Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Luke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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Faithfulness and blessings – Deuteronomy 28:1-6

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

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

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

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

If?

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

Sounds awesome, so it is all blessings?

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

Cool does that mean I will be rich?

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

Is this just your opinion?

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

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

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

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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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.
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If we endure, we will also reign with him – 2nd Timothy 2:8-13

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If we endure, we will also reign with him – 2nd Timothy 2:8-13 – 04/29/2016

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 2:8 (ESV) Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

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.

V8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

Paul continues his epistle to Timothy by asking him to be in remembrance who the faith is based on, that he should not forget that Christ was the very cornerstone of the faith and if he was forgetting then Paul was going to spell out the reason why Jesus should be remembered. It was not likely that Timothy would forget because he would be proficient in sound doctrine before Paul would allow him to teach on his own.

Jesus who rose from the dead should be front and center of the doctrine of Timothy’s assembly. I would go so far as to say that it should be the number one priority of every assembly. Paul states the credentials of Jesus the Messiah reminding him that he was of the line of David, thus fulfilling prophecy and he was raised from the dead. Death could not hold him in the grave, we see Paul reminding Timothy that the whole Old Testament pointed towards Jesus as the messiah.

Paul writes here that he had taught Timothy the history of the Messiah and the gospel message when he taught him and Paul reminds him that the fact that Jesus was resurrected was part of the glorious message and that this had not to not bury (no pun intended) this in the message and that it should be part of the evidence for the faith (to quote Josh McDowell).

V9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

Paul states that by sharing these truths this is what has made him a prisoner, there was no Mercedes Benz, no luxury yacht and no flash lifestyle of ease for this trailblazer of the gospel he suffered and was bound in chains as if he was a criminal. He wrote this letter of encouragement and exhortation whilst being in chains, Paul had a peculiar but wonderful attitude that we could all learn from because o what he states next.

He acknowledged that they could chain him up, attempt to break his spirit and stop this evangelist from travelling through these Romans lands spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, however he could not stop the truth of the Word of God from reaching peoples ears and as long as there were people like Timothy teaching the true word and not being discouraged or diluting the gospel then the Word of God would never be changed. Paul himself although he was limited in his geographical reach being chained up as a prisoner, we know that Paul preached to those who were guarding him and he literally would use any opportunity to sow a seed for Jesus. That convicts and challenges me that although I do what I do under the direction of the Holy Spirit, I do wonder what I am missing?

The same is true today because when Christians are persecuted and forced underground we see that despite the very fact that these people often times have no bibles, no real pastoral help and often times if they share the gospel they are risking their lives we see that the gospel thrives in those areas because it is real life and it is a matter of life and death. The Word of God cannot be chained by anyone and Praise God that is the case!

V10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Paul isn’t complaining here, he is stating fact, he does it for God certainly but he suffers for God’s people also. He had one mission and one concern and that was to see people join him in heaven, that they may obtain that salvation through Christ, see them in a relationship with Jesus, be strong in the faith and in the end to be with him in eternal glory. What a mission and if we are not on board with that then we really have to question our mission on this earth. If you are not then you need to look at the stuff that you have allowed you to get distracted (look at verse 14 of this chapter if you think this is just my opinion) because I am sure that there are some folks that still need to hear about Jesus love in your life. I know I have some in mine!

V11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

Paul finishes this part with a trustworthy saying; you know that he is being honest here because he goes to great lengths to tell you he is. This passage is not really a popular passage among those pastors who like to give “motivational messages” every Sunday and Paul states that we are called to go out but not always called to return. There may come a day when we have to pay that ultimate price for association with Jesus Christ and I personally think that day is closer today than it was yesterday.

I say this because of the context of the passage and that Paul has endurance before death and denial and faithlessness afterwards. Paul is staring at the business end of a Government that wasn’t all that friendly to those who followed Jesus of Nazareth so it is fairly probable that his own sacrifice was on his mind as well. Imagine that you are confident that you will only get one letter out to Timothy before you are executed for your faith, I am sure that you are going to take all of your swings and make sure that every bullet in your barrel is spent before that letter leaves for him, that is exactly what Paul is doing here.

We are also told that if we endure, if we struggle on in the faith regardless of the odds and despite how bleak it seems then we will also reign with him. The most prevalent example I can give of this is the man who despite everything, despite how bleak this appear is the man who still prays in faith for a promise that he had from God even although he is in the pit of despair and any logical mind would tell him that it is not happening! Whatever trial we are going through we have a much greater reward in store if we endure.

If we deny him then we will also be denied and that is a very stark and frightening warning which makes me want to do all I am commanded to by God and fulfil all that he has for me in my life. I do not want to miss a thing and I do not want to live in a way that would deny my Savior. Jesus states the same in Matthew 10:33

Matthew 10:26 (ESV) “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

If we are faithless he will remain faithful and my life is testimony to that. I have had times in my life when I walked away from God and was not faithful but my Savior remained faithful to be and I was truly a prodigal son. (See Luke 15:11-32) God knew that he would be the faithful one in his relationship between man and God, even Abraham when the Abrahamic covenant was made, God was the one who made the covenant and did all the hard work and lastly we see this confirmed in Revelation 14.

Revelation 14:12 (ESV) Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

In our own lives we have to do our best to not turn people from Jesus based on what we do, we are to not serve as a bad example of what a Jesus person would be. We should be diligent, we should work hard, we should be honest and that way when we tell people of Jesus and his love for us we will be more credible and genuine because we won’t attract gossip and have to deal with character questions.

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.
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Jesus calls his first disciples – Matthew 4:18-22

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Jesus calls his first disciples – Matthew 4:18-22 – 04/27/2016

Matthew 4:18 (ESV) While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

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

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

V18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

We are introduced to Simon Peter and Andrew in this gospel at this account, Andrew was responsible for introducing Peter (John 1:35-42) and Jesus and I would say that in his own way Andrew was somewhat of an evangelist. Peter we know as the dynamic disciple who always said a lot and his actions didn’t always back up the grand words he said, no more so than when he denied the Messiah on the night of crucifixion.

We see them doing what their trade was, they were in their local area “by the Sea of Galilee” and they were doing what their profession was “casting a net into the sea” so he saw these men who were busy in the work that God had blessed them with, they were not lazy men and they were willing to do the blue collar work, willing to put in the hours and remember Jesus could see the hearts of the men he was speaking to so he knew what these men were made of…but chose them anyway! Isn’t that a comfort when you are feeling less than dynamic?

V19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

  • Follow me – Jesus asked them to follow him, there was no great exegesis given, Jesus did not break down complicated biblical hermeneutics, he said two words! How simple but also so awesome!Jesus was being very cultural at the idea that he would have disciples who would learn from him in a rabbinical format, many of the rabbis of that day had followers, this is where the comparison would end as Jesus discipleship would be much different than sitting at the feet of any of the other Jewish leaders, these folks would be learning from the Law breather himself. What an education!
  • I will make you fishers of men – I have a friend who when he goes out to speak to people about Jesus advises that he is “going fishing” and before I realized what it was he meant I just thought he was spending a lot of time on the riverbank. He had the right heart that it was his job to go out and speak to whomever God put in his path.

In a sense they were being asked to leave their fishing behind but in a much greater sense they were being asked to use their previous skills in order to make a catch for a much more worthwhile captain!

V20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

The response was wonderful, they knew they would be leaving their businesses behind to follow Jesus and often times there will be an element of leaving your old life behind. I have no idea whether they were good fishermen but I am assured that a good fishermen could be wealthy enough to have more than one boat and have a regular distribution business going on there.

What is prohibiting you from following Jesus 100%, is it finances? Is it your personal goals? Is it your desire to amass personal “stuff?” We should see the disciple’s example and learn from that and do it also in the timescale that they did. Right away!

V21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.

Again he sees more able bodied fishermen who were again busy in the occupation that God had blessed them with (mending their nets) and he seeks out two brothers and he calls them also. Have you ever wondered if you are being blessed or not being blessed by God. Have you ever looked at your diligence in the small things? How are you in a job that you may or may not like? Are you diligent? Do you represent the Lord well?

We do know from the gospel of Mark chapter one verse twenty that Zebedee was one of the fishermen we spoke about earlier that did well because he could afford to have servants on his boats. Zebedee had employees so those boys probably had quite a good life and Jesus asks the same question of them and let’s see their response…

V22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

They too left the fishing industry and their family immediately and left a situation where they were guaranteed a meal every night to go with this holy man called Jesus, as we learned throughout the gospels that Jesus never owned a house, did not have a dwelling and they weren’t to know it but these men were to become the first twelve people who would follow Christ, literally Christian although they would never be called as such and the ones who followed him would all (with the exception of Judas Iscariot) profess his resurrection and most would pay for it with their lives.

So what would you give up for Jesus? This could be a good barometer of your faith.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses twenty three through twenty five of chapter four studying when Jesus began ministering to the crowds. 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

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.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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

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

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

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in chapter three verse one…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses eleven through sixteen when Peter begins speaking in Solomon’s portico as people begin to ask questions about this miracle. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12 – 02/17/2016

Matthew 3:1 (ESV) In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 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 one of chapter three.

V1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew now moves on from his narrative away from the childhood of Jesus and leaves that account with Jesus growing up in Nazareth in the last article in this series (link here) and begins looking at the child who was promised of Zechariah and Elizabeth called “John the Baptist” so let’s look at who he was. We are introduced to the foretelling of the baby John in the gospel of Luke…

Luke 1: 5 (ESV) In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

So we understand this baby will come and grow into a man who will have the “Spirit of Elijah” Luke carries on in the first chapter of Luke when he accounts of the birth of John the Baptist and a prophecy by his father…

Luke 1:57 (ESV) Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

Luke 1:67 (ESV) And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

And here is where we carry on the story in Matthews Gospel and John’s message was not one of hearts and flowers and if modern day folks who examine preachers and assess whether their message would be very “seeker friendly” would find John wanting. John had a simple message because he knew his role in ushering in the Messiah. It was his job to call whoever would listen to repentance, but not repentance for the sake of John, he was requesting a true repentance of the heart and a turning back to God for all people.

His message was so in unison with his messiahs mission that his first words were the same as Jesus, both started their missions calling the ones who had gathered to listen to “repent” and that gives an indication of how far the world had sunk away from God’s plan. That message is still relevant today because we need to lose ourselves and seek the Lord while he may be found and to call upon him while he is near.

John states this by saying “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and that is just as true today than it was then, Jesus is coming again soon and the anticipation of that second coming of the Messiah should excite us to continue our kingdom work down here. John’s main message was not the repent, but he reason for the repentance.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will look at part two of the introduction to John the Baptist where we pick up in verse three and see what John actually preaches and the heart behind that, I would hate for you to miss it and the riches that will be revealed in that bible study. 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