wpe19.gif (1320 bytes)  Home


Christ's Ways


Gal 5:16 . .Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Gal 5:25 . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

There's really no mystery to living/walking by the Spirit. It's just a matter of doing as we're told in compliance with the Spirit's instructions, i.e. Christ's commandments.

Hello; and welcome to a grass-roots collection of close to 500 specific items— beginning in the book of Acts and concluding in the book of Revelation —stipulating The Lord's rules of conduct for each and every Christian in the whole world regardless of their denominational affiliation.

Some Christians regard any and all commandments as a throw-back to the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But let me assure them the commandments in this collection are not those of the first covenant, but those of the second; viz: Christ's law rather than Moses' law.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

1Ths 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by The Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by The Lord Jesus.

Buen Camino




1) Acts 15:19-20 . . Abstain from food tainted by idols, from promiscuity, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood.

The meat of a strangled animal is different than that of a butchered animal. Though a strangled animal may be brain dead, it's flesh will be viable for a bit because the blood in its veins still has usable oxygen in it. This is why the new rules for CPR recommend concentrating on chest compressions first while delaying blowing air into somebody's lungs till a little later.

In essence what we're talking about here is eating living flesh versus ordinary raw flesh. Christians may eat all the raw, uncooked meat they want just so long as they are absolutely certain the meat is dead beyond recovery.

Though this is one of Christ's wishes; it has been God's wishes ever since Noah came off the ark. (Gen 9:3-4)

Promiscuity can be defined as sexual misconduct; e.g. adultery, incest, shacking up, one night stands, sleeping around, etc.

2) Rom 6:11 . . Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

"dead to sin" doesn't mean The Lord's sheep don't sin (cf. 1John 1:8-10). It means they're no longer in grave peril of sin's ultimate consequences. (John 5:24, Rom 4:25, Rom 5:6-11, Rom 6:3-11, Rom 8:33, 2Cor 5:19)

I've had lots of unbelievers protest that if it were true that The Lord's sheep are in no peril of sin's ultimate consequences; then they would have a license to steal. The answer to that is both YES and NO

The big difference is that when The Lord's sheep sin, it's a family matter; but when outsiders sin; it's a criminal matter. While outsiders face justice for their sins, the family only faces discipline because their justice was satisfied at Calvary. (cf. Isa 53:1-12 and Rom 6:3-11)

For example; when my youngest brother and I were kids; we pelted my dad's old Hudson Hornet with eggs and made a big mess of it. My dad not only blistered our bottoms but also made us wash it all off. But if somebody else's kids had pelted my dad's Hudson, he would have called the police. You see, for my brother and I, the egging was a family matter; but had an outsider egged my dad's car it would have been a criminal matter and something to be settled in court rather than in my dad's wood shed; if you know what I mean.

3) Rom 6:12 . . Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.

Cain was given pretty much the same instructions. (Gen 4:7)

4) Rom 6:13 . . Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.

5) Rom 12:1 . . Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

The above indicates that sacrifices don't have to be deceased in order to qualify as valid offerings. (cf. Gen 22:12, Jgs 11:30-40,1Sam 1:1-28)

6) Rom 12:2 . . And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

I heard a story about some students in a seminary who prayed about an upcoming exam instead of cracking the books and burning the midnight oil. Apparently they were somehow under the impression that the information they needed for the exam would somehow drift up out of the duck feathers where God had it stored in their pillows and be miraculously absorbed by the gray cells in their brains— and this while they were fast asleep.

Long story short; they all got an F on their exams; and not because the professor despised their laziness; no, because they simply didn't know the answers. Moral of the story is: in order to "renew your mind" and to "prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" one must take the initiative to knuckle down and learn The Lord's wishes; viz: study the Bible via either reading, sermons, Sunday school classes, seminars, lectures, and/or radio programs like Thru The Bible and Back To The Bible, et al. This stipulation is not optional by the way, no; it's one of The Lord's many commandments; and I'm pretty sure he expects it to be obeyed.

7) Rom 12:3 . . Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you.

Christians of little faith have little value; while Christians of great faith have great value; but should be careful not to let their great value go to their heads; if you know what I mean.

8) Rom 12:6 . . If God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you.

The koiné Greek word for "prophesy" in that verse is from propheteia (prof ay-ti'-ah) which encompasses predictions. Predictors were common in the early church; for example Agabus' predictions at Acts 11:27-28 and Acts 21:10-11. Hunches don't count as God speaking through you. You have to really know it. Don't ask me how to really know it because I don't have the gift.

9) Rom 12:7a . . If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well.

"serving well" implies serving conscientiously and whole-heartedly rather than half-baked and/or hit and miss.

One of my brothers has been a construction foreman for decades and one of his perpetual complaints is that he never knows from one day to the next whether some of the men he hires on jobs will show up. In other words: they aren't reliable— he can't count on them. What I'm saying is: if you're thinking about becoming helpful in some way, don't do it unless you're willing to commit to the long haul because people need to know that they can depend on you to stay the course.

10) Rom 12:7b . . If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.

I had a Sunday school teacher once who worked as a maintenance man in a public swimming facility. One Saturday he had to work very late repairing some equipment at the pool and had no time to prepare his lesson plan for Sunday morning so he just threw something together. It stunk; and my wife and I got nothing out of it.

In contrast, I once knew a pastor who took all week long to prepare his Sunday morning sermons; rather than just Saturday night. Now there was a guy who knew what it means to "do a good job of teaching".

11) Rom 12:8a . . If your gift is to encourage others, then do so.

You know who really benefits from encouragement in a big way? Little kids. Thoughtless grown-ups can break a growing child's fragile spirit by criticizing them all the time and never once giving them an "atta boy" or a single vote of confidence. A fitting word spoken at just the right moment can really beef up somebody's resolve to meet life head on. If you're good at that sort of thing, then watch for opportunities among your fellow Christians to do so.

NOTE: The kind of encouragement about which that passage speaks is just as much, and just as valuable, as any of the other spiritual gifts, e.g. speaking in tongues, translating tongues, miracles, teaching, healing, faith, evangelism, and prophecy etc.

12) Rom 12:8b . . If you have money, share it generously.

There are some people barely making ends meet who nevertheless make an effort to include charities in their budgets, while others loaded with dough are misers in that they only give what they have to and nothing more. The "extra mile" is foreign to their concept of what it means to be generous.

13) Rom 12:8c . . If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.

A natural aptitude for church management doesn't count. It has to be God-given; that is: a legitimate Spirit-endowed ability. (cf. Rom 12:3-8, 1Cor 12:4-11, 1Cor 12:27-30). There are far too many people sitting on church boards merely because they're a success in business. Well; if your church is a business; then maybe you should think about finding another one.

14) Rom 12:8d . . If you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

That would probably correspond to incidents like the one depicted in the parable of the man attacked by road agents in Luke 10:30-36. In that instance, a passerby had the skills and the wherewithal to provide care for a total stranger in need. Personally, I'm not much at first aid and/or emergency medical services. But what we're getting at here is that should you find yourself in circumstances where you can be of genuine, effective assistance; don't lend a hand grudging. It ought to make Christians happy to be of assistance instead of getting irritated and grumpy about an unexpected inconvenience.

A solo Pacific Crest Trail hiker named Cheryl Strayed, in her book WILD, recounts an evening wherein she was very low on funds and having no luck locating a suitable place in the woods to set up her tent before it got really dark. Cheryl found her way into a fee campground and set up at the extreme end of the facility where she thought no one would mind; but later that night the caretakers came by and, in a not-so-friendly tone, insisted that she either pay the $12 fee or break camp and leave. The Christian thing to do would have been to pay the fee for her instead of forcing a woman to wander out into the pitch black forest all alone at night.

15) Rom 12:9a . . Don't just pretend that you love others.

Webster's defines "pretense" as fiction, make-believe, and/or simulation. Ironically, pretense is foundational to ordinary civility and common courtesy. But when it comes to love; Christians should never put on a front. In other words: don't lead someone on to believe you care for them when in reality you don't. That's not only dishonest; it's cruel.

16) Rom 12:9b . . Hate what is wrong.

Hating evil is second nature to God-fearing people.

Ps 97:10 . .You who love Yhvh: hate evil!

Job 1:1 . . In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

Prv 8:13 . .The fear of The Lord is to hate evil. Pride and arrogance and the evil way, and the perverted mouth, I hate.

17) Rom 12:9c . . Stand on the side of the good.

Christian CEOs on the boards of multi-national corporations have my sympathy. Good luck complying with item #17.

I recently watched a very interesting documentary on NetFlix that analyzed corporations; and they found that corporations, as a personality, typically exhibit all five of the psychopathic behaviors listed below.

• Callous unconcern for the feelings of others.

• Incapacity to maintain enduring relationships.

• Reckless disregard for the safety of others.

• Deceit and dissembling; viz: repeated lying, suppressing information, stretching the truth, and conning others for profit.

• Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors.

One of corporate America's more shameful management practices is the exploitation of foreign poverty, cheap labor, defenseless employees, minimal safety requirements, and hardly any environmental regulations in order to keep costs down and the bottom lines of quarterly reports up. It's all about profits with corporations; while the human suffering exploited to obtain them is collateral damage, so to speak; and nowhere has that been more prevalent than the manufacture of textiles and garments.

Another of corporations' rather annoying behaviors is their lack of patriotism. They have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholders which supersedes any wish they may have to pay their fair share of the tax burden imposed on their fellow citizens. Thus they contribute relatively little towards the Federal Government's ability to pay its bills in comparison to regular people.

A popular corporate tax-saving dodge, which is perfectly legal, is the moving of their corporate headquarters offshore to countries where tax rates on profits are much lower than here in the USA; where they have a permanent haven just so long as they don't bring those profits into the country; which is really a shame because those profits could otherwise be invested here at home to create more jobs for Americans and thus strengthen the economy.

18) Rom 12:10a . . Love each other with genuine affection

Real affection is easy to imitate, but not so easy to duplicate. Going through the motions, is just not the same as feeling the feelings.

19) Rom 12:10b . . Honor others over yourselves.

Most alpha achievers would have trouble with that one. I mean. why be a winner if not to feel superior to everyone else and accumulate bragging rights and accolades? The alpha achiever's motto is: It's not enough to succeed: everyone else must fail.

Feelings of value are important to everyone's sense of well being, but the alpha achiever feels only himself to be of any real value; in his mind's eye, those "below" him are of little worth, i.e. expendable and/or a dime a dozen. (cf. Est 6:6, Matt 27:26, Mark 12:38 39, and 3John9)

20) Rom 12:11 . . Never be halfhearted in your work, but serve The Lord enthusiastically.

Webster's defines 'halfhearted" as feeling or showing a lack of interest. The koinë Greek word for "work" is spoude (spoo-day') which refers to movement in regards to speed; viz: velocity. In other words; item #20 is talking about dragging one's feet rather than getting with the program and expediting whatever it is you're assigned to do.

21) Rom 12:12a . . Be glad for all God is planning for you.

Christians unsure of their afterlife destination cannot, in all honesty and a good conscience, comply with item #21.

22) Rom 12:12b . . Be patient in trouble, and always be prayerful.

Patience is something every so-called mature adult is supposed to have but relatively few seem able to produce. What we're talking about here is "composure" which Webster's defines as calmness: especially of mind, manner, or appearance.

Composure is pretty easy to maintain when nothing is bothering us; but not so easy when we're upset, frightened, worried, nervous, angry, irritated, annoyed, over-worked, dead tired, under pressure, stressed, chafed, interrupted, ignored, cut off in traffic, in deep credit card debt, a sudden death in the family, behind in your mortgage, your car payments and/or your student loan; injured, life changing news like your job outsourced to China or you've got cancer, involved in a school shooting, and/or your spouse announces they've met someone and wants a divorce. People tend to come unglued at times like that.

1Pet 4:12 . . Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

A "painful trial" can be likened to a process to which assayers subject samples of gold to evaluate its worth as a precious metal. If somebody can maintain their composure under the conditions I listed above, I'd have to say that they are a high-value gold. As for the rest of us; we would no doubt benefit from a dose of the fruit of the Spirit; hence the enjoinder to "always be prayerful".

Gal 5:22 . .The fruit of the Spirit is patience; et al.

23) Rom 12:13a . . Share with God's people who are in need.

"God's people" is a bit vague. I'm guessing it pertains to Jews. (Matt 25:31-46 and Rom 15:25-27)

24) Rom 12:13b . . Practice hospitality.

Webster's defines hospitable as: (1) given to generous and cordial reception of guests, (2) promising or suggesting generous and cordial welcome, (3) offering a pleasant or sustaining environment.

In other words; a hospitable person is civil, courteous, thoughtful, easy on one's nerves, helpful, approachable, accommodating, and relaxing to be with.

25) Rom 12:14 . . Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

The koiné Greek word for "persecute" is dioko (dee-o'-ko) which means to pursue; viz: to hound. In other words; a persecuting personality is one whose mission in life is to ruin somebody's day at every opportunity; and they are pretty good at finding ways to do it. Christians are under orders to remain calm with people like that; continue to be hospitable.

26) Rom 12:15 . .When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow.

When you're blue about something, the last thing you need is for somebody to come along and tell you: Don't be that way; snap out of it! Well; it's not too hard to figure out where their loyalties lie is it?

If you know what a party pooper is, then you know what a funeral pooper is— they try to brighten up a sad situation when what they really should do is bite their tongues and let people grieve through their loss.

27) Rom 12:16a . . Live in harmony with each other.

It isn't necessary to be in 100% agreement with others on everything in order to comply with that command. But it is necessary to make every effort to avoid feuding, one-upmanship, and debating. For some people, every disagreement is an act of war to be won at any cost. That's not harmony, that's hostility. It's far and away better for Christians to be diplomatic that to be defensive.

2Cor 12:19-20 . . For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

28) Rom 12:16b . . Don't be elitist, but willing to associate with people below you.

One Sunday morning the owner of a boatyard where I was employed just happened to be going east at the same time as me on a freeway in San Diego. I saw him coming up on the left in my side mirror. I and my VW beetle were in the middle lane and he and his Chevy pickup were in the fast lane. As the boatyard owner came up alongside me, he kept his head turned to the left as if he was intently looking at something alongside the highway as he went past.

You know what was over there on the left side of the freeway? Nothing. It was a 30-foot embankment of bare earth; an impenetrable wall of China. He was deliberately averting his gaze so he wouldn't have to wave to me. And guess what? Mr. Boatyard was on the board of a large Wesleyan church in Spring Valley that he and I both attended on Sunday mornings.

In another incident, I went to a Church singles' group meeting in a private home where everyone was seated on the floor chatting when I arrived. All the really cool people had gravitated together and left this rather geeky fellow sitting all by himself with no one to talk to. Well; I wasn't all that cool myself so I sat with the geek and as we conversed, I began to realize that in spite of his appearance, he was actually a pretty bright guy; but he and I were marginalized because the others didn't want to be seen with us

29) Rom 12:16c . . Don't be wise in your own conceit.

Webster's defines "conceit" as excessive self-appreciation of one's own worth or virtue.

Conceit is uncivil, untrainable, and intolerable. It truly believes nobody beneath its dignity could possibly have anything to tell that it doesn't already know; and if it doesn't already know, then that's because the information possessed by those beneath its dignity isn't worth knowing.

Those kinds of people will interrupt you right in the middle of your sentence and begin talking about their own perspective as if your voice is nowhere to be heard in the whole room. You know why they do that? Because they sincerely believe that nothing you are in the midst of saying is nearly as important as what they have to say. In other words: you, and your thoughts, are both superfluous.

Conceited folk are generally very picky about their influences too; in other words, even if somebody is a Spirit-gifted Bible teacher, but are neither published, accredited, or properly educated, then forget it. That Spirit-gifted somebody is eo ipso undeserving of conceit's intellectual attention right out of the box.

Conceit is not only stuck on itself; but very critical of others too. I've seen it to happen time and again that when a Spirit-gifted Bible teacher comes across with a personality like Elijah's or John the Baptist's that conceit summarily brushes them off as "unloving" no matter even if they speak as the very voice of God. In other words; conceit disdains to be taught; rather, conceit seeks to be accommodated.

30) Rom 12:17a . . Never reciprocate evil with evil to anyone.

That is a really tough command to follow; for example: when someone makes a demeaning comment about us, the urge to bounce back with a retort in kind is very difficult to resist.

31) Rom 12:17b . . Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

The koiné Greek word for "right" is a bit ambiguous. It can mean: honorable, decent, sensible, mature, conforming to social norms of decency and propriety, beautiful, virtuous, honest, having worth, fitting, and/or appropriate. Those are all good qualities and should be practiced not only inside church, but outside church too.

32) Rom 12:18 . . If possible, so far as it in your power, be at peace with all men.

Assertive, defensive, fault-finding, imperious, judgmental, confrontational, bossy, hard-nosed, implacable, moody, thin skinned, vindictive, spiteful people are not going to heaven. Why? Because heaven is a place of peace (Matt 5:9). Disagreeable people who fight at the drop of a hat simply don't fit in heaven and besides, not only would they be a fish out of water; but it wouldn't be fair to the others to let difficult people in to heaven where they would surely turn it into the same kind of hell to live in that they've made the earth.

33) Rom 12:19 . . Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written: Vengeance is mine, I will repay; testifies The Lord.

The focus is upon one's "own" revenge; in other words: if the matter can't be settled legally; let it go rather than take it upon yourself to be prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. Those who seek justice outside the justice system are no less criminals than the people they seek to punish.

34) Rom 12:20 . . If your personal enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.

Way back when the television show SURVIVOR was in its second or third season on television, two of the women fell out of sorts and one vowed that even if the other were lying in the street near death from thirst, she'd walk right past and not give her so much as a drop of water.

Bad form. Christians have to remain civil and not permit detestable people to dictate the way we treat our fellow men. It is far better for The Lord's people to exemplify humanitarian principles rather than nurse a grudge.

35) Rom 12:21 . . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

They say "fight fire with fire". Well, that might work in some circumstances; but Christians should never permit themselves to fight evil with evil. Two wrongs never make a right.

I just have to wonder— in a land that prides itself in the principle of the accused being assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law —why Osama Bin Laden wasn't captured alive and given a fair trial before the Obama administration executed him. I mean; after all; several of Germany's big name war criminals were given fair trials; and so was Saddam Hussein, wasn't he? Far from being "brought to justice" Mr. Bin Laden was assassinated lynch-mob style. Thus, America overcame evil with evil; which is a clear violation of The Lord's wishes as per Rom 12:21 and to think some Americans actually pride themselves in being a so-called Christian nation.

36) Rom 13:1-5 . . Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

. . . For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

According to that passage, non Christians have the God-given right to govern Christians by means of civil criminal justice systems. This has its roots clear on back to the days of Noah.

Gen 9:4-6 . . And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.

Rom 13:1-5 is a fair warning to Christians that should they break the law; to expect neither favoritism nor immunity. So then, if you can't do the time, then don't do the crime. And especially if a Christian should commit a capital crime, to expect their head to roll just like any other capital criminal's head.

God has given mankind the right to play God in matters pertaining to criminal justice; and any Christian who opposes mankind's right to play God, is playing the Devil. God forbid!

Rom 13:1-5 covers petty crimes too like J-walking, illegal U-turns, feeding parking meters, drifting through stop signs without coming to a complete halt, exceeding the speed limit, unsafe lane changes, road rage, disturbing the peace, et al. Christians really ought to be the most law-abiding people on earth; but unfortunately, many are shamefully guilty of conduct unbecoming.

37) Rom 13:6 . . Pay your taxes

While it's true that tax dollars often get wasted on fraud, graft, pork, bail outs, ear marks, and such things; by and large taxes are essential if we're to expect services like schools, parks, national defense, law enforcement, fire protection, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, foster care, endowments, reparations, flood control, TANF, and the maintenance of infrastructure, etc.

38) Rom 13:7 . . Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

I didn't particularly admire Barack Hussein Obama when he was America's President; but seeing as how God requires Christians to address people in his position appropriately; then had I to met him, I would not have addressed him Mr. Obama as Barry, but as Mr. President.

NOTE: There is currently throughout America a wave of hate and disrespect for U.S. President Donald Trump the intensity and hysteria of which is unlike anything I've ever seen in my 73 years on this planet. I should hope that none of Christ's followers get caught up in it. We don't have to like Mr. Trump, but we do have to honor him.

39) Rom 13:8 . . Owe no man anything.

Some have construed item #39 to mean that it's a sin to have a mortgage, a car payment, and/or a credit card balance. However, the koiné Greek word for "owe" is opheilo (of-i'-lo) an ambiguous word with a number of meanings, one of which is to fail in duty; viz: fail to meet your obligations. In today's world; debt is pert near impossible to avoid; but debt is okay for Christians just so long as they pay their bills on time. Christ is neither pleased nor honored when his followers are known as deadbeats.

40) Rom 13:12 . . Put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Among the first things that God created for the cosmos was light (Gen 1:3). He didn't have to create darkness because darkness as per Gen 1:2 was just simply the default condition in the absence of light.

At that time, God made a distinct difference between light and darkness (Gen 1:4). I think it is very notable that God labeled the light "good" but He didn't label the darkness good.

I believe Gen 1:4 set the stage; in other words: from that point on in the Bible darkness typically represents something harmful and/or distasteful; while light always represents something tasteful and/or beneficial. So then we could label the deeds of darkness as deeds unbecoming Christ's followers, and we could label the armor of light as deeds befitting his followers. In other words: deeds befitting Christ's followers are their first line of defense in a world gone mad with evil.

41) Rom 13:13 . . Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and envy.

In the beginning, God labeled the light "day" and the darkness He labeled "night" (Gen 1:5) ergo: accordingly, day is good while night is bad. So then; things done in the day are good things, while things done in the night are, by default, bad things. Day and Night, and Darkness and Light, are interesting figures of speech and can be seen in use at quite a few locations in the Bible; for example:

John 3:19-21 . .This is the judgment; that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.

Envy can be a good dog or a bad dog, and when it's a bad dog, it's the combined meanness of a Pit Bull Terrier and a Rottweiler because envy fuels some very bitter rivalries. Wanting to be equal with others is one thing, but striving to be better than others is a horse of another color. Christians have got to be careful of that. This isn't optional by the way; no: it's required.

What I find interesting about Christ's commandments is that his followers have to be told how to "properly conduct" themselves; viz: it's never assumed they can be trusted to instinctively and/or intuitively know how.

42) Rom 13:14 . . .Clothe yourselves with The Lord Jesus Christ

Clothing one's self with a personage was a colloquialism many years ago which would correspond in our day to "emulation" which Webster's defines as trying to be like someone or something you admire. They say that imitation is the highest flattery. Well; if you'd like to flatter The Lord; adopt his principles and put them into practice. In other words: become Christ's understudy. You can do no better for a role model.

Q: How does one go about measuring up to Christ?

A: Well, up to this point, we've listed 42 ways. In other words; complying with Christ's commandments is really the best and only practical way to go about it.

43) Rom 14:1 . . Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

A strong faith consists of the elements of knowledge, confidence, assurance, and conviction. A weak faith can be defined as vacillating; viz: one that's not all that sure whether something is wrong for a Christian; or even that something is right; in other words, a weak faith lacks the elements of knowledge, confidence, assurance, and conviction.

Disputable matters are matters of opinion rather than matters of fact. Opinions are often subjective, biased, and arbitrary, rather than objective, unbiased, and by-the book. Opinions inevitably invite perpetual debating that never really gets to the bottom of anything; which, in matters of spiritual significance is strictly forbidden within the context of the 14th chapter of Romans; because debatable matters are not matters of doctrine; but rather; matters of conscience.

We're not talking about black and white doctrines and principles here. Those are not open to debate. We're talking about gray areas.

"Thou shalt not commit adultery" is black and white; while issues like video games, music, fashions, foods, cosmetics, movies, self defense, gambling, swim suits, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, fasting, religious art, crucifixes, couture, and holy days of obligation are debatable. In regards to those areas; let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind rather than somebody else's mind.

Those are things about which each has to decide for themselves according to the dictates of their own conscience; and God forbid they should impose their personal dictates upon others and thus become dictatorial because that's playing God and usurping The Lord's sovereign prerogative to make the rules for his own church.

44) Rom 14:2-4 . . One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him.

If you sincerely believe that fast food, GMO, high fructose corn syrup, non organic produce, processed foods, grain-fed beef, raw oysters, sushi, and/or anything fried in lard is sinful; well; more power to you; but God forbid you should condemn others who disagree because to my knowledge The Lord has issued no hard and fast rules regulating Christian nourishment other than those listed at Acts 15:19-20.

So then; whether or not to eat grass-fed beef or grain-fed beef is your call; although in my judicious estimation; you run a much higher risk of contracting E.coli 0157-H7 by eating grain-fed beef. But the choice to run that risk is yours alone; not mine. The important point to note is that either way, God will accept one's diet just so long as they are convinced in their own mind it's not a sinful diet.

45) Rom 14:5 . . One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.

Common Christian holy days are The Lord's Day (Sunday), Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, the Epiphany, Solemnity of Saint Joseph Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Ascension Trinity Sunday, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Good Friday, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, All Saints, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas), and the Sabbath. Some would probably include Easter and Ash Wednesday.

If your denomination, or your church of choice, rules that days like the above are sacred, then for you they are. Whether God himself really and truly rules them as sacred is irrelevant. What matters is whether you are convinced He does.

46) Rom 14:13a . .Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.

Within the context of the 14th of Romans, "passing judgment" pertains to condemning others for refusal to accept and/or comply with your gray-area beliefs and practices.

47) Rom 14:13b . . Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

The koiné Greek word translated "stumbling block" means a stub. For example: one year I cut down a troublesome bush in my front yard and left a bit of a stump sticking up out of the ground that later damaged my lawn mower when I accidentally ran over it while cutting the grass; which had grown tall enough to conceal the stump. In that respect, stumbling blocks are hazards not easily detected.

Within the context of the 14th of Romans, I would equate stumbling blocks to the clever sophistry that silver-tongued orators employ to persuade people to do things contrary to their convictions and their conscience. In other words; there are people out there with the skills to make a lie sound like the God's truth. (cf. Eph 4:11-14)

48) Rom 14:14-16 . . I know and am perfectly sure on the authority of The Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. And if another Christian is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don't let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. Then you will not be condemned for doing something you know is alright.

You may believe that there is nothing wrong with eating non-Kosher foods; but your dinner companion might feel very strongly about it. Well; sure, you can get by with eating non-Kosher foods; but Rom 14:14-16 is saying don't. In other words; it is Christ's wishes that you restrain yourself from eating non-Kosher foods in front of your companion out of respect for their feelings about it.

I would go so far as to say that rule applies to alcohol. If your dinner companion is a recovering alcoholic, then for God's sake don't order drinks at your table. It's not only thoughtless and offensive; but you might inadvertently succeed in bumping your friend off the wagon.

49) Rom 14:19 . . Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

The koiné Greek word for "edification" is oikodome (oy-kod-om-ay') which is a word related to the building trades; and in this instance would be related to structural improvements like a new wing, or a bedroom, or another floor; and in many instances adds square footage to an already-existing structure and/or improves its appearance, its value, and it's utility. Edification then, builds up instead of tearing down.

Webster's defines "peace" as a state in which there is no war or fighting; viz: harmony and mutual concord.

2Cor 12:19-20 . . For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

50) Rom 14:20-21 . . Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.

The critters that God lists in Israel's covenanted law as unsuitable for food aren't intrinsically unsuitable. They're only unsuitable for Israel because that's how God wants it for His people. But outside the covenant; and for everybody else: everything is suitable for food; all flora and all fauna.

Gen 9:3 . . Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

Acts 10:15 . .The voice spoke to him a second time; "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

51) Rom 15:1-2 . . We may know that certain things make no difference, but we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves. We must be considerate of the doubts and fears of those who believe certain things are wrong.

God forbid that any of Christ's followers should talk their fellow Christians into doing something that bothers their conscience because then both they and the talker will be in the wrong even if the talker is right.

52) Rom 14:22a . . So whatever you personally believe in debatable areas keep between yourself and God.

53) Rom 14:22b-23 . . Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

In other words, it's possible to be wrong even when you're right because it's a sin to forge ahead when one's conscience is not sure it's okay to do so.

I once knew a Christian who felt guilty just setting foot inside a BlockBuster video store. Was he silly for feeling that way? Not in his mind; and it's your own personal moral compass that counts in gray areas. Some Christians can't permit themselves to dine in a restaurant that serves alcohol; while others see nothing wrong with it. If those two kinds of Christians should perchance dine out together, it's the more sensitive conscience that determines where to eat.

In other words; it makes good spiritual sense to avoid insisting upon your freedoms and rights sometimes in order to prevent dragging your fellow Christians into something that makes them feel guilty and/or uncomfortable.

54) Rom 15:1-2 . . We may know that certain things make no difference, but we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves. We must be considerate of the doubts and fears of those who believe certain things are wrong.

I think this would be a good place to interject a note pertaining to the statement below:

John 13:35 . . By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

For many of us who grew up in dysfunctional families, broken homes, foster systems and/or orphanages et al; the concept of love doesn't resonate in our thinking; viz: it just goes in one ear and right out the other because we quite literally have no points of reference in our minds to aid comprehending what The Lord means by love; and this is what makes his commandments interspersed throughout the epistles so valuable— many of them not only show us how to recognize love when we encounter it; but also how to exemplify it in our own lives so that those of us who were deprived of love growing up are not left to figure it out on our own.

55) Rom 15:7 . . Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

That's a bit tricky but I think it just means believers should acknowledge one another as Christians, and treat one another as Christians, though they may differ in opinion about what constitutes a true Christian.

For example: it's not unusual to hear a Christian pontificate that real Christians would never watch R-rated movies, gamble, wear a speedo or a string bikini, use cosmetics, smoke marijuana, expose cleavage or wear skin tight yoga pants in public, stop for a beer on the way home from work, have a glass of wine before bedtime, listen to RAP music, ditch church and Sunday school for years at a time, or go in a bar or a nightclub where there's topless female dancers up on a stage twining themselves around a pole while leering men stuff currency into the hems of their skimpy little costumes.

Too many Christians have the opinion that unless others believe and behave the very same way they believe and behave, then those others are not Christians. Well; the easiest way to settle this is to follow Webster's definition that a Christian is simply someone who professes a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ. That's it: no more, no less, and no qualifiers. They don't even have to practice The Lord's teachings; they only have to profess to believe in them.

An internet forum I was on in the past made it even easier. In order to qualify as a Christian on that forum; one only had to believe they were a Christian; viz: they didn't have to prove they were a Christian; no, they only had to be convinced in their own minds that they were a Christian. If we all followed that rule it would put a stop to a lot of unnecessary quarreling and bad feelings.

56) Rom 15:27 . . For if the Gentiles have shared in the Israelite's spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Israelites to share with them their material blessings.

Within the context of Rom 15:25-27, the Israelites to whom Paul refers are not those who believe and practice Judaism; but those who believe and practice Christianity. It is unbecoming for Christians to support religions that undermine their Master.

57) Rom 16:17-18 . . I urge you, brothers, beware of those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naïve people.

One of The Lord's very effective opponents isn't a person; but rather, it's a persuasive teaching method called sophistry; which Webster's defines as a reason or an argument that sounds correct but is actually false; viz: subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation. Sophistry is so rational, so appealing, makes such good sense, and is so convincing that even its users are easily fooled by it.

Sophistry in religion is found in true-sounding beliefs based upon false premises. According to Eph 4:11-14 the very reason that Christ hand-picks some of his followers to speak for him is so that the rest of his followers may have access to true premises upon which to base their beliefs. Some Christians are of the opinion that they can get by without the assistance of Christ's hand-picked teachers just by reading the Bible on their own; but it is not The Lord's wishes that his followers be self-taught.

58) 1Cor 1:10 . . I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

I think it would be interesting to analyze the incident that prompted Paul to issue that order.

1Cor 1:11-12 . . My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this; one of you says "I follow Paul" and another says "I follow Apollos" and another says "I follow Cephas" and still another says "I follow Christ".

The "divisions" that Paul addressed were apparently related to the sins of rivalry and elitism— some even going so far as to allege that their baptism was superior to the "second-rate" baptisms experienced by others.

Modern examples of that kind of elitism today might go like this: one might brag "I was saved at a Louis Palau crusade" while, not to be outdone, another might retort "That's nothing; I was saved at a Billy Graham crusade" or "My pastor got his degree at Dallas Theological Seminary" while another may counter by saying "So? My pastor got his doctorate at Yale Divinity School" or "I listen to Thru The Bible with J.Vernon McGee every day on the radio" while another may retort by saying "He's okay for some people; but Back To The Bible with Woodrow Kroll is where it's really at." or "I use nothing but the King James version of the Bible" while another may scoff with "People serious about Bible study use a Scofield Reference Bible in the NIV." or "I can read and write Greek" while another might retort: "You should try learning Hebrew sometime. Now there's a challenge." And then there's the hermeneutics know-it-alls who insist that the truth of a passage can only be seen in context and no other way

Those kinds of petty rivalries generate unnecessary bad feelings amongst Christians, and should be avoided.

59) 1Cor 1:26-31 . . Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

. . . God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom. As the Scriptures say: The person who wishes to boast should boast only of what The Lord has done.

Some of us tend to think ourselves pretty smart for having enough good sense to believe the gospel. But according to the passage above, we didn't become believers due to our IQ. No; the credit is due to God's IQ, i.e. God alone was smart enough to make it possible for any of us to be in Christ Jesus. Personally, I look upon that as something not for me to boast about, rather; an incredible stroke of luck.

The next commandment I wish to discuss is embedded in the following scripture. It's indicated by underlined text.

60) 1Cor 3:5-15 . .What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe. As The Lord has assigned to each his task: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.

. . . For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be spared, yet so as through fire.

Sorry for that big gob of scripture, but in order to explain what is meant by the underlined text it's essential that I retain it's context.

It's easy mistake the judgment spoken of in that passage for the judgment spoken of in Rev 20:11-15. But there are crucial differences worth noting.

1• The fire spoken of at 1Cor 3:5-15 burns works. The fire spoken of at Rev 20:11-15 burns people.

2• People walk away alive from the fire spoken of at 1Cor 3:5-15. Nobody walks away alive from the fire spoken of at Rev 20:11-15.

In context, "each man" refers to God's fellow workers as opposed to God's field and/or God's building, i.e. John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer.

The works in context are those pertaining specifically to Christians like Paul and Apollos; viz: people involved in ministerial capacities e.g. apostles, missionaries, evangelists, pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, church administrators, home Bible study leaders, et al. Though John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer's works will some day be evaluated too; they are not the ones whose works will be evaluated as per 1Cor 3:5-15 because John Q and Jane Doe are depicted not as God's fellow workers, but as: (1) God's field, and (2) His building.

It's extremely important to note that only the Christian worker's works ar tested with fire; not the worker himself. Compare this to the great white throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15 where the dead's works are not tested; but rather, their works are introduced as evidence in the prosecution's case against them. The Christian worker's works aren't evaluated as evidence against them, but as potential credit to justify giving them a performance award.

Another extremely important thing to note is that the Christian worker's substandard works are burned up rather than burned off; as if the worker has to spend some time in a purgatory or something like that.

The phrase "he himself will be spared, but only as through fire" is rendered by some translators as "like someone escaping through a wall of flames" and/or "as one escaping through the flames". It's a depiction of people who waken inside a burning home with barely enough time to get out; taking nothing with them but whatever they wore to bed. Their home is destroyed, and all their valuables and all their mementoes; but at least the occupants themselves are safe, and suffer no harm from the fire.

"let each man be careful how he builds upon it" indicates that Christian workers need to keep in mind that what they produce will be thoroughly scrutinized; and projects that don't measure up will be summarily culled; resulting of course in reduced compensation for their service. How sad it would be to see workers like Mother Teresa who, after devoting decades of their lives to a Christian service capacity, only to be stripped of everything and come away with nothing to show for it; not even so much as a Boy Scout merit badge.

NOTE: According to 1Cor 4:5 the motives of Christian workers will be evaluated too in order to determine whether they were in it for The Lord, or just in it for themselves.

FYI: Koiné Greek words for "purify" and "purge" are nowhere to be found in 1Cor 3:5-15; and a note in the current official Catholic Bible-- the 2011 New American Bible --says: "The text of 1Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the notion of a purgatory, though it does not envisage this."

If perchance there are Catholics reading this, I should clue them that the non Biblical materials (foot notes) in the 2011 New American Bible have a nihil obstat by Reverend Richard L. Schaefer, Censor Deputatus, and an imprimatur by Most Reverend Jerome Hanus, O.S.B. Archbishop of Duguque.

Nihil Obstat is defined as: The certification by an official censor of the Roman Catholic Church that a book has been examined and found to contain nothing opposed to faith and morals

Imprimatur is defined as: Approval of a publication under circumstances of official censorship

61) 1Cor 3:18 . . If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a fool so that he may become wise.

Webster's defines a fool as a person lacking in judgment or prudence and/or someone lacking common sense.

Well, as most everyone knows; someone need not have a low IQ to qualify as a fool. It isn't uncommon for otherwise bright people with above average intelligence to think, act, and speak like they've taken leave of their senses.

How do you go about convincing somebody with an IQ of 110 that they're foolish? Well; of course they're not really half-witted; they're smart in their own sphere, but alas; challenged in things that have value to God.

Take for example people like Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, US President Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, Jimmy Fallon, Paul McCartney, et al. Those people are geniuses at what they're good at; but when it comes to things that mean something to God: they're incompetent dunces because they have focused all their intellectual energy upon things that have value to themselves; and zero intellectual energy contemplating things that have value to God.

1Cor 3:20 . .The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise; that they are worthless.

Maybe the thoughts of the wise are worth something to the world; but not to God. They bore Him to tears.

62) 1Cor 3:21-23 . . So don't take pride in following a particular leader. Everything belongs to you— Paul and Apollos and Peter —the whole world and life and death; the present and the future. Everything belongs to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

I've noticed that avid sports fans are afflicted with chronic identity syndromes. When their favorite team wins; they say "we" won; as if they were on the field playing the game instead of up in the bleachers or on the couch at home watching the action on TV. Christians who worship the ground that their favorite pastors and/or Sunday school teachers walk on are just as avid. They want to be identified with those kinds of church luminaries because it makes them look really smart and elite; when in reality it just makes them look silly and star-crossed.

63) 1Cor 4:1 . . So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ, and as those entrusted with the mysteries of God.

Christians are so prone to hero worship. They idolize the pastors of their churches; celebrities of the Christian world like Mother Teresa and Billy Graham are practically sacred cows— when they should recognize that those celebrities are only human rather than divine. (cf. 1Cor 3:5-15)

64) 1Cor 4:5 . . Judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till The Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and expose the motives of men's hearts.

The "judging" with respect to 1Cor 4:5 regards human nature's propensity to idolize religious celebrities without having all the facts. For example; we now know from Mother Teresa's private letters— made public by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk's book "Mother Teresa / Come Be My Light" —that Ms. Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was a nun with so little personal belief in God as to be an agnostic; and yet for decades everyone the world over thought she was the cat's meow and the bee's knees: a veritable poster child of piety in thought, word, and deed. It turns out Teresa was a remarkable actor. Her public image bore no resemblance whatsoever to the secret life of her inner being.

65) 1Cor 5:1-5 . . It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father's wife. And you have become arrogant, and have not mourned instead, in order that the one who had done this deed might be removed from your midst.

. . . For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present. In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of The Lord Jesus.

Delivering someone to Satan for the destruction of the flesh just simply means to ostracize them— no associating with them whatsoever, and especially no spiritual support, not even prayers. This may seem an extreme measure but that man's sin was extremely detrimental; it was dragging the whole church down.

66) 1Cor 5:6b-8 . . Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

. . . I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler— not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.

His comparison to leavening indicates that the shameful conduct of just one member of the congregation is the whole congregation's shame. This isn't a proprietary Christian principle. It first shows up in the 7th chapter of Joshua. The insubordination of one insignificant Jewish man— just one —caused God to stop assisting Joshua's army in battle. As a result, 36 men were needlessly killed in action; and ultimately capital punishment was inflicted upon not only the insubordinate man himself, but also his sons and his daughters. What did God say? Achan has sinned? No: Israel has sinned. (Josh 7:11)

This is one of the best arguments against church expansion. The bigger a congregation gets, the more difficult it is to keep an eye on everyone's conduct.

Q: What about saved and born-again LGBT? Do they have to be judged and ostracized too?

A: There was a time in the not-so-distant past when there would have been no need to ask that question. But the question is very pertinent nowadays what with so many State, local, and Federal laws practically giving LGBT the status of protected species. It's got to the point when accusing them of sexual sin is considered hate speech.

The key to correctly applying Paul's instruction to Christian LGBT is the word "indulges" which Webster's defines as: excessive compliance and weakness in gratifying another's or one's own desires. In other words: before judging and ostracizing LGBT they have to be sexually active.

And please; let's not level all the heavy guns at LGBT because the list includes swindling and greed too; which were responsible for the Wall Street crash back in 2008 that led to thousands of people everywhere losing their jobs, their retirements, and their homes. LGBT are of no consequence at all in comparison to the power of greed and swindling to ruin people's lives, collapse entire economies, and create fear, panic, and havoc on a titanic scale.

67) 1Cor 5:6a . .Your boasting is not good.

The Corinthian church was liberal in its attitudes about sex. That's no surprise considering the city's culture in that day and age. Then, as now, liberals tend to think of themselves as sophisticated and progressive. and vastly superior to the stodgy, old-fashioned ways of conservatives.

68) 1Cor 6:1-6 . . If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

. . .Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother goes to law against another-and this in front of unbelievers!

Apparently some of the Christians in the church at Corinth let the Sermon On The Mount go in one ear and out the other.

Matt 5:39-40 . . But I say unto you: That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

Luke 12:57-59 . .Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

The Lord began his teaching in Luke with the words "Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?" In other words; if someone threatens to take you to court over a tort matter, and you know darn good and well he's in the right; don't force him to go to law. Instead, admit to your wrong and settle out of court. According to The Lord, it’s unrighteous to tie up the courts when you know your own self that you are the one who's in the wrong. There's just simply no righteous reason why Christian defendants and plaintiffs can't be their own judge and jury in tort matters.

1Cor 6:7-8 . . Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

The koiné Greek word for "defraud" is apostereo (ap-os-ter-eh'-o) which is an ambiguous word with more than one meaning, and more than one application. The meaning that seems appropriate in this instance is "deprive".

It works like this: Were I to trip and fall because of a crack in the walk leading up to the front door of the home of one of my kin; I wouldn't haul them into court over it because we're related; viz: any injury I might incur by tripping and falling because of a crack in their walk would be a family matter rather than a legal matter; and they have a right to be treated by me as family rather than as enemies in a lawsuit because we're related. Were I to sue them for tripping and falling because of a crack in their walk; I would be depriving them of the love that kin have a right to expect from one another.

Well; Christians are supposed to be brethren; in the highest possible sense of the word.

1John 3:14-16 . .We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. . . We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

I think it's safe to say that if somebody is comfortable taking a fellow Christian to court; then they certainly are not prepared to lay down their life for the brethren.

It's really sad to see relatives suing each other in court; but it happens all the time. When the world does it; well, that's to be expected; but when Christians sue each other; that's dysfunctional.

69) 1Cor 6:18 . . Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body.

The koiné Greek word for "fornication" is porneia (por-ni'-ah) which doesn't mean pornography; it means harlotry; a term that Webster's defines as sexual profligacy. Porneia would include things like prostitution, adultery, promiscuity, date sex, free love, shacking up, one-night stands, swingers, wife swapping, and that sort of thing.

The command is not to walk away from fornication; but to run away from it as if your very life depends upon putting distance between you and it. The same Greek word is used at Matt 2:13 where an angel instructed Joseph to flee into Egypt in order to save his little boy's life.

Fleeing is different than shunning. I think what we're talking about here are the times when a golden opportunity comes along to mess around with somebody who is absolutely irresistible. Some people would call that getting lucky; but in God's estimation, it's getting stupid if you play along and see what happens.

Young Christian couples often want to know how far they can go with their dates before they're into forbidden territory. Well, we all instinctively know the upper limits, but since the lower limits aren't chipped in stone then I would have to say let your own conscience be your guide in accordance with The Lord's principles stipulated in the 14th chapter of Romans regulating gray areas. The key principles are:

"Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." (Rom 14:5)

"Happy is he that feels no guilt in that thing which he allows." (Rom 14:22)

He that doubts is guilty if he eats, because he eats not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Rom 14:23)

However, as an old senior guy of 72 who's been around the block a time or two: I must forewarn youngsters that the human conscience is trainable. What I mean is, if you manage to suppress your first-time pangs of guilt, the second time will be easier; and each succeeding suppression of your conscience gets easier and easier till the day comes when you feel no guilt at all. In other words: you will eventually succeed in cauterizing your conscience. (cf. 1Tim 4:1-2)

The phrase "sins against his own body" is sort of the same wording as at 1Cor 11:27 where it's said "whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of The Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of The Lord."

Some Christians construe 1Cor 11:27 as murder. Well if so, then sinning against one's own body would be suicide. But actually, what we're talking about here is gross contempt and disrespect. In other words; Christian fornicators are treating their body like a chamber pot instead of a holy vessel; and all the while dragging God's Spirit into situations that He finds extremely unbecoming.

1Cor 6:19 . . Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?

Eph 4:30 . . Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

They're also dragging Christ into shame and disgrace too.

1Cor 6:14-16 . . Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with an harlot? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with an harlot is one with her in body? For it is said, "The two will become one flesh."

It's sad but true: a number of Christians have spent so little time in the book of Genesis that they haven't a clue what 1Cor 6:14-16 is talking about.

1Cor 15:34 . . Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.

70) 1Cor 6:20 . . For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Christ's crucifixion and resurrection liberated his followers from facing justice and the second death in the scene depicted at Rev 20:11-15. That was a mighty big favor, and I should think it earns him the right to ask a favor in return. All things considered; conducting ourselves in ways that honor God is really not too much to ask seeing as how it was He who donated His own son to die for us.

71) 1Cor 7:2 . . Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

The above is especially pertinent in 2014 America. Fornication is everywhere: on a pandemic scale. It's in our music, in our schools, in the White House, in our offices, on our televisions, in our movies, in our novels, and in our conversations. People are even sleeping together on their very first dates. Even Congressmen, Senators, and US Presidents are indulging in forbidden love. The previous Governor of Oregon was openly shaking up with a girlfriend. An item in the January 2011 issue of National Geographic reported that 41% of America's births in 2008 were illegitimate; which is up 28% from 1990.

This country is in a state of moral decadence, and becoming more and more like the ancient city of Pompeii just prior to its destruction by the volcanism of Mt. Vesuvius.

It's important to note that 1Cor 7:2 makes it okay to marry for sex. My childhood religion taught me that it's a sin to marry for any other reason except procreation and that couples who decide to remain childless are living in sin. They get that from Genesis 1:28 where it's says: "God blessed them; and God said to them: Be fruitful and multiply". But that is clearly a blessing rather than a law. It's always best to regard blessings as benefits and/or empowerments unless clearly indicated otherwise.

Ironically the original purpose of marriage was neither sex nor procreation; it was companionship. (Gen 2:18)

72) 1Cor 7:3-4 . . Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not authority of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not authority of his own body, but the wife.

What we're talking about in that verse is the principle of private property. In other words: spouses own each other in a community property arrangement wherein the wife is "his woman" and the husband is "her man". So then; if you're looking for a man, or for a women, then go out and find one of your own instead of taking a married one who has no right to give themselves to you without their spouse's consent.

It's not uncommon for wives to withhold intimacy from their husbands as a strategy to manipulate them. God forbid that any woman believing herself to be one of Christ's followers should ever pull a stunt like that! Same goes for the husbands. There is just no excuse for that kind of behavior in marriage. It's deplorable and it's unbecoming.

73) 1Cor 7:5 . . Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

The koiné word for "defraud" is apostereo (ap-os-ter-eh'-o) which means: to despoil; which Webster's defines as: to strip of belongings, possessions, or value; viz: pillage.

In other words, married people who withhold sex from their spouses without a valid reason to do so are nothing less than thieves, and in violation of the 8th commandment.

Ex 20:15 . .Thou shalt not steal.

The temptation in question is of course adultery. In other words; if one spouse denies the other spouse's conjugal rights for too long a time they run the risk of pushing them into another's arms.

I heard a story recently about a rather conniving Christian woman who wanted a divorce from her Christian husband; but seeing as how The Lord only allows death or adultery to dissolve the marital bond; she deliberately denied her husband his conjugal rights in order to force him to think about taking a lover; and when he did; she proceeded to divorce him on the grounds of unfaithfulness. That way, in her mind's eye, she was the innocent victim and he the villain. (chuckle) What people won't do to circumvent the laws of God.

The woman's first mistake was going for a divorce instead of a separation. Her second mistake was denying her husband's conjugal rights without his consent. Her third mistake was in putting a stumbling block in his path. Her fourth mistake was in leading him to do something that made him feel guilty. She no doubt made a number of other mistakes too but those four suffice for starters.

74) 1Cor 7:8-9 . . Now to the unmarried and the widows I say : It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn.

The koiné Greek word for "burn" is puroo (poo-ro'-o) which means: to kindle, to ignite, to glow, and/or to be inflamed. I seriously doubt Paul meant to convey the thought that the believers who lacked self control at Corinth were in grave danger of the flames of hell since he had already assured them in 1Cor 6:9-11 that they were washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of The Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Paul was one of those kinds of men with a very low-powered libido. But not everyone is like him; nor is everyone cut out to live alone.

Webster's defines "celibacy" as (1) the state of not being married, (2) abstention from sexual intercourse, and (3) abstention by vow from marriage. Celibacy then, isn't limited to zero sex, but also includes zero marriage; even platonic unions.

Not long ago, a Catholic priest here in Oregon quit the priesthood after serving more than 30 years in order to get married because he couldn't stand being alone anymore. He wasn't especially looking to get laid, he just wanted to be with somebody; which is exactly how normal guys are designed.

Gen 2:18 . .Yhvh God said: It's not good for Adam to be solitary

The problem with a vow of celibacy is that although it may hinder a priest from getting married, it does nothing to prevent him from pining for a female companion. 1Cor 7:9 should suffice to silence the mouths of ascetics who preach it's holy to abstain from every form of earthly pleasure; and also the mouths of those who preach it's a sin to marry solely for sex.

NOTE: Typical wedding vows are unconditional, i.e. couples, as a rule, don't promise to love each other in a ratio relative to the amount of love they get from the other. It would be educational for couples to review their vows now and again to see just how conscientious they've been in complying with the unconditional aspect of their vows.

75) 1Cor 7:10-11a . . Unto the married I command— yet not I, but The Lord —let not the wife depart from her husband: but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband.

Supposing one of the spouses sleeps with somebody during the separation? Is the other spouse supposed to still make an effort to reconcile? NO! According to the lord and master of New Testament Christianity; unfaithfulness dissolves the marriage bond.

Matt 19:9 . . I say unto you: whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery

Q: May a woman put away her husband for a cause other than fornication?

A: No; of course not; that would be a double standard.

Q: But why are only the husbands targeted in Matt 5:32?

A: The Lord's audience was primarily Jewish and lived under the terms and conditions of Israel's covenanted law. Under that law, the husbands typically initiated divorce rather than the wives.

Matt 19:7-8 . . They say unto him: Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

The Lord's comments were based upon the passage below:

Gen 2:24 . . For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

There is no mention of divorce in the wording of that decree, nor is there any mention of polygamy either. In point of fact, if I'm understanding The Lord correctly, prior to rules regulating Christian church officers at 1Tim 3:2, it was okay for every man to have more than one wife just so long as they didn't divorce the first simply in order to take up with a second.

According to Matt 19:7-8, Moses premised divorce settlements upon the hardness of men's hearts rather than upon the hardness of their heads. In other words; Moses decreed divorce settlements as a safe-guard against men discarding their unwanted wives like chattel. A proper divorce separates a woman from her husband with at least a measure of her dignity intact and also ensures she isn't dumped without fair compensation; in other words: mandatory divorce settlements force men to respect women as human beings rather than yesterday's newspaper.

Q: So then; God permits divorce?

A: Webster's defines "permission" as: formal consent; viz: authorization. It's far more accurate to say that God tolerates divorce.

Were God to authorize divorce for any cause other than unfaithfulness; then according to Matt 19:9, God would be condoning adultery. And not only would He be condoning adultery, but He would also be inconsistent with His own one-flesh decree at Gen 2:24. The point is; people get divorced regardless of God's decree at Gen 2:24. Because of that ugly little fact of life; God requires that if people just have to get divorced; that it be done in such a way as to protect the women; especially their reputations. If a man dumped his wife without something in writing, future suitors might assume it was because she was unfaithful.

Q: But doesn't Gen 16:1-4 and Gen 30:3-10 indicate that God permits adultery?

A: I am unable to locate wording in either of those passages clearly indicating that God granted Abram permission to marry his half sister and/or to sleep with Ms.Hagar; and I am also unable to find wording in either of those passages clearly indicating that God granted Jacob permission to sleep with his wives' maids.

FYI: When the Bible's God stands by and does nothing to prevent sin, it should never be construed to indicate that He condones it because the Bible's God prefers not to micro-manage intelligent creatures. For example: the Bible's God could easily have prevented Cain from murdering his kid brother Abel. Does that eo ipso indicate Cain had God's consent to murder his kid brother? No. The Bible's God also could have prevented Judah from sleeping with his daughter-in-law Tamar to produce an illegitimate child who subsequently ended up in The Lord's biological genealogy. Does that eo ipso indicate Judah had God's consent to commit incest? No. In some jurisdictions; silence is construed as consent. Beware applying that kind of logic to the Bible's God.

Anyway; before meeting my wife in 1979, I was active in a very large single's group in a church in San Diego. One of the girls in the group had supported her ex while he was in medical school. You know the story: after graduation, Mister Gray's Anatomy dumped her.

That girl was level-headed, young and pretty, had no children from a previous marriage, drove her own car and had a job. In other words, she was a good bet; but her conscience wouldn't permit dating since she was convinced that Christians are married forever. Wishing to be helpful, I pointed out that if her ex was sleeping with somebody, then Matt 19:9 made her available. (No, she couldn't accept it; at least not right then anyway. I sincerely hope she changed her mind some day before the aging process ruined her looks.)

76) 1Cor 7:11b . . and let not the husband put away his wife.

There is of course an exception to that rule.

Matt 19:9 . . I say unto you: whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery

Fornication in the case of a married woman is adultery; which, in the economy of God, is a capital crime.

Lev 20:10 . . And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Deut 22:22 . . If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman.

Even though there is no death penalty in the USA for adultery that I know of; the Bible accounts adulterers to be dead-men-walking, leaving the victim of infidelity free to divorce and remarry. It could be said that in cases of infidelity, divorce papers are the adulterer's death certificate.

Q: But aren't Christians exempt from Lev 20:10 and Deut 22:22?

A: They are exempt from the death penalty as per those two divine laws because Christians are not covenanted with God to comply with them. However; according to Rom 13:1-4 they are not exempt from civil laws that execute adulterers.

In addition, believers are not exempt from discipline as per Heb 12:5-13. To see just how extreme that can get, feast your glims on Acts 5:1-11 and 1Cor 11:27-30

Perhaps the classic case of discipline on file involved David's tryst with Bathsheba and the subsequent murder of her husband. God took David's conduct off the books so he wouldn't go to hell for what he did; nevertheless, God subjected him to some pretty heavy consequences. (2Sam 12:9-14)

77) 1Cor 7:12 . . If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

78) 1Cor 7:13 . . And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

Christians are of course strictly forbidden to marry non-Christians (1Cor 7:39, 2Cor 6:14-18). But even if a potential spouse is a Christian, you may want to think twice before tying the knot if the other does not believe the same things and/or the same way. Marriage is hard enough to keep intact without introducing religious division into the home right out of the gate.

It's very common for marriages to start off okay, and then later on to become religiously divided; like for instance when one of the spouses gets converted at a Luis Palau crusade. As long as the situation doesn't cause intolerable friction in the home, the couple should stay together.

1Cor 7:14-15 . . For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

According to Matt 19:9, divorce and remarriage are holy only if one of the spouses has been unfaithful. So; if a believing spouse divorces their unbelieving spouse for any other reason than infidelity, and remarries; then as far as God is concerned, any children produced in the believing spouse's second marriage will be illegitimate.

Q: Why isn't spousal abuse cause for a believing spouse to divorce an unbelieving spouse? After all, according to 1Cor 7:15, God has called believers to peace.

A: Because according to Matt 19:9 the only acceptable cause for divorce is infidelity. Other than that, the only acceptable alternative is separation. (1Cor 7:10-11)

It isn't unusual to encounter unbelievers employing clever sophistry to circumvent Matt 19:9. I highly recommend letting their smooth words go in one ear and out the other because there is no peace to be obtained by disobedience.

John 16:33 . .These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation

One of the "things I have spoken to you" is Matt 19:9. If believing spouses heed Jesus' instructions, they will have peace. If not; then I think they should pretty much expect to be out on their own.

1John 1:5-6 . . And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

79) 1Cor 7:15 . . But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

In other words: If an unbelieving spouse initiates divorce for whatever reason; then the believing spouse is in the clear to remarry; but of course not until the unbeliever starts sleeping with somebody.

80) 1Cor 7:17 . . But as God hath distributed to every man, as The Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.

It isn't necessary to go out on the mission field in order to serve Christ faithfully and effectively. Even just being a good citizen counts.

81) 1Cor 7:18a . . Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised.

It was of course impossible to literally reverse circumcision in Paul's day. However, there did exist a procedure to ceremoniously reverse it. (cf. 1Maccabees 1:15)

82) 1Cor 7:18b . . Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

The circumcision in question is ritual circumcision; specifically the initiation rite into Judaism. Paul's advice is very practical because if a believer undergoes Judaism's circumcision rite, they will obligate God to come down on themselves with the curses listed at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69 for noncompliance with the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. All one has to do is research the last 3,500 years of the Jews' history, up to and including the Holocaust, to see for themselves that God is serious about those curses.

A fair question one might ask is: If 1Cor 7:18b is a hard and fast rule, then why did Paul circumcise Timothy at Acts 16:1-3? Answer: that wasn't done to initiate Timothy into Judaism, but rather, so that the Jews wouldn't make an issue of Paul associating with a Gentile who had no respect for their religion and thereby self-render themselves tone deaf to the Gospel. This very same problem exists today among people who fixate on the King James English translation of the Bible. They will not listen to a teacher, not even a Spirit-empowered teacher, unless he quotes from the KJV.

83) 1Cor 7:20 . . Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.

In other words: Bloom where you're planted. There's no need to quit your job and sell your home in order to run off to God knows where and start an orphanage in some third world country. God can make use of you right where you are.

I once knew a really good Catholic man who felt guilty never going out as a missionary to a foreign land to help people less fortunate than himself. Well, I assured him that somebody has to stay back here in the States and hold down a job in order to earn the money needed to finance missions already in place.

The ratio of soldiers in the rear compared to the ones at the front is something like six to one. It takes a massive support base to keep guys on the line out there facing off with the bad guys; all the way from workers in state-side factories manufacturing war materiel, to the sailors, soldiers, and airmen moving men and materiel over land and seas, to the doctors and nurses staffing MASH facilities, to the guys and girls driving supply trucks to the front. We can't all be in the doo-doo. Somebody has to be in the rear with the gear.

So take comfort in knowing that if you're involved in the effort, then you're a part of the effort; and will be rewarded accordingly. (cf. 1Sam 30:1-25 and Matt 20:1-16)

84) 1Cor 7:21-22 . . Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in The Lord while a slave is The Lord's freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave.

The Greek word for "slave" includes both voluntary and involuntary service.

In Paul's day, not all slaves were lifelong slaves. Some were what's called indentured slaves; which Webster's defines as a person who signs and is bound by a contract to work for another for a specified time especially in return for payment of travel expenses and maintenance. Indentured slaves were also in-service in lieu of settling their debts with money, or some other considerations; e.g. property and/or goods and possessions. In "civilized" countries like the USA people simply file for bankruptcy but that was not an avenue of escape for most people in Paul's day.

85) 1Cor 7:23 . .You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

In other words; selling your body is one thing, while selling your soul is quite another; Christ has first dibs on that so don't even think abou it.

The point is; whether bonded or free, every believer is indentured to The Lord. But it is his wish that believers remain free rather than make a habit of indenturing themselves to humans primarily because a free man's labor earns him wages: a portion of which can be donated towards The Lord's work; while a slave earns no wages to donate towards The Lord's work. Also; a free man is at liberty to move about and make himself useful to The Lord, while a slave's movements are pretty much limited to their human master's jurisdiction.

86) 1Cor 7:24 . . Brethren, let each one remain with God in the situation in which he was called.

In other words: if you're a slave; don't become a runaway slave. Whether indentured or permanent; bite the bullet: stay put and make the best of it; always keeping in mind that whether slave or free you answer to a higher master.

87) 1Cor 7:25 . . Now about virgins: I have no command from The Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by The Lord's mercy is trustworthy.

Paul was an inspired man. Though in this instance he doesn't claim to speak as God and/or speak for God; it's to be expected a man like him would know The Lord's mind on certain issues without having to ask. That's a pretty advanced degree of spirituality when somebody's thoughts are God's thoughts; especially when they are 110% confident that their spiritual opinions are accepted in Heaven. Too many Christians are wishy-washy. They have an annoying habit of pontificating their opinions as the God's truth; when in reality they haven't the confidence to stand up and announce themselves infallible.

88) 1Cor 7:26-28 . . Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.

The "present crisis" relates to circumstances that make it difficult and/or inadvisable to settle down and raise a family, e.g. Jer 16:1-4 and Matt 24:19-22. However, if people are already engaged, Paul says not to break it off, and quick to point out that marriage, overall, doesn't displease God; after all, men and women were intended to be couples rather than solo mariners.

Gen 2:18 . . Yhvh God said: It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help suitable for him.

Gen 2:20-24 . . So Yhvh God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, He took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Yhvh God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said : This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called "woman" for she was taken out of man. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

The Hebrew word for "help" means aid, as in first aid rather than aide as in aide-de-camp. Aid is what we lend to people in need; like the victims of accidents, economic distress, earthquakes, and floods. So then, Eve was created primarily to be Adam's crutch.

I've heard it said that a man without a woman is only half a man. No, it's far more correct to say he's handicapped. He may not know he's handicapped, but when the right girl finally comes along, he'll wonder how he ever got along without her. In other words, procreation is only secondary in marriage. The primary purpose of marriage is companionship; viz: if your spouse isn't your best friend, then your marriage is doomed to be rocky.

I caught a few moments of a televised interview with Valerie Bertinelli one day and the moderator was asking questions about her 24-year marriage to Eddy Van Halen. Valerie said it was okay at first until one day, after the magic wore off, she realized that she and her husband were never really friends. Valerie was your typical star-struck scatter-brain when she married Eddy, and too late she realized marrying a man while under the heady influence of hero-worship is a terrible mistake.

89) 1Cor 7:36 . . If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married.

We have a saying in America that goes like this: So and so married what's her name and made an honest woman out of her. Well, most grown-ups know what that means without me having to say so. The point is: if a Christian man and his Christian significant other find themselves on the brink of exceeding the limits of propriety, it's time to tie the knot.

And then too there's the so-called biological clock that stalks women during their productive years. It's cruel, unthinkable, and utterly selfish and psychopathic of a man to keep a girl on hold during those years if and when he's fully aware that she's longing to settle down and have a family of her own. A man who does that has no clue what the word "honor" means.

90) 1Cor 7:39 . . A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must be in The Lord.

When people sound-bite a verse like that one out of context, they run the risk of coming to some very false conclusions; and one of those is that Christians can never, under any circumstances, divorce and remarry while their spouses are alive. Well, obviously they can, under certain circumstances (e.g. Matt 5:32). However, a Christian ex-wife has to be careful not to re-marry outside her faith as that would be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. (cf. 2Cor 6:14-18)

91) 1Cor 8:4-13 . .We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

. . . But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

. . . Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

1Cor 8:4-13 can be said to be a codicil to the 14th chapter of Romans.

Putting this into a modern context is pretty simple; e.g. here in Oregon we have tavern-style restaurants; viz: a section of the tavern is a bar, and another section is dedicated to dining. The bar sections usually host State-sanctioned gambling machines too and typically off-limits to minors.

Suppose you have Christian friends who seriously feel it's wrong to dine in a tavern-style restaurant because of the alcohol and the gambling. Though you yourself might be comfortable in your own mind that there is no sin in dining at taverns, your friends are not so sure. So if you were to take them to a tavern, they would be committing sin in compromising their conscience; and you would be committing sin by knowingly leading them in a situation that causes them to make that compromise.

Rom 15:1-2 . .We may know that these things make no difference, but we cannot just go ahead and do them to please ourselves. We must be considerate of the doubts and fears of those who think these things are wrong. We should please others. If we do what helps them, we will build them up in The Lord.

A pertinent example is Hooters; where the waitresses are cute buxom girls filled out in all the right places clothed in short shorts, and clingy tops; so that the situation is a double whammy of babes and alcohol. Supposing your Christian buddy seriously feels it's wrong to dine at Hooters? Then you would be wrong in taking him there for a burger even if you were convinced in your own mind there is nothing wrong with Hooters because you would be leading your Christian buddy into a situation that causes him to feel guilty.

The Bible says that Christians should accommodate others to their edification (edification means to build someone up as opposed to tearing them down), Well, when we please ourselves to their detriment; that's being selfish. Some guys feel that cute buxom girls and yummy gams are a God-send, while other guys regard them as the Devil in disguise. The correct route here is to accommodate the more sensitive conscience.

This is one of those situations that requires that each individual to be convinced in their own mind whether Hooters is wrong for themselves or okay for themselves (Rom 14:5) and God forbid that Christians should criticize a fellow Christian who frequents Hooters because this is indeed one of those gray areas; and just who are you to legislate the rules for others in gray areas (Rom 14:3-4). It's unfortunate that there are some very imperious, domineering Christians out and about who see nothing wrong with bullying others to compromise their convictions just so long as they get their own way and everybody conforms to their way of thinking.

For example: it is my own personal feelings that Luke 22:35-36 makes it okay for Christ's followers to own guns for self defense. Well; a rather opinionated Christian in one of my Sunday school classes sneered at me for feeling that way and proceeded to pontificate that Jesus' instructions were only "preparatory" for the upcoming confrontation with Judas and the crowd that came with him that night to arrest Jesus. Okay; that's fine with me if that's the way he feels about it; but sneering at me for feeling my way about it was really out of line.

92) 1Cor 9:7-12 . .Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses : Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. Is it about oxen that God is concerned?

. . . Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in anticipation of sharing in the harvest. If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?

Detractors sometimes find it necessary to criticize the Bible's Jesus for free-loading and imposing on people's hospitality wherever he went. But when you think about it; The Lord earned every so-called free meal he ever got. His miracles healed and/or cured thousands of people in Israel during a time when health care and medical technology were all but non-existent. His countrymen owed The Lord a huge national debt of gratitude; just as the Hmong family next door owed Walt Kowalski a debt of gratitude for protecting them from gang-bangers in Clint Eastwood's movie Gran Torino.

93) 1Cor 9:13-14 . . Don't you know that those who work in the Temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? In the same way, The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

The above refers to the Levitical priests. They aren't allowed to own land where they could provide themselves sustenance by working their own farms. It's God's decree that a number of the sacrifices and offerings that the priesthood's constituents bring are dedicated to not just sustaining a friendly association with God, but also to nourishing the priests. (e.g. Ex 29:31-32, Lev 2:1-10, Lev 7:11-15)

NOTE: The Watch Tower Society— a.k.a. Jehovah's Witnesses —posits that Jesus' crucified body is still dead and squirreled away somewhere on earth in a condition, and in a location, known only to God because to revive it and take it to heaven would constitute removing a sacrifice from the altar; a rather spurious theory seeing as how the ultimate sacrifices— Yom Kippur's, which Christ's sacrifice supersedes —aren't offered on an altar; no, their remains are supposed to be hauled off and incinerated somewhere outside city limits. (cf. Lev 16:27, Heb 8:3-5, Heb 13:10-12)

Anyway: pitch in and help provide your church's full-time pastor with a decent standard of living. This is not optional; no, it's something that "The Lord has commanded."

94) 1Cor 9:24-25 . . Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

The "prize" that Olympians won back in those days wasn't much. No medals: just a simple garland for the head consisting of a wreath made with wild olive leaves from a sacred tree near the temple of Zeus at Olympia. In time the leaves dried out and crumbled.

The important thing to note in 1Cor 9:24-25 is that the prize isn't a pass into the kingdom of God. No; the prize is an award rather than a wage; and there is more than one kind; e.g. Php 4:1, 1Tim 4:8, Jas 1:12, 1Pet 5:4, Rev 14:14.

95) 1Cor 10:6-7 . . Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to play.

The Bible doesn't provide much detail at Ex 32:1-6 as to what went on in camp while Moses was up on the mountain. But one thing we know for sure is that there was a golden calf; and the "eat and drink" to which the apostle refers was a ritual where people sacrificed to the calf and afterwards consumed the sacrifice as an act of communion with it; sort of like an old fashioned Passover.

"to play" in Ex 32:6 is from the Hebrew word tsachaq (tsaw-khak') which means: merriment; viz: pagan songs and dances dedicated to the calf; a kind of worship revelry; the likes of which in the ancient city of Corinth no doubt culminated in a drunken orgy. Apparently some of the religions in the Roman world were pretty wild and sensual, and as a result; very popular. In comparison; Christianity was dull and boring. Those pagan religions really gave you your money's worth, while Christianity has very little to offer in the way of entertainment, except maybe for Catholicism. David Letterman says they put on a pretty good show.

96) 1Cor 10:8 . . Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

That event took place at Num 25:1-9. The fornication he's talking about wasn't believers with believers. It was believers with unbelievers. In other words; Christ's followers need to avoid getting romantic with unbelievers lest unbelievers lead his followers down the primrose path into something shameful and very unbecoming.

97) 1Cor 10:9 . .We should not test The Lord, as some of them did— and were slain by snakes.

That event took place at Num 21:5-9. It's noteworthy due to the fact that Christ appropriated it at John 3:14-18 to illustrate the necessity, and the efficacy, of his crucifixion. But anyway, the lesson is that it's not a good idea to complain about the quality of God's providence.

98) 1Cor 10:10 . . And do not grumble, as some of them did— and were killed by the destroying angel.

That incident took place at Num 14:2-38. The "grumbling" grew into a pretty large anti-God protest. Anon it became violent and within a hair's breadth of culminating in Joshua's and Caleb's assassination. That was a very grave moment in Israel's history.

Anyway, Yhvh's people were of the opinion that God had led them out of the frying pan into the fire by assigning them an impossible task; one that would result in everybody's deaths had they attempted to obey His orders; viz: a suicide mission. Joshua and Caleb tried to convince them it wasn't a suicide mission; and that with God on their side; they would not only survive; but easily succeed. They refused to listen; and thus became resolutely insubordinate.

Now; the obvious fatal error in their thinking was simply a lack of belief that God would assist them to conquer the land. In point of fact, they didn't believe God was able to in spite of all His amazing displays of supernatural power in rescuing them from Egyptian slavery; and that's what made their unbelief all the more inexcusable. Most of us today have never seen God in action; we've only heard tell of His exploits; but Yhvh's people were eyewitnesses.

Putting this in a modern context:

New Christians are often led to believe that accepting Christ will improve their mood and remedy their circumstances. Well; apparently somebody neglected to tell them that they would have to fight for it, i.e. in order to obtain the fruit of the Spirit spoken of at Gal 5:22-23 they would have to knuckle down and live a life pleasing to both God and Christ; viz: comply with their wishes. (John 14:23, John 15:11)

I'm sure you can see how easy it would be for a new Christian to become disillusioned, disappointed, and somewhat bitter at being seemingly tricked into something that turns out to be too good to be true— then they get to complaining that a number of Christ's commandments are too difficult. Nobody can keep them so what's the point in even trying.

Well; that complaint is reasonable, I'll admit; but it's also insubordinate; and worse; it's contagious. If they want to give up trying to comply with The Lord's wishes; fine; but they really ought to keep their discontent with his wishes to themselves in order to avoid kindling large-scale rebellion and discontent in the ranks; which will quite effectively end up thwarting their church's work for The Lord.

99) 1Cor 10:11-12 . .These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!

Their substandard walk with God didn't bring about the return of Yhvh's people to Egypt; no, "once saved always saved" applied to them as well as to us. However, their conduct did cause them to "fall" that is: fall out of favor with God.

That's a risk even for born-again Christians whose destiny in heaven is a sure thing; iron clad and set in concrete. The good shepherd's sheep will never again be in danger of eternal suffering; but they are always in danger of losing out on the benefits of providence due to conduct unbecoming.

100) 1Cor 10:14 . .Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.

There's that word "flee" again; which in many of its applications in the New Testament means to run for your life. So you can see that idolatry can have very serious consequences.

There's more to idolatry than just bowing and/or praying to sculpture and art. It's possible to be an idolater without even being especially religious.

Col 3:5 . . Don't be greedy for the good things of this life; for that is idolatry.

Greed then, is one of the characteristics of an idolater. In other words: idolatry is a personality issue rather than only a religious issue. Even atheists qualify as idolaters if they have a greedy personality; e.g. Wall Street's investment bankers and commodities traders. Their "golden calf" is profit.

It's okay to want the good things in life: after all; God has given us richly all things to enjoy (1Tim 6:17). It's the insatiable desire for good things that makes people idolaters; in other words avarice; which is never content; no, avarice always wants more, more, more, more, and then some. Nowhere is that more rampant than corporate greed which will walk over the dead bodies of its employees if that's what it takes for a better quarterly report.

I'm not exaggerating. Made-in-China goods merchant WALMART used to take out life insurance policies on its employees— not for the families; but for itself. In other words; it named itself the beneficiary on those employee life insurance policies so that when one died, they recovered some of the wages and benefits they had to pay the employee while they were alive and working for them.

The policies are called COLI (corporate-owned life insurance) policies. But they're better known in the insurance industry as "dead peasant" and/or "dead janitor" policies. WALMART isn't the only big business doing this sort of thing. An attorney for the Hartford Life Insurance Co. estimates that one-fourth of the Fortune 500 companies have them, which cover the lives of between 5 million and 6 million workers. COLI policies seem to me a ghoulish way to make a buck; but then it should surprise no one that idolaters have no sensibilities to speak of seeing as how they revere not God, but rather the power, the prestige, and the comforts of wealth.

101) 1Cor 10:24 . . Nobody should seek only his own good, but also the good of others.

That's not saying it's wrong to seek your own good; just wrong to seek it at the expense of others' good; viz: selfish ambition might be an acceptable modus operandi in professional sports and big business; but it's totally unacceptable in one's association with other believers. And there is nothing new in that; I mean after all; it's just another way of expressing the so-called golden rule; which states: "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. (Matt 7:12)

It's interesting to note that if people weren't so hard-hearted; there would be no need for laws that force people to do right by their fellow man.

I once took a city slicker friend out shooting in the Oregon woods with a cowboy style six-gun. In typical wrangler fashion he yelled yahoo and fired the six-gun up into the air before I could stop him. It then became necessary for me to remind my friend that bullets eventually come down and can quite possibly hit someone off in the distance; maybe even a child. Drive-by shooters know this, but they're typically psychopathic so it's to be expected they don't care where their bullets go. However, I should hope no Christian reading this is psychopathic; but will think about their words and actions before those words and actions impact an innocent person's life in a way that's not easily repaired.

102) 1Cor 10:25-26 . . Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for the earth is The Lord's, and everything in it.

A percentage of the meat sold by vendors in Corinth was either blessed by, or dedicated to, heathen deities. Paul instructed his friends to avoid asking which was which since it doesn't matter to the Bible's God if the foods Christians ingest are religiously tainted without their knowledge: and since it's The Lord's earth, then if He says it's okay; then it's okay.

103) 1Cor 10:27 . . If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.

In other words, this is one of those Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell situations.

104) 1Cor 10:27-29 . . But if anyone says to you "This has been offered in sacrifice" then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake— the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours.

If you go ahead and dine in someone's home where you know in advance the food is either dedicated to, or blessed by, a heathen deity, or that when they say grace around the table it will be to a god other than your own, or to a sacred personage that you do not accept; then your host is quite possibly going to come to the conclusion that his religion is just as valid as yours if you don't decline.

This is not saying that Catholics and Protestants can't eat together and/or pray together around the table; nor is it saying that Christians and Jews can't eat together and pray together around the table: not when Catholics, Protestants, and Jews are all praying to the same God: just from a different perspective.

I will say this though: if you are a Catholic host, and your guests are either Protestants or Jews; then for God's sake DO NOT pray around the table to The Lord's mom and/or to one of Catholicism's many patron saints. That is extremely offensive to Protestants and Jews, and totally unnecessary anyway when you can just as easily say grace to the one God common to all of you.

105) 1Cor 10:31 . . So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

One of the meanings of the Greek word for glory is "honor" which in this case can be defined as doing something out of respect for someone admired.

106) 1Cor 10:32-33 . . Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Some Christians have a really nasty propensity of taking advantage of every opportunity to ridicule Judaism's beliefs and practices. God forbid! Don't ever forget the lord and master of Christianity is a Jew, a son of Abraham, Isaac. and Jacob; and takes those kinds of insults very personal. If you don't believe me just feast your glims on Matt 25:31-46 where the sole criteria determining which Tribulation survivors go to hell or enter the kingdom is how they treated The Lord's countrymen.

107) 1Cor 11:1 . . Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

In the Catholic religion, a "saint" is a role model for others. Well, 1Cor 11:1 lists two models for everyone regardless of their denominational affiliation: Mr. Paul, and his master Messiah Jesus.

John 13:14-15 . . If I then, your Master and Mentor, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.

Here in the USA people sort of look down on service occupations; for example housekeepers, sweat-shop seamstresses, yard maintenance, car washers, gas pump attendants, and fast food and farm labor. But yet those are very good examples of the proper attitude. It's ironic that capitalists— by means of predation, exploitation, plunder, and profits —strive to be on top; while Christians are supposed to be striving to marginalize all that the capitalist values and be down low.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 5:5 . . Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

108) 1Cor 11:3 . . But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

It never seems to fail that somebody will actually attempt to refute Paul's statement by quoting another of his own statements.

"You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:26-28)

(chuckle) Paul pitted against Paul; the clash of the titans, only in this event, both titans are one and the same titan. Yes, both genders are one in Christ; but then Jesus and God are one also, yet there is a hierarchy in the Divinity because "the head of Christ is God"

109) 1Cor 11:4-5a . . Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disrespects his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disrespects her head

That's a little tricky seeing as how the word "head" can refer to somebody's skull, and it can also refer to somebody's superior. So to clarify this a bit, I'm going to revise some of the above a little.

"Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disrespects Christ. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disrespects men."

Christian women aren't required to cover their hair all the time; only whenever they pray and/or prophesy; especially in the presence of men.

No doubt this chafes a number of women whose heart's ambition and joy is to demean men and assert their independence, but if they don't want to cover their hair when praying and/or prophesying out of respect for men, then they should at least woman-up and do it out of respect for Christ's feelings about it.

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will comply with what I command.

John 14:21 . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching . . He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

John 15:14 . .You are my friends if you do what I command you.

110) 1Cor 11:5b-6a . . it is just as though her head were shorn. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off;

In other words: if Christian women want to be treated equal to Christian men, then they should go all out to imitate Christian men by first of all getting themselves a man's haircut, and leave their hair short all the time like a masculine lesbian, viz; a dyke.

111) 1Cor 11:6b . . If it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head.

Okay then: if Christian women would be somewhat embarrassed to show up in church looking like a man and/or LGBT, then then they have only one other option; and that's to show up in church looking like women. But in order to retain their femininity whenever they pray and/or prophesy; they are simply going to have to cover their hair with something or heaven will have no choice but to assume the worst about them.

112) 1Cor 11:7-10 . . A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a token of authority on her head.

The koiné Greek word translated "angels" is aggelos (ang'-el-os) which is a nondescript word that just simply indicates a messenger. In other words; aggelos doesn't always indicate a celestial being but can just as easily indicate a human being, for example Matt 11:10, Luke 7:24, Luke 9:52, and Jas 2:25.

The identity of the "angels" in 1Cor 11:10 is probably best understood as not the holy angels of Heaven, but rather the angels of Rev 2:1-3:22; which aren't spirit beings, but rather, human beings; in other words: church supervisors; viz: the pastors. In other words: a woman praying and/or prophesying with her hair exposed is an arrogant way of telling the pastor that he's no better than she is; which of course displays an insolent attitude towards the hierarchy that humanity's maker established in the very beginning.

Though the wording of Gen 1:26-28 suggests that women were created in the image of God; they actually weren't; no, according to Paul, they were created in Adam's image. Where Adam was created directly from dust in the image and glory of God; Eve wasn't, no she was constructed not from dust, but from the organic tissues of an already existing man (Gen 2:21-13). So then, since Eve was, organically, Adam's first child, then all women, including The Lord's mom, are subordinate to men due to the principle of primogeniture.

So then, contrary to feminist humanism's rabid protests, women will never be equal to men in the natural order of things. No, they will always be daddy's little girl. Ergo: women aren't from Venus after all; no, they're actually the progeny of Mars.

(Television talk show host Kelly Ripa once made the remark that guys should always pay the restaurant tab for their dates because women are the ones who have the babies. Well, my question is, who gave birth to Eve? Since women owe their existence to Adam, then maybe they should be the ones paying the tab.)

Anyway, what this boils down to is that hair coverings are not costumes or uniforms; but rather: an indication that the covered Christian woman accepts that she owes her existence to a man, and that women were not created to be served by men, nor were they created equal to men, nor were they directly created in the image of God as men were; but they were created from a man, after the man, in the image of a man, and for the express purpose of supporting a man. (Gen 2:18-23, Gen 3:16)

When a Christian woman covers her hair with something while praying and/or prophesying, she's declaring her subordination not just to men, but even more importantly to Christ. This is probably a mite difficult for American women since their culture encourages them to compete with men, to stand up to men, and assert not only their equality with men; but also their independence. Subordination to men really chafes some women, even those piously wearing the Christian label; and really puts their professed devotion to Christ to the acid test. American Christianettes who accept their place in the creator's scheme of things are pretty rare.

POSIT: You've taken those passages out of their appropriate historical context. In no way are Christian women of today required to cover their hair in church; nor are Christian women subordinate to Christian men in any way. That was a rule given to a particular people in a particular place in a particular time. And what about Paul's comment: "But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God" (1Cor 11:16)

RESPONSE: The "custom" he's talking about was the practice of heathen women praying and/or prophesying with their hair exposed in some of the Roman world's pagan religions. And in point of fact, some of those heathen women were actually cult prostitutes.

Basically what Paul is saying is that if the pastors of the Christian churches in Corinth were to allow their Christian women to pray and/or prophecy in church with their hair exposed, everybody would have to assume they were immoral. And not only that, but none of the rest of the Christian churches in the Roman empire were allowing their women to pray and/or prophecy with exposed hair, and none of the synagogues were allowing their women to do it either.

So; had the Christian churches at Corinth allowed their women to pray and/or prophecy with their hair exposed; they would have not only been the exceptions; but also the odd balls and people would quite naturally begin to wonder what was the matter with supposed followers of Christ acting like that.

1Cor 11:13 . . Judge in yourselves: is it proper that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

The answer of course is NO; it isn't proper— it's insolent, it's inappropriate, it's disrespectful; and it's conduct unbecoming for women professing to be followers of Christ and worshippers of mankind's creator. Christian women ought not to be telling the world they're equal to men, or that they're cult prostitutes; no; they ought to be telling the world that because of Christ; they're different; and their hair coverings— whether a simple scarf or a stylish hijab —have a pretty amazing story of their own to tell that goes all the way back to the opening chapters of Genesis.

113) 1Cor 11:27-30 . .Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of The Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of The Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of The Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.

The koiné Greek word for "unworthy" is anaxios (an-ax-ee'-oce) which means: irreverently; which Webster's defines as: lacking proper respect or seriousness. In other words "sacrilege" which is gross irreverence toward a hallowed person, place, or thing.

"sinning against the body and blood of The Lord" is very similar language to 1Cor 6:18, which states: The immoral man sins against his own body. There, as here, we're not talking about suicide and/or homicide; were talking about degradation; which Webster's defines as the act of treating someone or something poorly and without respect.

People sin during The Lord's supper when they fail to take it seriously that the elements represent his body— not his glorified body; but the one that was crucified; viz; his disfigured, bloodied body.

Matt 27:45 . . From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land.

What do you suppose went on during those three hours of thick darkness around the cross? Well; I'll tell you what went on because I'm not authorized to keep it a secret. The things that the Romans did to Christ were merely a warm up for the main event. When the darkness came; that's when God stepped into the ring; and the gloves came off. When the darkness lifted, people saw a Jesus so beaten and bloodied beyond recognition that they could scarcely tell he was the same man.

Isa 52:14 . .There were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man, and his form marred beyond human likeness.

Isa 53:10 . . But The Lord was pleased to crush him, putting him to grief

I have to wonder how ever a father could do something like that to his own son; especially do that for a world that wouldn't even appreciate that the injuries God inflicted upon His own son were for their benefit.

"A man ought to examine himself" is an imperative to make double sure that one's heart is in the right place when consuming the elements. Some people gulp them down as if they were nothing more than a snack of hot wings and cold beer during a Super Bowl game instead of a sacred reminder of what God's son endured to ransom their souls from a second death in the lake of brimstone depicted at Rev 20:11-15. Those people have to expect that a very insulted father is going to come down on them for that— maybe not with sickness, maybe not with death, and maybe not right away; but eventually with something; and really, who can blame Him?

NOTE: Observance of the so-called Lord's Supper isn't a mandatory requirement; so if you are a bit nervous about going about it in the wrong way, then don't take chances; play it safe and refrain.

114) 1Cor 11:33-34 . . My brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

The command doesn't frown upon things like church banquets, men's' breakfasts, ladies' luncheons, and/or potlucks per se. What it's criticizing is a lack of congregational unity. Here's comments leading up to that verse.

1Cor 11:17-22 . . Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you.

. . .Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat The Lord's Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

Their lack of love and unity during church functions was nothing short of hypocrisy seeing as how The Lord's supper speaks of sacrifice rather than selfishness, elitism, and hoarding. In other words; seeing as how Christians all share in Christ's blood equally, then everyone should be given equal treatment at church regardless of age, gender, skin color, intelligence, income level, nationality, what side of the tracks they live on, or social status. None of Christ's body parts are untouchable; nor are any of them expendable. God forbid that there should be some sort of caste system in a gathering of people for whom Christ suffered and died equally for each one. That just wouldn't be right: it would be an insult to the principles underlying The Lord's supper.

Matt 26:27 . . Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying: Drink from it, all of you.

If Christians are all drinking from the same cup, then they should all be, at the very least, eating the same food and not be overly concerned about where they sit and/or who they sit next to and/or who they're seen with. And they should also make double sure that everyone gets enough to eat and that no one gets left out and nobody gets more than his fair share. And they should all sit down together at the same time. I just hate it when people don't wait for each other. Some get back to the table and start in gulping, slurping, clattering, and clanking while others from their table are still in line.

And they should also take into consideration the possibility that a number of their congregation are in assistance programs like TANF and SNAP. In other words; don't just bring enough food from home for yourself; but, if you're able, bring enough for those among you who can't bring anything at all. And for God's sake, don't bring a side dish of gourmet food along just for yourself. Leave your special gourmet stuff at home. There's just no excuse for flaunting your "sophistication" around church thus giving everyone the impression that everyone else's tastes are below yours.

You know; why am I even saying these things? In point of fact, why even did Paul? I mean: shouldn't Christians be eo ipso sources of the milk of human kindness without somebody shaming them and lecturing them into being humane with their fellow believers and taking thought for their feelings? Why must so many Christians be practically strong-armed into being civil with one another?

115) 1Cor 12:24-27 . . God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no schism in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

It's sad that congregations have been reduced to the level of an invasive species in some churches by over-achieving, ambitious types passing themselves off as pastors, deacons, and elders. Churches like that might just as well start selling tickets to their sermons and Sunday schools; and set up red carpets outside so the rank and file might crowd up like the Oscars; where they can ooh and ahh over the Cadillac Escalades and Lexus LX10's driven by their church's managers; admire their fashions, cheer, kiss derrieres, lick shoes, pose for selfies, and ask for autographs.

The rank and file are not expendable commodities; nor do they constitute a fan base. And God forbid that church managers should begin to think of their congregation as just numbers.

I once attended a mega Baptist church in San Diego that hired a hot shot business man that we all had to address as "reverend" to help them increase their membership. Why would they do that when there was 4,000+ members on the books already? Well; I'll tell you why. They had an ambitious building program in mind that couldn't proceed without more money in the church's coffers. Well; Mister HotShot got the church's numbers up, and the managers got their building program. My wife and I bailed. We wanted no part of it.

BTW: After the church's managers got the congregation deeply in debt to finance the building program, they all took new positions elsewhere, including the pastor, leaving his flock holding the bag. That was the most disappointing church I ever attended. It treated the congregation like so many head of livestock: just dollars per pound on the hoof and cheap labor easily exploited.

116) 1Cor 14:1a . . Pursue charity

The koine Greek word for "charity" in that command is agape (ag-ah'-pay) which basically means love, e.g. affection, benevolence, kindness, compassion, tenderness, understanding, devotion, caring, thoughtfulness, and a host of other things like that. Love will cause you to look out for someone's best interests without them even having to ask you to.

The word for "pursue" is dioko (dee-o'-ko) which in many places in the New Testament means persecute. Well; it hardly seems a good idea to persecute love. I think what the command is wanting to get across to Christians is that they're supposed to go after and obtain love with a determined attitude like a hunter, or a stalker, or someone who just won't take "no" for an answer; like the woman who hounded The Lord at Mark 7:25-28.

Love is the heart and soul of all of Christ's commandments. Christians without love haven't even got to first base yet. I think it's very safe to say that without love; one won't be loyal because love and loyalty go together like a horse and a carriage.

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will comply with what I command.

John 14:21 . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching . . He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

You know, when you love somebody, you will do all in your power to make them happy. Nobody has to crack the whip on people who truly love Christ because their affections compel them to please him— not to get on his good side, but just to cheer him up, do him little favors, and make him happy. People with a tin woodman's soul don't understand what I'm talking about because there's a cold piece of steel inside them where a heart is supposed to be. Well; thank God there's a remedy for that; at least for Yhvh's people anyway.

Ezek 36:24-27 . . For I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your land. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean; from all your impurities and from all your abominations will I cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you and bring it about that you will walk in My statutes and you will keep My ordinances and do them.

I think it safe to say that what we're looking at there in Ezekiel is a result of the curious birth about which Jesus spoke at John 3:3-8.

I believe that there are large numbers of rank and file pew warmers trying to follow Christ and keep his commandments without love. They're actually love-starved and love-challenged. It's a handicap; and for them, following Christ and keeping his commandments is a chore rather than a pleasure. I feel for those love-challenged pew warmers because without affection for Christ, it is impossible to please him. It just can't be done. In point of fact; I've no doubt they even resent having to make the effort. To them; Jesus is a nuisance— he's trespassing on their privacy, he's meddling in their affairs, he's asking too much of them, and he's sticking his nose in things that are none of his business.

There's a worst-case scenario depicted in the third chapter of Revelation. The Laodicean church had become so love-challenged that Christ is depicted standing outside the building banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in. Nobody in that church had any feelings for Christ, he was unwelcome there, none of them were his friends— not the pastor, not the deacons, not the choir, not the Sunday school teachers, not the deaconesses, not the ushers, not the elders, and certainly not the rank and file pew warmers. Can you imagine an entire, fully-functioning Christian church off-reservation and estranged from Christ? Well; if there was one, then you just know there's gotta be more.

117) 1Cor 14:1b . . eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.

A true spiritual gift is an ability that comes from God, and there are quite few of them, e.g.

• The word of wisdom (1Cor 12:8)
• The word of knowledge (1Cor 12:8)
• Faith (1Cor 12:9)
• Healing (1Cor 12:9)
• Miracles (1Cor 12:10)
• Prophecy (1Cor 12:10)
• Distinguishing spirits (1Cor 12:10)
• Languages (1Cor 12:10)
• Interpreting languages (1Cor 12:10)
• Helps (1Cor 12:28)
• Administration (1Cor 12:28)
• Ministering (Rom 12:7)
• Teaching (Rom 12:7)
• Encouragement (Rom 12:8)
• Charity (Rom 12:8)
• Leadership (Rom 12:8)
• Compassion (Rom 12:8)
• Evangelism (Eph 4:11)
• Pastoring (Eph 4:11)

The New Testament Greek word for "prophesy" is propheteuo (prof-ate-yoo'-o) which essentially means to speak under inspiration. That definition is very similar to the Old Testament Hebrew word for "prophet" which is nabiy' (naw-bee'). That word describes an inspired person of either gender; e.g. Abel was a prophet (Luke 11:50-51) Abraham was a prophet (Gen 20:7) Moses was a prophet (Deut 18:18) Miriam was a prophet (Ex 15:20) Deborah was a prophet (Judg 4:4) and Huldah was a prophet (2Kgs 22:14).

Inspired people need not be especially educated because the situation of a prophet isn't a career path. For example Amos was just a simple farm boy whom God drafted into service right out of the blue. (Amos 7:14-15)

Prophets are not only given glimpses of the future; but also things to say relative to current events; e.g. the author of the book of Revelation.

118) 1Cor 14:13 . . anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.

If Acts 2:1-12 is the model; then a genuine Spirit-endowed tongue should be an honest to gosh real-life language instead of blabber that's intelligible to no one, not even the speaker.

"Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

. . . Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs— we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"

Mozart composed some amazing music; but had he not arranged the components properly, it would likely grate on people's nerves instead of entertaining them; sort of like when an orchestra verifies the pitch of its instruments just prior to a performance. The discordant din that the orchestra makes is a cacophony instead of a rhapsody.

1Cor 14:7 . . Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?

Modern tonguers typically don't compose anything pleasant to the ear. The words and grammar and syllables coming out of their mouths are a discordant cacophony.

I was informed by a Charismatic friend that he prayed in a tongue because he couldn't express his deepest feelings any other way. Mind you this was an American adult of almost fifty years old; educated in America and spoke, wrote, and read English his entire life. So I asked him how it is that his command of the English language was so poor that he could only express his thoughts in a language that not even he himself could either identify or understand?

1Cor 14:13-15 . . If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.

In other words: there are Christians out and about blabbering incoherently because they choose to, rather than because they have to. With just a simple act of their own will they could easily switch to something intelligible.

Why on earth would a grown-up prefer incoherent blabbering? Isn't that the way small children communicate? Well, i can excuse small children because they're uneducated. But shouldn't supposed educated adults be just a bit more mature with their language and grammar than small children?

1Cor 14:20 . . Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.

The true gift of tongues is very handy for communicating with foreigners. But in our day and age, Charismatics typically don't communicate with anybody, either foreign or domestic . As a result, Charismatics are looked upon with the same disdain as the kooks that hurl themselves on the floor, faint, scream, writhe, shout, and dance with rattlesnakes.

Well; not too many sensible people care to accommodate kooks so if you're serious about influencing people for Christ, I highly recommend sticking to an intelligible language. Here in my country, English is a good choice because most people can understand it without requiring the services of a translator.

And for God's sake, please do not allow yourself to be drawn to participating in a tongues meeting.

1Cor 14:23 . . So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand, or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

119) 1Cor 14:22a . .Tongues are for a sign

The sign isn't intended for the benefit of believers, but rather, for non-believers.

1Cor 14:22b . . not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

The purpose of any tongue is communication.

1Cor 14:9 . . Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.

So if a tonguer is speaking a language nobody understands, they've actually created a barrier to communication; viz: a regression to the tower of Babel; and you can see for yourself how destructive that was to unity (Gen 11:1-9). Webster's defines "regression" as: movement backward to a previous, and especially worse or more primitive state or condition; viz: backwards thinking.

NOTE: Some people object to the use of a Webster's dictionary in Bible study; but this is the very reason why I highly recommend it's use to anyone who utilizes the English language when communicating with English-speaking peoples and/or reading Bibles translated from the ancient languages into English.

Since tongues are for the benefit of unbelievers, then it's de facto that a tongue should be a valid language that the unbeliever himself speaks and understands (cf. Acts 2:4-11). Somebody who exercises a tongue for any other reason has missed the point; and they're behaving like a little kid with a toy.

120) 1Cor 14:20 . . Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

121) 1Cor 14:27-28 . . If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Tonguers are not permitted to speak all at the same time like a mob of howling political protesters. One of the reasons why I get so annoyed by talk shows like Today's Talk with Kathy Lee Gifford and Hoda Kodb, and ABC's The View is because everyone talks all at once like a bunch of undisciplined dogs barking and yapping in a kennel. And the way they interrupt each other back and forth before the other can even finish a sentence is one of the very things we teach children not to do. You'd think those supposedly mature adults grew up without supervision the way they conduct themselves in a conversation.

NO; tonguers are to take turns; speaking one at a time, rather than an entire congregation of tonguers barking and yapping like dogs in a kennel whenever they "feel the Spirit" moving them. And if there's no one to interpret, tonguers are not permitted to speak at all. If Christians the world over followed those rules, it would put the charismatics out of business in less than two weeks.

FYI: These directives regulating the exercise of tongues in a church meeting were written by the apostle Paul— a duly authorized agent speaking on behalf of Christianity's Christ.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

Therefore, when Christians proceed to defy the rules regulating the exercise of tongues, they are in shameful rebellion against the very lord and master of Christianity; and yet, ironically, many tongue violators still have the chutzpah to pass themselves off as The Lord's Spirit-filled followers. However; a follower can be defined as someone who gets in step and/or falls in line rather than going off-reservation to do their own thing.

1Sam 15:23 . . Rebellion is as the sin of divination; and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.

1John 1:6 . . If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth

NOTE: Regarding interpretation: the ability to translate the Bible's ancient languages does not eo ipso qualify the translator to teach the Bible. The ability to teach the Bible is a God-given ability (Eph 4:11) and thus limited to those whom the Spirit himself selects for the purpose. (1Cor 12:11).

122) 1Cor 14:29-31 . .Two, or three, prophets should speak, and everyone else should weigh carefully what is said. If a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.

Though God endows certain Spirit-selected people in church with the gift of prophecy (1Cor 12:4-11) it is not He who endows them with the impulse to talk out of turn. Self control is their responsibility; not His.

1Cor 14:32 . . The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

True prophets channel God's thoughts; viz: they speak as the voice of God. People with opinions don't speak as the voice of God at all; they speak as themselves. True prophets are revelators; people with opinions are little more than a nuisance; and if not kept in check they will quickly derail a Sunday school class and drag it off onto a perpetual bull session that never gets to the bottom of anything.

123) 1Cor 14:34 . . Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak; but must be in submission (i.e. subordinate to the men)

It could be argued, with some merit, that this rule applies only to tongues and prophecy; but Paul goes further with this in a letter to his friend Timothy.

1Tim 2:11-13 . . Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

It's important to note that this is neither a gender issue nor an issue related to competence; it's an issue related to primogeniture-- for that reason, and that reason alone, it is a disgrace for Christian women to lead Christian men in a Christian congregation.

Q: Doesn't 1Cor 11:3-10 permit women to pray and/or prophecy just so long as they cover their hair?

A: There is a gender limit to that privilege. In other words: Christian woman are not allowed to pray and/or prophecy in the hearing of a mixed congregation; i.e. where Christian men are present.

Q: What about women like Anne Graham Lotz. Is she out of order?

A: Though women aren't permitted to speak to a mixed-gender Christian congregation, that doesn't mean they can't speak to a mixed-gender public forum, or in the street; or in a coliseum, or in a stadium, or in a convention center, or on radio and television.

The best place in church for women blessed with the Spirit's gift to teach for Christ is in a women's group; and if a man should invade a women's group led by a Spirit-gifted woman; I think he should be asked to leave.

Q: What about Deborah in the Old Testament book of judges? Exactly how was she an exception to this rule, if indeed she was?

A: Things are quite a bit different now with Christ at the helm, i.e. Christ's association with his church trumps Deborah's association with the Jews. I do not recommend using her, or any other woman in the Bible, as an excuse to defy Christ's edicts in matters pertaining to the governance of Christian congregations.

NOTE: Paul appeals to "the law" as the basis for 1Cor 14:34. Normally when Paul speaks of the law he's referring to the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Exactly where in the covenant women are explicitly forbidden to preach, or teach, or usurp authority over men in matters of religion, I don't know. However, it's quite obvious that the covenant is very sexist, i.e. women are not permitted in either the priesthood or the Sanhedrin.

124) 1Cor 14:35 . . If women have questions, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

What's an inquiring wife to do if her husband is spiritually inept? I'd suggest that women married to spiritually inept Christian men, and/or women married to non-Christian men, and/or unmarried women; seek assistance from one of the ladies in church known to be somewhat of a Bible expert. But for God's sake, don't seek assistance from another woman's husband; even if he's the pastor, or a deacon, or an elder; it's not only disobedient, but that's also how rumors (and other things) get started.

125) 1Cor 14:37-38 . . If anybody thinks he's a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is The Lord's command.

If your Sunday school, or your catechism class, is being chaired by somebody who disagrees with The Lord's commands regulating women's hair, tongues, and/or prophecy; believe me you have a serious problem because it indicates that your leader is only human rather than inspired.

The Opposition                             

We've accumulated a list of common objections to The Lord' wishes regarding Christian women that I'd like to insert at this location before continuing with the numbered items.

OBJECTION:  Were females prohibited from ever saying a word in church; you would have to get rid of every female in your choir or church band.

RESPONSE: I am not at liberty to tailor the application of Christ's wishes to accommodate the internal affairs of modern churches. My only concern is that everything Paul taught reflected The Lord's commandments.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

1Ths 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by The Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by The Lord Jesus.

People who truly love The Lord will comply with the commandments that Paul gave the churches by The Lord Jesus. Those who don't truly love The Lord won't comply.

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will comply with what I command.

John 14:21 . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching . . He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

John 15:14 . .You are my friends if you do as I wish.

OBJECTION: The apostle Paul said Christian women are equal to Christian men: "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal 3:27-28)

RESPONSE: The man who wrote Gal 3:27-28 is the self-same man who penned 1Cor 11:5-10, 1Cor 14:34-35, and 1Tim 2:11-14. I'm always somewhat baffled by people who quote Paul's writings to refute Paul's writings. It's a zero-sum game that they play with scripture.

Paul is speaking of unity in Gal 3:27-28 while in places like 1Cor 14:34 and 1Tim 2:11-13 he's speaking of authority; and in matters of authority, there is eo ipso limited equality because somebody has to be the superior and somebody has to be the subordinate. In Christian congregations; gender-wise, females are the designated subordinates. So then, they have no right to sit on a church board, nor to pastor a church, nor to lead a mixed-gender adult Sunday school class. In point of fact, the women in mixed-gender adult Sunday school classes aren't even so much as permitted to open their mouths and participate in discussions.

OBJECTION: Philip had four daughters endowed with the gift of prophesy. "And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." (Acts 21:9)

RESPONSE: in a healthy congregation, female prophets are the norm rather than the exception (1Cor 11:5)

Let's say Philips daughters really did have a bona fides Holy Spirit gift of prophesy. Female prophets are at liberty to practice their gift in a congregation just so long as they comply with the rules listed below.

1Cor 14:29 . .Two, or three, prophets should speak, and everyone else should weigh carefully what is said.

1Cor 14:30-31 . .If an inspiring thought comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should pause. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.

1Cor 14:33-35 . . As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1Tim 2:11-15 . . Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

Though female prophets obviously aren't allowed to speak in a group containing Christian men; there's always a need for competent women to lead ladies' prayer meetings and Bible studies.

OBJECTION: Rhoda wasn't rebuked for speaking in church. (Acts 12:13-16)

RESPONSE: When Paul, by The Lord's fiat, says women are not allowed to "speak" in church, he's not saying they can't do things like chat, mingle, or answer the phones. His focus is upon tongues, prophesy, pastoring, and teaching.

OBJECTION: What do you mean by The Lord's fiat?

RESPONSE: Paul's instructions for regulating Christian women in Christian congregations were not his invention.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

1Ths 2:13 . .When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God.

1Ths 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by The Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by The Lord Jesus.

When people resist Paul's instructions regulating Christian women in a Christian congregation, they are actually resisting the wishes of the lord and master of New Testament Christianity; plus evidencing the fact that they are neither spiritual nor inspired while doing so and need to come to their senses and stop sinning.

OBJECTION: It's not a church when Christians meet in private homes to discuss the Bible.

RESPONSE: The early church, for the most part, met in private homes prior to Christianity's infatuation with campuses and cathedrals and such; for example :

Col 4:15 . . Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea; and to Nympha and the church in his/her house.

The koiné Greek word for "church" is ekklesia (ek-klay-see'-ah) which just simply means: a calling out; viz: a popular meeting. The venue for the meeting is immaterial; it's the people themselves that constitute a New Testament church.

Matt 18:20 . . For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

OBJECTION: When under the authority of the pastor whom Christ has placed as head over a congregation; women are permitted to speak if the pastor says so. And as for you; my husband shall rule over me and no other man!

RESPONSE: Apparently that objector forgot that The Lord is a man: one that makes some demands upon his sheep.

Luke 14:26 . . If anyone comes to me, and hates not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

It has always fascinated me that there are actually women wearing the Christian label out and about who sincerely believe that pastors and husbands have somehow been endowed with the authority to overrule God.

Ex 20:2-5 . . I am Yhvh your God . . you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself any graven image, nor any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth : you shall not bow yourself down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I Yhvh your God am a jealous God.

Luke 10:27 . . You shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.

1Cor 8:5-7 . . For even if there are so-called gods— whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords") —yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. But not everyone knows this.

OBJECTION: Who are you to tell me when I can speak in my own home!

RESPONSE: If and when a married couple host a mixed-gender home prayer meeting and/or a Bible study; then The Lord's wishes as per1Cor 14:33-35 and 1Tim 2:11-15 dictate when the women speak, pray, prophesy, and/or discuss the Bible. Husbands have no say in this matter. It is the expressed will of Christianity's monarch.

Luke 6:46 . .And why do you call me Lord and Master and do not what I say?

Mal 1:6 . . A son honors his father, and a servant his lord. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a lord, where is the respect due me?— protests Yhvh Almighty.

OBJECTION: Paul's letters were written to specific churches with specific instructions for that one specific church. Not everything he says in his letters applies to every church.

RESPONSE: It was Paul's wishes that those letters be passed around and their information shared; for example:

Col 4:16 . . And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

2Ths 2:15 . .Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word of mouth, or by our epistle.

In particular, the rules regulating Christian women speaking in a Christian congregation aren't limited to a singular congregation; but to congregations plural..

1Cor 14:34 . . Women should remain silent in the churches.

It is The Lord's wishes that all congregations pay attention to what he says in regards to any one particular congregation.

Rev 2:7 . . He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

OBJECTION: Paul identified the woman Junia as an Apostle. "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me." (Rom 16:7)

RESPONSE: Were Junia, or any other female, one of The Lord's apostles, Paul would contradict Paul's own instructions that women are forbidden to either teach or dominate men in the Christian community. So then; to be "of note among the apostles" doesn't indicate equality of rank. It simply means the apostles thought very highly of those two early Christians.

Women active in early churches were what we today might call a Deaconess; which Webster's defines as: a woman chosen to assist in a church's ministry. Deaconesses then, by definition, are neither church managers nor leaders; no, their function is in a support role; like the women who accompanied The Lord.

Mark 15:40-41 . .There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome (who also, when he was in Galilee, followed him and ministered unto him) and many other women which came up with him unto Jerusalem.

And like the woman God assigned to Adam.

Gen 2:18 . . Yhvh God said : It's not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable helper for him.

OBJECTION: Priscilla took part in teaching Apollo. (Acts 18:24-26)

RESPONSE: That's a pretty weak argument since language like "whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly." doesn't eo ipso indicate that that Priscilla took part in the discussion. During Abraham's interview with three men in the 18th chapter of Genesis, the plural pronoun "they" indicates all three men; yet only one of the three did all the talking.

OBJECTION: Have you considered Deborah of the Old Testament book of Judges? Surely you can't deny that The Lord put her in charge of men— in charge of a whole nation in fact.

RESPONSE: Deborah was a Jewess whose religion consisted of Israel's covenanted law. Christianity's commandments are not for her religion; on the contrary; they are for a very narrow cross-section of the human race identified as the people to whom Paul and his contemporaries penned their letters; in other words, Christianity's commandments are for Christians. However, the mandate below applied to her too.

Gen 3:16 . .To the woman God said : he shall rule over you.

So how did God justify putting a woman in charge during the time of the Judges? Well; in point of fact; it was an act of desperation because Yhvh's people at the time were so decadent that there was not a man to take Deborah's place. Even Israel's top military general was a sissy too scared to go to war without Deborah by his side. (shrug) Barak wasn't really a commander at all; he was a momma's boy. God pity any nation or church whose leaders are strong women leading momma's boys around by the nose; because you know what that's saying; right? Yes, it's saying that nation, and/or that church, is so decadent that there aren't men that are man enough to take their place.

Isa 3:12 . . As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

Judging by the context; the "women" in that verse no doubt refers to men lacking the virtue and moral fiber of real men.

NOTE: The preceding list of objections are but a sampling of the ways in which rebellious women, passing themselves off as Christ's followers, are stretching the limits of their imaginations to find loopholes and circumvent the God-given rules regulating the conduct of Christian women in a Christian congregation; the meanwhile risking potentially disastrous consequences.

Matt 7:21 . . Not everyone who says to me "Lord, Master" will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only they who do the will of my Father who is in heaven.

I just have to wonder how many of those assertive, presumptuous, confrontational women actually have the chutzpah to pray the below:

Matt 6:9-10 . . Our Father in heaven, holy be your name : your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

The Father's will? yeah sure; more like their own will be done.

126) 1Cor 14:38 . . But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

In other words: if somebody in a Christian church refuses to accept Paul as a duly authorized agent speaking for Christ; then Christians are under orders to ignore that person's opinion of themselves that they're a prophet and/or spiritually gifted.

127) 1Cor 14:39-40 . .Therefore, brethren, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.

That rule applies only to people who actually have the gifts of tongues and/or prophesy because according to Rom 12:4-6, 1Cor 12:10, 1Cor 12:29-30, and 1Cor 14:5 not everyone does.

128) 1Cor 15:34 . . Come to your senses and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don't have the knowledge of God.

That directive is in connection with some of the Corinthians' insistence that dead people stay dead and never recover.

1Cor 15:12 . . Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Apparently some of the Corinthians couldn't see that Christ's resurrection is evidence that it's possible for dead people to recover. A measure of that blindness exists even today among people who insist that Christ's natural body didn't recover. They insist he rose from the dead with a so-called glorified body; and some even insist that Christ returned from the dead as a spirit being rather than a human being, and others postulate that his post crucifixion appearances were done as an angel disguised in a fully functioning human avatar. But if any of that were true, then Christ's prediction at John 2:19-22 would be easily invalidated.

According to 1Cor 15:51-53 and 1Thes 4:13-17, the natural remains of Christ's followers will first revive as they were and then be transformed into something very wonderful during a flight up to meet The Lord in the air.

There is really no sensible reason to not believe that Christ's dead body underwent the very same process, i.e. his crucified remains were first returned to life just as he predicted; and then forty days later, at some point during the flight to heaven as per Acts 1:9, his natural human body was transformed into an immortal, supernatural human body; the likes of which is on display at Matt 17:1-2; where it's depicted extremely incandescent.

129) 1Cor 15:56-58 . .The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is The Commandments; but thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing discourage you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of The Lord, because you know that your labor in The Lord isn't futile.

Though Mother Teresa put up a very convincing public image during those five decades of missionary activity in India, her private letters to spiritual counselors reveal that the poor woman was never really sure that Christianity's God even exists; and if He did exist, she was plagued with dread that He didn't particularly like her and might be quite disposed to condemn her. Though she never said so in public, there were was hardly ever a time when she didn't truly wonder if God wanted her in India in the first place.

Had Teresa's personality not been the D-9 Caterpillar tractor that it was, I think the celebrity nun would have given up in India after only one year. But as anyone who knew her will vouch, Teresa wasn't a quitter; no, she was a little bulldog, a survivor; and poverty was her dream venue. However, bull-doggedness is not what Paul is talking about in 1Cor 15:56-58; no, quite the contrary.

Just imagine if somebody had it in the back of their mind that they might be giving The Lord unreserved quantities of their time, talent, and resources in a thankless endeavor only to end up being condemned anyway as per Matt 7:22-23. Well, Paul assured the Corinthians that Christ's work on the cross, and in the grave, guaranteed that wouldn't happen to them— their resurrection to a better life was in the bag; therefore they needn't fear that in the end their work for The Lord will be judged all for nothing.

Ironically; and at the time of his writing, the Corinthians were not all that spiritual. (1Cor 3:1-3). However; though their work in The Lord was being performed by Christians whose spirituality was basically substandard, they were still useful; which tells me that it isn't necessary to be a super saint before one can begin serving Christ. Just serve him as best you can and pay no attention to your location on the curve: keeping in mind that reliability counts more than quantity. Webster's defines reliable as "dependable".

130) 1Cor 16:1-3 . . Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.

The "God's people" to whom Paul referred were Jewish Christians whose church was located at Jerusalem. They were having it pretty rough in the early days of Christianity.

Lest somebody should get the wrong idea, that wasn't a tithe. Christ left it up to each individual in Corinth the amount that they felt like donating towards the Jews' relief effort.

2Cor 9:7 . . Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Tithes are not gifts; no, tithes are demanded rather than donated out of the goodness of one's heart. I don't give the government my taxes; no, they take them from me by force of law; viz: I pay taxes against my will, both reluctantly and under compulsion; and I have absolutely no voice in the parentage of my income that they take. When it comes to taxes: I am not cheerful; no, I am grudging. Well; that is not the Christian way of giving. Christians have a faith that works by love, not by law. (Gal 5:6)

It would be interesting to take a poll among America's churches just to see, out of curiosity, how many have a program for assisting Jewish Christians over in the modern State of Israel.

131) 1Cor 16:13a . . Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be men of courage; be strong.

Churches are like vegetable gardens in that they have to be nurtured or weeds will take over and the soil will become fallow. And it's not just weeds. Without irrigation, vegetables wither; while there's a pretty good number of weeds out there that can get along without irrigation just fine. Well; the sad reality is: there are Christian churches being led by pastors, deacons, and elders who are just as arid as a Texas vernal pool in August.

2Pet 2:15-17 . .Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the mute burro speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

Those kinds of church officers are in it only for the power, the career, the prestige, and the income. Ergo: like Balaam, they're just prophets for profit— and the sheep? bait fish for the barracudas.

The koiné Greek word for "men of courage" is andrizomai which means: to act manly; which Webster's defines as: (1) having qualities generally associated with a man; viz: strength and virility, and (2) appropriate in character to a man.

Nowadays, what with the destructive influences of feminism abroad, it's difficult to distinguish anymore between womanliness and manliness. Sexism has been made a sin in feminist cultures; which Webster's defines as: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on gender. Well, too bad for the feminists because the God of Christianity is very sexist: take Him or leave Him; as is.

The koiné word for "strong" is krataioo (krat-ah-yo'-o) which means, in common colloquialisms, to man up, step up to the plate, and/or take the bull by the horns. A man doesn't have to stand tall to be a man, but he does have to stand up; and if perchance you're a man reading this: don't you dare ever let women define manliness for you; no, let Christ define it for you. If you permit women to define manliness, they will manipulate you; and your self respect (if you get my drift) will be in their purses. Tom-boys have purses too so be especially wary around competitive she-males. They love nothing better than to whittle a man's self respect down to that of a squeaking little gerbil.

You know, if only Adam had been a man of courage and strength in his relationship with Eve, the world wouldn't be in the mess it's in today.

132) 1Cor 16:14 . . Do everything in love.

In order to protect their church from ecumenism, church managers simply have to be somewhat firm, assertive, and confrontational when the situation calls for it. If one isn't sure how to do this in love, then they might take some time to study 1Cor 13:1-8 with a commentary and/or read How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

133) 1 Cor 16:15-18 . .You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

Paul and his associates depended pretty heavily upon the hospitality of local believers for accommodations and daily necessities. Believers do well to follow the examples of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus either by opening their homes to missionaries or by funding their stay in a motel and providing them with a rental car. You can usually arrange this through your local church. Believers who do so "deserve recognition." That doesn’t mean they should demand recognition, but there is coming a day of evaluation for believers when they'll be fully compensated. (1Cor 3:10-15, 1Cor 4:5, and Rev 22:12)

134) 1Cor 16:20 . . Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Kissing was a common form of greeting in the old world; and still is in the Middle East and certain parts of Europe; but here in America— a super-sized racial/cultural/ethnic amalgam of customs from all over the known universe —it's wise to dispense your kisses with discretion. Some of us don't even like to be hugged, let alone bussed; and if you should perchance try to make physical contact with an autistic Christian, you're liable to cause them a panic attack; so go easy on the touchy-feely stuff.

The people to whom Paul referred as "one another" are one's fellow born-again Christians. We're not required to kiss unbelievers. You can be courteous to them, yes (cf. Matt 5:47) but reserve especially warm greetings for your siblings; viz: those who've undergone a second birth as per John 1:12-13 and John 3:3-8, and thus share your adoption into God's home as per Rom 8:15-17.

135) 1Cor 16:22 . . If anyone love not The Lord, let him be accursed.

There's nothing new in that command. It's been on the books every since the days of Moses.

Deut 6:4-5 . . Hear, O Israel: Yhvh our God, Yhvh is one. Love Yhvh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Failure to love Yhvh in those days was curse-worthy.

Deut 27:26 . . Cursed is the man who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.

One's love of Yhvh is evidenced by loyalty.

Deut 6:6 . .These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.

That hasn't changed.

John 14:15 . . If you love me, you will comply with what I command.

John 14:21 . .Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

John 14:23-24 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching . . He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

Heaven is sometimes depicted as a mountain with many roads around the base heading towards the top. Well; Christianity accepts only one of those roads reaches the top; viz: the rest are dead-ends, loops, terraces, circles, and cul-de-sacs, i.e. no outlets and nowhere to go except back down the mountain.

Now picture hell as a huge pit, deep and wide, with many roads around the rim heading towards the bottom. Well; Christianity accepts that every one of those roads reaches the bottom; viz: there are no dead ends, no loops, no terraces, no circles, and no cul-de-sacs. In other words; people can get to hell any number of ways; but only one way back to the tree of life

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God." (Rev 2:7)

Does a Muslim have to be a terrorist to be cursed? No; they only have to be a loyal follower of Muḥammad ibn `Abdullāh instead of a loyal follower of Jesus Christ; same goes for Atheists, Nonreligious, Baha'i, Buddhists, Chinese Universalists, Confucianists, Jains, Kabbalah mystics, Shintoists, Spiritists, Taoists, Zoroastrians, Jews, Sikhs, and Hindus— they're all on a road to hell: they're cursed and there is nothing to be gained in arguing about it.

How many people am I talking about? Well, as of mid 2014, worldwide there were:

50,000 Scientologists
1,500,000 Mormons
8,200,000 Jehovah's Witnesses
7,794,000 Baha'i
515,951,000 Buddhists
451,292,000 Chinese Folk Religionists
8,424,000 Confucianists
974,597,000 Hindus
5,567,000 Jains
14,142,000 Jews
1,673,590 Muslims
2,819,000 Shintoists
24,918,000 Sikhs
14,183,000 Spiritists
8,660,000 Taoists
196,000 Zoroastrians
828,594,000 Nonreligious
692,111,000 Agnostics and
136,483,000 Atheists.

The grand total of just those categories alone is 5,369,071,000

Those numbers represent roughly 72% of the population of the world as of 2017, and that's not even counting all the Christians who are Christians in name only; e.g. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. It's my guess that the tares easily outnumber the wheat.

Matt 7:22-23 . . Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Master; have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, you that work iniquity.

136) 2Cor 2:5-10 . . The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.

The cause for which Paul wrote that section was a guy in the Corinthian church sleeping with his stepmother (1Cor 5:1). Paul had commanded the Corinthians to not only hold the man's feet to the fire, but also to ostracize him.

Some time had passed since then, and the man was apparently regretting his actions, and broken off the illicit relationship with his kin, so it was time to let him back into the group. No doubt the humiliation of it all had a tremendous impact upon his attitude— probably upon the congregation's too because at first their attitude wasn't all that good about it either. (cf. 1Cor 5:2)

Here in America scolding and ostracizing a church member would probably just make them indignant rather than repentant.

137) 2Cor 2:9-11 . . If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven— if there was anything to forgive —I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

One of the opposition's tactics is to create disunity in a church. Sure enough when that happens— as when one portion of the congregation believes in judging and ostracizing while the other doesn't —people start taking sides and the church will end up divided into cliques and factions. According to the lord and master of New Testament Christianity, a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Paul mentioned that his extension of forgiveness was "in the sight of Christ". Judging by the churlish behavior of a good many online Christians, I've come to the conclusion a lot of them are unconcerned that everything they compose for forums and message boards be in the sight of Christ.

138) 2Cor 5:20-21 . . We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.

There's two different aspects to reconciliation. One is a criminal justice kind of reconciliation (Rom 5:6-11, Rom 6:3-11, 1John 2:2) and the other is a fellowship kind of reconciliation. (Gen 4:1-7, Gen 5:22-24, Gen 6:9, Gen 17:1, 1John 1:3-7)

For example, a man and his wife may not be speaking to each other; and sleeping in separate beds; but they're still married: they're just not getting along; in other words, they're out of fellowship with one another. It's God's wishes that His own walk with Him in fellowship while they're waiting for their departure; and the Corinthians weren't doing very well at it.

In order to restore diplomatic relations between themselves and their Father above, that congregation had to knuckle down and deal with sin in their midst in accordance with their master's wishes rather than their own. Compare Josh 7:2-26 where Yhvh's people couldn't win anymore battles until they first dealt with a sin in their midst.

It's ironic that a fully functioning Christian church like the one at Corinth was in need of reconciliation with God. How many Christian churches are just like that today? They pride themselves in being Spirit-filled congregations, yet their congregational attitude is completely out of touch with Christ. Yes, Christian congregations are oftentimes out of touch and need to come to their senses and reconnect or else they risk becoming like the church at Laodicea where the central figure of Christianity is depicted outside the building banging on the door trying to get someone's attention to let him in. (cf. Rev 3:14-22)

139) 2Cor 6:1-2 . . As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain; for He says: In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

Some of Christ's followers are sort of on hold as they look forward to God's patronage and providence after they die; but Paul says you can lay hold of those benefits now. In other words: the cross not only qualifies people for Heaven, but also for obtaining God's earthly patronage and providence. However, that earthly aspect of the plan of salvation comes with a string attached— obedience.

John 15:1-7 . . No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Nobody really wants to be a stick of ol' dried up yard debris, but that's what happens when Christ's followers go off-reservation and follow their own noses instead of walking in the light.

John 14:23-24 . . When somebody loves me, they will obey my teaching; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

In other words: according to the Father's testimony as an expert witness in all matters pertaining to fellowship: a Christian not obeying Christ has disassociated themselves from both Christ and his Father (2John 1:9). But they aren't lost; they're just lapsed.

140) 2Cor 6:14-18 . . Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?

. . . for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith The Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith The Lord Almighty.

That commandment clearly forbids intermarriage between Christians and non-Christians; e.g. Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky. Failure to comply with those instructions is not only grossly disobedient, but it's unwise and can have tragic results; for example:

Gen 6:1-2 . .When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose.

If we assume that the "sons of God" were believers and the "daughters of men" were not; then it would appear that back in Noah's day, believing men threw caution to the wind and built themselves harems of unbelieving women. What happened to those believing men when it came time for the Flood? Well, for one thing; they had lost their piety.

Gen 7:1 . .The Lord then said to Noah: Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.

None of the other sons of God in that day were righteous; hence they weren't invited aboard the ark. All of those men— whose wives were chosen based solely upon sex appeal sans any spiritual prudence whatsoever —perished in the Flood right along with their infidel wives and children. Let that be a lesson to you.

1Cor 10:11-12 . . Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

It is definitively not wise to make yourself one flesh with an unbelieving spouse. It's a proven tactic for watering down, compromising, and even extinguishing Bible beliefs and practices (e.g. Num 31:7-16). Solomon found that out the hard way; but too late. (1Kgs 11 & 12)

In a mixed relationship— one a born-again Christian and the other not —the born-again Christian will be forced to compromise their convictions in order to keep the relationship going. Compromise in the area of spiritual values is not a good thing for born-again Christians who wish to be Christ's followers. It will quickly cool their love for Christ and quite possibly result in The Lord calling them on the carpet for being tepid; which Webster's defines as lacking in passion, force, or zest, and/or marked by an absence of enthusiasm or conviction.

Most people want love, romance, companionship, and a family of their own. According to Gen 1:27-28, and Gen 2:21-24, those things are Divine blessings, they're perfectly normal, nothing to be ashamed of; nor is there anything intrinsically naughty or sinful about them. But a believer has to be self controlled, and not permit their base nature to make them lose their heads and ruin their chances for happiness.

Adult dating is where it starts. And adult dating isn't harmless. It leads to other things, and it leads into commitments and promises that are not easily reneged. The end result of adult dating is ultimately marriage and children (quite possibly illegitimate children). Whose religion will prevail in the marriage? Whose religion will be taught to the children? The believer's or the infidel's? And ultimately, who will get the children's souls— God, or the Devil?

Some couples try to accommodate each other's beliefs by teaching their children the concepts of both ideologies. For example, a marriage between a Buddhist and a Christian. The children are given a choice between the Dharma and the Bible; and between Siddhartha Gautama and Christ. That may seem like a good idea, but it only creates confusion in the minds of the children. Why are mom and dad not in agreement? Whose ideology is right? Can both be right? Does it mean that one ideology is just as good as the next?

Teaching their children more than one system of beliefs and practices is out of the question for born-again, Bible-believing Christians because The Lord and Master of Christianity demands their exclusive devotion. It's always been that way; even for God's chosen people.

Deut 6:4-5 . . Hear, O Israel: Yhvh our God: Yhvh is one. Love Yhvh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.

Mark 12:28-31 . . One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that he had answered them well; asked him: What commandment is the foremost of all? Jesus answered: The foremost is "Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."

I think there's a pretty good number of insubordinate Christians out there who are essentially heathens and don't know it. (1Sam 15:22-23)

So far I've only talked about marriage; but 2Cor 6:14-18 also targets ecumenism; which can be roughly defined as an ideology that believes everyone's a Christian if they say so. Okay, fine, everyone's a Christian if they say so; but do all believe in intelligent design? No. Is everyone in the same denomination? No. Do all believe that Christ's crucified body revived? No. Do all believe in a literal hell? No. Do all believe in something called once saved always saved, a.k.a. eternal security? No. So be careful out there. Those are potentially serious missteps.

141) 2Cor 7:1 . . Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of deference to God's wishes.

The promises in view are those at 2Cor 6:14-18. Compliance with God's wishes is the way to go to obtain them.

Q: If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? (Gen 4:7)

A: You will be excepted. (John 14:21-24, 1John 1:6-7))

142) 2Cor 8:11-15 . . If the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written : He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.

That directive is an excellent passage for debunking the so-called Faith Promise; which is a popular scheme for tricking church members to pledge money they don't have while expecting God's providence will somehow provide it. That is not The Lord's wish. By means of Paul, The Lord says to give out of what you already have, not what you hope to have later; I mean: it is not His wish to copy ENRON's mark-to-market accounting practices and/or futures trading with pork bellies and soy beans.

143) 2Cor 9:7 . . Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

I have yet to meet a pressured giver who was cheerful about it. What Paul is saying there is that The Lord would prefer you kept your money than give it out of reluctance and/or resentment. And that goes for anything else on your list of charities. If your heart isn't in it, scratch it off your list.

Church managers can be very creative when it comes to laying guilt trips on their congregations in order to con money out of them. One morning at a church I was attending some years ago, a flyer was distributed to all the Sunday school classes that pointed to the Israelites in Exodus 35:4-36:7 as an example of pious generosity.

But what the flyer didn't point out is that those very same Israelites worshipped a golden calf and indulged in revelry while Moses was up on a mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, and also the very ones who refused to invade the promised land when God told them to; resulting in forty wasted years marching around in that awful Arabian desert till everybody over the age of twenty from the original crowd was dead except for just two guys: Joshua and Caleb.

Oh, and one of my very favorite scams is called Saving And Serving. In other words; the congregation is talked into loaning their church the money for an ambitious building program and promised to be paid monthly mortgage payments from the church's budget; which of course is funded by the congregation too. (chuckle) If that isn't the most pious of all Ponzi schemes ever!

144) 2Cor 10:7 . . If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should reconsider that we belong to Christ just as much as he.

It's amazing that any Christian's ego would be so inflated as to think themselves holier than an apostle, however, there are some people out there with a pretty bad case of conceit who are up to it. I can just hear the sneer in their voices as they think to themselves: "What's so special about him? He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else." That's the voice of one of the most destructive human passions there is: malicious rivalry. It got Abel murdered (1John 3:12) and it got Christ crucified. (Matt 27:15-18)

Mark 12:13 . . And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words.

Just look at that! The Lord's enemies actually stalked him, hoping he would slip up and say something they could use against him. Who were the "they" in that passage? None other than Judaism's religious elite.

Mark 11:17-18 . . And as he taught them, he said: Is it not written: My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it 'a den of robbers. The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

You know what kind of animal stalks? A predator. So people infected with malicious rivalry are nothing in the world but human wildlife: feral beasts.

145) 2Cor 10:10-11 . . For some say: His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing. Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.

Next to gossip, I'd have to say that rumors are another very effective method for influencing how others think. As Hitler's propaganda minister once said: "Repeat a lie often enough, and in time the masses will accept it as true". Sad but true: word of mouth oftentimes enjoys more acceptance than the facts of a matter.

The people who made those comments about Paul apparently never met him for themselves. They were just going by hear-say and their own imagination. That's not love; no, that's malice. Real love is protective; it doesn't seek opportunities to hurt someone's feelings, undermine their credibility, malign their reputation, find fault, nor denigrate them solely to satisfy a blood lust for bringing people down.

146) 2Cor 10:17-18 . . But, let him who boasts, boast in The Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom The Lord commends.

It's unfortunate that some of Christ's followers have reached the point where the only Bible teachers they will listen to anymore are those with a résumé of accolades like doctorate degrees, books published, and positions held; as if any of that validates their usefulness to God's purposes. One thing we should always remember is that just because somebody is published, or that somebody was educated in a seminary, doesn't make them eo ipso right.

Christians relying solely upon accredited sources are setting themselves up for disappointment since it is God's Spirit who selects and empowers His own teachers rather than colleges and seminaries.

1 Cor 12:1 . . But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually: as He wills.

And sometimes the Spirit selects people to speak for God who seemingly have no business speaking for Him at all; for example:

Amos 7:14-15 . .Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah: I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: And Yhvh took me as I followed the flock, and He said unto me: Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.

Christ was a blue collar craftsman; a carpenter; which was a trade considered at the level of uneducated society in his day.

Mark 6:3 . . Is not this the carpenter . . . and they were indignant.

John 7:14-15 . . Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying; How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?

Peter was a commercial fishermen; another profession that required no education.

Acts 4:13 . . Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated ignorant men, they marveled

It has been my experience that people who rely solely upon accredited sources do so because they have no choice; in other words; they're forced to because they lack the anointing described below.

1John 2:26-27 . . The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.

Christians need instruction; in fact instructors are a gift from Christ to his church (Eph 4:11-15). But instruction alone cannot condition a Christian's intuition to recognize the truth when they encounter it; viz: instruction alone cannot give a Christian a feel for the truth, nor can instruction alone break down a Christian's resistance to the truth. That's where the anointing comes into play. It assists Christians to recognize and to accept the truth when they encounter it; and assists them to sort it all out and make it click.

What that means is; The Lord's sheep should be able to recognize the truth and accept it whether it's coming from an accredited Th.D. or a common rank and file pew warmer; because the only person who can be safely trusted to know the right interpretation anyway is God's Spirit.

1Cor 2:14 . .The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are absurd to him : neither can he comprehend them, because they are spiritually discerned.

What that's saying is that even if a non-anointed Christian should run across a genuine Spirit-endowed teacher, they won't listen to him, no, they will reject the Spirit-endowed teacher. They have to reject him because the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are absurd to him : neither can he comprehend them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I'm not saying there's something wrong with divinity school. I'm just saying that graduation from one doesn't eo ipso recommend somebody's spiritual competence since it's the Spirit's sovereign prerogative to select and empower the men whom God wishes to represent His son and that's why it isn't all that unusual for a man with his collar on backwards to have his head on backwards too.

147) 2Cor 13:5 . . Examine yourselves, whether you're in the faith; test your own selves. Don't you know of your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you're all reprobates?

Peers and contemporaries tend to grade themselves on a curve, utilizing proprietary standards. I don't think that's what Christ is recommending because it's quite possible to be judged a saint by your peers and/or contemporaries while judged a devil by God (cf. 1Cor 4:3-5). But actually, Paul isn't speaking of conduct; no, he's speaking of something far more crucial— Christ's residency inside one's physical body. His absence is literally a life-threatening condition.

Rom 8:9 . . If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

The spirit of Christ is also labeled "the spirit of His son" for example :

Gal 4:6 . . And because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of His son into your hearts calling out: Abba! Father.

Abba isn't a name; it's an Aramaic filial vocative. What that means is; when I'm out in the garage working alone and my son and his mother are in the kitchen talking about me, the noun "dad" merely indicates my son's father. But when my son wants to get his father's attention, and he calls out: Dad! Where are you? then "dad" becomes a filial vocative.

What that boils down to is this: the spirit of His son always compels Christ's sheep to call out to a father, never to a mother and the reason for that is actually quite simple. God's son never prays to his mother; but always to his Father; hence those inhabited by the spirit of the Father's son will do the very same thing.

That, by the way, is a pretty good litmus test. If somebody is comfortable praying to The Lord's mom or to a patron saint, it's a pretty good indicator that the spirit of the Father's son is not in them because His son would never do something like that; nor would he ever encourage others to.

148) Gal 1:8-9 . . But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

The koiné Greek word for "accursed" in that passage is anathema (an-ath'-em-ah) which means to ban and/or excommunicate.

Schools sometimes ban certain books from their libraries because they feel that the language and/or the subject matter is inappropriate. Some may feel that when schools do that they become a dictatorial throwback to China's cultural revolution back in the last century. Be that as it may, bans are sometimes for the greater good; e.g. smoking in movie theaters, hunting and/or plinking within city limits, and bringing drugs and alcohol to rock concerts.

I think that the people whom Paul targeted with Gal 1:8-9 are speakers and/or Sunday school teachers that do not hold to the gospel precisely as the apostles taught it. For example: it's amazing the number of "Christians" out there who sincerely believe that some of Paul's teachings are not for today. Those are the very ones you really have to be on guard against. If it is not in your power to get rid of them, then at the very least refuse to lend them your ears. That's only common sense.

Below is an interesting application of anathema.

1Cor 12:3 . . I make known to you that no one speaking by God's spirit calls Jesus accursed.

I don't know if Paul meant it to be or not; but that is a subtle reference to Judaism's refusal to accept Jesus as its long-awaited Messiah. Consequently he's officially banned from Judaism's company; which is just the reverse of Christianity's ready association with him.

149) Gal 5:1 . . Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Let's say you tell a lie. Well; if you're covenanted with God to be truthful as per Lev 19:11; then the lie will shoot yourself in the foot because the covenant is contractual; viz: it obligates God to come down on you with a curse for breach of contract (Deut 27:26, Jer 11:3-4). He has to levy a curse against you or He himself would be in breach of contract.

Maybe you're a bit unreliable at honoring your commitments; but I assure that God is 110% reliable at honoring His. A cursory review of the last 3,500 years of Jewish history easily bears that out.

To view a menu of curse options available to God; just feast your glims on Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69. I do not think it wise to yoke oneself to those curses.

FYI: There's basically two categories of commands in the Bible: binding commands and non-binding commands.

The commands in the Old Testament are binding commands; viz: Yhvh's people are under contract with God to comply with them; and He is under contract with His people to enforce them; which means that when Yhvh's people breach the contract by disobeying one of its commands; God is obligated to slam them with any and/or all of the covenanted curses listed at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69.

Christ's commands, on the other hand, are non-binding commands; viz: Christians are not under contract with God to comply with them; nor is He under contract with Christians to enforce them. So when a Christian disobeys one of Christ's commands; God is under no obligation to slam them with a curse. They might get slammed with discipline; but never with a curse.

Rom 8:1 . .There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

150) Gal 5:2-3 . . Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

The circumcision spoken of in the passage isn't the common medical kind, but the ritual kind where a man converts to Judaism; which of course obligates him to comply with the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; and not just part of the covenant, but all of it from start to finish.

151) Gal 5:13a . . You, my brethren, were called to be free. But do not use your liberty to indulge the base nature;

Christians are sometimes accused of practicing a religion that gives people a license to steal, so to speak. Well; that is very true to a certain extent because Christians do have immunity from any, and all, of the curses that Israel's covenant imposes on scofflaws as per Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69. However, God prefers that Christians not do whatever they want; but instead do whatever He wants, In other words: Christ's followers have liberty to steal but they don't have a license to steal. (Rom 6:1-13)

152) Gal 5:16 . . I say then: walk in The Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the base nature.

Some years ago, in a boatyard where I was employed on Shelter Island in San Diego, I was listening to a young Christian boast of his dedication to Christ. So I asked him: What about the command to walk in the Spirit? How are you doing with that one?

Well, the brash, pleased-with-himself youngster admitted he didn't even know what that meant, let alone how to do it. (chuckle) In regards to "dedication" Mr. Super Saint hadn't even got to first base yet. (judging by the fact that was on a third marriage last time I checked, I'd have to say he never did get the hang of it.)

Anyway, there's nothing mystical about this. Walking in the Spirit is just simply doing what God wants rather than letting your natural impulses and/or your own thinking control your conduct all the time.

For example: item #1 contains these words: "Abstain from food tainted by idols, from promiscuity, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood." When a Christian complies with those instructions; they're walking in the Spirit; but when they're ignoring those instructions and eating whatever they want and sleeping around without regard for God's feelings about it; then they're fulfilling the lusts of the base nature. It's just that simple.

153) Gal 5:25 . . Since we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

154) Gal 5:26 . . Let us not be conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Webster's defines "conceit" as: excessive self-appreciation of one's own worth or virtue.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with having strong core values and/or believing in yourself, but if you should find yourself somewhat indignant and/or resentful when others don't believe in you, or when they think very little of your core values; then watch out because that's a symptom of conceit, and it will hinder you from obeying The Lord's orders in regard to getting along with fellow believers.

The koiné word for "envy" is phthoneo (fthon-eh'-o) which means: hostile toward a rival, or towards someone believed to enjoy an advantage. In other words; we're talking about a competitive spirit— not the good-natured, friendly kind but a malicious kind of competitive spirit that resents others doing better than itself, or more popular than itself, or more recognized than itself, or more admired than itself; viz; it's all about self.

Rivalry is a very destructive passion. It got Abel slain by his own brother, and it got Christ slain by his own people. Rivalry makes otherwise sensible people behave contrary to their own better judgment, and gets them embroiled in oftentimes unnecessary vendettas; e.g. gender rivalry and racial rivalry. Now those two there are very destructive social influences.

If none of the above describes you; consider yourself fortunate.

The koiné word for "provoke" is prokaleomai (prok-al-eh'-om-ahee) which means to challenge; viz: to get in somebody's face in an obnoxious, assertive, confrontational manner; which is a kind of behavior that prevents people from deserving identification with God's kin.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable: for they shall be called the children of God.

155) Gal 6:1a . . Brethren, even if a man is caught in the very act of any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness;

It's very important to keep in mind that "a man" refers to fellow church members rather than the world at large. A big mistake that Christians often make is imposing their beliefs and practices on outsiders; and they're too often not all that gentle about it either.

The restoration process is specifically the turf of "spiritual" Christians. In a church where people are conceited, assertive, confrontational, and embroiled in petty rivalries; the spiritual ones are obviously going to be as scarce as California Condors.

A spirit of gentleness obviously precludes the use of bullying, intimidation, rage. yelling, demeaning comments, brow beating, and such. Those kinds of behaviors aren't gentle, no, they're cruel.

The koiné Greek word for "trespass" is interesting. It can refer to willful misconduct and/or to unintentional misconduct. Seeing as how willful misconduct is dealt with harshly and summarily as per 1Cor 5:1-13 while in this situation gently, then I'd say Gal 6:1 is referring to unintentional misconduct; which doesn't merit a public flogging; but rather a quiet talk; and the more private the better in order to avoid embarrassing the unintentional offender.

156) Gal 6:1b . . each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.

The restorers should keep in mind that nobody's perfect (Jas 3:2). Sooner or later they themselves will slip up and do or say something stupid; so the golden rule is very appropriate in these situations; which reads: "So in everything: do to others what you would have them do to you; for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." (Matt 7:12)

157) Gal 6:1-2 . . Bear one another's burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

That's a tough one because it can be applied any number of ways. I would say (broadly) that if you let someone's burden become your burden (whatever their burden might be) then the other guy won't feel so alone in his bad luck due to no one even caring enough about him to bother understanding what he's going through.

It's human nature to shun people with problems so they don't drag us into a world of inconvenience and/or negativity. But that is not what I call fulfilling the law of Christ; which reads thusly:

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

The love that is defined by "As I have loved you" is a kind of love willing to suffer inconvenience, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, and disgrace for the sake of another.

Christ's love isn't a fault-finding attitude; it's a supportive virtue: it doesn't only feel your pain, it gets involved in your pain. Church can be the loneliest place on earth when nobody cares enough about you to get involved in your pain; but instead would just as soon not know about it. Sadly, there is about as much love for one another in modern churches as there is amongst an audience of strangers at the movies.

158) Gal 6:6 . . And let the one who is taught the word, share all good things with him who teaches.

That directive makes good sea sense in areas that don't have a professional clergy. How is a poor preacher to study and prepare his lesson plan, look after church business, attend board meetings, do counseling, and visit the sick while he's spending most of his time and energy earning a living to support himself and his family and to provide a roof over their heads? Church members who feel that their pastor and his associates are valuable contributors to their spiritual needs should reciprocate and help provide for their material needs. It's only fair.

Americans are so greedy for bail-outs, reparations, stimulus funds, and entitlements that they forget that somebody, somewhere has to cough up the money for all that. Well, nobody in church is entitled to a Spirit-endowed pastor; no, he's a gift from God (1Cor 12:4-11, Eph 4:7-13) and pew warmers would do well to show their appreciation to Christ and their pastor by chipping in to help support the man and his family. A Spirit-endowed pastor isn't a freeloader; no, he's an inspired tradesman who deserves compensation. Would you work for free, without wages and benefits? Then don't expect him to.

159) Gal 6:7-9 . . Don't be deceived into thinking God is a silly old fool. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his flesh, will, of the flesh reap corruption; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let's not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don't lose heart.

The koiné Greek word for "corruption" is phthora (fthor-ah') which means: decay; viz: decadence. Without some means to preserve them, meats and fruits go bad. The very same thing happens to one's character when Christians make a habit of indulging the propensities of their base nature— psychological entropy sets in and they become decadent. In other words: holiness can't be taken for granted; it has to be nurtured or it'll go bad.

Is "the one who sows to please the Spirit, will, from the Spirit, reap eternal life" saying it's possible to earn one's way into heaven? Answer: No; eternal life isn't a location; it's a state of being. What I mean is: eternal life is both a power and a nature. It's what causes some Christians to undergo amazing personality changes as per Rom 8:11.

The life spoken of as per Galatians 6:7-9 and Romans 8:11-13, is the fruit of the Spirit; which consists of the elements of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. (Gal 5:22-23)

Love is from the koiné Greek word agape (ag-ah'-pay) which means: affection and/or benevolence. Love is just the opposite of a hard, insensitive heart.

Joy is from chara (khar-ah') which means: cheerfulness

Peace is from eirene (i-ray'-nay) which means: quietness, calm, at rest, content, satisfied, free from mental and/or emotional conflicts; viz: serene.

Longsuffering is from makrothumia (mak-roth-oo-mee'-ah) which means: stable under pressure, composed, not easily disturbed, a disposition to bear injuries patiently.

Gentleness is from chrestotes (khray-stot'-ace) which means: usefulness (to others), viz: moral excellence (in character or demeanor) e.g. kindness and goodness.

Faith is from pistis (pis'-tis) which means; persuasion; viz: credence, confidence, conviction. A person of faith is also faithful; viz: reliable and trustworthy.

Meekness is an editorial insertion not found in the koiné Greek manuscripts.

Temperance is from egkrateia (eng-krat'-i-ah) which means: self-control; as opposed to incontinence, which Webster's defines as: inability to restrain one's carnal appetites.

Those are all elements of the divine nature; which Christians should, according to Peter, make an effort to experience right now, in this life, before they expire and pass on. (2Pet 1:2-11)

But it's important to note that the fruit of the Spirit is supernatural; in other words: this is something that God alone controls; viz: it's dispensed rather than cultivated. The fruit is compensation for making a conscientious effort to please God. One day in heaven, everyone will experience the fruit of the Spirit; but in order to do so now, Christians have to guard against becoming decadent.

Eph 5:8-9 . . You were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in The Lord : walk as children of light: for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth.

160) Gal 6:10 . . So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Those who are of the "household of faith" are actually kin; viz: siblings; and like they say: charity begins at home.

Some churches have what they call a deacon's fund. What that's for is to assist members who are down and out and/or in dire straits. Contributing to that fund easily qualifies as sowing to the Spirit; and what I would call a "wise" investment.

And don't overlook your church's senior citizens. Some may be getting up in years and finding it difficult to even maintain their own homes and yards anymore. Chores may not seem like much of a holy calling; but pitch in anyway if for no other reason than that it's neighborly.

161) Gal 6:11-16 . .Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For those who are circumcised do not even keep the commandments themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh.

. . . But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor un-circumcision, but a new creation. (cf. Acts 15:5-32)

Some Christians truly believe it's possible to be an adherent of both Judaism and Christianity at the same time (e.g. Messianic Judaism). No, that's against the rules. Judaism must be abandoned if one is to take up Christianity because human sacrifice is illegal under the terms and conditions of the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. If you try to take up both religions at the same time, the one will invalidate the other.

162) Eph 2:11-22 . .Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called uncircumcised by those who call themselves the circumcision— that done in the body by the hands of men —remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ . . Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household

Christians are prone to forget; and one of the things they forget is that their religion didn't begin with the Roman Catholic Church; no, it was founded by Yhvh's people; and the purpose of Gentiles hearing the gospel is not so they can replace the Jews as Yhvh's chosen people, but rather, so they can join them and share in their blessings.

Rom 11:17-18 . . If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, don't boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You don't support the root, but the root supports you.

John 4:22 . . Salvation is of the Jews.

163) Eph 4:1 . . As a prisoner for The Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

What if a believer neglects to live a life worthy of their calling? Will they be lost? No; believers have eternal life, which is a kind of live that cannot die; therefore, it's impervious to the wages of sin.

Rom 6:23 . . The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

People with eternal life have 100% immunity from prosecution.

John 5:24 . . I assure you, those who heed my message, and trust in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.

The reason they will never be condemned for their sins is because Christ was raised again for our justification. (Rom 4:25). The Greek word is dikaiosis (dik-ah'-yo-sis) which essentially means acquittal— a legal term that can be roughly defined as the act of adjudicating that a person is not guilty, i.e. an acquittal is a legal declaration of innocence.

According to 1John 1:8-10 believers in this life are never 100% sinless; but that's no longer a legal issue for Christ's sheep seeing as how according to 2Cor 5:19 God is no longer keeping a record of their sins to hold against them at the great white throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15.

164) Eph 4:2 . . Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, putting up with another in love.

Humility is one of those virtues that people love to talk about; but rarely ever seem to exemplify.

The koiné Greek word is a tongue twister. It's tapeinophrosune (tap-i-nof-ros-oo'-nay) which means: humiliation of mind, viz: modesty; which Webster's defines as: free from conceit and/or vanity. I don't know if you've seen the movie AMADEUS but one thing Tom Hulce's character, Mr. Wolfgang Mozart, sorely lacked was modesty.

Conceit is defined as: excessive appreciation of one's own worth or virtue; viz: a too-high opinion of one's self; i.e. a master-race mentality.

Vanity is defined as: inflated pride in oneself or in one's appearance; viz: narcissism and/or self adoration.

Cosmetics and figure-shaping undergarments don't really qualify as the kind of vanity that Paul is talking about; which is a kind of vanity that goes way beyond just trying to look your best.

Sinful vanity is an ugly creature. It's self aggrandizing. Vanity isn't gentle either, on the contrary, vanity can be quite cruel, thoughtless, competitive, given to rivalry, indifferent, and insensitive; and vanity abhors associating with people whose station in life is decidedly below its own; and God forbid someone below themselves should have the nerve to correct either their conduct or their knowledge.

Patience is a jewel. It's defined as: the power, or capacity, to endure without complaint something difficult or disagreeable. Patient people seem to have a predilection for retaining their composure while under stress. These make the best leaders because they don't get flustered when everything around them is disintegrating into chaos.

Patience is very useful when it comes to "putting up" with certain kinds of rather annoying Christians who seem to have a knack for getting on people's nerves.

During my forty years working as a professional welder, I encountered numerous fellow employees whose skills and performance were excellent; but nobody could work with them. They were just too difficult.

God forbid that Christ's followers should ever be "difficult". It is rather to be desired that they be civil, courteous, thoughtful, sociable, agreeable, helpful, approachable, accommodating, affable, rational, reasonable, temperate, and self-controlled. Christians around whom everybody has to walk on egg shells all the time, are in sore need of a personality make-over if they're to ever have any realistic expectation of associating with God.

165) Eph 4:3 . . Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Peace is what everybody wants but seem thoroughly unable to attain; even in Christian churches, where you'd think that at least there you'd find peace seeing as how it's related to one of Christ's beatitudes.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called sons of God.

166) Eph 4:17-19 . . So I tell you this, and insist on it in The Lord, that you must no longer live as the pagans do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

Sensuality and the life of God are diametrically opposed to each other. The one is carnal and the other is spiritual, the one is human and the other is divine. The one does whatever comes natural, and the other does whatever pleases God.

Paul said that pagans live as they do because of the hardening of their hearts which doesn't always refer to ones emotions— those can be roughly defined as one's bowels (e.g. 2Cor 6:12, Php 1:8, Php 2:1, Col 3:12, et al). Hardening of the heart takes place at the core of one's being; the very attitude of the morrow of their bones; for example the heart of the Pharaoh who opposed Moses and Aaron in the book of Exodus.

Some things are said to be scratch-resistant, fire-resistant, mold-resistance, UV-resistant, rust-resistant, and so forth. Well; a hard heart is God-resistant, really God-resistant. If the highway to Hell could be said paved with sensuality, then the substrate upon which the pavement is laid could be depicted as hard hearts; for example:

Zech 7:11-12 . . But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which The Lord of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from The Lord of hosts.

167) Eph 4:20-24 . .You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

The koiné Greek word for "desire" is epithumia (ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) which means: a longing.

Epithumia by itself doesn't indicate sinful desires. The very same word describes The Lord's personal longing to dine in the company of his apostles just prior to being crucified. (Luke 22:15)

The kind of longings in view are "deceitful" which is from the koiné Greek word apate (ap-at'-ay) and means delusion, which Webster's defines as: a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self, or persons or objects outside the self, that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary— in other words: deceitful longings are delusional longings.

For example the old saying "The grass is greener on the other side" which of course is an unreasonable expectation. Some people sincerely believe that they would be happier if only they had more money. Well; sad to say, money can be guaranteed to buy you neither love nor happiness. Delusional longings get people to chasing after brass rings that may or may not satisfy; viz: sometimes the dream is better than the reality. Meanwhile, their life clock is winding down while they're in pursuit of those brass rings and they are steadily becoming more and more secular and unspiritual. Paul "insists" that Christ's followers avoid squandering their time and energy chasing after delusional longings; viz: keep their feet on the ground and their heads out of the clouds.

168) Eph 4:25-26 . .Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Lying to outsiders is one thing, but lying to your fellow believers is absolutely taboo because it's really no different than lying to Christ because his church is his body. (Eph 1:22-23)

169) Eph 4:26a . . In your anger do not sin.

Anger isn't eo ipso evil. It's how one handles their anger that matters. Anger can be a very useful tool when it's applied by somebody who knows what they're doing. For example :

Mark 3:5 . . And when Jesus had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man: Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

170) Eph 4:26b-27 . . Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the Devil a foothold.

Ol' Smutty Face is no slouch. You just start holding a grudge, or fly off the handle at the inappropriate time, and you and the Devil will be roped together on the Eiger where your common goal won't be the summit of a mountain in Switzerland; but worse: disunity in the body. No fuming!

171) Eph 4:28 . . He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

Isn't is just amazing that early Christian church members were active criminals? Yes, right there in the Ephesian church were thieves. Ironically Paul didn't order the Ephesian Christians to not steal, no, of all things; he ordered them to stop stealing; and not only to stop stealing, but to stop stealing for a living!

You'd think church would be the one place on earth where you'd be safe from crime, but not so. Back in the 1970's I sang bass in the choir of a monster Baptist church in San Diego. The 90+ member choir would meet in a rehearsal room and the ladies would all leave their purses in there when we moved out to be seated in the loft. The room had a very sturdy door and was always securely locked when we left the room.

Well, one Sunday morning when we returned to the room, that Fort Knox door and its lock were smashed open and all the ladies' purses were rifled.

Does cheating on your taxes count as theft? (chuckle) If the Ephesian Christians needed to be told to stop stealing, then modern Christians even more so; don't you think?

172) Eph 4:29 . . Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

"helpful" is from the koiné word oikodome (oy-kod-om-ay') which means: to build up (as opposed to tearing down).

"foul or abusive" is from the koiné Greek word sapros (sap-ros') which means: rotten, i.e. worthless (literally or morally) viz: inappropriate.

Rom 3:13a . .Their throat is an open sepulcher

It's not advisable to open a sepulcher seeing as how the contents are no doubt going to be quite odious and in a state of decay; especially in locales where the remains weren't cremated or treated with formaldehyde.

173) Eph 4:30 . . Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

The koiné Greek word for "grieve" is lupeo (loo-peh'-o) which means: to distress; to make sad. There's a lot being said these days about human rights abuses, while very little to nothing is said about abusing God's Spirit; which is no doubt far more common. (cf. Gen 6:6-7)

Seals aren't always a mark or a tattoo or an impression made in wax with a signet ring. Sometimes a seal is merely a vocal validation. For example:

Matt 3:16-17 . . And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

In other words: God vouched for Jesus' credibility by sending His spirit to mark him out, and also by a solemn pronouncement. By that method; God himself personally sealed Jesus' mission; viz: signed off on it; so to speak.

John 6:27 . . Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life; which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.

Christ's followers are singled out by the Spirit too; but not with a visible bird or an audible voice, but rather; by the Spirit's occupation inside their very bodies. Christ's followers can't see the Spirit for themselves of course; but God can see it and that's really all that matters anyway in the long run.

174) Eph 4:31 . . Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.

It wasn't The Lord's wish that Ephesian Christians avoid all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice; no; on the contrary, he wanted the Ephesians to "get rid" of them.

"bitterness" is from the koiné word pikria (pik-ree'-ah) which means: acrid, poisonous, and/or toxic (literally or figuratively)

Christians like that are nothing in the world but deadly reptiles.

Rom 3:13b . . the poison of asps is under their lips

"rage" is from the koiné word thumos (thoo-mos') which means: passion (as if breathing hard). Passion is just the opposite of reason; and as everyone knows, emotions are incoherent; so it's to be expected an emotional person is not acting rationally. This is a kind of conduct that Paul says brings sorrow to God's Spirit.

"anger" is from the koiné word orge (or-gay') which means: desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by analogy,) violent passion, ire, (by implication: punishment)

People overcome by orge typically want some satisfaction; even to the point of at least your ruin; if not your death.

"harsh words" is from the koiné word krauge (krow-gay') which means: outcry.

Out-crying is what protestors do; in other words: assertive, in-your-face confrontational complaints and/or demands..

"slander" is from the koiné word blasphemia (blas-fay-me'-ah) which means: to vilify. Webster's defines "vilify" as: (1) to lower in estimation or importance, and (2) to utter slanderous and abusive statements against; viz: defame, discredit, and/or denigrate.

A statement need not be false in order to qualify as slander; it need only to be unnecessary; viz: you'll often hear people say: Well, I was only telling the truth. Were they? No, that's a ruse. In reality, they're insensitive; and they don't care who gets hurt by their thoughtless remarks.

The Lord notices the words people say, and he also takes note of the spirit in which they say them.

Matt 12:36 . . But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

"malicious behavior" is from the koiné word kakia (kak-ee'-ah) which means: badness, i.e. (subjectively) depravity, or (actively) malignity, or (passively) trouble:

Malice usually includes the element of "spite" which Webster's defines as: petty ill will, or hatred, with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart. Compare that to the koiné word for "persecute" in the eighth Beatitude which means, literally: to pursue; viz: to stalk, to hound, to harass.

Webster's defines "thwart" as: (1) to run counter to so as to effectively oppose or baffle; viz: contravene, and (2) to oppose successfully; viz: to defeat the hopes or aspirations of; in other words: to deliberately get in someone's way; block, discourage.

Boy I'll tell you, that Ephesian church was as rough-hewn and crude as the old logging community of Stump Town (now Portland) out here in the Oregon of the 1800's. They cussed, they brawled, they bad-mouthed, they held grudges, they were thieves, they were arrogant, they somehow had the idea that Jews were below them, they were immodest, conceited, vain, and impatient, they walked unworthy of their calling, and they were splintered into cliques.

I've heard more than one expositor boast that the Ephesian believers represent Christ's church at its spiritual peak; but I thoroughly disagree. Yes, there were some outstanding individuals, but by and large the congregation's spiritual condition was decadent, deplorable, despicable, and unbecoming.

BTW: Where is the Ephesian church today? It's gone, just like Christ warned it would be.

Rev 2:5 . . Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write . . I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

175) Eph 4:32 . . Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

(chuckle) that resembles a line from one of Bill And Ted's adventure movies: "Be excellent to each other"

Within the context of the letter Paul wrote and sent to the Christians residing in the ancient city of Ephesus; the objects "one another" and "each other" are exclusive; viz: the comments refer only to one's fellow Bible-believing Christians rather than the world at large. So if you're unwilling to be kind and compassionate to outsiders; at least be so with people at church so as to help prevent church from becoming a hostile worship environment.

The koiné Greek word for "kind" is chrestos (khrase-tos') which means: employed; viz: useful.

Chrestos is found in only seven places in the New Testament, and without exception implies being beneficial to others for their own good rather than using people for a selfish purpose of your own.

The word for "compassionate" is eusplagchnos (yoo'-splangkh-nos) which means: sympathetic.

Webster's defines sympathy as: 1) an affinity, association, or relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other, 2) inclination to think or feel alike: emotional or intellectual accord, 3) feeling of loyalty: tendency to favor or support, 4) the act, or capacity, of entering into or sharing the feelings or interests of another, 5) sensitivity, and 6) heart; as in "have a heart".

Eusplagchnos would make a good substitute for a word found in one of The Lord's beatitudes.

Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

"merciful" is from the koiné Greek word eleemon (el-eh-ay'-mone) which means pretty much the same thing as eusplagchnos: compassionate and sympathetic.

In my dad's final months of battling with a terminal cancer back in the late 1960's, he was in a great deal of pain and discomfort which made it difficult for him to sleep. In fact, he couldn't sleep in a bed at all. He sat on a small stool and rested face-down with his forehead on a coffee table in the front room.

One day, as we were driving to our week-end ritual of coffee and donuts on a Saturday morning, he complained that his third wife (call her Rosa) seemed indifferent to his condition. He remarked that he didn't want sympathy, just some understanding. Well, I was both perplexed and amused; and asked him: Dad, how can Rosa possibly appreciate your feelings without being sympathetic?

Dad was stumped. The problem was, he never knew his own father; and his mother abandoned him with relatives when he was just a toddler. My dad was a tough, self reliant old ex-Navy farm boy who himself was thoroughly unable to sympathize with anybody. In his prime, Dad was a brutal man, given to outbursts of rage and purple epithets. He was defensive, combative, thoughtless, and quite cruel to animals too. In my dad's mind, sympathy was for panty-waists not for "real men" but there he was in old age, dying of a terminal cancer; and starving for compassion— something he'd wanted all his life but could never admit.

It used to be that Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts were trained to be useful to others as just simply a matter of good deeds and good citizenship. I don't know, maybe they still are; but I've known lots of churchians who were totally useless to others because they're infected with an ugly spirit of conceit, rivalry, and indifference. Far from being kind and compassionate; those Christians are actually sociopathic and don't even know it.

The word "forgiving" is charizomai (khar-id'-zom-ahee) which essentially means: to grant as a favor; viz: gratuitously, i.e. courtesy.

Webster's defines gratuitous as: 1) given unearned or without recompense, 2) not involving a return benefit or compensation or consideration, 3) costing nothing: free, 4) not called for by the circumstances: unwarranted, 5) complimentary, 6) gratis, and 7) voluntary. In other words; charizomai seeks no reciprocation; it never says "you owe me one"

Sailors are oft heard to say that the sea is very unforgiving: meaning it allows no room for error or weakness. Christians ought not be like the sea. We ought to be the most forgiving people on the planet; and not because we expect others to reciprocate; but just because we enjoy being gratuitous. For some Christians though, courtesy is an effort.

Eph 4:31-32 isn't easy. What we're looking at there is not just good citizenship; no, what we're looking at is something divine in both its nature and its behavior.

Php 2:1-2 . . If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

The koiné Greek word for "bowels" is splagchnon (splangkh'-non) which means: an intestine. Your gut is the very place where you "feel" pity and/or sympathy for others— that is; if you're capable of those kinds of feelings; not everyone is.

176) Eph 5:1 . . Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

One's dad is probably the most important role model a kid can have, that is, if he's a good man; otherwise, he'll just be another bad influence. It's pretty kool when a kid can look at its dad and honestly say, from the bottom of its heart: "Dad; when I grow up, I want to be just like you".

In this case, the imitator isn't a pretender; no, he's not a stand-up comic mimicking a famous celebrity. What we're talking about here is duplication; in other words: God's children shouldn't just act like Him, they should reproduce Him; so that when the angels observe God's child at work or at play, they can say: "Yep; that kid sure takes after his old man; he's a chip off the old block"

177) Eph 5:2 . . Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Christ's love goes way beyond just being friendly and helpful. His is a sacrificial kind of love; in other words: it's protective and supportive at the cost of deep expense to himself.

178) Eph 5:3a . . Among you; there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality

I've lost count of the number of celebrities I've seen on television talk shows shacking up with people and boasting about their babies while in reality those children are illegitimate and nothing to be proud of at all.

When my sister got knocked up by a sailor boyfriend back in the late 1950's at the age of seventeen, our parents whisked her off to an aunt out of state to avoid the disgrace. My sister gave up her baby to adoption right out of the womb and nobody back home was any the wiser; but today, who really cares anymore?

FYI: The illegitimacy rate in the USA during 2013 was almost 41% of total births and it's no longer illegitimacy; now it's labeled Non-marital Childbearing. (chuckle) a rose by any name is still the same flower.

My wife once belonged to a woman's group in a mega-church we attended back in 1980. One of the ladies was married to an assistant pastor whose duties included counseling married couples. She told my wife you wouldn't believe the amount of adultery that goes on among married church members, and she wasn't talking about your average rank and file pew warmers either; no, her husband counseled church members a whole lot higher up than that.

That church was very impressive and had something like 4,000 members on the books. It's budget was over $16,000 per week. (The buying power of $16,000 in 1980 was comparable to the buying power of roughly $46,000 in 2015). To look at that church with its buildings, its property, it's programs, its membership numbers, its music, its missionary outreach, and its whopping budget; you would think it housed the holiest collection of saints on earth. But no; behind the scenes, behind the façade, behind the curtain, behind the pulpit; there was moral decadence. (cf. Matt 23:27-28)

Ecc 3:16 . . And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. (cf. Matt 23:27-28)

179) Eph 5:3b . . nor any kind of impurity, or of greed

It's so easy to assume that naughty fantasies and porn-like behavior are the impurities that Paul is talking about; but any behavior associated with sin is an impurity. So then, maybe you're an usher in church; but are you dishonest? And maybe you sing in the choir, but are you a malicious gossip? And maybe you attend mid-week prayer meetings; but do you deny your children even common courtesy and their fundamental human rights? And maybe you teach Sunday school, but do you go over the speed limit, feed parking meters, J-walk, and drift through stop signs? And maybe you even stand in the pulpit; but do you have a drinking problem?

Webster's defines "greed" as avarice; which is an excessive, or insatiable, desire for wealth or gain. Greed is associated with biblical covetousness. Just simply wanting money isn't sin. It's wanting money simply for the sake of accumulating it that's covetousness. Ben Franklin once said a penny saved, is a penny earned; but to greedy people a penny saved is a penny stockpiled. Were you to ask a greedy person to name the dollar figure that would satisfy them, they would likely respond: "more"

180) Eph 5:4 . . Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

The koiné Greek word for "foolish talk" is morologia (mo-rol-og-ee'-ah) which means silliness; viz: buffoonery.

Webster's defines a buffoon as: 1) a ludicrous figure; viz: a clown, and 2) a gross, and usually ill-educated stupid person; viz: an ignoramus. I think I would put gross high on the list of undesirable buffoon-type behaviors. It's okay for kids to be gross, but thoroughly unbecoming for a mature adult.

The word for "coarse joking" is eutrapelia (yoo-trap-el-ee'-ah) which means witticism in a vulgar sense; viz: ribaldry. Double entendres would probably fall into that category along with suggestive remarks.

The word for "thanksgiving" is eucharistia (yoo-khar-is-tee'-ah) which means: gratitude; viz: grateful language.

You know "thank you" is not a dirty word. Christ's people should never take the attitude that just because somebody is doing their job that they don't deserve recognition.

One of my favorite romantic comedies is "No Reservations" starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart. Prior to filming, Catherine took a job waiting tables to get a feel for working as a waitress. On several occasions, patrons didn't even look up at her nor speak in a cordial tone when they ordered. It struck her as remarkable that the people whom she was serving had absolutely no inclination to even so much as acknowledge her as a fellow human being.

A believer friend of ours once related to my wife that in the restaurant where she worked, a church group would meet once a week. They were noisy, they made a mess, they overstayed, and they ordered practically nothing but coffee and tea. They never left a tip; not one time. Those churchians were just as miserly and ungrateful as cranky old Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Story.

Heb 12:28 . . we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear

It's not uncommon for people to ask: What is grace? Well; you're likely to hear any number of definitions; but we just listed a number of grace's aspects: concern for the welfare of others, generosity, morals, marital fidelity, clean speech, maturity, gratitude, and a sensible attitude towards wealth. Those aspects easily qualify as serving God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

What is reverence and godly fear? Well, a rough-hewn definition is: having a high enough opinion of God's core values to adopt them for your own and put them into practice.

181) Eph 5:5-7 . . For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person— such a man is an idolater —has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with futile words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be numbered among them.

That directive follows Eph 5:3-4; which lists things that are "improper for God's selected people" and "out of place" viz: inappropriate and unbecoming. (cf. Rom 12:1-2)

So then, what if a believer is immoral, impure and/or greedy? Will they be disowned and sent off to Hell? No, of course not. Believers have been emancipated: they have 100% immunity. Hell is for disbelievers, not believers. For beneficiaries of the new covenant, this is actually a non issue.

According to the literal wording of the new covenant as per Jer 31:31-34, God is not keeping a record of sins with which to slam Christ's believing followers

2Cor 5:19 . . God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them

The Greek word in that passage for "imputing" is logizomai (log-id'-zom-ahee) which means to keep an inventory; in other words: an indictment.

At the great white throne event depicted at Rev 20:11-15, the dead's personnel files will be opened. Well, were one of Christ's believing followers to appear before God at that event, their file would contain not one single sin: zero; viz: nothing with which to charge them.

Rom 4:8 . . Blessed is the man whose sin The Lord will never count against him.

John 5:24 . . I assure you; those who listen to my message, and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. (cf. Heb 8:6-12)


Gal 5:13a . .You, my brethren, were called to be free. But do not use your liberty to indulge the base nature

To send a believer to Hell for indulging the base naturel would be inconsistent with the principles of redemption; which is from the koiné Greek words exagorazo (ex-ag-or-ad'-zo) which means: to buy up; and from lutroo (loo-tro'-o) which means: to ransom, and from apolutrosis (ap-ol-oo'-tro-sis) which means: to ransom in full.

Christ sacrificed his life to ransom sinners in full from Hell while they were sinners; not after they first cleaned up their act in order to deserve it.

Rom 5:6-9 . .Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now satisfied justice by his blood, how much more shall we be spared God's wrath through him!

When ransomed sinners indulge the base nature; they put themselves at risk of discipline (1Cor 10:1-15, Heb 12:5-13) an untimely death (1John 5:16) loss of reward (1Cor 3:13-15) and the status of yard debris. (John 15:1-7) but never hell.

That wayward son in Luke 15:11-32 was maybe out of touch with his father, but he never stopped being his father's son. There are some ties that just can't be broken.

Rom 8:15-16 . . For you have not received a spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we call out: Abba! Father. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are God's kin.

Eph 1:4-7 . . He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

1Thss 5:9 . . God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Liberated sinners are already citizens of the kingdom.

Col 1:13 . . He has rescued us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of His dear son.

The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). However, a higher law overrules the wages of sin.

Rom 8:1-2 . .There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death

Rom 8:33 . .Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us.

NOTE: An acquittal can be defined as an adjudication of innocence when there is insufficient evident to convict. An acquittal is much better than a pardon because it leaves nothing on one's record to hold against them at a later date; whereas a pardon does nothing to expunge one's record.

182) Eph 5:8-9 . . For you were once darkness, but now you are light in The Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth)

Some Christians just can't seem to get it through their thick skulls that when somebody pins the Christian label on themselves, they're supposed to act like one.

Matt 5:16 . . Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Rom 6:1-2 . . Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? God forbid! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

2Tim 2:19 . . Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

1John 1:6 . . If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.

183) Eph 5:10 . . Find out what pleases The Lord.

People depending upon their intuition to know what pleases The Lord are of course doomed to failure because the information isn't available like that, no, it's something to "find out" which involves learning by means of books, sermons, lectures, seminars, radio Bible teachers, Sunday school classes, and personal Bible study.

This particular process of discovery has to include researching the Old Testament or one's finding will be incomplete.

Rom 15:4 . . For whatever things were written before were written for our learning

1Cor 10:11 . . Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

184) Eph 5:11-12 . . Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of what the disobedient do in secret.

For an example of this directive, Genesis is mute about the despicable things that the Sodomites lusted to do to the two men lodging at Lot's house. It's as if the author drew a curtain over Sodom and said: This is just too shocking. I'm not going to spell out what the people of Sodom had in mind that night. You will just have to use your imagination.

Jude simply, and concisely, says that they were utterly unchaste; even to the point of having their way with innocent visitors. (Jude 1:7)

I think it's fair to ask just exactly how one might "expose" shameful deeds without at least identifying them and/or describing them to some degree.

The koiné Greek word for "shameful" is aischron (ahee-skhron') which means: indecorum.

Webster's defines "indecorum" as: impropriety. In other words, despicable acts should never be described explicitly in polite company, nor in the presence of children; which quite obviously precludes the use of a pulpit for explicit descriptions since congregations are an amalgam of men, women, wives, husbands, dads, moms, and underage children.

I don't think The Lord's directive forbids any and all mention of despicable acts. In other words, his directive doesn't say that I cannot tell polite company that the Bible condemns the conduct of pedophiles, gays, lesbians, transvestites, and porn stars just so long as I don't start describing, in all their lurid detail, the revolting things they do to, and with, each other in private and/or on film or in view of an audience.

185) Eph 5:14 . .Wake up, O sleeper! . . rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Some Christians just don't care. They don't think obedience to their Lord's commandments is all that important. They're indifferent, half-hearted, half baked, asleep at the wheel, off-reservation, in their heads, in their own little world; and totally oblivious that they're being of no use to Christ at all.

186) Eph 5:15 . . So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise.

"Wise" of course meaning to live your life in such a way that it counts for Christ instead of only counting for yourself and/or counting for the world. For example: if you get pulled into the worlds of corporate management and political activism; I can just about guarantee that your life is not counting for Christ because those are really big distractions and sometimes its players have to play dirty to survive.

187) Eph 5:17 . .Therefore do not be uninformed, but understand what The Lord's will is.

In other words: Christians are not supposed to fly by the seat of their pants, but rather, fly by instruments: viz: fly intelligently; and that entails reading a driver's manual before attempting to operate a car, so to speak.

Moses told Yhvh's people that there is no need to go on a special "golden fleece" quest to discover what The Lord's will is; either out in space nor across the ocean in a foreign land. No, The Lord's will is easily accessible between the covers of even the cheapest second-hand Bible on the shelves of a thrift store.

However; no Bible— no matter how cheap, nor how expensive, nor what version— is of any real use if it's not studied. But even systematic Bible study is quite thwarted when the information isn't retained.

Jas 1:22-25 . . Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it-he will be blessed in what he does.

188) Eph 5:18 . . Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.

If more Christians would comply with that decree there wouldn't be so many of them in Alcoholics Anonymous. I've heard of studies indicating that some people have a genetic weakness for alcohol. Nevertheless, genetic or not, drunkenness is sin and Christians are under orders to subdue it.

Col 3:5 . . So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.

Eph 5:18 doesn't forbid drinking; only getting drunk. Why do people get plastered anyway? Isn't it to make themselves feel good and better able to cope with life's difficulties? Alcohol therefore could be said to be an antidote to one's existence.

Prv 31:6-7 . . Liquor is for the dying, and wine for those in deep depression. Let them drink to forget their poverty and remember their troubles no more.

Some of us seem born with a melancholy disposition but that's really not the same. Real depression will literally drive you to suicide. I know because I've been there.

So in that respect, pills and alcohol are a crutch. I'm not saying a crutch is a bad thing; I mean, after all, God created Eve as a crutch for Adam so then if all crutches are bad, then women are bad too. No, crutches per se are not bad; it's one's choice of crutch that matters; e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol, valium, Prozac, overeating, etc.

God's Spirit is supposed to be a crutch for believers; but His effectiveness as a crutch is found only in something called the fruit of the Spirit.

Gal 5:22-23 . . The fruit of the Spirit is joy, peace, and self control.

Two elements of the Spirit's fruit that have a powerful influence on a believer's well-being in life are Joy and Peace; which are obtained out of a bottle for only a short time; and are actually chemically dependent rather than supernaturally dependent.

But joy and peace come at a price.

Rom 8:13 . . If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,

In other words; Christ's followers should not expect to obtain the Spirit's joy and peace when their conduct is unbecoming.

189) Eph 5:19 . . Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs: singing and making melody with your heart to The Lord

That verse is actually pretty good justification for a church choir; but I really think it should also be used to justify hymn books in the pews too so the congregation can sing together. And make very sure the object of your music is Christ and/or his Father rather than other kinds of celestial personages; e.g. saints and angels.

190) Eph 5:20 . . Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The essential point to note is that Spirit-filled believers give thanks to God the Father rather than to Mary the so-called Mother of God (cf. Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6) and they give their thanks in the name of The Lord Jesus Christ rather than in the name of a patron saint.

191) Eph 5:21 . . Submit to one another out of respect for Christ.

The koiné Greek word for "submit" is hupotasso (hoop-ot-as'-so) which means: to subordinate (as a verb) which is just the opposite of dominance, equality, and/or rivalry and competition.

A workable synonym for the kind of submission we're talking about here is "deference" which Webster's defines as: (1) respect and esteem due a superior or an elder, and (2) affected, or ingratiating, regard for another's wishes; viz: honor.

This isn't about a pecking order. What we're talking about here is a Christian social skill; it's about regarding others as not equal to yourself, but actually better than yourself; and it pleases Christ to do so; besides being just plain all around good manners.

Matt 18:3-4 . . Whoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Little children in that day were minors who had little or no social status at all to speak of. If somebody abused a minor; it was just too bad since there were no Child Services bureaus to defend them. Minors were typically among the ruled rather than among those who do the ruling; and they got like zero-to-none respect from their elders.

In other words, an imperious believer— one that's assertive, bossy, take charge, demanding, argumentative, quarrelsome, impudent, conceited, domineering, confrontational, manipulative, reactive, independent, non negotiable, opinionated, obstinately or intolerantly devoted to their own opinions and prejudices, stubborn, and insistent upon their own way —is definitely a failure at subordinating themselves to their fellow believers in a manner consistent with The Lord's instructions.

192) Eph 5:22 . .Wives, submit to your husbands as to The Lord.

The koiné word for "submit" in this verse is the very same one we just discussed, and never means that wives take orders from their husbands like in some sort of despotic monarchy. We haven't changed the subject; in point of fact we're actually being redundant because what we're talking about here is deference rather than obedience. An attitude of deference is mandatory for Christians on both sides of the gender aisle— both men and women.

We should emphasize that these instruction are only for Spirit-filled couples. They're not for the average rank and file pew-warming couple, nor for the world's couples at large.

First of all; Spirit-filled wives walk in the fruit of the Spirit; which is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self control. That alone filters out most wives. And they also speak to themselves with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs; making music in their hearts to The Lord rather than going around with a grumpy disposition all the time with a cross look on their face.

Spirit-filled wives don't strive for equality, nor do they compete with their husbands as rivals for supremacy, nor do they have to be right all the time. And most importantly, a Spirit-filled wife treads lightly on her husband's feelings.

A wife that's independent, quarrelsome, complaining, fault-finding, chafing, hostile, violent, carping, dominating, manipulating, critical, thin-skinned, defensive, assertive, aggressive, thoughtless, insensitive, loud, stubborn, difficult, cruel, gender-biased, confrontational, always clamoring about empowerment, and harboring a "I am woman! Hear me roar!" mentality is not The Lord's concept of deference.

A deferent wife is gracious, cordial, affable, approachable, temperate, genial, sociable, ready to turn the other cheek, generous, charitable, altruistic, tactful, sensitive, sympathetic; and above all coherent, reasonable, and rational rather than incoherent, emotional, and reactive.

193) Eph 5:23-24 . . For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

People— Christians, no less —have tried to circumvent that commandment by quoting Paul to refute Paul; for example:

Gal 3:26-28 . . For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

But if we were to make Gal 3:26-28 a rule in civil affairs; then Christian marriages would be same-sex unions; and that, to say the least, is quite laughable.

If a Christian wife cannot treat her husband with the respect due him in accordance with Eph 5:21 then she should at least try to treat him with respect in accordance with Eph 5:23-24; in other words; treat her husband the way she would treat Christ were he the one sharing a home with her.

Though both husband and wife are equals as believers, and equally Christ's subjects, they are definitely not equals as man and wife though they be one flesh; just as Christ and his Father are not equals though they be one God. A Christian wife who humiliates her husband in any way literally humiliates Christ when she does so; and gives herself away that she's neither walking in the Spirit, nor filled with the Spirit, nor loyal to the lord and master of Christianity.

NOTE: They say familiarity breeds contempt; and I'm afraid that a good number of Christians have gotten so accustomed to thinking of Christ as a sibling that they've forgotten he's primarily a monarch.

Men and women have very different needs as regards to respect. Shaunti Feldhahn, author of "For Women Only" relates a survey taken among segregated groups of men and women with this question: Given a choice; would you rather be disrespected, or would you rather be alone and unloved in the world? The majority of the ladies chose disrespect rather than living alone and unloved in the world while the majority of the men chose to live alone and unloved rather than be disrespected.

A young bride just starting out, with a head full of feminism and a heart infected with contempt for males; not caring how important respect is to men, will have no trouble turning her husband's marriage into a living hell for him without even half trying.

So then, what's one thing that every Spirit-filled wife can do to please Christ? Simple. Respect her husband. And don't respect him only if he earns your respect: no, respect him all the time just as you'd respect Christ all the time were he your husband. A wife cannot expect a husband to love her unconditionally when she won't make an effort to respect him unconditionally.

A very disturbing display of husband-wife disrespect took place in my own home. My wife and I used to baby-sit for a couple at church whenever they were away. When they came over one night to pick up their kids, my son and theirs were playing a really good Nintendo game. The daddy informed the kids it was time to go, and in customary kid-fashion they ignored him and kept playing their game. So he became gruff and ordered them out to the car.

His wife then proceeded to come down on him like the wrath of God and exclaimed: You're yelling at them in front of the Webers! Well, guess what? Mrs. Self-Righteous-Christianette was lecturing her husband in front of the Webers; and if you could have seen the look on his face you'd know that her husband was not going to get over the effects of his wife's public scolding for a long while to come; if ever.

You know, kids get used to their parents demeaning them in front of others. To kids, it's just a fact of life. However, I seriously doubt there's a husband on earth who can get used to his wife demeaning him in front of others.

Prv 14:1 . . A wise woman builds her home; a foolish woman tears her home down with her own hands.

194) Eph 5:25a . . Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church

Love and Like don't necessarily go together. For example: One of my favorite lines from a NetFlix series called Downton Abbey goes like this: "As my son I love you; but I have tried, and failed, to like you".

Christ's love for the church is expressed in the grammatical past tense. This, I believe, is because it refers to his crucifixion; which is an illustration of the kind of love I quoted from Downton Abbey.

Rom 5:8 . . God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

1John 4:10 . .This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

In other words: the benefit of Christ's crucifixion isn't limited to his buddies, rather, is extended to the entire human world, both the likable and the impossible to like. This is what Eph 5:25a is talking about.

There are toxic wives out there who do not deserve their husband's affections; and in fact have done all in their power to poison them. Nevertheless, it is his Christian duty to continue to look after her, and to treat her as if she were a buddy in spite of the fact that she is impossible to like.

I can't imagine a sadder or sicker marriage than one wherein a husband is nice to his wife out of a sense of duty rather by affectionate feelings.

195) Eph 5:25b-33a . . He gave himself up for the church to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

. . . In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he nourishes and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.

. . . For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself

We're not talking about narcissism here. This is about care and concern for someone's survival; viz: meeting their needs.

196) Eph 5:33b . . and the wife must respect her husband.

We're not talking about admiration here. The Greek verb for "respect" is phobeo (fob-eh'-o) which essentially refers to fright; and is used just that way in numerous places throughout the New Testament.

Some translators render phobeo as "reverence" which Webster's defines as honor or respect; felt or shown; which means that wives don't especially have to like their husbands in order to respect them. A show of respect will do in lieu of felt respect. In other words: the Christian wife would do well to stifle the disgust she feels for her husband and be civil.

I overheard a female caller on radio imperiously announcing to Dr. Laura that she couldn't respect her husband. So Dr. Laura asked her why. The caller responded: Because he hasn't earned my respect. So Laura asked the caller: Have you earned your husband's love? The caller retorted: I don't have to earn his love. It's a husband's duty to love his wife just as she is.

So Laura pointed out that the caller was practicing a double standard. She demanded that her husband love her unconditionally, while refusing to respect him unconditionally. And on top of that; had the despotic chutzpah to dictate the rules of engagement regardless of how her husband might feel about it.

That is not The Lord's concept of a Spirit-filled relationship. It doesn't even exemplify the Beatitudes and/or the Sermon On The Mount let alone the quality of humanitarian love that Christ exemplified on the cross.

197) Eph 6:1 . . Children, obey your parents in The Lord, for this is right.

The primary reason given for children obeying their parents is simply that it's the right thing to do.

There's a lot of grown-ups out there who have problems with authority; and those problems began very early, right in their own homes. They were demon seeds who refused to accept their parents as superiors; and they themselves as subordinates.

The parents of the command are "in The Lord" in other words, this rule doesn't pertain to kids with secular parents; which is a good loop hole because there may come times for kids to disobey their parents out of loyalty to a higher power. (cf. Matt 4:10, Matt 10:37)

The koiné Greek word for "obey" in that verse is interesting. It's hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o) which means to pay attention; viz: to heed; to mind.

Not only is minding one's parents the right thing to do, but minding has its benefits.

198) Eph 6:2-3 . . Honor your father and mother— which is the first commandment with a promise —that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

The koiné Greek word for "honor" in Eph 6:2 is timao (tim-ah'-o) which means: to prize; viz: to fix a valuation upon; to revere. The very same word is used at Matt 15:4-6 where Jesus related the fifth commandment to caring for one's dependent parents.

Incidentally, have you noticed how little respect parents get from their insolent progeny in modern television sit-coms, Hollywood movies, and advertising? It's a reflection of modern American culture's attitude towards doing what's right. Kids today are encouraged to do what's wrong in their homes instead of doing what's right. Modern entertainment trains children how to be demonic instead of divine.

Kids that mind and respect their parents are usually much the happier for it. The ones that fight with their parents typically end up living in a home from hell; and though they may live long and prosper, life will not go well with them, nor will they enjoy it as they might have.

As kids get older, especially here in tech-savvy America, they tend to regard their parents as dunces. That is a fatal error. The Lord's kids have got to be on guard against that attitude; not only because it's wrong, but also because it hurts parents deeply to be treated as morons by their own flesh and blood. Impudent children just won't understand how deeply it hurts until they become parents themselves; but by that time; it's too late and the damage wrought is permanent.

FYI: Webster's defines "impudent" as: marked by contemptuous or cocky boldness or disregard of others; viz: insolent. In other words: an impudent child is a sociopath.

Let me caution The Lord's kids about something. The one thing you don't want to do in this life is accumulate an archive of regrets because as sure as you're reading this line, those regrets will haunt you in later years and rob you of peace of mind; and one of those ugly little robbers is cruelty. Never be cruel to your "in The Lord" parents. It will cost you. Here's a brief list of cruelties to avoid:

Thoughtless remarks, demeaning comments, ridicule, sarcasm, sneering, scorn, wiseacre retorts, toxic rejoinders, mockery, fault finding, and name calling. Consider those a starter kit.

BTW: Regardless of a believer's age— whether a child or an adult —it is required that they love their "in The Lord" parents, not as themselves, but as Christ loves them (John 15:12). Why? Because a believing child's believing parents are fellow lambs and siblings in Christ's sheepfold; that's why. So then, Christ's directive to love the other lambs as he himself loves them applies to one's "in The Lord" parents too.

Q: If a Jewish child accepted Christ as the Messiah, against the wishes of his Jewish parents, wouldn't that be breaking of the fifth commandment?

A: I seriously doubt the fifth commandment was intended to prevent one's children from making their own decisions. If it did, then where would it end? Would it grant a domineering Jewish mother carte blanch to dictate every facet of her offspring's life including their spouse, their career, their clothing, their friends, the city they live in, the food they eat, their vote, their political party, the length of their hair, even how they raise their own kids? In short, a carte blanch interpretation of that commandment would rob one's progeny of not only their individuality; but also their own personal responsibility.

Q: You really don't think it's disrespectful for a Jewish child to reject their parents' religion?

A: No, that would be disrespect for the parents' religion, not disrespect for the parents. To my knowledge there are no divine commandments requiring children to either accept or adopt their parents' core values.

One's attitude towards their parents and how they treat them is the issue. How anyone can come to the conclusion the fifth commandment somehow grants parents the powers of tyranny, mind control, and despotism is beyond me.

Matt 10:34-37 . .Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Christ drew a line in the dirt with that statement: in other words, who will you serve? . . . me or your parents? Nobody's parents, whether Jewish or Christian, have the right to demand a child's loyalty over and above their loyalty to God.

Ex 20:3 . . Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. (cf. 1Cor 8:4-6)

Mark 12:30 . . Thou shalt love The Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. (cf. Deut 10:12-13)

Acts 5:29 . .We must obey God rather than men.

If a conscientious Jewish child sincerely believes their parents' religion is wrong, then they have a duty to God and conscience to break with Judaism. I'm not saying they should break with the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Deut 29:9-15. No; that's a horse of another color.

Those very same principles all apply to Christian denominations. For example: if a child should come to a realization one day that his parents' Roman Catholicism is a doctored version of Christianity, then he has a duty to God and conscience to seek spiritual guidance elsewhere.

Rom 14:5 . . Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

Rom 14:23 . . whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

199) Eph 6:4 . . Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of The Lord.

We're not talking about religious training here— the focus is upon a daddy's parenting style. Despotism, tyranny, and unfairness are not The Lord's way of raising kids; but rather; his way is the manner of a shepherd; and "good" shepherds aren't cruel to their flocks.

Maybe you don't burn your kids with cigarettes, pour Tabasco sauce in their eyes, or lock them in a hall closet without food and water for two days; but do you ignore their opinions, demean them with denigrating labels, ridicule them, threaten their lives, work them as slaves without compensation, deny them things just so you won't appear to indulge them, and/or say "no" to their requests for no good reason than that you don't want to seem weak and under their control? Do you routinely abuse their human rights, and/or relegate them to the level of livestock rather than bona fide human beings with feelings and a mind of their own? Do you nurture within them a feeling of importance, of belonging in your home, or do you make them feel like an invasive species and/or an uninvited guest? Kids pick up on things like that.

But aren't there moms out there exasperating their kids? Of course! Mothers can be just as tyrannical, despotic, and unfair as dads.

I believe it is a Spirit-filled dad's sacred filial duty to defend his children from their own mother's abuses should the need arise. Not many dads are willing to do that because it means risking having the wife turn against him; so quite a few dads opt to sacrifice the children in order to keep momma happy. In my opinion, throwing one's own children to the wolves in order to avoid living in the same house with a moody woman has to be one of the worst possible sins a man can ever commit in his own home. It's just downright cowardly; and tells the kids they can't trust the one man in the whole world upon whom they should be able to rely in times of distress.

FYI: The Bible predicts that towards the end, parents will become callous with their babies.

2Tim 3:1-3 . . This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For people shall be . . .without natural affection

The koiné Greek word for "without natural affection" is astorgos (as'-tor-gos) which means: hard-hearted towards kindred.

200) Eph 6:5-6 . . Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.

The koiné Greek word for "slaves" is doulos (doo'-los) which is an ambiguous word that can mean slaves by voluntary or involuntary means. The first would be something like an indentured slave; which Webster's defines as : a contract binding one person to work for another for a given period of time. Jacob is a good biblical example of indentured slavery. He sold fourteen years of his life to uncle Laban in exchange for Rachel's hand in marriage. (Gen 29:18, Gen 29:27)

The practical application applies to giving one's employer an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. But pay is not really the primary issue. Subordination is the primary issue, and has been in this epistle since 5:21. Believers may not like the idea, but they are not independent agents with Christ; no, he owns you: bought and paid for as flesh on the line.

1Cor 6:19-20 . .You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

So then, a Spirit-filled employee will serve workplace employers with a conscientious regard for their indentured-slavery status with Christ; which is really difficult for American believers because their country has such an abhorrence for slavery and such a high regard for freedom, revolution, and independence. But though believers are slaves to Christ, they are not slaves to a slave driver. Note the gentle demeanor of the request below.

Matt 11:28-30 . . Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Rom 12:1-2 . . I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice— holy, acceptable to God —which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I once worked with two Christian men in a welding shop who demanded a sit-down with the superintendent to air some grievances. I took it upon myself to remind them that Peter directed Christians to endure what they thought of as unfair treatment from employers (1Pet 2:18-25). Well, they ignored both me and Peter because they felt insulted to be treated like children by management and wouldn't rest until they told them so.

What you have there is a case of rabid male pride overruling The Lord's wishes. Not good. Peter was given the keys of the kingdom (Matt 16:19). If Christians believe that to be true, then for them, scorning Peter is all the same as their scorning Christ— it's a domino effect all the way to the top.

Luke 10:16 . .Whoever listens to you; listens to me. Whoever rejects you; rejects me. And whoever rejects me; rejects the one who sent me.

201) Eph 6:7-8 . . Slaves, serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving The Lord instead of men.

If believers wish to hear The Lord say "Well done thou good and faithful servant" then fighting with management is simply out of the question. No, don't fight, instead: bite the bullet.

Php 1:29 . . For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. 

1Pet 2:18-24 . . Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not reciprocate; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously.

Now there's a good, practical application of turning the other cheek.

202) Eph 6:9a . . And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven,

The "masters" in that verse are limited to believing masters, not the world's.

If there is one political axiom that rings true in every generation, it's that absolute power corrupts absolutely. It's in the human heart to abuse authority and to oppress and exploit people rather than manage them to everyone's advantage.

Believing masters, and believing slaves, are siblings in God's family. Therefore, Christ's law is to be exemplified by both the slave and by his master.

John 15:12-13 . . My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

In other words; if it's required to lay down one's life for one's Bible-believing Christian brothers; is it too much to ask to swallow one's pride?

A slave master willing to sacrifice his life to protect his slaves would be a very unusual master; but that is the very attitude of a Spirit-filled master towards his believing slaves; and should be the attitude of a Spirit-filled supervisor towards his believing employees: which is the attitude of a good shepherd rather than that of a self-serving predator.

John 10:10-13 . .The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

. . . But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

203) Eph 6:9b . . and there is no favoritism with him.

The believing master's rank doesn't mitigate his accountability. No, he has no advantage over the believing slave. Both must give an accounting of themselves, and neither the master nor the slave will be given the slightest preferential treatment. No, they will be recompensed on the merits of their faithfulness; rather than their positions.

204) Eph 6:10 . . Finally, be strong in The Lord, and in His mighty power.

The strength mandated there is the nature of combat readiness. When I was serving in the US Army back in the early 1960's, the term "up to strength" meant our unit had a full complement of soldiers ready for war with their weapons, their clothing, their munitions, their training, and their equipment.

But soldiers are not supposed to be mercenaries; no, they go to war under the authority and control of the country they serve. And soldiers pick neither their battles nor their theater of operations; no, superiors pick the battles and the theaters; and when they do so, the full power of their country is behind them, and its resources are at their disposal.

When Joshua was commissioned by God to conquer Canaan, Israel's commander-in-chief wasn't left to his own devices; no, at his disposal was the arsenal and counsel of Yhvh— a source of intelligence and supernatural powers against which Joshua's enemies had absolutely no defense.

Every believer is a soldier in a war, and there's no neutral ground: you're either fighting with The Lord or you're fighting against The Lord because there's no such thing as conscientious objection in this conflict.

Matt 12:30 . . He that is not with me is against me

205) Eph 6:11 . . Wear the full armor of God; so that you may stand against the Devil's tactics.

In other words; when your engage the Devil, don't do it bare-handed and or bare-chested. Suit up first; so to speak.

Joshua's operations were essentially offensive. He was commissioned to conquer and to colonize; but in the believer's war, the operations are essentially defensive; viz: believers are required to stand rather than attack. In other words, believers are dug in like the Japanese on Saipan and Iwo Jima rather than landing with the allies at Normandy; and enemy forces are everywhere: it's a 360° battlefield there's neither a front nor a rear; nor a left flank nor a right flank; no, there's only a perimeter.

Why is this situation? Because according to Matt 28:18-20, the believer's mission is to recruit and indoctrinate— not conquer and colonize as if we were supposed to be building Christ's kingdom on earth. No, forget that. Believers are sojourners not colonizers. (1Pet 2:11)

Webster's defines a "sojourner" as: a temporary resident.

Believers are also "pilgrims"; which Webster's defines as: one who journeys in foreign lands; viz: a wayfarer

206) Eph 6:13 . .Therefore take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

That's a call to arms if ever there was one. Christians are sort of like Minutemen; ready to fight and defend on a moment's notice.

The "full armor of God" includes not only body protection, but also any and all weapons as assigned (e.g. Luke 11:22). And the directive here is to have it all with you all the time, not just some of the time. Carelessness is just an open invitation to defeat by means of a sudden, surprise attack.

207) Eph 6:14a . . Hold fast therefore, having girded your waist with truth

Holding fast essentially means the same as standing your ground, i.e. perseverance.

Men in that day usually didn't wear pants. They typically wore some type of skirt; which, if of the Bedouin variety, was a bit cumbersome and made it difficult to maneuver. So when it came time for activities like say running, climbing, building homes, or digging ditches, they would pull the lower ends of their skirt up around their waste and hold them in place with a belt; thus giving themselves a little more leg room.

Webster's defines "truth" as the real facts about something. Anybody who's been on Christian internet forums for any length of time is aware that there are many facts floating around out in cyberspace that well-meaning people sincerely believe are the real facts; and they are constantly arguing amongst themselves trying to prove that their facts are the real facts and the other guys facts are fiction.

Well; they can't all be girded with the real facts so I think it's safe to assume that a percentage of Christians out there are girded with fictional facts; and they don't know it. Of course everybody thinks it's always the other guy who's got it wrong because it is unimaginable to suspect that we ourselves might be the ones with a head full of baloney.

It ain't what you know that gets you into trouble.
It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
Mark Twain —

208) Eph 6:14b . . having on the breastplate of righteousness

The obvious parallel here is a flak jacket; which won't always stop a high powered rifle bullet, but is pretty effective against secondary missiles, grenade fragments, and small arms like pistols, knives, spears, swords, and archery.

I would have to say that the righteousness in this passage pertains to one's personal conduct rather than the imputed righteousness a believer obtains by means of Jesus' crucifixion. So then; in order to be strong in The Lord's mighty power; a believer has to be in fellowship with God; and His fellowship is not obtainable by those whose conduct is unbecoming.

1John 1:5-7 . .This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

Joshua found out the hard way that personal righteousness is essential in order to keep The Lord on your side. His men attacked a little community called Ai (Josh 7:2-12) and lost big because their conduct was curse-worthy rather than victory-worthy.

It's essential that a soldier serve with honor because in spite of all his combat readiness and/or his courage under fire, that man will find himself in front of a courts martial looking at the business end of the rifle barrel of military justice instead of serving his country on the battlefield if he doesn't toe the mark and keep his nose clean. And a soldier in the stockade is one less soldier in action.

2Tim 2:20-21 . . In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

209) Eph 6:15 . . and with your feet shod with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

The koiné Greek word for "readiness" is hetoimasia (het-oy-mas-ee'-ah) which means: preparation.

In the US Army, everybody is a soldier, even the cooks. So then, nobody is exempt from Basic Training. We all, regardless of our future in the Army, had to learn how to load, aim, fire, clear, field strip, and clean a primary weapon. In my day, it was a .30cal M1 Garand; today, it's the 5.56mm M16.

We were all taught squad tactics, escape and evasion, and how to use a compass, how to use binoculars, how to operate radios, how to dig a fox hole, how to use cover and concealment, how to use camouflage, how to handle a .45 Colt Auto, how to orient and read a Mercator topographic map, how to throw a grenade, how to clear a path through a mine field, how to use a gas mask, how to spot trip wires and booby traps, hand to hand combat, and fighting with a fixed bayonet.

We were also taught discipline: how to take orders and follow commands. In other words, everyone entering the Army for the first time is taught enough soldiering so that if need be, they can be an effective combatant on a moment's notice whether they're a computer operator, an engineer, or a medic.

From Basic Training, we all branched out to specialized trainings depending on our choice of what used to be called an MOS (Military Operations Specialty). The military has lots of specialties to choose from; so after successfully completing Basic, each new soldier goes off for schooling in their particular MOS. This would correspond to discovering, exercising, and perfecting one's particular gift as per Rom 12:3-8 and 1Cor 12:4-12.

It isn't unusual for a new Christian to want to do some great work like go out on the mission field. Whoa! Put the brakes on! A new Christian is just a recruit. They're not going anywhere without they successfully complete some basic Bible instruction first. Because until they do, biblically ignorant Christians just get in the way and muddy the waters. Their heads are full of baloney; they get into trouble, and get themselves taken down too easily. Newbies are the Devil's meat; just cannon fodder.

In other words: before a newbie is ready to take up The Lord's mandate as per Matt 28:19, the newbie himself must first be taught to observe all things whatsoever The Lord has commanded his followers as per Matt 28:20. Let's not get the cart before the horse.

210) Eph 6:16 . . In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

The koiné Greek word for "extinguish" is sbennumi (sben'-noo-mee) which means primarily to quench. The same word is used at Heb 11:34 in regard to the three Hebrew lads in Daniel 3:19-27. The angel that was dispatched to protect Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego didn't actually snuff out the fiery furnace, but rather, prevented its flames from burning the boys: in other words, faith is a protective barrier; i.e. insulation.

Let me ask you something. Is your faith in Christ built upon logic alone, or is it built upon a blend of logic and intuition? In other words: is it only academic? Well; let me tell you something, there had better be an element of intuition somewhere in your faith because logic can be easily dismantled while feelings are not easily dispelled no matter how much clever logic is thrown at them.

I've been asked several times in the past how I know that my beliefs are true. My answer is: I don't know if they're true. Then of course they follow up with: Then why do you believe your beliefs are true when you have no way of knowing they're true?

Most of the people who ask me those kinds of questions are genuine: they're not trying to trip me up and make a fool out of me. They really are curious about it. So I tell them that though I don't know if my beliefs are true; my intuition insists they are.

Apparently the influence that one's intuition has upon their faith is normal because the Bible says that in order to be saved by faith in Christ's resurrection; one must believe not in their head but in their heart. Well; my head says that his resurrection is questionable; but my gut says it's 100% true. In other words; I believe with my heart rather than only my intellect.

Below is an example of what I'm talking about.

Rom 10:9-10 . . If you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be spared. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified

Interesting isn't it? And yet Christians all over the world resolutely deny the role that feelings play in their system of beliefs. Well, they've got a problem; because if they are only believing in Christ's resurrection with their intellect sans any gut input whatsoever; then they are just as surely lost as if they were an atheist. And as for having faith as a shield? Forget it. Not happening.

People whose faith includes an element of feelings instead of logic alone are nigh bullet proof. No matter if someone were to prove beyond a shadow of any sensible doubt that there never was a Jesus who died and came back from the dead; the person whose faith is reinforced by their gut is unshakable because it's like they say: "A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still." Lot of truth in that.

Matt 13:20-21 . . .The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.

That man has no root because his intellect is insufficient to hold him in Christ. No, a man's IQ is shallow ground indeed. The best ground is the human will; which isn't located in a man's head; it's located in his heart; the very core of his being, so to speak. The human will is easily strong enough to defy reason, and often does.

211) Eph 6:17 . .Take the helmet of salvation

Helmets not only protect one's scalp, and one's skull, but also one's brains. Without a sound mind, a defender is about as effective in war as a Ken doll.

2Tim 1:7 . . For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Unbelievers don’t have sound minds; no, their heads are filled with half truths, opinions, semantic double-speak, delusions, fantasy, sophistry, and theories. A sound mind deals in reality rather than half-truths, sophistry, semantic double-speak, opinions, delusions, fantasy, and theories. In point of fact; one of the definitions of "truth" is: the way it is; viz: the way it really is. Denial of reality is not what I would call the workings of a sound mind; but rather, the workings of an escapist mind or the mind of a Matrix captive. (cf. Eph 2:1-3)

212) Eph 6:18a . . Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

Some translations render that verse like this:

"Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit."

But that's not a translation; rather, it's an interpretation because the word "power" is not in the Greek manuscript; so I don't recommend that people delay their prayers until a wave of divine energy comes over them.

Praying in the Spirit is just another way of walking in the Spirit, i.e. in accord with the Spirit, a.k.a. in step with the Spirit; and the Sprit has somewhat to say about prayer.

Matt 6:7 . . When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition

Rote prayers like the Hail Mary and/or the Our Father are impersonal; they tell God nothing about yourself. And worse: rote prayers are no different than chanting mantras; they treat God like a totem pole and insult His intelligence. Here's the Spirit's way.

Heb 4:15-16 . . For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

The koiné Greek word for "confidence" in Heb 4:16 is parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah) which means: all out-spokenness; viz: frankness, bluntness. In other words: it's okay to speak one's mind, to be candid— just as we might hang out with beer buddies and/or Alcoholics Anonymous. That is a whole lots more in step with the Spirit than reciting rote and/or stuffing pieces of paper in the stone chinks of the so-called Wailing Wall.

1Thss 5:17 . . Pray without ceasing

In other words; people ought not let their concerns pile up. The time for people to speak with God about their concerns is when they are concerned.

Php 4:6 . . Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

The sooner people make their concerns known to God; the sooner their minds can be set at ease.

Php 4:7 . . And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

C.S. Lewis, famed author of The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia; once remarked that he prayed, not because he expected results but, because it made him feel better. Well, if prayer makes you feel better, then more power to you— in point of fact, I highly recommend conversational prayer because talking things out with somebody, even an imaginary playmate, is far and away better than talking things out with nobody.

213) Eph 6:18b . . Be alert

When the Jews were re-building Jerusalem's wall under Nehemiah's command; they were armed to the teeth like Minute Men as they toiled. (Neh 4:15-21).

Plus, they were not only prepared each man to defend himself, but ready to come to the aid of others too. The old saw "United we stand, Divided we fall" is just as true in Christianity as it is in human warfare. Hence:

214) Eph 6:18c . .Always keep on praying for all the saints.

The koiné Greek word for "saints" is hagios (hag'-ee-os) which means: sacred; viz: designated for God; i.e. the chosen few as per Matt 22:14; viz: the good shepherd's sheep as per John 10:1-29.

The mandate is to always pray for "all" the saints; not just the special ones like pastors, deacons, and missionaries. I've seen it happen that when church managers call for prayer, it's typically not prayer for the whole church; but prayer for themselves. Well; that's fine as far as it goes; but let's not neglect to pray for the congregation too.

215) Php 1:27-30 . .Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ . . without being intimated in any way by those who oppose you.

Intimidation essentially frightens somebody into submission and/or induces fear or a sense of inferiority. The goal of intimidation is to break somebody's spirit and make them give up, lose heart, and drag along in a fog of futility. Intimidation is often effected by cowing, bulldozing, bullying, browbeating, and peer pressure.

Browbeat implies a cowing through arrogant, scornful, contemptuous, or insolent treatment.

Cow implies reduction to a state where the spirit is broken and/or all courage is lost

Bulldoze implies breaking somebody down by pressure, urgings, demands, or threats

Bullying implies intimidation through threats, insults, and/or aggressive behavior

Peer Pressure can be defined as the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behavior in order to conform to group norms.

Peer pressure owes it strength to the human heart's natural desire to belong. In the song "Subdivision" by a rock group named RUSH, there's a lyric that goes: Be cool or be cast out. Of course the criteria for defining what's cool and what's not, are legislated by the group to which one wishes to belong. For high school kids; the "group" is oftentimes not confined to a small posse of valued associates; but even an entire student body. That's a lot of pressure; especially when young people live in dread fear of being known by everybody as a weirdo or a geek.

In an episode of Jerry Seinfeld, somebody, I can't remember who, asked George Costanza: Is it really necessary that everybody like you? And George answered, in an almost indignant tone: Yes! . . it is.

The Lord's people are called to put up with those kinds of abuses, and to encourage themselves by always keeping in mind that a day is coming when The Lord is going to make their enemies pay for the way they treated His sheep.

2Ths 1:6-10 . . Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us, when The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of The Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

216) Php 2:1-2 . . If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

"unity" is a buzz word among ecumenicals; but Christ's directive in no way pertains to ecumenicals whose core belief it is that no one's wrong, and everyone's a Christian if they say so. No, The Lord's directive only pertains to a very narrow cross section of Christians whom he labeled: "those you have given me" (John 17:9). It is they for whom The Lord prayed for unity. (John 17:11, John 17:21-22)

217) Php 2:2-3 . . Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

If there is at least one place on earth where believers should be on the same plane with each other it's church; but that's not always the case as human beings are just naturally prone to value status; especially among pastors, choir members, Sunday school teachers, Deacons, Deaconesses, etc. Some people aren't content with mediocrity; no, they have to be head and shoulders above the crowd, they have to be admired: they have to be feted, they have to be heard, they have to be noticed, they have to be somebody, they have to be a mover and a shaker, they have to be up in an ivory tower; they have to have their finger on the pulse; they have to be in the limelight. (oops; another RUSH song) and above all; they have to be right because it is totally contrary to conceit's nature to be wrong about anything; even superfluous minutiae.

If you should find yourself in a position around your church, whether as an usher or a cook for men's Saturday morning prayer breakfast, make sure you're your heart's in the right place because there is coming an performance evaluation for The Lord's sheep where some of the elite are going to be very embarrassed when they're exposed for the ambitious achievers they really are.

1Cor 4:5 . . He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness, and will expose the motives of men's hearts.

An especially bad case of conceit is on display at 3John 1:9-10

218) Php 2:4 . . Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

The "others" in that verse are exclusive. Paul's directive pertains only to the classification of people to whom he penned his letter; viz: "saints in Christ Jesus . . together with the overseers and deacons" (Php 1:1)

Seeing as how The Lord expressly forbids selfish ambition amongst his own; therefore, before proceeding with your ideas, be very sure to ponder all the possible ramifications of your actions first. Stepping on people's toes, and or thwarting their ideas so that yours prevails, fails to satisfy the law of Christ; which requires believers to love their fellow believers as Christ loves them (John 15:12). It also fails to satisfy the Golden Rule which says: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. (Matt 7:12). Selfish ambition just simply isn't very nice.

219) Php 2:5-8 . .Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross.

That's an interesting contrast between The Lord and Adam. He and his wife made a definite grab for equality with God: and the possibility of that equality was one of the Serpent's selling points. (Gen 3:4-5)

It is just amazing how well The Lord shelved his God-given prerogatives of royalty and conducted himself a very regular guy. Even the people with whom The Lord grew up in his home town had no clue he was so well connected to their creator.

Can you just imagine, say, entering a building and there's Christ holding the door open for you? I would be a lots more comfortable the other way around; but that's just the way he is; Christ has never let either his rank or his position go to his head. There isn't a pretentious, pompous, ostentatious, vain, narcissistic, elitist bone in his body.

The Lord reminds me of the opening scenes of "Camelot" where King Arthur, out walking by himself in the woods, deep in thought and soliloquy, appears to be such a commoner that Sir Lancelot calls him a coward and challenges him to a joust.

That same degree of commonness is apparent in The Lord at Luke 24:15-31 where he spoke with two disciples after his resurrection who had no clue who he really was as there is nothing in either his bearing or his demeanor that suggested royalty.

Matt 11:28-30 . . Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

John 1:14 . .We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace

Some of the aspects of "grace" are kind, courteous, inclined to good will, generous, charitable, merciful, altruistic, compassionate, thoughtful, cordial, affable, genial, sociable, cheerful, warm, sensitive, considerate, and tactful.

Cordial stresses warmth and heartiness

Affable implies easy approachability and readiness to respond pleasantly to conversation or requests or proposals

Genial stresses cheerfulness and even joviality

Sociable suggests a genuine liking for the companionship of others

Generous is characterized by a noble or forbearing spirit; viz: magnanimous, kindly, and liberal in giving

Charitable means full of love for, and goodwill toward, others; viz: benevolent, tolerant, and lenient.

Altruistic means unselfish regard for, or devotion to, the welfare of others; viz: a desire to be of service to others for no other reason than it just feels good to do so.

Tactful indicates a keen sense of what to do, or say, in order to maintain good relations with others in order to resolve and/or avoid unnecessary conflict.

One morning back in the late 1970's, I arrived at a Saturday morning men's prayer breakfast at the same time as the #2 pastor of a mega church in San Diego. He made no movement whatsoever to hold the door for me; but rather, paused while I held it for him. What did that say about that man's compliance with item #217? You know when pastors are setting that kind of an example; what more can they expect from the rank and file?

John 13:13-17 . .You call me lord and master: and you say well; for so I am. If I then, your lord and master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you . . If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

That's one of The Lord's unsung beatitudes that should be included along with those in the sermon on the mount. There's a few others; e.g. Matt 11:6, Luke 11:28, Luke 12:38, and John 20:29.

But there is always that one "king of the mountain" in church who just has to be head and shoulders above everybody else; for example:

3John 1:9 . . I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

Diotrephes not only opposed the apostles; but also excommunicated people who dared to ally with them. And to think that guy operated not in a Devil-worshipping church, but in a Christ-worshipping church. (3John 1:10)

(chuckle) Mr. Diotrephes apparently was on, what we today would label, an ego trip.

220) Php 2:12 . . As you have always obeyed— work out your own salvation with fear and trembling

Some people's interpretation of that passage pretty much echoes Santa Claus' holiday practices. For example the lyrics from the classic jingle: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

You better watch out, you better not cry,
Better not pout, I'm telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town

He's making a list, and checking it twice;
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice:
Santa Claus is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping,
He knows when you're awake,
He knows if you've been bad or good,
So be good for goodness sake!

There's no grace in that song— none at all —no generosity, no altruism, no kindness, no charity, no love, no peace, no understanding, no sympathy, no patience, no tolerance, no courtesy, no compassion, no forgiveness, i.e. there are no gifts in Santa's bag; only merit awards for those who prove themselves worthy enough to deserve them.

Well; Paul didn't say work for your salvation, no he said work it out; which speaks of something entirely different than merit awards.

Full grown oak trees resemble oak trees; but oak saplings don't; not yet. No, saplings have quite a bit of growing up to do before they begin to take on the appearance of oak trees. Saplings are oaks, yes, but not mature oaks.

In the same way, people born of the Spirit as per John 3:3-8 don't resemble Christ at first. No, they are just saplings who have quite a bit of growing up to do before they begin to take on his appearance.

In other words; just as oak saplings are baby oaks, so people born of the Spirit as per John 3:3-8 are baby Christians. Working out their salvation involves developing maturity. I mean; how tragic it would be for a baby born-again Christian to stay immature all its life and never grow up to be an adult born-again Christian!

Eph 4:11-15 . . It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

. . .Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the head, that is, Christ.

When I joined the US Army back in 1961, the final thing that recruits did that day was take an oath of allegiance. I can't remember the exact wording of the oath, but it sealed the deal and from that moment on, I no longer belonged to the civilian world; I belonged to the US Government. However, I was not an accomplished soldier yet. Heck, I didn't even know how to salute or march in formation. Nevertheless, even in the raw I was a G.I. right from the get-go.

From day-one I began three years of specialized training and practice beginning with the training and practice called Basic. Training and practice didn't stop with Basic; no it never stopped. It went on for as long as I was on active duty and its purpose was not to prepare men for enlistment; rather, to forge already-enlisted men into combat-ready fighting machines; fully disciplined and ready to serve their country in war on a moment's notice.

But you see; the day of my enlistment, I was not fully trained and disciplined, nor was I ready to serve my country in war on a moment's notice. I was a G.I. yes; but I needed work— lots of specialized work, before I would be competent enough to serve the purpose for which the Government wanted me.

According to Eph 1:13, the moment someone hears and believes the gospel, they are sealed by God's spirit. From that moment on, they no longer belong to the world; rather, they belong to God. But they're only recruits: they're just as raw as a brand new Army enlistee, and they need work; lots and lots of work before they're competent enough to serve the purpose for which God apprehended them.

Eph 2:10 . . For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

NOTE: The phrase "fear and trembling" was one of Paul's favorite colloquialisms; for example:

1Cor 2:3-4 . . For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.

And another:

Eph 6:5-8 . . Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to The Lord, and not to men

"fear, and in trembling" doesn't mean Paul recommends shivering in terror and anxiety like a frightened gerbil; but that a believer's attitude should be free of pride, arrogance, and conceit, i.e. free of a superiority complex and/or a master-race mentality; for example:

Paul was very courteous to the Corinthians, and made himself of no reputation at all, even though he was one of The Lord's hand-picked apostles and they were a bunch of pagan heathens at the time who deserved nothing but the cold shoulder. Paul's attitude rubbed off on the Corinthians because they in turn deferred to Paul's associates with fear and trembling just as he had treated them all at one time.

2Cor 7:14-15 . . I had boasted to [Titus] about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling.

So then, what we're talking about here with "fear and trembling" is honor, respect, submission, deference, and reverence rather than terror and anxiety; and it's actually one of the Beatitudes.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

221) Php 2:14 . . Do everything without grumbling or debating

It used to be an understood rule of thumb in the US Army that GIs could complain all they wanted just so long as they did what they were told. Well; Christ isn't pleased with that.

Col 3:23 . .Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for The Lord, not for men.

The problem with grumbling is that it's an attitude of rebellion; for example:

Num 21:5-6 . . And the people spoke against God and Moses saying: Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.

Well; long story short, God punished the people's grumbling by sending a swarm of deadly reptiles among them, and many bitten by the reptiles died because their venom was very lethal.

The word for "debating" is dialogismos (dee-al-og-is-mos') which is sometimes translated "evil thoughts" for example:

Matt 15:19 . . For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.

Dialogismos sometimes keeps people awake at night as they obsessively re-wind and re-play a conflict with somebody over, and over, and over again in their heads.

222) Php 3:1 . . Finally, my brethren, rejoice in The Lord!

The koiné Greek word for "brethren" is adelphos (ad-el-fos') which is a masculine noun for a male relative. But it's use is flexible. Adelphos can also include one's female relatives too; I mean; after all, men and women are all siblings around the table in God's home. And when Paul wrote to a church, he oftentimes used the word adelphos to address the entire congregation.

Rejoicing "in The Lord" is way different than rejoicing in yourself; which is vulnerable to one's mood and/or circumstances. The Lord once told his disciples that they shouldn't rejoice that demons obeyed them, but rather, that their names were written in Heaven. (Luke 10:20)

Col 3:1-4 . . Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

When peace like a river attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say:
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Horatio P. Spafford

223) Php 3:2a . . Beware of dogs,

Dogs in ancient Israel were regarded with the same degree of abhorrence that we in the west regard rats. They weren't your average domesticated pet, but rather, feral, homeless curs that prowled city streets and landfills, feeding on garbage, road kill, and the corpses of low income folk who died without proper burial  A study of the dogs of the Old Testament reveals just how low in one's estimation is the person regarded as one (e.g. 1Kgs 14:11, 1Kgs 21:19, 1Kgs 21:24, 2Kgs 9:29-37; cf. Luke 16:21).

Feral dogs were not only unsanitary, but treacherous too.

Matt 7:6 . . Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

There are also guard dogs; which would correspond to people so passionate and protective of their religion of choice that they will literally kill people who refuse to agree with them; for example:

Ps 22:16 . . Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.

The "dogs" in that passage were Israel's religious elite; the very ones who had Jesus arrested and put to death on trumped up charges. Pilate caught on right quick that the Jews weren't after Christ's blood on account of crime; but because of envy (Matt 27:18). In other words: Christ was an effective rival that had to be eliminated. Christians have really got to watch their backs around zealots like that crazy enough to murder people who dare to oppose their belief systems.

A "dog" can be categorized as someone who is spiritually feral; which Webster's defines as: (1) of, relating to, or suggestive of an animal; viz: savage, (2) not domesticated or cultivated; viz: wild, untamed, (3) having escaped from domestication and become wild, and (4) beastly.

A dog then, in the spiritual sense, is little more than a brutish human scavenger. Human dogs are destined for a very unpleasant future in the same category as witches, fornicators, murderers, idolaters, and liars.

Rev 22:13-15 . . I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.

224) Php 3:2b . . Beware of evil workers,

"evil workers" probably indicates ersatz evangelists like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In that day, it was probably local followers of Judaism in the city of Philippi who went about proselytizing Christians.

225) Php 3:2c . . Beware of mutilation.

Mutilation in this particular instance isn't criminal mutilation, but rather, refers to voluntary ritual circumcision; which merely removes physical flesh but does nothing to remove spiritual flesh, viz: human nature. For that kind of circumcision; one must undergo a supernatural procedure; one performed by an act of God rather than by one of the world's surgeons.

Col 2:11-12 . . In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

226) Php 3:17 . . Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before, and now say, again even with tears: many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their appetites, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

I'm pretty sure that passage can be said to be speaking of the tares that Christ mentioned in Matt 13:24-30 and Matt 13:36-43. The law of averages— plus Satan's machinery —insures that every church has a percentage of tares on the roles. Unfortunately they're impervious to the gospel. You'd no doubt have better luck stopping a Russian tank by throwing beer bottles at it than preaching to tares.

227) Php 4:4 . . Rejoice in The Lord always. I say again: Rejoice!

Words and grammar in the Bible convey information; otherwise language serves no useful purpose. When The Lord says "always" he means always or he wouldn't say always. So then, part-time rejoicers in The Lord are failing to comply with God's wishes.

There is a joy available from Christ that's able to overcome all the sadness this world can possibly throw at you.

John 15:11 . .These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your own joy might be full.

The koiné Greek word for "joy" in that verse is chara (khar-ah') which doesn't mean ecstasy; but rather: cheerfulness; viz: calm delight and/or gladness; in other words: pacific. This doesn't mean believers should be bubbling over all the time; but it sure does mean they shouldn't be overwhelmed with feelings of despair all the time; or even some of the time. Paul says to rejoice "always" which of course is beyond human capability; but not beyond the Spirit's.

Gal 5:22 . .The fruit of the Spirit is joy.

The fruit of the Spirit is available only to Christians whose lives exemplify Christian standards of conduct.

John 16:33 . .These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

228) Php 4:5 . . Let your gentleness be evident to all.

The koiné Greek word for "gentleness" is epieikes (ep-ee-i-kace') which essentially means: mild.

Webster's defines "mild" as gentle in nature or behavior, moderate in action or effect; not sharp or bitter.

Though a mild person is affable, they aren't necessarily a wimp; no, they're just difficult to provoke. The quite opposite would be a thin skinned, reactive, defensive personality that goes to war at the drop of a hat.

Mild people don't threaten, nor come at you with bared teeth and narrowed eyes. They're reasonable and rational, rather than emotional and reactive. Assertive, confrontational people have no clue what it is to be mild; and those are the very ones losing sleep with evil thoughts as they obsessively re-wind and re-play a conflict with somebody in their heads over, and over, and over again.

Matt 5:5 . . Blessed are the meek.

Moses was meek (Num 12:3) and The Lord was meek (Matt 11:29, Matt 21:5). Personally I wouldn't categorize either of those two men as meek. So then, what really is meekness?

Primarily, to be meek, in the Biblical sense of the word, is to be temperate. A temperate person isn't eo ipso a cowering milk toast. Anybody who's studied the life of Moses and Jesus can easily testify that neither of those men were timid; no, they walked softly and carried a big stick. Never mistake true meekness for a yellow streak.

Jacob and his dad Isaac were temperate men; but could be very strong when the situation called for it. Temperate people pick their battles carefully, and never waste anger and energy on trifles.

There are Christians in this world who're simply implacable. They just cannot live and let live. Turning the other cheek is to them a worn-out cliché that no one takes seriously anymore. For them rivalry, conflict, revenge, competition, retaliation, recriminations, and grudging are a way of life: every disagreement is an act of war— they're peevish, emotional, bitter, harsh, unloving, cruel, thoughtless, and reactive; and they thrive on complaining, criticism, chafing, carping, finding fault, tattling, bickering, retort upon retort, rejoinder upon rejoinder, sarcasm, endless debate, telling other people off, gainsaying, and getting in people's faces and giving them a piece of their mind.

It seems like those people are always getting indignant about some petty outrage or another. Well; those kinds of Christians are definitely not in the temperate category. They're hellians in gross violation of Paul's directive to "Let your gentleness be evident to all." simply because they have no gentleness. Instead; these people let their wrath be evident to all because when they're upset; they want everybody to know it.

229) Php 4:6 . . Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Webster's defines "anxiety" as: characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind, or brooding fear about some contingency; viz: worry— which implies an incessant goading, or attacking, that drives one to desperation.

If believers were never to be anxious then there would be little, if any, need to pray and share one's concerns with their father in Heaven. The point here, is to avoid desperation. When people get desperate, they start making mistakes; and some of those mistakes can be life-changing; and cause permanent damage.

Tuesday, Aug 04, 2009 a deranged man named George Sodini walked into an LA Fitness gym in Philadelphia and gunned down twelve women in an exercise class. His impetus? According to information police later found on his blog, the 48 year-old man was in a mental state brought on by his long-held personal conviction that not one woman in the whole world could possibly love him. In his mind; women were a threat to his survival— cruel, venomous sirens whose mission in life is to torment males and make them unhappy. No doubt in Sodini's thinking, murdering those women was justifiable revenge for what females had done to him all his life.

His case is extreme, yes, but it serves to illustrate what happens to people when they let desperation gnaw at their feelings for too long a time. Pretty soon they crack and do something irrational.

For a believer on the verge of desperation; their Father may or may not remove the source of their concerns, but at least He's at hand to protect them from going too far off the deep end; unless of course their nervous condition is related to a sin unto death. (cf. Rom 8:13, 1John 5:16-17)

Php 4:7 . . And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

230) Php 4:8 . . Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —think about such things.

It's a common practice among emergency medical service personnel to get a patient's mind off their injuries by distracting them with a barrage of questions and/or chit-chat because thoughts and emotions have power to make things worse.

Sometimes late at night when the demons come, and negative thoughts start festering in my mind enough to keep me awake, I get up and do something like watch a documentary on NetFlix, or a movie on DVD, play a video game, read a book, or work on the computer. Just getting my mind on something besides those negative thoughts really helps restore my peace of mind so I can go back to bed and get some sleep. Paul's directive makes good mental-health sense.

231) Php 4:9 . . Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me— put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

You know, sometimes I think that too many Christians are somehow under the impression that the New Testament's epistles are not all that important in matters related to faith and practice. They've made the Sermon On The Mount their religion and they think that's all they need. But if they want the God of peace to be with them instead of off in the distance; then they are simply going to have to revise their estimate. Compliance with the epistles is not optional; no, it's essential.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

1Ths 4:1-2 . .We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by The Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. For ye know what commandments we gave you by The Lord Jesus.

Jas 1:22-25 . . And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you don't obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law— the law that sets you free —and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

232) Col 2:6-7 . . So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

That directive, of course, is restricted to the faith as you were taught by Paul and his contemporaries. He and they taught only one faith rather than a buffet of faiths to choose from.

Eph 4:4-5 . . There is one faith

Jude 1:3 . . Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.

It's neither wise nor humane to encourage somebody rooted and built up in Christian cults to continue in those faiths: e.g. Moonies, Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventism, Herbert W. Armstrong, Mormonism, and/or the Watchtower Society, et al.

Paul emphasized receiving Christ Jesus as "lord". The koiné Greek word is kurios (koo'-ree-os) which means: supreme in authority; viz: one's master— whether a dictator, despot, monarch, or chief of police; et al.

Kurios is an ambiguous word that simply indicates someone higher in rank than yourself whether God or anybody else, even a senior citizen. So words like sir, mister, boss, and master can be translated from kurios too. The point is, the Bible's Jesus is in charge of his own sheep; which means he has a right to make some demands upon them; viz: he's the leader; they the followers; or why bother with Psalm 23?

Ps 23:1-2 . .The Lord is my shepherd; he leadeth me

If The Lord is the shepherd, and if he's the leader; then why are some of his "followers" off-reservation doing their own thing instead of in line where they belong?

Luke 6:46 . .Why do you call me lord and master and do not what I say?

Mal 1:6 . . A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the fear due me?— protests Yhvh Almighty.

233) Col 2:8 . . See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

What he's talking about there are humanistic versions of Christianity; especially those built upon proprietary traditions rather than "the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us" (2Ths 2:15). Those kinds of Christianity are insidious because they're typically a subtle blend of truth and error. Paul wasn't just being rhetorical; no, the time is now when pew warmers are buying into humanistic versions of Christianity.

2Tim 4:2-4 . . Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when they will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and seek teachers who will tell them what it is they wish to hear. They will reject the truth and heed fantasies.

The reason that they will heed what Paul calls "fantasies" is because anything but the truth is far and away more appealing to the human mind. Take for example Stephen Hawking's theory that a cosmos can come into existence sans intelligent design; in other words: sans a creator. Stephen's arguments are clever, sophisticated, and scientific; viz: they make sense; and they are widely accepted by his admirers.

234) Col 2:16-17 . .Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.

Some humanistic versions of Christianity incorporate diets, rituals, rites, and holy days of obligation. According to the principles stipulated in the 14th chapter of Romans, those things are optional; but certainly not mandatory. To insist otherwise is to play God and to usurp The Lord's sovereign right to make the rules for his own church.

235) Col 2:18a . . Don't let anyone condemn you by insisting on self-denial.

Now we're getting into the sphere of asceticism; which Christ has never approved. Asceticism describes a life-style characterized by abstinence from materialism and various sorts of worldly pleasures (e.g. sex, cosmetics, movies, dancing, alcohol, romance novels, soaps, gambling, and the accumulation of material wealth) often with the aim of pursuing religious and spiritual goals. Ascetics, by the very nature of their philosophy, insinuate that Christ was wrong to consume wine and/or provide it for a wedding.

Ascetics think themselves to possess a superior spirituality over and above regular Christians; but Paul popped that bubble soundly.

Col 2:18c-19 . .These people claim to be so humble, but their sinful minds have made them conceited. They are not connected to Christ, the head of the body.

(chuckle) Paul depicted ascetics as kind of like the headless horseman in the Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.

236) Col 2:18b . . And don't let anyone say you must worship angels, even though they say they have had visions about this.

I have actually encountered Christians who claim to have patron ghosts: spirits with whom they communicate and that help them in daily life. I do not dispute their claim seeing as how the existence of familiar spirits is validated by Lev 20:7 et al; but Christ rules against letting them influence your thinking; even as Yhvh condemns to death any among His people who dabble in that sort of thing.

Apparitions are very effective. Just look at the number of Christians whose religious beliefs are influenced by appearances like Our Lady of Fatima and the Miracle of the Tilma (Our Lady of Guadalupe). That only goes to show how true it is that people tend to believe only what they can see with their own two eyes. In the end, that "show me" attitude will result in humanity's ruin as they watch a statue come to life and start giving orders to execute people who refuse to worship it. (Rev 13:13-15)

Heed what Rev 13:13-15 says; and be warned. Its lesson is obvious: miracles and/or apparitions cannot be trusted to validate one's religious beliefs. In point of fact; numbers of people passing themselves off as Christians are going to Hell and eternal suffering in spite of their ability to perform miracles. (Matt 7:22-23)

Paul said he would never listen to even a real live genuine holy angel of God from Heaven unless the angel preached the very same message as the one he himself preached (Gal 1:6-9). As anyone familiar with Virgin sightings knows, they never preach the same message as Paul's; no they preach things like world peace, devotion to Jesus' mom, immaculate hearts, and rosaries.

237) Col 3:1-2 . . Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Christianity is a lethal religion. It puts its believers to death on the cross with Christ and they are encouraged to think of that as a reality; and not only that, but also to account their resurrection to immortality a done deal, i.e. it's in the bag. (Rom 6:3-11, Gal 2:20)

238) Col 3:5 . . Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature

The earthly nature of Christ's followers was judged, sentenced, and executed on his cross but his followers won't be rid of their earthly nature till they pass on. However, if Christ's followers want to take advantage of God's kindly patronage and providence, they have got to straighten up and fly right. This has been an axiom since the very beginning.

Gen 4:6-7 . . If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

And it's still an axiom to this very day.

1John 1:5-7 . . And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth

At this point, the epistle lists a catalogue of behaviors that aren't practiced in heaven; and since The Lord's sheep are destined for that place, they need to start living now like they will be living then.

239) Col 3:5-11 . . sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Webster's defines "malice" as: desire to cause pain, injury, or distress to another. Behaviors like deliberate chafing, needling, ridicule, mockery, taunts, demeaning comments, ugly words that tear people down rather than build them up, denigrating labels, biting sarcasm, fault-finding, carping criticism, thoughtless remarks, petty ill will, spite, vindictiveness, and stalking are all malicious behaviors that no one in heaven ever practices because heaven is a place of peace.

The koiné Greek word for "filthy conversation" is aischrologia (ahee-skhrol-og-ee'-ah) and means: vile conversation.

Webster's defines "vile" as: (1) morally despicable or abhorrent, (2) physically repulsive; viz: foul and/or odious, (3) of little worth or account; viz: common, vulgar, (4) tending to degrade, demean, and/or denigrate, (5) disgustingly and/or utterly bad; viz: obnoxious, contemptible, unacceptable, disagreeable, and (6) base; viz: crude, churlish, unrefined.

240) Col 3:9-10 . . Do not lie to each other since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

It's interesting that the Colossian believers were lying to each other, and no doubt would have continued to lie if Paul had not commanded them to stop it.

The koiné Greek word for "renewed" is anakainoo (an-ak-ahee-no'-o) which means: to renovate; which Webster's defines as : (1) to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding), and (2) to restore to life, vigor, or activity : revive. This renovation process takes place only by means of conscientious Bible study combined with uncompromising personal evaluations

241) Col 3:12 . .Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

Apparently the Colossian believers were neither compassionate, nor kind, nor humble, nor gentle, nor patient, and would have continued to be that way had not Paul hadn't commanded them otherwise.

Paul's basis for these commands is the Colossians' standing as "God's chosen people, holy and dearly beloved" I mean: is it appropriate for people in that kind of a relationship with God to act like devils?

You know, judging from the descriptions of some of the first century churches, I get the impression that were we to go back in time to visit one, we'd be walking into a snake pit.

242) Col 3:13-14 . . Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as The Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Love can be roughly defined as affection; which itself can be roughly defined as tenderness. One of The Lord's constant rubs with his Pharisaic opponents was their virtually 100% lack of tenderness; which totally warped their application of Israel's covenanted law.

Matt 9:13 . . Go and learn what this means : I desire mercy and not sacrifice.

Some folk interpret that verse to say that the Levitical sacrifices have been repealed. But that's not what God was saying via the prophet at Hos 6:6. He was saying that He much prefers that people be civil to each other rather than religious to their fingertips. In other words; an insensitive person's lack of things like compassion, sympathy, patience, tolerance, affableness, helpfulness, pity, courtesy, humility, understanding, and care, totally nullifies their worship, regardless of one's choice of religious beliefs and practices.

243) Col 3:15a . . Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.

The world is not impressed when believers are at war with themselves. There is a very subtle hint to that effect at Gen 13:1-7. How do you suppose Abram's and Lot's squabbling looked to the pagans? When God's people can't get along, outsiders become disgusted with them and they sure won't be influenced for God in a good way when The Lord's people are fighting amongst themselves like that.

Years ago, when I was a young welder just starting out on my own, I rented a small room in a daylight basement from a man who was the senior pastor of a medium-sized Seventh Day Adventist church in the Portland Oregon area. He and his wife radiated the luster of polished spirituality whenever I spoke with them out in the yard, but in my location under the floor of the house, I could overhear their bitter quarrels upstairs behind closed doors. Was I favorably inclined to attend his church? No.

A church without peace is a church deprived of the Spirit.

Gal 5:22-23 . . The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

244) Col 3:15b . . And be thankful.

In an America accustomed to entitlements, bail-outs, reparations, stimulus packages, federally funded school lunches, FEMA, SNAP, TANF, and an abundance of perks, free-bees, and social programs; it's very unusual to find thankful citizens. Most are arrogant and demanding; taking their blessings for granted.

I was particularly annoyed back in January 2010 by a Haitian man's angry complaint in the news that America wasn't responding fast enough to his country's needs created by their earthquake. That man is a perfect example of someone who has no appreciation for charity; but rather, sees charity as an entitlement rather than a blessing.

My #1 nephew was a Seneca man who took the spiritual values of his Iroquois ancestors very seriously. Some Christians would no doubt think of my nephew as a heathen, but he was far more thankful for his blessings— due to the influences of Hiawatha and Handsome Lake —then many of the intellectual pew warmers that I've encountered in the several churches I've attended over the years.

245) Col 3:16 . . Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom

In order to fully comply with that directive, it's essential that the word of Christ first dwell in you richly before attempting to teach and admonish one another with all wisdom. The koiné Greek word for "richly" is plousios (ploo-see'-oce) which means: copiously. Webster's defines copious as: yielding something abundantly. In other words: fruitful. This is not an easy command to obey because it first requires walking the walk before talking the talk.

Heb 6:7-8 . . For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and yields crops useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

Hindrances to fruitfulness are listed in the parable of the sower at Matt 13:3-23, Mark 4:3-20, and Luke 8:5-15.

Fruitless Christians are eo ipso disqualified to teach and admonish their fellow Christians because they just simply lack the wisdom to do so. In other words; the wisdom we're talking about here is life experience rather than academic training.

246) Col 3:17 . .Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of The Lord Jesus.

What's in a name? Well, besides being one's moniker and/or one's reputation; one's name also refers to their status; e.g. kings, queens, mayors, governors, presidents, et al.

A simple way to apply Col 3:17 is just to ask yourself: Can my master put his signature on this? If you know in your heart he cannot, then you do not have Christ's authorization to proceed. If you proceed anyway, then you will be off-reservation, in your own little world of anarchy and rebellion against The Lord's sovereign right, as the lord and master of Christianity, to manage your affairs.

Rom 14:22-23 . . Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.

247) Col 3:18 . .Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in The Lord.

That command pertains only to Christian wives; not to just any wife who happens to be looking in.

The imperative here is to voluntarily subordinate herself. A woman that has to be tamed in order to be civil is not the ideal. It is far and away better that a woman take the initiative to domesticate herself than to force God to break her like a mustang. Conducts like defiance, insolence, stubbornness and dominance are unbecoming in a Christian wife.

248) Col 3:19 . . Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

That command pertains only to Christian husbands, not to just any husband who happens to be looking in.

A study posted in the Science section of the August 26, 2014 edition of the New York Times found that couples who make active decisions about their relationships, and about major life events by sitting down and talking things over; tend to have a higher rate of success in marriage percentage-wise than couples who just let things happen.

A good example of this is Jacob. When he was instructed by God to leave uncle Laban's ranch and return to Canaan, Jacob didn't just drop the news on Rachel and Leah like a bolt out of the blue and announce: "Okay everybody! Pack up! We're leaving!"

No, he took them aside, out in a pasture where the three of them together, privately, could discuss this major life-changing event. Jacob was a very rare man. He didn't have to give his wives a say in the move. In those days, wives were given little choice in their husband's affairs. But Jacob was not that kind of man. He wanted to know how his wives felt about the move. As a result, they all three together agreed to move; and all three were happy with their decision. I will always admire Jacob for that.

249) Col 3:20 . . Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases The Lord.

That command pertains only to Christian kids; not to just any kid who happens to be looking in. And it needs to be said that not every kid in a Christian home is a Christian kid. Some are demon seeds: that's just a fact of life and it can't be helped.

The Greek word for "obey" in that verse is hupakouo (hoop-ak-oo'-o) which is somewhat ambiguous. It can mean, variously, to hear under (as a subordinate), i.e. to listen attentively; by implication, to heed or conform to a command or authority.

Too many television sit-coms today portray kids who don't listen to their parents. But of course those sit-con kids have no desire to please The Lord.

250) Col 3:21 . . Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

That command pertains only to Christian fathers, not to just any father who happens to be looking in.

In my teen years, just before entering the US Army, I was into trouble with the law and can remember my mother plaintively asking herself: Where did I go wrong? Well, my mother was one of those people whom psychologists label borderline personalities. We all know at least one of those kinds of people. They never see themselves as a factor in human relationships gone south; no, you are the problem, not them.

My mother was cruel, abusive, despotic, dictatorial, profane, and thoroughly insensitive. After 17½ years of slaps across the face, zero hugs, zero kisses, zero appreciation, zero encouragement, zero sympathy, abundant rage, profanity, relentless ridicule, thoughtless remarks, indifference, name calling, silent treatments, yelling, slave labor, and demeaning comments from my own biological mother; I totally lacked confidence, and was handicapped with a crippling inferiority complex. I felt ugly, expendable, unwanted, dirty, burdensome, moronic, and unnecessary. And to make matters only worse, she and my father were as alike as peas in a pod. He too was borderline and just as abusive and thoughtless as she. They were a demonic tag team, and very effective too.

Was I discouraged? Yes. I had become just exactly what Paul directed believing fathers to avoid. I felt no inclination whatsoever to make my parents proud of me because they broke my spirit at a very early age and for the most part; made my life a living hell.

251) Col 3:22-25 . . Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for The Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for The Lord, not for men

Some Christians tend to forget that they live in a fishbowl; a sort of Big Brother society where God misses nothing.

1Pet 1:13-17 . .Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

252) Col 4:1 . . Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

If America's corporations, factories, and businesses would comply with just that one teensy little edict, it would end the need for labor unions. It would also put sweatshops and the exploitation of foreign poverty and immigrant labor out to pasture too.

Most businesses try to avoid giving their employees what is right and fair in order to get better bottom lines on their quarterly reports. Fair and right wages and benefits are expensive and cut into profits. Herein is one of the evils of corporatism. The ones that have gone public have a fiduciary responsibility (they say) to share holders to grow and produce profits; therefore they will not hesitate to throw workforces to the wolves in order to fulfill that responsibility.

Whenever you see a big corporation like Boeing ask it's workforce to take a wage cut; that is what they are doing— throwing their workforce to the wolves to protect the corporation from sustaining a loss; the meanwhile taking little thought to the fact that wage cuts make it that much more difficult for workforces to survive in an inflationary economy. Corporations complain that the cost of doing business is hurting them. Well; what do they think the cost of living is doing to their workforces?

A popular corporate business plan nowadays involves moving headquarters offshore, thus sheltering millions, and even billions of dollars of profits from US taxes. What that means is; the US taxes that would have been paid on those profits do not go towards funding the Federal budget and/or servicing the Federal debt. In other words: corporations are not all that civic-minded nor patriotic when it comes to money; on the contrary, they are showcases of greed and selfishness to the detriment of their fellow Americans; while the chief executive officers gorge themselves at the hog trough of stupendous salary and benefit packages, and colossal bonuses.

253) Col 4:2 . . Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

The koiné Greek word for "devote" is proskartereo (pros-kar-ter-eh'-o) which means: to persevere; viz: not give up and/or lose interest.

Luke 18:1 . . And he spoke a parable unto them to this end: that people ought always to pray, and not lose heart.

For many of us, prayer is a last resort; a grasping at straws because we simply have nowhere else to turn. We wish for progress with prayer, while not really expecting it because we already know from plenty of experience that prayer too often leads into a cul-de-sac of perplexity and discouragement; so then, what's the use? In other words: prayer is very difficult for some believers because it's often so futile.

Why doesn't the Bible's God respond? And if He's not going to respond, then why keep on making a fool of ourselves trying to get through to an imaginary playmate when all the while its phone is off the hook?

It was this very issue that led Mother Teresa of Calcutta to question whether there really is a God out there. During virtually her entire five decades in India, Teresa felt not the slightest glimmer of The Lord's presence and suffered a good deal of anxiety wondering why Christ abandoned her.

I'm not making this up. You can read it for yourself in a collection of Teresa's private letters titled Mother Teresa / Come Be My Light; The Private Writings of the "Saint Of Calcutta" published with Rome's approval by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, director of the Mother Teresa center and a postulator for her canonization.

In one of Teresa's private letters, penned to a Father Picachy, Teresa complained: I am told God loves me; and yet the reality of darkness & coldness & emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul.

In yet another letter, penned to a Father Joseph Neuner, S.J. Teresa again complained: Now Father— since 1949 or 1950 this terrible sense of loss— this untold darkness— this loneliness, this continual longing for God— which gives me pain deep down in my heart— Darkness is such that I really do not see neither with my mind nor with my reason— the place of God in my soul is blank— There is no God in me— when the pain of longing is so great— I just long & long for God— and then it is that I feel— He does not want me— He is not there— God does not want me— Sometimes— I just hear my own heart cry out— "My God" and nothing else comes— the torture and pain I can't explain.

In yet another letter, Teresa complained: When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul. How painful is this unknown pain— I have no faith.

If the most pious nun the 20th century ever produced found heaven's phone off the hook for virtually five decades, then why should John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer "devote" themselves to prayer? Can they seriously expect to have any better luck than Teresa did? Yes; men ought to pray and not give up. I'm not trying to countermand The Lord's instructions. All I'm saying is: don't get your hopes up; but let me show you another angle:

C.S. Lewis, famed author of The Screwtape Letters, and The Chronicles of Narnia; once remarked that he prayed, not because he expected results but, because it made him feel better. Well, if prayer makes you feel better, then more power to you— in point of fact, I highly recommend conversational prayer because talking things out with somebody, even an imaginary playmate, is far and away better than talking things out with nobody.

There are instances in the Old Testament where God actually sent His people troubles just to get their attention and start them talking to Him again. Sort of like a little boy in third grade spitting on the hair of a girl sitting in front of him so she'll notice him. (chuckle) Well, if God spits on your hair, so to speak, then maybe it's time you and He had a fireside chat.

254) Col 4:3-4 . . And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.

Proclaiming the mystery of Christ clearly as one should means to avoid sophisticated intellectualism (1Cor 2:1-5) viz: put the cookies on the bottom shelf where the kiddies can reach them. I've had people actually criticize me for writing as if I'm speaking to third-graders. But that's exactly it; don't you see? If I were to write as I were speaking to people with Master's degrees and/or Doctorates, then I would fail to communicate with the minds of my peers.

When physicist Stephen Hawking set out to write his fabulously popular book "A Brief History Of Time" he determined to make an effort to speak of complicated cosmological concepts in layman's terms. Well; he succeeded, and consequently just about anybody with an average IQ and the ability to read can pick up Stephen's book and get something out of it.

NOTE: In my opinion it is far better to appeal to common folk than the educated elite because most of them are a lost cause no matter.

1Cor 1:26 . . For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh.

Q: Does an evangelist need a ThD degree?

A: I would have to say NO because at least two of the apostles were uneducated.

Acts 4:13 . . Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled.

So was Amos.

Amos 7:14-15 . .Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah: I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit: and Yhvh took me as I followed the flock, and He said unto me: Go, prophesy unto my people Israel.

The Lord himself was a carpenter, which was a craft considered at the level of uneducated society in his day.

John 7:14-15 . . Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying: How knoweth this man letters, having never studied?

The lesson is obvious: seminaries don't make evangelists: God makes them because it's not a career path; no, it's a calling.

1Cor 12:4-11 . . There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wishes.

Though only special believers are selected for big league evangelism; all are called to the minors.

1Pet 3:15 . . Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that you have.

Ironically, not everyone passing themselves off as a Christian is able to comply with Peter's mandate because the "hope" about which he wrote isn't a cross-your-fingers hope; but rather: it's anticipation; which is way different than wishing for something. Wishing has no clue, while anticipation fully expects its longings to be satisfied.

255) Col 4:5 . . Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

I once heard a story about a well-meaning sidewalk evangelist who was handing out Gospel tracts. A man came by and asked the side-walker what he was doing. The side-walker handed the man a tract and said: Here, read this. Well, the man was illiterate. So he told the side-walker: I can't read your tract, so I'll just watch your tracks. In other words; don't just talk the talk; walk the walk too: live it because for some people, your life speaks volumes.

Let me ask you something. Do you go on internet forums only for the fun of engaging in bull sessions? Well; if that's the case then I would have to say that you are failing to make the most of every opportunity to fulfill The Lord's mandate to "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt 28:19-20). Ironically, a pretty good number of the 30+ forums I've been on since 1997 prohibit teaching; even forums specifically set up for Bible study and discipleship.

256) Col 4:6 . . Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Grace is pretty well defined back at item #219.

Webster's defines "salt" as a natural white substance that is used especially to flavor and/or to preserve food

It seems to me from the language and grammar of Matt 5:13, Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34, and Col 4:6, that the purpose of salt in those passages is to enhance flavor and make otherwise naturally insipid and/or bad-tasting things palatable.

For example; gracious speech, seasoned with salt as per Col 4:6 would infer a civil tongue in one's head that's easy on people's nerves; in other words: conversation that lacks irritation; viz: sarcasm, undue criticism, rejoinders, smart aleck retorts, profanity, recriminations, crude suggestions, thoughtless remarks, ridicule, demeaning comments, sneering, scorn, rejoinders, half truths, mockery, fault finding, dishonesty, deception, semantic double-speak, clever sophistry, interruptions, yelling, quarreling, and name calling; etc.

Salt in one's speech then, would include things like honesty, forthrightness, praise, courtesy, friendliness, gratitude, leniency, patience, tolerance, kindness, and gentleness. In other words: conversation that makes an effort to maintain peace rather than provoke conflict and/or make people uncomfortable.

Jas 1:26 . .Whoever considers himself spiritual, and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Jas 3:5-12 . . See how whole forests are kindled by little fires! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

. . .With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both bitter water and sweet.

By far, the most toxic tongues I have ever been subjected to by Christians have been those on internet forums. Supposed followers of Christ whack each other with the Bible as if Samson were decimating the Philistines with a burro's jaw bone, and pontificate their interpretations as if they were infallible and speaking for God ex cathedra; yet all the while without the slightest consideration for what their choice of words might be doing to people's feelings.

Rom 3:13 . .The poison of a deadly snake drips from their lips.

257) Col 4:16 . . After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.

That directive has little application today except to point out that the epistles are meant to be studied in every Christian church; not just special Christian churches.

258) Col 4:17 . . And say to Archippus: Take heed to the ministry which you have received in The Lord, that you may fulfill it.

Archippus was a person of interest in the church at Colossae that met together in Philemon's home. (Php 1:1-3)

Paul's directive targeted a specific person of interest, but it can just as easily apply to any believer in a "calling" (cf. Rom 12:6-8)

259) 1Ths 4:1-2 . . Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in The Lord Jesus, that, as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you may excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of The Lord Jesus.

The tally of Christ's commandments at this point is 259. I assume my believing audience is already complying with them, and that's good. But to "excel" in them, requires constant use: like mastering violin, knitting, surgery, fly fishing, or shooting trap and skeet. They say practice makes perfect; and I'm inclined to agree because the more something is practiced, the more it becomes a habit instead of an effort.

For safety reasons, X-ray welding certifications typically expire in six months— and some in only three depending upon the parameters —if the welder doesn't work with the certified process during that time. The certifying agency assumes welders lose their touch if they don't keep at it.

Keeping up the good work is all the same as flossing your teeth every night because a lack of practice will lead one into bad habits. Even Derek Jeter would've soon lost his edge had he taken too long a break from playing baseball.

1Tim 4:8-9 . . Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. This is true, and everyone should accept it.

The reward promised in this life is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:19-25) which is broken down into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

260) 1Ths 4:3-5 . . It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;

Some folk, not quite understanding the nature of the Spirit birth about which John wrote in John 1:12-13 and about which Christ spoke in John 3:3-8, have been led to believe that born-again Christians are supposed to be free of their libido and their romantic impulses. Well, obviously not, or why else would it be God's will to control them?

There's a downside to sleeping around; not only a spiritual downside but a practical downside too. The below is from a study done by two psychology researchers from the university of Denver after studying 418 people who participated in a Relationship Development Study.

"The more sexual partners one sleeps with prior to marriage, the less quality of life they can expect to have in marriage. This also goes for people who shack up prior to marriage; even among those whose only sexual partner has been the person they eventually marry. People who have been through a divorce, or who had shacked up with someone before meeting their current spouse, were also less likely to have a high-quality marriage."

261) 1Ths 4:6 . . and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him.

"this matter" refers to adultery.

Heb 13:4 . . Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

Christians commit adultery with Christians? Haw! Does that even need to be answered? Of course they do; and it goes on all the time, even among church officers; who by all rights should be setting the example for the rank and file.

My wife was once friends with the wife of a counselor in a very big church in San Diego. She confided with my wife (on the QT of course) that it was amazing the number of church officers and their wives who were messing around. She couldn't reveal their names of course due to privacy considerations.

262) 1Ths 4:6-8 . . God has called us to be holy, not to live impure lives. Anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human rules but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

God's rules are the edicts of a monarch; and He expects compliance; but because people hear His rules as hear-say rather than straight from the horse's mouth, they quite naturally tend to be scofflaws.

NOTE: Why "gives" the Spirit instead of gave? Well; although Christ's followers are all equally endowed with the Spirit (1Cor 6:19) it's benefits are not equally doled. The fruit of the Spirit as per Gal 5:22-23 has a string attached: compliance with Christ's wishes; viz: when Christ's followers go rogue and live in accordance with their base nature, they die (John 15:1-10, Rom 8:5-13). In other words: the fruit of the Spirit is withheld.

263) 1Ths 4:11a . . Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business

Pro 26:17 . . Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.

In other words: DON'T get in the middle of disagreements that don't concern you. People resent that. You'll just end up taking sides and that is a really unwise thing to do because you'll make unnecessary enemies like that. Even someone who was once your very best friend can become alienated from you if you take a side against them in a matter that's none of your business.

264) 1Ths 4:11b-12 . . and to work with your own hands, just as we instructed you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders; and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

In times of economic stress, such as the one the USA is experiencing these days due to the 2008 Wall Street collapse, downsizing, wage reductions, corporations expatriating for tax advantages and/or outsourcing and moving their manufacturing offshore to take advantage of cheap labor and skimpy government controls; a pretty large percentage of America's employable Christians are out of work not because they are lazy free-loaders; but because their opportunities for full time work with decent wages and benefits are steadily declining.

So tread lightly when services like SNAP, TANF, Unemployment Benefits, etc come up in conversations. Innocent people's feeling might get hurt if you become too critical of those kinds of social services. And don't ever assume that you are immune to poverty. It can happen to anyone; even overnight and then you'll be looking around for assistance; maybe even from the very agencies that you at one time thought were below you.

265) 1Ths 4:18 . .Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Below are the words to which Paul referred

1Ths 4:13-11 . . Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to The Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of The Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.

. . . For The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet The Lord in the air. And so we will be with The Lord forever.

None of our circumstances are permanent; none, because Christ's followers are on their way to something better; and bumps in the road are not the end of the road; they're just inconveniences.

266) 1Ths 5:5-6 . . We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.

Is it possible for a Christian to be asleep at the wheel? Yes, absolutely or why else would Paul encourage his friends to remain wide-awake and bushy-tailed?

Mark 4:18-19 . . Others are like seed sown among thorns: they hear the word; but are distracted by the cares of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth; and longings for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Well, the lesson is obvious. Christians ought not to be distracted by worldly pursuits to such an extent that the day about which The Lord spoke comes as a big disappointment. No; they ought to be glad to see it rather than be all broken up about it because like it nor not; Christians take no more out with them than the lost when they leave this sphere. So try not to get too attached.

1Tim 6:7 . . For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

267) 1Ths 5:8 . . Since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.

The hope of salvation isn't a wishing hope, nor is it a hope-for-the-best hope, nor a cross-your-fingers hope. The koiné Greek word is elpis (el-pece') which means to anticipate with pleasure and confident expectation.

Anticipation is way different than wishful thinking. When a daddy loads up the car with wife and kids for a day at Six Flags, his family is no longer wishing he'd take them there. No, they're in the car and on the way. They no longer wish, but are now looking forward to having a day of great fun, food, and excitement. That's elpis hope.

268) 1Ths 5:11 . . Therefore encourage one another, and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Building believers up is just the opposite of tearing them down. Those in Galatia were busy doing just that.

Gal 5:15 . . But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another!

269) 1Ths 5:12-13a . . Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in The Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.

Real men respect real men. When church officers are mice; then 1Ths 5:12-13a becomes a challenge for real men to obey; but regardless; comply they must.

Heb 13:17 . . Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

I would say that if the officers in your church are just too impossible for you to respect then it's time to abandon ship. Don't mutiny though because mutiny is just as much a sin as heresy. The rank and file aren't called to reform church officers; but to cooperate with them. If they can't cooperate with them; then I sincerely believe the rank and file should leave and find a church where they can because The Lord isn't pleased with grudging compliance; but rather with whole-hearted compliance.

270) 1Ths 5:13b . . Live in peace with each other.

The category of peace Paul is talking about is social; viz: harmony in personal relations. The Hippies and the peace-nics failed to achieve peace primarily because they couldn't be civil among themselves unless they were high on mood-altering drugs.

Peace can be defined as: calm, pacific, tranquil, at rest, quiet, and free of trouble and strife.

A lack of peace is characterized by war, quarrelling, vendettas, hostility, grudging, fault finding, nit picking, chafing, competition, rivalry, cold shouldering, factions, taking sides, cliques, disorder, antagonism, fighting, conflict, struggles, et al.

One of the keynotes of Messiah's kingdom is peace. (Isa 9:6-7)

271) 1Ths 5:14a . . And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly

The koiné Greek word for "unruly" is ataktos (at-ak'-toce) which means: irregular; viz: out of order; disorderly. Unruly people are like kindergartners; but that's to be expected from their age group: little kids are disruptive, they're boisterous, they go off-subject and say whatever they want right out of the blue, they provoke and antagonize each other, they don't listen, they talk out of turn, they're impulsive, they can't stay in their seats, and they meddle and can't mind their own business.

When I see four supposedly adult women on television like "The View" throwing hissy fits and walking off the set, and/or talking out of turn; and spontaneously interrupting each other in mid sentence— sometimes all four speaking at once —I have to wonder. And so-called presidential debates where two supposedly mature adults, competing for the power to run the country, are quarrelling, calling each other names, and both talking at once and trying to talk over each other rather than taking turns; I get disgusted. God forbid that Christ's followers act like that either in church or out in the world.

272) 1Ths 5:14b . . comfort the discouraged

A discouraged person is someone who's given up all hope that a situation will improve or change; viz: despair.

In order to obey that directive, it's necessary to become personal with the people with whom you attend church. Too many Christians are like little islands of humanity in church. They warm a pew on Sunday morning and then get up and leave without bothering to spend even one minute mingling. They don't attend Sunday school because in Sunday school you meet people— you associate with them; you get to know them, and they get to know you.

As disagreeable as that might be for private types of Christians, Sunday school is the best place in church to go for sympathy, for encouragement, and for support. Unfortunately, not many Christians can deal with negativity; and tend to distance themselves from people down in the dumps.

NOTE: In Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book "Ten Stupid Things That Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives" she lists men's propensity to fix things. In other words: instead of simply lending a sympathetic ear to people's problems, some men tend to see people with problems as "broken" and in need of repair; and then of course they take the initiative to begin offering unsolicited remedies. No; the idea is to console the discouraged, not to "fix" them.

But even Sunday schools have their problems. If the class size is enormous, then you will be swallowed up and no more visible than a termite in the floor boards. Look for small classes; especially those where the people sit around tables rather than in rows of chairs. You get to meet people around tables, while rows of chairs tend to isolate people from one another.

And don't forget your church's pastors, deacons, and elders. They need encouragement and support too just like anybody else. Don't ever assume your leaders are rocks who don't need anybody. No, they're only human, and if they're truly humble, they'll really appreciate your interest in their welfare— usually.

I once complimented a young speaker at a men's breakfast about the lecture he delivered that morning. He glared at me with daggers— his mouth a tight grimace, his eyes narrow slits of hate and suspicion —and turned away without speaking a single word in response. That young man's reaction took me by surprise; chilling me to the bone and causing me to forget everything he said that day up in front. Obviously he was a rock in his own mind and insulted by encouragement from the audience. Well, I kept my distance from then on. God pity a church with people like that on staff.

273) 1Ths 5:14c . . support the weak

This actually means to care for your church's aged and/or infirm; viz; people on crutches, people getting around in wheel chairs, people who can no longer drive a car, people lacking enough health to even leave their residences and go shopping on their own, people stuck in assisted living: that sort of thing.

274) 1Ths 5:14d . . Be patient with all men.

Most of us are selective with our patience. But The Lord mandates patience with "all" men, not just favorites. This relates to the directive that commands believers to value others as better than themselves. (Php 2:2-3)

275) 1Ths 5:15 . . See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

Christian conduct isn't a temporary uniform kept in the closet just for Sunday mornings like the rather odd patrons who wear costumes at Star Trek conventions. No, Christian conduct is every-day wear: in the home, on the job, at school, at the beach, at the mall, at the park, at the beach, in restaurants, in amusement centers, at the zoo, at the circus, et al; in other words: ever-followed; not just at church on Sunday morning.

276) 1Ths 5:16 . . Rejoice evermore.

"evermore" doesn't mean some of the time, nor most of the time; but rather, it means all the time.

277) 1Ths 5:17 . . pray continually

The koiné Greek word for "continually" is adialeiptos (ad-ee-al-ipe'-toce) which means: uninterruptedly; viz: without omission. Webster's defines omission as: 1) something neglected or left undone, and 2) apathy toward, or neglect of, duty.

Believers who pray seldom, or not at all, are like a young man in the military who never writes home until his parents complain about his silence. I wrote home so infrequently when I was in the US Army back in the 1960's that my dad finally threatened to contact my company commander about it. (I thought that rather out of character for my dad since he never really cared anything about what I was doing all the years when I lived at home.)

You know, I have to admit, that even if I had a red phone installed in my home with a direct connection to God's desk, it would gather cobwebs from lack of use. I sometimes suspect that's one of the reasons trouble comes our way. It's to provoke some of us to call home.

It's not that I don't like God; it's just that all my life I've been conditioned to feel peripheral, and important to no one. My natural siblings are just the opposite. They have always perceived themselves at the center of the universe— essential to its existence —while I have always perceived myself as not even belonging in the universe; let alone being at its center and/or having anything to do with its existence.

One evening, while attending a single's group at church back in the 1970's, the leader of the group went around the room asking each of us to name something special about ourselves. I could not think of a single thing; while another in the room said everything about themselves was special. They weren't being vain; they were being honest. That fortunate person had a very good self image and a healthy appreciation for their own worth.

It's very difficult for Christians like myself to believe that Christ's Father has any real interest in us. We have always believed ourselves ostracized, unnecessary, marginal, unwanted, and unimportant— but we're used to it so it's no big deal.

But feelings of unimportance are a handicap: not just in life, but in the spiritual realm too. It is just about nigh unbearable for believers like myself to comply with 1Ths 5:17 since we simply cannot believe ourselves missed by anyone; especially Christ's Father who we believe in our hearts must certainly prefer the company of people far more interesting than ourselves. But that command applies to everybody whether we think God cares or not. All must comply; no exceptions.

278) 1Ths 5:18 . . Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

The koiné Greek word for "give thanks" is eucharisteo (yoo-khar-is-teh'-o) which means to be grateful. This goes much deeper than just common courtesy. Appreciation is an attitude; which Webster's defines as: to value or admire highly.

They say every cloud has a silver lining. Whether that's so or not matters little as one should never let disagreeable circumstances make them bitter and resentful towards the Bible's God; for example:

Job 1:20-22 . .Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. Yhvh gave and Yhvh has taken away. Blessed be the name of Yhvh. Through all this Job did not sin nor did he condemn God.

Hab 3:17-18 . . Although the fig tree fails to blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no food; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in Yhvh, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Regardless of what the unbelieving world may say, think, or feel about the Bible's God, the one thing He's done for me that I will always sincerely appreciate is donate His one and only son towards rescuing my soul from a terrible future.

John 3:16-17 . . For God so cared for the world that He sacrificed His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God didn't send His son into the world to condemn it, but to rescue it.

279) 1Ths 5:19 . . Quench not the Spirit.

The koiné Greek word for "quench" is sbennumi (sben'-noo-mee) which means: to extinguish.

When we put out the lights nowadays, we do it with a mechanical device like a switch or a circuit breaker because they're electric. But in those days, all illumination was produced by fire, e.g. oil, pitch, wood, and/or candles. I think it goes without saying that when a believer has managed to extinguish the Spirit; they're walking in the dark; which throws them out of sync with God.

1John 1:6 . . If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth

Fellowship has nothing to do with heaven and/or hell. Fellowship is related to the nature of a believer's association with the paterfamilias of the family of God. For example, a rebellious teen-ager may not be getting along with its parents, but the mom and dad are still that teen-ager's parents regardless, The nature of the family's association may be temporarily dysfunctional but no amount of bad behavior can undo the family as kin— ever.

280) 1Ths 5:20 . . Do not despise prophecies.

Webster's defines "despise" as (1) to look down on with contempt, loathing, or aversion, (2) to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful, and (3) to regard as unworthy of one's notice or consideration.

The Old Testament is specifically stated to be useful to Christians.

Luke 24:44-45 . . He said to them : This is what I told you while I was still with you : Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms. Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Rom 15:4 . .Whatever things were written before, were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.

Pastors, especially, should devote some of their time to studying the Old Testament.

2Tim 3:16-17 . . All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Worldly Christians are prone to put far more value on showy spirituality like tongues than they do on preaching; which is actually a sign of immaturity and a lack of appreciation for skills that really matter.

I think some Christians, if offered a choice between being a soloist in the choir, or an effective Sunday school teacher, would choose being the soloist because that's more glamorous than teaching; but if The Lord were given the same choice, he would choose teaching. (e.g. Luke 10:38-41)

281) 1Ths 5:20-22 . . Evaluate everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

I often see Christians parrot "By their fruits you shall know them". But they seem unaware that fruit inspectors require specialized training before they're qualified to distinguish between the good fruit from the bad fruit. Worldly Christians especially are in no condition to discern between good and bad because they've quenched the Spirit and walk in the dark. To a worldly Christian that which is good is bad, and that which is bad is good. Subsequently, they do just the opposite of Paul's directive: they abstain from good rather than bad; and then wonder why the paterfamilias of the family of God is a stranger.

282) 1Ths 5:25 . . Brethren, pray for us.

The pronoun "us" refers to Paul and his associates; but could just as easily apply to anyone who represents Christ; e.g. evangelists, missionaries, pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and elders.

283) 1Ths 5:26 . . Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.

Kissing was a common form of greeting in the old world, and still is in some places today. Kissing is risky though because it can easily turn from holy kissing into sensual kissing. I'd say let your own culture be your guide in this area. The kiss itself isn't really mandatory anyway, it's the greeting that counts; and believers are to greet all the brethren, not just their favorites. Don't be a snob.

284) 1Ths 5:27 . . I adjure you by The Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren.

None of the epistles are "eyes only" for the big shots in church. All church members are supposed to have access to them, and expected to know what's in them. How else are they to evaluate everything carefully, and hold fast to that which is good, and abstain from every form of evil if they aren't given access to the epistles?

The gospel conveys sinners into the family of God, while the epistles instruct the family how to behave as family members; so you can see that the epistles have a very important role in the lives of believers.

1Tim 3:14-15 . . I am writing these things to you now even though I hope to be with you soon so that if I can't come for a while, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God.

285) 2Ths 2:1-2 . . Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day of Christ is at hand.

The "day of Christ" can be defined as all that terrible stuff that's to take place in the book of Revelation, which Isa 13:9 describes as "cruel". Paul is saying that Christ's followers need not be nervous about it because they are slated to be spared all of that.

1Thes 1:10 . .Wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.

1Thes 5:9-10 . . For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him

286) 2Ths 2:3-4 . . Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, presenting himself that he is God.

One of the salient features of the day of Christ is that there will be a one-world religion. All currently known forms of religion will be banned upon penalty of death. That means Christianity in all its Protestant and Catholic forms and denominations will be illegal; as well as Islam, Mormonism, Baha'i, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Scientology, et al, and even atheism and agnosticism— everybody will be required to worship that man of sin; the son of perdition.

The koiné Greek word for "falling away" is apostasia (ap-os-tas-ee'-ah) which means: defection from truth; viz: apostasy. This is not the same as heresy. An heretic stays with a church and undermines its unity by subtly introducing unapproved doctrines; while an apostate doesn't stay, but instead totally renounces a church and walks away; sort of like a Baptist switching over to Mormonism; and vice/versa.

In the future; people will apostatize to save their skins and here's why:

Rev 13:11-15 . . And I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spoke as a dragon. And he exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. And he performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men.

. . . And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And there was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast might even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed.

In my opinion, the man to fear is not the first beast, but the second because of his miraculous powers. Anyway since no one on earth at present has fulfilled any of those predictions, then it's a safe bet that the day of Christ isn't in progress yet so don't worry about it. In point of fact, believers are commanded to abstain from worrying about it.

287) 2Ths 2:15 . . So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

The "traditions" to which Paul refers are in two categories: (1) word of mouth, and (2) in writing. Seeing as how Paul and his contemporaries are no longer available for personal appearances, then the only reliable traditions in existence are the ones they left us in writing; viz: their letters; those written by Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude.

288) 2Ths 3:6-10 . . In the name of The Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it.

. . . On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

People unemployed due to circumstances beyond their control are exempt from that directive. It specifically targets what we here in the USA call a bum: which Webster's defines as someone who sponges off others not because they can't find work; but because they have an aversion to work; viz: they avoid work as if it were an inconvenient imposition on their leisure time.

289) 2Ths 3:11-13 . .We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in The Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.

Some might not think that holding down a job qualifies as worship but it certainly does. Working for a living is categorized as "doing what is right".

John 4:23-24 . . Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

290) 2Ths 3:14 . . If anyone does not obey our commands in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed.

Back then when churches were small enough to meet in homes rather than auditoriums that seat hundreds of people, it was easy to keep an eye on Christ's followers and hold their feet to the fire. Nowadays, forget it. Church sizes are such that management hasn't a clue what's going on in the lives of their membership roles. As a result, modern churches are permeated with conduct unbecoming.

291) 2Ths 3:15 . .Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Mandatory consequences were usually for the purpose of discipline; viz: child rearing. So when officers ostracize one of Christ's followers, the congregation should keep in mind that the errant follower is one of their own: a sibling around the table in God's home. So wayward followers shouldn't be permanently culled from the herd as if they're the devil in disguise. They aren't devils; no, they're just naughty kids deserving a whipping. (cf. 2Cor 2:6-11)

292) 1Tim 1:3-5 . . As I urged you when I went into Macedonia— remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

The epistles of Timothy and Titus are sometimes called the pastoral epistles because Paul's instructions target mainly church managers rather than congregations.

The "no other doctrine" is the information he mentioned in another letter.

2Ths 2:15 . . So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

It was one of The Lord's last wishes that his church be unified.

John 17:11 . . And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

The sphere of Christianity today isn't unified; and actually, hasn't been since the first century. Even while the apostles were still alive, even in their own day, professing Christians were already breaking away and starting apostate movements (e.g. Gal 1:6-9, 1Tim 1:3-4, 2Tim 2:15-18, 1John 2:18-19, Jud 1:17-19). And churches were infested with counterfeit believers (2Cor 11:13, 2Cor 11:26, Gal 2:4, 2Pet 2:1, 1John 4:1). It's just amazing how soon that happened.

Somewhere within Christianity's world of chaos is Christ's unified church. One denomination says it's theirs, while another says it's theirs. Christianity truly is a world of confusion because not every church's managers are standing firm and holding to the traditions taught in the New Testament letters.

293) 1Tim 2:1-2 . . First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

I really don't think that passage is speaking of the common understanding of what we call intercession, rather that prayer be made in people's stead, i.e. do their praying for them by means of proxy prayer.

Not all men, nor all kings, nor all in authority are people of prayer. In point of fact, I'd guess that most people never pray; not even on special occasions; and even so, there's a pretty good number of people throughout the world praying to the wrong deity. Well; it's possible, I don't know how, for Christians to be the voice of the world's prayer-challenged folk.

Proxy prayer is unusual but not all that far fetched. For example Rom 8:26-27 where the Spirit is shown praying in the saints' stead simply because when it comes to prayer; they're clumsy amateurs; even the best of them.

Proxy prayer is hinted in the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God in the form of the morning and evening sacrifices (Ex 29:38-42, cf. Job 1:5). Those sacrifices are offered without the people's consent just as Christ offered himself on the cross without the world's consent. But sans the cross and/or sans the morning and evening sacrifices, people would have very little association with God; if any.

294) 1Tim 2:8-9 . . I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and evil thoughts.

Lifting up one's hands is the posture of an anxious beggar seeking charity and compassion. Holy hands are hands dedicated to serving Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively. Other kinds of hands should be kept at one's side till such a time as they qualify as holy.

The koiné Greek word for "wrath" is orge (or-gay') which means: hot desire. Orge is sometimes translated anger, indignation, and vengeance. The idea is that a believer should never pray out of spite and/or use prayer as a tool to hurt somebody's feelings. That is the ugliest abuse of the privilege of prayer that I can possibly imagine. In my opinion, people who pray out of spite are no different than slanderers, witches, sorcerers and voodoo priests. Especially annoying are people who can't keep a civil tongue in their heads, and then have the nerve to say "you're in our prayers"

295) 1Tim 2:9-10 . . In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becomes women professing piety) with good works.

Women are not exempt from the directive to abstain from wrath and evil thoughts. And their hands ought to be holy hands too; viz: doing good instead of up to no good.

Some folk, obsessed with asceticism, use that verse to prove it's wrong for women to use cosmetics and dress themselves in current fashions. But the passage doesn't forbid that. What it forbids is a woman putting a higher priority on her appearance than her character.

The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" applies here as well as in literature. I've met women with tattoos, studs in their tongues, multicolored hair, fishnet stockings, outrageous earrings, tight-fitting concert tee shirts, low-slung hip huggers, and black lipstick that were really peaches while I've met dignified, neatly dressed women with horrible personalities. They say a rose in any language is still a rose; yeah, well, a pig, no matter how it's dressed, is still a pig whether in belly shirts and flip-flops or haute couture.

Prv 11:22 . . An attractive woman who lacks discretion is like a gold ring in a pig's snout. (cf. 1Pet 3:1-6)

The koiné Greek word for "shamefacedness" is aidos (ahee-doce') which means: bashfulness; which is just the opposite of insolence, impudence, and brazenness. Bashful people have a hard time looking people in the eye because they are so shy, non-confrontational, timid, self conscious, and non-assertive. What we're looking at here relates to one of The Lord's beatitudes.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

That beatitude was taken from the book of Isaiah.

Isa 66:2 . .But on this one will I look: on him who is of a poor and contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.

The koine word for "sobriety" is sophrosune (so-fros-oo'-nay) which means soundness of mind; viz: sane, composed, and self controlled. A woman in the throes of hysteria, passionate rage, door-slamming, or a hissy fit does not quality a sophrosune.

296) 1Tim 2:11 . . Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.

The koiné Greek word for "quietly" is hesuchia (hay-soo-khee'-ah) which mean: stillness; viz : desistance from bustle or language, i.e. comments and remarks.

The submissiveness Paul is talking about is not abject servitude; but rather, deference.

You know; it's okay for a woman to feel within herself equal to men. The truly strong women, the ones sure of themselves, don't have to demand equality; they've got it, they know it, and they're content with that. They don't feel a desperate urge to take a public stand on the issue via activism.

I can think of very few other things that Christian women do to humiliate Christ than going to war over equality because there's nothing intrinsically holy about civil disobedience, belligerence, hostility, assertiveness, demands, and confrontational behavior; which a really sharp woman can rationalize and defend with the cleverest of sophistry, but she'll still be in the wrong.

297) 1Tim 2:12-15 . . I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

In the "my" church of Matt 16:18, male Christians are the gender designated to captain the ships; not the females. I pity a church supervised by female managers and pastors. Why? Because it tells me that Christ is not active in that church providing it with the tools the congregation needs in order to serve him faithfully, loyally, and effectively. The men in that church need to lift up holy hands and pray that Christ send them males to replace the females; and if not, then the men should evacuate— now! —while they can.

298) 1Tim 2:15 . . Women shall be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

In other words, it isn't necessary for women to be pastors, deacons, and/or adult Sunday school teachers in order to serve Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively. Homemaking is just as high a calling as any in church.

Can a female church manager or a pastor; continue in faith, love, and sanctity with self-restraint? In point of fact, it is a non sequitur to say a female church manager or pastor continues in faith. If she did, she would be neither a church manager nor a pastor. This is precisely why God rejected Cain's offering. It was a perfectly good offering, and no doubt Cain had brought God the very same thing in the past, but God rejected it that time because that's the one time that Cain failed to offer it in faith. (Gen 4:7, Heb 11:4)

299) 1Tim 3:2a . . An overseer, then, must be above reproach

The koiné Greek word for "overseer" is episkopos (ep-is'-kop-os) which means: a superintendent; viz: church officers, e,g, pastors and deacons.

Pastors and deacons of modern churches aren't really pastors in the true Biblical sense; they're actually managers. A true pastor is essentially a shepherd; which is totally different (and somewhat rare too). In point of fact, pastors no longer supervise churches at all; boards run churches, and pastors are merely employees; viz: hirelings.

To tell the truth, I'm afraid of today's career pastors; I don't trust them, and do my best to avoid them because I don't feel safe in their presence; which is very abnormal. If there's anybody on God's green earth that The Lord's sheep should be able to trust, it's their local shepherd but far too many church managers today regard their congregations as numbers rather than responsibilities.

Why must pastors be above reproach? Because the work they do is a "good" work (1Tim 3:1) but much good can be ruined by even a little wickedness.

Ecc 10:1 . . Dead insects will cause even a bottle of perfume to stink! Yes, an ounce of foolishness can outweigh a pound of wisdom and honor.

Before the wonders of modern chemistry, perfumes were made (and many still are) from animal and vegetable sources. Those, being 100% organic in a time when chemical preservatives didn't exists, could spoil if the perfumer wasn't careful to keep his product protected from exposure to temperature, insects, dirt, moisture, and other contaminants. All the skills and patience and knowledge exercised in the making of expensive ointments could be completely annulled by simply forgetting to put the cap (or the cork; whatever) back on a jar.

Anyway, Ecc 10:1 certainly rings true in this day and age as the Roman Catholic Church's credibility steadily diminishes because of its ongoing pedophilia scandals and the hierarchy's deplorable cover-ups.

300) 1Tim 3:2b . . the husband of one wife

That directive is a bit ambiguous. Some feel it says a pastor can have only one wife at a time; viz: not a polygamist; while others feel it says he can be married only once in his lifetime; viz: not a widower or a divorced man.

I tend to think it means one wife at a time. If so; then this passage, and Titus 1:5-6 have the distinction of being the only places in the entire Bible prohibiting polygamy.

However; the stipulation is very narrow. It specifically regulates the home life of a church's big shots, so it would be wrong to use those passages to justify forcing monogamy upon the rank and file. However, if polygamy conflicts with the laws of one's state of residence, then of course the State has the final say in that regard. (cf. Rom 13:1-5)

301) 1Tim 3:2c . . temperate

The koiné Greek word for "temperate" can be either nephaleos (nay-fal'-eh-os); or nephalios (nay-fal'-ee-os) and means: sober. This kind of sobriety has nothing to do with alcohol rather it relates to an even-keeled personality: not overly silly, not overly excitable and not overly serious: right in the middle; viz: well-balanced.

302) 1Tim 3:2d . . prudent

The koiné word for "prudent" is sophron (so'-frone) which means: having a sound mind; viz: rational, reasonable, and sensible as opposed to emotional and reactive.

303) 1Tim 3:2e . . respectable

The koiné Greek word for "respectable" is kosmios (kos'-mee-os) which means: orderly, viz: decorous.

Webster's defines decorous as marked by propriety; viz: correct; and exhibiting good taste in conduct, language, or appearance. A decorous person is— among other things —neat, tidy, well-mannered, well-groomed, and polite. They bathe often too.

304) 1Tim 3:2f . . hospitable

The koiné word for "hospitable" is philoxenos (fil-ox'-en-os) which means: fond of guests. In other words, a pastor shouldn't be a hermit type, or a friendless loner who prefers solitude. Not that there's anything wrong with hermits and loners; it's just that pastors are supposed to be shepherds, which requires them to associate with their flock. A man who doesn't mingle easily and comfortably really should consider another line of work.

305) 1Tim 3:2g . . able to teach

Just because somebody has a head full of knowledge and wisdom doesn't mean they are able to teach it to others. Teaching is a skill that requires an aptitude; in point of fact, teaching Christ's sheep requires a supernatural aptitude; viz: a gift.

Rom 12:6-7 . . Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching

306) 1Tim 3:3a . . not addicted to wine

Pastors aren't forbidden alcohol; just too much alcohol.

1Tim 5:23 . . No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

A "little" wine can lead to a lot for someone with a predilection to over-imbibe. For people like that, it's best to avoid wine altogether rather than risk becoming a candidate for AA.

307) 1Tim 3:3b . . not pugnacious

Webster's defines pugnacious as: militant, defensive, warlike, combative, confrontational, pushy, assertive, scrappy, and belligerent. Some men are natural-born bullies and others are ready to "take it outside" at every challenge. You sure don't want one of them in your pulpit. God forbid!

308) 1Tim 3:3c . . gentle, non contentious

A good pastor isn't what might be called shrinking; but rather, he's an affable, courageous man who selects his conflicts carefully. For some people, every disagreement is an act of war: they're assertive, demanding, reactive, defensive, and confrontational not just some of the time; but all the time. A gentle man is not so quick to draw his guns at the slightest provocation. However, though shepherds walk softly so as not to frighten the sheep; at the same time; they carry a big stick.

309) 1Tim 3:3d . . free from the love of money.

L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, started out as an author of pulp fiction novels for a penny per word. One day he came to the conclusion that the real money was in religion, especially if it had a non-profit tax exemption. Well; today, the net worth of just the top three of Scientology's upwards of thirty entities— Scientology International, the Flag Service Organization, and the Church Of Spiritual Technology —is in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion dollars. The personal net worth of David Miscavige, Scientology's current head, is rumored to be somewhere around 50 million. It's very curious how a supposedly non-profit church, and it's head, amassed such fortunes.

Back in 1988-99, a tel-evangelist named James Orsen Bakker was sentenced to 45 years in Federal prison (later reduced to 8) for embezzling millions of dollars from his own ministry and using some of the money to construct an extravagant mansion— complete with gold plumbing —for he and wife Tammy, and a luxurious kennel for their pet dog.

I would highly recommend that a prospective pastor's background be checked before proceeding with the interview process. Is his credit good? Does he have gambling debts? Does he prefer gourmet foods and restaurants? Does he wear Armani suits, hand-made shoes, a Cartier wrist watch, and drive a Lexus? What's his current home worth? What part of town does he live in? . . because, unfortunately, there are men out there seeking careers in the business of religion, and are very good at finding ways to get their fingers in a church's treasury— and not a few are looking for lucrative wage and benefit packages instead of an opportunity to serve Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively; and to look out for his best interests instead of their own.

310) 1Tim 3:4-5 . . He must manage his own family well, and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?)

There's respect, and then there's "proper" respect which has to be nurtured because a father cannot get proper respect by force. Tyranny doesn't earn respect; it earns fear, suspicion, mistrust, and dread. Instilling fear into the hearts of one's children is sure to backfire some day when they're older.

Back in Ephesians, we pointed out that children are discouraged by fathers that abuse their human rights. Well, abusive pastors are just as bad. Despots and dictators are certain to discourage their congregations just as surely as abusive fathers break their children's spirit.

Managing a home falls into the category of stewardship; which is a power very easily abused if one isn't careful. I would say that Joseph was a good steward because he didn't use his power for personal gain, but rather for the protection of the Egyptians under whom Pharaoh put his control. But not all stewards are like Joseph.

Take for example Bhumibol Adulyadej, the late king of Thailand. His personal wealth at the time of his death was estimated to be 30 billion dollars. I really have to question the integrity of a steward who goes to his grave with 30 billion dollars the meanwhile that poverty levels in his country are rising.

311) 1Tim 3:6 . . He must not be a novice, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the Devil.

A novice doesn't have enough life experience under his belt— hard knocks and soft knocks, victory and defeat, accolades and disgrace, good luck and bad luck, success and failure, acceptance and rejection, mistakes and corrections, abundant opportunity and limited opportunity, poverty and riches, sorrow and happiness, faithful friends and back-stabbing friends, etc —to shepherd Christ's people. Youngsters coming out of seminaries these days think they're ready to take the reins? They haven't a clue.

There's nothing wrong with a healthy self-image; but a conceited person is above and beyond; actually to the point of narcissism. They're infected with unbearable superiority complexes. But let me tell those fat heads something: the world was getting by just fine before you came along, and it will get by just fine after you're gone. Don't even think for a minute that you can't be replaced.

A serious side effect of conceit is self reliance. In other words: it's possible to think of one's self as so competent, and so in with God, that they take His providence for granted; or worse, take it or leave it.

312) 1Tim 3:7 . . He must also have a good reputation with outsiders

Paul lists that qualification as a must rather than an option. You know; that's all a church needs is to install a new pastor only to find out later he's the classic neighbor from Hell. Your new pastor might be a one-eyed Jack in church, but the kids on his street, and the people whose property adjoins his, the post man, the convenience store, the gas station, the super market, the department store, the drive-up at McDonald's, the trick-or-treaters, the bank, the paperboy, etc, have all seen the other side of his face. It had better match the one he's shown you or your church's overall influence in the community will be in the tank; and you will have a man in the pulpit whom Christ does not approve, and with whom he does not care to associate.

313) 1Tim 3:8-9 . . Deacons likewise must be men of dignity; etc, etc.

That's another must.

The koiné Greek word for "deacons" is diakonos (dee-ak'-on-os) which means: an attendant, i.e. (genitive case) a waiter (at table or in other menial duties). A deacon's duties and responsibilities are typically lower on the glamour scale than pastors and associate pastors.

Deacons are supposed to serve as the pastors' go-fers; viz: his support.

314) 1Tim 3:10 . . And let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach.

The very same interview process and background checks utilized in pastor selection is supposed to be applied to deacons. Paul cautioned his friend to "lay hands on no man suddenly" in other words; avoid being too hasty in appointing support staff.

315) 1Tim 3:11 . . Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.

Yes, there are female deacons and it's perfectly alright just so long as they accept the fact that they are in no way exempt from 1Cor 14:33-35, 1Tim 2:9-10, 1Tim 2:12-15, and 1Tim 3:10.

The koiné Greek word for "malicious gossips" is diabolos (dee-ab'-ol-os) which means: a traducer; which Webster's defines as someone who exposes others to shame or blame by means of falsehood and/or misrepresentation.

Deaconesses are in a position to become privy to some sensitive information about their church and its members. It would be a serious violation of trust to blab about those things to people for whom those things are none of their business. We expect baby sitters to be mum about things that they see in our homes. Shouldn't the congregation have a right to expect as much from deaconesses?

316) 1Tim 3:12-13 . . Let deacons be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households.

Qualifications for deacons are very similar to those for the pastors they serve. (cf. 1Tim 3:2, 1Tim 3:4-6)

317) 1Tim 4:7a . . Have nothing to do with the worldly fantasies of withered old women.

Paul isn't speaking of action comics and/or pulp novels that can be purchased at venders like Barnes & Noble and Borders; but rather, of the religious traditions that the seniors of every generation customarily pass down to the young; thus perpetuating non Christian beliefs and practices.

The USA's indigenous cultural traditions would be a good example of this. When a Native American becomes a Christian, the Bible's God expects them to disown portions of their spiritual heritage, and let them go; not entirely of course; but certain elements like contacting the spirits of one's deceased ancestors would have to be scrubbed for sure.

This is a very sensitive issue and one where non-native Christians, unschooled in Indigenous culture, seriously need to tread lightly. The White Man's early attempts to completely wipe out everything Native American was a terrible mistake that today's non-native Christians have got to be extra careful not to repeat.

318) 1Tim 4:7b-8 . .Train yourself to be pious. For physical training is of some value, but piety has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Physical training like baseball practice makes a player like Derek Jeter a whiz at short stop. While his mind is deciding what best to do with the ball, his body's reflexes automatically carry out its decision without Derek having to think about it. That comes from conditioning. But Jeter's baseball ability is only good for when he's playing baseball, not for everything he does in life; while piety moderates everything, including one's conduct on the playing field.

319) 1Tim 4:11 . . Command and teach these things.

I believe Paul was referring to everything he wrote in his letter; not just the last few verses.

320) 1Tim 4:12 . . Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

There is nothing a young-ish pastor can do to stop some members of his congregation from despising him for being younger than they are, but there is plenty he can do to prevent their attitude from dictating the spirit of his ministry. Like a man once said: You can please some of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time. So then, please Christ, and leave the attitude adjustments to the Almighty.

321) 1Tim 4:14 . . Focus upon the public reading of scripture, and to preaching and teaching.

Had Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. complied with that directive instead of getting involved in politics; he might still be alive today.

There are scholars who specialize in debunking cults and isms; for example Walter Martin, whose excellent work "The Kingdom Of The Cults" should be in every Christian's library. However, it is not a pastor's responsibility to debunk cults and isms nor is it in the best interests of his congregation for him to do so. His responsibility is to ensure the scriptures are read aloud, and that preaching and teaching are the norm because by doing so, his flock will grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Bible's God. (cf. Eph 4:11-16)

Public reading was necessary because of the scarcity of Bibles in those days. All of them were hand-written, and none were mass-produced like now.

Scripture in those days would have been pretty much limited to the Old Testament since the New Testament's canon had not yet been compiled. The Old Testament is very important because it is impossible for believers to obtain a full understanding of The Lord's mission and purpose without a comprehensive knowledge of the Old Testament.

Luke 24:44-45 . . And he said unto them, These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.

2Tim 3:15-17 . . The holy scriptures are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Rom 15:4 . . For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

322) 1Tim 4:15-16 . . Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

A pastor can progress in only one of two directions. If he goes downwards, as the Laodicean pastor of Rev 4:14-20; that's not progress, that's regress; which Webster's defines as: movement backward to a previous, and especially worse, or more primitive, state or condition. This doesn't mean that a church's facility needs paint and its weeds sprayed with Roundup. We're talking about a pastor's personal spiritual condition. He may be the head honcho of an illustrious, impressive, big-city church campus, and still be in a condition of regression because it's not the outside of a church that testifies to a pastor's true spiritual condition, but rather, his own insides; for example:

Matt 23:27-28 . . You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and all kinds of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

The koiné Greek word for "hypocrisy" is hupokrisis (hoop-ok'-ree-sis) which means acting under a feigned part. Hypocrisy is a lucrative profession for people employed in movies, sit-coms, and soaps. But that's okay because it's all above board. We know they're just playing roles and they're not trying to get by with anything; but a pastor is not supposed to be an actor; he's supposed to be a man of integrity: which roughly means for somebody to be the same on the inside as they are on the outside.

323) 1Tim 5:1a . . When speaking to an older man, appeal to him respectfully as though he were your own father.

There's probably nothing more humiliating to a parent than to be treated like dirt by their children— except maybe to be treated like dirt by a spouse.

Americans have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers. Well, a child is not a parent's peer; he's not even the parent's equal let alone his peer. Parents are not children's peers; no, parents are their betters, not their equals. It's a thoughtless, wicked, insolent dunce who treats their parents with no more respect than one of their college beer buddies.

I was in a Sunday school class one morning where a young fellow substituted for the regular teacher. After practically every sentence during his lecture, the fellow would pause, tighten his lips, turn down the corners of his mouth, squint his eyes into narrow slits, and look around the room with a judgmental attitude, and better than half that room was older than he was. I don't know about the rest of the group, but as a man easily twice his age; I deeply resented those looks.

324) 1Tim 5:1b . .Speak to the younger men as you would to your own kin.

In this case, the "kin" would be sort of like a man's younger siblings; viz: his kid brothers. Young boys look up to their big brothers; who by all rights should be setting the example as role models that a growing boy can be proud of. Big brothers ought to be available too, and not treat their younger siblings as excess baggage and/or un-cool nerds and morons who are beneath their dignity to be seen with.

325) 1Tim 5:2 . . Speak to the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.

The koiné Greek word for "purity" is hagneia (hag-ni'-ah) which means: cleanliness; viz: chastity

Webster's defines "chastity" as: abstention from unlawful sexual intercourse and/or purity in conduct and intention

Pastors are in an advantageous position for meeting women; thus opportunities for trysts abound; as the news media often attests. That's just what every church needs is a pastor who uses his position as a means to cruise chicks isn't it? According to 1Tim 5:2, a man who does that is, in all practicality, an incestuous older brother.

Speaking to older women as mothers means doing so in deference to the fourth of the Ten Commandments. Is there benefit to a pastor who keeps a civil tongue in his head and respects the feelings of the older women in his congregation? Yes.

Eph 6:1-3 . . Honor your father and mother— which is the first of the commandments that contains a promise; which is: that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

There's really not much that's more hurtful to a mother than an insolent, arrogant child.

326) 1Tim 5:3-4 . . Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, her kin should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

A widow in real need would be one who is unable to work and has no one of her own to look out after her. Here in modern America that situation isn't nearly as serious as it is in third world countries where there are no government assistance programs for senior citizens. So you can see that in those circumstances a widow's church may be the only thing between her and grinding poverty.

A widow's Christian offspring have a sacred obligation to provide for their aging ancestors.

1Tim 5:8 . .Those who won't care for their own kin, especially those living in the same household, have disregarded what we believe. Such people are worse than infidels.

327) 1Tim 5:5-7 . .The widow who is really in need, and left all alone, puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame.

The New Testament Greek word for "pleasure" means voluptuous; which Webster's defines as luxury and/or sensual gratification.

People who live only for the best that life has to offer generally regard religion as a ball and chain holding them back from living their lives to the fullest. Well; not everyone has access to either the means or the wherewithal to live life to the fullest. For some, life offers no options other than a tin shack, a dirt floor, and a bowl of white rice; if that.

Paul says to decline widows whose goal is to satisfy their appetite for the best that life has to offer. As it's said that one cannot serve God and money, well neither can one serve God and one's inherent cravings. True, you can't stop yourself from having cravings for the best that life has to offer; but you can choose whether to let them be the dominant force in your life.

Mark 4:18-19 . . Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the concerns of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.

328) 1Tim 5:9-10 . . No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

There are unprincipled individuals out there who love nothing better than taking advantage of a church's good nature, and its desire to be helpful. Following Paul's directive is a good way to avoid being victimized by one of them. (cf. Ruth 2:11)

329) 1Tim 5:11-12 . . As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list. For when their sensual desires overcome their dedication to Christ, they want to marry. Thus they bring judgment on themselves, because they have broken their first pledge.

The koiné Greek word for "widow" in this section is chera (khay'-rah) which doesn't necessarily indicate a woman whose husband died. It simply indicates a woman that's lost her man (or maybe never had one to begin with, e.g. grass widows).

The words "sensual desires" are translated from a Greek word that means voluptuous against. In other words; their craving for the good things in life will outweigh any importance that they might put upon serving Christ faithfully, loyally, and effectively.

The "first pledge" is a woman's wedding vows. If a married Christian woman doesn't want to live with her husband anymore; fine: don't. But if she divorces her husband in order to take up with a man she likes better; that's not fine; no, that's totally wrong.

330) 1Tim 5:14 . . So I will that younger widows marry, have children, manage their homes, and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

That almost seems to contradict a previous verse condemning young widows for remarrying; but in this case, it's assumed she hasn't broken her first pledge; viz: she has a legitimate right to remarry.

According to Paul's criteria, a widow qualifies as "younger" if she's not yet undergone menopause. A young ex-wife still has a good supply of active hormones, and a very lively libido that needs an outlet. This is just a fact of life and all the religion in the world is not going to make it go away. A few women are okay with celibacy, but not all that many are. Even women that some men might evaluate as "frigid" will feel comfortable in the right man's arms, so don't be too quick to write them off.

Dr. Laura Schlesinger often advised single moms to forget about even so much as dating till their children are at least 18. Well, that's easy for Laura to say because she's a tomboy, but real women are going to find that restriction unbearable; and besides, Paul's instructions are Christ's rules for Christian women, not Laura's rules.

1Cor 14:37 . . If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of The Lord.

Single women need to think rationally and objectively about their future; and ask themselves: Can I really live out the rest of my life without a man to share it? Can I bear up without a nervous break-down and/or turning to alcohol, Prozac, and overeating? Will I become irritable and difficult, and/or a chronic man-hater like aunt Lucy? Have to be brutally honest here because this is pretty serious stuff.

Another danger of single women going too long without a man is immorality. Desire, loneliness, and longings for appreciation, have a way of building up to unbearable levels in people who live by themselves and just about that time, along comes a really great somebody who maybe breaks down their defenses and gets a little too chummy. That can be a difficult moment.

1Cor 7:2 . . To avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

NOTE: They say a man has his needs. Well; a woman has her needs too. Let's not forget that.

331) 1Tim 5:16 . . If any believing man or woman have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.

It's awful to think that a religion based upon love, has to command its adherents to extend kindness to their own kin.

But in all fairness, I should point out that Paul's directive only impacts believing widows, not unbelieving, because a Christian church is under zero obligation to support ex-wives who fail to meet all the requirements of a "widow indeed" as per 1Tim 5:9-10.

What we're talking about here are specifically Christian widows; so if the ex wives among your relatives are say, Atheist, Agnostic, Muslim, Buddhist, Bahái, Hindu, Jehovah's Witness, Scientology, or Mormon, et al; then don't even think about asking your church to help support them. If you want to help them, okay, but leave your church out of it.

332) 1Tim 5:17-18 . .The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. For the scripture says: "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain" and "The laborer is worthy of his hire."

The koiné Greek word for "elder" is presbuteros (pres-boo'-ter-os). It corresponds to aldermen; which Webster's defines as: members of a legislative body. In other words; elders enact and enforce the proprietary rules and bylaws that govern everybody in a local church; including its pastor. In some churches those rules and bylaws are called a covenant; which new members have to accept. The aldermen are also responsible for settling disputes between church members (1Cor 6:1-5) so that they correspond to "the church" The Lord spoke of at Matt 18:15-18.

Aldermen aren't peculiar to Christianity. Councils pre-existed amongst Yhvh's people prior to Moses' commission (Ex 3:16). Anon, seventy of Israel's elders were established by God as a supreme council (Num 11:16-17). One's failure to submit to their church's aldermen is grounds for removing their name from the role. (Matt 18:15-18)

Since Christian aldermen sometimes wear more than one hat as preachers and teachers; then it's very possible in a large church for them to have time for nothing else, like for instance holding down a job. For that reason, their constituents should try and compensate them with a decent standard of living. I mean, after all, if their service to a local church is invaluable, then by all means the congregation should do whatever it takes to keep them on staff where they can devote all of their time and energy towards governing (that is; if you feel your church is a worthwhile endeavor).

Let's say for example, that one of your church's aldermen is a retiree trying to survive on Social Security and a diminished 401K. He'll be a lot more effective towards your church's good if the congregation, whatever its size, pitches in to help him make ends meet; and the outside world surely won't blame your church for doing so unless of course they're as callous towards the needs of a senior citizen as the bottom of a soldier's boot.

But beware that the congregation doesn't overcompensate its aldermen to the point where they can afford to drive a Cadillac Escalade, wear a Rolex, and own an expensive home in an up-scale district. That will really make Christianity look bad, and actually work against Christ's best interests.

333) 1Tim 5:19 . . Do not accept an accusation against an elder except before two or three witnesses.

It isn't required that two or three witnesses accuse the elder, but that an accuser do so in the hearing of two or three witnesses. The witnesses are not there to testify against the elder; no, they are there to testify against the accuser in the event it's discovered that he's the perpetrator of a slander.

In the event an accuser's accusations prove false, then Israel's covenanted law requires that they be punished with the very punishment that they wished for the victim of their slander (Deut 19:16-21). In a Christian environment; I should think it wise to at least ostracize, and/or excommunicate the slanderer because nobody's reputation is safe in the hands of someone like that.

1Cor 5:11-13 . . I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is a slanderer. With such a man do not even eat. Expel the wicked man from among you.

334) 1Tim 5:20 . .Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Once it's discovered that an accuser's allegations are libelous, then it's time to get up in front of the entire congregation and expose him for the cheap goods he really is. This is where the testimony of the aforementioned two or three witnesses comes into play.

A roast of this nature can be a very humiliating experience for a church member, and when the others see how it goes, they'll think twice before making spurious allegations against aldermen.

However, if the accusations prove to be true, then the shoe is on the other foot. Then it's time to expose the elder.

335) 1Tim 5:21 . . I charge thee before God, and The Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

I seriously doubt that very many modern Christian churches are following Paul's instructions in regards to spurious accusations against elders. They probably find it much easier to just gloss over issues rather than comply with the mandated procedure for roasting and expelling. (as if any of this is ever optional)

Another thing that modern churches are very good at these days is covering up an elder's indiscretions when what they really deserve is a public hanging, so to speak. Happens all the time.

Matt 23:27-28 . . Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

How very true that is of the staff of some of the churches in this day and age.

336) 1Tim 5:22 . . Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily

That ruling seems primarily concerned with the avoidance of fast-tracking candidates for aldermen, senior pastors, associate pastors, deacons, and deaconesses; in other words: church officials; whether high ranking or low ranking.

337) 1Tim 5:23 . . No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.

In the days prior to the proliferation of antiseptics, antibiotics, inoculations, and a host of other mass-produced treatments; wine was an important remedy for just about everything from indigestion to open wounds. (e.g. Mark 15:23, and Luke 10:34)

Medicine has come a long ways in the last 2,000 years so that even if a little wine would still help whatever ailed Timothy's tummy, there's probably much better over-the-counter, non-alcoholic remedies available for his condition in our day.

Paul mentioned that his friend had other problems too. I have no clue what those might have been; but I have to ask: Why didn't Paul utilize his apostolic gift of healing to cure his friend? My answer is: probably because Timothy's problems didn’t require a miracle. For example Mark 16:13 where Christ' men utilized oil to treat certain people rather than miracles. In other words: when First Aid will do, surgery is unnecessary.

I think that Timothy simply wasn't taking proper care of himself and/or getting enough rest. His diet may have been inadequate too. The old adage— God helps those who help themselves —is very true in some cases. My view is: if you can fix your own flat tire, then don't expect God to fix it for you. Like when a farmer prays for a good crop, he really needs to say amen with a hoe.

What else might be taken from 1Tim 5:23? Well; I would say do NOT rely upon so-called faith healing. Too many children are being lost these days to treatable conditions because their parents are putting so much trust in their church's interpretation of passages like Jas 5:14-15. If Paul recommended a remedy for Timothy's tummy; don't you think he would recommend a remedy for your child's treatable condition? Yes; of course he would. In many, many cases; people don't need a miracle; they just need a doctor.

338) 1Tim 6:1-2 . . Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against. And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved.

I've heard that Masons practice favoritism; but Christians should never impose upon a fellow believer in that manner. Give your Christian employer the respect and subordination due his position; and give him a full day's work for a full days' pay. People are watching, and they pick up on things like disparity.

339) 1Tim 6:2 . .Teach and preach these principles.

Pastors should ensure their congregations are taught these things even when they don't care to hear them; and should never let the indifference of their flocks smother the voice of God.

2Tim 4:1-2 . . I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus— who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom —preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but desiring to have their ears massaged, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own longings; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to fiction.

A good pastor can't be blamed when members of his congregation drift away to cults; but he can at least make an effort to ensure they have some truth under their belts before they go because if perchance they become disillusioned with the cult, they'll have something solid to fall back on.

340) 1Tim 6:3-6 . . If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness; he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved minds and deprived of the truth.

Some day, just out of curiosity, peruse the discussions taking place on a variety of internet Christian forums. What will you see? You will see a morbid interest in controversial questions; and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction. Forums are the armpit of Christianity and cesspools of apostasy, heresy, humanistic theories, and universalism where the attitude is: nobody's going to Hell; and everyone's a Christian if they say so.

341) 1Tim 6:8 . . And having food and raiment let us be content therewith.

The koiné Greek word for content is sometimes translated "sufficient". In other words, when good is adequate, better isn't necessary. Good is easier on your budget than better too.

Madison Avenue's mad men make their living by convincing consumers that better is always to be preferred. No, it isn't. You can easily get by on something that's less than best. Technophiles especially are constantly falling victim to new upgrades of electronic products. I remember when Apple's second generation iPhone was introduced, techies lined up for blocks to get one even though their first iPhones were still working just fine! Now it's the iPhone seven and people with the six can hardly wait to get one though they could easily make do with the phone they already have.

1Tim 6:6 . . Piety with contentment is great gain.

The desire to have more than enough and/or to have better, is a mark of covetousness; which the Bible's Christ listed right up there with evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, murder, theft, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, and blaspheme. (Mark 7:21-23)

342) 1Tim 6:11 . . But you— O man of God —flee these things and pursue righteousness, piety, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.

German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) believed that Christian virtues, especially compassion, are an impediment to achieving greatness; which is just another way of saying that nice guys finish last.

The koiné Greek word for "flee" is pheugo (fyoo'-go) which means: not to walk away; but rather, to run away; as if for your life.

Q: What is a man of God?

A: Men of God are typically inspired individuals; for example: Moses was a man of God (Deut 33:1) and David was a man of God (Neh 12:24). Numerous passages in the Old Testament identify men of God as prophets. In that respect; Abraham was a man of God (Gen 20:7) and a whole bunch of other people too, including women; e.g. Miriam (Ex 15:20) Deborah (Judg 4:4) Asahiah (2Kgs 22:14) and Huldah (2Chrn 24:32).

Obviously then, if your pastor isn't an inspired man; then he isn't a man of God. He's just another church manager on a career path.

343) 1Tim 6:12a . . Fight the good fight of the faith.

The first koine Greek word for "fight" in that verse is agonizomai (ag-o-nid'-zom-ahee) which means: to struggle; literally to compete for a prize. This is the kind of conflict played out in competitive sports.

The second word for "fight" is agon (ag-one') which means: a place of assembly; viz: the field of completion; e.g. arenas, coliseums, and/or stadiums.

The object of a Christian's struggle is not so much conquest, but rather, a prize. In Paul's day athletes won wreaths. In our day, they win medals and lucrative contracts for product endorsements.

1Cor 9:24-26 . . Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.

In Paul's day, there were no second-place winners; only first. When the competition is that fierce, athletes really go all out. So Paul is saying that Christians should battle for their reward as if there were only one gold to go around; in other words; really put their hearts into it.

However, a "good" race is won only when the winner plays by the rules; or otherwise it's a bad race: they're disqualified and win nothing.

2Tim 2:5 . .When someone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.

Probably most of us rank and file believers aren't going to win anything, but at least we're assured of making it to safety.

1Cor 3:12-15 . . If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; though he himself will be spared, but only as one escaping through the flames.

The picture there is of redeemed believers leaving this life with absolutely nothing to their credit that honored Christ. It's like a family suddenly wakened in the middle of the night with their house so badly on fire that there is scarcely enough time for them to exit the building. Their entire life's collection of mementoes, furniture, paintings, valuables, photographs, clothing, and such, go up in smoke and they escape with nothing but their lives and the clothes they wore to bed. Their persons are spared, but everything else is ruined; hence: "he himself will be spared".

Some Christians see in 1Cor 3:12-15 proof of a Purgatory; but a place of temporary suffering and misery isn't even remotely consistent with either the activity or the purpose depicted in 1Cor 3:12-15.

Purgatory can be roughly defined as a place, or condition, of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are not entirely free from venial faults and/or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.

An additional purpose assigned to Purgatory is for teaching the offender a lesson, e.g. David (2Sam 11:1-12:14) where he was fully absolved of the heinous sins of premeditated adultery and murder, but still had to go to the wood shed for what he did (cf. Heb 12:5-11). Absolution and punishment may seem strange bed fellows; but not so when you regard one as related to criminal justice, and the other as related to discipline; which Webster's defines as: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

But does that sound anything like what Paul wrote about in 1Cor 3:12-15? No, he wrote of works and rewards; not of venial faults, punishment, discipline, fully paying the satisfaction due one's transgressions; and so forth. And besides. Paul said that "he" doesn't undergo flame; his works do. In other words; that depicts very much the way gold ore is assayed to determine whether the metal in it is real gold or fool's gold. They don't put the miner of the ore in a crucible; no, just the ore the miner brought in; viz: that which was the result of his labor.

344) 1Tim 6:12b . .Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good profession in the presence of many witnesses.

Note the grammatical tense of the "have" verb in the passages below. It's in the present tense; not future; indicating that Christ's believing followers have eternal life right now— no delay, and no waiting period.

John 3:36 . . He who believes in the Son has eternal life

John 6:47 . .Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.

John 5:24 . . I assure you, those who heed my message and trust in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from Death into Life.

1John 5:13 . . I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

In addition, believers who correctly ingest The Lord's flesh, and correctly imbibe his blood, are also in the right-now possession of eternal life.

John 6:53 . .Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.

So then, why would Paul encourage Timothy to "take hold" of eternal life if he already had it?

Well; having it, and making use of it, are two very different things. By telling his friend to lay hold of eternal life, Paul was telling him to lay hold of the fruit of the Spirit.

Gal 5:22-25 . .The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance . . if we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

So then, how does one lay hold of the fruit of the Spirit? Well; it's here where conduct plays a very important role in the lives of Christ's believing followers.

Rom 8:13 . . If you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live

Gal 6:7-8 . . Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

NOTE: Seeing as how eternal life is a quality of life that's immune to death, then when Christ's believing followers live according to the sinful nature, they don't lose their eternal life; they just lose the use of it.

345) 1Tim 6:13-14 . . I charge you in the sight of God— who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession —to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, we have to ask the question: How did Paul know what went on between Christ and Pilate? Was Paul there? Were any of the apostles there? No.

Paul got his version of the gospel directly from Christ. (Gal 1:11-12)

The koiné Greek word for "commandment" in that passage is entole (en-tol-ay') which means: an injunction, i.e. an authoritative prescription. It's difficult to tell if Paul had a specific instruction in mind or if he intended Timothy to accept his entire epistle as the law of Christ. If the latter is the case, then the NLT's version is the better one; which reads like this:

"And I command you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, that you obey his commands with all purity. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ returns."

The NLT's version encompasses all of Christ's wishes, which up to this point has totaled 345; with more to come.

The koiné word for "without spot/purity" is aspilos (as'-pee-loswhich means: unblemished.

It takes a pretty concentrated, uncompromising effort for a man to finish up a life of Christian service with an unblemished record. He's really got to mind his p's and q's the meanwhile maintaining graciousness; which consists of being honest, trustworthy, reliable, affable, tactful, genial, sociable, generous, charitable, altruistic, cheerful, reasonable, sensitive, thoughtful, patient, peaceable, kind, considerate, temperate, tolerant, approachable, helpful, supportive, unselfish, compassionate, sympathetic, mild, not easily provoked, humble, and courteous; plus characterized by a lack of stubbornness, assertiveness, despotism, conceit, and arrogance.

346) 1Tim 6:17-19 . . Command those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Command them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.

Webster's defines "conceit" as an excessive appreciation of one's own worth and/or virtue. It's is all too common for the rich and famous to exhibit a masters-of-the-universe demeanor and regard commoners as not just below themselves; but existing solely to expedite their own selfish ambitions; viz: the haulers-of-water, and the hewers-of-wood; so to speak.

"that which is life indeed" refers to the divine nature about which Peter wrote at 2Pet 1:2-11, and the fruit of the Spirit about which Paul wrote at Gal 5:22-25, which are of far greater lasting value than the fruits of earthly wealth.

347) 1Tim 6:20a . .Turn away from impious chatter

This probably refers to sophistry, which Webster's defines as the use of reasoning or arguments that sound correct but are actually false and/or subtly deceptive.

This isn't the first time that Paul warned about unholy rhetoric. The same alert was sounded at Eph 4:11-14 where Paul describes people whose line of bull sounds very convincing but is nevertheless quite unreliable.

348) 1Tim 6:20b . . and the opposition of science— falsely so-called.

Galileo believed that science and religion are allies rather than enemies— two different languages telling the same story. But the category of "science - falsely so-called" is not the kind of science Galileo was talking about. Theoretical physics, theoretical cosmology, theoretical chemistry, theoretical anthropology, conjecture, and speculation etc; are entertaining, but not yet proven to be true and reliable. People throw that kind of science up to Christians all the time as if it's been tested and proven when it's anything but.

Another thing to take into consideration is that scientific results are provisional; viz: susceptible to being overturned by some future experiment or observation.

"Scientists rarely proclaim an absolute truth or an absolute certainty. Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge."
Joel Achenbach, National Geographic Magazine, March 2015

349) 2Tim 1:8a . .Do not be ashamed of our Master's testimony

Everything The Lord ever taught is "testimony" that is; all of his teachings, preaching, comments, remarks, and lectures can be used as evidence either by the defense to get people into Heaven, or by the prosecution to put people behind the bars of Hell.

John 12:48 . . He who rejects me, and does not receive my sayings, has one who judges him: the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.

How is it that Jesus' words are evidence? Answer: Because he never spoke for himself; no, he was an ambassador who spoke for a superior.

John 8:26 . . He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him.

John 8:28 . . I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me.

John 12:49 . . I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

John 14:24 . .The word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me.

Timothy was ordained a minister by the laying on of Paul's own hands (2Tim 1:6). At that moment, Timothy became an ambassador for Christ. So then, he became responsible to speak for Christ just as Christ was responsible to speak for God.

1Pet 4:11 . . If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God

 If a speaker cannot speak as God and for God; then it would be wise if that speaker didn't speak at all.

Jas 3:1 . . Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

350) 2Tim 1:8b . . Join with me in suffering for the Gospel

Suffering for the Gospel doesn't necessarily include martyrdom. The more common forms of suffering are privation, humiliation, threats, hunger, loss of friends and family, ostracizing, ridicule, mockery, harsh criticism, judgmental remarks, insults, intimidation, name calling, demeaning comments, ugly insinuations, slander, teasing, harassment, bullying, unfairness, prejudice, intolerance, disassociation, and betrayal; in other words, the kinds of stuff that really get you right down in the gut.

Suffering because of the Gospel is, believe it or not, a sacred gratuity.

Php 1:29 . . For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

John 15:20-21 . . Remember the word that I said unto you? the servant is not greater than his lord? If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not Him that sent me.

NOTE: The Devil and his invisible minions are always at work secretly pushing the buttons of people all around pastors; and the very ones pastors really have to look out for are the people under their noses running their own churches.

An Evangelical Lutheran Church minister named Rev John H. Beck conducted a three-year study of church conflict; and his findings are not comforting. According to an article in the Aug 24, 2009 edition of the Oregonian in Portland OR: the issues that cause congregational conflict are typically (1) a pastor and his staff not getting along, (2) a board wanting to take a different direction, and (3) two strong-willed people getting into it and others in the congregation taking sides.

What's going on there? Well, that's not too hard to figure out is it? The Devil is pushing the buttons in those churches while The Lord is outside the building banging on the door trying to get somebody's attention to let him in.

351) 2Tim 1:13 . . Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me.

The koiné Greek word for "hold fast" is echo (ekh'-o) which means: to clutch, cling, or adhere to.

The word for "pattern" is hupotuposis (hoop-ot-oop'-o-sis) which means: a sketch; viz: a blueprint and/or a schematic diagram.

When Noah was commissioned to build the ark, he wasn't left with no clue as to what it was supposed to look like. God gave him a design to work with. And when Moses was tasked to fabricate articles of worship for the Tabernacle, he too was given designs; in other words, Moses and Noah both made everything according to God-given specifications; viz: Christianity is a God-given religion; He has not left its design to human imagination.

Putting this in construction-speak: if the blueprint calls for welding, and the builder substitutes bolting, he'll have to do it over. If the blueprints call for oak panels, and the builder substitutes pine, he'll have to do it over; and do it right the next time or be rejected again. Practically nothing is manufactured without first planning it out on a drawing. Sometimes drawings are created on the fly. I've had plans handed to me that were nothing in the world but a free-hand sketch on a piece of scrap paper; while others were gorgeous, finely-detailed computer-assisted drawings. Either way, CAD or free-hand, I was expected to follow specifications to the letter and not take it upon myself to revise the engineers' instructions without their consent.

What this boils down to is: modern churches have been handed down from Paul a God-given pattern for their operations. When they depart from His pattern, then they are no longer following Christ; rather, they are attempting to lead him.

352) 2Tim 1:14 . . With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives within us; carefully guard what has been entrusted to you.

To put this in construction-speak again: it was Timothy's responsibility as a project supervisor to ensure no unauthorized person changed anything on the original plans without his knowledge and especially without first obtaining approval from the designer— viz: Christ —and the Holy Spirit is the duly assigned quality-control specialist; or the White Hat as we used to call them. Nobody messes with the White Hat. Like the captain of a ship, the White Hat is God to everyone involved in production: from the top down,

353) 2Tim 2:2 . . And the things you have heard me say (in the presence of many witnesses) entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

Paul's instructions were given to Timothy "in the presence of many witnesses" indicating that his instructions were never intended to be privileged information for the eyes-only of an elite category of super saints. The things he taught were transferred publicly rather than deep inside a secret chamber whose access was restricted to a special clique.

I also suspect that Paul sand-bagged Timothy. By instructing him in the hearing of witnesses, Timothy could never fall back on the tiresome old excuse of saying "I didn't know I was supposed to do that." Well, witnesses would certainly testify that he did know what he was supposed to do because they themselves heard Paul instruct him with their own ears.

It's a wise church that fully understands a pastor's duties, attitudes, and responsibilities just in case a time comes when they need to hold his feet to the fire; especially a complacent pastor. If a church doesn't know what a pastor's duties, attitudes, and responsibilities are, then there's no way they can know whether or not they're getting their money's worth. In my opinion, an ignorant church is a private pond stocked with hatchery fish.

Paul's directive in this matter was also a practical consideration as nobody resides forever on this earthen globe. Pastors die; that's just a fact of life. And they also get diseases like dementia, Parkinson's, and Alzheimer's. It's a wise pastor busy training his replacements so that all his knowledge and experience isn't lost to future church generations. Abraham was commended for this very thing.

Gen 18:18-20 . . For I have chosen Abraham, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yhvh.

A good example of the result of neglecting to train reliable men in "all the things you have heard me say" is the church of Laodicea described in Rev 3:14-20.

According to Col 2:1-2 and Col 4:13-16; the Laodicean Christians were at one time solid believers. But between the time of Paul's writing his letter to the Colossians, and John writing the 3rd chapter of Revelation, the congregation meeting in Nymphas' home somehow went dead. It was still Christian in name, yes; but it no longer followed Christ.

The Laodicean church had all the trappings of a Christian church; except for one salient feature: the Christ of Christianity wasn't even a member let alone the captain of its industry. It was literally a christless Christian church. He's depicted outside the building banging on the door trying to get somebody's attention to let him in. Not a single member of that church was one of his believing followers, not one; no, not even the senior pastor.

354) 2Tim 2:3-7 . . Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs— he wants to please his commanding officer.

Combat soldiers are focused. They have but one solitary goal, and that's to accomplish their mission while doing their level best to stay alive. Soldiers dodging bullets, ducking shrapnel, and looking for trip wires, IED's, booby traps, and snipers, are not distracted by Wall Street, the real estate market, universal health care and/or President Trump's conservative policies.

I truly believe that if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had stayed in the pulpit and complied with Paul's directives as per the epistles of 1&2 Timothy instead of getting involved in the civil rights movement, he could have served Christ another thirty-five years instead of getting himself shot to death as a political activist when he was only 39 years old.

Was Dr. King a martyr? Well, if he was, it certainly wasn't for Christ. No, it was for his political agenda. Dr. King marginalized his pastoral responsibilities as per the epistles of 1&2 Timothy. He put duty to the color of his skin first, and duty to Christ second. That was a very bad move for a Christian pastor.

355) 2Tim 2:8 . . Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel

It may seem preposterous, beyond belief, and even impossible to comprehend; but there are literally millions of people wearing the Christian label who refuse to believe that Christ was a bona fide human being. They'll readily mouth that he was fully God and fully Man; but in reality they only believe he was fully God; in other words: a divine being only, rather than an amalgam of human and  divine. Well, according to 2Tim 2:8 Christ does not wish to be remembered as a divine being.

On numerous occasions, Christ identified himself as "son of man" which literally means "son of Adam". That title was neither new nor unique in his day. God addressed the prophet Ezekiel as "son of man" on at least 93 occasions, and Daniel at least once. In every case, the Hebrew word for man is 'adam (aw-dawm') which is the proper name of the human race God created in the beginning. (Gen 1:26-27, Gen 3:9, Gen 5:2)

You would think that Christ's humanness would be a given in Christian circles; but no, it isn't. To this very day, people passing themselves off as his believing followers, and as beneficiaries of his crucifixion, still challenge his humanness. They're okay with him being God's progeny— but David's progeny? No; that they won't allow.

Rom 1:3-4 . . who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh

Disbelief in Christ's humanness is due to the success of satanic influences.

1John 4:2-4 . . By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

356) 2Tim 2:14 . . Command them in God's name to stop quarrelling over trifles.

In a Sean Connery movie titled "The Name Of The Rose" church dignitaries assembled a meeting of the minds to reach a resolution on a theological question which was: Did the Christ own the clothes that he wore or not?

Well, needless to say, the discussion turned into bickering wherein nothing was resolved. Tempers flared, shouting ensued, feelings were hurt, and people were alienated over the issue— a rather trifling issue; which is precisely what it means to fiddle while Rome burns down around you. Christians are often embroiled in arguments over things that in the grand scheme of things have almost zero importance while all around them are weightier issues needing attention.

It's interesting that Paul didn't want Timothy's flock instructed to avoid quarrelling over trifles but to stop quarrelling. I can't help but wonder how many Christians think to seek absolution for the sin of quarrelling over trifles when they go to confession.

NOTE: Ecclesiastic heads are empowered to speak as God and for God; i.e. God's messengers; so identified in the first three chapters of Revelation. That's a heavy responsibility; with likely heavy consequences for abuse.

357) 2Tim 2:15 . . Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Some folks construe rightly dividing the truth as instructions to keep the Old Testament completely separate from the New. But that's not even close to what Paul is instructing.

Paul was a blue collar tradesman: he fabricated portable shelters for a living (Acts 18:3). The koiné Greek word for "rightly dividing" is orthotomeo (or-thot-om-eh'-o) which means: to make a straight cut— as opposed to a crooked cut —or a cut that misses the line and yields a piece of material that's either too long, too short, or the wrong contour; thus resulting in a tent whose pieces won't join properly when it comes time to sew them together. The results? A distorted tent and a black mark for the craftsman.

The intent is not one of severing the Bible in half and treating each as a separate book; but to be accurate in the whole's interpretations and applications so that it all fits together perfectly from first to last, like a well made armoire instead of a hastily constructed rabbit hutch.

358) 2Tim 2:16 . . Avoid worldly, empty chatter; for it will lead to further impiety.

What he's talking about there are bull sessions wherein people discussing the Bible haven't a clue what they're talking about; and their perpetual deliberations— consisting of sophistry, conjecture, theory, and personal opinions —never get to the bottom of anything.

Some years ago I was invited to a home Bible study. Before considering his invitation; I asked the man if his group was led by a competent Bible teacher. He said "No; we don't have a teacher. The group teaches itself. In other words: we speak as the Spirit leads us to speak."

They say iron sharpeneth iron. But that doesn't work when both irons are soft. That's why files are hardened and tempered. Well; that man's group lacked a file, so to speak; so I declined.

359) 2Tim 2:19 . . Let everyone who names the name of The Lord abstain from wickedness.

The wickedness he's talking about in this particular instance regards quarrelling over trifles, unskilled use of the Bible; and sophistry, conjecture, speculation, theories, false science, and lines of bull that sound very convincing but are nevertheless quite untrustworthy.

360) 2Tim 2:22 . . Flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on The Lord from a pure heart.

Hippies tried to obtain love and peace but failed because they could obtain neither except by means of promiscuity and mood-enhancing drugs like marijuana and LSD.

A "pure" heart is one that's unadulterated, in other words, it's not an amalgam of good and bad; viz: it's a heart that's whole-heartedly devoted to pleasing God rather than half-hearted.

Righteousness, Love, Peace, and Purity are all blessing-worthy attributes.

Matt 5:6 . . Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness

Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the compassionate

Matt 5:8 . . Blessed are the pure in heart

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable

According to The Lord's testimony as an expert witness in all matters pertaining to the hereafter, people whose personalities fail to exemplify those four beatitudes will neither see God, nor obtain sympathy from God, nor obtain a place around the table in God's home.

361) 2Tim 2:23 . . But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce debating.

The Lord doesn't forbid all speculation; only the kind that that's foolish and ignorant.

The koiné Greek word for "foolish" is moros (mo-ros') which means, essentially: unwise.

The koiné word for "ignorant" is apaideutos (ap-ah'-ee-dyoo-tos) which means: uneducated.

I seriously doubt that 2Tim 2:23 is addressing one's IQ, but rather, the propensity of some to shoot from the lip without really knowing what they're talking about. That's not a smart thing to do when one is supposed to be representing a master who says of himself "I am the truth". Well, ignorant speculation isn't truth, no, it's one's own personal opinion; and typically a subjective opinion based upon incomplete information.

362) 2Tim 2:24a . . And The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome

Quarrelling is just the opposite of peacemaking. Sometimes it's best to follow Han Solo's advice and "let the Wookie win one". In other words; when one is wise; two are happy. Be the wise one and pick your fights carefully. Don't expend your energies on discussions that never seem to get to the bottom of anything. There's always going to be that one individual who will disagree with everything you say simply because they love to argue. I call them the "yes, but" people. Those kind refuse to believe that anybody really knows the truth; least of all you.

363) 2Tim 2:24b-26 . . The Lord's bond-servant must . . be kind to all, apt to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them a change of heart leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the Devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

We're still talking about instructions for pastors rather than John Q and Jane Doe pew warmer.

What Paul spoke of there is a category of demon possession that gets very little press these days. It doesn't make people foam at the mouth nor fall on the ground quivering with spasms. It's a silent killer like high blood pressure. It can't be detected by scientific instruments like oscilloscopes, X-rays, CatScans, Sonograms, Echoes, or MRIs.

People don't usually get the creeps when demonic spirit beings are present because they have no effect upon human intuition, nor upon the five natural human senses of taste, touch, hearing, sight, and smell. Demonic spirit beings are covert— ultra covert— secrecy, silence, and invisibility are the keys to their success.

Anyway, what Paul is revealing is somewhat disturbing. He's saying that there are people in church, very possibly your church,  who have ideas in their heads that they think are their own ideas; but in reality those ideas have been skillfully implanted in their organic minds by supernatural means beyond our comprehension.

That kind of possession is socially acceptable because it's so common and widespread; and infects everyone regardless of race, age, or gender.

All believers, including Paul himself, were at one time manipulated by demonic spirit beings.

Eph 2:1-3 . . And you He made alive, who were at one time dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the kingdom of the air— the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience —among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

From that passage, I know three facts about the current state of the world we live in.

1 Demonic spirit beings are all around us, in every situation; inhabiting the very air we breathe. Astronauts in the International Space Station have demonic spirit beings on board with them. Whenever the US Navy's nuclear submarines go out patrol, demonic spirit beings go out too because wherever there's people; there's going to be demonic spirit beings.

Demonic spirit beings are invasive and pervasive: they're in coal mines, subways, office buildings, barber shops, bedrooms, restaurants, elevators, waiting rooms, television studios— and there are no known control measures. Demonic spirit beings are similar to geological forces of nature like earthquakes and volcanoes in that puny little humans are completely at their mercy.

2 Those who have not yet been "made alive" constantly undergo demonic manipulation; and don't know it.

3 Those who have not yet been "made alive" are in grave danger of the lake of fire depicted at Rev 20:11-15 because they are "by nature" children of wrath.

This is why Paul instructed his pal Timothy to "be kind to all, apt to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition." In other words; to treat those who opposed him as he would patients in a mental hospital who lack the faculties to know what they're doing and/or to think for themselves.

364) 2Tim 3:12-15 . .You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

The "sacred writings" upon which Timothy cut his teeth are of course the Old Testament's collection; which Paul affirms is useful to Christians.

Rom 15:4 . .Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction that we, through patience and the encouragement of the scriptures, might have hope.

NOTE: The Greek word for "hope" in that passage is elpis (el-pece') which means: to anticipate (usually with pleasure and confidence). In other words: elpis hope doesn't entail crossing your fingers and praying for the best while in the back of your mind dreading the worst. No; elpis hope entails having something to look forward to with the full, unreserved, expectation of obtaining it.

365) 2Tim 4:1-2 . . I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus— who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom —preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Preaching and teaching are areas where pastors must take the reins. They can't wait until their boards take a vote on it. No, the pastor's vote is the only one that counts because left to themselves, congregations (and boards) are just like any other flock of dim-witted sheep: they're prone to wander.

2Tim 4:3-4 . . For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears rubbed, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to fiction.

Gently caressing your pet's ears sometimes soothes them and has a marked calming effect; especially when they're itching from mites and fleas. The truth actually does hurt sometimes— with or without mites and fleas.

366) 2Tim 4:5a . . Be discreet

Webster's defines "discreet" as: using good judgment, caution, and prudence.

Human nature can be so inconsistent. Though most adults have fairly good judgment, they oftentimes do things that are contrary to their better judgment and make foolish choices (especially on Black Friday) because they don't always use their heads but instead yield to their feelings; and everybody knows that one's feelings, by and large, are mostly incoherent.

367) 2Tim 4:5b . . endure hardship

Some of the aspects of hardship are adversity, mischance, misfortune; danger, hazard, peril; affliction, trial, tribulation; drudgery, toil, travail; discomfort, and distress. Feelings of isolation and loneliness are a part of that too. Nobody really cares to sympathize with somebody when they're at the top of the food chain. Pastors comfort others, but who comforts the pastors? Hardly anybody; though maybe his wife; if she's the type.

The lives of Christ's pastors are not supposed to be a piece of cake. If they're doing their jobs in a way that pleases The Lord, pastors will have some struggles. Hardship comes with the turf; it's a given when Christ's pastors serve him faithfully and effectively.

The reason being that a pastor is essentially a shepherd. Well; according to Jacob, that job was a rough career path back in the day.

Gen 31:40 . .Thus I was: by day the heat consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes.

Part of the reason that tending sheep was rough in Jacob's day is because a shepherd was essentially a security guard, constantly keeping an eye out for rustlers and predators. That part alone was a 24-7 task; not to mention monitoring the herd so none of them wandered off; as sheep are prone to do. It's no wonder Jacob lost a lot of sleep outside in the fields; and when you throw in exposure to the elements; a shepherd's life was really not one to be desired.

368) 2Tim 4:5c . . do the work of an evangelist

The koiné Greek word for "evangelist" is euaggelistes (yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace') which means: a preacher of the gospel.

Here in America, we typically think of evangelists as guys like Billy Graham and Louis Palau. But according to Paul, pastors are supposed to be evangelists within the walls of their own churches rather than on the road.

My ex-Catholic wife begged and cajoled her Catholic father to accompany her to a Baptist church back in the 1970's before we met. On that particular Sunday, of all days, the pastor spoke about money; especially giving it to support his church and its programs. My father-in-law was disgusted, and commented afterwards: Baptists are no different than Catholics; all they care about is money. He never went back. Had that pastor spoken about Christ instead of money, my father-in-law might have returned.

Services are the best venue for in-church evangelism because the public is more likely to visit those than Sunday school.

Paul described pastoral evangelism as: fulfilling their ministry. (2Tim 4:5)

369) Titus 2:2 . . Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

The koiné Greek word for "older men" is presbutes (pres-boo'-tace) which means: an old man. Presbutes is different than presbuteros, which refers to church officers; e.g. deacons (1Tim 5:17).

I used to get my watches serviced by an aging repairman at a local mall until the day finally came when I could no longer tolerate his manners. He was around seventy-five years old, cantankerous as can be, and perpetually cross. I often felt like asking him if he ever gave any thought to his future. You know, heaven is a place of peace. A hateful man like that repairman would not only never fit in there, but it wouldn't be fair to the others to permit him in their world.

"Cantankerous" can be defined as: habitually ill-humored, irritable, disagreeable, bearish, cankered, cranky, cross-grained, dour, morose, sour; crabby, cross, crusty, huffy, petulant, prickly, snappish; dyspeptic, ill-conditioned, thin-skinned, complaining, and ill-natured.

A Christian man in old age really ought to be a sweet, mellow guy: a pal and a big brother for the younger ones rather than somebody they'd prefer do the world a favor by stepping in front of a bus.

370) Titus 2:3-5 . . The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becomes holiness: not traducers, not given to much wine, teachers of right; that they may train the young women to be sensible, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and subordinate to their own husbands; that the word of God not be dishonored.

Traducers are particularly ugly human beings; especially the kind that misrepresent their own friends and say things about them that their friends would never approve; thus needlessly disparaging their friends' reputations save for the pure pleasure of gossip. Traducers aren't regular gossips, no, they're malicious gossips. Webster's defines malice as : a deep-seated, often unexplainable desire to see another suffer. In other words, traducers like to hurt people for no good reason other than that it feels good. One could hardly characterize malicious gossips as either good or discreet.

Too many women in America have been trained for marriage by feminism. Far from teaching younger women to respect their husbands, feminism teaches the younger women to stand up to their husbands; and rather than be keepers at home, feminism has them out seeking means to compete with men and break the so-called glass ceiling; and rather than love their children, feminism has them dominating their offspring in a home-life society structured on divisions of labor, command and control, tyranny, and regimentation. Those behaviors certainly can never be categorized as honoring the word of God.

The biggest road block to feminism-trained women becoming true disciples is The Lord's gender. You see, at the heart of women's hostility towards men is the drive to be independent of males. Yet the very lord and master of Christianity, the supreme male in the universe; demands death to a woman's self interests, and submission to His monarchy.

Luke 14:26 . . If you want to be my follower you must love me more than your own father and mother, wife and children brothers and sisters— yes, more than your own life. And you cannot be my disciple if you do take up your own cross and follow me.

In The Lord's era, crosses were for executions. So when he told his disciples to "take up their own cross" it meant stifling their own way; viz: it was a call to abandon self interests, and comply with their Master's wishes.

Rom 12:1-2 . .Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God— this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is— His good, pleasing and perfect will.

That mandate runs 180° counter to modern feminism's self-aggrandizing attitude that homemaking is oppressive and demeaning to women, and that respect for one's husband is somehow abusive; which is obviously an attitude that vilifies the word of God instead of honoring it.

Christian marriage and motherhood are not for militant females; no, marriage and motherhood are for grown-up, mature, emotionally stable women; and I'm not talking about years of life; no, even some 35 and 40 year-old women often fall short of being grown-up. Their association with men is on no higher a level now than when they were the 17 year-old, self absorbed brats they were in high school. Christian women like that seriously need to read, and heed, the guidance offered in the three books recommended below.

For Women Only
By Shaunti Feldhahn
ISBN 1-59052-317-2

The Proper Care And Feeding Of Husbands
By Dr. Laura Schlessinger
ISBN 0-06-052061-2

What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us
By Danielle Crittenden
ISBN 0-684-83219-4
ISBN 0-684-85959-9 (paper back)

371) Titus 2:6 . . Similarly, encourage the young men to be sensible.

Just in case the young women were feeling a bit persecuted; Paul switches over to the guys and urges them to be just as sensible as the girls; in other words: to love their wives, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, and good; that the word of God not be dishonored.

Chastity is getting to be almost non-existent in America as more and more male celebrities engage in extra-marital affairs. Not all that long ago Governor Kitzhaber here in the state of Oregon was shacking up with a woman right in broad daylight in the governor's mansion and cared not what anybody thought about it. President Clinton messed around with women while he was in office, and former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer was discovered to be seeing expensive escorts which eventuated in his resignation. So Christians really can't depend upon America's leaders to set the example for young men.

Paul urged Titus to "encourage" the young men in his church to be sensible; which is quite a bit different than hounding them or getting on their backs. There's an awful lot of young men out there today with metal pinned in their faces and tattoos on their necks, taking ecstasy, smoking pot, joining gangs, using meth, shoplifting, and missing school because the adults in their lives refuse to let them grow up at their own pace.

Many years ago, before I was even interested in having a family of my own, there was a cartoon in the newspaper comics called Rick-O-Shay. Rick was sheriff in a small town out in the olde west. Well, he had a son that was a bit immature and Rick was concerned the boy was never going to amount to anything and he didn't know what to do about it. So, while he was complaining about his son to his good friend Hipshot Percussion (a local gunfighter) Hipshot interrupted and gave Rick some very good words of wisdom. He said (in so many words): Instead of frettin' about turning your son into someone you can admire, why not instead try and find out who he is and go with that?

Relentless criticism and ridicule, unreasonable expectations, zero sympathy, and disapproving everything they think, say, or do are the surest ways I know to ruin a young man's attitude and drive him far, far from home and God; hence the below:

372) Titus 2:7-8 . . In all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that those who oppose us may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say.

Young men today desperately need morally sound role models because you can't just disapprove their life-style and not show them an alternative; and the best way to do that is by your own example; viz: instead of preaching to youngsters with words; preach to them with your conduct.

373) Titus 2:9-10a . . Bond slaves are to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering;

A bond slave is someone who has sold themselves into slavery for any number of reasons. But the one aspect I would like to dwell on is pilfering because this is a serious problem for employers here in the USA.

The koiné Greek word for "pilfering" is nosphizomai (nos-fid'-zom-ahee) which means to squirrel something aside for one's self: viz: embezzle; which Webster's defines as: to appropriate (as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use.

Embezzling isn't limited to strictly stealing money; no, it's also the misuse of an employer's property such as company cars, office materials and office equipment, and/or shop materials and shop equipment; including water and electricity.

My last job before retiring was as a civilian employee for the US Army Corps of Engineers in the Portland Oregon district. It was a violation of Federal law for us to even take anything out of a dumpster, or use a battery charger to jump-start our cars, or even to so much as pump up a low tire on our cars with the air produced by a government air compressor. We were definitely not supposed to use the government's computers for surfing the web or composing personal e-mails.

Everything on the facility where I worked was US Government property, including the trash, and could not be used in an unofficial capacity without first obtaining special permission. Violators were subject to prosecution for Fraud, Waste, and Abuse.

Unofficial use of office computers alone is costing employers multiplied thousands of hours of wages and benefits paid to employees who are online during the work day for personal reasons. The most outrageous case I heard of at work was a lady downtown in the district office who was caught conducting her Mary K cosmetics business via a US Government computer; and on official time no less.

Those are things from which Christ's believing followers are ordered to cease and desist.

374) Titus 2:10b . . but showing all good faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God our savior in every respect.

The koiné Greek word for "adorn" is kosmeo (kos-meh'-o) which means: to put in proper order; viz: decorate

When women buy a pretty new dress, they usually get things to go with it; things we call accessories; like a purse, shoes, stockings, necklace, earrings, and/or a watch and a bracelet. In the old days, women usually bought some gloves to go with their new dress too— thus they create an "ensemble" which gives them a complete look rather than an unfinished look as if they just threw the dress on to work around the house or run down to a nearby convenience store.

Well, a Christian who's a Christian in label only is like a pretty dress without accessories. In point of fact, they are quite basic: just a house-dress Christian. In other words; faith without piety is like leaving the house for work in the morning half dressed.

375) Titus 2:15 . . These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

There's really nothing a pastor can do to prevent people from blowing him off, but it is in his power to not let negative people dissuade him from his duty.

I have been often criticized— by Christians, no less —for posting daily-bread style topics on Christian message boards that nobody reads or responds to. I answer my critics that everybody has an audience of at least one, and that one is God. Be faithful to God, and He will be faithful to you. Don't ever let anyone marginalize you and/or make you feel like a moron in what you're doing for Christ.

Ezk 2:7 . .You shall speak My words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious.

Mark 8:38 . .Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also will the Son of Man be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

2Tim 4:1-2 . . I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus— who is to judge the Living and the Dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom —preach the word; be ready whether it's convenient or inconvenient: reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and with doctrine.

376) Titus 3:1 . . Remind your people to submit to the government and its officials. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good.

Seeing as how we're talking about the law of the land— viz: civil ordinances —what might be some examples? Well; I should think that things like J walking, illegal U-turns, feeding parking meters, drifting through stop signs without coming to a complete halt, exceeding the speed limit, impeding traffic by driving too slow and refusing to pull over, double parking, failure to yield the right of way, unsafe lane changes, parking in a red zone, road rage, horn blowing, littering, trespassing, fishing without a license, keeping illegal size fish, keeping too many fish, feeding city-park ducks where it's prohibited, setting off fireworks where they're prohibited, dumping radiator coolant into a storm drain, ignoring California water restrictions, removing a swallow's nest that has eggs in it, killing a protected species, etc.

If there is one kind of person that God has always despised all the way through the Bible it's a scofflaw. In point of fact, according to the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God; scofflaws merit neither forgiveness nor atonement; that's how serious it is.

Num 15:30-31 . .The person, be he citizen or stranger, who acts defiantly reviles The Lord; that person shall be cut off from among his people. Because he has spurned the word of The Lord and violated His commandment, that person shall be cut off— he bears his guilt.

377) Titus 3:2 . . malign no one, be non-contentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

The koiné Greek word for "malign" is blasphemeo (blas-fay-meh'-o) which means: to vilify

Webster's defines vilify as: to lower in estimation or importance, and/or to utter abusive statements against

Vilification is a clear violation of Php 2:3, which reads: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

Should I consider Bernard "Bernie" Madoff as better than myself? (chuckle) No. It isn't vilification to say the man is a crumb when he's been clearly proven to be one. That's neither malignant nor malevolent. What we're talking about here are innocent victims of mean-spirited, unwarranted vilification rather than those fully deserving of it. And besides, pastors need to be careful what they say about people because sometimes it seems the walls themselves have ears.

Ecc 10:20 . . Curse not the king, even in your thought; curse not the rich, even in your bedroom; for a bird of the air may carry your voice, and a bird in flight may tell the matter.

378) Titus 3:8 . .This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds.

To "speak confidently" implies speaking with an assertive, "no buts" attitude; viz: the things a preacher teaches his congregation should not be open to debate and/or perpetual bull sessions that never get to the bottom of anything.

The koiné Greek word for "deeds" is very common throughout the New Testament; more often translated "works" than deeds. We're not talking about Boy Scout kinds of deeds but just simply the spiritual morality of one's day to day conduct; viz: a life that pleases God instead of one that irritates Him to no end.

Eph 4:30 . . Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

379) Titus 3:9 . . Shun foolish controversies, and genealogies, and strife, and disputes about the Law; for they are unprofitable and worthless.

The "law" in question is the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God in the Old Testament. Disputes generally revolve around its interpretation and its correct application. Yhvh stipulated the formation of a panel of lawyers to interpret the law for those among His people who lacked the wherewithal to do it for themselves (Deut 17:8-13). But since Christians are outside the covenant's jurisdiction, then they can get by without those lawyers to interpret it for them; and besides; when you consider there are nine Justices on the US Supreme Court who seldom agree unanimously on anything, how much chance do you reckon a panel of seventy has of reaching a consensus?

One of the "foolish controversies and genealogies" I would highly recommend that believers avoid is Rome's roster of so-called apostolic successors. Don't even go there. It's unprofitable, futile, and pointless to strive over something like that. Pick your battles, and make sure your conflicts accomplish something truly useful for Christ. The Vatican has much bigger problems within its walls and its dogmas than that one.

380) Titus 3:10-11 . . A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

The koiné Greek word for "heretic" is hairetikos (hahee-ret-ee-kos') which means: a schismatic; which is someone in your very own church who causes dissent, rebellion, division, discord, and disharmony.

Heretics are not outsiders; no, a true heretic goes to the same church you go to and professes to believe and practice the very same religion that you profess to believe and practice; viz: for Catholics, a heretic would be a professing Catholic who openly disagrees with Rome, and attempts to persuade other Catholics to join their cause in opposing Vatican Council II in order to reform the Church.

Webster's defines a heretic as: 1) a dissenter from established church dogma; especially one who disavows a revealed truth, and 2) one who dissents from an accepted belief or doctrine; viz: a nonconformist.

I am an ex-Catholics and I oppose Rome. However, I don't fit the definition of a heretic. I'm what's known in Christian circles as an apostate; viz: a defector; which Webster's defines as a person who forsakes one's cause, party, or nation for another often because of a change in ideology. Heretics don't usually defect; but remain inside to foster insurrection: to undermine hierarchy, to bring about reform, to weaken, and to cause division. Every church has its fair share of heretics and they can be very disruptive in a Sunday school class.

The koiné Greek word for "reject" is paraiteomai (par-ahee-teh'-om-ahee) which means: to beg off; viz: deprecate, decline, and shun. In other words, don't give heretics the time of day, nor even be seen with them.

381) Titus 3:14 . . And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

The pronoun "ours" obviously excludes the heretics. They don't need to maintain good works since they're essentially tares rather than wheat and nothing they do in Christ's name is merit-worthy.

Matt 7:22-23 . . Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Master, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them : I never knew you. Depart from me, you that work iniquity.

382) Titus 3:15 . . Greet them that love us in the faith.

Heretics are of course excluded from the group that Paul labeled "them that love us in the faith". It would be a sin to require believers to say hello to them for Paul; since his orders are to shun heretics. He he didn't want to know them anymore. They were not his favorite kinds of Christians.

You know what that says to me? It says to me that heretics are even less acceptable than a stranger because Christ instructed his disciples to greet strangers.

Matt 5:47 . . And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the publicans do so?

So heresy is pretty serious.

383) Philemon

In the little communiqué to his friend Philemon, Paul went to bat for a runaway slave named Onesimus. By all rights, Philemon could legally, under Roman law, put Onesimus to death; but as Onesimus' fellow believer, and his sibling around the table in God's home, Philemon was bound by a higher sense of duty and association.

Onesimus ran away prior to his conversion to Christianity. Had he been a Christian, he would have been mindful of Eph 6:5-8, Col 3:22-25, 1Tim 6:1- 2, and Titus 2:9-10a and not run away.

Now that Onesimus was a fellow believer, Philemon was obligated to comply with Eph 6:9a, and Col 4:1.

You know, I keep using words like "obligated" but though that word is appropriate, it shouldn't have to be emphasized because Christianity is supposed to be a religion of devotion rather than obligation to duty.

Gal 5:13 . . By love serve one another.

Israel's covenanted law requires people to love others as themselves; but Jesus commands believers to love their fellow believers with the same degree of love with which he himself loves them.

John 15:12 . . My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

That being the case, it must have been very easy for Philemon to let bygones be bygones and welcome Onesimus back into his home.

When Onesimus became Philemon's fellow believer, the nature of their association took on a whole other dimension; viz: every one of the commands that I've posted up till now, in regards to believers associating with one another, came into play at the moment of Onesimus' conversion.

He and Philemon would never again relate to one another the same as before Onesimus' conversion. Where once Onesimus and Philemon were merely fellow men; in Christ they became siblings, and both will one day sit side by side, shoulder to shoulder as equals around the table in God's home.

Phm 1:15-16 . . For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; not now as a slave, but above a slave, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in The Lord?

As a conscientious Christian, Onesimus no doubt became a real asset because it wouldn't be necessary for Philemon to ever again beat an honest day's work out of him.

1Tim 6:1-2 . . All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them.

384) Heb 2:1-4 . .We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by The Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

That commandment is unusual in the New Testament in that it wasn't written to Christians, but rather, to potential Christians; in particular, potential Jewish Christians.

When studying a difficult epistle like Hebrews, it's extremely important, for a sensible understanding of the letter, to first determine who wrote it, and to whom the author mailed it.

The author, unknown either by name or gender; was obviously a Jew because he's identified by the use of the pronouns "our" and "us" since it was to the Jews' forefathers that the prophets spoke.

Next, it's important to determine the target audience. Few people write letters and send them nowhere unless they're maybe a little touched in the head. So this letter was intended to communicate with somebody. According to Heb 13:22. the audience wasn't to just one recipient; but to a plurality identified as "brothers".

Just exactly how many are indicated by "brothers" is impossible to determine. The recipients may have been even as few as two. A plausible scenario is that the author, in his activities as an evangelist, traveled to various places throughout the Roman empire, and would eventually end up in a local Jewish synagogue. Jesus did it that way in Israel (Matt 4:23, Matt 9:35, Luke 4:16) and Paul did it that way later. (Acts 15:21, Acts 17:1-4)

Usually a number of Jews in those synagogues (whom the Jewish author calls brothers) would take an interest in the Gospel and want to know more. I believe this epistle was sent to an unspecified group of those kinds of Jews. Where were they located? Nobody knows. The only thing about the location that's known for sure is that it wasn't Italy. (Heb 13:24)

Moving through the letter, I believe at least three categories of Jews are addressed.

Chapters 1 thru 4:13 address nondescript Jews.

Chapters 4:14 and thru to 10:39, address a special group of Jews that I've labeled teetering Jews. Those were Jews who heard the Gospel, and interested in finding out more, but not quite convinced yet to follow Jesus whole-heartedly, and were in very real danger of turning completely away from the Gospel and permanently clinging to Judaism.

Chapter 11, and thru to the end of the epistle, addressed Jews who were past teetering: they made a solid commitment, and were ready to begin living a serious, Christ-following way of life.

My divisions of the epistle are no doubt amateurish and rough hewn, but they do serve to help put the contents in some sort of useful perspective.

Getting back to Heb 2:1-4, I don't think the words "drift away" imply that people get saved and then later lose their salvation. No; it's more like a curious crowd that gathers around a soap box speaker, and little by little, man by man, boredom sets in— the audience begins dispersing and people move on to find something else to do. That would be akin to attending a Billy Graham crusade for its entertainment, and a month later totally forgetting everything he talked about.

Were you to ask an evangelistic associations like Jews For Jesus; they would tell you it takes a lot of hard, dedicated, persistent effort to convert Jews to Christianity; hard effort with lots of prayer and follow-up because Jews have a very strong tendency to drift away from Christ and cling to their ancestral religion.

385) Heb 3:1 . .Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and High Priest whom we acknowledge: Christ Jesus

The "holy brethren" are Yhvh's people as per Deut 14:2 and Ps 135:4; and the "holy calling" very likely refers to the nation that God promised to make of Abraham as per Gen 12:1-2, Gen 13:14-16, and Gen 22:16-18.

The pronoun "we" in the phrase "whom we acknowledge" doesn't apply to just any Jew who happens to be looking in: only the Christian Jews with whom the author was then associated.

The koiné Greek word for "consider" is katanoeo (kat-an-o-eh'-o) which means: to observe fully; viz: to study; to examine.

You know, giving Christ a cursory glance leads nowhere. His purpose and his mission are just too complicated for that sort of half-hearted approach. Giving the Bible's Christ a brief once-over is just about as wise as investing in stocks without knowing some details about the company behind them; but that is just how modern Jews typically view Christ— He's not Moses is he? No? End of discussion!

386) Heb 3:7-11 . . So, as the Holy Spirit says: Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried Me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said: Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known My ways. So I declared on oath in My anger; they shall never enter My rest.

That's a quote from Psalm 95; which pertains to the people of Israel whom Yhvh rescued from Egyptian slavery. No doubt there are lots of modern Jews who would say: Had I been out there with Moses in the desert, I would have obeyed God and entered the promised land when Yhvh said to the first time. Sure, sure, it's easy to be obedient in hindsight sans the added handicap of peer pressure. But where's the average Jew today? The majority are hiloni (secular). And if you were to take a poll of the more than twelve million Jews resident on today's Earth, how many would you find who have ever even one time read Psalm 95?

In point of fact, the generation that followed Joshua into Canaan didn't get rest; no, they got warfare; years of it. And instead of obtaining a permanent state of peace and prosperity, they wound up getting oppression, slavery, poverty, environmental disasters, plagues, defeat, and dispersal.

Heb 4:8-9 . . For if Joshua had given them rest, then would not Psalm 95 afterward have spoken of a different day. There remains therefore a rest to the people of God.

I'm going to deliberately misquote that last sentence like this: There is another rest for the people of God. No, it doesn't say "another" rest; it's the same rest, the one they failed to obtain the first time; viz: it's been on hold all these many long years; and observers only need look at the state of that country today to easily perceive that Yhvh's people have yet to obtain rest of any kind: either politically, environmentally, or economically.

387) Heb 3:12-13 . . Take heed, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But implore one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

That's a call to theocratic unity; Jewish theocratic unity. But good luck getting the Jews to rally around Yhvh. Oh well, the author was duty-bound to try; as all the prophets before him in the past were duty-bound to try; usually to no avail.

Heb 3:16-19 . .Who were they who heard and rebelled? Was it not all those whom Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was Yhvh angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So then, we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

Belief is not only consent to a statement's truthfulness. No, Bible belief contains the element of trust; the absence of which led to the Jews' downfall in the Sinai. God told them to attack Palestine, but they didn't believe they were strong enough to do it. Well, that part was true; they weren't. However, Yhvh promised to be on their side. That part was true too, and had they been as convinced of that second part as strongly as they were the first, they would have been okay. But alas, they failed to rely upon Yhvh as a man of His word; and subsequently, they missed out on their one and only opportunity to enter an era of peace, prosperity, and providence.

388) Heb 4:1-2 . .Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had the gospel preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it wasn't mixed with faith in those who heard.

When reading the Bible; it's always important to pay close attention to language, grammar, and syntax. In this passage we're looking at, the pronouns us, you, we, they, and those don't refer to Gentiles; no, not at all. They refer to the author's fellow Jewish countrymen. This is, after all, a letter to Hebrews, not to the world.

The "gospel" spoken of in this instance is a concise version of the message with which most Christians are familiar, and its focus was mainly upon the kingdom of God rather than the grace of God. (e.g. Matt 4:23, Mark 1:14-15). The Jews' homeland would've been the center of the kingdom of God back then just as it will be in the future. In other words: the kingdom of God has been offered to the Jews at least twice already— once by Moses and once by Jesus —and will be offered to them yet a third time in the future. But I rather suspect that next time the Jews won't have a say in the matter.

Jews are now in an era sometimes called the church age; which is an open-season opportunity for them to at least enroll in the kingdom as its future citizens.

Heb 4:6-7 . . It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later He spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."

389) Heb 4:11 . . Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disbelief.

The "fall" in that instance refers to the Jews' failure to enter the kingdom's land when they were given the opportunity; which was indeed a very brief open season.

390) Heb 4:14 . . Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us cling to what we acknowledge

Prior to Christ, the closest proximity that Yhvh's people had to God was their Aaonic priest. But even he was earth-bound and his own closest proximity to the actual person of God was the holy place in either the tabernacle or the Temple.

One of the advantages of Christ's priesthood is his immortality; in other words: The Lord continues as a priest forever because he rose from the dead impervious to death. Aaron and his sons were not so lucky.

Rom 6:9 . . knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.

Heb 7:23-25 . . Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But he, because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

391) Heb 4:15-16 . . For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

One of the advantages of worship via a human priest is his ability to intuitively sympathize with human weaknesses. That is something that angels simply cannot do because they are a different species of life. They may empathize, but can never truly sympathize.

Webster's defines empathy as: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

In other words: Christ experienced human weaknesses and therefore understands human weaknesses.

Heb 5:1-3 . . Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.

Another aspect of worship via a human priest is temptation. Christ was fully tempted (Heb 4:15). Worship did not come easy for Jesus as some have been led to believe. That poor guy suffered just as much, if not more, temptation in his life as anybody else— real trials; not just symbolic trials.

Heb 5:7-8 . . Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; though he were a son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered

The flesh of John 1:14 is the Word of John 1:14, which is the God of John 1:1-2.

Traditional Christianity believes and teaches that God knows everything by means of omniscience, but omniscience is head knowledge;  God has not experienced everything personally, for Himself. In other words: until the Word became Jesus Christ, he didn't know for himself just how difficult it is to be loyal to God as a human being. Of course He knew it was hard; but he only knew it omnisciently, i.e. the Word didn't come by that knowledge via personal experience.

As an allegory: It's one thing to watch a NetFlix documentary made by people hiking the Pacific Crest Trail through the Mojave Desert in California; but quite another thing to go out West yourself and trek the PCT on your own two feet, carry a pack day after weary day, feel the sun on your skin, taste the dust in your mouth, be wary of rattlesnakes, get totally worn out, pitch a tent and cook oatmeal on a little hiker's stove, treat the blisters on your feet, and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow hikers and the generosity of good-hearted Trail Angels.

It was important that the Word come on down here to trek the PCT of life as an h.sapiens so that when the Bible says at Heb 2:14-18 that Christ is a sympathetic priest, it's not just pious rhetoric.

It's not that Jesus was at one time disobedient. What he learned was just how difficult it is to be faithful to God when everything is working against you.

There's an old Native American prayer that goes something like this: Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins. Well, the Bible's Jesus walked in our moccasins and he knows by personal experience just exactly how it feels. He's not just some indifferent, court appointed lawyer; no, nothing like that: Jesus is genuinely kin to his fellow men; therefore they can approach the throne of grace with confidence because it truly is a throne of grace rather than a throne of criminal justice.

Christ's constituents don't approach the throne as fugitives; no, we approach it as worn-out travelers in need of a place to stay for the night. We're like the man set upon by thieves, and Jesus is like the Samaritan who got him back on his feet. Christ doesn't pass us by on the other side of the road; no, he goes out his way to be helpful. That's really good to know.

The koiné Greek word for "confidence" in Heb 4:16 is parrhesia (par-rhay-see'-ah) which means: all out-spokenness; viz: frankness, bluntness. Since Jesus is a man who's been around the block a few times; there is no need to be reticent with him. It's okay to speak our minds— be frank, be candid —just as we would speak with beer buddies and/or yoga pals. That is a huge improvement over stuffing pieces of paper in the stone chinks of the so-called Wailing Wall.

392) Heb 6:1-3 . .Let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.

A large section of Hebrews talks about a man named Melchizedek: a priest of the Most High God who lived in Abraham's day. Mel is not a popular topic on internet Christian forums; which is really a shame because his priesthood, and its constituents, are above The Commandments and thoroughly immune to prosecution for breaking them.

Discussions of Melchizedek are pretty much limited to the acumen of mature believers; primarily because the average Jew is spiritually-challenged. Another large section of Hebrews talks about the new covenant, but that also is too advanced for the spiritual acumen of the average Jew.

Yhvh's people were spiritually-challenged when they came out of Egypt.

Deut 29:2-5 . . And Moses summoned all Israel and said to them; You have seen all that Yhvh did before your eyes in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and all his land; the great trials which your eyes have seen, those great signs and wonders. Yet to this day Yhvh has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear.

The condition persisted to Isaiah's day,

Isa 6:9-10 . . And Yhvh said; Go, and tell this people: Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and come back to Me and be healed.

Continued in Ezekiel's day,

Ezk 12:1-2 . .Then the word of Yhvh came to me saying; Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house.

Was chronic in Christ's day,

John 12:39-40 . . For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says: He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor repent —and I would heal them.

And still a problem in Paul's day too.

2Cor 3:12-16 . . Since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull; for to this day the same veil remains when Torah is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to The Lord, the veil is taken away.

393) Heb 10:21-22 . . Since we have a high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience

Sprinkling was a common ritual in the Old Testament— sometimes with water, sometimes with oil, and sometimes with blood —for example: Ex 29:16, Ex 29:21, Lev 14:7, Lev 14 16, and Num 8:7, et al.

Sprinkling typically serves to de-contaminate someone or some thing in order to make it suitable for God's purposes. Well, in point of fact; none of the Old Testament's sprinklings served to cleanse people's conscience once and for all time. They had to keep bringing one sacrifice after another in a perpetual stream of sacrifices because each sacrifice cleansed their conscience just that one time instead of for all time.

Heb 10:10-14 . .We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but he, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until his enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Christ sat down at the right hand of God; which is something the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God does not allow for its high priest, He dare not linger with God in the holy of holies behind the vail primarily because the blood of a beast that the priest sprinkles on the mercy seat doesn't suffice to permanently sanitize either himself or the people.

394) Heb 10:23 . . Let us cling to the acknowledgment of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised)

One can scarcely blame the author's Hebrew audience for wondering if perchance they're making a really big mistake dumping the covenant that Yhvh's people made with God as per Deut 29:9-15. A lot is at stake. For one thing, the covenant is their sacred heritage and their cultural identity; and for another, the covenant is a contract that obligates God to lower the boom on His people with some pretty severe penalties for breaching it: they're all on file at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69. When Hebrews convert to Christianity and the new and improved covenant as per Jer 31:31-34, they have to wonder if maybe they're stepping off into an abyss from whence there is no return.

But the reality is: they have nothing to lose by taking that step because the original covenant provides neither forgiveness nor atonement for willful sins; which can be defined as deeds committed by someone knowing beforehand that what they were about to do is wrong.

Num 12:28-31 . . The priest shall atone for the erring soul which sinned inadvertently before The Lord, so as to atone on his behalf, and it shall be forgiven him. One law shall apply to anyone who sins inadvertently from the native born of the children of Israel and the proselyte who resides among them.

. . . But if a person should act highhandedly, whether he is a native born or a proselyte, he is blaspheming The Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from among its people. For he has scorned the word of The Lord and violated His commandment; that soul shall be utterly cut off; for its iniquity is upon it.

Heb 10:26 . . For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.

I'm pretty sure it was Num 12:28-31 that Paul had in mind when he informed his Jewish countrymen "through Jesus everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the law of Moses" (Acts 13:39)

One of the more common willful sins are lies. Everybody knows it's wrong but still do it anyway. Well; lies are forbidden by the original covenant.

Lev 19:11 . . You shall not lie, one man to his fellow.

So then, when a Torah-trained Jew tells a lie; he acts highhandedly; viz: he commits a willful sin for which the original covenant provides neither forgiveness nor atonement. That man is a scofflaw and in desperate need of a safety net.

Now, the author mentioned that "He is faithful that promised". So then, what is the promise? Well; the promise is located in the words and grammar of the new and improved covenant located at Jer 31:31-34.

"Such is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel after these days— testifies Yhvh: I will put My teachings into their inmost being and inscribe it upon their hearts. Then I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they need to teach one another and say to one another, "Heed The Lord"; for all of them, from the least of them to the greatest, shall heed Me— testifies Yhvh. For I will forgive their iniquities, and remember their sins no more."

That promise is gold because the forgiveness it promises applies to willful sinners just as much as inadvertent sinners; viz; it's the safety net that every Torah-trained Jew so desperately needs to get him out from under the original covenant's terrible consequences for breaching it.

Deut 27:26 . . Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them.

395) Heb 10:24 . . And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

Man is a species of life that is quite naturally, and comfortably, inclined to provoke and annoy each other and bring out the worst in their fellow men. It is Christ's wishes that his own make an effort to do just the opposite; viz: bring out the best in each other.

396) Heb 10:25 . . Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

When my brother and I were growing up, we shared the same bedroom. Well, one day our parents decided to separate us, so they moved my brother to another room. When I asked them why; they said it was because we egg each other on. (I guess it was okay for my parents to egg themselves on but not okay for us.)

Anyway, point being, the old strategy of divide and conquer still works even to this day. It's much easier to be strong in a group of supportive friends and allies than it is all alone when the only resources available are your own. It's still true that two heads are better than one; plus, in a group, the right kind of peer pressure can work to everyone's advantage.

For example, there was a time in America when it was mocked as hippy-ish to subsist on organic food. But lately, organic has become so popular that nobody feels weird anymore when they shop for it. That's what I mean by the right kind of peer pressure.

Anyway; when people are isolated, they're much easier to suppress, and prevent from conspiring against a common foe; which is why unions are called "organized" labor. One or two workers alone against the front office are probably going to get themselves crushed but when the entire workforce is united in a common cause, it's not so easy for corporate bulldozers to abuse human rights.

NOTE: The "day" the author spoke of is the Day Of The Lord, in which several judgments are scheduled to take place. The one most pertinent to Christ's people is their performance evaluation as per 1Cor 3:5-15, and the one most pertinent to the world is the Tribulation depicted in the book of Revelation, and the one most pertinent to the lost is their day in court as per Rev 20:11-15; and the one most pertinent to Yhvh's people is a sort of Ellis Island as per Ezek 20:33-44.

397) Heb 10:32-34 . . Remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly, by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated . . knowing in yourselves that you have for yourselves a better possession: one that abides

I think one of the worst injuries to my feelings I had to endure when I was an up-and-coming Bible believer was to be called a Jesus Freak; which is a denigrating label once pinned on those involved in the Jesus movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was quickly embraced by some, and soon broadened to describe a Christian subculture throughout the hippie and back-to-the-land movements that focused on universal love and pacifism, and relished the "radical" nature of Jesus' message.

Jesus freaks often carried, and distributed, copies of Good News for Modern Man; a 1966 translation of the Bible that fit the bill by including, at first, only the New Testament in a modern vernacular. "Jesus Freak" is currently a disparaging term for Evangelical Christians.

Well, I was neither a hippie nor an organic gardener; I was just a simple guy very interested in following Christ. The heck of it was that the people who called me that name were (I thought) my friends.

Another term I was labeled was Mr. Clean; and that was by a girl I had known in high school as (I thought) a close personal friend. Well, later in life, after she divorced and began sleeping around, my "friend" got ticked off at me because I had no intention of getting in her pants so she called me that name. There I was the best friend and role model she knew of for her four fatherless children and she ridiculed me for being a decent man. (I can't help but wonder if a life of promiscuity was the goal she had in mind for her little ones.)

398) Heb 10:35-36 . .Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of perseverance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

The kind of perseverance the author is talking about is not the dogged determination of US Navy SEALS; which are a group of military guys who absolutely refuse to be beaten at anything you might name. If SEALS were to play hop-scotch it would turn violent.

I would liken the kind of perseverance in mind here as that of a farmer. ACDC says it's a long ways to the top if you wanna rock and roll. Well, farmers have a long ways to harvest if they wanna make it to market. First they have to till the soil, then rake it, then plant seeds, then wait on mother nature to irrigate them with rain, then they have to wait more yet for their crops to grow to maturity before harvesting.

Farmers look forward to their harvests; they anticipate them otherwise who would plow, rake, and plant if there were nothing to expect later on down the road?

That kind of perseverance anticipates a benefit. Webster's defines anticipate as: to look forward to as certain; viz: to expect. As a rule, farmers don't begin the planting season expecting their fields to produce nothing. No, they plan on going to market because they expect to see crops in the fields at harvest time. It would be a very strange farmer indeed who looked forward to the ravages of drought, disease, and insect plagues every year.

399) Heb 12:1 . .Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses all around us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Whether it's meant that all the heroes of faith listed in the 11th chapter are in some sort of celestial grandstand as an audience watching those of us who are still alive, is uncertain. But if they are . . . . . .!

Believers aren't Christians for a short distance as if their life of faith is only a 50-yard dash. No, they're in a marathon not a dash; so they have to hang in there if they expect to win an at-a-boy at the end.

The Greek word for "encumbrance" means weight; which athletes competing in track and field generally do their best to keep to a minimum, including the shoes they wear; if any. "the sin" is actually only "sin" seeing as how the modifier is an editorial insertion. For example, competitors typically avoid things like alcohol, sex, over-eating, and staying up late before the games. In other words: if one isn't careful, their lifestyle will hold them back from following Christ loyally and consistently.

Believers aren't supposed to be Christ's followers for a short distance, as if their life of faith is only a 50-yard dash. No, they're not in a dash, they're in a marathon; so they have to hang in there if they expect to win an at-a-boy at the finish line.

Olympic teams are typically staffed with a coach, which Christ is fully qualified to do since he's a veteran of the games.

400) Heb 12:3-4 . . For consider him who has endured such hostility by sinners against himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin

At a Padres baseball game I attended in San Diego back in the 1970's, the First Baseman of the visiting team was a player named Pete Rose. For the entire duration of the game, Pete was bombarded with insults and remarks by rows of hecklers seated right along the first-base line. The hecklers were relentless but Pete tuned them out and played that game as if they were invisible. He was a real pro; however, Pete may have reacted differently had they threatened him with bodily injury, confiscation of his property, and/or death.

The Jews to whom the author wrote must have had it pretty good because it was only a matter of time before Christians were targets for arrows, swords, lances, pyres, and the teeth of beasts in the coliseum at Rome. Even today, it is very dangerous to be a Christian in Muslim countries.

Saturday, August 03, 2009, a frenzied mob of 3,000 Muslims stormed the tiny Pakistani Christian village of Gojra. Enflamed by (unconfirmed) charges that a Christian had incinerated pages of the Koran, the mob burned down fifty homes, cremated eight Christians alive, and wounded twenty others. Thousands of Christians fled the area.

401) Heb 12:5-6 . . My son, do not despise The Lord's chastening, nor detest His correction; for whom The Lord loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.

Father's correct the sons they love to make better people out of them. Father's who don't love their sons correct them simply to dominate them and get them to mind; which often results in those unloved sons becoming resentful and rebellious.

402) Heb 12:7-11 . . If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

. . . Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.

. . . Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Child training is quite a bit different than child abuse; training builds character, while abuse breaks the spirit.

403) Heb 12:12-13 . .Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak, and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

That almost sounds like physical therapy; which of course it is. When I had one of my knees replaced, the therapist had to teach me how to walk all over again— how to walk properly because with the bad knee, I couldn't; and that had gone on for more than a decade. And not only that, but the leg with the bad knee had become feeble because I favored it and wasn't using it properly. So a large percentage of my therapy involved getting that game leg strong again by means of an exercise regimen.

The Greek word for "straight" is orthos (or-thos') which doesn't necessarily define the shortest distance between two points. It can also mean smooth and level; in other words: free of tripping hazards; which someone undergoing treatment for a joint problem (e.g. hips, knees, and ankles) has to really watch out for. In other words: an orthos path is a therapeutic path— in this case in respect of one's spiritual conditioning rather than their physical conditioning.

404) Heb 12:14a . . Pursue peace with all men,

The word for "peace" is eirene (i-ray'-nay) and means not only a lack of strife, but also the presence of prosperity; which implies always seeking the good of others rather than only your own.

People of peace are in an advantageous category.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

405) Heb 12:14b . . and pursue sanctification, without which no one will see The Lord.

The Greek word for "sanctification" is hagiasmos (hag-ee-as-mos') which means both purity and purification; which can be defined as not mixed, adulterated, contaminated and/or amalgamated with any other substance or material; for example:

1Cor 5:6-7 . . Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened.

This is basically a reiteration of the very first of the Ten commandments.

Mark 12:28-31 . . One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that he had answered them well, asked him; "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered; "The foremost is: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love The Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.

"without which no one will see The Lord"

What is that saying? Does it mean if perchance one of Christ's believing followers fails to achieve purity in this life, they will be lost when they pass on? No doubt the Devil could but dearly wish that were true because then nobody would go to heaven. But the statement below is just as true today as it was when the apostle John penned it.

1John 1:8-10 . . If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Nobody has ever achieved 100% purity in this life; apparently not even the apostle John or why else would he use pronouns like "we' and "ourselves" and "us". Whoever thinks they can do it is only chasing a carrot on a stick. The idiom depicts a donkey pulling a wagon while in pursuit of a treat dangled just out of its reach.

My musical instrument of choice is electric guitar; but as many years as I have been trying to get the hang of electric guitar, I have yet to master it nor will I ever master it in this life; because I simply do not have a talent for guitar. But I do what I can with my limited abilities.

That's a pretty good allegory for explaining what it means to pursue sanctification. You're never going to get it in this life; but I'm pretty sure it's safe to say that The Lord is pleased when his own do the best they can with their limited abilities.

However, the saying ""without which no one will see The Lord" stills hold true, and one day, those of us bound for heaven will finally achieve 100% purity because The Lord himself will make sure that we do.

Eph 5:25-27 . . Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

406) Heb 12:15a . . See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God

Grace comes out pretty early in the Bible.

Gen 6:8 . . Noah found grace in the eyes of The Lord.

Noah found that grace because he was righteous.

Gen 7:1 . .The Lord said to Noah: Enter the ark, you and all your household; for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time.

Some Christians are so obsessed with the imputed righteousness that God grants via faith as per Rom 3:20-26 that they neglect to cultivate any of their own. Well; maybe they have no interest in their own personal righteousness; but God is plenty interested. He wants to see it; in point of fact: Christians lacking personal righteousness risk missing out on a father's love: the best grace of all.

John 14:23 . . If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

407) Heb 12:15b . . that no root of a bitter plant, sprouting up, causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;

It's interesting the author didn't say "seed" rather than root. The seeds of noxious plants are prevalent: they're everywhere at all times; like cold germs. Farmers, gardeners, and landscape maintenance personnel have to stay alert for those that germinate and hit them with a shot of herbicide to keep them under control. Left unchecked, those noxious plants will dominate the surface of the soil and muscle out the plants you want to keep.

One example of a "root of bitterness" is heresy; which is defined as a belief or opinion that does not agree with the official dogma of a particular religion; viz: an heretic is a dissident. They don't defect and go outside; no, they remain inside and stir up discontent with the hierarchy and campaign for reform. Those kinds of church members are invasive species that have to be dealt with in a summary manner lest they succeed in destroying a church's unity.

A toxic root that's far more common is tolerance. For example: it's very easy to get used to someone's profanity, vulgar language and/or off-color humor to the point where we think it's acceptable Christian behavior and start doing it ourselves because there's no one to say otherwise.

Another toxic root is political activism; for example civil rights and/or Native American affairs. If somebody wants to get involved in that sort of thing, more power to them as long as they do it on their own dime and on their own time. But God forbid they use their church as a soap box because that is definitely inappropriate.

408) Heb 12:16-17 . . that there be no immoral or secular person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

At first glance it appears that verse is saying that Jacob's brother was immoral, but actually two types of spiritual conditions are on display— the one is immoral and the other is secular.

Worldly church members aren't the noxious menaces that characterize heretics; but one thing they are is dead weight. They're indifferent to Christ's best interests and have little concern whether a church is operating in a manner that honors his wishes. They'd just as soon forgo preaching and Sunday school to organize a banquet where they can mingle, talk business and politics, and meet interesting people.

You'll likely encounter very few secular types on-campus during a Saturday morning church work day set aside for maintaining the grounds and applying fresh paint to the buildings. I once attended a mega church in San Diego with over 4,000 members on the books. Less than twenty of those members ever showed up on work days. What does that tell you about the spiritual condition of that church?

The problem with secular types is that they typically comprise the majority; in other words: as a voting bloc, they carry a lot of weight and they contribute most of the money towards a church's budget so its risky taking them to task for their lack of appreciation for spiritual things. But too many secular types can ruin a church's association with Christ in short order; for example:

Rev 3:20-22 . . Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what The Spirit says to the churches.

The church to whom that letter was written was so indifferent to associating with Christ that he was left standing outside the building banging on the door trying to get somebody's attention to let him in. Not even its pastor wanted Christ inside.

409) Heb 12:25-29 . . See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on Mt. Sinai, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying: Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.

"Yet once more" indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.

410) Heb 13:1 . . Let brotherly love continue.

Brotherly love is way different than neighborly love. Brothers are kin, while neighbors are outsiders; ergo: one's kin in Christ should always have the priority when forced to make a choice between a brother and a neighbor. The directives are different too. Christians love their neighbors as they love themselves (Matt 19:19) while loving their brothers as Christ loves them (John 13:34).

411) Heb 13:2 . . Do not neglect to be hospitable with strangers; for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

The Greek word for angels doesn't necessarily indicate a celestial being. It just means a messenger; especially one that truly represents God. Hopefully the pastors and Sunday school teachers in your church are people like that.

In the modern world, it's risky to be too friendly with strangers; especially in the USA. Letting strangers into one's home could easily result in the murder of your entire family, along with the theft of your belongings. So use a little sanctified common sense in applying Heb 13:2.

Matt 10:16 . . Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

412) Heb 13:3 . . Remember prisoners, as though in prison with them; and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.

"the body" isn't referring to the overall, worldwide Christian fraternity. No, it's a specific human body: the one in which Christ was crucified.

Eph 5:30-32 . .We are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church.

The prisoners mentioned are not just any jailbird in lock-up; but rather, it's limited to those who are "in the body" viz: in Christ.

1Cor 12:12-13 . . For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body

So then, paying a visit to fellow believers behind bars is like visiting one's family— a heavenly family to whom believers owe far more loyalty than their biological families.

Matt 10:37 . . He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

The "love" spoken of in that passage is easily mistaken for feelings when more likely it's actually talking about loyalty instead.

413) Heb 13:4 . . Let marriages be respected: and the bed kept unsoiled; for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

A number of despicable behaviors are listed in the 18th chapter of Leviticus; and one of them— listed right along with incest and LGBT —is adultery.

Rom 1:18 says that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, and goes on to list not only LGBT as one of those ungodly, unrighteous behaviors worthy of the wrath of God, but also sexual impurity and the degrading of people's bodies with one another. Sexual impurity and degradation includes not only sleeping around and/or cohabitating, but also adultery.

Some Christians don't know the meaning of "respect" when it comes to marriage. It means to treat someone else's spouse as a sacred object. I've seen for myself how some Christians think it's terrible to trespass on private property and/or steal the silverware when they're invited over for dinner; but at the same time get just a bit too chummy with their host's spouse.

There's a popular song going around with the words "you don't own me". Well, if the "me" in that song is married then they very certainly are owned.

There is no Hebrew word for either husband or wife in the Old Testament. No, the English words for husband and wife are derived from the presence of gender-sensitive possessive pronouns; viz: her man and/or his woman.

Gen 2:24 . . Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The Hebrew word for "wife" in that passage is 'ishshah (ish-shaw') which just simply indicates a female; regardless of age. The possessive pronoun "his" makes the 'ishshah somebody's wife; same goes for the men.

Gen 3:6 . . And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The Hebrew word for "husband" in that verse is 'enowsh (en-oshe') which just simply indicates a mortal; viz: a guy, a male; regardless of age. The possessive pronoun "her" makes the 'enowsh somebody's husband.

So the aspect of possession is a key element in marriage; and adulterers are nothing in the world but thieves. In point of fact, in 2007, when a suburban Chicago man, Arthur Friedman, found out his wife was cheating on him with another man named German Blinov, he was heartbroken. But unlike many other people, Friedman didn't "get over" it. Instead, he filed a lawsuit against Mr. Blinov for stealing the love and affections of his wife. A Cook County jury ordered Blinov to pay a total $4,802 to Mr. Friedman for stealing his wife.

While the idea of suing your wife's or husband's lover for stealing their affections might sound ridiculous, it is indeed quite legal to do so. Mr. Friedman used a lesser-known state law to attack and sue his wife's lover. The law is called the "alienation of affection" law. In fact, there are eight of these types of laws across the United States. It allows violated spouses to seek damages for the loss of love to a wife or husband's lover.

1Cor 7:4 . . The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife.

A wedding vow then, could be said to be a transfer of ownership just like signing over the pink slip to a car or the deed to real estate. So then, always keep those possessive pronouns in mind when associating with somebody else's spouse; and keep your pea-pickin' hands off the merchandise!

414) Heb 13:5a . . Let your conduct be without covetousness;

There's a covetousness prohibited in the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God at Ex 20:17, which Christ reiterated at Matt 5:27-28. That kind of covetousness is nefarious. In other words, it doesn't just keep up with what the Jones have, it schemes to take what the Jones have instead of getting its own.

The koiné Greek word for "without covetousness" in Heb 13:5 is different. The Greek word is aphilarguros (af-il-ar'-goo-ros) which pertains to avarice.

Webster's defines "avarice" as: excessive, or insatiable, desire for wealth or gain; viz: greediness and cupidity.

Avarice is different from just wanting things like a new 4x4 Toyota SUV, a Marc Jacobs purse, a Panerai wrist watch, or a vacation in Hawaii. Avarice is the obsession to stockpile wealth like Ebenezer Scrooge. People like Scrooge don't accumulate money because they need it, nor for the sake of what it can buy. Extreme cases of avarice like Scrooge's are such misers that they can't even bring themselves to spend enough money to properly heat their homes, nor nourish themselves with decent food. And charity? Forget it. They view charity as one might view a pick pocket or a purse snatcher.

And then there's moguls who already possess all the wealth, property, and belongings they will ever need for the rest of their lives, but no, they just have to have more wealth, more belongings, and more property for the fame and prestige rather than for necessities; and if they have to walk over the bodies and souls of weaker folk to get it; they will.

For example when US President Donald Trump wanted to build a luxury golf course in Scotland, he persuaded the local government to condemn the homes and property of folk living in the area so he could then gobble up their land. (cf. 1Kgs 21:1-16)

415) Heb 13:5b . . and be content with such things as ye have.

Since the writer connected this directive with avarice, I would have to say his focus is on moderation; which Webster's defines as: reasonable limits and/or average; viz: avoiding extremes.

Some people's motivation for stockpiling wealth is fear of the future; a fear which evidences a lack of reliance upon God's providence.

Heb 13:5-6 . . He himself has said: I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can Man do to me?

Well, I think the mortgage crisis in 2008, the stock market crash, the 401K meltdowns, the ENRON collapse, the decline in oil production, the GM financial mess, the national debt, massive nationwide lay-offs, the proliferation of Islamic terrorism, and Mr. Bernard Lawrence Madoff easily demonstrate that Man can hurt me quite a bit.

I lost an appreciable amount from my retirement account when the housing bubble burst, and the market crashed due to the bankruptcy of Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and AIG; thus proving The Lord's words that thieves break in and steal (Matt 6:49-21) and some of those thieves are managing banks and innocent people's investments!

However, in spite of all those threats to my peace of mind, I still believe in The Lord to get me through it all somehow. Well; so far; so good.

416) Heb 13:7 . . Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.

The "leaders" of that particular verse refer to the ones who captained Yhvh's people over the centuries; e.g. Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David. Elijah, Ezra, and Nehemiah; and the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Micah; et al. about whom the Bible says:

"Who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies." (Heb 11:33-34)

"Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them." (Heb 11:35-38)

"They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." (Heb 11:39-40)

There was once an advertisement for a beer on television that said, in so many words: "You only go around once in life. So grab all the gusto you can get." Well; Christ's believing followers should not be thinking like that. They don't go around once; the real gusto is yet to come.

417) Heb 13:9 . . Do not be carried away by strange and varied teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace rather than foods, through which those who were thus occupied were not benefited.

The words "carried away" weren't translated from Greek words. They're arbitrary insertions; viz: they're words that a translating committee penciled into the English text so as to make the passage say what they guessed it's supposed to be saying. Arbitrary insertions are pretty common and nobody seems to fear they might be adulterating the Bible.

The word "strange" is translated from the Greek word xenos (xen'-os) which essentially refers to someone or something with which Christians are unfamiliar. For example; though most Christians are familiar with the dietary laws contained in the covenant that Yhvhs' people agreed upon with God, Christ's followers are under no obligation to comply with them for the simple reason that those laws are contractual. Well; Christians per se, are not contracted with God to comply with those laws. Hence those dietary laws amount to "strange" teachings; viz: they're unchristian.

Now, what I find curious about Heb 13:9 is the fact that the anointing spoken of in 1John 2:26-27 is supposed to steer those who have it away from deception while at the same time aligning them with the truth. So then, that being the case, then it's clearly possible for those with the anointing to ignore its guidance and buy into strange and varied teachings.

Another thing I should point out is that according to 1Thss 5:19, it's possible to quench the anointing's guidance; viz: snuff it out like one would snuff a candle so that it no longer produces light to illuminate one's path: and that's not a good thing.

1John 1:5-6 . .This is the message we have heard from him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

418) Heb 13:16 . . And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Doing good and sharing are bloodless sacrifices; and in point of fact are far more likely to be accepted by God than the death of birds and beasts.

In the first chapter of the book of Isaiah, God lambasted Yhvh's people for bringing all the correct, God-mandated sacrifices to the Temple. Why? Because those sacrifices were insulting while His people were not only crooks; but also lacking the milk of human kindness. The sacrifices that God preferred over and above the Temple offerings were the below:

Isa 1:17 . . Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.

Hos 6:6 . . For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

So "doing good" consists of doing what's right, and seeking kindness and fairness across the board for everyone; including the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised. The US Government has been notoriously negligent in doing good by its chronic failure to honor its treaties with Native Americans. Not long ago I read in my local paper about 50 years of Federal foot-dragging in respect to honoring its commitment to provide tribes situated along the Columbia River with fishing villages to replace the ones that were obliterated due to construction of The Dalles dam. Well; God takes note of injustices; nobody is getting by with anything.

419) Heb 13:17 . . Heed those who lead you, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.

Christianity is not a democracy. No; it is a theocracy with a monarch at its head— a monarch who regards dissent and disobedience as heresy and insurrection.

1Sam 15:22-23 . .Has Yhvh as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of Yhvh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.

If perchance Christ's believing followers should find themselves under church leadership that they cannot— in all good conscience —respect, follow, and obey; and/or simply cannot give their whole-hearted, unreserved support; then it's time to abandon ship and move on rather than remain and rack up negative points against themselves that will most certainly erode their reward when they stand before the King for their personal evaluation.

420) Heb 13:22-23 . . I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly.

The epistle to Hebrews hardly seems "brief" but maybe in those days it amounted to little more than a memo.

Christ's teachings as per the epistles are sometimes regarded as recommendations; viz: as advice, rather than law. That's not the way his thoughts are supposed to be taken; no, not at all. The writer of Hebrews didn't say his word is a collection of suggestions, rather, as exhortation; which Webster's defines as language intended to incite and encourage. In other words: the teachings in Hebrews are meant to be taken seriously rather than with a grain of salt; if you know what I mean.

Exhortation is taken from the Greek word paraklesis (par-ak'-lay-sis) which is an ambiguous word that not only means exhortation, but also solace; which Webster's defines as a source of relief and/or consolation; viz: encouragement. In other words; the letter to Hebrews is for the reader's own good; in more ways than just rules and laws.

It's interesting how various people perceive the Bible. Some see it as a threat to human safety and dignity; while others see it as a source of friendship and mentoring.

2Cor 2:14-17 . . For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being rescued and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.

421) Jas 1:2a . . Consider it all joy, my brethren,

The epistle of James is another like the epistle of Hebrews whose target audience is the author's "brethren" viz: the twelve tribes of Israel; a.k.a. the Diaspora.

Jas 1:1 . . James, a bond-servant of God and of The Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad— Greetings.

So then, the epistle is probably best interpreted from the perspective of a Jewish Christian rather than that of a Gentile Christian.

422) Jas 1:2b-4 . . when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

It is so frustrating to open a package supposedly containing all the parts needed to assemble a complicated device only to discover that some of the pieces are missing. Well, a lot of Christians are like that. They might be really good at church attendance, while at work committing theft by using their employer's computers for personal purposes without authorization and/or in the habit of breaking the law by J-walking and driving too fast, drifting through STOP signs without bringing their vehicle to a complete halt; and given to outbursts of road rage. That's not a complete Christian; no, that's a half-baked Christian.

Not all tests of faith are intended for behavior modification; but rather, for proof-testing. Take for example Abraham's test in the 22nd chapter of Genesis; which he passed to God's 110% satisfaction.

Other testing is the kind that engineers do with things like machines, toys, cribs, printers, flashlights, guns, tools, pumps, motors, cars, etc. Before putting a new idea into production, they subject it to a series of tests to determine if it will perform under the circumstances for which it is designed. Nowadays, not all testing is destructive testing, but rather via computer models. But the purpose is the same: to reveal any weaknesses in the design and function of the part; which are then addressed and rectified.

Prv 25:4 . . Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith

423) Jas 1:5 . . If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Within the context of James' epistle, the phrase "any of you" pertains to the recipients of his letter; viz: the Diaspora— specifically those among the Diaspora whose religion is Christianity. So then, the phrase "gives to all men" has to be interpreted with that in mind; which means that "all men" doesn't pertain to just any and all men on earth.

424) Jas 1:6-8 . . But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from The Lord : he is a vacillating man, unstable in all he does.

Christians should never begin a prayer by saying "God; if you're out there".

Heb 11:6 . . Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is

Note the words "impossible" and "must" in that verse. A vacillating Christian who's not sure there's a God out there is an unbelieving Christian, and can just forget a reply from the Bible's God— the instant the words of a vacillating prayer leaves somebody's lips it goes directly to the dead-letter office.

425) Jas 1:9 . . Let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position;

According to the Bible, relatively few prominent people make it to safety when they cross over to the others side.

1Cor 1:26-29 . . Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world's eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.

With precious few exceptions, just about every notable personality on parade is, and has been, going to Hell— just about everybody in Congress, everybody in the White House, everybody in show business, every singer, every musician, every dancer, everybody in the publishing business, every billionaire, every millionaire, every corporate CEO, every celebrity, every Nobel Prize winner, every super model, every astronaut, every professional athlete, every Miss America, and every news anchor— just about —because when you strip away their titles, their abilities, their looks, their popularity, their accolades, their achievements and their accomplishments; and stand them before God naked; people are only flesh and blood creatures; they're little more than naked apes— human wildlife whose destiny is death akin to a foundry worker falling into a vat of molten iron as per Rev 20:10-15.

What is this "high position" that James wrote about? Well, I can think of no higher position than being legal kin to the Bible's God and a family member around the table in His own home. In my book, that beats an invitation to the White House any day of the year.

The koiné Greek word for "glory" in Jas 1:9 is kauchaomai (kow-khah'-om-ahee) which means: to vaunt; which Webster's defines as: to make a vain display of one's own worth or attainments; viz: to brag; to call attention to with pride and often boastfully.

426) Jas 1:10 . . but the rich should glory in that he is made low:

It is a very unusual achiever who would regard ignominy as something to vaunt, but that is exactly what James is requiring. But how long do successful believers stay successful on this earth anyway? Probably less than a century in most cases.

Jas 1:10-11 . . because like flowering grass; he's transient. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off, and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

In God's home, around His own table, there are no class distinctions. A Barbra Streisand is no higher in prestige than an obscure voice in a public school glee club. How would someone like a Babs boast about being just as low in prestige as an obscure voice in a glee club? This requires a radical attitude adjustment.

Rom 12:16 . . Be of the same mind toward one another; not haughty, snobby, or conceited; but identifying with the lowly.

I've heard it said that some people come to church to close their eyes, and some to eye the clothes. Well, when you go to church, don't wear clothes for the eye. Instead; dress modestly even if you can afford Valentino, Armani, Dolce & Cabbana, Fendi, Prada, Oscar de la Renta, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Yves Saint Laurent, and Chanel. That way you can mingle with anybody and everybody without feeling out of place among ordinary people; and in turn, you won't make ordinary people feel like second-rate citizens around you.

In other words, leave your "money" at home and don't dress to impress at church; but rather, dress to blend.

427) Jas 1:13 . . No one who wants to do wrong should ever say: God is tempting me. God cannot be tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else to do wrong either.

Human nature has a dastardly propensity to blame others for its own faults. A prime example is right in the beginning of the Bible in the book of Genesis. Adam blamed the woman God gave him for his part in eating the forbidden fruit (Gen 3:12) and Eve blamed the Devil for her part in the act (Gen 3:13). It takes really big men and women to admit their culpability and say: The buck stops here! No recriminations!

However, though God tempts no one to evil, He does put certain ones through the ringer to see what they're made of— even His own kin —to test and/or prove their resilience to temptation; e.g. The Lord himself.

Matt 4:1 . . Then was Jesus led up of The Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil.

Heb 5:7-8 . . While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could protect him from death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God. So even though Jesus was God's son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.

In other words, a truly righteousness person retains their innocence in the presence of temptation.

Criminals often gripe about entrapment when the cops catch them red handed in a sting. But if the crooks were truly righteous, entrapment wouldn't work on them.

Another popular excuse is enabling. For example some folks insist it's God fault that Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden tree because He put it in the garden where they could find it.

President Clinton was once asked in an interview why he messed around with Monica Lewinski. He answered: Because I could.

And alcoholics blame their habit on genetic predilection.

I once heard it said that locks were invented to keep an honest man honest. (chuckle) I think there's a lot of truth in that statement.

Jas 1:14-16 . .Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death. So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.

428) Jas 1:19 . . Let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;

Anger per se isn't evil; I mean after all, The Lord himself wasn't immune to anger (Mark 3:5). And neither is the Bible's God immune to anger. (Ex 4:14, Num 11:1, Rom 1:18, Rom 2:8)

Non-sinful anger can be a valuable tool if it's administered intelligently. However, human anger is often spontaneous, impulsive, unfair, unjustified, inappropriate, irrational, unnecessary, controlling, violent, emotional, petulant, selfish, and reactive.

Jas 1:20 . . for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

429) Jas 1:21 . .Therefore, get rid of all moral filth, and the evil that is so prevalent; and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

"moral filth and evil" in this case pertains especially to the wrong kind of anger; which only leads to more and more actions the likes of which The Lord cannot approve.

Christians are sometimes victims of a sort of knee-jerk reflex whenever they encounter a word like "save". The koiné Greek word for it is sozo (sode'-zo) which is another ambiguous word that can mean save, rescue, protect, and/or spare.

Ambiguous words are not only a nuisance at times; but worse, they can be misleading. James isn't talking about saving yourself from Hell and eternal suffering by eliminating "all moral filth". No, that part of a believer's association with God is past tense rather than future (John 5:24, Rom 6:3, Rom 6:6, Gal 2:20, Col 3:3, 1Thes 1:10, 1Thes 5:9, 2Tim 1:9, Titus 3:5).

Gal 5:19-21 . . Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are . . hatred, contentions, and outbursts of wrath

People whose anger easily flares up are slaves to their anger and enjoy far less peace than somebody whose anger is under control: thus peaceable souls succumb to temptation with much less frequency than angry ones.

There's a guy up here in Oregon who founded a bread factory with his brother that became very successful. You might know it as Dave's Killer Bread. Well; Dave has rage issues. He was paroled from prison not all that long ago and his life was on easy street until he lost his temper and got in a bucket of trouble with law enforcement.

430) Jas 1:22 . . Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Some Christians need to hone-up on their spiritual grooming habits.

Jas 1:23-25 . . Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it— he will be blessed in what he does.

I believe that "the perfect law that gives freedom" is the whole Bible from cover to cover; as Paul said; "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom 15:4).

He also told his friend Timothy that all Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Tim 3:16-17)

Back in those days "all Scripture" was pretty much limited to the Old Testament. Today it includes the New Testament canon.

People who make a life-long habit of studying the Bible from cover to cover for its spiritual content can't help but be improved by it a least a little bit. The easiest, and the best way I know to do this is by listening to a ½ hour program on radio called Thru The Bible; hosted by a now-deceased minister named J.Vernon McGee. His program takes five years to go through the entire Bible practically verse by verse. The program loops; viz: when McGee gets to the end; the program starts all over again. His method is pretty cool. When he gets done with an Old Testament book, he starts one in the New Testament, and vice versa. Program information is online at TTB.org

431) Jas 2:1 . . My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ— The Lord of glory —with respect of persons.

The koiné Greek word for "respect of persons" is prosopolepsia (pros-o-pol-ape-see’-ah) which means: partiality.

Webster’s defines "partiality" as: partisan, prejudiced, biased, and/or granting one person more value as a human being than another in regards to particulars like age, race, gender, looks, size, education, intellect, bank account, career, clothing, popularity, neighborhood, and social status.

Jas 2:2-4 . . For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in flashy clothing and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is low-income and dressed in shabby clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor" —well, doesn’t this kind of discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives?

When I first began attending church as an adult back in the decade of the 1970's, my wardrobe consisted entirely of shirts and trousers that I bought on the cheap at Value Village— a popular second hand store on the west coast the same as Salvation Army and Goodwill.

I never told anybody where I shopped, although I've no doubt that some of the folk I encountered in church could tell that my fashions were a tad out of date because there were some upper income people attending that looked a whole lot nicer than me; but I figured: what the hay; I had as much right to attend in my previously-owned clothing as they did in their untainted high-end threads. Some of them had gold watches too while I sported a simple Timex with an imitation leather strap; and I drove an aging 1968 VW Beetle that needed paint. You know, looking back on that era, I sometimes wonder how many people avoided me without my knowing it because of all that.

432) Jas 2:12 . . So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.

The "law of liberty" includes, but isn't limited to, loving your Christian brother as Christ loves him (John 15:12). So then, treating a low income believer with less regard than a high income believer fails to fulfill the law of liberty.

Php 2:3-4 . . Do not be conceited, nor regard yourself as better than others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than you.

There were these four 20-something girls in the singles group at the church where I met my wife, who were a little clique of fashion-conscious females that never associated with anyone but themselves. One of the guys, disgusted with their elitist attitudes, named them the Holy Four. (chuckle) That label was certainly apropos. Those four girls were so into themselves that they were of no earthly use to anyone; and I never saw one of them with a boy; no doubt because nobody was good enough for them. It was kind of ironic in a way. All the normal girls were popular with the boys while the boys kept their distance from the four stuck-up fashion mavens. I never once saw them in mixed company.

One evening, as I walked down the aisle in church to find myself a seat, I attempted to cordially greet one of the Holy Four walking past me in the opposite direction. Ms. Fashion Statement didn't even so much as look in my direction or utter a single sound. All she did was reach up to one of her shoulders, the one that was towards me, and execute a brushing gesture with her fingers. Can you imagine somebody in a church that represents Christ practicing that kind of snobbery? Unthinkable. (cf. Luke 7:36-47)

Leafing through the September 2009 issue of VOGUE, I couldn't help but notice that the photographers posed many of their models with the most assertive, arrogant, confrontational, and indifferent expressions and postures imaginable. What in God's name is with that industry anyway? Some of the VOGUE models reminded me of the hostile extras in the INXS 1988 rock video of "The Devil Inside". The Holy Four no doubt regarded VOGUE as their Bible. Well, that was over thirty-two years ago as of this writing. All four of those snob-ettes are now old enough to be grandmas. I can't help but wonder if they aren't still trying to fit into fashions appropriate for 20-somethings. (chuckle) They say time and tide wait for no man. Well, neither does the aging process.

433) Jas 3:1 . . Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you realize that we will be judged more strictly.

Most internet Christian forums encourage discussion, but people oftentimes use the forums not for discussion; but as a pulpit for preaching and teaching: apparently not realizing that when they preach and teach on a world-wide venue, they have appointed themselves to speak for God. Well; that's risky because should their preaching and teaching misrepresent God, and many do, they'll have to answer for it.

I've seen people actually boast of leading a Sunday school class; as if the position were an achievement. Let me warn those people about something. If they accept a position to teach Sunday school for the prestige, their heart is definitely in the wrong place; they are not fully aware of just how frightening a responsibility it is to stand in for Christ.

434) Jas 3:13-18 . .Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter rivalry and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where rivalry and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of compassion and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

The "seed whose fruit is righteousness" is oftentimes not sown in peace on internet forums; nor is it sown on internet forums by people who make peace. It's sown by flaming, competitive, assertive, confrontational people— toxic, impulsive, mean-spirited personalities given to rejoinders, demeaning comments, recriminations and fault finding. And if there's a problem, it's never them; no, you are the problem, and for them; turning the other cheek is no longer in vogue.

Those kinds of people do not like to be wrong, nor can they even think of themselves as wrong, nor are they likely to admit when they're wrong because they're really not all that interested in the truth; but only in defending their version of the truth; viz: their truth is far more important to them than even the God's truth; and should you not accept their truth, then it's because you have no understanding and need to come to your senses. These people are neither wise nor gentle. They'll ride rough-shod over your feelings like a skate-boarder barreling through Autumn leaves on the sidewalk. It's just awful how little they care for the injuries their attitude and their choice of words cause others.

People who take it upon themselves to teach, preach, and/or discuss the Bible on internet forums ought to be sensible, and they ought to exemplify the Gospel. They can't be doing it for the prestige, showing off, impressing their friends, and/or competing with a rival. They have to be honest and forthright. They have to have a heart, they have to be dedicated and reliable: they cannot be vacillating, they have to practice what they preach, and they cannot be sarcastic, obtuse, difficult, contrary, quarrelsome, snobby, pretentious, demeaning, domineering, despotic, assertive, confrontational, stubborn, pernicious, or pugnacious. Internet soap-boxers have to be someone people can trust, and someone with whom they may speak their minds without fear of reprisals instead of someone in whose presence everybody has to walk on egg shells all the time.

435) Jas 4:7 . . So humble yourselves before God. Resist the Devil, and he will shun you.

The Devil has the tactical advantage of being completely invisible, and no more solid than the vacuum of space. So the human eye not only cannot see the Devil, but human touch cannot feel him either. The Devil can't be bumped into, he gives off no odor; he makes no sound, he takes up no space.

The Devil rules in the world of men primarily by punching human nature's buttons. There's your first clue in how to resist the Devil.

Gal 5:16-17 . . So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the inclinations of the flesh.

Living by the Spirit isn't mysterious. All it really means is doing as God wishes rather than permitting yourself to be manipulated by the impulses, proclivities, predilections, and propensities of human nature. You can't stop those forces of human nature from doing their thing any more than you can stop your lungs from demanding you take breaths. But they can be suppressed if one puts their mind to it.

1Pet 5:9 . .Take a firm stand against him, and be strong in your faith.

The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania live in the midst of lion country. They are not afraid to hunt the lions. As a result, the beasts have learned down through the ages that the Maasai are not easy meat; but rather, a threat to their survival. Every once in a while a rogue lion will attack a lone Maasai, but as a rule, the lions pretty much keep their distance. Most animals are terrified of lions, but not the Maasai; no, they fight back, with weapons, and usually win. The lions know this and so shun the Maasai as potential prey.

The point is: since you can't fight the Devil on his own terms, then the best defense against his predation is to submit to God. Up to this point, I've listed 400+ Christian commandments that, if complied with, will go a long ways towards frustrating the Devil and causing him to keep his distance.

436) Jas 4:8-10 . . Draw close to God, and God will draw close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you hypocrites. Let there be tears for the wrong things you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. When you bow down before The Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor.

In other words: Walk with God, and He will walk with you.

1John 1:6 . . If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.

Failure to walk with God renders a believer out alone after dark, and subsequently vulnerable to Satanic predation; which means they will be manipulated by the flesh rather than by the Spirit; which could ultimately lead to an untimely death. (e.g. Acts 5:1-11, 1Cor 11:17-30, Rom 8:13, 1John 5:16)

437) Jas 4:11a . . Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.

The koiné Greek word for "speak evil" is katalaleo (kat-al-al-eh'-o) which means: a traducer, a slanderer.

Webster's defines "slander" as: the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and/or damage another's reputation and/or a false and defamatory oral statement about a person; viz: libel.

Webster's defines "libel" as: 1) a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression, and 2) a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt.

According to Webster's, a statement (or a photograph) need not be untrue to qualify as libel. If the statement, and/or the photograph, is unnecessarily denigrating and/or embarrassing to someone, though it be 100% true, then it qualifies as libel.

For example: When Donald Trump was in the process of procuring land in Scotland for a golf course, there was a low-income man living on the land in a ratty hovel. Trump ran that man into the ground for living like that and even took a camera crew out to the man's home to film it. Afterwards, in a news conference, he said: "I'm only telling the truth". Yes, the man's place was a rat's nest; but was it really necessary to expose that poor man to public embarrassment? No. Trump wasn't being honest, he was being cruel; and that's exactly the kind of evil speaking that Jas 4:11 prohibits.

Is Jas 4:11 saying that I cannot criticize someone? No; it isn't saying that at all. I mean, after all, The Lord was, and is, very critical. The important thing is (1) to make very sure that the statements are true, and (2) that they really matter; or otherwise, keep it to yourself.

What I'm talking about here is "tact" which Webster's defines as: a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense.

There are some things we could say about others that, though true, aren't necessary. For example, if you were to inadvertently see one of the ladies in the office scratching an itch on her derriere; is it really necessary to go blabbing about it all over the office? No; and in point of fact, to do so would be libelous, not to mention possibly in violation of local labor laws banning the fomentation of a hostile workplace. If that lady ever found out you were blabbing about her derriere she might be so mortified as to make it difficult for her to show up for work.

One evening, at a single's group meeting, I overheard a friend seated behind me comment that a certain woman in the group was very attractive; and I could tell by the look in his eyes that he was seriously considering making a move on her. Well, having had personal contact with that woman, I told my friend that he could do better because that particular lady was conceited, cruel, insensitive, and mean-spirited; in other words she was somewhat psychopathic; which Webster's defines as: a mental disorder marked by egocentric and antisocial activity.

Was I wrong for saying what I did about that lady? No. I knew for my own self that woman was bad news and it was my honest intention to spare my friend the emotional pain he was sure to endure by approaching her. In that particular case, the ugly truth about someone mattered.

Some years ago when I was working as a welder/ship fitter in a family-owned boatyard on Shelter Island in San Diego, one of the boss' adolescent sons came out on a skiff I was helping to construct. He remarked to one of the men standing there, in my hearing, that I looked stupid.

Do I look stupid? Yes, I do. It's been a curse my entire life. If you were to meet me, your first impression would be that I'm a lummox. Some people look intelligent, and some people look just the opposite. I'm among the ones who look just the opposite; and I was looking low-brow way before Weird Al Yankovic came out with a rock parody in 1985 titled:  "Dare To Be Stupid."

So then, what the boss' son said was true. But was it necessary? No; it was thoroughly unnecessary, and in point of fact his thoughtless remark cut me deeply; but what could I do? He was the boss' son. Anon, that boy grew up to become one of worst cases of male vanity it has been my misfortune to encounter in life. Though he came of a good family, the boss' son had the nature of a churl; through and through.

"Words are weapons,
Sharper than knives."
The Devil Inside
Andrew Farriss and Michael Hutchence

438) Jas 4:11b-12 . . He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Someone is sure to jump to the conclusion that James is referring to Matt 7:1-5 but this has nothing to do with that. What we’re talking about here is a kangaroo court which Webster’s defines as: (1) a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted, (2) a court characterized by irresponsible, unauthorized, or irregular status or procedures, and (3) judgment or punishment given outside of legal procedure.

One way to speak evil of the law, and judge the law, is to misrepresent the law by construing it to mean things it doesn't say in writing; in other words: to overrule it and/or criticize the law as out of date.

When a group of beer buddies, and/or a coffee clutch of girl friends, get together and rake somebody over the coals behind their back, those buddies and girl friends are conducting a kangaroo court in which the evidence presented is typically hear-say, feelings, thoughts, and impressions. I believe the common colloquialism for that activity is "character assassination."

Typically the accused is never informed of the trial, nor given an opportunity to confront their accusers, nor are they granted the right to an appeal. Sadly, yet all to commonly, once kangaroo courts reach a consensus, the condemned person’s reputation among those kinds of “judges” is ruined forever with no chance of repair.

439) Jas 4:13-16 . . Come now, you who say: Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit. Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say: If The Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that. But as it is, you vaunt your braggadocio; all such vaunting is evil.

What’s wrong with prosperity? Nothing. The problem here is not prosperity; the problem is selfish ambition. According to John 15:16, The Lord informed his followers that he selected them for three purposes : (1) to go, (2) to bring forth fruit, and (3) to associate with his Father—not to wander off and do as they please.

Eph 2:10 . . For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I think some of the more ambitious believers sometimes forget that The Lord is a monarch with ideas of his own for their lives.

Php 2:5-8 . . Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus . . . who, being found in appearance as a man, humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Matt 10:38-39 . . Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Even Christ was subject to another's agenda.

John 5:30 . . I seek not to please myself, but rather, Him who sent me.

John 6:38 . . I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me.

Christians sometimes forget just how fragile human life really is. At any moment, they can be terminated by health, crime, or accident. It's the brevity of life that makes it so essential that people not squander it on selfish ambition. If at all possible, bloom where you're planted instead of arbitrarily running off to greener pastures.

Eph 5:15-17 . .Therefore be intelligent in how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of The Lord is.

440) Jas 5:1-3 . . Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days.

Gold doesn't react with oxygen so it won't rust. However, under certain conditions gold will tarnish, e.g. long-term storage in boxes, bins, and or environments containing organic sulfur compounds. In other words; James condemns the rich for stockpiling their gold and never putting any of it to a use beneficial to their fellow man.

The worst case scenario is the hoarding of gold that rightfully belonged to laborers who worked to earn it.

Jas 5:4 . . Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of The Lord of Sabaoth.

James' final comment actually accuses unfair labor practices of murder because they deprive the working man of a living wage; and of course most of the world's working men do not challenge unfair labor practices in court because they simply cannot afford to; and in some countries, they would risk severe political reprisals if they dared.

Jas 5:6 . .You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.

The "righteous man" in this context refers to people putting in an honest day's work and not being fairly compensated for it and/or employers contriving tricky ways to short change them by deducting trumped up expenses from their pay. There's a lot of that goes on in the garment industry.

It's still true even in our day that only the rich and powerful can afford justice. However; there's a day coming when that imbalance will all come to an end.

Ps 72:4 . . He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor.

Isa 11:4 . . But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;

441) Jas 5:7-8 . . Persevere, therefore, brethren, until the coming of The Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; be strong, for the coming of The Lord is at hand.

The koiné Greek word for "at hand" is eggizo (eng-id'-zo) which means: to make near; viz: approach

So then, "at hand" doesn’t necessarily mean The Lord is poised to drop in any second now, but rather, his arrival is approaching and getting nearer by the minute.

Although James' encouragement no doubt applies to all believers, it especially applies to his Jewish countrymen. They have been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for God to fulfill the promises He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and to restore David's kingdom as per the voices of the prophets. I'm told that many have given up hope of the promises and the predictions ever coming to pass. But James says don't give up; God is reliable; and He and the kingdom are both worth waiting for no matter how long it takes.

The problem is: according to 2Pet 3:9, The Lord is actually reluctant to return; primarily because an awful lot of people are going to lose their lives when He does.

Take for example Rev 16:18-19 where there's predicted a world-wide earthquake preceding The Lord's return so severe on the Richter scale that cities all over the world will collapse at once. Something like 2,829 lost their lives when the World Trade Center was demolished by a terrorist attack in 2001. Well that was only a small portion of New York City. Just imagine the body count when all of Manhattan comes down at once. along with other major cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico City, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, et al. The carnage will be beyond belief. Surely nobody in a right mind is in a rush to see all of that start happening.

442) Jas 5:9 . . Do not complain against one another, brethren, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

Although watching porn, quarrelling with a spouse, mistreating the kids, road rage, J-walking, coasting through a stop sign, spray-painting graffiti on a subway car, or cussing the neighbor’s dog, is bad enough; kangaroo-courting is even worse.

If there’s a personality clash between you and a fellow believer; God forbid you should drag other people into the middle of it! And keep in mind that God is an eavesdropper. He hears and sees everything we do, think, or say. Don't let Him catch you maliciously shredding a fellow believer's reputation, assassinating their character and/or running them into the ground behind their back.

443) Jas 5:10 . . For an example of suffering and patience, brethren; take the prophets who spoke in The Lord's name.

In rock music, role models are called influences. But whatever your preference, role models and/or influences are handy for providing a pattern for the kinds of people we wish to be and/or the kinds of people we think we ought to be.

One of my favorite prophets was Noah. Can you just imagine the mockery, and the cruel remarks that poor man must have endured while he was constructing the ark? And the feelings of futility? He was a preacher of righteousness for 120 years (2Pet 2:5) and the only converts Noah won were his own wife, his three sons, and their wives. When the ark embarked, there was only a paltry eight human beings aboard.

According to Gen 6:1-2, there were other holy men on earth during Noah's days but they sold their souls for sex and subsequently died in the Flood right along with everybody else.

Noah was an oak; he never caved to the pressures of his era’s social customs nor duplicated their spiritual hypocrisy. Noah held his ground, remained true to the Bible’s God; and as a result, survived the Flood totally unharmed. He’s listed in the Bible as one of the most righteous men who ever lived.

Ezek 14:13-14 . . Son of man, when a land sins against Me by persistent unfaithfulness, I will stretch out My hand against it; I will cut off its supply of bread, send famine on it, and cut off man and beast from it. Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness: testifies Yhvh God.

444) Jas 5:12 . . Above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no be no; so that you may not fall under judgment.

Does this mean Christians shouldn’t even take an oath in court to tell the truth? No, it doesn’t mean that at all; I mean, after all, Christ took an oath in court. (Matt 26:62-64, Mark 14:61-62)

God takes oaths. (Gen 22:15-18, Heb 6:13-18, Heb 7:20-21)

Angels swear (Rev 10:5-6)

Paul swore. (Rom 1:9)

Israel's covenanted law, which Christ came to defend (Matt 5:17-19) requires oaths on special occasions. (e.g. Ex 22:10-11, Lev 5:1, Num 5:19, Deut 29:10-15)

So then, not all oaths are wrong.

The problem is, people are too careless with their oaths. They’re wont to say “I swear to God” and/or "Hand to God" for just about everything. And they make promises sealed with the same words. Those promises are a snare because like Jesus said “you cannot make one hair white or black”. Sure enough, when you seal a promise with an oath, the forces of heaven and hell, the stars in their courses, dumb luck, brute force, circumstances beyond your control, and the neighbor's dog are going to make it impossible for you to keep that promise. Will God grant you an excuse? No. In order to grant you an excuse, He would have to compromise not only His integrity; but also the dignity of the name by which you swore; and that He will never do.

Some years ago I cosigned a loan for a fellow welder who was down on his luck. Sure enough, he fell behind on a payment and the finance company telephoned me. I went down and made good on the payment (and all the rest after that one too) because my name was on that contract; ergo: my credit reputation was at stake. The co-worker was thunderstruck and protested that he intended to make the payment: it would just be a little late; that’s all. (sigh) Dead-beats just don’t get it.

It’s one thing to break your word, or default on a loan, or breech a contract; but it is a whole other thing to break an oath; so if at all possible; don’t swear with God’s name.

Quite a few municipalities have taken God's name out of their oaths and simply require the testifier to swear in court to tell the truth; and leave out the "so help me God" part. An oath like that goes on record just as binding as one's signature on a legal document. But if your courts require you to include "so help me God" during the swearing-in process, do it because that's for keeps rather than a chit-chat bull session.

The US President is not required by the Constitution to include the phrase "so help me God" in the oath of office; so when one is sworn in, it's his prerogative to leave it out.

Considering the gravity of an oath taken with God's name in it, I would be scared to death to accept an office that requires any such oath; especially an appointment to the US Supreme Court. Though all nine members are supposedly experts in Constitutional law; they seldom, if ever, are unanimous on anything. That means somebody on that court is dishonoring God and they will one day be called into account for it. Those judges might be the highest court in the land, but they are not higher than the God of their oath of office. But Supreme Court appointees are typically not interested in God's feelings about anything; they're only interested in the appointment; and these days, an appointee need not be an expert at law at all since they're only required to render opinions rather than absolutes. No, their politics need only be in line with the President who appointed them in order to qualify for recommendation.

445) Jas 5:13 . . Is anyone among you undergoing hardship? Let him pray.

446) Jas 5:13-14 . . Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.

Never ask the ones undergoing hardship to sing. They're really not in the mood. They should pray while the cheerful sing.

447) Jas 5:14 . . Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of The Lord

It's all too common for religious fanatics to allow their underage children to die from treatable medical conditions on the basis of that verse. Where do we draw the line with the so-called "freedom of religion" guaranteed in the US Constitution's first amendment? Answer: We draw the line at the child's inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; which, according to America's Declaration of Independence; are not only God-given rights, but also a self evident truth that men were created with those rights.

The DOI goes on to say that all men are created equal. It doesn't say grown-up men; it says all men, which means that women and children have just as much right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as anybody else. Parents who deny the truth of those rights are nothing in the world but wicked despots; and in point of fact the very kinds of twisted monarchs the DOI targets.

Christ addressed this issue indirectly by means of his teachings on the seventh day Sabbath; which, in a nutshell, says that the seventh day was made for man, not the other way around. (Mark 2:27)

Matt 12:11-12 . . And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do good on the sabbath days.

The sanctity of human life trumps the sanctity of the Sabbath. So then, hospitals, doctors, nurses, firemen, law enforcement, soup kitchens, rescue missions, Red Cross, Haiti emergency workers, etc. who are busy on the Sabbath do not sin. Do they break the Sabbath? Yes; but the sanctity of the Sabbath is secondary to the sanctity of human life.

So then, I would have to say, in accordance with Matt 12:11-12, that people who deny their children adequate medical care in the name of religion regard the value of their own flesh and blood as something less than that of a beast.

It's okay to have elders pray for your child, and it's okay to anoint them with oil as per James 5:14. But after that, parents really should take their children to a doctor because the sanctity of human life is far more important than strict observance of one's religious rituals.

There used to be an old saying going around in Christian circles that went something like this: When a farmer prays for a crop, he should say amen with a hoe. In other words, don't just sit back and wait for a miracle when it's in your power to take some action; and if you don't, then in my opinion, you deserve to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law when a child in your care dies from a treatable condition.

1Tim 5:8 . . If any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Children aside; the real purpose of summoning elders is not so much to conduct a healing service, but rather, for a discussion of the possible reasons behind a church member's ailment (Jas 5:15). A believer's infirmity may be just the normal round of human existence, but then again, maybe The Lord is trying to get their attention. Well-trained, experienced elders can sleuth that out and assist a fallen brother (or sister) to rectify their association with The Lord if perchance that's the case. (cf. 1Cor 11:17-30, Gal 6:1, 1John 5:16)

448) Jas 5:16 . . Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.

The word "sins" is an arbitrary editorial insertion rather than a translation; viz: it isn't in the Greek manuscripts so somebody penciled it in. So we could safely re-translate that verse to read "Confess to one another".

There's quite a number of key words in the Bible that sometimes trigger a knee-jerk-reflex in people's minds and "confess" is one of them. It would seem to me that James isn't commanding Christians to confess their sins to one another as Father Confessors for the purpose of absolution; but rather: to simply man-up and admit when they're wrong. (cf. Matt 18:15-17).

The prayer for healing is for the ones whose ego is so big and bloated that they cannot bring themselves to admit when they're wrong even if their very lives were to depend on it.

449) Jas 5:19-20 . . My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.

Not all sins are worthy of death (1John 5:16-17). And a sin that's fatal for one believer may not be lethal for another.  I mean, look at David; he committed the awful sins of premeditated murder and adultery, yet God allowed him to live (2Sam 11:1-2Sam 12:14). But when Ananias and his wife Sapphira lied about the proceeds from the sale of their property, they were summarily executed. (Acts 5:1-10). And in Corinth, the health of only some was struck after desecrating The Lord's supper; while others were executed for the same reason (1Cor 11:17-30).

This indicates that The Lord disciplines His loved ones on an individual basis rather than an indiscriminate, class-action basis. Some kids are easily corrected simply by a cross glare and a stern scolding; while other kids require a stronger hand. The outside world can't understand this kind of disparity because they cannot relate to Christianity's God as an intelligent parent; they can only see Him as a dispassionate judge; which is appropriate for their status as fugitives.

I once heard a cute story of a man who used to whack his mule upside the head with a wooden stake prior to getting up on the seat of his buckboard. Someone asked him why he hit the animal. The man replied: That was to get his attention, otherwise he won't budge when I snap the reins and yell giddyup.

Ps 32:8-9 . . I wish to instruct you, and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Don't be like the horse or the mule, which have no discernment, but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not obey you.

For some believers, a whack up alongside the head is all it takes to motivate them to straighten up and fly right. Others are so incorrigible that only a brush with death finally convinces them that God is serious.

450) 1Pet 1:13-18 . . Gird up your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The koiné Greek word for "gird up" is anazonnumi (an-ad-zone'-noo-mee) which means: to gird afresh; viz: re-gird. Webster's defines gird as: to encircle or bind with a flexible band (as a belt).

The re-girding Peter is talking about is sort of like a man putting his pants on in the morning and tightening his belt to hold them up. He does that every day before he goes out the door for the day. But here we're putting on pants in one's mind; viz: it's a daily attitude adjustment.

A purposeful life is a life with an objective; and the one objective that every believer should keep in their mind's sights is that this life is only a stop-over. Their permanent destination is yet to come (cf. Heb 11:8-16). So they shouldn't get too attached to this life; rather, get themselves attached to the next; and the next is a world ruled by a monarch who has very different ideas than the world's in regards to good citizenship.

There used to be a popular term going around in Christian circles regarding the "purposeful life". It's a good term, and quite the opposite of a drifter's life; which is a life that has no purpose. Webster's defines a drifter as one that travels and/or moves about aimlessly. In other words, a drifter is a vagabond, which Webster's defines as somebody who leads an unsettled, irresponsible, or disreputable life. Though believers inhabit the current earth as pilgrims (1Pet 2:11) they're not to do so as vagabonds and/or drifters.

I have, on occasion in the past, recommended that unbelievers take a time-out to consider the possibility of their going to hell, and begin using what time they have remaining to prepare themselves for the worst when they pass on. Well; believers would be wise to take a time-out to consider just the opposite; viz: their going to heaven, and begin using what time they have remaining to prepare themselves for it when they pass on.

451) 1Pet 1:14-16 . . As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written: You shall be holy, for I am holy.

"conformed" is speaking of habits. Take for example alcoholism. The popular diagnosis these days is that it's a disease. Well; it if is, then it's the only disease I know of practiced by fools.

Prov 20:1 . . Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Alcoholism isn't a disease; it's a habit, and one of the habits that Christ's believing followers are commanded to make a habit of avoiding.

Eph 5:18 . . Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation,

452) 1Pet 1:17-18 . . And if you address as "Father" the one who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in reverential fear during the time of your stay upon earth

I once heard of a preacher complain that he wished his congregation were as afraid of the Devil as they are of holiness. (chuckle). Well, obviously his congregation lacked purpose; their attitude was that of drifters and vagabonds. They were all believers; they had that much going for them. They just needed somebody to throw cold water in their faces and wake them up to getting their eyes off the ground and getting their eyes up on the brass ring.

Col 3:1-4 . . So then, since you have been resurrected with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then will you also appear with him in glory.

People in heaven no doubt make a habit of treating God with reverential fear; that is: they respect both Him and His wishes. Down here, people make a habit of insolence and rebellion; even some of the people wearing a Christian ID tag.

453a) 1Pet 1:22a . . Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit

The grammatical tense of the words "have purified" is past rather than future. So it isn't "when" you purify your souls. In other words, the souls of the Christians to whom Peter penned his epistle were already purified before it arrived; and they did it not by means of a denominational affiliation; but rather, by obeying the truth; and their obedience was "through the Spirit" rather than through human artifice.

Q: What is soul?

A: The Greek word for "soul" is very similar in meaning to the Greek word for "spirit" except that "soul" refers a tad more to one's creature existence. In other words: soul speaks of humanity's creation from the dust of the earth; and into whose body God aspirated the breath of life as per Gen 2:7.

The Hebrew word for "soul" is nephesh (neh'-fesh) which isn't limited to human life. Several varieties of created life are categorized as nephesh in the book of Genesis; and in point of fact, all life that was aboard Noah's ark, including human life, is categorized as nephesh.

In reality: human souls are little more than primates whose minds are produced by a 3-pound lump of flabby organic tissue housed within their bony little skulls— and not even all three of those pounds are devoted to cognitive processes.

The Greek word for "purified" in 1Pet 1:21a is hagnizo (hag-nid'-zo) which speaks of a peculiar kind of physical hygiene; for example:

John 15:3 . . Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Heb 10:22 . . Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

In other words: people whose organic human bodies have not yet undergone the peculiar kind of physical hygiene about which Christ spoke in John 15:3, and about which the author of Hebrews wrote at Heb 10:22; are too unsanitary to associate with God on a personal basis.

Of course that peculiar hygiene is only a temporary expedient for Christ's believing followers seeing as how they're in line for an intrinsically super clean human body similar in all respects to his own glorious human body. (Php 3:21)

Bottom line is: There will be no human bodies in the heaven depicted in the 21st chapter of Revelation whose origin is the dust of the earth as per Gen 2:7.

453b) 1Pet 1:22b . . unto sincere love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently

The koiné Greek word for "pure" in this case is katharos (kath-ar-os') which means: lacking impurities; which can be illustrated by tap water versus distilled water. Tap water contains impurities like chlorine and various metallic and non metallic elements; whereas distilled water consists of nothing but hydrogen and oxygen; viz: H2O

I think what Peter is saying that believers be on guard against hypocrisy; viz: one's lips mouthing love for their fellow believers while in their hearts actually thinking very little of them.

For example; my wife and I were once invited over to the home of a fellow Sunday school couple for dinner. When we arrived, guess what? An AMWAY manager was all set up and waiting for us. The dinner invitation was a bait and switch to conceal the Sunday school couple's scheme to lure us into signing on with AMWAY.

That was not an exhibition of pure, fervent love; but rather an exhibition of dishonesty, deceit, and ulterior motives. That couple was friendly and cordial enough alright in Sunday school, but away from church they were covert and predatory; taking advantage of the good nature of their fellow Christians to snare them in a commercial venture.

Matt 5:8 . . Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

454) 1Pet 2:1-3 . .Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking; as newborn infants, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.

Oftentimes it's a good idea to read the Bible with a dictionary at hand because words like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, and envy tend to fly right past our eyes without giving them much thought.

Anyway, in order to be successful with item #453b —which commands to love one's fellow believers fervently with a pure heart— it's necessary to comply with item #454. Things like malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and defamatory remarks are not love; no, they're cruel and mean-spirited.

Here in 1Pet 2:1-3 those toxic behaviors are categorized as junk food, which is not the kind of nourishment one should be feeding a growing child; as if they could even digest it. So then, believers who neglect to study the Bible —and learn what is and what is not appropriate behavior for a believer —are certain to end up stunting the spiritual growth of the new self they obtained via their second birth as per Jesus' testimony at John 3:3-8.

An especially ugly behavior Peter listed is envy; which Webster's defines as: painful, or resentful, awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another, coupled with a desire to possess the same advantage. In other words, envy is the root of rivalry which is one of the most destructive human passions there is. Cain killed his brother Abel out of a spirit of rivalry.

1John 3:12 . . Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

It was a spirit of rivalry that led to The Lord's crucifixion.

Matt 27:16-18 . . And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them: Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ? For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.

Webster's defines "rivalry" as: 1) to be in competition with and, 2) to strive to equal or excel.

Envy not only breeds rivalry, but other toxins too like spite; which Webster's defines as: petty ill will, malice, or hatred coupled with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart; which is defined as: to defeat the hopes and aspirations of another. In other words, thwart's intent is to discourage someone, to break their spirit and make them lose heat and/t lose respect for themselves. Needless to say, a spiteful person is a person so bitter that they're unable to feel pity, compassion, or sympathy; which is a bad thing because pity, compassion, and sympathy are highly blessing-worthy.

Matt 5:7 . . Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

People prone to envy share a very common denominator: they simply must be either equal to, or better than, others. It's that simple. And if they cannot be equal to, or better than others, then nothing would make them happier than to see those others dead, maimed, silenced, disfigured, dishonored, disgraced, humiliated, and/or handicapped for life.

The singles group I attended prior to meeting my wife played volleyball on Sunday afternoons. One day, I sustained a pretty good elbow to the temple and had to step out of the game for a moment or two till I got my senses back and the pain subsided enough that I could return to the game.

Nobody stopped playing even long enough to ask me if I was alright; not one person; and every one of us all knew each other. What does that tell you about the spiritual condition of the Christians playing volleyball with me that day? Well, if you haven't guessed it yet, I'll tell you. They were infected with a spirit of envy; which is a hard-hearted spirit— thoughtless, cruel, and insensitive.

What made them that way? Well, some of them were out of work, while I had a good job as a professional welder in a boatyard on beautiful Shelter Island in San Diego. Some of them were divorced, while I was never married. Some of them were single parents, while I had no children burdening my life. Some of them were paying alimony and/or child support, while all the money I earned was mine to do as I pleased. Some of them had gotten laid too soon in life, while I was still a virgin. Some of them were rank and file pew warmers, while I sang bass in a church choir of 90 voices in a church with 4,000 members on the books.

You see, many of those Christians playing volleyball with me that day were losers while I was a winner— their lives were a mess, while mine was promising. It's pretty easy to see why no one felt the slightest concern for my safety when I got elbowed in the temple; isn't it?

Yes, envy is a very, very ugly beast: there's no love in envy, only hatred mingled with malicious feelings and imaginations. Where's the Good Samaritan in that? A cute fable. Where's turning the other cheek? Out of vogue. Where's the golden rule? A cliché.

455) 1Pet 2:11 . . Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.

The words "fleshly lusts" are derived from 1) sarkikos (sar-kee-kos') which pertains to the base nature, and, 2) from epithumia (ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) which means: a longing.

What Peter is talking about there is giving in to whatever comes natural: viz: doing what's instinctive and reactive as opposed to one's better judgment.

Webster's defines instinct as: 1) a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity, 2) a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason, and 3) behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level.

Fleshly lusts are not what you might call "reasonable behavior" because they are basically gut passions that require no thinking. When people fly off the handle, sleep with somebody on the first date, utter an epithet, make a smart-aleck remark, and/or act on impulse and such; they are only doing what comes natural to the beast residing within themselves. People are, in the final analysis, little more than human wildlife; just naked apes ruled by the nature of an ape; and I've a sneaking suspicion that's what God meant at Gen 6:3 when He said "Man is flesh".

456) 1Pet 2:12 . . Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as malefactors, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

The koiné Greek word for "visitation" is: episkope (ep-is-kop-ay') which is an ambiguous word that means, among other things, inspection and/or evaluation.

Webster’s defines "inspection" as a checking or testing of an individual against established standards; for example: the avoirdupois ounce is a standard, the meter is a standard, and the inch is a standard.

In the old days, merchants used a balance to count out monies like gold and silver. They would put a "standard" weight in one of the balance's pans and then begin placing gold and/or silver in the other pan until the pans balanced; viz: until the pans were at the same elevation on either side of the scales' fulcrum point. Justice is often depicted as a blindfolded woman holding a balance in one hand, and a sword in the other. The law is in one pan, and the defendant's conduct is in the other; for example:

Dan 5:27 . .You have been weighed on the balances; and came up short.

If it turns out that the criticism that the lost hurled at believers was unjustified, then they will have to pay. In so doing, how will they glorify God? Well, the slanderers themselves may not pay their respects to God, but their retribution will certainly honor His standards.

457) 1Pet 2:13-15 . . Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for The Lord's sake : whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

Every ordinance of man pertains to all manner of citizenship, including civil disobedience; which is defined as the active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or of an occupying international power, e.g. protests, tax revolts, draft card burning, anti-war movements, occupancy, demonstrations, blockades, etc. Civil disobedience typically has to do with rebellion against State, Local, and Federal policies.

Every ordinance of man of course includes traffic laws like J-walking, unsafe lane changes, drifting through stop signs, tailgating, road rage, exceeding speed limits, feeding parking meters, crossing streets against the light, blocking driveways, failure to yield the right of way, illegal U-turns; etc.

People who disregard the ordinances of man are described by the apostle Peter as ignorant and foolish. God forbid that Christ's followers fall into that category!

458) 1Pet 2:16a . . Live as free men

Some of Christ's believing followers in the Roman empire were slaves; so it was legally impossible for them to live as free men without risking severe consequences. I think what we're looking at here is that Peter is encouraging the Christians to whom he wrote to voluntarily accept their status as slaves instead of resenting it. In other words: free men have choices; and even though some of the Christians were slaves against their will, they were free to choose to make the best of it or let it get to them.

A pretty cool platitude that I once heard goes like this: "Bloom where you're planted". So; if you should find yourself planted in adverse circumstances; make up your mind to make the best of it. This is something wherein you have a choice; even though you have no choice about being stuck. It's really all about attitude adjustment.

459) 1Pet 2:16b . . Do not use your freedom as a cloak for evil; live as servants of God.

The koiné Greek word for "cloak" is epikaluma (ep-ee-kal'-oo-mah) which means: a covering, i.e. (figuratively) pretext

Webster’s defines "pretext" as a purpose, a reason, or motive alleged, or an appearance assumed, in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs; viz: a pretense.

Webster’s defines "pretense" as: a professed, rather than the real intention or purpose

Pretense is one of those behaviors that nobody has to be taught how to do; no, even little kids can do it because pretense is a natural behavior— a basic instinct.

Ps 58:3 . . Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.

Christ is known for honesty.

John 1:17 . . grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

John 8:45 . . I tell you the truth

John 14:6 . . I am the truth

1Pet 2:22 . . Neither was guile found in his mouth

Therefore, those who live as servants of the Bible's God really ought to be honest too.

Eph 5:1 . . Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children

Eph 4:25 . .Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Dishonesty, in any form, is not only conduct unbecoming for God's servants; but it's also hell-worthy.

Rev 21:7-8 . . All liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

Rev 21:27 . . No one who practices lying, shall ever come into the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

460) 1Pet 2:17a . . Honor all men.

The word "men" is not actually in that verse. It was added by translators presumably to clarify the text. So it should read: Honor all.

The koiné Greek word for "honor" is timao (tim-ah'-o) which means: to prize, i.e. fix a valuation upon; by implication, to revere.

Human nature tends to honor the people it admires, and marginalize the ones it doesn't. That's another of those characteristics of the base nature. However, favoritism is not a divine characteristic, no, it's the nature of human wildlife.

I flunked Civics class in my senior year of High School and had to make it up in summer school in order to graduate. There was no bus service for summer school so I had to find my own way and I had no car. A rich kid in my class passed within 60 feet of the country store in my town on his way to school so I'd walk the two miles from my home to the store and bum a ride with him every day in his spiffy new four-speed, Chevrolet Monza: one of the first cars to come out with a rear mounted pancake engine.

All went well for a week or two until one day the rich kid was running late. Subsequently I was running late too since the rich kid's Monza was my transportation. He came roaring by without stopping, and in point of fact, didn't even look in my direction nor even bother to wave.

When I finally got to school, I asked him why he didn't stop and pick me up like usual. His reason? HE was running late. Blimy!! I couldn't believe his excuse! He would have lost at most a mere 30 seconds pulling over to pick me up; but no, HE was running late.

It so happened that rich kid was a musician who played rhythm guitar in a rock & roll band. I just have to wonder if he would have left Chuck Berry stranded had it been him who needed to get to school that day. No, of course not. That rich kid would have stopped for Chuck Berry; but not for me because in his mind I was a nobody who didn't matter.

1Pet 2:17a is a difficult command to obey. It’s easy to honor achievers, aristocrats, dignitaries, sports figures, federal heads, the sexiest man in Hollywood, Ms Americas, fashion gurus, television stars, and celebrities, et al; but it is very difficult to revere geeks, creeps, freaks, ugly people, handicapped people, nobodies, dummies, weirdoes, odd balls, rank and file pew warmers, and the very aged. (I don’t know how many times I’ve seen aged people spoken to by younger people as if they were retarded children. That is so demeaning.)

Rom 12:16 . . Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Webster's definitions of "condescend" are actually contradictory. One says it means to descend to a less formal or dignified level; viz: to waive the privileges of rank. The other says it means to assume an air of superiority.

The koiné Greek word for "condescend" is sunapago (soon-ap-ag'-o) which means: to leave together and/or travel together; viz; to associate with people.

The koiné Greek word for "low estate" is tapeinos (tap-i-nos') which means: depressed; viz: pushed down, humiliated or humbled (in circumstances or disposition)

In a church group I once attended there was an LGBT guy. He was leaving just as I was arriving so we stopped to chat for a bit before I went on in. While we chatted, another group member arrived whom we both knew personally by name. I greeted the new arrival with a friendly hello; but you know what that person did? He looked at me sideways with wariness and suspicion like I was Charles Manson or something and neither stopped to say hello, nor responded with a single word; and I am positive it was solely because I was seen in the company of a gay man.

You know what I am going to really like in Heaven? There are no cliques, no prejudice, no bias, and no disparity. Total strangers will greet me, and accept me, as if they’ve known me all their lives. That will be very nice.

461) 1Pet 2:17b . . love the brotherhood

The koine Greek word for "brotherhood" is adelphotes (ad-el-fot'-ace) which is pretty much restricted to Christ's believing followers and excludes the outside world because in order to qualify for Christ's family circle; it's necessary to undergo a special birth in order to obtain the right to identify one's self as his kin.

John 1:12-13 . .To all who received him; to those who believed in his name; he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, nor a husband's desire; but born of God.

1Pet 2:17b is impossible for a snob to obey since the degree of love that must be felt for one’s Christian siblings has to be on the same plane as the love that Christ feels for them.

The command to "love thy neighbor as thyself" is widely thought to be one of Christ's commandments; but it isn't. He got it from the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Lev 19:18 and Lev 19:34.

Christ's commandment goes beyond the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God. He says: As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34 and John 15:12)

Bottom line is: the covenant demands humane love, while Christ demands divine love; which is a much harder love to produce than humane love because only people blessed with a divinity's nature can produce divine love. Good luck with that.

462) 1Pet 2:17c . . fear God, honor the king.

Some things in life are inseparable; like it’s just about impossible to go swimming in a pool that has no water in it. Well, fearing God and honoring a king are like that; in other words: Christian scofflaws, by their civil disobedience, actually dishonor the very God whom they profess to revere.

Rom 13:1-2 . . Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

Christians need to be cognizant of Rom 13:1-2 whenever they're tempted to drift through a STOP sign, feed parking meters, Jay-walk, lie to their state's Employment Department, obtain food stamps under false pretenses, or cheat on their taxes.

463) 1Pet 2:18-19 . . Servants, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the grief of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

The koiné Greek word for "servants" in that verse is oiketes (oy-ket'-ace) which means: a fellow resident, viz: a menial domestic.

Menial domestics are in the same category as the household staff in the Hollywood movie Remains Of The Day; in which a master butler supervises everyone in service, including the under-butlers, and all the women. The home owner typically communicates with his staff by means of the master butler rather than doing so personally. So the “masters” of 1Pet 2:18 probably correspond to the master butler; viz: a supervisor.

Master butlers are like a ship's first officer, who, as far as the crew is concerned, is God to them when all hands are on board and the vessel under way. First officers can't be expected to be sweet little diplomats all the time in the performance of their duties and responsibilities. It has to be expected that they are going to become curt, cross, imperious, and demanding on occasion. And then again, some supervisors are just naturally rude. They're that way with everybody. Though they might be very competent in the performance of their duties and responsibilities, some are imbalanced; viz: they're somewhat lacking in social skills. In other words; it could be said of some: The man is a pig.

Some employees chafe under the supervision of abusive supervisors; and there are certain labor laws on the books that permit employees to pursue grievances. However that may be, it is far better for a Christian to take advantage of a disagreeable situation to prove himself because Peter says it is “commendable” to bear up under unjust suffering.

The koiné Greek word for "commendable" is surprising. It’s charis (khar' ece) which is commonly translated "grace". In other words, bearing up under abuse— while in the performance of one's duty as a service person (employee) —is the conduct of a gracious Christian as opposed to one that's ill-bred; viz: the belly-achers and the thin skinned cry-babies have some growing up to do.

Heb 12:28 . .Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

The gracious Christians are the ones serving God acceptably. The rest, no matter how lofty their goals, and no matter what they attempt to do for God, are just spinning their wheels because they are "ungracious" which Webster’s defines as: disagreeable; viz: lacking propriety.

For Christians who're compliant by nature, 1Pet 2:18-19 is very easy to obey. But for those who are proud, arrogant, conceited, overly indignant and/or easily insulted; I can only say you have my sympathy because this is something you're going to have to work at. Why? Because this is not optional; no, it's a "calling"

1 Pet 2:21-24 . . For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps . . who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously

The koiné Greek word for "reviled" is loidoreo (loy-dor-eh'-o) which means: to reproach; viz: vilify.

Webster’s defines vilify as: 1) to lower in estimation or importance; viz: demean, and 2) to utter slanderous and abusive statements against; viz: defame; denigrate.

"Reviling in return" (e.g. retorts, rejoinders, and recriminations) is a common knee-jerk reflex; a natural reaction of the base nature (the flesh) and contrary to one of The Lord's fundamental teachings in the Sermon On The Mount.

Luke 6:29 . . And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other.

In this day and age of assertiveness, Luke 6:29 is very unpopular with some Christians. Oh, they'll vote for turning the other cheek alright and agree it's good Christian character. But you know, good Christian character is sort of like the Classics: everybody says we ought to have the Classics in our libraries, but who really reads them? I have to chuckle sometimes at Christians when one says: The Sermon On The Mount is all the religion I need. Okay, fine; so when did you plan on beginning to exemplify its principles?

464) 1Pet 3:1-2 . . In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

Peter began his command with the words “in the same way” meaning that he's instructing Christian wives to be submissive and respectful even with a husband they despise rather than just with a husband that deserves their respect. Here's the model:

1Pet 2:18-19 . . Servants, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

A Christian woman who refuses to be submissive and respectful of her husband is also refusing to be submissive and respectful of her creator's wishes. Good Lord! that is an awful thing to be guilty of by someone passing themselves off as a follower of the Bible's Christ. It's nothing in the world but blatant hypocrisy.

1Cor 11:3 . . But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

Eph 5:23-24 . . For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Would you, as a Christian wife, be submissive and respectful of Christ? Then be submissive and respectful of your husband; even if you feel he doesn't deserve it. The object here isn't your husband anyway: it's Christ. So respect your husband out of respect for Christ.

I once overheard a conversation between a caller and Dr. Laura on radio that went something like this:

Caller: My husband doesn't deserve my respect; he hasn't earned it.

Laura: Have you earned your husband's love?

Caller: I shouldn't have to earn his love. It's a husband's place to love his wife unconditionally.

Laura: Aren't you being a bit unfair? You expect your husband to love you unconditionally, while refusing to respect him unconditionally? Isn't that a double standard? No wonder you two drifted apart!

(chuckle) Apparently Dr. Laura's caller was somehow under the impression that wives not only have the right to lay down the law in marriage, but also the right to exempt themselves from any and all laws their husbands might have in mind.

NOTE: This a piece of advice to young single guys from an old man who's been married to the same woman going on 36 years at the time of this writing. When you exchange vows with your bride, avoid promising to make her happy. Scheming women are not above using that promise to manipulate their husbands.

465) 1Pet 3:3-5 . . And let not your adornment be merely external— braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses —but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.

Some of the more ascetic Christians have attempted to use that passage to insist it's wrong for women to wear cosmetics. An interpretation of that nature would mean putting on dresses is wrong too and thereby Christian women would be in danger of being arrested for indecent exposure whenever they went out. No, he's only reflecting an old Portuguese proverb that goes something like this: A beleza não ajusta a tabela. (Beauty doesn't set the table) which simply means a pretty girl might be amazing in the bedroom but quite useless as a homemaker.

Hollywood movies often portray "spirited" women as somehow desirable. No, they aren't desirable; they're feral, they attack men and make them miserable. Hollywood also commonly portrays women slapping men in the face and getting away with it. That is NOT what Peter means by a "gentle and quiet spirit" and besides, slapping is the criminal act of assault and battery— not what I would call setting a good example for growing girls.

Matt 5:3 . . Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peaceable: for they shall be known as God's kin.

An assertive, confrontational woman is neither peaceable nor poor in spirit; no, in point of fact she's quite militant, obnoxious, chafing, critical, temperamental, impudent, and arrogant. Those might be desirable characteristics for strong females in television and movie roles but clearly not desirable in a Christian wife.

When a Christian wife gets all dressed up to her nines, but yet lacks a "gentle and quiet spirit" then her ensemble is incomplete. In point of fact, an assertive, confrontational wife is, in reality, nothing less than a barnyard animal.

Prv 11:22 . . As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.

So then, by all means Christian women should continue to shop at Sephora, but at the same time make an effort to be agreeable too.

1Pet 3:5-6 . .That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and were subordinate to their husbands. For instance : Sarah submitted to her husband, Abraham, when she called him her master. You are her daughters when you do what is right without fear of what your husbands might do.

Sarah, as you might recall, was a stunning girl not only in her youth, but even later on after menopause. But from what I gather from their association, Sarah's physical attributes are not why Abraham chose to live with her, and in point of fact, I really don't think Abraham paid all that much attention to Sarah's looks at all. No, Sarah was special in other ways; and even when she couldn't bear Abraham a child, he stuck with her; though in that day, he didn't have to.

What is it that a Christian wife might fear from her husband? Well, that's pretty easy. No doubt her biggest concern is that he might take advantage of her affable personality. Well, that's insufficient grounds to stop a Christian woman from being the kind of woman that Christ can approve. If it's any comfort; we're all in the same boat. People are naturally predatory, and can't help but take advantage of Christianity's good nature. What can I say: it comes with the turf.

Php 1:29 . . For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.

466) 1Pet 3:7a . . Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge

The koiné Greek word for "knowledge" is gnosis (gno'-sis) which means : knowing (as information) in other words: facts and/or ideas acquired by study, investigation, observation, or experience.

Gnosis is different than "intuition" which Webster's defines as: the power, or faculty, of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.

Gnosis is different than "instinct" too, which Webster's defines as: (1) a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity, (2) a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason, and (3) behavior that is mediated by reactions below the conscious level; viz : a mental and/or emotional knee-jerk reflex.

So then, what Peter is talking about is a husband applying his learned knowledge of Christian conduct to his marriage. It should go without saying that studying the Bible is merely the satisfaction of one's curiosity when somebody never applies its instructions to real life.

Jas 1:22-25 . . And keep in mind that it's a message to apply, not just to listen to. If you don't apply it, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law— the law that sets you free —and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

Anyway, the word "likewise" points us back to the principle below.

1Pet 2:18-19 . . Servants, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.

In other words, Christian husbands are called to be consistent with Christian conduct even with a difficult wife, and a portion of what Peter instructed wives, also applies to husbands.

1Pet 3:1-2 . . so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

The koiné Greek word for "chaste" is hagnos (hag-nos') which has no direct reference to sexual conduct but just simply means innocent, decent, civil, modest, and/or perfect. (e.g. 2Cor 7:11, Php 4:8, 1Tim 5:22, Jas 3:17, and 1John 3:3)

There are young boys being brought up by macho fathers teaching their sons to "control their women". Well, that might be an acceptable marriage philosophy in the home of a Muslim fundamentalist and/or a club-toting Neanderthal, but not in the home of a man passing himself off as one of Christ's followers. In a Christian home, husbands are neither required nor expected to tame their wives seeing as how the onus is upon the wives themselves to exercise self control.

Eph 4:30-32 . . And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

It's tragic when Christian couples practice neither Christian conduct nor Christian principles in their own home— in point of fact that's not a home at all; that's a perpetual cold war.

NOTE: It's required of Christ's followers to love their enemies but it's not required of Christ's followers to like their enemies nor is it required to always have a good opinion about them. However, though Christian love need not include the element of fondness; Christian love does need to include the element of diplomacy; which Webster's defines as skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.

467) 1Pet 3:7b . . giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel,

The koiné Greek word for "honor" is time (tee-may') which means: a value, i.e. money paid.

The word for "weaker" is asthenes (as-then-ace') which means: having no strength, i.e. fragile.

And the word for "vessel" is skeuos (skyoo'-os) which can indicate anything from a soup bowl to a file cabinet or a cardboard box; in other words: a container.

Peter isn't saying women are physically weaker than men; but that Christian husbands should exercise the same care with their wives as they would a fragile antique worth thousands of dollars like, say, a Ming vase. Nobody in their right mind handles a Ming vase like a farmer handles a 5-gallon bucket. Not that some women couldn't take that kind of handling; it's just that its unbecoming for a Christian man to lack sensitivity for his wife's feelings.

This Ming-vase value isn't an intrinsic value, nor is it a deserved value either; but rather, it's a gratuitous value. In other words: Christ commands Christian husbands to categorize their wives up there with Dresden china even if she's as tough as a female cop and/or a UFC mixed martial artist the likes of Rhonda Rousey— and this is not a choice; no, it's not a choice; it's an order.

Christian husbands who treat their Skil saws and their tomato plants with more care and concern than they treat their wives can just forget about associating with God on any meaningful level.

1Pet 3:7c . . as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Note the word "together" which is quite the opposite of autonomy and/or independence.

Couples sometimes assert themselves with words like "What I do is between me and The Lord." No; not when you're married. Marriage changes everything between one's self and The Lord because people become one flesh in marriage: no longer two.

468) 1Pet 3:8a . . Finally, all of you be of one mind,

Peter’s not talking about the nerve center of a Borg-hive collective. The koiné Greek word for "one mind" is homophron (hom-of'-rone) which means: harmonious; and this is the only place in the entire New Testament where that word appears.

Webster’s defines "harmonious" as: 1) musically concordant, 2) having the parts agreeably related; viz: congruous, and 3) marked by accord in sentiment or action.

Peter's directive emphasizes the third element— "marked by accord in sentiment or action". Head-strong Christians, domineering Christians, those for whom every disagreement is either an affront or an act of war to win at any cost— those for whom the word diplomacy has no meaning —of course have trouble complying with 1Pet 3:8a; that is: if they even consider it worthy of their notice.

469) 1Pet 3:8b-9 . . having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing.

"compassion" is from the koiné Greek word sumpathes (soom-path-ace') which means: having a fellow-feeling; viz: sympathetic, i.e. (by implication) mutually commiserative.

One of the meanings of commiserate is condole: like when we share someone's grief at the passing of a loved one, or their job has been outsourced to cheap labor in India, or they've lost their entire retirement fund to an unscrupulous corporation like ENRON, or their life savings to a crooked Ponzi schemer like Bernie Madoff, or when there's news from their doctor they have to begin chemo-therapy for a recently detected advanced cancer, or when the car of a single mom with limited income needs expensive repairs. That is no time to be thoughtless. People in those predicaments are in sore need of condolences, and they are in no mood for philosophical platitudes.

The Greek word for "railing" is loidoria (loy-dor-ee'-ah) which means slander or vituperation; which Webster's defines as 1) to abuse or censure severely or abusively; viz: berate, and 2) to use harsh condemnatory language.

Rejoinders fall into that category; which are defined as a usually rude or angry reply to something written or said; viz: insensitive come-backs deliberately meant to hurt people's feelings; viz: tit for tat. That kind of behavior doesn't go unnoticed.

Matt 12:36-37 . . I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

470) 1Pet 3:10-11 . . Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

Webster's defines guile as "duplicity" which is defined as: contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially in the belying of one's true intentions by deceptive words or action; in other words, speaking with a forked tongue and/or saying one thing while meaning another.

You know, it's ironic; but if we were to take guile out of the political process, nobody would get elected. I simply cannot imagine an America with forthright politicians either in Congress, or the Senate, or the White House.

My father-in-law, who retired from Safeco Title as a senior vice president and general counsel, once remarked that advertising is the art of deception. You know what that says to me? It says that Madison Avenue's Mad Men really have gone mad after all.

FYI: To seek peace and pursue it is blessing-worthy.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

If it's true that only peaceable kinds of people qualify to wear the label "children of God" then the opposite is just as true: difficult Christians are unworthy of the distinction.

471) 1Pet 3:14a . . If you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed.

Peter isn't talking about one's religious beliefs per se, but about one's personal righteousness; in other words, one's personal conduct, and their convictions about what's right and what's wrong.

The koiné Greek word for "righteousness" in that passage is dikaiosune (dik-ah-yos-oo'-nay) which means: equity (of character or act). Webster's defines equity as: justice according to natural law or right; specifically freedom from bias or favoritism.

When Adam and his wife indulged in the forbidden fruit, they became their own Gods with their own opinions about what's right and what's wrong.

Gen 3:22 . . And Yhvh God said: The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.

To give an idea of just how much this situation effects everyday life: the US Supreme Court not too long ago voted 5-4 on an important firearms issue. What does that tell me? It tells me that there are justices on that Court whose opinions are unrighteous because if the justices were all righteous, then the vote, whichever way it went, would have been unanimous.

The effects of humanistic righteousness are evident in mainstream Christianity too. Some time ago, a Presbyterian General Assembly voted whether or not to allow gay clergy. The measure passed by the slimmest of margins: 51%. What does that tell me? It tells me that fully half of that Presbyterian General Assembly is not listening to God because had they all been listening, the vote would have been unanimous one way or the other rather than two opposing opinions.

NOTE: There should be no question that a gay clergy is wrong.

1Tim 3:7 . . He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the Devil's trap.

A gay Christian church elder would be seen by the world as a bona fide hypocrite; which can be roughly defined as somebody who should be standing for the Bible but at heart does not care to live by it. With a Christian church officer like that; it's reasonable to suspect that the congregation is compromised in other areas of faith and practices.

472) 1Pet 3:14b . . And do not fear their intimidation, nor be shaken,

Peer pressure, mob rule, cultural influences, group-think, survival, and customs are always at work seeking to manipulate people.

Take for example the current wave of suicide bombings and acts of terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists. In their own sick estimation, the murders and destruction of private property they cause are justifiable; but any unbiased person can easily see that what they are committing are crimes against humanity.

The extremists no doubt see themselves as martyrs and patriots, but the unbiased world only sees them as criminals; which, in the grand scheme of things; is exactly what they are. Meanwhile, the extremists are exerting peer pressure on peaceable Muslims all over the world to join their cause. When peaceable Muslims refuse, then they too become targets just as if they were devils rather than followers of Mohammad. In other words, the extremists are insinuating that unless Islamists commit murder and destruction of private property, they aren't true Muslims. That's a pretty extreme example of how peer pressure, mob rule, cultural influences, group-think, survival, and customs cause people to do unrighteous things.

In this current world, if you side with God in matters of right and wrong, you become a target for intimidation; which Webster's defines as: inducing fear and/or a sense of inferiority. Intimidation need not be a threat of violence to be effective. Peer pressure and ostracism are powerful tools of intimidation. Human beings are herd animals; we all want to fit in and belong. If you follow the herd, you will be accepted; but if you dare to buck the tide; you will find yourself unpopular in a very short time. It's ironic. Here in America we idolize the concept of rugged individuality. But the truth is; we despise people who do their own thinking; and Americans really despise individuals who dare to side with God.

I was reading an article in the newspaper recently that said in the past, it was wise for candidates for Federal office take sides with religion, but nowadays, in an increasingly irreligious American society, it's becoming best not to if they hope to win enough votes to get elected.

473) 1Pet 3:15a . . Dedicate your hearts to The Lord God

The koiné Greek word for "hearts" in that verse is from kardia (kar-dee'-ah); an ambiguous word that can mean the organ pumping blood throughout the body, the core of one's being, one's affections, one's center, and/or one's thoughts and feelings,

Dedicating one's heart is sort of like setting it upon something, i.e. to have a strong (and sometimes inflexible) desire for something; for example:

Luke 22:14-15 . .When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them: I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.

Within the context of 1Pet 3:10-16, dedicating one's heart to The Lord pertains to moral goodness with respect to how God feels about certain things, i.e. one's conscience.

It is first necessary to know what constitutes moral goodness in respect to how God feels about things; and in order to know, His followers have to get into the Bible.

Rom 12:1-2 . . I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Heb 5:14 . . Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

A training regimen, though it be the best, is quite useless unless people work at it on a regular basis. That's just common sense. For example: Yoga will improve your balance; but you've got to make Yoga a regular part of your life in order for it to work. A little Yoga here, and a little Yoga there, is not exactly the ideal way to go about it.

474) 1Pet 3:15b . . Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you.

The koiné Greek word for "hope" in that passage, and in others (e.g. Rom 8:23-25) is elpis (el-pece') which means expectation; viz: elpis isn't wishful thinking, nor crossing your fingers, nor is it a blend of longing, insecurity, and doubt; no, elpis is a confident kind of hope that looks forward to something that it fully expects to obtain; ergo: elpis is an anticipating hope; viz: it doesn't pray for the best, while in the back of its mind dreading the worst.

The Bible says that elpis is a "calling"

Eph 4:5 . .you were called to one hope when you were called

When people aren't 110% sure what the afterlife has in store for them-- if there is even the slightest possibility of disappointment --they can't possibly comply with Peter's instructions for the simple reason that the hope that is in them, if any, is the wrong kind of hope.

475) 1Pet 4:1-2 . .Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.

The koiné Greek word for flesh is sarx (sarx); which basically indicates the meaty parts of either man or beast. The meat of the human body would of course include the 3-pound lump of flabby organic tissue housed within its bony little skull sufficing for a mind.

The apostle Paul said "in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me." --indicating that the human body itself is the source of the "lusts of men" spoken of in 1Pet 4:1-2 which aren't limited to a percentage of men, rather, common to all men; including Christ.

1Cor 10:13 . . No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man

The koiné Greek word for "lusts" is epithumia (ep-ee-thoo-mee'-ah) which means: a longing.

We like to label our longings as "needs" when really what they are is wants. But not all wants are bad, many are benign, e.g. food, water, shelter, comforts, safety, companions, peace, love, understanding, acceptance, freedom, peace, stability, significance, validation, information, belonging; etc. The danger of course is in letting our wants rule us to the point of acting contrary to good scruples and/or our better judgement especially when it comes to making God frown upon our conduct as unbecoming, i.e. inappropriate for His son's followers.

It surprises, and even sometimes offends, Christians to think that Christ was so fully h.sapiens that he had to cope with human longings, wants, and needs just like everybody else. They truly believe Christ should have been above all that; he wasn't.

476) 1Pet 4:7 . . The culmination of all things is approaching; therefore be serious, and watchful in your prayers.

The koiné Greek word for "watchful" is nepho (nay'-fo) which means: to be discreet; viz: exercise discretion caution in speech, prudence, and care taken to consider all circumstances and possible consequences.

nepho prayer implies being realistic and avoiding flowery bombast, rhetoric, and rote chanting. After all, there's a high priest in heaven representing his fellow men who speaks your language and knows for himself how people think and how people feel; so get down to business with God and tell Him what's on your mind without beating around the bush about it.

477) 1Pet 4:8 . . Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love hides a large number of sins.

A person easily provoked is not a loving person.

One Saturday morning I and another man at church were moving some furniture from one place to another inside the main building where, completely unknown to us, a wedding rehearsal was being conducted. The woman in charge of organizing the wedding came out into the hall and began scolding us for talking and making noise. When I pointed out that there were no posted signs in the hallway indicating a function in progress on the other side of the door, she became sullen, and tightened her lips and narrowed her eyes in anger. Had that lady exemplified the love about which Peter wrote, she would have handled her inconvenience with a little more tact and sensitivity.

Matt 5:9 . . Blessed are the peacemakers : for they shall be known as God's kin.

BTW: That same lady was also in the choir, and sang doxologies in front of about 2,000 people every Sunday morning. She was good at musical harmony, but obviously in sore need of some training in the civil kind.

478) 1Pet 4:10 . .As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

The koiné Greek word for "manifold" is poikilos (poy-kee'-los) which means: motley, i.e. varied in character. All that’s really saying is that the gifts of God are multifarious; viz: having a number of different aspects or characteristics. (cf. Rom 12:5-8, 1Cor 12:1-11)

Unfortunately, people with natural aptitudes generally make up the majority of those in church capacities for which is supposed to be required a spiritual gift from God. They may look like they're "on fire" for The Lord, but really all they are is ambitious.

479) 1Pet 4:11b . . Whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Hardly anybody seems to care much about that anymore, nor would anybody probably know the difference anyway. It’s been my observation that the truly spiritually-gifted Christians are mostly invisible, and go about their business right under the noses of the stars in church, whose own spiritual decadence is oftentimes very embarrassing to Christianity.

Point being; those that do have genuine spiritual gifts need to make very sure that when they exercise those gifts in church; they do so for the benefit of The Lord’s sheep rather than for their own ends.

480) 1Pet 4:11a . . If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.

The koiné Greek word for "oracles" is logion (log'-ee-on) which means something spoken as opposed to something in writing.

Peter doesn't say to speak the oracles of God, but to speak as the oracles of God; viz: to speak as God and for God. If speakers can't to do that— if they don't sincerely believe themselves infallible and speaking as God and for God ex cathedra —then they really ought to do us all a favor and sit down and shut up!

481) 1Pet 4:12-13 . . Beloved, don't be perplexed by the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very gladbecause these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world.

It's easy to think of Christ's sufferings as only those that occurred on the cross and the night of his arrest. But it's important to remember that Christ lived on this earth for about 30 years prior to his public appearances; and during those years, he did not lead a sheltered life; in point of fact, during those 30 years he underwent a sort of boot camp.

Heb 5:7-9 . . During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

It's a piece of cake for the Word of John 1:1 to comply with God's wishes because the Word himself is God too. But when the Word took on the nature of a human being; that's when he found out just how difficult it is for flesh and blood to comply with God's wishes; hence the prayers and loud cries and tears. The incarnate Word had a mission; and left on his own, Jesus would have surely failed. But God was onboard to insure he didn't.

John 3:34 . . God's Spirit is upon him without measure or limit.

However, Jesus didn't take the Spirit for granted but kept up a barrage of prayers for assistance. You won't see much of that in the Gospels. The place to look for Jesus' prayers is the Psalms where David did quite of a bit of ghost writing for him. (cf. Luke 24:44-45)

The koiné Greek word for "partners" is koinoneo (koy-no-neh'-o) which means: to share with another; viz: to participate. In other words, football fans are not on the team, no they're up in the safety of the stands either cheering, hissing, or booing. In order to "participate" in a game, you have to be down on the gridiron in harm's way getting some bruises.

The Bible says there is no trial taken you but such as is common to the entire human race (1Cor 10:13). Jesus wasn't shielded from any of those. The Word not only came as a man, but he also lived as a man.

Heb 2:17-18 . . It was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is qualified to help us when we are being tempted.

Heb 4:15-16 . . This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will obtain mercy, and find grace to help us when we need it.

For a good many millennia, the Word's compassion for Man was pretty much limited to empathy rather than sympathy. In other words, until John 1:14, the Word could understand your pain, and he could pity your pain; but he could not feel it because the Word had zero experience at being human.

So then, when I meet with Christ around the table in God's home, I don't expect to meet a stranger to my way of life; no, I fully expect to meet a man who's been around the block a time or two. Not only will he be able to relate to my stories, but I in return will be able to relate to his. Sharing in Christ's glory would have the nature of an entourage if not for the fact that I will have the satisfaction of knowing that Christ, in a manner of speaking, came from the same neighborhood as I to get to where he is today.

482) 1Pet 4:15-16 . . But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's affairs. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.

The koiné Greek word for "Christian" is christianos (khris-tee-an-os') which means: a follower of Christ. That word appears in only three places in the entire New Testament. The other two are Acts 11:26 and Acts 26:28. Peter’s is the only epistle where it appears; and it’s nowhere in any of the four gospels.

Not everyone pledging their allegiance to Christ actually follows him.

Luke 6:46 . .Why do you call me Lord and Master and do not what I say?

Matt 7:22-23 . . Many will say to me i