you find yourself obsessing on a problem - worrying, blaming, fretting - stop and make a list of good things in your life. When you find yourself focusing on the negative, pull out the list and put the problem in perspective. Do not let a dent in a fender cause you to hate the car. John Gottman says that there is never a time when a problem in a relationship is entirely the fault of one partner. Sometimes it is helpful to consider what we can do differently to prevent a problem. We are not responsible for making our partner happy, but we can be sure that we are not aggravating a difficult situation. http://www.arfamilies.org/family_life/marriage/forgiveness_strong_marriage.htmWe should forgive our marriage partner because we have been forgiven by God. In Ephesians 1:7 it says, “ In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” Do you need to forgive your husband or wife? Are you holding grudges? Ask God to help you forgive.

151)

MARTIN LUTHER’S CONVERSION

Acts 15:11 “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” Martin Luther was sent by his father to Erfurt University to study law, but an electric storm changed the direction of his life. The following website http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/special/131christians/luther.html explains: “Then in 1505 his life took a dramatic turn. As the 21-year-old Luther fought his way through a severe thunderstorm on the road to Erfurt, a bolt of lightning struck the ground near him. "Help me, St. Anne!" Luther screamed. "I will become a monk! "The scrupulous Luther fulfilled his vow: he gave away all his possessions and entered the monastic life. Spiritual breakthrough Luther was extraordinarily successful as a monk. He plunged into prayer, fasting, and ascetic practices—going without sleep, enduring bone-chilling cold without a blanket, and flagellating himself. As he later commented, "If anyone could have earned heaven by the life of a monk, it was I."Although he sought by these means to love God fully, he found no consolation. He was increasingly terrified of the wrath of God: "When it is touched by this passing inundation of the eternal, the soul feels and drinks nothing but eternal punishment." During his early years, whenever Luther read what would become the famous "Reformation text"—Romans 1:17—his eyes were drawn not to the word faith, but to the word righteous. Who, after all, could "live by faith" but those who were already righteous? The text was clear on the matter: "the righteous shall live by faith." Luther remarked, "I hated that word, 'the righteousness of God,' by which I had been taught according to the custom and use of all teachers ... [that] God is righteous and punishes the unrighteous sinner." The young Luther could not live by faith because he was not righteous—and he knew it. Meanwhile, he was ordered to take his doctorate in the Bible and become a professor at Wittenberg University. During lectures on the Psalms (in 1513 and 1514) and a study of the Book of Romans, he began to see a way through his dilemma. "At last meditating day and night, by the mercy of God, I ... began to understand that the righteousness of God is that through which the righteous live by a gift of God, namely by faith… Here I felt as if I were entirely born again and had entered paradise itself through the gates that had been flung open." On the heels of this new understanding came others. To Luther the church was no longer the institution defined by apostolic succession; instead it was the community of those who had been given faith. Salvation came not by the sacraments as such but by faith. The idea that human beings had a spark of goodness (enough to seek out God) was not a foundation of theology but was taught only by "fools." Humility was no longer a virtue that earned grace but a necessary response to the gift of grace. Faith no longer consisted of assenting to the church's teachings but of trusting the promises of God and the merits of Christ. It wasn't long before the revolution in Luther's heart and mind played itself out in all of Europe. "Here I stand" It started on All Saints' Eve, 1517, when Luther publicly objected to the way preacher Johann Tetzel was selling indulgences. These were documents prepared by the church and bought by individuals either for themselves or on behalf of the dead that would release them from punishment due to their sins. As Tetzel preached, "Once the coin into the coffer clings, a soul from purgatory heavenward springs!" A combination of Luther’s concept of salvation by grace and the invention of the printing press spread the message of the Reformation all over Europe and we reap its benefits today. Some historians feel that if Luther had spent any more time as a Monk the fasting and mortifying the flesh would have killed him. Praise God for grace!

Romans 3:24 says: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”

152)

MASADA

Ps 102:20 ‘To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;” When the Roman army was approaching the Jewish rebels in the fortress of Masada the Jews decided that they did not want to be prisoners, so they committed suicide instead. The “Jewish Virtual Library” comments that: “According to Josephus Flavius, Herod the Great built the fortress of Masada between 37 and 31 BCE. Herod, an Idumean, had been made King of Judea by his Roman overlords and was hated by his Jewish subjects. Herod, the master builder, “furnished this fortress as a refuge for himself.” It included a casemate wall around the plateau, storehouses, large cisterns ingeniously filled with rainwater, barracks, palaces and an armory. Some 75 years after Herod’s death, at the beginning of the Revolt of the Jews against the Romans in 66 CE, a group of Jewish rebels overcame the Roman garrison of Masada. After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (70 CE) they were joined by zealots and their families who had fled from Jerusalem. With Masada as their base, they raided and harassed the Romans for two years. Then, in 73 CE, the Roman governor Flavius Silva marched against Masada with the Tenth Legion, auxiliary units and thousands of Jewish prisoners-of-war. The Romans established camps at the base of Masada, laid siege to it and built a circumvallation wall. They then constructed a rampart of thousands of tons of stones and beaten earth against the western approaches of the fortress and, in the spring of the year 74 CE, moved a battering ram up the ramp and breached the wall of the fortress. Josephus Flavius dramatically recounts the story told him by two surviving women. The defenders – almost one thousand men, women and children – led by Eleazar ben Ya’ir, decided to burn the fortress and end their own lives, rather than be taken alive. “And so met (the Romans) with the multitude of the slain, but could take no pleasure in the fact, though it were done to their enemies. Nor could they do other than wonder at the courage of their resolution, and at the immovable contempt of death which so great a number of them had shown, when they went through with such an action as that was.” The Zealots cast lots to choose 10 men to kill the remainder. They then chose among themselves the one man who would kill the survivors. That last Jew then killed himself.” Today, Masada is visited by tourists, however, many Christians around the world are prisoners because of their faith. Are you concerned about Christians being persecuted for their faith? Joining groups like Amnesty International helps believers who are in jail. In Matthew 5:10 Jesus said, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

153)

MATERIALISM GONE BAD

Lu 16:19-22 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man‘s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar

died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; The rich man had health and wealth, while the poor man, Lazarus, was socioeconomically disadvantaged and ill. However, in the afterlife their fortunes were reversed. Lazarus was content in Abraham’s Bosom, a place like Paradise, and the rich man was suffering the heat in hell. Luke 19:22-24 says, “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus. And he cried in his bosom.and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” By focusing his whole life on materialism, the rich man failed to prepare his soul for eternity. Our capitalistic culture pushes everybody towards consumerism. Is materialism getting in the way of your serving the Lord? Or even of being saved? The story of the rich man and Lazarus cautions us to focus on the Creator not his creation. Don’t let your possessions possess you.

154)

MATTHEW HENRY

2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” The seventeenth century preacher, Matthew Henry, compiled a commentary which is still often referred to today by those who study the Bible. In the “Faith Hall of Fame” the website explains: “His preaching made a favorable impression on a good number of Chester Nonconformists, and he was subsequently asked to become the minister of a Presbyterian congregation in the town. Henry went once again to London to be ordained on 9 March 1687 by six Presbyterian pastors. This group included Richard Steele (1629-1692), a native of Cheshire who had been involved in the ordination of Matthew Henry’s father thirty years’ earlier. Henry began his ministry in early June 1687. Over the course of the next two decades his congregation increased to more than 350 members. Not surprisingly, his success as a pastor caused other churches to seek him as their minister… .The two years of ministry in London were ones of zealous activity, but also ones in which Henry became increasingly ill, suffering from diabetes and repeated attacks of kidney stones. Worn out by his labors, he died from a stroke while on a preaching tour of Cheshire in June 1714.” Matthew Henry’s commentary went on to inspire other prominent preachers. The “Hall of Faith” says, “The ministry of George Whitefield (1714-1770), who was born the year Henry died, was deeply impacted by his commentary. He read it throughout his ministry. A recent study by an American scholar, David Crump, has shown that Henry’s ‘in depth, practical, Calvinistic and biblical exposition’ formed the backdrop for many of Whitefield’s sermons. Whitefield’s friend, the hymn-writer Charles Wesley (17071788), was so moved by Henry’s comments on Leviticus 8:35 that he based one of his most famous hymns on them. Henry had written: ‘we have every one of us a charge to keep, an eternal God to glorify, an immortal soul to provide for, needful duty to be done, our generation to serve; and it must be our daily duty to keep this charge, for it is the charge of the Lord our Master, who will shortly call us to an account about it’. Gripped by this comment, Wesley sat down to write A

charge to keep I have in which he used many of Henry’s actual phrases. Some words by the Calvinistic Baptist preacher and educator John Ryland Sr (1723-1792) sum up the impact that Henry’s Exposition made in the decades following its publication. ‘It is impossible for a person of piety and taste’, declared Ryland, ‘to read the Exposition of Mr. Henry without wishing to be shut out from all the world to read it through without one moment’s interruption’. http://www.eaec.org/faithhallfame/matthewhenry.htm In John 7:38 the Bible says, “ He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” We would all do well to study the Scriptures and read good commentaries like Matthew Henry’s. Are you studying the Bible as you should? Have you uses Henry’s commentary?

155)

LIFE AS A MEDIEVAL MONK

Romans 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” What does the term “monk” mean and who was the first known monk? The word “monk” is a Greek word that means “single” or “alone”. According to history, the first Christian monk was a twenty year old boy named Anthony who was raised in Egypt. Somewhere around the year 270, Anthony gave all his possessions away and went to live in the desert. He soon had a reputation as being a holy man and others wanted to be like him, so they came to live near him and lived alone like he did to show their devotion to God. By the fifth century the monastic movement had spread to Ireland. The Irish monks spread Christianity to Scotland, England and Wales. The biggest change in the early monastic life came with St. Benedict in about 529 AD. He founded a community of monks living and working and praying in isolation from the outside world. St. Augustine brought St. Benedict’s rules to England in the year 597 AD and brought order to medieval monasteries. The monks were the most educated persons in Medieval in society and the Benedictine monks were the largest order. Some information can be found at: www.britainexpress.com/History/medieval-monastry.htm; www.historyguide.org/ancient/lecture19b.html; www.devon.gov.uk/dcs/history/buckfast/page4.htm There was no doubt that monks really tried to please God with their works and penances, but many of them forgot the grace of God. It took Martin Luther’s reading of Romans to put the emphasis on salvation by grace and not works. If you are trying to get to heaven by works how many would you have to do to make it to heaven? Even if you did good works night and day for the rest of your life it would never be enough. The point of the law was that no one could keep the law. Surrender yourself to God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8 “ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

156)

MICROCHIPPING A TOOL OF THE ANITCHIRST?

Revelation 13:17 “And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Putting microchips in human beings is being done already. In an article titled, “Micro chipping humans? Part 1” by Maggie Crane, WINK News, the author says, “ We've micro chipped our pets for years for fear of them getting lost, but right now a project is underway in Florida to microchip people. The FDA-approved microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. So far, the microchip project is geared toward patients suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The idea is that the chip, using a radio frequency, is trackable if the person goes missing, but some fear the microchip is "big brother" -- inserted right under your skin. George Orwell's "1984" instilled images of "big brother," the idea that someone, somewhere is always watching us. Fast forward nearly a quarter century and some fear the pervasive, invasive surveillance that is "big brother" has become reality. Microchips, usually put in our pets, are now being used in people. "Sixty percent of all Alzheimer's patients will leave or will wander sometime during the illness," Mary Barnes, Alzheimer's Care Facility president and CEO, says. Now more than 100 patients at the Alzheimer's Care Facility in West Palm Beach are micro chipped and can be found if they wander away. "All of a sudden they're not connected to where they are, and they just get up and just walk out the door," Barnes says. Just like a vaccine, a needle injects a tiny computer into a person's arm. Then, through a computer database, the information can be changed. It carries a radio frequency. It does not use GPS, so no one is watching all the time. But if a patient goes missing, the individually-issued radio frequency can be tracked to a specific location -- so long as it's within about a mile… . "As health care gets more complicated and people live longer, having all of the information you need at the time you need it becomes more and more important," Dr. Michael Raab, Lee Memorial Health Systems geriatrician, says. The chip works a lot like what people do to their pets to protect them from getting lost or stolen, but some opponents to micro chipping say people should not be tracked like dogs. They say that while the chip might be used only for medical purposes now, they fear it could be reprogrammed in the future… . Right now the VeriChip microchip really only works in Palm Beach County where hospitals are equipped with scanners to detect the tiny computers. It costs about $300 for the chip plus about $10 a month for the actual service.” Microchips may be justified for medical purposes now, however, in the hands of an evil world dictator micro chipping people will be the ultimate big brother, allowing no one on earth to escape surveillance. http://www.winknews.com/news/local/18139309.html In Revelation 13:4 John says, “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?” Are you warning people to believe in Jesus to avoid the antichrist and the totalitarian society?

157)

MOSES IN A CRISIS

Numbers 11:15 “And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in your sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.”

Moses was having a crisis dealing with the people of Israel and their complaining. It was too much for him to bear to listen to a crowd of people grumbling about meat when they had manna. Often people think that God should give them strength and victory, but sometimes he sends absolute brokenness instead. Even Jesus could not carry his own cross, but had to have help transporting it. Our crosses are meant to bring us to our knees and face our wretchedness. The adage that “you are never given more than you can take” is simply not true. People have nervous breakdowns and some commit suicide when they are overwhelmed by life’s problems. Moses was desperate and wanted to die rather than face his overwhelming burdens. However, God gave him 70 elders to help him with his responsibilities and sent so much quail for meat that God said it would come out of the peoples’ nostrils. God did not grant Moses’ request to die, but helped him out of his crisis.

158)

MY FORTRESS AND MY DELIVERER

Psalm18:2 “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” Martin Luther’s rousing hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God” has been sung for centuries and echoes the sentiments in Psalm 18. The words to this hymn and the background of it are as follows:“A MIGHTY fortress is our God, A bulwark never failing; Our helper he, amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing. For still our ancient foe 5 Doth seek to work us woe; His craft and power are great; And, armed with cruel hate, On earth is not his equal. Did we in our own strength confide, 10 Our striving would be losing,— Were not the right man on our side, The man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he, 15 Lord Sabaoth his name, From age to age the same, And he must win the battle. And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us; 20 We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us. The prince of darkness grim,— We tremble not for him; His rage we can endure, 25 For lo! his doom is sure,— One little word shall fell him. That word above all earthly powers— No thanks to them—abideth; The Spirit and the gifts are ours 30 Through him who with us sideth. Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, 35 His kingdom is forever.” Wikipedia comments on the history of Martin Luther’s writing of his famous hymn: “Both the words and music of the hymn are by the Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther (14831546). Of the many translations of Luther's hymn from the German language, the translation by Frederick H. Hedge (1805-1890) is used above. Martin Luther, the former Augustinian monk, led the Reformation away from the Church of Rome based upon the battle cry, "The just shall live by Faith" (Romans 1:17), in opposition to the human only, ex cathedra decrees of the Papacy. Luther's confidence in the Power of Faith that comes from the Scriptures, i.e., "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (Romans 10:17), was followed closely by his belief that the singing of hymns was most significant in motivating the Believer. He said, "With all my heart I would extol the precious gift of God in the noble art of music... Music is to be praised as second only to the Word of God because by her all the emotions are swayed." It is said that Luther's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" was sung by many an oppressed

Christian as they were forced into exile or brought to their martyrdom. "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His Saints" (Psalm 116:15). Luther played the lute and paid his school fees through the money he earned singing in the streets of Eisenach. He later said, "The one who sings, prays double." "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (Ein' fest Burg ist unser Gott) quickly became the Battle Hymn of the Reformation. Turning away from a music form dominated by the clergy of the Catholic Church, Luther placed the emphasis upon congregational singing. Hymn books were soon published from the newly introduced printing presses (1450) of Johann Gutenberg (1400-1468). Luther's first hymnal was introduced in 1524 with a total of eight hymns-- half by Luther. Early congregational singing of the Reformation was in unison without accompaniment, but organ music was later added as an accompaniment to the chorale. Christian hymns, like the Scriptures, in the language of the people instead of Rome's liturgical language of Latin, were published in tract form and distributed far and wide as a powerful tool of evangelizing the lost. "The LORD gave the Word: great was the company of those that published it" (Psalm 68:11). By 1529, the growing popularity of congregational singing necessitated Luther to update his hymn book in the form of Joseph Klug's Geistliche Lieder auff neue gehessert, which included the first hymnal publication of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Do you see God as your fortress and deliverer or are you trusting in something or somebody else in a time of need?

159)

THE MYTH OF A PAIN-FREE CHRISTIANITY

I Peter 6-7 “ Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” C.S. Lewis believed that the problem of suffering is one of the most serious objections to Christianity and a genuine theological dilemma. Some Christians try to solve this problem by insisting that God intends for us to be healthy and wealthy, and if we are not then our faith is deficient. Many of us believe that God should take our pain away when we pray and deliver us from the nasty stuff that life throws at us. The prosperity gospel has gained quite a bit of popularity. Advertisers constantly bombard us with messages about instant relief will pills, potions, and the elimination of hard manual work with new labour-saving devices. Is suffering abnormal in the Christian life? The Bible is full of characters that suffered deeply. One such example is that of the prophet Ezra. In Ezra 9:3 he remarks, “ And when I heard this thing, I rent my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down astonied.” In Corinthians Paul talks about his sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:26-28: “In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” Jesus bore the ultimate in pain on the cross and as believers we are to share in his sufferings. If someone tries to sell you a pain-free Christianity, realize that it is just a myth.

160)

NAOMI: BLESSED IN THE END

Ruth 4:13-15 So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. Naomi means “graceful” or “delightful” and the Biblical Naomi lived during the period of the Judges. She had a husband was named Elimelech and her sons were named Mahlon and Chilion. When they went to live in Moab, Naomi lost her husband and her two sons. Ruth 1:1-5 says, “ And Elimelech Naomi’s husband died; and she was left, and her two sons. And they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them; and the woman was left of her two sons and her husband.” After all these tragedies Naomi decided to return home to Judah. Ruth 1:6-7 “Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the LORD had visited his people in giving them bread . Wherefore she went forth out of the place where she was, and her two daughters in law with her; and they went on the way to return unto the land of Judah. And Naomi said unto her two daughters in law, Go, return each to her mother’s house: the LORD deal kindly with you, as ye have dealt with the dead, and with me.” God gave Naomi a husband (Boaz) , a baby son,and restored her life. He can do it for you too.

161)

NEITHER RICHES OR POVERTY

Proverbs 30:8-9 “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. What is the rule of thumb for Christian giving? Some people in the church say “give ‘til it hurts”. When we watch television the sad eyes of starving children in foreign countries touch our hearts and we want to help them. A lot of churches say that we should give 10% of our income to the church, but the New Testament does not really have a lot of evidence for tithing. The following website sheds some light on the subject of giving: http://www.beginningwithmoses.org/library/povrich.htm “How much of our income should we give away? For most Christians the principle of the tithe, or 10%, has been a useful rule of thumb. It must be said, though, that such tithing can be a convenient cop-out for well-off believers. Blomberg's treatment of the topic is both helpful and challenging. He correctly notes the complete absence of any reference to the tithe in Paul's writings, concluding that the standard to which the gospel calls us is both a more liberating and a more stringent one. Consistent with the call to be generous and the general principle of "neither

riches nor poverty", he argues for a 'graduated tithe', that is, the more money one makes, the higher percentage one ought to give away. There are poor believers for whom, on occasion, the giving of 10% may prove crippling. However, for the majority of Western Christians such an amount would be negligible and falls far short of the call of the gospel to generosity. Without setting a new legalism, Blomberg shares how annually he and his wife have been able to give 30% of their income to the needs of the church and the poor. Each person must make up their own mind before God, but a sober reflection on the teaching of the Bible will surely lead many of us to a radical re-evaluation of how we've understood and practised the call to generosity.” In 1Co 16:2 Paul instructs, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”

162)

NEW TESTAMENT NAMES FOR JESUS

Biblical names always indicate the character of the person so the names given to Jesus in the New Testament are indicative of his divine attributes. The website: http://www.ldolphin.org/Names.html lists the names given to Jesus in Greek and their meaning. KURIOS: (kurios) "Lord" Found some 600 times in the NT. DESPOTES: (despotes) "Lord" 5 times: Lu. 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4; Rev. 6:10. THEOS: (yeos) "God" (equivalent to the Hebrew Elohim), 1,000 times in the NT. In the NT all the persons of the trinity are called "God" at one time or another. I AM: Jesus upset his generation especially when He said, "Before Abraham was, I AM," John 8:58. Note also his claim to be Jehovah in such phrases as "I AM the Light of the world," "the bread of life," living water," "the Resurrection and the Life," "the Way, Truth and the Life" in John's Gospel. From the Hebrew OT verb "to be" signifying a Living, Intelligent, Personal Being. THEOTES: "Godhead" Col. 2:9; Rom. 1:20.HUPSISTOS: "Highest" Mt. 21:9. SOTER: (soter) "Savior" Luke 1:4 7. WORD: (logos) John 1:1ff ALMIGHTY: (pantokrator) 2 Cor. 6:18, Revelation, 9t, e.g. 19: JESUS: Derived from the Hebrew "Joshua" (Y'shua) or "Je-Hoshua" meaning JEHOVAH IS SALVATION. CHRIST: is equivalent to the Hebrew 'Messiah' (Meshiach), "The Anointed One." Other NT Titles for Jesus: Shepherd of the Sheep; Master; King of kings; Lord of lords; Bishop and Guardian of our Souls; Daystar, Deliverer, Advocate, Last (or Second) Adam, Ancient of Days, Branch, Chief Cornerstone, Immanuel, First Born, Head of the Body, Physician, Rock, Root of Jesse, Stone, Potentate; Chief Apostle; Great High Priest; Pioneer and Perfecter of our Faith (or Author and Finisher); Lamb of God; Lamb Slain before the Foundation of the World; Lord God Almighty. LOGOS: "The Word of God" John l; Rev. 19:13.

SOPHIA: "The Wisdom of God," referring to Christ, refers back to Proverbs (I Cor. 1,2) ALPHA AND OMEGA: The First and the Last, The Beginning and The End (Rev. 1). Do a thorough study of the names for Jesus in the book “Names of God by Nathan Stone” or information on the Internet. Try to get a clearer understanding of the personality of Jesus through a study of His different names throughout the New Testament.

163)

NICODEMUS: THE NIGHT VISITOR

John 3:1-3 “ There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Was Nicodemus a coward coming to see Jesus at night? Bible.org explains: “… we do Nicodemus a great disservice to suppose that he was some kind of weak-kneed coward, coming to Jesus as he did. Our Lord implied that he was perhaps one of the most well-known and respected religious teachers of his day.68 In John 7:50-52, we read of Nicodemus taking a very unpopular stand with his colleagues in defense of the Lord Jesus. In John 19:39 Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea came forth publicly to bury Jesus when all of the disciples had fled. It is hard to conceive of the difficulties which Nicodemus overcame to speak with Jesus. When Jesus cleansed the Temple, it was the Sadducees with whom our Lord most dramatically clashed, for they were the establishment. The Pharisees no doubt detested the ‘simony’ going on in the Temple courts under the auspices of the Sadducees. But it was also clear from the ministry of both John the Baptist and Jesus that Jesus had not come to ally Himself with traditional Judaism. To put it in Jesus’ own words, He had not come to put a patch on Judaism, but to replace it with something entirely new (cf. Mark 2:21-22). Jesus had not come from within the system. He had not been trained at the feet of men such as Gamaleil. He had no diplomas from the leading Jewish schools. Worse yet, He was a Galilean, disdained by any Judaean Jew.69 Nicodemus’ coming to Jesus was somewhat akin to the president of the AMA asking the medical advice of a hospital orderly or Muhammad Ali seeking boxing pointers from a ruffian on the streets of New York. It was like the Pope seeking advice in a passage of Scripture from Martin Luther. What I am saying in all of this is that in focusing our attention on the fact that Nicodemus came to our Lord at night, we lost sight of the significance of the fact that he came at all!” http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=589 After Jesus was crucified, Nicodemus cared for the Lord’s body. In John 19: 39-40 it says, “And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” Nicodemus had changed from a position of skeptic to believer. Are you keeping your faith secret visiting Jesus in the dark? In Matthew 10:27 Jesus commands us, “What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.”

164)

OF CATS AND TEENAGERS

Psalm 127: 4-5 “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:” The Bible says that children are a blessing, but being parents of teenagers can be challenging for any guardian. The following website http://www.xmission.com/~emailbox/teens.htm draws a humorous comparison between felines and adolescence. For all of you with teenagers or who have had teenagers, you may want to know why they really have a lot in common with cats: Neither teenagers nor cats turn their heads when you call them by name. No matter what you do for them, it is not enough. Indeed, all humane efforts are barely adequate to compensate for the privilege of waiting on them hand and foot. You rarely see a cat walking outside of the house with an adult human being, and it can be safely said that no teenager in his or her right mind wants to be seen in public with his or her parents. Even if you tell jokes as well as Jay Leno, neither your cat nor your teen will ever crack a smile. No cat or teenager shares you taste in music. Cats and teenagers can lie on the living-room sofa for hours on end without moving, barely breathing. Cats have nine lives. Teenagers carry on as if they did. Cats and teenagers yawn in exactly the same manner, communicating that ultimate human ecstasy -- a sense of complete and utter boredom. Cats and teenagers do not improve anyone's furniture. Cats that are free to roam outside sometimes have been known to return in the middle of the night to deposit a dead animal in your bedroom. Teenagers are not above that sort of behaviour. Thus, if you must raise teenagers, the best sources of advice are not other parents, but veterinarians. It is also a good idea to keep a guidebook on cats at hand at all times. And remember, above all else, put out the food and do not make any sudden moves in their direction. When they make up their minds, they will finally come to you for some affection and comfort, and it will be a triumphant moment for all concerned.” The whole reason for having children is found in Psalm 78:5-8 which states, “ For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be

born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.” Are you passing on a good spiritual heritage or a bad one? Are your teenagers seeing Jesus in how you deal with them or are you letting the flesh take over?

165)

ONE OF THE WORLD’S FIRST BILLBOARDS

Deuteronomy 27:2-8 “And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister: And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee.” God commanded the people of Isreal to set up a billboard using stones and plaster and no iron tools to write His laws on. In a Torah commentary the author explains: In Parashat Ki Tavo (Deuteronomy 27:2-8) God made his third Covenant (b’rit) with the Jewish :1 “You have affirmed this day that Adonai is your God, that you will walk in His ways, that you will observe His laws and commandments, and that you will obey Him. And Adonai has affirmed this day that you are … His treasured people … and that He will set you … high above all the nations … and that you shall be … a holy people….” Moses and the Levitical priests then sealed the covenant by proclaiming, “Silence! Hear, O Israel! Today you have become the people of Adonai your God.”2 In the first Covenant — the one that God made with Abraham3 — God guaranteed Abraham many children and various land boundaries, the Covenant of the Jewish Nation. In the second Covenant — the one at Mount Sinai4 — God revealed the laws to the Israelite people and granted an eternal agreement and a guarantee that can never be rescinded. In effect with these two Covenants, God has made Israel both a nation and a religion. The third covenant is set to take effect upon the peoples’ entry into the Promised Land: “When you have entered the land that Adonai your God is giving you….”5 A primary focus of Parashat Ki Tavo is the blessings and curses to be proclaimed by the Levitical priests once the Israelites had crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land. The Parashah describes a ceremony that is to take place on the neighboring mountains of Gerizim and Ebal. The people are to erect a huge stone monument on Mount Ebal, inscribe on it the entire Torah6 ,7, and bring offerings. Then the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin are to assemble on Mount Gerizim to hear the blessings, while the tribes of Dan, Napthali, Reuben, Gad, Asher and Zebulun are to assemble on Mount Ebal to hear the curses.8 (http://www.tbsoc.org/torahcommentaries/KiTavo_DvarTorah.pdf) God wanted his people to know his laws so they were written on these ancient billboards, perhaps the world’s first holy advertisement.

166)

OPHIR

I Kings 9:26-28) "And King Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon." The word “Ophir” can refer to a man or to a place. It can be translated as “Joktan”, who was a descendent of Noah through his son Shem. However, the geographical location of Ophir was, in Bible times, associated with the metal gold. On the website http://www.keyway.ca/htm2004/20040315.htm it comments that, Ophir is always mentioned regarding the gold found there; another clue as to the location of Ophir is that Solomon's ships departed from the Red Sea ports to obtain gold from Ophir, thereby indicating a southern destination (rather from the Mediterranean Sea ports which traded to the north). Later kings of Israel (actually, kings of Judah, in this example using Jehoshaphat, who was a king of Judah - see Kings of Israel and Judah) also sought gold from Ophir (although their ships didn't always make it): "Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold" (1 Kings 22:48 KJV) King David obtained gold from Ophir before his son and successor Solomon continued to get gold there. David's gold from Ophir was used in the later construction of the Temple (see Temples) … ."Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house [see also "My Father's House"], Even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses withal" (1 Chronicles 29:1-4 KJV).David had a passion for the house of God, even though he didn’t get to build it himself. Do you feel passionate about your church including God’s worldwide church of believers? Are you involved in helping to promote the church in underprivileged countries? Do you have talents as precious as gold from Ophir that you can donate to further the cause of Christ?

167)

OUR FIRST RELATIVES

Genesis 1:26-28 “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” It is jokingly said that Adam and Eve can be identified in heaven by the fact that they don’t have belly buttons. Our society has gotten so far away from the Bible that Creation is not

allowed to be taught in the public schools and is pre-empted by long lectures about evolution. Evolution denies the Genesis account in which God makes Adam and Eve as special creations and it teaches that two amoebas mated and over time produced fish, birds, and eventually mankind. If you don’t believe that man came from monkeys you can be subjected to a lot of persecution for your beliefs. The following website comments on our first relatives at http://www.studythebible.com/question/default.htm “You can believe that all of mankind descended from Adam and Eve the same way you can believe anything else recorded in the scriptures. It is not trouble at all for me to believe it because I believe the Bible is God's inspired Word. Now down to the practical side of the matter. For thousands of years following the creation mankind lived hundreds of years and begat children. We have no idea how many children Adam begat for the scripture says, "And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters. We note also that they began to practice polygamy and a man living for hundreds of years could produce multitudes of progeny. So I see no problem in all of mankind descending from Adam and Eve. You may wonders as have many others where Cain got his wife. Evidently he married his sister and that was not unusual either. Abraham's wife was his half-sister so it was not uncommon for close relatives at one time to marry. At that time man had not developed the multitudes of physical weaknesses and diseases so there were no ill effects from such marriages. “ Some of our first relatives might have swung by the neck, but they did not swing by their tails.

168)

OZYMANDIAS

Job 3:13-15 “For now should I have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest, With kings and counsellors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves; Or with princes that had gold, who filled their houses with silver:” Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) was a romantic poet and one of his most famous poems was titled, “Ozymandias”. The fallen Pharaoh is believed to be Ramses II who reigned from 1292-1225 B.C.E. . This may be the Pharaoh who Moses challenged and who God brought the 10 plagues down on. Even though he was famous and wielded great power when he was alive, all that remains of the Pharaoh is a statue of stone in the shifting desert sands. Ozymandias I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed. And on the pedestal these words appear: `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, The lone and level sands stretch far away. By Percy Bysshe Shelly The suffering patriarch comments about the afterlife, in Job 3: 17-19 “There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest. There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his master.” Death is the great leveler, for both the slave and the Pharaoh meet a similar fate. However, in Luke 1:79 it says that Christ came, “To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Christ has overcome death and given us eternal life. Do you fear that you will be just a monument in a cemetery when you die? Everyone you meet is immortal.

169)

PALM SUNDAY

Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. 10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.” Palm Sunday was predicted as far back in the Old Testament days of the prophet, Zechariah. On that Sunday the crowd was so exuberant that they threw palm branches underneath Jesus’ feet and treated Him like a king. However, the same Christ who was applauded on Palm Sunday was later betrayed for thirty pieces of silver and a traitors’ kiss. The same crowd who had shouted “Hosanna!”then screamed “Crucify!” only a short time later. It is quite common for society to idolize famous rock stars , actors, or politicians and then when they make a blunder they are disgraced and their name dragged through the mud. This shows the fickleness of human nature. Soon Christ will come back and it will be as a conquering king. Every knee will be made to bow to Him.

170)

PASSOVER

Exodus 13:3 “And Moses said unto the people, remember this day, in which ye cane out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.” Passover starts on the 15th day of the month of Nissan in the Jewish calendar and is the mostly widely known Jewish holiday since it has links to the Last Supper which was a Passover Seder . Passover or as the Jews say “Pesach” lasts for seven days and is symbolic of the tenth plague that God sent to Egypt in which their first born were killed, but those Israelites who had put blood on their door frames were “passed over” and their first born spared. A big part of preparing a Jewish home for Passover is ridding it of leaven or “chametz”. A Jewish Virtual Library’s website: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/holidaya.html reports: “The process of cleaning the home of all chametz in preparation for Passover is an enormous task. To do it right, you must spend several days scrubbing everything down, going over the edges of your stove and fridge with a toothpick and a Q-Tip ... After the cleaning is completed, the morning before the Seder, a formal search of the house for chametz is undertaken, and any remaining chametz burned.” Many times the Bible refers to yeast or leaven as evil. That doesn’t mean that when you bake bread that you are sinning. Rather, the Scriptures use the analogy that sin (yeast) affects everybody, just as a little bit of yeast raises a whole batch of dough. Our job at Passover is to examine our hearts and deal with our sin problem.

171)

THE VIRTUE OF PATIENCE

1 Theselonins5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” A of Christians don’t have any patience. After hearing a Sunday sermon they go out into the church’s parking lot and want to leave tire tracks on other peoples’ hoods. What then is the Biblical view of patience and how do we develop it? The following excerpt from a Christian website comments, “Although most people consider patience to be a passive waiting or gentle tolerance, most of the Greek words translated “patience” in the New Testament (KJV) are active, robust words. Consider, for example, Hebrews 12:1: “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” Does one run a race by passively waiting for slow-pokes or gently tolerating cheaters? Certainly not! The word translated patience in this verse means endurance. A Christian runs the race patiently by persevering through difficulties in hope of heaven. In the Bible, patience is persevering towards a goal, enduring trials, or expectantly waiting for a promise to be fulfilled.

Patience Developed 1. God’s power develops patience. “Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness” (Colossians 1:11). 2. Trusting God’s goodness develops patience. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).3. Allowing trials to purify character develops patience. ”Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:3-4).4. Resting in God’s timing develops patience. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not yourself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth” (Psalms 37:7-9). 5. Waiting for Christ’s return develops patience. “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws nigh" (James 5:7-8). Patience Demonstrated “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” James 5:10-11 1. Job (James 5:11) 2. Abraham (Hebrews 6:15) 3. Paul (2 Timothy 3:10) 4. Jesus (2 Thessalonians 3:5) 5. God (Romans 15:5) (http://www.gotquestions.org/Bible-patience.html). Patience is usually developed after suffering much tribulation, but in the end it is a valuable Christian virtue that is pleasing to God. Romans 5:3 “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;”

172)

PERILOUS TIMES ARE COMING

Luke 21:25 “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;” On a website titled, “The Flu Pandemic of 1918” it mentions the devastating flu pandemic that hit a billion people. “When you think of the great killer plagues of history, a few names come to mind -- bubonic plague, tuberculosis, smallpox... You probably don't immediately think of the cold and flu season. But you should. In 1918 and 1919, the Spanish Flu pandemic killed more people than Hitler, nuclear weapons and all the terrorists of history combined. (A pandemic is an epidemic that breaks out on a global scale.) Spanish influenza was a more severe version of your typical flu, with the usual sore throat, headaches and fever. However, in many patients, the

disease quickly progressed to something much worse than the sniffles. Extreme chills and fatigue were often accompanied by fluid in the lungs. One doctor treating the infected described a grim scene: "The faces wear a bluish cast; a cough brings up the blood-stained sputum. In the morning, the dead bodies are stacked about the morgue like cordwood." If the flu passed the stage of being a minor inconvenience, the patient was usually doomed. There is no cure for the influenza virus, even today. All doctors could do was try to make the patients comfortable, which was a good trick since their lungs filled with fluid and they were wracked with unbearable coughing. The "bluish cast" of victims' faces eventually turned brown or purple and their feet turned black. The lucky ones simply drowned in their own lungs. The unlucky ones developed bacterial pneumonia as an agonizing secondary infection. Since antibiotics hadn't been invented yet, this too was essentially untreatable. The pandemic came and went like a flash. Between the speed of the outbreak and military censorship of the news during World War I, hardly anyone in the United States knew that a quarter of the nation's population -- and a billion people worldwide -- had been infected with the deadly disease. More than half a million died in the U.S. alone; worldwide, the estimates ran as high as 50 million….. The deadly variant of influenza -technically designated A/H1N1, or simply Influenza A -- had cropped up from time to time in history, but the 20th century was an era of global transportation unlike any before it. Automobiles, steamboats and even early air transportation made it easy for infected people to carry the ultra-contagious airborne virus into densely populated cities and commercial ports. Military personnel provided one important vector for the virus, especially in the U.S., where returning World War I soldiers were among the hardest hit. Half of all U.S. military casualties in Europe died from influenza, not in combat. Because of the media blackout, it's difficult to be sure where the first significant outbreak took place. In March 1918, several hundred soldiers fell ill at Fort Riley, Kansas. Fewer that 50 died, but the company -- numbering in the tens of thousands -- was deployed to Europe, and apparently they took the flu along with them. http://www.rotten.com/library/history/flu-pandemic/ World health authorities are warning that a flu pandemic is going to happen sometime in the future. The Avian H5N1 virus or bird flu has not made many people sick yet, but scientists fear that this virus has the capability of mutating so that it can infect humans. 2 Timothy 3:1 says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.” We might have to live through a flu pandemic like our parents, or grandparents did. Are you ready to face perilous times? Ask the Lord to help prepare you.

173)

PETER AND JUDAS

Luke 22: 31-32 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” On the website called “Heart Light” it comments: “Most of us would define Peter's denials of the Lord as failure. In Jesus' worst moments, Peter was denying he had any connection with the Lord even though a short before his denials, he had been adamant that he would never turn away from the Lord. We must learn two very important lessons. First, our failures don't have to be the defining characteristic of our walk with Jesus. Peter was weak and stumbled, but because of his deep repentance, the Lord's help, and the power of the Holy Spirit, he was used mightily by the Lord. We must never relegate anyone, not even ourselves, to the junk heap for letting the Lord

down at one time or another. He is gracious and compassionate and will forgive our sin when we genuinely repent. Second, the Lord can use our failures to make us equipped to better serve others in his family.” http://www.heartlight.org/wjd/luke/1207-wjd.html Unlike Peter who repented with bitter tears, Judas had remorse for betraying Christ, but he did not change his course the way Peter did. In Matthew 27:5 it says about Judas, “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” There was no more hope for Judas, because he didn’t have any more chances to repent. The website “Got Questions.org” explains, “ The Bible clearly indicates that Judas was not saved. Jesus Himself said of Judas, “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born” (Matthew 26:24). John 17:12 also says concerning Judas, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” At one time, though, Judas believed that Jesus was a prophet, or possibly even believed He was the Messiah. Jesus sent the disciples out to proclaim the Gospel and perform miracles (Luke 9:1-6). Judas was included in this group. Judas had faith, but it was not a true faith, or at best it was a very shallow faith. Judas was never “saved” but for a time he was a follower of Christ.” http://www.gotquestions.org/Judas-saved.html Have you let the Lord down? God doesn’t put anyone on the trash heap if they are willing to repent. Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” Are you a Peter or a Judas?

174)

PRAYER FOR DEATH UNANSWERED

Philippians 1:21 “ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” A Russian proverb says, “Two hands upon the breast, and labor is past." In self-pity some of ask God to let us die so we won’t have to work and suffer anymore. Elijah asked the Lord to let him die and so did Moses. The following poem depicts God’s response to our plea to let it all be over with. NOW AND AFTERWARDS. "Two hands upon the breast, And labor's done; Two pale feet crossed in rest,-The race is won; Two eyes with coin-weights shut, And all tears cease; Two lips where grief is mute, Anger at peace:" So pray we oftentimes, mourning our lot; God in his kindness answereth not. "Two hands to work addrest Aye for his praise; Two feet that never rest

Walking his ways; Two eyes that look above Through all their tears; Two lips still breathing love, Not wrath, nor fears:" So pray we afterwards, low on our knees; Pardon those erring prayers! Father, hear these! By DINAH MARIA MULOCK CRAIK http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/1/6/7/8/16786/16786.htm In 2 Corinthians 5:6 the apostle Paul said, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:” One day we will be in heaven and exempt from worry, toil, and pain, but God wants those who endure to the end. Matthew 10:22 says, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Are you enduring to the end or are you begging God to let you off the hook?

175)

THE PRAYING HYDE

Matthew 21:22 “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Luke 6:12 “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” John Hyde was famous for his complete devotion to deep prayer and to missionary work in India. At http://www.believersweb.org/view.cfm?ID=110 a brief story of his life and work are described: “ John Hyde 1865-1912 John Hyde, better known as "The Praying Hyde," was born in Carrollton, Illinois. His father was a Presbyterian minister who faithfully proclaimed the Gospel message and called for the Lord to thrust out labourers into His harvest. He prayed this prayer not only in the pulpit but also in the home, around the family altar. This made an indelible impression on the life of young John, as he grew up in that atmosphere. John was graduated from Cathage College with such high honours that he was elected to a position on the faculty. However, he had heard the divine call to the regions beyond, and was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. So he resigned his posi- tion and entered the Presbyterian seminary. In Chicago, he was graduated in the spring of 1892 and sailed for India the following October. His ministry of prayer in India during the next 20 years was such that the natives referred to him as "the man who never sleeps." Some termed him "the apostle of prayer." But more familiarly he was known as "the praying Hyde." He was all these and more, for deep in India's Punjab, he envi- sioned his Master, and face to face with the eternal, he learned lessons of prayer which were amazing. Often he spent 30 days and nights in prayer, and many times was on his knees in deep intercession for 36 hours at a time. His work among the villages was very successful, in that for many years he won four to ten people a day to the Lord Jesus Christ. Hyde was instrumental in establishing the annual Sialkote Conferences, from which thousands of missionaries and

native workers returned to the stations, empowered anew and afresh for the work of reaching India with the Gospel. Hyde's life of sacrifice, humility, love for souls and deep spirituality, as well as his example in the ministry of intercession, inspired many others to effect these graces in their own lives and ministries.

176)

PREACHING FOR PROFIT

1 Peter 4:17 “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” Most Christians have not been converted by T.V. evangelists, but by a friend who talked to them about the gospel. However, T.V. evangelists still haul in megabucks. The Ship of Fools website comments: “There are outspoken critics of the huge salaries and lavish lifestyles of some preachers from within the evangelical community. "The opulent lifestyles of televangelists make me sick," said Rick Warren, who has returned all the salary he has ever taken from Saddleback Church, in Orange County, California. Warren accepts no speaking honoraria, and "reverse tithes," giving away 90 percent of the millions of dollars he has earned from his bestselling books, including The Purpose Driven Life. … "Within conservative media ministries, criticism from outsiders often is seen as a badge of honor that validates a ministry's righteousness," says Quentin Schultze, author of Christianity and the Mass Media in America. "TV creates an especially strong, empathetic bond between high-profile media personalities and their audiences." "Loyal members of the audience feel like special insiders who trust the leaders even though they have never met such leaders in person," says Schultze, who is on the faculty of Calvin College, an evangelical institution. "It takes a major, persistent, public moral scandal to tarnish a leader's reputation and bring down a ministry." In the 1980s, the television ministries of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Bakker … were destroyed as a result of sexual misconduct and financial improprieties – resulting in at least one Pulitzer Prize. Standards have changed since then, to a degree. Extramarital affairs, sometimes followed by divorce and remarriage, are no longer automatic disqualifications for megachurch pastors and television ministers. The same is now true of drugs and alcohol. Now it is male homosexuality that is the one unforgivable sin for evangelical leaders, from which there is no effective return, Christian theology notwithstanding.” http://www.shipoffools.com/features/2008/teflon_televangelists.html The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:18 “What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.” Are you trusting in T.V. evangelists to get your friends and family saved? It is better if you talk to them yourself. Also, the vast wealth of T.V. evangelists is the opposite of Christ’s lifestyle. Luke 9:58 comments, “ And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.”

177) PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM FALSE PROPHETS

Matthew 24:24 “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. In the last days false prophets will be roving about like wolves in sheep’s clothing, duping even those who are Christians. How can we protect ourselves from being deceived? In “The Church of God’s Daily Bible Study” the author lists things that we can do to protect ourselves. Don't Believe Anyone Who Ignores, Or Disagrees With, God's Word: About 30 years ago, I recall hearing a preacher bellowing, "Don't believe me, believe your Bible." The honest logic of that man's statement cannot be refuted or argued with. Humans can be, or go, wrong. God's Word will never fail you, because God will never fail you. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Luke 21:33) Prove All Things: Never just take someone's word as "gospel," regardless of how educated or exalted they may be, or appear to be. True Christian servants ("minister" means servant, "apostle" means messenger, "evangelist" means announcer) are not offended if you check to see if what they say is correct, or question them if you find something that you think is wrong. In fact, they expect you to do so: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1 RSV); "Test everything; hold fast what is good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21 RSV) Know Your Bible:Familiarity with the Scriptures, all of the Scriptures, is a vital defense. Amazing as it may seem, many Christian-professing people actually have not read all of The Bible at least one time. Once each year should be the minimum for everyone. Daily Bible Study has an easy and enjoyable daily Bible reading plan, requiring only a few minutes each day, that covers the entire Bible in 1 year. See 1 Year Reading Plan* Follow Christ, Obey God: God's true servants want you to obey God, not them. Follow them only if they follow Christ. "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." (1 Peter 2:21 RSV)"But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ ... and the head of Christ is God." (1 Corinthians 11:3 RSV); Beware Of "Miracles: While in the end time God's true prophets will perform great miracles (see The Two Witnesses* and Down Without A Fight?), there will also be great Satan-empowered "miracles" which will deceive many: "It works great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of men; and by the signs which it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, bidding them make an image for the beast which was wounded by the sword and yet lived" (Revelation 13:13-14 RSV); Prophet" Doesn't Mean "Profit: Money is of course necessary to pay for living and operating expenses, but acquiring great personal wealth from one's service to God cannot be justified. There are many honest and righteous ways of earning a lot of money. Christianity is not one of them.In the Old Testament, Abraham was considered righteous by God (Galatians 3:6), and at the same time he became very wealthy (Genesis 13:2). But his personal wealth came from business activity. It wasn't given to Abraham as a way of worshipping God. Later, the apostle Paul, a man who actually wrote a large part of the New Testament, although having to accept occasion help because of his difficult circumstances, worked whenever he could, as a tent maker, at the same time of his ministry (Acts 18:3).According to Paul, "For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ." (2 Corinthians 2:17 RSV) God's true servants are not interested in taking from you. They want to give to you, not worldly money that is quickly spent, but true wealth, the knowledge and understanding that will enable you to obtain the eternal spiritual riches that will last forever. God's true servants don't

want your money. They want you to obey God. Pray that God will give you discernment about following false prophets. Could you be deceived by a false Messiah? *(All references from www.keyway.ca)

178)

PUNISHMENT FOR BEING A GOSSIP OR A SCOLD

James 3:5 “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” In the book, Old Time Punishments ,by William Andrews, there is a description of a “brank” which was an old time punitive device put on women who were gossiping, or scolding. He writes, “The brank may be simply described as an iron framework; which was placed on the head, enclosing it in a kind of cage; it had in front a plate of iron, which, either sharpened or covered with spikes, was so situated as to be placed in the mouth of the victim, and if she attempted to move her tongue in any way whatever, it was certain to be shockingly injured.” Branking was a very cruel punishment for trying to control the tongue. Although the brank is now part of history, the Bible insists that we get control of our tongues. Not many sermons are preached on gossiping, but it is still a sin that grieves God and damages other people. “Gossip is publicizing information from the private life of a person who would want to keep it secret. Information on a man who is seen hugging a woman late at night is not gossip if the woman is his wife, but it is gossip if the woman is his neighbor. The Bible compares gossip to the shedding of blood. “Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor” (Leviticus), and “In thee have been talebearers to shed blood” (Ezekiel). The reason for this is that gossip reveals a secret, as the Book of Proverbs says. But not all secrets need to be kept quiet. There are secrets like the secrets of evil that should be revealed, and therefore they are not gossip but are merely doing justice. There are also secrets that should be respected because of the right to privacy, and revealing them is like harming a person’s good name. Harming a person’s good name, said the Jewish Sages, is worse than incest. And Maimonides was even stricter: “Who counts as a slanderer? One who carries matters from one (person) to another and says, ‘This is what so-and-so said, and this is what I heard regarding so-and-so.’ Even though what he says may be true, it (still) destroys the world.” http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3339075,00.html In the Old Testament, Miriam and Aaron gossiped about Moses marring a Cushite woman and Miriam got struck down with leprosy. God tried to have Miriam removed from society, but Moses made an appeal for her healing and she got better. 1 Peter 3:10 cautions, “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:”

179)

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS ARE NOT ENOUGH

Matthew 5:43-46 “ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil

and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? Doing random acts of kindness has become a buzz word and many stories are circulated about people who perform good deeds from time to time, however, Jesus taught that random acts of kindness are not enough. He commanded us to love our enemies and pray for people that abuse us. The website called the “Don’t be Sad Blog” mentions the health benefits of doing acts of kindness: “Did you know performing random acts of kindness potentially has health benefits? In a worthwhile article Health on the hill has summarised some of these: Helper’s high – Often times, do-gooders experience a rush of euphoria, followed by a period of calm. This sensation releases endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. Diminishes stress-related health problems – By helping others, you are likely to reverse feelings of depression, hostility and isolation, which means you are less likely to experience stress or ulcers. For some, a reduction in stress helps to decrease lung constriction, which often leads to asthma attacks. The benefits return – When you remember the kind act, the health benefits and sense of well-being can return for hours or days. Happy thoughts – Helping can enhance feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience, vigour and optimism.Affiliative connection – This term refers to the creation of a positive relationship with someone, and such connections strengthen the immune system. http://dontbesadblog.wordpress.com/2008/02/19/random-acts-of-kindnesshealth-benefits/ When worldly people do acts of kindness they like to be rewarded openly for them. However, in Matthew 6: 2-4 the Lord says, “ Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” When you do good deeds do you seek recognition? Are you praying for and doing good deeds for your enemies? John 1:5 “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.”

180)

RAPTURE ME NOW LORD!

1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have not hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." In the 1970’s we sang “The King is Coming!” and in the church and Christian community many people frequently talked about Jesus coming back. However, today in the 21 century,

preachers tend to shy away from the topic of the Rapture because they do not want to stir up controversy or offend anyone with different eschatology. Three raptures have already occurred in Biblical history. In Genesis 5:24 it says, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” The New Testament elaborates about Enoch’s rapture, in Hebrews 11: 5 which says,” By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” The second rapture that is mentioned in the bible is that of Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11 “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” The third rapture is that of Jesus Christ which is described in Acts 1:9-11 which says, “And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” The church is very prominent is the first five chapters of Revelation, however chapters 6-18 show a conspicuous absence of it. That is because the believers are snatched away in the rapture. I Corinthians 15:51-52 says, Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Are you looking forward to the rapture? 2 Timothy 4:8 promises that there is a reward for those who are looking for Christ to come back for them, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” Many Christians are too rooted in this world to love Christ’s appearing. Are you?

181)

RELAXING WIHOUT GUILT

Matthew 11:28 “ Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Many Christians are haunted by the verse in John 9:4 in which Jesus said, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” We feel that we must always be busy doing the Lord’s work without any breaks. The “Bible Riches Archives” has the following to say on its website: “For many of us, it is virtually impossible to relax without feeling guilty. Someone once said, ‘People are no longer human beings. We should be called human doings.’ But I would like to propose this: Occasional boredom can actually be good for you. Why would I say this? When you allow yourself to be bored, even for an hour – or less – and don’t fight it, the feelings of boredom will be replaced with feelings of peace. And soon after, you’ll learn to relax. I’ve been trying to do this. At first, it was hard. I began to feel guilty as if I wasn’t “redeeming the time” (Eph. 5:16). But little by little, I slowly got use to the idea of not doing anything and actually enjoyed it. Now of course, I’m not talking about hours of

idle time and laziness, but simply learning how to relax and learning to “be” rather than learning to “do” for a few minutes each day. I have also found that when I do this, I actually come away with a fresher mind, a revived spirit, and renewed physical energy. The beauty of doing this teaches us to clear our minds and relax. Sometimes my mind can go on overload and I begin to put out stuff that’s non-creative and stale. When I allow myself to be bored, it takes a lot of pressure off of me to be performing and doing something every second of the day. For example, believe it or not, but I used to feel guilty spending time going to watch a movie. I would often tell myself that I was wasting valuable time. But in actuality, I was coming away feeling more refreshed and my work would get done faster and it had become easier for me to do… . God sometimes tells you to rest more by giving subtle hints. If you ignore God's hints, your body may break down, or your stress level might zoom out of control. You might even ruin relationships by being irritated and frustrated with others for no apparent reason other than you haven’t taken the time to rest and be bored. Take time to relax -- ESPECIALLY when you don't have time for it. http://www.bibleriches.org/archives/21004.html Even Jesus and his disciples needed relaxation and a break from all the crowds. In Mark 6:31 it says, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Are your nerves feeling frayed from constant work and responsibility? Find a relaxation tape, music, a movie or something that will help you unwind.

182)

RAHAB THE REPENTED

Joshua 2:1 “ And Joshua the son of Nun sent out of Shittim two men to spy secretly, saying, Go view the land, even Jericho. And they went, and came into an harlot’s house, named Rahab, and lodged there.” Joshua was focused on the destruction of Jerico. His army was camped at Shittim and he sent spies to reconnoitre. Rhab, the local prostitute, sheltered them from the men of the Jerico army, hiding them in stacks of flax on her roof. In return she asked that the spies save herself and her extended family. (She) sheltered the spies sent by Joshua to search out the land. Having arrived at Jericho, the two spies remained at Rahab's house, situated in the wall of the city and having a window on the outside (Josh. ii. 1, 15). Rahab was ordered by the king, who had been informed of the arrival of the spies, to deliver them to him; she, however, hid them on the roof and declared that they had come and gone without her knowing who they were (ii. 3-6). In her conversation with the spies upon the roof, Rahab proved to have been well informed of the progress of the Israelites since they had crossed the Red Sea. She told them that she was certain of their final conquest of the land, and asked them to reward her by sparing herself and her whole family—her father, mother, brothers, and sisters, all of whom lived in the interior of the city (ii. 8-14). After she had let the spies down through the window of her house, they enjoined her to take her whole family into her house, which she should distinguish by placing a scarlet string or rope in the window through which they had made their escape (ii. 15-21). At the conquest of Jericho by the Israelites, Joshua ordered the two spies to rescue Rahab and her family, whose descendants thenceforward dwelt in Israel (vi. 22-23, 25).E. G. H. M. Sel. In Rabbinical Literature: Rahab was one of the most beautiful women in the world, the mere mention of her name exciting inordinate desire (Meg. l5a; Ta'an. 5b). Later Jewish commentators, Rashi among them, interpret , the Hebrew term for "harlot," as "one who

sells food," basing their view on Targum Jonathan (to Josh. ii. 1), which renders it by (= "innkeeper"; comp., however, David Ḳimḥi ad loc.). In the Talmudic literature, however, it is accepted that Rahab was a harlot.” http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp? artid=71&letter=R Rhab seems to have come to belief in God by hearing of his drying up the Red Sea and saving the Israelites from the Egyptian Army. Joshua 2:8-11 “And before they were laid down, she came up unto them upon the roof; And she said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.” In the end Rhab and her family were saved and lived in Israel. Rhab herself got married to an Isrealite named Salmon, and became a genetic link in the Messianic line. If Rhab went from a life of sin to a life of righteousness, so can we.

183)

RICHARD COREY: A SUICIDAL RICH MAN

Psalms 39:6 “Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.” Edwin Arlington Robinson (1896-1935) wrote the poem, Richard Corey in his collection of poems “Children of the Night”. “WHENEVER Richard Cory went down town, We people on the pavement looked at him: He was a gentleman from sole to crown, Clean favored, and imperially slim. And he was always quietly arrayed, 5 And he was always human when he talked; But still he fluttered pulses when he said, “Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked. And he was rich—yes, richer than a king— And admirably schooled in every grace: 10 In fine, we thought that he was everything To make us wish that we were in his place. So on we worked, and waited for the light, And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, 15 Went home and put a bullet through his head.” In the poem, Richard Corey shocks everyone by committing suicide. Although he was rich and envied he was in despair and shot himself. Job too had wealth, but it was all taken away from him in successive calamities. In Job 6: 2-9, the patriarch cries, “Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier

than the sand of the sea: therefore my words are swallowed up. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder? Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt? or is there any taste in the white of an egg? The things that my soul refused to touch are as my sorrowful meat. Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off.” Although Job begs for God to kill him, in the end the beleaguered patriarch gets a “Hollywood ending” and he is given wealth, a new family, and happiness. In Psalms 49:10 it says of God, “For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” No matter what you have down here, you can’t take it with you when you go. Trusting in riches is very risky. Are you trusting in your bank account or in God?

184)

ROMANCE WAS GOD’S INVENTION

Song of Solomon 1:2-4 “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine. Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee. Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.” The Bible, in The Song of Solomon, is replete with love poetry. There have been theologians down throughout history that wanted to take this book of the Bible out of Scripture entirely. However, it is still considered to be an inspired portion of God’s Word. After all, God made male and female. In Genesis 2:18 “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” William Browne of Tavistock, Devonshire in England was born in 1591 and lived until 1693. He was called a “pastoral poet”. The following is one of his love poems. Welcome, Welcome, Do I Sing WELCOME, welcome, do I sing, Far more welcome than the spring; He that parteth from you never Shall enjoy a spring for ever. Love, that to the voice is near, Breaking from your iv'ry pale, Need not walk abroad to hear The delightful nightingale. Welcome, welcome, then I sing, etc. Love, that looks still on your eyes Though the winter have begun To benumb our arteries, Shall not want the summer's sun.

Welcome, welcome, then I sing, etc. Love, that still may see your cheeks Where all rareness still reposes, Is a fool if e'er he seeks Other lilies, other roses. Welcome, welcome, then I sing, etc. Love, to whom your soft lip yields, And perceives your breath in kissing, All the odours of the fields Never, never shall be missing. Welcome, welcome, then I sing, etc. Love, that question would anew What fair Eden was of old, Let him rightly study you And a brief of that behold. Welcome, welcome, then I sing, etc. In Song of Solomon 3:2-4, the woman seeks out her beloved, “ I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.” Romance is not something that we stole from God’s treasure house when he was not looking, God invented intimacy Himself. Hebrews 13:4 says that, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Are you single and tempted with sexual sin? Resist it for God will not be mocked in this area. Galations 6:7 says,“ Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Or are you married and the romance has dwindled? Pray that God will rekindle the flame, so that you can feel like the lovers in the Song of Solomon.

185)

THOSE ROTTEN REJECTIONS

Job 19:19 “All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.” Few people like the sting of rejection, but if you want to succeed as a writer rejection is something you have to accept. Also, as we relate to different people we will have to deal with rejection from some. In a book titled, Rotten Rejections, by Andre Bernard, he lists pages and pages of famous books which were rejected by the editors many times over. For example, MobyDick by Herman Melville was submitted to a publisher in 1851 and the rejection it got read as follows: “We regret to say that our united opinion is entirely against the book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenile Market in (England) . It is very long, rather oldfashioned, and in our opinion not deserving of the reputation which it seems to enjoy”. (page 67

of Rotten Rejections) . Despite the caustic comments from the editors, Moby-Dick has been a classic for many years and succeeded beyond the author’s wildest dreams. Classics like Gone With the Wind, Anne of Green Gables, and even some of Stephen Spielburg’s work from the 1970's were rejected by critical editors. The newsletter, “Tomorrow’s Professor” comments, “As an experienced writer and teacher of writing, I always want to respond to this question with fatherly advice and say something like, "I view rejections as evidence of growth." But to the novice, such fatherly advice may sound like "Eat your spinach; it's good for you." Well, as many parents will attest, spinach is good for you-but only if it doesn't cause you to throw up. Similarly, getting rejections may be good for you, but only if they don't cause you to give up. Greg Daugherty~ editor of Money magazine (1996, p. 28), says that if you haven't been rejected lately, it may means "you simply aren't trying hard enough." Perhaps a better response is that all successful authors get rejections. Successful writers grow as a result of rejection because they learn from experience. Some aggressive novices ask the editors for advice. They ask the editors of referred journals for copies of the reviewers' evaluations of their manuscript. With this feedback in hand, rejections can become painful blessings. Perhaps the best advice for dealing with rejections is to study the rejections immediately, make the necessary improvements, and promptly send the manuscript to another publisher. If no feedback is received, either ask for it, or quickly examine your returned manuscript for editorial marks. Then make the needed corrections, put the manuscript and a self-addressed stamped envelope in an envelope, and send it to another publisher. Remember, sometimes the reasons behind rejections are unrelated to the quality of the manuscript.There are two reasons for handling rejections hastily. If you leave the rejection on your desk, you will dwell on it--even if only in your sub-conscious and it seems to grow. Second, by promptly sending the manuscript out again, you decrease the time between acceptances, and this increases your number of publications. If your manuscript has any value at all, there is likely to be some correlation between your number of acceptances and the time that your manuscript spends on an editor's desk. After twenty years of writing, I still get rejections, and each one has a little sting. But each rejection brings a smile as I think, "That's O.K. I've been rejected before, and I can take pride in knowing that I've been rejected by the very best." http://ctl.stanford.edu/Tomprof/postings/197.html Job has a more serious form of rejection to deal with – those of his immediate family, which is more painful by far. However, we do know that in the end Job was healed and reconciled with his loved ones, which is not always the case for those who have been rejected. It may help to know that even the Son of God was rejected and despised. When you suffer rejection turn to Him. Isaiah 53:3 “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

186)

SAINT IGNATIUS

Acts 7:59 “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” On the website, “Our Patron Saint: Saint Ignatius of Antioch”, there is a recreation of this Christian martyr’s last day on earth when he was fed to the lions: “The Flavian Amphitheater, the Roman Colosseum, the ancient equivalent of the Superdome, was the ancient place for the

most popular of all sporting events. It was called the Colosseum because it was built next to a Colossus, a giant statue of the Emperor Nero. It took only 11 years to build it. It featured all three types of columns, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. It had ventilation all around it. It had the finest travertine marble on its facing. The floor could be flooded for naval demonstrations. The top could be covered with a huge awning to protect the spectators from the sun. On a big day, 50,000 spectators could be seated. Outside the amphitheater and throughout Rome the ticket sellers would be hawking, "Come to the fights. Come see the gladiators duel to the death." For a few denarii the Roman could see great warriors fight their last battle. "Come to the fight." Perhaps, though, even this got boring to the blood thirsty Romans. The Emperor Trajan put some new enthusiasm into the shows. He condemned Christians to do battle with the wild animals. "Come to the show. Come and see if the Christian God, Jesus Christus, will appear and do battle for his radical followers." On one particular occasion the show promised to be particularly special. "Today," the ticket sellers announce, "there will be a special show. Ignatius of Antioch, the most powerful follower of Christus of the East, perhaps the most powerful in the entire empire has finally arrived in Rome. It took two years to get him here. Thousands of his companions greeted him at every port trying to convince him to stay with them. He refused to let them bribe the guards. He must think he's powerful enough himself to take on the lions. Come and see this show. Maybe Christus himself will appear." Fifty thousand people gathered. The crowd was warmed up with a number of duels. After a while they called for this Ignatius, "Come out and do battle." The trumpets blared, the crowd hushed, and out came these Christian warriors. They were dressed in white robes. They wore roses in the hair. An old man with a long beard walked with them. He was identified as Ignatius. This frail man, who had written so much about Jesus, who had led the heretical Christian sect in Antioch, Ignatius, was going to do battle with lions. What a joke. And it was a joke. And it wasn't much of a show. Ignatius repeated to himself what he had written to his followers. "I am the wheat of God. I must be ground by the teeth of the lions into flour. I must become the pure bread of Christ." Ignatius knelt down and was quickly killed. Christ never did appear to do battle with the beasts. Or did he? After the other Christians died, after the beasts had their fill and were returned to their pens, after the crowds filed out of the stadium, Christians came and picked up the martyrs' roses, strewn throughout the floor of the arena. They recited a psalm for each rose they picked up, the beginning of the prayer later generations would call the Rosary. Perhaps, some of the departing Romans looked back and saw this scene. Perhaps then, they recognized in Ignatius of Antioch, in the Christians who came to gather up the bodies and pray the prayers of roses, perhaps these Romans glancing at this compassionate scene could understand the Power of the Gospel.” "Our preaching of the gospel proved not a mere matter of words for you, but one of power." These words from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, apply particularly to Ignatius of Antioch. Belief in the Lord gave him the power to withstand his own fears of wild animals, of death, and even of abandonment by God. He had spoken a great deal about the Lord. Now it was his time to stand for him. The courage he needed to die for his convictions demonstrated the power of the Gospel. "We need more people of courage," a young lady said to me this week. Where are the Joan of Arc's in our faith willing to do battle for the Lord. Where are the Ignatius of Antioch's of our day willing to stare down a lion? Where are we when we know we must demand that our faith and morals be followed even though that is going to lead to ridicule and rejection even by members of our own family. Where are we when we know we are morally bound to make certain demands that are going to be unpopular.” http://www.st.ignatius.net/ignatius.html In Acts 8:2 Paul writes, “And

devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” Often the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Would you die for your faith?

187)

BEING EMPATHETIC AND SYMPATHETIC

Romans 12:15 “ Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Some Christians are not very good at showing empathy or sympathy, however the Bible teaches that we should have these qualities. The following text defines what they are. “Comparison of Empathy with Sympathy: Because of my observations that many people do not know the differences between empathy and sympathy, I will present my understanding of the subject before continuing my discussion of empathy and listening skills. My presentation will be clarified by the use of an example. A man is talking about his father's death, which had occurred a week earlier. As he talks about missing his father and his powerful love for him, the man's voice gradually becomes filled with anguish and then he bursts into tears in front of a friend who is listening to him. If the friend uses sympathy, she might think, for example: He is remembering his father with pain. Poor Roger. If the friend decides to verbalize her thoughts, she might say to the grieving man words such as: "I feel your pain." If the friend uses empathy, she might think, for example: He is remembering his father with pain and also the pleasure of his love for him. If the friend decides to verbalize her thoughts, she might say to the grieving man words such as: "I feel your pain and also your great love for your father." This sharing of the painful feelings of another person is characteristic of both sympathy and empathy. However, the person using sympathy would pay more attention to the pain than to the love for the father whereas the person using empathy would pay equal attention to the pain and love. If the friend added "I'm sorry for your loss," this statement would also be characteristic of sympathy, but not of empathy. The person using empathy would share the grieving man's emotional pain, but not necessarily feel sorry for or pity him. Of course, one can use both sympathy and empathy, for example: "I feel your pain and also your great love for your father. I'm sorry for your loss." For more information about the differences and similarities between empathy and sympathy, read my more detailed comparison, which includes another example. http://www.psychological-hug.com/ Romans 12:10 tells us to “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”

188)

CLASSIC CHIRSTMAS POEM

Luke 2:7 “ And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” John Donne lived from 1572-1631 and was a famous poet. He also worked as a lawyer, a minister, and an essayist. He authored the following poem. 'Nativity' Christmas Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb, Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment,

There He hath made Himself to His intent Weak enough, now into the world to come; But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room? Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient, Stars and wise men will travel to prevent The effect of Herod's jealous general doom. Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie? Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high, That would have need to be pitied by thee? Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go, With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe. On the Morning of Christ's Nativity This is the month, and this the happy morn Wherein the Son of Heav'n's eternal King, Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born, Our great redemption from above did bring; For so the holy sages once did sing, That he our deadly forfeit should release, And with his Father work us a perpetual peace. II That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable, And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty, Wherewith he wont at Heav'n's high council-table, To sit the midst of Trinal Unity, He laid aside, and here with us to be, Forsook the courts of everlasting day, And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay. III Say Heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein Afford a present to the Infant God? Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, To welcome him to this his new abode, Now while the heav'n, by the Sun's team untrod, Hath took no print of the approaching light, And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright? IV See how from far upon the eastern road The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet: O run, prevent them with thy humble ode, And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;

Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet, And join thy voice unto the angel quire, From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire. Luke 2:16 says of the wiseman,“ And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Is there room in the inn of your heart for Jesus or have you crowded Him out with the things of the world?

189)

HUMILIITY

1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” In our culture exalting and promoting the self is considered desirable, however, God commands humility. The Catholic Encyclopedia comments, “The word humility signifies lowliness or submissiveness an it is derived from the Latin humilitas or, as St. Thomas says, from humus, i.e. the earth which is beneath us. As applied to persons and things it means that which is abject, ignoble, or of poor condition, as we ordinarily say, not worth much. Thus we say that a man is of humble birth or that a house is a humble dwelling. As restricted to persons, humility is understood also in the sense of afflictions or miseries, which may be inflicted by external agents, as when a man humiliates another by causing him pain or suffering. It is in this sense that others may bring about humiliations and subject us to them. Humility in a higher and ethical sense is that by which a man has a modest estimate of his own worth, and submits himself to others. According to this meaning no man can humiliate another, but only himself, and this he can do properly only when aided by Divine grace. We are treating here of humility in this sense, that is, of the virtue of humility. The virtue of humility may be defined: "A quality by which a person considering his own defects has a lowly opinion of himself and willingly submits himself to God and to others for God's sake." St. Bernard defines it: "A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself." These definitions coincide with that given by St. Thomas: "The virtue of humility", he says, "Consists in keeping oneself within one's own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one's superior" (Summa Contra Gent., bk. IV, ch. lv, tr. Rickaby). To guard against an erroneous idea of humility, it is necessary to explain the manner in which we ought to esteem our own gifts in reference to the gifts of others, if called upon to make a comparison. Humility does not require us to esteem the gifts and graces which God has granted us, in the supernatural order, less than similar gifts and graces which appear in others. No one should esteem less in himself than in others these gifts of God which are to be valued above all things according to the words of St. Paul: "That we may know the things that are given us from God." (1 Corinthians 2:12). Neither does humility require us in our own estimation to think less of the natural gifts we possess than of similar, or of inferior, gifts in our neighbours; otherwise, as St. Thomas teaches, it would behove everyone to consider himself a greater sinner or a greater fool than his neighbour; for the Apostle without any prejudice to humility was able to say: "We by nature are Jews, and not of the Gentiles sinners" (Galatians 2:15). A man, however, may generally esteem some good in his neighbour which he does not

himself possess, or acknowledge some defect or evil in himself which he does not perceive in his neighbour, so that, whenever anyone subjects himself out of humility to an equal or to an inferior he does so because he takes that equal or inferior to be his superior in some respect. Thus we may interpret thehumble expressions of the saints as true and sincere. Besides, their great love of God caused them to see the malice of their own faults and sins in a clearer light than that which is ordinarily given to persons who are not saints.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07543b.htm James 4:6,10 says, “ But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble … Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

190)

BEING A FOOL

Psalms 49:10 “For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.” On the website: http://mitchlewis.net/blog/articles/the-parable-of-the-rich-fool-and-thewisdom-tradition/ the author, Mitch, writes: Jesus’ parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21) borrows heavily on the wisdom tradition in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Much of Jesus’ language come from these two sources. Some obvious points of contact are Jesus’ description of the man as a “fool,” the phrase “eat, drink and be merry” and the question “things you have prepared–whose will they be?” Luke quotes Jesus using the same word for “fool” as is used in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Greek translation of the Old Testament: aphrōn. The fool doesn’t get what life is all about. The fool makes silly, shortsighted decisions. Foolishness may display itself in ungodliness, the bullying of others, greed, laziness, pride or a host of other ways. Industriousness: So how is this man a fool? It’s not in being productive. Proverbs commends industry and hates laziness.Proverbs10:4 GNB Being lazy will make you poor, but hard work will make you rich.Proverbs does not think much of lazy people and it mocks their excuses. Proverbs 6:9-11 GNB How long is the lazy man going to lie around? When is he ever going to get up? (10) “I’ll just take a short nap,” he says; “I’ll fold my hands and rest a while.” (11) But while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber. Proverbs 22:13 GNB Lazy people stay at home; they say a lion might get them if they go outside. The book of Proverbs is not naïve. It realizes that the situation is also more complicated than that. For example, Proverbs recognizes that injustice keeps people poor.at! …. Of course, one might argue that Jesus never says anything about the man being productive. Jesus says that the land produced bountifully; maybe the rich man was a landlord and not a farmer. Maybe sharecroppers farmed the land. Perhaps, but there is nothing in this parable itself to suggest that Jesus had this in mind. Jesus’ use of the landlord-tenant pattern is quite obvious in parables which depend upon it for meaning. In any case, someone worked hard to make the land productive. I’m reminded of Jimmy Stewart’s character in Shenandoah. Stewart played Charlie Anderson, a widower, a farmer and a father trying to keep his family together at the outbreak of the Civil War. Charlie doesn’t care much for religion, but he continued his wife’s habit of saying grace before meals: ‘ Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Lord just the same for the food we’re about to eat, amen.’ Charlie may not have known much about the nature of God’s

providential care, but he did understand the human side of the equation: productivity requires human labor. Jesus’ use of “wisdom” language brings Proverbs’ view of human industry into view. No, it’s not in being industrious or productive that the rich farmer of Jesus’ story is a fool. Storing Up Produce: Perhaps the farmer’s foolishness lies in his storing up his possessions for a later time. No, for the book of Proverbs even recommends saving for the future! Eat, Drink and Be Merry: So, if hard work and saving are not the issue, maybe the problem is that the man wanted to eat, drink and enjoy life. Nope. The book of Ecclesiastes is in the same tradition as the book of Proverbs. It’s a book of futility and frustration. The author says that most things in life are pointless. You might say that “eat, drink and be merry” is the philosophy of Ecclesiastes. It’s the one thing that has any meaning at all. Repeatedly, the author says, Death and Futility: The author of Ecclesiastes, however, has already figured out what the farmer in Jesus’ parable discovers in the last second of life. You should read Ecclesiastes! Its author has found disappointment in his great achievements, his great possessions and his sensual experiences. Even his great learning disappoints him. Death is the ultimate question for Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 5:15 GNB We leave this world just as we entered it—with nothing. In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with us. Consequently, Ecclesiastes laments that the dead leave there hard-earned possessions to others. Ecclesiastes 2:18-21 GNB Nothing that I had worked for and earned meant a thing to me, because I knew that I would have to leave it to my successor, (19) and he might be wise, or he might be foolish—who knows? Yet he will own everything I have worked for, everything my wisdom has earned for me in this world. It is all useless. (20) So I came to regret that I had worked so hard. (21) You work for something with all your wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then you have to leave it all to someone who hasn’t had to work for it. It is useless, and it isn’t right! Jesus expresses a similar sentiment in verse 20: And the things you have prepared–whose will they be? The farmer has done a great job in preparing the things necessary for his own life, but that’s all. And, as in Ecclesiastes, death is the great invalidator.” In Luke 12:20, God said to the rich man who built bigger barns , “ Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” Luke 12:33 exhorts us to lay up riches in heaven, “ Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” Is your wealth on earth where it can be destroyed or in heaven where it is safe?

191)

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

Proverbs 6:16 -19 “ These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, are a classification of vices that were originally used in early Christian teachings to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man's tendency to sin. The Roman Catholic Church divided sin into two principal categories: "venial", which are relatively minor, and could be forgiven through any sacramentals or sacraments of the church, and the more severe "capital" or mortal sin. Mortal sins destroyed the life of grace, and created the threat of eternal damnation unless either absolved

through the sacrament of confession, or forgiven through perfect contrition on the part of the penitent. Beginning in the early 14th century, the popularity of the seven deadly sins as a theme among European artists of the time eventually helped to ingrain them in many areas of Christian culture and Christian consciousness in general throughout the world. One means of such ingraining was the creation of the mnemonic "SALIGIA" based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia.[1]] Background of the Seven Deadly Sins: There is nowhere in the Christian Bible that a list of the Seven Deadly Sins is given, although lists of virtues contrasted with lists of sins are found in certain books of the New Testament, such as "Galatians". The modern concept of the Seven Deadly Sins is linked to the works of the 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus, who listed eight "evil thoughts" as follows (Refoule, 1967): Gluttony; fornication; avarice; sorrow; anger; discouragement; vainglory; pride.The first three of these sins, as Refoule explains, link to lustful appetite; anger links with the irascible; and vainglory and pride link with the intellect. Some years later, Pope Gregory I (Pope Gregory the Great) would revise this list to form the more common "Seven Deadly Sins".] Listings of the sins since Gregory the Great: Listed in the same order used by both Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century, and later by Dante Alighieri in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, the seven deadly sins are as follows: luxuria (extravagance, later lust), gula (gluttony), avaritia (greed), acedia (sloth), ira (wrath), invidia (envy), and superbia (pride). Each of the seven deadly sins has an opposite among the corresponding seven holy virtues (sometimes also referred to as the contrary virtues). In parallel order to the sins they oppose, the seven holy virtues are chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. The identification and definition of the seven deadly sins over their history has been a fluid process and the idea of what each of the seven actually encompasses has evolved over time. This process has been aided by the fact that they are not referred to in either a cohesive or codified manner in the Bible itself, and as a result other literary and ecclesiastical works referring to the seven deadly sins were instead consulted as sources from which definitions might be drawn. Part II of Dante's Divine Comedy, "Purgatorio", has almost certainly been the best known source since the Renaissance. The modern Roman Catholic Catechism lists the sins as: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins Proverbs 6:23; 7:1-2 exhorts, “ For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: …. My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.” Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” Are you trying to avoid the seven deadly sins with God’s help?

192)

SILENT, INVISIBLE, AND DEADLY

Numbers 32:23 “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” The Bible doesn’t have the actual word “secret sin” in it but several verses talk about it. Secret sin is like carbon monoxide – it advances on us, silent and deadly, without our feeling it or seeing it. The following BBC News story demonstrates how deadly carbon monoxide can be: Builder found guilty of gas death

A builder whose work caused the death of a man from carbon monoxide poisoning has been found guilty of manslaughter. Mechanic Robert Schenker, 31, was found dead at his home in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, in March 2006. Three days earlier builder David Johnson had started reconstructing a chimney, Norwich Crown Court heard. Johnson, 56, of Peterborough, had denied manslaughter and exposing Mr Schenker to risk. He has not yet been sentenced by the court. Flue pipe : The court heard Mr Schenker needed some work carried out on his chimney and called in Johnson. After it was completed, Mr Schenker telephoned the builder and asked if he could turn his boiler back on and was told he could, the court heard. Johnson had allowed mortar to drop into the chimney, which was connected to the flue pipe on Mr Schenker's kitchen boiler, prosecutor Deanna Herr said. The mortar solidified and blocked the chimney, preventing carbon monoxide from escaping into the atmosphere, she said. The poisonous gas leaked into Mr Schenker's home and killed him, jurors were told. “ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/cambridgeshire/7340733.stm King Saul thought that he would hide his disobedience to the Lord, but in 1 Samuel 15:14 the Old Testament says, “And Samuel said, ‘What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?’” Saul was ordered by God to destroy the enemy’s people and the animals, but he had saved some of the livestock. This would not be sinful in our eyes, but Saul had rebelled against God’s will. Is secret sin strangling your spiritual life? Do you think that just because it’s hidden it doesn’t matter? You can’t see carbon monoxide, but it can kill you. Confess your secret sin to God. It’s no secret to Him.

193)

SILVER AND GOLD THROWN INTO THE STREETS

Ezekiel 7:19 “They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity.” The website http://www.biblestudyguide.org/comment/calvin/comm_vol22/htm/xi.xviii.htm comments regarding Ezekiel 7:19 says : “Now the Prophet threatens that the desperation of the people would be so great that they would forget both gold and silver: for we know that men are more anxious about those possessions than about life itself. But gold, unless it be prepared for use, has no value in itself: yet we see that the majority are so inflamed with the desire of gold, that they cast themselves into the certain danger of death. For how many neglect their own life to acquire wealth: hence when men despise gold, they are assuredly astonished by fear and anxiety so as to lose their natural senses. The Prophet means this when he says, they shall cast their gold into the streets, because if they thought they should survive, and if there were any hope of life left, doubtless they would hide their gold and silver. But when gold is cast away, it is certain, as I have said, that all things are full of despair. Their gold, says he, shall be cast away. I prefer this interpretation to an unclean thing. hdn, nedeh, signifies pollution, defilement, and separation. If any prefer-the translation "separation," I do not object, only let us understand that the Jews would treat their gold as valueless, and so willingly separated from it. For we know that men are so attached to their gold and silver that it grieves them to be torn from what they so much love: no less than if you tore away their entrails. But the word "a casting away" is clearer, and will answer to the former member of the sentence

better. He adds, their gold and silver will be unable to preserve them in the day of Jehovah's anger. Here the Prophet derides the perverse confidence of those who thought themselves safe, because fortified with great wealth. For when men see themselves protected by guards they fear nothing, and such security is not easily wrested from them. For this cause also, Ezekiel pronounces that gold and silver would be useless to the Jews when God was fierce against them. And at the same time he obliquely reproves their sloth, because they despised God's judgments since they were spared at the time. Hence he declares -- the day of God's burning wrath shall come: then he says, they shall not satisfy their souls, and they shall not fill their bellies. Here he means that the richest even should be famished. When any famine presses upon the people, yet those who have money at home do not suffer; besides, the rich have all kinds of produce in their barns and granaries. But the Prophet says, that the penury shall be such as to involve the rich, so that they should not have food to refresh themselves. Thus the reason is added, because it was the stumblingblock of their iniquity. Some take this clause generally, that the Jews should stumble on account of their iniquity, that is, then shall be the time of receiving their reward. For God had seemed to pardon them, and not to notice so many iniquities with which they provoked him. He says therefore, in that day shall be a stumblingblock, if that sense pleases you, but I would rather restrict it to money itself, since silver and gold shall profit nothing,” The spiritual lesson for us is to not place all our confidence in money or material things or we could end up in God’s woodshed, being punished for placing our affections in the wrong place. God should be the source of our security, not dollars and cents.

194)

1SKELETONS IN THE CHURCH’S CLOSET

Mt 7:21 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Mt 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? Mt 25:11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. Lu 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” In 1994 Pope John Paul II asked the Catholic Church to acknowledge its skeletons in the closet -- the abuses that his religion had perpetrated – and to publically apologize for these misdeeds. These sins against humanity were atrocities such as the Inquisition, sexual abuse, and wars caused by religion. Not only the Catholic church has sins to apologize for. Protestants are guilty of murdering Catholics, abusing Jews, promoting slavery, plus killing and pillaging during the Crusades . Agnostics and atheists look at these skeletons in Christianity’s closet to buttress their unbelief in God. However, not all those who call themselves Christians are the real thing. Hitler claimed that he was a Christian, but committed heinous crimes against humanity. Christ is the Shepherd and only his sheep hear his voice. Some who claim to be Christians are really wolves in sheeps’ clothing. Make sure that you are are not just mascarading as a Christian. Repent and listen to God’s voice.

195)

REAPING THE BENEFITS OF CHRISTIANITY

Matthew 5:13 “ Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” People like to talk about all the hypocrites in the church and we are often seen as intolerant and obnoxious buffoons by an unsaved world. However, the sociological benefits of Christianity are many. One website comments: “History proves repeatedly that Christians are the 'salt of the earth'... Where Christ has influenced families and societies people enjoy a better life. It reaches even those 'neighbors' and descendants who do not believe but share in the blessings. Education is better Where Christians set the pace first for valuing truth, education has come to the fore. Christians first brought education to the people in most well developed societies. Business is better Christians have been "light for the world" [Matthew 5:13-14]. Through their influence, men fulfill contracts honestly; the economy is stronger. Health is better Like the Good Samaritan, Christians have introduced into nearly all societies standards for better health care. For example, they have built the first hospitals and universities in most developing countries. Science advances: Where men believe in one God, society embraces universal, absolute truths. This makes objective science possible. Few advances in science have come from pagan cultures. In Hindu societies, one may believe just about, whatever he wants; one's empty meditation and purposeless devotion make it real in his mind. The resulting lack of absolute truths has weakened their sciences and economy. Government is more just (never perfect) Christians seeking justice become 'salt of the earth' [Matthew 5:13-14]. Through their influence, government is fairer and shows more concern for the weak and oppressed. Christians have taken the lead to fight injustices. They set the moral standards needed for a happier, freer life. They led the struggle to end mot social abuses such as slavery, ruthless totalitarian domination, racial discrimination and many other evils. We know the misery that Communism brought to mankind, with its purely rational approach to social development. Christian leaders in Eastern Europe led the bloodless revolution. They inspired those who tore down the shameful iron curtain.” http://mentorandmultiply.homestead.com/files/social_benefits.htm Matthew 5:16 commands us to, “ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” How can you as a Christian improve the community that you are in? In what ways can you be salt and light? Are there hungry people you can feed? Lonely people you can visit?

196)

SOCIAL JUSTICE

The Book of Amos is the champion in the OT of social justice and the justice of God... condemning idolatry and social injustice. Oppression of the poor by the wealthy is a particular problem. Sacrifices do not mask injustice, for God wants justice to roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream (5:24).

The chief thought of Amos is that true worship of God necessarily entails protection of the poor and the weak in society. Not even God's people can hope to escape the wrath of God if the social responsibilities that go with election are neglected... Amos preached especially against hypocritical worship, oppression of the poor, and immorality. Not surprisingly, he was ordered to cease his preaching. It is the first prophetic book we have, in the eight century BC, the golden century of prophecy, with Amos and Hosea in Israel, Isaiah Joel and Micah in Judah, and Jonah in Ninive. The Day of the Lord is mentioned three times (5:18,20, 6:3)... it is not a day of joy, but a terrible day of punishment of God, Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord ! Why do you long for the day of the Lord ? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. (5:18-19). To Israel, he foretold his destruction and exile to a foreign land... but a "remnant" of Israel, is mentioned for the first time, some of them will be saved... and a promise restoration concludes the book, giving hope to readers (8:8-14). Jesus is our Judge... and restorer.

197)

SPIRITUAL LESSONS FROM A GARDEN

Genesis 2:8 “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” The original setting for creation was a garden. On the website, “Gardening and Spirituality” it comments: Sages and mystics throughout the ages have harvested moral and spiritual lessons from the garden and from the natural world. Most of us lack the ken for gleaning such spiritual facts, but can readily and eagerly digest the insights of wiser souls. For millennia, nearly everyone tended a garden or worked the fields to survive, so the moral lessons derived were readily understood, rooted in traditional tales and proverbs, and planted in every child. Gardening does teach us something about ourselves, about our interdependence with the world of nature, about the relationship between work and creativity, about our quieter and deeper states of being, and about how we might begin to discern those spiritual facts that elude us in other aspects of our lives. Gardening can produce revelations of the profound in the ordinary. The mere existence of our gardens, sometimes built from the bare ground up, and their ever changing manifestations, are startling facts that often amaze and delight both our mind and soul. Gardening can teach us much about beauty, love, natural history, lasting values, and the seasons of our lives.” http://www.gardendigest.com/garsp.htm#Lessons Genesis 2:15 says “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” Just placing a tiny seed in the fertile earth and weeks later seeing it grow into a big, beautiful plant gives us a spiritual experience, as we see God’s miracle at work. Also, seeing the weeds spring up amongst our cultivated plants reminds us that our sins can multiply while our good deeds are hard to maintain. Even if you don’t grow a garden, you can still go and see a community garden. Many spiritual analogies will spring to mind as you view God’s creation. In Isaiah 61:11 the prophet predicts, “ For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.”

198)

STAYING CONNECTED TO YOUR SPOUSE

1 Corinthians 7:3 “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.” To have a good marriage in a society where the odds are stacked against it is essential for a Christian couple. Two things that are needed are talking with each other and feeling safe. At CBN.com in an article titled, “The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted” by Belinda Eliott comments: “Communication is the Key: Married couples know that even good marriages will have some conflict. What is important, Chapman says, is the way couples handle conflict when it arises. “If we don’t learn to negotiate our differences and make them an asset,” he says, “then they become a liability to the marriage.” One of the most important ways couples can manage conflict, and sometimes even avoid it, is to improve their styles of communication. First, Chapman says, couples need to understand the importance of creating a safe environment for communication with their spouse. “If I feel like it is not safe to talk to my spouse – that is if I share a feeling and they tell me how stupid I am for feeling that – then I am not going to share the next time,” Chapman says. “That is where a lot of couples are. Communication stops because we don’t make it safe to talk to each other.” To avoid this, he says, couples need to focus more on listening and understanding their spouse’s feelings rather than trying to defend themselves in an argument. They should also avoid judging how the other person feels or responding with hurtful comments. A second way to improve communication, Chapman says, is for couples to set aside a daily time to talk. Even if they begin with only 10 minutes a day, he says he feels that this daily practice will keep couples from drifting apart. “If we are apart for 10 hours a day, how can we have an intimate relationship if I don’t share with you something that went on in my life today and you don’t share with me something that went on in your life today? But if we do that, we can stay connected,” Ephesians 5:25-31 says, “ Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.” Both the wife and the husband are supposed to submit to each other and in turn submit to the Lord. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Are you connected to your spouse? Do you take time to talk and feel safe with each other? Staying happy in marriage is something that has to be worked on every day. (All references from http://www.cbn.com/family/marriage/elliott_GaryChapman.aspx#Communication)

199)

STOLEN WATER: BEING A THIEF

Proverbs 9:17 “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

Thieves are everywhere today and Proverbs mentions that stolen water (stolen goods) gives pleasure for awhile. Even eBay sellers are trying to hock stolen goods. CSO: The Resource for Security Executives has a website that gives its readers tips on how to spot stolen merchandise. “Warning Signs of Stolen Goods for Sale on eBay by Sarah D. Scalet Obviously these are not clear indications of guilt, but an auction that fits several of the following criteria may be worth further investigation. Merchandise listed as NWT, or "new with tags" Price below wholesale Large lots (perhaps 50 or more of one kind of item, in various sizes) Multiple items offered by one seller Goods from the company’s latest product line Items that are not yet available in stores Products that match the description of goods recently stolen in quantity Sellers whose ZIP codes are in the same area as recent thefts Gift cards, especially in large amounts and from various retailers Short auctions (because the seller may be trying to evade detection) Sellers who require money orders rather than easily traced PayPal” This information is part of the article Auction Blocks, August 2005. http://www.csoonline.com/fundamentals/quicklists_ebay.html God sees stealing as a sin and forbids it. In 1 Peter 4:15 the Lord says “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” Jesus says that he is the opposite of a thief. In John 10:10 he says,“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Are you indulging in stolen water? Stealing someone else’s husband or wife? Stealing supplies from your employer? Cheating on your income tax? Even if you are stealing small things, it is still stolen water to God.

200)

STRANGE FIRE

Leviticus10:1 “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.” Nadab and Abihu were sons of Aaron who decided to worship God in their own way instead of the way they were commanded to worship. The Bible says that they offered “strange fire” up to God and were struck down for their disobedience. The following blog states, “God killed these two guys for such a small reason." But then I re-read Moses' quote from God. A small unholiness is still unholiness. The key word there is "holy." We can not forget how holy God is, and apparently Nadab and Abihu did. They were priests in training, and had witnessed the power and display of God numerous times, as sons of Aaron and nephews of Moses. They took the commands of God lightly. Commands that were very serious. They died because they were bringing unholiness into an holy environment. The result of this is, and has previously been, death. Aaron remained silent. Of course. What can you say when you see your sons burned to

death by God himself. You can't help but feel a little rejected. After Moses has his cousins carry the bodies away, Moses tells the anointed ones not to mourn. The Israelites can mourn, but those who lost their close relatives could not. They still bore the LORD's anointing and had to focus on the task...the holy task at hand. God, presumably feeling a need to sort of explain Himself...or teach, then tells Aaron that the priests were not to drink wine while on duty. Perhaps this is what Nadab and Abihu did. It would have lowered their guard, and made their work become sloppy and caused them to flout God's solemn commands. Moses then tells the priests there just how important it is to distinguish between the holy and the common, the clean and the unclean. And that they must teach the Israelites the commands of the LORD, as given by Moses. Moses then tells Aaron and the remaining sons, Eleazar and Ithamar to go ahead and finish the job and eat the offering. But they don't. They burned it. When Moses calls them on this in his anger, Aaron brings up that point that whoever offers the sacrifice should eat it, and Nadab and Abihu offered it, albeit wrongly, so he felt it inappropriate for his fearful and upset other sons to eat it. I think the most important section here is the idea that Moses emphasizes the distinction between the holy and unholy...the uncommon and the common. God has a history already of this. He set apart Abraham. He makes place for the consecration of certain days, certain people...in a way, the priesthood is a microcosm of the nation of Israel in the realm of the rest of the population of the earth. There is life and death. There is holiness and unholiness (sin). There is a priesthood and laity.” (http://benchescleared.blogspot.com/2008/01/lev-10-nadab-and-abihu-out-in-blaze-of.html ) In the end Aaron was not even allowed to mourn the death of his sons. Leviticus 10:6 says,“And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled.” Some churches only emphasize the fact of God’s love, but we should also be cognisant of his wrath and his holiness as well, even though we are in a dispensation of grace.

201)

STUDYING THE BIBLE

John 17:17 “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” One of the most important disciplines of the Christian life is studying the Word of God, but how should we do it? On a website answering Bible questions the author comments: How should the Bible be read, cover to cover or certain chapters first? The answer to this question depends upon what one wants to do. One may merely be interested in reading through the Bible. There are many people who begin at Genesis and read all the way to Revelation. Not only that, they make an attempt to read the whole Bible through in a year’s time. However, if one wants to do more in-depth study, the type study that would really be more profitable, then a much shorter portion of scripture should be studied. This would enable one to better comprehend what one is studying and make practical application. And, after all, it is the living out of scripture that one must do, not merely be able to say one has read through the scriptures a certain number of times. The following is a list of steps that can help when one is studying the Bible. 1) Have a set time to study. Get into the habit of regular daily study. This will be easier if one sets aside a certain time each day to study. 2) Have a set place to study. A place is needed

where the Bible and study helps can easily be laid out. It needs to be a place away from distractions, for instance, not in front of the television. 3) Have a prayer to begin the study. Ask God’s blessing as you get into His word so that you will understand what He is saying through the written word. 4) Have a limit to what you study. It may be a chapter, a paragraph, a topic, or a person. Don’t try to cover too much at one time. Whatever is chosen let it be small enough that you can try to get a handle on it. 5) Have some tools to help you study. A good dictionary will help you define words you don’t understand. As time or money allows, get a concordance (lists scriptures by key words), topical Bible (list scriptures by topic), Bible dictionary and maybe a commentary. 6) Have a pencil and pad when you study. You will want to make notes, or as you may think of a question you want to answer then or at your next study time you can write it down. 7) Pray when you finish your study. Thank God for His word and the time to study, and again ask for His help in understanding and applying it to your life. 8) Be determined to do what you have studied. Then here are some approaches to what to read and study. Begin with one of the gospels, perhaps Mark since it is the shortest. This will help you get a picture of the life of Christ, how He lived and why He came. Then move to Acts. This deals with the beginning of the church and how people were converted. Next go to James. This is a practical book on daily Christian living. You might then go to the Old Testament and study some in Psalms and Proverbs. When studying these books, though, keep in mind that they are Hebrew poetry, so you need to read and study them a little differently. Follow this with some studies in Ephesians and Philippians. These two books combine both doctrine and practicality, but they are short and can be covered in a relatively short period of time. http://www.studythebible.com/question/default.htm Are you studying the Bible on a regular basis? Are you ready to employ some of the Bible study methods listed above? In John 5:24 Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

202)

SUDDEN DEATH ON THE HIGHWAY

Luke 13:4 “Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay, but except ye likewise repent ye shall all likewise perish.” Recently, in our province of New Brunswick seven teenagers were killed suddenly on the highway when the van they were in hit an eighteen wheeler on a snow-packed road. They were only a few minutes from arriving home. The teens were part of a basketball team and their deaths created heartache for their parents and relatives. Jesus mentioned a tragedy that happened in his time – the tower that fell on some people and suddenly killed all of them. He was quick to point out that the victims were not dead because they were more sinful than others. Jesus indicated that it was an accident. However, he stressed the fact that life is fragile. Death

can happen unexpectedly. Christ’s main concern is to bring eternal life to people, so that they do not perish in a godless eternity.

203)

AFTER SUICIDE

1Samuel 31:4 “Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it.” At the top of his career as a urologist, acting as an assistant professor, and, well published, Dr. Harry Reiss ordered a lethal dose of aesthetic and killed himself a couple of weeks before Christmas in 1989. He had been seeing patients up until two hours before he died. He had a thriving private practice and was well-respected. His wife of 21 years had urged him to seek help, but he kept saying that he would handle his own problems himself. In the book, Touched by Suicide, by Michael F. Myers, M.D., and Carla Fine Dr. Reiss wife writes, “As I looked at my husband’s body lying on the examining table, with the intravenous needle still attached to the crook of his arm, The world as I knew it changed. If someone had told me at that moment that I would be able to function again or think again or write again or love again, I would have dismissed it as pity or fantasy.” Although this doctor found great joy in healing others, in the end he could not heal himself. Psychologists will tell you that they can work for years with survivors of suicide and even then they can not fix them. In the New Testament, Judas who felt deeply guilty about betraying Jesus, killed himself. Mt 27:5 says, “And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.” Maybe Judas left hurt family members in the wake of his violent death. Surviors left behind after their loved one has committed suicide go through a terrible grieving process. Sometimes they never recover, so if you are at the point of committing suicide seek counselling and God’s help as well. If you know someone who may be suicidal pray for them and encourage them to get help. In 2 Colossians 1:4 it says that God is the one “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”

204)

TEARS

Psalms 56:8 “Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?” Sometimes when we cry we feel like we are all alone. However, the Lord takes note of them. The following poem talks about tears.

"TEARS, IDLE TEARS." FROM "THE PRINCESS." Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean, Tears from the depth of some divine despair Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes, In looking on the happy autumn fields, And thinking of the days that are no more. Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail, That brings our friends up from the under world; Sad as the last which reddens over one That sinks with all we love below the verge,-So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more. Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns The earliest pipe of half-awakened birds To dying ears, when unto dying eyes The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; So sad, so strange, the days that are no more. Dear as remembered kisses after death, And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned On lips that are for others; deep as love, Deep as first love and wild with all regret,-O Death in Life, the days that are no more. By ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON. http://infomotions.com/etexts/gutenberg/dirs/1/6/7/8/16786/16786.htm In Psalms 116:8 the psalmist declares, “For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.” Are you giving your grief to God or are you trying to carry it alone? Psalms 126:5 says “ They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

205)

TEMPERENCE

Galations 5:22 “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” The fruits of the Spirit contrast with the list of fleshly sins also in the same chapter.

Paul’s list of sins are: “ Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The word “temperance” in Paul’s day meant self- control or the control of sensual appetites. Temperance has a connotation today of abstaining from alcohol. However the kind control the Bible speaks about is more comprehensive -- is in body, mind, and spirit. Put an emphasis on developing the fruits of the spirit in your life, And you will avoid the sins of the flesh.

206)

TERRITORIAL DEMONS

Daniel 10: 12,13 “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” On the website http://www.gotquestions.org/territorial-spirits.html the author writes: “The Christian concept of territorial spirits comes from passages such as Daniel 10, John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11, Mark 5:10, and Ephesians 6:12. All of these passages infer that fallen angels have been given some type of responsibility over a certain area. Thus, they seem to be territorial. However, we need to remember that this is by inference; the Bible never explicitly defines a hierarchy of demonic authority and control in the world. What the Bible is clear about is that demons are definitely at work in the spiritual realm, and that believers are very much involved in a battle against them. In Daniel 10, for example, the angel struggled against a demonic adversary the entire time Daniel was praying and fasting. It wasn't until the resolution of Daniel's spiritually focused time that the angel could finally break away and come to Daniel. Ephesians 6 exhorts believers to stand firm against our spiritual adversaries and to remain alert and ready for battle. So there is no doubt that our struggle on earth is mirrored in some way in the spiritual realm. The problem that comes with the use of the term “territorial spirits” is that some Christians believe it is their duty to engage territorial demons in spiritual warfare. This, however, cannot be justified by Scripture. There is not a single instance in the Bible where someone actively sought out a demon in order to engage it. Demon-possessed individuals were encountered, and even brought to Jesus and His disciples for healing, but the disciples didn't go out looking for demons to cast out of people. Nobody in the Bible ever prayed that the demon princes of their town be bound from working their will against the residents of that town. Territorial spirits, although not a scriptural term, may very well be appropriate as seen in the previous passages. Such a term is really not that important, though. What is important is our response. A believer in Christ has no biblical support to engage in prayer-led spiritual warfare against demons. Rather, a believer needs to be aware that there is a spiritual battle and to take it seriously (1 Peter 5:8). Our lives need to be focused on prayer and on growing in faith. Should we ever encounter a demon, we definitely have the

Christ-given authority to deal with it, but we should not go looking for them, territorial or otherwise.” Ephesians 6:11-16 says“ Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Are you spiritually equipped to defend yourself against the devil? Do you focus on prayer and building your faith by Bible study and memorizaiton?

207)

THAT SAME OLD SIN AGAIN

John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” Committing the same old sin over and over even after having repented is a distressing situation for a Christian to be in. However, it is very common. The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod at http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2629 comments on repeating sins: “According to the Bible, those who are truly sorry for their sins and trust in Jesus as their Saviour also want to turn away from their sins, intending with the help of the Holy Spirit not to keep on living a life of sin. If we want to keep on sinning, we need to ask ourselves if we have really repented. However, we are weak human beings and although we do not want to commit the same sins again and again, we may sometimes fall into sin out of weakness. Whenever we sin, we know (as John says) that "if we confess our sins, [God] is faithful and just and will forgive our sins" for the sake of Jesus our Saviour (1 Jn.1:9). If repentance becomes a "game" with God and we don't really want or intend to stop committing a certain sin (say stealing), and we go on stealing, living always in that sin of stealing, then we place ourselves in grave spiritual danger. We need to ask that God the Holy Spirit to give us the power to stop committing that sin and trust Him to help us fight against it. Sad to say, the desire to sin may come back at times, for which we will have to repent again. That's not the same as living in sin. We all commit all kinds of sins daily, for which we have to daily repent. As long as we are sorry for our sins and believe that God forgives our sins for Christ's sake, we will be forgiven and have eternal life. Worldly sorrow is the kind of sorrow Judas Iscariot had, which caused him to commit suicide. It was a self-centered remorse and despair that wrongly concluded that all was lost in this life, that there was no hope, that there was nothing God could do. 2 Cor. 7:10 says that this kind of sorrow brings death. But godly sorrow is true sorrow over sin accompanied by trust in Jesus for forgiveness. This is the kind of sorrow Peter had after he denied Jesus, and King David had after he committed adultery and murder (Psalm 51). Godly sorrow leads to life and salvation, because it includes faith in Jesus Christ. Paul says in Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any

longer therein? What habitual sins are you committing? Ask Jesus to help you conquer them and request His forgiveness. Remember that sanctification is a life-long process.

208) THE ADJUSTABLE WRENCH OF DISCOURAGEMENT
1 Peter 4:12-13 “ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” One would think that the apostle Paul would not have fear or discouragement, having had such a dramatic conversion and having had seen such spectacular heavenly visions. However, Paul admits to being completely overwhelmed, and not just physically. In 2 Corinthians 7:5, he admits, “For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears.” Apart from his persecutions, a major portion of Paul’s burden was for the new churches he had planted. He was anxious that they would not indulge in sin. In Acts 20:31 he says, “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Also, in 2 Corinthians 2:4 Paul says “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.” If a spiritual giant like Paul could experience being overwhelmed emotionally, then it makes us feel that we are not unique to feel despondent. Satan uses our anguish of heart and discouragement like an adjustable wrench, making us feel unworthy and hopeless. Whatever Paul experienced in Asia completely floored him. Satan had him to the mat. However, in Psalm 55: 16-18 the writer declares, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me: for there were many with me.”

209)

THE ANGST OF ANXIETY

Matthew 6:34 “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” A website that talks about healing anxiety has the following to say: “Being worried about real things performs a needed function in our lives - it can lead to action. Needless worry, however, is often harmful, adding unwanted stress and even health risks to our

lives. The trick is knowing one from the other and learning to deal with both. A first step is recognizing that worries come from things both real and imaginary. Imagination can litter our internal environment with every manner of fearful possibility, many of which do not exist out side of our fertile imaginations. Nonetheless, they trigger the same damaging chemical and physical changes as a genuine emergency. When faced with worry, your body starts pumping out an array of chemicals (such as adrenaline) that cause a variety of physiological reactions. To combat worry, start by identifying how real the source of your worry is. Talking to someone about your fears or concerns can help differentiate between the products of your imagination and those things truly deserving of worry. It helps to know if the source of your worry is something you can control, or something over which you have no control. If the cause of your worry is something you can affect, then channel that worry into action.” (http://www.healingwell.com/library/anxiety/article.asp?author=mccoy&id=1) The Bible has a lot to say about anxiety as well. In Matthew: 6: 25-29 it says, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they . Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” To get control of anxiety pray about it, get some exercise, pray, talk to a godly person about your concerns, and if your problem is extreme seek professional help. Also, memorize the following Bible verses that have to do with conquering anxiety. Ps 119:143 “Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delight.” Psalm 34:4 “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Romans 8:26 26 “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Hebrews 13:6 says, “ So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Scripture and submitting to God can take the angst out of anxiety. Would you rather pray or worry?

210) THE BACKGROUND OF “PRECIOUS LORD TAKE MY HAND”
Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Precious Lord Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, let me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;

Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light: Refrain Take my hand, precious Lord, Lead me home. When my way grows drear, Precious Lord, linger near, When my life is almost gone, Hear my cry, hear my call, Hold my hand lest I fall: Refrain When the darkness appears And the night draws near, And the day is past and gone, At the river I stand, Guide my feet, hold my hand: Refrain Thomas Dorsey’s song “Precious Lord” was written after a tragedy when he was so depressed that he didn’t want to write Gospel songs anymore, yet he suddenly felt the prescience of the Lord and his song became an international hit. Thomas Dorsey's "Precious Lord" has been called "the greatest gospel song of all time." People around the world know it, sing it, and love it because of its profound message of hope and faith. Written in 1932, it continues to appeal deeply to new generations of listeners. Though composed by a young African American blues pianist, the song crosses the lines of race and culture. Everyone from gospel legend Mahalia Jackson to rock 'n' roll king Elvis Presley has recorded it. Like so many great hymns of faith, the song was inspired by a horrific tragedy in the life of its composer. Thomas Andrew Dorsey was born in rural Georgia in 1899, the son of an itinerant preacher. By age 12, Dorsey left school to become a professional pianist. He played at house parties throughout Atlanta's black districts. In his early 20s, Dorsey settled in Chicago. There he played, sang, and published blues compositions under the name "Georgia Tom." Music critic Stephen Calt described Dorsey saying he "ranked as the most self-conscious, serious, and accomplished blues lyricist of his time." In 1925 Dorsey married Nettie Harper. A year later, he experienced a nervous breakdown and was unable to work for two years. To survive, his wife took a job in a laundry to support them. At the urging of his sister-in-law, Dorsey attended a church service where he experienced a spiritual healing. That event, combined with the sudden death of a young neighbor, prompted Dorsey to commit himself more fully to God and Christian music. To mark his new life, he wrote his first gospel song, "If You See My Savior, Tell Him That You Saw Me."In 1932 Dorsey accepted an invitation to become choir director of Chicago's Pilgrim Baptist Church, a position he would hold for nearly 40 years. As the Great Depression wore away at the spirits of Americans, Dorsey viewed his songwriting as an important ministry. He believed his songs "lifted people out of the muck and mire of poverty and gave them ... hope." In August of '32, Dorsey was scheduled to be the featured soloist at a large revival meeting in St. Louis. At the time he and his wife were living in a little apartment on the South Side of Chicago. Nettie was pregnant with their first child. He kissed her goodbye and made his way to St. Louis for the revival. The next night, as

soon as he finished playing, a Western Union messenger came up to the stage and gave Dorsey an urgent telegram. "I ripped open the envelope," he recounted later, "and pasted on the yellow sheet were the words: 'Your wife just died.'" Dorsey remembered the evening as a surreal moment. "People were happily singing and clapping around me, but I could hardly keep from crying out."Racing home, he learned that Nettie had given birth to a boy. "I swung between grief and joy," he recalled. "Yet that night, the baby died. I buried Nettie and our little boy together in the same casket." He managed to get through the funeral visitation and service. But when it was all over, he withdrew from family, friends, and even his beloved music. "I felt that God had done me an injustice. I didn't want to serve him anymore or write gospel songs. I just wanted to go back to that jazz world I once knew so well," he said. In the midst of despair, a friend visited Dorsey and arranged for him to be left alone in a music room with a piano. "It was quiet; the late evening sun crept through the curtained windows," Dorsey recalled. For the first time in many days, he sat at a piano using his fingers to browse the keys. Soon, the young artist experienced a personal revival: "I felt at peace. I felt as though I could reach out and touch God. I found myself playing a melody, one I'd never heard or played before, and words [for "Precious Lord"] came into my head—they just seemed to fall into place." "Precious Lord" was an immediate and permanent hit. Dorsey himself said, "This is the greatest song I have written." He went on to sing and direct "Precious Lord" at churches and concerts around the world. To date, the song has been translated into 32 languages. http://www.christianitytoday.com/tc/2003/004/16.16.html Are you asking the Lord to take your hand and guide you through the crises of life? Find a good recording of Dorsey’s” Precious Lord” and meditate on it.

211)

THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC

1Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.” The Battle Hymn of the Republic is a soul stirring song sung for over a century. The following is the hymn and the background of Mrs. Howe’s writing of it: Battle Hymn of the Republic poem Julia Ward Howe Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord: He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fatal lightning of his terrible swift sword: His Truth is marching on. I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps; They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; an read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps. His Day is marching on. I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel: As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;

Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel, Since God is marching on.' He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat; He is sifting out the hearts of men before his judgment-seat: Oh! be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet! Our God is marching on. In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me: As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on. “In 1861, along with Massachusetts Governor Andrews and a Unitarian Church Pastor, Julia and her husband, Dr. Samuel Ward were invited to watch a military review of federal troops. Following the inspection, as the Howes were returning to the city of Washington, the streets were filled with soldiers singing "John Brown's Body", a song named for one who had been hung for his efforts to free the slaves. Pastor Clarke, also hearing this, said, "Why don't you write some decent words for that tune?" Here's her account of what happened next: "I awoke in the grey of the morning, and as I lay waiting for dawn, the long lines of the desired poem began to entwine themselves in my mind, and I said to myself, 'I must get up and write these verses, lest I fall asleep and forget them!' So I sprang out of bed and in the dimness found an old stump of a pen, which I remembered using the day before. I scrawled the verses almost without looking at the paper." The words for this hymn were first published in the "The Atlantic Monthly" as the "Civil War Battle Song of the Republic”. http://www.joyfulministry.com/battlet.htm In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul says, “ I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” Are you fighting the good fight for God? Are young presenting his Truth even though it is not popular? Are you helping the less fortunate in our society helping God to march on?

212)

THE BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER AND SORROW

Psalms 126:2 “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.” According to the American College of Cardiology laughter increases blood flow and helps heart conditions. Other health conditions are also helped by mirth. Laughing is thought to help you to fight off illnesses by boosting your immune system. It increases the amount of immunoglobulins, natural killer cells and T cells in the body, which fight infection and tumours.4,5,6,7 Laughing reduces pain. Children watching comedy films relax more and tolerate pain more easily.8,9 In fact, humorous videos are being used in anaesthetic rooms at Manchester Children's Hospital.10 And an American nurse has found that telling jokes to her patients before she administers a painful treatment reduces their discomfort.11 Laughing reduces allergic responses, including hay fever symptoms.12,13,14 Laughing lifts your mood - even if you have to force yourself to laugh.15 Laughing reduces the effect of stress by lowering stress hormone levels.16

Laughing helps keeps diabetes under control. It may help to control spikes in blood sugar levels after a meal, reducing the chances of diabetic complications. In one study, people who watched a funny video during dinner had lower blood sugar levels after the meal compared to the people who watched a lecture video.17 Make time to laugh.The researchers suggest that we should try to laugh more. In the same way that we try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day and climb the stairs instead of taking the lift, perhaps we need to make time to have a good laugh. "We could perhaps read something humorous or watch a funny video and try to find ways to take ourselves less seriously," lead researcher Dr. Miller says. "The recommendation for a healthy heart may one day be - exercise, eat right and laugh a few times a day."1 Even though laughter provides health benefits the Bible says in James 4:9 “Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness” and in Ecclesiastes 7:3 King Solomon asserts that “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” Also, “The Prince of Preachers”, Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “ Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better .The way to stronger faith usually lies along the rough pathway of sorrow... I am afraid that all the grace that I have got out of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable ...Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister's library." How do we reconcile laughter and sorrow? There is some evidence in the Bible that God has a sense of humor. The plague of haemorrhoids and mice shows that God can laugh. 1 Samuel 6:4-5 says: “Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.” King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3:4 that there is, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;”. Laughter and sorrow must be kept in balance. Are you keeping these opposites in equilibrium? (All references from http://www.bupa.co.uk/health_information/html/health_news/160305laugh.html)

213)

THE BOOK OF LIFE

Revelation 21:27 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” What is the Book of Life and why is it important to us? “Let Us Reason Ministries” explains: “The Book of life- is a record of everyone born . If a person dies as a believer his name is retained in the book of life, if he dies unsaved he is blotted out. Ps. 69:28: "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living and not be written with the righteous." The righteous are those who obeyed by having faith in the gospel.

Rev.13:8: "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." Those who were not born again will not worship Jesus Christ but the false Messiah during the tribulation period when he is revealed. Rev.17:8:..."and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. "Both these scriptures show that everyone not in the Lambs book of Life will follow the Beast, yet they are found in the book of Life that records everyone who is born. How do we reconcile this with it saying, anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:15) Daniel also prophesied the judgment with books open. Dan 7:10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. Also in Dan.12 he mentions a time when Israel will be delivered and there will be those found written in the book. ( a reference to judgment probably of the just and unjust, as he states their position in the resurrection.) Rev.20:12-15: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." What are the things which were written in the books.” These books record everything we have done (every idle word spoken relating to God and Jesus). The other books mentioned are the biographies of the individual. The times they heard the Gospel and rejected it, their good and bad deeds that will determine their degree of punishment, not their salvation. God has perfect record keeping. The term "another book," is the roll-book of the regenerated, those washed and sanctified through faith in His blood sacrifice for their sins. The first death consisted in the separation of the soul from the body temporarily until this judgment. The second death in the separation of both body and soul from God forever. The first death has a resurrection unto eternal life without sin; the second death is there is no recovery. Ps. 9:5: “You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.” Those who received Christ have their name written in his book of life (the Lamb's book) and it is retained in the Book of Life. Those who reject him, never have their name written in his book. Their name is also removed from the book of life, of which everyone’s name is written down that ever lived.” In Philippians 4:3 Paul speaks about believers who are in the book of life: “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.” Is your name written in the book of life? If not repent and ask Jesus to come into your heart and you will be included in the most important book in history. http://www.letusreason.org/Doct5.htm

214)

THE CHAINS OF ADDICTION

Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; What is addiction and when did the term appear? Wikipedia comments, “in medical terminology, Addiction is a state in which the body relies on a substance for normal functioning. When this substance is removed, it can cause withdrawal. It was first used in 1906, in reference to opium (there is an isolated instance from 1779, with ref. to tobacco). The first use of the adjective addict (with the meaning of "delivered, devoted") was in 1529 and comes from Latin addictus, pp. of addicere ("deliver, yield, devote," from ad-, "to" + dicere, "say, declare"). Addiction is a term used to describe a devotion, attachment, dedication, inclination, etc. Nowadays, however, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to the individual's health, mental state or social life. The term is often reserved for drug addictions but it is sometimes applied to other compulsions, such as problem gambling, and compulsive overeating. Factors that have been suggested as causes of addiction include genetic, biological/pharmacological and social factors.” In the 17th Century the judges in Newcastle-onTyne in England meted out some very harsh punishments for those who were drunk. William Andrews writes in his book, Old-Time Punishments: “He, this deponent, further affirms, that he hath seen men drove and down in the street, with a great tub or barrel opened in the sides, with a hole in one end to put through their heads, and so cover their shoulders and bodies, down to the small of their legs, and then close the same, called the new-fashioned cloak, and so make them march to the view of all beholders; and this is their punishment for drunkards and the like.” Other penalties for inebriation Andrews states “Drunkards, we gather, for the first offence were fined five shillings, to be given to the poor, or in default of payment within a week, were set in stocks for six hours.” In Genesis 9: 23-24, the Bible speaks candidly about Noah being drunk in his tent, “ And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.” Alcohol is responsible for more unhappiness in this world than happiness and someone said that the chains of addiction are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. Are you or a family member in the grip of an addiction? Pray that God will release you and seek wise counsel. Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

215)

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE

1Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” The “Charge of the Light Brigade” turned into 19th Century military disaster and killed almost 600 men because the British did not see their enemy below the mounds and hills. Lord Alfred Tennyson depicts the battle in his poem written in 1854:

“Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward, All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. "Forward, the Light Brigade! "Charge for the guns!" he said: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. 2. "Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismay'd? Not tho' the soldier knew Someone had blunder'd: Their's not to make reply, Their's not to reason why, Their's but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. 3. Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volley'd and thunder'd; Storm'd at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well, Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell Rode the six hundred. 4. Flash'd all their sabres bare, Flash'd as they turn'd in air, Sabring the gunners there, Charging an army, while All the world wonder'd: Plunged in the battery-smoke Right thro' the line they broke; Cossack and Russian Reel'd from the sabre stroke Shatter'd and sunder'd. Then they rode back, but not Not the six hundred …” As Christians we should be on guard against the enemy. Two mistakes that Christians make are to think too little if the devil or to think too much about him seeing him under every bush. Let’s strike a balance between the two extremes.

216)

1THE CHURCH AND NOAH’S ARK

Mt 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Some person said of the church that is like Noah’s ark – “if it wasn’t for the storm on the outside you couldn’t stand the stink on the inside”. A lot of people on the outside see the church as boring, irrelevant, and without mercy. They talk about the church as a haven for hypocrites. In The Screwtape Letters, which portrays one demon giving advice to another demon about ruining a new Christian, C. S. Lewis picks up on the way some people see the church when they go inside. “When he goes inside, he sees the grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing liturgy which neither of them understands, ... When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided .. Your patient, thanks to our father below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous ... Work hard, then, on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming to the patient during his first few weeks as a churchman.” In spite of the church’s faults, however, God proclaims that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Lets try to make the church exciting, relevant, and, merciful with God’s help.

217) THE COMPARISON BETWEEN AMERICA AND ROME
Romans 1:7 “ To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” In his book, “Are We Rome? The Fall of an Empire and the Fate of America” author Cullen Murphy comments: In a nutshell, what is this book about?The comparison of modern America and the ancient Roman Empire is so familiar that you almost can’t help yourself: it comes to mind the way the behavior of chimps reminds you of the behavior of people. Is it really ourselves we see? Everyone “gets it” whenever a comparison of Rome and America is drawn—for instance, in offhand references to welfare and televised sports as “bread and circuses,” or to illegal immigrants as “barbarian hordes.” When a reference is made to an “imperial presidency,” or to the deployment abroad of “American legions,” no one wonders what you could possibly be talking about. The big question is: does this comparison really make any sense? And if it does, in what ways? Is there anything we can learn from Rome’s example? Are we destined to “fall” the way Rome did? So, what’s the answer? Does the comparison hold up? Yes. In many ways, some of them surprising, the comparison holds up powerfully. Sure, Rome and America are vastly different places. But I argue that they have some crucial traits in common—though maybe not the ones that people point to first. Think less about decadence, less about military might, and more about how our two societies view the outside world, more about the slow decay of homegrown institutions. Think less about threats from unwelcome barbarians, and more about the healthy functioning of a multi-ethnic society. Think less about the ability of a superpower to influence everything on earth, and more about how everything on earth affects a superpower.

Just a minute. Decadence isn’t an issue? Not really, if by decadence you mean moral and materialistic excess. Rome was at its most decadent before it was at its most powerful, and at its least decadent when it fell. Is America is destined to “fall,” the way Rome did? Absolutely. A big lesson of Rome is that the status quo can’t be flash-frozen. A millennium hence America will be hard to recognize. It may not exist as a nation-state in the form it does now—or even exist at all. Will the transitions ahead be gradual and peaceful or abrupt and catastrophic? Will our descendants be living productive lives in a society better than the one we inhabit now? Whatever happens, will valuable aspects of America’s legacy weave through the fabric of civilizations to come? Of course, a big part of the question lies in the phrase “the way Rome did …”. What are some of the similarities you see between America and Rome? One of them is the way we both view ourselves as the center of the world—the place the entire planet revolves around. This leaves us blind to what’s going on beyond our borders, and makes us think we’re more powerful than we are—makes us think we can always act alone. Another similarity is the strange nature of our capital cities. Washington and Rome are both economically pointless, engorged on vast revenues, detached from the nation at large, and obsessed with image and status. Washington even looks like Rome, and in August it feels like Rome. A third similarity is the way more and more of the things that government is supposed to do are being put into private hands—in the end, government stops being able to function, and things get done only when money changes hands. This is happening right before our eyes. We’re selling off highways, airports, and naming rights in national parks. Hired guards far outnumber police. Money secures public office, and public office secures money. A Roman would have felt right at home.” The only thing that lasts forever is God and eternal life. John 6:27 cautions “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” Are you labouring for eternal rewards or earthly ones?

218)

THE DANGER OF INDECISION

1 Kings 18:21 “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” The Great Fire of London followed on the heels of the Plague, however the fire turned catastrophic because of the mayor’s indecision and delay. Wikipedia comments: “The Great Fire of London, a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of London from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666, was one of the major events in the history of England.[1] The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall. It threatened, but did not reach, the aristocratic district of Westminster (the modern West End), Charles II's Palace of Whitehall, and most of the suburban slums.[2] It consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St. Paul's Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities. It is estimated that it destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the City's ca. 80,000 inhabitants.[3] The death toll from the fire is unknown and is traditionally thought to have been small, as only a few verified deaths were recorded. This reasoning has recently been challenged on the grounds that the deaths of poor and middle-class people were not recorded anywhere, and that the heat of the fire may have cremated many victims, leaving no recognisable remains. The fire started at the bakery of Thomas Farriner (or Farynor) in Pudding Lane shortly after midnight on Sunday, 2

September, and spread rapidly. The use of the major firefighting technique of the time, the creation of firebreaks by means of demolition, was critically delayed due to the indecisiveness of the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Thomas Bloodworth. By the time large-scale demolitions were ordered on Sunday night, the wind had already fanned the bakery fire into a firestorm which defeated such measures. The fire pushed north on Monday into the heart of the City. Order in the streets broke down as rumours arose of suspicious foreigners setting fires. The fears of the homeless focused on the French and Dutch, England's enemies in the ongoing Second AngloDutch War; these substantial immigrant groups became victims of lynchings and street violence. On Tuesday, the fire spread over most of the City, destroying St. Paul's Cathedral and leaping the River Fleet to threaten Charles II's court at Whitehall, while coordinated firefighting efforts were simultaneously mobilising. The battle to quench the fire is considered to have been won by two factors: the strong east winds died down, and the Tower of London garrison used gunpowder to create effective firebreaks to halt further spread eastward. The social and economic problems created by the disaster were overwhelming. Evacuation from London and settlement elsewhere were strongly encouraged by Charles II, who feared a London rebellion amongst the dispossessed refugees. Despite numerous radical proposals, London was reconstructed on essentially the same street plan used before the fire.[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_London After the people prevaricated about whether they would follow Baal or the true God Elijah prayed and in 1 Kings 18:38-39 the Bible reads, “Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.” Are you facing indecision? There is a lesson in the Great Fire of London. Indecision about earthly matters can be dangerous, however, indecision about whether you will follow God or not is crucial.

219)

THE DEATH OF AN ANIMAL COMPANION

Ecclesties 3:19 “For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.” The death of a pet can be shattering, especially when there is a strong emotional bond between owner and animal. “A Pets Prayer” captures this sorrow from the animal’s perspective. (http://www.catquotes.com/apetsprayer.htm) A Pets Prayer If it should be, that I grow frail and weak, And pain should keep me from my sleep, Then, you must do what must be done For this, the last battle, can't be won. Don't let your grief stay your hand, For this day more than the rest, Your love and friendship stand the test. We've had so many years,

What is to come can hold no fear. You'd not want me to suffer, so When the time comes, please let me go. Take me where my needs they'll tend, Only, stay with me to the end And hold me firm and speak to me Until my eyes no longer see. I know in time you'll see it is a kindness you do for me Although my tail its last has waved, From pain and suffering I've been saved. Don't grieve it should be you who this thing decides to do. We've been so close, we two, these years, Don't let your heart hold tears. SMILE, FOR WE WALKED TOGETHER FOR AWHILE. --- AUTHOR UNKNOWN Unlike the animals who die and go into the ground, we can look forward to eternal life. Paul declares in Romans 14:8 “ For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” and Colossians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” In the millennium there will be a peaceable kingdom with animals and the new heaven and new earth will probably contain animals for our enjoyment as well.

220)

THE DOOMED DUO

Acts 5:9-10 “Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.” Not much is known about Ananias and Sapphira. However, their names go down in Biblical infamy as trying to deceive the Holy Ghost and the first century apostolic community’s unwritten code of honour. If the doomed duo had kept their property they would have still been alive. Even if they had sold part of it and told the truth about it they could have lived. However, it seemed that they wanted the apostles to think that they were completely generous when they really were not. The following website comments: “The love of money was Sapphira's downfall. She and her husband Ananias, had agreed with others in the community to share all that they had with one another and to contribute to a common treasury to meet the common needs (Acts 2:44, 45; 4:32)· Sapphira and her husband were not forced into doing this. They could have withdrawn from the community if they didn't want to meet the requirements of those who believed with one heart and soul. But they had agreed to it voluntarily, and this agreement had become a sacred pledge for the faithful. After reading this account and looking into what developed, I wonder was it possible that she and her husband only said they agreed to impress people? How often are we tempted to do just that? We must remember that although people look at our outside actions, the Lord looketh on the heart. So who are we trying to please? And who are we trying to fool? We

had better purpose in our hearts right now that no matter what we will NOT say one thing and do another, lest we too fall the way Sapphira did. Peter clearly stated, it was not required of them that they give up all their property and even after they had sold it the proceeds still belonged to them to share voluntarily with those in need. But Sapphira could not stand a stern test with money. She, with her husband, desired credit for giving all to the Church without actually doing so. They coveted some of the money for themselves and resorted to dishonesty and untruthfulness to keep it. “ http://www.momof9splace.com/sapphira.html) Great fear came upon all the people who heard about Ananias and Sapphria’s untimely deaths. It seems that God has issued a stern warning for all those who want to defraud others and the Holy Spirit. Are you being honest with God and your fellow human beings? Are you pretending to be something other than what you are? Come clean and be honest with both God and others.

221)

THE DRAGON OF DEPRESSION

Proverbs 14:13 “Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.” In an article titled, “Dealing with the Depths of Depression” by Liore Nordenberg she comments: “Imagine attending a party with these prominent guests: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Robert Schumann, Ludwig von Beethoven, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, Vincent van Gogh, and Georgia O'Keefe. Maybe Schumann and Beethoven are at the dinner table intently discussing the crescendos in their most recent scores, while Twain sits on a couch telling Poe about the plot of his latest novel. O'Keefe and Van Gogh may be talking about their art, while Roosevelt and Lincoln discuss political endeavors. But in fact, these historical figures also had a much more personal common experience: Each of them battled the debilitating illness of depression. It is common for people to speak of how "depressed" they are. However, the occasional sadness everyone feels due to life's disappointments is very different from the serious illness caused by a brain disorder. Depression profoundly impairs the ability to function in everyday situations by affecting moods, thoughts, behaviors, and physical well-being. Twentyseven-year-old Anne (not her real name) has suffered from depression for more than 10 years. "For me it's feelings of worthlessness," she explains. "Feeling like I haven't accomplished the things that I want to or feel I should have and yet I don't have the energy to do them. It's feeling disconnected from people in my life, even friends and family who care about me. It's not wanting to get out of bed some mornings and losing hope that life will ever get better." Depression strikes about 17 million American adults each year--more than cancer, AIDS, or coronary heart disease--according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). An estimated 15 percent of chronic depression cases end in suicide. Women are twice as likely as men to be affected. Many people simply don't know what depression is. "A lot of people still believe that depression is a character flaw or caused by bad parenting," says Mary Rappaport, a spokeswoman for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. She explains that depression cannot be overcome by willpower, but requires medical attention.” Most churches deal badly with depressed members and victims are judged and rebuffed. However, these most wounded soldiers of the cross need

help and support. Depressed persons are no more sinful than anybody else. They have a physical affliction that manifest itself as emotional symptoms. In Psalm 88:15 the author is depressed and says, “I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.” Are you judging some who suffers from depression? Many of the Old Testament prophets suffered from despair. In 1 Kings 19:4 Elijah asked to die, “… he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough;’. Don’t shoot depressed Christians. They are already wounded.

222)

THE FRAGILITY OF THE HUMAN BEING

1 Peter 1:24 “ For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:” The Bible says that human life is as fragile as wild flowers. This was especially apparent in when the Spanish flu killed multitudes of people with lightening speed right after a world war. Scientists are predicting that our world is going to have a pandemic killer virus soon. It is not if, but when. On the website, “Epic Disasters” the Spanish flu and more modern epidemics are described: “The Great Influenza 1918 – 1919, also known as the Spanish Flu (although it is likely that it began in the United States), the Great Influenza was most likely the deadliest plague in history. The extremely virulent influenza virus killed an estimated 50 to 100 million people in the space of just six months. And unlike other influenza outbreaks, it didn’t just target the old, and the very young. One study says that it struck 8 to ten percent of all young adults. The pandemic was no doubt magnified by conditions existing during World War I, especially with large numebrs of young men packed into very close quarters in military barracks. The flu is said to have begun as an isolated mutation in Haskell County, Kansas, and transmitted through the movement of American soldiers from base to base. The numbers killed by this flu are even more staggering, when you consider that the world’s population at the time was just 1.8 billion. A similar outbreak today, therefore, could kill 350 MILLION people in a similar time span. Hospitals would be overwhelmed. During a typical flu season in the United States, hospital respirator use approaches 100 percent. In a pandemic flu outbreak, most people would not be able to get respirators or hospital care. This nightmare scenario is what drives the concern about the avian, or bird flu outbreak. Memories of the Great Influenza are what sparked the media frenzy over such things as the Swine Flu outbreak of the 1970s and the SARS incident of the early 2000s. Without being alarmist, the outbreak of a global flu pandemic (avian flu or any other kind), is the number one public health threat today. Unfortunately, the United States government is entirely unprepared. The political reality is that other, less deadly diseases get much more money and attention because of their powerful lobbies.” In Luke 12:18-21 Jesus warns about the rich man who focuses only on his wealth,“ And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat,

drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Life is fragile. Are you building bigger barns or are you putting your faith in God? (All references from http://www.epicdisasters.com/index.php/site/comments/the_worst_outbreaks_of_disease)

223)

THE FINE ART OF LISTENING

1 Samuel 3:9 “Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth.” In order to hear the Lord’s voice, Eli told Samuel to listen. Someone said that mostly we don’t really listen to other people, we just take turns talking. However, Tim Bridge of PersonaDev.com comments: A good listener is not only someone that people want to be around, to confide in, to trust, but someone who knows how to use listening to benefit him- or her-self. The good listener knows that a good conversation is definitely two-sided, but one learns through listening. Here are 10 tips to be a better listener: Be Legitimately Interested: As mentioned above, be interested. Drop whatever you were doing and focus. Stop focusing on the email you were writing or the article you were reading and really listen. Put yourself in the speaker’s place and make his or her problems your own. The speaker will consciously or subconsciously pick up on this and you will learn more from the conversation. Avoid Planning Counterarguments: It is a natural response to automatically start planning a counterargument as soon as something is mentioned. As hard as it may seem, don’t. Mentally record your disagreement and formulate a response later after the whole message has been received. Be Honest About Your Time: If you really are in the middle of something important, tell the speaker. Apologize and plan for another meeting where you can ensure your full attention and focus. This will let the speaker know that you appreciate their coming to you and you want to give them your full concentration. It’s much better than lending half-an-ear and not listening well. Accept the Speaker’s Point-Of-View: At least until he or she is done speaking. Some of us have the desire to get our point across and a word in for every sentence spoken. Even if you disagree with the speaker’s stance on a subject, allow him or her to finish their thought before voicing your disagreement and then only if necessary. Remember, you are trying to be a listener, not partake in a discussion. Use Body Language, Eye Contact, and Repetition: Using body language and eye contact the right way can really have an impact on the speaker. To show you are listening and interested, lean slightly forward in your chair. Not so much that your elbows are on your knees, but enough so you aren’t reclined back on your chair. Make consistent eye contact, but do not stare. Make noises like “mm-hmm,” or say “I see,” and frequently repeat what was just said. These actions show that you are interested and actively listening. Go Beyond the Words: Good listeners are actively thinking not just about what was

said but also why and how it was said. Why did this person come to you to talk (or be heard). Is there excitement in their voice? Resentment? Jealously? Once you determine the motive of the speaker, can you react more smoothly to their words. Get Rid of Distractions: Just by slightly closing a door or turning off your monitor you can portray to the speaker that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Focus. Be Aware of Your History with the Speaker: As a corollary to tip 5, think about how your history with the speaker may affect what is being said. Is there potential for flared feelings? Sympathy? Fear? Figuring this out will help you better understand the speaker’s motives and, thus, respond accordingly. Ask Questions: If there is something said that is not clear to you, ask for clarification. Be careful not to use questions to rebut or represent your point-of-view. Only ask questions that’ll help your understanding of what the speaker is saying. Watch and Learn from the “Good Listener”: We all know one or two “Good Listeners”. Next time you are speaking to them, really pay attention to what they do. One can read a ton of articles and not learn as much as they would from actively watching a good listener in action. Being a good listener is an invaluable ability and sure to make you happier and more productive in your life.” When people listened to Jesus it says in Mark 6:2, “And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?” However, the privilege of listening to God’s word will end in the future. Amos 8:11 warns “ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:” Are you a going to apply the 10 tips to make you a better listener? Do you stop to listen to God or do you do most of the talking when you pray?

224)

THE GARDEN OF EDEN

Genesis 2: 8-10 “ And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.” Right after God made Adam and Eve, He created a garden for them to tend. The agricultural work was sanctioned and blessed by God and it provided our first parents’ food. The following website http://www.saintjohnsbible.org/Reflections/Reflection%20Eden%20and%20Adam.htm Comments on the Garden of Eden: “Gardens are an important part of modern life. A garden can be considered from two complementary viewpoints. The first is from the vantage of the Garden of Eden, God’s perfect creation. The second is from the lapsarian or post-fall perspective in which the human person must work the garden to create the beauty. Yet, the two views of the garden are intricately linked since God does not plant the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:8) until he fashions Adam (Gen 2:7) to care for it. Likewise, after the fall, Adam must “till the ground” in order to get it to yield its fruit (Gen 3:23). Tending a garden, therefore, may very well be seen as the human participation in God’s creation, and that is the point of emphasis here. An image of Adam with a spade may come to mind, but the spade should not be seen as a tool symbolizing punishment; rather, it could be

viewed as an instrument for creation. (Excerpt from The Committee on Illumination and Text Theological Briefs, The Saint John's Bible, Saint John's University). After Adam and Eve fell from grace Adam was to have thistles and thorns in the soil and he would eat by the sweat of his brow. In Genesis 3:17 God declared,“ And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;” Work became infinitely more frustrating and arduous. However, for those who are believers a new heaven and new earth will provide us with a pristine environment to garden again without the suffering and sweat. Start a garden or take care of a plant to help God in his creative process. It might just bring you a little closer to Eden.

225)

THE GOD SHAPED HOLE

1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” Theologians say that we have a God-shaped hole in ourselves. We desperately try to fill this hole with alcohol, sex, power, food, co-dependency, work --- anything that can make us feel less empty for the moment. On the website http://www.riverpower.org/answers/contentment.htm, the author explains: “Wants are satisfied either by: A. getting what we want, or B. not wanting it anymore. B is better--nothing to maintain, no payments to make, no wear-and-tear, and no risk of loss, theft, vandalism, or reversal. Option A--getting what we want at the moment--actually does not solve the problem of discontentment; it merely removes one item from the list of wants. B is also better with respect to the "good" wants such as better family relationships. If our contentment is based on getting, or keeping, what we want, say a better marriage, then we will be slaves to circumstances, living in fear that the improved situation will turn sour again. Thus only B provides real freedom from discontentment. So how do you not want something? Trying to not want won't work, no matter how hard you grit your teeth, squint your eyes, or clinch your fists. Picture the discontentment as a hole in your heart. And picture the hole in your heart as an empty glass. Trying to guard the top of the glass from wantful thoughts will not work. But if the glass is filled with water, there will be no need to strain the mind to keep the wantful thoughts out, because the glass is already filled--there is simply no room for anything else. No need to play mind games or do complex mental exercises--the glass is filled. God designed humans to be right-side-up glasses filled with His Spirit. We were meant to have fellowship with our Creator and to get our joy from Him. Without God's Spirit we are discontent, unfulfilled, and dysfunctional--like a two-legged table. But when we let Him fill us, we do not have want, because we are completely fulfilled. This applies to Christians as well as those who have not placed their trust in Christ .” A soul that is full of God is King David who wrote: Psalm 23 1-4 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” David filled his God shaped hole with what man is supposed to fill it with – God Himself.

226)

THE GODS OF THE ROMANS

Leviticus 26:1 “Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.” The early Christians lived under the domination of pagan Rome. The Romans worshiped many idols and Christians were persecuted for saying that Jesus was the only God. (In 1 Timothy 2:5 the Bible says, “ For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”). The website “UNRV History” mentions the multitude of idols that the Romans worshiped. “The Gods of the Romans A good number of the gods worshipped in Rome came from conquered lands. Many came from Greece and a good number came from the Orient.  Jupiter-The Father of the gods, and the greatest god. Also known as a god of light, the King of the Gods, and the Lord of Justice. He was called on by men to witness agreements.  Juno- Wife of Jupiter  Janus-God of doors, the beginning and the ending. He was once the supreme god of the state but was later replaced by Jupiter. The doors of his temple were closed in peace and open in times of war.  Saturn-God of crops  Venus-Goddess of gardens and love  Mars-God of war and agriculture  Vesta-Goddess of the hearth  Minerva-Goddess of wisdom and patroness of craftsmen and guilds  Diana-Goddess of the hunt, originally a wood spirit from Aricia.  Hercules-Originally from the Tibur, worshipped as a god of commerce  Mercury- God of commerce, originally from Cumal  Bacchus, Ceres, Proserpina-Greek gods brought into worship in Rome on the advice of the Sibylline Oracle  Apollo-God of healing  Aesculpius-God of medicine  Magna Mater- (Cybele)-originally from the orient, it was ordained that Romans should never be her priests once the nature of her worship became known The Evolution of Roman Religion After the origination of Roman religion from various sources and peoples, its importance waned as the study of Greek philosophy waned during the late republic. The importance of religion was renewed, however by Caesar Augustus. Roman religion grew as it blended with some Eastern and Oriental religions, and cults such as the Cult of Magna Mater gained followers. The Cult of Isis and the Cult of Mithras developed from Eastern religions. During the Imperial Age, the Cult of the Emperor developed. The practice of deification allowed Emperors to be worshipped as gods, and the Cult of the Emperor started to take the place of the old state religion in the provinces, although in Rome itself it was not permitted to worship an emperor while he still lived. Rome was home to many followers of Judaism, and the religion made progress in some

parts of the Empire. Christianity later came from the East, and became popular with Orientals and the lower classes. As Christianity spread, the older religions slowly diminished.” http://www.unrv.com/culture/religion-of-rome.php In 2 Kings 23:24 the Bible says, “Moreover the workers with familiar spirits, and the wizards, and the images, and the idols, and all the abominations that were spied in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, did Josiah put away, that he might perform the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD.” We are surrounded by New Age philosophies such as those found in the Harry Potter books and among those who advocate crystals, witches, and spirit guides. Personally, we have our own idols that we worship. It could be sports, another person, money, sex, material objects, etc.. Do your have idols in your life that your need to tear down? Exodus 34:14 says, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:”

227)

THE HISTORY OF INCOME TAX

Matthew 22:17-21 “ Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” There is no subject that gets people more riles than income tax, but Jesus commanded us to pay it whether we like it or not. Governments have always found ways to tax their people. The following is a short history on how the income tax evolved in America: “Taxes in Early America Taxes have always left a sour taste in the mouth of American citizens. This national hatred for taxes dates back to the tax burden placed on the American colonies by Great Britain. Colonists were taxed for every consumer good, from tea and tobacco to legal documents. This "taxation without representation" led to many revolts, such as the Boston Tea Party, in which colonists dumped tea into the Boston Harbor rather than pay the tax on it. Although the American colonists fought for independence from British rule and British taxes, once the United States government formed, its main source of revenue was derived from placing customs and excise taxes on the same items that were taxed by Great Britain. In 1812, in an effort to support an expensive war effort, the U.S. government imposed the first sales tax, which was placed on gold, silverware, jewelry and watches. In 1817, internal taxes were terminated and the government relied on tariffs to support itself. It wasn't until 1862 that the United States imposed the first national income tax. To support the Union Army, Congress passed tax laws in both 1861 and 1862. The office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue was established by the Tax Act of 1862, which stated that the commissioner would have the power to levy and collect taxes. The office was also given the authority to seize property and income in order to enforce the tax laws. These powers remain pretty much the same today, although the IRS will tell you that enforcement tactics have been toned down a bit.” http://money.howstuffworks.com/income-tax1.htm “ Personal income tax was put in place in 1913 to help the World War I effort and has never been revoked. The following poem makes fun of taxes.

The Final Tax Ellis Parker Butler Said Statesman A to Statesman Z: “What can we tax that is not paying? We’re taxing every blessed thing— Here’s what our people are defraying: “Tariff tax, income tax, Tax on retail sales, Club tax, school tax, Tax on beers and ales, “City tax, county tax, Tax on obligations, War tax. wine tax, Tax on corporations, “Brewer tax, sewer tax, Tax on motor cars, Bond tax, stock tax, Tax on liquor bars, “Bridge tax, check tax, Tax on drugs and pills, Gas tax, ticket tax, Tax on gifts in wills, “Poll tax, dog tax, Tax on money loaned, State tax, road tax, Tax on all things owned, “Stamp tax, land tax, Tax on wedding ring, High tax, low tax, Tax on everything!” Said Statesman A to Statesman Z: “That is the list, a pretty bevy; No thing or act that is untaxed; There’s nothing more on which to levy.” Said Statesman Z to Statesman A: “The deficit each moment waxes; This is no time for us to fail— We will decree a tax on taxes.”

Online text © 1998-2008 Poetry X. All rights reserved. http://poetry.poetryx.com/poems/8541 In Mathew 17:24 the New Testament says, “ And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.” Jesus indicates that the children of God are free from worldly rules, but out of respect for the unsaved world should pay taxes to the government. Are you following Jesus’ command to pay your taxes and render unto Caesar what is Caesars?

228)

THE HISTORY OF THE HYMN

Hebrews 2:12 “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” Saint Augustine alledgedly said that the person that sings prays twice. The great hymns of the church have inspired Christians and given praise to God. Wikipedia gives a short history of church music: “The development of Christian hymnody Thomas Aquinas, in the introduction to his commentary on the Psalms, defined the Christian hymn thus: "Hymnus est laus Dei cum cantico; canticum autem exultatio mentis de aeternis habita, prorumpens in vocem." ("A hymn is the praise of God with song; a song is the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice.")[3] The Protestant Reformation produced a burst of hymn writing and congregational singing. Martin Luther is notable not only as a reformer, but as the author of many hymns including Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) which is sung today even in Roman Catholicism. Luther and his followers often used their hymns, or chorales, to teach tenets of the faith to worshipers. The earlier English writers tended to paraphrase biblical text, particularly Psalms; Isaac Watts followed this tradition, but is also credited as having written the first English hymn which was not a direct paraphrase of Scripture.[4] Later writers took even more freedom, some even including allegory and metaphor in their texts. Charles Wesley's hymns spread Methodist theology, not only within Methodism, but in most Protestant churches. He developed a new focus: expressing one's personal feelings in the relationship with God as well as the simple worship seen in older hymns. Wesley wrote: Where shall my wondering soul begin? How shall I all to heaven aspire? A slave redeemed from death and sin, A brand plucked from eternal fire, How shall I equal triumphs raise, Or sing my great deliverer's praise.

Wesley's contribution, along with the Second Great Awakening in America led to a new style called gospel, and a new explosion of sacred music writing with Fanny Crosby, Lina Sandell, Philip Bliss, Ira D. Sankey, and others who produced testimonial music for revivals, camp meetings, and evangelistic crusades. The tune style or form is technically designated "gospel songs" as distinct from hymns. Gospel songs generally include a refrain (or chorus) and usually (though not always) a faster tempo than the hymns. As examples of the distinction, "Amazing Grace" is a hymn (no refrain), but "How Great Thou Art" is a gospel song. During the 19th century the gospel-song genre spread rapidly in Protestantism and, to a lesser but still definite extent, in Roman Catholicism; the gospel-song genre is unknown in the worship per se by Eastern Orthodox churches, which rely exclusively on traditional chants (a type of hymn) in the worship. African-Americans developed a rich hymnody from spirituals during times of slavery to the modern, lively black gospel style. The Methodist Revival of the eighteenth century created an explosion of hymn writing in Welsh, which continued into the first half of the nineteenth century. The most prominent names among Welsh hymn-writers are William Williams Pantycelyn and Ann Griffiths. The second half of the nineteenth century witnessed an explosion of hymntune composition and choir singing in Wales.Some Christians today are using Christian lyrics in the rock music style although this often leads to some controversy between older and younger congregants. This is not new; the Christian pop music style began in the late 1960s and became very popular during the 1970s, as young hymnists sought ways in which to make the music of their religion relevant for their generation. This long tradition has resulted in a wide variety of hymns. Some modern churches include within hymnody, the traditional hymn (usually addressed to God), praise choruses (often sung scripture texts) and gospel (expressions of one's personal experience of God). This distinction is not perfectly clear; and purists remove the second two types from the classification as hymns. It is a matter of debate, even sometimes within a single congregation, often between revivalist and traditionalist movements.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hymn Are you using your voice or musical instruments to worship God? Even if you are not musical you can still enjoy hymns, and Christina music sung by other people. Ephesians 5:19 says we are to be“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” Look up some of the inspirational hymns of the past in a hymn book. Which ones inspire you the most?

229)

THE HOPE OF HEAVEN

John 14:1-3 “ Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Today even secular authorities are realizing that our planet earth cannot keep going on as it is. With global warming and a looming oil crisis everyone is worried about the future. The following website comments on our global crisis at: http://www.heavenshope.com/solution.htm “According to scientists, the biggest problem facing civilization right now is not terrorism or AIDS. It might surprise you that it is over-population, survival in the face of dwindling

resources. Respected French scientist and oceanographer, Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997), who was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1985, said "Our survival is no more than a question of 25, 50 or perhaps 100 years." As far back as 1789, Thomas Malthus studied population growth in Europe and stated that "population was increasing faster than food production, and he feared eventual global starvation." - www.prb.org "World population grew at an unprecedented rate after 1945... Massive population growth resulted from improved public health measures and successful attacks on many traditional diseases." - The encyclopedia of World History, 2001. It is obvious that technology-driven advances have created increased mortality - people live longer. But that's not the only factor influencing the normal rate of population growth. Whatever the factors are, the world is concerned right now about overpopulation. We are running out of space to hold people on this earth. The resources - food, shelter, medicine, energy, etc - are just not enough. Where are these global problems leading? Where is the solution to earth's problems? Is God listening to us?”

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1THE HOUND OF HEAVEN

Francis Thompson (1859-1907) wrote the famous poem “The Hound of Heaven” in which he portrays God as a lover who is relentlessly pursuing the object of His love – an unbeliever who is trying to hide from the wooing of the Holy Spirit. Thompson wrote: “I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, down the arches of the years; I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears I hid from Him, and under running laughter. Up vistaed hopes I sped; And shot, precipitated, Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears, From those strong Feet that followed, followed after. But with unhurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic in They beat--and a Voice beat More instant than the Feet-“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me." “ ...Now of that long pursuit Comes on at hand the bruit; That Voice is round me like a bursting sea: "And is thy earth so marred, Shattered in shard on shard? Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me! Strange, piteous, futile thing, Wherefore should any set thee love apart? Seeing none but I makes much of naught," He said,

"And human love needs human meriting, How hast thou merited-Of all man's clotted clay rhe dingiest clot? Alack, thou knowest not How little worthy of any love thou art! Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee Save Me, save only Me? All which I took from thee I did but take, Not for thy harms. But just that thou might'st seek it in my arms. If God is wooing you and you feel it in your heart, let the hound of heaven catch up to you and do not run from Him. Whether you need salvation or repentance He will pursue you.

231)

THE HUMBLING OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR

Daniel 4:33 “The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.” Although Nebuchadnezzar was a mighty king the Lord afflicted him with madness. The website called, “The Bible Encyclopedia”,explains: "Modern research has shown that Nebuchadnezzar was the greatest monarch that Babylon, or perhaps the East generally, ever produced. He must have possessed an enormous command of human labor, nine-tenths of Babylon itself, and nineteen-twentieths of all the other ruins that in almost countless profusion cover the land, are composed of bricks stamped with his name. He appears to have built or restored almost every city and temple in the whole country. His inscriptions give an elaborate account of the immense works which he constructed in and about Babylon itself, abundantly illustrating the boast, 'Is not this great Babylon which I have build?'" Rawlinson, Hist. Illustrations. After the incident of the "burning fiery furnace" (Dan. 3) into which the three Hebrew confessors were cast, Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted with some peculiar mental aberration as a punishment for his pride and vanity, probably the form of madness known as lycanthropy (i.e, "the change of a man into a wolf"). A remarkable confirmation of the Scripture narrative is afforded by the recent discovery of a bronze door-step, which bears an inscription to the effect that it was presented by Nebuchadnezzar to the great temple at Borsippa as a votive offering on account of his recovery from a terrible illness… . He survived his recovery for some years, and died B.C. 562, in the eighty-third or eighty-fourth year of his age, after a reign of forty-three years, and was succeeded by his son Evil-merodach, who, after a reign of two years, was succeeded by Neriglissar (559-555), who was succeeded by Nabonadius (555-538), at the close of whose reign (less than a quarter of a century after the death of Nebuchadnezzar) Babylon fell under Cyrus at the head of the combined armies of Media and Persia. "I have examined," says Sir H. Rawlinson, "the bricks belonging perhaps to a hundred different towns and cities in the neighborhood of Baghdad, and I never found any other legend than that of Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, king of Babylon." Nine-tenths of all the bricks amid the

ruins of Babylon are stamped with his name. http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/nebuchadnezzar.html After Nebuchadnezzar recovered from his madness he said in, Daniel 434-35 “ And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation: And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou.” The lesson Nebuchadnezzar learned was that God is sovereign. Do you act as if God is omnipotent? If God humbled pagan king, he will humble those who are of His family. When you are tempted to boast about yourself or your accomplishments remember the case of Nebuchadnezzar.

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THE IMPACT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS

Psalms 139:23 “ Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:” On the official website for the New England Psychologist --- nePsy.com, the impact of mental illness as opposed to physical illness is discussed: Approximately one-third of sick days are caused by psychological disorders, according to a survey sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health. The survey of more than 9,000 adults was based on the National Comorbidity SurveyReplication and measured sick days for chronic conditions. Adults with mental disorders including depression and anxiety - miss 1.3 billion days of work, school or other activities every year, more than back and neck pain, which caused 1.2 billion days per year, according to the survey. Americans report 3.7 billion sick days a year because of chronic conditions such as cancer, vision loss and heart attacks. The study was also unique because it took a comparative perspective of physical disorders and psychological disorders, he says. "It was a surprise to see how enormous (the number of sick days) was for mental health disorders." The fact that one out of every three days is because of a mental disorder is "extraordinary," he says … . That number is particularly noteworthy if one analyzes another factor. "If I look at how much money is given on research to cancer or heart disease or diabetes, obviously the allocation of resources to tackle these problems are way out of kilter with the magnitude of these problems," Kessler says. "Mental health disorder is not getting the attention it deserves." That is not only true for research, but also true for treatment. "When we look at some other work we've done on patterns of treatment for mental and physical disorders, we find that, in general, people are more likely to get treatment for a physical than a mental health problem for comparable severity," he says. "There are two reasons," Kessler continues. "One is that people don't very often code emotional distress as an illness." He notes that one of the lowest rates of treatment is for social phobia or anxiety. "People say, 'I'm shy … it's not an illness.'" Public perception is a factor. "People say, you 'have' a heart attack, but you 'are' mentally ill," Kessler adds… . Of the 1.3 billion sick days for mental health disorders, depression topped the list with 387 million. Social phobia accounted for 214 million; posttraumatic stress disorder, 113 million; generalized anxiety disorder, 110 million; and bipolar disorder and panic disorders were each just over 100 million. Other issues included substance abuse, agoraphobia and separation anxiety disorder.

Physical conditions that resulted in sick days included arthritis (375 million), stroke (221 million), heart attack (204 million) and cancer (71.5 million). Public awareness of mental health conditions is rising, Kessler says, but still, there is a misallocation of attention and funds in medicine in general. "It's not just mental disorders. If you look at the amount of research money available for childhood cancer, it's staggering in relation to the number of kids who have cancer," he says. "The reason is, it's just a compelling thing." Physical conditions that resulted in sick days included arthritis (375 million), stroke (221 million), heart attack (204 million) and cancer (71.5 million). Public awareness of mental health conditions is rising, Kessler says, but still, there is a misallocation of attention and funds in medicine in general. "It's not just mental disorders. If you look at the amount of research money available for childhood cancer, it's staggering in relation to the number of kids who have cancer," he says. "The reason is, it's just a compelling thing…" " I know there are an awful lot of people with mental disorders who are suffering and are not in treatment compared to people with less severe physical disorders who are getting treatment." The allocation needs to be changed, "to make society as a whole function better," he says.” http://www.masspsy.com/leading/0801_ne_disorders.html Job talks about mental anguish in Job 15:24 --“Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.” We need to lobby for better treatment for the mentally ill. Do you know someone who is struggling with depression or mental illness? Extend a hand of friendship to them.

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THE LION. THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE

Heb 7:27 “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” C.S Lewis was born on November 28, 1898 published a lot of serious books when he was At Oxford, but when he intended to write children’s’ books his colleagues thought that his reputation as a serious scholar would be in jeopardy. After his first children’s’ book titled,“The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” his critics did not receive it well, but it gained popularity by word of mouth. The Narnia series of stories have sold an excess of 100 Million books. In “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”, four children Peter,Susan, Edmund, and Lucy end up fighting the ice queen who is a symbol of the devil. However, the lion ‘Aslan’ is a saviour who in the end lays down his life to save the Creation from the ice queen. The beaver sums up Aslan’s powers in the following poem:“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, When he bears his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we will have spring again.” (chapter eight) The lion is a Christ figure who sacrifices himself for others and who rules is creation by love.

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THE LOCATION OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH?

Genesis 13:10 “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.” Is the location of Sodom and Gomorrah at the bottom of the Dead Sea? Jonathan Petre, writing for The London Telegraph on March 26, 2000 comments: “A Bible scholar believes that he has found the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, the evil cities destroyed by God with fire and brimstone, after leading the first expedition to explore the bottom of the Dead Sea. Michael Sanders and an international team of researchers discovered what appear to be the salt-encrusted remains of ancient settlements on the seabed after several fraught weeks diving in a mini submarine. Mr Sanders, a Briton who is now based in the United States, said yesterday that he was "immensely excited" about the find, and he is already planning a follow-up expedition. He said: "The evidence cannot be ignored. I predicted there must be something extraordinary there and, lo and behold, there was. What we found matches exactly what the remains of an ancient city might look like." Dr John Whitaker, a geologist from Leicester University and the former editor of Geology Today, said yesterday that the new development - which will be unveiled in a television documentary tomorrow - appeared "very significant". He said: "There is a good chance that these mounds are covering up brick structures and are one of the lost cities of the plains, possibly even Sodom or Gomorrah, though I would have to examine the evidence. These Bible stories were handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation before they were written down, and there seems to be a great deal in this one." God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah to punish the sexual immorality of their inhabitants is one of the most graphic episodes in the Old Testament. Genesis says that "the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground". Many archaeologists and scholars have concluded that the story was symbolic, a warning to erring humans of the divine punishment they faced for wickedness. But there has been speculation for centuries that the cities existed in the region of the Dead Sea. A growing number of experts, including Mr Sanders, are now convinced that "the cities of the plain" were destroyed by an earthquake, which threw up flaming pitch, about 5,000 years ago. Since the 1960s, archaeologists have discovered mass graves on a peninsula jutting into the Dead Sea which contain human bones dating from the Old Testament period. And sulphur, or brimstone, have been found in nearby cliffs, adding to the mystery. More recently, Mr Sanders unearthed a map dating from 1650 which reinforced to his belief that the sites of the two cities could be under the north basin, rather than on the southern edge of the Dead Sea. He recruited Richard Slater, an American geologist and expert in deep sea diving, to take him to the depths of the Dead Sea in the two-man Delta mini-submarine that was involved in the discovery of the sunken liner, the Lusitani. Also part of the expedition, which took place in November, was Zvi BenAvraham, the director of the Dead Sea Research Centre, who has studied the region for decades. Their explorations in November, which were filmed for a Channel 4 documentary to be broadcast at 8pm tomorrow night, were fraught with difficulties. The 10ft submarine, which was flown in from California, had to be weighted down with lead to counteract the buoyancy of the salty water. Because of constraints of time and money, only four dives were undertaken. To complicate matters further, the Dead Sea is a military zone with the border between Israel and Jordan running down the middle of it. Attempts by researchers to explore the most important site nearly sparked an international incident because it was partly in Jordanian waters, and military

authorities ordered the submarine out. Mr Sanders is in little doubt that the salt-covered mounds, found over an area 800 yards square, are man-made structures. He said: "I have spoken to geologists and nobody has come up with the suggestion that they are natural phenomena. We don't know what else they could be if they are not ruins. But we need more conclusive evidence by chipping off the salt. That's why we need to go back." http://www.antipas.org/protected_files/news/news_2000/middle_east_2000/sodom_gomorrah.ht ml Genesis 19:28 says, “And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.” Whether or not Sodom and Gomorrah are at the bottom of the Dead Sea or not we can trust the Biblical account that these cities did exist and that they were destroyed for their immorality. This story warns us not to toy with sin. Are you taking sin seriously and trying to avoid it? In John 16:8 Jesus says of the Father, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:”

235)

THE LOVELY BONES

Revelation 21:1-3 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. The best selling novel, The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold describes the murder and rape of a young teenage girl and how she looks down from her own personalized version of heaven to see what her family, her school, and her attacker are doing. Her heaven is very different from the Bible’s version of heaven. A book review at (http://www.mostlyfiction.com/contemp/sebold.htm) has the following to say about the book: “Our narrator Susie Salmon is already in heaven. Murdered by a neighbor when she was only fourteen years old, Susie tells us what it is like to be in her new place. "When I first entered heaven I thought everyone saw what I saw. That in everyone's heaven there were soccer goalposts in the distance and lumbering women throwing shot put and javelin. That all the buildings were like suburban northeast high schools built in the 1960s." Later she learns that heaven is whatever you truly want it to be and, sometimes, other people's version of heaven intercepts with your own. Susie meets another girl, Holly, on her third day in heaven and they end up sharing their ideal home --- a duplex. Franny, their intake counselor, helps them adjust. As Susie gets used to living in heaven, she watches her family and friends on Earth as they come to the realization that she is gone forever”. At http://frieswithgravy.bloghi.com/2006/11/18/the-lovely-bones.html another reviewer points out: “Interestingly, readers who took a Christian perspective faulted Susie's heaven for being utterly devoid of any apparent religious aspect ("It's a very God-free heaven, with no suggestion that anyone has been judged, or found wanting," Hensher groused); while others from a secular background found the very idea of heaven inherently religious.” The book The Lovely Bones is going to be made into a movie and it enjoys a lot of popularity right now. However, Susie’s heaven is a godless, lonely heaven and her wishes get translated into physical aspects of her

heaven. In Revelation, God is the center and of heaven and the inhabitants worship Him and reign with him. In a Christian heaven families will be reunited and the joy is forever. No one will be lonely in a Christian heaven.

236)

THE MARKETING OF CHRISTIANITY

Galatians 1:6 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:” Jesus led a self-sacrificing life and didn’t have any material possessions. In Matthew 8:20 the Bible says, “And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Our materialistic, commercial society has influenced the church, so that the church is run like a corporation and pastors are the salesmen. An exerpt from Christianity Today comments, “Should it surprise us that in this era, pastors increasingly think of themselves as 'managers,' 'leaders,' and 'CEOs' of 'dynamic and growing congregations,' rather than as shepherds, teachers, and servants of people who need to know God? And that preaching has become less an exposition of the gospel of Jesus' death and resurrection and more often practical lessons that offer a lot of 'take-away value,' presented in an efficient, friendly manner, as if we were selling cheeseburgers, fries, and a shake?... Today churches large and small (the small imitating the large) have unthinkingly adopted a marketing mentality that, it turns out, subverts rather than promotes the gospel. We inadvertently imply that the church benefits as much from the spiritual transaction as does the recipient. Marketing, by its very nature, contradicts the essence of the gospel lifestyle of Jesus, who came not to be served, but to expend his life for others—no exchange implied or expected. How can we possibly communicate the radical, self-giving love of God to our culture if we continue to use a method that by its very nature replaces the notions of sacrificial service for an exchange of goods and services? http://www.dyingchurch.com/archives/2007/10/do-i-have-a-witness/ Jesus said in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” and in Romans 12:1 Paul writes, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Are you following the good shepherd or are you seeing the Gospel as a commodity?

237)

MARTYRDOM OF SAINT STEPHEN.

Acts 7:59-60 “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Saul had a big part in the martyrdom of Stephen. In Acts 22:20 the converted Paul confesses, “And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.” The following poem is a tribute to Stephen.

Asleep! asleep! men talk of "sleep," When all adown the silent deep The shades of night are stealing; When like a curtain, soft and vast, The darkness over all is cast, And sombre stillness comes at last, To the mute heart appealing. Asleep! asleep! when soft and low The patient watchers come and go, Their loving vigil keeping; When from the dear eyes fades the light, When pales the flush so strangely bright, And the glad spirit takes its flight, We speak of death as "sleeping." Or when, as dies the orb of day, The aged Christian sinks away, And the lone mourner weepeth; When thus the pilgrim goes to rest, With meek hands folded on his breast, And his last sigh a prayer confessed-We say of such, "He sleepeth." But when amidst a shower of stones, And mingled curses, shrieks, and groans, The death-chill slowly creepeth; When falls at length the dying head, And streams the life-blood dark and red, A thousand voices cry, "He's dead"; But who shall say, "He sleepeth"? "He fell asleep." A pen divine Hath writ that epitaph of thine; And though the days are hoary, Yet beautiful thy rest appears-Unsullied by the lapse of years-And still we read, with thankful tears, The tale of grace and glory. Asleep! asleep! though not for thee The touch of loving lips might be, In sadly sweet leave-taking: Though not for thee the last caress, The look of untold tenderness,

The love that dying hours can press From hearts with silence breaking. By LUCY A. BENNETT. Acts 8:2 comments about the apostle’s death, “And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” Would you die for your faith if the need arose?

238)

THE MASKS PEOPLE WEAR

Psalms 52:4 “Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.” Olive Elanor Custance wrote emotionally intense and honest poetry. She “was born 7 February 1874 to a distinguished and wealthy British family. Her father, Colonel Frederic Hambledon Custance, was an imposing military man and former member of the Grenadier Guards who was a friend of the king, Edward VII. Her mother Eleanor Constance Joliffe came from a similarly aristocratic background, so Olive was descended from privilege on both sides; her father's family even boasted Sir Francis Bacon as an ancestor. Overall, Olive's family was quite traditionally Victorian: wealthy, landed, and proper.” http://www.turgingsomedrama.com/wildolive/olivecustancepage.htm In her poem, “The Masquerade” she talks about the masks that people wear and the “if it hurts, hide it” philosophy. The Masquerade By Olive Custance (1874-1944) Masked dancers in the Dance of life We move sedately … wearily together, Afraid to show a sign of inward strife, We hold our souls in tether. We dance with proud and smiling lips, With frank appealing eyes, with shy hands clinging. We sing, and few will question if there slips A sob into our singing. Each has a certain step to learn’ Our prisoned feet move staidly in set paces, And to and fro we pass, since life is stern, Patiently, with masked faces. Yet some there are who will not dance, They sit apart most sorrowful and splendid, But all the rest trip on as in a trance, Until the dance is ended. Proverbs 14:13 talks about masquerading as cheerful when one is not “ Even in laughter

the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is heaviness.” Do you show emotional honesty to God? Are you masquerading with Him? Are you honest with others as long as it doesn’t wound them unnecessarily?

239)

THE MIRACLE OF CREATION

Romans 1:18-21 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” In Romans, Paul states that creation is proof that God exists, but the unsaved man refuses to acknowledge the Creator and worship Him. The following poem mentions the evidence of God in nature. WHERE ARE MIRACLES? The imperceptible growth of a tree, The flight of the butterfly and the bee: Each does trace his Maker’s way, As you and I must do each day. The bear and the deer and the chipmunk too, They all love life as much as you. They all were planned by His great mind: Wonders of creation of every kind. Do you look for miracles anywhere, In order to know that He is there? You’ll find them in the clouds and sea, Wherever in life that you may be. You’ll find them in the earth and clay, At every step along the way. You’ll find them in the sky above. If you look, you’ll see His love. By Charles F. (Rick) Creech http://www.biblegems.com/POEMOFCREATION.HTM After forty chapters of Job’s despair and debating with his unhelpful friends, God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind He says in Job 40: 7-14 “Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with

glory and beauty. Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.” Job repents and says in Job 42:5-6 “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Can you see God in creation? What miracles can you find in nature?

240)

THE MURDERER NEXT DOOR

Revelation 9:21 “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” Nearly everyday on the television a newscast reports that someone has been murdered and in a lot of cases the murderer was the neighbour next door who seemed congenial and harmless. We tend to want to believe that murderers are deranged freaks who are rare aberrations of human nature. On “The University of Texas at Austin’s ”Website researcher, Dr. David Buss, probes into this issue of the killer next door: “When Dennis L. Rader was arrested as the B.T.K. (bind, torture, kill) serial killer suspect—and eventually charged with 10 killings—his Wichita, Kan. community reacted with shock and contradiction. After all, he was a leader in his church, a husband and father of two, living among the very neighbors whom he secretly terrorized… .It left people to wonder what would drive a man who appeared so normal to his neighbors to commit murder…. .Dr. David Buss, evolutionary psychologist at The University of Texas at Austin and author of the just-published “The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind is Designed to Kill” has conducted an unprecedented set of studies investigating the underlying motives and circumstances of murders, from those of serial killers to the perfectly friendly next-door neighbor who one day commits murder. He examined FBI files of more than 400,000 murders, conducted a highly detailed study of nearly 400 murders, and led, with his collaborator Joshua Duntley, the largest homicidal fantasy study ever conducted… . “Though we may like to think that murderers are either pathological misfits or hardened criminals,” he added, “the vast majority of murders are committed by people who, until the day they kill, seem perfectly normal.” To determine what would drive people over the edge and cause them to kill, participants in one of the studies were presented with more than a hundred different scenarios in which they recorded the probability they would kill. “Nearly all people express a willingness to kill in some circumstances—to prevent being killed or to defend their children from killers,” Buss said. “The study reveals the specific circumstances in which normal people said that they would kill, with some surprising findings. For example, men indicate an increased willingness to kill as their mating prospects become dire; women do not.” In Buss’s sample of 429,729 homicide FBI files, 13,670 were cases in which a husband killed his wife. A husband discovering his wife having an extramarital affair is one of the leading causes of women being murdered, particularly when the woman is dramatically younger than her husband. This leads to a disturbing theory—the more goodlooking, healthy and fertile the woman, the more motivated the man will be to kill her upon discovering a sexual infidelity. Separation is also a powerful trigger for murder. According to a study of homicides in Chicago, 50 percent of wife killings took place within the first two months of the separation, and an astonishing 85 percent of these women were killed within the first year.

In contrast, among the women who contemplated killing their mates, getting dumped accounted for only 13 percent. “Among women killed by a partner they have separated from, 88 percent had been stalked prior to being killed,” Buss said. “Although most stalkers do not kill their victims, most mate-killing men do stalk their victims. Stalking is one danger sign that women should not ignore. “Just when women feel as though they have successfully escaped a bad marriage is precisely the time when their lives are most in danger,” he added. “It is likely that the key danger is not the length of time per se but, rather, when the man realizes she will never return to him.” Based on existing research, Buss concluded for the few mate killings that occur a year or more after estrangement, it seems the couple actually had sexual contact during the year even though the woman had moved out. The hope that she might return, as indicated by sex, offers a protective buffer, lowering the odds the man will try to kill her. But then when the sex stops, and he realizes she will never come back, the woman’s life is in danger. Previously, Buss led one of the most massive cross-cultural studies ever undertaken, documenting mating desires among 10,047 people in 37 cultures, residing on six continents and five islands. Taking these findings into consideration, when and why men or women commit murder can be explained by the differences in evolutionary pressures and the differences of what they value in a mate. The most desired characteristics in a romantic partner, valued by both men and women, included a mate who is kind, understanding, dependable and intelligent. However, in comparison, men had a much stronger desire for beauty, youth and fidelity. Women had special desires for economic success and high status men. Buss led the largest homicidal fantasy study ever conducted, using 5,000 people, 375 who were actual murderers. The study looked into why people have homicidal fantasies and the specific circumstances in which they contemplate killing. The research team discovered how homicidal fantasies are used to build and work through scenarios of killing, how they help channel murderous intentions into other means of seeking redress, how they can also be used to simulate and rehearse carrying out murder and how particular passions come into play in evaluating whether or not to turn fantasy into reality.” http://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/murder/index.html The hard part to swallow is that the veneer of civilization is very thin and anyone in a fit of passion can commit murder. In Matthew 15:19 it says “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” The Bible commands us to love, not hate and to forgive our enemies. If you do all that you won’t end up being the murderer next door. Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

241)

THE NEW JERUSALEM

Revelation 21:2 “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The New Jerusalem appears after the old earth and the old heavens have been destroyed and the devil, his demons, and evil people are thrown into the lake of fire for everlasting punishment. Revelation 20:14-15; 21:1 states, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth

were passed away; and there was no more sea.” Wikipeda comments about the New Jerusalem as follows: “In The Bible, the New Jerusalem (also called the tabernacle of God, holy city, city of God, celestial city, and heavenly Jerusalem, as well as Jerusalem above and Zion), is a literal (or figurative, depending upon the writer's viewpoint) city that is a completely new dwelling for the Saints. Others may believe that it is a physical reconstruction, spiritual restoration, or divine recreation of the city of Jerusalem. Such a renewal of Jerusalem, if a reconstruction, is an important theme in Judaism, Christianity, and the Bahá'í Faith. As a prominent feature of the Book of Revelation, the New Jerusalem holds an important place in Christian eschatology and Christian theology. The New Jerusalem has also influenced Christian philosophy and Christian mysticism. Many beliefs and traditions, based upon biblical scripture and other writings in the Jewish and Christian religions, such as fundamentalist Protestantism, Orthodox Christianity, and Orthodox Judaism, expect the literal renewal of Jerusalem to some day take place at the Temple Mount in accordance with various biblical prophecies. Dispensationalists believe in a literal New Jerusalem coming down from God out of Heaven, which will be an entirely new city of incredible dimensions.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Jerusalem It will be a wonderful day when all the evil in the world is dispatched to the lake of fire and a brand new world with a beautiful new city will be created. No more sickness or pain will rack our frail human bodies for Revelation 12:4 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:” The New Jerusalem is the Christians’ heritage. Are you looking forward to this wonderful future?

242)

THE PRICE OF FREE WILL

Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” Predestination and free will have been argued about for the last 500 years. Protestant reformers like John Calvin believed that God’s sovereign will prevails over everything that happens on planet earth including who gets saved and who does not get saved. C. S. Lewis however argues eloquently for the existence of man’s free will. He wrote: “God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having” (C.S. Lewis). In C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity, chapter eight he comments on man and free will: “Christians, then, believe that an evil power has made himself for the present the Prince of this World. And, of course, that raises problems. Is this state of affairs in accordance with God's will, or not? If it is, He is a strange God, you will say: and if it is not, how can anything happen contrary to the will of a being with absolute power? But anyone who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another. It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, 'I'm not going to go and make you tidy the

schoolroom every night. You've got to learn to keep it tidy on. your, own.' Then she goes up one night and finds the Teddy bear and the ink and the French Grammar all lying in the grate. That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy. But on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy. The same thing arises in any regiment, or trade union, or school. . You make a thing voluntary and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you willed, but your will has made it possible. It is probably the same in the universe. God created things which had free will. That means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong; I cannot. If a thing is free to be good it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible. Why, then, did God give them free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having. A world of automata--of creatures that worked like machines--would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water. And for that they must be free. Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way: apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him. But there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God. He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes: you could not be right and He wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on. If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will--that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen, instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings--then we may take it it is worth paying.” In the Old Testament God gives the people a choice about whether or not they want to serve Him. Joshua 24:15 says, “ And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Free will causes a lot of suffering in this world because of humans choosing evil. Freedom of will can make a person into someone like Adolf Hitler or a saint like Mother Theresa. What kind of a person are you becoming with your choices? Are you getting closer to God or farther apart? Are you abusing your free will or using it to help others?

243) 1THE PSCHAL SERMON OF ST. JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Luke 24:2-3 “And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.” St. John Chrysostom was a 4th century preacher who preached a sermon that is still used in the Orthodox church the night before Easter Sunday. However, it certainly is a good message for Easter itself. The following is part of St. Chrysostom’s messge:

“No one need lament poverty, for the kingdom is seen as universal. No one need grieve over sins; forgiveness has dawned from the tomb. No one need fear death; the Savior's death has freed us from it. While its captive He stifled it. He despoiled Hades as He descended into it; it was angered when it tasted His flesh. Foreseeing this, Isaiah proclaimed: "Hades," he said, "was angered when he met You below." It was angered because it was abolished It was angered because it was mocked It was angered because it was slain. It was angered because it was shackled. It received a body and encountered God. It took earth and came face-to-face with heaven. It took what I saw and fell by what if could not see. Death, where is your sting? Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are overthrown. Christ is risen and demons have fallen. Christ is risen and angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life rules. Christ is risen and not one dead remains in the tomb. For Christ, having risen from the dead, has become the firstfruits of those that slept. To Him be the glory and the dominion, forever.” Amen.

244)

THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

Lu 16:19-22 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man‘s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; The story of the rich man and Lazarus must be seen in the context of its socioeconomic background. “ Among the work of those who study the economy of first-century Palestine, the most generous estimates are that peasant farmers were able to produce a crop that was about five times their investment in seed and keep back and eat about 20% of their harvest. Eighty percent going to tithes, rents, taxes and seed for the next year. The 20% left for food would have to sustain the family for a year as well as provide a little extra for trade and barter.” file:///C:/Users/Kathy/Desktop/rich%20man.htm ) In this life the rich man had all the advantages a man could have and Lazarus had none. The rich man had health and wealth, while the poor man was socioeconomically disadvantaged and ill. However, in the afterlife their fortunes were reversed. Lazarus was content

in Abraham’s Bosom, a place like Paradise, and the rich man was suffering in hell. Luke 19:2224 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus. And he cried in his bosom.and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” By focusing his whole life on materialism, the rich man failed to prepare his soul for eternity. Is materialism getting in the way of your serving the Lord? Or of being saved? The story of the rich man and Lazarus cautions us to focus on the Creator not his creation.

245)

THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER

Romans 3:24 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” around 17971799 and it has been taught to millions of school children. Essentially, it is a story of ruin and then redemption. The ancient mariner is cursed for killing an albatross and then blessed when he gives gratitude and prayer. The Wikipedia website comments on this classic poem: “The Mariner's tale begins with his ship descending on their journey; despite initial good fortune, the ship is driven off course by a storm and, driven south, eventually reaches Antarctica. An albatross appears and leads them out of the Antarctic; even as the albatross is praised by the ship's crew, the Mariner shoots the bird down: (with my cross-bow / I shot the albatross). The other sailors are angry with the Mariner, as they thought the albatross brought the South Wind that led them out of the Antarctic: (Ah, wretch, said they / the bird to slay / that made the breeze to blow). However, the sailors change their minds when the weather becomes warmer and the mist disappears: ('Twas right, said they, such birds to slay / that bring the fog and mist). The crime arouses the wrath of supernatural spirits who then pursue the ship "from the land of mist and snow"; the south wind which had initially led them from the land of ice now sends the ship into uncharted waters, where it is becalmed. Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean. Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink. Here, however, the sailors change their minds again and blame the Mariner for the torment of their thirst. Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks / Had I from old and young! / Instead of the cross, the albatross / About my neck was hung) is metaphorically illustrating that the guilt of killing the

albatross reflected when it hung around his neck, but in reality, it had plunged into the water. Eventually, in an eerie passage, the ship encounters a ghostly vessel. On board are Death (a skeleton) and the "Night-mare Life-in-Death" (a deathly-pale woman), who are playing dice for the souls of the crew. With a roll of the dice, Death wins the lives of the crew members and Lifein-Death the life of the mariner, a prize she considers more valuable. Her name is a clue as to the mariner's fate; he will endure a fate worse than death as punishment for his killing of the albatross. One by one all of the crew members die, but the Mariner lives on, seeing for seven days and nights the curse in the eyes of the crew's corpses, whose last expressions remain upon their faces. Eventually, the Mariner's curse is lifted when he sees sea creatures swimming in the water. Despite his cursing them as "slimy things" earlier in the poem, he suddenly sees their true beauty and blesses them (a spring of love gush'd from my heart and I bless'd them unaware); suddenly, as he manages to pray, the albatross falls from his neck and his guilt is partially expiated. The bodies of the crew, possessed by good spirits, rise again and steer the ship back home, where it sinks in a whirlpool, leaving only the Mariner behind. A hermit on the mainland had seen the approaching ship, and had come to meet it with a pilot and the pilot's boy in a boat. When they pull him from the water, they think he is dead, but when he opens his mouth, the pilot has a fit. The hermit prays, and the Mariner picks up the oars to row. The pilot's boy goes crazy and laughs, thinking the mariner is the devil, and says "The Devil knows how to row." As penance for shooting the Albatross, the Mariner is forced to wander the earth and tell his story, and teach a lesson to those he meets: He prayeth best, who loveth best All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_mariner Matthew 21:22 “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” The ancient mariner was condemned to tell his story, but don’t we all have our stories to tell? Listen to other peoples’ stories. You always learn something new.

246)

THE SEASONS OF THE SOUL

Acts 14:17 “ Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” The Bible doesn’t have the phrase “seasons of the soul”, but anyone who has been a Christian for awhile knows that our spiritual life does seem to have seasons. Sometimes we experience a spiritual Spring when we are growing spiritually and feeling close to God and at other times we feel cold, lonely, and separated from God – a type of spiritual winter. Helen Steiner Rice wrote a poem on the seasons of the soul. The Seasons of My Soul Why am I cast down And despondently sad When I long to be happy And joyous and glad? Why is my heart heavy With unfathomable weight

As I try to escape This soul-saddened state? I ask myself often ... "What makes life this way, Why is the song silenced In the heart that was gay?" And then, with God's help It all becomes clear, The "Soul" has its "Seasons" Just the same as the year. I, too, must pass through Life's autumn of dying, A desolate period Of heart-hurt and crying. Followed by winter In whose frostbitten hand My heart is as frozen As the snow-covered land. Yes, man too must pass Through the seasons God sends, Content in the knowledge That everything ends. And, Oh! What a blessing To know there are reasons And to find that our soul Must, too, have it's seasons. "Bounteous Seasons" And "Barren Ones," too. Times for rejoicing And times to be blue. But meeting these seasons Of dark desolation With strength that is born Of anticipation That comes from knowing That "autumn-time sadness" Will surely be followed by a "Springtime of Gladness." by: Helen Steiner Rice

In Psalms 16:7 the psalmist declares, “I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.” Are you going through a “spiritual winter”? Be faithful to God and you will eventually pass into a spiritual summer.

247)

THE SINS OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH

Genesis19:24 -25 “ Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah’s sins were heard by the Lord and he decided to destroy the two cities where shameless sexual immorality was rampant. BibleStudyGuide.org comments on Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction: Sodom and Gomorrah: Examples of Eternal Punishment Peter and Jude use Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of punishment. God punished them because of their sin, wiping them off the face of the earth, in essence punishing them for eternity. Peter said, ". . . He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter" (2 Pet. 2:6). And Jude said, "Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 1:7). Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of eternal punishment. Just as God punished these sinful cities, wiping them out of existence for eternity, He'll punish the unrighteous for eternity in hell… . When Lot lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, he was oppressed and tormented day after day by their lawless deeds (2 Pet. 2:7-8). Christians feel tormented and oppressed when they're around sinful activities. As a result, they have a strong desire to flee because they abhor sin (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; Rom. 12:9). In part, Lot was torment by sin because of his own choices. He chose to live in Sodom, raise his family in Sodom, and remain in Sodom while his soul was tormented by their sinful conduct. As Christians, enlightened with the wisdom and knowledge that's in Christ (Col. 2:3), we must make better choices than Lot. We shouldn't voluntarily live or work in places we're tormented by sinful behavior. Rather, we should "examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil" (1 Th. 5:21-22). Take a moment and honestly think about yourself. How much does sin "bother" you? Are you repulsed by sin? Do you stay away from sinful activities? How much sin will you tolerate before you run away (flee)? Rejecting Christ is Worse Than Sodom's Sin Capernaum rejected Jesus, refusing to believe God's testimony presented through miracles (Heb. 2:4).

As a result, Jesus said, "And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you" (Matt. 11:23-24)… . http://www.biblestudyguide.org/articles/example-sodom-gomorrah.htm Ruth Graham, Billy Graham’s wife, said in 1965, "If God doesn't soon bring judgment upon America, He'll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!" The world is a lot worse today than it was in the 1960’s and the Tribulation hour is almost upon us. Soon Jesus will come for his children. 1Thessalonians 4:17 exclaims, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Are your looking forward to the Rapture or fearing judgement?

248)

1THE SORROW TREE

Lamentations 3: 19-20 “Remembering mine affliction and my misery, the wormwood and the gall. My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.” Sometimes we think that our particular brand of suffering is a lot worse than anybody else’s. We tend to turn in on ourselves in self pity and despair. However, there is no way of knowing what another person is feeling. Merle Shain in her book, Hearts That We Broke Long Ago, writes: “The Hasidic Jews have a story about the Sorrow Tree. According to them , on Judgement Day each person will be invited to hang from The Tree of Sorrows all his own miseries, and that done, he will be given permission to walk around the tree and survey everyone else’s miseries in order to select a set he likes better. According to Hasidic legend, each person then freely chooses his own personal set of sorrows once more.” Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet and for the first part of Lamentations 3 he calls God his enemy however, later he wrote about God in verse 22 “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”

249)

THE THIEF ON THE CROSS

Luke 23:43 “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” When Jesus was on the cross he was surrounded by two criminals – one who was mocking him and one who believed in him. In Luke 23:39 it says, “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.” "But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.' " (23:40-41). “On the website, “Joyful Heart Renewal Ministries” it comments, “These taunts are making the other condemned brigand very uncomfortable. The word blasphemeo can refer to reviling humans, but also to "speak irreverently, impiously, disrespectfully of or about ... God." The second bandit has not lost his faith, for he asks, "Don't you fear God?" To stand by and participate in such an unrighteous act as to execute an innocent man is an impious, sinful act, and the second brigand refuses to desert his sense of right and wrong. "Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' " (23:42) By any measure, this statement is astounding! Jesus' disciples have fled or linger disillusioned at the margins of the crowd. Their hopelessness is echoed by the men on the road to Emmaus, "... they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel" (24:2021). But here on the cross to one side, a fellow condemned man, life ebbing out of him, looks across and sees not another dying man, but the Messiah himself. Somehow, he understands that Jesus is not an impostor, and that he will still receive the Kingdom that belongs to the Messiah. I recall Joseph saying something similar to Pharoah's cupbearer, prisoner to fellow prisoner, when Joseph predicted that the cupbearer would be released from prison: "When all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison" (Genesis 40:14).How can this quality of faith exist at such a dark time? Already the darkness is falling over the whole land, and yet a dying thief believes. Did he confess his sins? Yes. "We are

punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve" (23:41). Does he repent? Not verbally, but I think so. His repentance and hope prompt his plea for mercy, "Remember me...." (http://www.jesuswalk.com/lessons/23_39-43.htm) The thief on the cross that repented illustrates the fact that one cannot work their way to heaven. In Romans 5:2 it says, “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Are you trying to do enough good works to get to heaven? You could never do enough for Romans 3:23 declares; “ For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”. Believe like the thief on the cross and when you die you will go to be with Christ in Paradise.

250)

THE THIRSTY SOUL

John 4:10 “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” Donald S. Whitney in his book, “Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health” writes about the thirstiness of the soul. When Jesus met the woman at the well he said that he was capable of giving her living water. Whitney writes about this: “Thirst of the Dry Soul The difference between the empty soul and the dry soul is that one has never experienced "rivers of living water" (John 7:38) while the other has and knows what he is missing. That is not to say that the dry soul can lose the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, indeed Jesus said that "the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life [John 4:14, emphasis added]. How is it then that a true believer in Christ can become a dry soul when Jesus promised that "whoever drinks of the water I shall give him will never thirst" (John 4:14)? Pastor/author John Piper was reading this verse one Monday morning and cried out, "What do you mean? I am so thirsty! My church is thirsty! The pastors whom I pray with are thirsty! O Jesus, what did you mean?" As he meditated on the text, the illumination which seemed to come from the Lord upon His Word was perceived by Piper this way:When you drink my water, your thirst is not destroyed forever. If it did that, would you feel any need of my water afterward? That is not my goal. I do not want self-sufficient saints. When you drink my water, it makes a spring in you. A spring satisfies thirst, not by removing the need you have for water, but by being there to give you water whenever you get thirsty. Again and again and again. Like this morning. So drink, John. Drink."2 A Christian soul becomes arid in one of three ways. The most common is by drinking too much from the desiccating fountains of the world and too little from "the river of God" (Psalm 65:9). If you drink the wrong thing it can make you even more thirsty. In particularly hot weather, my high school football coach would give us salt tablets to help us minimize the loss of fluids. During one game he experimented with stirring salt into our drinking water, hoping the diluted form would expedite the benefits of the salt. Bad idea. At halftime I drank until my stomach swelled and I was too heavy to run well, yet I was still thirsty. Similarly, perhaps it was because the psalmist had drunk too much of the world's briny spiritual water that he wrote twice in one chapter about longing for God with all his heart while closely asserting his resolve not to wander from the Lord's Word (see Psalm 119:10, 145). Too much attention to a particular sin or sins, and/or too little attention to communion with God (two things which often occur in tandem) inevitably shrivel the soul of a Christian. Another cause of spiritual dryness in the child of God is what the Puritans used to call "God's desertions." While there are times God floods our souls with

a sense of His presence, at other times we dehydrate by a sense of His absence. Let me quickly say that His desertion of us is merely our perception, for the reality is just as Jesus promised: "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). When feeling deserted by God, however, the Christian believes himself to be in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4), or somewhat like Jesus when He cried from the cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). The words of David in Psalm 143:6-7 describe the emotions of those who try to pray from such a spiritual desert: "I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, . . ." (Psalm 143:6-7). For reasons not always made clear to us, the Lord does sometimes withdraw a conscious sense of His nearness. Since this is not the place for a lengthy treatment of the subject3, the best concise counsel I could offer is that of William Gurnall: "The Christian must trust in a withdrawing God."4 When the sun goes behind a cloud it is no less near than when its rays are felt. However, for the specific purposes of this book and chapter, remember that it is a good thing that you are able to discern the seclusion of God's presence. Such spiritual sensitivity characterizes spiritual health. A third cause of spiritual aridity in a Christian is prolonged mental or physical fatigue. Both cause and cure are usually obvious enough, so I won't elaborate on them. What I do want to emphasize is that a believer may not sense spiritual growth when fatigued or burned-out, but instead brood under shadowy thoughts about the reality of his relationship with Christ. And yet, much may have been learned in the very battle that caused the fatigue, things which, when the sunlight returns to the soul, will be seen as significant spiritual turning points. Again, don't forget that the longing for fresh water is itself a sign of progress.Regardless of the cause, the dry Christian soul is like the believer of Psalm 42:1-2, thirsting for God "As a deer pants for the water brooks." When you are in this condition, nothing else but the living water of God Himself will do. My daughter was three when she separated herself from me while we were in a child-oriented restaurant. She wanted to play with some of the game machines instead of eating. Though she had run to the far side of the restaurant, I could see her and was following to return her to the table. Suddenly she realized she didn't know where she was or where I was. Panic-stricken, she began crying and calling for me. The store manager could have offered her unlimited play on every machine and given her every toy prize in the place, but nothing would have appealed to her without my presence. Everything else was meaningless to her without me. Once we were reunited, for a few moments she was content just for me to hold her, just to have me back. That's the cry of the dry soul. Other things may have distracted you, but now the only thing that matters is a return of the sense of your Father's presence.” http://biblicalspirituality.org/thirst.html Do you have a thirsty soul? Only God can quench a spiritual thirst.

251)

THE TOWER OF BABEL

Genesis 11:1-8 “ And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may

not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Man’s pride took a fall when the Tower of Babel was erected. The people had spoken only one language before they built the Tower of Arrogance and Agnosticism. After God saw the Tower, many different languages emerged and the people could not understand eachother. The following website comments: http://tdwotd.blogspot.com/2006/10/tower-of-babel.html “The tower constructed by the builders at Babel (that is, Babylonia - modern day Iraq) became a symbol of their defiance against God, (Gen. 11:1-6). It was probably modeled after a ziggurat which is a mound of sun-dried bricks and was probably constructed before 4,000 bc. According to the narrative in Genesis 11 of the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a tower built by a united humanity to reach the heavens. Because the hearts of men were said to be inherently evil and disobedient, they were striving to make a name for themselves instead of worshipping the God who created them. Because of this open defiance, God stopped their efforts by confusing languages so that no one could understand each other. As a result, they could no longer communicate and the work was halted. The builders were then scattered to different parts of Earth. This story is used to explain the existence of many different languages and races.”

252)

THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE

Ephesians 5:2 “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” A mother cat was severely burned and sacrificed herself for her kittens to save them. The heartrending story of the mother cat is taken from the Associated Press New York printed in the Edmonton Journal 31 March 1996. “Cat braves fire five times for kittens Like any other mother, this one was willing to walk through fire for her children. She carried her five four-week old babies one by one from a burning building in East New York, and ended up in the emergency room. Mothera domestic short haired cat named Scarlet and her kittens were resting in an oxygen tent Saturday. Firefighter David Giannelli found the feline family when he responded to a garage fire. The fire broke out in a vacant building Friday morning. While they were working, the firefighters could hear kittens crying, Giannelli said. When the fire was out, he found two kittens near the side of the building and three more across the street. "What she did was she ran in and out of that building five times, got them all out, and then started moving them one by one across the street," he said. Giannelli said the cat's face, paws and eyes were severely burned. He put her and her kittens in a box and went back to work. Later, when he was off duty, he brought them to an animal shelter. Giannelli said even though her eyes were burned shut, the cat made a head count, touching each kitten with her nose, as if making sure they were all with her. ‘She's a wonderful, gentle animal who did a courageous thing,’ said Marge Stein, manager of adoption services at the North Shore Animal League. ‘It shows with all creatures, animals or people, there's no way of measuring a mother's love.’ Named Scarlet because small patches of red can be seen through her singed fur, the cat and her brood are doing fairly well, but are not out of the woods yet, Stein said. There have already been about 200 queries for adoption and donations.” This story of

feline sacrifice and bravery reminds us that Jesus Christ also sacrificed Himself to save us from eternal damnation. Isaish 53:3 says that, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” Have you thanked Jesus for His ultimate sacrifice? Are you willing to make sacrifices for Him?

253)

THE UNPARDONABLE SIN

Mark 3:28-29 “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” A lot of good Christians have agonized over this passage in Mark when Jesus talks about the unpardonable sin, thinking that they have committed it unwittingly. We definitely need clarification of what this sin is. The following website gives a good discussion of this unpardonable transgression at: http://www.victorshepherd.on.ca/Sermons/The%20Sin%20Against %20The%20Holy%20Spirit.htm . “Then what does our Lord mean when he speaks of that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit which will not be forgiven? We must examine the context of his pronouncement. Throughout his public ministry Jesus has been freeing people from the grip of evil. He has done so in the power of the Holy Spirit (which is to say the power of God in our midst). And then he comes upon some hostile people who maintain that he isn't freeing people in the power of the Spirit. They maintain that so far from freeing people from the grip of evil in the power of the Spirit, Jesus is in league with evil and is victimizing gullible people in the power of evil. In other words, our Lord's enemies are slandering his work. What Jesus insists is a work of God (the Spirit being the power of God in our midst), his enemies pronounce evil. They are slandering Christ's work. Blasphemeo is a Greek verb meaning "to slander". Our Lord's enemies are slandering his work; and since his work is done in the power of the Spirit, they are blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. What is in truth of God, they label devilish; what is truly good, they perversely call evil; what is genuinely restorative, they denounce as deceptive and destructive. They are doing exactly what Isaiah had spoken of 700 years earlier: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter… ." To treat as false what one knows deep-down to be true; to treat as true what one knows deep-down to be false; what is this but to steep oneself in falsehood? To treat as glorious what one knows to be shameful is to steep oneself in shame. To treat as blessing what one knows to be accursed is to cement oneself into curse. Eventually cement hardens. Not the semi-faith and the semi-groping of the man who cried to Jesus, "I believe -- as much as I'm able; make me more able!"; not the godly sorrow of the person who never doubts that sin is sin even as for now she seems to be forever defeated by it; not the person whom life's tragedies have rendered incapable for now, it would seem, of faith in the God whose mercies endure forever; not the person who has been surrounded since birth by atheists who despised the faith openly or by church-folk

who contradicted it hypocritically; not any of these but rather the person who has most certainly glimpsed the work of God in the works of Jesus and who, hating the master for who knows what reason, slanders his work as a manifestation of evil; that person, says our Lord, will find himself left with the Christlessness he has said repeatedly that he wants. But Christlessness, of course, entails forgivenessless. That person, says our Lord most certainly, but that person only, says our Lord most compassionately.” Luke 12:5 warns of the eternal damnation for those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit, “ But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” If you believe Christ’s message of salvation you don’t need to lose sleep worrying over committing the unpardonable sin. However, if you know those who are mocking Christ’s work and salvation you need to tell them to worry, before their hearts are hardening irrevocably.

254)

THE WAILING WALL

Ezra 10:1 “Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore.” Frequently, on international news programs one can see the Western Wall or “Wailing Wall” where devout Jews go to pray and weep. The Jewish Virtual Library comments on its history: “… "Wailing Wall" is a strictly 20th-century English usage introduced by the British after their conquest of Jerusalem from the Turks in 1917. In the 19th century, when European travelers first began visiting Palestine in sufficient numbers to notice the Jews there at all, the Western Wall was commonly referred to as "the Wailing Place," as in the following passage from Samuel Manning's "Those Holy Fields" (1873): A little further along the western [retaining] wall we come to the Wailing-place of the Jews.... Here the Jews assemble every Friday to mourn over their fallen state.... Some press their lips against crevices in the masonry as though imploring an answer from some unseen presence within, others utter loud cries of anguish. The "Wailing-place" was a translation of El-Mabka, or "the Place of Weeping," the traditional Arabic term for the wall. Within a short time after the commencement of the British Mandate, however, "Wailing Wall" became the standard English term, nor did Jews have any compunctions about using it. Only after the Six-Day War in 1967 did it become de rigueur in Jewish circles to say "Western Wall"— a reflection of the feeling, first expressed by official Israeli usage and then spreading to the Diaspora, that, with the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty, there was no longer anything to wail about. Henceforward, the wall should be a place of celebration. This happened so quickly that it is difficult to find a Jewish book written after 1967 in which the term "Wailing Wall" occurs. Gradually, the non-Jewish world began to fall in line, so that "Western Wall" predominates in contemporary non-Jewish usage too, though "Wailing Wall" can still be found there. Muslims, for their part, use neither term, "El-Mabka" having fallen out of favor in the 1920s with growing Arab-Jewish tensions over rights at the wall. The Palestinians then began calling it "El-Burak," after the name of Mohammed's horse that was supposedly tethered there on the prophet's legendary night ride to Jerusalem and heaven. But in Hebrew it has always been ha-kotel ha-ma'aravi, at least for the last thousand years. Or rather, this is its full form, which Israelis rarely use in ordinary conversation. In Israel one generally hears no more than ha-kotel, "the Wall," the subject being clear, since the everyday Hebrew word for "wall" is kir and kotel is used only in special idioms.” Whether it is called the “Western Wall”, “Wailing Wall”, or just “Wall” there

have been a lot of prayers and a lot of crying going on at that site. However, God promises to Redeem Israel in Joel 2: 18-19, saying, “Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:” Are you praying for the peace of Jerusalem? (All references from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/wallname.html)

255)

THE WAITING ROOMS OF LIFE

Ecclesiastes 3:2-4 “A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” How much time do we spend waiting? One source said that Americans spend three years just waiting in line, while in other countries it could be more like five years. Ecclesiastes says that there is a proper time for everything. The following poem talks about the life cycle and how each period is a waiting room. WAITING ROOMS OF LIFE by Katherine Tapley-Milton First is the fetus, waiting nine months to be born Then he is the baby, from the womb he is torn. Next he is the ankle nipper waiting to talk Then he is the yard ape waiting to walk. Adolescence comes and his hormones are raging He waits for a lover -- in carnal knowledge he is engaging. A long search goes on for a mate his very lonely soul Someone whom he could live with, some person to make him whole. He waits and waits for his love to appear And one day he finds her in a town so near. He waits for engagement and he waits for marriage Then he waits for a baby to put into their carriage. But now he has problems with his head and problems with his kids His life as he knows it is really on the skids. Now he waits for the psychiatrist who is going to read his head

And he takes all colors of pills that are supposed to fix things they said. Midlife hits us and he is wondering what he’s done with his life And he sees that his time was spent working and relating to his wife, Now he is a an old person waiting to die Put into a nursing home so others can pass him by. He waits for the doctor, he waits for the nurse, Now he is waiting for the man who drives the hearse. The funeral is over and his body is laid to rest The waiting rooms of life are over and so is his quest. To heaven or hell he’ll be immediately ushered in God will weigh every thought and every single sin. He’ll either be found wanting or finally be approved. But his eternal state will never be moved. Matthew 10:28 warns, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Are you spending a lot of time waiting? Think of something constructive to do while you wait. Memorize Scripture, make something nice for somebody else, or read something uplifting.

256)

THOMAS CRANMER

Lu 21:16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) served as the Archbishop of Canterbury when King Henry the VIII and Edward VI were monarchs. Although he helped engineered Henery VIII’s divorce he is bet known as the author of The Common Book of Prayer which established Anglican liturgy up to the present. Our English language has absorbed many phrases from the prayer book whether consciously or unconsciously . The Church of England celebrates Cramner’s legacy on March 21 of each year and the Episcopal Church celebrates him on October 16th. Wikipedia online comments, “Cramner was executed in 1556 for heresy after Queen Mary I reunited the Church of England with the Roman Catholic Church.” John Foxe in Foxes Book of Martyrs listed Cranmer as a martyr and a hero. Wikipedia comments about Cranmer’s death: “There was an iron chain tied about Cranmer and fire set unto him. When the wood was kindled and the fire began to burn near him, he stretched forth his right hand, which had signed his recantation, into the flames, and there held it so the people might see it burnt to a coal before his body was touched. In short, he was patient And constant in the midst of his tortures, that he seemed to move no more than the stake To which he was bound: his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and often he said … ‘this my unworthy right hand!’ Cranmer had betrayed his faith but while dying he gave a heroic testimony of his faith. Let us be as heroic in giving testimony about our faith.

257)

THE WISE OLD OWL

Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:” The following poem talks about not judging people and this concurs with the fact that Scripture commands us to forgive others and not judge them. This attitude of being nonjudgemental goes against our human nature, but God insists on it. Wise Old Owl by Connie Hinnen Cook Like the Solomon of fowl Sat a wise old owl Perched in a Sycamore tree, While the moonlight glimmered And the starlight shimmered, These words he spoke to me: "I guess you've heard I'm a wise old bird, And if wisdom you would find... Always look for the best And your life will be blest, To all others' faults be blind. "In this life, I know You will find it so That if you think kindly of others, You'll soon find that it's true They'll think kindly of you... Praise your sisters and your brothers!" You may think me a fool Owls don't talk, as a rule, But in solemn tone he said: "Don't be quick to enact Words you'll wish to retract, Dwell upon the good instead!" Though I hate to admit it, I could see, once I did it, What that wise owl said was true. Your faults I'll overlook 'Cause it says in The Book

What you sow comes back to you! Now, if you will agree With what he said to me, Then my faults you will ignore... Like that sage bird said We'll both come out ahead If we judge less, and praise more!

In John 7:24 the apostle exhorts, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” If we judge someone for a particular fault or sin, you can be assured that we may be caught in the same sin the very next day. Are you judging someone? Leave the judging to God.

258) THOMAS HARDY AND THE CAPRICIOUSNESS OF GOD
Deuteronomy 32:39 “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand”. Thomas Hard was a pessimistic novelist and poet of the nineteenth century whose novel, “Tess of the d’Ubervilles” portrayed the gods as being capricious and unjust. “Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) is generally regarded as Hardy's finest novel. A brilliant tale of seduction, love, betrayal, and murder, Tess of the d'Ubervilles yields to narrative convention by punishing Tess's sin, but boldly exposes this standard denouement of unforgiving morality as cruelly unjust. Throughout, Hardy's most lyrical and atmospheric language frames his shattering narrative. The novel centers around a young woman who struggles to find her place in society. When it is discovered that the low-class Durbeyfield family is in reality the d'Urbervilles, the last of a famous bloodline that dates back hundreds of years, the mother sends her eldest daughter, Tess, to beg money from relations with the obvious desire that Tess wed the rich Mr. d'Urberville. Thus begins a tale of woe in which a wealthy man cruelly mistreats a poor girl. Tess is taken advantage of by Mr. d'Urberville and leaves his house, returning home to have their child, who subsequently dies. Throughout the rest of this fascinating novel, Tess is tormented by guilt at the thought of her impurity and vows to never marry. She is tested when she meets Angel, the clever son of a priest, and falls in love with him. After days of pleading, Tess gives in to Angel and consents to marry him. Angel deserts Tess when he finds the innocent country girl he fell in love with is not so pure.” http://www.online-literature.com/hardy/tess_urbervilles/ Hardy’s idea of fate in life gave way to his philosophical struggle with God. Although Hardy’s faith remained intact, the irony and struggles of life led him to question God and His traditional meaning in the Christian sense… .Hardy's religious life seems to have mixed agnosticism and spiritism. Once, when asked in

correspondence by a clergyman about the question of reconciling the horrors of pain Nevertheless, Hardy frequently conceived of and wrote about supernatural forces that control the universe, more through indifference or caprice than any firm will. Also, Hardy showed in his writing some degree of fascination with ghosts and spirits.[6] Despite these sentiments, Hardy retained a strong emotional attachment to the Christian liturgy and church rituals, particularly as manifested in rural communities, that had been such a formative influence in his early years. Some attributed the bleak outlook of many of his novels as reflecting his view of the absence of God. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Hardy But is God capricious as Hardy would have us believe? James 1:17 says that, Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Although it feels like He is capricious when tragic things happen, the Bible says that God is not capricious.

259)

THUNDER STORM

Job 37:2-5 “ Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth. He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth. After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard. God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.” We hear the crashing and the booming during a thunderstorm, but exactly what is it? “Technically, according to the National Weather Service, a thunderstorm occurs when an observer hears thunder. Radar observers use the intensity of the radar echo to distinguish between rain showers and thunderstorms. Lightning detection networks now routinely track cloud-to-ground flashes, and therefore thunderstorms. Thunderstorms arise when clouds develop sufficient upward motion and are cold enough to provide the ingredients (ice and supercoooled water) to generate and separate electrical charges with the cloud. The cumulonimbus cloud is the perfect lightning and therefore thunder factory. That is why its is nicknamed the “thunderhead.” What is a severe thunderstorm? By definition, the National Weather Service classifies a thunderstorm as severe if it contains hail of three-quarter inches or larger and/or winds gusts of 58 mph or higher. Severe thunderstorm watches, meaning conditions are suitable for severe storm development during the next several hours, are issued for areas several hundred miles on a side by the NWS Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. A severe thunderstorm warning is issued by the local National Weather Service Office, usually for several counties or parts thereof for the next hour or so based upon spotter reports of conditions exceeding severe levels and/or by radar indications of the same. If there is a distinct threat of a tornado, a tornado warning is issued. What creates a thunderstorm? Warm, moist air rising in sufficiently large volume with a high enough velocity results in a thunderstorm. The fuel for these storms is warm, moist air present near the surface of the earth. If the atmosphere around the cloud is unstable, that is the temperature of the air falls faster than that of the rising parcel air within the storm, then the updraft becomes ever more warmer than the air outside, and therefore more buoyant. The release of latent heat when water vapor turns to liquid and then the liquid to ice further warms the rising parcel, stoking the “fires” of the updraft. A trigger is often necessary to get the warm bubble of air rising in the first place. Sometimes it can be a warm air thermal rising from a large, heated field or a sunlit mountain top, or the upward motion produced by fronts pushing air together so it has no place to go but up… .

What are the”four horsemen” of thunderstorms? Floods, hail, lightning and wind/tornadoes. All are spawned by thunderstorm clouds, sometimes all at the same time. The cumulonimbus cloud is an amazingly efficient weather factory.” http://skyfire.tv/index.cgi/thunderstorms.html#whatisthunderstorm In Psalms 77:18 the psalmist exclaims,“The voice of thy thunder was in the heaven: the lightnings lightened the world: the earth trembled and shook.” During a thunderstorm God gives a sample of his vast power and creative energy. Do you allow God to be omnipotent or do you try to put Him in a box?

260)

TIME AND CHANCE HAPPEN TO US ALL

Luke 13:4 “ Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?” On January 15th, 1919 a terrible disaster hit Boston – a tidal wave of molasses erupted suffocating people and killing them. The following account tells about some of the crisis: “Inside the Boston and Worcester freight terminal, Percy Smerage, the foreman, was checking a pile of express to be shipped to Framingham and Worcester. Four freight cars were already loaded. The fifth stood half empty on the spur track that ran past the molasses tank. Smerage had just told his assistant to finish loading the last car when a low, deep rumble shook the freight yard. Then the earth heaved under their feet and they heard a sound of ripping and tearing—snipping of steel bolts (like a machine gun)—followed by a booming roar as the bottom of the giant molasses tank split wide open and a geyser of yellowish-brown fluid spouted into the sky, followed by a tidal wave of molasses. With a horrible, hissing, sucking sound, it splashed in a curving arc straight across the street, crushing everything and everybody in its path. Less time than it takes to tell it, molasses had filled the five-foot loading pit, and was creeping over the threshold of the warehouse door. The four loaded freight cars were washed like chips down the track. The half-loaded car was caught on the foaming crest of the eight-foot wave and, with unbelievable force, hurled through the corrugated iron walls of the terminal. The freight house shook and shivered as the molasses outside, now five feet deep, pushed against the building. Then the doors and windows caved in, and a rushing-roaring river of molasses rolled like molten lava into the freight shed, knocking over the booths where freight clerks were checking their lists. Like madmen they fought the on-rushing tide, trying to swim in the sticky stuff that sucked them down. Tons of freight—shoes, potatoes— barrels and boxes—tumbled and splashed on the frothy-foaming mass, now so heavy the floors gave way, letting tons of the stuff into the cellar. Down there the workers died like rats in a trap. Some tried to dash up the stairs but they slipped and fell—and disappeared. As the fifty-eightfoot-high tank split wide open, more molasses poured out under a pressure of two tons per square foot. Men, women, children and animals were caught, hurled into the air, or dashed against freight cars only to fall back and sink from sight in … .” by John Mason Reprinted from Yankee Magazine (Dublin, New Hampshire: January 1965), pages 52-53 and 109-111. http://edp.org/molyank.htm In Jesus’ day there was a tragedy when the tower of Siloam fell and crushed people. He made sure that his disciples did not point the finger and see the catastrophe as God’s judgement on the victims. In the case of the molasses tragedy, the container had been built with substandard materials and workmanship. The victims were in the wrong place at the wrong

time. Ecclesiastes 9:11 “ I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.” Do you know someone who has been through a catastrophe? Isaiah 42:3 says of God that, “ A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.” Don’t judge the person who is going through trauma. Roll up your sleeves and help.

261)

TIPS TO OVERCOME LAZINESS

Proverbs 6:10-11 “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” Although some people take the Protestant work ethic too far and overwork themselves, most of us have trouble with laziness from time to time. On a website titled, “Life Optimizer”, the author Donald Latumahina comments: 1. Exercise You could feel lazy if you do not have enough energy to do your activities. Exercising is a good way to increase your energy level so that you feel energized and alert throughout day. 2. Have a good rest Not having enough rest could also make you lazy. How can you feel enthusiastic if you are sleepy? So make sure that you have good rest. 3. Set a minimum time limit to get started The most difficult thing is to get started - the rest will be easier. So set a small amount of time, like 15 minutes or even 5 minutes, and decide to work on the task until the time is up. After that, it would be easier to decide to continue. 4. Create a sense of urgency This is among the most effective ways to defeat laziness. If you have a sense of urgency, it will be much easier to get up and do what you need to do. One way to create a sense of urgency is by setting a deadline. You can read more about it on my article about sense of urgency. 5. Look at the benefits One reason we become lazy is because we only see the difficulties of the tasks ahead without thinking about the benefits we will get when we finish them. So focus your mind on the benefits instead of the difficulties. 6. Set a reward for yourself If the benefits are too far in the future, they might not be strong enough to motivate you to act now. In such cases, you can give yourself a more immediate reward. You may allow yourself to eat your favorite meal or watch a movie as your reward for completing the tasks. 7. Think about what will happen if you don’t do it While thinking about the benefits can motivate you, thinking about the disadvantages if you do not do the tasks can also motivate you. What are the consequences if you do not do what you are supposed to do? 8. Find partners Partners can motivate you to overcome laziness. While inner motivation is the best, sometimes we also need motivation from the outside. 9. Aim to minimize idle time Make it your resolution to minimize idle time. Try to be in the state of doing as often as possible. If you have this mindset, it will be easier to overcome laziness.

10. Divide the task into manageable chunks We could be lazy if we feel overwhelmed by the scale of the task. In such cases, divide the task into manageable chunks, and then tackle them one by one. Remember, the way to eat an elephant is by taking one small bite at a time. 11. Decide what the next physical action is We may procrastinate because we are not sure what to do next. So look at the task and decide what the next physical action is. Once you know exactly what to do, it will be easier to start. 12. Do one thing at a time It may seem obvious, but we could be lazy because we try to do more than one thing at a time. That makes us feel overwhelmed. So select just one thing at a time, do it, and ignore the rest. 13. Challenge yourself Make the tasks fun by turning them into a challenge. Can you accomplish those tasks? Many people can, so why can’t you? 14. Write down your progress You will be more motivated if you can easily see the effect of laziness. One way to do that is by tracking your progress daily. Put a mark whenever you complete a task. Laziness will give you an empty sheet, and you can easily see how bad it is. 15. Watch other people’s progress Knowing how far behind you are compared to other people could also motivate you. Watch good performers in your field and let their performance inspire you. 16. Align yourself with what matters to you While all the tips above can help you, it will be much easier to overcome laziness if you do something that matters to you. You will have the burning fire within that make you want to act. So find a cause that matters to you and align yourself as much as possible with it. http://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2008/02/21/16-powerful-tips-to-overcome-laziness/ In Timothy 5:13 the apostle wrote, “ And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.” It is evident that the sin of laziness can lead to the sin of gossiping.” Are you being lazy in some aspect of your life? Apply the sixteen steps to get victory over this sin.

262)

1TO DRINK OR NOT TO DRINK?

Ephesians 5:18 “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” Drinking and being a Christian can be a contentious issue. Some believers are “sipping saints”who have the occasional tipple, but others are certain that the Bible commands us to remain teetotallers for the rest of our lives and are offended when anyone has a hint of liquor on their breath. North American Society has tried to deal with rampant alcoholism with Prohibition which had rather devastating results – some people went blind from drinking home made bath tub gin. Also, during that period there was violence and illegal rum- running that took lives. However, alcoholism causes much unhappiness -- broken marriages, abused children, lost jobs, social damage, and wasted lives are it’s legacy. Whether or not you are a total abstainer or a sipping saint, pray for those whose lives have been ruined by alcohol and point them to the Spirit. Don’t cause a brother to stumble by drinking in front of him or her if they have a weakness for alcohol.

TOO STUBBORN TO BELIEVE THE TRUTH Some men sit by volcanoes that are ready to erupt and stubbornly refuse to move, while the story below talks about a soldier who wouldn’t stop fighting even after the war was over for three decades. The moral of these stories for Christians is not to come to the Bible to support your own opinions and beliefs, but to come openminded to the Scriptures with a humble spirit. The following website http://www.biblecenter.com/bibleclasses/howtostudythebible.htm tells the incredible story of the Japanese soldier who refused to believe that Japan had surrendered: “In Image Magazine, Tim Curtis writes, on the last day of 1944, Hiroo Onoda, a young lieutenant in the Japanese army, arrived on the island of Lubang, about 75 miles southwest of Manila. His assignment was to conduct guerilla warfare against the American forces who were expected to attempt a landing on Lubang and the rest of the Philippines within the coming weeks. When the Americans did mount a successful offensive on Lubang about a month later, something which to them was little more than a "mopping up" operation, Lieutenant Onoda led a small group of soldiers into the jungle and began the mission for which he had been trained: to conduct a covert operation of disruption against American forces for as long as possible… . On March 10, 1974, on the orders of his former commander, Hiroo Onoda formally surrendered to the Philippine authorities. For 30 years he had manned his post, unaware that the war had ended just six months after he had gone into the jungle. Two others had been with him for portions of that time. One died after 10 years, and the other was killed in a gun battle with Philippine police about a year before Onoda surrendered. At the time he was found, Onoda was making plans to survive another 20 years in the jungle. One of the most remarkable things about Onoda's story was that several attempts had been made to find him and bring him home to Japan. Once Japanese officials learned that Onoda was continuing to fight a war that had long since ended, search parties spent months at a time trying to locate him. Leaflets and newspapers were dropped from helicopters. Loud speakers blared messages from several family members, including his father. Onoda, convinced that Japan would never surrender, misinterpreted these attempts to find him. He even twisted things around to believe that the Japanese army was using these efforts to secretly encourage him to stay in the jungle, the very opposite of what they were trying to do. In his autobiography, No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War, Onoda wrote that he and his two comrades "developed so many fixed ideas that we were unable to understand anything that did not conform with them. If there was anything that did not fit in with them we interpreted it to mean what we wanted it to mean." Do you try to conform to the Bible or do you try to make the Bible conform to you? Don’t be too stubborn to believe the truth even though it may be uncomfortable at times.

263)

TRUE WORSHIP

Hebrews 2:12 “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” What is the nature of true worship? The Bible Research Library explains: “Singing is a type of music by which man is linked with eternity. In the Book of Job we read, "the morning stars sang together", Chapter 38, verse 7; and in the Book of Revelation, John, describing the grandeur of heaven writes of the 144,000 singing praises to the Lamb of God. It is no small wonder that in both the Hebraic and Christian traditions, vocal music has a very definite place in the worship of God. The longest book of the Bible is made up of psalms, and its author, David, is known as the "sweet singer of Israel". When Jesus instituted the Lord's supper, the

Bible reads, "Arid when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives", Matthew, Chapter 26, verse 30. Music, as a part of worship, must be designed to please our Maker, the Lord God whom we worship. Only four kinds of worship are mentioned in the New Testament. First, there is vain worship. "In vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men", Jesus tells us in Matthew Chapter 15, verse 9. The second kind of worship is ignorant worship. Paul told the Athenians, "I found also an altar with this inscription, To the Unknown God. Whom therefore you ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you", Acts 17:23. A third kind of worship is will worship. The writer of Colossians, speaking of the ordinances of men, says, "which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship", Chapter 2, verse 23. The fourth kind of worship is the one we must practice. This is true worship. Jesus says, "God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth", John, Chapter 4, verse 24, To be "in spirit" we must be conscientious and sincere . To be "in truth" we must do as the wurd of of Truth directs. Jesus said, "Sanctify them through the truth, thy word is truth". Many kinds of worship were authorized under the law of Moses: instrumental music, burning of incense, and animal sacrifices. We are no longer under the law of Moses, so we must turn to the word of grace, the New Testament, to find out what Christ has ordained as to music in worship.” The Bible comments, "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises unto God” and Acts, Chapter 16, verse 25 verse 12 asks, "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms." James, Chapter 5, verse 13. In these passages there are at least six commands which the human voice can do which the instrument cannot do. These are: "speak in song", "teach", "admonish", "sing with the spirit", "sing with the understanding", and make melody in the heart". In brief, the human voice is capable of doing everything which God commands us to do as music in worship, whereas the instrument is incapable of any of these except make melody, and it does not do that in the right place - the human heart.” http://user.aol.com/OpenBible/302.html In 1 Corinthians 14:15 Paul asks, “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” Are you giving the Lord true worship or are you just mouthing the words?

264)

1FIGHTING UNTRUTH WITH TRUTH

John 5:33 “Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.” God wants us to fight for truth. John the Baptist came proclaiming God’s truth about Jesus and the Kingdom and was beheaded by Herod. He paid the ultimate price for fighting for the truth. This world has webs of lies that people believe from politics, to advertising, to religion and this is no surprise because the devil is the father of lies. A very moving quote by Ghandi speaks of conquering untruth with truth. He wrote: “Let our first act every morning be to make the following resolve for the day: I shall not fear anyone on earth. I shall fear only God. I shall not bear ill will toward anyone . ... I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.” In a biography of Ghandi it becomes apparent that he fought for the truth. “Gandhi remained in South Africa for twenty years, suffering imprisonment many times. In 1896, after being attacked and beaten by white South Africans, Gandhi began to teach a policy of passive resistance to, and non-cooperation with, the South African authorities. Part of the inspiration for this policy came from the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy, whose influence on Gandhi was profound. Gandhi also acknowledged his debt

to the teachings of Christ and to the 19th-century American writer Henry David Thoreau, especially to Thoreau's famous essay "Civil Disobedience." Gandhi considered the terms passive resistance and civil disobedience inadequate for his purposes, however, and coined another term, Satyagraha (from Sanskrit, "truth and firmness") http://www.kamat.com/mmgandhi/gandhi.htm

265)

UNDERSTANDING APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE

Daniel 7:2-6 “ Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea. And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another. The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings: I beheld till the wings thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and made stand upon the feet as a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear, and it raised up itself on one side, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and they said thus unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. After this I beheld, and lo another, like a leopard, which had upon the back of it four wings of a fowl; the beast had also four heads; and dominion was given to it.” When reading Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation we often become perplexed because of the bizarre imagery and difficult to interpret language. This style of Biblical writing is called “apocalyptic literature”. The following example helps us understand and study these difficult portions of Scripture. On the website: http://www.biblecenter.com/bibleclasses/howtostudythebible.htm the author comments: 1. The term "apocalypse" literally means "uncovering" or "revelation." Apocalyptic literature is a genre characterized by the use of symbolism and imagery and contains descriptions of fantastic visions that describe unseen realities or events to come. 2. How do we interpret apocalyptic literature? In interpreting apocalyptic literature, it is imperative that we do several things: … a. First, we need to remember that apocalyptic literature uses a great deal of imagery. We should seek to understand what the imagery teaches before we try to understand its language as a literal description of reality. (1) Who are the seven golden lampstands (Rev. 1:20)? The seven churches. (2) Who is the great dragon (Rev. 12:9)? Satan. (3) Who is the harlot or the woman in (Rev. 17:18)? Rome. b. Second, it is essential that we seek to establish what an apocalyptic passage must have meant to the original audience who heard it read for the first time. Ask questions like: (1) How did it speak to their situation? (2) What would it have meant to them? (3) What was the original writer trying to convey to his audience? Take these rules about understanding apocalyptic literature and apply them to Ezekiel and Daniel to gain a better understanding of the books. Delve into reputable Bible commentaries like Matthew Henry or the NIV Commentaries.

266)

UNPREPARED FOR THE HURRICANE

Matthew 25:1-8 “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.” Scripture talks about the ten virgins who were unprepared and ran out of oil for their lamps. In the nineteenth century people were unprepared for the fierce storm called the Saxby Gale. They mocked all the predictions of Lieutenant Saxby who was a naval officer and an astronomer and as a result over 100 people died. Wikipedia gives the details of the storm: “The Saxby Gale was the name given to a tropical cyclone which struck eastern Canada's Bay of Fundy region on the night of October 4-October 5, 1869. The hurricane caused extensive destruction to port facilities and communities along the Bay of Fundy coast in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as well as Maine, particularly Calais, St. Andrews, St. George, Saint John, Moncton, Sackville, Amherst, Windsor and Truro. Much of the devastation was attributed to a 2-metre storm surge created by the storm which coincided with a perigean spring tide; the Bay of Fundy having the highest tidal range in the world. The Saxby Gale storm surge produced a water level which gave Burntcoat Head, Nova Scotia the honor of having highest tidal range ever recorded. The storm also produced waves which, combined with the storm surge, breached dykes protecting low-lying farmland in the Minas Basin and the Tantramar Marshes, sending ocean waters surging far inland to inundate farms and communities. Sailing ships in various harbors were tossed about and/or broken up against wharves and breakwaters which were also destroyed. Farmers trying to rescue livestock from fields along shorelines drowned after dyke's were breached; over 100 people were killed in the Maritimes alone…. . The storm (which pre-dated the practice of naming hurricanes) was given the name "Saxby" in honor of Lieutenant Stephen Saxby, Royal Navy, who was a naval instructor and amateur astronomer. Lt. Saxby had written a letter of warning, published December 25, 1868 in London's The Standard newspaper in which he notes the astronomical forces predicted for October 5, 1869 which would produce extremely high tides in the North Atlantic Ocean during the height of hurricane season. Lt. Saxby followed this warning with a reminder published on September 16, 1869 to The Standard in which he also warns of a major "atmospheric disturbance" that would coincide with the high water level at an undetermined location. Many newspapers took up Saxby's warning in the coming days. In a monthly weather column published October 1, 1869 in Halifax's The Evening Express, amateur meteorologist Frederick Allison relayed Lt. Saxby's warning for a devastating storm the following week. Despite the warning, many readers throughout the United Kingdom, Canada, Newfoundland and the United States dismissed Saxby

since there were frequent gales and hurricanes during the month of October. The fact that the high tides occurred throughout the North Atlantic basin was unremarkable and astronomically predictable, except for their coinciding with the hurricane which struck the Gulf of Maine and Bay of Fundy to produce the devastating storm surge. Lt. Saxby's predictions were considered quite lunatic at the time. Some believed that his predictions were founded upon astrology, which was not the case.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1869_Saxby_Gale) Being unprepared can lead to disaster and death. Are you prepared to meet the Bridegroom who is Jesus? Have you confessed you sins and prepared yourself for eternity? Death comes unexpectedly.

267)

VALOUR

Judges 6:12 “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” The Lord called Joshua a might man of valour which means “heroic courage”. Winston Leonard-Spenser Churchill (1874-1965) was a man of valour as Prime Minister of England from 1940-45 and 1951-55. Although he suffered from bipolar illness he rallied England and the Allies to fight the Germans during World War II. The following is a speech that he gave during the war: "Be Ye Men of Valour" "Today is Trinity Sunday. Centuries ago words were written to be a call and a spur to the faithful servants of Truth and Justice: 'Arm yourselves, and be ye men of valour, and be in readiness for the conflict; for it is better for us to perish in battle than to look upon the outrage of our nation and our altar. As the will of God is in Heaven, even so let it be.'" —First broadcast as Prime Minister, 19 May 1940. Churchill adopted the quotation from 1 Maccabees 3:58-60. The four Books of the Maccabees, also spelled "Machabbes," are not in the Hebrew Bible but the first two books are part of canonical scripture in the Septuagint and the Vulgate and are in in the Protestant Apocrypha. But Churchill somewhat edited the text..” http://www.winstonchurchill.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=388#Never_give_in In 2 Chronicles 13:3 the Old Testament says, “And Abijah set the battle in array with an army of valiant men of war, even four hundred thousand chosen men: Jeroboam also set the battle in array against him with eight hundred thousand chosen men, being mighty men of valour.” The character trait of valour is valued by God. Are you a person of valour? You may not fight in a war, but there are many battles that life throws at us that require our valour.

268)

VELMA BARFIELD: SERIAL KILLER

1 Peter 4:15 “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters.” Velma Barfield was a serial killer, however, in prison she accepted Christ and was so changed that some people didn’t want her executed. Wikipedia comments on her life: “Margie Velma Barfield (née Margie Velma Bullard) (October 29, 1932 – November 2, 1984) was the first woman in the United States to be executed since 1962. She was also the first woman to be executed by lethal injection. Velma Bullard's first known encounter with a death of someone close to her was

her first husband, Thomas Burke, who died of smoke inhalation when the family's house caught fire. Only a few months later, their house burst into flame again, this time with a reward of insurance money. In 1970, she married a widower, Jennings Barfield. Less than a year after their marriage, Jennings died from heart complications, leaving Velma a widow once again. In 1974, her mother, Lillian Bullard showed symptoms of intense diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, only to fully recover a few days later. Approximately two months afterwards, a man whom Velma had been dating was involved in a fatal car accident. During the Christmas season of the same year, Lillian experienced the same illness as earlier that year, resulting in her death only hours after arriving at the hospital. In 1976, Barfield began an occupation as a caretaker for the elderly, working for Montgomery and Dollie Edwards. In the winter of that year, Montgomery fell ill and died. A little over a month after the death of her husband, Dollie experienced identical symptoms to that of Velma's mother and she too died. The following year, 1977, Barfield took another caretaking job, this time for 76-year old Record Lee, who had broken her leg. On June 4, 1977, Lee's husband began experiencing racking pains in his stomach and chest along with vomiting and diarrhea. He died soon afterwards. Another victim was Stuart Taylor, Barfield's boyfriend and a relative of Dollie Edwards. Fearing he discovered she had been forging checks on his account, she mixed an arsenic-based rat poison into his beer and tea. He died on February 3, 1978 while she tried to "nurse" him back to health; an autopsy found arsenic in Taylor's system. After her arrest, the body of Jennings Barfield was exhumed and found to have fatal amounts of arsenic, a murder that Velma denied committing. During her stay on death row, Barfield became a devout born again Christian. Despite the vicious nature of her crimes, her last few years were spent ministering to prisoners and guards alike. Barfield was heavily involved in Christianity, to the point that some tried to get an appeal for her life after noticing the changes. The appeal was denied, and Barfield was executed on November 2, 1984 at the Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velma_Barfield Velma Barfield fulfilled Acts 3:19, in which Paul said,“ Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” Christ can turn a serial killer into a kind person. Is there anything you need to repent of?

269)

WATCHMAN NEE: A PASSION FOR GOD

Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Watchman Nee helped plant 700 churches in China and his books still influence Christians today, because of his unique way of interpreting the Bible. The website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watchman_Nee describes his life: “Nee Shu-Tsu was born in Foochow, China. His grandfather, born in 1840, was a congregational preacher of the American supplies commission. He died in 1890. Nee’s father was Ni Weng-Sioe (W. S. Ni), born in 1877, and the fourth of nine boys. He was an officer in the Imperial Customs Service. He died in Hong Kong in 1941. Nee’s mother was Lin Gwo Ping (Peace Lin), born in 1880. She died in 1950. When he was 17 years old (1920), and still a student, he went to hear an evangelist by the name of Dora Yu, who charged the people to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, a call that Watchman Nee accepted. From that day on, he consecrated himself completely to Jesus Christ and to the preaching of the Gospel in China. His development was strengthened by the influence of Jessie Penn-Lewis, Robert Govett, G. H. Pember, John Nelson Darby and many others, reading as

many as 3,000 books from various authors and absorbing all of them. However he once stood up and said against a certain collected Assembly: "You may well have light and truth, but knowledge alone will benefit you nothing." In some mainly Protestant Christian circles today he is known as a revolutionary preacher because of the unique manner in which he interpreted the Bible. Today many of his written books are published in English, although most have been translated from Chinese. He published regular articles in his own magazine, with The Present Testimony and The Christian being some of them. “The Normal Christian Life” , probably the best known book of Watchman Nee's is The Normal Christian Life. It was based on talks given by Watchman Nee at the time of and subsequent to his trip through Europe in 1938-1939. It expressed theological views on the first few chapters of the New Testament book of Romans. In the later sections of the book he presented his views on what the normal Christian life should be. Later years between the period of 1940-1960, the local church in China underwent many trials and tribulations. Many of these local churches had been founded by Watchman Nee based upon his conviction of "one church for one city or town." He asserted that geographic boundaries were the only legitimate ground to have different churches to express the one body of Christ on the earth (the local church). He strongly promoted the view that various ways of separating churches, such as apostles and their ministries, spiritual gifts, racial or social status, or different doctrines and missions was condemned by the word of God as division and sin, and as the works of the flesh. In the period between 1923-1949, more than 700 local churches were created with an attendance of more than 70,000. During the Chinese Communist takeover, these "assemblies" formed the core behind the house municipalities. Through the efforts of Nee and his colleagues, local assemblies were founded all over China and among other Chinese-speaking communities in the Far East. Some of Nee's co-workers in this work later would become well-known outside of China (e.g. - Witness Lee, Stephen Kaung, Faithful Luk, Simon Meek, and others). In 1949, Watchman Nee's co-labourer Witness Lee emigrated to Taiwan. In 1952, Watchman Nee was imprisoned by the Chinese government for his faith. He remained in prison until his death twenty years later. Watchman Nee's writings on matters of the individual Christian life have been a source of inspiration to Christians throughout the world, including his writings on the local churches. His most popular work remains The Normal Christian Life. “ Peter declared to Jesus in Luke 22:33 “ And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” Are we willing to preach the gospel when it is not convenient or even when it is dangerous? How many people have you talked to this week about salvation? Read Watchman Nee’s book, “The Normal Christian Life” either online or in book form.

270)

WATCHMAN NEE AND SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The website: www.watchmannee.org has the following to say about this stalwart Christian: “Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of seventeen and began writing in the same year. Throughout the nearly thirty years of his ministry, Watchman Nee was clearly manifested as a unique gift from the Lord to His Body for His move in this age. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. His words remain an

abundant source of spiritual revelation and supply to Christians throughout the world.” http://www.watchmannee.org/ Watchman Nee spoke on the subject of spiritual warefare. He quoted the book of Matthew that says, “He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward” (Matt. 10.41).” Nee comments, “Here the Lord reveals the depth of the human heart. The decision one makes concerning a truth will be expressed by him before God. In receiving a prophet or righteous man, your spirit unites with the prophecy of the prophet or the morals of a righteous man. Hence you will receive a prophet's or a righteous man's reward. Whatever is done for the Lord will be rewarded" (KKH, p.110). "Freely ye received, freely give" (Matt. 10.8). "The prophet is a watchman for my God over Israel, yet traps are laid in front of him wherever he goes. He faces hostility even in the house of God" (Hosea 9.8). “Watchman Nee prophesied his own imprisonment in 1953 for life, though he may not have realized it, when he wrote in 1927, "He persecutes fiercely (Rev. 2.10). The wiles of the Devil are manifold. He will use all kinds of means to hinder the spiritual advance of the believer. When he finds that he cannot block the advance, he will use persecution to put the believer in prison so that the latter is unable to work for the Lord anymore. He even expects the believer to fall. For this reason, all who love self and are mindful of themselves are no match for Satan; for as they are threatened with deadly persecution they shall lose the will to resist. But the faithful of the Lord have already put life and death out of their mind. Although they may encounter bounds and tribulations everywhere, even to the point of death, yet 'they loved not their life even unto death' (Rev. 12.11). And thus shall they overcome Satan: 'this is the victory that have overcometh the world, even our faith' (1 John 5.4)". http://www3.telus.net/trbrooks/Watchman_Nee.htm In dying on the cross Jesus conquered the devil’s powers. Colossians 2:15 asserts, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Are you experiencing victory over evil or is evil having victory over you?

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1WEARY SOULS THAT WANDER WIDE

Mt 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In 1779, at London, England, evangelist, John Wesley (1703-1791) put together a collection of hymns to inspire holiness. He wrote:

“That which is of infinitely more moment than the spirit of poetry, is the spirit of piety. And I trust, all persons of real judgment will find this breathing through the whole Collection. It is in this view chiefly, that I would recommend it to every truly pious reader, as a means of raising or quickening the spirit of devotion; of confirming his faith; of enlivening his hope; and of kindling and increasing his love to God and man. When Poetry thus keeps its place, as the handmaid of Piety, it shall attain, not a poor perishable wreath, but a crown that fadeth not away.” The following is one of Wesley’s inspirational hymns from the collection. More of Wesley’s hymns can be found at :http://www.ccel.org/w/wesley/hymn/jw.html#h22 1 WEARY souls, that wander wide From the central point of bliss, Turn to Jesus crucified, Fly to those dear wounds of his: Sink into the purple flood; Rise into the life of God! 2 Find in Christ the way of peace, Peace unspeakable, unknown; By his pain he gives you ease, Life by his expiring groan; Rise, exalted by his fall, Find in Christ your all in all. 3 O believe the record true, God to you his Son hath give Ye may now be happy too, Find on earth the life of heaven, Live the life of heaven above, All the life of glorious love. 4 This the universal bliss, Bliss for every soul designed, God's original promise this, God's great gift to all mankind: Blest in Christ this moment be! Blest to all eternity!

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WEB OF LIES

Colossians 2:8 “ Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” On the website www.thirdworldwar.com it mentions the following very interesting quotes:

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"When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic." -Dresden James "Men think in herds, go mad in herds, but recover their senses one by one." -- Charles Mackay The bible tells us that the devil is the father of lies, so it is no wonder that our society is a complex web of lies from politics, war, the media, personal philosophy, and other layers of our culture. Some persons tell so many falsehoods that they have a burned out conscience. 1Ti4:2 says, “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” While our society has rejected absolute truth and opted for situational ethics and relativism, John 1:17 declares, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” We have truth in Jesus Christ and the Bible, but we have to handle this truth carefully. Watch out for those who build a whole doctrine on one Bible verse and take it out of context. Try to interpret Scripture with Scripture and pray for understanding. Deuteronomy 32:4 , the bible says, “ He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

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WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Daniel 9:19 “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God: for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” On the website: http://www.rdrop.com/~cary/html/name.html Cleveland Kent Evans writes: No laws exist in the United States that prevent people from giving any first name they want to their child. The only exception to this is a court ruling in Minnesota stating that names must be written in alphabetic characters. A man in Minnesota wanted to legally change his name to "1069". The judge denied that request but said he could change his name to "One Zero Six Nine". There are some states which have had rules about what last name the child must be given on the birth certificate. I believe that either Alabama or Mississippi, for instance, requires that the child's last name be the same as the mother's last name. But in many states that is also no longer required and parents can give the child any surname they want whether or not it's related to the last names either parent uses. In Germany and Austria there are laws that state that a child's name must clearly reflect its gender; that last names can NOT be turned into first names; and that only names which have been previously used as given names before somewhere in the world may be given to a child. I had an e-mail request once from frantic parents in Austria who had been told they could not name their son "Keanu" after the actor Keanu Reeves, and I was able to show that this was a real Hawaiian first name so that the registrar in Austria would allow it. I believe that Sweden has laws somewhat similar to Germany & Austria but they may not be enforced as strictly there. I believe that Denmark still has an official list of acceptable names; if both parents are Danish citizens, the name chosen must be one that's on the officially approved government list. France also used to have an officially approved list, but a series of court cases over about 20 years eventually led the French to abandon all naming laws about a decade ago and today you can name a child anything you want in France. “ Evans continues to say, “... In Hebrew thought, a name implies a reputation. In Hebraic thought the name is the embodiment of the character of

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an individual, based upon who they are, what they have done, or in the case of humans perhaps the circumstances surrounding their birth.” Leviticus 24:16 warns, “ And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.” God takes his name seriously as His reputation is staked on it. Many people today take the Lord’s name in vain, using it like a common swear word when something irritates them. As Christians we pray in Jesus name trusting in his reputation. Why don’t you do a word study on the different names of God? It will help you understand his attributes better.Share it with someone else.

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WHAT ARE YOU WORTH?

1Peter1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” Have you ever wondered how much the human body is worth? On the website http://www.geocities.com/buddychai/Misc/Worth.html it says: “Well...when we total the monetary value of the elements in our bodies and the value of the average person's skin, we arrive at a net worth of $4.50. This value is, however, subject to change, due to stock market fluctuations. Since the studies leading to this conclusion were conducted by the U.S. and by Japan respectively, it might be wise to consult the New York Stock Exchange and the Nikkei Index before deciding when to sell! The U.S. Bureau of Chemistry and Soils invested many a hard- earned tax dollar in calculating the chemical and mineral composition of the human body, which breaks down as follows: 65% Oxygen 18% Carbon 10% Hydrogen 3% Nitrogen 1.5% Calcium 1% Phosphorous 0.35% Potassium 0.25% Sulfur 0.15% Sodium 0.15% Chlorine 0.05% Magnesium 0.0004% Iron Additionally, it was discovered that our bodies contain trace quantities of fluorine, silicon, manganese, zinc, copper, aluminum, and arsenic. Together, all of the above amounts to less than one dollar. Our most valuable asset is our skin, which the Japanese invested their time and money in measuring. The method the Imperial State Institute for Nutrition at Tokyo developed for measuring the amount of a person's skin is to take a naked person, and to apply a strong, thin paper to every surface of his body. After the paper dries, they carefully remove it, cut it into

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small pieces, and painstakingly total the person's measurements. Cut and dried, the average person is the proud owner of fourteen to eighteen square feet of skin, with the variations. Basing the skin's value on the selling price of cowhide, which is approximately $.25 per square foot, the value of an average person's skin is about $3.50. Add the above chemical components and we have the tidy sum of $4.50 ... “. We are worth a lot more than that to God however, since he sent his son to the cross to die a cruel, barbaric death to cover our sins. In John 15:15 Jesus says: “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends;” Everyone you meet is immortal and God values human life very highly. Although our physical selves are not even worth $5.00we are priceless to God, children of the King of the universe.

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WHEN DONKEYS SPEAK

Numbers 22:28 “And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?” Baalam was a man who got messages from God, however he had a head knowledge rather than a heart knowledge. Balak, king of the Moabites sent high placed messengers asking if Baalam would curse the Jews. Baalam was very interested in getting the large sum of money for this curse and planned to do it. However, his donkey was misbehaving. It veered off of the path and refused to budge three times, embarrassing Baalam in front of princes. The donkey could see a sword blocking the path and Baalam could not. Three times Baalam beat the donkey severely and suddenly the Lord spoke through the donkey’s mouth. Numbers 22:30-31 states: “ And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.” Baalam begged God for forgiveness and in the end did not curse the people of Israel. In fact, Baalam’s message from God to the king of Moab was that that the people of Isreal would prosper and be blessed. In the end Baalak got a heart knowledge of God through an amusing and shocking incident when his donkey spoke. This goes to show that God sometimes uses humour to get his point across. There is no point to hear God’s word if we do not take it to heart.

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WHEN I HAVE CROSSED THE BAR

Genesis 2:17 “ But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

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One of the most famous poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson was called, “When I Have Crossed the Bar”, which talks about facing death. He insisted that it always be put at the end of his collection of poems. A brief biography of the poet says, “Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892), English poet often regarded as the chief representative of the Victorian age in poetry. Tennyson succeeded Wordsworth as Poet Laureate in 1850. Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born on August 5, 1809 in Somersby, Lincolnshire. His father, George Clayton Tennyson, a clergyman and rector, suffered from depression and was notoriously absentminded. Alfred began to write poetry at an early age in the style of Lord Byron. After spending four unhappy years in school he was tutored at home. Tennyson then studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he joined the literary club 'The Apostles' … . After marrying Emily Sellwood, whom he had already met in 1836, the couple settled in Farringford, a house in Freshwater on the Isle of Wight in 1853. From there the family moved in 1869 to Aldworth, Surrey. During these later years he produced some of his best poems.” http://www.online-literature.com/tennyson/ “When I Have Crossed the Bar” is the following poem. Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar, When I put out to sea, But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam, When that which drew from out the boundless deep Turns again home. Twilight and evening bell, And after that the dark! And may there be no sadness of farewell, When I embark; For though from out our bourne of Time and Place The flood may bear me far, I hope to see my Pilot face to face When I have crossed the bar. Although Genesis talks about death as a penalty for sin, John 5:24 says, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Are you prepared for “crossing the bar”?

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WHEN KNOWLEDGE INCREASES

Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

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The book of Daniel is of special prophetic relevance today as travel and knowledge are increasing exponentially. On the website http://www.bibleprophecytruth.com/JesusChrist/knowledgeincreases.asp the author comments: “The primary application of "knowledge increased" in Daniel 12:4, is in reference to people understanding the prophecies of the book of Daniel, however, many Bible scholars believe that this prophecy also applies to an increasing knowledge of science, medicine, travel, and technology. We are living in "The Information Age" making this sign seem even more obvious. Even the most skeptical mind must admit that knowledge is exploding in all directions. It is said that 80% percent of the world's total knowledge has been brought forth in the last decade and that 90% percent of all the scientists who have ever lived are alive today.” Jack Van Impe at:http://propheticnews.net/content/view/4398/9/ comments: “Daniel is told in no uncertain terms that his vision is not for today-and that his revelation will only be understood at the time of the end. For this reason many of the prophecies dealing with the revived Roman Empire, mentioned in Daniel chapter two in the form of the image, as well as the four beasts so accurately described in Daniel chapter seven, would not be understood until the time of the end when the book would be unsealed and revealed Historically, none of Daniel's vision made much sense to Bible scholars until 1890, when Dr. Gabaelein began to teach that a revived Roman Empire would come into play during the time of the end. Therefore, the terminology "shut up the words until the time of the end" only became operative in an unprecedented way at the beginning of the twentieth century. This is when we also began to understand clearly that a great nation would march against Israel (Ezekiel 38 and 39) and that this enemy would come from the north. We've already seen in Daniel 11:40 how the king of the South (Egypt) and the king of the North (Russia) would unite to engage in a blitzkrieg, the likes of which the world has never seen previously. No one could make much sense of Daniel's vision until certain world events began to reveal themselves to God's servants. Today, we understand how it will all happen. But when does it occur? "When many run to and fro and knowledge is increased." There is a dual interpretation in this text. First, travel is reaching unparalleled proportions and knowledge is doubling every twenty-two months. The secondary meaning is that during the time of the end an inordinate fascination for knowledge about latter-day predictions would increase, with people running "to and fro" to learn everything possible concerning the prophecies about the returning King. This is where we are today in this sequence of end-time events. Soon, the Savior will call His Church away to be with Him, after which He returns seven years later, with His people, to rule and reign. It's all beginning to take shape-just as the Holy Spirit, through Daniel,” The Bible tells us that Christ will come again. In1 Thesolianians 4:16 it declares,“ For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:” Are you watching for the Lord’s appearing or are you so rooted in this world that you aren’t excited by it?

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WHEN LIFE TURNS BITTER

Exodus 15:23-25 "And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord, and the Lord showed

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him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet”. Life can turn bitter very quickly. Someone said that it is fine to think of the sweet by and by, but what about the sour here and now? The people of Israel found that their water was bitter and complained to Moses about it. It took the intervention of God to sweeten the waters. Charles Haddon Spurgeon gave a talk on this subject at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, at Newington, England in 1871: He said, “WHAT A SUDDEN CHANGE from the sound of the timbrel to the voice of murmuring! You saw the maidens dancing three days ago, and you little dreamed that they would make part of yonder clamorous throng who surround the servant of God, and cry, "What shall we drink?" Such are the changes of our outward conditions and of our inward feelings, so fickle and so mutable is man. What is there that can be rested upon in this mortal life? We say today, "My mountain standeth firm, I shall never be moved;" to-morrow, terra firma there is none, and we are tossed upon a stormy sea. Our life is like an April day, the sunshine alternates with the shower; or like each day of all the year, the morning and the evening are needful to complete it. Quick on the heels of light treads the darkness, followed with equal haste by light again. The sun's rule, at this golden hour, is but temporary; he must abdicate in favour of the usurping stars, but they, in their turn, must give way before his lordly presence yet again. This world, which is our inn, owns to the sign of the "chequers"—the blacks and whites are everywhere. We can be sure of nothing between here and heaven of the things which are seen; but of this we may be certain, that underneath all the outward change there is the immutable love of God towards his people, and that, after all, the change lies only in the seeming things, not in the things which truly are; for the things which are not seen are eternal and changes come not there; it is but in the things which are seen that the change occurs. Let us set the less store by earth, because its fashion abides not. Let us prize heaven more, because it cannot fade. Hebrews 13:8 declares,“ Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Have circumstances in your life turned bitter? Are you at Marah? Ask Jesus to sweeten your life. He’s the only one who is can do it.

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WHEN THE HEAVENS ARE BRASS

Romas 12:12 “ Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” Have you ever tried to pray and it seemed like the heavens were as brass? The website “All About Prayer” says the following about unanswered prayer: “Are you experiencing unanswered prayer? Does God turn a deaf ear to some of your desperate pleas for healing, finances, or protection? We all experience irritation when our best efforts to communicate result in an unsatisfactory response -- or worse, no response at all. We wonder, “Did you ever receive my message?” When we pray, we often equate the lack of immediate tangible results with God rejecting our prayers. In James 5:13-16 we are urged to pray earnestly with the promise of “powerful and wonderful results.” Why would God emphasize the importance of prayer and then choose not to respond with a joyful answer?”

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(http://www.allaboutprayer.org/unanswered-prayer.htm) Sometimes God says no to our prayers because of our sins or selfishness. However, the model for prayer is found in Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gesamane, when he prayed that the Father’s willwould be done. Luke 22:41-45 “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,”In praying it is important to remember that a lot of saints in the past did not see the answers to their prayers until they died and went to glory. Hebrews has a list of spiritual giants that never received what they were promised while they were living. Hebrews 11:1-10 reports, “ Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Don’t let unanswered prayer spoil your spiritual life. Resolve to let your Christian walk be like those in the Hebrews hall of fame.

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WHEN THE LOVE OF MONEY CAUSES DISASTER

1Ti 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

In the book “The Amazing Stories: Disasters Across Canada” by Art Montague, he tells the story of incompetence and greed for money that ended up in disaster and death in Nova Scotia.

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Montague writes: “ Against the advice of many experts, the federal and provincial governments issued opening permits, purchase orders, and subsidies to Curragh Resources to mine coal frorm the Pictou fields, despite the fact that Curragh had no one in its management with coal mining experience. Their mine was called Westray, and it would work the Foord Seam – the scene of eight explosions since 1838, including one in 1918 that killed 88 miners. At first it was planned that the latest in technology would be employed in the new mine. However, to keep costs down and production high the latest in safety measures also fell through. Indeed, many basic safety measures, known for decades to be essential, were either ignored of fell short of standards --- this in perhaps Canada’s most dangerous coal field. On Saturday May 9, 1992 at 5:18 a.m., an explosion caused by excessive accumulations of methane gas and coal dust ripped through the Westray workings, killing 26 miners.” The victims families are still trying to get compensation through the courts. The Westray company loved money more than the safety of their workers. The following song lyrics speak about the excessive love of money. Hallelujah Now I lay, I lay me down to sleep Hallelujah Almighty dollar I praise the lord afford my roll to keep Hallelujah Almighty dollar Money I need more money Just a little more money Yeah, I need more money Money, money I need more money I need more money Just a little more money Just a little more money Yeah, I need more money Yeah, I need more money And give us these days Our daily bread Only you we praise Almighty dollar Money My personal saviour Money A material lust Money Life’s only treasure

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Money In God we trust And if I should die before I wake Hallelujah Almight dollar I’m gonna take the money that I make Hallelujah Almighty dollar Money I need more money Just a little more money Yeah, I need more money Money, money I need more money I need more money Just a little more money Just a little more money Yeah, I need more money Yeah, I need more money And give us these days Our daily bread Only you we praise Almighty dollar Money My personal saviour Money http://www.poemhunter.com/song/money-in-god-we-trust/ Are you guilty of the love of money? The Bible doesn’t’ condemn having money, it says that our attitude towards it is crucial. We are not to make it an idol. The antidote to the love of money is cheerful giving. 2 Corinthians 9:7 says: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

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WHEN THE MAN COMES AROUND

Revelation 22:10-12 “And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

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Wikipedia comments on the song, "When The Man Comes Around" and says that it, “is the title track from Johnny Cash's American IV: The Man Comes Around, released in 2002 (see 2002 in music). It is one of the last songs Cash wrote in his life. Only three of the fifteen tracks on this album were actually written by Cash; "The Man Comes Around" is the only one that Cash wrote for the album. It is partially sung and partially spoken, containing numerous Biblical references, predominantly from the Book of Revelation. The song never names "the man" who will come around, though the obvious inference would be the second coming of Jesus Christ. According to the song, when the man comes around, there will be judgment for some and salvation for others. A series of images depict the horror and confusion of that judgment day.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Comes_Around_(song) “When the Man Comes Around There's a man going around taking names And he decides who to free and who to blame Everybody won't be treated all the same There'll be a golden ladder reaching down When the Man comes around The hairs on your arm will stand up At the terror in each sip and in each sup Will you partake of that last offered cup? Or disappear into the potter's ground When the Man comes around Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers One hundred million angels singing Multitudes are marching to the big kettledrum Voices calling, voices crying Some are born and some are dying It's Alpha and Omega's kingdom come And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree The virgins are all trimming their wicks The whirlwind is in the thorn tree It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks Till Armageddon no shalam, no shalom Then the father hen will call his chickens home The wise man will bow down before the thrown And at His feet they'll cast their golden crowns When the Man comes around Whoever is unjust let him be unjust still Whoever is righteous let him be righteous still Whoever is filthy let him be filthy still Listen to the words long written down When the Man comes around Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers

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One hundred million angels singing Multitudes are marching to the big kettledrum Voices calling and voices crying Some are born and some are dying It's Alpha and Omega's kingdom come And the whirlwind is in the thorn tree The virgins are all trimming their wicks The whirlwind is in the thorn tree It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks In measured hundred weight and penny pound When the Man comes around.” http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/johnny+cash/the+man+comes+around_20258257.html In Proverbs 1:27, the Bible speaks of judgment by God – “ When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.” Are you ready for Jesus -- the Man who is going to come around?

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WHEN THE WIND IS CONTRARY

Matthew 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. Matthew writes that the “wind was contrary” and we often experience this in life when things are going wrong and living is hard. The following article talks about how hard the early explorers found it to navigate their ships. “Winds and storms made the South Atlantic impossible to sail. In 1400 no one had ever crossed it accidentally, let alone on purpose. Here are three of the major weather obstacles. Across central Africa and out into the Atlantic (where the clouds show on this August 1992 image) month-long periods of calm are frequent. Until 1434 Europeans never sailed past these clouds. Sailing southward past these clouds winds blew in the contrary direction, pushing ships backwards, and into the middle of the South Atlantic. (Accompanying these prevailing winds were powerful matching currents. Rather than fight these winds, Portuguese sailors would have to sail westward almost all the way across the South Atlantic to Brazil before turning to the east, to the southern tip of Africa.Finally in order to sail back across the Atlantic from the bulge of South America to the tip of southern Africa (as Bartholomew Dias finally did in 1487) was difficult because of strong winds, powerful intersecting currents, and storms with winds up to 180 kilometers per hour.Why Couldn't Sailors Cross the South Atlantic Before 1400? All ocean sailors before 1400 relied upon highly predictable seasonal winds and currents that came to be called "trade winds" because when they blew, the traders sailed into or out of harbours. Trade winds and currents were the reason for regular long-distance travel in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Other sailors (the Northern

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Europeans and Chinese) had a coastal shelf to follow. Where Leif Ericson could follow an ocean ledge to North America, no such edge connected the tip of Africa with South America's tail, only vicious storms. Crossing the South Atlantic required a different approach to navigation.” On a rough sea in Matthew 14:25-27 it says “And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Peter tried to walk on the water like Jesus did and when he took his eyes off of the Master he started sinking. However, Jesus saved him from the boisterous waves. Are you in a rough sea with the winds contrary? Look to Jesus for support.

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WHEN YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT’S IN THE MIRROR

Job 3:1-4 “After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day. And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it. Let darkness and the shadow of death stain it; let a cloud dwell upon it; let the blackness of the day terrify it.” Everybody has something about their appearance that they would like to change, but there is a psychiatric disorder called “body dysmorphic disorder”in which the person, even though they may be beautiful, sees themselves as horribly ugly. Wikipedia comments: “Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental disorder that involves a distorted body image. It is generally diagnosed in those who are extremely critical of their physique or self-image, despite the fact there may be no noticeable disfigurement or defect. Most people wish that they could change or improve some aspect of their physical appearance, but people suffering from BDD, generally of normal or even highly attractive appearance, believe that they are so unspeakably hideous that they are unable to interact with others or function normally for fear of ridicule and humiliation at their appearance. They tend to be very secretive and reluctant to seek help because they are afraid others will think them vain or they may feel too embarrassed to do so. Ironically, BDD is often misunderstood as a vanity-driven obsession, whereas it is quite the opposite; people with BDD believe themselves to be irrevocably ugly or defective. BDD combines obsessive and compulsive aspects, which links it to the OCD spectrum disorders among psychologists. People with BDD may engage in compulsive mirror checking behaviors or mirror avoidance, typically think about their appearance for more than one hour a day, and in severe cases may drop all social contact and responsibilities as they become homebound. The disorder is linked to an unusually high suicide rate among all mental disorders. A German study has shown that 1-2% of the population meet all the diagnostic criteria of BDD, with a larger percentage showing milder symptoms of the disorder (Psychological Medicine, vol 36, p 877). Chronically low self-esteem is characteristic of those with BDD, due to the value of oneself being so closely linked with one's perceived appearance. The prevalence of BDD is equal in men and women, and causes chronic social anxiety for those suffering from the disorder[1]. hillips &

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Menard (2006) found the completed suicide rate in patients with BDD to be 45 times higher than in the general US population. This rate is more than double that of those with clinical depression and three times as high as those with bipolar disorder[1]. There has also been a suggested link between undiagnosed BDD and a higher than average suicide rate among people who have undergone cosmetic surgery… . “ Most of us do not suffer the extreme revulsion at ourselves as those suffering from BDD. However, we need to know that God loves us even though we have imperfections. In John 3:16 the Bible says, “ For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” What are some of your imperfections that bug you? God gave eternal life to you, so He values you highly. Don’t let your physical imperfections defeat you. You are a child of the King.

284)

WHICH IS BETTER: TO LAUGH OR TO CRY?

Psalms 126:2 “Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.” Many experts now are giving their patients a prescription for laughter to help keep them healthy. On the website “How Stuff Works” they comment: “We've long known that the ability to laugh is helpful to those coping with major illness and the stress of life's problems. But researchers are now saying laughter can do a lot more -- it can basically bring balance to all the components of the immune system, which helps us fight off diseases. (See How the Immune System Works.) As we mentioned earlier, laughter reduces levels of certain stress hormones. In doing this, laughter provides a safety valve that shuts off the flow of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight compounds that swing into action in our bodies when we experience stress, anger or hostility. These stress hormones suppress the immune system, increase the number of blood platelets (which can cause obstructions in arteries) and raise blood pressure. When we're laughing, natural killer cells that destroy tumors and viruses increase, as do Gamma-interferon (a disease-fighting protein), T-cells, which are a major part of the immune response, and B-cells, which make disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter may lead to hiccuping and coughing, which clears the respiratory tract by dislodging mucous plugs. Laughter also increases the concentration of salivary immunoglobulin A, which defends against infectious organisms entering through the respiratory tract. What may surprise you even more is the fact that researchers estimate that laughing 100 times is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine or 15 minutes on an exercise bike. Laughing can be a total body workout! Blood pressure is lowered, and there is an increase in vascular blood flow and in oxygenation of the blood, which further assists healing. Laughter also gives your diaphragm and abdominal, respiratory, facial, leg and back muscles a workout. That's why you often feel exhausted after a long bout of laughter -- you've just had an aerobic workout! The psychological benefits of humor are quite amazing, according to doctors and nurses who are members of the American Association for Therapeutic Humor. People often store negative emotions, such as anger, sadness and fear, rather than expressing them. Laughter provides a way for these emotions to be harmlessly released. Laughter is cathartic. That's why some people who are upset or stressed out go to a funny movie or a comedy club, so they can laugh the negative emotions away (these negative emotions, when held inside, can cause biochemical changes that can affect our bodies). Increasingly, mental health professionals are

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suggesting "laughter therapy," which teaches people how to laugh -- openly -- at things that aren't usually funny and to cope in difficult situations by using humor. Following the lead of real-life funny-doc Patch Adams (portrayed by Robin Williams in a movie by the same name), doctors and psychiatrists are becoming more aware of the therapeutic benefits of laughter and humor. This is due, in part, to the growing body of humor and laughter scholarship (500 academicians from different disciplines belong to the International Society for Humor Studies). Here are some tips to help you put more laughter in your life: Figure out what makes you laugh and do it (or read it or watch it) more often. Surround yourself with funny people -- be with them every chance you get. Develop your own sense of humor. Maybe even take a class to learn how to be a better comic -or at least a better joke-teller at that next party. Be funny every chance you get -- as long as it's not at someone else's expense!” http://people.howstuffworks.com/laughter7.htm Frivolity and laughter may feel good from time to time, however, Ecclesiastes 7:3 warns that “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” In order to grow spiritually we have to experience much pain to subdue the old nature. Laugh when you can, but realize that life is mostly suffering. However, Psalms 126:5 promises, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.” Are you sorrowing over something now? God will dry up your tears in heaven and there you will be laughing and happy for eternity.

285)

WHY ANTISEMITISM?

Exodus 19:20 “ And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. Exodus 19:23 And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. Exodus 24:16 And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Exodus 31:18 And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” The world’s attitude of anti-Semitism seems to be an irrational hatred exemplified by Hitler’s systematic destruction of Jews in the Holocaust. Anti-Semitism fills the news even today with issues surrounding Israel making the front page daily. Why does most of the world hate the Jews? On the website “SimpletoRemember.com” there is an article explaining why the hatred of Jews continues throughout history: “Anti-Semitism is unique amongst the hatreds in the world in a combination of four aspects: 1) Longevity -- it's been around a long time 2) Universality -- virtually everywhere in the world 3) Intensity -- it's expressed in a particularly virulent manner 4) Confusion -- there is surprisingly little agreement on why people hate the Jews. Historians offer many "reasons" to explain why people are anti-Semitic: Jews are too powerful or too lazy; too separate or a threat to "racial purity" through assimilation; pacifistic or warmongers; capitalist exploiters or revolutionary communists; the "killers" of Jesus or the progenitors of Jesus; possessors of a Chosen People mentality or an inferiority complex. These

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reasons have one thing in common -- they have nothing to do with our being Jewish. One might think that we are just the victims of bad luck -- always possessing the needed quality to be hated wherever we are in the world at exactly that time in history. Do you know who disagrees with the historians? Anne Frank. Writes Anne Frank on April 11, 1944 in her diary: "Who knows -- it might even be our religion from which the world and all peoples learn good, and for that reason and that reason alone do we now suffer. We can never become just Netherlanders, or just English, or representatives of any other country for that matter. We will always remain Jews." Anne Frank made a point of stressing that Jews have something of special value to give to the world, and that is precisely what the world has resented, and that is why people have persecuted Jews. Anne Frank identifies anti-Semitism as a hatred of Jewishness, a loathing altogether different from the bigotry or racism that other peoples experience. The Talmud (Tractate Shabbos 69) cites the source of anti-Semitism using a play on words: The Torah - the source of the Jewish system of laws, values and moral standards - was received at Mount Sinai. The Hebrew pronunciation of "Sinai" is almost identical to the Hebrew word for "hatred" - sinah. "Why was the Torah given on a mountain called Sinai?" asks the Talmud. "Because the great sinah - the tremendous hatred aimed at the Jew - emanates from Sinai." At Sinai Jews were told that there is one God, Who makes moral demands on all of humanity. Consequently, at Sinai the Jewish nation became the target for the hatred of those whose strongest drive is to liberate mankind from the shackles of conscience and morality. At Sinai the Jewish nation was appointed to be "a light unto the nations." There are those who embrace Jews and the Jewish faith because of that light; but there are also those who want the world to be a place of spiritual darkness. They object to morality. Those would-be harbingers of darkness attack the Jews as the lightning rod for their hatred. This "call to Sinai" - the message entrusted to and borne by the Jews - ultimately transforms the world. Yet, it is this very message that draws forth the wrath of those who would give their last ounce of strength to resist it. A great many people simply can't cope with the burden of being good. However, when they act in ways that are bad, they can't cope with the resultant feelings of guilt. Try as they may, they can never cut themselves loose from the standards of absolute morality dictated by the Torah. Stuck in this "Catch-22" situation, people turn with their mounting frustrations against the Jews, whom they perceive as personifying humanity's collective conscience. When the Jews entered the theological arena, they showed people all the mistakes they had been making: Pagan gods are nonsense - there is only one God for all of mankind, Who is invisible, infinite and perfect. Infanticide and human sacrifice are unacceptable. Every human being is born with specific rights. No one can live as he pleases, for everyone must surrender his will to a higher Authority.On a certain conscious level, people recognize the Jews' message as truth. Those unwilling to embrace the truth have found that the only way to rid themselves of it is to destroy the messengers - for the message itself is too potent to be dismissed. That is what is so irksome about the Jews, and that is why, for some people, nothing less than total destruction of the Jews will do. If Judaism were just another ideology, people could laugh it off and continue on their merry way. But deep in his soul, every human being recognizes the essential truths of morality - people can't just laugh it off.” http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/reason-for-anti-semitism.htmGod is going to defend and redeem Israel and in heaven Revelation 21:12 says, “ And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:” We owe Jewish people a lot because the Bible was written by Jews and Jesus our Messiah was a Jew. Study some Jewish festivals like the Sabbath, Hanukah, and the Passover. Encourage your church to put on some of these events to learn

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about Jewish culture. Psalms 18:17 “ He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me.”

286)

WHY ARE WE TO FORGIVE?

Matthew 6:14-15 “ For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” The website MayoClinic.com writes on forgiveness: “Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Your mother criticized your parenting skills. Your friend gossiped about you. Your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness and even vengeance. But when you don't practice forgiveness, you may be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Here, Katherine M. Piderman, Ph.D., staff chaplain at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., discusses forgiveness and how it can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. What is forgiveness? There's no one definition of forgiveness. But in general, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentments and thoughts of revenge. Forgiveness is the act of untying yourself from thoughts and feelings that bind you to the offense committed against you. This can reduce the power these feelings otherwise have over you, so that you can a live freer and happier life in the present. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Doesn't forgiving someone mean you're forgetting or condoning what happened? Absolutely not! Forgiving isn't the same as forgetting what happened to you. The act that hurt or offended you may always remain a part of your life. But forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness also doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. What are the benefits of forgiving someone? Researchers have recently become interested in studying the effects of being unforgiving and being forgiving. Evidence is mounting that holding on to grudges and bitterness results in long-term health problems. Forgiveness, on the other hand, offers numerous benefits, including: Lower blood pressure Stress reduction Less hostility Better anger management skills Lower heart rate Lower risk of alcohol or substance abuse Fewer depression symptoms Fewer anxiety symptoms

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Reduction in chronic pain More friendships Healthier relationships Greater religious or spiritual well-being Improved psychological well-being http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness/MH00131 How many times do we have to forgive our enemy? In Matthew 18:22 we are told that, “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” The main reason that we should forgive though, is that we have been forgiven ourselves. Colossians 1:14 talks our salvation in Christ, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” Do you have people that you need to forgive that hurt you in the past or have hurt you recently? Pray that God will help you forgive them.

287)

WHY DOES GOD NOT STOMP OUT EVIL?

Zephaniah 3:8 “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.” In an article titled, “Why Doesn’t God Intervene to Prevent Evil, Bruce Russell writes the following: “IN THE EARLY HOURS of New Year's Day, 1986, a little girl was brutally beaten, raped, and then strangled in Flint, Michigan. The girl's mother was living with her boyfriend, another man who was unemployed, and her three children including a nine-month-old infant fathered by her boyfriend. On New Year's Eve, all three adults went drinking at a bar near the woman's home. The boyfriend, who had been taking drugs and drinking heavily, was asked to leave the bar at 8:00 p.m. After several reappearances he finally left for good at about 9:30 P.M. The woman and the unemployed man remained at the bar until 2:00 A.M. at which time the woman went home and the man went to a party at a neighbor's home. Perhaps out of jealousy, the boyfriend attacked the woman when she entered the house. Her brother intervened, hitting the boyfriend and leaving him passed out and slumped over a table. The brother left. Later, the boyfriend attacked the woman again and this time she knocked him unconscious. After checking on the children, she went to bed. Later, the woman's five-year-old daughter went downstairs to go to the bathroom. The unemployed man testified that when he returned from the party at 3:45 A.M. he found the five-year-old dead. At his trial, the boyfriend was acquitted of the crime because his lawyer cast doubt on the innocence of the unemployed man. But the little girl was raped, severely beaten over most of her body, and strangled by one of those men that night. Many horrible stories just like this one occur everyday. In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevski described an instance of children being thrown in the air and caught on bayonets and another of children being hunted down and torn to pieces by a rich man's hounds. Surely, any of us would have intervened to

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prevent any of these heinous crimes if we had known about them and could have prevented them without risking harm or injury to ourselves or others. It is even more certain that we would have intervened to prevent at least one of these terrible acts. But they weren't prevented by God or anyone else. If God is all-knowing and all-powerful, he surely knew about the crimes and could easily have prevented them without any risk of harm to himself or others. We see no reason why God, if he exists, would not have intervened to prevent at least one of these horrible acts. So it is reasonable for us to think that there is no such reason. So it is reasonable for us to think that God does not exist. I want to explore whether this argument against the existence of God is a good one. Can we reason from the fact that we see no reason that would justify God, if he exists, in failing to intervene to the conclusion that it is reasonable to believe there is no such reason and so reason to believe God does not exist? Sometimes not seeing something is a reason to believe it isn't there. If I don't see an elephant in the room, there is reason to believe there is none. However, if I don't see a virus with my naked eye that is no reason to believe one isn't there. As Steve Wykstra (of Calvin College) says, it is a matter of seeability. Elephants have high seeability--viruses, low. Similar considerations apply to a person's reasons for action. If I am a chess master and see no good reason for a move by a novice, then I have good reason to think there isn't any. But if the situation were reversed, that is, if the novice saw no good reason for a move by the master, then the novice would not have good reason to believe there is no such reason. Novices' reasons have high seeability for masters; masters' reasons have low seeability for novices.” http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/bruce_russell/intervene.html . We do not see what God is doing behind the scenes, however, in Zephaniah we see that God is going to deal with evil in one enormous blow. Also, Revelation says, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Eventually, all evil will be wiped out. However, God has his own timetable for it to happen. Are you questioning God because of a personal tragedy or all the evil in the world? One day it will all be dealt with.

288)

WICKEDNESS IN HIGH PLACES

Ephesians 6:12 “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” The Bible tells us that we are in spiritual warfare fighting against Satan’s minions of devils. Frank Peretti’s book “This Present Darkness” graphically presents a picture of this underworld that attempts to rule a small town. Wikipedia comments on the book and its plot. “This Present Darkness is a Christian novel by Frank E. Peretti. Published in 1988, This Present Darkness was Peretti's first published novel for adults and shows contemporary views on angels, demons, prayer, and spiritual warfare as demons and angels interact and struggle for control of the citizens of the small town of Ashton. Having achieved remarkable sales success, the book has sold in excess of 2.5 million copies worldwide and remained on the

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CBA top ten best-sellers list for over 150 consecutive weeks after its release. It has been instrumental in promoting belief in Territorial Spirits… .This Present Darkness takes place in the small college town of Ashton. Bernice Kreuger, a reporter for the Clarion, Ashton's town newspaper, is falsely arrested on prostitution charges after taking a photograph at the annual Ashton Summer Festival. When she is released the next day, she discovers that the film in her camera was destroyed. Marshall Hogan, owner/editor-in-chief of the Clarion investigates possible corruption in the Ashton police department. Marshall goes to the town police station/courthouse and confronts Alf Brummel, the police chief, about the arrest. Brummel denies any wrongdoing on behalf of the police department and insists it was all a mistake. Marshall leaves, not believing Brummel's story, and continues his investigation. As the investigation continues, Marshall discovers that there are a number of new members of the board of regents at Whitmore College (where his daughter attends), all somehow connected to the New-Age movement. There are also rumors that the college is about to be sold to the mysterious Omni Corporation. Just as Marshall begins to put the pieces together, he is falsely arrested for abusing his daughter. While in jail, he meets with Hank Busche, a pastor at the Ashton Community Church. Busche was arrested on false rape charges. As the two talk, they compare experiences and discover that the Omni Corporation is trying to take over the town. Hank and Marshall are both released from jail and contact the FBI. The head of the Omni Corporation is arrested, and the demons are destroyed.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Present_Darkness People make two mistakes about the devil. They either minimize him and say that he isn’t there or they see devils under every bush. In Job 1:7 it says And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” However, even as early on as Genesis God promised that Satan is overcome by Christ. Genesis 3:14-15 promises, “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Can you see the work of the devil and his demons in your community? Take courage Jesus has faced evil and overcome it. Satan eventually will be thrown into a lake of fire.

289)

WILL OUR PETS GO TO HEAVEN?

Isaiah 11:6-8 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.”

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Everybody that is attached to a pet would like to know for sure that their beloved animal will go to heaven with them. In fact some persons feel so strongly about their pet that they feel heaven won’t be pleasurable unless their cat or dog is present with them. The author of the website http://www.woodhavenlabs.com/animals-heaven3.html comments: “Although Scripture does not say conclusively whether our pets will be in heaven, three key points lead me to believe that animals in general and pets in particular will be in heaven. First, animals were part of the original creation of God that was declared "good." The Garden of Eden was filled with animals (Genesis 1:25). Revelation tells us that heaven will contain many of the same things that were in the original creation, such as a river, trees, and fruit. Why not animals too? After all, animals are an integral part of earthly life and testify powerfully of the creative, imaginative genius of God. He created the giraffe, the camel, the platypus, the lion, the pachyderm, and the hummingbird. As the noted pastor W A. Criswell says, "God has shown a penchant for varieties of life forms, and it would be difficult to imagine that this would not be perpetuated in the heavenlies."54 Concerning the question of animals in heaven, author Peter Kreeft says, "The simplest answer is: Why not? How irrational is the prejudice that would allow plants (green fields and flowers) but not animals in heaven!"55 Concerning the more difficult issue of whether the same animals will be in heaven that were here on earth, Kreeft adds: “Would the same animals be in heaven as on earth? "Is my dead cat in heaven?" Again, why not? God can raise up the very grass; why not cats? Though the blessed have better things to do than play with pets, the better does not exclude the lesser. We were meant from the beginning to have stewardship over the animals; we have not fulfilled that divine plan yet on earth; therefore it seems likely that the right relationship with animals will be part of Heaven; proper "petship". And what better place to begin than with the already petted pets?”56 Second, the Bible suggests from beginning to end that animals may have souls. In Genesis 1 20, 24, for instance, the Hebrew word nepesh is used to refer to animals. While this word can simply mean "creature" or "living thing," in the Old Testament it is often understood to mean "soul." And in Revelation 8:9, the Greek word psuche-which can mean heart, mind, or soul-is used about sea creatures. Of course, the soul of an animal would be very different from the soul of a human being. But the biblical suggestion that animals have souls may indicate that they too will be resurrected in the afterlife. While the thousand-year reign of Christ is not heaven, it is the initial phase or "front porch" of the eternal kingdom of God. Therefore, if animals exist in the Millennium, this at least establishes a precedent for suggesting that animals may populate the eternal state, too. In her book Holiness in Hidden Places, Joni Eareckson Tada talks about whether she will see her pet schnauzer, Scrappy, in heaven. Her words are a poignant summary of this issue: “If God brings our pets back to life, it wouldn't surprise me. It would be just like Him. It would be totally in keeping with His generous character.... Exorbitant. Excessive. Extravagant in grace after grace. Of all the dazzling discoveries and ecstatic pleasures heaven will hold for us, the potential of seeing Scrappy would be pure whimsy-utterly, joyfully, surprisingly superfluous.... Heaven is going to be a place that will refract and reflect in as many ways as possible the goodness and joy of our great God, who delights in lavishing love on His children. So will pets be in heaven? Who knows?” It would be nice if God allowed us our pets to be available on request.

290)

WILLIAM BOOTH

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Matthew 25:37 -40 “Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” William Booth was born in Sneinton, Nottingham, England, the only son of four surviving children, born to Samuel Booth and Mary Moss. [1] His father was wealthy by the standards of the time, but during Booth's childhood, as a result of his father's bad investments, the family descended into poverty. In 1842, Samuel Booth, who by then was bankrupt, could no longer afford his son's school fees, and 13 year-old William Booth was apprenticed to a pawnbroker. Booth was eventually coverted to Methodism, but after a falling out he started an independent organization.. In 1878 the name of the organization was changed to The Salvation Army, modelling it in some ways after the military, with its own flag (or colours) and its own music, often with Christian words to popular and folkloric tunes sung in the pubs. He and the other soldiers in God's Army would wear the Army's own uniform, 'putting on the armour,' for meetings and ministry work. He became the "General" and his other ministers were given appropriate ranks as "officers". Though the early years were lean ones, with the need of money to help the needy an ever growing issue, Booth and The Salvation Army persevered. In the early 1880s, operations were extended to other countries, notably the United States, France, Switzerland, Sweden, and others, and to most of the countries of the British Empire: Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, New Zealand, Jamaica, et.al. . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Booth) . Booth’s philosophy was that if individuals got saved this would give them love for mankind and a desire to help those in need. However, in the early days of his preaching he often came home with his head bandaged because some heckler had thrown a rock at him. The Salvation Army today is seen as one of the only organizations that will help the poor and those who are down and out. James 1:27 declares that, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Is your religion pure or do you need to work on giving charity and untangling yourself from the world?

291) WILLIAM CAREY: THE FATHER OF MODERN MISSIONS
Peeter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Born in 1761, William Carey was a British Baptist who spent forty-one years serving the Lord in India. His biographer, F. Dealville Walker, wrote of Carey: “He with few 22 22

contemporaries, was almost single-handed in conquering the prevailing indifference and hostility to missionary effort; Carey developed a plan for missions, and printed his amazing “Enquiry”; he influenced timid and hesitating men to take steps to the evangelizing of the world.” Carey was a shoemaker, who became a linguist and a missionary. When working as a cobbler he made a leather globe and it was there in his shop that he heard the call to be a missionary. At first Carey was rebuffed when he went to the church and wanted support for his mission. One of the preachers told Carey that God would convert the heather Himself if He wanted to. Carey kept persisting and in 1792 he preached a classic sermon titled “Expect Great Thing From |God, Attempt Great Things For God.” Finally in 1793 he got to go to India bringing a reluctant wife and children. In India Carey suffered from debts, disease, the burning of his printing press, his wife’s dementia. However, in the end he said don’t speak of William Carey, speak of William Carey’s God. We would all do well to have an attitude like William Carey. John the Baptist had the right attitude about Christ as well. In John 3: 26-30, the Bible says “And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

292)

WILLIAM COWPER

Born in 1731, William Cowper, who was a famous poet and hymn writer was a shy, retiring man who suffered numerous nervous breakdowns during his life. He was alive at the same time as John Wesley, George Whitfield, and John Newton. His father pushed him into a public post, but he did not have the temperament for it and ended up in an asylum. His most famous poem is: William Cowper (1731–1800) God Moves in Mysterious Ways God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform; He plants his footsteps in the sea, And rides upon the storm. Deep in unfathomable mines Of never failing skill, He treasures up his bright designs, And works his sovereign will. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take, The clouds ye so much dread are big with mercy, and shall break In blessings on your head.

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Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust him for his grace; Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face. His purposes will ripen fast, Unfolding every hour; The bud may have a bitter taste, But sweet will be the flower. Blind unbelief is sure to err, And scan his work in vain; God is his own interpreter, And he will make it plain Cowper’s poems are mean to teach and entertain and he was a part of the Evangelical Revival of this day. Even though he had black depressions, he still blesses people today with his poetry and hymns. Look up some hymns written by William Cowper and see which ones speak to you.

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WITNESSING ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB

Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Sharing your faith in Christ can take many forms, but the Internet offers new opportunities to reach people throughout the world. Arthur and Denise Blessitt say that many: “Share about their witnessing on the worldwide web: “Once it was true that only a few people traveled the world in evangelism and missions. Now it is possible for anyone with a computer and Internet hookup to share Jesus with others around the world 24 hours a day. Age, finances, gender and color, etc. are no longer limitations to worldwide witness. Today many people have best friends in other cities or nations that they have never personally met. The Internet is becoming what the town square once was, a place to meet and chat. The need for street witnesses, personal witnessing everywhere, tract distribution, personal talking, radio and television ministry, church ministry and all types of sharing and helping others in a personal way has not changed and never will. This new and modern way is now open via the Internet. Yet there are many forces seeking for the hearts and minds of people on the Internet. There is evil and there is good. Most of us get unsolicited e-mail every day offering all kinds of things. Almost all of it is ‘Spam’ mail sent out in mass mailings. Your witness will be different. Please note the following very important tips: Always in the subject line give your first or last name and put in their name!! I usually put “to Owen from Arthur” as an example. When a person sees their name they know someone took the time to personally type it in and they will almost always read the e-mail. When you send e-mail your return e-mail address will automatically go with the e-mail so do not think that you are anonymous. This is good as they can respond to you directly. I will give a number of suggested e-mail ideas. You can change them to fit your own style or use them as they are. Select the one that is most comfortable for you to use or you may use a different one from time to time. I give

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several links from my own website so that the person receiving the e-mail can find further information about how to know Jesus or grow in Him. You may add your own homepage or other good gospel links. However I suggest a short list and ones that are to the point. You will visit many sites that have a “Guest Book” to sign. This is a great place to leave a witness. Make your comment personal. Just one line will do but say something like “Your dog is sure lovely, or your site is beautiful”. Then you can write your message and give a website or two. Not only the person that has the guest book will read it but all the viewers will also see your message. You can just “copy” and “paste” your message in taken from the suggested list below. I have been getting about a 10% response to my e-mail witness to totally unknown people around the world. I think that is wonderful. Taken from http://www.blessitt.com/internet.html. We are commanded in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” As Christians want to hear Christ’s approval of our work on earth. In Matthew 25:21 it says, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” What ways can you share your faith? We are all commanded to share our testimony in every venue that we can. Does sharing your belief on the world wide web sound like something you could do?

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WOMEN OF FAITH

Hebrews 11:32-34 “ And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” Many women in the Bible suffered from childlessness, but in the end God gave them children even though, in some cases when their biological clocks had stopped ticking. Hannah, Elizabeth, Rachael, and Sarah experienced God’s intervention and were given children. At http://www.biblelight.org/wfhannah.htm the author says, “Hannah was barren. As such she considered herself as a failure and this was exacerbated by the fact that her husband Elkanah had another wife Peninnah who had children. The family was God-fearing and faithful and went annually to the tabernacle that was at Shiloh to present their sacrifices. Like many servants of God, Hannah approached God in prayer. She vowed to dedicate her firstborn son to the Lord and the High Priest Eli, promised her that God had heard her prayers. So Hannah received her child of promise and called him Samuel, which means ‘asked of God.’ As a Levite, Samuel would have been eligible to serve in the temple and to be redeemed as a firstborn child by gifts to the temple in the normal way. However, Hannah had promised to bring him up as a Nazarite and to dedicate him completely as soon as he was weaned. This wonderful act of self-sacrifice was eventually rewarded by Samuel becoming not only a Nazarite but also a Judge over Israel, a Prophet and although not in the line of Aaron, the High Priest of Israel. A Woman of Faith: Consider how strong was the faith of Hannah. She prayed earnestly for a child. Her faith made her realise that God controlled her life and it was up to her to accept God's will and to learn the lessons. When her long awaited hope was realised she not only dedicated her son to be a Nazarite but she gave him to the High Priest for the temple. She trusted God completely. As God had

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given her the promised son, then God would also protect and guide him in the difficulties of his temple service. This display of faith and trust in God is exactly like Abraham who received the long awaited child of promise but was willing to give him back to God as a sacrifice …. Hannah is not included in the list of the faithful recorded in Hebrews chapter 11 but her famous son Samuel who followed her example of service to God is included: Women of faith in general, are however included in this list of the faithful (See Hebrews 11.35). There are many examples of such women, who bore many sorrows in their role of bringing forth the children of God. There was Rachel who a barren for a long time in contrast to her sister Leah. Eventually, in a parallel with Hannah, she gave birth to Joseph who, like Samuel, was also a type of Christ. In New Testament times there was Elisabeth who was barren until ‘well stricken in years’ [Luke 1.7] before she produced John the Baptist. Then of course there was Mary the mother of Jesus who was Elisabeth's cousin. Both of their wonderful children of promise died at an early age in service to God. Mary was sustained in these trials of her faith by strong belief in the resurrection, as the prophet Simeon said to her: Luke 2: 34-35 “And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” The women of faith that waited for God’s promise to come true are an example to us today. How can you be self-sacrificing? Are you willing to wait for God’s promises? Do you trust God even though He may be taking a long time to answer?

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WOMEN PROPHETESSES IN THE BIBLE

Luke 2:36 “ And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;” The Bible mentions a total of six women who were prophetesses or those who could foretell future events. Four are mentioned in the Old Testament and two in the New Testament. Of these females five are spoken of favourably, and only one is mentioned in a disparaging light. The four female prophets mentioned in the Old Testament are: Miriam, Deborah, Hulda and Noadia. The “Center for Cultural Judaism” comments: ”And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord for He is highly exalted, horse and rider He has thrown into the sea" (Exodus 15:20-21 and passim). Now Deborah, a woman prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time: and she sat under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim and the children of Israel came to her for judgment (Judges 4:4-5 and passim). So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam and Ahbor, and Shaphan and Asaiah, went to Hulda the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the clothes and she dwelled in Jerusalem in the second quarter and they spoke with her: And she said to them: “Thus says the Lord God of Israel…” (Second Kings, 22:14-15 and passim). Remember Oh my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their deeds and also Noadiah the prophetess and the rest of the prophets that would have made me afraid (Nehemiah 6:14). The Bible describes Miriam as a prophetess and a poet who leads “the community of women” in the desert and raises her voice in song to express thanks on behalf of

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the public. Deborah is described as a prophetess and a judge who leads the people of Israel and initiates decisive political steps in the period of the Judges. Hulda is described as delivering the word of God to the Temple and palace leadership in Jerusalem and prophesying the fate of King Yoshiyahu and the people in Judah at the end of the period of the Kings. Noadiah is described as prophesying in the period of the return to Zion along with other prophets. In Biblical tradition, female prophets are depicted as a natural phenomenon that is not the object of surprise, doubt or difficulty. The spirit of prophesy can inspire both women and men in various periods and under various circumstances that require “divine knowledge,” inspired leadership, far-reaching vision, initiative, educated criticism of prevailing perceptions, responsibility for public affairs, and the ability to express the insight of the public’s experience, to gladden or pain it with words and song. The ability to delve into reality and express its implications, to point out the disparity between what is and what should be, to formulate theoretical and practical needs in unique language and with divine inspiration, is attributed in the Bible to both men and women.”. Anna was mentioned in the New Testament as a prophetess who lived a long time and the Bible indicates she was genuine. However, in Revelation 2:20 Jezebel is mentioned as a false prophetess. It warns, “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” These six women prophets are seldom mentioned by preachers who talk about a cast of male prophets in the Bible. However, Hulda, Miriam, Noadiah, Deborah, and Anna, all delivered the word of God and inspired their generations. What women do you know who are inspiring and who bring the Word of God to their generation? (All references from http://www.culturaljudaism.org/ccj/articles/22)

296)

THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUS

2 Corinthians 11:25 “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;” The apostle Paul was shipwrecked three times as he was planting churches and spreading the Gospel. He knew what it was like to spend the night in the open sea. Longfellow’s poem, “The Wreck of the Hesperus” which used to be memorized by many school children may have been based on the Great Blizzard in 1839 and Norman’s Reef off the British coast of Gloucester. The purpose of the poem is to condemn the foolishness of the captain in disregarding the other seamen’s good advice, thus dooming the ship and his little daughter to an icy grave because of his stubbornness and pride. "WRECK OF THE HESPERUS" By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow It was the schooner Hesperus, That sailed the wintery sea; And the skipper had taken his little daughter,

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To bear him company. Blue were her eyes as the fairy flax, Her cheeks like the dawn of day, And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds, That ope in the month of May. The Skipper he stood beside the helm, His pipe was in his mouth, And he watched how the veering flaw did blow The smoke now West, now South. Then up and spake an old Sailor, Had sailed the Spanish Main, "I pray thee, put into yonder port, for I fear a hurricane. "Last night the moon had a golden ring, And to-night no moon we see!" The skipper, he blew whiff from his pipe, And a scornful laugh laughed he. Colder and louder blew the wind, A gale from the Northeast, The snow fell hissing in the brine, And the billows frothed like yeast. Down came the storm, and smote amain The vessel in its strength; She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed, Then leaped her cable's length. "Come hither! come hither! my little daughter, And do not tremble so; For I can weather the roughest gale That ever wind did blow." He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat Against the stinging blast; He cut a rope from a broken spar, And bound her to the mast. "O father! I hear the church bells ring, Oh, say, what may it be?" "Tis a fog-bell on a rock bound coast!" -And he steered for the open sea. " Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed

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That saved she might be; And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave, On the Lake of Galilee. And fast through the midnight dark and drear, Through the whistling sleet and snow, Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe… Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice, With the masts went by the board; Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank, Ho! ho! the breakers roared! At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach, A fisherman stood aghast, To see the form of a maiden fair, Lashed close to a drifting mast. The salt sea was frozen on her breast, The salt tears in her eyes; And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed, On the billows fall and rise. Such was the wreck of the Hesperus, In the midnight and the snow! Christ save us all from a death like this, On the reef of Norman's Woe! More important than a shipwreck though, is the shipwreck of faith. In 1Timothy 1:19 Paul says “Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:”. Is your faith about to be shipwrecked? Pray that God will put it back together. .

297)

WRITING A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

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Many of us get into the habit of negativity and complaining, but in Philippians God commands us to be grateful and think on lovely, pure, virtuous things. Keeping a gratitude journal may help you count your blessings. About.com lists a method for creating a gratitude journal. Here's How: Decide on a Journal. You may want to maintain your journal online, or in paper form. When deciding which route to take in selecting a journal, think about whether you'd rather type or print, where you'd like to do the bulk of your writing, and whether privacy is an issue that may affect your decision. Decide On A Framewor: You can write long, descriptive paragraphs about what you appreciate in your daily life, or your gratitude journal can consist entirely of lists. You can write about a preset number of items per entry (10 per day, for example). Or, you can just resolve to write about whatever seems right for a particular day. The main idea is to get yourself into a place of reflection and gratitude. Do what works best for you. Commit To A Schedule: An important aspect of the long-term success of your gratitude journal is the frequency with which you use it. It's usually best to aim for once a day in the beginning, or several times per week, but allow yourself some wiggle room if things get busy. You want to make a commitment that will keep you inspired to write, even if you aren't always in the mood, because this exercise can help change your mood). Just don't allow that to be so rigid that you'll be tempted to give up the whole plan if you slip up once or twice. Just Keep Writing: Many people find that their whole attitude changes once they've been keeping a gratitude journal for a while; they tend to notice things throughout the day that they may want to include in the journal -- things they wouldn't have otherwise noticed. To maintain a more optimistic attitude, be sure to write regularly. If you find yourself skipping days with increasing frequency, gently remind yourself why you're maintaining the gratitude journal in the first place, and be grateful that you are able to get back into the habit of writing again anytime you want. Enjoy! http://stress.about.com/od/positiveattitude/ht/gratitude_journ.htm The apostle Paul said in Hebrews 13:15 “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” When things aren’t going well praise is a sacrifice. However, it is a command from God. Are you going to start your gratitude journal soon? You may be surprised at how many blessings God has given you.

298)

ZACCHEUS

Luke 19 3-5 “And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.” Zaccheus was a money grubbing- little man who gouged the people every opportunity he got. In return they despised him, and he taxed them more for their hatred. Zaccheus was part of the Roman bureaucracy and probably didn’t have very many friends. He ate on gold plates, but had a lonely, bitter heart. Rumours of Jesus healing the blind and doing miracles intrigued him and he was determined to see this healer called Jesus. Perhaps one of the reasons that Zaccheus climbed the tree was because the people whom he taxed so savagely deliberately blocked his way. John Shearman, a United Church minister writes, “ Jesus

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continually challenged the traditional view of who is faithful. In Roman times, tax collecting was rented out to the highest bidder who then could extort whatever he could from the general populace. As a Roman lackey and a greedy profiteer, Zaccheus was a much despised man as well as too short to see over the crowds gathered to see Jesus enter Jericho. One of the most hated men in town praised as a son of Abraham? He would have been pelted with stones had he tried to approach the crowd accompanying Jesus into Jericho. No one would have believed him if he had begun to make restitution of his own accord, even though the law required that he repay what he had stolen with interest (Leviticus 6:5; Numbers 5:7). The irony of it was that Zaccheus expressed no desire whatsoever to escape from his social ostracism. He just climbed the tree so he could have a better vantage point to see Jesus as he passed by. Or was he becoming vaguely conscious of the deep loneliness his profession had created? Did he have even the faintest beginnings of a guilty conscience? Jesus saw only a man waiting to be redeemed. Although he risked being ostracized himself, Jesus sought him out. Breaking all the barriers of social custom, Jesus invited himself to the man's house for a meal. No one is beyond the reach of divine love. The experience changed Zaccheus into a grace-filled man. In the excitement of what had happened to him, he promised to be more than generous to the poor and repay many times over whatever he had taken by fraud. Jesus praised him as a son of Abraham, the Jewish ideal of a faithful servant of God. There is an ancient sycamore tree still standing in Jericho surrounded by a fence and reputed to be the very tree from which Jesus called Zaccheus . Every tourist bus stops there for people to be photographed beneath it.” http://www.seemslikegod.org/Lectionary/YearC_Pentecost23.htm When Jesus issued the invitation to Zaccheus he was risking his reputation by going to the house of one so despised. However, Zaccheus’ hard heart melted when he saw Jesus and his conversion was genuine. The Bible says in Luke 19: 6-8 “And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, that he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner. And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” In fact, Zaccheus put his money where his mouth was. What about you? Do you know any lonely, bitter people that need the touch of the Master? Does your heart need to be softened today so that your Christianity makes a difference in the lives of others?

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SAINT IGNATIUS

Acts 7:59 “And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” On the website, “Our Patron Saint: Saint Ignatius of Antioch”, there is a recreation of this Christian martyr’s last day on earth when he was fed to the lions: “The Flavian Amphitheater, the Roman Colosseum, the ancient equivalent of the Superdome, was the ancient place for the most popular of all sporting events. It was called the Colosseum because it was built next to a Colossus, a giant statue of the Emperor Nero. It took only 11 years to build it. It featured all

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three types of columns, Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. It had ventilation all around it. It had the finest travertine marble on its facing. The floor could be flooded for naval demonstrations. The top could be covered with a huge awning to protect the spectators from the sun. On a big day, 50,000 spectators could be seated. Outside the amphitheater and throughout Rome the ticket sellers would be hawking, "Come to the fights. Come see the gladiators duel to the death." For a few denarii the Roman could see great warriors fight their last battle. "Come to the fight." Perhaps, though, even this got boring to the blood thirsty Romans. The Emperor Trajan put some new enthusiasm into the shows. He condemned Christians to do battle with the wild animals. "Come to the show. Come and see if the Christian God, Jesus Christus, will appear and do battle for his radical followers." On one particular occasion the show promised to be particularly special. "Today," the ticket sellers announce, "there will be a special show. Ignatius of Antioch, the most powerful follower of Christus of the East, perhaps the most powerful in the entire empire has finally arrived in Rome. It took two years to get him here. Thousands of his companions greeted him at every port trying to convince him to stay with them. He refused to let them bribe the guards. He must think he's powerful enough himself to take on the lions. Come and see this show. Maybe Christus himself will appear." Fifty thousand people gathered. The crowd was warmed up with a number of duels. After a while they called for this Ignatius, "Come out and do battle." The trumpets blared, the crowd hushed, and out came these Christian warriors. They were dressed in white robes. They wore roses in the hair. An old man with a long beard walked with them. He was identified as Ignatius. This frail man, who had written so much about Jesus, who had led the heretical Christian sect in Antioch, Ignatius, was going to do battle with lions. What a joke. And it was a joke. And it wasn't much of a show. Ignatius repeated to himself what he had written to his followers. "I am the wheat of God. I must be ground by the teeth of the lions into flour. I must become the pure bread of Christ." Ignatius knelt down and was quickly killed. Christ never did appear to do battle with the beasts. Or did he? After the other Christians died, after the beasts had their fill and were returned to their pens, after the crowds filed out of the stadium, Christians came and picked up the martyrs' roses, strewn throughout the floor of the arena. They recited a psalm for each rose they picked up, the beginning of the prayer later generations would call the Rosary. Perhaps, some of the departing Romans looked back and saw this scene. Perhaps then, they recognized in Ignatius of Antioch, in the Christians who came to gather up the bodies and pray the prayers of roses, perhaps these Romans glancing at this compassionate scene could understand the Power of the Gospel.” "Our preaching of the gospel proved not a mere matter of words for you, but one of power." These words from Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians, apply particularly to Ignatius of Antioch. Belief in the Lord gave him the power to withstand his own fears of wild animals, of death, and even of abandonment by God. He had spoken a great deal about the Lord. Now it was his time to stand for him. The courage he needed to die for his convictions demonstrated the power of the Gospel. "We need more people of courage," a young lady said to me this week. Where are the Joan of Arc's in our faith willing to do battle for the Lord. Where are the Ignatius of Antioch's of our day willing to stare down a lion? Where are we when we know we must demand that our faith and morals be followed even though that is going to lead to ridicule and rejection even by members of our own family. Where are we when we know we are morally bound to make certain demands that are going to be unpopular.” http://www.st.ignatius.net/ignatius.html In Acts 8:2 Paul writes, “And devout men carried

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Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.” Often the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Would you die for your faith?

300)

BEING EMPATHETIC AND SYMPATHETIC

Romans 12:15 “ Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” Some Christians are not very good at showing empathy or sympathy, however the Bible teaches that we should have these qualities. The following text defines what they are. “Comparison of Empathy with Sympathy: Because of my observations that many people do not know the differences between empathy and sympathy, I will present my understanding of the subject before continuing my discussion of empathy and listening skills. My presentation will be clarified by the use of an example. A man is talking about his father's death, which had occurred a week earlier. As he talks about missing his father and his powerful love for him, the man's voice gradually becomes filled with anguish and then he bursts into tears in front of a friend who is listening to him. If the friend uses sympathy, she might think, for example: He is remembering his father with pain. Poor Roger. If the friend decides to verbalize her thoughts, she might say to the grieving man words such as: "I feel your pain." If the friend uses empathy, she might think, for example: He is remembering his father with pain and also the pleasure of his love for him. If the friend decides to verbalize her thoughts, she might say to the grieving man words such as: "I feel your pain and also your great love for your father." This sharing of the painful feelings of another person is characteristic of both sympathy and empathy. However, the person using sympathy would pay more attention to the pain than to the love for the father whereas the person using empathy would pay equal attention to the pain and love. If the friend added "I'm sorry for your loss," this statement would also be characteristic of sympathy, but not of empathy. The person using empathy would share the grieving man's emotional pain, but not necessarily feel sorry for or pity him. Of course, one can use both sympathy and empathy, for example: "I feel your pain and also your great love for your father. I'm sorry for your loss." For more information about the differences and similarities between empathy and sympathy, read my more detailed comparison, which includes another example. http://www.psychological-hug.com/ Romans 12:10 tells us to “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”

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CLASSIC CHIRSTMAS POEM

Luke 2:7 “ And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”

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John Donne lived from 1572-1631 and was a famous poet. He also worked as a lawyer, a minister, and an essayist. He authored the following poem. 'Nativity' Christmas Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb, Now leaves His well-belov'd imprisonment, There He hath made Himself to His intent Weak enough, now into the world to come; But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room? Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient, Stars and wise men will travel to prevent The effect of Herod's jealous general doom. Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith's eyes, how He Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie? Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high, That would have need to be pitied by thee? Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go, With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe. On the Morning of Christ's Nativity This is the month, and this the happy morn Wherein the Son of Heav'n's eternal King, Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born, Our great redemption from above did bring; For so the holy sages once did sing, That he our deadly forfeit should release, And with his Father work us a perpetual peace. II That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable, And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty, Wherewith he wont at Heav'n's high council-table, To sit the midst of Trinal Unity, He laid aside, and here with us to be, Forsook the courts of everlasting day, And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay. III Say Heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein Afford a present to the Infant God? Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, To welcome him to this his new abode, Now while the heav'n, by the Sun's team untrod,

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Hath took no print of the approaching light, And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright? IV See how from far upon the eastern road The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet: O run, prevent them with thy humble ode, And lay it lowly at his blessed feet; Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet, And join thy voice unto the angel quire, From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire. Luke 2:16 says of the wiseman,“ And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.” Is there room in the inn of your heart for Jesus or have you crowded Him out with the things of the world?

302)

HUMILIITY

1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:” In our culture exalting and promoting the self is considered desirable, however, God commands humility. The Catholic Encyclopedia comments, “The word humility signifies lowliness or submissiveness an it is derived from the Latin humilitas or, as St. Thomas says, from humus, i.e. the earth which is beneath us. As applied to persons and things it means that which is abject, ignoble, or of poor condition, as we ordinarily say, not worth much. Thus we say that a man is of humble birth or that a house is a humble dwelling. As restricted to persons, humility is understood also in the sense of afflictions or miseries, which may be inflicted by external agents, as when a man humiliates another by causing him pain or suffering. It is in this sense that others may bring about humiliations and subject us to them. Humility in a higher and ethical sense is that by which a man has a modest estimate of his own worth, and submits himself to others. According to this meaning no man can humiliate another, but only himself, and this he can do properly only when aided by Divine grace. We are treating here of humility in this sense, that is, of the virtue of humility. The virtue of humility may be defined: "A quality by which a person considering his own defects has a lowly opinion of himself and willingly submits himself to God and to others for God's sake." St. Bernard defines it: "A virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself." These definitions coincide with that given by St. Thomas: "The virtue of humility", he says, "Consists in keeping oneself within one's own bounds, not reaching out to things above one, but submitting to one's superior" (Summa Contra Gent., bk. IV, ch. lv, tr. Rickaby). To guard against an erroneous idea of humility, it is necessary to explain the manner in which we ought to esteem our own gifts in reference to the gifts of others, if called upon to make a comparison. Humility does not require us to esteem the gifts and graces which 35 35

God has granted us, in the supernatural order, less than similar gifts and graces which appear in others. No one should esteem less in himself than in others these gifts of God which are to be valued above all things according to the words of St. Paul: "That we may know the things that are given us from God." (1 Corinthians 2:12). Neither does humility require us in our own estimation to think less of the natural gifts we possess than of similar, or of inferior, gifts in our neighbours; otherwise, as St. Thomas teaches, it would behove everyone to consider himself a greater sinner or a greater fool than his neighbour; for the Apostle without any prejudice to humility was able to say: "We by nature are Jews, and not of the Gentiles sinners" (Galatians 2:15). A man, however, may generally esteem some good in his neighbour which he does not himself possess, or acknowledge some defect or evil in himself which he does not perceive in his neighbour, so that, whenever anyone subjects himself out of humility to an equal or to an inferior he does so because he takes that equal or inferior to be his superior in some respect. Thus we may interpret thehumble expressions of the saints as true and sincere. Besides, their great love of God caused them to see the malice of their own faults and sins in a clearer light than that which is ordinarily given to persons who are not saints.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07543b.htm James 4:6,10 says, “ But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble … Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

303)

BEING A FOOL

Psalms 49:10 “For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others.”

On the website: http://mitchlewis.net/blog/articles/the-parable-of-the-rich-fool-and-thewisdom-tradition/ the author, Mitch, writes: Jesus’ parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:16-21) borrows heavily on the wisdom tradition in the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Much of Jesus’ language come from these two sources. Some obvious points of contact are Jesus’ description of the man as a “fool,” the phrase “eat, drink and be merry” and the question “things you have prepared–whose will they be?” Luke quotes Jesus using the same word for “fool” as is used in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Greek translation of the Old Testament: aphrōn. The fool doesn’t get what life is all about. The fool makes silly, shortsighted decisions. Foolishness may display itself in ungodliness, the bullying of others, greed, laziness, pride or a host of other ways. Industriousness: So how is this man a fool? It’s not in being productive. Proverbs commends industry and hates laziness.Proverbs10:4 GNB Being lazy will make you poor, but hard work will make you rich.Proverbs does not think much of lazy people and it mocks their excuses. Proverbs 6:9-11 GNB How long is the lazy man going to lie around? When is he ever going to get up? (10) “I’ll just take a short nap,” he says; “I’ll fold my hands and rest a while.” (11) But while he sleeps, poverty will attack him like an armed robber. Proverbs 22:13 GNB Lazy people stay at home; they say a lion might get them if they go outside. The book of Proverbs is not naïve. It realizes that the situation is also more complicated than that. For example, Proverbs recognizes that injustice keeps 36 36

people poor.at! …. Of course, one might argue that Jesus never says anything about the man being productive. Jesus says that the land produced bountifully; maybe the rich man was a landlord and not a farmer. Maybe sharecroppers farmed the land. Perhaps, but there is nothing in this parable itself to suggest that Jesus had this in mind. Jesus’ use of the landlordtenant pattern is quite obvious in parables which depend upon it for meaning. In any case, someone worked hard to make the land productive. I’m reminded of Jimmy Stewart’s character in Shenandoah. Stewart played Charlie Anderson, a widower, a farmer and a father trying to keep his family together at the outbreak of the Civil War. Charlie doesn’t care much for religion, but he continued his wife’s habit of saying grace before meals: ‘ Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvested it. We cooked the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Lord just the same for the food we’re about to eat, amen.’ Charlie may not have known much about the nature of God’s providential care, but he did understand the human side of the equation: productivity requires human labor. Jesus’ use of “wisdom” language brings Proverbs’ view of human industry into view. No, it’s not in being industrious or productive that the rich farmer of Jesus’ story is a fool. Storing Up Produce: Perhaps the farmer’s foolishness lies in his storing up his possessions for a later time. No, for the book of Proverbs even recommends saving for the future! Eat, Drink and Be Merry: So, if hard work and saving are not the issue, maybe the problem is that the man wanted to eat, drink and enjoy life. Nope. The book of Ecclesiastes is in the same tradition as the book of Proverbs. It’s a book of futility and frustration. The author says that most things in life are pointless. You might say that “eat, drink and be merry” is the philosophy of Ecclesiastes. It’s the one thing that has any meaning at all. Repeatedly, the author says, Death and Futility: The author of Ecclesiastes, however, has already figured out what the farmer in Jesus’ parable discovers in the last second of life. You should read Ecclesiastes! Its author has found disappointment in his great achievements, his great possessions and his sensual experiences. Even his great learning disappoints him. Death is the ultimate question for Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 5:15 GNB We leave this world just as we entered it—with nothing. In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with us. Consequently, Ecclesiastes laments that the dead leave there hard-earned possessions to others. Ecclesiastes 2:18-21 GNB Nothing that I had worked for and earned meant a thing to me, because I knew that I would have to leave it to my successor, (19) and he might be wise, or he might be foolish—who knows? Yet he will own everything I have worked for, everything my wisdom has earned for me in this world. It is all useless. (20) So I came to regret that I had worked so hard. (21) You work for something with all your wisdom, knowledge, and skill, and then you have to leave it all to someone who hasn’t had to work for it. It is useless, and it isn’t right! Jesus expresses a similar sentiment in verse 20: And the things you have prepared–whose will they be? The farmer has done a great job in preparing the things necessary for his own life, but that’s all. And, as in Ecclesiastes, death is the great invalidator.” In Luke 12:20, God said to the rich man who built bigger barns , “ Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?” Luke 12:33 exhorts us to lay up riches in heaven, “ Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” Is your wealth on earth where it can be destroyed or in heaven where it is safe?

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304)

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS

Proverbs 6:16 -19 “ These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, are a classification of vices that were originally used in early Christian teachings to educate and instruct followers concerning (immoral) fallen man's tendency to sin. The Roman Catholic Church divided sin into two principal categories: "venial", which are relatively minor, and could be forgiven through any sacramentals or sacraments of the church, and the more severe "capital" or mortal sin. Mortal sins destroyed the life of grace, and created the threat of eternal damnation unless either absolved through the sacrament of confession, or forgiven through perfect contrition on the part of the penitent. Beginning in the early 14th century, the popularity of the seven deadly sins as a theme among European artists of the time eventually helped to ingrain them in many areas of Christian culture and Christian consciousness in general throughout the world. One means of such ingraining was the creation of the mnemonic "SALIGIA" based on the first letters in Latin of the seven deadly sins: superbia, avaritia, luxuria, invidia, gula, ira, acedia.[1]] Background of the Seven Deadly Sins: There is nowhere in the Christian Bible that a list of the Seven Deadly Sins is given, although lists of virtues contrasted with lists of sins are found in certain books of the New Testament, such as "Galatians". The modern concept of the Seven Deadly Sins is linked to the works of the 4th century monk Evagrius Ponticus, who listed eight "evil thoughts" as follows (Refoule, 1967): Gluttony; fornication; avarice; sorrow; anger; discouragement; vainglory; pride.The first three of these sins, as Refoule explains, link to lustful appetite; anger links with the irascible; and vainglory and pride link with the intellect. Some years later, Pope Gregory I (Pope Gregory the Great) would revise this list to form the more common "Seven Deadly Sins".] Listings of the sins since Gregory the Great: Listed in the same order used by both Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century, and later by Dante Alighieri in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, the seven deadly sins are as follows: luxuria (extravagance, later lust), gula (gluttony), avaritia (greed), acedia (sloth), ira (wrath), invidia (envy), and superbia (pride). Each of the seven deadly sins has an opposite among the corresponding seven holy virtues (sometimes also referred to as the contrary virtues). In parallel order to the sins they oppose, the seven holy virtues are chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. The identification and definition of the seven deadly sins over their history has been a fluid process and the idea of what each of the seven actually encompasses has evolved over time. This process has been aided by the fact that they are not referred to in either a cohesive or codified manner in the Bible itself, and as a result other literary and ecclesiastical works referring to the seven deadly sins were instead consulted as sources from which definitions might be drawn. Part II of Dante's Divine Comedy, "Purgatorio", has almost certainly been the best known source since the Renaissance. The modern Roman Catholic

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Catechism lists the sins as: pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins Proverbs 6:23; 7:1-2 exhorts, “ For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: …. My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye.” Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.” Are you trying to avoid the seven deadly sins with God’s help?

305)

CHRISTIAN REWARDS TO LOOK FORWARD TO

Corinthians 3:13, 15 “ Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” D.J. Root comments on the crowns that a faithful Christian can look forward to in heaven: “There may be a possibility that the gold, silver, and gems which are purified in the fire at the Judgment Seat will be used to make the crowns that a Christian can earn. Typically there are five mentioned and we will look at the specifics of them all. The Incorruptible Crown is chronologically the first crown mentioned. This is the crown given for running a good Christian race, and it is compared to that of an earthly race. I Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. In an earthly race there is only one winner, but the Christian races only against himself, and each may earn a crown. I Corinthians 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. Here then is the means with which to run a winning race: temperance. For an earthly runner moderation and self restraint is necessary if he wants to win. Things like smoking, or overeating, or drug abuse, or oversleeping, or any kind of immoderate behavior would severely hinder his chances of running well. The same is true for Christian service. I Corinthians 9:26 “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:” Paul states emphatically that temperance is the key and that without it he might as well just beat the air because he wouldn't be going anywhere. I Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. Paul said "In my flesh dwelleth no good thing." Every Christian must strive to keep his body of flesh in subjection to the Holy Spirit which dwells inside him. Doing so will result in a winning race and reward. Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. The Crown of Rejoicing, which is mentioned in I Thessalonians, seems to be given to soul winners… The Crown of

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Righteousness is the next crown. II Timothy 4:8 “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” The last two crowns are mentioned in the Tribulation epistles. Certainly ALL scripture is for our learning and admonition, and certainly many doctrinal things overlap dispensations, so it is perfectly possible and acceptable that these crowns may be earned in the Church Age. The way to earn them may be slightly different between the dispensations. The Crown of Life is the first. James 1:12 “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” Revelation 2:10 “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The Crown of Glory, the last crown, , is also found in a Tribulation epistle. I Peter 5:4 “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” This crown has several interesting elements and could easily and properly apply to the Church Age. It is sometimes called the Elders Crown because it is frequently assigned to be earned only by the elders or pastors of local churches, although some would allow it to be earned by anyone who is responsible for a "flock," as a Sunday school teacher or rescue mission worker. I would like to look at the surrounding verses in order to suggest something entirely different than what is commonly taught.” http://www.rightlydividing.net/christian_inheritance1.htm Hebrews mentions Christian supersaints who earned their heavenly rewards. Hebrews 11:33-34 “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.” Are you laying up treasures in heaven so that you will have rewards to look forward to or are you going to be saved as by fire?

306)

PETS NOW HAVE OBITURARIES TOO

Job 30:31 “My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.” On a website called, “Ruling Cats and Dogs” there is lots of room for people to write obituaries for their animal companions. The loss of a beloved pet can be every bit as painful as the loss of a human loved one. The following are some sample obituaries:Lucky Velcro (1983 -2002) She was the terror of the house, chasing dogs and cats alike. If she didn't know you, you didn't want to know her. But, she was our little terror, and we loved her very much. She Lived 13 years and passed away of Cancer. Goodbye Lucky, we certainly were. From: Mick and Kathy Reebok Hipsher Born april 13th 1989, died may 5th 2005. She has been cremated and her ashes will always be with us. She will never be forgotten or could ever be replaced. She was a special cat and traveled with us in a big rig for many years. She was born in California and died at home in South Dakota From: Linda Hipsher Mr. Tigems (-

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10/31/05) My wonderful, loving cat Mr. Tigems was hit by a car today and died. Mr. Tigems was like no other cat. Even though he was 3 years old, he thought he was a kitten. He would sleep with my husband and I and suck on our ears. I would be in a deep sleep, and Mr. Tigems would prance in and start in on my ears. His name started out as Tigger, then Tig Tig, then he became Mr. Tigems. That's because he ruled our neighborhood. Every night when I came home from work, he would be waiting on the porch, meowing, being silly. He would kiss me and then go inside with me. He loved to drink out of the sink. He never drank from a bowl. Mr Tigems brought home birds, chipmunks, mice and the occasional frog. What's worse then finding a dead bird in your home? A LIVE one! There will never be another cat like him ever. He has left a humongous hole in our hearts. My husband buried him in our winnie the pooh blanket, with a cross with his name on it. He covered his grave with concrete and wrote Mr. Tigems, Mom and Dad miss You. We will never forget him. We will miss him dearly. Tim and Kathie Alexander Daisy Mae Seibert (Sept. 5, 2005-Nov. 4, 2005). My mother had given my boyfriend and I a little calico kitten, we named her Daisy Mae. She was only about 4 weeks old when we got her, and she was the tiniest little thing. She seemed to be eating ok, but didn't grow. We took her to the vet and he said she was fine, but later that night she was acting funny, so we took her to the emergency vet. She had a rare kidney disease and had to be put to sleep at the young age of 8 weeks old. I hadn't owned her for very long when she died, but she was my little princess and she was spoiled rotten. That month I got to spend with Daisy was well worth all the tears shed the day she was put to rest. We miss you Daisy Mae, you will always be remembered. Cassie & Brian. Pumpkin (September 27, 2006). Pumpkin was our "Little Pumpkinhead" aka "Little Phead". She was our friend unconditionally. She slept on my pillow, feet, belly, and when I was pregnant around my baby belly. She was a beautiful calico with the sweetest purr. We became a family, because she was homeless and the people next door were abusing her. I do not understand how someone could treat such a sweet little cat so cruel. She seemed to choose me as her best friend and I am much honored that I was the chosen one. She followed me everywhere. We were inseparable. Pumpkin's whole family loved her so much that there is a piece of the family missing. Even though Pumpkin was the alpha kitty that ruled the house, her kitty friend Anastasia misses her very much. She was fighting diabetes and was suddenly losing the battle to the point that she stopped eating and drinking. We had to make the hardest decision we have ever had to make, but we did not want her to suffer any longer. She is now resting peacefully in heaven. We love you and miss you Pumpkin! Wendy, Chris, Dante & Anastasia. http://rulingcatsanddogs.com/cat-obituaries-feline-memorials-pet-memoriams.htm While Scripture does not mention any specific examples of mourning for a pet, Psalms 38:6 conveys deep sorrow, “I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.” Have you lost an animal companion lately? Proverbs 18:24 says,“ A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Jesus Christ is the ultimate friend who comes close when grief comes. Depend on Jesus, but also go out and get a kitten to replace your cat that died. That’s the best way to get over the grief of losing a pet.

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307)

CATS WHO PLAYED A PART IN HISTORY

Genesis 1:21 “And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.”

Many famous people in history have been very devoted cat lovers, from philosophers, to humourists, to politicians. The following list of famous cat enthusiasts are as follows:Sir Winston Churchill: PM of England (1874 - 1965) Sir Winston owned a cat named Jock who attended many wartime Cabinet meetings. Rumor has it that meals at the Churchill household could not begin until the ginger colored tabby was at the table…. Abraham Lincoln: US President (1809) Abe came to presidential office accompanied by Tabby, a cat belonging to his son. “No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens.” Quote by Abraham Lincoln…. Edward Lear: Artist and author (1812-1888) Edward was devoted to Foss, his tabby cat. His devotion was so great that when he decided to move to San Remo, Italy, he instructed his architect to design a replica of his old home in England so Foss would not be disturbed and suffer a minimum of distress after the move. Lear’s drawings of his stripped tabby cat are well-known, especially those which accompany his rhyme, “The Owl and the Pussycat.” Sir Walter Scott: poet and novelist (1771 - 1832) author of Rob Roy and Ivanhoe: Sir Walter Scott was also an editor, critic and deputy sheriff of Selkirk in 1799. Absorbed in folklore and the supernatural, Scott was devoted to cats, and a portrait of him by John Watson Gordon shows the author at work at his desk with his tabby, Hinx, lying close by. On the subject that fascinated him most, Scott wrote: “Cats are a mysterious kind of folk. There is more passing in their minds than we are aware of. Sir Isaac Newton: philosopher: Sir Isaac Newton, famous for his laws of motion and gravity, was a confirmed cat lover who was deeply concerned about the welfare of his feline friends. Therefore, so his research would go uninterrupted, and his cats should not feel restricted and be at liberty to wander freely in and out when the doors were closed, he invented the cat-flap. Michel de Montaigne French author (1533 - 1592): “When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her?” http://rulingcatsanddogs.com/cats-famous-cat-ownerscelebrities-pets-celebrity-feline-lovers.htm If you are a cat owner then you are in good company with the most influential people in history. Our future life in heaven is described in Isaiah 11:6; 65:25 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in allmy holy mountain, saith the LORD.” God will create a peaceable kingdom where all the violence is taken out of nature.Animals that once were predatory will eat grass. Big cats like tigers, panthers, and lions will be placid and tame and we can have them as pets if we want to. Can you visualize the peaceable kingdom with nothing to marr it? It will be like a second Eden.

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308)

MEMORIZING SCRIPTURE
counted

Romans 4:3 “ For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was unto him for righteousness.”

Do you think that you are too old or have too poor a memory to memorize parts of the Bible? A website titled, “The Scripture Memory Connection” located at: http://www.memoryverses.org / comments, “If you have ever tried to memorize a speech or a part for a play, then you know that it is hard work to learn something so that you can repeat it word for word. Further, if you do not review it regularly, a couple of weeks after you have memorized it, you have forgotten it. Memorizing passages from the Bible is no different. It is hard work, and could take a huge portion of your time. However, if we look into the Bible to see what it teaches, then we will see that this hard work is not only worth the effort, but it is essential and it is expected of us. I have titled this article "Why Memorize Scripture", but I could also have called it "Why Study the Bible" or "Why Meditate on God's Word" or "Why Put God's Word Into Practice." All these things are vital to Christian growth. The Bible-God's Word. Fully Inspired and Infallible: The place to start, then, would be to make sure that we know just what the Bible is and what authority it must therefore have over us. Perhaps before we proceed, you would like to read some quotes from various Creeds and Confessions regarding the nature of the Bible. The Bible is inspired by God himself. It contains no error, teaches no error, has authority over our lives and is our only guide for truth in spiritual matters. Without the Bible, we would have no significant knowledge of God or of his will. What better thing is there to memorize than the very words of God himself? What reason could you give for not memorizing it to the best of your ability? The Inspiration of the Scriptures: For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 2:14-17) Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21) Is the Bible made up of the very words of God or is it a book of human wisdom? Your answer to this question will determine your response to its teachings and will significantly influence your world view. It is the starting point and most important doctrine of the Church and it will be a basis for the beliefs and practices of its members. All other doctrine of the Church is based on the Bible, so if the Bible is not reliable then neither is the doctrine and neither is our faith and neither is our salvation. The Bible is not a book of human wisdom, nor is not a book which only contains the words of God, mixed in with human teachings. Rather, the Bible is entirely inspired by God himself. This is why it says that all scripture is 'God-Breathed'. It comes from God's own mouth. This leads us to two inseparable doctrines of the Christian Church. These are the verbal inspiration of scripture and 43 43

the plenary inspiration of scripture. Verbal inspiration means that the documents written by their original authors are word for word what God wanted it to say. Plenary inspiration is similar. It means that inspiration extends to the entire bible, completely covering every idea, thought and concept. Harold Lindsell, in his book The Battle for the Bible, writes the following concerning the inspiration of the scriptures: Inspiration may be defined as the inward work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of chosen men who then wrote the Scriptures so that God got written what He wanted. The Bible in all of its parts constitutes the written Word of God to man. This Word is free from all error in its original autographs. It is wholly trustworthy in matters of history and doctrine. However limited may have been their knowledge, and however much they may have erred when they were not writing sacred Scripture, the authors of Scripture, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, were preserved from making factual, historical, scientific, or other errors. The Bible does not purport to be a textbook of history, science or mathematics; yet when the writers of Scripture spoke of matters embraced in these disciplines, they did not indite error; they wrote what was true. (1) Calvin, in his Commentary on II Timothy 3:16 says: "Whoever then would profit by the Holy Scriptures, let him first decide this within himself, that the Law and the Prophets are not a doctrine which has been given according to the desire or will of men, but dictated by the Holy Spirit" http://www.memoryverses.org/why.htm An important step in getting started is to select a version of the Bible from which to memorize. Which one should you use? It is up to you, but here are some guidelines: Select a version which is written in a way you can understand. This is what is most important. For example, some people find the King James very hard to read and understand, while others have no problem with it. The King James Version was written in a very beautiful and powerful style and has won the hearts of many. Some say that it is the most accurate and best of all the English translations available. On the other hand the New International Version (NIV) is a very good translation which is written in easy to read English. Memorize verses from only one version. Each version has its own style of presentation which you will become accustomed to. If you memorize from more than one version, you may get confused. Once you have started memorizing from a particular version, you will find that you have committed yourself to it.” Are you ready to start committing God’s Word to memory? Peter 1:20 says “ Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”

309) SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI: MORTIFYING THE FLESH
Romans 8:13 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” Saint Francis of Assisi was born in Umbria, Italy in 1881 or 1882 and he died on October 3, 1226. His father was a cloth merchant and in his early life Francis led a hedonistic life and spent money recklessly. After a serious illness Francis had a dramtic conversion to 44 44

Chrisianity. The Catholic Encyclopedia comments, “Not long after his return to Assisi, whilst Francis was praying before an ancient crucifix in the forsaken wayside chapel of St. Damian's below the town, he heard a voice saying: "Go, Francis, and repair my house, which as you see is falling into ruin." Taking this behest literally, as referring to the ruinous church wherein he knelt, Francis went to his father's shop, impulsively bundled together a load of coloured drapery, and mounting his horse hastened to Foligno, then a mart of some importance, and there sold both horse and stuff to procure the money needful for the restoration of St. Damian's. When, however, the poor priest who officiated there refused to receive the gold thus gotten, Francis flung it from him disdainfully. The elder Bernardone, a most niggardly man, was incensed beyond measure at his son's conduct, and Francis, to avert his father's wrath, hid himself in a cave near St. Damian's for a whole month. When he emerged from this place of concealment and returned to the town, emaciated with hunger and squalid with dirt, Francis was followed by a hooting rabble, pelted with mud and stones, and otherwise mocked as a madman. Finally, he was dragged home by his father, beaten, bound, and locked in a dark closet.” http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06221a.htm Francis subjected himself and his followers to a poverty that appalled their fellow beggars, fasting frequently and sleeping on dirt (when perfectly good piles of filthy straw were available), taking all too literally Christ’s eerie injunction, “Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me.” When it comes to sex, Francis didn’t just give up playing the field and settle down with a life partner; he embraced total celibacy, and scourged his own flesh to remind it of its place. Naming his body “Brother Ass,” he treated it as harshly as Italian peasants did their donkeys—rolling in snow or patches of thorns when tempted by lusty Italian maidens he saw along the road. (We can only imagine what they thought.) Inspired by his youth as a troubadour love poet who searched for an invisible, unattainable “lady love,” Francis fixed his affections on “Lady Poverty,” and tried his best to die of love for her—since she seemed to him the closest companion of Christ. To show his approval of all these undertakings, Jesus conferred the same stigmata (wounds) he bore on the cross to Francis— making him the very first saint documented as enjoying this painful privilege. One of the last things Francis did was to write a will forbidding his friars to accumulate possessions, build themselves elaborate churches, or try to introduce loopholes into his austere way of life. Of course, as soon as he died, that was precisely what they began to do. But however comparatively corrupt one branch of the Franciscan order became, another would always spring up to reclaim its founder’s original divine madness; even today, a band of men called the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal sleep on pallets on a gymnasium floor in the South Bronx, running a parish and releasing Catholic rap albums with songs like “The Zipper Zone,” preaching innocence and freedom from care to youths whom society has sloughed off like so much dead black skin. You can see the same friars on Saturday mornings, kneeling in silence and praying, eyes downcast, outside abortion clinics around New York.” http://www.takimag.com/site/article/flogging_brother_ass While we may not want to be as austere as Saint Francis was, we need to keep our bodies disciplined and mortify our sinful fleshly desires. Saint Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Our salvation does not depend on us diciplining the flesh, but our rewards in heaven do.

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310)

DR. RAWLINGS AND THE REALITY OF HELL

Matthew 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Many people are recklessly living their lives as if eternal hell does not exist, however, Dr. Rawlings saw the reality of it first hand. Terry Watkins writes on his website, “Several years ago a book was published, entitled Beyond Death's Door by Dr. Maurice Rawlings. Dr. Rawlings, a specialist in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Disease, resuscitated many people who had been clinically dead. Dr. Rawlings, a devout atheist, "considered all religion "hocus-pocus" and death nothing more than a painless extinction". But something happened in 1977 that brought a dramatic change in the life of Dr. Rawlings! He was resuscitating a man, terrified and screaming — descending down into the flames of hell: "Each time he regained heartbeat and respiration, the patient screamed, "I am in hell!" He was terrified and pleaded with me to help him. I was scared to death. . . Then I noticed a genuinely alarmed look on his face. He had a terrified look worse than the expression seen in death! This patient had a grotesque grimace expressing sheer horror! His pupils were dilated, and he was perspiring and trembling — he looked as if his hair was "on end." Then still another strange thing happened. He said,"Don't you understand? I am in hell. . . Don't let me go back to hell!" . . .the man was serious, and it finally occurred to me that he was indeed in trouble. He was in a panic like I had never seen before." (Maurice Rawlings, Beyond Death's Door,(Thomas Nelson Inc., 1979) p. 3). Dr. Rawlings said, no one, who could have heard his screams and saw the look of terror on his face could doubt for a single minute that he was actually in a place called hell! The Bible continually warns of a place called hell. There are over 162 references in the New Testament alone which warns of hell. And over 70 of these references were uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ! In Luke 16, Jesus Christ gives a frightening picture of hell: 22 . . . the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. (Luke 16:22-28) HELL IS A PLACE OF FIRE : The man in Luke 16:24 cries: ". . .I am tormented in this FLAME." In Matthew 13:42, Jesus says: "And shall cast them into a FURNACE OF FIRE: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting FIRE,. . ." Revelation 20:15 says, " And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the LAKE OF FIRE." http://www.av1611.org/hell.html Matthew 5:30 warns, “And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is

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profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” Are you taking hell seriously and trusting God to save you from hell? Are you warning others about the danger of hell?

311)

THE PROMISED LAND DENIED TO MOSES

Deuteronomy 34:5,7-8 “So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were.”

Moses, the illustrious leader of the people of Israel had been a faithful servant of God, yet at the end of his life he was not allowed into the Promised Land. Why? The Jewish News of Greater Pheonix comments: “After a catalogue of the transgressions of the nation of Israel in the desert - the sin of the golden calf, the sin of the scouts, the sin of the rebels against Moses and Aaron - we come now to the saddest and most perplexing of transgressions: the sin of Moses himself. As the Bible records the tragic happening, the Israelites once again find themselves in the desert without water and complain bitterly to Moses and Aaron. God instructs Moses and Aaron to "take the rod ... and before their very eyes order the rock to yield its water. ... And Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod. Out came copious water, and the community and their beasts drank. But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you did not trust Me enough to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them.' " (Numbers 20:8,11,12) The punishment that God metes out to Moses and Aaron is clear: they will not enter the Promised Land. But as to the nature of the sin that warranted such an extreme penalty, the biblical text is much more ambiguous. Was it that Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God had commanded? Does not the punishment seem to be rather severe for so minor an infraction? In attempting to understand the nature of Moses' transgression, it is important to compare this biblical account with Moses' interpretation of the incident when he refers to it in his farewell address to the nation. Moses recounts the sin and punishment of the 10 scouts and the generation swayed by their report, and then adds: "Because of you the Lord was incensed with me too, and God said, 'You shall not enter it either.' " (Deuteronomy 1:37) Moses further recounts that in the incident of the scouts, the

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initiative for dispatching the envoys emanated from the nation. However, according to the text, they merely wanted to ascertain the safest access roads and the best approach to the Promised Land. But Moses broadened the instructions and mandated the messengers to scout out the military capability of the inhabitants as well as the fortification of the cities. To be sure, Moses never expected that they would return and convince the Israelites that attempt at conquest would be folly. But herein lies the fatal flaw in Moses' leadership: He thought he could broaden the mandate to the envoys but never expected that panic might set in and thwart the entire venture of entry into the Promised Land. He clearly overestimated his people.” http://www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/020621/torah.shtml It was Joshua who got the honour of leading the children of Isreal into the Promised Land. In Joshua 1:3,5,7,13 God says “Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. Remember the word which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, saying, The LORD your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.” While it may seem unfair that Moses was denied entrance into the Promised Land after struggling with the Israelites for forty years, we have to trust that God had good reasons for not letting him in and that it wasn’t just the minor sin of hitting the rock too hard. Do you trust God in the areas of your life that you do not understand?

312)

WHY DID GOD CREATE THE DEVIL?

Job 1:6-7“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” There are two mistakes that people make regarding the devil. They either ignore him or pay too much attention to him. Some people think that the existence of the devil is just myth while some Christians see a devil under every bush, inadvertently giving him the glory. On the website “Answers Now” the author writes,“Many people deny the existence of the devil. But be assured he is a REAL entity. He has a will, mind, emotions, etc. (To learn more about this, read the Q&A entitled "Is the Devil Real ?"). And the devil has

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many names including Satan, Lucifer (lightbearer, the shining one), the Prince of the power of the air, the god of this age, the ruler of darkness, the Prince of this world, Leviathan, dragon, Apollyon, Beelzebub, Belial, the accuser of the brethren, an angel of light, etc. Anyway, Yes, the devil IS real -- and, the Bible explains his origin, his original purpose, his "fall", and his ultimate fate (destiny). Indeed, the devil (Satan) is mentioned many times in both the Old and the New Testaments of the Bible. In the Old Testament, he is mentioned in Genesis, 1 Chronicles, Job, Psalms, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. And, in the New Testament, he is mentioned in 19 of the 27 books. In fact, Jesus and EVERY New Testament writer refer to him. Obviously the devil is a REAL entity, personality, individual. So, you ask, what is his origin? Where did the devil come from? There are two places in the Bible which describe the origin and the fall of the devil in considerable detail (in Ezekiel 28:12-19 and in Isaiah 14:12-14). And, other passages in the Bible add additional information about him. In Ezekiel, Isaiah, and elsewhere in the Bible, we learn that Satan (the devil) was originally created by God to be an angel -- and not just "any" angel! He was originally created to have a very high rank and position among the angels. Indeed, he was probably the most important and highest ranking of ALL the angels! He was the "anointed Cherub that covereth" (Ezekiel 28:14). He was a guardian Cherub, and, as such, was to protect and present God's Holiness. So, what happened? Why did Lucifer (Satan, the Devil) desert his purpose, role, and position of "Anointed Cherub..., the Guardian Cherub"? How and why did he "fall" from such an exalted position? The passages in Ezekiel and Isaiah tell us the reason. Ezekiel 28:13-17a KJV 28:13 Thou (Lucifer, Satan, Devil) hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the Beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I (God) have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity (sin) was found in thee. 16. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground... and in Isaiah 14:1214 KJV. 14:12. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13. For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yes, The passages in Ezekiel and Isaiah tell us the reason that satan (the devil) fell from his high ranking position of Anointed Cherub (Angel). And, the bottom line reason that Lucifer (Satan, the Devil) became a "fallen" angel was because of PRIDE! This anointed Cherub, one of, and probably THE highest ranking of all the angels decided that he wanted to be the one who was worshiped and adored by all. This most beautiful and powerful and high ranking angel had a WILL and said: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yes, Satan

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wanted to be # 1. He desired to be above and greater than God, his Creator! It was the PRIDE of Satan that caused his downfall.” http://answersnow.homestead.com/files/devlorgn.html After his fall the devil became the father of lies. In John 8:44 Jesus warns, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” God created satan to be a beautiful, powerful being, however, it was his choice to become evil and drag one third of the angels and millions of hapless human being with him. Are you resisting the devil? He will flee from you if you do. James 4:7 exhorts us to, “ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

313)

THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL

Job 23: 1-3 “Then Job answered and said, Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!” If anyone ever felt estranged from God and in a dark valley, Job did. He lost his possessions, his family, his status, and his health. Many years after Job’s crisis, Saint John of the cross coined the popular term “dark night of the soul” in his mystic poem “Stanazas of the Soul” which is a long poem describing his experiences of trying to find God. A short portion of the poem is the following: Stanzas Of The Soul 1. One dark night, fired with love's urgent longings - ah, the sheer grace! I went out unseen, my house being now all stilled. 2. In darkness, and secure, by the secret ladder, disguised, - ah, the sheer grace! in darkness and concealment, my house being now all stilled. 3. On that glad night, in secret, for no one saw me, nor did I look at anything, 50 50

with no other light or guide than the one that burned in my heart…. http://www.karmel.at/ics/john/dn.html The following Wikipedia article describes the poem and its author. “Dark Night of the Soul is a treatise written by Spanish poet and Roman Catholic mystic Saint John of the Cross. It has become an expression used to describe a phase in a person's spiritual life, a metaphor for a certain loneliness and desolation. It is referenced by spiritual traditions throughout the world. History and description: The phrase "dark night of the soul" emerged from the writings of Saint John of the Cross, a Carmelite priest in the 16th century. Dark Night of the Soul, the name of a poem and its theological commentary, are among the Carmelite priest's most wellknown writings. The texts tell of the saint's mystical development and the stages he is subjected to on his journey towards union with God. The Dark Night of the Soul is divided into two books that reflect the two phases of the dark night. The first is a purification of the senses. The second and more intense of the two stages is that of the spirit, which is the less common of the two. Dark Night of the Soul further describes the ten steps on the ladder of mystical love, previously described by Saint Thomas Aquinas and in part by Aristotle, referred to by medieval Catholic theologians as the Philosopher, for he established justification for the existence of one true God and thus refuted his master, Plato. The text was written while John of the Cross was imprisoned by his Carmelite brothers, who opposed his reformations to the Order. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, a 19th-century French Carmelite, underwent similar experience. Centering on doubts about the afterlife, she reportedly told her fellow nuns, "If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into." [1]While this crisis is assured to be temporary in nature, it may be extended. The "dark night" of Saint Paul of the Cross in the 18th century lasted 45 years, from which he ultimately recovered. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, according to letters released in 2007, "may be the most extensive such case on record", lasting from 1948 almost up until her death in 1997, with only brief interludes of relief between [2]. Franciscan Friar Father Benedict Groeschel, a friend of Mother Teresa for a large part of her life, claims that "the darkness left" towards the end of her life [3]. The "dark night" might clinically or secularly be described as letting go of one's egos as it holds back the psyche, thus making room for some form of transformation, perhaps in a person's way of defining him or her self or his or her relationship to God. This interim period can be frightening, hence the perceived "darkness." In the Christian tradition, one who has developed a strong prayer life and consistent devotion to God suddenly finds traditional prayer extremely difficult and unrewarding for an extended period of time during this "dark night." The individual may feel as though God has suddenly abandoned them or that his or her prayer life has collapsed. Rather than resulting in devastation, however, the dark night is perceived by mystics and others to be a blessing in disguise, whereby the individual is stripped (in the dark night of the senses) of the spiritual ecstacy associated with acts of virtue. Although the individual may for a time seem to outwardly decline in their practices of virtue, they in reality become more virtuous, as they are being virtuous less for the spiritual rewards (ecstasies in the cases of the first night) obtained and more out of a true love for God. It is this purgatory, a purgation of the soul, that brings purity and union with God.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_night In Job the patriarch agonizes, “ Job 23:8-15 “Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him: On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him: But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall

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come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him. Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him.” Are you living through a dark night of the soul? Don’t worry you have lots of company and some day God will lift the night. Revelation 22:5 talks about heaven, “ And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” The dark night of the soul will be eliminated according to God’s timetable.

314)

A BETTER MOUSE TRAP?

1 Samuel 6:4, 5, 11, 18 “Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land. And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods. And the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great stone of Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: which stone remaineth unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Bethshemite.” The Philistines had some embarrassing, painful problems to deal with. God had sent them a plague of mice and hemmroids. Some commentators have said that they were stricken with the Bubonic Plague and that they were dying. In any case they were overwhelmed with rodents and needed a better mouse trap. What they decided to do was to make models of mice and hemmroids as a peace offering to God, place them with the Ark of the Covenant, and send all this back to Israel. The website called, “Know Your Bible” comments, “The stay of the Ark of the Covenant among the Philistines for SEVEN months was another penalty for the SEVEN lambs that Abraham had given king Avimelech (Bereishis Rabbah 54). The story of the return of the Ark by the Philistines to Beth Shemesh subtly contrasts the attitude of the Philistines towards it with that of the Israelites who received it, serving as a reproof to the latter for failing to show the proper respect. (A similar lack of respect is often visible in present-day places of "worship".) The Philistines consult their priests and magician-diviners as to a fitting way to return the Ark that had created such havoc in their land (a terrible infestation of mice) and in their very innards (the hemorrhoids). (According to one Midrash the mice jumped up into their anuses and pulled out their innards, making this plague no less striking than those of Egypt .) The priests and magicians answer that the Philistines must SHOW that they understand that the plague was from God by offering GOLDEN MICE and

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GOLDEN HEMORRHOIDS. "Then you shall be healed, and HE WILL BE KNOWN TO YOU – why would He then not turn his hand away from you" (ch 6 v 3). Nevertheless the Philistines did not quite believe in God's supreme power. They believed in a variety of divine powers and knew of the wrath of the gods, which they sought to propitiate, but they also believed in luck and chance. This was why they set up the test of the cow-drawn wagon to see if the plague might not have been chance. "And you will see, if it goes up by way of his boundary to Beth Shemesh, He did this great evil to us, but if not, we shall know that it was not His hand that plagued us, it was a CHANCE that occurred to us" (v. 9). The test was set up to be as difficult as possible. Two nursing cows were brought to draw the wagon laden with the heavy wooden gold-covered ark and its contents of stone together with the golden Cherubim together with the box of golden mice and golden hemorrhoids, while their suckling calves were held back in the house behind them. The last thing a nursing cow that has never had to work wants to do is to turn her back on her new-born calf and drag an exceedingly heavy wagon in the opposite direction.” http://www.azamra.org/Bible/I%20Samuel%2067.htm Opposing God and trying to hide your sin can have very embarassing consequences. In Numbers 32:23 God warns, “ But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.” Are you hiding some secret sins? It’s time to come clean with God, before your sin is revealed and you are embarassed.

315)

WORLD WAR THREE

Luke 21:25 “And there shall be sig