Sunday, 30 November 2014
God Prepares to Move Israel to Egypt
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What does God allow to happen in Genesis 37:1-36?

Genesis 37:1-36

Joseph's Dream

1 Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. 2 These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. 4 His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms. 5 Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more . 6 He said to them, "Please listen to this dream which I have had; 7 for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf." 8 Then his brothers said to him, "Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 9 Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." 10 He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?" 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. 12 Then his brothers went to pasture their father's flock in Shechem. 13 Israel said to Joseph, "Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them." And he said to him, "I will go." 14 Then he said to him, "Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock, and bring word back to me." So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. 15 A man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, "What are you looking for?" 16 He said, "I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock." 17 Then the man said, "They have moved from here; for I heard them say, 'Let us go to Dothan.' " So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.

The Plot against Joseph

18 When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. 19 They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer ! 20 "Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!" 21 But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, "Let us not take his life." 22 Reuben further said to them, "Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him"-that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. 23 So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; 24 and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it. 25 Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 "Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers listened to him. 28 Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt. 29 Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments. 30 He returned to his brothers and said, "The boy is not there; as for me, where am I to go?" 31 So they took Joseph's tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; 32 and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, "We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son's tunic or not." 33 Then he examined it and said, "It is my son's tunic. A wild beast has devoured him; Joseph has surely been torn to pieces!" 34 So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, "Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son." So his father wept for him. 36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, Pharaoh's officer, the captain of the bodyguard.

During this passage we see that God allows enmity and jealousy to build between Joseph and his brothers.  He gives Joseph a dream which he, in turn, relates to his father and brothers.  The dream angers Joseph's brothers and offends his father, Jacob.  However, the text tells us that Jacob remembers the dream and ponders over it.  We are also shown what kind of characters Jacob's sons are.  Excluding Joseph, Jacob's sons are jealous, bitter, liars, capable of violence and altogether, not exactly a nice group of guys; they live up to the rep they earned at Shechem.  Joseph at this stage in his life, is arrogant, spoiled and was probably considered to be a "rat" by his brothers.  He is loyal to his father, even though it would appear that his loyalty is self-serving.  The stage is being set for Joseph's departure to Egypt and his eventual humbling.

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Posted on 11/30/2014 7:49 AM by Larry G
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Sunday, 30 November 2014
Paul in Ephesus
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When Paul passed through Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem and Antioch, he left Priscilla and Aquila there to begin building a church.  Ephesus was the queen of the rich Roman province of Asia.  Through her port passed goods from China and the eastern provinces bound for Italy.  Wide avenues, huge public buildings and squares, and luxurious private homes were designed to impress tourists. 

            A hundred local aristocrats owned most of the land around Ephesus and controlled the city government.  However, the strength of the city was its large class of merchants, businessmen, and craftsmen.  These people might be barely better fed than day laborers, nearly as wealthy as aristocrats or somewhere in between, but none of them had any say in the government unless he was a "client" of one of the ruling hundred.

            This working/business class was probably the group among whom Priscilla and Aquila began to explain their faith.  God did not leave the couple to be the only missionaries in the city; they had first Apollos and later Paul as partners.  As you read Acts18:24-19:41, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what He wants you to see.

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Posted on 11/30/2014 10:49 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 29 November 2014
God's Use of Dreams
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Dream:  (Genesis 37:5).  Dream interpretation was popular in the ancient world; the Egyptians raised it to an art.  Various schools of Egyptian wise men took pride in their various systems for interpreting the voices of the gods in dreams.

The Lord did use dreams to speak to Abraham, Jacob, Abimelech, Joseph, and other biblical people.  But in only two cases did He send dreams that required wise interpreters to unravel them.  In both cases He was dealing with pagan cultures fascinated with dreams: Babylon in the case of Daniel and Egypt in the case of Joseph.  Both Daniel and Joseph were careful to attribute their discernment to revelations from God, never to their own wisdom.

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Posted on 11/29/2014 7:41 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 29 November 2014
The Effect of Realizing that God is Sovereign
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What do we do when we come to the realization that God is sovereign; how does this affect how we pray?

I think the thing that should come to us the most is that Paul was doing something.  God instructs him to keep speaking.  We often don't speak; we often don't do anything.  Our lives are caught up in everything that Jesus told us to not allow, that keep us from maintaining our focus.  LORD, it seems that we spend a lot of time thinking about things that don't matter, things that don't satisfy and that have never satisfied.  We are so tired.  You know that there are things going on with our lives that really have us down.  But we have seen You work out these things out in the past.  Help us to remember and to praise you by acknowledging that You are the One who controls everything; help us to focus on You.  We know that you know that sometimes we feel like such absolute failures; and we are when we leave you out of the equation.  Sometimes we think we can use You as a way to succeed.  Man, that's wrong.  Fact of the matter is that without You directing and leading us, we have no chance of succeeding.  LORD JESUS, help us to worship You today.  We don't want to do church worship; I think you know what I mean.  We would like to offer ourselves as living sacrifices to you today.  And it seems that everything that we've been reading in Your word shows that every day is like an altar for us to make this kind of sacrifice, each moment is like an altar for us, filled with the opportunity to give ourselves to you.  Wow, eyes to see, and ears to hear.  I love you LORD JESUS.  Thanks for showing this to us.

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Posted on 11/29/2014 10:41 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 28 November 2014
Joseph: God in Control -- Genesis 37:1-50:26
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The story of Joseph reads like a tale told around campfires from generation to generation, a superbly crafted drama of suspense, humor, secret identities, and remarkable reversals.  To the ancient Israelites, it was a high point in their family history.  But beyond all this, it is an episode in God's story, the next stage in His sovereign plan.  Although it is tempting to see Joseph as the story's hero, the narrative makes it clear that at every turn it is God who works the decisive acts.

…This story covers about a century in which God and people are actively fulfilling God's plans, whether the people know it or not.  It's important to study a tightly unified narrative like this one as a unit, to focus on the whole story, the big picture.   For this lesson, go back through Genesis 37:1-50:26 and record your observations on these three questions:

  1. What does God do in this episode?
  2. What does God allow to happen to Joseph and other people?
  3. What character qualities does each person show in this episode?
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Posted on 11/28/2014 7:36 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 28 November 2014
The Immensity of Our God
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How is Acts 18:1-17 is relevant to our lives?  Is there a promise, an example, or an insight about God that we might take to heart?

God is working all around us.  It's interesting that He tells Paul that unbeknownst to Paul He "has many people in this city".  Some of them like Gallio, the consul weren't believers but nonetheless, they were doing what God had intended them to do.  God protected Paul so that he would do what God had intended him to do.  There was nothing that anybody was going to do to him.  We are here for God's purposes, whether we want to do them or not, whether we are believers or not.  The days of our lives are numbered and God has placed us where He wants us and when He wants us.  This makes me reflect on Chapter 17.  It also occurred to me that He has placed us in the environment of His choosing and this includes all of the people that we need to support us, nurture us, who will impact on us and ON WHOSE LIVES WE WILL IMPACT.  IT ALL TIES TOGETHER!

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Posted on 11/28/2014 10:18 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 27 November 2014
The Hand of God
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Does God still use secular officials to further the gospel, as He did in 18:2, 14-16? If so, how?

Acts 18:2, 14-16

There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them,…. 14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law--settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things." 16 So he had them ejected from the court.

It is important to consider the BIG PICTURE and several instances come to mind.  Pol Pot, the Cambodian dictator initiated and carried out horrible persecution but the Church is actually flourishing in Cambodia now.  The same thing could be said of authorities in Iran.  They are trying to stomp out Christianity but in doing so they are actually fulfilling several of God's purposes.  First,they are fulfilling prophecy, actively bringing it about.  Second, by just the way they are doing things, treating people, they are providing a vivid and living example of what man's problem is; they are providing a verifiable example to their countrymen of why we need the Gospel.  The same could be said of Stalin or even Hitler.  Who was it that actually pushed events resulting in the creation of Israel?  I believe it was Hitler; he created the final conditions that led to the creation of the modern state of Israel.   God also puts officials in place like Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.  

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Posted on 11/27/2014 10:08 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 26 November 2014
THE FAITHFUL ONE WHO CONTROLS ALL THINGS
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What did God promise Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:9-10)?

Acts 18:9-10

9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city."

How did Paul respond to that promise (18:11)?

Acts 18:11

 So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

How did God keep His promise (18:12-17)?

Acts 18:12-17

12 While Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him into court. 13 "This man," they charged, "is persuading the people to worship God in ways contrary to the law." 14 Just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, "If you Jews were making a complaint about some misdemeanor or serious crime, it would be reasonable for me to listen to you. 15 But since it involves questions about words and names and your own law--settle the matter yourselves. I will not be a judge of such things." 16 So he (Gallio) had them (the Jews) ejected from the court. 17 Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio showed no concern whatever.

When the Jews tried to attack Paul in Court, God uses a Gentile official to silence them and in effect protect Paul. 

What do the events of Acts 18:1-17 tell you about God?

God controls events, places, times and people.  He is watching over and caring for His people.  It also shows that God uses people for specific purposes, i.e. Gallio, who He put in the right place at the right time.  Also this shows that God realized that Paul was afraid and He took care of him.  

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Posted on 11/26/2014 10:01 AM by Larry G
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Monday, 17 November 2014
Responding to Paul's World-view Message
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Consider Paul's speech to the Athenians in Acts 17:22-31.    How must one respond to what Paul says?

Acts 17:22-31

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. (Yes, I think that all people are religious in some way or other)23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship (We all worship something), I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. 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. (Just look at the universe, the world, now consider that whatever  or whoever caused this is now in a little box or a building)25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything (now what could we possibly give or do for the being that created and empowers and maintains everything?), 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 (Well, it's pretty evident that we are here and that we can see how people are born.  So how did we get here?  You know it is conceivable when you really think about it that we all came from one starting place/individual); and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live (another obvious fact, we are definitely here in a particular place and time). 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him (A reason for our being here, but this leads to the question: Why do we need to find Him? Or Why does He want us to find Him?), though he is not far from each one of us. 28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' (An answer to the first question:  We need to stay close to Him because He's the one who gives us life and keeps us alive.) As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' (An answer to the second question:  We are His creation and He cares about His creation-US!)  29 "Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone (Consider this:  we were made by a "rock"?  Is that past stupid or dumb?)--an image made by man's design and skill (We created the one who created us?  Sounds a little circular.  Duh.). 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (HE'S BEEN PATIENT BUT ITS TIME TO WAKE UP!). 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. (ITS ALL COMING TO A HEAD OR TO PUT IT ANOTHER WAY THERE IS GOING TO BE A BOTTOMLINE, EVERYTHING IS MOVING IN A DEFINITE DIRECTION AND GOING SOMEWHERE) He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." (HERE'S HIS CREDENTIALS)

Here's the bottom line: without Jesus, we have no hope, nothing, zilch, zero, nada, no reason to exist.

 

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Posted on 11/17/2014 11:01 AM by Larry G
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Sunday, 16 November 2014
Paul Talks to Different Audiences
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How was Paul's speech in Athens like and unlike the one in Lystra (Acts 14:14-17)?  Can you think of reasons for the similarities and differences?

Acts 14:14-17
14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: 15 "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy."

As in Athens, Paul was distressed by what he saw in the lives of the people he saw in Lystra.  Here he is moved with compassion toward the crippled man.  After this man is healed and the crowd tries to worship him and Barnabas, he tells the people in Lystra basically the same thing he tells the Athenians.  But he doesn't do so as diplomatically as in Athens.  He winds up almost getting killed in Lystra.  It is interesting to note that in both places his compassion for the people causes him to bring them the good news regarding Jesus and His resurrection.  In both places he speaks to what they know about the world and their lives; he orients the message toward their knowledge of the world.  However, the big difference between what happens in either place is that in Athens Paul does a better job of maintaining control of himself.  The audience is different; these are primarily people who consider themselves as "intellectuals".  The Lystrans are more common folks.  But they are like the Athenians also very religious.  This is clearly evident in how they rush to try and sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas after the healing of the crippled man.  But once again, the big difference between both places is how Paul handles the delivery of the message.  In Lystra he is more "in your face" and consequently, he nearly gets killed.  

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Posted on 11/16/2014 10:50 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 15 November 2014
The Relevancy of the Gospel
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Is anything in Acts 17:16-34 relevant to our lives?  If so, what is relevant and why?

It is always meaningful and/or significant that Paul always remembers who God is and what he has done and is doing.  He created all things, creatures and people with a purpose in mind.  He wants us to find him and He has placed us in a specific time and space in such a way that so that we could reach out and find him.  HE WANTS US TO FIND HIM, TO FELLOWSHIP WITH HIM.  We exist in history and we have the advantage of having the past to remember and the present to look at.  As we think of present and past and reflect, we cannot help but wonder-why did things happen?  What's the meaning of all things?  We are affected by reflections on cause and effect in our lives.  What happened to the Romans, the Greeks, Babylonians and what is happening to us now?  The other thing that strikes me is the message of the gospel.  It is so simple and uncomplicated---CHRIST CRUCIFIED, CHRIST RESURRECTED!  What is the relevance of this passage?  I guess I would say reflecting on it provides certainty-regarding life's purpose and outcome.

 

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Posted on 11/15/2014 10:41 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 14 November 2014
Relating the Gospel Message to your listeners
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Why do you think Paul addressed the Athenians differently than Jews?  (What principle of evangelism was he practicing, and why is it important?)

I really didn't know that there were any "principles of evangelism".  But the thought did occur to me that in both instances, Paul talked to them about what THEY DID KNOW.  The Jews knew the scriptures, the Athenians knew about the world they lived in.  Paul oriented the gospel to each particular world.  The author then asks the question as to why it is important to do this.  Well, what comes to my mind is the question "What's in this for me?"  Or another way of putting this is the question: "What does this have to do with me?"

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Posted on 11/14/2014 10:38 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 13 November 2014
Paul's Message to the Jews -- The Messiah has come!
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How was this speech in Athens different from what Paul said to the Jews (Acts 9:20-22; 13:16-41; 17:2-3)?

The Jews had been given the scriptures and the promises concerning Messiah; the Gentiles had not been given this knowledge beforehand. In both cases Paul was talking to each group about what they knew. The Jews knew about Messiah and what he was suppose to be like. The gentiles knew only about the world. So Paul related the message specifically to the knowledge of each group. 

Acts 9:20-22
20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. 

Acts 13:16-41
16 Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said: "Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God, listen to me! 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers; he made the people prosper during their stay in Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that country, 18 he endured their conduct for about forty years in the desert, 19 he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as their inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. "After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.' 23 "From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel. 25 As John was completing his work, he said: 'Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he who is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'
26 "Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. 27 The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28 Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. 32 "We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: " 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father. ' 34 The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: " 'I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.' 35 So it is stated elsewhere: " 'You will not let your Holy One see decay.' 36 "For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. 37 But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. 38 "Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39 Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the Law of Moses. 40 Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: 41 " 'Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.' "

Acts 17:2-3
2 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ, " 

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Posted on 11/13/2014 10:29 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 12 November 2014
The Essential Resurrection
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Why is resurrection central to the gospel? (Option: See Romans 1:2-4, 6:8-11; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58.)

Jesus was the anointed one, the Son of God that was promised in the scriptures, the Messiah. If He did not rise again, then His death and His sacrifice for our sins would not have been accepted. As Paul points out, our faith is worthless. Without the resurrection of Christ, our sins are not forgiven, the dead are not raised. If Jesus is not the Messiah and had not rose from the dead, we would still be spiritually dead and ultimately we would be physically dead. Everything sinks back into futility. The gospel, Christianity, our faith, our hope, everything rests on the resurrection, without it there is nothing.  Jesus' resurrection is also proof that God can raise the righteous but he can and will raise the wicked also.  Both will be resurrected for judgment.

Romans 1:2-4
2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:8-11
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.

1Corinthians 15:12-58
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I die every day--I mean that, brothers--just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God--I say this to your shame. 35 But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. 50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 

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Posted on 11/12/2014 10:19 AM by Larry G
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Sunday, 9 November 2014
Standing on the Resurrection
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Why is resurrection central to the gospel? (Option: See Romans 1:2-4, 6:8-11; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58.)

Jesus was the anointed one, the Son of God that was promised in the scriptures, the Messiah. If He did not rise again, then His death and His sacrifice for our sins would not have been accepted. As Paul points out, if the resurrection had not happened, our faith would be worthless. Without the resurrection of Christ, our sins are not forgiven, the dead are not raised. If Jesus is not the Messiah and had not rose from the dead, we would still be spiritually dead and ultimately we would be physically dead. Everything sinks back into futility. The gospel, Christianity, our faith, our hope, everything rests on the resurrection, without it there is nothing.  Jesus' resurrection is also proof that God can raise the righteous but he can and will raise the wicked also.  Both will be resurrected for judgment.

Romans 1:2-4
2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:8-11
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.

1Corinthians 15:12-58
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I die every day--I mean that, brothers--just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 33 Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God--I say this to your shame. 35 But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. 50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory." 55 "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 

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Posted on 11/09/2014 9:21 AM by Larry G
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Saturday, 8 November 2014
Looking for common ground
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What do you think was Paul's purpose in his opening words (17:22-23)? Why did he quote Greek poets that philosophers liked (17:28)? Why did he discuss the nature of God, rather than the identity of Jesus? 

Acts 17:22-23, 28
22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you...28 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' 

Paul was orienting his message toward their viewpoint. He was establishing common ground between him and the Greeks. In effect, he was taking what they were talking and thinking about and established a context for the Gospel. When he quotes from poets that the philosophers liked and respected he was using them to establish his own credibility by establishing a relationship between what they thought already was important and what he was going to say. In choosing to discuss God's nature, he was pointing out or reemphasizing what they already knew to be true; their own senses verified this. Their own legends and history bore witness that what he was saying was true.

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Posted on 11/08/2014 9:18 AM by Larry G
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Friday, 7 November 2014
Paul's Attitude toward people
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How would you have felt, faced with an audience like the Athenians? Would you rather be persecuted, ridiculed, or dismissed with polite amusement? How can you adopt Paul's attitude toward the ways people reacted to him?

I would have felt intimidated then because I feel intimidated now. Somehow I think that it would be better to be persecuted or ridiculed. In either of these two cases, people are strongly reacting to you; they have been affected strongly by what someone has said or done. If people just politely ignore you, then that means that you've had no effect on their lives or that you're a joke. You may be considered superfluous to the situation. The author asks us to consider how we can adopt Paul's attitude in dealing with people's reaction. But I think that we first must ask "What was Paul's attitude?" Apparently, he didn't shout them down or get outright mad with them. He "reasoned" with them; this implies self-control and patience. He also asked them to consider thinking about things that they were familiar with. This passage in Acts 17, also said that he was "distressed" with their lives. He paid attention to what he saw and heard and apparently, Paul was a good listener. Another interesting thing is that when he had finally delivered the message, he saw the results and then left. He didn't stay in the ring until everyone was knocked down. He recognized what God had done, which means that he had learned to pay attention to what God was doing in every situation. The phrase ""casting your pearls to swine", comes to mind. Paul was discerning enough to know that the remaining crowd was essentially not going to listen. So how can we summarize Paul's attitude to people's reaction? He was patient, with self-control, focused on the gospel message, he related to the lives of his listeners, and he was aware of the effect of his message. How can we adapt this attitude? Actually, this doesn't really seem like something that's really cosmic! I guess all we have to do is just look at what he did and how he did it. The end result of what he did was fantastic; the steps along the way were REALLY SIMPLE! God you're not asking me to do something that is utterly beyond my understanding or ability. It's kind of like standing before a mountain and realizing that all I have to do is reach down and pick up a stone, you're the one who's going to move the mountain. I just have to move a stone. 

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Posted on 11/07/2014 9:13 AM by Larry G
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Thursday, 6 November 2014
How to grow a disciple
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Jacob lived almost to the end of Genesis and God continued to shape him.  Still what can we learn from Jacob's example about how a disciple grows?


God gives us what we need, when we need it.  He watches over us.  He is patient with us.  We are like a vine that he prunes and trains to grow in the right direction so that it will bear fruit at the proper time.  He gives us only what we can handle at the moment just as a gardener waters and fertilizes a plan at the right times and in the proper amounts.

 

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Posted on 11/06/2014 2:48 PM by Larry G
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Thursday, 6 November 2014
The nature, character, and attributes of God
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When invited to speak to the prestigious Areopagus (17:24-31), what did Paul say about the nature, character, and attributes of God?

He is the one who created all things. He isn't confined to buildings nor is there anything that we can do for him. He is self sufficient. He is the one who provides and takes care of us. He is the one who gives us and all creatures life and breath and existence. He is the one who establishes and controls time and events and His whole purpose is for us to reach out and find Him. He is patient, and takes care of us and he is concerned; He's actually near us at all times.

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." 
the nature of man--He gives us our life, our physical abilities our very being. He then says that we are "his offspring".

idols--they are made by men in their ignorance, a product of their hands.

Jesus--God will judge the world through Him and the proof of this appointment is that God raised Him from the dead.

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Posted on 11/06/2014 9:06 AM by Larry G
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Wednesday, 5 November 2014
Jacob and the Adamic and Noahic Covenant
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Why did He repeat to Israel the command/blessing He gave Adam and Noah (Genesis 1:28; 9:1, 7; 35:11)? What does this repetition signify?

Genesis 1:28

God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 9:1, 7
1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…. 7 "As for you, be fruitful and multiply; Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it."


Genesis 35:11
God also said to him, "I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you.


Why did He repeat His promises to Abraham and Isaac about heirs and land?
 

They needed to be reassured; that is, their faith needed to be constantly bolstered.  They needed to be constantly reminded about what God's plans were so they would stay on course in the future.

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Posted on 11/05/2014 2:44 PM by Larry G
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