Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Acts

Lessons from the Ephesians – Don’t lose your first love!!!! – Revelation 2:1-7

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Lessons from the Ephesians – Don’t lose your first love!!!! – Revelation 2:1-7 – 06/28/2016

It has been a while huh? I bet most of you haven’t noticed but I haven’t put out a blog in nearly 6 weeks and I think that is some sort of record for me. In that time I have not been idle, I have been doing some reassessing and looking at myself and as the church at whole introspectively. This blog article is not dedicated to any particular group of Christians but to Christianity as a whole. The verses I want to look at today are a well-known passage in Revelation…

Revelation 2:1 (ESV) “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

I want to go to this church!

When I look at what the Ephesians had together I am amazed I would want to go to this church!!! They had …

  • Works
  • Toil
  • Endurance
  • Patience
  • A hunger for holiness
  • Enough doctrine to test what was good (They remembered the warning in Acts 20:17-31)
  • Judgment to call those false who were false
  • They were okay to endure for the name of the Lord/They were known as Christians
  • They did not grow weary/remained hopeful despite trials

Sounds like a solid bunch huh? I know from experience when I have been assessing churches to make sure that my wife and I are serving where we are called to be at this time by the Lord I have a list of “must haves” a list of “nice to haves” and a list that are “cosmetic purposes only” and this was from advice from a Pastor I trust that asked me once “what is your deal breakers?”.

Warning to the new church seeker

I say this because there maybe that guy or girl at the moment who is contemplating switching churches, perhaps for a good reason, perhaps not but I would encourage you to watch out for the Ephesian church, they may be the one with the biggest youth ministry, the best programs, the largest congregation, the best sounding worship, the best light display but outside the Sunday meeting they may be a group who never interacts with each other and are strangers apart from a warm handshake and a bunch of promises to meet (which never materialize).

They may have none of those things and may tick all of your intellectual boxes, they may not have worship down, children’s ministry sometimes happens and sometimes does not but the Pastor teaches some of the most intellectually profound, right on doctrine that flexes your spiritual muscles on a weekly basis, the exegesis and hermeneutics are phenomenal and the teaching is at college level theological seminary and new believers learn a lot of spiritual language but is light on application and you see quickly that apart from the weekly lecture, there is no mentoring, no feeding into one another and loving on one another apart from maybe one or two individuals but the culture of love is not present and you know that a year down the line you won’t know these people any better than today.

Those are two extremes of course and the church you are looking at will most probably be somewhere in the middle of those but what they have in common is that while each opposite have vital components that will get people through the door if they are Ephesian in nature and forgotten their first love then all else is in vain. As Shakespeare would say “it is all for nought”.

Beware of the Pharisee Christian

Let’s look at those vitals that are alive in this Ephesian church…

  • Works
  • Toil
  • Endurance
  • Patience
  • A hunger for holiness
  • Enough doctrine to test what was good
  • Judgment to call those false who were false
  • They were okay to endure for the name of the Lord/They were known as Christians
  • They did not grow weary/remained hopeful despite trials

However…you can fall victim to the human nature that thinks that as you progress as a Christian you become “too good” for the things you did as a baby Christian (or the basics) but I would remind you that you would not build a structure without a foundation and even if you become a master builder and have built many fine buildings, imagine turning up a new job and stating to the works foreman that we “would not bother with the foundation as this building will be great because I am the builder”. All you are setting yourself up for is a building that will fall and a reputation ruined… How is your relationship building with Jesus? Is the foundation sure?

Jesus had a lot to say to the Pharisees in the Gospels because they were the ones who know the doctrine, they were the ones who should have known better and they should have been rejoicing at the Messiah, the Pharisees had the works, had the doctrine, they were known as the holy ones, they were supposed to toil, have endurance and patience and many did but some did not… (see a pattern here?)

This I have against you…

God is not saying do not have these things in place but there is an important foundation to have in verse 4 and 5…

“V4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.”

The word “abandoned” is telling here, it is not like losing your keys, they had made decisions to leave their first love, that to me is the saddest part of the passage and even although internally they were like whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:25-28) They had left the love of God and the love for one another, they no longer had that first love of Jesus, like a marriage that both parties have allowed to become stale they no longer have that new romance spark and they did not allow it to mature so they have a broken relationship.

They are prodigals or wayward sons that have still got to come to that afternoon in the pigpen eating swill and realizing that they could have it much better as the lowest servant in their father’s house. Like the father in that account in Luke (Luke 15:11-32) when they returned to the love of the father there was much celebration, forgiveness and absolution of the sin that cause the son to go so low.

Exhortation and application

We are all sinners and the Ephesian church did not always have it together, read the epistle to Ephesians if you do not believe me. We all need repentance; we all need forgiveness whether your sins are few or many and we all could do with being closer to Jesus and I commend you all to learn the lessons of the Ephesians, take the good in what they do and in the spirit of application we need to do the basics, repent, find our first love and then follow Gods plan!

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 – Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:17-26

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The ACTS Files – Repent therefore and turn back that your sins may be blotted out – Acts 3:17-26 – 05/09/2016

Acts 3:17 (ESV) “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. 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 chapter three verse seventeen…

V17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.

We come into this sermon midway through (beginning is at the following link) and Peter acknowledges that the order to kill Jesus by crucifixion was done without the knowledge of God’s eternal plan to redeem mankind. Peter explains this because although they are guilty of the blood of Jesus and they are guilty through their sin nature, God used that sin nature to achieve his will in this situation. The ignorance was taken into account but it still was sin.

V18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled.

Despite their motives to get rid of Jesus it was all done that prophecy may be fulfilled and despite the best efforts of them as individuals they could not stop God and stop the will and plan of God. Christ, even in his sufferings fulfilled what was written of old about him.

V19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

Peter makes a call to repentance here and that is one of the things I love about many of the good pastors I listen to is that despite where the core verse in the bible they are teaching that they always come back to Jesus and repenting of your sins and the core tenants of the gospel message. Peter also does this and I think that is important because you may always get someone who has never heard the gospel listening to you for the first time and it is important that everything circles back to Jesus.

Peter repeats the call to repentance that he made in Acts 2:38 and calls them to take a u turn in their thinking and as Christians we all understand that because when I reflect on where I was, say 10 years ago then I fully understand about a Holy Spirit changed life. Repentance is not a bad thing because in Christ we have an assured hope that we did not have without Him. Peter is also asking that they be converted to follow Jesus to become that new creation and take advantage of God’s grace so their sins could be blotted out, erased and wiped off any record of our offense to God. What a glorious free gift this Salvation through Christ is!

Jesus will come back and rule the earth in the perfect form of monarchy and righteousness, if you are bummed about your choices for First Minister/President/Prime Minister (delete as appropriate) please be assured that a king is coming who is a glorious king who will have a 100% approval rating and will reign is grace honor and truth. That will be a time of refreshing and Peter goes as far as to say that if the nation repents then God would send Jesus Christ but until then Jesus will remain at the right hand of the Father until the restoration of all things. That Jesus would return and Eden’s curse would be lifted for evermore. This world will continue to get worse until that happens.

V22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’

Peter quotes Deuteronomy 18 which states the following…

Deuteronomy 18:15 (ESV) The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—16 just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the LORD said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

And Peter was sure speaking their language because they delighted in their knowledge of the scriptures and loved to boast in the facts they knew of God, that danger is still there today as we become more “fact aware” about the bible and not allow it to permeate our heart. Peter ties in “the prophet” as being the Messiah Jesus Christ that they should indeed listen to and follow. Peter also advises verse 19 was unfolding before their very eyes and was a stark warning to the people at that time. It is true that those who reject Jesus whether they be Jew or Gentile would suffer the same fate.

V24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’

The message was consistent through all of the prophets that there would be a Messiah and as sons of the prophets they should have known better as descendants of their spiritual father Abraham that was promised in the book of Genesis and this alone was a real faith tester because Abraham wasn’t much change off of 100 years old and had no kids at that point. His wife was also well advanced in age and if that happened today it would be worldwide news.

If we look at the genealogies in the gospels you will see that the messiah came from the line of ABRAHAM! He was there to bless ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE WORLD. Yes us Gentiles too! First the Jews but also the adopted or grafted in branches to that natural root and that is why I have biblical reasons to doubt a replacement theology position because if we were the replacement to the natural root then the plant itself would not stand as there would be no foundation.

V26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.

And Peter confirms what I just said that Jesus was sent to the Jews first, to the ones who should have known better but the ones who reject the messiah will open the door by extension to the Gentile nations. Christ is a blessing and is an extension of God’s desire to bless his creation but he also desires first and foremost an intimacy with his creation and we have to be reconciled to God and trusting in Jesus to save you from your sins, the same is true for you dear reader today. I desire to see you as a dear brother or sister in heaven today and if you have not made that commitment then I desire that you do so because “now is the accepted time, today is God’s day of Salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter four verses one through twelve when we see the reaction of the captain of the temple and the Sadducees to what was preached that day. 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 – Why do you wonder at this O’ Israel? – Acts 3:11-16

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The ACTS Files – Why do you wonder at this O’ Israel? – Acts 3:11-16 – 04/25/2016

Acts 3:11 (ESV) While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. 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 chapter three verse eleven…

V11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk?

The man clung onto Peter and John, he knew that these guys had something special and I believe that what Peter said was maybe for the man who was invading their personal space as much as it was for those who were gobsmacked that God had worked in such a real and tangible way. This is a danger that we as Christians can be like these people, who know all about God but are genuinely surprised when God shows up in a real way. Makes us question how strong our faith actually is huh?

They surrounded Peter and John and Peter suddenly realizing he has an audience addresses the people! He took advantage of a willing crowd to seek explanation of what was clearly supernatural. He makes sure that they are aware that this was Jesus and not him. He shows humility in a manner that we could all learn from. This could have been Peter’s ticket to the top table of religious scholars but he made sure he attributed the glory to Jesus and Peter was doing what we see in the book of Romans…

Romans 10:14 (ESV) How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Peter knew that although they saw a miracle then that would not be enough to save them, they had to hear the word of God and understand and believe. That was the purpose of Peter preaching and that is important today, because many churches seek signs and wonders and do not focus on the other majors such as prayer and decent doctrine. Peter never wanted to give the impression that it was him or his spirituality that healed this man, he was simply the vessel used by God.

Peter asks “why do you wonder at this?” for three years Jesus went around healing people and Peter was leading the charge in claiming that he rose again and he was alive with his father in heaven so why would it be weird that he would still be distributing healing power in his name from heaven? Peter was consistent in his doctrine from the moment he picked up the man and all the way through the sermon in the portico; it was all in the name of Jesus.

V13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.

In case you wondered what God, Peter gives the genealogy of this one. The Jewish people did not even write the name of God down out of reverence for the name of God. It would be easy to say you know God but not know which God they served. Here is an example… I am a big guy who is Caucasian in skin pigmentation with dark hair and brown eyes, if someone claimed to know me and stated that I was 150lbs, blue eyes and ginger hair then you would state that “you may know William but it is not the one I know” and Peter to avoid discussions like these makes it absolutely clear that he is talking about God. He was the God of their fathers and the one who had an everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

He also declared that Jesus was sent from God and was on a mission from God, he switches the sermon back to the point of what he wanted to say, this was all about Jesus and not in any way about Peter. When your mission becomes as much about you as Jesus then you know you have lost focus, here Peter stays on point.

And Peter reminds them of what they have done in John 18 & 19; Pilate was looking for any loophole to release Jesus as he could not find anything that he could sentence him to death for in the Roman laws. He found him guilty of no crime but because of the difficult local political situation and the desire to avoid a riot, he listens to the Jewish people and their denial of Jesus, Peter shows the Jews (who were just as much to blame as the Romans) culpability in the death of Jesus, this is a bold move and showed that Peter was indeed a changed man that the one who cowered on the night Jesus was arrested.

V14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.

Peter goes into great detail in case they had forgotten what happened (unlikely as were are talking less than a few months after it happened) He calls Jesus by who he was “Holy and Righteous” and I spoke earlier about the culpability of both the Romans and Jews in the crucifixion of Christ but the fact remains that one side could not have done it without the other. Two peoples who were normally at odds rounded up on the Holy one!

And to compound their shame he reminded them that they asked for a murderer, a local terrorist of the Roman occupation, a savage to be released instead of God’s own son! That is how far they had fallen! Peter reminds them (or perhaps tells the ones who could claim they were never told) that Jesus, the “author of life” rose from the dead and despite the best efforts of the people; death could not hold him as God raised him from the dead.

The interesting thing about peters declaration here is partly the boldness but also the public refute of the lie that had been told by the Jewish scholars that the stone had been rolled away by his followers and his body was stolen to perpetuate a lie that he had risen from the dead! (Matthew 28:11-15) He and the apostles were witnesses to this and history tells us that many went to their death for being that witness! What tremendous example of the truth of the account as who would honestly go to death for a lie?

V16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.

Peter reminds them, now he has established the following facts…

  • Who God was and made sure they understood it was God
  • Who Jesus was and made sure they knew which Jesus he referred to

The second one is important because there are many versions of Jesus out there even today, we have cults who try to decry and deny the very deity of Jesus and claim he was less than God, or just a good man, or some other lie to perpetuate their cultish false doctrine.

Peter advises that is was in the name of THAT JESUS, that Peter had faith and when he said to the man to stand up, that man had faith that Jesus would heal him of the illness that had plagued him for four decades and now he stood next to them as a living witness that he was genuinely healed and Jesus made him whole! The co-creator of heaven and earth had enough power to heal him through faith, what an awesome testimony!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses seventeen through twenty six when we look at part two of Peter speaking in Solomon’s portico. 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 – Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way – Acts 3:1-10

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The ACTS files – Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way – Acts 3:1-10 – 04/11/2016

Acts 3:1 (ESV) Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. 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 chapter three verse one…

V1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

I have been looking forward to this passage of scripture for some time, the reason for this is that it brings back happy memories of my Sunday School days back at the Gospel Hall in Roberton Street in Chapelhall back in Scotland. In common with many Sunday Schools of that day we sang a song that was based on this passage of scripture, the lyrics were as follows…

Peter and John went to pray;
they met a lame man on the way.
He asked for alms and held out his palms,
and this is what Peter did say:

“Silver and gold have I none,
but what I have give I thee.
In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

He went walking and leaping and praising God,
walking and leaping and praising God.
“In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Which is a simplistic approach to what happened here in this scripture and I am a simple guy so that suits me fine. (Perhaps we should stop the article here) Nostalgia is a wonderful thing and I am sure that if I went back to that hall being an adult those benches, whilst familiar would not seem as long or as large. I am also sure I would have many memories of lessons learned and happy memories of somewhere that was part of my growing up and very much a safe place for me as a child. You see, as an adult I realize what a sacrifice this family did for where they lived, the loved that generation enough to go collect them from their various homes andddliver them there and back so they could hear about Jesus. Awesome testimony!

I love the words used by Luke the Physician that states that Peter and John began this account by stating that Peter and John were still observant of the “hour of prayer” that they took every opportunity to be in communion with God. They wanted to be immersed in prayer for the mission that they were on. I don’t doubt for a second that they would have taken any opportunity to spread the gospel of Jesus if the occasion arose or were questioned by the assembled leaders that were there. (If you have read ahead you will know that God was going to give them that very opportunity) I believe that these guys were truly on mission because they were going into a place that could conceivably be fairly dangerous for them. Whatever the reason they went there, we know that they did and they went there, they went to pray and they went at the ninth hour. (3pm)

V2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

Luke even narrows it down to the very gate that they entered in. This was no fable or made up account that was designed to embellish this new found faith. The veracity of the details listed tells us that this is a true account. Josephus described the self-same gate made of brass from Corinth and was over seventy feet high and was regarded as beautiful.

Back in those days there was no welfare state as the Romans would not be seen to be encouraging the idea of the Government giving money to those who could not support themselves so the ones who were unable to asked alms (donations or free will offerings) from the folks who were going to prayer and today was no different.

V3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.

The poor man thought he was seeing two devout Jewish men so he decided to ask for support from those whom he thought might be able to help him. This practice was established even at the time of Jesus as he had a lot to say about the Pharisees and the way they gave alms and their hypocrisy…

Luke 11:37 (ESV) While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” 45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

And what Jesus was saying was that they loved to look religious and get the “holy kudos” from the ones whom they wanted to notice them. It was a self-congratulatory pat on the back kind of deal and these type of people were those who instituted a noise being made when a larger donation went into the temple. It was the same when they gave to the poor, there was no humility or care for the person, and it was all about how holy they looked. I am sure this man knew this but he needed the help and he had no pride left and was reduced to asking passersby for spare change in order to make sure that he could eat that day. He was hoping for some coin to fix a temporary need but look at who God put in front of him. I can only imagine how much he must have prayed to God about his infirmities and I can only imagine how soul destroying it must have been to have to do that on a daily basis, seen as the lowest of the low and being at everyone’s feet level having the dust of the world in your face day after day.

V4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

He asked for something that was going to fix his immediate need however God had much bigger and better plans for that man. Peter decides to engage the man and asks for him to look at them, the man then has enough faith to know that he would be receiving something from this interaction (Imagine the level of people who just walked by him or stepped over them as they were too busy with him to get to their “religious duty”. That pricks my heart because sometimes we can be like that and be too busy with “doing things for God” to actually do the ministry that God has called us to.

Another question I have is do we have faith like this man? This man was at his bottom, you can’t get much lower than breathing in the dust of the people who view themselves as better than you and begging for scraps not much unlike a dog seeking the favors of those who God has put on their hearts to give. Pride stripped away and reliant on the good grace and mercy of God and knowing that whatever he receives really comes from God.

What do we expect from God? How strong is our faith? If we had all of our comforts stripped away and it was just you and God would you have enough faith to expect God to provide for your needs? God will and wants to bless us much more than we are often times willing to ask. This man was hoping for some small coin to maybe buy some food but God had a plan to make him whole.

Peter had no money that was true, but he did have the authority to heal the sick and that was given to him by Jesus (Luke 9:1-6) and Peter rightfully attributes the healing to the one who healed him rather than seeking an audience or claim any credit.

There are two parts to this sentence that I would like to highlight…

  • I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. – God was above the temporary cash flow issue that man required to solve this man’s problems, when we look at our issues from our elevation we often times cannot see how God would remedy our situations.
  • In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk! – God was going to do a supernatural work in his life that even the most religious scholar could not explain logically. They couldn’t explain what Peter did because Peter acted in faith based on what was inside him. Peter knew how to heal the sick in Jesus name because the Holy Spirit prompted him to do it.

V7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

As soon as Peter said “rise up and walk” the man went from being lame to being whole. Strength filled his legs and God strengthened his bones and this was achieved and noticed by the man when Peter took him by the hand and had him literally standing on his own two feet. We see enormous faith in Peter in lifting him up knowing he was healing him and the man in allowing himself to stand on his own two feet when he previously had not been able too. Can you imagine what this man was feeling, the hope, the expectation and finally being able to walk and how amazing that was? Let’s see how he was reacting…

V8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Not exactly quiet about it was he? Here is how he celebrated…

  • And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, – He associated himself with the ones who had shown him Jesus.
  • Walking and leaping – He wasted no time in using this new found gift from God, how do you use your gifts from God?
  • And praising God – He attributed the praise to the one who healed him, we don’t read about him “walking and leaping and praising Peter”

V9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

What a living, breathing testimony! There was no denying who the guy was who they thought he was as they had all seen him at the gates, he was recognized (v10) as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate and we read in Acts 4:22 that he was forty years old at that point and God used that time of faithful obedience to prayer by Peter and John as a gateway to healing this man of an infirmity that he had suffered for four decades. Do not discount the simple obedience that you have to God’s will in your life, you may not see it but God may be placing you where he needs you to be to do a mighty work in His name!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses eleven through sixteen when Peter begins speaking in Solomon’s portico as people begin to ask questions about this miracle. 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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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
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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.
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God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2nd Timothy 1:1-7

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God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2nd Timothy 1:1-7 – 03/04/2016

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 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You 3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

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 Timothy.

V1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

Paul starts with a typical Pauline greeting calling himself and apostle of Christ Jesus and I doubt there would be many who would argue this fact, but what he said next is what makes the declaration interesting, he states that he is an apostle “by the will of God” and not according to self-ambition or some man declaring that he should take that position. God placed Paul in that ambassador role in order to eventually reach the Gentile world. The mere fact that you are reading this webpage is a continued fruit of that work.

Remember John 3:16? God so loved…the world! Paul was the guy who was going to be the missionary to take the gospel of Jesus beyond the traditional borders of the Jews. He as a Roman citizen had license to travel anywhere within the Roman Empire and this facilitated travel in a way that could not have been possible if that Empire was not still at large.

What are you doing “…by the will of God” What is your role? Are you a worship leader? Chair stacker? Prayer warrior? Encourager? Counselor? Regardless of how grand our servantlike you view your place in the kingdom of God we all have callings and a position that we need to play in the field and much like a team sport, if you are not in your position you will not take part in a victory that is assured for you.

Paul writes about the “promise of life” and this more extraordinary considering that Paul is imprisoned in Rome at this time and this time he is facing a sentence of execution and this letter is written after his re-arrest in Rome. So he is writing from a prison cell in the most desolate of conditions, imprisoned by an empire that is not known for their humanity for criminals and he is still writing letters of hope? How mind blowing is that for anyone else? This is the equivalent of a guy on death row who has become a Christian sending out letters to exhort those who still have liberty to believe.

V2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You

Paul addresses this letter to Timothy who he describes as his beloved child, in our articles we did on First Timothy we examined the close relationship that Paul had with Timothy and Timothy was really like a relation to Paul and Timothy was very much a student of Paul. The words “grace, mercy and peace” are also used in the other pastoral letters 1st Timothy and Titus and this is a good reminder that these three things are required for leaders just as much and if not more than churches do. Pastors/leaders are men like the rest of us who have struggles like we do and require all three in greater portion. Spurgeon states the following…

“Did you ever notice this one thing about Christian ministers, that they need even more mercy than other people? Although everybody needs mercy, ministers need it more than anybody else; and so we do, for if we are not faithful, we shall be greater sinners even than our hearers, and it needs much grace for us always to be faithful, and much mercy will be required to cover our shortcomings. So I shall take those three things to myself: ‘Grace, mercy, and peace.’ You may have the two, ‘Grace and peace,’ but I need mercy more than any of you; so I take it from my Lord’s loving hand, and I will trust, and not be afraid, despite all my shortcomings, and feebleness, and blunders, and mistakes, in the course of my whole ministry.”

V3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

Paul harks back to a time where his ancestors served God with a clear conscience and a clear heart when they approached God in the correct repentant manner, it certainly makes me think if I am more like the Old Testament Jewish believers who had a genuine fear of God and wanted to atone for their sins or have I come into the realms of the Pharisee who makes their worship to God a show and do it for their own selfish ends in order to seem holy?

Quite a question to ponder huh? Paul backs up this thought by stating his own spiritual integrity by stating that he remembered him constantly in his prayers both day and night and yes I do understand that Paul was in prison so there was precious little to do in there, however we in our own human nature will find ways of distracting ourselves if we allow our flesh to take over. Paul shows the volume and quantity of his prayers and that is to be admired. I would commend this to be a model in our own prayer lives, how about when you drive round your neighborhood, why not pray for the streets and houses as you pass them? How can you increase your prayer life?

V4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.

Paul remarks that their parting was tearful, not in a bad way as Paul writes with such favor however it is clear that these men missed the company of one another and that seeing Timothy would make him filed with joy. We have to ask at this part what makes Paul happy. He answers below.

V5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Paul is happy when he is reminded of a sincere faith that Timothy had and it made Paul happy to see the will of God unfold in young men like Timothy and if we are teachers we must also have that goal, to invest in the Timothy’s that God places in our way, to assist the students who want to do his will, to mentor those who are younger in the faith and start them mentoring others to.

Paul references the strong belief of women who were pivotal to Timothy’s faith, we cannot underestimate the place that we have in our children’s lives in showing them whether our faith is genuine or not, in the book of Acts we learn the following…

Acts 16:1 (ESV) Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

So Timothy had a less than ideal home situation, the head of the home was not a believer and he was taught the faith by the female in the home. He was also well thought of by the folks who shared the same common faith he did and that is important, in those days it wasn’t like today where you may see your fellow church members once a week. In those days they lived together, they saw each other often and they were involved in each other’s lives, so if he had a good report then that meant that he was the real deal, people saw the faith was genuine from the fruits of the walk of the individual in person.

This is why Paul is sure that it dwells in him also, it is not enough to say “well my descendants had faith, I will be okay” I cannot get into heaven based on my father’s faith or my grandfathers, in the same way my daughter has to choose for herself also. As much as I would wish to be saved for her, she has to reason for herself that this faith is real. It is my job to be the real deal to her and show her that this is real. Paul reminds Timothy more in verse six…

V6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,

Paul exhorts Timothy to use the gifts that God has blessed him with and be bold for Jesus Christ, we learn this in the first epistles to Timothy and Paul starts this epistle the same way and as leaders we have to be bold, be willing to stand in the way of contentious issues and I totally understand because I am also like Timothy that I am not in favor of being confrontational so I understand any angst that Timothy may have in a real and primary fashion.

Paul is encouraging him to not do this as sometimes the leader has to stand in conflict and resolve falsehoods that come into the church, challenge immoral behaviors and apply tough truths from scripture in love. Paul urges Timothy to stir up those gifting’s and be effective for use in his kingdom. We are not robots or zombies, God does gift us but allows us to use the gifts according to our talents but use them according to our willingness or drive. I know gifted pastors who would have a much better ministry if they were more driven or stirred up.

Paul said this should be through the laying of hands and that is something we should not neglect and we should use this common way even today in the commission of our people and asking them to either grant gifts, confirm gifts or commission them for the work of the ministry.

V7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

God has supplied all the tools that Timothy needed in order to fulfil his calling that God has given, he has also given us a spirit which is not of fear and that the fear he faces is not from the Lord, his timidity is his own character but through prayer and supplications he will be strengthened in the Lord. I guess I am so passionate about this because I know that it is true and I know from personal experience that God does strengthen when I need it.

God has also given us a spirit of power, love and self-control; let’s look at these separately…

  • Power – We are empowered by God when we are doing his will and we have the creator of all things backing us up as we are the tool being used for his glory.
  • Love – This power is not a controlling power, it is a power of love, we love, we serve, we are different to this world and we pray for others that persecute us.
  • Self-Control – We are calm, not in a state of emergency or panic, we are not swayed by the rigors of this world. We are in contrast to that spirit of fear.

Don’t you agree that that spirit of fear is such a poor substitute for the riches that God wants to do for us? We are all different and are at different stages with the Lord however God wants us to be bold in the things we are called into. We have to get up, stop being lazy (me included) and get to what God has planned for our lives, for some that will be harder than others and for some it will be a step of faith. If we do indeed step out in God’s will, he will use us far more exceedingly than we could ever dream of.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we look at verses eight through fourteen when Paul encourages Timothy and continues to strengthen Timothy by these exhorting words. 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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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:29-35 – Peter’s Sermon (Part three)

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:29-35 – Peter’s Sermon (Part three) – 02/29/2016

Acts 2:29 (ESV) “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part three in a three 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 twenty nine…

V29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

Peter continues his sermon by continuing to reference King David and the Messiah Jesus and he states quite clearly that what was mentioned in the previous article (link) was not talking about David as some believed at that point, and this is why he states this quite clearly. The original author David is both dead and buried and did not come back to life, so the author is not speaking of himself and is in fact speaking of the only one who did die and come back to life – JESUS! Peter states the evidence is there for David’s burial as his tomb was still with them and if they wished to seek it out and validate the truth of that statement, it could easily be done.

V30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

Peter takes great care to mention the following…

  • David the Prophet – We see further in the sermon why Peter calls King David a “prophet” as opposed to just King David. It is important to mention that despite David’s many faults, he was still very much a “man after God’s own heart” and despite any thoughts of whether he was worthy or not.This is encouraging for us all on a personal level as I am sure there are things that we have done that we are not proud of. Maybe not in the realms of adultery or murder to cover up that adultery but I am sure that there are things about our lives that we would rather were not publicized. We are no or less worthy as David because as sinners we are short of God’s standard. Thankfully we are saved by grace and not by works, lest any man should boast.
  • God swore an oath – Peter is keen to remind us of the trustworthiness of God, when God gives an oath or make a promise then you know that the God of truth who cannot lie will tell you the truth and what is promised will happen.
  • Prophecy of descendent on his throne – Yes this was fulfilled in the short term when Solomon ascended to the throne but it had greater implications as we read in the gospel accounts of the genealogy of Jesus that he was not just from the line of David in his maternal mother Mary, but also in his legal guardian Joseph.
  • He foresaw the resurrection of the Christ – He saw not just the birth of a messiah that would come from his line, but the mission complete, that the messiah was going to come and fulfil the scriptural prophecies regarding the resurrection.

In case you are in any doubt who Peter refers to, he names that man in verse 32…

V32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Peter makes it abundantly clear that it is Jesus, the Son of God that he is talking about, and that Jesus and his deeds would still be known as it was only a short time since Passover. Peter makes it crystal clear that Jesus was the only one who could have fulfilled that prophecy in the book of Psalms and gives the following reasons why…

  • He was raised up – We see the evidence for this is Acts one, where Jesus literally went up to heaven.
  • He had witnesses to this fact – Peter and the other followers of Jesus who had followed him to the end were indeed primary witnesses to this fact. If this was a Jewish court there were sufficient witnesses to prove the case.
  • He was exalted to the right hand of God – In order to avoid any question of “where is Jesus now then?” Peter answers before the question arises.
  • He received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit – The example of this had just happened! Talk about having a water tight case for the theology, there was irrefutable evidence that had just happened moments earlier.
  • David did not ascend into heaven – and here is where we learn that it certainly wasn’t David, David’s body was still where it was buried. He was not in heaven.
  • He called Jesus Lord – and lastly, we look at how David viewed Jesus. He called him Lord.

And as much as King David was revered, Jesus was more worthy of all praise, honor and glory. He is coming back and his enemies will be thrown down. Reading the book of Revelation as a Christian makes me anxious and wanting Jesus to come back, how do you feel about the end of the world? Are you anxious because you are unsure your eternal destination or are you willing the Lord to return?

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we look at verses thirty six through forty one where we look at the response of the crowd. 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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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:22-28 – Peter’s Sermon (Part two)

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:22-28 – Peter’s Sermon (Part two) – 02/15/2016

Acts 2:22 (ESV) “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part two in a three 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 twenty two…

V22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Remember in the last article (link here) we had stated that peter was being bold, this is exactly what we meant by that last remark. Peter could have had such a dynamic sermon just by quoting from the prophet Joel and would certainly have had a lot of public kudos by finishing there, but God knew Peter and knew that that man who so often put his foot in it in a wrong way was about to give a brave declaration that publically set a target on his back from the religious people of the day.

He addresses them “Men of Israel, hear these words” and Peter wanted to make sure he had the crowd’s attention and spoke with authority, he spoke with urgency with a message that would quite literally save their lives. He talks about someone who the people already knew. The fame of Jesus of Nazareth would certainly not have died down some 50 odd days after his death. Peter starts by stating the common ground about who Jesus was, the fact that they agreed that he was “attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst” and he built his sermon from there.

Peter goes on to say that Jesus death was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” and that God knew that the people would “crucify and be killed by the hands of lawless men”. Peter does not miss and hot the wall and states that “You killed this man who was innocent and sent by God and you had no reason to do so” he was not concerned with giving a “seeker friendly” message and he was not looking to be a people pleaser but he was looking to save those who were there, regardless of the consequences, lets contrast this to Peter’s last act when the Lord Jesus Christ was alive prior to crucifixion…

Matthew 26:69 (ESV) Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

This is a man strengthened by spending time with the resurrected Jesus, spending a crazy amount of time in prayer, being on one mission with the disciples and being filled by the Holy Spirit. If you think that you cannot be used by God because you are not as dynamic as Peter here, I am here to say you are probably correct, you cannot do it on your own, however if you are obedient to the small things and give it all up to God, he will accomplish things in your life that you couldn’t even dream was possible.

V24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Here is the left hook, Peter tells the people, you did your worst to the best of your limited ability but Jesus was always going to conquer death, Peter uses the same term that would be describer for birth pains, God raised him up to fulfil the prophesy that is listed in the following few verses and can be found originally in Psalms 16.

V25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

It is quoted as the words of David (King David) and as stated prior it is lifted from Psalms 16:8-11 and you can believe that Peter got three years of intensive bible instruction of the Old Testament so you can be sure that the Messiah taught them from the scriptures.

Jesus is described as that lamb without blemish who was the only one who was able to be called “the Holy One” the one who lived a perfect life, was a perfect Savior and was the only one who was able to reconcile man to God. The Psalm also prophesied that the “Holy One would not see corruption” this states that he would not be in the grave long enough to start the decaying process and the Messiah Jesus Christ rose on the third day. We celebrate this at the Christian festival of Easter. Because of this our soul will not be abandoned in its sinful state to Hades (or Hell) and that is the glorious news of the gospel.

Although Jesus took the punishment of the sins of the world he is described in the passage as the one who “made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” Jesus was rewarded by the ascension to the Father and that is where he is today, living, loving and interceding on your behalf today and pleading with you to have a relationship with him. If you have a relationship with him he desires for you to have a deeper relationship with him and if you do not know him as your Savior he desires to have to begin one.

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at part three of Peter’s sermon where Peter concludes the sermon by showing the prophetic nature of the messiah Jesus Christ by showing his lineage to King David and it truly is so dynamic that I would hate for you to 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.
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The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23

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The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23 – 02/03/2016

Matthew 2:19 (ESV) But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

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 nineteen.

V19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

God again spoke to Joseph through a dream by way of an angel of the Lord, much in the same way as he was told that Mary had not been unfaithful, also in the same way he was told to flee to Egypt in the first place and we again see Josephs remarkable obedience to what he now trusts to be true.

We don’t see from the text how long he was a refugee in Egypt, however we do see that there was enough time elapsed that Herod was dead at the point of return. We know that Jesus was still classified as a child so he would not be regarded as a young man (around the age of 13) We see in a few verses that Herod had been succeeded by his son and from research on the man, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree on that son.

Interestingly we see the way that the people are listed; the child is always listed before the mother in importance. We see that prophecy is being fulfilled because Jesus was called to be the messiah to the people of Israel first, he cannot do this if he is not back in Israel.

V22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

We now see Herod’s son is now in place as king over Judea, much like his father Herod the Great he was a puppet king under the Emperor Augustus, he was regarded as a man much in the same vein as his father, he is noted mainly by the Jewish historian Josephus.

Most of his battles internally were with the Jewish leaders of the day, he was the king who placed a golden eagle over the temple door with the Jewish leaders saw as blasphemous and was known for killing rivals and those who opposed his decrees. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on this matter”…

“Herod defended his works and offered an attack on his predecessors, the dynastic Hasmoneans. Herod killed all male lineal successors of the Hasmoneans. The Pharisees had long attacked the Hasmoneans as well, as having parentage from Greeks while under bondage. This racial slur was repeated by the Pharisees through the rule of Alexander Jannaeus and Queen Salome.”

He ruled for less than a decade and made enemies on all sides, he was replaced in 6AD with a Roman appointed governor. (You may remember that was the title of Pontius Pilate) and this is enough to tell you that the man’s reputation alone was enough to make Joseph rightly anxious about going there. Joseph decided to go back to the place where it all began for Mary and him. This made sense in a cultural basis going back to where they would have a support network.

V23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Interestingly enough they went into another province run by a King Herod, but this was the brother called Antipas who was regarded as a ruler with a much milder mannerisms. He went to an area that was not as densely populated with Jewish religious people, Galilee was the area that had a more broad spectrum of Jewish and Gentile mix, it was a fishing area and in this area which was not as highly regarded as the great city of Jerusalem it would be where the messiah of the world would grow up.

This touches me on so many levels, how many times have we seen God not using the things that we regard as remarkable and the things that we think God will regard because they are beautiful to man’s eyes, God sees them as nothing. It is true in my life also. I am an unremarkable man, however God has allowed me to be part of some really cool things in his name, I never think that it is me by any means. I consider myself to be a type of Nazareth, not much to look at but desiring to be used by God.

Joseph chose to go to the place with the bad reputation. When Philip is introduced to the messiah and finds out he hailed from Nazareth – He questioned and asked “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) He also chose to go to the place that knew the strange circumstances regarding Mary’s conception and how Joseph was not the earthly father of Jesus. Talk about starting the child off with a disadvantage.

It was very much the will of the Father that the child would fulfil prophecy, and when he was alive he was not known as “Jesus Christ” but simply “Jesus of Nazareth” and because of this his followers were sometimes called Nazarenes (see Acts 24:5)

Acts 24:5 (ESV) For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Jesus would be in small town life, if Joseph was gone then Jesus would be expected to fill in as man of the house, be faithful in his trade (his father’s trade) and be diligent in the small things prior to embarking on his ministry journey. This is a great lesson to us as we figure out what God’s plan or calling is on our lives. The encouragement is to be diligent, be faithful in the small things and be prepared for when God is going to open that door to whatever ministry he has planned 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.
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