Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Epistle

Avoid irreverent babble to avoid more ungodliness – 2nd Timothy 2:16-19

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Avoid irreverent babble to avoid more ungodliness – 2nd Timothy 2:16-19 – August 31st 2016

This is a series in the book of 2nd Timothy, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of 2nd Timothy as the LORD wills.

2nd Timothy 2:16 (ESV) But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

Paul encourages Timothy to be focused; perhaps it is because of his youth or perhaps it is a personal observation but we see that Paul lasers in on avoiding irreverent babble. We see so many ministries today lose their effectiveness because the believer does not heed the warning in the book of James chapter 3…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

As I read that I start to disqualify myself because I know my own heart and my own failings. I know none of us are perfect but what Paul is stating here (as well as James) is that profane babblings are not to come from the mouth of a teacher because like it or not he has a greater responsibility not to stumble others. If the leadership has dropped standards in this area it will encourage others to do so and will create a culture of ungodliness.

This is confirmed in verse 17 where Paul states that “it will spread like gangrene” and I know that this is a very graphic picture where it will be like a cancer and be like a degenerating illness when we allow the profanity of man, whether that be his opinions, his ideas or his ways although they tickle the fancy of those you wish to reach and be very popular, if it is contrary to the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ then those things are exactly what Paul is speaking of.

Some of the most lampooned heretics started off on the correct path so we have to be on our guard. They did not all start off like Hymenaeus and Philetus. (Do you remember Hymenaeus from 1st Timothy 1) Their message was profane to the correct Word of God and it was popular because we hear that it was spreading quickly and we even know what error they were preaching.

They taught that “the resurrection has already happened” and due to the heresy they were causing others to believe in something that was contrary to the Word of God. Whilst it was terrible that this happened I do love the lesson here that we have to line up what we are being taught with how well it lines up with the Word of God that will not contradict itself. They were trying to remove the hope from Christianity by stating that Christ was not coming back and the fruit of their labors is that they were upsetting the faith of some, should they remained in this error without repentance we have the words of Christ in the gospel of Matthew 18…

Matthew 18:1 (ESV) At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Sounds harsh huh? That is why I quoted that “not many should become teachers” as it is a much greater responsibility. We have to stand on the solid foundation of God as we read in verse 19. Despite Paul being on the defensive he states quite clearly that the defense of the Gospel that he is defending would not be touched by such minuscule attacks. Guys like Hymenaeus and Philetus and even modern day heretics would not be enough to pull down the kingdom of God. They may misrepresent it or cause it scandal but the Lords firm foundation stands.

Paul speaks of two seals and we see these below…

The Lord knows those who are his – Is a direct quotation from the book of Numbers which in context reads as follows…

Numbers 16:1 (ESV) Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. 2 And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men. 3 They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” 4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.

And we are reminded that the Lord knows who are his, we don’t always do and although we can see small evidences of spiritual fruit in people’s lives we will be surprised when we get to heaven by who made it and who didn’t. This is a great witnessing strategy too because Jesus died for us all so who are we to judge who deserves or not His saving gospel.

Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity – We are called as Christians to flee from our sin! Who is perfect in that area huh? I am not being facetious when I say that as we all have different hurdles and stumble in different ways but if we still act like we are in the world then how will we effectively witness to those we want to save for Jesus Christ? How salty are you?

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses twenty through twenty six of chapter two where Paul encourages Timothy to “be an honorable vessel” having read ahead I love these scriptures and 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

Do not quarrel about words because you will ruin the hearers – 2nd Timothy 2:14-15

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Do not quarrel about words because you will ruin the hearers – 2nd Timothy 2:14-15 – August 29th 2016

This is a series in the book of 2nd Timothy, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of 2nd Timothy as the LORD wills.

2nd Timothy 2:14 (ESV) Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Paul again charges Timothy to “remind them” and to go over information that they already are aware of. This hits home with me because I do not always listen right the first time and often times I have to be reminded things that I should already know and I don’t know whether it is just me but I usually get the difficult things down but it is the beginner or easier parts of Christianity that I don’t always have switched on. I am so grateful that Christianity is not like other religions in that it is all rules, facts and figures but an actual relationship where I am the party that will mess up and be unfaithful. That to me is challenging and the more I write these articles the more I feel God working in my life.

Timothy had the same job as many pastors do today and that is one of realigning the vision of the ones he had been charged to shepherd and keep them focused on good doctrine. Keep the main thing the main thing and not to get bogged down in words that do not matter and we could learn from that today in our church culture that is all about packaging and branding as much as it is the life changing message that could save someone from Hell! People ask why I have not made “more of an effort with this website” and my answer has and will always be “it is about the bible studies and not building something pleasing to the eye” as people really are not going to get saved by a great introduction page!

Again Paul allows Timothy to cut out the fruitless arguments over things that really have no importance, we can get lost in spiritual rabbit trails about things that really have no impact in people’s lives. I have seen whole ministries dedicated to arguing a point about one small piece of scripture and really being ineffective in the world because the point they are arguing does not glorify God or save souls. They are “busy” for the Lord but not really “productive”. That is a warning for everyone and in that I include even me and I have to check myself on a regular basis to make sure I am not doing likewise. What do you have fruitless arguments over?

Be careful because Paul warns that these arguments can ruin the hearers because people do what people have been taught and if they are taught by an endless debater that leads more seekers to be detractors from the Word of God then that seed will be sown in the new believer and you will have cloned another who debates fruitlessly and does very little to advance the kingdom of God. I feel strongly about this as I used to be like this and I took 1st Peter 3:15 as an invite to debate people into submission and it was never intended to be like that.

We have to remember that the scriptures are living and breathing and have the power to change people’s lives and we must not be trying to bludgeon people or bore them to death with them and our endless debates.

Verse 15 is by and far the most quoted verse in this chapter and my own home church in Porterville California used to have it on their announcement sheet. I will break this down ito it’s component parts…

  • Do your best – Be diligent, work hard and endure in the Word, find out exactly what it means and be in context before you begin to teach it. Never underestimate the benefit of laboring in the scriptures.
  • To present yourself to God as one approved – Timothy was not doing this to appear smart before men, at least that should not be his motivation and this echoes the teachings of Christ who advised men like that “had received their reward already”. You will also notice that he was to first present HIMSELF to God as one approved.

It is similar to when you are on a flight and you listen to the safety announcement where it states that always affix your own safety device before helping someone else, yes Timothy will have plenty opportunity to mentor others into a deeper faith but he must not neglect his own personal study because he will leave himself pumping a dry well when he is serving.

  • A worker who has no need to be ashamed – we have all had a teacher, a manager or supervisor at some point in our lives and if we do a poor job then to be called on it we know how embarrassing that is and how it shames us. Being entrusted with the holy word of God well that should motivate us to do our very best work.

I am reminded of a story that I heard the preacher Philip De Courcey say when he was quoting an account from Kissinger where a young intern handed Kissinger a report and he asked “is this your very best work?” and the intern thought and said ” I guess it can be improved” and this happened a few other times and finally the intern said “yes, I am confident this is my best work” and Kissinger took the document and read it. How is our work for the Lord? Are we holding something back? Are we clock watching? Are we ashamed?

  • Rightly handling the word of truth – remember what we said earlier about getting the truth correct from the scriptures? Timothy had to be able to teach correctly and be strong enough to squash any heresies and explain what the scriptures said and did not actually say. Many commentators have a picture of a sword and that Timothy should be handling the Word like a sword and that is a good picture to keep because a Sword does divide and pierce, much like the Word of God.

It also means that his teaching had to be relevant and we need to learn that today that the illustrations should be small and pointing towards a larger truth. The point of an illustration should not be to “be funny” get a “quick laugh” or to alleviate the tedium of a long service but to point someone to a greater truth. Remember we are trying to save souls, not bore people to death!

It also gets rid of “interpretation issues” where people will state “you interpret it this way and I do not” if you have rightly divided the word and have it in context and approach the text with no bias (I say this because many people will try to get scripture to justify all manners of sin by using an interpretation that at best is a stretch!) then you will have the correct interpretation which is why it is vital to labor in the scriptures to understand and rightly handle the word of truth.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses sixteen through nineteen of chapter two where Paul instructs Timothy to “avoid irreverent babble” having read ahead I love these scriptures and 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

Loving a Lymie – Viewpoint from a non-Lyme sufferer

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Loving a Lymie – Viewpoint from a non-Lyme sufferer

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

Who am I?

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

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

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

What is the point of this?

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

Why is this happening?

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

Where and when did this happen?

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

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

How do I feel?

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

Do I need to do more?

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

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

Isn’t Lyme covered by most doctors and insurances?

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

How long will this go on?

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Pic – Daddy daughter date circa 2014

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

Where am I going with this?

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

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

Imagine the scene…

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

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

Was I really abusing my child?

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

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

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

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

How good is that gift?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved – 2nd Timothy 2:14-19

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved – 2nd Timothy 2:14-19 – 05/13/2016

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.

2 Timothy 2:14 (ESV) Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

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

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

V14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

In true Pauline fashion we see that Paul instructs the younger man to not get distracted with things that would take him away from the word of God. That is the basic job of the pastor is to keep his “sheep” focused on God and I do lament that we have moved away from doing life together as Christians. Paul was reminding Timothy to keep the things that were spoken of in the last blog article first and foremost and then follows a command.

He tells them to not quarrel about words, to not get into unprofitable arguments and in this election year I see that we do that more and more as Christians, we get mad about things that really ae not worth getting heat up about. It is not worth it to cause contention in the church of Jesus Christ over things that do not matter. As Paul states, it does no good and only ruins the hearers.

Paul touches on a little of what we find problematic in our relationships today in that we are to not strive or quarrel about words and there is nothing wrong with standing up for the truth however the issue comes when we wish to debate points that are irrelevant n the great scheme of things and we care more about defending our own small theological point than the greater work of the Lord. That then causes harm in relationships because often times these exchanges are not done in love.

V15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

This is the most famous part of this scripture but I prefer to quote it with the verse behind and often times the verse in front in order to get the context of what Paul is saying. People have oft quoted this verse as a badge of honor to show how much they study the word and this verse being the reasoning why. It is good to study the word and that is commendable but it should not be a “kudos point” in our Christian walk. Let’s look at this the way Paul intended.

  1. Do your best – Sometimes this is translated as “be diligent” and much as we looked at when we looked at Psalm 123, God looks for us to be diligent, to be studying when we are not feeling it and in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2) If we are not enduring then it may be time to check out motivation. If it is for us and not for the Lord then we have our reward already! (Matthew 6)
  2. To present yourself to God as one approved – And God’s opinion is the only one that matters, people will come and go and popularity is a fleeting fad of a swaying opinion that will either be in your favor or not. Pastors will often times not be the most popular people in the building (especially if they are doing their job right) and what Paul states here is true on this level.

    Like much of 1st Timothy Paul exhorts Timothy to get himself approved and get his doctrinal ducks in a row as he wasn’t called to get others approved, which will come as he is equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4) But as a leader he needs to make sure he is being refreshed as much as possible, that is why I try to get to at least one conference a year that has sound biblical teaching from men I trust.

  3. A worker who has no need to be ashamed – Have you ever done a job where the boss is watching and suddenly your “work rate” improves, so how many of you feel sad now that you have admitted that to yourself. Remember you have a heavenly boss that sees everything you do, so how holy do you feel now? Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want shown on a big screen cinema for all your family and friends to see?

    Yes we are saved by grace and not by works but it is encouragement to be diligent as we have that natural reaction of shame to our sin that stems back to the Garden of Eden because let’s face it, it is embarrassing when your work is examined and it is shown to be deficient.

  4. Rightly handling the word of truth – and this is the roof on the house, the topping on the cake and quite frankly the reason for the diligence. As a leader he had to know what it said the reason why it said it and be able to explain it to someone who either had a strong Jewish background in the law or no religious background whatsoever. He had to be able to explain the gospel truths to everyone who would receive it. It is tremendously important that the Pastor understands the correct meaning and application to the scripture before he teaches it. We see why in the book of James…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

That scares me, even just teaching or preaching on a bible study or writing these articles means that I would be called a “teacher” and if ever a title was placed on someone who was more undeserving it is here. I see myself not as a teacher but more as someone who wants to make the scriptures more accessible to as many as possible.

V16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

We need to be careful if we are seen as a teacher to not lead people away from the word of God. As leaders and by default we will have people looking up to us, it is not something that I chase or desire but it happens a lot. One thing we need to be careful is to not lead people astray with our actions. If you are a leader in authority you will be looked at and scrutinized. Let me give an example of this…

At a youth group I attended when I was much younger I was invited (along with the rest of the group) to the leader’s apartment building where we had youth group that evening because the church was unavailable. Where I was sitting in that guys living room I saw his CD collection and then started to think, if he likes these bands then they must be okay. I never saw his DVD/VHS collection but if I had then I might have used that to justify bad choices in my life based on what he had. Do you see where I am going with that?

We need to avoid vanity in our preaching also and avoid anything that promotes us. I find it a lot when I am speaking to fellow bloggers or pastors who have written a book that they can be very “promoting” of their own works. (I have been guilty of that also in the past too so I am speaking as much to me as anyone else!) There really is nothing as holy as the word of God and despite any good or relevant points that I make on these articles I pray that I always point you to the word of God first.

Teaching that is in place or dilutes the word of God may be popular for a season but it is not a substitute for the real thing. It is what will lead people further away from Godliness and the cancer will spread like gangrene and Paul gives two examples of this by naming two offenders to show Timothy what type of people he was meaning. We see our old friend Hymenaeus from 1st Timothy 1:20 but he appears to have a new partner in crime in this letter.

What were Hymenaeus and Philetus teaching? Well according to Paul they were teaching that the “saying that the resurrection has already happened” and were teaching incorrect doctrines regarding the End times and despite having started in the correct position they allowed themselves to become incorrect in their doctrine stating that Jesus had already returned. We have to base our faith on sound doctrine and not man’s opinions in order to be correct scripturally. Due to this incorrect doctrine they were causing others to have problems in their faith.

Some people may be okay with some unconventional teaching and methods and I am all for reaching people for the gospel, however if we stray into heresy and teaching that is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ then I will have an issue with that. People start to believe a version of Jesus that is not the Jesus of the bible and that is not okay. Also it the heresy does not have to affect everyone, if they are upsetting the faith of some that is bad enough.

V19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

In typical Jewish writing style we see that Paul goes from the negative to the positive and he states quite boldly that despite the attacks on the faithful word of God, He has a firm foundation and that foundation will stand up to the scrutiny of skepticism and false religion. That is a good question to ask yourself is that do you stand on that firm foundation when under attack by those who wish to trash your faith? Or do you stand on that firm foundation that cannot be shaken?

Paul takes his thoughts from Numbers 16 verses 5, 26 & 27

Numbers 16:4 (ESV) When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.

And

Numbers 16:26 (ESV) And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones.

Because the Lord knows who are his, notice that it says the Lord knows, not us! I genuinely think that we will be surprised by who we see in heaven and who we don’t because many of us will not be our true selves when we are with other believers. We are called to be his and we are also called to true repentance and a life change when we enter that relationship with Jesus. We need to turn from our sins and depart our iniquity as Paul states. That is my MO here at TTE is to either help you into a relationship with Jesus, help you find a decent bible teaching church and partner with you in growing in Christ and if you are a believer I pray these studies help you grow deeper in Christ because let’s face it! It is all about Jesus!

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks being a worker approved by God, having read ahead I love these scriptures and 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

#giveelsaagirlfriend should Christians just “let it go?”

#giveelsaagirlfriend should Christians just “let it go?”

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DISCLAIMER:- The above hashtag is trending on a number of social media sites and to be honest and let me lay this out and plain straight off, if you are looking for an angry Christian post about how the LGBT minority is ruining this awesome Godly country we have by infiltrating organizations like Navy Seals or some deluded rant about how this will ruin the world then this may not be the article for you, I would encourage you read on though and if you want to trash the article, share it with your friends or even mock the author then that is okay. Everyone has their right to reply and this is my wee spot on the net and I will write on what I am moved to and please note that I write as me, not as a leader of any group or any associations that I am affiliated to, I write as a conservative Christian married guy who writes as someone who is concerned, for the country I now live in and concerned as a parent.

What is all this about?

In case you don’t know there has been a campaign by a LGBT group that started a trending hashtag which was #giveelsaagirlfriend (Give Elsa a girlfriend) which proposed the notion of having the Queen of Arrendale (Elsa) from the hit movie Frozen have a girlfriend as they desired to have a LGBT character, they chose Elsa because at the end of the original movie it was assumed that Kristof would pair off with the younger sister Anna. (Later children’s books allude to them loving one another)

Is this another homophobic post?

Not in the slightest! Just like my messiah Jesus I have enough love in my heart for all people, am I concerned with individual sin? Absolutely! But I am as concerned with the sins of a homosexual as I am with a heterosexual who lives in sin or someone who has addictions to alcohol, drugs or say pornography; sin is sin and as Paul writes in Romans 3:23…

Romans 3:23 (ESV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We are all sinners and Christians need to remember the difference between us and the people who still live according to the worlds desires is that we have begged forgiveness from our messiah, turned from those sins and are living a transformed life and been granted absolution and like it or not it is all about Jesus.

If Jesus was to encounter a homosexual, I would believe he would love on them and tell them that their sins (plural and not just the carnal ones that others would focus on) need forgiveness and tell them about the redemption that is found in him. We as his followers should do likewise; by all means stand up for your beliefs but there is such a thing as saying the right thing but not saying it correctly. (Or saying it in a manner that would turn people away from Jesus, not because of the truth but the way that you as a Christian presented it!)

Let me put it simply and plainly Jesus wants ALL sinners who are still in their sins to come home to him! The category of the sin is irrelevant.

Are Disney going to give Elsa a girlfriend?

Honestly, I have no idea but please bear in mind that Disney are in the business of children’s entertainment and have always moved with the times because if you look at the older cartoons you will see the characters smoking and in some movies we see alcohol. These are in some movies that we call classics.

I would hope that common sense prevails but in this world we see very little of that, Disney will make the decision that makes the most corporate sense for them as a company and I don’t expect much from them to be honest, they have never alluded to being a faith based organization and when I have bought tickets for Disneyland, bought a Disney CD/DVD/VHS or toy that features a Disney brand I never thought for one minute I was giving to a Christian organization.

But please note this Disney, this is a very risky and calculated move you must make here because already we have Christians that did not allow their children to see the original Frozen film for various reasons, some of which I saw their point and some I did not. I am not here to debate that but Christian parents are some of the most protective breed and do spend a large disposable income at your theme parks, on your merchandise and generally on your products. It does not make financial sense to exclude that market from your products. You are in the children’s entertainment business and I do not think your customers would feel this was suitable entertainment for a children’s movie.

You may think the last paragraph was threatening but it is not. It is what it is and I know as a father I am responsible for what my kid sees and does not see on the television and I would not be comfortable with that in a show that was meant to be for a “Universal” audience.

This did not come from Disney!

I do find it borderline amusing however that if Disney were ever to do a focus group on whether parents would accept this, there is no need now because someone just did a whole lot of research for them and did it free of charge! Disney don’t appear to be commenting a great deal on this and appear to only be benefitting from the free publicity and hype that is generating regarding this controversy.

They could not have bought this type of exposure in advertising. Do I smell a rat? Possibly but it certainly gives an answer to a previously unanswered question.

What’s your angle on this?

As stated above I am a concerned parent of a six year old who loves the Frozen franchise and generally loves Disney, she has been to Disneyland once in her life and she loved every second of it and many happy memories were made there. Best of all she got to share that with both set of grandparents so memories were made across three generations.

If they do what does it mean to Tigh Na Mac Gafraidh?

Basically at the moment I have very little beefs with Disney, I do not have cable or satellite TV so there is no threat of cancellation of ancillary products, I have Netflix but really that will have minimal impact to Disney. I am not really a fan of boycotting because it sends off the wrong message however I would not be watching this movie should Disney take this campaign seriously and make this a part of the storyline. I do however think that it will not happen and it will be much ado about nothing. We have to get off the crazy bus and realize that until Disney confirm this would be actually the case, then there is nothing much to whine, gripe or complain about and if you do then please let Disney know directly.

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

Psalms Saturday #14 – Psalms 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked

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Psalms Saturday #14 – Psalms 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked – 05/07/2016

Psalms 1:1 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Thanks for looking at our Psalms Saturday article; I plan to go through this Psalm verse by verse starting in verse one…

V1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

To look at this appropriately we have to look at the Hebrew word “esher” which is the Hebrew word for “Blessed” and that talks mainly of happiness and contentment. Gives a much fuller meaning to the text don’t you think? If we replaced the word “blessed” with fulfilled or contentment then you will see what the Psalmist is driving at. I say that having read this Psalm many times and not bothered to dig any deeper than the words on the page. We see three things that make a man happy and content…

  • He walks not in the counsel of the wicked – The company you keep is important as you will modify your behavior to match the ones that you are trying to impress. When I became a Christian I slowly lost the friends that I had clung onto in my wilderness years because they did not want to do what I wanted to.

    Conversely now I take great delight in a Wednesday morning meeting I have at a local coffee house with likeminded believers as we sharpen each other and keep each other accountable. Finding friends like that is vital as you progress through your Christian life. The counsel you keep affects the way you think.

  • Nor stands in the way of sinners – Not just the counsel you keep but if you are living your life in the way of sinners then you will do what they do. The friends you have affect the way you behave. If you have trouble with alcohol will you still go to the bar rooms 4 times a week?
  • Nor sits in the seats of scoffers – If you dwell with the scoffers and mockers you will become just like them, you will start to belong there and it will erode your Christianity. How can you be happy and blessed in your Christian walk if you are always criticizing or tearing down (and often times this can be fellow Christians)

Like most Jewish poetry the Psalmist offers a contrast in the next verse and does not stop with what we should not be, but continues in what we should be. We see that “his delight is in the law of the LORD” that he is happy in the whole counsel of God, not just the first five books, that the word of God is a delight in his life and if you are not happy or excited to study the word of God then you may need to take a barometer of where you are as a Christian. Is there a hunger, a desire or even a willingness to get in the word regardless (and in some cases especially) of the circumstances?

This hunger us that real that “on his law he meditates day and night.” And that puts me to shame personally and that is something I want to do always, I do however ponder the word of God and a lot of thought and prayer goes into personal study as well as the articles here and I know that the crux of what he is saying is that we ponder it, understand it and commit it to our hearts and lives. I just wished that I did it day and night!

V3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

We see with the correct application of scripture the Psalmist uses the picture of a tree that if it is planted next to a place that will allow it to be fed, then it will continue in strength and it prospers and the application here would be that with that correct grounded knowledge of the word of God that has been meditated we will continue to grow and thrive in our Christian walk. Paul makes the same comparison in the letter to the Galatian church…

Galatians 5:19 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The fruit comes naturally from the tree because of what is going into the tree (streams of water) and I would ask would the same tree be as strong in say a desert where the water supply was a bit sparse? Or would it be more like a tree that is all withered and dead? Then you have to examine what type of Christianity you have, is it a by the cool streams or is it a desert Christianity? How strong is your tree? Will it withstand a few storms or will it break in the first sign of trouble?

V4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Again we see an example of the opposite. Have a look at this passage in Jude…

Jude 1:12 (ESV) These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

As strong as the tree is, the wicked are not strong. To understand what chaff is it is the shell that has to be removed before the grain is useable for the purpose intended, traditionally one of the ways of removing chaff from grain was to allow the air to go through and it separates on its own. I am convinced that this was not used in accident as it is the polar opposite and a good reminder that although we are in the world we are not of the world.

V5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

And we are concluding with these remarks and the Psalmist uses terms that we are familiar with from the book of Daniel when he spoke to King Belshazzar…

Daniel 5:13 (ESV) Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. 14 I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. 22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. 24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.

Scary stuff huh? How is your relationship with God? Have you taken up his free gift of salvation so you are not found wanting? We see that the Psalmist talks about sinners in “the congregation of the righteous” and we will see the ones who persist in their sins and do not wish to change their lives peel off from our church congregations in the short term, however I do also believe that we will be surprised with some of the folks that we thought we would see in glory who were as religious as religious could be and did not know Jesus as their savior, that is scarier stuff!

V6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

I have peace like a river that I am being guided by the creator of heaven. I know that whatever befalls me in this life and however I am chosen to be removed from it that I have a loving father waiting to welcome me home with the words I long to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant” but I do lament for those who are my neighbors, in my streets and in my city and the cities that are close by me who tonight are dying in their sins. One thing is assured is that you have that choice to choose heaven or to reject God and deal with those consequences for all of eternity. My prayer is that if you have not done so then please contact me and I would love to talk to you.

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we will look at Psalms 13 looks at the sorrow of David and trusting in the Lord through trials. 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
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I refrained from visiting you in Corinth to save us both pain – 2nd Corinthians 1:23-2:4

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I refrained from visiting you in Corinth to save us both pain – 2nd Corinthians 1:23-2:4 – 05/05/2016

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

2nd Corinthians 1:23 (ESV) But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

2nd Corinthians 2:1 (ESV) For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? 3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. 4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

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

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

V23 But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth.

In the last article we looked at pain and Paul continues that thought here. Paul continues as if he is presenting his case before a legal court and calls his next witness, Paul is not messing about when he calls upon the name of the Lord and I have heard people question this in relation to what Jesus said in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5:33 (ESV) Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.

This is not a contradiction between Jesus and Paul as Jesus is referring to how we live our lives and to not make frivolous oaths and attaching God’s name where it has no business being attached as if to add credence to an argument that would not stand up on its own. Jesus was doing a lesson on Christian conduct and to avoid leading or misleading phrases and let your answers be definite and say what you mean and mean what you say. Paul is not doing anything wrong by saying this, he is merely showing how serious he is that he would be willing to have God testify against him and to demonstrate that he is being honest.

He did not come to Corinth because he was concerned for the people of Corinth. We do this today that if we have our own “version of things” based on a rumor or an innuendo that may have a small grain of truth in it but it has been blown all out of proportion. The assumption was that Paul had been avoiding Corinth or not coming for some other undisclosed selfish reason or perhaps Paul did not want to spend time with them. Paul sets the record straight by stating that it was for their own good that he did not come and we read why in verse 24 through verse 4 of chapter 2.

24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

Paul states clearly that as an apostle he is not the lord over them. Instead he gives a decent example of what he was to them, he was a worker, a fellow worker and desired to see the people having joy in the Lord and for them to stand firm in their faith and again it does seem obvious to point out but that was why he was writing to them and some of the best leaders I have seen in the modern day church are the ones who are excited about discipleship and mentoring because they understand the value of a good sermon as the most poignant sermon you will ever teach is the witness of your life to someone else, that will have more power than a thousand sermons with the best exegesis and the most correct doctrine.

Chapter 2 V1 For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained?

Paul continues in verse one of chapter two and is still defending himself against accusations we have not seen but having read the words of Paul I see his great love and heart for those who accuse him. Yes he is defending himself but he explains that it was for their good that he made the choices he did. I get that they were disappointed and who hasn’t been bummed if something hasn’t worked out when we hoped it would but Paul is showing that he wasn’t being flaky or lying when he made his original plans, he made a conscious choice to hold himself back from Corinth at that time.

He chose to not come there because he would cause them pain which tells me that the most recent visit was uncomfortable as Paul would have had to deal with some truths that they did not want to hear and Paul did not wish to further discourage them so soon. This tells me more about the health of the church than it does about Paul. Paul wanted to allow them opportunities to deal internally with the acts that would grieve Paul.

On the flip side of this would be if Paul was to return with an iron fist and smash the spirit of the church and cause sorrow then they in turn would not be receiving of him. That more conflict or berating would really damage the ability to help them as they may not receive from him in the future and the relationship could be irrevocably damaged. There would not be much fellowship and Paul would not be energized by the fellowship from Corinth.

We could learn from that in the modern church as I have seen firsthand a heavy handed attitude from leadership in churches that have not given enough space to a believer who was in sin. They expected too much too soon and there was a real lack of grace shown and that damaged the sinner’s relationship with not just that church but many churches and that person stayed away from any fellowship and embraced the world for a period of eight years because of that one man. I speak on this from a personal level and I know it is the truth because that sinner was me!

V3 And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all.

And this is why they are getting a letter as opposed to a visit, the letter would allow Paul the opportunity to lay out his heart behind his actions and not be interrupted as well as allow a record to be kept of what Paul was requesting that they pray about (don’t worry that is coming later in the letter) repent of and get on the right track with God. For me this shows amazing wisdom and discernment that he was concerned with what may be received better for their relationship with Jesus first and foremost and secondarily and nowhere near as important, the relationship with Paul.

The letter was good because it removes the “elephant from the room” and makes aware what is required of them by the time that he returns and get the medicine taken first in order for the spiritual recuperation to be allowed. Paul wanted to enjoy his time there and wanted to be an encouragement rather than a chastiser, this letter was hurting Paul as much to write as it would be painful to read and we see that in verse 4.

V4 For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.

This was truly painful for Paul and he was not enjoying doing this, there are much more encouraging letters that he would rather write. We read here that it was done so with much anguish and many tears and he was trying not to grieve or cause pain but show that he loved them so much that he wanted them to get it right.

How they receive this is totally up to the recipient, they would either “take it on the chin”, pray about it and seek God’s confirmation that Paul was indeed correct as a mature Christian would do and take the correction as a learning experience that was given in the love that Paul writes to them or they would get annoyed at Paul and refuse to be taught by him, hold a grudge, spread malicious rumors or defame his name amongst the brethren. My hope and prayer is that they did the former.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at chapter two verses five through eleven where Paul continues his thought on hurt and extols the Corinthian church to be a forgiving church. 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