9/9/18 ~ God, I’m coming back. Help me.

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“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish” (Jonah 1:3a).

Do you spend your life running away from the Lord? Do you do it with busy-ness, with resentments toward people, with anger that God does not make people stop being bad to you, with disbelief that he even exists?

Is it even possible to run away from the Lord? Eventually, it is. But for a long time, the Lord runs after you. He does things to get your attention such as he did by causing a storm at sea where Jonah was on board his escape ship.

Perhaps there are storms in your life. Have you ever thought of them as God trying to get your attention?  Perhaps you run here and there day after day, too busy to even think about God. But when disaster hits do you suddenly remember God so you can blame him for your hardships?

Yes, perhaps you sometimes do blame God, but at least you’re thinking of him. Perhaps it’s been years since you have thought seriously about God.

He has big shoulders. Go ahead and blame him for a while, then remember how he loves you and just wants you back.

But don’t wait too long. God only runs after you for so long. Eventually, he gives up. Don’t wait so long that God gives up on you and treats you the way you have been treating him.

“God, I’m coming back. Help me.”

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8/19/18 – Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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From the Preacher’s Pen…

We’ve all done foolish things in our lives. But one of the most important lessons we have to learn is the difference between making a foolish mistake or error and being a fool. To be a great fool you can’t learn from the mistake, you can’t do better or try harder next time.

Of course, the Bible is full of reminders for us to learn. And Solomon even begins a lesson for us on how to build and sustain real wisdom:

 Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars (Proverbs 9:1).

Solomon naturally had a lot of good advice about wisdom. As his life demonstrated, all the wisdom and knowledge in the world doesn’t do much good without obedience. God would remind us of both great truths frequently in the New Testament. Without knowledge, we can never accidentally be right, and yet without wisdom in using that knowledge, we can easily be legalistically wrong.

Obviously, like so much else of God’s word, striking the right balance is key. Since we, God’s people, are the temple of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17), how are we to appreciate the wise way of building that temple?

Two of Solomon’s words form the key to his lesson. First, house is a unique word in Hebrew in that it seems to have such a broad meaning that there are many other words said to be nearly synonymous.

For example, a house may be a dwelling or building, a castle, a palace, a temple, a settled abode, a settlement or village, a dwelling, a refuge, a sacred place or sanctuary. Second, pillars may rarely be used for the foundations of a building, but usually, the term is reserved for the large load-bearing columns of temples or similar buildings.

One could then reasonably imply that wisdom’s house is not just a lower class, common building but rather an impressive permanent structure.

The word hewn is a somewhat technical reference to the work involved in the preparation of either a wooden or stone load bearing column of large size. The NIV misses the point in using set up for the total work that both fabrication and assembly involved.

Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10), the proper starting place is the Lord! Without proper honoring of our God and Savior and knowledge of Him and His will, we have nothing to build on.

Since we are next going to look at a comment by James, one of the elders of the church at Jerusalem, let’s first remember a bit about who he was. Growing up as part of Jesus’ earthly family he at first failed to believe (John 7:5). He would be a witness of the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 15:7) and eventually a faithful elder of the church (Acts 15:6, 13 and Acts 21:18). As such he took a strong stand for the Gentile Christians and also wrote a New Testament letter to Jewish Christians.

In that letter, he reminds us all of the great value of wisdom and reminds us that if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God (James 1:5). Next, he challenges us: Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. (James 3:13) And finally, he shows us: But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:17-18)

Did you notice the link to Solomon’s lesson? James suggests the seven pillars begin with the great pillar of purity. Purer in heart, oh God, help me to be the song reminds us. Purity is the foundation, the strength and, in many ways, the hardest thing of all for us to keep. Go back and look at the many Old Testament laws related to purity. There are countless ways to fail and it’s always a challenge to keep pure and holy before our God!
Only when we begin with purity do we ever start to accomplish the other goals.

Peaceable, gentle and reasonable are not to be confused, as many do, with weakness or acceptance of wrong. Jesus exhibited all three qualities, even when he whipped men out of the Temple or was rebuking those proud of their sinful accomplishments!

Full of mercy and good fruits involves both the mental attitudes as well as the outward works. Mercy shown to others allows God to show mercy to us and the actions of doing good shows that we really mean it.

Unwavering and without hypocrisy make wisdom beyond the abilities of fraudsters. God has no need of quitters or lousy actors that do not actually live the life and walk the walk of His family.

Like Jesus taught in another lesson, a house ~ indeed a life ~ built on the sand is doomed. One must build on the firm foundation to endure. The obvious challenge and question for us is a simple one. On what are you building your life, your house for eternity?
 

— Lester P. Bagley

RacineBuilding

8/5/18 – A Tale of Five Good Deeds

From the Preacher’s Pen…

Years ago, back when the internet and email were just beginning to be used by many people, a good friend sent me a list of five lessons. I’m sure that they have all been retold many times and probably with some changes. But this is what he sent:

Five Lessons for God’s People

First Lesson: The Cleaning Lady

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. “Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “Hello.”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Second Lesson: Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960’s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: “Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.”

Sincerely,

Mrs. Nat King Cole.

Third Lesson: Always Remember Those Who Serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. “How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.

“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. “Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. “I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

Fourth Lesson: The Obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the King’s’ wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many of us never understand! Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

Fifth Lesson: Giving When it Counts

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had somehow survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Like the stories Jesus told, these are simple little lessons that have some great spiritual lessons for us. In fact, these each have parallels in scripture… if only we will listen and pay attention.

So, how do you do with paying attention to others that you might win their souls? Do you truly reflect the character of Jesus rather than that of the society that you live in? Do you take time to honor those who serve? Are you a complainer or a doer in the Lord’s Kingdom?

And finally, since your Savior gave His all for you… what do you actually offer to give to Him?

Yes, these are important lessons and each one may show far more about who we really are than anything that we might say. As a Christian, a child of the King… who are you really?

— Lester P. Bagley

RacineBuilding

 

 

7/28/18 ~ Jesus, our Passover Lamb

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From the Preacher’s Pen…

It’s been a busy couple of weeks of travel visiting and talking with congregations and with preachers and elders. I’ve observed congregations, preachers and elders that truly love the Lord and His church. Faithful saints that continue to mold their lives after Jesus and share the good news with others.

No, they are not perfect and no one is more aware of that fact than they are. But they are constantly in the Word of God and making the effort to actually be the people of God.

Sadly, there are the others, too. Those that have “left their first love,” those that have “gone out from us but are not really of us.” These continue to mock the Lord’s will and spurn the “faith that was once for all delivered” by God.

Each of these sights causes me to remember a special day of the Old Testament Law and to recall how much more it means to us now:

The Day of Atonement

Yes, I do know that this “Day” occurs in the Autumn. But bear with me for a moment and think.

Yom Kippur is the Hebrew term for the Day of Atonement. For Israel, it began with God’s forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32). An annual reminder of both their failure and God’s mercy, it is so much more than that.

Israel’s failure is one of those “How COULD you ever do that” events. God had already told them the basics of honoring Him who delivered them from Egyptian bondage. They had already seen incredible miracles of His love and salvation for them. And yet they so quickly forgot, gave credit to the ridiculous and willingly did what they knew was wrong. They were human and they were failures in serving God.

While every day is important and holy, this day was the most holy day of the Jewish year. With this day they remembered their very essence, what made them who they are at their peak of greatness. They remembered God having a relationship with them that transcended the most horrible mistakes in their lives!

The celebration of this Day is likened to being angels. Only spiritual needs are to be catered to, a whole day of devotion to God in repentance and prayer. A day to not only BE better but to prepare to continue to be better for the next year.

Every single thing leading up to and on this Day is centered around God. The one thing they once forgot is now their priority. The one focus they lost is now their goal to remember forever. The failures of sin become the obsession. We must forgive others, we must obtain forgiveness for ourselves from others, we must strive to be better, and most especially, we must determine to honor our God!

There are all kinds of suggestions for help with all of this. There are great lists that challenge both thoughts and actions. And then, as the day draws to an end there is a solemn reminder that, as the first three stars appear in the evening, God has sealed your fate in the Book of Life.

At that point, all the questions turn to joyous confidence in forgiveness. A new year has begun with the resolve to BE the person God has called and intended you to be.

The first thing we ought to compare all of this to is our Day of Atonement. The day our Lord turned it all around by Him dying for our sins rather than visiting death on us as we so richly deserved. Our failures, our sins were what led Him to the cross to die, not for Himself, but for us.

Does that day alone make you go WOW! Does that totally amaze us that He would love us so much? Shouldn’t it?

The second thing we ought to compare all this to is every Lord’s Day, every First Day of the Week. Since we have so much greater blessings and so much greater forgiveness (1 John 1:7-8 says His blood keeps on cleansing us) we ought to be so much more mindful of His sacrifice.

Since God has always made clear that our forgiveness from Him is dependent on our forgiveness of others (cf. Luke 11:4), the third thing we ought to compare all this to is how well we do at forgiving. Forgiveness of sins is not limited to those that “deserve” it… because no one ever deserves it!

The final aspect of our comparison must be the future. How, in light of all God’s mercy for us, will we do in being faithful in the future? Paul put it like this: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1).

When we read of the Old Testament Day of Atonement we need to make the application to our even greater Day of Atonement in Christ. And when we see the failure of others, those that have “left their first love,” those that have “gone out from us but are not really of us,” we must resolve to do better. We must choose to not only accept atonement but to continue to live holy lives in the future!

How could they forget? How could we forget?

— Lester P. Bagley

7/22/18 ~ What Color is Heaven?

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“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)

This amazing promise applies to us today. It also applies to eternity. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive heaven. That is why so much of Revelation is symbolic. The symbols are beautiful, so try going one step beyond reading how Revelation describes heaven, and make a drawing of what you think it looks like. Then colorize it all those beautiful colors. Revelation 21:12,13,21:

Each of the 12 GATES is named after one of the Tribes of Israel and has an angel guarding it. Make the gates pearl. Make the angel over the gate white or yellow.

Revelation 21:17, 18a: Make the WALL jasper, which is a light see-through green.

Revelation 21:16, 18b: Heaven is full of many MANSIONS (John 14:2). Make them a translucent (see-through) gold.

Revelation 21:21: The STREETS of the city are like crystal and gold. Make them a translucent (see-through) gold also.

Revelation 22:1: The RIVER OF LIFE runs through heaven coming out from the throne of God. Make it blue.

Revelation 4:6a: The CHRYSTAL SEA is in front of God’s throne. Make it blue.

Revelation 22:2: The TREE OF LIFE grows on both sides of the River of Life. Make it green and brown.

Revelation 22:2: The ALTER OF INCENSE from Christians’ prayers is in front of the throne. Make it gold

Revelation 21:23: God’s THRONE is jasper and the glory of God is so brilliant, there is no need of a sun. Make the area of the throne silver/white.

Revelation 4:5: Around the throne of God are the seven SPIRITS of God, symbolized by seven lights. Make them yellow.

Revelation 4:3a: Near the Spirits, there is a ruby red GLOW around the throne of God. Make this inner arch red.

Revelation 4:3b: There is a RAINBOW over God’s throne. Make the arch at the very top over the throne emerald green.

~Excerpted from 365 LIFE-CHANGING SCRIPTURES DAY BY DATE

 



6/15/18 ~ Praising God with Music

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David told the Levites to appoint “singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals“. Heman was the first one they appointed (I Chronicles 15:16f) and he had two assistants ~ Asaph and Merari (I Chronicles. 6:39, 44). David put them in charge of the music in the house of the Lord and they performed their duties according to the regulations (verses 31f).

So what David appointed was a choir and orchestra.  And these musicians had a full time job! They were to minister before the Lord “according to each day’s requirements” of sacrifices as written in the Law of Moses. Heman and the others were responsible for sounding the trumpets and cymbals and playing the other instruments ~ lyres, harps and cymbals (15:19-21) ~ for sacred song (16:37-42). In addition to playing the prescribed lyres, harps and cymbals, trumpets were to be sounded to announce sacrifices, etc. (16:4-6).

By the time David was old, there were “four thousand…to praise the Lord with the musical instruments” (I Chronicles 23:5. And what instruments were they still playing? Cymbals, lyres and harps “for the ministry at the house of God” (I Chronicles. 25:1 & 6).

Years later after David died and his son Solomon had completed the grand Temple in Jerusalem (II Chronicles. 5:1), “all the Levites who were musicians…stood on the east side of the altar dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres, accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets. The trumpeters and singers joined in unison as with one voice to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and the other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord” (verses 12-13).

Can you imagine such an orchestra and choir? The tinkling of the harps and lyres, with cymbals keeping the tempo, and trumpets calling attention to it all? And all those singers! Was God pleased? Indeed he was, for in the form of a cloud “the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God” (verse 14).

Three centuries later when Hezekiah was king, the same instruments were being played ~ cymbals, harps and lyres (II Chronicles. 29:25f). Why? Because they were prescribed by David, Gad the seer and Nathan the prophet as commanded by God through his prophets. (Acts 2:29-30 says David was a prophet too.)

Interestingly, although God specified every detail of the instruments that had to be played in the Old Testament, nothing like that was specified in the New Testament. Did God forget? Perhaps God took us to a higher plain in the New Testament era. We do know that in I Corinthians 14:15, we are told to both pray and sing with mind and spirit.

And in Ephesians 5:19 we are told to “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” The term “make music” in the original Greek language of the New Testament is to play on strings. Since we are to make music in our hearts, then it looks like we are to play on the instrument of our heart. How beautiful!

7/8/18 ~ Fun with Bible Numbers

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 MATTHEW

 

  1. _____ Joseph was warned by God to flee Bethlehem and hide in Egypt since Herod would kill all babies under age 2 (Matthew 2:13). It was approximately 100 milies to the border of Egypt from Bethlehem, and another 200 miles to the Nile River where most of the cities were. How many miles away was their probable destination?

 

  1. _____ With a day’s journey averaging 5 miles, about how many days did it take them to travel?

 

  1. _____ Herod was very jealous of his kingship, and even slew these members of his own family because they were getting too popular: His brother-in-law, his grandfather-in-law, his favorite wife, his two sons (Josephus, pp. 317-355). How many of his own family did he kill to protect his crown?

 

  1. _____ Jesus was actually born BC 6 (the Christian calendar was a few years off), and late in BC 4 King Herod died. If this was the time Jesus was “called out of Egypt” (Matthew 2:15), he would have been how old then?

 

  1. _____ After Jesus was grown and baptized by his second cousin John the Baptist, he fasted and prayed 40 days (Matthew 4:2). About how many weeks did he go without food?

 

  1. _____ Afterwards, Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee and called two brothers, Peter and Andrew, then two more brothers, James and John ~ all fisherman (Matthew 4:18~21). How many of his 12 apostles were not fishermen?

 

  1. _____ Jesus healed a woman with a flow of blood for 12 years (Matthew 9:20). How many months was she ceremonially unclean and kept from Temple worship?

 

  1. _____ Two sparrows were sold for a father (Matthew 10:28). How many cents did one sparrow cost if one farthing is worth .08 cents?

 

  1. _____ From 5 loaves and 2 fishes Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:17~21). If there were as many women as men and as many children as men, how many people in all may have been fed?

 

  1. _____ During the 4th watch of the night Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:25). The first watch started about 6:00 PM. A watch lasted 3 hours. What time did he walk on the water?

328. _____ Later, with 7 loaves and a few fishes, Jesus fed another crowd of 4,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 15:36~38). If there were as many women as men and as many children as men, how many in all may have been fed?

 

329. _____ Jesus said we should forgive our brother (friend) 70 x 7 (Matthew 18:22). If taken literally, how many times should we forgive one person?

 

330. _____ Jesus told the parable of a king who was kind to a servant who owed him 10,000 talents (Matthew 18:24~28). If it was a silver talent, it was worth $12,000. How much did the first servant owe the king?

 

331. _____ The above servant had a servant of his own who he had arrested and thrown into jail for owing him 100 pence. A pence is worth $1. How much did the second servant owe the first servant?

 

332. _____ How much more did the first ungrateful servant owe than the second servant he had jailed?

 

333. _____ Jesus told another parable of a farmer who hired laborers for a penny a day (Matthew 20:2). A penny then was worth about 35 cents (average day’s wages). How much per hour did they earn in a 12~hour working day?

 

334. _____ Jesus told the parable of ten brides maids going to a wedding (Matthew 25:1~3). Five were wise because they took along enough oil to keep their lamps lit that evening and last them until the feast began. How many were foolish because they didn’t plan ahead?

 

 

335. _____ Jesus told the parable of a man being given 10 talents, another 5 talents, and another 1 talent (Matthew 25:15) to invest for him. Assuming these were talents of silver, how many dollars was the first man given?

 

336. _____ How many dollars was the second man given?

337. _____ How many dollars was the third man given?

 

338. _____ How many dollars did the master give them in all?

 

339. _____ The first two doubled what they had received (Matthew 25:16, 17) and returned it to their master. How much did they together return?

 

340. _____ Judas was offered 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:15). If a piece of silver was a shekel of silver worth $4, then for how many dollars did Judas betray his Lord?

 

341. _____ When Jesus was betrayed, He could have brought down 12 legions of angels to save him (Matthew 26:5). A legion is about 5,000. How many angels would that have been?

 

342. _____ When Jesus was crucified, there was darkness from the 6th hour to the 9th hour (Matthew 27:45). The first hour of the Jewish day began about 6:00 AM. What time did it turn dark during the crucifixion?

7/8/18 ~ Fun With Bible Numbers

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MATTHEW

315. _____ The generations listed by Matthew from Abraham to David were 14, from David to the Babylonian captivity were 14, and from the Babylonian captivity to Jesus Christ were 14 (Matthew 1:17). How many generations were listed in all?

 

316. _____ In Psalm 51:5, David said he was conceived in sin. In Deuteronomy 23:2, the Law stated that if an illegitimate son was born, 10 generations following would be considered ceremonially unclean and not able to go to the Tabernacle (later, the Temple). Judah had an illegitimate son named Phares. His son was Esrom, his son Aram, then Aminidab, Naason, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse and finally David. What generation was David from Phares? What generation built the Temple?

 

317. _____ At the time of Jesus’ birth, wise men from the east saw the star and came to see Jesus (Matthew

 

_____  2:1, 2). WISEMEN comes from the Greek word usually referring to astrologers in Persia (today’s Iran). Persia was about 1,000 miles from Bethlehem. A day’s journey was about 10 miles; but on a longer journey, it would be about 5 miles with herds for food and more supplies. How many days did it possibly take the wise men to arrive in Bethlehem? That’s about how many months?

 

318. _____ Joseph was warned by God to flee Bethlehem and hide in Egypt since Herod would kill all babies under age 2 (Matthew 2:13). It was approximately 100 milies to the border of Egypt from Bethlehem, and another 200 miles to the Nile River where most of the cities were. How many miles away was their probable destination?

 

319. _____ With a day’s journey averaging 5 miles, about how many days did it take them to travel?

 

320. _____ Herod was very jealous of his kingship, and even slew these members of his own family because they were getting too popular: His brother-in-law, his grandfather-in-law, his favorite wife, his two sons (Josephus, pp. 317-355). How many of his own family did he kill to protect his crown?

 

321. _____ Jesus was actually born BC 6 (the Christian calendar was a few years off), and late in BC 4 King Herod died. If this was the time Jesus was “called out of Egypt” (Matthew 2:15), he would have been how old then?

 

322. _____ After Jesus was grown and baptized by his second cousin John the Baptist, he fasted and prayed 40 days (Matthew 4:2). About how many weeks did he go without food?

 

323. _____ Afterwards, Jesus went to the Sea of Galilee and called two brothers, Peter and Andrew, then two more brothers, James and John ~ all fisherman (Matthew 4:18~21). How many of his 12 apostles were not fishermen?

 

324. _____ Jesus healed a woman with a flow of blood for 12 years (Matthew 9:20). How many months was she ceremonially unclean and kept from Temple worship?

 

325. _____ Two sparrows were sold for a father (Matthew 10:28). How many cents did one sparrow cost if one farthing is worth .08 cents?

 

326. _____ From 5 loaves and 2 fishes Jesus fed 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:17~21). If there were as many women as men and as many children as men, how many people in all may have been fed?

 

 

327. _____ During the 4th watch of the night Jesus walked on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:25). The first watch started about 6:00 PM. A watch lasted 3 hours. What time did he walk on the water?

 

328. _____ Later, with 7 loaves and a few fishes, Jesus fed another crowd of 4,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 15:36~38). If there were as many women as men and as many children as men, how many in all may have been fed?

 

329. _____ Jesus said we should forgive our brother (friend) 70 x 7 (Matthew 18:22). If taken literally, how many times should we forgive one person?

 

330. _____ Jesus told the parable of a king who was kind to a servant who owed him 10,000 talents (Matthew 18:24~28). If it was a silver talent, it was worth $12,000. How much did the first servant owe the king?

 

331. _____ The above servant had a servant of his own who he had arrested and thrown into jail for owing him 100 pence. A pence is worth $1. How much did the second servant owe the first servant?

 

332. _____ How much more did the first ungrateful servant owe than the second servant he had jailed?

 

333. _____ Jesus told another parable of a farmer who hired laborers for a penny a day (Matthew 20:2). A penny then was worth about 35 cents (average day’s wages). How much per hour did they earn in a 12~hour working day?

 

334. _____ Jesus told the parable of ten brides maids going to a wedding (Matthew 25:1~3). Five were wise because they took along enough oil to keep their lamps lit that evening and last them until the feast began. How many were foolish because they didn’t plan ahead?

 

 

335. _____ Jesus told the parable of a man being given 10 talents, another 5 talents, and another 1 talent (Matthew 25:15) to invest for him. Assuming these were talents of silver, how many dollars was the first man given?

 

336. _____ How many dollars was the second man given?

 

337. _____ How many dollars was the third man given?

 

338. _____ How many dollars did the master give them in all?

 

339. _____ The first two doubled what they had received (Matthew 25:16, 17) and returned it to their master. How much did they together return?

 

340. _____ Judas was offered 30 pieces of silver to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:15). If a piece of silver was a shekel of silver worth $4, then for how many dollars did Judas betray his Lord?

 

341. _____ When Jesus was betrayed, He could have brought down 12 legions of angels to save him (Matthew 26:5). A legion is about 5,000. How many angels would that have been?

 

342. _____ When Jesus was crucified, there was darkness from the 6th hour to the 9th hour (Matthew 27:45). The first hour of the Jewish day began about 6:00 AM. What time did it turn dark during the crucifixion?

 

(Excerpted from the book FUN WITH BIBLE NUMBERS by Katheryn Maddox Haddad)

 

 

July 1, 2018 ~ Bless the Lord

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From the Preacher’s Pen…

Are you thankful? Do have blessings? Are you a blessing? The first two questions seem perfectly normal to all of us. But that last question about being a blessing is both a bit more challenging and a bit more important. Let’s do a bit more study as we…

Bless the Lord

The dictionary says that the word bless primarily means a religious term to confer (give to someone else) or invoke (request from someone else) the favor of God. We pretty well understand that we can ask God’s blessing on ourselves, or we can ask God to bless someone else. God, after all, IS God and His blessing really means something.

The power of God’s people when faithfully doing His will is nothing short of amazing! Jesus taught us that as we go out to share the Gospel that we are to give our blessing of peace to others. It’s not really our power, our gift to give because we are human, but rather the power and authority of God’s commissioned “light of the world” that can extend God’s own peace as a blessing to this world.

Likewise, James (James 5:15) reminds us of the awesome power of prayer possessed by the faithful. The prayers of God’s people have the power to bring God’s healing to the sick and forgive sins! Certainly in all these ways we ARE a powerful blessing to this world.

But let’s go back to the dictionary and look a bit further down at a third (in my dictionary, at least) and therefore somewhat lesser meaning. There it says that bless also can mean to express or feel gratitude to, to thank.

It may well come as a bit of a surprise to us to realize that we can actually bless God! Yes, when we actually DO God’s will and live as His faithful children on this earth we have great blessings to give to this world. And yes, we can also by that righteous living cause others to turn to God and thus we are a blessing to Him.

But we also have the ability, the power, the right, the honor to extend to God our own blessing as thanksgiving. In so doing we bless the Lord both by living as His faithful family members here on earth and by being appreciative of the great honor and power He has given to us.

The Bible uses the specific words “bless the Lord” or refers to blessing God more than two dozen times. Consider just a few of those:

Moses, in some of his final words, reminded God’s people that as they entered and lived in the Land that God had promised them to eat and be filled and then to bless the Lord their God (Deuteronomy 8:10).

Deborah, the Judge, and her general, Barak, sang of God’s deliverance and that the people blessed the Lord as Godly leadership served God (Judges 5:2). [Note that the NKJV and others correct the KJV’s erroneous translation of “praise the Lord” to “bless the Lord” since the Hebrew is not hālal but bārak, not praise God but bless God.]

As David crowned Solomon as king to succeed him, he directed the nation to “bless the Lord” (1 Chronicles 29:20). In the Psalms, David and the other writers frequently reminded themselves and all the faithful to bless the Lord (Psalm 16:7; 26:12; 34:1; 103:1; 104:1; 115:18; et.al.).

The concept of blessing the Lord is also seen in Jewish prayers. The blessing for bread is: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth. Various foods have similar blessings including this one: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine. There’s even a generic blessing for all other foods: Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, by Whose word all things came to be.

What we really need to see, appreciate and imitate is the lesson that God’s people have a responsibility to bless God. In the things we say and do in this world, in the way we deal with our fellow saints, in the way we are faithful, in the way that we respect and appreciate our God we must always BE a blessing.

— Lester P. Bagley

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6/24/18 ~ Proof of Obedience

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From the Preacher’s Pen…

When I leave the USA to travel overseas, and again when I return home, I am required to show proof of my citizenship. Apparently, I can’t just claim to be Superman from the planet Krypton and get away with it!

Is the same thing true with serving God? Does what we actually say and do matter? Let’s consider God’s requirements for…

Proof of Obedience

We all understand those simple facts about citizenship when it comes to earthly matters. What’s sad is that many people assert you can just fool God by claiming (perhaps very loudly as Elijah once suggested to the followers of Baal in 1 Kings 18?) to be a Christian even if you never actually do and prove the things that really go into making a Christian.

When the world says, “Just accept or welcome Jesus into your heart and you will be saved” they are NOT quoting from Scripture but rather are contradicting everything God actually says! In Matthew 7:21 Jesus flatly states, Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. In the next two verses (22 and 23)

He expands their complaint to the Judgement Day: Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Without proof, without obedience, we are NOT saved and we are NOT Christ’s family! So the urgent need becomes a question of HOW to prove our claim. The answer from God is that our obedience to God is our proof!

The doctrine of faith alone (the more accurate meaning is: wishful thinking!) resulting in salvation is never taught by God. Jesus demands that we understand this: Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46) If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15) If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10)

The Apostle John obviously faced the same false teaching and attitude as he repeatedly told Christians that the proof of their faith was in the obedience: By this, we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3).

And if we need it more clearly explained, John continues: The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (1 John 2:4-6)

Walking in the light (1 John 1:7) is never just doing our own thing, our own way. God tells us that the very definition of loving God is obedience: For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).

As God pictures the story of salvation in Revelation, He reminds us that Satan is enraged by faithful obedience: So the dragon was enraged with the woman and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)

Finally, God reminds us that real faithfulness is obedience: Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

What we DO is the proof of who we are: Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:7-8a).

When you put it all together the real question is simple: Who do YOU belong to? We can claim until the cows come home that we are God’s people, but unless we actually obey Him and live like it, we are deceiving ourselves but not fooling God in the least.

So, how shall we live and act this week?

— Lester P. Bagley

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