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  1. Christians need to slow down and think about this life-style that involves high risk activities, such as tight-rope walking. Christians follow the precepts in the Bible and since God is “the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9) He has given us what we need to enjoy life. (Psalm 139:14; Acts 14:16, 17; 17:24-28) It is reasonable, therefore, to conclude that He expects us to care for what He has so kindly given us. Laws and principles given to the nation of Israel help us appreciate this fact. The Mosaic Law required that an individual take steps to protect the lives of others. If this was not done and a life was lost, the one who could have prevented the tragedy would be considered bloodguilty. For example, a homeowner was commanded to build a low wall or railing, called a parapet, around the flat roof of his new house. Otherwise, bloodguilt would come upon the house if someone fell to his death from the roof. (Deuteronomy 22:8) If a bull unexpectedly gored a person to death, the owner of the bull would not be held responsible. On the other hand, if the bull was known to be dangerous and the owner had been warned but did not keep the bull properly guarded, then if the bull gored someone, the owner of the bull would be considered bloodguilty and could be put to death. (Exodus 21:28, 29) Since life is precious to God, His Law reflected a high regard for the preservation and protection of life. Faithful servants of God understood that these principles extended to taking personal risks as well. In one Bible account, David expressed his desire to be able to “have a drink of the water from the cistern of Bethlehem.” Bethlehem was under Philistine control at the time. On hearing David’s request, three of his soldiers forced their way into the camp of the Philistines, drew out water from the cistern of Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. How did David react? He would not drink the water but, rather, poured it out on the ground. He said: “It is unthinkable on my part, as regards my God, to do this! Is it the blood of these men that I should drink at the risk of their souls? For it was at the risk of their souls that they brought it.” (1 Chronicles 11:17-19) To David it was unthinkable to risk a life for his personal satisfaction. Thus, Christians should ask if it an activity, be it for how one makes a living or a sport for recreation, is worth the risk. Indeed, the evidence from the Bible is that Christians do well to consider the Creator’s view of the sacredness of life.
  2. Does God really answer the sincere prayers of devoted worshippers? The Bible account about a little-known man named Jabez shows that God is indeed the “Hearer of prayer.” (Psalm 65:2) This brief account is found in what might seem an unlikely place—in the midst of the genealogical lists that open the book of First Chronicles (see chapter 4:9, 10). All that we know about Jabez is found in these two verses. According to verse 9, his mother “called his name Jabez, saying: ‘I have given him birth in pain.’” Why did she choose such a name? Did she bring forth this son with more than the usual birth pangs? Was she perhaps a widow, lamenting the fact that her husband was not there to welcome their baby into the world? The Bible does not say. But this mother would someday have reason to be especially proud of this son. Jabez’ siblings may have been upright men, but “Jabez came to be more honorable than his brothers.” Jabez was a man of prayer. He began his prayer by pleading for God’s blessing. He then made three requests that reflect a heart full of faith. First, Jabez implored God, saying: “Enlarge my territory.” (Verse 10) This honorable man was no land-grabber, coveting what belonged to his fellow man. His earnest request may have had more to do with people than land. He may have been asking for the peaceful enlargement of his territory so that it could hold more worshippers of the true God. Second, Jabez pleaded for God’s “hand” to be with him. God’s symbolic hand is his applied power, which he uses to help his worshippers. (1 Chronicles 29:12) To receive the requests of his heart, Jabez looked to the God whose hand is not short toward those who show faith in him.—Isaiah 59:1. Third, Jabez prayed: “Preserve me from calamity, that it may not hurt me.” The expression “that it may not hurt me” may suggest that Jabez prayed, not to escape calamity, but to be kept from being grieved or overcome by the effects of evil. Jabez’ prayer revealed his concern for true worship and his faith and trust in the Hearer of prayer. How did Jehovah respond? This brief account concludes with the words: “Accordingly God brought to pass what he had asked.” The Hearer of prayer has not changed. He delights in the prayers of worshippers. Those who place their faith and trust in him may have this confidence: “No matter what it is that we ask according to his will, he hears us.”—1 John 5:14.
  3. I am a high school teacher and our school district has strong filters for their school owned chromebooks when they are hooked up to the district wifi; still, the kids find websites that are totally inappropriate regarding pornography and violence. Of course, their cell phones can never even be monitored or filtered. If parents think that giving their children an old-fashioned flip phone that has no Internet service, then think again, as at school, they will have access to the cell phones of their friends. So what is a parent to do? We can read to our children from the Bible about God’s laws prohibiting sexual immorality, even doing so a number of times. (1 Corinthians 6:18; Ephesians 5:5) This could impress upon our young ones what is pleasing and not pleasing to God. However, putting His mind in a child requires more. Children need help to reason on the value of God's laws. They need to be convinced that his laws are right and good and that obeying them is the proper and loving thing to do. Only if we reason with our children from the Scriptures so that they accept God’s viewpoint can it be said that we have put his mind in them. When talking about sex, we might ask, “Do you think that obeying God's law not to have sexual relations before marriage will rob a person of happiness?” We can encourage our children to explain their answer. After reviewing God’s marvelous provision for producing a child, we might ask: “Do you think our loving God would make laws to rob us of enjoyment of life? Or do you think his laws are there to make us happy and to protect us?” (Psalm 119:1, 2; Isaiah 48:17) Getting our child’s thinking on this matter is critical. Then we might draw attention to examples of how sexual immorality has led to heartache and trouble. (2 Samuel 13:1-33) By reasoning with our children so that they understand and accepts God’s view, we will have gone a long way toward putting God’s mind in them. However, there is something else we can do. Wisely, we will not only teach our children the consequences of disobeying God but also explain how God is personally affected by the way we live (see Psalm 78:41). We might ask, “Why do you not want to hurt God?” and explain: “God’s enemy Satan claims that we serve God for selfish reasons and not because we love him.” Then explain that by keeping integrity, Job made God’s heart rejoice, thus providing an answer to Satan’s lying charge. (Job 1:9-11; 27:5) Our children need to understand that depending on how they behave, they can make God either sad or happy. (Proverbs 27:11) Is any of this easy? By no means and even though I implemented the above mentioned principles with my two sons, as adults they have chosen to depart from the Way, which has brought much grief to their mother and me. But beyond following the Bible's advice, what more can we do? Internet filters and other controls on devices are simply inadequate...
  4. Prosperity evangelism, the new iteration of Television Evangelism, continues to be exposed for fleecing its members out of money. Likely this sad state of affairs will continue, as noted in Revelation 18:1-3: "After this I saw another angel descending from heaven with great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his glory. 2 And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: “She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen, and she has become a dwelling place of demons and a place where every unclean spirit and every unclean and hated bird lurks! 3 For because of the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, all the nations have fallen victim, and the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth became rich owing to the power of her shameless luxury.” What should we do? Follow the sage advice of verse 4: "Get out of her my people!"
  5. Thank you for sharing this important truth; instead of focusing on what we are giving up, we should focus on the value of offering a gift that is worthy and valuable to God: our sacred worship of Him. But in so many ways, this privilege of drawing close to God can be corrupted if we don't continue to develop a proper attitude regarding Him. By the time of Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth, a condemnable practice had developed in connection with gifts dedicated to God. In regard to this, Jesus denounced the Pharisees as hypocrites because they put their own tradition ahead of God’s law. Professing to safeguard for God what had been declared “corban,” they set aside the divine requirement to honor one’s parents. (Mt 15:3-6) A person might simply say, ‘Be it corban,’ or, ‘It is corban,’ regarding his property or some part of it. Pharisees at that time taught that once a person declared his possessions to be “corban,” or a gift dedicated to God, he could not use these to satisfy the needs of his parents, however needy they might be, though he could make use of such possessions himself until his own death if he chose to do so. Thus, although these Pharisees professed to honor God, their hearts were not in accord with his righteous requirements.—Mr 7:9-13. May we all continue to supplicate God with our corban and make sure these precious gifts to God are genuine.
  6. Thanks friends for the input. It sounds like many are not pleased with the religious accoutrements of the "pagan" aspects of Easter, but are willing to overlook these trappings involved with the bunnies, eggs, etc. as they may be practices that invite others to religious services. I suspect this creates some cognitive dissonance, but acceptance of some "bad" with the good occurs and it is what it is. Thanks for sharing all!
  7. As we merge from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, do we take the time to differentiate the commemoration of the death of Jesus Christ from the pagan ceremonies that have sprung up around this most holy of events over the centuries? I wonder how my fellow Christians in this forum distinguish in their personal and church celebrations what is holy from what is not holy regarding Easter. As a cursory review, please note the following: Easter was “originally the spring festival in honor of the Teutonic goddess of light and spring known in Anglo-Saxon as Eastre.” (The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible) “There is no indication of the observance of the Easter festival in the New Testament.”—Encyclopædia Britannica. The rabbit “was the escort of the Germanic goddess Ostara.”—Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. Eggs “were said to be dyed and eaten at the spring festivals in ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome.”—Celebrations. The Easter bonnet originally “was a wreath of flowers or leaves. The circle or crown expressed the round sun and its course in the heavens which brought the return of spring.” The new Easter outfit developed because “it was considered discourteous and therefore bad luck to greet the Scandinavian goddess of Spring, or Eastre, in anything but fresh garb, since the goddess was bestowing one on the earth.”—The Giant Book of Superstitions. Hot cross buns: “Like the Greeks, the Romans ate bread marked with a cross . . . at public sacrifices.” They were eaten by pagan Saxons in honor of Easter.—Encyclopædia Britannica. Sunrise services parallel rites “performed at the vernal equinox welcoming the sun and its great power to bring new life to all growing things.”—Celebrations In other words, how do you all separate "light from darkness...[and avoid] touching the unclean thing"? (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). Warm Christian Regards,
  8. Thank you Dr. Davis for your insight into the physiological and physical aspects of the last few hours of the life of Jesus Christ. Although the scriptural reasons behind the necessary death of Jesus Christ are of far more importance, it is also valuable to understand how Jesus’ human body suffered and how that anguish no doubt impacted his mental state during those last excruciating hours and how his faithfulness, despite one of the worst ways to perish, was maintained forcefully down to the end of his physical life. Although not a medical doctor as yourself, I would like to contribute a few more items of discernment: A) There is no doubt that the Persians practiced impalement on a stake: Darius the Great forbade interference with the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple, and any violator of that decree was to be impaled on a timber pulled out of his own house. (Ezrah 6:11) During the reign of Darius’ son, Ahasuerus (Xerxes I), two of the palace doorkeepers were hanged, or impaled, on a stake, the usual punishment meted out to traitors by the Persians. (Esther 2:21-23). But impalement on a stake preceded this practice by the Persians by another nation: the Assyrians. Noted for their savage warfare, the Assyrians impaled captives by hanging their nude bodies atop pointed stakes that were run up through the abdomens into the chest cavities of the victims. Several reliefs have been found on monuments (now in the British Museum) such depicting the Assyrian assault and conquest of Lachish, on which this method of impalement is shown (2 Kings 19:8). B) Indeed, the precise locations of the nails would likely have been inserted into what we call the wrists, as this would be consistent with the Bible’s own use of the word “hand” to include the wrist in such texts as Genesis 24:47, where bracelets are said to be worn on the “hands,” and in Judges 15:14, where reference is made to fetters that were on Samson’s “hands.” C) In addition to hematidrosis, which is the excretion of perspiration tinged with blood pigment or blood, a condition called diapedesis (when blood or elements thereof seep through unruptured walls of blood vessels) is also a physiological explanation for Luke 22:44. Still, the possibility exists that Luke may have been speaking illustratively, as in the sweat resembled blood dripping from a wound, when that verse (Luke 22:44) says Jesus’s sweat “became as drops of blood.” D) The custom of releasing a prisoner (Barabbas in this case) at the Passover every year finds no basis or precedent in the Hebrew Scriptures, and there is no extrabiblical evidence of it as a Roman practice. It evidently was of Jewish origin, because Pilate said to the Jews: “You have a custom that I should release a man to you at the Passover.”—Joh 18:39. E) Simon of Cyrene could have been a resident of Jerusalem, or he could have been among the other foreigners who crowded into Jerusalem at Passover time. In a similar manner, 51 days later, a large number of “reverent men, from every nation,” including some from “the parts of Libya, which is toward Cyrene,” were in attendance at the Jewish Festival of Pentecost. (Acts 2:5, 10, 41) Some of these latter ones were likely among the “about three thousand souls” that were baptized after the outpouring of the holy spirit and Peter’s subsequent discourse, and they may have thereafter carried the message of Christianity back to their homeland. F) In Mark 15:34, when Jesus states “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” one might believe that Jesus indicates here a lack of faith. But this would be an inaccurate belief as Jesus’ words may indicate that Jesus recognized that God had taken His protection away from Jesus at that moment so that His Son’s integrity could be fully tested. Additionally, these words fulfill what Psalm 22:1 foretold regarding Jesus: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you far from saving me, Far from my cries of anguish?”
  9. The apostle Paul warns of the serious danger that attends an attempt to mock God, that is, the danger that comes to one who thinks that the principles of God’s administration can be treated with contempt or can successfully be evaded. He writes to the Galatian Christians: “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deceiving his own mind. . . . Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.”—Ga 6:3-8. Here the apostle shows that a person should not deceive himself with a false estimate of his own worth, thereby ignoring God and his Word. He should clean up his life to walk by the spirit as the Word directs. If a person does not do this, but instead goes on sowing with a view to fleshly desires, he is ‘accepting the undeserved kindness of God and missing its purpose’ and is treating God’s instruction as contemptible. (2Co 6:1) He may deceive himself into thinking that he is safe. Nevertheless, God knows his heart and will judge him accordingly.
  10. Our daily need for forgiveness highlights the only legal basis on which God can cancel our sins—Jesus’ ransom sacrifice. Though this ransom was paid nearly 2,000 years ago, we should cherish it as if it were a gift given today. “The ransom price” for our lives “is so precious” that nothing any imperfect human could do for us would come near to paying it. Indeed, we should never cease to thank God for this great gift. Also, the expression “our sins,” not “my sins,” should remind us that all in our family of worshippers need this merciful provision. Clearly, the Lord wants us to be concerned not only about our own spiritual welfare but also about that of others, including those who might have sinned against us. Usually, such sins are minor and give us an opportunity to show that we truly love our brothers and are willing to forgive, as God has mercifully forgiven us.—Col. 3:13. Keep on with your newfound spiritual pathway and may the Lord continue to bless your efforts at living a clean life!
  11. One might wonder if "scary" thoughts or anxiety in general indicate a lack of faith, but the Bible does not support such a view. After all, living as we do during “critical times hard to deal with,” it is virtually impossible not to experience anxiety to some degree (2 Timothy 3:1). Faithful Christians cope with daily anxieties that are triggered by poor health, old age, economic pressures, family strife, crime, and other problems. Even in ancient times, God’s servants faced fears and worries. Consider for example the Bible account of Lot. God instructed him to escape to the mountains to avoid being swept away in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot, however, became anxious. He said: “Not that, please, God!” Hesitantly, he continued: “But I—I am not able to escape to the mountainous region for fear calamity may keep close to me and I certainly die.” Why did Lot fear the mountains? The Bible does not say. Whatever the reason, Lot felt quite intimidated. How did God react? Was Lot disciplined for lack of faith or trust in God? No. On the contrary, God showed consideration, allowing Lot to escape to a nearby city—Genesis 19:18-22. There are other Bible examples of faithful worshipers who became very anxious at times. The prophet Elijah became afraid and ran away after receiving a death threat. (1 Kings 19:1-4) Moses, Hannah, David, Habakkuk, Paul, and other men and women of strong faith also expressed anxieties. (Exodus 4:10; 1 Samuel 1:6; Psalm 55:5; Habakkuk 1:2, 3; 2 Corinthians 11:28) Yet, God showed compassion and continued to use them in his service, thereby manifesting a real understanding of imperfect humans. Persistent anxiety, however, can wear us down and lead to loss of trust in God. The apostle Paul referred to lack of faith as “the sin that easily entangles us.” (Hebrews 12:1) By including himself, Paul was likely admitting his own propensity to get ‘easily entangled’ in episodes of momentary weakness of faith. Perhaps this was the case with Zechariah when he did not believe the angel who informed him that his wife would become pregnant. On one occasion Jesus’ apostles were unable to perform a cure because of their “little faith.” However, these individuals continued to enjoy God’s approval—Matthew 17:18-20; Luke 1:18, 20, 67; John 17:26. On the other hand, the Bible also includes examples of people who lost their trust in God and suffered serious consequences. For instance, many Israelites who left Egypt were barred from entering the Promised Land because of their lack of faith. In one incident they even spoke directly against God, saying: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread and no water.” Indicative of God’s displeasure, poisonous snakes were sent to punish them—Numbers 21:5, 6. The inhabitants of Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth, missed the privilege of seeing more miracles performed in their territory because they lacked faith. Further, the wicked generation of that day received a scathing denunciation from Jesus because of lack of faith (Matthew 13:58; 17:17; Hebrews 3:19). Appropriately, the apostle Paul warned: “Beware, brothers, for fear there should ever develop in any one of you a wicked heart lacking faith by drawing away from the living God”—Hebrews 3:12. Yes, in extreme cases lack of faith could result from a wicked heart. But this was not the case with Zechariah and Jesus’ apostles in the examples previously mentioned. Their lack of faith was due to momentary weakness. Their general pattern of life showed that they were “pure in heart.”—Matthew 5:8. The Scriptures help us to make a distinction between general anxiety and the sin of lack of faith. Daily feelings of anxiety or even a momentary lapse of faith because of human weakness should not be confused with the complete lack of trust in God that springs from a wicked, unresponsive heart. Christians, therefore, need not be plagued by guilt just because they periodically experience anxiety. Nevertheless, caution is necessary so that anxiety does not grow out of proportion and dominate our lives. Hence, the wisdom of Jesus’ words when he said: “Never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’” This he followed with the comforting words: “For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you”—Matthew 6:25-33. May a calm peace be upon all here...
  12. Brother Jacob, I enjoyed your review of the physical aspects of leprosy, including its different physiological permutations, as well as its spiritual ramifications. The bottom line is that we all have to be aware of our need to strive for spiritual purity and although none of us can reach that level, it is the genuine effort involved upon which we are judged by God. Additionally, God’s power enabled Jesus Christ to perform a wide variety of astounding miracles. He cured not only leprosy but also every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people. The inspired record tells us: “The crowd felt amazement as they saw the speechless speaking and the maimed being made sound and the lame walking and the blind seeing.” (Matt. 15:31) To perform such acts of compassion, Jesus needed no organ donors for transplants. He healed the very organs or body parts that were afflicted! And he healed people instantly, sometimes even from a distance. (John 4:46-54) Warm Christian Greetings,
  13. Holy spirit is God’s free gift to those who sincerely seek it. It can enhance not only your abilities but also your desire to do your best in his service. “God is the one that, for the sake of his good pleasure, is acting within you in order for you both to will and to act.” The precious gift of holy spirit, coupled with our earnest efforts to keep “a tight grip on the word of life,” will allow us to “keep working out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling.”—Phil. 2:12, 13, 16. With complete confidence in God’s spirit, pour your heart into every assignment, become skilled at what you are given to do, and look to Jehovah for assistance. (Jas. 1:5) He will give you what you need to understand his Word, cope with life’s problems, and preach the good news. “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you,” and this includes receiving holy spirit. (Luke 11:9, 13) Indeed, keep on supplicating Jehovah that you may be like faithful ones—both ancient and modern—who were guided by God’s holy spirit.
  14. I realize that the good folks who run this website do so voluntarily and must have "day jobs" that pay their bills to "Caesar." But like the Apostle Paul, these many hours in maintaining this site go on top of one's "tent" making hours (See Acts 18:3). Keep up the fine work!
  15. I know that some religiously inclined folks refrain from celebrating holidays. However, it seems that Thanksgiving is about as a benign and non-controversial holiday one can find in the American culture. As a result, if one usually declines from participating in other holidays but participates in Thanksgiving, what Biblical reasoning does one use? Thanks,
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