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I may start a BIG controversy here, but Mike you stated:

>> We read in verse 27 that Gideon made a sacred ephod from the collected gold - so, this does appear worshipful perhaps at first glance. But then verse 27 tells us - "But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshiping it, and it became a trap for Gideon and his family." Yikes! Not exactly what should have happened here... It's interesting. I wonder if we do this in our lives today as well. >>

What happened there has continues to happen and has continued from time immemorial. It is what happens when we make God’s Word, a tradition of men, and act of doing instead of a state of being. Our drive to codify denominations that were never meant to be denominations by the people who we credit as the “father” of … has created followers who hold to the “party” line and tradition greater than what Jesus said and did. Even when we come face to face with the “Truth” of God’s Word, many stick with the denominations’ party line. Somewhat like what we in the U.S. have going with “liberal” and “conservative” labels, they are demonized and the label is used to keep people in their rightful place or to marginalize and/or dismiss them. (Did not mean to go off on that tangent). Truth is Truth even when it doesn’t fit in with our denominational agenda. The ignoring of that Truth to keep the “party line” becomes idolatry no matter the situation, cultural or ethnic tradition.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6 KJV)

I see traditions take the place of God's word literally every day .I personally have nothing against the Greek Orthodox church or any other denominations but when my loved ones only read what the priests write,do only what they say,keep icons representing saints as amulets which they call on for protection,when some of them think that the saints are the key to their salvation and bluntly refuse to believe what I read to them from the bible because it contradicts what their priests say then I have a problem.Yep I become outraged,I know that's not what Christ wants from me and I keep praying I stick to my part bringing the good news and leave judgement to God.
I know I'm going into the deep end here but this subject to me is sensitive.Jesus came and humbled himself,Paul and the rest of the disciple didn't try to exault themselves,they came to serve.There are denominations where the "leaders" are really exaulted...even given names like "most holy" so "holy" that they come up with doctrines that contradict what Jesus had ordained.Now as Christians,followers of Christ,how can you follow some one you don't obey?I posed this question to all my relatives..."I am a christian,I need to follow Jesus so I need to know the rules right from the word of God .Tell me who do you follow in reality as you have no idea what's written in the bible".Please bear with me while I say one last thing.Easter eggs are painted red in monasteries and are eaten after chanting "Christ has risen,in deed He has risen"..these come from the teachings that Mary the mother of Jesus had eggs with her and the blood of Jesus splashed on them.!!!.. When I tell the believers of this that's it's not in the bible they say I am not being faithful to the "righteous faith"!
I think the consequences of what Gideon did was felt by Israel...I see the fruits that tradition has borne her.. they're sad and ugly...
I agree with Vance,not every Christian is a disciple.Not every one who Jesus healed came back to thank Him,not everyone who gets saved follows Christ.Of all the 11 disciples and others that the women told about Christ's ressurection only Peter ran out..followers hmm.May we all christians truly be disciples.
God bless you all

Luke 23 (NKJV)
50
Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man.
51
He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.
52
This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.
53
Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before.
54
That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.

NOTE:
I admire Joseph of Arimathea. Note the following facts about this man from the other Gospels.

1. Matthew 27:57 -- "...there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus."

Joseph of Arimathea had become a disciple of Jesus. No one knows precisely when. I like to think Joseph of Arimathea became a follower of Jesus when he saw his peers -- most of the Jewish leaders -- unjustly try and kill Jesus.

2. Matthew 27 (NKJV)
59
When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth,
60
and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock

Note that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus' body in his own tomb.

2. Mark 15:43 -- "Joseph of Arimathea...coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus."

The Holy Spirit through Mark shows that Joseph of Arimathea took courage.

I like this for it shows that we can always take courage and chose to act in faith. It is never too late while we live and breath on this earth.


3. John 19:38 -- "...Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews..."

The Holy Spirit through John adds a final note about the humanity of Joseph of Arimathea: He was a secret disciple out of fear of his peers-- the Jewish leaders who had succeeded in killing Jesus.

Joseph did an amazing thing. He chose to overcome his fears and chose to act by doing a simple, yet powerful, act of kindness to Jesus.

After Jesus had been dishonored and humiliated unjustly by his peers, Joseph of Arimathea insisted on honoring Jesus by making sure His body had a proper burial.

This shows that each simple act of kindness-- no matter how small-- done in the Name of Jesus is not simple at all.

Why? Because God in His mercy, infuses these simple acts of kindness done in Jesus' Name with Grace and Power. Thus, God is able to use them to effect change in peoples' lives.

Also, the timing of when Joseph of Arimathea convinces me that he was truly being led of the Spirit of God.

Many of Joseph's peers, the Jewish leaders, hated Jesus enough to kill Him because they wanted to prove once and for all that Jesus was not the Messiah. Yet, Joseph's simple act of courage set the stage for God to show to all of the world that Jesus is, indeed, God's chosen One, not the Messiah.

I remember the "Jesus Seminar" (a so-called search for the historical Jesus which completely discounts the miraculous and the Resurrection).

The "Jesus Seminar" makes the point once a body was taken down from a Roman cross, it was common for no one to claim the body of the dead person because of the dishonor of being crucified as a criminal in shame.

That may be true. The "Jesus Seminar" also makes the claim that it was common for bodies of the dead, taken from a Roman cross, to be eaten by ravenous and wild dogs.

The so-called "Jesus Seminar" then contends that this is probably what happened to the body of Jesus. They claim that is why no one can find the body of Jesus.

Thus (in their minds) this is one piece of historical evidence that shows that Jesus could not have been resurrected.

***
However, Joseph's simple act of kindness clearly disproves the contention of the so-called "Jesus Seminar". Very few men could have been able to freely approach Pilate as could those of the Jewish leaders of Israel-- of which Joseph of Arimathea was one.

He used the authority of his position to go to Pilate and request the body, thus insuring that Jesus' body was kept intact.

Finally, since Joseph of Arimathea was well known to
the Jewish leaders, they also knew where the body of Jesus had been laid.

Again, another nail is hammered into the heart of unbelief in the Resurrection of Jesus, killing unbelief.

For-- if Jesus had truly not risen from the dead --
all the Jewish leaders would have to do would be to produce the body to disprove the claim of the disciples of Jesus that Jesus had risen.

Yet, they could not do that. Why? Because Joseph of Arimathea took courage and made sure that the body of Jesus was properly buried. We know that the Jewish leaders knew where that tomb was for they asked Pilate to guard the tom where Jesus' body was laid.

Well... Satan's scheme to discredit and kill Jesus failed miserably.

THANK YOU, JOSEPH.

I really like and am challenged by these thoughts and questions:

"...can you abandon the false idol you are worshiping as quickly as possible? Particularly if this false idol was born out of something that was initially worshipful. Will you let it go?"

Since the Lord Jesus is demonstrated to be Lord by dying for my sins and rising from the dead, how could I give Him anything less than my all?

Vance

Joseph of Arimathea had become a disciple of Jesus. No one knows precisely when. I like to think Joseph of Arimathea became a follower of Jesus when he saw his peers -- most of the Jewish leaders -- unjustly try and kill Jesus.

Vance, We as Christians are all Disciples of Christ! Joseph of Arimathea had become a disciple of Jesus by his belief.

dis·ci·ple ( P ) Pronunciation Key (d-spl)
n.

1.)One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another.
An active adherent, as of a movement or philosophy.
often 2.)Disciple - One of the original followers of Jesus.
3.)Disciple - A member of the Disciples of Christ.

i'll get to the readings tomorw, but wanted to share something that freaked me out, regarding calling on the name of Jesus in a dream. this wasnt a dream, at least not to me...its called sleep paralysis, but with the 'dream' its called old hag's syndrome (NOT very flattering! haha). If you've ever been put under anesthesia and your body was paralyzed b4 your mind went, that what it felt like. It was about a yr or two ago.
I woke up in the middle of the night and was aware, fully conscious! i could think, reason, just like now, but I couldnt move my body...not one muscle! I tried with all my might and i couldnt..my motor muscles were completely paralyzed, like that part of my brain wasnt awake, but my conscious was. I was aware i was in bed unable to move, which was scary, a helpless feeling. Suddenly i felt something on me, a pressure on me as i lay there on my back...it was a form, about the size of a 4 yr old child. i was suddenly aware it was a demon. ok, i've been bungee jumping, skydiving, but i've never been so scared in my life! i was aware i had a demon on me and man, you better believe i tried my darnedest to move, anything! an arm a leg...move, move, please...nothing. I started crying out to Jesus, knowing only He could help me. I began saying in my mind, 'In the name of Jesus Christ get off of me!'...over n over n over, this lasted over a minute. suddenly, my arm starting responding to commands my brain gave it and it was moving a bit then my legs (this whole thing went on about 3 minutes). suddenly i free and completely awake, body n mind. i realized i had dried tears on my face, so i was crying in my state, tears of terror. Oh man, i'm a grown woman but i had to turn my light on and i sat on my bed crying like a baby just prayingggg like crazy. i was too scared to go back to bed...I just opened my BIble n God led me to a Psalm that spoke to me sooo much, the words jumped out of the page at me!!
It happened again about 6 months later but not as long lasting...i was on my side and felt a hand rub down from my waist to my hip...i was paralyzed again and aware it was a demon. crikey that was scary...then (i guess my sheet was over my head)...the sheet lifted up and a small weird hand waved at me. aaaaah! i reenacted for my sis n she screamed like crazy when i waved my hand in her face.
watever the cause or wat that was, i told my dad, he said that is not characteristic of a demon, they dont harass believers, but i think they can , but they cannot indwell us, but since they harass us emotionally, they may physically, i dont know, it was very real to me! man, if thats what hell is like, pure terror!!! I just knew one thing, only the name of Jesus could save me!!!
i've had believer friends have similar and weirder experiences, but not many.

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