January - Reading 13

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Brother Adam, Jan 13, 2002.

  1. Brother Adam

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  2. Clint Kritzer

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    Good afternoon one and all:

    The plot has certainly thickened in our reading in Genesis today! After twenty years of putting up with Laban's deceptions, Jacob is finally instructed to head back home. Jacob gets four clues by my count that this is what he should do:
    1 - what he hears from Laban's sons (verse 1),
    2 - his observation of Laban's attitude (verse 2),
    3 - his wive's support of his decision to leave (verses 14 - 16), and
    4 - God Himself instructing Jacob to return to Canaan. Notice what has happened to Rachel's character in verse 19 where she steals some pagan idols from Laban's home and in verse 34 and 35 where she covers her crime. She is the daughter of a deceiver, the wife of a deceiver, and has now become a deceiver in her own right. Isaac appears to be ignorant of the thievery, probably because Rachel knows that he would have been quite angered at her holding to idol worship. This deceit could have cost her her life.
    Notice, also, Isaac's self-righteous indignation at the pursuit that Laban ensued. I have to feel a sympathy for Laban here. He makes a point in that the daughters and grandchildren are his blood and I think it is safe to assume he loved them and would have wanted a chance to say good-bye. I like to think that this is why God speaks to Laban in the dream in verse 24, but does not warn him to break off pursuit, just to watch what he says.
    As for Jacob's indignation, he still has a VERY angry (he assumes) brother out there somewhere. His mother, Rebekah has never called to tell him that all is well as she promised in Genesis 27:45. What comes around...

    In Matthew, we have a very difficult command to follow. In verse 44 we are told to love our enemies. It is one of the principles that seperates us from other religious philosophies. "They will know we are Christians by our love." Notice how Stephen last night in Acts 7:59 adhered to the instructions in verse 44. Christ did the same as He hung on the cross. They truly do not know what they did.

    The Book of Acts continues in its violent, anti-Christian turmoil and the first few verses of the 8th chapter show the church being forced underground. Verse 20 of chapter 8 reaffims what I had said about the death of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5: God does not need your money. You can never buy salvation. It is purchased through Christ and with our repentance. Does the church need money to operate? Of course and it is our duty as believers to support it, but the giving must be in the right spirit for the giver to be blessed.

    I look forward to further postings this evening. May God bless all of you.

    - Clint
     
  3. John Wells

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    Acts 8:14-17 (ESV)
    14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.

    Here’s a passage that has caused quite a stir among charismatics. This verse does not support the false notion that Christians receive the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation. This was a transitional period in which confirmation by the apostles was necessary to verify the inclusion of a new group of people into the church. Because of the animosity that existed between Jews and Samaritans, it was essential for the Samaritans to receive the Spirit, in the presence of the leaders of the Jerusalem church, for the purpose of maintaining a unified church. The delay also revealed the Samaritans’ need to come under apostolic authority. The same transitional event occurred when the Gentiles were added to the church (11:44–46; 15:6–12; 19:6).

    This Simon of verses 8:9-25 is a classic example of what the following difficult passage is referring to:

    Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV) 4 For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

    Simon had been enlightened by the teachings of the Apostles. He had tasted of (seen, been exposed to) their heavenly gifts of miraculous healing powers, and had witnessed (shared) the results of those filled with the Holy Spirit becoming regenerated believers, although not becoming one himself. He tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the age to come (the Apostle’s temporary “gifts”), but when Simon fell away (I’m sure he did although scripture does not say this), it can be said that:

    "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us" (1 John 2:19).

    Peter was a backslider (when he denied Jesus three times), but Simon, like Judas Iscariot, was never a true believer.

    When I read Psalm 13 I thought of some of the atheists down in the “all other discussions” forum who used to be “Christians” according to their testimony. Did they abandon God during a time of pain, tragedy, or the apparent “turning of his back” on them? Then I thought of Joseph, who was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely betrayed by his master’s wife and thrown into prison for twelve years. If anyone “had a right” to turn his back on God, it was Joseph, but he never did. Who will inherit the kingdom of God? Those who persevere to the end!
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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    I'm glad that Brother John brought up the Samaritans. The Samaritans and Jews traditionally HATED each other. The Samaritans were a half breed race and the Jews viewed them as "unclean". In addition, the Samaritans believed that Mount Gerizim was the location of altars built by Abraham and Jacob as well as Moses. Therefore the Samaritan people had built a temple on this mountain which the Jews DESTROYED 128 years before! A mere tick of the clock by Middle Eastern standards.
    This animosity makes the story of the Good Samaritan and the woman at the well especially significant.
    Also, I find of note, that in the story of the woman at the well found in the Gospel of John, chapter 4, she is the only person to which the scriptures cite Christ speaking on this particular journey and because of this one immoral, unclean, womans testimony, the Word of the Good News spread throughout Samaria.
    Now we find in Acts further evangelistic missions into a once hated area. It is a testimony to the Word of God that the Jewish disciples and the much hated Samaritans so readily applied this budding philosophy.

    - Clint

    [ January 14, 2002: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  5. Aaron

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    There seems to be some doubt as to the conversion of Simon the sorcerer. Though we are not told specifically of his final end, the seriousness of his error (thinking the power of the Holy Spirit could be purchased with money) and his asking the Apostles to pray for him that he not perish (then and there as most understand it) seem to testify against him.

    An interesting legend exists as sort of a sequal to this account. <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Legends, unlike traditions, have at best only grains of truth in them and those grains may be impossible to find. However, there is a persistent legend regarding St. Peter and Simon the Sorcerer which at least has its beginnings in the historical account of the book of Acts where St. Peter denounced Simon for trying to purchase the Holy Spirit. The legend about the aftermath is as follows:

    "The magician, vanquished by a superior power, flung his books into the Dead Sea, broke his wand, and fled to Rome, where he became a favorite of the Emporer Claudius, and afterwards of Nero. Peter, bent on counter-acting the wicked sorceries of Simon, followed him to Rome. About two years after his arrival he was joined there by the Apostle Paul. Simon Magus having asserted that he was himself a god, and could raise the dead, Peter and Paul rebuked his impiety, and challenged him to a trial of skill in the presence of the emporer. The arts of the magician failed; Peter and Paul restored the youth to life and on many other occasions Simon was vanquished and put to shame by the miraculous power of the Apostles. At length he undertook ot fly up to heaven in sight of the emperor and the people; and, crowned with laurel, and supported by menons, he flung himself from a tower, adn appeared for a while to float thus in the air, but St. Peter, falling on his knees commanded the menons to let go their hold, and Simon, precipitated to the ground, was dashed to pieces." (Sacred and Legendary Art, Anna Jameson, p. 209. Quoted in The Search for the Twelve Apostles, William McBirnie, p. 70)<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
     
  6. Helen

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    Clint's mention of the four 'messages' or clues to Jacob are something I never thought of before. Thanks, Clint! That's interesting.

    I don't think Laban loved his daughters terribly much, though. First of all, he pawned Leah off on Jacob, and that was most certainly not a loving act toward Leah or Rachel! And, in 31:14, you find the girls telling Jacob, "Do we still have any share in the inheritance of our father's estate? Deos he not regard us as foreigners?" So I tend to think that Laban's 'desire' to say goodbye to his daughters and grandchildren was more an attempt to see if he could not get more out of Jacob than he already had. I guess my opinion of Laban is a lot lower than yours, Clint!

    There is something I have long noticed about Rachel's character, too. She was a snot. She was the younger, beautiful sister. She nagged her husband, traded a night with him for a mandrake root, stole her father's idols... and then used a really sneaky means to keep him from knowing. Leah was the less desireable physically, and yet she consistently seems to have praised God for her family and acted in a little more humility than her sister. Angel she was not, but nicer, probably.

    Psalm 13 should, please, not be overlooked in the drama of the other stories in today's reading! Look at what is happening in this psalm. David is hurt, confused, and feels abandon by God. His feelings are overwhelming him. He turns to God in a plea, and then we see something remarkable -- his sudden switch to absolute confidence in God's love. And he closes, saying, "my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me."

    What a switch! And yet it is one I have experienced many times. When I concentrate on my own troubles, I start sinking -- like Peter trying to walk on the water and seeing the storm rather than Christ. But then, when I turn my attention to prayer and talk to God, He reminds my heart who is in charge, and I know I am safe and my fears and anxieties are nothing.

    The Bible refers to us as sheep, and sheep we are. Fussing and fuming inside ourselves, worried here and there until we notice our Shepherd nearby watching us. Then things settle down again. This is the story of Psalm 13 -- wrestling with thoughts, wanting to die, and then God entering the picture. And if David reacted at that point anything like the way I have found myself reacting, there may have been a bit of a chuckle inside at oneself and something along the lines of 'you ninny! Why do you always forget?' said by me to myself. I do feel so ****** when, time after time, Jesus has to remind me that He is right here and taking care of everything. I am very grateful for His patience!


    In Matthew, I love the first section on not swearing oaths. Probably because I am a mom and I learned through the years that the more a child 'swore' to me that he or she would do something, the less likely it was to get done! I learned to trust the "OK, Mom" a WHOLE lot more than the "I promise you I'll do that Mom. I'll do the best job you ever saw and I'll get it done really fast and...."

    Just like us, as Christians -- if we have to spend a lot of time reassuring someone that we are going to accomplish something, we are taking a lot of time and energy away from that particular task. It also means that we must be doubting ourselves to some extent to feel like we have to act as our own cheerleaders!

    I know that this is not usually what we think of when we think of 'taking an oath,' but it is what it reminded me of.

    There is something important about the 'eye for an eye' that might be interesting historically, as well. When Moses gave that command from God, it was an act of enormous temperance. At the time a punishment was totally at the discretion of the person in authority and death for a small offense was not uncommon in courts. And 'eye for an eye' was a LIMIT on the amount of punishment that could be inflicted on an offender.

    What had happened in the intervening years was that the meaning of that had been lost, and 'an eye for an eye' had become a sort of demand for the proper punishment -- we see the same in the Arab world today. Jesus reversed that, heading back to the original intent of not only limiting response legally, but taking it to the personal level of not resisting evil. That sounds so strange to us, so I looked up 'evil' in my Concordance. The evil which is used when men do evil is NOT the evil which is used when referring to evil spirits. That needs to be noted. So when Jesus says that we should not resist an evil person, that is very different from taking up the armor in Ephesians 6 to resist the evil one -- Satan and his minions. That is spiritual warfare. But the people around us who do evil are, like it or not, our neighbors, and we are to love them as we love ourselves.

    Why? Because love drives out fear, and it is fear that rules the lives of most men and women. It is fear that fathers pride, defensiveness, hate, mockery, and the rest. It took me some time to realize that, but that is why love is put in opposition to fear in the epistle of John.

    The witness of our lives needs to follow the witness of Jesus life: He allowed it all to happen to Him, for our benefit. Others need to see Him in us. Inasmuch as Jesus Himself fulfilled the law, an 'eye for an eye' is no longer what we live by. As we are no longer judged by the law, we should not use the law to judge others, either, on a personal basis. Instead, our marching orders are to love.

    and what does love mean?

    It's not an emotion. Emotions come with it in abundance, but love itself is not an emotion. It was not an emotion God felt when He sent His only Son into the world so that we could be saved. It was commitment. Care and commitment. We are to care for all those God has put into our lives -- and many will be enemies.

    Some will not remain that way. Their best chance for a better life as early as possible is in response to the love of Christ we offer from our own lives -- the caring and concern.

    This section today closes with the often misunderstood words, "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

    This does NOT mean we are to be sinless from here on out. That is impossible, and Jesus knows it. That will only happen for us later. But what it does mean is that we need to be complete as children of God. We cannot just 'talk the talk', we have to 'walk the walk.' We have to go all the way with this thing, including sharing God's love with everyone, not just the people we like and who like us!

    That is the kind of hard that only Jesus can enable us to do!


    Regarding Aaron's legend: I doubt it sincerely. It smacks of the kind of magical stuff that is more mythology than fact. In addition, there were so many historians in Rome, that if someone had pulled off that sort of stunt, it would have been mentioned.

    Here is a link which, although it is somewhat sensationalistic, is nevertheless well-referenced and is probably basically correct: http://www.reformation.org/simon_peter_versus_simon_magus.html

    giving some credence to the above is this page: http://www.execulink.com/~wblank/20011114.htm

    There are many, many more webpages on Simon Magus, or Simon the Magician, but I think the two above are sufficient. Again, the first one might be easily discounted for its style, but take a look at what it covers and the amount of referencing. I did look at other essays on the home site and some were excellent and some really weird. Still, I think this one has something to say. So I leave it with the reader and pray for discernment!
     
  7. Aaron

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Helen said: Regarding Aaron's legend: I doubt it sincerely. It smacks of the kind of magical stuff that is more mythology than fact. In addition, there were so many historians in Rome, that if someone had pulled off that sort of stunt, it would have been mentioned.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    It's not my legend. I didn't say I believed it, nor did I set it forth as truth. I said it was interesting, and a legend by definition is something that is not verifiable.

    So cut me some slack here ;) .

    [ January 14, 2002: Message edited by: Aaron ]
     
  8. Helen

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    My bad, Aaron. I was lazy. I should have written something along the lines of "the legend Aaron mentioned in his post..."

    I'm sorry...

    :Embarrassed:
     
  9. Clint Kritzer

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