Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Monthly Archives: July 2016

The parable of the sower part three – Matthew 13:1-23

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The parable of the sower part three – Matthew 13:1-23 – 07/18/2016

Matthew 13:1 (ESV) That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.” 10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. 18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

In yesterday’s article we looked at the second and third type of seed that was sown on “the stony ground” and “thorny ground” and today I wish to continue the three part series by looking at the gospel account in the book of Matthew which again goes into great detail and for the purposes of this article we are looking at the last place where the seed was sown into the good ground. Should you wish to see the previous articles then click on the links at the bottom of this article.

Obviously those who receive the seed like the good ground are the seed bearing, life changing Christians (or some may say the real ones) who are bearing fruit, living as Christians and are going out, evangelizing some, mentoring or strengthening the faith of others and ministry is a way of life for these people. This will look different for different people as people have different callings.

I am not saying that all others were never saved to begin with. I do not have that knowledge of the internal workings of that person’s heart but the tangible evidence does suggest that there was no real commitment to the Christian life based on the lack of fruit shown. That is not to say that the busiest people or the people most involved in ministry are those who are the strongest believers and it is up to us individually to keep ourselves accountable that we are feeding ourselves spiritually in the same way that we would feed ourselves with food that would sustain our bodies. In the same way we have to be as diligent to eat spiritually.

Please also don’t think that if you have had some life changing event such as illness or some other thing that prevents you from doing your calling despite the soul being willing then I am sure the Lord understands and I am trying to relate to the ones who have the resources and ability to be life changers but choose not to be. I am not suggesting that everyone should be Pastors however there is an element where we can all be pastoral to people.

Please do not think because I am sharing this blog I have it all sorted and I am 100% right in all aspects of Christianity. I share this because I have had seasons where I have been on the road, in the stones, in the thorns and other times where I have been in good ground.

To recap there are 4 categories and only you can identify where you are today and the categories are…

  1. The ones who have allowed Satan to steal away their seed (only got the flavor of it)
  2. The ones who have taken the seed but right away paid no heed (ignored it)
  3. The ones who allowed the seed to be choked with the newest thing in their lives and dulled the effect of the seed (neglected)
  4. Allowed the seed to bloom, blossom bear fruit and allowed it to change the world.

Please make your own application as needed.

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

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The parable of the sower part two – The stony and thorny ground -Luke 8:4-15

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The parable of the sower part two – The stony and thorny ground -Luke 8:4-15 – 07/15/2016

Luke 8:4 (ESV) And when a great crowd was gathering and people from town after town came to him, he said in a parable, 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. 8 And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.” As he said these things, he called out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” 9 And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, 10 he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’ 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

In yesterday’s article we looked at the first type of seed that was sown on “the road” and today I wish to continue the three part series by looking at the gospel account in the book of Luke which does a little more to explain the meaning of the parable. I love that Jesus used parables because he was keen to use stories that would mean something to his intended audience (often non-educated blue collar men and women) and I truly respect pastors who do likewise and when I am teaching I try to also to relate to the folks I wish to share the gospel with on a level that they will totally get. In my opinion what we need in the modern day church is less “theology” or “Christianese” or “Christianspeak” and more life changing message of the gospel on a level that will reach people.

I am not saying change or dilute the message by any means but we need to stop talking over people’s heads! Some of the greatest messages I have heard have been by everyday people and the movement that I am part of has the mission statement “Simply teaching the bible simply” and the idea is that the love of Christ is available to everyone, the sower in this story sowed to everyone and the way it is received is the core meaning of this account.

I wanted to look at two ways the seed was received…

  • Rock/Stony ground – The word takes a little further root than the seed sown on the road but when the storm comes and life gets in the way and the sailor has to navigate into choppier waters, then they lose hope and discard the fledgling faith.

Whilst I understand that often times the folks who fall away were never really sold out believers and whilst the seed moves in their hearts it is more of an emotional attachment to the truths of the word, it is not life changing and the seed does not take root and is allowed to blossom and bear fruit. This is best described that this prospective Christian’s walk is like a firework as it makes a lot of noise, is often colorful and fizzles out with a bang.

  • Thorns – is a little more involved than the stony ground because it does not mature and I equate it to the development of a child. If your child was still on a milk based diet at the age of 6/7 then you would be worried that the child was failing to thrive. Again there will be a lack of fruit in this person’s life due to their choice to let the pursuits of this life distract them. There will be a lack of fruit and oftentimes their Christian walk will resemble that of a baby regardless of how long they have been saved.

Whilst it may not be the be all and end all of a believers walk, if you are in the business of mentoring new believers you need to be looking to encourage the fruitless first but please remember, you cannot be their “holy spirit” they have a certain amount of accountability to search out the scriptures and spiritually eat for themselves. They are not completely lost and we as Christians can still bring them into a sold out relationship with Jesus.

I use mentoring in this article because I love what we do in the big crusade Christianity where people are affected by their hearts being touched enough to leave their seats and make a public profession for Jesus Christ and whilst that is great, we need to have accurate follow up with those new believers, encouraging good mentors that will evangelize, mentor and disciple these new converts into strong believers so they can affect their former sphere of influence and be a life changing testimony of how Jesus changes lives.

That is much more powerful than a million eloquent sermons! Seeing a genuine authentic Christian life is what changed me from a “don’t care” to a “Christian” and seeing the words backed up with actions and mentoring really strengthened me.

On Monday, LORD willing I plan to look at part three of the Parable of the Sower.

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 parable of the sower part one – critiquing your leader/pastor/teacher – Mark 4:1-9

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The parable of the sower part one – critiquing your leader/pastor/teacher – Mark 4:1-9 – 07/14/2016

Lord willing this will be a three part article on this vital part of scripture and until recently I would have tried to squeeze this into one article but I have had some feedback that my articles are a little long so I am trying to pack a punch with less words. I plan to start with this text in the book of Mark…

Mark 4:1 (ESV) Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Here we have the greatest teacher of the bible that the world has ever known, the co-author of the heart behind the message is telling the story in the context it was intended and he teaches on what could only be described as a self-fulfilling parable. I say self-fulfilling because even although we had that teacher who could explain the hermeneutics, the theology behind what was said and also the heart behind the text, the ability to cut through the popular interpretations that have bent the scripture beyond how it was intended and allowed the people to twist it to their own ends and own interpretations. I know that even although it was Jesus who was teaching there would have been some who would not have lost their hardness of heart, some who would stubbornly not change and some who allowed the devil to snatch the freshly sown word from their hearts.

If this happened when Jesus taught how much more will it happen when your pastors and leaders teach? These guys are not superman and from experience in ministry people can have unrealistic expectations of who you are and what you do. I would urge you to examine what your pastors say, make sure it lines up with the scripture and is free of heresy but avoid stylistic comments that are not said with the purest of hearts, I have heard some crackers in my time, some examples would be…

  • Pastor, you labored the point there
  • I was not touched by that message, I just did not feel it
  • Pastor, your lecture (note the wording) made me feel bad, why must you beat the flock?

Of course if there is a pattern then by all means address it as you would with any brother, however in many cases it is just idle opinion and pastors leave these conversations deflated and hurt. There is more devil in these conversations than exhortations and that includes when pastors are always “over congratulated” for a great message. (I am always suspicious of inflation of ego personally when I am given kudos)

The idea of splitting it into three articles is to look at the different ways the seed was received so let is look at the first one in relation to how your pastor sows his particular seed. You have to understand that often times and we would hope that this is always the case but when the pastor prepares the sermon it is done based on what he is being directed to say by the Holy Spirit. I don’t know many pastors that will change a sermons application because “someone will be there”.

I say this not as a pastor but as one who has prepared messages for people to hear and I have been blessed with having a real mixed bag of people as far as maturity levels, biblical understanding and different levels as far as thirst for the scriptures. The truth remains however when we toss out the seed we do not always see the path, the thorns or the difficult ground. We certainly are hoping that the seed takes hold and blossoms and takes on a fuller level, however many folks who listen to sermons are very internal with their difficult soil.

If you find yourself consistently critical of your pastor or leadership, the issue maybe the ground that you have prepared. Has the seed fallen on the pathway, not allowed to be taken root? Is there a pride issue involved? Have you been hurt in the past and are not allowing yourself to go all in? Do you view yourself higher than you should be and have designs on the pulpit? Take it from one in ministry; it is not all Sunday sermons and looking good on the stage! I would remove any sin from your own life first and then if your pastor is still not a good fit then talk to him. It may be able to be resolved.

I beg you…Do not allow your seed to be snatched from you and stunt your growth as a valuable member of the Christian community, the Devil does not want you to grow and you are much easier to pick off if you do not have the support of a loving church family.

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

Loving a Lymie – Viewpoint from a non-Lyme sufferer

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Loving a Lymie – Viewpoint from a non-Lyme sufferer

First of all this article is not a complaint, I love my wife and I am doing this to increase awareness of something that has been difficult to overcome. I write this in the spirit of honesty and to try to increase awareness of Lyme as a whole. I urge you if you know someone who suffers from Lyme or want to increase awareness of this disease then please share this article and the articles that are linked to this one.

Who am I?

You don’t know me, chances are we have never met and had it not been for this blog article I doubt you would ever have read any words I have written. Normally I write articles of a devotional type length about different parts of the bible but this has been on my heart because this is my daily life because of the woman I love. If you want an introduction to me then check out my “about” or “testimony” page if at all interested in the person writing the article. (I do warn you, I am rather beige!)

My wife wrote a beautiful blog of the same name at the following link (Keeper ministries) and I am not going to repeat much of what she said, she is a much more powerful written and oral communicator than I am as I tend to write with my heart on my sleeve and let my passion go before allowing my common sense and ability to tidy up the verbiage. You probably do know my wife, a beautiful dynamic lady who despite what this incredible but terrible illness has done to her still manages to keep her head held high with a decent amount of dignity.

To give you an introduction I married my wife on a beautiful sunny day in California in 2005 and the lady I married was an outgoing wonderful friendly person who is the strongest person I ever met (she still is all of these things and more) but over the last few years my wife has been cut down with an illness that whilst we are still diagnosing the full extent of what she has we are fairly sure that it is Lyme or at the very least a co-infection of Lyme that has literally zapped the life out of my good lady. Obviously this is a labor of love and an exercise in knowledge sharing and any comment that would be posted below I would be happy to reply as they come in.

What is the point of this?

The point of the article is to try and get some dialogue going, whether that be on the comments part here or on the various Facebook pages or social media pages that Lyme sufferers go to for support. You see, whilst I have seen the effects first hand I have no idea what you are going through. I can’t feel the pain and despite the facts that I can see the results of the pain I can only sympathize as opposed to empathize because really I do not have a clue. Honestly, I wish I could give my wife a “pain vacation” because she could really do with a day off.

Why is this happening?

Who knows? Only God can really answer that one. I trust Him even although I do not understand and I know that God can do miraculous healing and rather selfishly it is what I ask most for in my prayer life mainly because my wife has been through so much and it truly has opened my eyes to a world where you cannot diagnostically see the effects of the illness but you understand that it has taken so much from the victim and the first thing I noticed when checking out who was affected by this illness is that it is not discriminatory, it does not choose based on ethnicity, obesity, skin pigmentation or any other factor. It could quite literally happen to anyone and why it happened to my dear Chelsea I have no idea. Maybe I prayed too hard for an opportunity to show my love, who knows?

Where and when did this happen?

We have no idea, it could have been a tick, it could have been anytime, all I know is my wife has been sick for years and have progressively been getting worst and I could give you a phone book of doctors that have passed her off to the next guy because they couldn’t diagnose her. Chelsea felt like she was being passed on and passed over, I was getting frustrated because I wanted some kind of answer as to what was going on with her and I wanted to start a road to trying to get her better or if that was not possible get us on the road to getting the symptoms to a manageable level.

I also wanted (for my wife’s sake) some validation that she was ill because I was starting to feel like very few people were attempting to understand that she was actually sick! It is difficult to cancel things at the last minute like bible studies, parties we were meant to attend or even something as simple as having folks over for dinner becomes that more challenging if the paid is too much to bear.

How do I feel?

Honestly? I am a mixture of emotions and if I was being selfish and could have all of my prayers answered I would want her to be well and I would wish for us not to have all of these crazy medical bills and I wish we could carry on with our hopes and dreams. My wife has such a talent for music and whilst I am amazed at what she has managed to accomplish before collapsing in an exhausted heap I wish she had the ability to enjoy what she loves. Myself I have always desired to be teaching the Word of God and I wish I could get back to that but I am fortunate in that I have a good job (3 actually) I still have my wife and we have been blessed with a beautiful daughter who is wonderful and truly is the other love of my life.

Do I need to do more?

Of course! My wife does what she can however I do not like asking her because she still homeschools and does other stuff that most other Lyme sufferers would not even attempt. We have no defined roles and if I want to be leader of my home I have had to learn that I can do that as well by being in front of the washing machine, sink, cooker, vacuum cleaner or whatever people would say are not “men’s jobs” in a chauvinistic manner, truth be told it is a team effort and I do what I can but I also admit I get lazy sometimes. I am not perfect and if you have advice, life hacks, shortcuts or anything that could make our lives not as complicated then I would be grateful if you would share. Whether that be planning meals so we don’t have to eat out or just ways to get a more fluid process then I would be grateful.

She doesn’t like to ask me to do things and I am learning slowly when things are getting too much for her. Don’t get me wrong I often get it wrong and I am grateful for the patience she shows me. This is not a short term scenario and I know what I signed up for, I promised on my wedding day that I was going to love her “in sickness and in health” and I often joke with her “when do we get the healthy part?” and it truly is a test of love because the girl I fell in love with was vibrant, outgoing and such a servant. She won me over without a word and has shown me such an example of Jesus that it turned my life around.

Isn’t Lyme covered by most doctors and insurances?

Actually no, most are reading from out of date statistics and often times if your insurance plan covers anything at all they will usually only cover antibiotics for a certain time and whilst that works in some cases it does not work in all. Lyme doctors often have to go out of network and personally my wife and I travel three hours to see a Lyme specialist who is about 200 miles away from where we live and that is a fortunate situation as we have someone who will see us in the same state as often times people have a way worse commute than we do. I have found that most Lyme doctors are out of the insurance networks and because of this it can be a very costly exercise to go and visit these specialists. You can’t put a cost on healthcare and I would gladly empty everything I own to have my wife treated.

How long will this go on?

You are in it for the long haul and I truly am, if I have to be a full time carer for my wife I am prepared to do so should things go south. It is not always roses in the garden and sometimes there has to be some hard graft put in but my number one priority is my wife and then my child. I am called to serve them first and foremost and then afterwards do whatever externally I am called to do. We see the following said about love in 1st Corinthians 13 (Our family chapter)

1st Corinthians 13:4 (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

It is a high calling to bear all things, believes all things, hopes and endures all things. Problem is, I am not Superman and I fail more often than I succeed (just ask my wife) but the main part is that I am willing and my desire is to have this article spread in order to try and advance the cause of Lyme and maybe make some contacts who are in the same boat as me.

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

 

Joshua had BIG shoes to fill – Joshua 1:1-8

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Joshua had BIG shoes to fill – Joshua 1:1-8 – 07/12/2016

Today’s devotion looks at Joshua and we have all had the situation where we have had to follow someone who was influential, imagine you are following the guy that the LORD gave the tablets of the law to, the guy who followed the LORD into leading the exodus of people out of slavery in Egypt. Let us look at the commission of Joshua in the book of Joshua…

Joshua 1:1 (ESV) After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Those of you who know me will know I love the book of Joshua and also I have big feet and therefore BIG shoes. (US size 13) The book of Joshua has everything that you would want in a modern day novel; it has spy stories, epic battles spiritual lessons and reliance on God as well as the consequences for going against God. When my local Calvary Chapel in Porterville started studying Joshua on a Tuesday night I don’t think I missed many of the lessons such as my admiration for the book.

Moses was blessed that even despite his rebellion (Numbers 20) the LORD let him see the Promised Land, (Deuteronomy 34) he had been told prior that he would not set foot in it but he was blessed in that he was able to at least see the fruit of his labor prior to his death.

Just as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses were given promises from God; Jacob was also made a promise from God. Can you imagine the comfort that is to Joshua because as stated at the top of the article, he had BIG shoes to fill? He was replacing the man who had led the children of Israel out from slavery in Egypt. The first thing that strikes me about this passage of scripture is that God keeps his promises, let is look at what God promised…

  • Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. (V2-4) – God gave instruction to GO! When God directs your steps and has chosen you for a mission that he is allowing you to do then you best do it! This was no vague promise; he even told Joshua the area in which he was entitled to go. This may upset some who want to take away land from Israel but God drew the boundary long before many of these arguments were thought up.
  • No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. (V5) – Have you ever uttered the words “If my God is for me then who can be against me”? This is exactly what God was telling Joshua.
  • Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them (V6-7) – There is a difference between being strong and courageous in our own might and being strong in the LORD and He was telling him to be courageous but he was also saying that he had to do it according to the Law. He had to have no fear but lean on the LORD and his statutes.
  • This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (V8) – Lastly we have confirmation that the mighty leader with big shoes to fill had to be in the scriptures both day and night, they had to be a priority in that man’s life if he was going to lead God’s way. A good question to ask in application would be regardless of the extent of leadership you have been given, whether you are a Pastor, a small group leader, Sunday school or children’s leader, husband, or even a single man it is imperative that you are in the scriptures and it is a priority for you.

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

Faithfulness and blessings – Deuteronomy 28:1-6

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Faithfulness and blessings – Deuteronomy 28:1-6 – 07/11/2016

Today’s devotional is based in the Mosaic Law book of Deuteronomy chapter 28 which reads…

Deuteronomy 28:1 (ESV) “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

Let me be plain and state that I do write this article with a certain amount of bias; I am starting this article with the presupposition that God keeps his promises and that when the relationship breaks down between God and us as believers then it will always be an issue at our end because I serve a flawless God and I am very flawed.

If?

When we look at the text the first word that stands out in six feet tall letters is the second word of the first verse “IF” and the reason this is there is because God is perfect and we are, let’s face it – NOT! We know that this is the case with our relationship with God today and how many times do you look in shame at your performance at being faithful to God, being more faithful to yourself and selfish desires than being faithful to what you know is right in the eyes of God and often times we are sinful in going your own way. Some sins have more far reaching consequences than others and whilst you know that God will be that “good good father” and forgive this prodigal child (Luke 15:11-32) likewise we also know that we will not always be absolved from the consequences of our sins.

Sounds awesome, so it is all blessings?

God knows us better than we know ourselves and much like the children of Israel we are given that choice to follow him or not and God lists a whole bunch of blessings that they would receive so that they would know that they would be so blessed that it could only have come from the LORD. He lists a whole bunch of blessings from verses 1-14 and on the flip side he promises them in verses 15-68 what would happen if they did not follow him. On one side they would be blessed beyond anything imaginable and if they cursed God they would be cursed beyond anything imaginable and having read that list it scares me to the bone and gives me a healthy fear of God.

Cool does that mean I will be rich?

God wanted to not just bless them in a tangible way they could see such as material belongings and assets but also in a much better blessing by blessing them spiritually which I am sure you will agree have value eternally as well as temporarily. As Christians we serve the same benevolent God who wants his children to be blessed and whilst it is not a guarantee of an easy life and often times we will have the same troubles as anyone else we do know that we will have that divine blessing that will be much more than a material one because the choice to follow or not was up to the people and God was not going to force himself upon those who did not wish Him to be their God. This choice is the same to us as Gentiles where we can either choose to be servants of God or not because we have our Messiah in Jesus Christ who came down to earth to be our sacrifice through his death at Calvary and his mission was in order to reunite and reconcile man to God because God wants us to be in eternal communion and does not desire that any should perish (John 3:16-17) but have eternal life.

Is this just your opinion?

Not at all! The apostle Paul wrote about this in the third chapter of Romans, he compared how men were compared to an indescribable perfect God. He stripped away the idea of Jew and Gentile and showed that we were all the same when it came to God. Please feel free to read below…

Romans 3:1 (ESV) Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just. 9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” 14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 in their paths are ruin and misery, 17 and the way of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” 19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. 21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

If you are interested in bible studies I have done in the book of Romans then please click here and this will show you different articles that have been done in this book in a commentary/devotional format.

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

 

Here is what America needs in the wake of the Dallas shootings

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My flag is at half staff (or half mast today)

Here is what America needs in the wake of the Dallas shootings

Dallas shootings?

It is with a heavy heart I write about an incident that happened yesterday when five police officers reported for duty in a manner they had done so many times before. The difference between today and the days previously is that they would be cut down in their prime and this would be their last day on the force of the Dallas Police Department due to a man who set out to kill them by sniper fire.

I am not going to go into the rights and wrongs of protesting against the police because I do believe in the fundamental American right to a peaceful assembly and protest should the need arise and sufficient injustice has happened. However this was not that type of protest, this was a cold blooded, pre meditated action done by someone who set out to injure and kill people because of their chosen occupation.

Let me get something straight, it is not a “race thing” or a “police brutality” thing, this would have happened at some point because it would have happened because this is the actions of a sinful man and no more and it does not matter the shade of sin the person had and although there are some racially charged statements out there and these do not help and please know I believe in race because we know from the bible that God made us all part of the human race!

Gun control?

I do not believe that gun control is the answer here; I know that President Obama went straight to that issue following this tragic event however I do not believe that stricter gun control would have prevented this tragedy for the simple reason that if we make guns contraband they will be as easy to get on the black market as say illicit drugs. The only difference in that scenario will be that the bad people who are intent on doing these things will no longer be registered or on lists and will be much harder to find should they use a “legal weapon”.

Guns themselves do not cause shootings until they are operated by someone with intentions to point them and release a bullet towards someone with a murderous intent. That I know is obvious to most people with a sensible mind and regrettably if we remove the legal guns, we will have a situation where only the bad guys have guns. I am not one to criticize our leaders but I feel the President is clouded with an agenda that this administration has had towards gun control and his comments are opportunistic at best.

Sinful nature?

We have had people murdering people as far back as Genesis four where the sinful heart that I previously discussed was displayed when brother murdered brother when the first time they were alone after Cain became jealous of Abel (Genesis 4:8) he is described as “being alone with Abel and he rose up against his brother and killed him” and at that point there was no automatic weapons at that point so we have to conclude that murder is a heart condition rather than a weapons condition.

As tragic as this even was we need to address the sin of the nation first as America needs something, something that it as a whole many people in this great nation have turned their backs on…

What does America need then?

This is difficult to type as I truly feel for the victims’ families, the everyday folks who witnessed this happening and I even pray for the shooter and pray for him as he obviously needs help. As does the country, I feel funny saying this as a non-natural born American (having been born in Scotland) but America truly needs Jesus.

I do not say this as a slur against my home but as a concern for the direction we as a country are heading. I love the USA and I love many things that make it uniquely American but I do believe that we need to return to a relationship with God and repent individually, as families, as small groups, as streets, as communities and as cities and counties and i say this because can you imagine the greatest country in the world actually being the greatest country in the world?

Imagine the country praying for one another, serving each other, preferring each other before ourselves and loving each other in an unconditional agape love, that is my prayer for America as we lick our wounds, get over this tragedy and people who are praying for the first time in ages and looking for answers, I beg you dear Christians be there for those grieving, be there for police officers, first responders and their families. You don’t have to preach, sometimes being there and being an ambassador for Jesus is enough.

If you do not know Jesus and are looking for answers then please know that although this is desolate and everything feels bad, this is not the end, please know that you have a redeemer who died on a cross 2000 years ago for your sins, life has hope and life has meaning and you can be forgiven of your sins.

If you want to know more about a relationship with Jesus then please contact me and I would be happy to converse with you and direct you to someone locally if I am not in your area. Even although I may not know many of you who read this personally, please know I love you and my desire is to have you go deeper in Jesus. It is for the good of our wounded nation!

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 great recommendation? – Mark 16:15-16

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The great recommendation? – Mark 16:15-16 – 07/08/2016

Mark 16:15 (ESV) And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

I am of course being facetious when I put the title of this blog article because we all know this part of the bible (Along with Matthew 28) as the “Great Commission” that Jesus leaves his disciples with prior to ascending to heaven. The word commission reminds me of orders done in a military fashion…

Dictionary.com has “commission” as the following…

15. to give a commission to:
to commission a new graduate of a military academy with the rank of lieutenant.

16. to authorize; send on a mission:
I’ve been commissioned by my friend overseas to find him a cheap apartment in New York.

17. to give the order that places a warship, military command, etc., in a state of complete readiness for active duty.

18. to give a commission or order for:
The owners commissioned a painting for the building’s lobby.

Jesus obviously sent his disciples on a mission and that extends to his disciples today, we are called to follow that great commission, we are called to do the following…

  • Go – We have to be obedient, we have to follow the call of God in our lives and go to where he wants us to be. An example of this is typing to you at present. I was born in Scotland but now I am in California.
  • Into all the world – There are no barriers to where God will have you serve, it may be in your neighborhood but you may also be called into a faraway country, with the obedience that we mentioned before we have to listen to direction and be surrendered enough to want to go where we are called to.
  • Proclaim the gospel – The mission is clear, the world needs its Savior! It needs the Messiah who came to save them from eternal damnation and the message has to be about him rather than you.
  • Whole creation – There is no-one beyond saving, there is no culture, no language, no people type that does not need Jesus. We have to keep proclaiming that gospel until the whole world hears.

I don’t know where you are in doing this, perhaps you are reading this because you are guilty of not doing so, and perhaps you are awesome at this. I would say to the ones who are strong, then help those who are weak. I say this because it is not an optional doctrine and we are simply the seed sowers and often times we will never see a result from the seeds that are planted but be encouraged because we read in the book of Isaiah…

Isaiah 55:10 (ESV) “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

We are not the Holy Spirit and do not convict people of their sins, we are commanded to love people enough to tell them the truth of the one who can save them from their sins. We are just called to be faithful and be the messengers, will you answer that call?

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

 

Are you “Naked and afraid” before God? – Job 1:20-22

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Are you “Naked and afraid” before God? – Job 1:20-22 – 07/07/2016

Job 1:20 (ESV) Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.

Those of you who follow popular culture will be aware of the show “Naked and afraid” and the impact that it has on ratings. For a Christian it is quite an interesting premise as we were all without clothing prior to the fall in Genesis. I do not have satellite television so I am not always as up to date with the latest trends or fashions as far as television watching is concerned.

The idea of the show is that the contestants are in the wild somewhere, allowed to be in a dangerous situation with no clothes on and have to hunt, catch food and live off what they find in the wild. Several people I know would have watched it but were put off with the idea that he participants were naked.

What does this have to do with Job?

Not a lot really apart from the word “naked” but let us look at Job for a second… We know that Job was a wealthy man, he had offspring, he had lands, he had livestock, he had more than one property and he had servants. We know all of this because in the first three verses of the book of Job (which has 42 chapters) we see a catalogue of his wealth and in the first nineteen chapters he loses the lot when his sheep are destroyed, his camels are killed, he is attacked by two different enemies and his offspring are killed when they house they are in falls on them.

This is where we read from, if you do not have a bible check out the verses at this link and Job does something that shows his true heart and shows why God calls him “blameless and upright” because he knew the heart of the man. What would he say about your heart? He responds with what is in his heart “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”

How would you be in that situation? I can be honest and say I would be mad at losing a fourth of what Job did and I have nowhere near the wealth he has. We all have our hot buttons that start our rage-emotion, for some it is someone holding you up on the freeway by driving dangerously slow, for others it is when the temporary things in your home break, some have a lower price than others to question whether God is truly blessing us and often times it is based on our “things” or stuff” that fills our lives.

Was Job right?

Yes of course he was, he had the attitude to bless and praise the name of God despite losing more than many of us will lose in ten lifetimes. I have never had a day where I have lost all that I had including by offspring so I have no idea what he was going through, however I do admire the heart of Job to leave the results up to God.

The Christian life is not easy and Job is even used as an example in the epistles in the book of James as one of steadfastness and one who endures…

James 5:11 (ESV) Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

We all have our things that we stake our value upon, for some it is your job or career; you may be proud or ashamed of what you do to pay the mortgage. For some it would be an idol for you as you slave away at the God or being a workaholic because that is the only place that you see worth in yourself. For some it is ministry and the ministry is about as much as getting your name out there as Gods.

I am not saying that God cannot use these things for his glory but know this; he knows your attitude, heart and motivation behind all that you do. He sees the “naked you” and knows your fears and loves you. He wants you to align your heart to his, your will to his, your gifts and talents to him and surrender the parts of your life to him that you are still holding onto by the skin of your fingertips and leave the results up to him. You may be naked before him but there is no need to be afraid, you have a good good father who loves you and wants to bless you far more than you would ever be able to achieve on your own.

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

Does God give only good gifts? – Matthew 7:7-11

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Pic – Daddy daughter date circa 2014

Does God give only good gifts? – Matthew 7:7-11 – 07/01/2016

Where am I going with this?

This is top of my mind this week due to my child having her birthday; it is a bookmark of a reminder of another year of blessings with the cutest kid I know and lamentations that I see some of me in her. It also reminded me of a teachable moment that happened at a birthday party five years ago. I want also to look at the gospel of Matthew as the text for this verse…

Matthew 7:7 (ESV) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Imagine the scene…

You are at a birthday party for a toddler who appears not to be enjoying the birthday party and especially seems not to be enjoying getting gifts, now as someone who is older this puzzles you because at your parties that is the highlight. Let’s look at it from the toddler’s point of view…

You are now the toddler and this party has been a stressful affair, everyone your parents know has handled you, cuddled you, loved on you and despite the highlight of having ice cream and cake they are now playing this weird game with you where they all sit around you in a circle, take pictures of you, your dad is milling around with a video camera and now you mother and grandmother are playing this weird game with you where they make you rip off the paper of toys and once it is unwrapped they take it off you and make you unwrap another toy, which they again take away from you, you feel frustrated and have no other option but to scream and cry.

Was I really abusing my child?

Before someone calls CWS on me, the child was unwrapping birthday presents and they were all played with at some point in the shelf life of the toy. But from the child’s perspective this was torture, she saw something fun that seemed appropriate for her to touch and then her parents didn’t allow her to do what she wanted and in some cases blocked her from carrying out her will so she vented her frustration at her father and mother.

Of course we had a plan and we could see more than she could in her situation and we would restore these gifts to her and after the unwrapping was over she asked in her own way and we let her play with stuff.

Have you ever felt like that with God? Never? Well you are better than me then because I will be honest and say I am a whiner! How many times have you went to God first and asked in faith expecting an answer, now it may not be an answer you like but I like to know why or at least know the reason what is happening to me. I know and I trust in God however I do like to complain!

God is the giver of all things, our finances, our possessions all that we have set up as our “mini idols” it is all his and we are simply custodians of what he has trusted us with, Jesus introduces us to the giving nature of God and shows us that his gifts are much greater than the gifts that we would give each other and he uses the purity of heart as a good contrast. We have to also understand though that God will not allow things to happen that are our rampant heart’s desire because they would ruin us. (Do we ask for serpent like things that really would not help us or glorify God? Could that an example of how close or far away our hearts are to God’s will) The gifts that he gives to us are always good as God wants the best for us.

How good is that gift?

The answer to that question is confirmed in a scripture in the epistle of James…

James 1:17 (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Again we have confirmation that God grants good gifts only, please don’t take from that I don’t mean that we are exempt from bad things happening to us because I have certainly had “teachable moments” but many have been caused due to paths I have started on. Does that mean we will all win the National Lottery or all have Ferrari’s? If it would corrupt us and ruin us then I doubt God would allow that as a “gift”. He may allow financial pressure to be released on you but there is no guarantee of “free money”.

James describes it as not just a good gift but also a perfect gift and we see that God is only interested in gifting us with things that will be good for us. I liken it to fast food where I know that a cheeseburger tastes good but I also know that if I eat the same unhealthy thing three times a day for the rest of my life I will harm myself. How many cheeseburgers are you praying for? Maybe time for an assessment of your wants and needs in your prayer life?

Are you grateful for what you receive? I know many (I am in that number) who will have a 911 prayer request that God has granted me and then later I forget to be grateful to God in prayer, he does not require that and he sees my heart and knows that I am grateful but in the same manner I would consider it good manners to than someone who has blessed me how much more should I thank Him to whom all blessings flow?

James concludes with the idea that God is constant, never changing, no variation and you know where you stand with God, there is no “gifting’s based on whether God is having a good day” God is already more mature or all-knowing and wiser than we will ever be, there is no need to change and another thing that is constant is the good nature and giving nature of God, it is something that is assured because he is that good, good father!

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