Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Devil (didn’t) make me do it – Matthew 4:1-11

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The Devil (didn’t) make me do it – Matthew 4:1-11 – 03/29/2016

Matthew 4:1 (ESV) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse one of chapter four.

V1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

We go straight from God being very pleased at Jesus and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove to Jesus being tempted by the very adversary of God. (The Devil) I entitled this the way I did to try and poke fun at the idea that is somewhat popular that when we sin we say “The Devil made me do it” and often times we give the Devil way to much credit, I would put it no higher than our sinful nature made us do it.

Jesus volunteered for this mission so he knew at some point he was going to have to face the rebellious one and when he did it would have to be mano a mano, one on one. Jesus went from those soothing cool waters in the Jordan to the wasteland of the Middle Eastern desert which is described as wilderness, so no-one goes there and it is not regularly tended or farmed.

He goes from being blessed by the Father to being attacked by the tempter and I love this passage of scripture as Jesus did not have to do this because he was sinless, however he chose this to identify with the temptations that man would go through. There is some discussion among bible skeptics whether this verse is contradictory to a verse in James so let’s look at that…

James 1:12 (ESV) Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The verse that is often questioned is verse 13, but even looking at it in context with the rest of the verses it is quite easy to see what James is referring to. Jesus was not being tempted by God, but the Holy Spirit was leading to a place that temptation could occur. Paul states that Jesus overcame these temptations to identify with man. Let’s look at two verses…

Hebrews 2:17 (ESV) Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

And also

Hebrews 4:14 (ESV) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

How awesome is that! We have a great high priest that has suffered when tempted (or tested) directly from the Devil, the dark side brought out their biggest guns against him but yet Jesus emerged victorious. How much more does that strengthen your faith that greater is he that is in you than the one who tempts you?

V2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Talk about testing someone to their limits? How would you be after forty days and forty nights with no-one but the devil for company? He was beyond simple hunger pains and was at the end of what a human body could handle. If the devil was ever going to get him then it would be now.

The idea of a forty day fast is not an unusual one in the Bible. Both Moses and Isaiah fasted in the Old Testament…

Exodus 34:27 (ESV) And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments

and also

1st Kings 19:4 (ESV) But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

This was not done for personal pride or just to show that the person going through the fast could in fact do that, it was done as a period of drawing closer to God the Father and learning dependence on him. Much like the modern day festival of “Lent” was supposed to be like but if the heart is not correct then it can just be a ritual. (Learn more about that in this blog article) Jesus overcame everything that was put in front of him because he WAS God. All others who did this had to rely on or come closer to God.

V3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Thus comes the first temptation, the Devil knew his body was weak so he attempted to show him what the flesh cried out for and that is often times how the Devil will try to tempt us. Some translations have the words “When the tempter came” and it is important to remember it is not a case of if the tempter will come but when. He desires nothing more than to seek and destroy and cause doubt in the heart of even the strongest believer. He desires to tear ministries down by using people’s weak spots and will do what it takes to push people’s hot buttons to entice them into sin.

We have to be careful most often when we have our “mountaintop experiences” because we can be sure that the Devil is trying his upmost to tunnel under us and bring us down. Personally, I have had some of my hardest times as a Christian just after some of my greatest spiritual victories and I caution ALL believers to be watchful during those times that we do not believe the hype about ourselves as humility is often a lesson learned after the fact!

Jesus answers him, not just simply palms him off or slightly disagrees but actually answers himself with the following scripture…

Deuteromony 8:3 (ESV) And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Jesus used the word of God correctly and in context to do battle with the Devil. The Devil might have known the word but Jesus was the correct application of the Word. He was “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1) and this was not going to work with Jesus as he was sinless and could resist the devil and everything he was about to offer and as we see in the next few verses that the Devil kept upping the ante to see if the Holy One could be corrupted…

V5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Make no mistake about it, the Devil can quote scripture until the cows come home and he can manipulate and twist the very holy words of God to suit his own ends. This time he buffeted Jesus to see if “the pride of life” was in him at all.

He suggested that Jesus throw himself off the tallest building in the region and speculated that God would save Jesus if he was to do such a public show of God’s power. He stated that in scripture “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” To suit his own ends he misquotes Psalm 91 which reads…

Psalms 91:9 (ESV) Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge — 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

There is no mention of the end of the sentence in verse 11 and as you can read the whole verse is said in a manner to prove a point it was never intended to. That is often the case when scripture is used to stretch a point. Jesus responds with …

Deuteronomy 6:16 (ESV) “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

Jesus correctly applies this scripture against Him. Satan continues one last time…

V8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

He decides to test the loyalty of Jesus to the Father by trying to go for the tri-unity of God, this is his big pitch and he knows that if this is successful this is a game changer. He waits until the last test and offers his all that he can for the patronage and worship of Jesus. I am sure he understands why Jesus is there and it shows something of the arrogance and pride of Satan that he thinks that this will be successful.

You will notice that Jesus does not dispute ownership of all the kingdoms of the world. Satan proposed a swap, Jesus worship for the world to be returned because in the psyche of Satan he desires to be worshipped as God is. And if the Son of God, who is God himself was to worship him…That would be off the charts for him! Of course Jesus is the Son of God and part of the tri-une God and he sends him away stating the basic tenants of the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:1 (ESV) And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Jesus was not going to miss the cross to bow down to Satan, yes he would have redeemed the world but he stuck to God the Fathers plan for his mission and he handled temptation and gave us a great example how to deal with temptation because we see in the last verse of the passage that we are studying how Satan reacted after being denied by Jesus and using all that he had against him.

For me the real sobering thought was the thought about how my actions mirrored either Jesus and the devil and I think of ways that the devil could have “knobbled me” and it is certainly points that require prayer. I pray that it does likewise for you dear reader.

V11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Jesus was more than up to the task, we only read of those three temptations but Jesus stayed pure and fulfilled those forty days and forty nights being attacked by the devil Jesus fulfilled what is written in the book of James when it is written…

James 4:7 (ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

And as true as the word of God is, that is what happened, Jesus knew that the devil would use manipulation, lies and deception to try and turn him from God’s plan for his life and as his followers we can expect nothing less from the “father of lies” and I know that the further I stick my neck out for God the larger the target on my back becomes. We should use the same weapons that Jesus used against Him, God’s word rightly divided. That is the only truth that can stand against his lies.

God sends the angels promised in Psalm 91 but only after Jesus had defeated the devil. Angels came and supplied the needs that Jesus required; they are there as messengers as opposed to any other application of ministered. Jesus dealt with the devil with no outside help and it makes me think of the final battle in Revelation where we will watch Jesus take on all comers and defeat them all. What a day that will be!

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses twelve through seventeen of chapter four studying the beginning of the adult ministry of Jesus. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The ACTS Files – Acts 2:42-47 – Devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:42-47 – Devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers – 03/28/2016

Acts 2:42 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is the new believer’s response to “Peter’s Sermon”. We see here how the church started and look at lessons we could use today. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse forty two…

V42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

After 3000 were added to their number we learn something really dynamic about this new and fledgling church and that was that they were not just about the Pentecost experience. They devoted themselves to teaching and desired to know more. They were keen to know all about this messiah Jesus and searched out the information, they were single minded in their devotion to seek out the truth of God from the apostles teachings and doctrine. This is paramount in the spiritual maturity and development of the new church that they get their doctrinal ducks in a row. That they be unified in a common faith and nail the basics from day one. That way they can avoid contentious arguments.

Not content with that basic fundamental, but they continued in fellowship, they invested in one another in a real way that we just don’t get in the Western church. In the Bible study I started under the direction of God I instituted a safe place where people could be real, not polished with a “Sunday smile” Much like a recent article (link) that I did talking about the comfort of God and the need for us in fellowship to be comforting one another and bearing one another’s burdens (another article in Galatians) and so fulfilling the law of Christ, see the full text in Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:2 (ESV) Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I get all of my best ideas from the Bible! I want to see that idea replicated in our churches that we are real, that we are honest at where we are even if it sets us back in our ministry goal. Imagine the power that could be unleashed if we are proactively praying for the burdens that we do not know about. If you believe in the power of prayer and restoration then what is stopping you? If you don’t trust your church leadership then maybe it is time to reconsider going to that church.

And lastly, they broke bread and prayed together like a real family. Do you have any idea what an honor it is to be invited to dine at another’s table? The Greek word “koinonia” means participation, communion, fellowship, harmony and sharing in a common bond. Is that the type of association you are looking for in your church? Let me tell you that it starts with you! Yes it would be beneficial if the leadership of the church bought into it but if you set the example then that may be enough to start a change of culture in your fellowship.
They broke bread and prayed, with that common bond they also shared a common faith and when the people of God came together they were strengthened by prayer and for me that is a non-negotiable in any fellowship that I wish to participate in that prayer is important. They had such a strong foundation even though this was the first draft of the church, how simpler our lives would be if we followed this basic formula for church planting!

V43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

After all of the foundations were laid for a dynamic work of God it is hardly surprising that God blessed it! Often times we will try to push things along in our own speed and wonder why it is not what we thought it would be. How often do we cover it in prayer in the belief that God can handle this and leave the results up to God?

The evidence is in the reaction that awe (or fear) came upon every soul, a true conviction of the wrongdoing of man and a genuine repentance and also many signs and wonders were done and what tangible evidence of the blessing and power of God!

V44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

How I long for that in any fellowship I attend! They showed hospitality, served one another and looked for commonality in the fellowship they shared. Many of these new believers traveled to get to Jerusalem so the inhabitants would have shared their space and much more as we read below…

V45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Would you do that for your fellow believers? Sell your prized possessions for Jesus? Is there something you wouldn’t give up for Jesus? Maybe something you might want to look at there. I am of course not asking you to sell your stuff for Jesus but look at the change in people’s lives that helping their fellow brothers and sisters in the faith was better than having some expensive trinket in their house. Jesus was evidently number one in these people’s lives because their actions were fruit of their beliefs.

Some may equate this to an early form of Communism but in my view it cannot be described like that because it was something that was undertaken by the individual believer and was voluntary as we don’t see the apostles or leaders telling them to do so and we will see in Acts 5 what happens when some folks decided to fake benevolence on a grand level.

V46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Some people might be uncomfortable with this level of interaction but I love this idea. They were all singing from the same sheet, they realized that they were meant to be together, the early church did life together and it wasn’t what we are used to with only having a weekly interaction, so much more can be achieved in growth, in reality and in that common bond. They lived together, worshipped together, ate together and had great joy together. Sounds great huh?

For those of you who poo poo the idea and state “that could never work in today’s society” I am here to tell you that it can. I was part of a missions plant church in Glasgow that promoted these very ideals and it came from the Pastor down to the newest person in the church where if you wanted this level of involvement you could literally go through the week and fellowship all week if you wished. It got to the stage that we were bummed if we went more than 3 days without seeing someone from church. That was in 2007 not 37 AD!

You will also notice that those who received from others abundance received with “glad and generous hearts” and we observe that there was no drama from either the ones who gave or the ones who received. There appears to be no “lording it over” a fellow believer those who had more than others and the ones who required assistance praised God for having favor on all the people. We see no-one starving because the command to “love one another” was played out beautifully and literally in this new church blueprint.

God added to the number daily, what is important not that he added to the physical numbers but he added to the maturity of the believers also. What was not to like about this church? They looked after their own, they had a common bond and they loved one another. They had their doctrinal ducks in a row, they fellowshipped and they covered everything in prayer. If I ever set up a church plant I know this would be the formula that I would want to use and follow the will of God and leave the results up to him!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses one through ten where Peter and John encounter a lame man on their way to prayer. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Psalms Saturday #11 – The LORD Is in His Holy Temple – Psalms 11

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Psalms Saturday #11 – The LORD Is in His Holy Temple – Psalms 11 – 03/26/2016

To the choirmaster. Of David.
Psalm 11:1 (ESV) In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

This Psalm is awesome in its praise and thanksgiving to the LORD. I love this because it gives great examples of praise and thanksgiving despite the obvious peril and danger in Davids circumstances and my hope is that you please enjoy this great Psalm of praise, although it is just five verses it is rich in teaching and encouraging moments. I aim to look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis beginning in verse one.

V1 In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,

Royal fugitive

Have you ever been in bother, on the run? David prior to becoming king was on the run from the existing king Saul. He was consistently hunted; he was a fugitive from royal law and at this part of his life was literally scampering for his life. His advice from those close to him we read in the text is to “flee like a bird to your mountain” But David shows great faith in God. He states confidently and profoundly “in the LORD I take refuge” He knew where to put his trust! This poses a question in my heart to you dear readers in that who do you have your trust in? Is it man with his ideas that will fail despite the good intentions or is it God who knows the “master plan”? David mocks this idea and states confidently “In the LORD I take refuge” (or have my trust) He was not going to rely on his own fears but take solace and refuge that God has this.

True mark of a man of faith

That is a true mark of a man of faith! He would rather face the oncoming danger with the LORD at his back than do it without the LORD and do what seemed like the obvious solution, to tuck tail and run and save his own skin. David knew (a man after Gods own heart remember) that the advice, although given in love and quite possibly with the best possible intentions, it was not the path that he would chose to follow.

Good heart – bad advice

V2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Verses 2 & 3 show the advice given by his friends, like I had said earlier, the advice may be well intentioned but if it is not within Gods plan for your life then it is bad advice. God had already promised the throne to David, Samuel had anointed him and David knew his purpose was to be a mighty king. He also saw the hardness of Saul’s heart and learned from the mistakes of others. Yes there was a real and present danger but for me the overriding faith in God, in his provision and He is the one that David puts his faith and security in because of the earlier prophesy that he would be King tells you a lot about the heart of David, yes he made mistakes but this is what he was made of. When a man is threatened with the loss of what he holds dearest you will soon see what his priorities are.

David’s friends really play on his fears, they have tried to get him scared of the dangers he can see as well as the dangers he cannot. Perhaps there was a little piece of self-preservation, perhaps they wanted to manage a situation to have him removed from danger, whatever the cause was if you are walking in fear and not trusting in God then you will not step out in faith when God calls you.

The Foundations are destroyed

We read this when they state “if the foundations are destroyed” Saul was the first and only king that Israel had had up to that point and he ruined the throne at the first attempt right down to its foundation. His friends were also questioning why a righteous man would take such a poisoned chalice.

What can David do? Actually quite a lot if he has God on his side, as bad as Saul was for the throne David could bring a nation back into revival. Never shirk from a task you are called to just because it seems too big! Is there a task that is too big for your God? My God is not that small. Circumstances are just that, it is only a short sighted view of the present and I serve a God that can change things in the blink of an eye.

Seen versus Unseen

Can you imagine the internal turmoil he must have been going through? Balancing the advice of the seen against the faith of the unseen. He had unshakable faith at this point of his life and we can learn a lot from him in relation to how deeply we cling to a steadfast faith in the LORD. He is in the gravest of circumstances and still clings to the promises of the LORD knowing that his will is best for him.

V4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence

God got this!

David knew he was going to be looked after by God; he describes the heavenly situation with the calmness of a man not in danger. He describes what the LORD sees in verse 4. Its very much like the Facebook graphic I saw earlier this week that describes this well “God is like Oxygen, you can’t see him, but once you have him, you can’t live without him” Very profound in my opinion.

The LORD’s throne is in heaven, his ways are way above our ways and he gets the grandstand view of our lives while we are in the thick of the action (to use a rugby analogy) this answer that the LORD’s throne is in heaven is David’s answer to the question “What can you do?” David defers to the one he has unshakable faith in. He speaks only in terms of what he is absolute in.

He uses the following examples of how the LORD has this…

  • His eyes see – Even if you don’t think so, God sees, God is watching out and God cares, this is why David is concerned with more than just saving his own skin, he is looking at a bigger picture because of the faith that he has that God is truth and keeps his promises.
  • His eyelids test the children of man – In keeping with that faith that the LORD is in the driving seat, he states that tests will come, that we should be like James tells us “counting it all joy when we are in the midst of trials”
  • The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence – God isn’t just watching, he is patient and will eventually right the wrongs. He does care and David uses his situation as a teaching moment and states that God sees the violence that is before me and he will deliver me because of the promises he has made me.

God v man and why they are different

V6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

Verses 6-7 really are self-explanatory, David answers the foundations question by stating that the LORD sees, will test and he doesn’t like what he sees. The LORD will deal with it in his time. This is a timely reminder to us all, one of the most frustrating parts as a Christian is wanting God to work on my time as opposed to his perfect timing.

The LORD will deliver justice, but David elects to stay on the side of justice and stay on the LORDs side. David knows that if he stays the course and follows God’s will he will get rewarded by getting what he is promised. I know Christians that are frustrated because they believe they are “entitled” when they do not go all in with God. God will reward righteousness more than he will reward rebellion.

This is the test of faith, not trying to “help God along” or not submitting to God’s timing in a potentially damaging situation. From David’s perspective there was only one course of action and to trust God because of all that he had been promised and the afore knowledge that God does not lie. His answer of faith should be an example to us all who will try to manipulate situations to achieve God’s will when God had a much better plan for our lives.

Often times we have to learn patience and sometimes we just have to slow down to match God’s pace. But most of all if we are in trials or don’t understand we have to seek God diligently and have the faith that David does, then we will not fear. Whatever out trials are, God has this!

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we look Psalm 125 which speaks of trusting in the LORD, the LORDs faithfulness and the importance of righteousness, all in all a terrific Psalm and I hope that you don’t miss it. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Agape Bible Study text – Good Friday – “Ear” today and gone tomorrow

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Agape Bible Study text – Good Friday – “Ear” today and gone tomorrow – 03/25/2016

Last supper has just happened, remind the folks of what was spoken about last year.

John 18:1 (ESV) When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Main points from this text…

  • Verse 1) Jesus made it easy to be captured, he retreated to a place that Jesus “often met with disciples” (verse 2)
  • Judas procured a “band of soldiers” Here is how a Roman Army detachment was made up

Roman Army definitions
Centurion – Was in charge of at least 100 soldiers
Legion – Reserves would count a Legion of 500 conscripts or 600 soldiers in times of conflict, bear in mind the time or revolutions and revolts (such as the revolt of the Maccabees) and the nature of the uneasy Government in Israel at that time it is fair to say that that number would have been 600.
Band – a tenth of a legion, Legions were assembled in battle into bands that were ten across.

Judas brought up to 60 soldiers of the empire that was so highly trained that it conquered most of Southern Europe, the Middle East and much of the Northern Coast of Africa. They were taking no chances having the following group marching into the garden some 60 soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and Pharisees. I think that it’s fair to say they would be noticed.

The reason for this is simple, this is not the first time Jesus was close to arrest, they sought to arrest him in John chapter 10 chapter 39 but that was while he was teaching so that would have been during the day, so they are taking no chances now doing this away from the crowd with excessive force.

In the UK it is quite often for children to say “you and whose Army?” if they believe that they are quite superior to their opponent or “come back with all your friends and we will make it a fair fight?” if they are boasting, Jesus was showing that in both those scenarios he was mightier Because Judas was flanked by the might of Rome, can you imagine how proud he must have been having been able to muster up that kind of back up? There are times when we rally and rally and think we are on the right side, this is one of those times! Can you think when you have done this?

• They asked for “Jesus of Nazareth” Jesus said “I am he” twice (verse 6 & 8) the He is italicized so it was not in the original transcript and was added later by the translators. So Jesus was saying I am.

• Jesus says “I am” and the excessive force brigade fall backwards – In a pretty humble declaration of who had all the power in this scenario, what a declaration that you can come with your mighty army but you have nothing on Jesus Christ and for me it is a foreshadow of the final battle in Revelation.

• Despite having all the power, Jesus submits to his father’s plan – The following phrases let me know that Jesus knew this was his time “if you seek me, let these men go” and “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

• Peter cuts off Malchus ear, this is important in the next part of scripture…

John 18:15 (ESV) Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

John 18:25 (ESV) Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Jesus told Peter that despite his boasting he would deny that he even knew him before the end of that day (see John 13)

John 13:36 (ESV) Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Peter was not under major duress when he did this, but he was scared because the guy he believed was the Son of God had just been arrested and all of his friends scattered in various directions. From Peter’s situation this was as grim as it got, he was brave enough to follow to see where they took Jesus but he stood out with the door far away to not be pulled in and easily enough to escape if the situation got too hot, but close enough to hear what was going on.

Many of us live our Christian lives like Peter, brave with a sword (in the church assembly and often the loudest voices where they can get “Christian kudos”) but cowards where it really matters, when it is not popular to stand with Jesus, and in Peters case a coward before a servant girl (v18) who was sent out to collect Peter to draw him in to where Jesus was.

Peter is scared and tries to blend in at this point and uses the fire to warm himself and to merge into the background, unfortunately the fire lights up his face and the guys who had been in the garden with him (who made the fire in verse 18) less than a few hours previously ask him if he was there. (Remember Peter had cut one of their ears off so they are gonna remember him!) and Peter denies a second time.

Then lastly a relative of the “earectomy” who in all likelihood was right next to him when it happened and certainly would have heard about this because in those days if you lost an ear in battle, if they were able to reattach it we know there would be a mark of some kind. Jesus fixed it whole so that in itself is noteworthy.

Peter relies on himself and his courage fails for a third time and immediately the rooster crows (like Jesus said it would) and Peter cries because of his love for the Lord and he knows he blew it! Just like Peter, we have blown it in so many ways and again just like Peter we have been redeemed, some of us have not taken up that gift of salvation and others are not living according to God will in our lives. As we take communion please think about confessions, things that you need to change in your life and if you need to then beg Jesus for forgiveness of your sins.

Communion text

Explain relationship with Jesus and give a chance to repent of sins

1st Corinthians 11:23 (ESV) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Let’s take a moment in prayer and let’s take the Communion together as a family

Take the bread

Take the cup

We come together to proclaim not just Christ’s death but also the resurrection of Jesus that we symbolically celebrate on Easter Sunday and make an invitation to church on Easter Sunday.

You will also share in our comfort – 2nd Corinthians 1:1-7

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You will also share in our comfort – 2nd Corinthians 1:1-7 – 03/24/2016

2nd Corinthians 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Corinthians, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth. This is a great letter of exhortation and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure today. For other bible studies in 2nd Corinthians please click here and for other epistles please see our main epistle page.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Second Corinthians.

V1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul starts with the fairly standard Pauline greeting introducing himself as an “apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” and for me there are a few points that are worth going more in depth…

  • Paul – The name needs no introduction, the man who was introduced to us as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus who was famous throughout the Romans Empire for his desire to quash this new religion of people of “The Way”. Who had a life changing experience on the road to Damascus and was now the “apostle to the nations/Gentiles”
  • An apostle – From the Greek word “apostolos” which meant messenger as well as apostle, being an apostle in those days was dangerous work and many died for their faith. It was not so much a title as a calling because often times it was a one way ticket to becoming posthumous.
  • Of Christ Jesus – Paul is clear to tell the church in Corinth that the message that he has is the same message that Jesus preached and his words are words of correction from God. Paul is keen to advise that he is doing the will of Jesus Christ.
  • By the will of God – And by doing the will of Christ he is also doing the will of God that sent Christ to be the sacrifice for our sins. Paul is writing in the will of God also because Paul was not an apostle by man’s direction or will but Gods. It was not as if Paul chose this life of sacrifice and service. There is a good lesson in there for us that even the ones who are not held in high regard in our churches may still be used mightily by God.

Historically we learn that Paul was not revered in Corinth the way that we do today. However in heaven he was highly regarded as a man who was willing to sacrifice for the sake of furthering the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul also states that he is with Timothy, who he later writes two epistles to and Paul addresses the letter not just to the church at Corinth but the “saints who are in the whole of Achaia”

The word “saint” has gathered some controversy over the years because certain denominations like to canonize dead believers of great worth and call them “saints”, but this is not to what Paul was referring to here, he simply means those who have been set apart in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul meant this letter to be widely read for doctrine and reproof.

Paul uses the words “grace” and “peace” and you have to wonder how they went over if he was not seen favorably in the area. For me that showed Paul never held grudges or was unfavorable to those who did not greet him well, he served them all in the love of Christ and he genuinely wished the grace of God and peace in their fellowship. Do we do likewise? How about your relationship with other fellowships in your city? Do you have warmth towards them despite minor theological differences?

The grace and peace did not just come from the pen of Paul but it came from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” and that reminds us that in the church we are a family of families in unified fellowship to praise God and to be followers of Jesus Christ, we are all at that same starting point. A question for you readers would be do we treat our extended church family in the same favor as we do our actual blood family? Are our feelings ones of “grace” and “peace”?

V3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

And now we have done with the niceties of the greeting we get to the meat and bones of why was caused to write in the first place. From the first word “blessed” we see that Paul had the right attitude towards God. God is described as a father and it is important to recognize that God is a loving father. One that desires communion with his kids! Yes, he is holy but he is also loving above all else and Paul goes on to call him the father of all mercies and God of all comfort and I have to ask you as a reader how often do you think of God in these terms?

Paul uses the Greek word paraklesis which is more of a soothing sympathy, a comfort that is not just providing comfort but of sustaining, strengthening of a comfort that is designed to strengthen and help you into restoration. What a benevolent God we serve! When was the last time you allowed yourself to be comforted by God?

Paul also wished to make that comfort known so that the believers could begin to share the blessings and comfort others too. Imagine a church that was like a hospital? That the ones who were wounded by the world could be comforted by the living God and be served by those who wished to serve him, a place where love radiated throughout the building, a place where you could come as you were and not be judged, but loved and helped. That’s the type of church that Paul wanted and that is the type of church I would love to be involved in, one that comforts one another, sustains one another, builds up one another and mentors one another where the victory of the downtrodden is everyone’s victory and where a victory for another church in the city is a victory for the body of Christ (that’s a sore one huh?)

V5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

And that is why we are talking in such terms, take it from a guy who was familiar with suffering (Paul not me) Let’s have a look at some of the ways he suffered for Christ…

2nd Corinthians 11:23 (ESV) Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

So do you think this guy knows what it means to suffer for the faith? But yet Paul does not call anything he has endured “his sufferings” he calls it “Christ’s sufferings” because he saw himself subject to whatever punishment he was to face as a part of his faith. Would we have as many dynamic Christians today if we were being persecuted for our faith? I certainly believe that we would find out who the real ones were.

But in the sufferings of Christ that Paul was going through, JESUS WAS THERE! This is a constant message of Jesus ministry, let us look at two accounts from the Gospels where Jesus had compassion on those whom society had forgotten or cast aside…

  1.  The woman at the well – John 4:1 (ESV) Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
  2. The woman with the issue of blood – Mark 5:24 (ESV) And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

What I love about the ministry of Jesus and also what Paul is telling us is that Jesus see’s your afflictions, he sees the downtrodden, he sees the poor in spirit, there is no-one who was too gross to be helped and delivered from their sins, there was no-one who had sunk too far, the woman who had had five husbands was a social pariah but Jesus desired to help her despite cultural limitations. Likewise the woman with the issue of blood was also a social outcast for twelve years and had such faith that if she could just touch the hem of his garment she knew that she could be healed. But after she was healed she realized there was no way to explain it after Jesus asked “who touched me” and she rightly fell at Jesus feet and Jesus treated her with compassion and comfort. (See a pattern yet?)

V6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Paul goes on to say that the afflictions endured would be for your comfort and salvation. Paul was all about getting people saved into a relationship with their messiah. We are looking at two people who suffered more than we will ever suffer (Jesus and Paul) and I find it mind blowing that Paul, with a death sentence hanging over him every single day would spend his time telling people about Jesus and comforting those who had a dim view of him.

One of the things I know about suffering is that it helps me to rely on God more, my darkest times I can now use as fuel to help others and Paul did likewise. Paul also advised that this is a double edged sword that if he suffers then it will happen also that they will suffer and that they should patiently endure and comfort one another as he was them.

V7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

And Paul sums it up by stating that their hope for them was unshaken, that even although suffering was going to happen that they would also have the same comfort that Paul had in Christ and also the same closeness to God that Paul had in his trials and sufferings. I will close with this text in James.

James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

And that is the truth! Trials produce what is underneath the surface and exposes the true person. Questions to ask from this lesson would be

In trials do we cling to God or rely on ourselves?
Do our trials produce patience?
Where is the comfort of God in our lives?

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at verses eight through eleven where Paul explains the peril that he was under and describes the desperate trouble he was in for the faith. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Don’t eat that fruit! – Genesis 2:10-17

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Don’t eat that fruit! – Genesis 2:10-17 – 03/22/2016

Genesis 2:10 (ESV) A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter two verse ten…

V10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.

In this part of the scripture we learn more about the Garden of Eden and what a luscious place that it was. God truly did provide all that his children needed and the original plan was far from what we see today in our fallen decaying world.

When we read this description of the garden it is designed to give us an eye-witness account of how it looked and explain that there was plenty water and plenty of nature as it was created in its beauty.

V11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The rivers are given names that would have been replicated in the post flood world, the rivers will probably not be in the same place as they were post flood because of the great geologic changes that the flood caused and it is perfectly possible that new rivers may have been called pre flood names.

I equate this to American city names; I see when I am researching the area around here that often times cities are named after where the people came from. An example of this is where I live in California is named after a city in South West England. Is it the same place? No, but it carries the same name.

We also see that there are gold and precious stones in the original creation and we know this is before the fall of man because Adam is not displaying a greed nature and is not digging up those gold or precious gems to stockpile them. That comes much later! Even if he did, he would be the richest man in the world (of a population of one!) You could put a case that Adam was already at the pinnacle of man; he was the smartest, the handsomest and the one who was closest to God at this time!

V15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

I love that work was part of God’s original plan! It kinda flies in the face of those who preach that if you will be faithful to God then you will lack nothing and God will grant all of your wishes and desires of your heart like some big Genie in the sky.

I am not mocking the notion that God provides, please do not misunderstand what I am saying, however I believe that God makes supplication for our needs and not for the whims and fantasies of our hearts because our hearts are deceitful and wicked and will often will not seek after the things of God and will want to seek after selfish gains and ambition.

You will notice that God doesn’t say, I have created all this wonderful, so just laze about under that tree and eat all day. God establishes the pattern even from the first book of the bible that his people are to be diligent at work, to do their best to be without criticism, to be people of integrity and an example that makes others question “what is it about those people that make then who they are?”

V16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Like every good parent, God allows man to make choices and basically gives them only one rule that they have to abide with. He allows them a choice of all the trees of the garden except for the “forbidden fruit”. Right from the beginning he allowed man to be a creature with free will as God does not wish to have robotic or zombie worship, he seeks our love and obedience rather than dead religion.

God allowed us to choose whether to go with him or against him and although we have a sin nature that has been passed down from Adam, we still have that choice today and the choice is whether to go with God or go against him. God told the man directly the only way he could mess up and as we learn temptation was too much. God states what the choice was and what the repercussions were.

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we will look at verses eighteen through twenty five when we see God’s compassion on man when he makes him a helper. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
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Abraham justified by faith – Romans 4:1-12

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Abraham justified by faith – Romans 4:1-12 – 03/20/2016

Romans 4:1 (ESV) What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse one of chapter four…

V1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

Paul continues on what he was saying in Romans three and uses Abraham as an example to show his point. Abraham was known as the father of the Jewish people and was revered and esteemed by the Jewish people. Paul knew what he was doing when he chose this example. If Paul was looking at addressing the American people he would probably have used a similar analogy by using some of the names of the Founding Fathers.

V2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

After introducing Abraham he makes the question on whether Abraham was justified by works and whether he could boast in the good things that he has done, Paul comes back to Romans 3:23 and states that no he could not boast before God because we are all sinful by nature and have not and cannot attain God’s holy and perfect standard on our own.

V3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

And like any good teacher Paul bases his argument on scripture, he shows where it states that he was not indeed justified by works, but by belief and it was counted to him as righteousness. In context I have attached the scripture below…

Genesis 15:1 (ESV) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

I love how Paul takes away any notions that Abraham was somehow exempt from the rules that the rest of mankind had to follow and that by the same train of thought he would have had to look at the possibility that God makes exceptions from his holy nature which of course is preposterous.

Abraham is never mentioned as being “perfect” but only mentioned as being counted as righteous and the reason for the righteousness was based on the action of the belief of God. I would say that Abraham sought after God’s will before the Law was given in the same manner that we would make deposits in a financial institution Abrahams credit worthiness or righteousness was high with God because God saw the heart of Abraham and knew who he was and that is why he was declared righteous.

You will notice that it only mentions how God saw Abraham and not how his fellow man saw him. This is convicting for me because man will look at the external package first and I am no different. I have been surprised by who God has used in the past and it is very God to use someone whom the world didn’t think much of. I am very much in that camp because often times I have been passed over for things (both in the world and in Christian circles) because of assumptions that people have made on limitations they perceived me to have.

V4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

Paul uses the idea of a salary to compare and contrast the idea of grace versus works because as we know (those of us who have accepted Christ) that grace is a free gift given to those of us who does not deserve it. I often laugh internally if I hear someone praying “Oh Lord- give us what we deserve!” I then back away a little in case God takes them literally.

If a system of works was correct then that would mean that we were owed something by God, in which God would be in debt to us (in this case for a salary) I am uncomfortable with that because it puts you on some severely shaky theological ground. It is true that works will come as fruit of faith but I do not see that faith will come from God being in our debt.

V5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

Paul agrees with the above hypothesis by stating that belief is greater than works as the one who does not work but believes will have his faith counted as righteousness. Seems obvious huh? Not always though as Gods ways are higher than our ways. We are to believe in the one who justifies the ungodly (God himself) who grants grace and mercy to all who do not deserve it. God justifies us as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross where he took the punishment for our sins.

God is holy and hates sin, and he hates separation between his beloved creation and Him so he loves us enough to justify us despite our sin but we have to want to be saved. There is no “catch all solution” I do not doubt that God justifies the ungodly but I marvel at the sheer miracle that he does. (Going back to getting what we deserve!)

King David is mentioned and this is beautiful because he was described as a “man after God’s own heart” but he was a sinful man who committed murder and adultery but he was a man who strived after God and repented of his sins. (Sound familiar?) He was a man who understood sin, the impact and the repercussions of that sin and the relief and weight that is lifted off you when you are truly forgiven. If King David were judged based on his works, he would be sunk but the just God convicts him based on his belief as none of us can atone for our sins on our own.

V7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

And should God forgive your sins by belief (and He will for the truly repentant) then you truly are blessed because this forgiveness is based not on your nationality, genealogy, social status or where you were born it is based on your relationship with God. The sins are not just forgiven but they are covered and removed from sight! These verses are a quote from Psalm 32…

A Maskil of David.
Psalm 32:1 (ESV) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Make no mistake about it God should count our sin but we truly are forgiven and regardless of how holy we think we are we all stink and reek of sin, some of us smell a little better than others but we are all in the same boat. I am reminded of the following parable by Jesus…

Matthew 18:23 (ESV) “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

We are all debtors to God in relation to sin, sin is the debt that we cannot possibly pay and without Jesus we are in that hopeless situation. The good news is that the gospel is for everyone. This is why David was quoted because if we could work it off then we would all be at it like little worker bees and that would be easier and more palatable for the human mind, however God has decided to bless everyone who will just have faith and turn to him. Paul continues…

V9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

The beauty of it is that we can do nothing for God but we have great joy in the grace of God. It truly is a blessing for us, not just the Jew but also the Gentile and uses Abraham as an example why circumcision, whilst it being a sign of obedience is not the be all and end all of entry into heaven. Paul asks a logical question if circumcision is the key to salvation and that question is “When was Abraham justified? Was it before or after circumcision?” and as we have looked at before we see that Abraham was justified in Genesis 15 and let’s now look at Genesis 17 when he was circumcised…

Genesis 17:9 (ESV) And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

As you can tell I like to back up the claims that I make with scripture to back it up! Paul states quite clearly that Abraham was circumcised AFTER the blessing and Paul closes this part of scripture with the following…

V11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

So the sign was exactly that A SIGN! He was to do this to show an outward sign that he was with God. As Christians we are reminded that the circumcision we go through is that of the heart and in remembrance of this please observe what Paul said in Romans 2…

Romans 2:25 (ESV) For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

You see if we wish to burden ourselves with the Law then we will be held accountable by the Law, Paul explains that in Galatians 5…

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

The Christian faith is not a case of Christ+ (Christ and something else) What I mean is that Jesus was serious when he said “I am THE WAY” he is the definitive article, Son of God, part of the triune God and the only one who could be sacrificed for your sins. Just as today, the Jews of that day used circumcision to prove that they were in some way the true descendants of Abraham. Paul flips this on its head by asking “Why are you not walking in faith like Abraham did?” or “If you are Abrahams descendants then why are you not following in his footsteps?”

Lastly what Paul was stating was culturally sensitive as the Jews did not like the Gentile proselytes referring to Abraham as the father or their descendent. (That was their thing) And now Paul states that classification is available to all who are reconciled to God in Christ. That we have a share in Abrahams blessings, what a bountiful God we serve.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses thirteen through twenty five when we explore the promises that we looked at today being realized through faith, which is really a part two of what we look at today. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord nor of me his prisoner – 2nd Timothy 1:8-14

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Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord nor of me his prisoner – 2nd Timothy 1:8-14 – 03/18/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 1:8 (ESV) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse eight of the first chapter of Second Timothy.

V8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,

Paul had just finished (in the last article) describing a spirit of power, love and sound mind and now Paul moves on to courage and encourages Timothy not to be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord. We have it easy these days in following Jesus as Christianity is an established religion of nearly 2000 years but back then he was following someone who the critics stated was crucified.

It is quite a common emotion to be ashamed of the gospel as the Christian message does not always follow the patterns of this world and often times it is very contrary to the standards of this world. It is not a popular message but a lifesaving one. It was a message so important that Paul was willing to have his liberty stripped from him in order to save souls.

When we become Christians we should not expect our lives to be easy, often times we will be tried and James tells us that we should count it all joy…

James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

We have to get away from our “Western Christianity” that promotes the message that if life is hard then you are not doing your faith correctly. We have lost our edge and become as comfortable in the world as Lot was when he pitched his tent near Sodom. Let’s be honest here and ask “who does rejoice when they have stresses and trials? Yes we can sometimes cause our own issues and trials but we should not expect life to be easy.

Paul sees his imprisonment in a way that shows his heart, he is not the prisoner of Rome, of the ruling authorities but of “his prisoner” and this is the mark of a man who has his life immersed in his mission. If he is jailed he is jailed for the Lord, if he is free he is free for the Lord and if that wasn’t enough he invites Timothy to take a share in that ministry. Who would apply for that ministry post? With the knowledge that your mentor is in jail and you are invited to follow the same path and that would be a good application question – Would you do it?

V9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

And this is why you do it…Paul was sitting there incarcerated due to a “holy calling” and he submitted to the purpose of God and was submissive to the grace of God also. So with God on his side should he be in such difficulty? Well he was! Just because someone is working in the will of God does not mean there will not be difficulties, sometimes God’s grace is what sees us through the difficulties.

I love this because here was Paul, and if you were not looking at his situation through “theological glasses” you would see him as a political prisoner, he was a prisoner of Rome, the largest empire of man at that time. If he was talking of power and might then people would automatically think of those who held the earthly power, however God allows people power for a season and as we know the Sun has set on the Roman Empire, let’s look at what the bible says about earthly power…

Romans 13:1 (ESV) Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

We all have our opinions regarding Governments, Parliaments and ruling people such as Prime Ministers and Presidents and to air them here would only cause discord, however we are called to be subject to the governing authorities as God is the one who gives authority. Whilst I may not agree with policy decisions I trust God who knows how it will pan out. Paul also sees this by stating that this power is fleeting compared to the power of Jesus Christ who has been there since the beginning.

V10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.

We all have a common savior in Jesus Christ, we have responded to a call in our hearts. Jesus came to manifest light unto the world and Jesus told us this would be the case…

John 8:12 (ESV) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” 13 So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” 14 Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge according to the flesh; I judge no one. 16 Yet even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for it is not I alone who judge, but I and the Father who sent me. 17 In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18 I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” 19 They said to him therefore, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 These words he spoke in the treasury, as he taught in the temple; but no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Jesus abolished death! He came to reconcile man to God and be that spotless lamb without blemish that would replace the Passover lamb. Death is not death anymore, there is hope through Christ Jesus that we can be saved and rejoined in communion with a loving Father God I don’t see death as the sting I once did but merely a matriculation to glory. Yes I certainly will miss the ones who have touched my heart down here but apart from a mission to have as many souls as the Lord will allow me to join me, this world holds very little for me now.

Paul goes on to say this is why he was appointed a preacher, to tell that good news, that gospel! He considers it a privilege and not a course for shame; he is honored to suffer for the sake of the gospel. I just wish that I had that resolve because in all honesty I am keen to be through trials as quickly as possible and I do wonder in hindsight what valuable lessons I could have learned if I had just been patient. He calls himself three titles which he is more than worthy…

  • Preacher – Think of the sermons he has taught, the lessons he has shown people face to face and the advocate he has been for Jesus Christ.
  • Apostle – The churches he has been a messenger to (apostolos in Greek also means messenger) and has planted.
  • Teacher – Paul was given the task, despite his Jewish pedigree of being the “Teacher to the Nations/Gentiles” and we are reading fruit of that in his epistles to strengthen others.

This is why Paul was content to suffer, because he understood the majesty and honor due to the person he served. We have to realize who it is we are serving but we have to also be as committed as Paul who was committed to serving him with everything he had until the day that he would see him. (Paul calls it that Day) and this may be a question you can ask yourself… Are you all in? Do you serve the Lord with all that you have? Or Are you going through the motions? If the answer is less favorable than you would like then it is not a situation that cannot be remedied, I would suggest discussing with your Pastor or leaders how you could use your gifts more. I don’t teach at the church I attend so I use my gift for teaching on this blog, there may be more than one way to be of use to the Lord.

V13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

Just as it is important to know WHO we are serving it is just as vitally important to know your doctrine (know the sound words) as we are all called to be faithful to the truth. We are to follow that pattern, to hold fast in the midst of friction, it will require inner strength as well as a firm footing in the doctrinal truths that you already know, to give you an example in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesian church…

Ephesians 4:11 (ESV) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

I see this in the church today where sketchy doctrines become popular that has precious little biblical basis but they are accepted because people who are trusted endorse them. I worry and wish to keep myself and my family (and those the Lord has allowed be to be Spiritual mentors to) free from being tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.

Paul states that Timothy must follow his example in sound teaching and Paul is not being proud when he states this but merely giving a tangible example of someone he can relate to, we all have folks that we trust for doctrine and Paul advises Timothy to remain faithful and guard that good deposit within us by the Holy Spirit and God has supplied that helper and he desires from us more than we can do on our own and is it good to be obedient and rely on the help that we are given.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at how Paul gives a good example of what he is teaching Timothy by giving examples of faithful and unfaithful men in the faith. It truly is a challenging study from an introspective point of view. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:13-17

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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased – Matthew 3:13-17 – 03/16/2016

Matthew 3:13 (ESV) Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse thirteen of chapter three.

V13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.

After John has been sufficiently introduced to us (remember Matthew was a meticulous records keeper being a tax collector) we see Jesus coming into the picture as an adult who is ready to begin his adult ministry. Jesus came of his own free will knowing what the Father wanted him to do but it is important that Jesus came of his own free will and gave a terrific example to those who should follow.

Can you imagine the discussions and dissentions or splits in the church that we would have if say had Jesus not have been baptized? Somewhere along the line we would have a group of people claiming that you should not be baptized because Jesus was not! It is human nature to be divisive but I believe that Jesus who is as timeless as the Father wanted to remove such frivolous problems.

Following that example we should also be baptized if we know what it means and have a desire to make that public declaration for Jesus Christ. If you are unsure or want to know more whether you should I would advise you to read the sixth chapter of the book of Romans, for me that is dynamite stuff and a great biblical basis for baptism. I have also done a baptism page of you are interested at the link here.

V14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

John knew his place and stated that he was not fit to unloose the sandals of the Messiah. He also recognized that Jesus should be the one baptizing him because Jesus had no sin to repent of! John also realized that Jesus could give much more than John ever could and it was no wonder that John was perplexed by the notion that the one he knows as the Messiah is coming to him in this fashion so I do not knock him for wanting to keep his place and having a question whether this is correct, I love Jesus response in the next verse…

V15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.

Jesus allows himself to be baptized by John and saw John’s heart and understood why this was troubling to John. Jesus told John that is “fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” and this was because this was part of Jesus mission. Jesus saw the plan beforehand and was keen to reassure John that he was participating in the fathers plan for the Messiah. This was a step that Jesus had to take on a journey that would finish at the cross at Calvary and restart when he was resurrected three days later.

In so many ways Jesus wanted to identify with the ones he wanted to save, he dined with the poor and the sinful man, listened to their problems and identified with them, he showed them love and then taught them a sermon direct from Heaven. By the same token he was baptized in order to identify with the one who had to repent of his sin because Jesus came to earth to identify with us; he was born the same way we were and was brought up with parents just like we were and now we see that Jesus was standing in the place of a sinful man and this was very must the mission of Christ because he continued to do so until he took the punishment for sinful man at Calvary. The difference between Jesus and us is that he was the sinless Son of God!

V16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus was baptized and the heavens opened and a proud Father rejoiced. The parents who are reading this get this right away because God was content to allow Jesus to be baptized but his baptism would not be like the others that the people witnessed that day. God opened the heavens to show that this baptism was special, that it was not just a sinner turning to the Father but identification direct from heaven in the person of God’s own son who came to atone for the sins of the world. There would be no confusion that Jesus had anything to atone for, this one was special because the Spirit of God descended on Jesus like a dove, and it could be seen by those in attendance. There were no witnesses that could attest that this was not something special. In the corresponding passage in the book of Luke we read…

Luke 3:21 (ESV) Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

So who was this man? John the Baptist bears witness in the Gospel of John…

John 1:29 (ESV) The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

John understood what was going on and what he was witnessing, he witnessed that the Spirit descended on him and remained on him; we see the love, the cooperation and the triune nature of God vividly in this passage. This was a commission of ministry for Jesus and we see his adult ministry start from here. God shows his feelings for the situation by stating “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” God the Father was not going to stay silent on this matter and like any proud daddy he let all who were in attendance know how he felt.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in the first eleven verses of chapter four studying the temptation of Jesus. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The ACTS Files – Acts 2:36-41 – Peter’s Sermon (Part four)

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:36-41 – Peter’s Sermon (Part four) – 03/14/2016

Acts 2:36 (ESV) Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part four in a four part series of verses which are collectively called “Peter’s Sermon”. I personally love these verses because it shows the work done in the life of the Apostle Peter from when he denied Christ at Passover to this dynamic preacher at Pentecost. (Time elapsed was less than two months!) My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse thirty six…

V36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter culminates his sermon with these words and states with absolute certainty who he is taking about with authority and a challenge to the nation of Israel. The challenge was that even although Jesus was crucified in the manner of a criminal when in fact he should have been treated the way God does (as Lord and Christ) and he is due the same honor as the Old Testament LORD.

He is stated as being both Lord and Christ and how true is that? This is where we separate from our friends at the JW’s (Jehovah’s Witnesses) when we call Jesus Lord and Christ and make him equal with God in the same manner that Peter did. Let’s see how the people responded…

V37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

They were literally convicted in their heart by Peter telling them the truth, there was no mega church, no lights, no smoke machines, no eloquent tugging at the hearts altar call to repentance. Whilst all of those things are good in their own way and serve a purpose Peter simply told the truth and allowed the Holy Spirit to work on the people.

Never underestimate the need for the gospel to be preached in Spirit and in truth! You want to know how you can spark a revival in your area? Then teach the word of God in spirit and in truth and leave the results up to the Holy Spirit, pray for those in your area, be there if your neighbors have questions, be diligent in your life to show a good example and preach and teach the word in season and out of season.

They were “cut to their heart” because they recognized their shared guilt in the death of Jesus Christ and wanted to do something about it. I recognize this as I used to have a very hard heart also and when God started working on my heart I came closer to him and would actually go out of my way (my church was 20 miles away) and from the beginning of that journey started the Christian journey I am on today. I had to realize like they did that I was a sinner and needed a redeemer and savior, until you fully grasp the gravity of that situation then you will not see the need to submit your life to a Savior you are not even sure you need.

They did ask the right question, they wanted to know how this could be remedied and how they could be redeemed by the messiah. They were now open to hearing the basics of salvation and Peter states below…

V38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Peter responds with boldness and states what needs to be done and that is correct even today because we are not born “Christians” and here is what Peter told them to do…

  • Repent – The starting point of any relationship with Jesus Christ is the repentance, the true apology for the sins that have committed and a committal to turn from those sins and living according to the will of God. It is the ultimate life change, that you do not have to continue in the old ways, that you have the opportunity to turn to God.
  • Be baptized – Baptism was an outward symbol that they were now Christians, the symbolism in Romans 6 showing a death to the old life when the person who was being baptized went down and a rise in new life when they come out of the water.

Peter also gives the reasoning behind this and this was “for the forgiveness of your sins” which reconciled man to God and changed your eternal destination. This was the point of the whole sermon, to convict in the hearts enough to ask what they needed to do to become Christians. Peter accomplished more in one sermon than many pastors do in an entire career. Peter continues to share God’s promise…

V39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

The people who were hearing that message had an opportunity to not only change their future but direct the future of faith for generations to come. Never underestimate the impact you can have in the faith of your children and succeeding generations. Your children are your closest witnesses and your staunchest critics to how real your faith is. This promise is even alive today because the work of the Holy Spirit is not a spectator sport and we have to be active in our faith.

He said many other things that are not listed verbatim and you can be guaranteed that Peter’s sermon was not a small devotion, more like a lengthy exhortation filled with spiritual jewels and Peter was not the man to do a placid sermon. He was an enthusiastic guy and you can read from the text that he was urging the crowd to come to their messiah, surrender and repent.

He finishes with his left hook “Save yourselves from this crooked generation” and how apt is that? This generation was under Roman rule, themselves a very carnal occupier who ruled with a man who could not make a decisive decision whether to crucify Jesus or not and instead leaving it up to popular opinion. A man who ruled by popular opinion as opposed to what was right. This generation was ruled by a puppet king called Herod who again ruled a tight line between Roman expectations and the Religious rulers expectations and he was very much a king of compromise.

And as for the religious leaders themselves, what a corrupt lot! They are the ones who are meant to know better and were meant to be looking out for the messiah, they are the very ones who plotted to get rid of him because he was showing them up for the hollow religious shells that they were. Is there anything more perverse than proclaiming a desire for the messiah and a love for God while you are trying to have him crucified? They sealed their title of perverse by having Jesus arrested and placed him in a kangaroo court in the dead of night in order to impose their will without causing a riot in the city. (Path of least resistance)

And so it goes until present day and these words could be applied to our generation just as easily and I could list the ways in which we have strayed from God. As Christians we need to be the ones to show by our lives in the way the disciples did that we are the real deal, we need to love our neighbor, we need to look after the widows and orphans and we need to preach the Word as boldly as Peter did on that day at Pentecost. Let’s look at Romans chapter 1…

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.”

Are you ashamed of the gospel? Is there something that is prohibiting you from sharing the good news of Jesus with someone in your circle of influence? Do the people who know you most even know you are a Christian? I am not asking you to join Greg Laurie on stage at Harvest America but I am asking you to move the needle for Jesus in your neighborhood. Look at the potential results…

V41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Remember at the beginning of the day we were looking at 120 people being part of the fellowship and after the day of Pentecost we had 3000 souls added on that day. Can you imagine that Baptismal service, the people baptizing must have been soaked! Think of what an impact that was and let’s look at the people who were saved that day. I also love that in other translations it adds the word gladly, there was no forced conversions or pressure or people relying on emotional responses it was simply people dedicating their lives to Jesus Christ.

Pentecost was a time that devout Jews from several nations came to Jerusalem, we saw that earlier in the chapter devout Jews from many nations were there and it was very God that the Holy Spirit came down at the first available opportunity to have a massive impact in so many people’s lives! What a big God we serve! Also What a response to the Word of God! I pray for that to happen again and I believe that the game changer is the Word of God in people’s lives.

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we look at verses forty two through forty seven where we see the continued fruit of Peter’s sermon and the establishment of the church of the Way. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG