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Days of Praise

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phkrause

November 20, 2018
The Lord Our Shield
“But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (Psalm 3:3)

The beautiful metaphor of God as our shield, and our protector from evil, is used over 15 times in the book of Psalms, the first being in our text above. The very first time it is used in the Bible, however, is also the first time the word “shield” itself is used. That was the time when God assured Abram, after his battle with the armies of the northern kings: “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield” (Genesis 15:1). This was a great comfort to Abram, there in the land of the Canaanites, where evil and enemies surrounded him on all sides.

But consider also a few of the many “shield” promises in the book of Psalms. One of the most beautiful and most uplifting is Psalm 84:11: “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”

And consider also this wonderful promise: “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler [same word] to all those that trust in him” (Psalm 18:30). In the same psalm appears this great testimony: “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great” (Psalm 18:35).

Three times in Psalm 115 appears the injunction to “trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield” (Psalm 115:9-11). Similarly, “thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word” (Psalm 119:114).

The final reference in Psalms to the Lord as our shield is “Blessed be the LORD my strength. . . . My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me” (Psalm 144:1-2). HMM

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phkrause

November 21, 2018
Misuse of the Bible
“. . . his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16)

It is vitally important for every Christian to study and use the Scriptures, for they constitute our only real authority (note Matthew 5:18; John 10:35; 14:26; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21; etc.). In doing this, however, it is just as important that we not misuse the Scriptures, for this can be almost as dangerous as ignoring them altogether.

Many people twist the Scriptures, seeking to make them fit some opinion of their own, hoping thereby to give a pseudobiblical authority to their peculiar prejudices, instead of allowing the Lord to say what He means. Such distortion of Scripture has generated a plethora of cults and heresies—past and present. This was essentially Christ’s view of the Pharisees: “In vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

Similar—perhaps even worse—is claiming to receive new Scripture, or perhaps new (and authoritative) insight on existing Scripture. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2). “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (Proverbs 30:6).

Cults and heretics distort and supplement the Scriptures, but still deadlier are the liberals who try to explain away the Scriptures. “If any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life” (Revelation 22:19). This act of distorting and then denying God’s Word (“Yea, hath God said. . . . Ye shall not surely die,” Genesis 3:1, 4) was the very lie of Satan that brought sin into the world. No wonder the Bible warns so severely against it! HMM

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phkrause

November 22, 2018
The Son of Thankfulness
“And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.” (Genesis 29:35)

This verse is the testimony of Jacob’s first wife, Leah, at the time of the birth of her fourth son. It also is significant in that it contains the first mention of the Hebrew yadah, often rendered “praise” but more often “thank” or “thanks.” In fact, she even named her son Judah, which is essentially the same Hebrew word.

Although Reuben, Simeon, and Levi were all older sons of Leah, God chose Judah to be the father of the tribe through which Christ would come into the world. Whenever Leah spoke to her son, she would actually be calling him “Thanks” and thus in effect remembering her gratitude for this gift of a special son.

We also continue to give thanks every day for that special Son of the tribe of Judah, the Lord Jesus Christ. And as Judah later was willing to offer his own life for his brother Benjamin (see Genesis 43:9) out of love for both his brethren and his father, so this distant grandson of Judah was willing to lay down His own life to save those whom He was glad to call His brethren (Hebrews 2:11-12).

In the last reference to Judah in the Bible, this son of Judah is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” who will one day be acknowledged as King over all the earth (Revelation 5:5). The last mention of “thanks” in the Bible is when the elders of the church in heaven cry out: “We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and has reigned” (Revelation 11:17).

We surely have much for which we thank God, but most of all we are thankful for the Son of God, our Creator, Savior, and coming King. HMM

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phkrause

November 23, 2018
The Unknown Creator
“He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” (John 1:10)

This verse is surely one of the saddest, most poignant verses in all the Word of God. In the Lord Jesus Christ, our Creator/ Redeemer, “we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28). The atoms of our bodies are sustained by Him (Colossians 1:17), yet multitudes ignore Him, ridicule Him, and take His name in vain. What presumption! What foolishness!

Once He even entered visibly into the world He had created so that people actually could hear His words of life and see His works of love. But they willfully refused to acknowledge Him, and then hung Him on a cross to die.

The height of irony and the depth of foolishness are reached when those whose very minds and bodies were created by Christ refuse even to admit the fact of creation. In effect, they turn Psalm 100:3 upside down and claim: “It is not he that hath made us—it is we ourselves!” Not only do modern men deny His creation, they also reject His salvation, thinking they can save themselves.

It is important to note that John 1:10 specifically refers to the refusal of the “world” to know Him as its Creator. It was made by Him but would not acknowledge His work of creation. How then could the world ever “receive” Him as its Savior (v. 11)? Only its Creator could ever become its Savior, since no one else in all creation was both deserving and capable of such a mission.

Even more inexcusable than those who rejected Him when He was here in the world are those who reject Him today. With all the marvelous evidences of creative design in nature as revealed by modern science, plus the unanswerable evidences of His own bodily resurrection from the dead, it is wicked foolishness for modern men and women still to reject Him as their Creator and Savior. HMM

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phkrause
November 24, 2018
What Began at Philippi
“Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi . . . Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:1-2)

The church at Philippi was birthed on one of Paul’s missionary journeys. He was summoned there in a vision by an unidentified man in Macedonia (now Greece) pleading for him to come and help them (Acts 16:9-10). Recognizing the call was from the Lord, he went immediately.

Paul’s European ministry began with the conversion of Lydia, who worshipped God and readily followed Paul’s teachings (Acts 16:14). Paul soon traveled to Thessalonica, Berea, and Athens, where he encountered much hardship and persecution. But the work he had begun in Philippi continued, eventually spreading throughout the continent. The intensely personal letter he later wrote to the Philippian church contains some of the most important doctrinal truths concerning Christ and our victorious life in Christ in all of Scripture.

God’s sovereign plan included Europe. He saw to it that the governmental roadblocks and personal opposition were ultimately unsuccessful. Today, many individual Christians trace their ancestry back to Europe. Great evangelistic movements and worldwide missionary efforts over the centuries have European roots. The God-ensured preservation of the Scriptures primarily occurred there as well. Many of the important Bible study tools and preaching helps come through the Western church. Many seminaries and Bible colleges, as well as hospitals and humanitarian efforts, stem from the Western tradition.

Today, great numbers are thankfully turning to Christ around the world, but much of the Church’s work began in Philippi as a faithful witness fearlessly and sacrificially preached the Good News of Jesus Christ. JDM
 
 

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phkrause

November 25, 2018
The Dayspring from on High
“Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us.” (Luke 1:78)

This is an unusual, but beautiful, name of the coming Savior given Him by Zacharias when he was “filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied” (Luke 1:67). In that same prophecy, Zacharias also called that coming one “the Highest” and “the Lord” who would “give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins” (vv. 76-77). Just six months later, Jesus was born.

The Greek word here translated “dayspring” is so translated only this one time. It refers to the metaphorical spring from which the sun springs forth each day, and so is usually translated simply as “the east.” It is interesting that it is used three times in connection with the story of the wise men “from the east” who saw “his star in the east,” and then, when they reached Bethlehem once again, “the star, which they saw in the east,” led them to the one who was Himself “the dayspring” (Matthew 2:1-2, 9).

There is one other sunrise appropriately presaged here. Many years later, the women who had tearfully watched the Lord being crucified and buried came to His sepulcher to anoint Him with sweet spices “at the rising of the sun” (Mark 16:2) immediately after He had risen from the dead. Here a closely related word is the word translated “rising.”

There is another great sunrise coming, as promised in the last chapter of the Old Testament. “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings” (Malachi 4:2). He who is Himself “the light of the world” (John 8:12) will someday even replace the sun in the new Jerusalem. There will never be another sunrise after that, for “there shall be no night there . . . neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light” (Revelation 22:5). HMM

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phkrause

November 26, 2018
The Meaning of “Day”
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Genesis 1:5)

Many people today, professing to believe the Bible, have compromised with the evolutionary philosophy that dominates our society by accepting its framework of geological ages. This system interprets the rocks and fossils in terms of a supposed 4.6 billion-year history of the earth and life culminating in the evolution of early humans perhaps a million years ago. In order to justify this compromise, they usually say that the “days” of creation really correspond to the geological ages, arguing that the Hebrew word for “day” (yom) does not have to mean a literal solar day.

Oh, yes, it does—at least in Genesis 1! God, knowing that the pagan philosophers of antiquity would soon try to distort His record of creation into long ages of pantheistic evolution (as in the Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, and other such ancient cosmogonies), was careful to define His terms! “God called the light Day,” and that was the first day with its evening and morning. All subsequent days have followed the same pattern—a period of darkness (night), then a period of light (day).

One may quibble about the exact length of the day if he insists (e.g., equatorial days versus polar days), but there is no way this definition can accommodate a geological age. This is the very first reference to “day” (or yom) in the Bible, and this is given as an actual statement of the meaning of the word.

This ought to settle the question for anyone who really believes the Bible. One may decide to believe the evolutionary geologists if he wishes instead of God, but he should at least let God speak for Himself. God says the days of creation were literal days, not ages. “In six days the LORD made heaven and earth” (Exodus 31:17). HMM

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Lone Ranger

Sounds very cut and dried.

So....just making conversation...but:

Adventists* are adamant that the phrase "evening and morning" denotes a literal 24 hour period, one "day" as we all know it. Wherever the phrase "evening and morning" occurs, it always indicates a 24-hour period. This supports the "Young Earth/Intelligent Design" origins camp.

However, when this same phrase is used in Daniel 8:14 ("He said to me, "It will take 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary will be reconsecrated.") it is interpreted to means years. This contradicts the earlier definition of "days."

Please clarify.

* To be fair, Adventists are neither the originators of this idea, nor the only subscribers to it.

PS: The above was posted in response to a post I read in this thread. It is entirely possible that it is in the wrong place. If so, please move it to wherever it belongs, whoever does this sort of thing. Hopefully I will still have access to it.

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phkrause

Well not sure if this helps at all, but I've always learned that if there is a prophecy attached to the days, etc., than you use the day for a year principal. If its just a passage about a day etc., than its a day. The creation itself is not a prophecy, but the 2300 day's is a prophecy.

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Lone Ranger

I see.

Except Daniel 8 is the only prophecy that uses the phrase "evenings and mornings" consequently it is the only time it is interpreted "years."

So it seems a rule has conveniently been made to fit a different time requirement. 

Just an observation. I really DON'T want to start a fight about it.

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phkrause
27 minutes ago, Lone Ranger said:

Except Daniel 8 is the only prophecy that uses the phrase "evenings and mornings" consequently it is the only time it is interpreted "years."

Yes, because in this context its a prophecy! Its not talking about one day as it is in Genesis!

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The Wanderer
6 hours ago, phkrause said:

One may quibble about the exact length of the day if he insists (e.g., equatorial days versus polar days), but there is no way this definition can accommodate a geological age. This is the very first reference to “day” (or yom) in the Bible, and this is given as an actual statement of the meaning of the word.

 

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phkrause

November 27, 2018
Creeping in Unawares
“For there are certain men crept in unawares . . . ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)

The special word chosen by the Holy Spirit is most helpful in understanding this warning. The Greek term translated “crept in unawares” is pareisduno, a uniquely compounded word meaning to “sink down in alongside.” What could be more descriptive? These kinds of sneaky people have been written about before, Jude says, and are prime examples of those who transpose the grace of God into uncontrolled lust.

Paul uses a similar word in his letter to Timothy to warn him about the ungodly men of the last days who “creep into houses” and undermine the lifestyles of “silly women” (2 Timothy 3:6-7). The imagery implies the subtlety and cleverness of these “ungodly men,” but there is a horrible consequence of this replacement of God’s grace with “lasciviousness.”

Jude lists the terrible judgment on the people of Israel who refused to believe the good report of Joshua and Caleb when the 12 spies returned from the land of Canaan. God “destroyed” those who embraced the fearful and faithless report of the 10 (Numbers 14). Even the angels who led the world of Noah into corruption (Genesis 6:1-4) were chained in “darkness” for their disobedience (2 Peter 2:4).

Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam, and Korah (Core) are all given as examples by Jude of God’s stern judgment on those who knew better but chose to lead a rebellion against the righteous lifestyles or leadership of God’s people. God does not take lightly the misuse of His instructions. Even the “least” of the commandments are important (Matthew 5:19). After all, “thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2). HMM III

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phkrause

November 28, 2018
Light in the Darkness
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)

This beautiful verse is treated in the New Testament as a Messianic prophecy, fulfilled when Christ came into the world—growing up in Nazareth and then dwelling in Capernaum, both cities being located in “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matthew 4:15). This was in the region once occupied by the 10 northern tribes and then devastated by the invading Assyrians when they carried the Northern Kingdom away into captivity.

This region had for centuries thereafter remained in spiritual darkness, even after the return of Judah from captivity in Babylon. But then Christ came, and “from that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). Thus, His public ministry actually began in this land of darkness. “And the light shineth in darkness. . . . the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:5, 9).

Wherever Christ comes, the light comes, for He is light. He left heaven for Earth, saying: “I come to do thy will, O God” (Hebrews 10:9). This great purpose of God “is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).

And yet, tragically, “this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:19-20). To those who desire light, Jesus says: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). HMM

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phkrause

November 29, 2018
The Second Remnant
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.” (Isaiah 11:11)

The great prophet Isaiah lived during the time when the 10 tribes of Israel were being carried into captivity by the Assyrians, and about a hundred years before his own nation of Judah would be carried into exile by the Babylonians. Yet, in one of the most remarkable prophecies of the Bible (Isaiah 44:28–45:6), Isaiah promised that his people would someday return and build Jerusalem and its temple again. Furthermore, he even named the future emperor of Persia (the nation that would succeed Assyria and Babylonia as the dominant world power), calling him Cyrus. This great king fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy about 175 years after it was given (note Ezra 1:1-4).

But Isaiah not only prophesied this first return from exile, as noted in the key verse above; he foresaw that, in the distant future, God would also “set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people.” The context of this passage is nothing less than the glorious future time of Messiah’s reign over all the earth (Isaiah 11:9-10). The outcasts of Israel and Judah would return home, not only from the nations of the Middle East, which will evidently be active enemies of Israel again in that future day (note that Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, and Hamath were the ancient names of the nations now identified as Upper Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, respectively), but even from “the four corners of the earth” (Isaiah 11:12). Isaiah thus predicted an even greater exile and worldwide homecoming long beyond that of the Babylonian captivity. Such information could have come only from God Himself. HMM

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phkrause

November 30, 2018
The Penalty of Unbelief
“I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” (Jude 1:5)

This is the first example Jude provides of those who refused to respond to God’s leading and gracious provision. Israel witnessed stunning miracles, and a few very public judgments, before the 12 spies were sent out to investigate the Promised Land.

For example, the Passover was a wonderful, fearful event. God showed His hand both in salvation of those who obeyed and in swift judgment on those who refused.

Israel’s exodus from Egypt was unique. Not only did God enrich the nation in one day but demonstrated His awesome power at the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of Pharaoh’s army. Everyone in Israel observed this. They all experienced God’s power firsthand.

On the way to Mount Sinai, the bitter water of Marah was made sweet for them to drink even after they complained—bitterly. The daily miracle of the manna was given to feed them, and water was provided out of the rock for them to drink. God’s grace and mercy were just about everywhere.

Even after the nation had arrived at the holy mountain and the fearful giving of the Law was accomplished in their sight, Israel rebelled with the celebration of the golden calf. God’s judgment was swift, and thousands died. The nation did not learn their lesson even though they had a revival while giving, building, and dedicating the tabernacle for worship. After all that, Moses sent out the 12 men to “spy out the land.”

When the nation refused to trust God, He condemned everyone 20 and older to die in the wilderness, except for faithful Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 14:29-30). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). HMM III

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phkrause
On 11/26/2018 at 6:13 PM, Lone Ranger said:

* To be fair, Adventists are neither the originators of this idea, nor the only subscribers to it.

Correct, that would be the Israelites, the ones that wrote the Bible/Tanakh

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Lone Ranger
25 minutes ago, phkrause said:

Correct, that would be the Israelites, the ones that wrote the Bible/Tanakh

Which is why I find it so self-serving that Adventists interpret that exact phrase--"evening and morning"--as YEARS in Daniel 8:14 on the thin support that "it is attached to a prophecy" when there is no other evidence to interpret it that way, no rule of prophetic interpretation which would dictate that reading, and the only reason they call it years (IMO) is to fit their chronology.

In no other instance is "evenings and mornings" translated or understood to mean "years."

Therefore, IMU, Adventists are clearly wrong in their exegesis of the time frame referenced in Daniel 8:14.

Just my view.  No big deal.  :D

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phkrause

December 1, 2018
Proofs of the Pudding
“If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” (1 John 2:29)

The little book of 1 John provides a treasure trove of “proofs” that demonstrate the reality of the invisible spiritual change brought about by the new birth.

There are two emphases: proofs based on personal experience and proofs based on intellectual awareness.

Here is a short list of proofs we experience:


• Obedience to God’s commandments (1 John 2:2-5)
• Experience of God in our lives (1 John 2:13-14)
• Obvious “antichrists” in the world (1 John 2:18)
• Worldly ignorance of Christianity (1 John 3:1)
• Sinners’ ignorance of righteousness (1 John 3:6)
• Our love for fellow Christians (1 John 3:16-18)
• The indwelling Holy Spirit (1 John 4:13)
• Our love for godly behavior (1 John 5:2)


Here are proofs we have intellectual confidence in:


• The Holy Spirit’s anointing (1 John 2:20)
• The holiness of Jesus Christ (1 John 2:29)
• The Father’s love for us (1 John 3:1)
• Our eternal bodies to be like Christ (1 John 3:2)
• Hating a brother is like murder (1 John 3:15)
• Scripture’s message of eternal life (1 John 5:13)
• Assurance that we belong to God (1 John 5:19)
• Assurance that Christ has come (1 John 5:20)


These evidences are primarily for the believer—that is, they are intended to assure the believer’s heart and mind of his security in Christ. John’s list is not intended to be complete but only to focus our thoughts on the obvious. When you count your blessings, remember these. HMM III

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phkrause

December 2, 2018
The Peace of the God of Peace
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

For generations, most of the world’s people have longed for peace, but the world continues to be at war. Evolutionists attribute this to ages of violent evolutionary struggle; the Bible attributes it to sin!

But it is wonderfully possible to have real personal peace even in a world at war. This is what the Bible calls “the peace of God,” and it surpasses all human understanding because it is provided by the God of peace, for the writer continues, “The God of peace shall be with you” (v. 9).

The God of peace! There are some wonderful promises associated with this beautiful name of our Lord. For example: “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20). Also: “The very God of peace sanctify you wholly” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

The provision of God’s perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3) is specifically invoked in 2 Thessalonians 3:16: “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means.” Perhaps the greatest promise of all is implied in the concluding prayer of the book of Hebrews: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Hebrews 13:20-21).

There is only one other reference to the peace of God: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful” (Colossians 3:15). The peace of God, from the God of peace, can rule in our hearts if we let it rule in our hearts. Then, as promised in our text, it will also keep our hearts! HMM

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phkrause
On 11/30/2018 at 7:24 PM, Lone Ranger said:

Which is why I find it so self-serving that Adventists interpret that exact phrase--"evening and morning"--as YEARS in Daniel 8:14 on the thin support that "it is attached to a prophecy" when there is no other evidence to interpret it that way, no rule of prophetic interpretation which would dictate that reading, and the only reason they call it years (IMO) is to fit their chronology.

In no other instance is "evenings and mornings" translated or understood to mean "years."

Therefore, IMU, Adventists are clearly wrong in their exegesis of the time frame referenced in Daniel 8:14.

Just my view.  No big deal.  :D

Again I'm gonna disagree, because here in Daniel its a prophecy and in Genesis it's not. Its not thin at all! If you read the whole book its pretty much all  prophecies throughout.

Your view is just fine, all are entitled to there views, opinions, etc.

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phkrause

December 3, 2018
His Amazing Grace
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1)

These are the very first of Paul’s divinely inspired words, and in this first of his inspired greetings, he set a pattern which he would later follow in all his other epistles. He would always begin with an implicit prayer that both grace and peace, sent from God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be received and experienced by the ones to whom he was writing. Furthermore, “grace” always precedes “peace” in these salutations, because one must receive the grace of God before he can experience the peace of God.

By this strong emphasis on grace—preceding anything else he might write to the church or its pastor—he confirmed the great importance of God’s loving grace. Grace is the first essential in salvation and is the continuing vital essential in Christian living. The Thessalonians had already been saved by grace through faith, but now the grace of God their Father and Jesus Christ their Lord must also be lived out in their personal behavior, especially in their dealings with others, to whom God would also manifest His grace through them.

Paul also closed every epistle with a prayer that the grace of the Lord Jesus would continue to be with all who read them. Finally, the last of his inspired words (written while he was in prison) to his young disciple Timothy were: “The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:22).

Each true Christian life must begin, continue, and end in the sustaining grace of the Savior. Indeed, the very last revealed words of God Himself in the Holy Scriptures are: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). Thank God for His amazing grace. HMM

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phkrause

December 4, 2018
Not Giving, but Sowing
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

As John Calvin pointed out long ago in expounding this key passage, “We are not giving, but sowing” when we contribute of our financial means to the work of the Lord, for it miraculously is considered by the Lord of the harvest as seed sown in the soil of the hearts of men.

And it is a rule of the harvest that, other things being equal, the more seed planted, the more harvested. He who is deficient with his seed must necessarily anticipate a meager crop.

Of course, a bountiful harvest presupposes not only an abundance of seed, but also good soil, properly prepared, watered, and cultivated. It is no good simply to give money to anyone or any cause, any more than it is good simply to throw a seed on a rocky slope or city street or weed-infested yard. One is responsible to give where God’s Word is honored—not just to give, but to give responsibly.

Furthermore, even though an abundant harvest is promised, the motive in giving is also vital. The harvest is souls—not gold! “God loveth a cheerful giver”—not a conditional giver (v. 7). “He that giveth, let him do it with simplicity” (Romans 12:8). Often God does bring financial blessing to a Christian who has proved faithful in the grace of giving, but this is so he can give still more and thus lay up still more treasure in heaven. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). “Therefore,” as Paul said, “. . . see that ye abound in this grace also” (2 Corinthians 8:7).

And as we give, we must never forget that Christ has given more: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). HMM

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phkrause

December 5, 2018
Wisdom and Might Are His
“Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his.” (Daniel 2:20)

Men have sought wisdom all through the ages, “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Others have sought great power. But then we read of Alexander weeping because there were no more worlds to conquer, and we see one rich man after another who cannot bring himself to say, “It is enough.”

The problem is, of course, that they are searching for wisdom and might in the wrong places, and thus they can never be satisfied. Wisdom and might belong only to God. In the Lord Jesus Christ “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), and to Him has been given “all power . . . in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). God, revealed in Christ, is both omniscient and omnipotent, and true wisdom and true riches must come only from Him.

Therefore, “if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God . . . and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). If we are in need of strength, we must become weak, for “when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). If we need riches, we must know poverty, for before Christ can commit to us “the true riches,” we must be found “faithful in that which is least” (Luke 16:10-11).

Daniel’s testimony, as recorded in this passage, was given to the most powerful monarch on Earth, with access to all the wisdom of the most highly educated men of the age. But neither human might nor human wisdom could solve his problem. Only Daniel, drawing on the wisdom and power of the God of creation, could meet his need. God’s servants, even today, have the same privilege and responsibility, because our God is “for ever and ever.” HMM

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phkrause

December 6, 2018
Before the World Began
“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)

There are some things that God, even in His omnipotence, cannot do. He cannot fail in His ultimate purpose in creation, for one thing. He cannot do wrong or be wrong, for what He does is right and what He says is true, by definition. And God cannot lie, so whatever He has promised, He will perform.

One of His most glorious promises is that of eternal life, for this promise was made even before He made the world, including space and time. But how could anything take place before time began? The same word is used in 2 Timothy 1:9: “. . . his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Similarly, Romans 16:25 speaks of “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began.”

Our very minds are locked in space and time, and therefore we cannot even conceive of anything “beyond” space or “before” time. Nevertheless, God is the Creator, and even “the worlds [that is, the ‘aeons,’ the space/times] were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). He created time and space and all the phenomena that exist in time and space, and the fact that we cannot comprehend this simply confirms the Scriptures. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?” (Isaiah 40:13). “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psalm 139:6).

But what we cannot understand, we simply believe, for God cannot lie. Even though the worlds had a beginning, and our lives each had a beginning, the world will never end, and our lives will never end, for God will never end! We receive, by faith, His immutable promise of everlasting life, given us in Christ Jesus, according to His own purpose and infinite grace, before the world began. HMM

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