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« Reply #6495 on: April 29, 2019, 07:57:36 AM »

Specific Creation

“All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” (1 Corinthians 15:39)

The doctrine of special creation means that creation took place by supernatural processes and that each created entity was specifically planned and formed by God. This doctrine is clearly taught in the Genesis record, where the phrase “after his kind” is used no less than ten times in the very first chapter.

One such remarkable reference is found here in 1 Corinthians 15:37-44. The distinctiveness of several major realms of creation is set forth as follows:

Botanical: “God giveth . . . to every seed his own body” (v. 38).

Zoological: “All flesh is not the same flesh” (our text).

Physical: “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another” (v. 40). Thus, although all celestial bodies may be made of the same basic chemical elements, planet Earth is unique in its complexity and purpose.

Astral: “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory” (v. 41). Even among the celestial bodies, each star is unique.

Spiritual: “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body” (v. 44). The Scriptures indicate that although they are genuinely physical bodies, they will one day be supernatural bodies, not controlled by the present force systems of nature.

God has a noble purpose for each created system, and He has specially designed each for that purpose. Although He has made ample provision for “horizontal” changes within the system, never can one evolve “vertically” into a more complex system. HMM
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« Reply #6496 on: April 30, 2019, 09:35:47 AM »

Raging Waves

“[They are] raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame.” (Jude 1:13)

Jude connects together a string of 21 illustrations to describe the character of ungodly men who are attacking “the faith once delivered to the saints” (v. 3). This very poignant letter literally sizzles with scathing imagery for those who dare to stir up dissension and disobedience among God’s people.

The particular image in verse 13 is of roiling billows surging ashore after a storm, spitting out “shame” from amidst the foam. The physical picture is disgusting enough. As the energy of the storm increases the waves’ height and frequency, the detritus in and on the ocean is picked up and carried along. As the waves rise up toward the shore, they break and the foam begins to collect and then spew out the “shame” previously covered by the depths.

Isaiah’s comparison is most apt: “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (Isaiah 57:20). The shame cast up by these raging waves is not just filthy but also damaging to those among whom the shame is dumped.

Paul warned the Corinthian church about those who dealt with “hidden things of dishonesty,” were “walking in craftiness,” or were “handling the word of God deceitfully.” In vivid contrast, Paul and his co-laborers openly displayed “the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2). Like Jude, Paul forecasts only destruction for these kinds of people. They brag “in their shame” and have their mind set on “earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).

“Foaming” at the mouth is frequently connected with demonic oppression in Scripture (Mark 9:17-18; Luke 9:39; etc.). Medically, the symptom is seldom positive. Perhaps Jude is offering a glimpse of the devilish source of such “raging” and raising a further alarm. HMM III
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« Reply #6497 on: May 01, 2019, 09:10:33 AM »

Waiting

“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:4)

Within a week of His approaching death, Christ sat down with His disciples to talk of the future. He would be leaving, terrible persecution would come, but He would return. Purposefully, no date was given. Their curiosity was no doubt great, but Christ had other charges for them. Instead, Christ focused on other issues, and His instructions apply to us just as surely as to the disciples.

Whether things are going well or not, we must not be misled into a false sense of security. The disciples were looking at the beautiful and serene temple and grounds, but Christ predicted unprecedented destruction. “There shall not be left one stone upon another” (v. 2).

Nor should we allow ourselves to be deceived by false prophets (vv. 5-6). Scripture gives ample information to allow us to identify and shun these “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” But to our shame, false teachings permeate our churches and television airwaves.

Furthermore, when natural calamities and world turmoil cascade in on us (vv. 7-8), we must not be frozen with fear. These things must come (v. 7). Persecution must come also (vv. 9-12). We must not allow ourselves to be intimidated in our witness or tripped up by bitterness.

Instead, we must “endure” and remain loyal to Him (v. 13). We must be at work to spread the gospel to all nations (v. 10) in spite of the opposition. And, “take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (v. 33).

As the events in the Middle East escalate and take on a character that could lead to the sort of conflagration Jesus prophesied, let us commit ourselves to the attitude of heart and life He commanded. JDM
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« Reply #6498 on: May 02, 2019, 09:06:19 AM »

Wandering Stars

“[They are] wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 1:13)

This short reference is somewhat enigmatic. The five “wandering stars” of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were clearly known in Jude’s day, and their behavior had been plotted for many centuries. The Bible also uses “stars” as figures of speech for angelic beings in Job and Revelation.

It is clear in context that Jude is referencing ungodly people, most likely influential leaders in the churches who are damaging and defiling the work of the Kingdom. The particular focus of this example is that they are “reserved” for a “blackness of darkness for ever.”

Earlier, Jude cited “the angels which kept not their first estate” as being “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (v. 6). Peter alludes to the same punishment of “angels that sinned” who were delivered “into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (2 Peter 2:4).

But it does not appear that Jude is speaking of angels in today’s text. Beginning in verse 8, Jude begins to tie his illustrations to people—leaders who are misusing their role and privileges for evil rather than good. All of the previous examples are obvious: filthy dreamers, natural beasts, those behaving like Cain, Balaam, or Korah—even the waterless clouds, fruitless trees, and foaming waves are easily compared to human behavior.

How do we apply this illustration? Since the Creator made all things, His revealed Word often provides insight about the true nature of the universe long before we discover it. Comets were observed in Old Testament times. Today we know that they “wander” for some time but eventually dissipate into “the blackness of darkness for ever.” Just so, these “stars” may wow some for a season, but they are reserved for an eternity in hell. HMM III
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« Reply #6499 on: May 03, 2019, 08:19:53 AM »

Redeeming the Time

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

This incisive expression—“redeeming the time”—occurs also in Colossians 4:5: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” The Greek word for “redeem” means to “buy back,” to “ransom,” or even to “rescue.” That is, time is a very valuable asset, in danger of being lost forever unless it is rescued or redeemed.

As a matter of fact, time is just about the most valuable asset we have. If we squander our money or lose our health, there is always the possibility of earning more money or being restored to health, but wasted time is gone forever. In our text, those who are wise redeem the time, whereas those who are fools waste or misuse it. The word in the original for “circumspectly” is translated “diligently” in Matthew 2:7. The text thus indicates that those who redeem the time are walking diligently; the parallel passage in Colossians 4:5 says they are walking in wisdom. The time God gives us, therefore, should be used both carefully and diligently.

The marvelous passage in the 139th Psalm that describes the growth of the human embryo concludes with a remarkable declaration: “In thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:16). The words “my members” are not in the original, and “in continuance” is actually the Hebrew word for “days.” Thus, the verse is really telling us that all of our days were written in God’s book even before we were conceived. Each day of our lives is vitally important in the plan of God.

“So,” as Moses prayed to the Lord, “teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). HMM
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« Reply #6500 on: May 04, 2019, 10:59:11 AM »

Enoch and the Second Coming

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.” (Jude 1:14)

There are two Enochs in the First Age of the world. One is a son of Cain (Genesis 4:17), and the other is a seventh-generation descendant of Adam through his son Seth (Genesis 5). Jude makes very clear which one he means. Luke references Enoch in his genealogy of the Lord Jesus (Luke 3:37), also indicating that this Enoch is important to remember.

Enoch was the father of Methuselah, who was the grandfather of Noah. Although the Bible does not mention it, several of the early church scholars allude to a Book of Enoch and cite passages from it about the awful days before the world was destroyed by the great Flood.

Perhaps the most startling fact recorded about Enoch is that he “was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). There is not much biblical data to study about Enoch. The Genesis record simply notes, “And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:23-24).

Enoch’s “walk with God” and the lifestyle that “pleased God” are the apparent motives for Jude’s short reference. Jude announces (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) that Enoch preached about the second coming of Christ! That is remarkable. Before the Bible was written, before the first world was destroyed for its universal evil, before the promise of “the seed” to Abraham and the centuries of God’s preparation for the Messiah, Enoch was proclaiming that Jesus would come—again! HMM III
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« Reply #6501 on: May 05, 2019, 07:53:20 AM »

Confession and Forgiveness

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Every person, even the most godly Christian believer, at least occasionally commits acts of sin—sins of omission, if not sins of commission. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

When a Christian does sin, the remedy is available. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This forgiveness is based on the fact that “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

The problem is that the very compulsion that caused the believer to commit the sin in the first place will often lead him to try to justify the sin. If that is not possible, he will try to hide it, or even to deny it.

The antidote for this situation, of course, is to confess and forsake his sin(s). This confession, however, cannot be simply a generalized confession (“please forgive all my sins”) but a specific “naming” of the particular sins, acknowledging that it was, indeed, a sin in the sight of God, deserving of divine punishment and repudiation by a holy God. Similarly, the term “forsaketh” does not mean simply to quit engaging in the particular sin, but to quit even thinking about it—no longer either desiring the sin or being depressed under the guilt of it. If possible and applicable, this would also entail making restitution to anyone who had been injured by that sin; otherwise, the confession need be made only to God.

And God will forgive and cleanse. Then, “forgetting those things which are behind,” we can “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven” (Psalm 32:1). HMM
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« Reply #6502 on: May 06, 2019, 08:33:19 AM »

Judging Others

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

This is a very familiar maxim, often cited by unbelievers and carnal Christians as a rebuke to Christians whom they regard as intolerant. These words of the Lord Jesus Christ do, indeed, warn us against a self-righteous attitude, condemning others who disagree with us on the basis of superficial criteria.

On the other hand, this caution by no means relieves us of the responsibility of evaluating the beliefs and practices of others in the light of Scripture. In the very same sermon, in fact, Jesus said just a few moments later: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine”; and, “beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:6-15). Obedience to such commandments obviously requires one to make a judgment as to whether certain unbelievers should be regarded as “dogs” or “swine,” to whom it would be counterproductive to try to speak of spiritual matters, or whether certain professing Christian leaders are actually false prophets who should be repudiated. Jesus also said: “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).

Since the Scriptures themselves are to be used in the final judgment (John 12:48; Revelation 20:12; etc.), it is obvious that we should use them right now to discern truth and error, right and wrong. “For the word of God . . . is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

There is another basis of judgment that the Lord Jesus has authorized us to use. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. . . . Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:18-20). Thus, the test of Scripture plus fruit produced can serve as the basis of a valid judgment. Until adequate data for making such a test are available, judge not! HMM
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« Reply #6503 on: May 07, 2019, 08:39:41 AM »

Christ Will Come Again

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

The world has not seen the last of Jesus Christ! He was in the world once, but the world would not have Him, even though He had created it (John 1:10). While He was on Earth, He made it clear that He would be returning some day to judge the world.

But here in the upper room, just before His arrest and crucifixion, He told His disciples, for the very first time, that He would be coming for them personally, not to judge them with the world, but to “receive you unto myself.” In the first epistle written by the apostle Paul, this wonderful promise was repeated and amplified: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven. . . . and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

When He comes again, we shall be where He is, forever! In the meantime, the “dead in Christ” are already with Him. At that time, “we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. . . . For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53).

During this present time, He is preparing a place for us in the New Jerusalem that, like Christ Himself, will be “coming down from God out of heaven” (Revelation 21:2). All of this is exactly what we might expect from such a gracious and loving Savior, and He assures us that “if it were not so, I would have told you.” HMM
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« Reply #6504 on: May 08, 2019, 08:16:19 AM »

Ungodly Deeds and Hard Speeches

“To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:15)

Jude is referencing the preaching of pre-Flood Enoch, who warned about God’s coming judgment when the Lord returns “with ten thousands of his saints” (v. 14). Jude identifies two ungodly traits that bring about this judgment.

First, there are ungodly deeds that were committed in an ungodly way. Perhaps the best commentary on this deep sin is the Lord Jesus’ description of the unbelief of those who reject the gospel of salvation: “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). Their actions were not mere misdeeds; these deeds were committed with full knowledge of the “light”—and their perpetrators consciously ran away from that light to hide in the “darkness.”

Then there are hard speeches that have been spoken by ungodly sinners against the Lord Jesus. Perhaps these fierce words were uttered as diatribes against the authority of Christ to judge. Peter alludes to these kinds of sinners as “scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:3-4). Paul comments that these kinds of people “changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

And that appears to coincide with the nature of the word “ungodly.” All three forms that appear in Jude 1:15 are negative forms of the word for worship. The “un” part of the word stresses the lack of honor and deference that are due the Creator of the universe. These ungodly sinners will be condemned by their own deeds and fierce words. HMM III
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« Reply #6505 on: May 09, 2019, 08:35:12 AM »

Sitting at the Right Hand of God

“The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

The 110th Psalm is one of the most significant of the so-called Messianic Psalms, prophesying of Christ a thousand years before He came. Its very first verse should completely settle the question as to whether or not the Old Testament teaches that there is only one person in the Godhead since it recounts an actual conversation between at least two Persons of the Godhead. This first verse is quoted, in whole or in part, at least five times in the New Testament and was even used by Christ Himself (Matthew 22:41-46) to prove His own deity.

Two of the Hebrew names for God are used: “Jehovah said unto Adonai. . . .” The name Jehovah is used again in verses 2-4, and Adonai in verse 5. God, in the person of Adonai, has gone to Earth on a divine mission to save His people but has been repudiated by His enemies on Earth. Accordingly, God, in the person of Jehovah, invites Him back to heaven for a time, where He will be at His right hand until it is time for Him to return to Earth to rule, striking through all opposing “kings in the day of his wrath” (v. 5).

In this coming “day of thy power” (v. 3), “thy people shall be willing.” The word here is actually the word for “free will offerings.” They will be as priests offering their own lives to Him as freewill offerings when they finally recognize Him as their Messiah/King and eternal High Priest (v. 4).

Now, although this prophecy applies specifically to the second coming and the future conversion of Israel, there is a beautiful secondary application used in Scripture for His people right now. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). “Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). HMM
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« Reply #6506 on: May 10, 2019, 08:47:00 AM »

Two Imperatives

“Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” (John 3:7)

The term “born again” has come into such common use in recent years, even in political campaigns, that its tremendous meaning has been all but lost. But Jesus—who ought to know, being none other than God incarnate—said, “Ye must be born again!” Furthermore, He said it to Nicodemus, one of the most religiously knowledgeable people of that day.

He did not say to Nicodemus that “they must be born again,” meaning the unbelieving multitudes who were not as instructed in the things of God as they should be. Nor did he say that “we must be born again,” meaning all of us mortals including Himself. Rather, Jesus said, “Ye must be born again!”

Even a man like Nicodemus must be born spiritually—born again (literally, “born from above”)—if he were ever to see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). In answer to his question as to how this could be, Jesus said he must be born of the Spirit, supernaturally. But Nicodemus—as well as each of us—was born a sinner and was still a sinner, even failing to recognize Christ as Son of man and Son of God. How could he be born again? The answer is in a second imperative: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). If “ye must be born again,” then “even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” Christ must die for our sins before it can ever be possible that a lost sinner can be born again. Since Jesus Christ was lifted up on the cross to die for us, our burden of sin has also been lifted up and placed on Him. If we would enter God’s Kingdom, we must be born again through faith in Him! There is no other way! HMM
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« Reply #6507 on: May 11, 2019, 09:53:18 AM »

How to Take a Stand for God

“But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” (Daniel 1:8)

There inevitably come those times in the life of a Christian when he, for conscience sake in the light of the Word of God, must take a stand against some worldly practice. Daniel has given us a striking example of how to do this, not only courageously, but graciously and effectively.

As one of “the princes” of Israel, “of the king’s seed” (Daniel 1:3), he realized that he had the responsibility of maintaining a godly standard as a testimony for the true God when he was asked “to stand in the king’s palace” (Daniel 1:4) after he and his friends had been carried into captivity. Daniel knew that the king’s wine would surely be harmful were he to partake of it. Also, the king’s meat would certainly include pork and would be cooked with blood, which would be unlawful for him, as a good Jew, to eat (Leviticus 11:7-8; 17:10-14). He determined in his heart to take a stand against it.

Note, however, his stand was not belligerent or self-righteous, but courteous and reasonable. “He requested. . . . Prove thy servants, I beseech thee” (Daniel 1:8-12). The Babylonians thought they were doing him and his friends a great favor, and Daniel appreciated this. He suggested a scientific test: Let them try a vegetarian diet and water for just ten days to see if this wouldn’t produce better results than the gourmet fare of the palace.

God honored Daniel’s graciousness, as well as his courageous faithfulness, and so will He do for us as well. Both are essential ingredients of a fruitful Christian testimony in a non-Christian world. We must “be ready always to give an answer,” but this should be done, not in arrogance, but “with meekness” (1 Peter 3:15). HMM
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« Reply #6508 on: May 12, 2019, 09:13:22 AM »

She Shall Be Praised

“Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

Proverbs 31 is identified as “the words of King Lemuel” (v. 1). Since it is divided into two distinct parts, some have proposed that it has two different authors. The first part (vv. 1–9) consists of “the prophecy that his mother taught him” (v. 1), while the second part (vv. 10–31) describes “a virtuous woman” (v. 10). Perhaps it is better to understand the woman as Lemuel’s mother, for “her children rise up and call her blessed” (v. 28).

“Many daughters have done virtuously” (v. 29, same word as in v. 10). Recognizing that the only other woman described as “virtuous” in the Bible was Ruth (Ruth 3:11) gives us more complete insight into such a woman’s character. The woman described in Proverbs 31 is one who has achieved in all its fullness the glories of her womanhood, both in the home as wife and mother and in her community. Not only do her children bless her, but her husband has absolute confidence in her (v. 11), appreciates the bounty that she brings (v. 12), has the freedom to be an effective leader in the community (v. 23), and praises her virtue to others (v. 28).

Without question, the key to her accomplishments is found in our text. Her fear of the Lord blossoms into such inner beauty and diligence that, by wisdom and devotion, she so trains her children and so lovingly provides for her husband’s needs that when they leave the home she has fashioned and have occasion to speak of her, their words will be blessing and praise.

On this day when so many of us remember and are thankful for our godly wives and/or mothers, let us rekindle our own fear of the Lord and by so doing develop similar qualities and habits. JDM
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #6509 on: May 13, 2019, 08:08:54 AM »

Murmurers and Complainers

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” (Jude 1:16)

Jude’s book cites several incidents in the early history of Israel right after they were wonderfully delivered from slavery in Egypt. Within a very short time, they had come through the Red Sea, had bitter water made sweet, seen water come out of a rock, and been fed with “angels’ food” from heaven. Yet when the 12 spies came back from the land of Canaan that had been promised to them, there was a widespread revolt against God and against Moses’ leadership.

The 10 spies who “murmured” against God “died by the plague before the LORD” (Numbers 14:37). Some who had previously sided with the defeatist words of the spies tried to take matters into their own hands and “presumed to go up” to fight against the Canaanites and were killed or scattered (Numbers 14:44-45).

Much of the history of Israel is marked by various ways of turning away from God. Psalm 81 provides a good summary of how God sees this behavior: “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (Psalm 81:10-12).

Jude uses a rather unusual word picture to describe those who use others for their personal advantage. They speak “great swelling words” to gain the association. The Greek word is huperogkos, which conveys something like “beyond weight” or “too heavy.” The words are coming from hearts that are lustful and attempting to manipulate others for their own benefit. It appears that those who “murmur” and “complain” will use “heavy” words to achieve their ends. HMM III
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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