Sunday, January 24, 2021

“Something awful has been unleashed in America.” Daffodils. “How to Pray for Others.”

Something Awful Unleashed 

It was recently said, “Something awful has been unleashed in America.” Few people think beyond the physical in trying to understand today’s world. Yet the Bible reveals a spirit dimension where dwells the God family and other spirit beings who interact with and influence our world. 

The apostle Paul lays it out in Ephesians 6, saying, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (verse 12).

To understand some recent events and trends in culture and society, we must acknowledge the truth of this passage. The irrational, God-defying evil that has erupted upon America—and the world—comes from the realm of unseen evil and Satan’s demonic influence. This evil intends to unravel the fabric of human life. Satan’s kingdom is massing powerful forces of hate, anger and evil. They masquerade as good and fair values that liberate, confirm and advance culture and civilization. But they are doing the very opposite!

When Scripture says love not the world nor the things of the world, it means this world is not your friend and does not seek your best interest. Events and trends have reached a point of no return. A Christian must be armed with a solid faith in God to withstand the battle of life before us. 

It is time to check our faith—protected by a shield that cannot be penetrated by doubt, fear or weakness. I encourage you to begin a personal study of faith. A strong belief and confidence in God’s firm hand in our life can be the anchor we need during these times. Here is the opening chapter to our booklet, “You Can Have Living Faith”.

Take some time to read it this weekend. I think it will lead you into a further study. “  From: https://us1.campaign-archive.com/?e=72c729d811&u=1d04480cefc2e7c4492fe4a04&id=359cbd5c27

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Daffodils

‘We're in the cold, dark days of winter, but like the hibernating daffodil we should use this time to prepare for spring; to pause, to reflect, to plan, and to nourish our spiritual lives.”

Transcript of YouTube: https://youtu.be/2RviY4FkBwo

[Darris McNeely] “Have you ever wondered what the good of all the cold, hard winter months are, December, January, February? These are daffodils. They don't look like daffodils right now. They're bulbs, but you can see that in time, as it comes up out of this dirt, these will be daffodils. My wife dug those out of our front yard just a few days ago. We had a tree cut down. And before the man came in with his grinder to grind the stump out of the yard, my wife got out and dug these up because she didn't want them destroyed by the grinder, because she wants to see these again in the spring. And so, this afternoon, we'll have to have to put these back into the ground, cover them with dirt, and then wait a few months for them to come back up. And in the spring, we'll have our beautiful yellow daffodils once again.

I was thinking about this because right now we're in the midst of winter. We've past the shortest day of the year and slowly we're gonna be getting to longer days, and eventually, springtime will come. But in the Northern Hemisphere, at least for us right now, it's the dark, short, cold days of winter. What value are they? What should we be doing?

Rather than the reveling and the merrymaking of the false holidays that are somewhat prominent during this time of year, I think God had in mind for His people living in these temperate zones to use that time with shorter days, longer nights, colder weather, where we're not able to get outside and do a lot of other things, we're a bit more dormant just like these bulbs to prepare for the time and the future for the coming spring, for the days that are longer. In other words, for the time when the work can be done.

Right now is the time to be reflecting, to be thinking, to be drawing closer to God during these days. There is a reason that God causes the seasons to change as they do. And when we have these shorter, colder days, it gives us an opportunity to draw closer to God, to think through, and to pause.

Use that time wisely. Plan, nourish your life spiritually, nourish your life like these bulbs. These daffodils are nourished during the winter months in the ground in a dormancy, but still working, so that in the spring, when the sun, when the light and the light begins to come back out, then they will bloom and they will show all that they have been prepared for.

That's what we should be using these times for. That's what we should be thinking ahead for the times when we can bloom as well because we have prepared by being closer to God, by feeding ourselves on the values and the things of life that will help us during those times ahead.”  From: https://www.ucg.org/beyond-today/beyond-today-daily/daffodils

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Intercessory-prayer_825_460_80_c1Life, Hope & Truth Weekly Newsletter

”God appreciates people who pray fervently for others facing trials. Why does God command intercessory prayer, and how does He want us to pray for others? Learn more in this week’s featured article, “Intercessory Prayer: How to Pray for Others.”  

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Saturday, January 16, 2021

What’s Behind the Storming of the U.S. Capitol? Repentance: What Does Repent Mean? Fruits Worthy of Repentance. All the Curses. Update. SNOW!

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What’s Behind the Storming of the U.S. Capitol?

“The takeover of the U.S. Capitol has joined the ranks of some of the darkest days in American history. What’s behind America’s increasingly violent divisions?

On Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, a mob overwhelmed the police guarding the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., where Congress was meeting to confirm the votes of the Electoral College. The horde forced their way in and took over much of the building. The lawmakers were quickly evacuated to a safe location.

Windows were broken, offices ransacked and government property stolen before order was restored. Four deaths were reported among the crowd, including a woman shot trying to force her way into an area where lawmakers were sheltering. A policeman later died of injuries he received grappling with an attacker.

This is the first time the Capitol has been successfully assaulted since British redcoats burned it in 1814 (during the War of 1812).

The shockwaves of this event rapidly rippled around the world. America’s friends look on aghast at our shame and wonder whether our mounting confusion signals their own to come. America’s enemies rub their hands with glee as they plot to take advantage of our distraction, disarray and disunity. Nondemocratic nations quickly jumped on the violence as evidence that American-style republicanism does not work.

What does this mean for the United States? How did we come to this humiliating place? Where will things go from here?”

Continue Reading. From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/prophecy/blog/whats-behind-the-storming-of-the-u.s-capitol/?

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Repentance: What Does Repent Mean?

“A major message of the Bible is a call to repent and change. This isn’t popular, but it’s vitally necessary. What is repentance? Why does God require it?

According to the apostle Paul, God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30 ).

Repentance is not a popular subject in most of the religious community. Seldom is a modern-day religious audience exhorted to repent.

Yet Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, vigorously preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and told his audience to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:2, 8). Soon after John’s martyrdom, Jesus Christ continued the same theme by preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).

Within weeks following Jesus’ crucifixion, the New Testament Church was founded. Peter’s inspired words to an audience of thousands of devout Jews were, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

What does repentance mean? Is it required for salvation? How important is this subject to you? Read more about what the Bible says about repentance in the related articles.” From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/change/repentance/

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Fruits Worthy of Repentance

Matthew 3:8

“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.”

John the Baptist’s message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2). Surprisingly, this call to change became popular, and people from Jerusalem and all Judea came to be baptized by him.

But when some hypocritical religious leaders came to be baptized, John sensed they weren’t interested in really repenting—really changing. He clearly told them that just being a descendant of Abraham wasn’t enough. They would be judged by their own actions. They needed actions to produce fruits to prove they really were sorry and desired to change.

John described some of these fruits in Luke 3:10-14. They included giving to those in need, not cheating or intimidating people and being content. Those doing wrong should stop doing wrong to show they were serious about changing.

For more about what it means to repent, see our section on “Repentance.”

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All the Curses

2 Chronicles 34:24

“Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah.’”

After the terrible, evil reigns of King Manasseh and King Amon, Judah was far from God. Young King Josiah sought to reverse course and sent men to repair the temple. There they found a long-lost copy of the Book of the Law, likely the five books written by Moses.

Josiah heard the words of the book, including the curses God warned would befall those who disobeyed Him (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, for example). Josiah tore his clothes as a sign of repentance and sent men to inquire of God about what would happen. God sent His answer through Huldah, one of four prophetesses mentioned in the Old Testament.

God confirmed that calamity would surely come because the people of Judah had “forsaken” Him (2 Chronicles 34:24-25). But because Josiah’s “heart was tender” toward God and because he “humbled” himself before his Creator, God delayed the punishment until after his death (verse 27). Josiah’s example of repentance and turning to God represents the response God wants when He warns us of the curses that disobedience brings.

Josiah diligently tried to reform his nation, but his reforms were short-lived, and soon Judah was again rebelling and breaking God’s laws. The curses did come, and Judah went into captivity to Babylon.

For more about how to follow Josiah’s good example in turning to God, see the section on “Repentance.”” From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/blog/all-the-curses/?

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Update.

On Sunday, the 10th we had snow! Very unusual for this part of TX. The next day my neighbor had to go to Huntsville, TX, but they had a bad tire, so we went in my van.  I had just had it serviced, and it should have been good to go. 

Fortunately, we made one stop before we got on the freeway and I noticed steam coming out from under the hood.  The radiator cap was loose and it had lost all my antifreeze.  We had that fixed and then it was very careful driving with slush on each side of the lanes.  Of course, that didn’t stop a few silly sods from passing us and racing down the wet roads!  At least we were able to shop at a decent grocery store and get a few things that are not available in this little town.

Even after this surgery on my left eye, I am still blinded by bright lights and sunlight.  The other eye is scheduled for the 28th.  Surely they will find out what is wrong soon?

On Friday we three studied the Sabbath School literature, and then Sherry and I went to the church the next day.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Is the Old Testament Relevant? Pharaoh's Bad Marriage. Update.

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Is the Old Testament Relevant?

“Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Is the Old Testament relevant as well as the New?

Is the Old Testament relevant?

Is the Old Testament still relevant today?

Can it be proven that Jesus meant both the Old and New Testament Scriptures in Matthew 4:4? Many today believe we don’t have to follow God’s instructions as stated in the Old Testament. Some even believe that portion of the Bible was “done away” or that it was written and preserved only for Israel or the Jewish people of long ago. Therefore, they feel it has no significance for us today. Is the Old Testament relevant to our lives?

What do the Scriptures tell us?

Part of our foundation

Paul explains how the New Testament Church was “built on the foundation of the apostles [the New Testament] and prophets [the Old Testament], Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). Christ was sent from God the Father as the messenger of the New Covenant — yet He preached that message entirely out of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Furthermore, what Scriptures did Christ use when He preached in the synagogue? In Luke 4:16-21 Christ read a prophecy from the book of Isaiah, and He explained to those present that part of that prophecy was being fulfilled as He was speaking to them.

For several years after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the founding of the New Testament Church, the ministry only had and used the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus Christ preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and He did it altogether out of the Old Testament.

Proof that Christ was the true Messiah

How was one to know that Christ was who He said He was—what proof did He give? A careful reading of John 5:36-39 shows Christ revealing several very important proofs that He was indeed the true Messiah.

  • He said John was a witness, although there was greater proof.
  • He then pointed out that the Father represented even greater proof.
  • He also stated how the works He was doing were a witness or proof.
  • He concluded by telling them the “Scriptures” themselves testified—gave evidence to the fact—that He was the Messiah.

Remember, the Old Testament Scriptures—the ones Christ was referring to—were the only Scriptures available at that time. The Old Testament is so important that one would not be able to prove Jesus of Nazareth to be the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, our Savior, without using the Old Testament.

Notice the “sign” Christ gave to those who asked of Him proof that He was the Messiah. “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ‘Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth [grave or tomb]’” (Matthew 12:38-40).

Christ directed those asking for proof that He was indeed the true Messiah to examine the Old Testament writings of the prophet Jonah concerning the length of time He would be dead.

Christ’s admonition to believe the Old Testament Scriptures

Jesus also said to those calling Him into question concerning His messiahship, “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:45-47).

Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament—often referred to as the “Law” or the “Torah.” Christ is pointing out to these doubters that if they did not believe what Moses wrote, they would not believe what He was telling them. Said another way, Christ was telling them that what Moses wrote is just as much a part of Scripture as what He was saying.

Moreover, it is not only necessary to believe what Moses wrote in the first five books of the Bible, but we must also believe what all the prophets wrote, in addition to the Psalms and other writings—the entire Old Testament.

Luke records what Christ had to say about the authenticity of the Old Testament, “Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25-27).

Luke adds more, “Then He [Christ] said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me” (verse 44). Christ authoritatively states His approval of the entirety of Scripture, showing the Old Testament is relevant.

Paul’s support of the Old Testament

Paul reminded his young associate Timothy, “And that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

What were the Scriptures Timothy would have known from childhood? The Old Testament Scriptures were the only ones Timothy had.

Paul continues, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (verse 16). Notice Paul said, “All Scripture,” not just the New Testament.

Peter, Philip and Paul preached Christ from the Old Testament

Peter preached a powerful sermon on the Day of Pentecost—the beginning of the New Testament Church—that resulted in the conversion of 3,000 people. Moreover, Peter preached his sermon using only Old Testament Scriptures (Acts 2:14-41).

What about Philip’s example of preaching? Philip knew that Jesus was the Christ because of what he had read in the Old Testament Scriptures. Philip helped an Ethiopian understand what the Scriptures said about Christ out of the Old Testament (Acts 8:26-35).

But some will say, “You can’t do that; you can’t preach Christ out of the Old Testament!” You can’t? Peter did it, Philip did it, Paul did it and, as we have seen, Jesus Christ did it!

Speaking of Paul’s preaching, notice his use of the Old Testament, “So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening” (Acts 28:23).

Matthew and Isaiah add more

Matthew makes an interesting statement as he records King Herod’s demanding request of the chief priests and scribes concerning where Christ was to be born. Why would Herod make such a demand? Was it because he suspected this information was recorded in a prophecy of their Scriptures—the Old Testament? If so, he was right.

Notice their response to Herod’s question, “So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet.” The chief priests and scribes continued by quoting the prophet Micah, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Matthew 2:5; Micah 5:2).

The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Messiah would be born of a virgin and His name would be called “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This prophecy was fulfilled according to Matthew 1:22-23.

So the Old Testament Scriptures add yet another detail about the birth of Christ.

Moreover, Isaiah recorded several more prophecies about Christ, all of which were fulfilled. Some of the prophecies in the book of Isaiah point to the time when the Messiah was to be born and grow up from a child. The prophet also explains how Jesus was to be despised and rejected, not hailed as a mighty King and Deliverer. Again, we find the Old Testament is relevant in filling in more details about the life of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:1-9).

Additional points of interest
  • The New Testament quotes the Old Testament more than 1,000 times!
  • The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) refer to the Old Testament Scriptures on an average of three to four times per chapter.
  • Of the 39 books in the Old Testament, Christ, in the book of Revelation makes references to 31 of them.
  • In the 22 chapters of the book of Revelation, there are 228 references made to the Old Testament—that’s an average of 10 times per chapter.
  • Actually, there are only four New Testament books that do not have a direct quote from the Old Testament: Philemon and 1, 2 and 3 John (An American Translation—The New Testament in the Language of Today by William F. Beck, 1964).

The New Testament is based on the Old Testament. How would one be able to understand the book of Revelation, for example, without Old Testament writers like Daniel and several of the other prophets?

Christ meant what He said

Therefore, when Christ countered Satan in Matthew 4:4 by saying man must live by “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” Jesus meant exactly what He said.  So is the Old Testament relevant? Yes, Christ meant “every word”—in both the Old and New Testaments—the entirety of the Bible, not just part of it.

For further study on the Old Testament, read the article “Old Testament.”  From: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/bible/holy-bible/old-testament/is-the-old-testament-relevant/

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Pharaoh's Bad Marriage

“Exodus 1:10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.
And we all know how that worked out.
There are four ways to preserve a relationship that has begun to deteriorate:
  1. Disable the other person. Through emotional abuse, you can make a person doubt themselves and their ability to survive on their own. Through physical abuse, you can confine or even cripple a person so that they are physically incapable of leaving. Perhaps the most common method today of disabling a person to keep them in a relationship is by keeping them financially dependent. Your credit card issuer and your neighbor with two upside down mortgages can tell you how effective this tactic can be.
  2. Instill fear of the unknown. Convince the other person that there is a big bad wolf hiding behind every tree outside the door, that every person they encounter will take advantage of them, and they will be very reluctant to strike out alone. This method has worked very well for politicians throughout history.
  3. Bond. Be friends. Spend time together in situations that develop emotional attachment. Study, explore, play, fight, and work together. Have an adventure.
  4. Improve yourself. Make a relationship with you look more attractive than a relationship with someone else by becoming a better you. You have probably heard it said that you can’t change someone else. You can only change you. I haven’t read it yet, but Athol Kay’s Married Man Sex Life Primer appears to be based on this idea. It’s on my reading list.

Each of these methods works to a greater or lesser extent and there is a time and place in which each would be appropriate. A healthy relationship, however, will be almost exclusively characterized by methods three and four. Pharaoh tried to keep the Hebrews in Egypt by physically and financially hobbling them.

Although they wanted more than ever to leave Egypt, they had no ships, no weapons, no chariots, and no gold with which to obtain such things. They had no allies. They came to believe that they were too weak to face the Canaanites and that their God was too weak or too busy to rescue them. Pharaoh’s strategy might have worked if he had not dismissed Joseph’s God along with Joseph himself. God is the champion of the oppressed and does not allow his people to be abused, enslaved, and terrorized forever.” From: https://soilfromstone.blogspot.com/2012/01/pharaohs-bad-marriage.html?

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Update

We three had our Bible study for the Sabbath School on Thursday because I had surgery on my left eye on Friday.  The bus that had taken me there was not one of the usual busses, it was rattley, squeaky and he drove way over the speed limit with the radio blaring. The driver insisted that I should call him when I needed to be picked up and even gave me his own phone number.  He must have been someone that the bus company contracted because the bus didn’t have the bus company logos on it.

Wendy, my daughter, met me at the ophthalmologist so we went to lunch at Cracker Barrel, and she shopped a bit for craft stuff.  My eyes were dilated so I couldn’t navigate too well but I made it.  When she called for the bus to pick me up and told them that I didn’t want to go home on the same bus, they put us on hold for so long, twice, that Wendy drove me home.

Then about 5.00pm the internet, phone and cable went out, and my cell phone wasn’t working either.  A high, wide load had been illegally driven down the main drag of the little city of Navasota and pulled the overhead wires loose.  But, thank goodness, we did have electricity.  My cat was sitting staring at a blank TV!  So I went to bed to let my eyes rest and sort themselves out.  A couple of hours later I was able to see well enough to read a book until I fell asleep. Everything was fixed about 3.00am. 

I don’t know whether the surgery has fixed my ‘light blindness’ yet because it was cold and overcast when Sherry and I went to the church the next day.