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It is a good reminder to live simply. However, simply does not mean poorly. In ther era of consumerism and materialism, simple living is against the world tide concept.

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:21

Nothing wrong with being rich, having riches as the Lord bless. But to guard against the bondage of greed and self-sufficience. Blinded to the needs of the needy. To build faulty confidence and self-worth in riches than on God alone. To store up treasure on earth rather than heaven, because that is where your heart will be.

i have been thinking lately about how much wisdom there is in living a simple, godly life... maybe taking a job with less pay! Mike u hit a homerun with that one.... what a tremendous thought, lets actually get off the roller coaster the world tells us to get on, and get on the one that could lead to us more happiness and truw joy.... wooooo Glory.... what a tremendous thought!

"What in our life really demonstrates that we have regard for the weak?"

Go to a meeting of Adult Children of Alcoholics and you will find a lot of co-dependent nurses and doctors who choose professions of helping only because being around weakness helps them feel better. 15% of Americans, in fact, have clinical personality disorders where their only pleasures are controlling others and the jobs they most seek are (in order) councilor, K-12 teacher, law enforcement, religious leader, and company executive. This is why all of our actions (esp helping the weak) must be based on loving God first and waiting on His instruction and not feeling good (what most people say motivates them to do good) just as Satan's first attempt to temp Christ was to be useful to the weak by turning stones into bread to feed the hungry.

Speaking of cash, Rainer rates (in my words) people's chances of getting into heaven as U5 to U1 and C1 to C5 and he has found the best predictor of spiritual failure is cash and little else. Mother Teresa was poorly regarded when she suggested a multi-story hospital be built without an elevator (she said just to trust God) and had to leave her church to prove living so simply could be successful before being invited back. When missionaries are asked what they most need, a common response today is, "Just don't send money - that only makes us weaker!"

Be careful what you pray for, generally the worst thing we can get is what we ask for (we're so much better at knowing what we want rather than what we need)... at the very least when we ask for Him to make something happen (like healing a friend) He will say, "OK, go do it and I'll be with you all the way." When the homeless stop me for money, I'm more likely to hand out cards with the phone numbers and addresses of the two dozen closest social services and explain which might be the best for obtaining a free bed, food, a job, and training... and several have tracked me down to tell me that I had saved their lives with just some knowledge of what to do.

IMHO, the best way to demonstrate regard for the weak is how we deal with the speck in their lives to help recognize and deal with the log that's in our own. Kurt Lewin, founder of social psychology, said, “You cannot understand a system unless you change it.” Likewise, to know one's self, one also must change his or herself. How has changing yourself brought about your own improved self-awareness? What is your personal soul encouragement routine and what is your spiritual growth plan? How have you done selling it to the weak to make them as strong (or even stronger) than yourself (to teach them how to fish instead of only giving them fish)?

Vicki,

You are welcome. Each year I post Stephen Davey's excerpt from his sermon - listing each book of the Old Testament showing how it refers to Christ.

Every year I get emails and posts saying thanks. I hate to take up so much space, but so many people avoid the Old Testament and concentrate on the New Testament. As you commented, that post should encourage us to study THE WHOLE BIBLE - as it is a very synchronized book with a consistent message. It is all God's Word, and I have been really blessed by digging into the Psalms this year, as I have never really payed much attention to them in my first 3+ years as a Christian.

Psalm 41

1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak;
the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.

The Psalms are divided into five books. this is the last Psalm in the first Book. It is worth noting that Book 1 starts with “this is what it takes to be happy in the Lord” and endswith “this is what it takes to be happy in the Lord.” They are bookends that capture the first Book of the Psalms.

Literally, happy is the man who has compassion on the helpless (singular). this is not about someone writing a check to charity. this is about someone who cares and gets involved on a one on one basis with not just the poor - but those who feel overwhelmed, despairing, troubled.

It sounds very much like what Jesus said in Matthew when He said, “Blessed are the merciful for they all receive mercy.” If you have made it a way of life to extend mercy to others, then in your hour of need you will experience the mercy of God.

In verses 1 and 3 the Lord delivers, the Lord protects, and the Lord sustains. Does God do it because we extend compassion unto the helpless. NO, God does it out of his grace and mercy, and because He promised He would extend that grace and mercy to a believer.

It is not until we can walk with God in the Spirit that we can exhibit this grace and mercy to others, and when we do - we begin to understand better that Grace and Mercy God extends to us as believers.
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4 I said, "O LORD, have mercy on me;
heal me, for I have sinned against you."

David takes the theology from the first three verses and applies it to himself. David understands that God does not owe David mercy for david's works - david just asks for mercy while acknowledging he has sinned against God.
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When is this written?

It is thought to be written during the time of Absalom returning to Jerusalem at David's request. Verse 6 is in the singular and is thought to be Absalom. Absalom said one thing to David's face and quite another out by the city gate where he slowly gathered followers to war against David.

Verse 9 is probably talking about Ahithophel This was David’s counselor. He was David’s friend; he was like part of the family. He would come in and
eat with David. But Ahithophel betrayed David and sided with Absalom.

It is also Messianic as it applies to Judas as Christ quoted this verse in John 13:7.
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10 But you, O LORD, have mercy on me;
raise me up, that I may repay them.

11 I know that you are pleased with me,
for my enemy does not triumph over me.

12 In my integrity you uphold me
and set me in your presence forever.

"Repay" in verse 10:

"I don’t think he is talking there about vengeance. I think he just wants to set the record straight. These people are promoting a view of God that simply isn’t right. God has not condemned him. God has not abandoned him. We know from 2 Samuel that David confessed his sin and God forgave his sin. But he still has to live with the consequences of his choices. He just wants to step up and set the record straight. He wants to correct the theology related to God." - Pastor Bryan Clark

David is asking for mercy - David knows God is pleased with him, and will uphold David in his integrity. None of this is because David deserves or has earned this status - David knows this is true because it is how god views believers. Integrity and righteousness are imputed (credited to us) due to faith and belief in God.

"And then he makes an amazing statement: “And you set me in Your presence forever.” As a matter of fact, “You set me in your presence” is a very strong Hebrew word that was used to
describe a soldier crouched and ready to take on the enemy. It is not a soldier at attention; that is a different word. This is a word that is more the idea that he is crouched down and he has his sword and shield ready. When the enemy comes over the hill he is going to let him have it, but there is no way that enemy is getting through. It is a picture that even in this moment, God has set David in His presence and He is crouched. Anyone that wants to take him away, God is going to let him have it. “You can’t take him. He is going to be with me forever.” That is an amazing statement given David’s circumstances." - Pastor Bryan Clark
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13 Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

Praise be to the Lord, the Godof Israel. Why would God do this? God did it for Himself, that He might put His mercy and grace on display in the heavenlies forever. It was not about David. It was about God and His grace and mercy.

Because of God's grace and mercy, and because David knows God will deliever, and because David knows with assurance his standing with God forever - not because of anything David did, but because David believed and had fiath in God - because of all this David can praise God in this last verse.

Proverbs 10:15
"The wealth of the rich is their fortified city,
but poverty is the ruin of the poor." NIV

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Those who have money can make money. The poor man can’t get started; his poverty is his undoing. The rich can buy quality merchandise that lasts longer. The poor buy worn-out, second-hand things that keep them poor with repair bills. This is the way things are in life, but not the way they should be.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. 1997, c1995. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments . Thomas Nelson: Nashville

Proverbs 10:16

The wages of the righteous bring them life,
but the income of the wicked brings them punishment.

When looked at in the Hebrew "contrast" style. Wages of righteous (believers/those who follow wisdom) is used wisely being led by God and brings "life" - in hebrew context "happiness".

Income of the wicked (non-believer/those who pursue "folly") no matter how it is spent or saved is rooted in self and not using wisdom from God - it just leads to a compounding of the "sin" lifestyle. The wages of sin lead to "death" (separation from God).

When I meditate on the image of Jesus healing the deaf and mute man, the look on the man’s face shows that he is awestruck but I also sense some fear in his face. He is also showing admiration and worship, almost like a young child being helped by his parents. The picture is awesome. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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“Based on these Proverbs reflections above, do you think living with less can somehow actually add more to our lives? Is there value in living a simple life? What are some simple life habits that you are practicing these days?”
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I truly believe that living with less can add more to our lives. I’ve never looked for “the-big-bucks”. I always looked for a job where I was happy with what I am doing. My father asked me this question when I was a teenager. What is your passion? What is it that you really like doing? Then find a job doing that and you’ll always be happy. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. We all live to our incomes anyway. The most important thing is that we should be happy. When you’re happy with your work, you’ll be happy at home with your family and with your friends. Like you said, maybe you can’t be out-on-the-town, but that doesn’t matter. There is only heart break out-on-the-town anyway. Simplicity is the way. Learn from Jesus. Jesus lived a simple life while He was on Earth. If we want to be like Jesus, part of being like Him is living a simple life away from the cares of this world and having a focus on God.

That being said I need to climb up on my soap box for a moment. I hope I don’t offend anyone with what I’m about to say and if I do I apologize upfront, but being Catholic I think I have the right to say this. I’ve been to Rome many times and I’ve been to the Vatican many times. The first time I was there I was in awe of the beauty. The second time I was there I was disgusted by the amount of wealth. The third time I was there I stood in the middle of St. Peters Square looking at the Basilica and I said it out loud for everyone to hear; “What would Jesus say about all of this grandeur and wealth?” If the Vatican would sell just one piece of art there would be enough money to feed, cloth and house hundreds of thousands of people. My point is that I don’t see the “simple life” in Vatican City. As I stood in St. Peters Square looking up at the Basilica I also kept thinking about what Jesus said to Peter; “Feed my sheep”. I know that the Catholic Church does a tremendous amount of good around the globe and I’m not knocking that. There would be a lot fewer Christians in the world if not for Catholic missions. I’ve just been having a problem getting over the vast amount of wealth the church owns and knowing that millions of people throughout the world need the basics of life; food, clothing and shelter.

Live a simple life, help others and be happy; be as much as Jesus as we can while on the Earth.
:-{D

Yours in Christ
Skip

Mark

At first glance there does not seem to be a connection between Jesus' discourse on "clean and unclean" (yesterday's readings) and today's readings.

Notice however that today's readings center around Jesus' ministry in the region of the "Gentiles". To the Jewish person - the Gentile was referred to as a "dog". Israel was God's chosen people, and these people - well, they were not even regarded as people - but as "dogs". This is an extension of the clean and unclean discussion except now it is about people.

Jesus came for the whole world - yes, first it was for the Jew, but ultimately for the "whole" world.

John 3:16
"For God so loved the WORLD that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV-CAPS MINE)

Note Jesus defeats evil, heals sick, and feeds - all the same things He has been doing in Israel. Symbolically it represents His powers in the spiritual world - conquers evil, restores from sin, and feeds the "bread of life".

[NOTE: Jesus is back in the Decapolis region. The last time He was there was in dealing with "Legion". The people asked him to go - now they came to Him in droves. Legion's testimony and witness of God was very powerful.]
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Jesus in dealing with the deaf and speech impaired man is interesting. Jesus took him aside - touched his ears (indicating He would heal them), touched the man's tongue (indicating his speech would be restored), and looked up to heaven (indicating the source of the healing was God). A sigh - perhaps representing the invisible agency of God in the healing (Holy Spirit???).

Once healed - notice Jesus addresses the crowd "Jesus commanded THEM". The crowd was amazed at the action - the sign - but the man healed knew the source of the act. He was allowed to go witness because he knew the truth. The crowd was commanded (and the verb tense indicates in a continuing manner) not to witness - because they only knew the partial truth. God doesn't deal in partial truths.
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Feeding the four thousand

I think two things are worthy of note here:

Jesus had compassion for the people - the Gentiles. Preparing the way and as an example to the disciples for their future ministries.

Seven leftover baskets - If the twelve leftover baskets represented Jesus' ability to (spiritually) feed the nation (twelve tribes) of Israel to an overflowing capacity. What about the seven baskets here?

Seven is the number of completeness - so perhaps it means Jesus could spiritually feed the "complete" world. Jews and Gentiles. Or - There are seven continents - so again the concept of the whole world. Or - the tribes in the region were the seven tribes thrown out of Israel - (all the "ites") - so Jesus could feed the Gentiles (again the rest of the world) in an overflowing state.


Leviticus

Sabbath - when atonement is done once a year for the nation - they are to cease work - sabbath rest.

When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior - we are resting from trying to earn (work) our way into heaven. We are trusting in, relying on, depending on the Lord. We rest, and leave it up to Christ and His shed blood. On the day we make that commitment to God - our sins are atoned for - not just on an annual basis but forever.
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God has symbolically pointed out up to now in Leviticus - our needs as mankind - and how He makes provisions to fill them.

Now in Leviticus - God starts discussing Standards of Behavior. However, note the order. God is not a legalist. He does not just throw down commands and expect them to be obeyed by a fallen mankind. First - He provides the basis from which to operate - fulfilling the needs of man so that man has the power to meet the standards. The problem with Israel is that eventually they gave lip service to the sacrifices - and they became ritualistic and never met their needs - thus they, as a nation, became far from God.

The same is true today - Our needs are met and we are given the provision by Christ on being in fellowship and synch with God - then we are to obey the laws written in our hearts. Without Christ - we would have no chance on this matter.
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Blood

Do not offer blood to false gods, and do not drink the blood.

Life is from God - do not denigrate God by making sacrifices to satyrs (goat idols). There is no power in them, and God is mocked when sacrifices to false gods occur.

Do not drink the blood - yes, because blood represents "life" and "life" is God's to give. On another level - blood drunk from these animals would be partaking from the life of an animal that is part of a fallen creation.

For us - symbolically- we are not to feed on the "flesh" of our fallen life, but - symbolically - on the flesh and blood of Christ - to become one with Him. We are not to partake of the fallen - but the divine.
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Sex

Some people say this generation is no worse than the last - just more publicized. Maybe. But Historians will point out that the fall of most great civilizations is coincidental to a great decline in moral values (sex included).

God has no problem with sex - as long as it is in a marriage. The list of things not to do - are outside of marriage.

When violated, especially on a widespread basis - it will destroy a nation. Some would even say - God is pointing out here that it is tied to ecological disaster. (The land vomiting out its inhabitants). I leave each one of you to figure that one out.

[email protected]

Skip,

I was raised Catholic, and left the church at thirteen. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior 35 years later. When faced with a choice of returning to the Catholic church or going Protestant - there was no choice for me. I did not return to the Roman church.

That being said your observation on wealth in the Catholic church can also be applied to Protestant ministers. Whenever you see excessive wealth by anyone claiming to be a "man" or a "church" of God - it should send up a red flag.

When one sees this - all one has to do is look at the man or church and find out their beliefs and tenets regarding God. When I see it - usually on their official websites - I compare their teachings and beliefs to the bible, and TO ME it is pretty clear how these men and churches should be regarded.

Each person needs to make their own evaluation.

John A.

Thanks for the feedback. Sometimes when I say things like that I feel guilty, that I'm being a bad person even though intellectually I know I’m not. I've seen those "Red" flags flying high in the air and I've been praying for guidance as to what direction to go. I haven't received the answer yet. In the meantime I still attend mass and am somewhat active in committee's, but there is a lot that just doesn't feel right. I get more out of listening to Charles Stanley and David Jeremiah then I do from attending mass. That in itself should be sending me a loud message, but then I look at their mega-churches and also get that bad feeling. I will keep praying for His guidance and when the time is right; His time, my direction will be made clear.

Thanks again.

Yours in Christ
Skip

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