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Mike,

Thanks for your ministry of encouraging many to read through the Bible. I am grateful for your participation/leadership in this work of the Lord.

Regarding life balance, I have always been led to view our life in Christ not from the perspective of balance, but from the perspective of 'abandon'. From Matthew 16, we read "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." I want to abandon my hopes, dreams, and desires in exchange for service in the kingdom of heaven. God can use us in His service in 'all' circumstances of our life. As we grow in spiritual maturity, we can serve Him in all areas of our life and at all times of the day and night.

We can pray through our calendar each day to seek his will for those things that go on our calendars, and seek his guidance in each activity of our day. One friend of mine prays to see each meeting of his day as a divine appointment. We know Christ goes with us through His Holy Spirit, so each activity of the day can be redemptive.

I like the idea of abandon. More of Him in service to His Kingdom.

Hello Everyone,

Regarding Proverbs 6 and the ant, one thing I admire is the ant knows what she's designed to do and does it without being commanded or reminded:

"Without having any chief, officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest."
-Proverbs 6:7-8

I believe our primary "work" in this world is to glorify God in whatever He calls us to. Inherent in our daily work--no matter how menial or cerebral-- is the opportunity to glorify Him by doing a job well and unto the Lord, not unto materialistic wants or to satisfy our hungry egos.

With regard to the ant's work ethic, I love working alongside people who are like her, people who diligently complete their work, even when no one else is around to supervise them or give them pats on the back.

I also think the proverb suggests that there are appropriate seasons for different kinds of work. What's appropriate work for one season may not be for another. We need to be sensitive to God's timing in things.

Our work is much more than just our paid employment, (although of course that's a necessary chunk of it)--there is work to be done in our family, community and church every day. And I agree Mike, it's got to be a balanced portrait-- we should not neglect our family for our job or the church for our family or our family for the church (!)

We can make an idol out of any work--even work for His church.

Just thinking,

I connect to your thoughts on balance, Mike! At times, we have such tunnel vision.

I know balancing work and play, action and rest, rejoicing and weeping. . . leads to a fully human life. When I'm sensing a need to improve one area of my life, I find it helpful to prayerfully consider all the areas of my life that help me walk as one who is fully alive in Christ and fully human. My key areas happen to be Spirituality, Relationships, Wellness (health, fitness, leisure, fun), Surroundings (local to global), Finances, Work, and Creativity. Then I ask myself how satisfied I am with each of those. I take my disatisfaction to God in meditation and prayer. Then, I listen and watch for resources to help me raise a sense of balance in the areas that are weak--even if it means moderating some of the others. I keep returning to the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3 - "For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven."

I also appreciate a quote from G.K Chesterton, "Let's rally the really human things."

I totally agree with your comments on the story of the ants, Elizabeth!

In proverbs it says that the ants toil day in and day out without a leader or governor. They know that is the right thing for them to do and they don't need anyone to tell them that. What if all of us did that in our Christian growth, huh! We would have been far better off. We sometimes put aside, what is the easiest to put aside. And that sometimes becomes our Christian growth or our bible study or our daily fellowship with the divine One. I know at least I do, either because I have important things going on in my family life or at work. We know we are responsible to meet expectations of people or family first. And the easiest thing to do last sometimes becomes our time with GOD. I wish we could find that perfect balance to put GOD first and give HIM the full glory all the time. I remember our church priest mention in one of his sermons one day, if each of us could take a vacation or a day off from work or our regular routine just to do things that would give glory to GOD , that would be awesome. That sounds crazy but, but what if we did that? I bet there would be 100 or more angels praising GOD for us, “saying they got it right this time” :-)

Another verse that stood out to me was:

Mathew 20: 16 “So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”

I think this is what it means. We are all equal in the kingdom of heaven. There is no first or last or what CHRIST says in the verses above is first = last. Be it a person who followed CHRIST 10yrs ago or a person who received CHRIST yesterday. All who have heard the Promise, salvation is theirs and we become members of the same kingdom. We are all one body and are at peace with one another. It greatly resonates with our memorizing verse:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace." Colossians 3:15 NIV

Regardless of who were are we all reap the same benefits in the kingdom of heaven, for there is only one GOD and we are all children of the same Father. We will all be treated equally!

Elizabeth,

"I believe our primary "work" in this world is to glorify God in whatever He calls us to."

Amen, Amen, and Amen.

"Whatever He calls us to" is His Will. As we advance on our walk and begin to understand the Father's Will - we know Him better. By knowing Him better, we are becoming more like Christ who knows the Father perfectly.

By submitting our will to His Will and obeying (is not that what Christ did here on earth the first visit?) - God will be glorified - not us.

From the beginning to the end this is all about the magnification of the Glory (all God's Characteristics) of God.

Matthew 20

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

I agree with Arielle. It does not matter when you come to Christ - as a young child or on your deathbed. The pay is the same - Salvation.

Is anyone better than another in Heaven? Nope. Some will have different responsibilities and/or jobs. However, it is nothing we do to earn those things - God has assigned us to do works as believers before time began. It is His sovereign choice about what works (the ones that count are His) people will do and what their future in heaven will be, and just being in heaven is by His grace - it is nothing we deserve.

As entities we will all be the same (it is a tie as Arielle said) - all are saved, and all are perfected into the image of Christ. Perfect by definition means the highest point anyone can reach - therefore none can be more perfect than another.

Matthew 20

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

Found a neat list that I am posting and providing a link.

"The whole sweep of the Old Testament, in its types, symbols, and pictures, demands that the Messiah die for the sins of the world.

There are many passages in the Old Testament that predict all the factors of the Messiah's life.

a) Zechariah 9:9 says He would enter into Jerusalem.

b) Psalm 2:1-3 says He would know the fury and rage of His enemies.

c) Zechariah 13:7 says He would be deserted by His friends.

d) Zechariah 11:12 says He would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver.

e) Psalm 22:14-17 says He would be crucified.

f) Psalm 34:20 says none of His bones would be broken (cf. Ex. 12:46).

g) Psalm 22:18 says His garments would be parted by the casting of lots.

h) Psalm 69:21 says He would be given vinegar to drink.

i) Psalm 22:1 says He would cry out in pain of distress.

j) Zechariah 12:10 says they would pierce Him with a spear.

k) Psalm 16:10 says that He would rise from the dead.

l) Psalm 110:1 says that He would ascend into heaven.

All those prediction were part of the Old Testament prophecies. A detailed description of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ can be seen in Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, and Zechariah 12. So as He went to Jerusalem, Jesus remained on schedule with no deviation."

http://www.biblebb.com/files/MAC/sg2346.htm

Matthew 20

A Mother's Request

26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you....

It is not wrong to want to be great in heaven, IT IS wrong to want greatness for the wrong reasons.

Jesus' aunt wanted greatness for her two sons (Jesus' cousins) for the wrong reason. It was for her sons' glory.

Christ says - if you want to be great here is the standard: Humble, self-sacrificing service to God.

Who is the greatest man in heaven - Christ. He gave up the most - His Glory in heaven with the Father, came to earth as a man, submitted His Will to the Father, Did nothing that was not in the Father's Will, said nothing but the Words of the Father, and did no miracle that was not from the Father by the Holy Spirit in Christ. Christ came, submitted, served humbly, died and was glorified.

That is the standard. We are to do the same. It will be imperfect, but that is the path to greatness. It starts with submission to the Father not just at Salvation, but in our daily walk....

If we do that, then God will present the path for us to walk on and hold on to by our submissive faith. Those will be the works he prepared for us before time began, and will determine our rewards in heaven.

NOTE: This does not vilolate the idea of equality that Arielle posted on above. As entities we will all be the same. However the greatness will be in our responsibilities in heaven.

Exodus

Plagues

Just want to encourage everyone to go to link below, and scroll down to footnotes. there is a chart there outlining the plagues and the Egyptian Gods that were being mocked as powerless and judged.

http://bible.org/page.php?page_id=138

Link lists the first nine plagues and the Egyptian gods they were mocking.

"Finally, the 10th plague, of death of the firstborn, was an attack on the divinity of Pharaoh, whom the Egyptians believed was an incarnation of the sun-god and of Osiris, the giver of life. It was the Pharaoh’s task to retain the favour of the gods and to uphold the laws of Ma‘at, goddess of order. However, he was powerless to prevent the death of his own son, the next-in-line ‘divine ruler’, or that of anyone else’s son in the land of Egypt.4 Thus, Yahweh alone had absolute control of life and death."

http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v27/i1/plagues.asp

Exodus 10-11

Hardening Pharaoh's Heart

Locusts and Darkness - In all cases here it is clear the Lord made Pharoah's heart unresponsive or grew it hard. Pharaoh had gone from trying to con the Lord with promises and then lies - to attempting to negotiate with the God through Moses. Do any of us really have anything to negotiate with when we are up against the Creator of the Universe. If you reject Christ and plan on talking your way into heaven - just what exactly can you bring to the table when negotiating with God about entrance?

Nothing. We have nothing to negotiate with and neither did Pharaoh. Pharaoh had rejected God, tried to play God with his repentance and lies, thought he was exalted over Israel's God, and now wanted to negotiate with God?

Pharaoh's cup of sin had just gotten full. Now there is no turning back. I believe that there was always the possibility that if Pharoah had submitted and acknowledged God through the first seven plaqgues that things might have played out differently. Pharaoh like satan thinks he can play this game against the God of Israel and win. But Pharaoh like satan had an unresponsive heart that God chose not to soften and events went their natural course.

In these plagues the cup of Pharaoh's sin was full and God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that there would be no changing of the mind. Pharaoh had crossed the proverbial line.

Pharaoh is symbolic of satan, but I often wonder if he is also a picture of an unrepentant sinner. 'Oh I've seen your works, I know who you are, not today and not tomorrow no matter how much you draw me to you, but perhaps on my deathbed I will give in and submit to you.' No one plays a con game on God and decides when they will submit for a ticket to heaven. An unrepentant sinner will allow his heart to grow hard and will be unresponsive to God's calling - and on his deathbed????? Perhaps God will not allow him to submit, perhaps God hardens the person's heart so that they are incapable of accepting Christ. Just a thought and one I am not married to at this time. It is just the idea of crossing the line with God after being offered numerous opportunities to repent. Does one really want to take the chance that they can get a last minute reprieve from God after rejecting Him their whole life??????

Exodus 12

In the Gospels during the crucifixion week I will be making comparisons with Christ's last week and the Passover. The Passover points to Christ and God followed the formula he laid out in Egypt to the tee in Jerusalem regarding the sacrifice of our Lord.

You might want to go through this Exodus chapter and underline or make notes on things that charactize and are part of the Passover. It will be useful later.
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Blood on the door

Did God need to see the Blood on the door to pass over the Hebrew households with death of first born children and animals? Coul not God just know who had partaken of the Passover meal?

No God did not need to see it, and yes He would know what was going on inside the household. So why put blood on the door?????

Well it does symbolize the covering of innocent blood that is reqquired for redemption (entrance to heaven - door synbol).

But also it shows that there must be an act of submission and obediance to attain redemption (both in Egypt and accepting Christ). It was against the law of Egypt to worship foreign gods in the town proper. That is why Moses asked to go out in the country three days travel. It was OK to do it outside the city, but inside the city was a no-no. The blood on the doors would be an affront to the Egyptians and if God did not keep His Word there would be big time penalties to pay. God just told the Hebrew people - 'Trust me and do it'. They submitted and obeyed, and we know they were redeemed. Should we be any different when we come to God seeking salvation through Christ?
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Small point

Ex 10:28-29
Some people get hung up on "Se my face again" statements. First, Moses did not leave Pharaoh's presence in this echange until Ex 11:8. Second, Moses had had free access to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh is saying this free access is done - no more.

Moses did see Pharaoh once more, but it was when Pharaoh called Moses to the court (Ex 12:31). Not because Moses was seeking Pharaoh's face (a meeting).

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