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December 7 - Evening

"We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting we will do so."
- Hebrews 5:11-14

You Have Become Slow to Learn

The writer of Hebrews says he has "much to say about" the subject he is discussing (which is the priesthood of Jesus Christ), but as a teacher he finds it "difficult to explain" to his listeners because they "are slow to learn." The phrase "slow to learn" is the word nothros in the Greek, and it does not mean those Christians were dumb, academically challenged, or suffering from some type of first century learning disability. Nor, does it mean the writer of Hebrews was struggling with his teaching gift or the ability to communicate his thoughts.

The actual problem is seen in the word nothros, which means "dull, slow, sluggish". In the Greek language, the word nothros was used to refer to the numbed limbs of a sick lion. The lion in this example would have been hit by poison-tipped darts, which numbed the feeling and impeded the use of the limbs. The same word was also used in an ancient Greek story to describe the vain hopes of a foolish wolf who had heard a child's nurse threaten to throw the child out to the wolves. The wolf had an opinion and an interpretation of the nurse's words, but because the wolf's doctrine was wrong, so was the hope he had based on false understanding.

Adding to the interest of the meaning of the word nothros ("slow to learn"), is the original meaning of the word which is translated as "are" in the English NIV translation of this sentence: "it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn." The word in the Greek is gegonate, which is the perfect tense (complete action in the past with abiding results), indicative mood (the mood of reality), active voice (the subject causes the action – that is, these "dull" Christians had made themselves dull) of the root word ginomai, giving it the meaning "you have become."

So we see that these believers had at one time heard and understood the teaching of the Word of God, but they had become distracted by some other form of teaching, ritual or philosophy. The perfect tense of gegonate in 5:11, and again in 5:12, implies that they had not only failed to grow at a reasonable rate toward Christian maturity, but they had even begun regressing in their spiritual capacity. These degenerated believers were at one time strong and active, but when they drifted away from the Word of God and turned to myths, rituals and human opinion they became ineffective and non-productive. In other words, this dull, sluggish, unspiritual, immature condition was acquired.

These Hebrew believers were not hearing or believing the Word of God, which meant their faith was not growing. The result of this spiritual malnutrition is the collapse of their confidence and the loss of their hope. This same problem is reflected throughout the book of Hebrews.
Diakonos (Gr) - Deacon (Eng) - diakonos is Greek word that means "a waiter," "one who serves food and drink," and "one who executes the commands of another." In the church they are people who a gifted and recognized to care for the temporal needs of the people. (See Acts 6:1-6; 11:30; 14:23; 15:2,4,6, 22-23; 16:4; 20:17; Philippians 1:1; First Timothy 3:8-13)
Am I progressing in my faith, or has my laziness caused me to be "dull" and "slow" to understand?

Bible Reading Descriptions Here


(morning only)

Complete Text

General Text


An elderly person


Vision of potential
Local school system
United States of America

Toni stands inside a Sidonian burial cave in Maresha, Israel. This is the family tomb of Apollophanes, who was the leader of the Sidonian community in Beit Guvrin around 250-150 BC.
Details of the royal capitals found near the palace of the kings of Judah

Someone to Quote

"If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions – if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before – then I think we must suspect that his ‘conversion’ was largely imaginary." - C.S. Lewis

Something to Ponder

In Matthew 5:39 Jesus says, "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."
But, in John 18:23 when Jesus is struck in the face he says: “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?"

Here’s a Fact

In Isaiah 39:1-8 (and 2 Kings 20:12) Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah letters and a gift. He reigned from 722-710 and for nine months in 703-702 BC. An eighteen inch high boundary stone made of black marble with an image of Merodach-Baladanand an inscription explaining the image as Merodach-baladan awarding a royal land grant to an official "forever" in the year 715 BC. (Image)


"A man finds joy in giving an apt reply - and how good is a timely word!
- Proverbs 15:23

Coach’s Corner

Sometimes the best thing to do with your thoughts is to not share them. 

Isaiah 39:1-8
New International Version (NIV)
Envoys From Babylon
39 At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of his illness and recovery. Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armory and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or in all his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them.
Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah and asked, “What did those men say, and where did they come from?”
“From a distant land,” Hezekiah replied. “They came to me from Babylon.”
The prophet asked, “What did they see in your palace?”
“They saw everything in my palace,” Hezekiah said. “There is nothing among my treasures that I did not show them.”
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
“The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my lifetime.”
2 Kings 20:12
New International Version (NIV)
Envoys From Babylon
12 At that time Marduk-Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift, because he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness.
Titus 1
New International Version (NIV)
Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior,
To Titus, my true son in our common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.
Appointing Elders Who Love What Is Good
The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Rebuking Those Who Fail to Do Good
10 For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11 They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12 One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.” 13 This saying is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith 14 and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the merely human commands of those who reject the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.
Romans 2-3
New International Version (NIV)
God’s Righteous Judgment
You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.
12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
The Jews and the Law
17 Now you, if you call yourself a Jew; if you rely on the law and boast in God; 18 if you know his will and approve of what is superior because you are instructed by the law; 19 if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, 20 an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— 21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”
25 Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. 26 So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? 27 The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.
28 A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29 No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.
God’s Faithfulness
What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.
What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:
“So that you may be proved right when you speak     and prevail when you judge.”
But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!
No One Is Righteous
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
    there is no one who understands;     there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,     they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,     not even one.”
“Their throats are open graves;     their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    ruin and misery mark their ways,
and the way of peace they do not know.”
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Righteousness Through Faith
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

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