Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Isaiah

The great recommendation? – Mark 16:15-16

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

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

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

Dictionary.com has “commission” as the following…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8

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You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus – 2nd Timothy 2:1-8 – 04/15/2016

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 2:1 (ESV) You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything

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 second chapter of Second Timothy.

V1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

Paul starts his exhortation by telling Timothy to “be strengthened” and as a young teacher myself I understand the premise behind what Paul is saying here and that Timothy would need to be strengthened to fulfil what God had called him to do. Paul is faithful in his work as encourager and mentor and there will be times in our lives where we are the encourager and conversely there will be times that we will be required to be encouraged.

One thing we have to realize is that we serve the God who wants to supply all that we need and should we need strength to complete a task then he is always available. I have found many times in my life that God will allow me to try things in my own strength to show me that I am not enough or that I need him and his strength. Let’s look at a passage in Isaiah…

Isaiah 40:28 (ESV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

God gives power to the faint; they will rise up with wings like eagles. As usual I do wish to look at an epistle and I know I quote this all the time but let’s also look at Ephesians 6…

Ephesians 6:10 (ESV) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

We have to remember that although God makes his strength available to us as stated above we also have to rely on him instead of our own strength. Then Paul goes on to say that “be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” that the strength in grace is absolute in order to fulfil the calling that God has you do. In the last year from stepping into ministry I have a new found respect for full time members of the clergy and I understand when some pastors say things like “my job as a pastor was getting in the way of the ministry” because when you are the one people are looking to for answers there carries a responsibility and it is true that “to much is given and much is required” (Luke 12:35-48) and that we have to be strengthened in Christ’s grace as it is a burden as well as a calling. Please do not think I complain as I am blessed more than I can talk about.

God will supply all that his children need, we have that love, favor and grace and despite whether we have earned or deserve anything that God benevolently gives us we understand that through the grace of God is where we can draw our strength. I am reminded of the song…

“I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”

Paul describes his dealings with grace through problems in his second letter to the church in Corinth…

2 Corinthians 12:7 (ESV) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a notion, for when I am weak, then I am strong! Real strength comes in the Lord. Paul then goes on to write “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” And that is my heart too with any ministry that I do, that I am not simply passing knowledge or passing on decent precepts or personal opinions, in fact part of the job description of the Pastor was to train others to train others in the true faith. That is not to say a pastor of a 3000 person church should still do all the training, I am saying that would be silly, but he should be a part of the training and maybe managing the ones who are doing the training.

And he was to train “faithful men” Paul goes through what would be regarded as a faithful man in First and Second Timothy and the epistle to Titus, we are not to look at the external but the internal! What is the faithful man’s fruit? Is he doing some of the work already without being asked? HE has to be a good quality candidate because he is supposed “to teach others also”.

V3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

Paul then makes a comparison between three occupations that would have been relevant both in that time and even today, he compares the Christian life to…

  • A soldier
  • An athlete
  • A farmer

The soldier is one who is used to suffering, yes in those days they did not have mortar bombs or automatic weapons or for that nature chemical or nuclear warfare but the soldier was still used to suffering, taking orders, dealing with hardships and that is sound doctrine because when I have achieved the most for Jesus has been when I have been at my lowest in other ways in my life. Even the call to ministry is fraught with potential pitfalls whether that is financial, familial or any other hardship in whatever way it comes. Examine your own heart and where you cherish the most will be the place that you will be hit the hardest. See below for what Jesus said about taking up his cross and following him…

Matthew 16:24 (ESV) Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Paul goes on to say “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” and the one who enlisted him is obvious as Jesus is that Commander of the armies of heaven and rather ironically he was probably looking at the soldier he was chained to as he was penning this so it is no surprise that he used this occupation. He also notes that the soldier cuts himself out of civilian life, really what Paul is saying is do not do anything that will interfere with your calling.

It sounds grim but please stay with me, let’s look at the athlete…

V5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

First we have “hardship” and now we have “fair play” and the idea of athletics would be well known in this Roman/Greek culture and it was known that the rules of competition would be known beforehand and the athlete would want to receive the prize for competing. The athlete also knew that he would be disqualified if he did not place by the rules and what Paul is really saying is that like the athlete we should not do anything to be disqualified in our calling, in our walk with Jesus on a daily basis. We should be the ones to set the standard and play by the rules.

V6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

And Paul is stating we should be diligent and hard working. The farmer does not get any glory but if he does not work hard then no-one eats! By the same token if he has called you into ministry it is no place to be lazy. You have to be hard working for God because God see’s you sleeping on the clock. Paul also uses the metaphor of eating in the relation to the food that he will be supplying to his congregations and I know that to be true that God will have me live through something before I was able to teach that lesson. Also often times I have found that in order to teach something with heart I have had to learn the lesson myself and sometimes there has been some repenting going on in order for me to be able to teach it clearly with experience and authority.

V7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Paul gave three quality illustrations that I know that because of time served with Paul that Timothy would have received them in a way that did not require further explanation and the overall theme is to be diligent and persevere and that is a message that is just as relevant today as it was when it was first written. Lastly Paul calls for understanding and as stated prior God will give us understanding in the same abundance that he will give us strength.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks about holding to the truth in a steadfast manner, 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

Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17

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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17 – 04/13/2016

Matthew 4:12 (ESV) Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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 twelve of chapter four.

V12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.

The “he” that is referred to in this article is of course referring to Jesus. Because of Matthew’s gospel and this verse we see the reason why Jesus withdrew into Galilee and why he was there before choosing his first disciples. We see that it was the arrest of John was the event that prompted the movement of Jesus.

This is one thing I love about the bible, the knowledge and treasures to explain details that may not seem correct or perhaps little pieces of scripture that seem simply “for information purposes only” and may be seen as the writer supplying more information than is necessary but these small pieces of an otherwise scriptural puzzle will show up inconsistencies as no longer inconsistent. I see this touted quite often as an inconsistency of the bible as to “why the messiah appeared in Jordan and then in Galilee at the same time?” and this may be too much explanation but I am here to help resolve such matters. Often times the folks who tout inconsistencies in the bible simply have not researched the scripture in full and pieced together the timeline.

I do find it interesting that the messiah retreated to an area that was disregarded by the Jewish state, one that was regarded as uneducated, cosmopolitan and worst of all polluted by Gentiles! From this area Jesus would pick many of his disciples as common, salt of the earth people. These people were tradesmen, fishermen or agricultural people. I recognize this type of people as for the last eight years of my life I have lived in Central California.

V13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

We read that he left Nazareth and that was a sad, sad story that we see explained in full in Luke 4…

Luke 4:16 (ESV) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Consider the scene – The town the Messiah had earthly family in he chose to grace his hometown Synagogue and showed them face to face that he was the literal fulfilment of those prophecies (read verbatim from Isaiah 61:1-2) that they all knew so well and were praying for to be fulfilled, HE WAS THERE, IN FRONT OF THEIR VERY EYES and they threw him out of the very place they prayed for him to come to! From a theological point of view it is tremendously sad.

Even the move to Capernaum was done to fulfill scripture; you may recognize the quoted text as being lifted straight from Isaiah 9:1-3…

Isaiah 9:1 (ESV) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

And then we see the focus of Jesus mission and the beginning of the preaching mission of Jesus…

V17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There are three parts to this sentence and I would like to focus on these separately…

  • From that time Jesus began to preach, – I love the Greek word “kerussein” which speaks of a heralds proclamation from a King or royalty and how fitting is that Jesus uses this at the beginning of his teaching ministry because he was heralding a life giving message from one who was far greater, far holier and far better than an earthly king.Jesus was also a healer who taught with “authority, not like the scribes or Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29)

    Matthew 7:28 (ESV) And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

  • Saying, “Repent, – Jesus very much continued the message that John had preached in the same place (Matthew 3) and therefore completing what John had said by announcing that the messiah was coming and of course Jesus WAS the Messiah!
  • For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. – Here he was! The living embodiment of heaven standing in front of them, if they only know that the star of the morning, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and the majesty that stood before them, they would rightly have fell on their face and worshipped him like he deserved.

I love that the first words in his ministry were these because we all have to come to that same place, fall to our knees, repent and be forgiven of our sins. Then and only then can we begin that journey with Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses eighteen through twenty two of chapter four studying when Jesus called his first disciples. 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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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12 – 03/02/2016

Matthew 3:3 (ESV) For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

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 three of chapter three.

V3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

In the last article we dealt with an introduction of John the Baptist and who he was and now John introduces himself by quoting Isaiah 40:3 and in the previous few paragraphs we get an idea of who John was genealogically and Matthew draws this comparison (also made in John 1:23) and John was clear in his mission. His mission was that as a prophet, to warn and to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. To create an understanding of their sin as a forerunner to Jesus, John knew his role as the warm up man and not the main event.

The idea of make his ways straight comes from what would be done for a visiting monarch or visiting royalty that the route that would be travelled would be prepared and be mended to make sure that the visit and journey was as smooth as possible. The hearts of the people were like the wilderness that John was preaching in, they had to be prepared and smoothed out and I have seen it with my own life and own eyes that often times the one who prepares the hearts and sows seeds is not the one who harvests.

V4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John had a rather odd attire, personality and diet; (he literally lived off what God provided in the wilderness – locusts and wild honey) he dressed and spoke like an Old Testament prophet He took his fashion sense straight from the books of Isaiah, here is Old Testament confirmation of this…

2nd Kings 1:8 (ESV) They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

He was prophesied as coming prior to being born by Malachi…

Malachi 4:1 (ESV) “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Now you understand why great care is told to tell the story of his birth! John knew who he was, what was promised and why he was on the mission he was on. If we had the attitude that John had of Jesus first – I second and just think for one second how more effective our ministries would be for the Lord. Often times we struggle because we feel entitled to some kudos in the role of the ministry. The more I do ministry and the more articles I prepare and the more lessons I teach I realize that it is not about me but the one I am following.

The last part talks about the fruit of John’s ministry, John was blessed by God and was given fruit in his ministry as evidence of his obedience. People were realizing that the words he were speaking were from God, they were convicted in their hearts and were confessing their sins and more importantly they were willing to put that conviction into action and actually make a life change. John convicted these people of their sins and they responded by the outward sign of faith in baptism, and this became so famous that it reached the ears of the ones who were the religious establishment. Let’s see how John deals with the religious establishment…

V7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Talk about putting a target on your back! John takes on the ones who are perceived as being the “holy ones” with a righteous anger that came straight from heaven. As much as they were different groups in that the Pharisees and Sadducees and had huge theological differences, they came together to see who this new guy was who was convicting them of their sins. The Pharisees believed in the Law and the righteousness that gave you a local and moral spirituality and be seen as being closer to God by doing so. The Sadducees were more worldly and normally the Pharisees would not be teaming up with them but this new threat to the status quo had to be looked at, perhaps they were seeing if they could align this popular prophet to their tribe or cause?

John responds as they arrive calling them snakes, he mocked their genealogical arguments that they were righteous because of a lineage of birth as opposed to personal repentance or sacrifice. Even if they had come to be baptized to look as if they were prepared for the coming messiah we see that John concluded that like everything else they did that it was to put on a religious show and reminded all who were there that the important. John wanted to see that they had repentance on their hearts as well as their lips.

He reminded them of the wrath to come and who it was from. God was about to send his son to preach words direct from the Father and that this Messiah would come and shine the light of God into their lives and tell them of some really uncomfortable truths. They will not survive that wrath and the only way to sustain is to flee from it. He lastly uses the analogy of an axman, getting ready to chop out the unrepentant branches of that olive tree and graft in those who would repent (see Romans 11 for the culmination of that picture) John then advises why he was baptizing…

V11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

And John again states that he is not the main attraction and when you are in ministry it is very easy to be lifted up and people to hold you higher than you should be held up. John remembers his place and states that he is not worthy to perform the tasks of the lowest servant in a house. What a heart to have and it certainly challenges me about my heart when I take on tasks that I have been allowed to do for the Lord, he culminates that and shows his heart in his words in John 3:30 when he says that “He must increase and I must decrease” and we have to remember that in ministries where you are giving a public recognition, that it should not be about you but the Messiah you serve! John brought them to a place of repentance but he was not the one who would save them.

John finishes by telling those in attendance about the judgment that is coming and to be prepared for the Messiah and his coming because he was going to come in judgment. John brought the water baptism but the messiah and only the messiah was the only one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, if you have been following along in our series “the ACTS files” then you would see the fulfilment of that prophecy that was first stated in the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:14)

He speaks of the wheat and the chaff, the wheat would be the harvest that is useable by the Lord and pure and he will purify those who were pure, not by their own efforts but by the grace of God and the repentance of their hearts and the chaff are the ones who choose to live in their wickedness and never repent. Chaff is the unusable, inedible residue that the agricultural people used to separate from the good stuff using a form and allow nature to blow it away from the stuff that was kept as good. A question to ask yourself is are you wheat or chaff?

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will continue to look at John the Baptist and we will see that John gets a visitor wishing to be baptized and despite protestations by John, he allows him to be baptized I love this scripture because prophetically and theologically it is such a great passage of scripture that 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

God’s judgment and the Law – Romans 2:12-16

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God’s judgment and the Law – Romans 2:12-16 – December 13th 2015

Romans 2:12 (ESV) For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

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

I love that Paul starts off with the reality of the situation between God and man…

V12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

And that is the truth and where we get confused as humans is that we start of by thinking that we are “morally correct” or that we are “a good person” if we are judging ourselves. However when we are judging ourselves we won’t use honest scales and we will have a bias point of view of our individual sins.

Paul continues this thought from verse 11 which states “For God shows no partiality” which is both encouraging and discouraging in that he does judge everyone with no favor but he will judge as a just judge does with honest scales. He will judge those who are under the Law (traditional Jews) and the ones who were not under the Law. (Traditional Gentiles) This is awesome because it works on so many levels as in the first century there were many heretics that kept trying to convince the Gentile Christian converts that they had to adopt Jewish practices in order to please God. We see this correction by letter in a few of the Epistles that we are not saved by works (keeping the Law in this case) alone. Let’s look at both types of people that Paul addresses here:

•       Sinned under the Law – So the Jews had the Law but did they keep it? If they kept it in actions did they keep it in their hearts? Was it an empty practice to appear holy? Were their hearts near or far from God? Was his faith in God or the empty religion of keeping the rules of the Law?
•       Sinned without the Law – He may be further in his own sin because he has no idea what God wanted in the first place? Does he have Jesus as his Savior? Is he trying to be morally right in the sight of the world? Will he die in his sins due to a lack of repentance? Does he only live by what his conscience says?

Whilst the former may appear “more holy” they both are headed away from God and headed for condemnation unless they have a heart change and be repentant and seek God while he may be found and call upon him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6-7) if you think I am maybe overstating this then please look at what Jesus said to the folks who had the Law as their religion in the book of Matthew…

Matthew 23:23 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Jesus certainly did not spare feelings when he dealt with those who the people lauded as holy. He called them the following…

•       Hypocrites
•       Blind guides
•       Whitewashed tombs
•       Internally full of death
•       Lawless

And that is the heart (pun intended) of this is that the heart must be correct in order to please God and it is only God who can see into the depths of the heart and can see the true nature of your heart and can even see the self-deceit if you have deceived yourselves into believing your motives are pure. If you don’t believe me that the heart is wicked then read Jeremiah 17:9.

V13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

Just because you have heard the law (or even heard the bible) that will not make you righteous and let us look at two scenarios…

•       Scenario A – Pastors kid – has been raised in church, knows the bible inside out, can quote large portions of scripture, is an awesome apologetic teacher in his own right but does not live the Christian life and never repents in his own right.
•       Scenario B – Mass Murderer – Spent all of his adult life in jail following a mass murder at eighteen. Is in a state where he has waited 225 years on the death penalty catching up with him. The day before he dies a Prison Pastor convicts him of his sin and he falls on his knees and accepts Jesus in his life and for the last 24 hours of his life he pours himself into the bible the pastor gave him.

Which of these two people will be in heaven? It will be those who are doers of the law, those of whom who have repented of their sins and got their hearts right with God. Just simply attending church and being a passenger with no life change will not do anything. Does that mean we will always be enthusiastic for the gospel? No! Christians will have attitude problems in the same way as those in the world, but they know the way to resolve this by turning back to God.

V14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

We have to be careful to not become “a law unto ourselves” and make up laws that suit ourselves due to having ignorance to what God wanted or required of us. We have to diligently study the scriptures to understand the will of God in our lives. We cannot go off what someone else says or an interpretation that may or may not be correct. Even as you are reading this I urge you to do your due diligence and study the scripture for yourselves and “Study you show yourself approved” (2nd Timothy 2:15) and please never take man’s word when it contradicts what the scripture is plainly saying.

V15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them

Paul talks about writing the law on your heart and this comes from the book of the prophet Jeremiah that reads…

Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

You have to understand that these people were not of the original children of Israel, they were part of the New Covenant and were adopted into God’s family through their obedience and as Paul writes here they can be condemned by their conflicting thoughts or even justified.

This is a battle of the flesh, the fleshly man wants to do his will and there will be a struggle often times in order to allow Gods will to overcome. (What Paul calls conflicting thoughts) and we have this today as Christians. A few examples would be…

•       Do I have to be honorable on my taxes, I could get away with that
•       Do I have to tithe exactly 10% (even though that is a conviction of my heart) as we could put that extra money towards something I want
•       Do I have to deal fairly with others if I can make a quick profit?
•       Do I have to be diligent in my workplace?
•       Do I need to be pure in my thoughts if I am single?
•       Do I need to stay faithful to my wife/husband? What if I can get away with it with no scandal?
•       Do I really need to forgive that guy? Do you know what he did?

And that is just some common ones that people struggle with. We have to remember that “the work of the law is written on their hearts” and greater is he that is in us that he who is in the world!

V16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

And here is the kicker, God sees the heart, he sees the secret places, he sees what goes on behind closed doors. He knows the very thing that would shame you most but he loves you so much. If you remain in your sins you will be judged and found wanting in the balance. An example of this is found in Daniel 5:27 where Belshazzar was judged according to the actions he took and was found wanting in the eyes of the LORD.

We all have the same choice in life, in fact the same choice that Adam and Eve had that we can choose to go with God’s plan for our lives or go against it. Where are you in that situation? If you were to die tonight would you die in your sins? Or have you truly accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so then go tell others about his salvation because NOW is the accepted time, now is God’s day of Salvation. (2nd Corinthians 6:2)

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
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

The birth of Jesus – Matthew 1:18-25

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The birth of Jesus – Matthew 1:18-25 – 12/09/2015

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.

Matthew 1:18 (ESV) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

I love this part of scripture as it is so dynamic, so cross cultural and so wonderful in its simplicity and this is why I love the book of Matthew. Matthew is a no nonsense guy, a tax collector who gets straight to the point and lays out the facts in an easy to read historical format. After dealing with the family tree of where Jesus came from in a legal perspective he then starts with the betrothal and in the Jewish ceremony there were three steps to marriage..

•       Engagement – Is when the initial interest is noted and they are set aside for one another, sometimes this is done before they would be able to decide for themselves and it was somewhat common for families to “align” by marriage by setting aside children to be married at a later date.
•       Betrothal – is when the couple is old enough to wed, they betroth and this would be the same as what we would call a legal wedding, they are married by law and can only break this by a formal divorce, however they still live apart for a period of time, usually the first year.
•       Marriage – this took place last and then the couple would start their lives as man and wife.

Now you can see why a betrothed woman would be scandalous if the man was a righteous man like Joseph was. The fact that Mary was with child would have culturally caused an issue and the first thought would have been that she had been adulterous. Mary must have been under intense pressure as by agreeing to do this she knew that she was essentially making herself a social outcast as no-one would believe what she said regarding the Holy Spirit.

So much so that initially Joseph did not believe (v19) Joseph is shown here as a man with great compassion as he could have had Mary stoned for breaking a betrothal. (He is called here Mary’s husband to illustrate how legal the betrothal was) You have to see it from Joseph’s point of view also as everything points to Mary being unfaithful to him and legally and in his heart also it would have been virtually impossible to go through with the marriage. Joseph still showed love for Mary by wishing to not publically humiliate her and seek a quiet divorce.

A divorce in those days was not the quick and convenient option that it has become these days. There would have been witnesses to the betrothal and other young men in the area would have known that Mary could not be courted so Joseph was trying to make it as painless as possible for both parties. So it would not be private as we read it but Joseph despite his obvious hurt and feeling of betrayal has it in mind to allow as painless a separation as possible and it is right that he is described as “a just man” as he still wanted to protect Mary’s interests as well as his own.

V20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Divine intervention convinced Mary to conceive from the Holy Spirit and divine intervention also convinced Joseph to take Mary as his wife and reassured him that she had not been in disgrace. Can you imagine what a relief that was and how that made Joseph feel? That trust had been restored between man and wife and husband, we know he loved her by his desire to not disgrace her and now he could have the woman that he had waited so long in anticipation for.

Joseph is addressed as “son of David” so this will have alerted Joseph that he was being spoken to using the lineage of his family back to King David and the messianic meanings behind what was about to be said. You have to remember that the nation was looking for the returning Messiah so everybody knew the prophecies and everyone was on alert. And it was confirmed to him that Mary had not been unfaithful to him and was still pure.

V21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Joseph has the future revealed to him that he will witness a son, that will be called Jesus and that he will be a Savior. Jesus meant simply “The Salvation of Jehovah” it was as common as John and Joseph is today but there will be nothing common about the mission that this special child will have. He will save his people from their sins. Note that it says “his people” and not “Children of Israel” or “God’s people” which advises that Jesus will save those who come to faith in him and that was the purpose we find out even at the announcement of his birth that this child will do something to save his people.

V22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: V23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

The angel is quoting from the seventh chapter of the book of Isaiah which reads…

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

It is very God that even at the announcement of the birth of Jesus he points to the fact that he had advised hundreds of years before in the prophets and that it would not be some vague prophesy that could have been fulfilled by a hundred different people throughout history. God gave a specific prophecy about something that was biologically impossible except by supernatural intervention.

The name Immanuel (God with us) shows how far God was willing to come to meet us in our sin that he would send his son to come to earth to be with us, live like us and be an example to us and eventually die on a cross for our sins to reconcile man to God. God literally came 99.99% of the way to us and told us that he wanted communion that much that he was willing to walk this earth to demonstrate a divine nature in the historical man Jesus of Nazareth.

V24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,

Joseph was tremendous here, for me Joseph does not get enough credit in the scriptures and when he woke, he went straight away and was obedient to the angel of the Lord and did not debate or resonate it in his heart, maybe take stock of it and logic away the divine nature of the whole thing. I feel that as Christians we tend to do that too much where we tend to overanalyze things that are obviously God and backed up by both the will and word of God and sometimes we miss out on the blessings God has for us because we are too conservative. Joseph does not do that, he walks by faith that God has blessed this union.

V25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew wants to make three things clear from this verse…

•       Mary remained a virgin until after Jesus was born
•       Eventually Joseph and Mary had marital relations
•       They were obedient to call the child the name God wanted

These are important observations because it takes away the opportunity for scoffers to doubt the miraculous birth, that she would fulfil the prophecy not just at the time of conception but also at the time of delivery. It also removes the credence for the idea that Mary remained a virgin always that some denominations promote, it simply is unbiblical and unhistorical because we know that Jesus had at least two other brothers they were called James and Jude and they both wrote epistles so we have writings from these men to show that they did in fact exist.

Legally the marriage was finalized and they could live together but it was not consummated and from a male point of view that showed incredible restraint and faithfulness on the behalf of Joseph. Lastly they called him Jesus, they did what they were told by God, perhaps it was easy to be obedient when they were faced with such direct confirmation of the will of God, they called him that common name that would eventually become name above all names.

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
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Genesis One – Day One – In the Beginning – Genesis 1:1-5

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Genesis One – Day One – In the Beginning – Genesis 1:1-5 – 12/01/2015

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

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

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

V1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

The bible states the following as fact, that there was a beginning and in that beginning God pre-existed and he created the heavens and the earth. Those are the simple facts laid out by the text that we read, assuming we just use the bible as the basis for what we are investigating here. We know that the universe (the heavens and the earth) were created because observational science tells us to examine the evidence and the evidence points very strongly if not conclusively that we do in fact exist, and that we exist on an earth that has had a continuous footprint since the creation of said earth.

The word God is “elohym” (or Elohim) in that he is one God but in three different entities, we know from the scriptural evidence in the first seven days that God the father, Jesus the son and the Spirit of God were all present when the world was created. This is why the word Elowaah was not used (singular God) instead.

Regardless of your viewpoint on origins (how it all began) the consensus is fairly united in these basic facts, at this point the Creationist (A catch all term for those who believe that the earth was created – usually by a ‘sovereign being’) and the Evolutionist (one who favors a theory by a man called Charles Darwin that it slowly evolved over a period of time) the agreement thus far is that at some point, something happened to cause it to be created.

Biblically, God is timeless! I do not mean that his style has no time but simply that he is not limited by the limitations that he has placed on his creation. Personally the problem has to be with your perception of the size of God that God is. If I was to go into the limitless aspect of the universe that we are in, the number of galaxies, the number of stars and the distance between it all you will see what a tremendous claim this is and why there is such discussion over creation. As we are going to read in the evidence below he creates the following on the first day…

•       Heavens and the earth
•       Light and darkness
•       Instituted the first day and night

Does this sound like a small god to you? From an early age we know that we can see well in the light and not so well in the dark we know that our times are marked out in seconds, minutes, hours and days. God instituted that all in the first day. The foundation of what we know to be the case we read here that it was created on day one. Paul confirms that God was the architect of creation in Romans chapter one…

Romans 1:19 (ESV) For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

And that is what I am stating here, that God has shown in his creation his existence as well as leaving the evidence that the bible is true and accurate in its recordings of how the creation of the world was made. I admit right away that I start with the premise and the belief that the bible is true and that is my bias in this situation, however even without that bias I would state that Paul states the case far more convincingly than I do in that God has stated who he is and what he has done from the creation of the world. We have the choice to accept it or reject it.

God cannot be studied, you can’t take a piece of God and run tests on him but we have his revelations who reveal who he is to us and one of these revelations is the infallible, inerrant word of the Lord called the Bible. This is not just another theological book filled with decent ideas in how to live your lives, it is split into 66 divisions which look at history, prophecy, laws, the life of Jesus, early church history, letters to the churches and also what will happen at the end of the world.

The history portion in secular, Christian, Jewish and archeological cites the bible as accurate history that gives a good record when looking for ancient sites of interest and the history of the word can be verifiable. We know that biblical history can be trusted as many who have nothing to gain by promoting the use of biblical history and their wish to show their source, it is unparalleled against any “other holy writings”. Genesis is the foundation of scripture and if you believe in Genesis then you will have no issue believing the rest of the bible.

The author of Genesis continues this history below…

V2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And as stated prior, here is the Spirit of God introduced in this passage. What a blessing to know as Christians that the one who was sent as a helper to us was there at the beginning as saw the original blueprint and knew the original design of God. God started with a foundation of what we know today and like all blank canvases it was dark, void and formless. (With the covering of the earth being water based)

And let’s look at a criticism of the bible here when people question if there could really be enough water to flood the earth in the days of Noah. We only have to look at the second verse of the bible to answer that question because the writer of Genesis takes great care to tell us how it is. We see that the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters, there is no mention of land and if that was not enough for the skeptic then we see confirmation also in verse nine when God creates what is called “land”. I don’t need a seminary degree in advanced systematic theology to work out that God created the land on day three; I simply need to read the text.

Although it is “without form” at this time it is very much a work in progress and we see that God had a plan to have the earth inhabited by creation itself, he planned to have it inhabited by animals, humans and vegetation. We see this confirmed in the book of Isaiah…

Isaiah 45:18 (ESV) For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the LORD, and there is no other

Basically there was one creation, one draft and we are descendants first of that fallen man Adam and God who were redeemed by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that is not just my thought or opinion because it is backed up by Paul in the book of Romans…

Romans 5:12 (ESV) Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

And lastly the spirit was moving, preparing the creation work for what was to come. Was the earth created “old” who knows?  Was there already resistance to creation? Possibly because we know that the “serpent” was active in Genesis three during the fall of man but these things are not as vital to speculate on but certainly good thoughts to ponder.

V3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

And this shows that God created in order, he made light first and what a God he was that he could just speak it and it was. He did not have to physically touch it but he was in command of all that he was creating. As a parent and pet owner I wish I had that authority! Again that shows the expanse and power of God that he was able to just speak and it was.

Jesus stated that he was “the light of the world” and we should be walking in that light, we as his followers should be light to a fallen generation, we have the gospel of light as Paul states in his second letter to the Corinthians…

2nd Corinthians 4:1 (ESV) Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Imagine the galaxies that you can see and also you know in the knowledge that there are ones that we don’t even know about and they were all spoke into existence by this God who is limitless in power and might, if that is not a “faith-changer” I don’t know what is. This is the God that you are praying to with problems and issue that would be so finite to him. Is it anything to the author of this creation?

V4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.

We have light all around us and take it for granted, during the day we have light from the sky and due to the invention of electricity that was popularized in the 20th century in our dwellings we can flick a switch and see where we are doing, conversely if we wish to sleep we turn off that light and in the evening we see that darkness envelops the sky. We have a tremendous appreciation for the light because we recognize what darkness is like and we know that it is much easier to get to where we need to go if we can see where we are going.

We follow the true light – Jesus! He confirmed this in the gospel of John chapter 8…

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

He confirms in this passage the following:

•       He was the light of the world (v12)
•       If you follow him you will no longer walk in darkness (v12)
•       That not everyone will believe (v13)
•       Confirmed he came from God the father (v14)
•       The ones who should know better judged by the flesh (v15)
•       When he was to judge he would judge with the authority of the Father (v16)
•       Confirmation of the law of witnesses (v17)
•       Jesus confirmed that they knew neither him or his father (v19)

We as Christians are called to be lights to the world, that we are not of the world but in it, we are infiltrators and we should be showing by our lives that we are who we say we are. Our lives should provoke others to ask questions and be jealous enough to want the faith that we have. Am I 100% there, I am not and I pray daily for all that I have to grow in.

V5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Here is where the skeptics attack the bible and ask “why was their light first but no sun and moon until the 4th day?” God is in control of the dark and light. The two most obvious biblical scenarios were when it was deathly dark is when Jesus was crucified and the sky went black in the brightest part of the day and also the plague of darkness prior to the Exodus from Egypt. God also made light shine according to the faith of Joshua when he asked the sun to stand still during an important battle. God is in control of both light and dark and did not require a sun or moon to illuminate a day and night.

God also shows great care and order in creating the light and dark so the first period could be a literal day. The Hebrew word used is “yom” which means “literal day” the fact that God took such great care to confirm what we know as a day (light and dark) tells me that the scripture means “day” in this scenario and for this reason I take this in the literal fashion it was written in.

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
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Psalm Saturday #2 – Psalms 131 – O LORD, my heart is not lifted up

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Psalms Saturday – Psalms 131 – 11/21/2015

Psalms 131:1 (ESV) O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

This is a song of Ascents, of David known as the man after God’s own heart and I love this Psalm due to its simplicity and humble let’s look it all three verses on a verse by verse basis.

V1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.

David was humble of heart and knew his place in relation to his relationship with God. Despite being the man that God would elevate to King of Israel in his heart he knew that God’s ways were much higher than his ways as confirmed in Isaiah chapter 55…

Isaiah 55:6 (ESV) “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

And that is true today as it was when David penned those sweet words and in many cases we can trace a humble heart to a dynamic Christian life. God hates the haughty and proud, read what is said in the following passage in James chapter 4…

James 4:1 (ESV) What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

It is all great scripture and tremendous application however verse 6 tells us very plainly that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble” and looking at your life with scripture as a mirror are you more proud than humble? Do we attempt to look at things that are too high for us? Do we occupy ourselves in things that are too great or marvelous for us? Do we attempt to self-promote?

Even in ministry and ESPECIALY in ministry we have to be careful to not allow ourselves to be “lifted up” or “self exalt” because when we do marvelous things in Jesus name we can allow ourselves to think and believe that we actually had something to do with it as opposed to just being the tool that God used, if you want to see an example of this in the early church let us look at Acts 14…

Acts 14:8 (ESV) Now at Lystra there was a man sitting who could not use his feet. He was crippled from birth and had never walked. 9 He listened to Paul speaking. And Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, 10 said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and began walking. 11 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, 15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. 16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. 17 Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” 18 Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them.

Paul and Barnabas came to Lystra after fleeing Iconium and after doing great things in Jesus name the people mistook Paul and Barnabas for gods. They started to call them names of gods that were familiar with and attempted to worship them and offer sacrifices to them as celestial beings. Paul however did what we should be doing and gave glory to God, what an example and should you read on in Acts Paul ends up on the receiving end of a stoning a few verses later due to the people he was fleeing from pursued him to Lystra.

V2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.

I am a simple guy, this is a simple blog and advanced theologians probably will not get much from the analogy’s and stories that I share here but much like what Paul writes in 1st Corinthians chapter 1 I believe that God uses this simple blog to achieve great things and reach people at a level they are at in a way that websites that offer much greater and richer systematic theology do not. Paul writes…

1st Corinthians 1:26 (ESV) For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Too many of us get bent out of shape about our “Christian reputation” that we are petrified to get dirty for the Lord, that we don’t get messy and interact with messy people in their messy lives because we could appear to be less than “whiter than white”. I believe that is why there are less Good Samaritans these days and more “theologically wise believers” and I am not knocking getting your doctrinal ducks in a row however we forget the most important thing…LOVE!

We have to as David says “quieten our soul” and the analogy that David uses is like a weaning child and imagine the comfort and stillness of a child that has been freshly weaned, being a father I know the difference between a child that needed the food, the comfort and the succor compared to how they were feeling prior when they were far from that. Are you being comforted in the Lord this way? If not then is there something missing in your Christian life?

Psalm 46 advises to “Be still and know that I am God” and often times we cause our own stress by taking on burdens that we should be taking to the Lord in prayer and allowing to watch the one that has peace that passes understanding work in your life.

V3 O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.

And that brings you to David’s closing, the comfort of the Lord was not just for him, but it was for the whole nation from this time forth and forever more. God was not going to go back on his promise to his people and in the same way God does not go back on his promise to you dear Christian.

We are to hope in the LORD, first last and always from now and forevermore. There is no expiry date on his love he loved you first even in your sin, so much so that he sent is son to die for you on Calvary’s cross. We have confirmation of God’s love in the book of 1st John. 

1st John 4:13 (ESV) By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

This Psalm was written for me, I am no theologian I am just a guy with the heart to open the word of God and write about it. I mainly share Gods word in my explanations as I deem His words much higher than my own and I don’t seek fame or fortune and I don’t actually know if my full name is anywhere on this blog. I am just a simple guy who is seeking Gods will in his life, needs God’s comfort in my trials and wants to rest on God’s promises now and forevermore.

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
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Columbus, was he a just a biblical scholar, an explorer or just a man of great faith?

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Columbus, was he a just a biblical scholar, an explorer or just a man of great faith?

Isaiah 40:21 (NKJV) Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22 It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. 

Today in the US is Columbus Day and they celebrate the man who was looking for the Indies and came across the Americas. There has been a lot written about the Portuguese mercenary sailor who petitioned the King of Spain to sponsor and fund his journey to the Indies with tales that he could bring back a bounty of riches from the Indies.

This was not a popular opinion in that day with some Catholic theologians who still preached that the earth was flat and you could sail off the end if you went far enough, hence why Columbus had issues finding someone to fund his expedition. He was right in the idea but where he fell short was the measurement of the world, seasoned sailors were of belief that the earth was not flat a belief that Pythagoras popularized before the days of Christ. The bible as stated above does state long before telescopes or exploratory sailings that the earth is a circle, it is spherical and that it was created by the one who knows it best, God!

Which is why I laugh when I hear atheists call Christians “Flat earth society” or decriers of science because in many ways the scientific community is catching up to what the bible has been stating for many years.

I do wonder where Columbus got his unshakeable faith that the world was round despite what the people who were controlling the money of the Crowns of Europe were telling him, I have never met the chap and have very little literature to tell me if this is the case or not but it may just be possible that he had heard this prophet in Isaiah, written a good length of time prior to the birth of Christ, it is a good question and may be the case, however I wish we as Christians had such unshakeable faith at times.

Jesus said all we need is a mustard seed faith, a mustard seed one of the smallest seeds that grows into the tallest of plants! Let’s look at two examples of faith from two disciples Phillip and Andrew…

Mark 6:30 (NKJV) Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31 And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32 So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves. 33 But the multitudes saw them departing, and many knew Him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to Him. 34 And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things. 35 When the day was now far spent, His disciples came to Him and said, “This is a deserted place, and already the hour is late. 36 Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.” 37 But He answered and said to them, “You give them something to eat.” And they said to Him, “Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give them something to eat?” 38 But He said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they found out they said, “Five, and two fish.” 39 Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in ranks, in hundreds and in fifties. 41 And when He had taken the five loaves and the two fish, He looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and the two fish He divided among them all. 42 So they all ate and were filled. 43 And they took up twelve baskets full of fragments and of the fish. 44 Now those who had eaten the loaves were about five thousand men.

They werein a pickle huh? They had real need that 5,000 men required fed, and Jesus knows the hearts of the guys he is working with and knows who still needs work and his disciples first reaction was to move the problem away and send them away once the preaching was over, and as Christians we will often times choose the path of least resistance but will that bring glory to God? Jesus had other plans to show the power of the father.

We have two responses and if you do additional reading in the Gospel of John 6 verses 4-9…

John 6:4 (NKJV) Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5 Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” 6 But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do. 7 Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may have a little.” 8 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

Answer one is Phillip who saw it from the world’s perspective and was calculating what they DID NOT HAVE and how this could not be done, for me this was an astounding lack of faith in Jesus based on what they had seen at this point. Contrast this to Andrew who had that mustard seed of faith and stated what they DID HAVE  and despite not fully understanding how it could be achieved, he presented the loaves and fish to Jesus saying “from my perspective this isn’t much LORD but I submit these into your hands”.

How much more abundant would our lives be if we were like Andrew? If we had “faith like Columbus” that God could achieve heights in our lives that everyone had told us could not be achieved then many more modern day miracles would be achieved and God would be given much more glory! I am reminded of a story that involves the legendary preacher Charles Spurgeon…

Spurgeon was mentoring a young pastor who said to him, “I have been preaching for a few months now and no-one has got saved,” to which Spurgeon replied “Do you expect them to be saved?” and the young pastor replied “no” and Spurgeon replied “that is your first problem”.

We have to be real in our faith, be all in and allow God to work within us and achieve such heights that it is obvious that God did it, sometimes I believe that is why God uses us because he knows that despite our talents he will get the glory.

My exhortation to you is to have faith like Columbus, sail to the edge of your boundaries and allow God to work and do that work in your life.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

BIAY – Bible in a year – August 2nd 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for August check out our August page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for August second.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Isaiah 64-66.

Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE