Spiritual Training

Spiritual Training X2

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March 20 - Evening

“Now this man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and some household gods and installed one of his sons as his priest. 
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.
A young Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, who had been living within the clan of Judah, left that town in search of some other place to stay. On his way he came to Micah’s house in the hill country of Ephraim.
Micah asked him, ‘Where are you from?’
‘I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah,’ he said, ‘and I’m looking for a place to stay.’
Then Micah said to him, ‘Live with me and be my father and priest,  and I’ll give you ten shekels of silver a year, your clothes and your food.’ 
So the Levite agreed to live with him, and the young man became like one of his sons to him. 
Then Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest and lived in his house.  And Micah said, ‘Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, since this Levite has become my priest’…
…So they (men from the tribe of Dan) entered the hill country of Ephraim and came to the house of Micah, where they spent the night. When they were near Micah’s house, they recognized the voice of the young Levite; so they turned in there and asked him, ‘Who brought you here? What are you doing in this place? Why are you here?'
He told them what Micah had done for him, and said, ‘He has hired me and I am his priest.’ ”

- Judges 17:5-13; 18:2b-4

Bad Religion and a Levite for Hire


The corruption of Israel’s religious system had become excessive. The account of Micah is placed in the middle of Israel in the hill country of Ephraim which was at one time the land of great Israelites such as Joshua. But, by the time of Micah (Judges 17-18, 1250-1200 BC) the Tabernacle worship, the priesthood and the Levitical teaching system had completely broken down.
Micah had built his own personal shrine for the household gods and made an ephod to wear while communicating with these gods. Israelites did not follow the Law of Moses, but instead each one did what they thought was religiously and morally correct. This is stated explicitly in two different places in the book of Judges and two more times the stories are recorded that prove this point:
“Everyone did as he saw fit” – Judges 17:6; 21:25 (18:1; 19:1)

Interestingly, a Levite (Levi was the teaching tribe in Israel responsible for instruction in the Law of the covenant, explaining the Word of the Lord, and spiritual leadership in Israel) came by Micah’s shrine looking for work as a priest/teacher. This Levite is going to be identified as a descendent of Moses through his son Gershom in Judges 18:30. There are additional allusions to this possibility in the text and the story line. The Levites name is Jonathan according to Judges 18:30:
“And the people of Dan set up the carved image for themselves, and Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses, and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.” - Judges 18:30

Jonathan the Levite had been “soujourning,” or residing as an alien, within the tribe of Judah, but for some reason his employment as a Levite there had been cut off. When Micah asked Jonathan where he was from, Jonathan replied,
                “I’m a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I’m looking for a place to stay.”

The phrase “looking for a place to stay,” is lagur ba’aser yimsa’ and means the Levite is looking for a better place to live with better working conditions for better pay. The Levite is looking for a place to improve his standard of living serving as a priest in some religious setting. Jonathan does not mention the Lord. He mentions living conditions. Jonathan does not feel a sense of responsibility to society and the people of God. He is simply considering his own options for his own well-being. Jonathan has completely compromised his tribe’s calling and is looking for the easiest way to kick back and enjoy life.
But, what a celestial coincidence! What good fortune! Micah, the personal owner of the shrine of idols, is interested in getting a licensed, ordained Levite in position to help legitimatize his family worship center. This is a win-win for these pagan worshippers of the Lord. The Levite has a better contract and the Israelite has his own licensed priest from the tribe of Levi to function in his personal tabernacle worshipping the family gods!
Jonathan, the Levite, is happy with the yearly wages of ten shekels of silver (the typical annual salary for a laborer at that time in Canaan). Plus, Jonathan would snag a new set of clothes and all of his food for each year. Jonathan had just landed a job with solid salary plus benefits and living expenses. On  the other hand, the twisted theology of the day assured Micah that since he had hired a real Levite from the priestly tribe in Israel to manage his household shrine of idols, the Lord would bless him!  Micah’s pagan theology allowed him to believe that the Lord could be manipulated.
It appears that these two men had no idea how far from the truth and purpose of the Lord they were. But, the story gets worse; men from Dan who refused to engage the Philistines in battle were spying out the land for an easier place to live. As they were passing by, they happened to hear Jonathan singing the daily worship service in Micah’s shrine. They recognized his voice as that of Jonathan the descendent of Moses through his son Gershom. Unfortunately for Micah the men from Dan offered Jonathan a promotion from being a family priest to becoming a high priest for an entire tribe. Score! Jonathan couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that. The men from Dan steal Micah’s idols, hire his Levite and move north.
In those days, “everyone did as they saw fit.” (Judges 17:6)
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Kerusso (Gr) – Preach (Eng) – kerusso is a Greek word that refers to being a herald or proclaimer of a message or a proclamation. Kerusso means “to proclaim” in Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:45; Acts 10:37; Romans 2:21 and Revelation 5:2. Christ is said to have kerusso, or “proclaimed,” his victory to the rebel spirits who were locked up in the underworld in 1 Peter 3:19. The Gospel is kerusso by a herald in Matthew 24:14 and Mark 13:10. Also, the word or the Scriptures are kerusso (“proclaimed”) in 2 Timothy 4:2.
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Do I use my spiritual gift and God's calling to improve my lifestyle and my comfort instead of using my gifting and calling to serve others and empower the believers?
I will use what the Lord has given me to serve and empower people.



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Bible Reading Descriptions Here

Narrative

(morning only)

Complete Text

General Text




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Personal

Your godly influence on others

Church

Leading of the Holy Spirit
Immigration
Bulgaria



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The stepped stone structure that served as a retaining wall for ancient Jerusalem below governmental buildings such as the palace and the fortress. It was originally built by the Jebusties and referred to as the "millo," or "terraces," in David's day in 2 Samuel 5:9. (Details)
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Coins of Herod Agrippa I, who was Herod the Great's grandson. Agrippa I decapitated the Apostle James in Acts 12:1-2, arrested Peter in Acts 12:1-19 and died in Cesarea by the Sea in Acts 12:19-24.




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Someone to Quote

"Jesus, our head, is already in heaven; and if the head be above water, the body cannot drown." - John Flavel

Something to Ponder

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Megachurches characteristically have 2,000+ people attend a weekly service with a charismatic, authoritative pastor who is over a congregation that is active in a wide variety of social and outreach ministries that are organized with complex and differentiated structures. (details)

Here’s a Fact

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Luke indicated that he was familiar with the first and second census around the time of Christ’s birth and childhood in 4 BC and 6 AD. In Luke 2:2 the first one is mentioned in correlation with Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth while King Herod was still alive. In Acts 5:37 Luke records a second census which is the same census Josephus mentions in his historical work Antiquities (18:26) as occurring in 6 AD. This is why Luke calls the census of Luke 2:2 “the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria”

Proverb

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"Love and faithfulness keep a king safe; through love his throne is made secure."
- Proverbs 20:28

Coach’s Corner

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 A lie only has power when it is believed. But, truth has power despite what people think. Truth is reality with or without belief. A lie is only effective if it deceives someone.

Acts 12:1-2
New International Version (NIV)
Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison
12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword.
Acts 12:1-19
New International Version (NIV)
Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison
12 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
11 Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”
12 When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13 Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”
15 “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”
16 But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place.
18 In the morning, there was no small commotion among the soldiers as to what had become of Peter. 19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.
Herod’s Death
Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.
Acts 12:19-24
New International Version (NIV)
19 After Herod had a thorough search made for him and did not find him, he cross-examined the guards and ordered that they be executed.
Herod’s Death
Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. 20 He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. After securing the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king’s country for their food supply.
21 On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. 22 They shouted, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man.” 23 Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
24 But the word of God continued to spread and flourish.
2 Samuel 5:9
New International Version (NIV)
David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward.
Judges 16
New International Version (NIV)
Samson and Delilah
16 One day Samson went to Gaza, where he saw a prostitute. He went in to spend the night with her. The people of Gaza were told, “Samson is here!” So they surrounded the place and lay in wait for him all night at the city gate. They made no move during the night, saying, “At dawn we’ll kill him.”
But Samson lay there only until the middle of the night. Then he got up and took hold of the doors of the city gate, together with the two posts, and tore them loose, bar and all. He lifted them to his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that faces Hebron.
Some time later, he fell in love with a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. The rulers of the Philistines went to her and said, “See if you can lure him into showing you the secret of his great strength and how we can overpower him so we may tie him up and subdue him. Each one of us will give you eleven hundred shekels of silver.”
So Delilah said to Samson, “Tell me the secret of your great strength and how you can be tied up and subdued.”
Samson answered her, “If anyone ties me with seven fresh bowstrings that have not been dried, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
Then the rulers of the Philistines brought her seven fresh bowstrings that had not been dried, and she tied him with them. With men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the bowstrings as easily as a piece of string snaps when it comes close to a flame. So the secret of his strength was not discovered.
10 Then Delilah said to Samson, “You have made a fool of me; you lied to me. Come now, tell me how you can be tied.”
11 He said, “If anyone ties me securely with new ropes that have never been used, I’ll become as weak as any other man.”
12 So Delilah took new ropes and tied him with them. Then, with men hidden in the room, she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” But he snapped the ropes off his arms as if they were threads.
13 Delilah then said to Samson, “All this time you have been making a fool of me and lying to me. Tell me how you can be tied.”
He replied, “If you weave the seven braids of my head into the fabric on the loom and tighten it with the pin, I’ll become as weak as any other man.” So while he was sleeping, Delilah took the seven braids of his head, wove them into the fabric
14 and tightened it with the pin.
Again she called to him, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and pulled up the pin and the loom, with the fabric.
15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when you won’t confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven’t told me the secret of your great strength.” 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was sick to death of it.
17 So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.”
18 When Delilah saw that he had told her everything, she sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, “Come back once more; he has told me everything.” So the rulers of the Philistines returned with the silver in their hands. 19 After putting him to sleep on her lap, she called for someone to shave off the seven braids of his hair, and so began to subdue him. And his strength left him.
20 Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!”
He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him.
21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.
The Death of Samson
23 Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.”
24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying,
“Our god has delivered our enemy     into our hands, the one who laid waste our land     and multiplied our slain.”
25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them.
When they stood him among the pillars,
26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.
31 Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years.
Deuteronomy 29
New International Version (NIV)
Renewal of the Covenant
29 These are the terms of the covenant the Lord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.
Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them:
Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land.
With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those signs and great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear. Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet. You ate no bread and drank no wine or other fermented drink. I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.”
When you reached this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan came out to fight against us, but we defeated them. We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. 10 All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, 11 together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. 12 You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, 13 to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 14 I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you 15 who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.
16 You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. 17 You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. 18 Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. 20 The Lord will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the Lord will blot out their names from under heaven. 21 The Lord will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.
22 Your children who follow you in later generations and foreigners who come from distant lands will see the calamities that have fallen on the land and the diseases with which the Lord has afflicted it. 23 The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulfur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger. 24 All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?”
25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. 27 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”
29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

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