God Loves Each of Us as if There Were Only One of Us!

Loving Father, thank You for making me Your child and giving me a place in Your family. With a greatful heart, I thank You for making me Yours.

Notice the nature of this transaction. We have been chosen by God and adopted as His children. I don’t believe we are adopted. I believe we are already children of God even before the adoption people talk about. And I am not saying they are wrong. We are living in amazing days. All around us we see evidence of the soon return of Jesus Christ. Just remember that Christ, Himself, said not to worry about the time of He’s return, nobody knows when He will return. Only the our Father in heaven does. Ephesians 1:3-12 > vv 4-5; He chose us in Him … Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself. That strong sense of identification and gratitude for adoptive parents. As followers of Christ, we have been born from above through faith in Him and have been adopted into the family of God. Paul wrote, “He chose us in Him before the Foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”

Psalms 91:2- I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Inspiration We should never forget that only God can be our refuge; He is our place of rest and security. There is no one we can pit our trust in completely beside God. Only God has promised to keep us from the wiles of the enemy and see us through the challenges and temptations of life. Prayer: Dear God, I am grateful that I can find my rest in You. There is no one else and nothing else that can give me peace and protect me, the way You do, Father. Thank you for always being faithful in Your promises, Lord. I have every reason to put my trust in You and I will never forget that. In Jesus’ name Amen.

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Feed on the Word! Proverbs 4:20-21 > “Attend to my words; include thine ear unto my saying. Let them not depart from thine eyes.”

Centering on God perpares our hearts and strengthens us for the day. In that quiet place He comforts us, He instructs us, He listens to us. There we learn to love Him and worship Him again; we esteem His words and defers to Him once more. We get Him fresh perspective on the problems and possibilities of our day.

Once you’ve made the Word of God final authority in your life, your first step to victory over the attacks of the enemy is to go to the Word and lay hold of God’s promises concerning your situation.

Be a Blessing: If traditional religion has taught you that God wants your poor and oppressed, I have good news for you today. The Bible says, “God takes pleasure” in your prosperity. God wants you to prosper! Not just in the financial realm but in every area of your life., spirit, soul, and body. No matter where you are or who you are, Gods want to see you delivered from every adverse situation. Why? Because He loves you and has a job for you to do. He wants you to help meet the needs of mankind and He’s smart enough to know that you can’t give away what you don’t have. You can’t give to spread the gospel or buy food for the hungry when you’re broke. You can’t go out laying hands on the sick when you’re lying in a hospital bed. You can’t minister joy to others when you’re being held captive by depression. No! You have to be blessed to be a blessing. If you really want to tap into the riches of God today, make up your mind to be a blessing to others, and before you know it, you’ll be receiving more from than you ever dream. That’s what happened to me. I decided years ago, first and foremost, to be a giver. I developed a lifestyle of giving. Today, I literally “live to give.” And I don’t mind telling you, God dumps blessings on me by the truckload! He’ll do the same for if you’ll become His servant – if you’ll lay down time and your money and your love for those who need it. Become a giver – and God will take pleasure in prospering you! Read Scripture Genesis 12:12, 12:1-4.

Jesus The Christ  – The Coming of the Messiah (Ca. 5 B.C. – A.D. 30) 

All is now ready for the most important event in human history. It is an event planned even before the creation of the world. It is the keeping of a promise made to Abraham over 2000 years earlier. It is the fulfillment of a host of prophecies regarding a Messiah who would come dynamically new relationship between God and men. The event is the coming of the Savior of the world, the Messiah  – or, as referred to in the Greek, the Christ.                This Christ is not to be just another world leader, as Cyrus, Alexander, or Caesar. He is not to be just another great man of God, as Abraham, Moses, or David. He is to be God himself in human flesh! The Lord of heaven is to become a servant of the earth. God, who has previously made himself known through a nation and a law, is now to reveal himself in the most personal way possible  – in the form of a man. Until now God’s blessed have reserved mostly for a chosen people, but now they are to become available to all people in every generation.   Who is this Christ, this Messiah? His name is Jesus. His symbolic name, Immanuel (meaning “God with us”), signifies his deity. He is man, to be sure, but God as well; and he is God – the God of Creation  – but man as – well. God lowers himself so that man might be elevated. He leaves heaven so that man might enter it. To man, who cannot begin to understand the ways of God, it is clearly a great mystery. But what a marvelous and wonderful mystery it is!                                                                                           As the New Testament record now begins, the Scriptures proclaim the good news the salvation of mankind which comes through obedient faith in Jesus the Christ. The good news begins with the miraculous birth of Jesus to a virgin of Galilee in the days of Herod, King of Judea. Then, as Jesus grows into manhood, his coming as the promised Messiah and Savior is announced by John the Baptist. As Jesus begins his own ministry, he confirms his deity with miraculous healings and other signs and wonders, and proclaims the imminent coming of the kingdom of God. His teaching calls men and women to new spiritual heights in their worship of God and in their relationships with one another. But because his teaching challenges traditional practices of the Jewish religion of his day, and because he claims divine authority, Jesus meets strong opposition from religious leaders. That opposition ultimately leads to arrest and trial before Jewish and Roman authorities. Although falsely accused, Jesus is condemned and sentenced to death by crucifixion – an event which is intended to silence both the man and his message. Instead, the good news comes to a grave and shows himself alive, proving his own miraculous resurrection. The Christian hope which derives from the gospel message is that, just as Jesus is raised from the dead, so also the rigorous in Christ will be raised to eternal life!

The Gospel Accounts: Although secular history attests to his ministry and influence, the details of Jesus’ life were never preserved in an explicitly biographical form. What is known about the historical Jesus comes primarily from the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – four of Jesus’ disciples. However, none of the accounts purports to be a biography of Jesus, as such, despite the fact that certain aspects of his life are covered in great detail and are usually set within specific historical context. The Gospel accounts, while clearly historic in nature, are principally documents of faith – the record of those events and teaching upon which Jesus’ followers based their belief and hope. Therefore the exact times and places of those events are not always recorded, and the actual sequence of events can be traced with only limited certainly. The Gospel accounts vary in the order in which the record of Jesus’ ministry is presented. Apart from the fact the Gospel accounts were never intended as chronological records, the differences in sequential order may be attributed to several factors. First of all, each account was written also focused upon different events, either because he was writing primarily to a particular audience or because he wished to achieve a particular purpose in his writing. This is especially true, for example, of John’s account. This also explains why some events are recorded by only one, or perhaps two, of the Gospel writers, and why one account will include certain particulars not included in other accounts of the same event. Although a cursory study discloses a striking harmony not expected of purely human documents which might have been written under the same diversity of time and circumstances. What follows is a combination of the four Gospel accounts with an integration of the recorded events as nearly as possible in their proper chronological sequence. As previously indicated, any such attempt necessarily involves a degree of speculation, because it is simply not revealed when certain events actually occurred. It is not certain whether Jesus’ entire ministry lasted for 2 1/2 years or 3 1/2 years. Each position has its supporters. Much of the problem of dating depends upon which feasts Jesus attended, and upon references to certain seasons of the year. The harmony which follows assumes a 3 1/2 year ministry. While major areas of Jesus’ ministry can be ascertained fairly easily, it is not always easy to know which events occurred within which major ministry. Sometimes it is also difficult to judge whether two very similar events actually occurred twice or whether there was only one such event which was recorded in a somewhat different context by a different writer. Examples of the problem are the cleanings of the temple and the laments over Jerusalem. In developing this particular harmony of the Gospel, the usual approach is to take single account which most completely records a particular event and use it as a basis for the full text. To that account is added any significant additional aspects of the event which are recorded by any other writer. As often to maintain a given literacy style and continuity of authorship. This approach becomes increasingly difficult to maintain at the end of Jesus’ ministry, since all four accounts recorded most of the final events, often from different perspectives. The following scheme is used to alert the reader to the composition of the harmony. In the margin beside each paragraph. Repetitive verses are indicated by light-face type. Where more than one account is used in the text, the text itself will indicate which account is being cited at the time. In addition, there are also marginal indications of the geographic location of particular occurrences and the dates and times of given events as best as can be determined. Attempted to assign exact times, dates, and locations often depend solely upon a generally assumed framework which cannot be verified with complete accuracy. However, having some frame of reference seems desirable as an aid to better understanding the wonderful life and ministry of Jesus.

Introductions by the Gospel Writers: Mark’s account begins simply, The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark introduces the reader to the good news about Jesus the Christ which is about to be told. That good news is beautifully summarized by John in a prologue to his account. It begins, as does the first book of Old Testament Scripture, with the creation of man, and shows that the Word (a designation for God as Christ) was not only the source through which all things were made, but also came into this world in human form as the man Jesus. It also shows that through Jesus mankind has received the grace of God unto salvation, as attested to during Christ’s ministry by John the Baptist, a special messenger of God. In his own introduction, Luke writes to a man by the name of Theophilus in order to provide a more complete narrative of the life and work of this incarnate Word, Jesus the Christ, and of the things accomplished by Jesus’ followers. Luke points out that, prior to his own account, other writers had already undertaken to record the events surrounding Jesus’ coming and the work of his disciples during his ministry. Thus the records of Christ began to be compiled soon after his death and resurrection.

Luke 1:1-4 > Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainly of the things have been taught.

The Genealogies of Jesus: Matthew’s account has no formal interpretation, but rather begins with the genealogy tracing the descent of Jesus from his ancestor, Abraham, through the royal lineage of David the King. Matthew lists 42 of the known generation and divides these into the groups of 14 each. The genealogy is traced through Jesus’ legal father, Joseph, as the husband of the virgin Mary, to whom Jesus was born. Matthew’s genealogy contains several happy surprises. Back in Jesus’ early roots are not only such notable righteous men as Abraham and David, but also several who stand out in history as being particularly unrighteous, including wicked King Manasseh. Not only are there Jews, as would be expected, but also Gentiles, including a Canaanite and a Moabite, whose respective countrymen have been notorious enemies of God’s people. Also somewhat surprising, in view of their social status at this time, is the listing of women as well as men. Furthermore, at least two of the women are known best for sins which they had committed. A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Matthew 1:1-17 – Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose nother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab, Amminadab the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose nother was Rahab, Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife, Solomon the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah, Uzziah the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amon, Amon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

After the exile to Babylon: Jeconish was the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, Abiud the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile of Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.

Luke also provides a genealogy of Jesus, but his account traces the lineage directly through Jesus’ mother, Mary. This explains the difference in ancestors from Heli (assumed to be the father-in-law of Mary’s husband, Joseph) to David. Luke’s genealogy also goes beyond Abraham, all the way back through Noah, Enoch, Seth, and Adam to God, Himself, who created the human race. (Read Luke 3:23-38) Perhaps the most significant aspect of these generations is the connection between Jesus and his ancestor, King David. The prophets of old had repeatedly foretold that the Messiah would be of the house of David, and a branch of Jesse, David’s father. Therefore, from the Jews’ perspective, Jesus is of the royal lineage and worthy to be King of Israel. While this brings comfort to many, it brings confusion to others, who are expecting the Messiah to be the same kind of political king as those who reigned before him.

The Births of Jesus and John the Baptist: Jesus is to be born in Judea approximately 747 years after the foundation of Rome. Now in the time of Herod the Great, who has been granted the title “King of the Jews” by the Roman senate under Emperor Caesar Augustus, the former land of Palestine is divided into the province of Judea, Samaria, and Galilee to the west of the Jordan River, and Perea and Decapolis to the east. The cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem are both in Judea, while Nazareth is in Galilee. That Jesus is born in the province of Judea is surprising because his family’s home is in Nazareth, some 75 miles north. But, due to a decree by Caesar Augustus requiring everyone to return to his own city, Jesus’ birth takes place in Bethlehem – the very city named by the prophet Micah over 700 years earlier! If that fulfillment is not enough to catch the attention of those familiar with earlier prophecies, an even more amazing fulfillment is involved – namely, Jesus’ virgin birth. Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Certainly there have been miraculous births before, as when couples were beyond the normal age of childbearing. Abraham and Sarah are the foremost example, and Zechariah and Elizabeth are soon to become another. However, never before nor since has a woman conceived without the seed of man. Not only is Mary a virgin in the sense of being a young woman, but, more importantly, she is a virgin in the fact that she has not had sexual relations with either her fianc’e, Joseph, or any other man. The Gospel accounts state unequivocally that Jesus is miraculously conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit of God. The divine nature of Jesus’ birth is both wonderful and exciting, but the human side of the story is touching in and to itself. Although she is told in advance about the miraculous birth, Mary must surely feel the embarrassment of being thought unchaste by her family and friends. She must surely feel the weight of cercern in the mind of Joseph. When the two of them find themselves far from home at the time of delivery, they must both feel a terrible isolation and awesome expectation about this special child from God. Yet Mary’s confident faith and Joseph’s loving support are both rewarded with more celebration than any other human family has ever known at the arrival of a new child. From lowly shepherds on the earth to the highest halls of heaven, the majesty of the occasion is heralded with songs of joy. As the account of Jesus’ birth begins, there is another birth announced as well – that of God’s special messenger, John, who, because of his ministry of repentance and baptism, will later be known as John the Baptist. Luke and Matthew tell the story of the two births and of the early events which follow in the young life of Jesus.

The Visit of the Magi and Flight into Egypt: The rite of purification takes place 40 days after Jesus’ birth and ordinarily would have required the offering of a yearling lamb and a pigeon. However, the law permits poor parents, such as Joseph and Mary are to offer a second pigeon or dove instead of the lamb, which they cannot afford. Thus, even by his parents’ offering of purification, it can be seen that Jesus comes humbly into the world. Despite these lowly beginnings, news of Jesus’ brith spreads quickly throughout Judea and neyond its borders. Matthew records the account of a visit to Bethlehem by certain philosophers-priests who, interestingly enough, may even be pagan Zoroastrians from Persia. Their presumed contact with Jews of the Dispersion has undoubtedly made them familiar with the Jewish Messiah of prophecy. The Magi are prompted to travel the great distance to Jerusalem because of a star which appeared at the time of Jesus’ birth. It is not known how many make the journey (certainly no compelling evidence exists for the traditional three), butvthey apparently arrive some six months after Jesus’ birth and inquire as to the child’s whereabouts. By this time Joseph and Mary have found accommodations in a house, and it is in this house the Magi’s gifts are offered to the newborn “King of the Jews.” King Herod is alarmed by the Magi’s visit because believes Jesus’ birth poses a political threat to his reign, Herod sends his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all male children eho might have been born within the time-frame suggested by the Magi’s calculations. By Jewish reckoning, any child over 12 months is considered two years old. Since apparently six months have passed following Jesus’ birth, Herod makes his order broad enough to prevent any mistake by including all of the extimated 40 to 50 baby biys in Bethlehem who would be up to 12 or 13 months old at this time. As will becseen, however, Joseph will be warned about the slaughter and will quickly depart for Egypt, where he and Mary and the child Jesus will stay until after Herod’s own death.

From Infancy to Manhood: After their brief stay in Egypt, Joseph and Mary return to their home in Nazareth of Galilee, where Joseph resumes his trade as a carpenter. Over the nextcten years Jesus continues to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. There is no further record of Jesus until, at the age of 12, he is taken to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. At age 12, Jesus has reached the point at which a Jewish boy is soon to become a “son of the law,” which law he is expected to learn and obey. But Jesus’ understanding of the law is far greater than that of other boys his age. After the Passover celebration is completed, Jesus’ parents lose track of his whereabouts until they discover him profound conversation with the learned rabbis. When his parents express their concern about his leaving them, Jesus gives a response which indicates that, even now, he is aware of his divine sonship and role as the Messiah. Litter more is known of Jesus’ first 30 years. It is known that Jesus has at least four brothers – James, Judas (Jude), and Simon – and also come sisters, who are nit named. Because there is no further reference to Joseph, it appears that he probably died while Jesus was still a relatively young man. The support of his mother and younger brothers and sisters, therefore, would naturally fall upon Jesus as the firstborn. For many years, Jesus evidently has provided for his family by working as a carpenter, having learned the trade from his father. Now at about the age of 30 – the Jewish age of spiritual leadership – Jesus turns from the work of supporting his earthly family to the task of spiritually feeding the whole family of man.

The Ministry of John the Baptist: When it comes time for Jesus to carry out his divine commission, the ground has already been broken by the successful military of John the Baptist, who proclaims Jesus to be “the Lamb of God.” John thereby sets the stage for Jesus’ own claim that he is the Messiah. As seen so many times before, the Jews have been awaiting the coming of the prophesied Messiah, believing that he will deliver them from political bondage and be an ideal national leader. What they have not expected is a leader arising from among the common people – yet divine in nature – and establishing a spiritual rather than a political kingdom. Perhaps because of this very misconception, John the Baptist is called to prepare the way for Jesus and to testify on his behalf. It is with this announcement of Jesus’ special ministry that the gospel message begins its central focus, as seen by the fact that only at this point do Mark and John begin their Gospel accounts. Jesus’ forerunner, John, is a prophet of priestly descent, as were several of the prophets of old. Like Elijah, John is not a writer, but an evangelist and a spokesman for God whose outspoken preaching of repentance and baptism brings him multitudes of disciples. Some of these disciples will be so devoted to John and his teaching that they will not accept even the deity of Jesus, which John is sent to proclaim. As with most of his fellow prophets, John’s teaching of spiritual purity is accompanied by strong appeals for practical ethical toward one’s fellowman. Living much of his time in desert areas and exciting on a diet of locusts and honey, John strikes an image of being some kind of ascetic wild man. HOWEVER, his lifestyle is probably dictated more out of necessity than eccentricity, and is by no means offensive to the throngs who come from the cities to hear him. The more intriguing question is why sophisticated city people would go out of their way to be taught byca rough man of the wilderness whose preaching is unusually harsh and demanding. Could it be,, ironically, that John’s appeal lies in the very strictness of his message, which is in sharp contrast to the soft religiosity peddled by religious leaders seeking popular support? Could it be that John’s call for personal purity and individual righteousness which has given the highest possible honor when even Jesus himself comes to receive John’s baptism. Although it is not for sins that Jesus is baptized, his exemplary act of ceremonial washing gives occasion for a dramatic confirmation of his deity.

Jesus Faces Temptation: One of the big, as-yet-unanswered questions about Jesus’ identity is whether he, as God in the flesh, is vulnerable to the same temptations which all other people face. Although not every temptation which Jesus may encounter will be found in the Gospel accounts, the writers do record a series of temptations which are representative of most of the temptations faced by man. In various encounters with Satan, Jesus must deal with the need to satisfy fleshly appetites, the urge to acquire that which pleases the eye, and the desire to give vent to pride. This is no academic exercise. As he does with everyone else, Satan confronts Jesus when he is most vulnerable. Jesus has just had a mountaintop spiritual experience: he has been honored by the voice from heaven. How tempting it would be to flaunt his deity in some dramatic way! He is beginning his mission to a world looking desperately for a leader. How tempting it would be to acquire the whole world’s allegiance in one fell swoop! And at the time of the first temptation, Jesus is physically weakened from a 40-day fast. How tempting it would be to produce that which would satisfy normal human hunger! In every case Jesus’ response to temptation is the same. Along in the desert of temptation, Jesus – divine though he is – recognizes the value of prayer and fasting, and with every temptation he recalls the words of Scripture, which are a reminder of truth and wisdom in the faces of Satan’s lies. Throughout his life Jesus will continue to resist all temptation and remain sinless. It is his righteousness – beyond the righteousness of even such great prophets as Elijah and now John the Baptist – that shows Jesus to be the Messiah. By virtue of the heavenly annunciation which he witnesses, John is convinced that Jesus is not incomparably righteous, but also truly God’s Anointed One, the Christ. John therefore repudiates any possibility of himself being viewed as the Messiah, and forcefully proclaims Jesus as the messianic Lamb of God.

Jesus’ Early Work in Judea, Samaria, and Galilee: eThe early ministry of Jesus is reported solely by the apostle John. His account shows that Jesus’ teaching quickly appeals to the common people and results in many faithful disciples. It is during this time that Jesus also performs his first miracles. And just as Nehemiah had done centuries before, Jesus wastes no time in confronting those who profane the sanctity of the temple worship. Jesus also makes it clear from the beginning that his message of salvation will extend beyond the Jewish nation to all people. As to empathize the university of his spiritual kingdom, Jesus takes his ministry to the Samaritans. The people of mixed nationlity and religion have been archenemies of the Jews ever since their ancestors were brought in from Assyria to repopulate northern Israel after the first Jews were taken into Assyria captivity. So Jesus’ outreach to Gentiles could not begin more pointedly. The ministry of John the Baptist will come to an end when he is oned by Herod Antipas, the second son of Herod the Great, who became tetrarch over the provinces of Galilee and Perea upon his father’s death. The reason for John’s imprisonment will subsequently appear, but for nowthe Gospel accounts resume with John the Baptist pointed his own disciples to the true Lamb of God.

Beginning of the Great Galilean Ministry: Apparently in order to emphasize the nature of his ministry, Jesus does not come as a religious leaders in any traditional to be a priest or other cleric. Instead, he takes his ministry to the city streets and roads of Palestine, to homes and  fields, and wherever else the common people might be found. He is particularly fond of attending the Jewish synagogues, where the common man is permitted to discuss the meaning of Jewish Scripture. Rejected by those closest to him in Nazareth, Jesus takes his ministry elsewhere. Surprisingly, though, it is not to Jerusalem and surrounding Judea that Jesus, goes, despite the fact that Jerusalem is the Holy City – capital of ancient Israel, site of the temple, and surely, as the Jews anticipate it, the seat of the coming Messiah’s government. Contrary to their expectation, Jesus takeschis ministry primarily to Galilee. Using the city of Capernaum as a base for his travels, Jesus teaches and performs miracles around the Sea of Galilee (Lake of Gennesaret) and throughout the entire province. It is here that Jesus gains popularity among the people and begins to see the crowds swell. Matthew begins his account of the Galilean ministry by observing that this phrase of Jesus’ ministry is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

The Start of Opposition! This confrontation is but the first of many which will tkae place between Jesus and the religious leaders of his day. By undicatingthat he hascthe divine authority to forgive sins, Jesus naturally arouses immediate reaction from the Scribes and Pharisees. Since they correctly believe that God can forgive sins, they reject the possibility that Jesus jimself is divine and conclude instead that he is guilty of blasphemy.

In addition to the written law given through Moses, the Pharisees accepted as equally binding oral traditions of the rabbis, which traditions have evolved into a highly ritualistic set of religious observances. So when Jesus and his disciples violate some of these traditional rules, the Pharisees are highly offended. Through two parables Jesus tells them that their system of legalistic observances simply will not substitute for the true righteousness which God has always demanded.

John alone records what is apparently a brief trip to Jerusalem, where Jesus attends “a feast of the Jews.” Although the exact feast is not indicated, there is strong evidence that it is the Passover of A.D. 28. (Some believe it was Pentecost or the feast of Tabernacles.) While in Jerusalem, Jesus is once again criticized, this time for healing a man on the Sabbath, the day on which no work is to be done. If there was ever a perfect example of the fallacy of legalism, surely this is it. The incident also raises some fundamental questions: which is at stake – the law itself, or only interpretations of the law? Under what circumstances, if any, may the letter of the law be disregarded in favor of higher concerns consistent with the spirit of the law? Does Jesus consider the law given through Moses to be binding upon his disciples? These very legitimate questions are clearly on the minds of the religious establishment.

Despite growing opposition, Jesus continues to go about teaching and performing miracles, yet almost consciously without fanfar. As if to underscore the urgency of his mission in the face of opposition, Jesus apoints 12 of His own disciples as specially chosen apostles to aid Him, in His ministry. With their added support, Jesus continues to attract even greater crowds from akong the common people.

Matthew (Levi) is called – once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sittingg at a tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him.

Eating with Sinners: Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of a tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not to come to call the righteous, but the sinners.”

Disciples Not Fasting: They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”                     Jesus answered, “Can you make the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”                                                                 He told them this parable: “No one tears a patech from a new garment  and sews it on an old one. If he have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new win into old wineskins. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skin, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old win wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.'”

Healing At the Pool of Bethesda: Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie-the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.  One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned thar he had been in this condition for a long time,  he asked him, “Do you want ot get well?”                      “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water moves. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”                                 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.

Healed Man Questioned:                                                                The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, “Pick up your mat and walk.'”                                                                            So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up ans walk?”           The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.          Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” The man went awayand told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.

The Sermon on the Mount:                                The “Sermon on the Mount” is perhaps the most familiar instructive sermon evr presented by Jesus. Matthew and Luke may record Jesus’ teaching in two different settings, although the content appears much the same. Just as many of Jesus’ sermons are apparently never recorded, so too some of his collection of Jesus’ teachings brings one to the heart of his message concerning the kingdom of God.              Covering a broad spectrum of spiritual topics, Jesus speaks of the nature of the kingdom, of repentance, of faith, and of worship-and particularly of prayer and humility. Always demonstrating a concern for human welfare, Jesus deals specifically with family and social relationships and discusses at length the effect of possessions on one’s faith and peace of mind. The discourses begins beautifully with the blessings in store for the righteous, and harshly with the woes which will befall those whose lives are spiritually rebellious.

Beatitudes Proclaimed: Now when he saw the crowds, he wentup on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:                   “Blessed are  the poor in spirit, for theirs is  the kingdom  of heaven.                                                                              Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.                                                 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.                              Blessed  are  those  who hunger  and thirst for righteousness, for they  will  be filled.                            Blessed are the merciful, for they will  be shown mercy.                                              Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.  Blessed  are  the peacemakers, for they will  be sons of God.    Blessed  are  those  who  are presecuted because of righteousness, for theirs  is  the kingdom  of  heaven.                                  “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute  you  and falsely say all kinds of  evil against  you because  of me. Rejoice  and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

WOES PRONOUNCED: “But woe to who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.                                           Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.     Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.   Woe to you when all men speak of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

The Ministry Continues: Such perspective and authoritative teaching has obviously won the attention of the multitudes, who have long been disillusioned by the empty ritualism and superficiality of their present religious systems. As Jesus’ fame continues to spread, John the Baptist sends message to Jesus asking for final confirmation of his messiahship. John is perhaps sensing an impending death and undoubtedly wants to reassure himself that his ministry has not been in vain. Jesus sends message of reassurance and praise John for his courage and dedication as a servant of God.                                No doubt by this time the religious leaders are also becoming increasingly aware of Jesus’ extraordinary power. Instead of accepting it as a divine, they accuse Jesus of having the power of Satan. What follows is a scathing rebuke of the Pharisees for their disbelief and hypocrisy, and an urgent call for repentance. The events leading to this confrontation begin to unfold as Jesus makes his way from the mountain back to Capernaum.

Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-10 > Capernaum.                                Centurion’s Slave Healed: When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant. When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man desrves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” I say to you many will come from the east and west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subject of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour. Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Teaching Through Parables:

Women’s Devotional Daily Bread: Scriptures are offen taken from the only Word that’s true. God’s living Word!

You are invited to come on a journey. A journey of love, and faith from our loving Heavenly Father, who has sent His only begotten Son our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Welcome to the Torah, also known as the Old Testament, the Women’s Daily Devotional is for all who have believed all their lives and even new believers; Even those just needing encouragement. We are all ready to embark on an exciting journey together through The Word of God, together we will talk about our daily lives. I feel most of us maybe to busy to take on a new adventure and a new relationship. A relationship with Jesus is the only relationship you’ll ever need to get through your busy life. Because you can talk with our Lord anytime and anywhere. He will be with you always. Our relationship with our Father in heaven is the most important relationship your have. He will not leave you or forsake you, NO, matter what! We are together in this. God is love and love is God. If you do not know God you do NOT know love. Love is not a feeling, its an action word. Its about doing what Jesus told us to do. TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS HE HAS LOVED US. There maybe so many things to do in your life invite Jesus in every part of your life. Give him control and your life will go a lot easier. I am not saying your not going to have problems; you will. Our problems are just a test of our faith. Me, my faith noboday can have that belongs to me. Just like your belongs to you. Points to the joy of a relationship with Jesus and the timeless wisdom found in God’s holy Word. Each reading will be based from the Word. Even passages and developed around a story of the Bible. Wisdom from the Word and asking for God’s understanding while reading His love story. There is hope in Jesus. You come to the Father through Jesus just as you are. Let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely. Read Isaiah 55:1-7 > Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live.

If you are a women of today, your life is full – you may even say something that your life is too full. There are so many things to do, so many demands on your time. No matter what day of the week you begin your reading, you simply turn to a devotion for that day. Then for the next day, look to bottom of the devotion

EASTER in the United States April 12, 2020

Easter typically falls on th first Sunday aftr the first full moon occuring on or aftwe the spring equinox. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which adheres to the Julian calendar, Easter falls on a Sunday between April 4th and May 8th each year.

Easter to be a Christian holiday, it is doubtful that they used it to mean a pagan holiday at Acts 12:4 – “To find Easter for ever.”

There are scriptures to honor Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. Easter is a time to celebrate being with family, the newness of spring, and the true meaning of the holiday – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. … “When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and th purple robe, Pilate said to them’ “Here is the man!

The story of the Last Supper is about a wonderful invitation from Jesus to receive his gift! This is a summary about the Last Supper story as told in Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

The Empty Tomb – John 20 and 21 > Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary of Magdala went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciples, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went onto the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial clothes that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had risen from the dead.) Jesus

Appears to Mary of Magdala – Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated were Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said,” and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teachers). Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary of Magdala went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

Jesus Appears to His Disciples: On the evening of the first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and , “Receive the Holy Spirit. Of you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Jesus Appears to Thomas: Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. When the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, he declared, “unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you believe; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.” Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book,. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. 21 – Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish: Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. It happend this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the son of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got a boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but his disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord!” He wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” Simon climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus Reinstates Peter: When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”                                                    “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Yes, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord you know I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this is indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow!” Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one whi had learned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive unti. I return, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

Historical of Old Testament Record: As the historical record of the Old Testament comes to a close, the curtain falls on the early centuries of mankind’s existence. From Adam and Eve to Ezra and Nehemiah, God has revealed himself in the affairs of both individuals and nations. From the earliest days of the nature of God, and to prepare the world for the Savior who will transform man’s sinful condition and bring true life. God’s instrumentality in this plan has been the relatively obscure Hebrew nation of Israel. Some 650 years before it came into being, God promised the faithful patriarch Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation and have a land of their own – and that through them all the people of the earth would be blessed. When the 12 tribes of Israel were delivered out of Egyptian bondage and brought to Mount Sinai, the first promise was fulfilled. God covenants with the new nation of Israel that he would be their God and they in turn covenants that they would be his people. Among other symbols of the covenant was the law given through Moses. In its divine origin and theocratic nature it was like no other law given. Through that law, God elevated moral priests, sacrifices, offerings, Sabbaths, and holy festivals. This rebellion brought 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as punishment. But God in his mercy forgave his people and ,ed them to the promised land of Canaan. After the local inhabitants were substantially subdued over the period of the judges, the nation finally had its own land, and God’s second promise to Abraham was fulfilled. From that point on, it remined only for the nation of Israel to become a blessing to the whole world. In the 120- years-long monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon it seemed that the nation’s rise to prominence and power was the beginning of the third fulfillment. But upon Solomon’s death the rebellion of the people once again brought disaster – this time civil war and a divided kingdom. For 325 years the people become more and more rebellious, turning away from their God, the Creator of the universe, to pagan gods and idols of man’s own making. Because sin always brings death, the people’s sins were a death knell to the nation itself. God used Israel’s territorial enemies his agents of judgment, and both segments of the kingdom were taken captive and carried away into exile. Throughout the period of spiritual and political decline, God had sent one messenger after another, crying out against the people’s sins and warning of impending punishment. And yet, without explanation, every message had ended with a note of hope and a promise of restoration. Exile would end within 70 years, and the temple would of rebuilt. Even beyond that were prophecies of a Messiah who would come and establish an everlasting kingdom of peace and joy. Faithful as always, God fulfilled his promise when he brought his people back into their land, exactly as he had foretold – 70 years later, God’s deportation. And when the temple was rebuilt, some 20 years later, God’s Word was once again proved true. But when foreign dominance and local opposition continued over the next century, disillusionment and cynicism set in – and with it, renewed spiritual rebellion. Despite the message of Malachi that the day of the Lord was coming, and despite the temporary spiritual revival under Ezra and Nehemiah, the Old Testament record does not end on a note of great optimism or confidence. The people of Israel continue even now in their willful violation of God’s laws; the nation is still at the mercy of the Persian Empire; and, as far as the Jews can tell, there is no sign that any super-king is about to establish the ideal kingdom which they have come to expect. Never mind that every other promise that God has made in over 40 centuries has been faithfully fulfilled. Where is this great Messiah of which the prophets have spoken? Has God finally gone too far in an effort to hold his people’s attention? Is this a promise that is too difficult for even the God of heaven to fulfill? Although comfortable retrospect might chide the Jews for their lack of faith, it is easy to understand their true discouragement. Others in later centuries – Jew and non-Jew alike – whose primary focus is on a physical rather than a spiritual kingdom, or the coming of the end when they mistakenly expect it, will suffer the same disillusionment. And saddest of all, when the Messiah finally comes, he will be so unlike the Jews’ preconceived image of him that most of them will not even recognize him. How long will It be before the Messiah comes? How long must the Jews – indeed the whole world – wait for this glorious day of promise? If Daniel has given a clue in his vision of seventy “seven,” the Messiah’s coming will not be before some 400 years from now. Indeed this is approximately the same period during which the historical record of Scripture will lie silent. But why would there be such a historical interlude? Certainly one can only speculate, but it is simple to dramatize the most important event in history of mankind. Perhaps there is something to be said for disassociating the Messiah from any exclusive ties to this small Hebrew nation so that his kingdom may be seen as truly universal. Perhaps the political situation in a later time be more conducive to the Messiah’s mission. Or perhaps the delay is to insure any possibility that fulfillment of relatively recent prophecies is merely contrived by wishful believers. Whatever God’s reason, it is clear that the nation of Israel will have to wait further for the promised Messiah and for the day when, through their race, all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

Writings of the Apocrypha:                                                         The historical record of the Old Testament, as presently divided is composed of 39 separate writings. In the presentation thus far, the contents of these various writings have been integrated into one continuous narrative – arranged, to the degree possible, in the chronological order of occurrence. The events span the period from creation to approximately 425 B.C. Not until approximately 5 B.C. will any further events be recorded in any scriptural writings. These accounts will be contained in the New Testament, which is itself a collection of 27 different writings.                                                                                                Over the next four to six centuries, many other historical and religious documents pertaining to the Jews will be written. Therefore it cannot be said that there are no historical record of the Jews arising out of this period. When it is said that the historical record of Scripture lies silent during this time, emphasis is being placed on the word Scripture. The so – called apocryphal or “hidden” writings of this period are not accepted as Scripture by all believers.                                                                                      Jumping several centuries ahead, the inclusion of these writings will begin with the Greek version of the Old Testament  – the Septuagint – which will be widely used in the first century. The Apocrypha will then be adopted as part of the Latin Vulgate, edited by Jerome in about A.D. 400. In more modern times, all English versions of the Bible from A.D. 1382 down to and including the original King James Version of A.D. 1611 will contain the apocryphal writings. In the early Greek and Latin versions, the apocryphal writings are interpreted with the other Old Testament writings. In this German Bible of 1534, Luther will collect them into unified supplement and present them at the end of the Old Testament. The Catholic English version retains the more scattered format even until now, but most Protestant versions will drop the Apocrypha altogether, beginning about A.D 1629.                                                                                                      In the  view of those who reject their inclusion in scripture canon, the apocryphal writings do not meet the test of having originated from divine inspiration. The Apocrypha are never included in the Hebrew Old Testament, and the Jews do not accept these writings as part of their approved Scripture. In fact, Hebrew manuscripts of most of the apocryphal writings are not even to be found. It is perhaps significant that several of the writings reflect notions of mysticism and demonology apparently traceable to Persian influences during the Jewish dispersion and arguably inconsistent with either Jewish or later Christian beliefs.                          Despite their current lack of credibility among a large segment of believers, these disputed writings are generally moral in nature and do give insight into some of the history, customs, and religious developments of the Jews during this intertestamental period. The following 14 writings, briefly summarized at this point, comprise the so-called Apocrypha. Although most of them emerged from 300 B.C. to A.D. 100, several refer back to earlier times and assume various specific historical contexts.                                                                                      First Esdras, the Greek name Ezra, is a historical record from the end of the exile until the completion of the temple. It is a compilation which virtually duplicates portions of Ezra, Nahemiah, and the Chronicles. One additional story purports to explain Zerubbabel argued successfully against two other guards of King Darius that women and truth are stronger than kings and wine.                                                                                                       Second Esdras is of Latin origin in the first three centuries A.D. and purports to record a series of apocalyptic visions about the future of the world. In that regard it is similar to the apocalyptic visions of the leading prophets, particularly those of Daniel. A major portion many of the writing addresses many of the hard issues confronted in the book of Job: how can God permit the suffering of his people? Why should God choose nations more wicked than Israel itself to punish Israel? Why live righteously when the wicked seem to be more prosperous? How long will it be before the righteous finally get their reward? How will the wicked be punished? And, just as in Job,although some answers are provided, the basic response is that there are simply many things which man cannot yet know.                                  The Book of Tobit is a piece of religious fiction about a pious Jew named Tobit and his son Tobias. The story itself is primarily about Tobias’ journey from Nineveh to a city called Ecbatana to retrieve money which his father has deposited there. On his journey Tobias meets and marries a distant cousin, Sarah, who has lost seven husbands, each on the night of the wedding, before the marriage was consummated. A central figure in the story introduces elements of Persian mysticism and feminism. This figure purports to be an archangel by the  name of  Raphael who is disguised as Tobias’ guide. Apart from the story line, the moral message is a promotion of unselfishness and charity, particularly as seen in the life of Tobit and in the principles which he instilled in his son.                                                                                                         The Book of Judith is another piece of religious fiction, about a beautiful Jewish woman named Judith who saves her city, and indeed the entire nation of Israel, by deceiving an Assyrian general and cutting off his head. The  general, whose name is Holofernes, is supposedly under the command of Nebuchadnezzar, king over the Assyrian in Nineveh. That obvious historical miscue only further confirms the fictional nature of the tale and draws attention more clearly to the author’s apparent purpose in writing it. That purpose seems to be the promotion of strict observance of the Jewish law, particularly the ceremonial and dietary laws. The story may well be a product of the Jewish Pharisees, who will be further described in following narrative.                             The Additions to the Book of Esther are supplements to the  canonical account of Easter. Those supplements are found scattered throughout the Greek translations of the book of Esther. Because there are no direct references in Esther to God or the Jewish religion, it may well be that the translators decided to add the various supplements in order to bolster the book’s religious impact. Among the additions are a dream by Mordecai about the events recorded in Esther; the purported contents of King Artaxerxes’ edict authorizing the massacre of the Jews; a supposed account of Esther’s prayer to God before approaching the king unsummoned; the purported contents of the letter which Mordecai demonstrated how his dream had been fulfilled in all the prior events.                                                         The Wisdom of Solomon is a poem similar to Ecclesiastes and is characteristic of the literature in the wisdom movement of Solomon. Therefore, although it is written apparently as late as 50-40 B.C., it sometimes bears Solomon’s name. The poem speaks beautifully of God’s omniscience, the nature of death, the security of the upright, the destruction of the wicked, As all wisdom literature, it eloquently exalts the value of wisdom. And, reminiscent of the prophets, the writer launches a vicious assault against idolatry and pagan perversion. The writing concludes with a review of God’s dealings with Israel and his perpetual care for his people, even in the times of their unfaithfulness.                                                          Ecclesiasticus is the longest book of the Apocrypha and is most similar in contents and style to the book of Proverbs. It was originally written in Hebrew about 180 B.C. in the city of Jerusalem, and then translated into Greek some 50 years later in the city of Alexandria. The last section of the book contains a review of all great men in Jewish history, ending with Simon the high priest, who died in 199 B.C.  A prologue indicates that the author is a man by the name of Jeshua and that he has derived his thoughts from many years of studying the law, the prophets, and other Old Testament wisdom literature. It is not surprising that Ecclesiasticus, also known as the Wisdom of Sirach (after Jeshua’s father) should begin with the words, “All wisdom comes from the Lord and remains with him forever.”                                                            Likr the book of proverbs, Ecclesiasticus finds wisdom in the fear of the Lord and also in self-control, particularly of the tongue. Charity and humility are encouraged, and there are warnings against improper desires and excessive use of wine. The brevity of life and punishment of the wicked are seen as motivations for proper living. Wicked women and woeful wives are bitterly denounced, as are adulterous husbands. Unlike any of the wisdom literature found in the canonical Scriptures, Ecclesiasticus includes such mundane advice as proper dining etiquette and basic health habits. There is praise for various occupations, from physicians to ordinary tradesmen, of whom it said, “They support the fabric of the world” and “Their prayer is in the practice of their trade.” In all, Ecclesiasticus covers a broad scope of wise sayings reflective of the wisdom literature already presented.                                                                                         The Book of Baruch, support to have been written by Jeremiah’s scribe, purportedly accompanied a donation of money to support the worship in the temple in 582 B.C. However, the fact that temple was in ruins at that time casts doubt upon the historical accuracy of the writing. It appears that the writing actually emerges near the end of the first century at a time when Jerusalem and the reconstructed temple are once again threatened. In the writing is ! Confession of national sin, a plea for mercy, a call for wisdom, and words of encouragement to a nation under opposition. These are following by “The Letter of Jeremiah,” purportedly from the great weeping prophet to the captives in Babylon, warning them against involvement in idolatry. The supposed letter is one of the most insightful and scathing attacks against idolatry ever written.                                                                                                  The Story of Susanna is a short about a virtuous woman named Susanna who is falsely accused of infidelity by two evil Jewish elders when the spurns their lustful advances. As she is being led away for execution, following a trial in which her accusers have perjured themselves, Daniel  – presumably the Daniel of the Old Testament – urges that the two elders be questioned outside each other’s presence. That move results in conflicting testimony which confirms Susanna’s innocence. The story may well be simply a hypothetical case used to bring about reform of a rule of evidence in capital cases. While under law it takes two witnesses to establish guilt, it remains possible for the two to conspire to bring about the death of an innocent person. The new rule of procedure would help to expose any such conspiracy and provide the death penalty for the conspirators instead.                                                                          The Song of the Three Children is a writing of the period 170-150 B.C. which is  meant for integration with the book of Daniel (at 3:23). It purports to record the miracle which saved Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they were in the fiery furnace, along with a prayer by Azariah (Abednego), which is really a confession of Israel’s sin and a plea for the nations salvation. There is also a song of praise to the God who has delivered the three men from the fires of death.                                                 The Prayer of Manasses is a brief but excellent example of a pious penitent prayer, perhaps Pharisaic in origin.        The First Book of Maccabees contains the history of the Jewish people in Judah in a period from 175-132 B.C. It details much of the history which will appear in summary form in later narrative.  The principal kings of the period  – the Seleucids in Syria and Ptolemies in Egypt  – are seen in a seesaw struggle, with the Jews caught in the middle. Reference is made to a later Roman power, but during this period there is no direct Roman rule affecting Judes. The historical account begins primarily with the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes, who brings great persecution against the Jews and their religion. Militant reaction comes from those Jews who would rather die than see the law die than see the suppressed. Those Jews are led in battle after battle over several decades by a man named Mattathias and three sons. The first son to take over his father’s leadership is named Judas, but is called Maccabeus. It is this man after whom the historical record is named. Judas Maccabeus is followed by two brothers Jonathan and Simon, and later by Simon’s son John Hyrcanus. The military exploits of the Jews against Syrian, Greeks, Egyptians, and Edomites, as well as a number of more local enemies, are reminiscent of the wars of King David. But the almost-constant fighting finally brings Judea and the Jews a brief period of peace in the midst of centuries of conflict. Jonathan and Simon are appointed as both high priests and governors, which indicates an evolution in the traditional roles of Jewish leadership. The First Book of Maccabees is the most important and trustworthy history of the Jews during its time. The Second Book of Maccabees presumes to cover the period from 175-160 B.C. but is less historical than patriotic. The book professes to be a readable summary of a much-detailed, five-volume work by Jason of Cyrene. Mo@t notable in the book are the graphic accounts of violent atrocities which Antiochus Epiphanes allegedly brought against the Jews. From these writings and the historical records of other nations over the next four centuries, something of the Jews’ continued development, as both a nation and a dispersed people, can be pieced together.

Influences on a Dispersed People – It is easy to think that after the exile all the Jews in Babylonia return to Palestine. That is by no means the case. Many Jews choose not to return and are still living in Babylonia, Egypt, and other areas as well. Those who have been assimilated into other cultures have been influenced in a number of ways, including their religious beliefs and practices. With the Hebrew language rapidly giving way to Aramaic and other languages, there is waning interest in reading the Torah, as the Law of Moses has comes to be known. Thus the law’s influence itself has diminished. That fact, combined with local eating habits, has led many Jews to ignore the strict dietary rules imposed on them by the law. Of course local religious beliefs have a profound effect, as already seen when the Jews intermarried with those involved in idolatry and various pagan practices. Also of significant impact are the Persian beliefs in astrology and the occult. As a result, when many Jews read their Scriptures in this postexilic period, they attach special meanings to any passage dealing with demons and angels, or light and darkness. The Torah is gradually being mystified in the eyes of many. A good example is found in the apocryphal book of Tobit, in which Persian Zoroastrianism and pagan demons are promoted. One of the most disastrous influences of Persian origin is the belief that God is an aloof, impersonal god. It does not take long for any Jew, or non-Jew for that matter, who accepts this notion to have difficulty with Isaiah’s prophecy that the Messiah would be called Immanuel – that is , God with us.                 Witth these and other cultural threats becoming increasingly apparent, the more orthodox Jews take steps to combat the pagan influences. And yet, ironically, the steps they are not particularly in the direction of the very law they are trying to preserve. They too are victims of their strange environment. Under the law, the temple is to be the center of their of their sacrificial form of worship, and priests have the responsibility of teaching the law to each generation. Yet during the exile, and even after its end in areas other than Palestine, there is no temple, and sacrificing is often politically impossible. Substituting as best they can, the faithful begin to empathize prayer and the inward sacrifice of the heart. The temple is replaced by an institution known as the synagogue, where the people gather for singing, prayer, and discussion of God’s laws. Ezekiel’s house in Tel Abib of Babylonia may have been a prototype, and Ezra’s assembly for the reading of the law may have given impetus to the synagogue movement even in the shadow of the reconstructed temple. And the further away from Jerusalem one might go at this time, the more synagogues he would find.                                                                                 The synagogues themselves foster changes in the Jewish religion. First to be noticed is the declining role of the priest, and his replacement by those known as rabbis. This rabbis are men whose superior knowledge of the law has set them in position of great respect as the teachers in the synagogues. The fact that they gain such respect, oddly enough, leads to a second, and most significant, link in the evolution of Judaism. That link is the rise of sectarianism. The synagogues lend themselves readily to both special-interest groups and different schools of thought which no longer under the direct influence of the priestly line of authority.                                     Another extension of the rabbinical movement is the development of the many written interpretations of the rabbis and the often greater importance attached to these writings than to those of the Torah itself. The first collections of these writings, known as the Midrash, is closely linked to the Torah. However, later collection will begin to incorporate oral traditions without such direct ties.                                                                                                        One final important development at this time is the beginning of so called remnant theology. With paganism and secularism bringing about a compromised theology, the more orthodox are beginning to think the unthinkable. Perhaps there are Jews who are “erring Jews” – which, when interested, really means they are not true Jews at all! Of course this radical idea hardly touches  ground before the next logical question is asked: who then is the faithful remnant? Predictably enough, each of the sects believes that its own special teachings and understandings of the law qualify them – and perhaps only them. The irony of all that there are those in Palestine who also take up the faithful – remnant cry. They in turn condemn even the more orthodox Jews in Babylonia for not returning to the land of promise and, presumably, for abandoning temple worship in favor of these unauthorized synagogues! As all these changes are starting to have their impact on Judaism, the Persian Empire is slowly crumbling around the Jews in Palestine and those who are dispersed. From the time of Artaxerxes’ death, in 424 B.C., the Persian throne is both shaky and bloodstained. Over the following century, intrigue, assassinations, and coup after coup will take place in Susa. The final fall of the empire will come in 330 B.C. at the hands of Alexander the Great of Macedonia. Under Persian dominance they have had both relative peace and official cooperation – even encouragement. In the years to come they will not always be so blessed.

Hellenism and the Jews:                                                                             Even before the fall of the Persian forces under Darius III at the great Battle of Arbela, Alexander sweeps through Syria, Palestine, and Egypt. It is during this time that he finally and completely destroys the city of Tyre, ending any doubt as to whether Ezekiel’s prophecy would be fulfilled. He also estimates a new city on the Nile to take its place. That city, appropriately named Alexandria, will become a significant center of Greek influence. And because a large number of Jews will eventually be citizens of Alexandria, the Greek Hellenistic culture will have a profound effect on both the Jewish people and their religion for centuries to come. Therefore, by 332 B.C. Jews in both Egypt and Palestine are feeling the effects of still another foreign dominance. Apparently Alexander permits the Jews in Palestine a measure of self-rule, and generally views them with favor.                         In later centuries, Alexander’s military victories will become legendary. After crushing the Persians, Alexander pushes on as far as the Ganges River in India, thus linking together for the first time the cultures of both East and West. For a God who works through history, this may well be a providential step in the divine plan, because along with Alexander’s military dominance goes the Hellenistic culture, and along with the culture goes the koine Greek language. Its universality in future years will be of the Messiah’s coming.                                                      When Alexander dies, in 323 B.C., there is a classic power struggle and land grab among his generals. In brief, the Ptolemies take control over Egypt and the Seleucids end up with Syria. It does not take long to realize who is caught in the middle  – the Jews in Palestine. Ptolemy I captures Jerusalem and takes a number of Jews to colonize Alexandria. He gives them full citizenship and encourages Jewish scholarship. Here for the first time many Jewish intellectuals come under the influence of Greek philosophy with its logic and abstract concepts. The effects will soon be seen. In addition, Alexandria becomes the source of several of the apocryphal writings.  Perhaps the reign of Ptolemy II, who commissions a Greek translation of the Old Testament for the great library at Alexandria. Over the next 300 years this Greek version, known the Septuagint, will virtually replace the use of the Hebrew manuscripts.                                                    While the Ptolemies and their Hellenism are proving to be many ways advantageous to the Jews, the Seleucids have an altogether different view of how Hellenism ought to be used. And unfortunately they manage to take Palestine away from Ptolemies, at least from time to time. Throughout the second century B.C. there is a tug-of-war over Palestine which gives the Seleucids on – again control over the Jews there. In 190 B.C. the Seleucid king, Antiochus III, is defeated by an emerging world power – Rome. Rome has victory in 201 B.C. over the famed General Hannibal. Now it has greedy eyes on Greece. In order to concentrate entirely on Greece itself, Rome makes a pact with Antiochus IV and permits continued rule over Syria and Palestine. This Seleucid ruler, whose name is Epiphanes, is one of the cruelest men ever to hold public office. His idea of extending Greek influence and paying the heavy tribute he owes the Roman emperor is not exactly the friendliest gesture to a conquered nation. He begins by selling the office of high priest, then builds a gymnasium for naked athletes, confiscates property, loots the temple, and haughtily sacrifices a pig on a pagan alter he has erected there. The pig may have been the last straw for a group of Jews called cabeans, under the leadership of Mattathias. They begin a running guerilla warfare which lasts from 163 to 163 B.C. Ephiphanes’ response is to massacre 1000 Jewish soldiers in his army who refuse to fight on the Sabbath. With the help of pious Hasidim sect, the Maccabeans finally achieve a Jewish dynasty under John Hyrcanus in 135 B.C. Of course they exercise a fairly tenuous self-rule under the watchful eye of Rome, but for the next three – quarters of a century at least it will be a refreshing break in the action for a beleaguered nation of Jews. As they savor the temporary return to power which they have achieved, and reflect on some 50 years of brutal persecution, the Jews surely must be thinking more and more about their national destiny. At this point they have come a long way from the early days of restoration and its hope of a politically strong kingdom. If there were ever any doubts what kind of Messiah is needed, they are agone now. It is clear that what Israel needs now is a strong political and military leader – perhaps someone like Alexander the Great. After all, it is only a matter of time before the Romans are free to turn their attention to Palestine. And when they do, even the brave Maccabeans will be mo match for the Roman legions. Without doubt, the Jews’ only hope is the coming of the conquering king they have been promised, and what better time then now? It may be this very thinking which, just over a century from now, will be a significant factor in how the Jews of that day react to an unassuming man of peace who claimed to be king.

Judaism Under Roman Rules: In 63 B.C. the inevitable happens. Under General Pompey the Romans invade Palestine and capture Jerusalem. But a measure of self-rule remains while Pompey and his former ally, Julius Caesar, turn against each other in a power struggle. Pompey is defeated in 48 B.C. In the next year Caesar appoints Antipater as procurator over Judea, as Palestine is now known, and is himself assassinated in 44 B.C. After Caesar’s friend Antony appoints Antipator’s son Herod as tetrach of Galilee, the Hasmoneans briefly revolt and force Herod to his fortress at Masada, near the Dead Sea. When Herod manages to get to Rome, Antony names him king of Judea and proceeds to resubdue the province so that Herod can establish his rule. Between 37 B.C. and 30 B.C. political intrigue and more wars will bringto the Egyptian stage the lazr and more famous of all the Ptolemies – Cleopatra. As a Greek ruler she poses the last real threat to Roman dominance. Her marriage to Antony is legendary, along with their battle of Actium in 31 B.C., where bothlose their lives to Caesar’s nephew and adopted son, Octavian. Judea is not greatly affected by these Roman fights, and Harod retains his control of Judea ubder Octavian. In 27 B.C. the Roman Senate gives Octavian the title of Augustus, and it is this Augustus Caesar who gets credit for founding the Roman Empire with its Pax Roman Peace. For the next two centuries the civilized world will enjoy unprecedented peace, prosperity, and, for the most part, good civil government under Roman rule. It causes one to think again of a God who is working through history to look back and see what an ideal time this is for the divine events about to happen in Judea, and later throughout the whole empire. Meanwhile, Herod carries Jewish favor by restoring the temple in Jerusalem, which had been virtually destroyed by King Epiphanes. Despite this, when he dies a number of prominent Jews are to be killed so that there will be a time of national mourning! In the meantime he is so obsessed with the security of his throne that he virtually eliminated any possible contenders. He has his favorite wife executed, and “playfully” drowns his young brother-in-law, Aristobulus. It is no wonder, then, that news ofvthe birth of a Jewish “king” will not be received with enthusiasm. Herod will not be the only one to greet any such news with distress. Ironically, many of the Jews themselves will have serious doubts. To understand their doubts, it is necessary to understand who the Jews are religiously at this point in history. The sectarianism which began after the exile has increased and solidified at this time. The secta are as much political and cultural as they are religious. The Pharisees have become mastersof the oral traditions which have come down from the rabbis over the past four centuries. They are enamored with interpretations and legalistic hypotheticals which do not necessarily have to be answered with reference to the Torah. Although they probably would not acknowledge it, apparently for the Pharisees tradition is on a par with the law itself. That fact takes on added significance when it is coupled with the belief that one earns merit with God by scrupulously observing every technicality of law and tradition. And yet the Pharisees have broad support among the common people, particularly because they hold to a belief in life after death which some of the other sects now deny. With this popular support many Pharisees have been chosen for high government positions, including the Sanhedrin, which is the highest tribunal of the Jews. The second major sect is kmown ascthe Sadducees. They are closely associated with the Greek intellectual movement arising earlier out of the Alexandrian community, and have adopted the Epicurean belief that the soul dies with the body. They do not believe in a resurrection. Somewhat curiously, the Sadducees reject oral tradition and accept only the written law, but they readily apply their Hellenistic logic to their understanding of the Torah. Many more sects also have come into being, including the radical pious ones, called Essences, the openly rebellious Zealots, the politically active Herodians, and the Samaritans, whose hybrid religion continues from centuries past. Found throughout several of the traces of Persian mysticism, Greek humanism, patriotic Judaism, and time-honored ritualistic traditions. In their religious beliefs and practices, the Jews have come a long way from Mount Sinai.

April 9, 2020 Passover. Leave the Past Behind!

Failure and disappointments. Aches and pains from the past that just won’t go away. Most of us know it’s like to suffer from them but too few of us know just what to do about them. So we limp along, hoping somehow they’ll magically stop hurting. But it never happens that way. In fact, the passing of time often leaves us in worse condition – not better. Because, instead of putting those painful failures behind us, we often dwell on them until they become more real to us than the promises of God. We focus on them until we become bogged down in depression, frozen in our tracks by the fear that if we go on, we’ll only fail again. I used to get caught in that trap a lot. Then one day when I was right in the middle of a bout with depression, the Lord spoke up inside me and said: Delana, your problem is you’re forming your thoughts of the past instead of the future. Don’t do that! Unbelief looks at the past and says, “See, it can’t be done.” But faith looks at the future and says, “It can be done, and according to the promises of God, it is done!” Then putting past failures behind it forever, faith steps out and acts like the Victory’s already been won. If depression has driven you into a spiritual nosedive, break out of it by getting your eyes off the past and onto your future – a future that’s been guaranteed by Christ Jesus through the great and precious promises in His Word. Forget about those failures in the past! That’s what God has done (Hebrews 8:12). And if He doesn’t remember them any more, why should you? The Bible says God’s mercies are new every morning. So if you’ll take God at His Word, you can wake up every morning to a brand-new world. You can live life totally unhindered by the past. So, do it! Replace thoughts of yesterday’s mistakes with Scriptures promised about your future. As you do that, hope will start taking the place of depression. The spiritual aches and pains that have crippled you for so long will quickly disappear. Instead of looking behind you and saying, “I can’t, ” You’ll begin to look ahead and say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”

Feed on the Word!                                                                               Once you’ve made the Word of God final authority in your life, your first step to victory over the attacks of the enemy is to go to the Word and lay hold of God’s promises concerning your situation.                                                Notice I said, “Go to the Word.” Its good to have the Word committed to memory. But don’t let that substitute for getting the Word before the your eyes on a daily basis.         Think about it this way. It never did a hungry person any good to think about what a potato tastes like. Not even if he could remember it perfectly. The same thing is true with the Word of God. It’s important to keep it in memory, but it’s also necessary to go directly to it and feed your spirit with it. There is power in keeping the Word in front of your eyes and going into your ears. That’s how it gets in your heart, so you can live by it. So don’t just think about the Word today, read it. Go to the promises that cover your situation. Feed on those promises and grow stronger! Read: Deuteronomy 6:

It’s Not Over Till It’s Over: 1 Peter 5:9-10 > “Withstand [the devil]; be firm in faith [against his onset – rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen and settle you.”

No matter how long you’ve been living by faith, no matter how much you’ve learned about it, every once in a while you’re going to suffer a setback. You’re going to run into some circumstances that just don’t turn out the way you expect them to.                                                                             When that happens, remember this: Those setbacks are just temporary. You may have lost a battle, but you’re not going to lose the war. Just get up and go at it again.                 “But I don’t understand it,” you say. “I did the best I could. I walked in all the truth I knew to walk in. Why didn’t I get the victory?”                                                                                        Because there was something you didn’t know! It shouldn’t shock you too much that there are things you don’t know about the realm of the spirit. Ken and I have been in the ministry for more than 35 years. We’ve spent untold hours in the Word. Yet it seems like the more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know.                                  So when we get to a situation where we can’t seem to get victory we have to ask God for more wisdom. If you’ll look in 2 Samuel 21, you can see a time when King David had to do that. His country had been suffering from a famine for three years and David just didn’t understand it, so he inquired of the Lord. You know the Lord told him? He told him the famine had come because of something Saul had done! Isn’t that amazing? Saul had been dead for years, yet what he’d put in motion in the realm of the spirit was still affecting his country.                     David could have just given up when his usual confessions of faith and ways of praying didn’t drive out that famine, but he didn’t. He inquired of God for more wisdom. He used his temporary setback to cause him to seek more knowledge from God.                                                   Follow his example! Overcome the habit of quitting because of temporary setback. Refuse to let them knock you out of the game. After all, this thing’s not over till it’s over. And the Bible says when it’s all over, you’ll have won. So just be steadfast in your faith. In the end your victory is guaranteed.      Read Scripture 2 Samuel 21:          

Weapons of Praise: Psalm 9:1-3 > “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thuo most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.”                                                                                             Never underestimate the importance of praise. It’s one of the most powerful spiritual weapons you have.                        Praise is more than a pleasant song or a few uplifting words about God. It does something. It releases the very presence of God Himself. And, when the presence of God comes on the scene, your enemies are turned back. Sickness and disease can’t stay on your body. Poverty can’t stay in our houses.                                                                    Even physical weariness has to flee when it’s faced with real joy-filled praise. I know that from experience. Years ago, when I first began conducting “Healing School,” I had a real battle with fatigue. I’d minister and lay my hands on the sick for so many hours at a time that by the meeting had ended, I was sometimes too physically weak even to close the service.                                                                     Then, in one particular meeting, I discovered the power of praise. I had just finished praying for those in the prayer line and, as usual, I was exhausted. But instead of rest, the Spirit of the Lord impressed on me that what I needed was to rejoice in the Lord. So, I did. I began to praise the Lord with my whole heart, mind and body. Do you know what happened? The tireless left me. And I was energized with the presence of God! The next time the devil tries to stifle your effectiveness, to drain you of the strength and wealth and victory that’s yours in Jesus, turn him back with that powerful weapon. Lift your hands and voice and whole heart to God and PRAISE!

Use God’s MO: Hebrews 11:3 – “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.”

Leaving the Pain Behind: 1 Corinthians 13:5 – “Love, is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].” Have you ever tried to forgive someone and found you simply couldn’t do it? You’ve cried about it and prayed about it and asked God to help you, but those old feelings of resentment just failed to do away. Put an end to those kinds of failures in the future by basing your forgiveness on faith rather than feelings. True forgiveness doesn’t have anything at all to do with how you feel. It’s an act of the will. It is based on obedience to God and on faith in Him. That means once you’ve forgiven a person, you need to consider them permanently forgiven! When old feelings rise up within you and Satan tries to convince you that you haven’t really forgiven them, resist him. Say, “No, I’ve already forgiven that person by faith. I refuse to dwell on those old feelings.” Then, according to 1 John 1:9, believe that you receive forgiveness and cleaning from the sin of unforgiveness and from all unrighteousness associated with it – including any remembrance of having been wronged! Have you ever heard anyone say, “I may forgive, but I’ll never forget!” That’s a second rate kind of forgiveness that you, as a believer, are never supposed to settle for. You’re to forgive supernaturally “even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgotten you” (Ephesians 4:32). You’re to forgive as God forgives. To release that person from guilt permanently and unconditionally and to operate as if nothing happened between you. You’re to purposely forget as well as forgive. As you do that, something supernatural will happen within you. The pain once caused by that incident will disappear. The power of God will happen within you. The pain once caused by that incident will disappear. The power of God will wash away the effects of it and you’ll be able to leave it behind you once and for all. Don’t become an emotional bookkeeper, keeping careful accounts of the wrongs you have suffered. Learned to forgive and forget. It will open a whole new world of blessing for you. Read Scripture: Luke 6

Use God’s MO: Hebrew 11:3 > “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.” God uses words to create. He used His Word to “frame” the worlds. Just look in the first chapter of Genesis and count how many times you see the phrase, “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God said, Let there be a firmament. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together. And God said, Let the earth bring forth….” (verses 3,6,9,11). God doesn’t do anything without saying it first. That’s His MO, His mode of operation. And, if you’re smart, you’ll use that mode of operation too. You’ll take His words and speak them out until they take on form and substance and become a reality in your life. “Well Delana, i have tried that and it didn’t work. I said, ‘By His strips I’m healed’ four times and nothing happened.” Big deal. God started saying that Jesus was coming in the Garden of Eden. He said it again in Exodus. He said it again in Numbers and Deuteronomy. He said it in Isaiah and the other prophets. He said it all through the Old Testament, over and over again. Then after about 7,000 years, the book of John tells us, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us….” (1:14). So if you’ve said you’re healed four times and nothing’s happened, don’t worry about it. Just keep saying it! You might think it’s taking a long time to manifest, but I’ll guarantee you, it won’t take 7,000 years. Do you want to operate in God’s power? Then use His MO. Speak out His words and let them frame a life full blessing for you! Read Scripture Genesis 1

Live the Love Life: 1 John 2:5-6 > “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” There is nothing – absolutely nothing – that is more important than learning than learning to love. In fact, how accurately you mush of the perfect the love will determine how much of the perfect will of God you accomplish. That’s because every other spiritual force derives its action from love. For example, the Bible teaches us that faith works by love. And answered prayer is almost an impossible when a believer steps outside of love and refuses to forgive or is in strife with his brother. Without love, your giving will not work. Tongues and prophecy will not work. Faith fails and knowledge is unfruitful. All the truths that you have learned from God’s Word work by love. They will profit you nothing unless you live the love of God. First Corinthians 13:4-8 paints perfect picture of how love behaves. It’s patient and kind. It’s not jealous or proud. It doesn’t behave rudely or selfishly and it isn’t touchy. Love “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? But don’t despair. You are a love creature. God has re-created your spirit in the image of love. And He has sent His love Spirit to live in you and teach you how to love as He loves. You can live the love life. Begin today. Read Scripture 1 Corinthians 13

Take Some New Ground: Matthew 18:19 > “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” As a believer, you and I are part of a conquering army, constantly claiming new ground for the kingdom of God. Right? Well, yes, that’s why it should be. But just about the time the army tops the hill and is ready to advance, it seems satan pulls out his big guns – division – and scatters believers in every direction. How can we strike back against the strategy of division? By launching an even more powerful attack of our own. By using one of the most powerful resources given us by the Lord Jesus: the prayer of agreement. Jesus said that if any two would agree as touching anything we ask, it shall be done! That statement is so powerful that most people don’t really believe it. If they did, you’d find little groups of Christians huddled up in every corner agreeing in prayer. Find someone to agree with in prayer this week. Be sure to base what you pray on is the Word og God. Also, be sure your agreement is total – spirit, soul, and body. Cast down arguments, theories and imaginations that are contrary to the Word. Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Keep watch over your thoughts and your words. Then get your body in line by speaking the thibgs you’ve agreed on. Act like you’ve already received the answer. Don’t keep asking God for it. Stay in agreement and take some new ground for the Lord! Read Scripture Acts 4:1-31

Daily Devotion Wednesday 8, 2020

Get on the Right Road – Scripture Reading 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.”                                                                                              God’s going to get you for that! Most of us have said that kind of thing jokingly for years. We’ve somehow believed that God slaps us down with pain and punishment every time we sin. But that’s just not true. There are deadly wages for sin, but God is not the one who’s doing them out.                                                                                                         You see, the Bible tells us there’s been a curse in effect for thousands of years. And the devil is the cause of it, not the Lord God. God gave warning of it Deuteronomy 30:19. After describing in the blessings that fall upon those who followed God and the terrible suffering that would befall those who separated themselves from from God, He said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”                                                                                              Think of it this way. Curseville is out there. God warned us about it and urged us not to travel the road that leads there. But He has promised to give us freedom, and He’ll allow us to choose our own way. If we get on the road to Curseville and don’t get off it, we’re going to wind up there. Is that because God sent us there? No! He urged us not to go. The vital thing to realize is this: At any point of the journey – whether you’re on the road to Curseville or living right in the middle of it. He’ll take you out of there and deliver you. He’ll deliver you from disease, addiction, or anything else that’s been holding you captive. Today if you find yourself on the wrong road and see destruction ahead, just commit your way to Jesus and He’ll deliver you from whatever may be holding you captive. You can begin by praying, “Lord Jesus, I’ve chosen the wrong road and right now I ask You to forgive me. Today I choose life by choosing Your way. Please deliver me from this bondage and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Thank You, Lord!” Remember this: No matter what you’ve done, God doesn’t want to get you for it, He wants to forgive you of it. He doesn’t want to slap you down, He wants to save you and lift you up. Trust Him and let Him put you on the road of life today! Allotment for Judah – Joshua 15:1 – The allotment for the tribe of Judah, clan by clan, extended down to the territory of Edom, to the Desert of Zin in the extreme south. 2 – Their southern boundary started from the bay at the southern end of the Salt Sea, 3 – crossed south of Scorpion Pass, continued on to Zin and went over to the south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it ran past Hezron up to Adder and curved around to Karka. 4 – It then passed along to Azmon and joined the Wadi of Egypt, ending at the sea. This is their southern boundary. 5 – The eastern boundary is the Salt Sea as far as the mouth of the Jordan. The northern boundary started from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan, 6 went up to Beth Hoglah and continued north of Beth Arabah to the Stone of Bohan son of Reuben. 7 – The boundary then went up to Debir from the Valley of Achor and turned north to Gilgal, which faces the Pass of Adummim south of the gorge. It continued along to Waters of En Shemesh and came out at En Rogel. 8 – Then it ran up the Valley of Ben Hinnom along the southern slope of the Jebusite city (that is, Jerusalem). From there it climbed to the top of the hill west of the Hinnom Valley at the northern end of the Valley of Rephaim. 9 – From the hilltop the boundary headed toward the spring of the Waters of Nephtoah, came out at the towns of Mount Ephron and went down toward Baalah (that is, Kiriath Jearim). 10 – Then it curved westward from Baalah to Mount Seir, ran along the northern slope of Mount Jearim (that is, Kesalon), continued slope of Ekron, turned toward Shikkeron, passed along to Mount Baalah and reached Jabneel. The boundary ended at the sea. 12 – The western boundary is the coastline of the Great Sea. These are the boundaries around the people of Judah by their clan.

13 – In accordance with the LORD’S command to him, Joshua gave to Caleb son of Jephunneh a portion in Judah – Kiriath Arba, that is, Hebron. ( Arba was the forefather of Anak.) 14 – From Hebron Caleb drove out the three Anakities – She – shai, Ahiman and Talmai – descendants of Anak. 15 – From there he marched against the people living in Debir (formerly called Kiriath Sepher). 16 – And Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the who attacks and captures Kiriath Sepher.” 17 – Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s brother, took it; so Caleb have his daughter Acsah to him in marriage.  18 – One day when she came to Othniel, she urged him to ask her father for a field. When she got off the donkey, Celeb asked her, “What can I do for you?” 19 – She replied, “Do me a special favor. Since you have given me in the land Negev, give me also springs of water.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. 20 – This is the inheritance of the tribe of Judah, clan by clan:

21 – The southern towns of the tribe of Judah in the Negev toward the boundary of Edom were: Kebzeel, Eder, Jagur, 22 – Kinah, Dimonah, Adadah, 23 – Kedesh, Hazor, Ithnan, 24 – Ziph, Telem, Bealoth, 25 – Hazor Hadattah, Kerioth Hezron (that is, Hazor), 26 – Amam, Shema, Moladah, 27 – Hazar Gaddah, Heshmon, Beth Pelet, 28 – Hazar Shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah, 29 – Baalah, Iim, Ezem, 30 – Eltolad, Kesil, Hormah, 31 – Ziklag, Madmannah, Sansannah, 32 – Lebaoth, Shilhim, Ain and Rimmon – a total of twenty-nine towns and their villages.

33 – In the western foothills: Eshtaol, Zorah, Ashnah, 34 – Zanoah, En Gannim, Tappuah, Enam, 35 –Jarmuth, Adullam, Sicoh, Azekah, 36 – Shaaraim, Adithaim and Gederah (or Gederothaim) – fourteen towns and their villages.

37 – Zenan, Hadashah, Migdal Gad, 38 – Dilean, Mizpah, Joktheel, 39 – Lachish, Bozkath, Eglon, 40 – Cabbon, Lahmas, Kitlish, 41 – Gederoth, Beth Dagon, Naamah and Makkedah – sixteen towns and their villages.

42 – Libnah, Ether, Ashan, 43 – Iphtah, Ashnah, Nezib, 44 – Keilah, Aczib and Mareshah – nine towns and their villages.

45 – Ekron, with its surrounding settlements and villages; 46 – west to Ekron all that were in the vicinity of Ashdod, together with their villages; 47 – Ashdod, its surrounding settlements and villages; and Gaza, its settlements and villages, as far as the Wadi of Egypt and the coastline of the Great Sea.

48 – In the hill country: Shamir, Jattir, Socoh, 49 – Nannah, Kiriath Sannah (that is, Debir), 50 – Anab, Eshtemoh, Anim, 51 – Goshen, Holon and Giloh – eleven towns and their villages.

52 – Arab, Dumah, Eshan, 53 – Janim, Beth Tappuah, Aphekah, 54 – Humtah, Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) and Zior – nine towns and their villages.

55 – Maon, Carmel, Ziph, Juttah, 56 – Jezreel, Jokdeam, Zanoah, 57 – Kain, Gibeah and Timnah – ten towns and their villages.

58 – Halhul, Beth Zur, Gedor, 59 – Maarath, Beth Anoth and Eltekon – six towns and theirs villages.

60 – Kiriath Baal (that is, Kiriath Jearim) and Rabbah – two towns and their villages.

61 – In the desert: Beth Arabah, Middin, Secacah, 62 – Nibshan, the city of Salt and En Gedi – six towns and their villages.

63 – Judah could not dislodge the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem; to this day Jebusites live there with the people of Judah.

Read Acts 22

The days before the 1967 war were a time of intense Arab hostility.  Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) threatened to completely destroy Israel.

While Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq amassed troops to attack Israel, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike.  Despite the superior military strength of Israel’s enemies, the Jewish nation miraculously won the war in just six days.

God was protecting His Holy City Jerusalem!

Once again, Israel’s capital, the city in which God chose to dwell, was in Jewish hands.

“You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your possession; LORD, You have prepared a place for Your dwelling; Lord, Your hands have established the sanctuary.”  (Exodus 15:17)

Life Lessons

Genesis 1:1 – 2:3 > Situation The magnificent story of The Beginning revealed majesty, and love. Yet the most humbling, puzzling, and awe-inspiring act took place when God breathed the breath of life into humanity.

Observation, God demonstrated power and love by creating. With only a spoken word God created everything around us. Then, with loving care, he formed Adam our of ground.

How to listen to God. First He spoke by direct revelation.

By his Spirit, He spoke to the spirit of men like Abraham, who one day heard God directly tell him to leave the land in which he was living and go unto a land that God would show him: Genesis 12:1-3.

Now the Lord said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family, and land that I will show you I will make you a great nation; I will bless you, And your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and Inwill curse him who curse you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Second, the Bible says God spoke through dreams. A good example is evident in the experience of Daniel, to who God revealed His world destiny in a series of dreams.

With one decision, history began. Existence became measurable. Out of nothing came light. Out of light came day. Then came the sky and earth. And on this earth? A mighty hand went to work. Canyons were carved. Oceans were dug. Mountains erupted out of flatlands. Stars were flung. A universe sparkled. Our sun became just one of millions. Our galaxy became just one of thousands. Planets invisible tethered to sun’s roared through space at breakneck speeds. Stars blazing with heat that could melt our planet in seconds. The hand behind it was mighty. And with this might, he created. As naturally as a bird sings and fish swims, he created. Just as an artist can’t not paint and a runner can’t not run, he couldn’t not create. He was the Creator. Through and through, he was the Cre. A tireless dreamer and designer. From the pallet of the Ageless Artist came inimitable splendors. Before there was a person to see it, his creation was pregnant with wonder. Mundaneness found no home in his universe. Probe deep within him. Explore every corner. Search every angle. Love is all you find. Go to the beginning of every decision he has made and you’ll find it. Go to the end of every story he was told and you’ll see it. Love

INTRODUCTION: In the Beginning!

To the Jews first and then the Christians, the first four words, IN THE BEGINNING GOD is a fact of life, and is the basis of truth that all things are Spiritual, and it is the foundation on which all things are built. Hopefully that is common ground with the reader. This effort is presented to glorify God and to prayerfully provide tools that will help the reader to have a more complete and comprehensive understanding of the wonder of the Book of Genesis.                                                                                            In the beginning is the Hebrew word bereshith. It means “the beginning of God’s creation.” The name “Genesis” comes from a Greek word meaning “beginning.” This title was taken from the Septuagint, the koine Greek translation of the Old Testament, circa 285 B.C. The Hebrew word for God is Elohim, (phonetically, el-o-heem’). It is always plural enunciating the maj7,esty and fullness of deity, very God of very God. The chronological bench mark used for creation is 3975 B.C. (KR). The “KR” following all dates is based on The Reese Chronological Bible (KR) and it is the only dating source used in this effort.

The Meeting of the Second Continental Congress in May 1776 was well underway in Philadelphia when a tall 44-year-old Virginian, Richard Henry Lee, stood before his peers and called for the Continental Congress to pass a resolution declaring their separation from British rule. This declaration would state that the American declaration would state that the American colonies would no longer be subject to King George III and his oppressive acts of taxation and intimidation. Yes to those present it seemed to be a noble action by Lee, but little did any of the delegates realize that their actions would soon change the course of world history. Congress did not vote that day but enlisted Lee’s fellow Virginian, Thomas Jefferson, to draft a Declaration of Independence for their consideration. Finally, after much debate and several revisions, on July 4, 1776, 56 brave patriots adopted the Declaration of Independence to form a new nation that was to become known as the United States of America – a nation dedicated to a new and somewhat radical proposition that all men were created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, such as life,liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This new experiment of personal liberty and human rights through representative government was uncommon, if not unheard of for its day. Ultimately, at great cost, the colonies won their freedom in 1783, and the Apostles experiment was underway. Naturally, many quad to be answered for the new nation to survive. How would she acquire and preserve her freedom the British and other powers who would seek to impose their wills upon her? If Independence was achieved, upon what principles of law and government would her constitution be formed? Through what lens of understanding would she view the world outside her own people? These questions and many more faced these Founding Fathers. Fortunately, for them and for us, the source for these answers had already been adopted and its principles interwoven into the charters of the 13 original colonies. That source is the book you hold in your hands today, the Holy Bible. It is the book that bound colonial American society together from Maine to Georgia.                                                                      Our seventh President,  Andrew Jackson, said concerning the Bible, “That book, sir, is the Rock upon which our republic rests.” Not only was that the opinion of President Jackson, but also the sentiment of countless Americans. On the whole, Americans are of the Bible. There is no book more powerful than the Bible to shape the morals and values of men and nations to be right and noble and just. It has proven itself over and over again in the formations and continuance of the greatest nation in history, the United States of America.                                                                  While other nations have built their governments upon the shaky foundations of communism, socialism, and countless other anti-God philosophies, only to see those foundations crumble, America stands without equal as a beacon of hope and freedom in a hurting world. Our Founding Fathers delivered to us a system of government that has enjoyed unprecedented success: we are now the world’s longest ongoing constitutional republic. Well over two hundred years under one form of government is an accomplishment unknown among contemporary nations.                                                                                               Within this special edition of the American Patriot’s Bible, I have found both information and inspiration revealing the “strong cord” of the Bible’s influence that runs through the colorful fabric of our nation’s past and present.                                                                                               Joining with these heroes, quotations from many of America’s greatest thinkers, and beautiful illustrations that present the rich heritage and tremendous future of our nation. If you love America and the Scriptures, you will treasure this Bible.                                                                     Much effort has gone into the verification of the quotes and stories included so that the reader can be assured of the validity the Word of God in any manner is to do so with great care and respect, and that has been done by all who have been involved in this project. May God bless the truth within these pages, and may God continue to bless America! So there you are, a teenager at grandma’s house. You don’t really want to be there, but it’s one of those family things and so you’re there. You sit politely and act like you are listening as your folks and grandparents talk. Then your grandmother says something that catches your attention. She refers to your great-grandfather and the trip he made to America from the “old country.” “What?” You ask. Grandma smiles, knowing that at some point we all wonder about our origin and here you are wondering about yours. She unravels a tale of your family escaping persecution and settling in eastern Virginia. Next she invites you into her room, where she opens a large chest that has sat at the foot of her bed for as long as you can remember. A rush of cedar and mothballs fills the room. “Though you might like to see this,” she explains, handing you a black-and-white photo in a large walnut frame. “It’s your great-grandfather.” The only thing stiffer than his collar is his expression. “Here is his father,” she hands you another photo, one of a cowboy wearing a wide-brimmed hat, riding a horse. Piece by piece, the chest tells its family tales. Soon you find yourself lost in a floor covered with old wedding gowns, photos albums, diplomas, and bronzed baby shoes. And before you leave, you find yourself the owner of something precious – a heritage. An ancestry. A beginning. An orphan. You know that you are a part of a family tree. You aren’t an isolated pond, but rather a part a river winding through a great canyon. You leave a richer person. Knowing where you came from says much about where you are going. Perhaps that’s why the first book of the Bible is a book of beginnings. God wants us to know from where we came. Learning that will teach us much about the place we are going.

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