Free Bible Commentary

Free Bible Commentary

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Genesis 4:1-8

Monday, October 21, 2019

"Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, 'I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.' Again, she gave birth to his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the Lord of the fruit of the ground. Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell. Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.' Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.”

---End of Scripture verses---

In regards to the account of the first murder, James Burton Coffman suggested: “The great message of the chapter is that sin is a cancer that grows progressively worse and worse. Eating of the forbidden tree might have appeared to Adam and Eve as a minor event, but when they stood by the grave of Abel, the true nature of what they had done began to be visible. But even that heart-breaking sorrow was only the first pebble of that tremendous avalanche that would soon engulf all mankind in the floods of the Great Deluge.”

“The man had relations with his wife Eve” (verse 1), and there is no reason to assume that this was the first time the husband and wife were intimate with one another. “And she conceived and gave birth to Cain,” and we cannot necessarily infer from the text that this was the first child she gave birth to. The word “Cain” can mean “to acquire” or “to produce, create”. Eve had been “created” from the man through the power of the Lord, and now she “produced” a “manchild with the help of the Lord.”

“Again she gave birth to his brother Abel” (verse 2). The omission of any suggestion of further “relations” between Adam and Eve lead some to believe that Cain and Abel were twins. While this is certainly a possibility, it is by no means a foregone conclusion. “The Hebrew name for Abel, Havel, is usually translated as 'nothingness,' 'vanity,' or 'futility,' as in the verse in Ecclesiastes that reads, 'vanity of vanities, all is vanity' (havel havelim, hakol havel – Ecclesiastes 1:2).” (Dennis Prager) “The name may alternatively, or perhaps simultaneously, contain a reference to his vocation in that Syriac habla means a 'heardsman'.” (Nahum Sarna)

“Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” There is no suggestion that one vocation was superior to the other. Man's first food source was from trees and plants, and his first occupation, both before and after the expulsion from the garden, was gardening/farming. “Both of these occupations were shown to Adam by the Lord, the tilling of the ground by direct commandment, and the keeping of sheep through the provision of the clothing by the slaying of animals. It was natural that one of the sons would choose one department, and another the other.” (James Burton Coffman)

In the course of time both brothers brought offerings to the Lord (verses 3-4). From the beginning of time, people offered sacrifices to God, and God fully expected such from the beings He created, sustained and provided for. “The Torah states matter-of-factly that Cain and Abel brought offerings to God, suggesting the universality of sacrifice, prayer, and belief in a deity. We know of no pre-modern society that was atheistic and of no ancient society that did not have sacrifices to its god(s). The widespread extent of atheism and secularism in our time is unique to human history. Whether modern godless societies can long survive is an open question.” (Dennis Prager)

“And the Lord had regard for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard.” (verses 4-5) The text does not divulge how God expressed His pleasure and displeasure with these sacrifices. Maybe He sent fire down from heaven to consume Abel's offering and left Cain's untouched. Or maybe it was in some other way. The immediate text does not give the reason for God's displeasure with Cain's sacrifice, but the New Testament provides great insight. Many people assume that the Lord rejected the elder son's offering because it was of “the fruit of the ground” instead of “the flock” like Abel's. But God would never expect us to give better than that which is in our possession.

Hebrews 11:4 tells us “By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain.” Furthermore, Romans 10:17 states that, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We don't know the details of what God told Cain and Abel about the offerings He commanded and expected, but they knew good and well. Abel responded in obedient faith to word of God, and Cain did not. It appears obvious from the wording of verse 4 that states Abel gave of “the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions,” that Abel offered the Lord the first and best of what he had to give as well, while Cain just gave something in his possession. God fully and rightly expects our giving to be sacrificial, meaningful and heartfelt.

“So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.” (verse 5) This expression of anger and dejection is telling of the man's poor attitude and condition of heart. But the story did not have to end the way that it did. The Lord gave Him wise and loving counsel and ample opportunity to turn his heart around and turn his frown upside down. God told Cain, “ If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?” (verse 7) God's displeasure with Cain would have turned to satisfaction if the begrudged offender would have just repented in godly sorrow and purposed to do better the next time. But it was all up to Cain. God did not require him to do “better” than his brother. Just to do “well”. To do the right thing. To do the best he could.

But if he didn't... If he decided not to... If he brooded over his hurt feelings and allowed his anger to turn to bitterness...his bitterness to hatred...then... “Sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” Sin is depicted as a wild, ferocious animal, concealed, crouching and poised for attack. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith...” (1 Peter 5:8-9) Either we decide to master our anger, our emotions, our sins, or sin will master us. “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)

Instead of humbling himself at the loving behest of the Lord and doing the right thing, “Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” (verse 8) “Cain's depression gives way to an irrational act of aggression. The first recorded death is not from natural causes but by human hands, an ironic comment on the theme of chapter 3. Man and woman had striven to gain immortality, but their first-born brings the reality of death into the world. The narrative illustrates one of the most lamentable aspects of the human condition, one that is a recurrent theme in the Bible – namely, the corruption of religion. An act of piety can degenerate into bloodshed.” (Nahum Sarna).

Three takeaways from today's text: 1) God has given us all free wills to live our lives in the ways that we please. But we cannot escape the consequences of the choices that we make 2) Worshiping God in faith, in spirit and in truth, obeying Him according to His word is vital for a good, healthy relationship with Him and with other people, including our family members. 3) Control your anger, your emotions and your sins or they will become your masters and lead you to places you would never intend to or dream you could go.

Please read Genesis 4:9-15 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 3:20-24

Sunday, October 20, 2019

“Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'—therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The man called is wife's name Eve...” (verse 20) The man had previously given her the generic name “woman, because she was taken out of man.” (Genesis 2:23) Now he calls her “Eve”, a personal name which means “life” or “living”. This was an appropriate designation “because she was the mother of all the living” – Excluding Adam of course. Some people believe that there must have been other people living on the earth for Adam and Eve's children to choose wives from. Verse 20 makes it clear that all people of the earth are descendants of Adam and “mother” Eve. All people of all colors and cultures are blood relatives because everyone's family tree terminates back at the first couple. There is only one race of people and it is the human race.

“The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife...” (verse 21) “Despite their transgression and punishment, Adam and Eve are not wholly alienated from God, who now displays His parental concern for their welfare. Since nakedness now evokes shame, God restores human dignity by providing clothing. Also, the garments will afford protection against the harsh conditions of life they are to encounter outside Eden... a kind of long- or short-sleeved shirt...that reached down to the knees or even the ankles.” (Nahum Sarna) It appears that another consequence of Adam and Eve's sin was the killing of animals for the first time to make “skins” to cover the nakedness and vulnerability of humans.

God removed “the tree of life” from the “reach” of the first couple after they lost their innocence and gained “knowledge” that only left them filled with a sense of shame and disgrace. They had been left to live in a harsh world that was terminally cursed because of their transgression, and the worst outcome would have been for them to live forever in such a wretched condition. So the Lord mercifully removed that opportunity from their grasp. The tree of life disappears from the Holy Scriptures in the third chapter of the first book at the dawn of Creation, and does not reappear until the last book of the Bible in heaven after Final Judgment (Revelation 21).

Verse 23 says God “sent” man out of the garden and verse 24 says that He “drove” him out. After the expulsion from the garden the Lord set strong guardians, cherubim, to defend the entryway. These were angelic beings (Psalm 18:10; Ezekiel 28:4), whose likeness was fashioned from gold and set upon the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant kept in the most holy place of the tabernacle. W. E. Vine commented in his dictionary of Bible words: “The first reference to the 'cherubim' is in Genesis 3:24, which should read '...at the East of the Garden of Eden He caused to dwell in a tabernacle the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned itself to keep the way of the Tree of Life.' This was not simply to keep fallen human beings out; the presence of the 'cherubim' suggests that redeemed men, restored to God on God's conditions, would have access to the Tree of Life. (See Revelation 22:14 ).”

The “flaming sword which turned in every direction” is a bit of a puzzle and mystery, but we do see sword-wielding angels in the Bible from time to time (Numbers 22:23; Joshua 5:13; 1 Chronicles 21:16, 27). Verse 24 does not clearly state that the sword was in the hands of the cherubim, and the passages just listed do not confirm that the angels with swords were cherubim. It is just interesting to note that angels and swords are found together in other places in the Bible.

Friends sin is such a huge deal even though people have the tendency to downplay their own transgressions with frequency. The first sin simply changed everything, and sinfulness still ruins good things and people's lives today! It turned what was good and blessed and holy into pain and shame and isolation. Sin brought physical and spiritual death into the world, and it has separated people from God ever since. It even required the death of the Only Begotten Son of God, but through His sacrifice He provides hope for restoration and reconciliation. The tree of life is still available and within reach, but it can only be accessed through love for Jesus Christ and obedience to His word.

Please read Genesis 4:1-8 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 3:14-19

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.’ To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’ Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. ‘Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“God passes sentence; and he begins where the sin began, with the serpent. The devil's instruments must share in the devil's punishments.” (Matthew Henry) God didn’t interrogate the serpent as He did the man and woman. Its guilt was undeniable and inexcusable and the Lord just issued judgment. The serpent and its descendants were cursed to go on their “belly” and eat “dust” all their days. This suggests that prior to the curse the serpent’s original condition was walking upright or semi-erect. And while it is true that humans are overwhelmingly repulsed by serpent-kind, and as they slither along the ground, encounters frequently result in wounds to human heels and crushing blows to serpentine crowns, there is a much deeper meaning and spiritual fulfillment to the prophecy in verse 15 than that.

The “enmity” or “animosity” that the Lord pronounced was to be between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. No sooner than the curse had been pronounced, the cure was announced. This was a direct prophecy of the miraculous future birth of the Savior of the world to a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). The Apostle Paul wrote of it this way in Galatians 4:4: “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” The “bruise…on the heel” was to be delivered to Jesus with His death on the cross, and the fatal “bruise…to the head” was unleashed on Satan when Christ arose from the grave to defeat the great adversary of mankind and the sting of that very first and every subsequent sin committed.

The “enmity” between mankind and Satan is warfare waged by the Devil and those he influences against the children of the Lord who endeavor to keep His commandments and reverence His holiness. Matthew Henry further observed: “War is proclaimed between the Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. It is the fruit of this enmity, that there is a continual warfare between grace and corruption, in the hearts of God's people. Satan, by their corruptions, buffets them, sifts them, and seeks to devour them.” Even though Satan has been defeated and he knows that his days are numbered, he continues his attempted onslaught against those created in the image of the One he detests the most. He knows he has lost but he is in a desperate frenzy to “devour” as many people as he can (1 Peter 5:8), and to condemn them to the anguish and misery of an eternity in hell with him.

James Burton Coffman wrote concerning the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 the following – “Thus, this 27-word promise of healing for the sins of Adam's race conveyed limited information, but the significance of it is unlimited. In the light of subsequent events, it comprises as comprehensive and definite a statement of God's Plan of Redemption as could have been devised in so few words. Here is a summary of what was included:

1. it outlines the doctrine of the Incarnation;

2. and of the Virgin Birth;

3. has a prophecy of the crucifixion; and

4. of the final overthrow of Satan in hell;

5. announces the ultimate overthrow of evil;

6. the long agony of the human race; and

7. provides a message of hope and salvation for fallen humanity.”

“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth…” (verse 16) This possibly suggests that the punishment decreed to the woman, and the consequences passed on to all women thereafter, is that some modicum of pain would have been a part of giving birth even in the perfection of paradise. “Multiplying” seems to imply “increasing” something that is already present and many Bible versions use that very word. It seems more likely, however, that this punishment is directly tied to God’s command for Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:27) The “blessing” of multiplying the population of the earth would henceforth be accomplished through the multiplication of pain. Nahum Sarna commented, “Intense pain in childbearinig is unique to the human species and generally unknown to other female mammals.” While the woman was taken from the man’s body painlessly, women must endure agony in bringing forth offspring from their own bodies.

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (verse 16) “Historically, the woman was wholly dependent for her sustenance upon what her husband could eke out of the soil, in striking contrast to the situation in Eden where her food was readily and independently available at all times. It should be noted that the ‘curse’ is used in connection with the judgments on the serpent and the man, but not in relation to the woman. It is quite clear from the description of the woman in 2:18, 23 that the ideal situation, which hitherto existed, was the absolute equality of the sexes. The new state of male dominance is regarded as an aspect of the deterioration in the human condition that resulted from defiance of divine will.” (Sarna)

“Cursed is the ground because of you…” (verse 17) As is always true with the infinitely just Creator of the universe, the punishment is appropriate for the crime. Adam sinned by eating forbidden produce from the ground, and subsequently the earth would no longer yield up its fruit apart from his sweat and toil. The man’s backbreaking physical labor is regarded as the male equivalent of the labor of childbearing.” (Sarna) “God simply re-ordered this physical world in such a way that man would never be able to make himself too cozy in his state of rebellion against his Creator. There was a further destruction of the earth in the Great Deluge; and that also would appear to be an extension and development of the principle visible in these verses.” (Coffman)

If the punishments seem to be overly harsh, it is good to consider the magnificent love and care that God displayed for the first couple with their splendid living arrangement. The Lord brought Adam into a world that was formed and furnished specifically with his needs in mind. He brought all the animals to him to delight in and have dominion over. He fashioned a perfect compliment suitable for love and companionship to complete any possibly emotional need and desire for intimacy that had not been previously supplied. He placed the first couple in a garden paradise that He lovingly created specifically for them. He supplied them with a lush variety of nourishment that was tended to and harvested with very little effort on their part. He gave them a vocation to keep their bodies and minds occupied and their need for enterprise fulfilled. He also was ever actively, personally present in their daily lives. And still, they were dissatisfied and forsook their blessed Creator and Provider. But even from the foundation of the world, God anticipated and provided for a plan to save fallen man (Ephesians 3:11), and left the disgraced couple with a message of hope for better things to come.

Please read Genesis 3:20-24 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 3:8-13

Friday, October 18, 2019

“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

“The sound of the Lord God walking...” God associated with Adam and Eve in ways that they could physically observe, understand and relate to. Somehow God made His presence known to them in tangible ways, but the text does not reveal the nature of that manifestation.

Adam and Eve “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord…” Everything is laid open and bare and all people stand “naked” before Him with whom we have to do. There is nothing we can conceal from Him and there is nowhere to hide from Him. But oh do people give it their best shot anyway! Jonah attempted to flee from the presence of the Lord when He commanded him to go and prophesy to his sworn enemies the Assyrians (Jonah 1:3). God said of Israel in the days of Isaiah that they tried to “deeply hide their plans from the Lord, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, ‘Who sees us?’ or ‘Who knows us?’” (Isaiah 29:15) No dark room or back alleyway can conceal our deeds and ways from the Lord.

David declared rightly of the all-knowing, all-seeing God: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” (Psalm 139:7-12)

“Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” (verse 9) Of course the Lord was not ignorant of Adam’s whereabouts, but desirous to prompt a response from him. Friend, no more important question could ever be asked by our Creator. And even though He knows where we are at all times and what our spiritual condition is, He wants that probing question to plunge the deepest depths of our hearts. Where are you, in relation to where you should be, in the sight of the Lord? “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

“Who told you that you were naked?” (verse 11) This forced Adam to admit the truth, even though he did so in a very evasive way. “The woman You gave to be with me…gave me from the tree.” (verse 12) Adam got a two-for-one blame game special with this explanation (accusation)! “You gave her to me Lord so it’s really your fault I ate the fruit. And Eve gave it to me so it’s really her fault I ate the fruit. It’s anybody’s fault but my fault!”

God said to Eve, “What is this you have done?” (verse 13) Well…um…”The serpent deceived me.” “The devil made me do it” will never be a satisfactory excuse for our sinfulness with the Lord God Almighty! Now notice, there was truth in both Adam and Eve’s “confessions”. Eve was culpable in Adam’s sin, and the serpent was partly to blame in Eve’s sin, and the Lord did not deny it. But that did not alleviate the personal burden of responsibility for each of their selfish, sinful actions.

“I ate…but it wasn’t my fault.” This goes to prove that confession unaccompanied by repentance will not illicit the Lord's forgiveness. I can’t help but wonder if Adam and Eve had owned up to the responsibility of their actions and repented from a heart full of godly sorrow if things would have gone much better for them. We will never know the answer to that question this side of eternity, but there can be no doubt that in the mathematics of our relationship with God in Christ, Repentance (Acts 2:38) + Confession (1 John 1:9) = Forgiveness.

As we will see in tomorrow's verses, no matter how “tiny” the sin may seem, and no matter how much someone else might have contributed to it, sin cannot not go unpunished. Sooner...or later...and for eternity if not corrected. “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil. Although a sinner does evil a hundred times and may lengthen his life, still I know that it will be well for those who fear God, who fear Him openly. But it will not be well for the evil man and he will not lengthen his days like a shadow, because he does not fear God.” (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13)

Please read Genesis 3:14-19 for tomorrow.

Hope your day is blessed!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 3:1-7

Thursday, October 17, 2019

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden”?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”’ The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”

--End of Scripture verses---

“The serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field…” (verse 1). We cannot know for certain what type of creature the serpent was or what it looked like, but was little doubt a member of the animal kingdom. Some or all of the animals must have looked and behaved much differently before the curse than they do today. It may seem astonishing to us when we read that a serpent was actually talking to a person, but to Eve this did not appear out of the ordinary in the slightest. We also know from the New Testament that the serpent was merely Satan’s fool and tool (2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9). Part of the serpent’s subtlety and craftiness is revealed in the fact that it targeted the woman first and not the man. She had not received the command directly from God to refrain from eating the fruit of the forbidden tree as Adam had, and therefore she was likely much more vulnerable to this slippery character’s exploitation.

The first device the serpent used here was to have the woman focus on the negative, on what she could NOT do and have, instead of on her ample blessings: “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree…?’” If Eve had kept her focus on and her appreciation for all the things that God said she COULD do and have, what a different story this would have been! The fruit of EVERY tree of the garden but ONE! If she had only thought of all the good things she had at her fingertips her heart would have been satisfied, grateful and filled with love for her Creator. But she listened to the negativity of the nay-sayer and was coaxed into focusing on the restriction. This has ever been the tool of our adversary and serves to keep our eyes off the eternal prize still today. Manufacturers, the media, politicians, neighbors and others strive to keep our eyes and minds consumed and distracted by the things that we do not have, while the Bible encourages and commands us to be thankful for what we have and who we are in Christ (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Lust and dissatisfaction are parts of human nature that pose some of the greatest threats to our spiritual wellbeing.

Eve should not even have allowed herself to be engaged in this conversation, but once lured into it she offered herself up as easy prey. When she answered the serpent’s trick question she went a step farther than God did in His prohibition. Either Eve made the addition to not “touch” the fruit herself, or Adam told her this to make sure she would stay far away from it. In either case, it was not what the Lord had commanded. It is never good to add to the word of God and for a variety of reasons, and in this instance Eve made the Lord appear to be severely and unreasonably forbidding. She got the punishment right for eating the forbidden fruit even so: She would certainly die.

The serpents first tactical response was to flatly deny that punishment and call God a liar: “You surely will not die!” (verse 4). But most people know a flat-out lie when they hear one and won’t fall for it so it went on to explain the motivation for God’s dishonesty: He was selfishly withholding something good from her. “God knows that…your eyes will be open, and you will be like God” (verse 5). The serpent told her that she would see things that she had never seen before, and experience things she had never experienced. That she would be like God and therefore have no need of His governance and limitations. Dennis Prager astutely observed that, “These three steps offer a classic presentation of the way people are often led to do wrong: Exaggerate, then denigrate the other side’s motives, then promise a reward.” While it was true that her eyes were opened, she soon found out that her newly found awareness was neither a blessing nor a reward!

Satan still tricks people into believing that we should defy God’s laws if we want to be free, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. God has given each of us a free will to choose the road of rebellion against His loving commands or to serve Him in loving, trusting faith. But to opt for defiance and disobedience is to actually choose slavery of the worst kind. We are free to sin but there is no way to find freedom from the consequences, which often include earthly ramifications and always produce eternal, spiritual penalties.

But what does it mean to know “good and evil” (verse 5)? Adam and Eve already had some perception of right and wrong. They knew that disobeying God was the wrong thing to do and that eating from the fruit of that excluded tree was strictly forbidden. Deuteronomy 1:39, using the same Hebrew wording found in today’s text, states that “little ones” and “children” “have no knowledge of good and evil.” It seems clear that in this instance to have no knowledge of good and evil carries with it the connotation of possessing the innocence of children. To eat of the fruit forbidden by God would be to encounter evil in an experiential way, to despoil Adam and Eve's relationship with their perfect Creator, and to fall from their pristine state of sinlessness and innocence.

The woman “saw that the tree was good…” (verse 6). Everything that the Lord has made is good, but that doesn’t mean that it is good to do whatever we want with it. She perceived that it was “good for food” (lust of the flesh), “a delight to the eyes” (lust of the eyes), and “desirable to make one wise” (the pride of life). The Apostle John informs us that these three classes of sin comprise “all that is in the world” and will perish with world, will evoke God’s hostility, and will bring about our own eventual downfall (1 John 2:15-17). Unsurprisingly the Devil used the appeal to the same lusts and pride in his attempt to destroy our Lord and Savior Jesus and our hope of salvation with Him (Matthew 4:1-10, Luke 4:1-12).

The serpent told some partial truth. When they ate the forbidden fruit, “the eyes of both of them were opened…” (verse 7). But instead of producing satisfaction it only brought shame. Satan promised them enlightenment, the ability to be free-thinkers, and independence from God. Instead sin delivered darkness, humiliation, and isolation from the One who loved them the most. Sin always promises delight but always delivers destruction.

Please read Genesis 3:8-13 for tomorrow.

Stay holy my friends!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 2:18-25

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

“Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. he man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

---End of Scripture verses---

“It is not good for the man to be alone.” Human beings are by nature social beings. God made us with the innate inner desire to associate, communicate, integrate with other people. Animals (also made “out of the ground”) were brought to Adam to give names to in order to demonstrate his sovereignty over all the creatures of the earth (Genesis 1:28), but also to show him that he did lack one thing that was necessary for his fitting fulfillment—a suitable companion. A dog may be called “man’s best friend”, but no animal was “found” to be a “helper suitable for him.” With all the living beings surrounding him, Adam was still alone. Of all the things that God described as “good” in chapter one, He declared being alone to be just the opposite.

“The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man” (verse 21). Anyone who has undergone a serious operation can appreciate this! The Lord was about to perform major surgery and extract a rib! The Lord God “fashioned” or literally “built” the woman from the rib of the man. The man was “formed” from “dust” but the woman was “fashioned” from a segment near unto the heart of man. The woman was not taken from man’s feet to walk over her, but from his torso, to forever be by his side, in an earthly union that is more intimate than any other should be. She was taken from his body and given for his body. The Lord “brought her to the man” (verse 22). God presented Adam his bride, his greatest gift, his helpmate, his companion, his completion.

James Burton Coffman quotes Doctor Elton Stubblefield in an interesting “side” note: “The rib is the only portion of the human body that carries within it every type (of which there are several) of cell to be found in a human body, and that theoretically, it is absolutely possible to clone an entire human being from a single rib!” Of course God could have formed woman from whatever substance or whatever part He wished. But this is a very intriguing observation.

The first recorded human utterance conveys words of pure delight and utter jubilation! “This is now” (verse 23)! This exclamation is lost in most English translations. Adam is literally saying “At last!” “Finally!” This statement always reminds me of the opening lyric to the old Etta James classic: “At last, my love has come along. My lonely days are over”! No animal companionship, no perverted masculine "relationship", no material or monetary possess can offer man the earthly fulfillment that woman can (and vice versa). She is the only suitable “helper” for him. This is not an expression of condescension because the same Hebrew term is used in the Bible to describe God as our Helper (Psalm 54:4).

Nahum Sarna observed about Adam calling his mate “woman”: “Insofar as the power of naming implies authority, the text voices the social reality of the ancient Near East. Yet the terminology used here differs from that employed in verse 20 for naming the animals. Here the man gives her a generic, not a personal, name, and that designation is understood to be derived from his own, which means he acknowledges woman to be his equal. Moreover, in naming her ‘ishah, he simultaneously names himself. Hitherto he is consistently called ‘adam; he now calls himself ‘ish for the first time. Thus he discovers his own manhood and fulfillment only when he faces the woman, the human being who is to be his partner for life.”

“For this reason” (verse 24). Because God originated the institution and covenant of marriage from the creation of woman from man’s rib, “a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife.” This is the divinely ordained natural order of things. The marital relationship naturally, and by the will of the Lord God Almighty, takes precedence over a man and woman’s ties to their parents. This is why the two “leave and cleave” to become “one flesh”. The closest of all physical and emotional bonds. God intended marriage to be one man and one woman until death separates them from each other, and Jesus confirmed this truth in Matthew 19:1-9. “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (verse 25). "Adam and Eve were as innocent as children who are not aware of their nudity and therefore not embarrassed by it. One might even say they were similar to animals in this way—they, too, have no shame regarding their lack of clothing.” (Dennis Prager).

James Burton Coffman opined about the spiritual implications of this passage: “The mystery hidden before all times is inherently a part of God's revelation here. The sleep coming upon Adam was a prophecy of the death of Christ, the God-Man, on Calvary; and just as the wife of Adam I was taken from his side during that sleep, so that Church of Jesus Christ, the Bride of Adam II was, in a figure, taken from the side of Jesus Christ...” Jesus is called the “last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45 and the church is referred to as the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:7, 21:2, 9), and since Jesus is at the heart of all biblical revelation, this is a compelling observation.

Please read Genesis 3:1-7 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 2:10-17

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

“Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’”

---End of Scripture verses---

From yesterday’s text we read, “the tree of life” was “also in the midst of the garden” (verse 9). Nahum Sarna opined the following: “It is clear from 3:22 that the fruit of this tree was understood to bestow immortality upon the eater. What is uncertain is whether a single bite was thought to suffice or whether steady ingestion was needed to sustain a process of continuous rejuvenation. Either way, the text presupposes a belief that man, created from perishable matter, was mortal from the outset but that he had within his grasp the possibility of immortality.”

Also quoting Nahum Sarna on the “four rivers” – “A single river ‘issues from Eden.’ Its source appears to be outside the garden, which it irrigates as it passes through. Here, as in Genesis 13:10…the garden is made independent of the vagaries of seasonal rainfall. Somewhere beyond the confines of the garden the single river separates into four branches that probably represent the four quarters of the inhabited world. In other words, the river of Eden also nourishes the rest of the world with its life-giving waters."

Two of the four rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, are well known. They both originate in modern day Turkey and converge in Iraq before terminating at the Persian Gulf. That’s why some scholars place Eden in eastern Turkey, and others in southern Iraq, but no one can be certain of its original location. The area between the two rivers formed the heart of the Fertile Crescent, so named for its lush farmland, and it served as the hub for ancient civilizations. The capitals of both the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires were located on these rivers—Nineveh on the Tigris and Babylon on the Euphrates. Not much is known about the Pishon and the Gihon but there are two locations cited in the Bible with the name “Havilah” (“sandy land”). One was near Egypt (Genesis 25:18) and the other in Arabia (1 Samuel 25:7). “Cush” is another name for Ethiopia but there was probably more than one location with that same name.

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (verse 15). Man’s first occupation was cultivator of the land and he lived on a vegetarian diet. He was not to live a life of idleness or slothfulness but of productivity and responsibility. From the beginning God also required man to practice a healthy degree of self-control and self-denial. Adam could “eat freely” of the fruit of every tree in the garden but one. Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil God told Him “you shall not eat.” The Lord informed Him upfront what the consequences were for transgressing that commandment: “In the day you eat from it you will surely die.”

But what was the nature of this death sentence? Immediate physical death? The certainty of future physical death? Spiritual death? Some combination? It appears to me that physical death was a future consequence and spiritual death was the immediate consequence. When a person sins he is “dead” in his “trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 6:1), and he stays that way until he takes the necessary steps of reconciliation. This is true for all people now and it was also true for the very first people. Spiritual death is sin-induced separation from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). More on this as the story unfolds.

Please read Genesis 2:18-25 for tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 2:1-9

Monday, October 14, 2019

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

---End of Scripture verses---

In six days God spoke the heavens and the earth into existence. There is ample evidence that this is true but it must be received as a matter of faith as Hebrews 11:3 tells us: “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” Notice the rhythm and pattern of creation and the use of sets of three:

· On days 1,2 and 3 God created realms or habitats.

· On days 4, 5 and 6 God filled those realms or habitats.

· On day 1 God created light – On day 4 the Sun, Moon and stars.

· On day 2 God created earth's atmosphere – On day 5 the birds to fly in it.

· On day 3 God created dry land – On day 6 creatures to inhabit it.

· On day 1 – Light, day and night.

· On day 2 – Heaven, separation of the waters above and the waters below.

· On day 3 – Dry land, seas and vegetation.

· On day 4 – Sun, moon and stars for seasons, days and years.

· On day 5 – Sea monsters, swimming creatures and flying creatures.

· On day 6 – Cattle, creeping things and beasts of the field

“By the seventh day God completed His work...” (verse 2). That is not to say that the Lord had stopped working completely, but His work of creation had thus been concluded. When Jesus was accused of violating the Sabbath Day commandment by healing the lame man at the pool of Bethesda, He responded by saying, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). The Creator moved into a different phase of His “work” by sustaining and providing and nurturing and teaching. But no new “kind” of animal has been created. No new law of nature has since been added. God “rested” or more literally “ceased” on the seventh day from all His creative work.

“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it...” (verse 3). Moses tied the 4th commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day with Genesis 2:3 – “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:11). Be that as it may, it is obvious that the mandate to keep the Sabbath day holy was not commanded or the observance kept by any person until Moses led Israel out of Egyptian bondage. We read no example of Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham or any other Old Testament figure keeping the Sabbath and no commandment to do so before Exodus 16:23 after the Egyptian Exodus.

Exodus 31:13-17 tells us that the Sabbath is an ordinance unique to the people of Israel and a symbol of the covenant that God made with the Israelites. “The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today” (Deuteronomy 5:3). The New Testament does not place a mandate upon keeping the Sabbath Day holy for followers of Christ, nor does it even suggest that we do so.

God “sanctified” or “declared holy” the seventh day. Nahum Sarna observed that “God, through His creativity, has already established His sovereignty over space; the idea here is that He is sovereign over time as well... The first use of the key biblical concept of holiness relates to time.” Our time is God's time. The ways in which we use it determine whether we are living holy lives as He would have us to do and that are pleasing to Him.

Verse 4 makes a notable transition in the text. Genesis chapter 1 is the initial account of God's Creation. In Genesis 2:4-4:26 God gives us a glimpse at the further developments of His “very good” creation in more specific detail. “This is the account of the heavens and the earth...” “Account” in verse 4 is rendered “generations” in other Bible versions and is the Hebrew word “towledah” (transliteration) or “toledot”. It is used 10 times in the book of Genesis and introduces histories. In seven of those instances it introduces a genealogy of a particular person (Genesis 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 36:1). In the other three occurrences it denotes a record of following developments (Genesis 2:4; 25:19; 37:2).

The general account of overall creation was revealed in chapter 1. Chapters 2-4 tell us the “account” or “towledah” of what became of it. Before man arrived on the scene no field shrub or plant yet existed, which are desert shrubs and cultivated grains. James Burton Coffman wrote of verses 5-6, “These verses refer to a past time in creation, particularly the third day. The interesting statement that...no herb had sprung up appears to indicate that the seed were in the ground for a period of time before plants appeared, giving the Biblical answer to which came first, the plant or the seed. It was the seed... The coming up of the mist from the ground to water 'the whole face of the earth' was an event preceding the springing up of the vegetable kingdom.”

In verse 7 Moses, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, returns to day 6 of Creation. “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground...” The Hebrew word for “man” is “'adam” and the word for “ground” or “earth” is “'adamah”. Nauhm Sarna observed, “This word play...once more expresses man's essential bond to the earth. An oft-cited equivalent is 'homo...humus.” Sarna also noted about God breathing “the breath of life” into Adam the following: “The uniqueness of the Hebrew phrase...matches the singular nature of the human body, which, unlike the creatures of the animal world, is directly inspirited by God Himself.” “The image simultaneously expresses both the glory and the insignificance of man. Man occupies a special place in the hierarchy of Creation and enjoys a unique relationship with God... At the same time, he is but dust taken from earth, mere clay in the hands of the divine Potter, who exercises absolute master over his Creation.”

The Lord “planted a garden” and “placed” the man in it (verse 8). Man's first habitat was a wonderful paradise (the Greek equivalent is “paradeisos”), located in the area of “Eden”. He lived in a lush paradise and did not need to toil by the sweat of his brow in order to cultivate it. In the Garden of Eden Adam had everything that he needed to live a wonderful and meaningful life. Almost. He had every tree that grew and looked and tasted good to supply for his nourishment. A river flowed through the garden to water all the vegetation and Adam was placed in the midst of it to cultivate and keep it. He was only forbidden to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the penalty for doing so was death.

But then we are getting ahead of ourselves! More on this story a little bit later!

Please read Genesis 2:10-17 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 1:20-31

Sunday, October 13, 2019

“Then God said, ‘Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.’ God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day. Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind’; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ Then God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food’; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.”

---End of Scripture verses---

On days five and six God created all animal and human life. “The process of Creation is now sufficiently advanced to sustain life, which is classified according to its habitat; creatures that colonize the waters and creatures that populate the sky.” (Nahum Sarna)

God created all the living sea creatures and birds that swarmed the air and He “blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply.’” God’s gift of fertility and sexual reproduction is a great blessing for both beast and mankind. The proliferation of plant life is a marvel and beautiful to behold, but their splendor cannot compare to the next level of creation. The explosion of vegetation from day three only serves to provide suitable food and habitation for the moving, breathing, calculating creatures created on the fifth and sixth day.

Of course, the pinnacle of God’s creative process is when He provided existence to the human being. Only people are said to have been created “in the image of God” and according to His “likeness” (verses 26-27). This gives humankind an unmatched nature and a unique relationship with the Creator. Of all the created beings, none comes close to the intellectual capacity of man to “subdue” the earth and “rule over” all of God's earthly creation, and only people have (are) eternal spirits that live on after their stint on earth is over. Of course, with this great privilege comes great responsibility to rule well and ethically, and the accountability to answer for the way he lives and rules.

While people are higher and nobler than all the rest of God's creation, Nahum Sarna notes concerning verse 26, “At the same time, the pairing of the creation of man in this verse with that of the land animals, and their sharing in common a vegetarian diet, focuses attention on the dual nature of humankind, the creatureliness and earthiness as well as the Godlike qualities.” When those created in the very image of the Creator choose to separate themselves from His presence, directives, guidance and standards, they tend to descend to the level of creatures of instinct (2 Peter 2:12), and even worse: purveyors of evil. This led to God's destructive judgment of the earth and nearly all of its lifeforms by the universal flood (Genesis chapter 9), and will ultimately lead to the destruction of the earth by fire and Final Judgment for all human beings.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (verse 27). Nahum Sarna observed: “No such sexual differentiation is noted in regard to animals. Human sexuality is of a wholly different order from that of beasts... it cannot of itself be other than wholesome. By the same token, its abuse is treated in the Bible with particular severity... Both sexes are created on the sixth day by the hand of the one God; both are made 'in His image' on a level of absolute equality before Him.”

Sarna wrote further, “It is noteworthy that the recurrent formula 'of every kind,' hitherto encountered with the emergence of every living thing, is here omitted. There is only one human species. The notion of all humankind deriving from one common ancestry directly leads to the recognition of the unity of the human race, notwithstanding the infinite diversity of human culture... God, in order to promote social harmony, intended that no person have claim to unique ancestry as a pretext for asserting superiority over others.”

“God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (verse 30). With the genesis of man and the climax of His Creation now achieved, God observed and declared that the totality of His creation was not only “good” (verse 3, 10, 12, 18, 21 and 25), but “very good” (verse 31)! God put humans here to make the world a better place! Do your best to do good in His sight! Live faithfully unto death and in the end He will say to you, “Well done good and faithful servant... Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:23)!

Please read Genesis 2:1-9 for tomorrow.

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 1:9-19

Saturday, October 12, 2019

“Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear’; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them’; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a third day. Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”

---End of Scripture verses---

On day three God made the dry land appear from the water that covered the entirety of the earth’s surface. The Lord used winds in subsequent times to part and dissipate large accumulations of water (Genesis 8:1; Exodus 14:41) so He possibly did here as well, but the text does not divulge the method God used so it must not be necessary for us to know. It is interesting to note that verse 9 tells us the waters on earth were “gathered into one place,” and yet God refers to them as “seas” in the plural. All of the earth’s oceans are connected to each other and yet distinct from each other at the same time. The only one who could possess knowledge of this fact at this time of antiquity is the God who created them.

In a separate act of creation, but on the same third day, the Lord generated the plant kingdom. Nahum Sarna observed concerning the phrase “let the earth sprout vegetation” the following: “This creative act constitutes an exception to the norm that God’s word directly effectuates the desired product. Here the earth is depicted as the mediating element, implying that God endows it with generative powers that He now activates by His utterance. The significance of this singularity is that the sources of power in what we call nature, which were personified and deified in the ancient world, are now emptied of sanctity. The productive forces of nature exist only by the will of the one sovereign Creator and are not independent spiritual entities. There is no room in such a concept for the fertility cults that were features of ancient Near Eastern religions.”

On day three of creation God enacted the natural law that living things, and later living beings, produce seed “after their kind,” and that has not ceased to be an axiomatic, inviolable rule governing all of life. Evolution does not and cannot adequately explain the varieties of species of life on earth. Plants, animals and humans did not evolve from one, common, microbial ancestor. They did spring forth from the mind and design of one common, all-powerful Creator.

On day four God either “made” the sun, moon and stars in the “expanse of the heavens,” or He merely “placed” them there to give life-sustaining light to the earth. The text may allow for the starry, heavenly host to be a part of God’s creation on day one when He “created the heavens and the earth,” but I am not certain. Nahum Sarna wrote concerning the creation of plant life before the shining of sunlight on earth the following: “The emergence of vegetation prior to the existence of the sun” has “the common purpose of emphasizing that sun, moon, and stars are not divinities, as they were universally thought to be; rather, they are simply the creation of God, who assigned them the function of regulating the life rhythms of the universe.”

God created these lights “for signs and for seasons and for days and years” (verse 14). Our Creator set these heavenly lights to shine and perfectly serve the purpose that He created them for. Are we shining the light of God into the darkness of this sinful world and fulfilling the purpose for which He created us and recreated us in Christ Jesus?

Please read Genesis 1:20-30 for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day!

- Louie Taylor

Genesis 1:1-8

Friday, October 11, 2019

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”

---End of Scripture verses---

James Burton Coffman wrote concerning Genesis chapter one: “This marvelous chapter is not history, for it provides information concerning events that antedate all history. It is not myth, because it carries within it a credibility that never belonged to any myth. It is not science, because it deals with the BEGINNING, which no science has ever even attempted to describe. It is INSPIRATION, a revelation from Almighty God Himself; and the highest and best intelligence of all ages has so received and accepted it.”

Moses wrote Genesis 1:1 under inspiration of the Holy Spirit around 1500 B.C. In 1820 A.D. a scientist named Hubert Spencer gave us five scientific principles to study the unknown by: Time, Force, Energy, Space and Matter. We see them present at the creation of the Universe in the first verse of the Bible:

· "In the beginning" – Time

· "God" -- Force

· "Created" – Energy

· "The heavens" – Space

· "And the earth" – Matter

In the beginning, God, the only uncreated, beginning-less Being, created the heavens (the “far expanse” or outer space) and the earth – the totality of cosmic creation. Only Yahweh can call into being that which previously did not exist (Romans 4:17). The Bible neither explains nor defends the existence of God, but only expresses that He is the all-power, eternal Creator. Some things simply cannot be adequately explained and should need no defense. Someone or something has always existed because something exists now. The only thing that can produce nothing is nothing and the only thing (or person) that can produce something is something (or someone). An omnipotent and omniscient spiritual Being is the best and most logical explanation for the existence of the Universe and all its orderly, complex, intelligent design.

The complexity of the human genome demands that an intelligent designer exists because only a supremely brilliant code writer would be capable of writing an infinitely complex gene code. Code does not and cannot write itself. To quote Dennis Prager: “To be an atheist is to believe the universe came about by itself, life came from non-life by itself, and consciousness came about by itself. On purely rational grounds – the grounds on which I believe in God – the argument for a God who created the world is far more intellectually compelling than atheism."

We learn from John chapter 1 that Jesus was there in the beginning, with God, existing as God, creating the universe that He would later visit in the form of human flesh. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being… And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-3, 14) In today’s verses we learn of God the Father (verse 1), God the Spirit (verse 2), and God the Word (Jesus the Son in John 1) are the three personalities that comprise the one infinite Creator “God” (Hebrew, Elohim – a plural noun joined to the singular verb “created”).

On the earth being “formless and void,” Nahum Sarna wrote in his Jewish Publication Society commentary on Genesis: “That God should create disorganized matter, only to reduce it to order, presents no more of a problem than does His taking six days to complete creation instead of instantaneously producing a perfected universe. The quintessential point of the narrative is the idea of ordering that is the result of divine intent. It is a fundamental biblical teaching that the original, divinely ordained order in the physical world has its counterpart in the divinely ordained universal moral order to which the human race is subject.”

On day one God created light. Or did He? Since the Bible tells us that God is Light (Psalm 104:2; 1 Timothy 6:16; 1 John 1:5), I’m uncertain whether He called light into being or called it forth from himself to shine in the darkness of the bleak, formless, void earth. Either way you look at it, light was indispensable in supporting and sustaining the rest of His Creation. It is interesting to note that God created or called forth light before He spoke the Sun, stars and moon into existence, proving that light is independent of these powerful energy sources and superior to them.

On day two God created the earth’s atmosphere in the complex and orderly fashion that we know it. He separated the waters on the earth from the waters (gasses, vapors) above the earth and placed those upper waters in the “firmament” or sky. James Burton Coffman wrote: “Jamieson pointed out that the term ‘firmament’ carries the meaning of ‘an expanse ... the beating out as of a plate of metal,’ suggesting the utility of a shield, an apt figure indeed when it is recalled that the earth would long ago have been destroyed by showers of meteorites (as upon the moon) had it not been for the protection of our atmosphere… Men should marvel indeed at this creation, when it is remembered that millions and billions of tons of water are constantly suspended in the atmosphere in the form of clouds; and of course being much heavier than the atmosphere, only an act of creation could have accomplished such a thing. The patriarch Job marveled at this wonder: ‘Dost thou know the balancing of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge?’ – Job 37:16”

God “saw” or “perceived” that the light and all of His creation was “good”. “Reality is imbued with God’s goodness. The pagan notion of inherent, primordial evil is banished. Henceforth, evil is to be apprehended on the moral and not the mythological plane” (Sarna)

By the way, these “creation days” must be literal 24 hour days and not indefinite periods of time. While it is true that the word “day” can mean different things in different situations, the wording of the context strongly suggests literal days. The passing of an evening and a morning constitute a day in the shortest, literal sense. The wording of Genesis chapter one, where evening precedes mornings, is also the reason that in the Jewish method of time keeping, a day begins at sunset and not midnight.

Let us marvel with the Psalmist as he is awe-struck by the contemplation of God’s greatness expressed when He spoke the universe into existence in Psalm 33:6-9 – “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”

Please read Genesis 1:9-19 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

Introduction to Genesis

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Genesis is the first and foundational book of the Bible. A good knowledge of Genesis is essential to make the rest of the Old Testament, the New Testament and the meaning of human existence understandable. It explains the origin of all things, therefore the meaning of all things. According to Jesus, Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible (Luke 16:31; 24:27), and therefore Genesis – under inspiration of the Holy Spirit of course (2 Peter 1:20-21). Genesis is an unparalleled literary work that chronicles the creation of matter, space, time, and humankind as well as man’s fall from God’s good graces. The word “Genesis” means “origins” or “beginnings” and Genesis has been referred to as the “Book of Beginnings”. We find recorded within its pages the origin of the Universe, the earth and its atmosphere. We have documentation of the beginning of plant, animal and human life. We read about the first day, the first couple (marriage), the first sin (and its consequences), and the first murder. We learn how languages, government, cultures, nations and religions began. We also read about the origin of God’s chosen people that He brought to being through Abraham, the founding forefather of our faith.

The first book of the Bible begins with the Creation of a suitable environment for human beings to live in. Moses then chronicles the creation of human beings, the brightest jewel in the crown of God’s Creation, but soon afterward, their disobedience to God and consequent expulsion from the perfect environment that the Lord created for them to live in. But, as quickly as God decreed judgment and punishment upon Adam and Eve for their transgression, He also pronounced the seed promise and plan of redemption and spiritual restoration of mankind to his Creator through God’s chosen vessel, Abraham, and his descendant Messiah Savior who would bless the whole world that He created. Jesus is the common thread woven throughout this inspired tapestry, and all who desire to understand Genesis must do so through the prism of the Son of God and the New Testament that illuminates His story (2 Corinthians 3:14-16).

After sin hardened the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants, Moses recorded the global flood that the Lord sent to punish them and provide a new beginning for humanity through the person of righteous Noah and his faithful little family. After the earth was repopulated, a second hardening of the collective heart of humanity at the tower of Babel required the scattering of peoples to the four corners of the earth and the formation of languages and nations. The book of Genesis can be broken down into two major components. The first is the general history of God’s dealings with humankind (including the creation account), constituting the first eleven chapters. The second part, chapters 12-50, is the special story of the specific family that God choose and used to execute his plan of salvation for all the world. Even though Israel was hand-selected and beloved by God, Genesis still records their sins and misdeeds, and does not whitewash the story of this very dysfunctional family. Not only does this truth make Genesis all the more believable, it also gives us hope that our heavenly Father will not abandon us or stop loving us when we stumble because of poor judgment and through the weakness of our flesh.

We will close with a quote from James Burton Coffman from his commentary on Genesis: “This unity of Genesis pertains not merely to that single book but to the whole Bible as well. It opens the OT with God seeking man, “Adam where art thou?” The NT opens with another question, “Were is he that is born king of the Jews?” – man seeking God. The tree of life appears at the beginning of Genesis; but because of sin it was lost, appearing again only at the end of Revelation. The whole Bible is a unified discussion of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. The OT has the record of the Old Israel; the NT has the record of the Spiritual, or the New Israel. The Twelve Patriarchs of the OT are matched by the Twelve Apostles of the New. The types and shadows of the OT become the divine realities of the NT. The Wilderness Wanderings of the First Israel are typical of the Wilderness of Probation for God’s Church. Only God could have constructed such a unity line, bit by bit, throughout sixteen centuries of time with forty different writers from all times, occupations, and races of men! In the broad view, Genesis and the whole Bible reveal a single purpose, that of redeeming fallen man from the curse of sin.”

Please read Genesis 1:1-8 for tomorrow.

Have a great day!

- Louie Taylor

James 5:19-20

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
“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.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
1 Peter 4:8 tells us that “love covers a multitude of sins.” It is tremendous love for the immortal soul that prompts a Christian to try his best to turn a brother back when he “strays from the truth” (verse 19). What a tremendous challenge it is to help steer a fallen brother or sister back to the path of righteousness once they have chosen to deviate from it! The Hebrew writer wrote as much in Hebrews 6:4-6: “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
 
To know the truth, to be enlightened by the living word of God, to have a foretaste of heaven itself, and then to abandon the Lord and all His present and future blessings is to crucify Christ all over again in your heart and condemn yourself. Chances are you can’t tell someone who is in a situation like that anything they don’t know already. But love demands that we must somehow try to persuade them to return to the Lord just the same. That person’s soul is dead spiritually, and eternity is too long and hell is too horrible just to sit idly by and leave them in such a horrid condition. Sometimes we must deliver a sinner over “to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5). But other times we have to try our best to snatch them out of the fire (Jude 1:23) and “save” their “soul from death” (verse 19).
 
Friend, there is no clearer statement in the Holy Scriptures that so plainly affirms that saved “brethren” in Christ can err from the truth and fall from God’s saving grace. To save a brother’s soul from death is to rescue him from eternal destruction. Satan accomplished one of his greatest schemes of all time with the lie that believers cannot possibly lose their eternal salvation no matter what they do. This doctrine can be found nowhere in the pages of the Bible. In fact, the opposite is true. If we have obeyed Jesus to acquire salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9), and then get caught up in some sin that we refuse to repent of, we are doomed to eternal death and destruction. God gives grace that is greater than all of our sins, but we must be willing to turn from them and beg forgiveness in order to receive it. Our merciful Lord stands ever ready to forgive!
 
Lord willing we will have a brief introduction to the book of Acts for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:16-18

Monday, April 22, 2019
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Confession and prayer are two of the most potent spiritual tools that we have at our disposal. Notice that James tells us to confess our sins “to one another” (verse 16). Not to a priest. Not to the elders. Not to a preacher. To one another. There is great liberating power in admitting to our brothers and sisters in Christ that we have sinned and that we need their help and their prayers for God’s help. This doesn’t mean that we have to stand before the congregation and confess every detail of every sin although sometimes a public confession is appropriate when the sin is of a public nature.
 
But, more times than not, it is helpful to talk to one or a few brethren in Christ about the sins that plague our lives and compromise our spiritual health. The power of sin is silence. As long as we persist in trying to hide our habitual sins we will continue to make excuses for them, live in denial of their destructive force, and we will not break the grip that sin has over us. But, when we break the silence we admit that we are in trouble and confess that we are not strong enough to defeat sin all by ourselves. Even though we may be embarrassed at first, there is actually great relief when we finally come clean and stop trying to shoulder the burden and weight of sin all alone. Automatically we will have good brethren praying for us, encouraging us to do right and holding us accountable to our covenant with Christ.
 
And, of course, “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” good in our lives and in the world (verse 16). “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours” (verse 17). Even though he was a mighty prophet of the Lord, he was just a man besought by human weakness and frailty as we are (1 Kings 19:1-10). It was not the power of the prophet that made his prayers potent and effective. It was God’s omnipotence and Elijah’s confession of dependence upon Him that dried up the skies and then poured forth the rain that produced the earth’s fruit (verse 18). Confession and prayer are both powerful expressions of humility and appeals to the Highest Power for strength and deliverance. Take frequent advantage of them!
 
Please read James 5:19-20 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:13-15

Sunday, April 21, 2019
“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The appropriate response to suffering is worship. The appropriate response to delight is worship. When we are grieving or sorrowful we “must pray” to the One who has the greatest ability to make something positive come from our distress and anguish (verse 13). And listen—don’t merely cry out to the Lord in your despair and beg for relief. Please do that! But also thank Him and praise Him for all the wonderful things that He has done in the world and in your life! Our God is an awesome, powerful and loving God. We have much more to praise Him for than to petition Him for. Do both! And do “sing praises” to the Lord out of a heart of gratitude and joy!
 
Elders, oil and prayer for the sick (verses 14-15). It appears that James is referring to the serious illness of a Christian from which the Lord alone can “raise him up”. Surely our spiritual leaders are not to be burdened every time a member catches a cold or gets an ear infection. I don’t believe the “restoration” is anything of a miraculous nature either. James advises the use of “oil” which was “the most common medicine in biblical times” (The Expositors Bible Commentary). “Anointing” oils and “essential” oils are God’s therapeutic blessings from the natural world.
 
It is “prayer” that “will restore the one who is sick,” but only “the prayer offered in faith.” Remember that when we pray we must do so “in faith without any doubting” if we expect “to receive anything from the Lord” (1:6-7). This does not guarantee that the Lord will grant our request for healing and restoration if it is not His desire to do so. But we must pray with unwavering confidence that the Lord can and will do what we ask of Him, if it is according to His perfect and divine will. When we apply the best remedies and pray the right way (or the elders do) and we are healed; remember, it is the Lord who raises us up. Our God is a God of healing and forgiveness.
 
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” (Psalm 103:1-5)
 
Please read James 5:16-18 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:12

Saturday, April 20, 2019
“But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
“Above all,” it is of supreme importance that Christians be people of their word. We should not have to be the kind of people that feel like we need to swear on a stack of Bibles in order to get someone to believe us. I have not drawn out the parallels between the general epistle of James and the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount in order to keep the commentary to a minimum (relatively speaking), and because the letter stands on its own just fine. But this is one of the many common subjects covered by the Lord in His sermon and His brother in his letter.
 
Jesus said in Matthew 5:33-37 – “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, 'You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.' But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of a great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.”
 
Now, strictly speaking, there wasn’t anything wrong with taking solemn oaths. The Law allowed such vows, and, in certain cases required them. If anyone of us is required to appear before a court of civil law, we would be compelled to “swear” or “vow” or “promise” to tell the truth, and that would be completely appropriate. But that should be the exception and not the rule. If we continually speak truth in our hearts and truth with our lips most people will believe us at our word and God will accept us.
 
The Scribes of Jesus day thought they had found a loophole that got people around fulfilling the sacred vows that they had made. They taught that a person could “swear” and not be bound by his word as long as he did not invoke the name of the Lord. Jesus indicated such by stating the ancients said you must “fulfill your vows to the Lord.” But Jesus said, if you swear by heaven or earth or Jerusalem or a single hair on your head, you are still swearing by God and are bound to your vows. Every good thing that we could affirm an oath upon has been given by the Lord.
 
Friend, in the rare occasion we feel that we must make a vow unto the Lord, we had better be serious about dutifully and promptly fulfilling it. “When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)
 
Please read James 5:13-15 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:7-11

Friday, April 19, 2019
"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. 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; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
James encouraged his persecuted brethren to “be patient” (verse 7) as they endured suffering at the hands of the reprehensible rich. The Lord had not turned a blind eye to their suffering and He is fully aware of the trials and turbulence that we go through in our lives as well. We must be willing to “suffer long” (Greek, macrothumeo) and stay faithful knowing that the Lord will eventually make things right.
 
After a farmer has done his part in tilling the land and planting the seed, he must trust that God will send the necessary rains to produce a good harvest (verse 7). If we patiently do the Lord’s will through the storms and droughts of life and trust that He will keep His precious promises, “the precious fruit” He provides will be sweeter than honey and the gratifying drippings from the honeycomb.
 
Most of God’s prophets of old were persecuted for proclaiming His word, but they faithfully persevered until the (sometimes bitter) end in order to receive His eternal blessings (verse 11). We learn from Job that “the Lord is compassionate and merciful” to His loyal servants if they love and serve Him through all of life’s losses and catastrophes (verse 11; Job 42:9-17). Even if He doesn’t see fit to rectify things for us on this side of eternity, all that we faithfully endure will be more than worth it at “the coming of the Lord” (verse 7).
 
Neither James nor any of the other inspired writers predicted that the Lord’s Second Coming would occur in their lifetimes or in that of their readers. They didn’t know any better than Jesus did what the day and time of His return would be, but they exhorted and encouraged Christians to live their lives in such a way that they would be ready for it no matter when it happened (2 Peter 3:14). “What sort of persons ought you to be, conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (2 Peter 3:11-12)
 
“The coming of the Lord” is always “at hand” (verse 8)!
 
“Maranatha” (1 Corinthians 16:22)! “Come, O Lord!”
 
Please read James 5:12 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 5:1-6

Thursday, April 18, 2019
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! 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. You have lived luxuriously on the earth and led a life of wanton pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and put to death the righteous man; he does not resist you.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
It is not impossible to be rich and righteous at the same time, but it is hard. Jesus said that it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom (Matthew 19:24), but every good thing is possible with God (Matthew 19:26). People who “want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:9). There are considerable challenges that deter a rich person from storing his treasures up in heaven, so if we are blessed with earthly wealth, let’s make certain that we are “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).
 
James is not condemning affluent people per se, but the unscrupulously rich who abuse their wealth and power. Those who have the means to promptly and fully pay what they owe, and yet refuse to do so, have much to “weep and howl” over (verse 1). The “miseries which are coming” on the Judgment Day will be a brutal reality for them when “the Lord of Sabaoth” (Hosts) exacts justice and vengeance upon the oppressors of the helpless and vulnerable. People who live in lavish luxury and “wanton pleasure” and express no practical compassion for the needy and downtrodden are only fattening their own “hearts” for the “day of slaughter” that is to come (verse 5).
 
“Instruct 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. Instruct 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.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19)
 
Please read James 5:7-11 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 4:13-17

Wednesday, April 17, 2019
“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit’— you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, ‘If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that.’ But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Friends, none of us knows what tomorrow might hold for us. We may be alive and healthy and prosperous, or we may not. It is important to make our plans as if life will go on because as long as it does there will be bills to pay, work to do and responsibilities to uphold. But, it is more important to make plans for the inevitability and certainty of death, Judgment and eternity. In the grand scheme of things our lives are just like a “vapor”—“a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears” (verse 14). Methuselah lived 969 years and yet his life is just a distant memory now like a mist that the wind blew away several thousand years ago.
 
I want us to understand the type of attitude that James condemns in this passage. It is “boasting” (verse 16) about all the business that will be done and the money that will be made in the year ahead (verse 13). Notice that the type of person he chastises is one that gives all his attention to the world and its affairs and none to what “the Lord wills” (verse 15). The perfect will of the Lord should be our main concern in this life because heaven awaits us if we are determined to do His bidding on earth. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are in control of the future. Our times on earth are in His hand (Proverbs 31:15).
 
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
 
Please read James 5:1-6 for tomorrow.
 
Hope you have a wonderful day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 4:11-12

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
“Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Christians have no business running other people down, especially fellow soldiers of Christ (verse 11). The King James Version says to “speak not evil of one another.” When we habitually speak critically of other people to third parties (otherwise known as gossip, back-biting, slander) it belies a serious ailment of the heart. If we love our brethren (and fellow humans in general) we should express legitimate disapproval to them personally (in a constructive way), and praise them in the presence of others. It is sinful to turn people against one another with bitter words that spring forth from an unloving heart (Proverbs 16:28).
 
To speak evil against a brother or sister in Christ is to disparage (judge) the perfect law of liberty. Jesus tells us that one of the two greatest commandments of all is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), therefore we should do goodness to them and speak kindness of them. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)
 
“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge” (verse 12). Our brethren will never be required to stand before us in judgment so let’s determine to not hold them accountable to laws of our own making. “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4). Instead, let us resolve to be the best law-keepers we can possibly be because we will all stand before the Great Lawmaker to answer for our own thoughts, words and deeds.
 
By the way, God has enacted, revealed and codified His laws once and forever. There is only one Lawgiver and that is the Lord. It is blasphemous for denominations to assemble councils, conventions and synods to ratify “church law” that specifies what is right and wrong for their various members and congregations to do. That is “whittling on God’s end of the stick.” He alone makes laws that we will be judged by and adding to or taking away from His word brings swift condemnation.
 
Please read James 4:13-17 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 4:7-10

Monday, April 15, 2019
“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
James uses military terminology in chapter 4 to impress upon us that we are in a war for the very survival of our souls. All of these exhortations are imperatives to stress a sense of enormity and urgency on our parts. To truly “submit…to God” is to subordinate ourselves to His command, forgo worldly lusts, forfeit our stubborn pride and give Him complete dominion over our lives.
 
The devil has a big bag of tricks (2 Corinthians 2:11). He is as cunning as a serpent and powerful as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but he is no match for the omnipotence of God. If we put up a strong resistance against his attacks, he will retreat from the mighty hand of the Lord. Ephesians chapter 6 tells us what we need to do. “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11) Gird your loins with truth, cover your breast with righteousness, prepare your feet with the Gospel, shield yourself with faith, wield the sword of the Spirit, pray at all times (Ephesians 6:14-18).
 
If we draw near to God by studying His word, praying without ceasing, and worshiping and serving Him, He will embrace and protect us (verse 8). If we will stand firmly against Satan’s assaults and resist his advances our adversary will flee. But we must be extra cautious because the devil is a master of “disguises” and often passes himself off as “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). There are many false teachers parading as apostles of Christ in the world today (2 Corinthians 11:13).
 
We must purify our heart which is the source of all evil thoughts, words and actions (Matthew 15:19), and cleanse our hands which often perform our acts of sinfulness. We must learn to “mourn and weep” and feel “miserable” about our transgressions (verse 9). Sin it is not a “laughing matter”. It is not a thing to be excused our proud of but repented of. We should never be happy about disobeying the Lord and incurring His wrath. If we break our own hearts over our sins, turn from them and turn to the Lord in all humility, He will “exalt” us (verse 10).
 
Please read James 4:11-12 for tomorrow.
 
Blessings!!!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 4:1-6

Sunday, April 14, 2019
“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
“The seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (Hebrews 3:18). But “quarrels and conflicts” stem from the “war” that is waged on our willing spirits by our weak flesh (verses 1-2). “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits” (Hebrews 3:17). But the “wisdom” that ascends from “below” produces envy, strife and murder and every form of evil, even among brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
In the quest to gratify our “pleasures” (lusts) humans have the tendency to run roughshod over one another. If we lust after our brother’s possessions to the point that we love his “stuff” more than we do him, we are no better than murderers. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:15-16)
 
If we love the world and are swelling with its lusts and pride, we make ourselves the enemies of God (verse 4). It is no wonder that God refuses to hear and answer our prayers when our “motives” are driven by the things that He hates. When we love the world and hate our brethren we commit spiritual adultery and murder and meet, not merely with God’s displeasure, but His vigorous opposition (verse 6). God is the most powerful enemy we can ever make for ourselves, but thankfully all is not lost. If we humble ourselves before the mighty and merciful hand of God, He will more than willingly give His grace that is greater than all of our sins.
 
The Lord our God is a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:24). He will not allow us to share our love with Him and the world. “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us” (verse 5). “If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in” us (Romans 8:11), we will serve Him and please Him and live eternally through Him. But if the spirit of “the prince of the power of the air” works in us (Ephesians 2:2), we are “dead in” our “trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1), hostile towards God and separated from His saving grace.
 
Humble yourself before Him friend and He will lift you up and make you clean. Meet Him on His terms, obey His commandments and be a friend to Jesus. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (verse 6).
 
Please read James 4:7-10 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 3:13-18

Saturday, April 13, 2019
“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 jealousy 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 jealousy 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 mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The world sees “bitter jealousy and selfish ambition” as signs of “wisdom” (verses 14-15). The Apostle Paul lists these two dispositions as “works of the flesh” that will exclude us from Christ’s kingdom in Galatians 5:20, but the kingdom of the world praises and envies people who exhibit these traits. The wisdom of the world is utter foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 3:13), and James tells us that it is “earthly, natural, demonic”. It is “earthly” (worldly) and “natural” (governed by man’s lower impulses), but it really originates from a much lower realm than the earth. It is “demonic” because we behave more like demons than humans when we are arrogant, selfish and divisive, and its ultimate source is the chief of all demons—Satan himself.
 
But “the wisdom from above is first pure” (verse 17). First and foremost, God-given wisdom emanates from a pure heart. Psalm 24:3-4 says, “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood and has not sworn deceitfully.” The wisdom from above is untainted by jealousy and unmarred by selfish ambition. It is pure in heart, holy in thought and unselfish in purpose.
 
The wisdom from above is “peaceable” or “peace-loving”. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” These are the ones who seek harmony with all people and are “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). True wisdom is “gentle” and forgiving when wronged. It doesn’t always demand justice but extends mercy instead. This is a different word than that used in the term “the gentleness of wisdom” (verse 13) which means “meekness”. Gentleness cannot be divorced from wisdom or it ceases to be “the wisdom from above.”
 
True wisdom is also “reasonable” or “willing to yield”. A wise person is willing to listen to reason and is teachable. Godly wisdom is “full of mercy and good fruits.” It combines compassion with good deeds and does not just dabble in them but is chock “full” of kindness and generosity. The wisdom from above is “unwavering”. Truly wise people trust God and serve Him with undivided devotion and unswerving loyalty, and they do so “without hypocrisy,” but with all sincerity of heart. If the “soil” of our heart is right, we will produce righteous fruit for God (verse 18), and show by our “good behavior” the heavenly wisdom that blesses for an eternity.
 
Please read James 4:1-6 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 3:6-12

Friday, April 12, 2019
“See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Lord’s brother paints a very unflattering picture of the human tongue in today’s verses. The tongue is a rudder that guides life’s ship along its way (verse 4). But within it lies the potential for “the very world of iniquity” that can defile “the entire body” and set “the course of our life” on fire and leave a path of destruction and devastation in its wake (verse 6). This conflagration proceeds from “hell” and will lead us to Satan’s domain eternally if we do not place Jesus at the helm of our lives and minds.
 
The human tongue must always be considered a savage beast that cannot be “tamed” or trusted. We frequently domesticate animals in order to harness their power and enjoy their companionship (verse 7). We work with them, ride them, show them, pet them, play with them and even trust them around our young, vulnerable children. But the tongue must constantly be subdued and restrained. Like a wild animal that paces back and forth in its cage desiring to spring forth and pounce upon its prey, the tongue is “a restless evil” (verse 8). Like the fangs of an adder it is “full of deadly poison” that is toxic and even fatal to the victims of its venomous attacks.
 
The tongue is the “world of iniquity” and also a world of inconsistency and incongruity. “With it we bless our Father, and with it we curse” the people that He created in His image (verse 9). How preposterous it must be to our Creator to hear sweet songs of worship and praise on the Lord’s Day, and then the malicious words of bitterness and hatred that pour forth from our lips as we interact with humanity throughout the week. It “ought not to be this way” with us brethren. Cage the beast. Bridle the tongue (James 2:26). Defang the viper. Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 2:19). Let your words be a “fountain” of fresh flowing water that blesses and invigorates people’s lives.
 
Please read James 3:13-18 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 3:1-5

Thursday, April 11, 2019
“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
With great responsibility comes strict judgment (verse 1), so the warning is that we should not rush into teaching. The word of God is too pure, the truth too vital to salvation, and teachers wield influence that is too great to enter into teaching without the right motives and adequate preparation. It was common for unqualified men to aspire to the enviable status of public teacher for the prestige and authority they could wield. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:7 about men “wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.”
 
There comes a point in every Christian’s life when he/she should have the ability to teach others the truth (Hebrews 5:12), so James is not discouraging all forms of teaching. But, not everyone is cut out for publicly teaching the word of God, and that is certainly no disgrace. We all have important resources and talents to contribute to the Kingdom of Christ, and they are all vital to its prosperous functioning. Having said that, everyone who knows enough to be saved can teach others what they need to do to obey the Gospel and be added to the kingdom!
 
“We all stumble in many ways” (verse 2). But there is no other member like the tongue that can so readily trip us up and cause us to fall into sin. Teachers need to be especially careful with the words they choose, but this is a problem that “we all” struggle with. The bit is a small instrument in comparison to a horse and a rudder is a small instrument in comparison to a ship, but humans use them to control the animal and the vessel. If we can bridle our tongues, we demonstrate the ability to control “the whole body as well” (verse 2). Though, “the tongue is a small part of the body…it boasts of great things” (verse 5), both righteous and evil. We possess, with our tongues (words), the potential for great good and great harm.
 
When we learn to bridle that “pink devil” and allow it to steer us in paths of righteousness, we exhibit great self-control and demonstrate ourselves to be “perfect” (spiritually mature) (verse 2). But when our carnal minds direct that potent little demon, things can quickly get out of control. It takes just a small spark to set a whole forest of trees on fire (verse 5). Just so, a few thoughtless, vindictive, incendiary words can destroy friendships, relationships and congregations. Think twice before you speak once or you may set your world ablaze!
 
Much more to come on this subject…
 
Please read James 3:6-11 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 2:21-26

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead?”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Abraham believed when God promised that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens, and the Lord “reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:5-6). But James tells us that this “Scripture was fulfilled” (verse 23) when Abraham “offered up Isaac his son on the altar” (verse 21). All that Abraham could do at the time that God made His promises was have faith (believe) that He would fulfill them in the future, but when God later tested His faith, he proved that his was an active, working, obedient faith. Whenever God told Abraham to do something, his faith functioned with his works, “and as a result of the works” his “faith was perfected” (completed, consummated) (verse 23).
 
Neither faith (belief) nor works “alone” can justify a person (verse 24). When faith is divorced from works it is just as lifeless as a cold, dead body (verse 26). Faith and works “work together” (Greek, sunergei) synergistically to the attainment of God’s justification. Only God can “reckon” (impute) righteousness and grant justification, but He only does so when a person’s faith is wedded with works of obedience. And, once again, we see that God is not one to show “personal favoritism” (no respecter of persons) (Hebrews 2:1). God considers faithful people to be right in His sight whether they are lowly, impoverished, Canaanite women like Rahab (verse 24) or noble, wealthy, Hebrew men like Abraham.
 
When Abraham demonstrated his obedient faith, “he was called the friend of God” (verse 23). It should be no surprise to us when we read in John 15:14 that Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” Jesus is a very demanding friend and He has every right and reason to be. But when we follow Him in loving, trusting, working faith, He will do amazing things for us that no earthly BFF could ever think about doing!
 
Please read James 3:1-5 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 2:14-20

Tuesday, April 09, 2019
“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
A faith that has no works cannot bless anyone. A faith that is not accompanied and expressed by works is a useless faith (verse 20). It is useless to God, the possessor of the hollow faith, and the would-be recipients of the benefits that are produced by true, biblical faith. “If someone says he has faith but has no works” (verse 14) his faith is all talk and no substance. Only an effectual doer of the word extends and receives the blessings that are furnished by the hand of God (James 1:25).
 
A faith that has no works cannot save anyone. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Salvation is a free gift from God and there is no way to earn it, but it still requires works of obedience on our part (Hebrews 5:8-9). When we have done all that God commands us to do, we are still unprofitable servants because we have done our expected duty (Luke 17:10). But if we refuse to obey God we reject His saving grace being disobedient servants if servants at all.
 
“We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). If we see people in need and have the means to help them but refuse to do so, we do not fulfill one of the main purposes that God recreated us for. Words of comfort are warming and prayers are powerful, but if we “do not give them what is necessary for their body,” then we are useless to them and our faith “is dead” (verses 16-17).
 
May it never be said of any of us that we have a dead faith! That would place us squarely in the same category as Satan’s demons (verse 19)! Not good company to keep to say the least! Let’s try our best to do the good works that we were “created in Christ” to do. We have no greater example to follow after than that of our Savior Jesus who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) the entirety of His life. Let’s get to work!
 
More on this subject tomorrow.
 
Please read James 2:21-26 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 2:8-13

Monday, April 08, 2019
“If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (verse 8) is a timeless law that we must continually be “fulfilling,” otherwise we are “committing sin and…convicted by the law as transgressors” (verse 9). It is called the “royal law” because it is the chief commandment concerning our dealings with other human beings and ranks just under the command to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:29-31).
 
Our King Jesus kicked the royal law up a notch with His words in John 13:34-35: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Above and beyond loving our neighbor as we would love ourselves, we should even try to love other people as Jesus loves us. Jesus poured himself out completely in His love and service for the beings He created in His own image.
 
All the people you see on the street, at the store, at workplace, in the pews are all your brothers and sisters in the human race. It matters not what their skin color is, what part of town they live in, what language they speak, what kind of car they drive. They all struggle with similar challenges, problems, weaknesses and temptations to what we battle with. Instead of feeling contempt for any of them or expressing frustration or hatred toward them, we should try to love and help them and pray for God’s blessings in their lives.
 
When we look at other people, no matter what they look like, we should see the King who died for them. “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40).
 
Instead of judging our brothers and sisters in the human family, we should show mercy to them. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (verse 13). The mercy we show others will be returned to us by our Creator. But if we prove ourselves to be “merciless” our Judge will show us “no mercy,” only condemnation for our calloused and pitiless hearts. Remember, the “perfect law of liberty” mandates that we care for those less fortunate and weaker than ourselves, and that we keep ourselves “unstained by the world” (James 1:25-27).
 
Please read James 2:14-20 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 2:1-7

Sunday, April 07, 2019
“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
If we are going to “hold” our faith in Jesus Christ, we must learn to let go of our ungodly prejudices. It is impossible to be “Christ-like” and also show “personal favoritism” on the grounds of worldly wealth, social status or popular acclaim (verse 1). When Jesus walked the face of this earth He befriended the weak and impoverished in order to help them, and chastised the corrupted rich and powerful class of religious leaders. If “there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11), then it is sinful for us to give preferential treatment because of personal prestige. The only truly “glorious” person to ever live is Jesus, and He was humble and holy, meek and lowly.
 
It is impossible to impress God by riches, achievements and social or political status, and it is a rarity for the calling of Christ to appeal to a person possessing great worldly power and clout. It is much more likely for “the poor in this world to be rich in faith” (verse 5). “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
 
Christian beware of “an attitude of personal favoritism.” If God played favorites like we often do, very few of us would find ourselves in His good favor and saved by His grace.
 
Please read James 2:8-13 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:26-27

Saturday, April 06, 2019
“If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
In chapter 1 James lists three things that we can deceive ourselves about: that God is at fault when we are tempted to sin (verse 16), that God will bless us if we hear His word without doing it (verse 22), and that God will accept our worship when we refuse to control our tongues (verse 26). We may consider ourselves to be “religious” people who actively engage in outward expressions of reverence and homage toward God, but our language can belie the true inward condition of our hearts.
 
A sinful disposition of heart renders our “religion worthless” to God. The Lord chastised Israel through the prophet Isaiah because they rendered worthless worship unto God from evil hearts. “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly” (Isaiah 1:13). James tells us that our tongues can be “a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6).
 
The corrective action that God demands is to “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16-17) Our worship will be a sweet-smelling savor to God when we purify our hearts, control our words and actions, and assist (visit) the poor and defenseless people within our sphere of influence with their needs.
 
“The world” is a very dirty and dangerous place for a Christian to live. We dwell in the midst of evil and immorality in this godless society, so we must be careful to remain “unstained by the world” (verse 27). The Apostle John explains to us what “the world” consists of in 1 John 2:16: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” Jesus prayed that His father would help His followers to not be “of” the world while we are forced to live “in” the world (John 17:14-16).
 
Please let us not deceive ourselves. If we speak like the world speaks, obey our lusts like the world does, are filled with pride and arrogance like the worldly are, then we are lost like the world is. Let us come before God with humble, obedient hearts, confessing our sins, begging His forgiveness, ready to worship and serve Him according to His perfect will.
 
Please read James 2:1-7 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:22-25

Friday, April 05, 2019
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
While we must be quick to hear the word of God (verse 19), let’s make certain we’re not “merely hearers” but also “doers of the word” (verse 22). It is illogical and delusional to think that we can hear, believe and even love God’s word, and yet refuse to obey it and still be blessed by it. Jesus said in Matthew 7:26-27: “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
 
The living word of God prompts us to take an honest look at ourselves and to make necessary and righteous changes. If we regularly read the Bible and refuse to do what it says, instead of blessing us it will convict us of sin and make us miserable, and prompt our conscience to forget what we’ve read. That’s about like looking in the mirror and seeing dirt in our hair and food on our face, and then shrugging our shoulders, walking away and just forgetting about it. To hear a Bible lesson and not have it pierce our hearts and transform our lives is about like taking a quick, meaningless glance at a mirror.
 
We are greatly blessed by God’s word when we “look intently” into it and “abide by” its principles and precepts (verse 25). Read the Bible with great interest, as if your life depends upon understanding and obeying the message, because it really does. The word of God (specifically the New Testament) is “the perfect law” (verse 25). Through it God perfectly reveals to us everything He wants us to know and do to make us spiritually complete and right in His sight. It is a “law” that we must obey but it gives us “liberty” from the bondage of the sin that enslaves us.
 
I am a “forgetful hearer” but not intentionally and rarely from negligence. I just forget things easily. That’s why it is particularly important for me to “look intently” and linger long in the word of truth. I want to make certain that I retain what I have read and that I am an “effectual doer” of the word so that I will “be blessed”. Remember the words of Jesus: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25).
 
Please read James 1:26-27 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:19-21

Thursday, April 04, 2019
“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Since we have been “brought…forth by the word of truth” (verse 18), we must be “quick to hear” what God has to tell us in it (verse 19). God’s people should have a ready and attentive mind that is eager to listen to His will and obey His commands so that we can please Him and be in the best position to receive “every good thing” that He wants to shower down upon us (verse 17). The “word implanted” is only “able to save” our “souls” when we hear it, “receive” it and obey it (verse 21)!
 
Friends, we don’t learn a thing by talking. In all of our interactions with others we should be “quick to hear” what they have to say, and “slow to speak” in return. Most people have the skill of talking down to a science, but the ability to be a good listener has become pretty much a lost art. A godly heart tries to listen intently to what people say, and gives a good bit of thought and consideration to its words and responses before speaking its mind. We can apologize for the hurtful things we say but it is impossible to “un-say” anything and take the hurt away.
 
The more eager we are to listen and the less impulsive we are with our responses, the slower we will be to anger. I feel confident that every time I have reacted in wrathfulness I’ve greatly regretted it. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Answering in anger is like pouring gasoline on a fire that is already burning out of control. There is no way we can be right with God when we allow wrath to rule our lives. The best thing to do (usually) is to pause and pray when we are angry, and even walk away if necessary, and return and respond when we have calmed our spirit. Easier said than done right!?
 
Please read James 1:22-25 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:16-18

Wednesday, April 03, 2019
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Contrary to tempting us to do evil (verse 13), our Father in heaven actually blesses us with “every good thing” and “every perfect gift” (verse 17). To believe otherwise would be the height of deception (verse 16) and to have our minds led astray from the truth. The gifts are always good because the Giver is only good. He who spoke light into existence is always pure and good and faithful. Unlike the Sun and stars in the sky, there is no “variation” in the light He provides as He neither shifts positions nor casts shadows as they do.
 
Please take the time to give thanks to the Father of lights for all of the blessings in your life. As the blessings are continually “coming down” the prayers should be ever going up. To quote Guy N. Woods in his Gospel Advocate commentary on these verses, “There is no admixture of evil in the goodness which he bestows; no obscuring shadow ever falls over him, hiding His goodness.” Our God is never changing and ever blessing!
 
The greatest gift that the Father bestows is eternal life through the sacrifice of His Son. When God “brought us forth by the word of truth” He gave us new life by “the word implanted which is able to save” our “souls” (verse 21). The first century Christians, and particularly the Jewish converts, were “a kind of first fruits” which was God’s guarantee of a greater harvest to come. We are the beneficiaries and the spiritual fruition of God’s early planting and ingathering.
 
Please read James 1:19-21 for tomorrow.
 
Have a wonderful day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:12-15

Tuesday, April 02, 2019
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Verse 12 is one of the many “beatitudes” of the Bible. It may not seem like a “blessed” thing at all when we are stuck in the middle of a fiery ordeal, but if we endure to the end we will meet with God’s approval and “receive the crown of life.” Jesus warned about the dangers of a superficial faith in Luke 8:13: “Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.” A strong faith that endures under trials requires deep roots.
 
James moves from external trials to internal temptations in verse 13. The easy thing to do is blame God for the temptations that beset us because He created us and does not insulate us from them. But, while God certainly does test us (Genesis 22:1), He never tempts us to do evil because no evil resides in Him and He has no desire for it. God actually equips us with the means to resist temptations by telling us to “flee” from them (2 Timothy 2:22), and by providing “a means of escape” when they arise (1 Corinthians 10:13).
 
James outlines the process by which temptations ensnare and destroy us. First, we allow ourselves to be “carried away” or “drawn away” from places of safety and security (verse 14). When we go places where sins allurements abound or place ourselves in situations that appeal to our weaknesses we set ourselves up for a hard fall. Like a fish we are drawn away from the safety of the brush by a shiny, sparkly lure with a deadly hook in it! Furthermore, we are “enticed by” our “own lust” so we have no one to blame but ourselves when we cave in to the temptation to sin!
 
When we flirt with temptation and court Satan’s desires for us, that unholy union implants the seeds of “lust” deeply within us (verse 15). There is a gestation period for lust and if we refuse to eradicate our evil desires they will continue to grow until they “give birth to sin.” Notice please that to lust is not necessarily to sin, but will inevitably lead to it if we continue to linger in the Devil’s bedroom.
 
Friend, here is the true and stark reality about sin: it offers no other outcome but to “bring forth death”!!! As physical death is the separation of our spirits from our bodies (James 2:26), spiritual death is the separation of our spirits from the God who created them (Isaiah 59:1-2; Ephesians 2:1-2)! The few moments of pleasure that lust and sin provide are not worth the lost eternity that will ensue because of them!
 
Of course you can be forgiven of your sins so all is not lost. If you gladly meet God on His terms you will be saved and restored. You must repent and be baptized to initially have your sins forgiven (Acts 2:3), and be saved (Mark 16:16). You must in “godly sorrow” repent of any sins you commit from that time forward (2 Corinthians 7:10).
 
Please read James 1:16-18 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:9-11

Monday, April 01, 2019
“But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 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.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
There are at least a couple of different ways to look at today’s verses. Set within the greater context of enduring trials when our faith is tested, James may be talking about drastic changes in financial circumstances. It is a great challenge to remain faithful to the Lord if a rich disciple should suddenly lose everything that he has (“his humiliation”). Stock market crashes have plunged many a man into the depths of depression and to thoughts of suicide.
 
It is equally if not more of a test for a poor Christian to remain faithful after the sudden acquisition of a financial windfall (“his high position”). Jesus said it is easier for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye than for a rich man to enter the kingdom (Matthew 19:24). But, all things are possible with God so we should give “glory” to the Lord for whatever changes that take place, and learn to be content in every circumstance that we may find ourselves in (Philippians 4:11). If we have the Lord we have every good thing we could ever need!
 
Another way to look at this passage, and my preferred position, is that death is the great equalizer of all mankind therefore it matters not whether you are rich or poor or somewhere in between (Ecclesiastes 2:12-16). A “brother of humble circumstances” has much reason to glory if he is rich toward God in his faith. All the riches of heaven are at his disposal. A “rich man is to glory” when he humbles himself before the Lord and makes God his Master and not his money. “Not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Life is short and our lives, like our money, will soon “fade away” (verse 11). But if we are storing up treasures in heaven we will “obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away” (1 Peter 1:4).
 
Please read James 1:12-15 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:5-8

Sunday, March 31, 2019
“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
It takes a good bit of wisdom to “consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials” (verse 2). Fortunately for us, God is more than willing to bestow this wisdom upon us if we will only “ask of” Him (verse 5). Our God is the greatest and most generous giver of all good gifts (verse 17), and this is one requested gift that our Lord will not refuse. If we truly desire to obey His will in all righteousness, like Solomon, God will gladly bestow the blessing of wisdom upon us if we humbly appeal to Him for it (2 Chronicles 1:11).
 
Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and information, and wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge in prudent and sensible ways. This does place the burden of responsibility upon us to read and study His living word to obtain the required knowledge, but God will give us the gift of wisdom if we do the reading and make the request. God gives us all good things, and generously, but we “must ask in faith without any doubting” (verse 6) if we hope to have our prayers answered in the affirmative.
 
“A double-minded man” (verse 8) is a person who simultaneously tries to keep one foot in the kingdom and the other in the world. He endeavors to “serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24), but actually lacks the ability to adequately serve either. We must seek the Lord with single-minded focus if we expect to have a healthy relationship with Him that produces a beneficial prayer life. Otherwise we will always be dismayed by “doubts”, as unpredictable as storm-tossed waves (verse 6), and “unstable” as a drunk trying to walk a straight line (verse 8). It is utterly absurd for a doubting, double-minded man to think he will receive “anything” form the Lord, let alone wisdom!
 
Ask of God, in faith, without any doubting, and it will be given unto you. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8). Please do not deceive yourself. You must truly seek His will if you expect to find His favor. May the Lord’s will always be done!
 
Please read James 1:9-11 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

James 1:1-4

Saturday, March 30, 2019
“James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
James wrote this letter to encourage the twelve tribes who were “dispersed” or “scattered” abroad. When persecution arose against the church because of Saul’s aggression, many Christians “who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4). These brethren obviously did not allow discouragement to render them miserable and useless to the Lord. They clearly considered it “all joy” when they encountered “various trials” because of their faith (verse 2). Like the Apostles who were persecuted before them, “they went on their way…rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). We can and should learn from the faith exhibited by the early disciples.
 
God’s children should understand that the trials in our lives are there to serve a purpose, and that much good can come from them if we will allow it. When we have our faith tested and we withstand the trail through God’s grace and our trust in Him, that actually “produces endurance” or “patience” or “steadfastness” (verse 3). “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
 
We must allow this “endurance” to “have its perfect result, so that” we “may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (verse 4). Trials are designed to produce endurance, and endurance is designed to produce “perfection” or “maturity”. It is said of the Lord that He was perfected through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus was going to allow no amount of hardship, pain or persecution to keep Him from accomplishing His Father’s will and the mission He was sent to the earth to perform and fulfill. He endured until it was finished because of “the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2), to be the Author of our salvation, and to help us to see our journey through till the end as well (Hebrews 2:9-11). We cannot afford to let our defenses down if we desire endurance to the very end of the way. God will make certain that we are “lacking in nothing” that we need if we will determine to “be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
 
Please read James 1:5-8 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Introduction to the general epistle of James

Friday, March 29, 2019
There is no way to know with certainty who wrote the letter ascribed to “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:1), but it is reasonable to believe that it was “James, the Lord’s brother” (Matthew 13:55; Galatians 1:19). Of the three prominent men spoken of in the New Testament that bore this name, one was the Apostle James (the brother of John), and he was martyred well before this letter was written (Acts 12:2). James the son of Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3) was also an Apostle so he would have likely introduced himself as such. James, the half-brother of Jesus, was a “pillar” (Galatians 2:9) in the church at Jerusalem, and a significant contributor at the Jerusalem Council of Acts chapter 15.
 
This letter was written “To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (1:1). This could be a literal reference to the ethnic Jews of the dispersion who were scattered about the Roman Empire, but more likely is a figurative allusion to God’s chosen people, much like when Paul referred to Christians as “the Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16). There are some particularly Jewish references, such as to their “synagogues” (2:2), and to Old Testament characters (2:21, 24; 5:10), but the author appeals to converted believers in a general fashion and his exhortations are not aimed at any particular ethnicity but are universal in nature. The author wrote to encourage Christians, many of which were likely Jewish, to live faithfully in the midst of trials, temptations and persecutions.
 
This letter has been called “the Gospel of Common Sense” by some and “the Proverbs of the New Testament” by others because of the seemingly disconnected, sage bits of wisdom and moral directives. Two prominent themes of the epistle are the appropriate usage of “the tongue” (our mouths or our words), and the importance of having an active, working, obedient faith. From this exquisite letter we learn that we must prove ourselves to be “doers of the word and not merely hearers” if we want to please God and be blessed (James 1:22, 25). We must love our neighbor as ourselves in order to fulfill the “royal law” (James 2:8). If we can learn to control what we say we will be “perfect” or “complete” (James 3:2). “Friendship with the world is hostility toward God,” but if we “resist the devil he will flee from” us (James 4:7). If we serve the Lord with patience He will deal with us in compassion and mercy (James 5:10-11). Of course, prayer helps a lot (James 5:16)!!!
 
Please read James 1:1-4 for tomorrow.
 
Have a wonderful day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:20-25

Thursday, March 28, 2019
“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. But I urge you, brethren, bear with this word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. Take notice that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom, if he comes soon, I will see you. Greet all of your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy greet you. Grace be with you all.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Hebrews writer wraps up his “brief” (verse 22) letter with a beautiful prayer for God to assist his brethren with their faithfulness, to complete (equip) them on earth, and to save them for eternity. “Peace” is not merely the absence of conflict, but is actually also the result of it. God does not promise to shield us from all struggles and skirmishes, but the battle belongs to the Lord and He does promise us the ultimate victory and eternal rest. “The God of peace” fights our battles for us and will soon “crush Satan under” our “feet” (Romans 16:20) if we remain true and faithful to Him.
 
If God “brought up from the dead” Jesus, “the great Shepherd,” He will bring us into His holy presence as well when He sends Christ back to retrieve the sheep of His flock. It was “through the blood” of Jesus (through His death) that the Father brought the Son back to life, and it is through His Precious, shed blood that He has given us new life and purchased our eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12). God has gone to great lengths to secure our salvation and He will help us to keep the faith by “working in us” (verse 21), but we must do everything that is within our power to be “pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ” our Lord (verse 22).
 
The moral of the Hebrews letter is stay faithful to the Lord no matter what! There will be times when Satan tempts us to give up but don’t you dare do it! We shall not escape God’s wrath if we “neglect so great a salvation” as this (Hebrews 2:3). Be sure to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16), and He will help you with your weaknesses and temptations. Take “refuge” and “strong encouragement” in the hope we have as “an anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:18-19), and remember that God is a “rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)!
 
Introduction to the book of James tomorrow Lord willing.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:15-19

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders 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. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a good conscience, desiring to conduct ourselves honorably in all things. And I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you the sooner.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Christians are to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God” (verse 15). Unlike the priests under God’s previous covenant who were restricted by the time and place and number of the sacrifices they offered, we can and should present our spiritual offerings before the Lord continually. “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). From a heart filled with gratitude we should submit our praises to the Lord in song and prayer, both publicly and privately, and ever be proclaiming His grace and glory to the people we know and meet.
 
Proper and pleasing praise to God is not only the kind that is “offered up” from our “lips” to Him, but also the type that is sacrificed by our hands to our needy brethren. Our acts of kindness must be consistent with our words of worship. We dishonor God when we heap praises and thanksgiving upon Him, but then neglect to honor Him with merciful displays of benevolence toward our needy brethren in Christ. “Doing good and sharing” are sacrifices that “God is pleased” with (verse 16).
 
In a local fold, both the sheep and the shepherds have responsibilities toward one another. God requires the members to “obey” their leaders and “submit to them” (verse 17). We must we willing to follow the lead of our shepherds as they guide us by wisdom and protect us by experience because they “keep watch over our souls.” Dangers and pitfalls and ravenous wolves abound which threaten our spiritual welfare so it “would be unprofitable” for us, to say the least, to ignore their righteous guidance.
 
It is the elders’ responsibility to “shepherd the flock of God among” them, “exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to” their “charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3). As the Hebrews writer needed the prayers of his brethren (verse 18), so the Lord’s elders need the prayers of the Lord’s people. They have the toughest and most important job in the universe!
 
Please read Hebrews 13:20-25.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:8-14

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
If we are not firmly anchored in the word of truth, we can “be carried away by varied and strange teachings” (verse 9). The philosophies and fads of this world are ever-changing, but Jesus Christ and His perfect doctrine is “the same yesterday and today and forever” (verse 8). Cling to the Truth and you will not be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:14), even if you are the only one to not get swept away.
 
This is the final time the Hebrews writer emphasizes the superiority of our covenant in Christ over the Law of Moses. Many of these Jewish Christians were socially ostracized by their family and friends (including the eating of common meals) because of their stand for Christ and their break from the conditions of Judaism with its various animal sacrifices. But instead of being left out in the cold, the author flips the script and stresses that it is actually Christians that occupy the real place of privilege as “priests” (1 Peter 2:9) before the true “altar” of God, and the unbelievers are the ones who “have no right to eat” there or commune with the God of heaven (verse 10).
 
Fellow believers, if it comes down to a choice between the fellowship of family and friends or faithfully following Jesus, eternal life in Christ is the only wise choice. Even if we are banished from society because of our fidelity to our Lord, we “are seeking the city which is to come,” the “lasting” one that God promises to His faithful citizens (verse 14). As Jesus suffered a shameful death “outside the gate” of Jerusalem (verse 12), these Hebrew brethren were encouraged to follow “Him outside the camp” of their unbelieving Jewish companions and share in “His reproach” (verse 13). To suffer with Jesus is a badge of honor that has an eternal reward attached to it.
 
Please read Hebrews 13:15-19 for tomorrow.
 
Have a super day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:5-7

Monday, March 25, 2019
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’ Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Being “content with what you have” is, in essence, being content with God. If all we have in this whole, wide world is a healthy relationship with the Great I Am, then we have everything that we could ever possibly need. I really love what the Lord said to Aaron in Numbers 18:20: “You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel.” When we have the Lord, we have all the blessings, peace and riches of heaven with us at all times.
 
God has promised if we seek Him first that He will provide everything that we truly need in life (Matthew 6:33; Hebrews 11:6). If we are filled with greed and “the love of money,” we place the focus of our future welfare upon our own abilities. When we are “content with what” we have, we place our trust in God and His ability and willingness to provide for us. With the Lord as our “Helper,” we will never be in want (Psalm 23:1), and we should never “be afraid” (verse 7).
 
We should always remember the faithful spiritual leaders “who spoke the word of God” to us (verse 7), and have now gone on to their eternal reward. We should honor their memory, but more importantly, we should “imitate their faith.” If we follow the godly examples of the men and women of faith who have gone on to join that “great cloud of witnesses” who are now cheering us on to the finish line (12:1), we will prove to be good examples to follow for those who come after us.
 
I am including verse 8 in today and tomorrow’s reading because it is a bridge between verse 7 and verse 9. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Our former spiritual leaders and teachers were rock-solidly consistent in their faith because they knew that Jesus and His word never changes. We can depend on our perfect Lord and His perfect revelation to always be reliable and true, therefore we must try our best to be reliable and true as well. We must not be “carried away by varied and strange teachings” (verse 9), but rather be steadfast and true to the Truth.
 
Please read Hebrews 13:8-14 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 13:1-4

Sunday, March 24, 2019
“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body. Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The author wraps up his letter with some exhortations that would have helped the struggling brethren stay faithful to Christ in their daily walk. He begins his list of “do’s and don’ts” by encouraging these Hebrew Christians (and us) to “let love of the brethren continue” toward one another (verse 1). Brotherly love is at the heart of every item on this list so it is not a coincidence that he begins with this appeal to the kind consideration of the needs and wellbeing of their (our) brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
“Hospitality” literally means “the love of strangers” or “friendship to strangers” (verse 2). It was very important and valued in this old, eastern culture to welcome travelers into a person’s house and provide them shelter, comfort and nourishment. It would be even more appropriate for Christians to accommodate their travelling brethren in Christ and show them the love of the Lord, and especially in this climate that was so hostile to believers, even if the visitor was a total stranger. Truth be known, there should be no strangers in the Lord’s church because we are all of the same “Spirit and blood” family.
 
Many brethren were wrongfully imprisoned for their forthright fidelity to Jesus Christ. People who suffer for the cause of Christ should be “remembered” (verse 3) in various and beneficial ways. Most importantly, we can and should pray for Christians who have fallen upon hard times because the fervent prayers of God’s beloved accomplishes much good (James 5:16). We should also set our prayers into motion with visits, calls, cards and assistance by using any resources that we have at our fingertips to help a needy brother or sister. If we just pray for them to “be warmed and to be filled, and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” (James 2:16-17)
 
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all” (verse 4). Unfortunately in our current culture, the sanctity of the marriage vows has been reduced to the status of a “pinky-swear” made on a playground. Matrimony has become more like kids “playing house,” and when the children get tired of the game, they just quit. But Christians must remain loyal to the spouse of their covenant if they desire to please their Lord. If we choose to be unfaithful to our marriage vows then we cannot be faithful to the God who created the honorable union of marriage, and to cheat on our spouse is to cheat on Him. If we play the infidel or cast our spouse aside like yesterday’s news paper, God will “judge,” or literally, “condemn” us; and the Lord’s condemnation of “fornicators and adulterers” applies to “all” people whether they are Christians or not.
 
Please read Hebrews 13:5-7 for tomorrow.
 
Please come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a blessed Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:25-29

Saturday, March 23, 2019
“See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’ This expression, ‘Yet once more, denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
God “is speaking” to us “from heaven” through His Son Jesus (Hebrews 1:2), and His living, sharp, powerful word (Hebrews 4:12). The word “Gospel” means “glad tidings” or “good news,” but it is also loaded with warnings for those who refuse to hear it and obey it, and for those who turn away “from Him who warns from heaven” (verse 25). If God’s chosen people of His previous, earthly kingdom suffered the penalty for disobedience, we are foolish to think that will escape the notice and the wrath of God if we reject His superior, spiritual, eternal kingdom.
 
Friend, when God “shakes the earth” one final time, all that will remain is the “kingdom which cannot be shaken” (verse 28). Jesus is God’s best and final offer to draw mankind close to Him, and the church of Christ is the only safe place for a person to be when the Lord returns to destroy the physical universe and judge all the people He created. When the Lord returns for the final time, it will be to deliver up the kingdom to God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24). If you do not “receive” the kingdom which cannot be shaken, you will be destroyed along with everything that can.
 
The proper response to God’s gracious offer of salvation through His Son and His church kingdom is to “show gratitude” for His unparalleled gift (verse 28). How aggravated and offended does it make you feel when you give someone a very generous gift from the kindness of your heart, and then they just show no appreciation for it whatsoever? Friend, God is offering you the most generous gift that is worth more than the whole world and all that is contained within it. He is extending the gift of eternal life, in heaven, with Him through His Son Jesus Christ. This should fill your heart “with reverence and awe” and motivate you to dedicate your life to Him in “acceptable service” (verse 28). If you refuse, all you have to look forward to is the “consuming fire” of His wrath and indignation for having such an ungrateful heart.
 
Please read Hebrews 13:1-4 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:18-24

Friday, March 22, 2019
“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned.’ And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, ‘I am full of fear and trembling.’ But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
The Hebrews writer brings his contrasts of the old, inferior law and covenant and God’s new and better way made available through Jesus to a grand and climactic conclusion at the end of chapter 12. Verses 18-21 condense the events recorded in Exodus 19 where God gave the old law at Mount Sinai into one, frightening and forbidding vignette by way of contrast to the beautiful and welcoming access that we have to the Father through the sacrifice of His Beloved Son in verses 22-24.
 
All of the sights and sounds associated with the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai relayed the message that the people must be careful to keep their distance! God’s appearance was accompanied by “thunder and lightning flashes” (Exodus 19:16) and the “gloom” of a dark cloud (verse 18). God called His assembly together with the blast of the ram’s horn, and the nearer the Lord approached, “the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder” (Exodus 18:19). The Lord descended upon the mountain “in fire” and “the whole mountain quaked violently” (Exodus 18:18). Everything about this momentous event was, in a word — “TERRIFYING!”.
 
But, through Jesus, God’s people have been granted a gracious entrance into the great spiritual city of “Zion,” “the heavenly Jerusalem” (verse 22). This is the city that Abraham was “looking for” and “which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (11:10). Through Jesus we have come to the gathering of “myriads” (10,000’s) of angels, the very ones who rejoice in heaven when sinners obey the Gospel (Luke 15:10), and who also surround God’s throne at the ready to welcome us into His presence.
 
Through Jesus we have come “to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (verse 23). Even though we live on earth, our citizenship is actually in heaven (Philippians 3:20) where we will dwell for eternity if we live our lives in obedient faith until death. In earthly families there is only one “firstborn” child, but the word is used in the plural in today’s passage. All of God’s spiritual children hold this special status of privilege and all eagerly await an equal, eternal inheritance.
 
And friend, if you live and die as a faithful Christian, you are not only promised a glorious inheritance in the heavenly city, you will actually come into the presence of “God” Himself! To literally dwell in intimate fellowship with the Lord who created us in His image is the ultimate satisfaction to the greatest longing of our immortal spirits. But, while this is meant to convey an image of great security and comfort, the author also emphasizes that God is “the Judge of all” (verse 23) and He is not one to be trifled with. We must have a healthy fear and respect for our Judge if we want to dwell with Him in familial companionship as our Father in heaven forever.
 
Please read Hebrews 12:25-29 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day.
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:12-17

Thursday, March 21, 2019
“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. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless 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.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Sometimes we need to “reach back for something extra” as the old sports cliché goes. Every so often we feel spiritually “weak” and “feeble” (verse 12)—drained from the stresses of our perpetual endurance race. It is at times like these that we need to strengthen our resolve to push ourselves forward (with God’s help of course) along the course of truth and righteousness. During our weakest moments, we run a great risk of deviating from the “straight” and narrow “path” that leads to heaven above (verse 13). Giving up may seem like the easy thing to do, but seeking the path of least resistance will only take us from bad to worse. When we return to the world we go from weak to “lame,” but if we turn to the Lord we will “be healed”.
 
God expects us to “pursue peace with all men” (verse 14) even when they are determined to ridicule and mistreat us. It is only natural for us to feel resentment and become bitter because of rough treatment, disappointments and unmet expectations, but this will only cause us to fall “short of the grace of God” (verse 15). The Lord has redeemed us for our purification and “sanctification,” and we will not “see the Lord” if we become embittered instead. A bitter root only produces bitter fruit. When we grow distrustful and angry because of the difficulties associated with following God, our own bitterness can cause “many” to “be defiled”. Christian beware! Pessimism is a highly contagious spiritual disease!
 
Esau is a prime of example of what becomes of a worldly (“immoral”) person who is only concerned with his physical comfort and the satisfaction of his natural desires. He was so short-sighted that he willingly traded the long-term future benefits of his “own birthright for a single meal” (verse 16) that provided minimal, temporary gratification. This single episode was emblematic of his approach to life, and the fallout of this one, rash decision affected the course of his life for many years to come. Later, when he lost his father’s blessing as well as his birthright, he was filled with rage and bitterness toward his brother Jacob, but he had no one to blame but himself. When he begged for a blessing of his own, it was just too late to do anything about it.
 
Friends, be careful of rash, foolish decisions that can set you on a course of physical and spiritual destruction. Learn from the example of Esau that it is just not worth it. But, unlike Esau, please do not learn this lesson when it is too late.
 
Please read Hebrews 12:18-24 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:4-11

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.’ It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Things are seldom as bad as they seem. We often tend to think that our problems are of the severest magnitude until we consider things from their proper perspective. We may struggle with serious persecution, temptation, loss or pain, but we “have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood” as Jesus did (verse 4). Bloodshed may be required of us some day in the future in our striving against sin, but our struggles pale in comparison to the ordeals that Jesus went through in order to secure our salvation. Once again, look to the suffering and faithfulness of Jesus to keep the proper perspective on your life and your problems (verse 3).
 
We are in a perpetual state of training. God is conditioning us by our trials in order to further develop our spiritual endurance and stamina to deal with the next affliction that life throws our way. If “it is for discipline you endure” then “God deals with you as with sons” (verse 7). As much as it hurts us to see our children struggle in life, good parents do not remove all difficulties and obstacles from the path of their youngsters. A healthy dose of “tough love” is frequently tougher on the parents than the kiddos, and they prove their resiliency time and time again as they not only recover from setbacks but often flourish because of them. View life’s difficulties as the discipline (teaching, training) of a loving Father.
 
God is the Father of our spirits (verse 9). Our parents passed on our genetic makeup to us through the combination of their chromosomes, but God has created our “inner person” in His eternal, spiritual image. “The dust” that our flesh was formed from “will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). If we allow our trials to shape us closer to the form of “His holiness” (verse 10), He will produce the “peaceful fruit of righteousness” within us that will burgeon and blossom throughout our time on earth and into timeless eternity.
 
Please read Hebrews 12:12-17 for tomorrow.
 
Stay strong! It won’t be very long!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 12:1-3

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
Faith is an endurance race that does not pay off in the end unless we finish what we start. What a shame and pity it is to see a faithful brother or sister in Christ run the race with endurance for years and even decades only to abandon the course late in life and so very near to the finish line. The race, the course, the finish line, the prize is ever “set before us” so we must keep looking forward to the good things that lie ahead and not the worldly foolishness that we have left in the dust. We must cast aside “every encumbrance and the sin” that weighs us down and trips us up as we pace the path to perfection (verse 1).
 
All the heroes of faith mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11 are set as “a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us” and encouraging us to finish the race. They are figuratively “cheering from the grandstand” as we run the course, but their stellar examples are also figures of accountability holding us responsible to keep following in their footsteps. The greatest and perfect example is, of course, Jesus—“the author and perfecter of faith” (verse 2). He ran the race perfectly from start to finish, and unlike the heroes of chapter 11, He has actually “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
 
Please, if you ever just feel like giving up and cashing out, look to Jesus through the eyes of faith. “Consider Him who has endured” more “hostility,” grief, pain and fatigue than you could ever possibly encounter (verse 3). Consider Him whose grit and determination to endure the cross and finish the race had everything to do with His undying love for you. As a matter of fact, don’t just consider Him during the periods of pain and strife. Keep your eyes fixed on Him always—through the good times and bad. Eyes straight ahead. Locked on Jesus. Keep looking, reaching, pushing forward!
 
Please read Hebrews 12:4-11 for tomorrow.
 
Have a great day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:39-40

Monday, March 18, 2019
“And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
We, like these forefathers and heroes, gain God’s approval by our faith. If they could remain faithful to God through all the trials, adversities and persecutions that they were exposed to, then we can live lives of obedient faith to the very end as well. What’s more is they knew that God had something better in store for His people, both through the fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah and in eternity. “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance” they “confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (verse13).
 
God had better promises in the works and his faithful “welcomed them from a distance,” even though they did not have a complete (perfect) understanding of these things as we do after the fact (1 Peter 1:2). They would have loved to have lived in the position of privilege which we occupy in the kingdom of heaven here in these last days, but they knew that this earth was not their home and that God had a glorious eternity awaiting them just the same. It is often debated whether God’s children under His former covenants had an understanding of eternal life after death. It is obvious from the book of Hebrews that His loyal servants most certainly did, and that they will share the splendor of heaven with us when we are perfected with all His saints in glory on that great day.
 
Please read Hebrews 12:1-3 for tomorrow.
 
Have a blessed day!
 
- Louie Taylor

Hebrews 11:35-38

Sunday, March 17, 2019
“Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.”
 
---End of Scripture verses---
 
God resurrected the sons of the widow of Zarephath through Elijah (1 Kings 17), and the Shunammite woman through Elisha (2 Kings 4). As remarkable as these resurrections to temporary life were, and the exemplary faith that accompanied them, all of God’s faithful children will “obtain a better resurrection” still (verse 35). The Hebrews writer cites some unnamed martyrs who “were tortured, not accepting their release” because they refused to renounce their obedient faith in the one, true God of Creation. We have no biblical record of situations such as this, but uninspired tradition says that the prophet Amos was tortured and killed for his faith.
 
“Many students of Hebrews have suggested that the author has in mind a story from the intertestamental period that is recorded in 2 Maccabees 6 and 7. As the story goes, the Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes, who controlled Palestine at the time, decided to enforce Hellenization upon the Jews, outlawed Torah observances, and rededicated the Jerusalem temple to the Greek god Zeus. Local officials tried to force a man named Eleazar, a scribe, to eat pig meat. When he steadfastly refused, he was put on the ‘rack’ and beaten to death. Seven brothers and their mother were subjected to the same pressure. They were ‘arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh’ (2 Macc 7:1 RSV). When the brothers indicated that they would rather die than eat unclean food, they were tortured to death one at a time, and then their mother. The last words of all eight of the characters are recorded, and the fourth brother said ‘One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him (7:14 RSV).” ("A Commentary on Hebrews" by David McClister, page 433, Florida College Press 2010)
 
Many of God’s faithful beloved “experienced mockings and scorgings…chains and imprisonment” (verse 36); “were stoned…tempted…put to death with the sword…destitute, afflicted, ill-treated” (verse 37); all in the name of faithfulness to the God who raises the dead to glorious, eternal life. Jewish tradition tells us that it was actually the prophet Isaiah who was “sawn in two” by the evil king Manasseh of Judah. Friends, if these men and women were willing to DIE for their faith in God, surely it is not too much to ask of us to LIVE for Him a life of faith, love, trust and obedience.
 
Please read Hebrews 11:39-40 for tomorrow.
 
We would love for you to come worship God with us today at the Taylorsville Road church of Christ.
 
We assemble at 3741 Taylorsville Road in Louisville Kentucky.
 
9:30 AM Bible classes for all ages. 10:30 AM and 5:00 PM worship services.
 
Have a great Lord’s Day!
 
- Louie Taylor

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