695.) Jude

December 30, 2011

Jude 1 (English Standard Version)

(During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter.)

Greeting

1Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

2May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Judgment on False Teachers

3Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

  • The ancient Greek word translated contend comes from the athletic world – the wrestling mat. It is a strengthened form of the word meaning “to agonize.” Contend speaks of hard and diligent work.
  • The verb translated contend earnestly is in the present infinitive, showing that the Christian struggle is continuous.

–David Guzik

“Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.”

–George Whitefield

We are never to lie down and allow lies to take hold and fester. We are to relentlessly assault error with the truth. That is our battle.

–Brandon N. Davison

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4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude could not be more clear in his terminology when referring to false teachers.  I have underlined the epithets he uses when speaking of false teachers.  He bolsters his argument by giving three examples which show the certainty of God’s judgement against those “certain people” — the example of the people of Israel (verse 5), the example of the angels who sinned (verse 6), and the example of Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 7).

5Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.

The post-modern culture of today dismisses the notion of any absolute authority and encourages individuals to be their own judges of what is right and what is wrong.  People can do this by picking and choosing what in the Scripture they will believe and follow.  Or they can do this by mixing up teachings from many religions and believing what they think is nice.  Or we can do this by proclaiming ourselves to be Christians yet acting no differently from our non-believing neighbors.  (Pause for self-examination.)  It sounds a lot to me like the last, dark days of the Judges:  “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

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9But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

And now three more bad examples:  Cain, Balaam, and Korah. 

Cain offered his sacrifice to the Lord without faith, and was therefore unacceptable to God (Genesis 4, Hebrews 11:4).  Then Cain became angry at his brother Abel (who had offered the Lord an acceptable offering) and killed him.  Jude says that Cain typifies a way that the “certain men” follow in.  It is the way of unbelief and empty religion, which leads to jealousy, persecution of the truly godly, and eventually to murderous anger.

The story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22 to 25 and 31.  Balaam, a prophet, disobeyed the Lord’s plain instructions and tried to curse the people of Israel because he would be paid handsomely for doing so.  Jude says there are “certain men” leading and teaching the church who are willing to sell out everything for personal financial gain.

Korah resented the authority that God had given to Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and tried to get more power for himself.  God destroyed him and his followers, as found in Numbers 16.  “Certain men” try to do what they want for themselves rather than following Christ to the work he has called them to do.

11Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (New International Version)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

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14It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

A Call to Persevere

17But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22And have mercy on those who doubt; 23save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Doxology

 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

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Music:

My father, aged 96, visited us recently, and we talked at some length about his time fighting in New Guinea during World War II.  He said something which quite moved me — that it was in battle that he learned what kind of a man he was.  But actually — isn’t that true for all of us?  It is the hard times which show most truly our inner character.

Jude calls us to be contenders for the faith, willing to fight against our own selfish desires and habits, and against the perverse and unkind ways of the world.  Jude cheers us on to work at building our faith and prayer life, to love each other with mercy and Christ-likeness.  It is not necessarily easy, but it is of eternal value.  My prayer for all of us readers of DWELLING in the Word, as we go into a new year, is that we will not grow weary in the battles of our lives, but keep our eyes on Jesus, who has already, and forever, won the victory!

Libera sings “Onward, Christian Soldiers.”

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Contend for the faith.   http://touchyaneighbor.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/contend-for-the-faith1.jpg
wrestling.   http://www.tiffinmats.net/wrestling/images/mmm2011/MMM2011-pic2.jpg
Post-modernism.   http://farisyakob.typepad.com/blog/images/pomo.jpg
Calvin.   http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/calvin-angry-calvin–26-hobbes-318681_366_362.jpg
Take captive every thought.   http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Wd6ztka_liI/TsjtTZ6ZjhI/AAAAAAAACQA/hUHvQ_jq2ME/s1600/thoughts.jpg
keep you from falling.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-P_Lb3fPnDlI/TZMHuQFRjaI/AAAAAAAABu0/VP4-XkRWnxs/s1600/27SepP270MS800x500.jpg

694.) Obadiah

December 29, 2011

Obadiah 1 (New Living Translation)

(During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter.)

 1 This is the vision that the Sovereign Lord revealed to Obadiah (a prophet from Judah) concerning the land of Edom.

Edom was the rocky range of mountains east of the Arabah, stretching about 100 miles north and south, and about 20 miles east and west.  It was well watered, with abundant pasturage.  Sela (Petra), carved high in a perpendicular cliff, overlooking a valley of marvellous beauty, far back in the mountain canyons, was the capital.  Edomites would go out on raiding expeditions, and then retreat to their impregnable strongholds high up in the rocky gorges.

Edomites were descendants of Esau, but were always bitter enemies of the Jews, perpetuating the enmity of Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:23, 27:41).  They refused passage to Moses (Numbers 20:14-21) and were always ready to aid an attacking army.

–from Halley’s Bible Handbook

Edom’s Judgment Announced

We have heard a message from the Lord
that an ambassador was sent to the nations to say,
“Get ready, everyone!
Let’s assemble our armies and attack Edom!”

2 The Lord says to Edom,
“I will cut you down to size among the nations;
you will be greatly despised.
3 You have been deceived by your own pride

Proverbs 16:18 (New International Version)

   Pride goes before destruction,
   a haughty spirit before a fall.

because you live in a rock fortress
and make your home high in the mountains.
‘Who can ever reach us way up here?’
you ask boastfully.

Petra  is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited tourist attraction.  It lies on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.  Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a poem by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.”  Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of “the 40 places you have to see before you die.”

–Wikipedia

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4 But even if you soar as high as eagles
and build your nest among the stars,
I will bring you crashing down,”
says the Lord.

5 “If thieves came at night and robbed you
(what a disaster awaits you!),
they would not take everything.
Those who harvest grapes
always leave a few for the poor.
But your enemies will wipe you out completely!
6 Every nook and cranny of Edom
will be searched and looted.
Every treasure will be found and taken.

7 “All your allies will turn against you.
They will help to chase you from your land.
They will promise you peace
while plotting to deceive and destroy you.
Your trusted friends will set traps for you,
and you won’t even know about it.
8 At that time not a single wise person
will be left in the whole land of Edom,”
says the Lord.

“Job and his friends” by Eberhard Waechter (1762-1852)

Speaking of men who were regarded as wise — Eliphaz, one of Job’s three friends (Job 2:11), was from Teman in Edom.

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“For on the mountains of Edom
I will destroy everyone who has understanding.
9 The mightiest warriors of Teman
will be terrified,
and everyone on the mountains of Edom
will be cut down in the slaughter.

Reasons for Edom’s Punishment

10 “Because of the violence you did
to your close relatives in Israel,
you will be filled with shame
and destroyed forever.
11 When they were invaded,
you stood aloof, refusing to help them.
Foreign invaders carried off their wealth
and cast lots to divide up Jerusalem,
but you acted like one of Israel’s enemies.

“Death of Caesar” by Vincenzo Camuccini

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Even thou wast as one of them.” –Obadiah 1:11

Brotherly kindness was due from Edom to Israel in the time of need, but instead thereof, the men of Esau made common cause with Israel’s foes. Special stress in the sentence before us is laid upon the word thou; as when Caesar cried to Brutus, “and thou Brutus”; a bad action may be all the worse, because of the person who has committed it. When we sin, who are the chosen favorites of heaven, we sin with an emphasis; ours is a crying offense, because we are so peculiarly indulged. If an angel should lay his hand upon us when we are doing evil, he need not use any other rebuke than the question, “What thou? What dost thou here?” Much forgiven, much delivered, much instructed, much enriched, much blessed, shall we dare to put forth our hand unto evil? God forbid!

A few minutes of confession may be beneficial to thee, gentle reader, this day. Hast thou never been as the wicked? At an evening party certain men laughed at uncleanness, and the joke was not altogether offensive to thine ear, even thou wast as one of them. When hard things were spoken concerning the ways of God, thou wast bashfully silent; and so, to on-lookers, thou wast as one of them. When worldlings were bartering in the market, and driving hard bargains, wast thou not as one of them? When they were pursuing vanity with a hunter’s foot, wert thou not as greedy for gain as they were? Could any difference be discerned between thee and them? Is there any difference? Here we come to close quarters. Be honest with thine own soul, and make sure that thou art a new creature in Christ Jesus; but when this is sure, walk jealously, lest any should again be able to say, “Even thou wast as one of them.” Thou wouldst not desire to share their eternal doom, why then be like them here? Come not thou into their secret, lest thou come into their ruin. Side with the afflicted people of God, and not with the world.

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12 “You should not have gloated
when they exiled your relatives to distant lands.
You should not have rejoiced
when the people of Judah suffered such misfortune.

1 Corinthians 13:6 (New International Version)

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

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You should not have spoken arrogantly
in that terrible time of trouble.
13 You should not have plundered the land of Israel
when they were suffering such calamity.
You should not have gloated over their destruction
when they were suffering such calamity.

Amos 1:11-12 (New Century Version)

This is what the Lord says:
    “For the many crimes of Edom,
       I will punish them.
    They hunted down their relatives, the Israelites, with the sword,
       showing them no mercy.
    They were angry all the time
       and kept on being very angry.
So I will send fire on the city of Teman
       that will even destroy the strong buildings of Bozrah.”

You should not have seized their wealth
when they were suffering such calamity.
14 You should not have stood at the crossroads,
killing those who tried to escape.
You should not have captured the survivors
and handed them over in their terrible time of trouble.

All in all, Edom treated God’s people terribly when distress and calamity came upon them. For all this, God’s judgment was coming upon them.

  • First they did nothing
  • Then they rejoiced in their distress and calamity
  • Then they took advantage of their vulnerable state
  • Then they joined in the violence against God’s people

–David Guzik

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Edom Destroyed, Israel Restored

15 “The day is near when I, the Lord,
will judge all godless nations!
As you have done to Israel,
so it will be done to you.
All your evil deeds
will fall back on your own heads.
16 Just as you swallowed up my people
on my holy mountain,
so you and the surrounding nations
will swallow the punishment I pour out on you.
Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger
and disappear from history.

17 “But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape;
it will be a holy place.
And the people of Israel will come back
to reclaim their inheritance.
18 The people of Israel will be a raging fire,
and Edom a field of dry stubble.
The descendants of Joseph will be a flame
roaring across the field, devouring everything.
There will be no survivors in Edom.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

The trials and burdens among God’s people are only temporary, because among them they will find a refuge and they will reclaim their inheritance. However, the attack coming against Edom will be different — Israel will be the fire and they will be the stubble, and Edom will be completely devoured.

The word of the Lord through Obadiah proved true. The Edomites fought side by side with the Jews the rebellion against Rome in 66-70 a.d. and were crushed by Rome, never to be heard of as a people again. The predictions of Obadiah 1:10 and 1:18 were precisely fulfilled. You just won’t meet an Edomite today.

–David Guzik

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19 “Then my people living in the Negev
will occupy the mountains of Edom.
Those living in the foothills of Judah
will possess the Philistine plains
and take over the fields of Ephraim and Samaria.
And the people of Benjamin
will occupy the land of Gilead.
20 The exiles of Israel will return to their land
and occupy the Phoenician coast as far north as Zarephath.
The captives from Jerusalem exiled in the north
will return home and resettle the towns of the Negev.
21 Those who have been rescued will go up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem
to rule over the mountains of Edom.
And the Lord himself will be king!”

Revelation 11:15 (New International Version)

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

   “The kingdom of the world has become
   the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
   and he will reign for ever and ever.”

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Music:

“King of Kings” — a Messianic praise song sung by Karen Davis.   What a joy it will be, to sing to Jesus together with all the saints and the angels in heaven!

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New Living Translation (NLT)    Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Obadiah title.  http://jimlepage.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Word-obadiah.jpg
Petra.  http://thebesttraveldestinations.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/Petra1.jpg
Waechter.   http://media.kunst-fuer-alle.de/img/41/m/41_00288012~eberhard-waechter_job-and-his-friends.jpg
Camuccini.   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ac/Cesar-sa_mort.jpg/400px-Cesar-sa_mort.jpg
Love never fails.   http://www.whitegadget.com/attachments/pc-wallpapers/67224d1313296240-love-love-picture.jpg
bad choice.    http://marksayers.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/bad-choice21.jpg
all gone.   http://www.sydspeak.com/images/OrigTTM100/allGone.jpg
King Jesus.  http://www.clarion-call.org/yeshua/feasts/rosh/jesus2.gif

693.) Philemon

December 28, 2011

A hundred years after Christ, the bishop of Ephesus was a man named Onesimus. Ancient tradition says he is the same Onesimus as in this letter.

Philemon 1 (English Standard Version)

(During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter.)

Greeting

1Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus,

General agreement is that Paul wrote this personal letter during his first imprisonment in Rome, a house arrest as described in Acts 28:30-31.  He does not, however, describe himself as a prisoner of Rome.  He sees himself as a prisoner in obedience to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ.

and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Map of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) showing the town of Colosse. Smyrna is present-day Izmir.

Philemon was a Greek landowner living in Colosse.  He had been converted under Paul’s ministry and now his house serves as the meeting place for the church there.  (Perhaps Apphia was his wife and Archippus his son — but that is  speculation.)

One scholar has written:  

“Up to the third century we have no certain evidence of the existence of church buildings for the purpose of worship; all references point to private houses for this. In Rome several of the oldest churches appear to have been built on the sites of houses used for Christian worship.”

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3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon’s Love and Faith

4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Philemon had been a blessing to Paul.  He had opened his heart and his home to the followers of Jesus.

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Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

8Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.

Now we get to the point of this letter.  Onesimus was a domestic slave who belonged to Philemon.  Onesimus had run away from Philemon to Rome, where he had run into Paul (a close friend of Philemon — cue the music “It’s a Small World After All” . . .)  and been brought to Christ, or as Paul says, he “became my son.”  A master in the Roman Empire had the legal right to kill a runaway slave.  Paul wants to show Philemon a better way.

11(Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.)

This is a cute play on words from Paul — the name “Onesimus” means “useful” or “profitable.”

12I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

Clearly, Paul wanted Onesimus to stay, because he had become a big help. Paul sweetened his appeal in three ways.

First, if Onesimus stayed he could serve Paul on your behalf. “Philemon, if you leave Onesimus with me, it’s like you serving me, because Onesimus is your rightful servant.”

Secondly, if Onesimus stayed he helped a man in chains. “Philemon, I know Onesimus might be of some use to you. Yet I am in chains, and need all the help I can get.”

Thirdly, if Onesimus stayed he helped man in chains for the gospel. “Philemon, please don’t forget why I am here in chains. Remember that it is for the sake of the gospel.

But without your consent I wanted to do nothing: Paul made his appeal and made it strong and skillfully. At the same time, he really did leave the decision to Philemon. He would appeal in love, but he would not trample over the rights of Philemon.

–David Guzik

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15For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while,

Again we see Paul’s diplomacy and facility with language.  How much nicer it sounds to say “he was parted from you” than “your slave ran away from you.”

that you might have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

Paul is asking no small thing — that Philemon see his runaway slave now as his own brother, his equal in Christ!

Colossians 3:1, 11

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.  Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

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17So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.

What an encouragement this must have been to Onesimus!  Paul’s genuine love for him surely strengthened his new faith!

19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

Final Greetings

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

Each of these names is also mentioned in the conclusion of the letter to the Colossians (Colossians 4:10-17)

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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Martin Luther liked this short book. “This epistle,” he wrote, “shows a right noble lovely example of Christian love…. Even as Christ did for us with God the Father, thus also does St. Paul for Onesimus with Philemon… We are all his Onesimi, to my thinking.”

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Did Onesimus go back?  Did Philemon welcome him as a brother?  We do not know.  Yet — who could refuse Paul’s heartfelt request?

The letter to Philemon is all about reconciliation. Our world, like Paul’s, is filled with barriers between people — race, social class, age, political leaning, ethnicity, language, gender, and so on.  Other separations come from disagreements and quarrels and misunderstandings.   This letter proclaims the good news that Christ can transform even seemingly hopelessly broken relationships into deep and loving friendships.  May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in our spirits allow these transformations to happen in us and through us, to the glory of God!

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Music:

“Song of Reconciliation”  sung by Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker, and Christine Dente.  Lyrics follow.

Where there is love there is a peace
And in the cages that bind the bitter heart it is release
Hold it close to your chest, let it move and let it rest
For it is here to set your mind at ease
Where there is love there is a peace

Where there is hope there is a dream
To rise above, to remit and to redeem
To go back, to go where there’s no hurt or anger there
To find the song that you once could sing
Where there is hope there is a dream

Where there is faith there is a chance
To alter the course and fight the winds of circumstance
Not to scar, but mend, not to break, but to bend
And not to know but to understand
Where there is faith there is a chance
Where there is hope there is a dream
Where there is love there is a peace

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English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Onesimus.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_9Um6_5nIHEI/TIPk1cvAU4I/AAAAAAAAEC8/qV5GGu8O3HY/s320/Onesimus.jpg
map.     http://oneyearbibleimages.com/colossae.jpg
heart and home.     http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_2B6fe4fbhpo/S62Elzg9XVI/AAAAAAAAAts/g1xXflp30To/s1600/home+is+where+the+heart+is.JPG
if you please.    http://www.playfulpromises.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/If-you-please-logo.jpg
clasped hands.    http://www.britsattheirbest.com/images/h_alban_hands_220w.jpg
“Philemon: Forgiveness that leads to Reconciliation.”     http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Feukw-lGZRI/TMru1D1IIYI/AAAAAAAAASQ/Et6qaOqX7CU/s1600/philemon-title-slide-slide01.jpg
Paul, signature.   http://www.rowforhope.com/html/images/Paul%20-%20Signature.GIF

692.) 3 John

December 27, 2011

3 John 1 (New Living Translation)

(During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter.)

Greetings

1This letter is from John, the elder.   I am writing to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth.

Who is this Gaius?  Other than that he is presented as a good example, it is hard to know.  David Guzik tells us that Gaius was one of the most common names in the Roman Empire!

2 Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 Some of the traveling teachers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. 4 I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.

Caring for the Lord’s Workers

 5 Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you.

Matthew 25:21 (New International Version)

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

6 They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. 7 For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers. 8So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth.

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

“For His name’s sake they went forth” — 3 John 7

Our Lord has told us how love to Him is to manifest itself.  “Lovest thou Me?”  “Feed My sheep” — identify yourself with My interests in other people, not, identify Me with your interests in other people.  The key to missionary devotion means being attached to nothing and no one saving Our Lord Himself.  Loyalty to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of Redemption wrought in my by the Holy Ghost Who sheds abroad the love of God in my heart, and that love works efficaciously through me in contact with everyone I meet.

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9 I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us (obviously, a bad example). 10 When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.

11 Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

Psalm 37:27 (New Living Translation)

Turn from evil and do good,
      and you will live in the land forever.

_________________________

12 Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius (another good example), as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth.

Conclusion

13 I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. 14For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. 15 Peace be with you.

Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.

_________________________

from the Life Application Bible:

“Whereas 2 John emphasizes the need to refuse hospitality to false teachers, 3 John urges continued hospitality to those who teach the truth.  Hospitality is a strong sign of support for people and their work.  It means giving them of your resources so their stay will be comfortable and their work and travel easier.  Actively look for creative ways to show hospitality to God’s workers.  It may be in the form of a letter of encouragement, a gift, financial support, an open home, or prayer.”

Four women have taught me much about hospitality:

1) My mother, Maurine Riskedahl, was a good cook and an interesting conversationalist.  (I am grateful that I now have her good dishes—Haviland—that she bought with money from her first year teaching in Adel, Iowa, in 1946.)  Every year Mother put on a “Christmas Tea” at our house for all the faculty and staff at our high school; she served seven different kinds of homemade Norwegian holiday delicacies along with a variety of other goodies.

2)  My aunt, Genevieve Wilson, made everything so pretty at her table and in her home. Even as a young widow with a daughter, living very frugally, she still supported a missions child overseas.  Later in her life she opened her home to visiting missionaries from around the world and cheerfully, generously, supported them.

3)  My friend Sue Awes articulates what Mother and Aunt Gen did but never expressed so clearly — that hospitality is a gift from the heart.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should show tender, loving care, with your own creative touch!  Some years ago I was on a mission trip with Sue, and I will never forget watching her teach, so joyfully, a group of older Russian orphan girls the basics of gracious hospitality (a piece of fruit in a colorful bowl on the table, a flower in a pretty bottle at the bedside . . . ).

4)  My friend Linda Wallace makes hospitality seem simple and fun, as if you are doing her a favor by being her guest!  Her warm and unpretentious ease when making you feel at home is pure elegance, pure grace.  And I must mention her delicious bran muffins and lemon-filled creme puffs!

Who has taught you?  Who are you teaching?  Do it as unto the Lord, as these four women have!

_________________________

Music:

In this song, “Remembrance (Communion Song)” by Matt Redman, my favorite line is “Now the simple made divine” — for that is the transforming power of Christian hospitality.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Thanks – hospitality.   http://ak.imgfarm.com/images/fwp/myfuncards/ThankYou/lg/st_hospitality2.jpg
Trinity.     http://www.holytrinityoldcatholicchurch.org/_borders/thd_trinity1.gif
do good.    http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ls57vmTBWj1qij8g6.jpg
Thank you for your hospitality.    http://rlv.zcache.com/thank_you_hospitality_2_customizable_card-p137811481228795928q6am_400.jpg

691.) 2 John

December 26, 2011

John, "the elder," is one of Jesus' twelve disciples and the writer of the Gospel of John, three letters, and the book of Revelation.

2 John 1 (New Living Translation)

(During this week between Christmas and New Year’s, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter.)   

Greetings

1This letter is from John, the elder.   I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth—as does everyone else who knows the truth—2 because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.

Perhaps this was an individual Christian woman John wanted to warn and encourage by this letter. Or, the term might be a symbolic way of addressing this particular congregation.

John probably did not name himself, the elect lady or her children by name because this was written during a time of persecution. Perhaps John didn’t want to implicate anyone by name in a written letter. If the letter was intercepted and the authorities knew who it was written to by name, it might mean death for those persons.

–David Guzik

3 Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

John 14:6 (New Living Translation)

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Live in the Truth


4How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.

5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

Mark 12:28-33 (New Living Translation)

One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other.  And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

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7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. 9 Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.

10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

In the early church of John’s day, teachers traveled from place to place and Christians were expected to open their homes to them in kind hospitality.  John instructs first century Christians to judge the veracity of the various teachers before welcoming them in.   In our day, we can open our homes and our minds to all kinds of false teaching in many ways, including via televisions and computers.  Beware, John says, that you are learning the truth about God from these teachers.   Chose thoughtfully your books, movies, and TV entertainment.  Know what is being taught in your own congregation, your children’s public schools, your church colleges and seminaries.  Stand up for the truth of Christ!  Do not be led astray and in so doing, lose your reward.

_________________________

Conclusion

12I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete. 13 Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.

_________________________

Music:

Here is an instrumental version of the hymn “I Would Be True,” something the Apostle John certainly demonstrated for us all!  May we be imitators of John, as he was of Christ!

The composer of the tune is Joseph Y. Peek; the arrangement is by David H. Hegarty.

The text for “I Would Be True,” was written by a young man in his early twenties in a poem that he titled “My Creed.” After graduating with honors from Princeton University in 1905, Howard Arnold Walter spent a year teaching the English language in Japan. While there he sent a copy of his “creed” to his mother back home in Connecticut. Mrs. Walter sent the poem to Harper’s Magazine, where it appeared in the May, 1907 issue.

Returning to the United States, Howard Walter entered Hartford Seminary and upon graduation served as an assistant minister at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut. One day he showed his poem to an itinerant Methodist lay preacher, Joseph Peek. Although Peek had no technical knowledge of music, he immediately whistled a tune suited to Walter’s words.

Several years later, Howard Walter left for India to teach and minister. He died there in 1918, during an influenza epidemic.

  1. I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
    I would be pure, for there are those who care;
    I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
    I would be brave, for there is much to dare.
  2. I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless;
    I would be giving, and forget the gift;
    I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
    I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.
  3. I would be faithful through each passing moment;
    I would be constantly in touch with God;
    I would be strong to follow where He leads me;
    I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod.
  4. Who is so low that I am not his brother?
    Who is so high that I’ve no path to him?
    Who is so poor I may not feel his hunger?
    Who is so rich I may not pity him?
  5. Who is so hurt I may not know his heartache?
    Who sings for joy my heart may never share?
    Who in God’s heav’n has passed beyond my vision?
    Who to hell’s depths where I may never fare.
  6. May none, then, call on me for understanding,
    May none, then, turn to me for help in pain,
    And drain alone his bitter cup of sorrow,
    Or find he knocks upon my heart in vain.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
St. John.    http://www.hanscomfamily.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/st_johngreek.jpg
truth in love.  http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_VkIaR9_QiyA/Sa1QP6ufyPI/AAAAAAAAAUg/dwgr6LhfhU4/s400/truth_in_love.jpg
love God, love people.     http://missiongermany.com/wp-content/themes/irresistible/images/logo.png
welcome.   http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/sportatorium/welcome2.jpg

690.) Christmas

December 23, 2011

The Coming of Christ,

Old and New Testaments

Genesis 3:13-15 (New International Version)

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

"Eve, After Eating the Forbidden Fruit" by Anna Lea Merritt, c. 1890

____________________

Genesis 22:15-18 (New International Version)

The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,  and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

"The Binding of Isaac" by Alan Falk, 2002

____________________

Isaiah 9:6-7 (New International Version)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

____________________

Matthew 1:20-23 (New International Version)

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

What a different picture Jesus gives us of God from that which we naturally develop.  For a long time I understood God to be the sovereign Lord and final Judge, who sat on his throne watching for my failures so he could chastise me and remind me of the vast gulf that exists between him and me.  But this is no the biblical picture of God.  God is Lord and Judge, but he is also Immanuel, “God with us” — and the preposition with carries remarkable overtones.

The with speaks of identification.  God, in Christ, became a man.  Distance and otherness were bridged by that with in Immanuel.  He took our state, and he took our problem.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.”  He took our alienation and our death when he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

But God wanted that with to be reciprocal.  He decided to be one with us because he wanted us to be one with him.  And the astounding thing is that he wanted us to be with him in more than destiny.  The with speaks of more than place.  It also speaks of character.  That is why God insisted that Israel be holy.  They needed to be holy if they were to fulfill their mission as a holy nation.  They needed even more to be holy if they were to be with him because he said, “I am holy.”  That is why one of God’s most glorious promises in Scripture is the reference to every believer in the New Testament as a saint.  The Father, through Christ’s sacrifice of himself as one of us, can put his life into us until we, who by nature are sinners, can become companions with God.  Yes, and more than companions.  We are to be children of the Father and the very bride of his Son.  Jesus is “Immanuel,” “God with us,” so that we can be with him in a remarkable way.

____________________

Luke 2:6-7 (New International Version)

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

__________

Music:

“Infant Holy, Infant Lowly”  sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

____________________

John 1:14 (New International Version)

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Almighty God, you have made yourself known in your Son,
Jesus, redeemer of the world.
We pray that his birth as a human child will set us free
from the old slavery of our sin;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.  Amen.

____________________

I wish you all, my dear readers, a happy Christmas with the presence of Jesus made wonderfully real to you.  Thank you for being part of the DWELLING family as we learn more and more about the Word of God in Scripture and the Word made flesh in Christ.  Every blessing be yours, through the grace of our Lord, Father, Son, and Spirit.

_________________________

Images courtesy of:
stable scene.  http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-OO1e4lRyuFg/TaQm7DdLqII/AAAAAAAACcw/DjB3LetwafY/s1600/0000the-birth-of-christ.jpg
Merritt.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_dLSVgS5AxBI/SwflmuQOlUI/AAAAAAAAmZs/FfFn70QDm6M/s1600/Eve_Merritt.jpg
Falk.  http://www.alanfalk.com/sitebuilder/images/Abraham-407×623.jpg
Jesus, lion, and lamb.    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1076/899946019_e9c0ed54d5.jpg
Immanuel baby.    http://www.lessons4sundayschool.com/images/ImmanuelGodWithUsPoster.jpg
olivewood nativity set.   http://www.artinstituteshop.org/content/images/14523.jpg

689.) Proverbs 18

December 22, 2011

Proverbs 18 (English Standard Version)

1Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
he breaks out against all sound judgment.
2A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
3When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
and with dishonor comes disgrace.

“Adam and Eve” by Peter Paul Rubens

“As soon as sin entered, shame followed.”

–Matthew Henry

Genesis 3:6-8 (Good News Translation)

The woman saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruit would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it.  As soon as they had eaten it, they were given understanding and realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves.

That evening they heard the Lord God walking in the garden, and they hid from him among the trees.

_________________________

4The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters;
the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
5It is not good to be partial to the wicked
or to deprive the righteous of justice.
6A fool’s lips walk into a fight,
and his mouth invites a beating.

He who thinks by the inch and speaks by the yard deserves to be kicked by the foot!

_________________________

7 A fool’s mouth is his ruin,
and his lips are a snare to his soul.
8 The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
they go down into the inner parts of the body.


9Whoever is slack in his work
is a brother to him who destroys.
10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe.


11
A rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.
12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor.
13If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.

The adage says, “God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason!  Listen twice as much as you speak!”

_________________________
14A man’s spirit will endure sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
16A man’s gift makes room for him
and brings him before the great.

As an example . . .

What gifts were most frequently given to Nixon by foreign Heads of State?
Framed photographs, paintings and decorative household objects such as vases and figurines were some of the most popular gifts given to President Nixon. Many of the gifts that Richard Nixon received reflect the native crafts of the culture they represent. For example, gifts from Africa include carved ivory tusks, traditional wooden masks and African jewelry.

What was the most unusual gift that President Nixon received?
The gift of two giant pandas, Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing, were perhaps the most unique gifts ever given to a president. The pandas were a Head of State gift from the People’s Republic of China. They were given as a token of friendship in response to President Nixon’s goodwill trip to China in 1972.

What type of gifts did President Nixon give to foreign Heads of State on behalf of the United States of America?
President Nixon usually presented Heads of State with gifts made by American companies or with American themes. Typical gifts given include Franklin Mint limited edition medallions, Ansel Adams prints depicting America’s national parks, Boehm porcelain figurines, and collector’s plates with reproductions of American artist Winslow Homer’s artwork. In addition, President Nixon often gave a framed photograph of his family to foreign Heads of State.

— from the Nixon Archives

_________________________

17The one who states his case first seems right,
until the other comes and examines him.
18 The lot puts an end to quarrels
and decides between powerful contenders.
19A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
20 From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied;
he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.

Proverbs 18:20 (Good News Translation)

You will have to live with the consequences of everything you say.

Proverbs 18:20 (The Message)

Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach;
   good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.

Proverbs 18:20 (Contemporary English Version)

Make your words good–

   you will be glad you did.

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
22He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the LORD.

(Guys — Today would be a good day to tell her how much you appreciate her!)

_________________________

23The poor use entreaties,
but the rich answer roughly.
24A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Luke 7:31-35 (New International Version)

Jesus went on to say, “To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like?  They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other:

   “‘We played the pipe for you,
   and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
   and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’  The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’  But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”

_________________________

Music:

So many of the verses in this chapter speak to the words we speak.  Here is Tim Hughes with “May the Words of My Mouth.”

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart
Bless Your name, bless Your name, Jesus
And the deeds of the day and the truth in my ways
Speak of You, speak of You, Jesus

For this is what I’m glad to do
It’s time to live a life of love that pleases You
And I will give my all to You
Surrender everything I have and follow You
I’ll follow You

Lord, will You be my vision, Lord, will You be my guide
Be my hope, be my light and the way
And I’ll look not for riches, nor praises on earth
Only You’ll be the first of my heart

I will follow
I will follow
I will follow You

_________________________

English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
A person’s words . . .   http://clarke-family.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/Proverbs-18_4-1.jpg
Rubens.   https://www.myartprints.co.uk/kunst/noartist/p/p_p_rubens__adam_and_eve.jpg
ruler.   http://i00.i.aliimg.com/photo/v0/293609546/12_inch_18_inch_Wooden_Ruler.jpg
gossip.  http://28.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_l9ria4862R1qa7ieoo1_500.jpg
strong tower.   http://earnestlycontending.com/LUJesus/wp-content/gallery/proverbs/Prov18-10b.jpg
2 ears 1 mouth.    http://pictomins.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/2-ears-1-mouth.png?w=450
Nixon.  http://prmanwithus.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/president-nixon.jpg
Thank you.  http://rlv.zcache.com/soft_red_rose_thank_you_cards-p137442045531177021qiae_400.jpg