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A worm, a gnat, a fly, a hair, a raisin, a skin of a grape

 

A worm, a gnat, a fly, a hair, a raisin, a skin of a grape

(Thomas Brooks, “A Cabinet of Choice Jewels” 1669)

“Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth!” Proverbs 27:1

Who can sum up . . .
the many possible deaths which are still lurking in his own body;
or the innumerable hosts of external dangers which beleaguer him on every side;
or the invisible arrows which fly about his ears continually!

Who can tell how soon he may have his mortal wound given him by one or another of them? Now, how sad would it be for a man to have a summons to appear before God in that eternal world, before his heart and life are savingly changed!

The life of a man is but a shadow, a span, a vapor, a flower, etc.

Though there is but one way to come into the world–yet there are thousands of ways to be sent out of the world!

We carry about in our bodies the material for a thousand deaths–and may die a thousand different ways in several hours. As many senses, as many members, nay, as many pores as there are in the body–so many windows there are for death to enter in at!

Death needs not spend all his arrows upon us. A worm, a gnat, a fly, a hair, a raisin, a skin of a grape, the stumbling of a horse, the trip of a foot, the pick of a pin, the cutting of a fingernail, the cutting out of a corn; all these have been to others, and any of them may be to us–the means of our death within the space of a few days; nay, of a few hours; nay, of a few moments!

Yet I am sure that the worst of deaths, shall but translate true believers . . .
from earth–to Heaven,
from a wilderness–to a paradise,
from misery–to glory, and
from mixed and mutable enjoyments–to the pure and everlasting enjoyments of God!

To a believer, “The day of death better than the day of birth. It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:1-2

http://www.GraceGems.org

 

These are the Days of Amos…

Amos Survey 2

Text  Chapter  4-6

What was it like to live in the days of Amos, in Israel. Using Amos chapter 4-6, let’s conduct a survey of the state of that society:-

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Fig Trees and Mountains

Fig Trees and Mountains

Text. Matthew 21:18-21

It’s the very last week of Christ’s earthly ministry.  Jesus and his disciples were returning to the city on the morning after the cleansing of the temple. 18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city.  Matthew Henry reminds us of the poverty of Christ.  He would have had no sustaining breakfast before he left, and so he sought common food along the way, as the law permitted.  That’s when they encountered a certain fig tree..

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Fig Tree

 

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Amos – Survey #1

AMOS – Survey #1. 

Text. Amos 1-3.

Now we come to a larger book, and one of the better known prophets, AMOS.  We’ll look at the book over three separate studies, but remember these are just SURVEYS.  Let’s start at our usual point, and begin with finding out the basic facts.

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1. Background.  Amos 1:1  

So we being with the usual questions, WHO, WHEN and WHERE.

  1. Who is Amos?  Amos is NOT a professional prophet, something he makes very clear in Amos 7:14    He is a farmer, to whom God has given a commission and a call into his service.  Amos farmed near Tekoa, a region in Judah, where he breeds sheep and works in a fig orchard.  He is just an ordinary working man, who expects no financial reward from his ministry.   One commentator notes that his whole ministry may have lasted no more than a year.  .  
  2. When did he preach?  The date of Amos is very precise indeed. It was in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. A major earthquake had occurred in Israel c. 760 BC.  That’s very precise indeed!   Two kings are mentioned:-
    1. Jeroboam II, King of Israel.  
    2. Uzziah, King of Judah.  

So, there’s no doubt about the time frame of Amos’ ministry, and he was in very good company.  Hosea was preaching to the people of Israel at the same time, while down south, Isaiah was beginning his ministry, in the year that King Uzziah died.  Isaiah 6:1-9 It’s as if God is raising up a great witness, doing a work, promoting His people to revival.  

  1. Where is his ministry? His preaching (as we shall see next) extends well outside Israel and Judah, but it is all done from within the northern kingdom of Israel, – but Amos was born in the south, and lives and works in the south – but he has the nerve to come up north and preach at the people there!  You can well imagine how that went down!  Read  Amos 1:2,  God ROARS from Zion!  Jerusalem (the south) is preaching to Israel and Mt Carmel (the North) will crumble before God’s withering voice.

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Are Babies EVER an Inconvenience? Mt 19

The Value of Children (Born and Unborn)

Text.  Matthew 19:13-15

What value do we place on tiny human life?  

– The Jews of Jesus’ day had respect for the unborn and the newly born child, unlike the pagan nations that surrounded them.  The penalty under the law of Moses for infanticide was death. Leviticus 20:2 Needless to say the Israelites were disobedient.  Jeremiah 32:34-36   The penalty for the death of unborn children was just as severe.  Exodus 21:22-24  

– In Greek and Roman society, a much more ‘cultured and civilised place to be’ the murder of newly born children was considered barbaric and uncivilised, so a child would be exposed on a hillside or open place; it wasn’t considered murder, because who knew whether a passing stranger, or even a god might come along and adopt the child.  The reality was that the baby would die of dehydration, or be eaten alive by animals.

– Our modern society has greatly conflicting attitudes about children.  On the one hand we over-indulge our children. They are treated like little princes and princesses, yet on the other hand, life often seems cheap when it is still in the womb. According to the World Health Organisation, there are between 40 to 50 MILLION abortions every year.  The majority of those abortions are not for babies with no life expectancy, or for the health of the mother, but because having a baby is INCONVENIENT.  People want to sin without consequence for themselves.  The human right to have unrestricted sex on demand outweighs the right to life of the babies that inevitably result from that behaviour.  

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Expecting a Baby

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Divorce and Remarriage

Divorce and Remarriage

Text.  Matthew 19:1-9 Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

Divorce is a dilemma for Christians of every denomination, and historically especially for evangelicals.  Divorce has split churches, divided families, ruined testimonies, hindered evangelism.  It’s a huge, complex subject, hundreds of books have been written on it, maybe thousands of sermons, conferences and colloquies…  and we are still at odds about it. So in this short, inadequate study of the matter, we try to get just an overview of the Bible teaching about divorce. 

1 The Pharisees’ Question. V3. The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

Now of course, the Pharisees were being totally disingenuous.  There was a debate raging among the Jews about divorce, and the Pharisees hoped that by asking Jesus to comment on it, that they could draw him into the controversy, and harm his ministry, and damage his following among the people.  Let’s try to understand exactly what they were asking him to comment on.  Consider…

  • The status of women among the Jews.  The Jews had a much higher view of women, and of marriage than any of the Gentile nations, but ultimately a woman was the property of the man in Jewish society.  That’s why Paul’s teaching on the mutuality of husband and wife in a marriage in 1 Corinthians 7 is so needful and so instructive, for them and for us.  1 Corinthians 7:3   
  • The possibility of ending a marriage.  Because a woman was the property of her husband, only a man could initiate a divorce but marriage could certainly be brought to an end, and the Law on this was found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.   In Jesus, day, there was a debate raging between three popular rabbis over the precise meaning of Moses’s words, ‘some indecency.’  

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Now the pharisees saw this as a golden opportunity to trap Jesus into a pointless argument.  ‘Is is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?’ Jesus answers them by stating the ideal, God’s design for marriage, the Adam and Eve Marriage. ‘So when Moses commanded divorce, was he wrong?’  Matthew 19:7   Again, Jesus’ answer goes right back to God’s ideal of marriage.  Matthew 19:8  Moses did not COMMAND divorce, he only PERMITTED it – because he recognised the hardness, the sinfulness of the human heart.  

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Christian Singleness – Matthew 19:10-12

The Disciples and Singleness – Bed of Roses or Can of Worms? 

Text. Matthew 19:1-4, 11-12. 

The world celebrates singleness regarding it as an opportunity for unbridled sexual pleasure.  One of the movie industry’s roaring successes was the feature length film based on the TV series ‘Sex in the City.’  It set out to examine the lives of four unattached women living in the city, and going through a series of relationships, allegedly exploring contemporary issues.  You can be sure that the issues were all ‘explored’ from a liberal, ‘sexually liberated’ standpoint.  In this present age, singleness is frequently about sexual pleasure, without commitment.  What does the Bible teach us about sexuality, singleness and the Christian lifestyle?

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