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In reading the wonderful parable of the Rich Young Man, Matthew 19:16-17 says "And behold, one came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing must I do that I may obtain eternal life?" Note: The young man didn't say what must I believe?; or how can I obtain the faith necessary to get eternal life"? The young man said "what ... must I do?"... and Jesus said to him "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." My sense is that One refers to God, life refers to eternal life, and commandments refers to the 10 Commandments.

This is a very direct instruction by Jesus telling us to act in accordance with the commandments. Doesn't this requirement conflict somewhat with the notion that we are justified by faith alone (i.e. saved by God's grace through the faith He gives us)? Uh oh. Here we are again with the faith versus works questions.

I guess what I'm thinking now is that the "justified by faith" that Paul uses in Romans 3:28 & Galatians 2:16 seems insufficient. Paul's saying in Ephesians 2:8-9 that "we are saved by God's grace through faith" seems more complete and more truthful but still seems to fall slightly short of the mark. Personally, I feel more comfortable saying "we are saved by God's grace through our active faith." "Active" conveys the idea that if you have faith, we can't help but respond in service to God and in trying to lead a more righteous life (we won't suddenly become perfect and without sin, but we'll have the grace to keep on trying)."

And thankfully we don't need to strive to be perfect. In verses 25-26 later in the same parable, Jesus' disciples asked "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." There's God's grace!!

Your comments please.

God's Grace to you,
Jeff

For good Biblical financial resources, check out Crown Financial Ministries at http://www.crown.org.

The story of the rich young man provides a poignant contrast between God’s grace and self-reliance to satisfy the requirements of God’s perfect law.

As Jeff highlighted above, this man asked “What good things must _I_ do to get eternal life?” Not “How can I be saved?”, let alone “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.” The young man had a watered down understanding of God’s expectations, and had deluded himself into believing that he was actually meeting the law’s demands.

If we insist that our actions be judged objectively on the basis of the law apart from God’s grace, the law crushes with requirements that we cannot meet.

Conversely, when we recognize the full weight of the law and see how there is no way we can measure up, we fall before God pleading for mercy. “Lord, there is no way I can meet your requirements. Cover me with Christ’s righteousness.” And when with humility and repentance we ask Him to save us, he freely does so.

I see an important lesson of the story being that salvation does indeed require perfectly keeping the law—but that “there is only One who is good” (vs. 17). Left to ourselves, salvation is impossible, but “with God all things are possible” (vs. 26). It is Christ’s goodness which satisfies the demands of the law, and not our attempts to be good.

Interestingly, wealth has the tendency to encourage self-reliance—which is always at odds with the kind of relationship God desires with us. (Hence the reason it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven in vs. 23.) It was for a specific reason that God gave the Israelites manna for only one day at a time (Ex.13:19). He wants our explicit trust in all things, including our salvation, rather than proud self-reliance.

Exodus

[Been away for the weekend, but wanted to contribute this thought]

Who was this Moses?
Eloquent statesman - War hero???????

Acts 7:22
"Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action." NIV

Heb 11:24-26
"By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." NIV

So Stephen in Acts Says Moses was powerful in speech and actions (deeds). Doesn't sound like a man lacking in eloquence? What actions?

Turns out if you go to Josephus it seems Moses had led a campaign to route an invading army of Ethiopians who had taken over most of Egypt. He used cunning, bravery, and skill to defeat the Ethiopians.
http://www.interhack.net/projects/library/antiquities-jews/b2c10.html

In Hebrews it is said that Moses believed in God and rejected ways of Egyptians, he knew and believed in Christ (Gk. Christos - "anointed") before he ever killed the Egyptian.

So what?

Been thinking about this over weekend, and something I read triggered this thought:

Moses was trained as a leader by Egyptians. God chose Moses to deliver Hebrew people. How would Moses do this? Probably the same way he was trained? Rally the people with eloquence, lead a rebellion, and break free of Egypt. A lot of glory for Moses - not as much for God. God had a different plan. But first Moses had to be humbled.

It was no accident Moses ran across a fight, no accident he fled, and no accident he ended up in Midian.

Forty years later was Moses humbled? You bet. He was an eighty year old shepherd - a job for younger men, and one despised by his Egyptian upbringing. To top it off, it was not even his own flock - but his father-in-laws.

Now the burning bush - Moses still had all the raw tools of his youth, but not only was he humbled, but his self-confidence was shot.

He had five objections:

1) Who am I to do this? (not you Moses, but God)
2) Give me a name - I need validation (probably hoping God would refuse like with Jacob)
3) What if they do not believe me? (I am 80 now - who would believe this story?)
4) I am not eloquent (and am slow of speech), and never have been (Not true)
5) Please send someone else?

The last kindled God's anger. Moses must have recognized this as there were no further objections :)

Moses has been humbled, and although his self-confidence is shot. God is going to build that back up. Is anything too hard for the Lord???? The point is: Just like Joseph after prison stint - Moses is ready to do the work of the Lord. The clay is ready to be molded by the potter - after the previous vase was smooshed and brought down to a lump.

BTW good catch Anka on your comment on Moses :)

Hardening of Pharoah's Heart

[from an email I sent last year]

The time had come for Israelites to leave Egypt. Pharaoh did not want them to go. God said he would harden Pharaoh's heart. Three Hebrew words used in passages for "hardened":

chazaq -"to strengthen, prevail, harden, be strong, become strong, be courageous, be firm, grow firm, be resolute, be sore"
qashah - "to make hard, make stiff, make stubborn"
kabed -"to make heavy, make dull, make unresponsive"

An interesting pattern develops over the first six plagues. Initially Pharaoh's heart would be chazaq, and then at end of plague it was kabed. A going back and forth between "strengthening and hardening" and "heavy and unresponsive". So, over the first six plagues, Pharaoh "strengthened or hardened" his own heart based on his disposition. He was unwilling to change after each plague. He demonstrated his own obstinacy and desire to resist.

Up to this time, Pharaoh on his own could have repented. He chose not to repent. Now the plagues were going to get worse. Pharaoh had crossed the imaginary line of "no going back". At this point God stepped in and provided chazaq for Pharaoh - a "strengthening and hardening" of the heart. God simply strengthened him that he might continue his resistance until God's own purposes were fulfilled. Why?

God wasn't done yet, and Pharaoh was predisposed to resistance.

Thanks John and welcome back...
Pharaoh's heart...In Egypt,pharaoh himself was considered a god,in spite of God showing him and the Egyptians that He was the only God by displaying His power against their gods,few of them repented.
This brings me to the verse,many are called,few are chosen.Like pharaoh,many repent for a season yet refuse to follow God.I'm not even sure repent is the right word...repentance is to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life...Pharaoh felt God's power,knew he couldn't compete with it but gave it his best shot and lost.There are many who refuse to acknowledge God's will as supreme,refuse to give their ways even though they know it's wrong....satan has seen God's power but is still convinced he can beat it...isn't that what's at the back of our minds when we refuse to walk according to God's plan...When you see such display of power and refuse to bow to God's sovereignty...it's pretty obvious there's nothing that will convince you.God gave even pharaoh a chance...maybe pharaoh was made pharaoh for this purpose because God saw before hand that his heart would never accept God's will....I believe yes,God has the power to change our hearts,but that would be violating our "rights"to free will wouldn't it.I pray daily for God to work in me to will and do of His good pleasure....not my will but God's be done.My will rises up from my sinful nature,my selfish and stubborn heart,my limited wisdom....I'm sure I'm better off doing God's will.
God bless you all

Matthew

[Quick hits from weekend]

======================================================
Humble as a child?
Can't be talking about a baby or a child in the terrible two's. The Greek can apply to a range of ages. I believe that it is a child young enough to be "little", but aware enough to be humble.

The Jewish culture was one where the child was respectful of parents and spoke when "spoken to". It was in recognition of the unequal relationship with the parent and dependance on same.

How much more so the Father in Heaven???? When we change (also translated "turn to") and respect God due to the nature of the unequal relationship and dependance on Him. Then we can understand the Cross and Ressurection and be saved, and be in the kingdom of heaven.

The answer to the question: I believe it is "all the saints". We will be in glorified bodies and co-heirs to heaven. The brothers of Christ.
======================================================
Matt 18:18
"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." NIV

The Greek is confusing here, but since this is basically repeat from Matt 16 - it probably should be addressed.

In Matt 16 it is a teaching, and here it is referencing judicial authority within the "assembly" (what will be the church). These things are in the future.

This is not about shaping God's will from earth, but being in God's will. These things cannot be done until the Holy Spirit is involved. Jesus said, "The Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:25, 26). He told them, "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come" (John 16:12, 13).

By the power of the Holy Spirit the apostles will be binding and loosing as the Father in heaven has already done. They will be in the will of God. It will be so because they are one with Christ - and they abide in Him and He in them.
======================================================
Seventy times seven is Hebrew idiom for "infinite".

Some more stuff - but since I missed the weekend - this will be enough until next year :)

Plagues

Each plague was designed to "mock" the Egyptian gods as powerless.
http://www.dabhand.org/Ten%20Plagues.htm

Bob Deffingbaugh also has a chart in Conclusion section.
http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=138

Something about the fourth and sixth plagues in chapter 9 really confuses me!

As all the livestock belonging to the Egyptians were killed by the fourth plague, the Plague of Livestock, where did the livestock referred to in sixth plague, the Plague of Hail, come from?

9:6 “All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died.”

9:19-21 “Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every man and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die. Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field.”

It wasn’t the livestock of the Israelite slaves because 9:26 states, “The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.”

If any of you have an explanation for this or a good commentary on this, would you please share it?

Thanks bunches and God Bless!
Pat

Thanks bunches and God Bless!
Pat

To Mike's question about debt ...

Pro 22:7 states: The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

I know there are debates on tithing in the OT versus NT. But I think it's clear that Jesus expected his followers to give to the poor.

People who over-spend and are in debt simply cannot give to the poor or support their churches. They are too busy paying off their credit cards! Also, as Proverbs states above, people who are in debt are slaves to that debt ... they must focus their energies on getting out of financial servitude, rather than serving the Lord.

Dave Ramsey (the guy who does Financial Peace University) has a great radio show and web site (www.daveramsey.com) that talks about these principles. He encourages a Christian approach to money management ... save, rather than spending with credit cards; pay off debt; save for retirement; and - most importantly - create true wealth so you can GIVE to others!

If you're interested, check out the "baby steps" section of his web site.

To Pat's question above about the livestock ... I wondered this, too!

I checked the verses on the NET Bible, which offered this insight:

With the plague on the cattle, where is says "all livestock" died ... "The word “all” clearly does not mean “all” in the exclusive sense, because subsequent plagues involve cattle. The word must denote such a large number that whatever was left was insignificant for the economy. It could also be taken to mean “all [kinds of] livestock died.”

Also, with the plague of hail, the Lord referred to killing all "animals." So this would include dogs, cats, etc., whereas the earlier plague focused specifically on cattle, horses, donkeys, camels and "herds."

Still confusing. :) But I hope this helps!

Pat,

Excellent question!
'As all the livestock belonging to the Egyptians were killed by the fourth plague, the Plague of Livestock, where did the livestock referred to in sixth plague, the Plague of Hail, come from?'

I didn't know the answer - but I found this explanation in today's commentary...

Some have asked, “If all the cattle died here, how, then, can we later (vss. 10; 20-21) read of other livestock which is killed in the thunderstorm?” Hannah (p. 113) suggests (1) hyperbole or (2) only all the animals in the field were killed. A better suggestion may be that the Egyptians purchased cattle from another country. To allow some time for the Egyptians to begin to recover from one disaster, only to lay them low again, is of much greater economic consequence.

Isn't God amazing!?

While the magicians were able to create the bloody water and frogs, they were unable to make it go away. Pharoah asked Moses to pray for these things to be removed from the land.

The plaque on the livestock--horses and donkeys and camels and on the cattle and sheep and goats..."All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died."

Were some of the Egyptians convinced that the God of the Hebrews was the great I AM? The next plaque wiping out the livestock by hail seems to suggest that many were turning to the Lord; if so (and that is where I am leaning), some of the Egyptian livestock certainly would have been spared from the first onslaught BECAUSE they were believers.

Exodus 9:20
"Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the LORD left their slaves and livestock in the field."


The readings from Matthew are really powerful!

Matthew 19:14&15 "But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left. ~ I'm so happy Jaden (my son) is joining Sundayschool, that way he gets to know who Jesus is. I really want Jaden to go to Jesus and in his sweet little 'kid-way' he truly is!!!! Jaden talks about Jesus and that's just so adorable! The other day he said "Mommy? Jesus lives in my heart, right? That's a good thing! Jesus can't live in my stomache, because there's all my food!". I love how open and pure the love is that Jaden has for Jesus. He doesn't really understand it yet how it works, but he'll learn to.

Matthew 19:30 "But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then". I know people who come to church every Sunday, which I'm really happy about. Because in my opinion they really need God's word. I know, I'm not the one to judge them and they don't have responsibility towards me. But even now when they come to church every Sunday, they care so much about status. Need to have the big new Mercedes, their designer clothes, expensive 12 course dinner with the finest wines and champaignes. It's just so hard for me to understand WHY wealth stays number 1 for them? We keep hearing it over and over again, we also know about demon mammon ... Even with Christmas they wanted to rent a castle, including caterers and housekeeping. I mean ...... Christmas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Isn't that about something else? We can celebrate Christmas homeless underneath a bridge ... I just don't get it! I'm so passionate about Jesus Christ ... and sure, I like having a job, I like having a car ... my husband will be a manager soon instead a senior engineer ... sure, we're happy about it. But I don't want him to use his elbows and smack everbody down the ladder while he's climbing up. And he's not like that at all. He's just being patient, doing his job and knows that he'll be rewarded. Status, money, being rich ... that's not what we are aiming for in life. And it hurts me that other people are going blind for their wealth ...

Thanks Cherie and Lesley for coming up with some answers to my livestock question! I REALLY appreciate you taking your time to look it up and share your info.

God Bless!
Pat

Can we confess our sins and make a complete U-turn... Sure, It's not always easy though. There are examples from my life where it's 'easier' for me to denounce some things than others. The awesome thing about it is it gives me a REAL conscience--not just Jiminy Cricket sitting on my shoulder to answer to! :) So, I can put myself in Pharoah's shoes on some occasions but untilmately, I do know what is right and what I need to go to God for strength to fight against!

I really appreciated the New Testament tale of the rich man today too. Really brings home how much I enjoy and admire things that I have or things that I want.

Exodus 9 - This course really helps me to understand the nature of God more and more somethings truly are a confirmation for me while others is new "Good News" I never thought about v9-10 this way before. God could have surely just said frogs stop/halt or whatever, but just to be sure that Pharaoh knew this was not a trick of some magician he allowed him to set the time the frogs were to stop. I love how God works.

man, that Pharoh is stubborn! About the rich young ruler in matthew, we dont know what he did. i bet he thought it over a lot. i wonder wat he chose. But it shows how it is so hard for a wealthy person to enter in heaven b'cos they trust in their wealth. Or a very intelliegent person may trust in their knowledge but have no fear of the Lord n no wisdom. Success, fame, wealth, power...all these things are warned about because we can trust in them and not the true living God. The poor, the down and out, the crippled, the sick...this is who /jesus ministered to. they saw their need for Him! Of course the poor and needy and middle class still may reject Christ.

Point is, we all at one time have had something as our god. God will let us know individually wat it is n say, forsake that, put it aside n follow me. What consumes us? What do we live for? What do we think about most? (i do believe even ppl can becomes gods in someone's life) a few times i've been sharing with nonbelievers and they were open...then next thing, they met mr/mrs right and the person loses interests in seeking God, cause they know have their wonderful bf/gf to distract them n be their god. I have seen this happen quite a few times in ppl's lives n its sooo sad. they get so wrapped up in this person, they are no longer open to the things of the Lord.
I also ave seen many devout believers compromise and date a nonbelievers. They compromise more here and there, next thing I hear they are living with this person out of wedlock. When I see them they are unrecognizable, they are back in the world, they talk like nonbelievers (cussing), they act like worldly ppl (drinking, sexual activity). They gave it up! For what? a relationship that kicks God out of their hearts and they risk the danger of walking too far from the Lord. NOT worth it! It hurts me, I have seen this happen to many believer friends.

If God says leave a realtionship, b/f, g/f...leave!!!! Just leave. I have had to do this, its very painful yes when you love the person, but God said, leave this! You cant be with hIm and serve Me. So i obeyed God...it hurt like crazy for about a year (my first love) but today I'm grateful! I found him on myspace like 10 yrs later, he's married, a drunkard, pot smoker. THANK GOD I obeyed Him!! I'm so glad thats not me married to him!!!

If God is telling you to leave an ungodly b/f, g/f...do it! Obey Him, deny yourself. Look at what Christ went through. You will be blessed. Its so worth it to obey, no matter the cost now.

The book "The Richest Man in Babylon" makes the point of paying yourself 10% first, then using 20% to pay past debt, with the balance used to live on. If you use 10% for giving and 10% for paying off past debt, I think this will work. I recommend the book as a financial primer.

I attended a church in Minnesota that had a sermon entirely about removing debt. "Hope at the End of Your Paycheck" because Jesus spoke more about money than any other topic; more than heaven, hell, and prayer combined.

The formula you mentioned was also mentioned by the senior pastor at that church- 10% savings, 10% giving.

I had to listen to this again todau to make sure I heard what I heard and read. This verse has really resonated with me today (v:17-18.)
---------------------------
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle"

Now I understand why when I'm going through a storm and I make good decisions through the storm, endure it and praise God - I am allowed that moment of rest. God knows exactly how much I can bare so He gives me rest....In the same way He gave the children of Isreal upon leaving Egypt.

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