Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Jacobite experiment

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DISCLAIMER:- the views expressed are the views of the author alone, TTE does not normally comment on political issues but this is an important issue for the author. We will return to Bible studies in the next article.

The Jacobite experiment

John 1:45 (ESV) Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

As most of you who know me personally will know, I am a strong advocate politically of Scottish independence and the upcoming vote in September on whether Scotland should be an independent nation and secede from the Act of Union of 1707.

That being said, should a yes vote actually happen, in my view as Scots we have to lose the “English chip on the shoulder” as a good relationship with our neighbours to the south has to happen.

Just to see how plausible that was, I did a little experiment on my Facebook wall last night. I am a passionate fan of football (soccer for the US readership) and I love seeing my club team (Dundee United) and my national team (Scotland) win every game they play.

As most of you will be aware, the World Cup is happening in Brazil at present and Scotland have been unable to qualify. Our neighbours to the south England have, but in many cases the Scots will usually cheer on ABE (Anyone but England)

So last night I did what I call “The Jacobite experiment” over the piece I have stated that as I live in the US now I would like to see them do well and that is true. I hope the USMNT get as far as they can in the tournament, however everyone assumes that I as a Scottish nationalist, will actively be cheering against England.

I actually don’t see that viewpoint, I don’t hate our neighbours in the south, we share many traits and joint history since this “marriage of convenience” began. We have fought under the same Union flag and share broadcast, newsprint, currency and telephone exchanges with them. I just believe that rather than being a 9% minority where the vote does not count and having policies foisted upon us that hinder the growth of my country, it is time to go our separate ways. Nothing personal, it is just for the good of the country.

Back to the experiment, I placed a flag of Saint George (the traditional flag of England) on my Instagram wishing England well and a Facebook post urging England to beat the Italians.

Unsurprisingly I got a few queries, but the sad part of the experiment was not on my posts, but on the posts of others gloating over a 2-1 victory for the Italians.

My hope for my nation is that we can be grown up enough to want to see our neighbours do well, that way we can get past the “No true Scot” mentality that some of us have where we blame everything on the English. We may have to actually man up and look at some of “plooks we see in the mirror”.

I am not against “banter” but these posts have a more sinister feel, the actually could be described as hatred.

This article will not be popular and I am not all that fussed if it is or isn’t! We have to get past the idea that a vote for Yes is some “get it up the English” this is a one way street with no U turns.

Think of the nations who have declared independence from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, think if all the countries that at one time had a Union flag in the top left hand corner of their flag, Britannia no longer “rules the waves” and the Empire is over! Of these countries NONE are begging to be ruled again from London.

Why did I choose the verse above? Well replace the word Nazareth with “England”, “London”, “Liverpool”, “Manchester”, “Birmingham”, “Newcastle”, wherever and you may see what I am driving at.

Like I say, I am not anti-English or even anti-European, but what I do want is for the buck to stop in Edinburgh rather than London for the constitutional decisions that affect the people of Scotland.

The Yes campaign have had it hard, they have the mainstream media being their press campaigners, the message in many cases are not going through and quite a few headlines are twisted to a pro-Union viewpoint, in some cases, headlines are created to give a view that is not present in the article.

I love my country, there are times where the Union served Scotland well in the beginning, but in more recent times it has not been beneficial to Scotland. It is time for a change, that can be achieved in a vote in September for the Yes campaign.

I don’t get involved with US politics mainly because I can’t vote for a president!

God bless and I hope this was a good read for you and please comment below should you wish too
TGBTG
TTE

Careful you get the address correct

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Careful you get the address correct

After the last few heavy blogs I felt that we could all do with a little piece of “Monday mirth”. Just be careful in your e-correspondence.

A couple going on vacation but his wife was on a business trip so he went to the destination first and his wife would meet him the next day.

When he reached his hotel, he decided to send his wife a quick email.

Unfortunately, when typing her address, he mistyped a letter and his note was directed instead to an elderly preacher’s wife whose husband had passed away only the day before.

When the grieving widow checked her email, she took one look at the monitor, let out a piercing scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint.

At the sound, her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the screen:

Dearest Wife,
Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival tomorrow.

P.S. Sure is hot down here.

God bless you all and I hope this finds you well.
TGBTG
TTE

Happy Father’s day from TTE

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Dad and I, building a fence, 2014

Happy Father’s day from TTE

3 John 1:4 (ESV) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

As i begin to write this, I have to state that I am not the perfect father. I am not even a Catholic Priest (It’s a joke!) However, I do know where I have learned from, what I am still learning and hurdles I have yet to get over. My heart in this is to serve would be fathers, current fathers and prospective fathers in a Bible study on what the Bible has to say about a small part of fatherhood.

If I was to write an article on fatherhood what covered all that the Bible had said with quotes from wise Christian men, comments I have made (note I do not put myself in the former category) and a word by word study giving each word the respect and honor that each words deserve, it would be a volume that Britannica would be proud of.

I put this verse as the title verse is that I have a desire that my daughter (and any other children that the LORD blesses us with) know that they are loved, unconditionally, the same way that I am loved by God. And when my daughter sings Christian songs or “teaches me” (not really but she lets me know what she had learned either in home school or Sunday school) recent Bible verses learned, it swells my heart up in a way that is difficult to describe.

But my one desire for my daughter, is that she grows up knowing the truth about the Bible, (I fail in this area as far as regular Bible study goes with my daughter) that it is the living word of God and that it’s life changing pages are the best gift that has value far beyond the temporary things that we hold dear. Jesus said in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 7:9 (ESV) Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

We have to always do well by our kids, that is not to say if they ask for candy every day they get it, but we have to be guardians for them, give them good gifts, feed them up both spiritually and physically. The beauty is, we get a new chance every day that the LORD trusts us with our children. We have to be faithful custodians.

We have signed my daughter up for dance and soccer, I want my daughter to be healthy and have all the opportunities she can have, we are also in the process of Foster/Adopt in order to try to give a child that has not had the chances our daughter has had, an opportunity to be part of a family.

I get my perspective on fatherhood based on the fatherhood I see from God the father and how loving, how faithful he is to his children, regardless of whether they love or care about his love, he is always there. We have to make the choice whether to follow him or not.

Joshua 24:15 (ESV) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

This is a verse that is on my wall in my home and as head of the home it is my job to fortify my walls against attacks. It is my responsibility to teach my daughter, disciple her and love her and show her the real Jesus. I have to keep learning what it is and how God wants me to use my life and be a living testimony that this is for real.

We should always love our kids, shouldn’t provoke them to rebel against us.

Col 3:21 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

We should instill discipline (some of us need to learn it first) and instruct them in good doctrine and good theology, we must have compassion a real heart wrenching love for them that states you would do anything for them, I am tested in this when my kid won’t go to bed and it is late!

Psalm 103:13 (ESV) As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Here we have to learn from the father, love as the father loved us.

Proverbs 20:7 (ESV) The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!

That is my goal for my life, walking in integrity; I want blessings for my children and my children’s children.

I hope this was a blessing for you
God bless and TGBTG
TTE

Forgiveness – How do you forgive your daughter’s killer?

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Forgiveness – How do you forgive your daughter’s killer?

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

News article

Video for embrace – Mother Ady DeJesus Hugs Daughter’s 15-year-old Killer in Court – LoneWolf Sager

While listening to Spirit 88.9 on Friday morning, the host (The Wally Show) spoke about a lady called Ady Guzman-DeJesus, who chose to forgive the 16 year old kid who accidently killed her daughter, Jordyn Howe was the name of the accused.

He accepted a plea deal (guilty to manslaughter) that allowed him to not face prison. The beautiful moment of forgiveness was captured on video and left the whole courtroom feeling moved. For me, I felt as a Christian, what forgiveness and a great example to us all who hold grudges for much “lesser crimes”.

As the father of a (almost) 5 year old daughter who played soccer for the first time today and seeing how precious that memory was, I can easily place myself in the situation that lady faced, I have to really search deeply whether I would have the inner strength to do what I am commanded to in the word of God.

Howe accidently shot the daughter Lourdes (Jina) Guzman-DeJesus, on a school bus in 2012. Howe pointed the gun at the victim, the gun he had taken from his step-fathers house, he did not realize it was armed and shot the neck of the victim and killed her.

The forgiveness aspect is what gets me, I have no idea whether the lady is a Christian or not, but this is a living day example of a lady who has lost so much, but yet forgave even more.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing
TGBTG
TTE

Teach no other doctrine

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This book was a letter that was originally written by the apostle Paul, to Timothy as instruction about his pastoral duties in Ephesus. I find it encouraging and wanted to share this portion of what I was reading to you today. This is intended as a gentle exhortation rather than a “mini sermon”

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: [so do]. 1 Tim 1:3-4 (KJV)

Now the interesting thing about this scripture, is that it tells us to teach “no other doctrine” but literally a translation from the Greek would be to command to not to be deviating from the truth, the truth in this case being the sound doctrine of Jesus Christ.

Also it goes on to say, do not be attentive to inventions, falsehoods (Greek word was mythos – where we get modern day myth from) and genealogies that foster debates, rather than seeking Godly edifying.

Sometimes we are all guilty of showing how “holy” we are by how we can explain theology, or how we can impress by using “holy words” we need to be careful that we are doing it for Gods glory rather than our own.

Please do not thing I am bagging on people who debate all the time, (some are called to do that – that is their ministry!) because in 1 Peter 3:15 we are told to But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

All I am asking is that your heart be right, by all means defend Gods word, but do it for Gods sake!

The Bible is God’s infallible word, in the first part of Genesis we see that the Bible states that there was only one beginning “In the beginning, God.”

The Bible goes on to say that God (‘elohiym – plural of ‘elowahh – The triune god) created the heavens and the earth. There is no debate, this is exactly how it happened. Debates only happen when we try to apply mans ‘wisdom or logic” to Gods word. Which leads us into “sound doctrine”.

The command to teach sound doctrine is one that is used so much; it goes without saying that when we approach God’s word to teach, it must be with reverence and fear. When I teach I am still mindful and prayerful that I do not butcher what I have in front of me.

I do not try to apply my thoughts and bias to what the Holy Spirit is teaching me. (in some cases the lesson is for me, in some cases the lesson is to be shared to help others!)

I guess it all comes down to the heart and only God can see that, when I am wanting a reality check of where I am in my Christian walk, I read the book of James. I then take note of the things that “need improvement” and get set to do them.

Lastly, although it is not mentioned here, a really important thing to be doing for each other is to be in prayer for one another, we need to be lifting each other up and seeking Gods will in the lives of not just ourselves and families, but also the communities that God has allowed us to work in.

I hope this was a blessing
God bless and TGBTG
TTE

For I am not ashamed of the gospel

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For I am not ashamed of the gospel

Romans 1:16 (ESV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Paul sets his stall out clear, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” what a statement to make! I LOVE IT! (Yes I am shouting!) This is what I want for my life. To be so immersed in the gospel that it oozes out of my very pores, that people will come to me to find out what is different, to have my light shine so brightly in this dark world that I am like a lighthouse shining and guiding people to the safety of heaven.

Now that I have shone light on my failings let us begin to examine this statement. For Paul to state that he is not ashamed of a gospel that could very well end his life in a clear and present way is to me phenomenal. Paul was in danger from the Romans who believed that this fledgling religion based on a Jewish messiah was dangerous to the rule of Rome, he faced opposition in both Jewish camps, and both the Sadducees and the Pharisees for differing reasons did not want the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ and would want Paul to “go away”. In their minds, Paul was a deserter from the Jewish faith and this new doctrine was heresy.

This is Paul “nailing his colors to the mast” and standing up for the truth of the gospel. This is important based on his readership; his readership is in one of the most cosmopolitan, worldly, polytheistic cities in that time in the world. The Romans believed they were the pinnacle of mankind. That every good thing came through the Roman Empire. If these converts were Roman citizens, don’t you think they would feel ashamed of embracing this Hebrew/Jewish messiah who was sentenced to death by the very same Roman Empire? Would there be conflicting views of the heart on possible disloyalty to the empire?

Paul encourages the recipients that regardless of any other allegiances they might have their first allegiance is to Christ. This is awesome coming from Paul as when he was Saul and persecuting other Christians he was so zealous about keeping the letter of the law, doing all the good works, following all of the 613 rules and squashing any other religions that came up against Judaism.

Paul later in this letter tells us in the 3rd and the 5th chapter.

Romans 3:21 (ESV) …But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…

Romans 5:12 (ESV) …Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many…

Paul is keen to talk about God’s grace and what a difference between this and the works based faith that was his life previously under the Law. It is as he states “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” Paul states also that this is for both the Jew and the Greek (or Gentile) it is freely available to everyone, regardless of sins committed, regardless of previous faith, regardless of social status, regardless of where they were born, it has the power to transform lives dynamically.

When we are saved we are bought with a price, free from sin, free from Satan’s hold on us and free from things that take us from God. We don’t always exercise our free will correctly and slip into sin, we know that we can always repent and are free from the wrath of God who will punish sin. Paul tells us this is available to “EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES”

We have to live righteously, it is not just enough to believe and just flat line, we have to grow in faith, we have to “live by faith”. Believing is step one, that is the first step on a journey, and then we have to grow. By believing in Jesus Christ it is a freedom from the death sentence of sin. Once we make that decision to live for Christ, we then should want to in our spirit grow in God and seek after the things of God, which is not to say that our flesh wills otherwise.

We have support in that we have his spirit (Holy Spirit) in us to help and guide us and we have the power of prayer, we have the best therapist, the best shrink, the best counsellor ion the world, there is no waiting time and no expensive copays. Jesus paid it all! How exciting is that!

I saw yesterday on Facebook a graphic that gave a rather challenging message “You can’t walk with Jesus and hold hands with the devil” and many of us do that, there is that one thing (big or small) that you just have not surrendered to the LORD. It may be a public thing, most often it is a private thing.

I really struggle with money; I have a hard time when there is no plan. I probably am missing out on blessings because I haven’t surrendered that part of my life. Could also be why in my driest times financially it becomes “desert like” in my opinion that is a shortfall in myself and it is an area where I need to let go and trust the God who provided “daily bread” for the children of Israel in the desert.

We have to fully let go, live by faith. I don’t advocate giving up your job or abandoning any responsibilities but we have to be 100% sold out (I have some way to go) get ourselves to the place where God can use us effectively, get rid of our “golden calves” and actually do what God has planned for us and “not be ashamed” that way we can change and positively impact the area God has placed us in. (Or if we are living in an area because of our flesh, move to where God has called you) Let NOTHING hold you back.

If you hadn’t guessed these two verses get me pumped up! I hope that my excitement did not spoil your enjoyment of the article and I hope the points that God put on my heart to share came through.
God bless you one and all and TGBTG
TTE

I have often intended to come to you…

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I have often intended to come to you…

Romans 1:7 (ESV) To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

When this book was written the Apostle Paul had never been in Rome, through communication he knew of the church and the faithful brethren in a most challenging situation. Romans is unique in that way as Paul usually wrote to churches that he had either founded or had a hand in the founding of. We have no idea who founded the church at Rome, whether it was believers who came back from Pentecost and started preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ or whether believers moved into Rome and began to congregate together for logistical and safety reasons (again supposition on my part) we are not made aware.

Much like, through different interactions in the Calvary Chapel movement and different folks I have been privileged to sit in the company of, I have many mutual friends and acquaintances with many other folks. Paul would have been likewise with the Christians at Rome. (Romans 16 mentions many of these by name) he calls them “loved” because regardless of whether he had known them personally, they are still his brothers and sisters in the faith.

I like this as it is an add on to the introduction of Paul, in verses 1-6 (see the blog from yesterday) Paul introduced who he was and gave his credentials as an apostle, this is ongoing to that thought and like a little of a longer introduction to believers who many of whom will not have met him. Kind of like “small talk” but in written format.

He greets them with his formal greeting of Grace and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ, boy did that church need that! As alluded to in yesterday’s article, the Roman church was not popular as the beliefs of the Christian did not sit well with the pluralistic, polytheistic sinful nature of the Roman government and the city in which the church found itself in. They were unpopular because they were known for their faith. (This is why it was known worldwide) They were famous in Christian circles due to their faith under fire.

We have that today in both the Western world and the persecuted church in the 2nd and 3rd worlds, we have believers who while they fly under the radar are dynamic for the kingdom of God, they go places and are sent into areas by God and are truly called, for their obedience they may lose their life in order to glorify the name of Christ Jesus. This was a real fear in the Church of Rome. If you were found to be against Caesar, then there was only one judgment, a one way ticket to a posthumous state. (You just have to examine how many of the apostles died or look at the “Nero trials of Christians” in order to see the point I am making)

Sometimes I wish we had a little persecution in the west to weed out the “pretend Christians” or the “Sunday believers” and it would serve to galvanize the faithful, when your life is on the line it suddenly means more. A good question to ask would be “if you were under pressure from the Romans, would you still be as open in your faith?”

Paul advises that “without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. (V9-10)” for me that is encouraging and a timely reminder that you can always help your brothers and sisters who are located far away from you by prayer. Folks I know in the mission field when they are going out always answer the same question the same way, I ask “anything I can do for you?” they always answer “pray for me, I need your prayers”

He uses the term “without ceasing” does anyone else feel a little small at the moment (I am not boasting about my imperfections rather I am shamed by them) this tells me the dynamic nature of Paul’s prayer life, it wasn’t a rise, eat, eat, eat go to bed type of prayer life that he had. When we neglect prayer in our lives we are losing out on so many benefits, blessings and encouragements by not doing this right. We learn to put others first, seek others will, we learn to ask for things that won’t benefit us. We become more Christ like.

Paul uses the term, “for God is my witness” he appealed to a much higher power and said, God will verify what I said, I pray for you a lot. How easy is it for us all to say “I will pray for you” and then life gets in the way and you fail to do so. I always try to do it there and then, that way it gets done. But I am not immune to this. Paul had a will to go there and see them for three reasons

He wanted to do the following

1 “impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you”/”mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (v11/12)
2 “reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles” (v13)
3 “preach the gospel” (v15)

Paul sets out in love what he hoped to achieve by visiting the believers in Rome, he was looking to strengthen them but also he realized that he could be in a position to receive from them also. I found that when I have been preparing Bible studies to teach and have been preparing blog articles like this I have received much more that I have ever given out. What I thought I was to teach has ministered to me first.

Paul sets the record straight in why he has missed out on coming to Rome thus far, that he was willing to go there, that he had great love for those believers in Rome. That external circumstances and things that have been beyond his control are all that have stopped him from being there. He has to leave Corinth and go to Jerusalem next; if you know your history you will know how dangerous it would be for a well-known Christian evangelist to go to. This however would not have prevented Paul from going there if God had sent him. Paul had planned to go to Rome after this journey.

I love Paul in that he was so humble and always was the evangelist; he worked tirelessly to bring the gospel to whomever God would place in front of him. We have to be likewise, I pray frequently for God to put someone in my way that I can share with, but I secretly lament all my missed opportunities for the gospel. Paul see’s Rome as someone he is under obligation to, perhaps because under there rule a common order was found and this allowed passage easier for the gospel to be spread. Whatever his reasoning was, he was really keen to get the gospel preached in Rome.

He concluded this part with the following statement “So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome” (v15) History tells us that Paul eventually did make it to Rome, he did so at the Roman governments expense and went as a prisoner. He impacted people during his time in chains, using his “I am eager” stance to include witnessing to the very guards who were imprisoning him, whoever God placed in his way, Paul would talk to about Jesus.

LORD make me that way please!

God bless and I hope this was a blessing
TGBTG
TTE

Wishing I was in Rome

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Wishing I was in Rome

Romans 1:1 (ESV)

Greeting

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

I love the book of Romans, Paul full of desire to go see the believers in Rome wrote this letter. I have been in this situation where I have longed to go have fellowship with brothers after an enforced absence. In some cases, it has been a few years and in some cases it has been a few weeks. Human nature will tell us that it would be good for our koinonia to see and have fellowship with those believers.

Paul recounts how he was saved in Acts 9, on the road to Damascus in Assyria, Paul (or Saul as he was known then) was full of threats and murderous actions towards the people of the way, sought letters from the temple in Jerusalem to go do likewise in Damascus. He had come with the intent of persecuting and killing believers. Jesus appears to him in a blinding light on the road near Damascus; he ended up blind but realized he had met with Jesus of Nazareth.

Saul then became Paul the apostle, followed instructions in the vision, waited for the believer called Ananias to come and bring him into the fellowship (You have to admire him for that as Saul had quiet the reputation for persecuting the Christians in that area) Paul rightly calls himself an “apostle” who was “set apart for the gospel of God”. Jesus himself interceded on Paul’s behalf and showed himself in a real way that day on the outskirts of the city of Damascus. Paul went straight to work in Damascus, not killing Christians but serving in the local fellowships.

That is how Paul addresses himself, as a servant first, following Jesus example that the “first shall be last”, the Greek word “doulos” speaks of in servitude, devotion to, unwavering commission for. Makes you think about how you shape up as you attempt to become a bondservant of Jesus Christ. Paul is also separated, separated from his old life as a Pharisee, separated unto a singular mission, to deliver God’s (not his) gospel.

Paul wrote this letter while he was serving in Corinth between 53-58 AD, based on dates listed in Acts 20:2-3, Romans 16:1, 16:3 and 1 Corinthians 1:14. Putting this date into the context of Paul’s life, he had been ministering in the Christian faith for about 20 years at this point. Based on information we have, Paul would be writing to Rome as he planned to go there after visiting Jerusalem after Corinth.

In verse two, Paul talks about how Christ was the literal fulfillment of the prophecies of the Old Testament regarding the Messiah. In that day there would be many heresies and many false rumors and many folks intent on de-railing this faith in this messiah. Many people who believe they are working for God, much like Paul was, but they use falsehoods and intimidation. This wasn’t for example, a doctrine that was made up or man invented, he was wishing to let us know that this aligned with the scripture that they already had.

This is really important as God does not contradict himself and the bible will not point in two different directions, the truth that was truth 30 odd years after Christ’s death will still be truth in 2014. He makes it plain that he is referring to Jesus of Nazareth in verse 3, whose genealogy was given in both parents (both maternal and legal) came through the line of David.

He also set apart Christianity from other religions as it orbits around one person “Jesus Christ” Paul speaks of his humanity that he was a man, but he was also God, as man cannot raise himself from the dead. With Jesus being crucified in such a public fashion, there was no shortage of witnesses to testify (from various bias groups such as Pharisee’s, Sadducees and Romans) that the man who they all recognized as Jesus was in fact crucified on that hill called Calvary. In verse 4, Paul repeats how he addresses Jesus from his first encounter in Acts 9, he calls him LORD. He is showing himself to be the servant (v4)

Because of Jesus stepping in to be the “Second Adam” we are recipients of Gods “grace” we are not getting as sinners what we deserve, Christ’s atoning sacrifice has pardoned us in the court of the most high King. If that doesn’t get you excited nothing will! Paul recognized this and set about to do as he wrote “bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations” God states in John 3:16-17 the reason for Jesus mission on eat (v16) and the fathers heart in sending him (v17)

We have to be as he was, we have to be intentional, we have to have an urgency (see my blog from a few days ago) we have to give the gospel “good news” to the people who are perishing, dying and in need of eternal redemption. Like the believers in Rome, which was called “the eternal city” we have to be a vocal minority in sound doctrine, gentleness, love, compassion and be a good ambassador for our savior Jesus Christ, we have to be missionaries to this lost world, where God has placed us.

God bless and I pray that this reaches you in good heart, good health and this is a challenge to you all (myself included)
TGBTG
TTE

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation

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Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation

2 Cor 6:1 (ESV) We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For He says: ​​“In an acceptable time I have heard you, ​​And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.

Paul gives a very prominent and poignant lesson here; he displays to the Corinthian church the urgency of the gospel. (Isaiah 49:8) The Corinthian church gets a bad rap from the modern day Bible study teachers as being a very carnal culture and that it was infecting the believers in that area with behaviors creeping into the fellowship.

Here is the deal; today we are looking at a “Corinthian culture” that makes that “Corinthian culture” look like a Sunday school picnic. These words were written 2000 years ago to a worldly culture but are more relevant and more now than today’s newspaper.

You don’t get more urgent than the title of this article huh? It reminds me of our frailty of our mortality. We only have a finite time on this earth to make a decision about our eternity. As Christians we have a great responsibility under the “Great Commission” to take the word our and make disciples. (This blog is part of what I try to do to get the word of God out there)

Paul talks about the grace of God and receiving it in vain. This is very important in our time as we tend to be very grace focused in that our heart wants us to “cut corners” and create “grey areas” because if it is sin God will forgive us regardless. We cannot be looking to sin to get forgiveness and must be looking to go through a day by day journey for holiness. Grace will come to you from God regardless of whether you deserve it or not, but I would rather do my best for God.

After our justification we need to begin our process of sanctification. This journey is a marathon rather than a sprint. I am a knucklehead and need to learn many lessons many times over before it sets in my memory. If you ask my wife about my memory, she will tell you that there are times that she is surprised at the way my brain functions at times and the frequency on how I forget how to do simple everyday things. I am no different in my spiritual life, I have grown but sometimes it is not at the rate you would have expected.

It is about time that we realized our own comfort should not be center stage. When we are chasing the bigger salary, the bigger house, the nicer car, the hot tub, the pool, the large ministry, the big bank balance, fame, notoriety, good fortune, land, the nicest electronic gadgets whatever the desire of your heart is instead of Gods plan in your life, it always leads the same way.

1) Temporary gratification
2) Unfulfillment

I listen to “the Dave Ramsey show” on financial advice and he signs off every hour with the slogan “The only true way to financial peace is through the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ” and that principle can be allied to so many areas of our lives. When we allow other things to come into our lives and feed our selfishness gene (we all have one, even the most humble of us) then the work of the LORD is inhibited. God knows this and makes provision for you, but I wish (for me at least) that I was less selfish.

I am not suggesting giving up your iPhone/iPad/Xbox whatever you do for fun, however it is all about balance, if it is impacting your effectiveness for Christ and overtaking your life then it may be a problem. If you are married it is a cause for arguments in your relationship?

Here is the deal! These other things whilst it makes you comfortable, it has no eternal value, it will all burn in the end! We should chase after the things of God.

God bless and I hope this was a blessing and remember that “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”
TTE

Pentecost – Can I Get a witness?

Pentecost – Can I Get a witness?

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Acts 1:3 (ESV) He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Meanwhile in the first century Jerusalem…

Imagine the scene, the guy you have been following around for the last three years because you believed he was the Messiah is arrested by local law enforcement, betrayed by one of your closest friends for money! Everyone both locally and nationwide is talking about his death, there are several eye witnesses.

Then the unbelievable happens, three days later, he appears again, ALIVE! You know it is him because you have been a step behind him for his whole ministry, you have been in earshot of every word he said, you may not always have grasped the meaning, but you were there.

He hangs around for just over a month, appearing to smaller crowds (1 Cor 15:6) and affirming to the faithful that he is actually alive and rose from the dead. You can see (and Thomas wanted to feel) the wounds in his hands, you get that he came back to show he was who he said he was!

Now he says this, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit! Well he hasn’t been wrong so far and now you realise that he is God! We are given one instruction, stay put in the city we are in, that’s not to hard huh? Then they will fulfil Isaiah 43:10.

Fast forward to the 21st century

Can you imagine what the disciples had gone through in the last 50 odd days? If they would be getting diagnosed in modern times they would have all manners of PTSD.

They are so happy Jesus has come back, they realise that he is who he said he was so they ask the obvious question to the Jew of that day “when will Israel be restored”. You see, like Herod and so many other Jews, they focused on the prophesies that spoke of the messiah returning to re-establish his Kingdom and were looking for the messiah to overthrow Rome.

Jesus answers plainly, the kingdom you may not know, but the power from the kingdom you will get shortly! It wasn’t too long before the prophesy was fulfilled.

Acts 2:1 (ESV) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

Nowadays, I use social media to get the word of God out, I find it the easiest way to connect and tell a few thousand folks within a few seconds and be a witness to how Christ has changed me. Based on this sites stats, people have viewed the “testimony” page more than any other page (not including blog posts)

This was social as opposed to social media. God chose a time where there was no MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or any if that fun stuff, he also chose a place where everyone who would be seeking God would be and at a time where they would all be in that city.

These devout men, who would already be of good reputation in their own lands, would come back with this story of how the Holy Spirit same down and how these men communicated to them each in a way they would recognise (all simultaneously) – Talk about Christianity exploding on a geographic scale! This was the great commission being fulfilled in one act.

What so many people miss in tho passage and focus on the act of speaking in tongues is that the disciples had two tasks

1) be in the place I told you to be in (Jerusalem)
2) wait until I tell you to wait.

We can learn so much from that, from their simple obedience came Pentecost! Simple huh?

As Christians we have to live by the spirit and not by the flesh, we read the following in Galatians:

Galatians 6:8 (ESV) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

So to recap, be obedient, be where God tells you to be, live by the spirit and not grow weary! Let us all go and be witnesses now!

God bless you one and all and Happy Pentecost
TTE