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Archive for April, 2011

Judges 2

The Angel of the Lord at Bokim
1 The angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you,
2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this?
3 And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.'”
4 When the angel of the Lord had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud,
5 and they called that place Bokim.t There they offered sacrifices to the Lord.

Disobedience and Defeat
6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance.
7 The people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things theLord had done for Israel.
8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of a hundred and ten.
9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Herest in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.
10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lordnor what he had done for Israel.
11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord and served the Baals.
12 They forsook theLord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the Lord’s anger
13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.
14 In his anger against Israel the Lord gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist.
15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the Lord was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.
16 Then the Lord raised up judges,t who saved them out of the hands of these raiders.
17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the Lord’s commands.
18 Whenever the Lordraised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for theLord relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them.
19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.
20 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me,
21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died.
22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the Lord and walk in it as their ancestors did.”
23 The Lord had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

Please post your thoughts and reflections in the comments below, it will be wonderful to learn from each other as we journey together!!

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Kids Bible Study 5-1-2011

A Puzzling Question, and How it was Answered
Acts 15:1-34
Paul tells the other Christians who were gathered together, about his Missionary journeys.
 

AFTER PAUL ANDBarnabas had returned from their missionary trip, some visitors came to the church at Antioch from Jerusalem.  These men were Jews, and they had never yet understood how Gentiles can be saved the same as Jews, without obeying the commands that Moses had given to the Israelites.    We remember that the law which God gave Moses to write in a book was intended for the Israelites, or Jews, only.  The Gentiles had never kept the law, and many of them knew nothing about its teachings.  This law had no power to save the people who obeyed it; the purpose of it was to separate people who worshiped God from those who worshiped idols.  Without the law the Jews would have been as ignorant of the true God as were the Gentiles, while with it they could prepare themselves to receive the Messiah, whom God had promised to send into the world, for many passages in it spoke of him.

These visitors from Jerusalem looked unkindly upon the Gentile believers and said, Except you keep the law of Moses just as we do you can not be saved.”

Paul and Barnabas had been among many Gentile Christians, and they had seen how these people received the Holy Spirit the same as did the Jews though they knew little of nothing about Moses’ law.  So these missionaries told the men from Jerusalem that they were mistaken, for Gentiles could be saved without keeping the law.

This question was a serious one with every person who had been a strict Jew.  A vision on the housetop was necessary in order to show Peter that Gentiles might be saved as well as Jews.  And there were many other strict Jews who had seen no housetop visions.  These were the Jews who troubled the Gentile believers.

Finally it was decided by the church in Antioch that Paul and Barnabas should go, with certain other teachers, to visit the apostles in Jerusalem and talk with them about this matter.  So the company started out, and as they went they visited other churches along the way and told about the success of the first missionary journey in far-off lands.  And everywhere the disciples rejoiced to hear how God had blessed the Gentiles who believed in him.

In Jerusalem the brethren from Antioch were received kindly by the apostles and the other teachers in the church.  And soon they told why they had come.

When their errand was made known, some of the teachers who, like Paul, had been strict Pharisees before they believed in Jesus, rose to talk.  These men had not, like Paul, seen that believers in the true God and in his Son, Jesus, no longer needed to keep the law of Moses.  They did not understand Jesus’ teaching, that true religion shows itself in a pure life, and that people who know nothing about Moses’ law can live pure and holy without keeping that law as did the Jews.

Peter listened with the other apostles and with the visitors from Antioch to the speech of these Pharisees who believed in Jesus.  When they had finished, others talked, and finally Peter told about his experience at Cornelius’ home, in Caesarea, where many Gentiles received the gospel and were baptized.  Then Barnabas and Paul told of their long journey in Gentile countries, where many turned from idol-worship to believe in the true God and in his Son, Jesus.

James, the brother of Jesus, stood up as the last speaker, and every one listened quietly for they  knew he had received wisdom from God to speak to them.  He urged them to cease troubling the Gentile Christians about the keeping of Moses’ law.  He said, however, that they might write a letter to the Gentile believers, telling them to be careful not to do certain things which they had always done while they were worshiping idols.

James’s advice pleased all the assembly, and the apostles and teachers in the church at Jerusalem decided to write such a letter and send it by Paul and Barnabas to the Gentile Christians in Antioch.  This they did, and they also sent two of their own preachers, men named Judas and Silas, with the missionaries.

A large audience of eager-faced people greeted the company when it arrived from Jerusalem.  And they listened carefully to the reading of the letter that the apostles had written and sent by these men.  When they heard that they would not be demanded to live like the Jews in order to please God, they rejoiced greatly.  And they continued to worship God with pure hearts, obeying the teachings of the gospel.

Judas and Silas, the men who came with Barnabas and Paul, spoke encouraging words to the believers, and urged them to cling to their faith in Jesus.  Then, after certain days, Judas bade them good-by and returned again to Jerusalem.  But Silas chose to remain with the church in Antioch.

Prayer 5-1-2011

Dear Father, give me your priorities for my life. Help me to recognize distractions and stay focused on your kingdom. I dedicate my time, talent, and treasure to you.

In Jesus’ name
Amen

Bible Study 5-1-2011

Psalm 51:18-19

18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.

19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Cleansing sin is not cheap. Keep in mind what God has to do. Sin creates debt, defilement and disease, which can be rooted out and forgiven only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Every one of us deserves eternal death, but He died in our place. Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve; grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.

When we confess sin, Jesus represents us before God (I John 2). He is our Advocate. When you are tempted to sin, remember that your sin put Jesus on the cross. And when you sin, you don’t simply sin against family and friends; you sin against the Savior, who died for you. He is standing in heaven, wounded, representing you before the throne. The high cost of cleansing sin is that Somebody had to die. This is a great motivation not to sin.

If you are saved, you are forgiven–your debt to sin is eliminated. Remember, God is not keeping a record of your sins, but He is keeping a record of your works, and sin hinders your ability to serve Him.

Never take for granted God’s act of cleansing sin. Forgiveness was purchased at a great price–the blood of Christ. Next time you are tempted to sin, remember that it cost Jesus His life to provide redemption for you.

Psychologists chart “stress factors” related to various kinds of emotional trauma and the response of different people to those factors–death, divorce, job loss, illness, and such which threaten the very foundations of people’s lives. What can hold us at such times?

In a simple story Jesus showed the secret of stability. One man comes to Jesus, hears Him, and acts on what he hears. He is like the man who builds a house on solid rock. Another man hears (is exposed to the same truth, given equal opportunity) but does not act (does not choose to act) on the word he hears. Jesus said he is building a house on sand. When floods come, the river bursts upon it (Lk 6:49 NEB), the house collapses and falls with a great crash.

What sort of floods was He talking about? What rivers might be likely to burst over a man’s house? Surely He meant the stresses of life, not terribly different from the stresses we experience, anything that shakes the foundations. It is at such times that we become aware of what those foundations are. Have we laid them on the Rock that never moves, or have we, merely by not obeying the word we have heard, been laying them on sand? That sand is the self–shifty, unstable, carried back and forth by conflicting currents (popular opinions, for example?), utterly undependable and incapable of holding up under pressure.

Lead me, Lord, to the Rock that is higher than I. Let me hear your word, give me grace to obey, to build steadily, stone upon stone, day by day, to do what You say. Establish my heart where floods have no power to overwhelm, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

Meaning!

Meaning isn’t something out there waiting for you to discover. The meaning of your life is what you infuse it with – beauty or ugliness, happiness or sadness. It is totally your choice, and God wants it to be your choice because God gave you free will.

Psalm 11:1-7

For the director of music. Of David. In the LORD I take refuge. How then can you say to me: ‘Flee like a bird to your mountain. For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?’ The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes everyone on earth; his eyes examine them. The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.

I’ve already run for dear life straight to the arms of God. So why would I run away now when you say, ‘Run to the mountains; the evil bows are bent, the wicked arrows Aimed to shoot under cover of darkness at every heart open to God. The bottom’s dropped out of the country; good people don’t have a chance’? – But God hasn’t moved to the mountains; his holy address hasn’t changed. He’s in charge, as always, his eyes taking everything in, his eyelids Unblinking, examining Adam’s unruly brood inside and out, not missing a thing. He tests the good and the bad alike; if anyone cheats, God’s outraged. Fail the test and you’re out, out in a hail of firestones, Drinking from a canteen filled with hot desert wind. God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.

Judges 1

Judah and Simeon Conquer the Land
1  After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Which tribe should go first to attack the Canaanites?”
2 The Lord answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.”
3 The men of Judah said to their relatives from the tribe of Simeon, “Join with us to fight against the Canaanites living in the territory allotted to us. Then we will help you conquer your territory.” So the men of Simeon went with Judah.
4 When the men of Judah attacked, the Lord gave them victory over the Canaanites and Perizzites, and they killed 10,000 enemy warriors at the town of Bezek.
5 While at Bezek they encountered King Adoni-bezek and fought against him, and the Canaanites and Perizzites were defeated.
6 Adoni-bezek escaped, but the Israelites soon captured him and cut off his thumbs and big toes.
7 Adoni-bezek said, “I once had seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off, eating scraps from under my table. Now God has paid me back for what I did to them.” They took him to Jerusalem, and he died there.
8 The men of Judah attacked Jerusalem and captured it, killing all its people and setting the city on fire.
9 Then they went down to fight the Canaanites living in the hill country, the Negev, and the western foothills.
10 Judah marched against the Canaanites in Hebron (formerly called Kiriath-arba), defeating the forces of Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.
11 From there they went to fight against the people living in the town of Debir (formerly called Kiriath-sepher).
12 Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the one who attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher.”
13 Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother, Kenaz, was the one who conquered it, so Acsah became Othniel’s wife.
14 When Acsah married Othniel, she urged himt to ask her father for a field. As she got down off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What’s the matter?”
15 She said, “Let me have another gift. You have already given me land in the Negev; now please give me springs of water, too.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs.
16 When the tribe of Judah left Jericho—the city of palms—the Kenites, who were descendants of Moses’ father-in-law, traveled with them into the wilderness of Judah. They settled among the people there, near the town of Arad in the Negev.
17 Then Judah joined with Simeon to fight against the Canaanites living in Zephath, and they completely destroyedt the town. So the town was named Hormah.
18 In addition, Judah captured the towns of Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ekron, along with their surrounding territories.

Israel Fails to Conquer the Land
19 The Lord was with the people of Judah, and they took possession of the hill country. But they failed to drive out the people living in the plains, who had iron chariots.
20 The town of Hebron was given to Caleb as Moses had promised. And Caleb drove out the people living there, who were descendants of the three sons of Anak.
21 The tribe of Benjamin, however, failed to drive out the Jebusites, who were living in Jerusalem. So to this day the Jebusites live in Jerusalem among the people of Benjamin.
22 The descendants of Joseph attacked the town of Bethel, and the Lord was with them.
23 They sent men to scout out Bethel (formerly known as Luz).
24 They confronted a man coming out of the town and said to him, “Show us a way into the town, and we will have mercy on you.”
25 So he showed them a way in, and they killed everyone in the town except that man and his family.
26 Later the man moved to the land of the Hittites, where he built a town. He named it Luz, which is its name to this day.
27 The tribe of Manasseh failed to drive out the people living in Beth-shan,t Taanach, Dor, Ibleam, Megiddo, and all their surrounding settlements, because the Canaanites were determined to stay in that region.
28 When the Israelites grew stronger, they forced the Canaanites to work as slaves, but they never did drive them completely out of the land.
29 The tribe of Ephraim failed to drive out the Canaanites living in Gezer, so the Canaanites continued to live there among them.
30 The tribe of Zebulun failed to drive out the residents of Kitron and Nahalol, so the Canaanites continued to live among them. But the Canaanites were forced to work as slaves for the people of Zebulun.
31 The tribe of Asher failed to drive out the residents of Acco, Sidon, Ahlab, Aczib, Helbah, Aphik, and Rehob.
32 Instead, the people of Asher moved in among the Canaanites, who controlled the land, for they failed to drive them out.
33 Likewise, the tribe of Naphtali failed to drive out the residents of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath. Instead, they moved in among the Canaanites, who controlled the land. Nevertheless, the people of Beth-shemesh and Beth-anath were forced to work as slaves for the people of Naphtali.
34 As for the tribe of Dan, the Amorites forced them back into the hill country and would not let them come down into the plains.
35 The Amorites were determined to stay in Mount Heres, Aijalon, and Shaalbim, but when the descendants of Joseph became stronger, they forced the Amorites to work as slaves.
36 The boundary of the Amorites ran from Scorpion Passt to Sela and continued upward from there.

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