Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Mark

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The great recommendation? – Mark 16:15-16

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

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

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

Dictionary.com has “commission” as the following…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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

Gay waitress got bible verse (Leviticus 20:13) for tip in North Carolina

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Gay waitress got bible verse (Leviticus 20:13) for tip in North Carolina

I read with sadness in my local paper today (Fresno Bee) that a waitress in North Carolina was left a message on her bill for the table that she was serving and in case you are not familiar with the scripture then let me show you what it said…

Leviticus 20:10 (ESV) “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11 If a man lies with his father’s wife, he has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 12 If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have committed perversion; their blood is upon them. 13 If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 14 If a man takes a woman and her mother also, it is depravity; he and they shall be burned with fire, that there may be no depravity among you. 15 If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. 16 If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. 17 “If a man takes his sister, a daughter of his father or a daughter of his mother, and sees her nakedness, and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace, and they shall be cut off in the sight of the children of their people. He has uncovered his sister’s nakedness, and he shall bear his iniquity. 18 If a man lies with a woman during her menstrual period and uncovers her nakedness, he has made naked her fountain, and she has uncovered the fountain of her blood. Both of them shall be cut off from among their people. 19 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your mother’s sister or of your father’s sister, for that is to make naked one’s relative; they shall bear their iniquity. 20 If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. 21 If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is impurity. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless.

I give the whole paragraph in scripture in submission to give the full context of what was said. Please bear in mind that I was not at that restaurant that day and I am going on a newspaper report of what happened but it does seem quite clear cut what happened.

So what actually happened then?

Looks like a well-known local same sex equal rights campaigner in the area of LBGT rights was serving at her day job and these customers took exception to their waitress. I am assuming of course that there had been previous interactions or previous knowledge of each other as it does not seem probable that in the hour that they would have had been able to ascertain in a casual conversation setting where the waitresses preferences lay in that area. For me something is missing!

Alexandra Judd works at Zada Janes in Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood in Charlotte North Carolina and I am sure she is getting her fifteen minutes of fame and let’s not forget she is a campaigner for “equal rights” as far as same sex marriages in a state that this is a contentious issue so there is a bias in making this story go as far and wide to help her own campaigning efforts, however she does also state in the article (direct quote) “I’ve had a guest leave me a pamphlet to their church as a tip one time, but I didn’t feel as if they were being hateful towards me. The ladies that came in were very rude, and would hardly talk to me – but I never expected this.” So it does appear that these ladies knew who the waitress was and wanted to make a point from the get go.

You can be right in your message but wrong in how you deliver it!

The patrons of that particular eatery are technically correct in their quotation of scripture in that the bible does in fact say what they wanted it to say I would however question the heart behind what they were trying to do. I say this because if someone was to make a request of me to ask what the bible states about homosexual unions, I would point them towards this and a few other verses. (Leviticus 18:22, 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, Romans 1:26-28, 1st Timothy 1:10-11, Genesis 19:1-38 and that’s just the ones that deal with just homosexuality, there are many more that deal with sexually immoral) In that scenario I would be giving a defense of the faith (1st Peter 3:15) that I hold dear to my heart. (Yes I am also writing with a bias)

Whilst they are correct in what they say, I do not condone or endorse how they put their message across. I say that and I am not so much calling out those women because, let’s face it I do not know them and I am likely never to meet them. I am calling out ALL CHRISTIANS in how they deal with situations like this. Let’s look at how Jesus dealt with a woman who was accused of sexual immorality…

John 8:2 (ESV) Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

When this verse is often looked at the verse “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Is often the quoted part and as you would expect I quote the whole account in order for you to have appropriate context. Jesus could see the hearts of these people and seen that despite the sin in their own hearts, they wanted to make an example of this woman for the sin she had committed. Jesus knew each one of them, regardless of how holy they looked was hiding something so he asked the question more in a manner to teach the accusers a question as well as to show mercy to the lady. The last part should also be quoted but it rarely is “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” This conversation shows to me at least that Jesus was not condoning her lifestyle and commanded her to stop the sin that she was in. Jesus also commanded the religious people in the book of Mark…

Mark 12:28 (ESV) And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Jesus was correct in what he said all of the commandments hang on those two, the first relates to the first four commands of the 10 commandments that relate to man’s relationship to God and the last relates to the last six commandments is how we relate to our fellow man. We are to love one another, Jesus went on to say in John that is “how you would know you were my disciples” (John 13:34-35) and in this interaction I don’t see much love to the waitress.

Catch more bees with honey than vinegar

This type of slapping people in the face with scripture is neither effective nor helpful. I do not know the hearts of the people who were eating that day or the hearts of the waitress and I have no idea whether the waitress will ever come to know Jesus or not, that knowledge is well above my Christian “pay grade” however I feel that this whole episode has created a negative feeling towards Jesus in this whole area and beyond.

What I see happening in this area is that the ones who support her campaign will rally round the waitress and the restaurant will either get a surge of business or a decline. Personally I hope it is neither and people eat there if they want to and don’t if they don’t.

Here is the part where I may get a little feedback and to be fair I am not all that fussed about that but I have to ask the question based on these ladies actions… “How did this introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lady they made a ham fisted attempt at introducing scripture to?” Do you think that she will be flocking to her nearest church building at the “love” she received? Does this interaction move her closer to a relationship with Jesus or further away? Not just that lady but everyone who reads this.

“Bible Bashing”

Using scripture to cast a burden on someone who is not living in a relationship with Jesus or telling someone in a threatening manner “I will pray for you” really does not help and constitutes what I call bible bashing, it is trying to beat strangers up with a word that they neither agree with and meeting them with a spirit of conflict that rarely ends well. I am not referring to street evangelists who do a wonderful job and will often times step away if someone is not interested, I am speaking to the Christian Pharisee who Jesus would probably have had words for if he was on his mission today.

I love evangelizing, I do think however if you are going to broach a tricky subject like this that you do so when you have a relationship with that people and I say this from a mindset of being someone who has friends who are homosexual. They know I am a Christian and they also know of the great love I have for them, if they wanted to come to my church I would take them there and I pray for them but in a spirit of love because I genuinely want what is best for them. I know that they may or may not come to a relationship with Jesus but I want to be able to be in a position to promote that and not be a detractor.

The bible is clear on God’s view on this subject, the bible is also clear on a whole bunch of other subjects too and I wish we were as zealous on some of those subjects as we are here.

These are just my thoughts please take them as you will!

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 will also share in our comfort – 2nd Corinthians 1:1-7

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You will also share in our comfort – 2nd Corinthians 1:1-7 – 03/24/2016

2nd Corinthians 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

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

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

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

V1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: 2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul starts with the fairly standard Pauline greeting introducing himself as an “apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” and for me there are a few points that are worth going more in depth…

  • Paul – The name needs no introduction, the man who was introduced to us as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus who was famous throughout the Romans Empire for his desire to quash this new religion of people of “The Way”. Who had a life changing experience on the road to Damascus and was now the “apostle to the nations/Gentiles”
  • An apostle – From the Greek word “apostolos” which meant messenger as well as apostle, being an apostle in those days was dangerous work and many died for their faith. It was not so much a title as a calling because often times it was a one way ticket to becoming posthumous.
  • Of Christ Jesus – Paul is clear to tell the church in Corinth that the message that he has is the same message that Jesus preached and his words are words of correction from God. Paul is keen to advise that he is doing the will of Jesus Christ.
  • By the will of God – And by doing the will of Christ he is also doing the will of God that sent Christ to be the sacrifice for our sins. Paul is writing in the will of God also because Paul was not an apostle by man’s direction or will but Gods. It was not as if Paul chose this life of sacrifice and service. There is a good lesson in there for us that even the ones who are not held in high regard in our churches may still be used mightily by God.

Historically we learn that Paul was not revered in Corinth the way that we do today. However in heaven he was highly regarded as a man who was willing to sacrifice for the sake of furthering the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul also states that he is with Timothy, who he later writes two epistles to and Paul addresses the letter not just to the church at Corinth but the “saints who are in the whole of Achaia”

The word “saint” has gathered some controversy over the years because certain denominations like to canonize dead believers of great worth and call them “saints”, but this is not to what Paul was referring to here, he simply means those who have been set apart in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Paul meant this letter to be widely read for doctrine and reproof.

Paul uses the words “grace” and “peace” and you have to wonder how they went over if he was not seen favorably in the area. For me that showed Paul never held grudges or was unfavorable to those who did not greet him well, he served them all in the love of Christ and he genuinely wished the grace of God and peace in their fellowship. Do we do likewise? How about your relationship with other fellowships in your city? Do you have warmth towards them despite minor theological differences?

The grace and peace did not just come from the pen of Paul but it came from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” and that reminds us that in the church we are a family of families in unified fellowship to praise God and to be followers of Jesus Christ, we are all at that same starting point. A question for you readers would be do we treat our extended church family in the same favor as we do our actual blood family? Are our feelings ones of “grace” and “peace”?

V3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

And now we have done with the niceties of the greeting we get to the meat and bones of why was caused to write in the first place. From the first word “blessed” we see that Paul had the right attitude towards God. God is described as a father and it is important to recognize that God is a loving father. One that desires communion with his kids! Yes, he is holy but he is also loving above all else and Paul goes on to call him the father of all mercies and God of all comfort and I have to ask you as a reader how often do you think of God in these terms?

Paul uses the Greek word paraklesis which is more of a soothing sympathy, a comfort that is not just providing comfort but of sustaining, strengthening of a comfort that is designed to strengthen and help you into restoration. What a benevolent God we serve! When was the last time you allowed yourself to be comforted by God?

Paul also wished to make that comfort known so that the believers could begin to share the blessings and comfort others too. Imagine a church that was like a hospital? That the ones who were wounded by the world could be comforted by the living God and be served by those who wished to serve him, a place where love radiated throughout the building, a place where you could come as you were and not be judged, but loved and helped. That’s the type of church that Paul wanted and that is the type of church I would love to be involved in, one that comforts one another, sustains one another, builds up one another and mentors one another where the victory of the downtrodden is everyone’s victory and where a victory for another church in the city is a victory for the body of Christ (that’s a sore one huh?)

V5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

And that is why we are talking in such terms, take it from a guy who was familiar with suffering (Paul not me) Let’s have a look at some of the ways he suffered for Christ…

2nd Corinthians 11:23 (ESV) Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? 30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.

So do you think this guy knows what it means to suffer for the faith? But yet Paul does not call anything he has endured “his sufferings” he calls it “Christ’s sufferings” because he saw himself subject to whatever punishment he was to face as a part of his faith. Would we have as many dynamic Christians today if we were being persecuted for our faith? I certainly believe that we would find out who the real ones were.

But in the sufferings of Christ that Paul was going through, JESUS WAS THERE! This is a constant message of Jesus ministry, let us look at two accounts from the Gospels where Jesus had compassion on those whom society had forgotten or cast aside…

  1.  The woman at the well – John 4:1 (ESV) Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him. 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
  2. The woman with the issue of blood – Mark 5:24 (ESV) And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

What I love about the ministry of Jesus and also what Paul is telling us is that Jesus see’s your afflictions, he sees the downtrodden, he sees the poor in spirit, there is no-one who was too gross to be helped and delivered from their sins, there was no-one who had sunk too far, the woman who had had five husbands was a social pariah but Jesus desired to help her despite cultural limitations. Likewise the woman with the issue of blood was also a social outcast for twelve years and had such faith that if she could just touch the hem of his garment she knew that she could be healed. But after she was healed she realized there was no way to explain it after Jesus asked “who touched me” and she rightly fell at Jesus feet and Jesus treated her with compassion and comfort. (See a pattern yet?)

V6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Paul goes on to say that the afflictions endured would be for your comfort and salvation. Paul was all about getting people saved into a relationship with their messiah. We are looking at two people who suffered more than we will ever suffer (Jesus and Paul) and I find it mind blowing that Paul, with a death sentence hanging over him every single day would spend his time telling people about Jesus and comforting those who had a dim view of him.

One of the things I know about suffering is that it helps me to rely on God more, my darkest times I can now use as fuel to help others and Paul did likewise. Paul also advised that this is a double edged sword that if he suffers then it will happen also that they will suffer and that they should patiently endure and comfort one another as he was them.

V7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

And Paul sums it up by stating that their hope for them was unshaken, that even although suffering was going to happen that they would also have the same comfort that Paul had in Christ and also the same closeness to God that Paul had in his trials and sufferings. I will close with this text in James.

James 1:2 (ESV) Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

And that is the truth! Trials produce what is underneath the surface and exposes the true person. Questions to ask from this lesson would be

In trials do we cling to God or rely on ourselves?
Do our trials produce patience?
Where is the comfort of God in our lives?

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Corinthians we will look at verses eight through eleven where Paul explains the peril that he was under and describes the desperate trouble he was in for the faith. 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

BIAY – Bible in a year – October 20th 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 October check out our October page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for October twenty.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Mark 15-16.

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

BIAY – Bible in a year – October 19th 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 October check out our October page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for October nineteenth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Mark 14.

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

BIAY – Bible in a year – October 18th 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 October check out our October page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for October eighteenth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Mark 12-13.

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

BIAY – Bible in a year – October 17th 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 October check out our October page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for October seventeenth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Mark 10-11.

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