Friday, 31 October 2014
Athens -- comparing the wisdom of God to that of the world
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Paul left Macedonia in a hurry when it became clear that the Jewish vigilantes there were not going to leave him alone. Silas and Timothy were able to go discreetly back to Philippi, leaving Paul to wait alone in Athens. But Paul was not one to sit idly, paralyzed by memories of persecution and prospects of ridicule, even in a sophisticated city like this one. So despite or even because of the conflict in Macedonia, the gospel came to Greece, the cradle of the culture that dominated the known world.

As you read about Paul's time in Athens and Corinth in 17:16-18:23, try to put yourself into those cities in Paul's place, or think of yourself as one of the people who heard Paul. Ask God to show you Himself at work.

 

Contrast Epicurean and Stoic beliefs (about God, the origin of things, man, after-life, and how people should live) with what Paul says in 17:24-31.

Acts 17:24-31

24 "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' 29 "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone--an image made by man's design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject." 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others. 

Epicureans: Atheistic. Material is all there is. Apparently, the world just happens to be there. No purpose, just an accident. When you die, that's it. You're gone. There is no soul, no judgment, therefore, no right or wrong. The gods exist on another plane, they too are material. (Alternate/Multiple Universes). Apparently, they have no bearing or effect on our existence. Ultimate aim of life is nothingness, so eat, drink and be merry. I'll do my thing, you do your thing. It doesn't matter. Everything is pointless and without meaning.

Stoics: The founder of the Stoics was Zeno, who flourished about B.C. 300. He taught his disciples that a man's happiness consisted in bringing himself into harmony with the course of the universe. They were trained to bear evils with indifference, and so to be independent of externals. Materialism, pantheism, fatalism, and pride were the leading features of this philosophy. We are part of God/the world soul. God is an impersonal force. We have no importance as individuals. Tree Huggers. Christian Scientists, Unitarians, Hindus'.

Paul tells the Athenians that the world is not an accident. God, a person, created it and everything in it. He also tells them that God is the one who gives us and all creatures our life and He also provides everything that we need. He is also not made out of material or matter. He isn't like us. Paul also tells them that our lives are not pointless accidents without meaning or purpose. In fact, he tells them that God has actually placed everyone in a specific place and time for the express purpose that they might seek Him. He tells them that God is not far from each individual. So therefore, people are important as individuals. Along this line, Paul also tells them that one day, we as individuals will be judged by God. HOW WE LIVE MATTERS!

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Posted on 10/31/2014 8:16 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 17 October 2014
Applying the lessons of Acts 15-17:15
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What insight from Acts 15:36-17:15 might we want to apply to our own circumstances?

One Student's answer:

In chapter 15, we see the parting of Paul and Barnabas after an agreement regarding John Mark. The fact of the matter is that even though they disagree, they decide that for the good of all that they part and they do so amicably. People can disagree but they need to let their disagreements be governed by love. In Chapter 16, first we see that Paul takes Timothy under wing. There's always a need to be on the lookout for the next generation of younger leaders and to realize the need to train them. We then see how Paul and Silas allow themselves to be led by the Holy Spirit to travel to Macedonia and what will become the beginning of the Church in Europe and its spread throughout the Roman Empire. Next we are told how Paul meets Lydia who becomes a believer. She is a trader in purple cloth, a business person. She offers her house, her resources to further Paul and Silas' ministry. Here we see an answer to the question: What am I here for? Everyone in the body of Christ has a purpose. We are then told of Paul and Silas' being jailed for driving a spirit out of a slave girl. It is interesting that the passage says that Paul was troubled by the girl. It made me think that maybe even though she was given this supposed ability by the demon, the effects of the demon on her life, aside from fortune-telling were bad. Paul does what he does out of compassion for her just like Christ does for us. He and Silas are then beaten and jailed unjustly. A miracle ensues with the earthquake and consequently, the jailer and his family come to faith. Paul and Silas are also released from jail but not before it is publicly acknowledged that they were treated unjustly for their compassionate act toward the slave girl and the preaching of the gospel. Chapter 16 then ends the pair returning to Lydia's house where it says THEY ENCOURAGED OTHERS. Wow, everything that happens has a purpose and how we react to these things can and should be an encouragement to those around us. Chapter 17 begins with Paul and Silas going to Thessalonica. Their message remains the same: "Jesus is the Messiah. I think the lesson here is remain focused. Persecution comes to them and their supporters, in particular, Jason. We see here that supporting the gospel does involve risk and sacrifice. We see also the excellent example of the Bereans regarding how we are to go about being taught. Ours is not a mindless, ritualistic, no thinking allowed deal. We are to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls, strength and minds. We also see that persecution follows those who preach the gospel. 

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Posted on 10/17/2014 7:26 PM by Larry G
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Thursday, 16 October 2014
Jacob's Ultimate Decision: I will trust God
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How does Jacob ultimately respond to God (Genesis 31:17-18)?

Genesis 31:17-18

17 Then Jacob got up and put his children and wives on the camels. 18 He took all the livestock and possessions he had acquired in Paddan-aram, and he drove his herds to go to the land of his father Isaac in Canaan.

He decides to trust God and obey Him.

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Posted on 10/16/2014 9:36 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 16 October 2014
Dealing with New and Startling Teaching
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How can you imitate the Bereans' response to new teaching?

When in doubt, look it up, research the issue, pray about it and think/meditate about it.

Why was the Bereans' reaction the best way to deal with new and startling teaching?

It's important to think about what you hear, read or see. You need to check things out to get them straight in your mind. First, you need to see and understand what scripture really says. Then, I think you need to think about how it relates to what you know about the world, about people, events, etc. Then you can really see the reality, validity, truthfulness and value of the new teaching.

 

--The Jews in Berea were serious about the study of the word preached unto them. They not only heard Paul preach on the Sabbath, but daily searched the Scriptures, and compared what they read with the facts related to them. The doctrine of Christ does not fear inquiry; advocates for his cause desire no more than that people will fully and fairly examine whether things are so or not. Those are truly noble, and likely to be more and more so, who make the Scriptures their rule, and consult them accordingly. May all the hearers of the gospel become like those of Berea, receiving the word with readiness of mind, and searching the Scriptures daily, whether the things preached to them are so. (Matthew Henry)

 

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Posted on 10/16/2014 7:20 PM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 15 October 2014
What Did Jacob Learn About God
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Yet, in the midst of his trials and despite his moral flaws, what did Jacob learn about God (Genesis 30:30, 31:3, 7, 11-13)?

Genesis 30:30

For you had very little before I came, but now your wealth has increased. The Lord has blessed you because of me. And now, when will I also do something for my own family?" 

Genesis 31:3, 7, 11-13

3 Then the Lord said to him, "Go back to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you."….  7 and that he has cheated me and changed my wages 10 times. But God has not let him harm me….. 11 In that dream the Angel of God said to me, 'Jacob!' and I said: Here I am. 12 And He said, 'Look up and see: all the males that are mating with the flocks are streaked, spotted, and speckled, for I have seen all that Laban has been doing to you. 13 I am the God of Bethel, where you poured oil on the stone marker and made a solemn vow to Me. Get up, leave this land, and return to your native land.' " 

Jacob realized that God is the one who provides blessing and that sometimes He has provided blessing through he, Jacob.  He also realized that God had been with him all the time, protecting him and prospering him.  Finally, Jacob realized that God was faithful and trustworthy.  When God makes a vow, He keeps it.

  

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Posted on 10/15/2014 9:13 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Thinking about Paul's Letters to the Thessalonians and Philippians
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Study Paul's letters to the Thessalonians (written about a year later) in light of Acts 17:1-15

In Acts 17:1-15, we are told that Paul and the believers in Thessalonica are severely persecuted.  In the epistles to the Thessalonians, he addresses this and encourages them to persevere in peace.  He also talks about how they are to behave daily and also addresses certain questions and issues they had regarding the return of the Messiah Jesus.  His epistles to the Thessalonians also show that Paul deeply cared about them and what they were going through.  He also alludes to the example that they had set for other churches in the area.

Study his letter to the Philippians (written about ten years later) in light of Acts 16:11-40.

In Acts 16:11-40, we are told of what happens to Paul and Silas.  By this time they have met Lydia who offers them the use of her home.  This turns out to be fortuitous because not only does it become a place of rest and recuperation for Paul and Silas, but it also becomes the first church in Europe.  In Philippi, Paul and Silas are severely persecuted, beaten and unjustly imprisoned.  But this incident becomes the catalyst that probably really began the church in Europe.  Paul in later writing to the Philippians shows that he has a great affection for this church, which has supported him throughout his ministry.  Paul commends them for this.  It is amazing that this church became the start of the church in Europe and we see that it supports everything that Paul does as he travels.  Funny that we first see Paul in chains in Philippi and when he writes his epistle, he is again in chains.  He explains to the Philippians what this was all about, encouraging them in this epistle by reminding them that the most important thing is to keep one's eye on the goal----Jesus the Messiah.  

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Posted on 10/15/2014 7:12 PM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014
God's Purposes in the Detour to Shechem
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What point does the detour to Shechem serve in the story of Jacob's return from Aram?  Consider what happens before (Genesis 32:22-33:18) and after (Genesis 35:1-15).  What lessons can the detour teach us in our own journeys?

Genesis 32:22-33:18

 22During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female slaves, and his 11 sons, and crossed the ford of Jabbok. 23 He took them and brought them across the stream, along with all his possessions.  24 Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that He could not defeat him, He struck Jacob's hip as they wrestled and dislocated his hip socket. 26 Then He said to Jacob, "Let Me go, for it is daybreak." But Jacob said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me." 27 "What is your name?" the man asked. "Jacob!" he replied. 28 "Your name will no longer be Jacob," He said. "It will be Israel because you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed." 29 Then Jacob asked Him, "Please tell me Your name." But He answered, "Why do you ask My name?" And He blessed him there. 30 Jacob then named the place Peniel, "For," [he said,] "I have seen God face to face, and I have been delivered." 31 The sun shone on him as he passed by Penuel-limping on his hip. 32 That is why, to this day, the Israelites don't eat the thigh muscle that is at the hip socket: because He struck Jacob's hip socket at the thigh muscle…..(Chapter 33).. 1 Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming toward him with 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female slaves. 2 He put the female slaves first, Leah and her sons next, and Rachel and Joseph last. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed to the ground seven times until he approached his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept. 5 When Esau looked up and saw the women and children, he asked, "Who are these with you?" He answered, "The children God has graciously given your servant." 6 Then the female slaves and their children approached [him] and bowed down. 7 Leah and her children also approached and bowed down, and then Joseph and Rachel approached and bowed down. 8 So Esau said, "What do you mean by this whole procession I met?" "To find favor with you, my lord," he answered. 9 "I have enough, my brother," Esau replied. "Keep what you have."10 But Jacob said, "No, please! If I have found favor with you, take this gift from my hand. For indeed, I have seen your face, [and it is] like seeing God's face, since you have accepted me. 11Please take my present that was brought to you, because God has been gracious to me and I have everything I need." So Jacob urged him until he accepted. 12 Then Esau said, "Let's move on, and I'll go ahead of you." 13 Jacob replied, "My lord knows that the children are weak, and I have nursing sheep and cattle. If they are driven hard for one day, the whole herd will die. 14 Let my lord go ahead of his servant. I will continue on slowly, at a pace suited to the livestock and the children, until I come to my lord at Seir." 15 Esau said, "Let me leave some of my people with you." But he replied, "Why do that? Please indulge me, my lord." 16 On that day Esau started on his way back to Seir, 17 but Jacob went on to Succoth. He built a house for himself and stalls for his cattle; that is why the place was called Succoth. 18 After Jacob came from Paddan-aram, he arrived safely at the Canaanite city of Shechem and camped in front of the city. 19 He purchased a section of the field from the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, for 100 qesitahs, where he had pitched his tent. 20 And he set up an altar there and called it "God, the God of Israel."

Genesis 35:1-15

1 God said to Jacob, "Get up! Go to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau." 2 So Jacob said to his family and all who were with him, "Get rid of the foreign gods that are among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 We must get up and go to Bethel. I will build an altar there to the God who answered me in my day of distress. He has been with me everywhere I have gone." 4 Then they gave Jacob all their foreign gods and their earrings, and Jacob hid them under the oak near Shechem. 5 When they set out, a terror from God came over the cities around them, and they did not pursue Jacob's sons. 6 So Jacob and all who were with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 Jacob built an altar there and called the place God of Bethel because it was there that God had revealed Himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother. 8 Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died and was buried under the oak south of Bethel. So Jacob named it Oak of Weeping. 9 God appeared to Jacob again after he returned from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him. 10 God said to him: Your name is Jacob; you will no longer be named Jacob, but Israel will be your name. So He named him Israel. 11 God also said to him: I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation, indeed an assembly of nations, will come from you, and kings will descend from you. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you. And I will give the land to your descendants after you. 13 Then God withdrew from him at the place where He had spoken to him. 14 Jacob set up a marker at the place where He had spoken to him-a stone marker. He poured a drink offering on it and anointed it with oil. 15 Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

The detour does several things.  First, it causes the separation of Jacob and his family from the Canaanites.  Both parties now choose to avoid each other; they afraid of one another.  Jacob and his group are fearful of Canaanite revenge and the Canaanites are plain scared of Jacob's ruthless, murderous sons.  The detour and the events that transpire also cause Jacob to open his eyes and look at the reality that is his family.  He sees that his family, his sons, are just like the Canaanites.  They are murderous, deceitful, vengeful and greedy; they are idolaters.  Jacob/ Israel realizes that not only does his family need to be physically separated from the Canaanites, but also spiritually.

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Posted on 10/14/2014 9:10 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Comparing Bereans and Thessalonians
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How did the Berean Jews respond differently to Paul's message than the Thessalonian Jews did (17:5, 11)?

Acts 17:5, 11

5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd…..11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Paul reasoned from the scriptures in both places that Jesus was the Messiah.  But only in Berea did the Jews take the time to actually check out what he was saying about the scriptures and Jesus.  Apparently, in Thessalonica they were jealous of Paul's knowledge of the scriptures and the influence he had over those Jews and God-fearing gentiles who believed.

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Posted on 10/14/2014 7:07 PM by Larry G
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Monday, 13 October 2014
Character Qualities of Jacob's Sons
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The Shechemites behaved like typical Canaanites, lustful, greedy (Genesis 34:2, 23).  However, with what character qualities did the sons of Israel respond (Genesis 34:13-17, 25-31)?

Genesis 34:2, 23

2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, a prince of the region, saw her, he took her and raped her. â€¦.  23 Won't their herds, their possessions, and all their livestock become ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will live with us." 

Genesis 34:13-17, 25-31

 13 But Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 "We cannot do this thing," they said to them. "Giving our sister to an uncircumcised man is a disgrace to us15 We will agree with you only on this condition: if all your males are circumcised as we are. 16 Then we will give you our daughters, take your daughters for ourselves, live with you, and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go." â€¦.. 25 On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, took their swords, went into the unsuspecting city, and killed every male. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with their swords, took Dinah from Shechem's house, and went away. 27 Jacob's [other] sons came to the slaughter and plundered the city because their sister had been defiled. 28 They took their sheep, cattle, donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field.29 They captured all their possessions, children, and wives, and plundered everything in the houses.30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have brought trouble on me, making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. We are few in number; if they unite against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed." 31 But they answered, "Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?" 

They lie; they TALK like their circumcision is a big deal.  But their ACTIONS show that their hearts, in fact, are uncircumcised.  They act like they won't take Shechemite brides unless the Shechemite males become circumcised.  However, they know that when the Shechemite men undergo circumcision, they will become incapacitated for a period of time during which, the sons of Jacob are planning to attack and kill them, steal all of their goods and their women any way.  They are dishonest, prideful, vengeful, greedy, violent and just like the Shechemites, lustful.

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Posted on 10/13/2014 9:07 AM by Larry G
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Monday, 13 October 2014
Different Ways of Responding to the Gospel
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In Luke 8:4-15, Jesus told a parable about four kinds of soil, comparing people who respond to the gospel in different ways to different kinds of soil.  How do the Thessalonians and Bereans illustrate this parable?

Luke 8:4-15

4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. 6 Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown." When he said this, he called out, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear." 9 His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, " though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.' 11 "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.

I think the Thessalonians exemplify the seed that fell on the path and that was snatched away by the birds, whereas, the Bereans exemplify that which fell on good soil.  They took what they had heard, they examined it and they determined whether it was true or not.  They allowed the word to be planted deep so it would take root and grow.

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Posted on 10/13/2014 7:04 PM by Larry G
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Sunday, 12 October 2014
More about Dealing with Authorities
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What do we observe from 16:35-39 and 17:6-10 about dealing with authorities.

Acts 16:35-39

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: "Release those men." 36 The jailer told Paul, "The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace." 37 But Paul said to the officers: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out." 38 The officers reported this to the magistrates, and when they heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were alarmed. 39 They came to appease them and escorted them from the prison, requesting them to leave the city.

Here Paul and Silas have been wrongfully punished and they hold the authorities accountable for what they have done and consequently they force a situation where the authorities must act in such a way as to show that Paul and Silas were innocent.

Acts 17:6-10

6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus." 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. 10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.

Here Jason doesn't oppose the authorities but follows the process of the law.  Paul and Silas are secretly taken out of Thessalonica and avoid further conflict.

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Posted on 10/12/2014 6:58 PM by Larry G
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Saturday, 11 October 2014
The Fundamental Risk of Christian Fellowship/Partnership
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What can Lydia and Jason teach us about Christian fellowship/partnership?

There was a risk involved.  Lydia invited them into her house and became associated with men who became at odds with the business people of the city.  After Paul and Silas were beaten, imprisoned and released, her home became their resting place where they recuperated.  It also became a place where others came to be encouraged.  Once she partnered with Paul and Silas she automatically opened up her life for use by God and others.  When Jason welcomed Paul and Silas it brought him persecution that meant violence and loss of money.  I guess that examining what happened with Jason and Lydia shows that Christian fellowship or partnership involves risk, sacrifice, cost and dedication.

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Posted on 10/11/2014 6:54 PM by Larry G
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Friday, 10 October 2014
The Danger of Joining the World
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The Shechemites wanted to intermarry with Israel to absorb the clan and its wealth (Genesis 34:9, 21-23).  Why did God not want this intermarriage and alliance?  (Optional: In Deuteronomy 7:3-4, see God's words to the Israelites entering Canaan.)

Genesis 34:9, 21-23

9 Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. â€¦.21 "These men are peaceful toward us," they said. "Let them live in our land and move about in it, for indeed, the region is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as our wives and give our daughters to them. 22 But the men will agree to live with us and be one people only on this condition: if all our men are circumcised as they are. 23 Won't their herds, their possessions, and all their livestock become ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will live with us."

Deuteronomy 7:3-4

3 Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, 4 because they will turn your sons away from Me to worship other gods. Then the Lord's anger will burn against you, and He will swiftly destroy you. 

The Israelites were to be separate, holy to the Lord God.  They were not to become mixed with other people, people like the Canaanites who were spiritually, morally, ethically and physically corrupt.  If they intermarried with these people, they would become the same way, spiritually, morally, ethically and ultimately physically corrupt also.  Their Canaanite women would turn the men of Israel, and ultimately the whole nation away from worshiping the true God to other gods.

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Posted on 10/10/2014 11:56 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 10 October 2014
The Cost of Serving the Lord
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In response to the gospel, Lydia and Jason both invited the missionaries to stay in their homes (16:15, 17:7).  They welcomed at least four virtual strangers for indefinite periods of weeks or months.  What kinds of trouble and expense were they risking by doing this (consider 16:20-22, 17:5-9)?

Acts 16:15

15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us

Acts 16:20-22

20 They brought them before the magistrates and said, "These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar 21 by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice." 22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.

Violence ensued.  Later on Paul and Silas go to her house to rest and recuperate from their wounds as a result of the violence.

Acts 17:7

7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus."

Acts 17:5-9

5 But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason's house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other brothers before the city officials, shouting: "These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus." 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.

False accusations come along with violence and false imprisonment and fines.  It cost them dearly.

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Posted on 10/10/2014 6:48 PM by Larry G
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Thursday, 9 October 2014
The Uncircumcision of Jacob's Sons
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Why is it significant that Jacob's sons replied deceitfully (Genesis 34:13)?

Genesis 34:13

But Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully because he had defiled their sister Dinah.

They had made circumcision a big issue.  But their actions showed that even though they were circumcised outwardly, their hearts were uncircumcised or unaffected by the God of their father.

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Posted on 10/09/2014 11:43 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 9 October 2014
Responding to Persecution
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Compare the way the apostles dealt with persecution in 13:46-51, 16:37, and 17:10.  How were the circumstances different?  Why do you think each response was appropriate to each circumstance?

Acts 13:46-51

46 Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: "We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: " I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' " 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

The apostles essentially tell the persecutors that they can have it their way and leave them.  They didn't waste any more time with the Jews in Pisidian Antioch.

Acts 16:37

37 But Paul said to the officers: "They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out."

The apostles do not leave without the authorities being forced to admit that they had been treated unjustly.

Acts 17:10

10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue.

They left Thessalonica quietly and did not try to add to the turmoil caused by some of the Jews in Thessalonica.  It is interesting that the brothers in Thessalonica apparently asked them to leave and Paul and Silas respected their request.  But they continued their way of operating-going first to the Jews with the gospel.

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Posted on 10/09/2014 6:44 PM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 8 October 2014
The Moral Values of Jacob and his family
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What moral values does each group in Genesis 34:1-31 display?

Genesis 34:1-31

1 Dinah, Leah's daughter whom she bore to Jacob, went out to see some of the young women of the area. 2 When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, a prince of the region, saw her, he took her and raped her. 3 He became infatuated with Dinah, daughter of Jacob. He loved the young girl and spoke tenderly to her. 4 "Get me this girl as a wife," he told his father Hamor. 5 Jacob heard that Shechem had defiled his daughter Dinah, but since his sons were with his cattle in the field, he remained silent until they returned. 6 Meanwhile, Shechem's father Hamor came to speak with Jacob. 7 Jacob's sons returned from the field when they heard [about the incident] and were deeply grieved and angry. For Shechem had committed an outrage against Israel by sleeping with Jacob's daughter, and such a thing should not be done. 8 Hamor said to Jacob's sons, "My son Shechem is strongly attracted to your daughter. Please give her to him as a wife. 9 Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 Live with us. The land is before you. Settle here, move about, and acquire property in it." 11 Then Shechem said to Dinah's father and brothers, "Grant me this favor, and I'll give you whatever you say. 12 Set for me the compensation and the gift; I'll give you whatever you ask me. Just give the girl to be my wife!" 13 But Jacob's sons answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 "We cannot do this thing," they said to them. "Giving our sister to an uncircumcised man is a disgrace to us. 15 We will agree with you only on this condition: if all your males are circumcised as we are. 16 Then we will give you our daughters, take your daughters for ourselves, live with you, and become one people. 17 But if you will not listen to us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and go." 18 Their words seemed good in the eyes of Hamor and his son Shechem. 19 The young man did not delay doing this, because he was delighted with Jacob's daughter. Now he was the most important in all his father's house. 20 So Hamor and his son Shechem went to the gate of their city and spoke to the men there. 21 "These men are peaceful toward us," they said. "Let them live in our land and move about in it, for indeed, the region is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as our wives and give our daughters to them. 22 But the men will agree to live with us and be one people only on this condition: if all our men are circumcised as they are. 23 Won't their herds, their possessions, and all their livestock become ours? Only let us agree with them, and they will live with us." 24 All the able-bodied men listened to Hamor and his son Shechem, and all the able-bodied men were circumcised. 25 On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of Jacob's sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, took their swords, went into the unsuspecting city, and killed every male. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with their swords, took Dinah from Shechem's house, and went away. 27 Jacob's [other] sons came to the slaughter and plundered the city because their sister had been defiled. 28 They took their sheep, cattle, donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field.29 They captured all their possessions, children, and wives, and plundered everything in the houses.30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have brought trouble on me, making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites. We are few in number; if they unite against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed." 31 But they answered, "Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?"

Dinah : Vain, Unwise, wanted to mix/hang with Canaanite girls; to mix with the world; thought this was harmless.

Shechem:  No problem with immorality, no problem with taking and raping Dinah.  She was there and he was rich

Jacob:  Morally compromised, didn't love Dinah's mother, therefore he didn't love her.

Jacob's Sons:  Self-righteous, vengeful, treacherous, violent, deceitful

Hamor:  Stupid, Walking in the dark.  "Whatzza matter?  It's no big deal; business is business."

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Posted on 10/08/2014 11:39 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 8 October 2014
Why Reject the Messiah
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Why did the Jews find the idea of a killed and raised Christ so repugnant?

Maybe they didn't consider themselves to be sinners in need of a savior.  They only wanted what they wanted.  They only saw a problem of someone being in charge of them and imposing their authority on them.  They wanted a Messiah who would take care of the Romans who were over them and preventing them from doing what they wanted.  They didn't see themselves as having an internal problem.  A risen Messiah may have also presented itself as another threat to their quest for self-autonomy as a nation and individually.  Once again, who's in charge?  Is it me or somebody else?

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Posted on 10/08/2014 6:42 PM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 7 October 2014
God Keeps His Promises to Jacob
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How did God keep the promise in Genesis 28:15 during the rest of Jacob's life?

Genesis 28:15

Look, I AM WITH YOU and will WATCH OVER YOU WHEREVER YOU GO. I will BRING YOU BACK TO THIS LAND, FOR I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU UNTIL I HAVE DONE WHAT I HAVE PROMISED YOU."

Genesis 30:27-31:9

27 But Laban said to him, "If I have found favor in your sight, [stay.] I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you." 28 Then Laban said, "Name your wages, and I will pay them." 29 So Jacob said to him, "You know what I have done for you and your herds. 30 For you had very little before I came, but now your wealth has increased. The Lord has blessed you because of me. And now, when will I also do something for my own family?" 31 Laban asked, "What should I give you?" And Jacob said, "You don't need to give me anything. If you do this one thing for me, I will continue to shepherd and keep your flock. 32 Let me go through all your sheep today and remove every sheep that is speckled or spotted, every dark-colored sheep among the lambs, and the spotted and speckled among the female goats. [Such] will be my wages. 33 In the future when you come to check on my wages, my honesty will testify for me. [If I have] any female goats that are not speckled or spotted, or any lambs that are not black, they will be considered stolen." 34 "Good," said Laban. "Let it be as you have said." 35 That day Laban removed the streaked and spotted male goats and all the speckled and spotted female goats-every one that had any white on it-and every dark-colored sheep among the lambs, and he placed his sons in charge of them. 36 He put a three-day journey between himself and Jacob. Jacob, meanwhile, was shepherding the rest of Laban's flock. 37 Jacob then took branches of fresh poplar, almond, and plane wood, and peeled [the bark], exposing white stripes on the branches. 38 He set the peeled branches in the troughs in front of the sheep-in the water channels where the sheep came to drink. And the sheep bred when they came to drink. 39 The flocks bred in front of the branches and bore streaked, speckled, and spotted young. 40 Jacob separated the lambs and made the flocks face the streaked and the completely dark sheep in Laban's flocks. Then he set his own stock apart and didn't put them with Laban's sheep. 41 Whenever the stronger of the flock were breeding, Jacob placed the branches in the troughs, in full view of the flocks, and they would breed in front of the branches. 42As for the weaklings of the flocks, he did not put out the branches. So it turned out that the weak sheep belonged to Laban and the stronger ones to Jacob. 43 And the man became very rich. He had many flocks, male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys….(chapter 31) 1 Now Jacob heard what Laban's sons were saying: "Jacob has taken all that was our father's and has built this wealth from what belonged to our father." 2 And Jacob saw from Laban's face that his attitude toward him was not the same. 3 Then the Lord said to him, "Go back to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you." 4 Jacob had Rachel and Leah called to the field [where] his flocks were. 5 He said to them, "I can see from your father's face that his attitude toward me is not the same, but the God of my father has been with me. 6 You know that I've worked hard for your father 7 and that he has cheated me and changed my wages 10 times. But God has not let him harm me. 8 If he said, 'The spotted sheep will be your wages,' then all the sheep were born spotted. If he said, 'The streaked sheep will be your wages,' then all the sheep were born streaked. 9 God has taken your father's herds and given them to me. 

Genesis 32:6-12,

 6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, "We went to your brother Esau; he is coming to meet you-and he has 400 men with him." 7 Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; he divided the people with him into two camps, along with the flocks, cattle, and camels. 8 He thought, "If Esau comes to one camp and attacks it, the remaining one can escape." 9 Then Jacob said, "God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, 'Go back to your land and to your family, and I will cause you to prosper,' 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness You have shown Your servant. Indeed, I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please rescue me from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid of him; otherwise, he may come and attack me, the mothers, and their children. 12 You have said, 'I will cause you to prosper, and I will make your offspring like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.' " 

Genesis33:1-4

1 Now Jacob looked up and saw Esau coming toward him with 400 men. So he divided the children among Leah, Rachel, and the two female slaves. 2 He put the female slaves first, Leah and her sons next, and Rachel and Joseph last. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed to the ground seven times until he approached his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet him, hugged him, threw his arms around him, and kissed him. Then they wept.

Genesis 33:18

After Jacob came from Paddan-aram, he arrived safely at the Canaanite city of Shechem and camped in front of the city.

What can we conclude about God from the events in the life of Jacob?

He is faithful and He can and will do what He says or promises?

 

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Posted on 10/07/2014 11:15 AM by Larry G
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Tuesday, 7 October 2014
The Significance of the Resurrection
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Why did the Christ have to die and rise (Acts 17:3)?  See Leviticus 16:15-17, 20-23,; Isaiah 53:1-12; Romans 6:1-14; Hebrews 9:11-10:18.

The high priest had to slaughter a goat for a sin offering, an atonement for himself, his household and all of Israel.  Only he could go into the most Holy place.  If he did not approach the Lord YAWEH properly, if the sacrifice was not accepted, he would die.  When the high priest came back out that showed that the sacrifice was accepted and then and only then could the people be in the Tent of Meeting/Temple.  But in any event, blood had to be shed as a sacrifice for sin.  Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God, had to die as a sin offering for the high priest, which is Him and all the people, in order for Him to enter into the actual Temple of God in heaven.  But here is the difference, His was the perfect sacrifice, one that would be sufficient forever.  When He rose again, this showed that the ultimate, sacrifice, the one that would take care of everything had been accepted.  Just as Aaron's coming out of the Holy of Holies alive showed that the temporary sacrifice had been accepted, Jesus rising from the grave showed that His sacrifice had been accepted.

Leviticus 16:15-17, 20-23

15 "He shall then slaughter the goat for the sin offering for the people and take its blood behind the curtain and do with it as he did with the bull's blood: He shall sprinkle it on the atonement cover and in front of it. 16 In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness. 17 No one is to be in the Tent of Meeting from the time Aaron goes in to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel….. 20 "When Aaron has finished making atonement for the Most Holy Place, the Tent of Meeting and the altar, he shall bring forward the live goat. 21 He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites-all their sins-and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. 22 The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert. 23 "Then Aaron is to go into the Tent of Meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there.

Isaiah 53:1-12

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. 11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Romans 6:1-14

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Hebrews 9:11-10:18

11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. 16 In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every commandment of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, "This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep." 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. 23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him…….. 1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, Here I am-it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to do your will, O God.' " 8 First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). 9 Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. 13 Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, 14 because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. 15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: 16 "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." 17 Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." 18 And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

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Posted on 10/07/2014 6:35 PM by Larry G
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