Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Philippians

No-one is righteous – Romans 3:9-20

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No-one is righteous – Romans 3:9-20 – 02/07/2016

Romans 3:9 (ESV) 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.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills. Let’s start in verse 9 of chapter 3…

V9 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,

Paul has just finished the conclusion that being simply Jewish was really no better off than being simply Gentile. This is all building up to what Paul says in verse 23 that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. When the original sin was committed there was no such thing as “Jew” or “Greek” there was “man” and “God” and to take it back to its most basic level “man” sinned against “God” causing a division. All men are guilty before God. Paul says this as a Jew of pedigree; look at his credentials in the book of Philippians…

Philippians 3:4 (ESV) though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

He was, according to the Law at least “blameless” further on in these verses he goes on to say that when he became in Christ that whatever gain he thought he had as a Jew that it was now a loss. If you are still in your sin you are still in your sin, whether you were Jewish, Gentile, the worst sinner or the highly moral occasional sinner. It is all the same to God without repentance.

The words “under sin” are powerful and speak of a current slavery, a sin that has not been paid for or redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, we have all been there at some point and some who read this are still under sin and some are repentant forgiven new creations, but the fact remains we all know what it is like to be under sin. Paul goes on with this thought and let’s look at verses ten through eighteen…

V10 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.”

Paul is right in what he states that “None is righteous” and takes a look at what he sees as the condition of man without God, let’s look at what he sees…

None is righteous, no, not one; – This is the base condition of man without God, an unrighteous mess that cannot save themselves. God is perfect and man is not, it is as simple as that, so much so that our righteousness to God is as “filthy rags” so even if we do righteousness it is like the cloth used to clean up a female issue.
No one understands; no one seeks for God. – On our own and left to our own devices we will not seek after God, this is shown by the many man-made religions out there that do not lead to the true God, there is only one way to heaven and it is described in detail in John 14:6, it is only through Jesus Christ.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” – Without God the harvest is bad, the fruit is rotten and the meal is worthless. It is a bad that will never become good again by their own efforts.
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” – They even break the ten basic rules that were set out in Exodus 20. They are liars and they have no words of life, they use the tongue to deceive, the mouth is used to lie with an emptiness that is pictorially described as an open grave.
“The venom of asps is under their lips.” – Their lips are used to sting and hurt like an asp, the asp is what we call a modern day Egyptian cobra, and do you want to play with one of those?

According to Wikipedia, this is what happens when you get bit by one of these animals…

“The venom affects the nervous system, stopping the nerve signals from being transmitted to the muscles and at later stages stopping those transmitted to the heart and lungs as well, causing death due to complete respiratory failure. Envenomation causes local pain, severe swelling, bruising, blistering, necrosis and variable non-specific effects which may include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, collapse or convulsions along with possible moderate to severe flaccid paralysis. Unlike some other African cobras (for example the Red spitting cobra), this species does not spit venom”

Much more graphic picture huh?
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” – Just like the tongue and lips the mouth is a wellspring of evil, their mouths that were created to glorify God are debase in what they say and the attitude behind the terminology that is used. So far all the parts of the body are unified in their rebellion against God.
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, the way of peace they have not known.” – Without God we see what we see in Genesis 4, where the man who was descended from the first sinful parents looks sideways at his brother and Cain slew Abel, after that we see that the culmination of the sins lists a ever decreasing slant on morality. They choose bloodshed over peace, people ask “if there is a good God then why does he allow wars?” and the answer lies here, that God is good and men are evil.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” – If the original thoughts were the walls of the house this statement is the roof. All of the above happens because there is no respect for God, no fear of God and everyone does as his own well desires with no thought of a consequence or thought of where the sin will lead. It makes us look like and reduces us to mere animals; can you imagine a zoo without barriers? That would be what it would be like.

Paul lists that extensive list and finishes his thought in verse nineteen…

V19 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.

Paul has given us a list of what it was like to be without God, please remember he is writing to the Roman church so he would not have to imagine as he probably witnessed it in the city of Rome being the cosmopolitan capital of a very sinful empire which was very much not God centered, we can take solace in this as our world today is not God centered either. Think of it this way, this was God speaking to those who were trying to live his way under the law, can you imagine how he would address those living in lawlessness and rebellion?

V20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

And this is it in a nutshell, the law cannot save anyone! The law is like a flashlight in a dark room illuminating where you have erred in the sight of God it gives you knowledge of what went wrong. This is where Christianity and other religions part as most other religions require compliance to a set of rules and then if you do enough then you may be rewarded. Christians are reliant on God’s grace, we see the fruit of the grace of God by our desire to do the will of the Father but that is not what saves us! Or to be blunt, the Law can condemn us but not save us!

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we are looking at the righteousness of God through faith 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

BIAY – Bible in a year – December 10th 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 December check out our December page.

Thank you for checking out “bible in a year” post for December tenth.

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Philippians 1-4.

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

Agape Bible Study – 08/30/2015 – Week 2 – 1st John 2:3-14 – Knowing Him and our Spiritual State

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08/30/2015 – Week 2 – 1st John 2:3-14 – Knowing Him and our Spiritual State

1st John 2:3 (NKJV) Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 7 Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. 8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. 9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. 12 ​​I write to you, little children,​​Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13 ​​I write to you, fathers, ​​Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. ​​I write to you, young men, ​​Because you have overcome the wicked one. ​​I write to you, little children, ​​Because you have known the Father. 14 ​​I have written to you, fathers, ​​Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. ​​I have written to you, young men, ​​Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, ​​And you have overcome the wicked one.

1A – The Test of Knowing Him (1st John 2:3-11)
1B – Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments (v3)

This is the fruit, the evidence in someone’s life that they know God is that they keep his commandments or do his will, that they will have love; they will have an obedience for God and want that fellowship with the will of God in their lives.

It is the same as we are, if we surround ourselves with folks who will encourage us to behave in rebellion to God, we may stand up for God in the first place but slowly we adapt and slide to be more like our surroundings. Conversely if our fellowship is with God and the people who keep us accountable and keep us following his commandments (iron sharpening iron) then we will draw closer to God.

When we are converted we are restored to God we are restored and that restoration continues with our constant fellowship with God through confession and repentance should we sin, God changes the heart and writes the law upon our heart and the evidence of us knowing Him is that desire to keep his commandments, will we always be successful? Will we never slip up? No, but the desire is there that is not there in the man still caught up in his sins. God is graceful, kind and longsuffering and he sees the heart behind our actions.

1C – He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (v4)

Can we know Christ and not keep his commandments? Of course not John calls you out on it and calls you a liar! How refreshing! I reckon we could do with some of that kind of straight talk in the church today! With John it is either black or white, unlike today when we try to cloud ourselves in “gray areas” or find justification when we color outside of the lines!

When we say we “know him” is it like a “celebrity knowledge”? For example I know what the current president looks like, I know his name, his wife’s name, his presidential address and lots of facts about him, but if I was to turn up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC and try to get through the front gate would I be tested in whether I actually knew him or not? Would I get in if the President did not recognize my name or I didn’t have an appointment? This is a wake up call if your Christianity is like that. Do you know him on a day to day basis or do you have a knowledge of him.

If you don’t keep his commandments you then break one of the Ten Commandments, you lie! And John states quite clearly that the truth is not in you, or that your faith is false. Can this be restored? Of course it can, but it requires repentance and restoration with God the father. You cannot continue on that destructive path.

1D – But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (v5)

And just to flip it over, we see the contrast of the good side of the coin, If we are truly “all in” (to quote Chelsea) we will see the love of God perfected in him and this will have the result of evidence that we are in him. We have to do some self appraisal at this point, I have just done my half year appraisal at work and on this we look at what has been accomplished over the last year, we look at the things that have went well and the things that have not gone as well, but it is a good barometer to see how “on target” I would be for the end of the year. Christians should do their own checklist too.

How are you with your past sin life? Do you talk of your sin with fondness or shame? Do you flee from sin or plan to do it? Do you enjoy your sin? Is your sin a lifestyle or an ongoing habit?

The point of this is not to condemn anyone but to convict you of things that might require change in your life. We all have struggles, we all have kicked harmful things to the curb but we all have that area that we could do with getting rid of, maybe we still have many and some of us may just be paying lip service to God and living a double life. Jesus talked about these types of people in Matthew 6, you cannot serve two masters, you will love one and hate the other.

1E – He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. (v6)

Have you ever given any thought to the name Christian? It basically means “one who follows the Christ” so if we truly are following Christ and we are truly all in believers then we will be looking to follow the masters example. I always ask that you check all things that I say to make sure they line up with the word of God. The famous evangelist Greg Laurie is quoted to have said “Don’t follow the Pastor unless he is following the master” now I am not a pastor or even a very good biblical teacher, but if I give you one example to follow I p[ray that it is one of someone that is sold out living for Christ and LORD willing all that I talk about in these studies be following after Gods perfect and infallible word of God.

This principle is simple, we have to follow Christ’s example. In the 90’s it was very popular to wear WWJD (What would Jesus Do) bracelets and the guy who patented them must have made a fortune as they were everywhere! However they were a great reminder when you were making decisions on a daily basis because please let me assure you dear Christian that you will not be at your weakest when you are surrounded by believers here on a Sunday night, it will be the decisions you make when you are at work on Monday, when you are in a clandestine situation and you see what you actually default to. It will be the decisions you make when you think there is no accountability. That is the true you! Are you WWJD then?

1F – Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. (v7)

John states that this is something they should already know, this is not new news. Much like what I am doing here, I am convinced that I am not teaching something or making points that probably have not been made before. I am however putting my slant on it based on my life experience and I am somewhat tailoring this message to the people that I believe will hear it. But the truths that John is REMINDING the believers are not “new revelation”.

And this is important because often times and it will happen more as the “End Times” approach that we will hear the term “new revelation” more and more, my advice to you if you hear that term, I would pray to God for discernment and then check that it out to make sure it lines up with God’s word. John is continuing his thought from John 13:34-35.

1G – Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. (v8)

Jesus broke new barriers when we talk about love. He displayed such love that he would come down from heaven and be a sacrifice for us. We have the symbol of the cross which must have been strange to those who knew what the cross was; it was a criminal’s death device. In modern day terms it would be like if a new religion started up with their symbol being the electric chair.

In order for the darkness to pass away Jesus had to defeat death, he had to die in the cruelest way possible to save a people who may reject him and reconcile man to God. He is the true light (he is and always will be the “Light of the world”) and he is already shining. He is in heaven, when he was on earth he promised to “go prepare a place for us”

1H – He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. (v9)

How are we with our fundamental relationships? Do we speak all “Christian-ease” on a Sunday but secretly hate our brother? This is not a new revelation as Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 5:23, let’s look at that passage now.

This applies to blood and spiritual brothers, some of the main reasons that fellowships are harmed and have issues is that they have unresolved conflict, do you have this in your life and today is the allotted time to get this resolved. Let’s look at Matthew 22:36-40

1I – He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. (v10)

And again John flips this on its head and advises the opposite for one who is walking in the light. The word abide is “meno” (Greek) and the meaning is to sojurn, not to depart, time or place to be held. In simple terms that person is remaining in the light and will not be moved. How do you measure up to this?

If you are like this then there will be no stumbling, I love that he writes it as stumbling, in our house we have little plug in lights that illuminate just enough to see so that we can see the path we are travelling on in the evening when there is less light (it is handy at 3am when you need to go to the bathroom) If this wasn’t there then how easy would it be to stumble if something was out of place? Or even if you could not see a piece of furniture John talks about people living their lives like this. 

1J – But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (v11)

And just to show that John and I are on the same page, John goes on to expand and say that people are walking (living their lives) in darkness and the evidence is the hatred of our brother. Sometimes we can fake our hatred and mask it to look and seem like we do not, however let us ask some basic questions:

Have you unresolved anger towards them? Have you forgiven fully your past hurts that hurt the deepest? When you hear their name what is your gut reaction? Do you have to be fake in order to be civil? If the answers are yes then you may have unresolved hatred towards your brother (or sister)  

2A – Their Spiritual State (1st John 2:12-14)
2B – ​​I write to you, little children, ​​Because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake. (v12)

Continuing on the thought of loving/hating your brother John goes on to remind them that they have been forgiven of much and this is one reason to make sure that you do not hate your brother, because you have been forgiven of much less than you need from him.

And here is where it gets real my friends, at Vision Calvary Chapel of Porterville today during prayer the Pastor made a request to pray for unsaved friends/members of family and my own brother does not know the LORD. He would be the first on my list of people that I would love to change his life and surrender to Jesus. I also do not want to be the barrier or excuse that is used if he was to miss out on heaven.

If you remember when we spoke about “forgiveness” I stated that it is most likely to be family that hurts the most. We also have a unique “sphere of influence” because we have an ear in a unique way that no-one else has, we have an “in” as it where and we have to use that for the glory of God, sometimes it will take surrender on our part but we have to do his will before our own. Lets look at 1st Corinthians 13:1-3, because this is the meat and bones of our Christianity, if we “tick all the boxes” but don’t love, we have nothing.

2C – ​​I write to you, fathers, ​​Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. ​​I write to you, young men, ​​Because you have overcome the wicked one. ​​I write to you, little children, ​​Because you have known the Father. (v13)

He is writing to those who have “overcome the wicked one” they have followed the instruction in Acts 16:31, they have believed in the LORD Jesus Christ and now they are saved. This is a placeholder to advise that because of who they are, they are being written too because they know the father.

John mentions “little children and fathers” we are all at different stages of our walk with Jesus, we will either be “little children” or “fathers” dependent on our spiritual maturity. The young men have had spiritual victory already and need to be reminded of their victories to strengthen them but not puff them up.

2D – ​​I have written to you, fathers, ​​Because you have known Him who is from the beginning. ​​I have written to you, young men, ​​Because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, ​​And you have overcome the wicked one. (v14)

Paul writes in Philippians 3:10 that all of his spiritual knowledge could be surpassed by just knowing Jesus. We need to realize that greater is he that is in us that the one who accuses us and we need to live our lives in the Light. We have overcome the wicked one!

I pray this was a blessing to you and this is a bible study from our series that was originally taught on 08/30/2015 at our Agape bible study, please click on the link for further bible studies.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

 

 

False Teachers and True Contentment

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

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 three of the sixth chapter of First Timothy.

False Teachers and True Contentment

Teach and urge these things. 3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Even today we have the problem of false teachers in the church. Paul closes the letter in the same vein that he began, warning Timothy to be vigilant against those who would teach contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

These teachers would usually be subtle; they would teach a gospel similar to those who taught the truth and the changes would lead into heresy and false teaching. As Timothy was in charge of doctrines he was charged with controlling that only the truth was taught, both from the front of the assembly and crucially also in smaller group settings or individual conversations.

Timothy had to be careful to keep people and their doctrine straight, to deal quickly and decisively with the heretic who promotes his own ideas that are contrary to sound doctrine. Those types of heretics can usually be corrected with a correction of their doctrine. One does wonder on the study habits of those who do not understand or attempt to teach a bible study on a contravening fashion to what the bible actually says.

Here we get into the problem of opinion over God’s word, God’s word is infallible, inerrant and reliable and man’s opinion is simply not. (Even this one!) It is flawed, it can change and in terms of reliability it is a difference of night and day between the two, Gods work will always trump the opinion of man.

A modern day example of this is the ordination of people who were never meant to be ordained or even placed in the pulpit in the first place are allowed to go against Gods word due to a “shift in man’s opinion”. The word of God has not changed but man’s opinion, to quote the character Moriarty in the hit TV series “Sherlock” is “Soooo changeable.”

Paul goes on to say that even the “sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness” are not being heeded. This may sound obvious but surely if you are calling yourself a Christian then the words of Christ himself must be foremost in your life? Christianity is not a journey that ends at conversion but a daily battle between our flesh and holiness.

Some are not openly denying Gods word; some do more subtle things such as explain away God word such as trying to apply human logic to the truths of God. (An example of this would be the ones who try to explain the creation of God by adding science to stretch Gods word or link the two, and theories such as the “gap theory”)

God’s word is not to be ignored or used as a plaything to try to prove a point in contentious issues; it is not a toy to be used and abused as we in our human sinful heart does not appreciate its true worth. It is not to be ignored or denied, we are either in this life 100% or we are not. Yes we do fall off the horse and need to repent but a continual state of rebellion is just not on.

Here is the deal, we can be like the Pharisees and know the word of God to the letter and period, we can know what it says, and we know its truths and still miss the message. We have to believe that this book has the power to transform my life and is not just a book of knowledge or a historical factual book. This is why Paul writes about the proud man…

V4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

Haven’t we all been there? Being proud of what we think we know or whatever miniscule achievement we have managed on our own wee puff of steam that we have gathered. A pastor once said to me when we were sharing a fast food meal “the man who doesn’t think he struggles with pride struggles more than you would think because he hasn’t admitted it to himself yet” and there is a lot of truth in that.

Yes by all means have confidence in your knowledge of the LORD but please make sure the word changes your life. We covered the man who has “an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.” We covered this when we spoke about what the word was not, we all want to be seen as knowledgeable and in the worst case I have seen someone I respect lie about their credentials in order to try prove a point.

Paul speaks about these folks who do not ask questions or post scripture to help others or to be helped; they are doing this to flex their theological intellectual muscles. They wish to debate or show how smart they are in this chosen area that they wish to foist upon the folks who end up discussing it. Often times they cause more division than edification and end up splitting Gods children as opposed to bringing them together under a common faith.

Often times those folks will also attack those in the church who are serving for their own ends. Different people have different motivations so the motivations maybe as varied as follows…

Envy – they believe they should be up front instead of the leader
Dissension – the caused strife and contention with who they were
Slander – They would spread stories in order to destabilize the body
Evil suspicions – They would make assumptions about motives in the leadership
Constant friction – they would be the epicenter of any drama.

V5b imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

Paul goes on to talk about the difference between heavenly gain (godliness) and material gain (man’s wishes) and let me assure you right off the bat that there is no material gain from godliness. Jesus never meant it that way and he stated that in the gospel of Matthew chapter 6…

Matthew 6:19 (ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust  destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

God’s word and church is not a “get rich quick scheme” very few of us get paid by the church to do what we do and these people are motivated by how quickly they can secure a paycheck or “what can this faith do for me?” these people usually disappear when the going gets tough and the blessings are not raining down on them. We cannot be in it for what we get, we have to be in it for the faith that it is.

And I know we covered this before in a previous chapter but the saying is true regarding material wealth “you can’t take it with you” We have to be content with what God has provided us with, yes your brother at church may have a nicer car/pool/house/tech gadgets/whatever but we are commanded not to covet and this is exactly why.

This is why I talk about contentment, because the human psyche will convince ourselves that if we had “just a little more” we would be happy, if we could get to this financial landmark, if we could get this car in the driveway, if we could get a house with this square footage, if I could have this cell phone, this computer and this size of TV with these many channel package on the cable or satellite then I would be happy. That is a lie! Regardless of the material things that we have it will NEVER make us happy.

That is not to say we should “Go Amish” and reject all possessions. We have to stake our hope, our happiness and our life on something that is not moved by a barometer of success that only moves when we amass more stuff. This is only found in Gods committed relationship with us and finding contentment in a complete surrender in his will for our lives.

Really the kicker to whether it is a good thing for you individually is to ask yourself the honest question “This thing, it is bringing me closer to God or further away?” some people are not affected by the pull of materialism and do not have that drug inducted type compulsion to have it in the same way an addict needs their next fix. If that replaces God then we have a problem.

Contentment is tough; Paul goes further on this topic in the book of Philippians…

Philippians 4:10 (ESV) I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

And that is a bullet point of what I am trying to say “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” And that has to be the glue that holds our Christian life together is that sold out faithful dependence on the living Christ. Do I do it right all the time every time? Actually no, I am a sinful human who messes up more than I get it right, however I am praying for contentment in what I have.

There are no guarantees that God will bless you with more if you become content, it is possible but I would not like to second guess what God’s plan is in your life. But the root of what I am saying is that we have to take our eyes off the things we have surrounded ourselves with and find contentment in heavenly things. Really we have to “renew our mind” As Paul writes in Romans 12.

I hear it sometimes that I need this possession or that one “for ministry” and I am not suggesting that all comforts are wrong. For example in my agape bible study I use a laptop, my TV, my musical keyboard all for ministry. The use of these gifts also coupled with the use of my wife using our cooker to cook them a meal blessed these people. Those were bought out of our abundance and we are living above the “contentment standard” of just food and clothing.

V8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

Here is what it comes down to and would you be happy in this situation, if you have clothes to wear and food to eat you are being provided for, there is no mention of that big house, big car, cell phone, tablet or whatever else we have made it so that we cannot “live without”,

This is an extreme obviously, but I think it would be a good idea to unplug for even a weekend and just get away from it, no cell phones, no computers and just get away from this arena of desire for more and more, to consume more than we need. To actually have a simpler life for a short time and just be in the Word of God. That to me would be awesome.

V9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Paul follows on with the adverse effects of the desire to be rich, it becomes an all-consuming passion and temptation to those who have fallen into it. Jesus states about serving money (or riches) in Matthew 6:

Matthew 6:24 (ESV) “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Money itself is not evil; it is the love of money. We are warned in the next verse (verse 10) as well as in the book of Hebrews…

Hebrews 13:5 (ESV) Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

If we are seeking after what we do not have and have this wanton lust or covetousness for temporary things we will never be satisfied. There will always be a bigger model, a newer model; a model with more features to whatever it is we covet. That goes for cars, houses, pools, TV’s, whatever you think of.

I don’t single out one particular vice as different people have different hot buttons. I would ask this question and say if you had $10,000 to blow in a day, how would you blow it? You are not allowed to invest it and you can only buy items that you have wanted. Once that day is gone, you lose what you have not spent and you cannot invest it. One man may want to spend his money of guns and sports pursuits, another may buy a jumbo TV and sound system, another may put down money on a sports car, another may pay down a bigger pool, another may put towards a house, put simply, what comes to the top of your mind and they possession that you long for in your heart is what I mean.

Is it bad to want nice things? No, if the LORD has blessed you with abundance then praise the LORD, it is the fruits of your hard work, and however you may want to check if you are using your funds to build your kingdom or Gods?

If you are poor it does not mean that you are less godly than the man who lives in a big house. This should not be the desire of your heart; the riches we have to go after are treasures in heaven. I have found that when I have stopped being so self-centered and actually just serve others and do what God has called me to do, in his strength then I am so much more fulfilled than if I just spent the last hour looking through a catalogue lamenting what I do not have. Jesus spoke on this in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 6:19 (ESV) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Paul explains that the money, the dollar bills, the pound notes or whatever currency you peddle is not the problem. It is our attitude and heart toward that money that is the issue. If we love the money and give it a place that it should never occupy then that is the root of all kinds of evil. This type of heart no longer thinks on a godly plain and there are many things that we would do for the reward of money that we would never consider otherwise.

I am reminded of this with a skit I saw on TV with two men and the first said to another “would you kill someone for me?” and the second said “of course not” first replied “if you wouldn’t get caught and I gave you a million pounds, would you?” Second man thinks and says “Okay then” first one replies and said “what about for a pound?” Second man said “Of course not” First man delivers a hammer blow by stating “Well I already know you could be a murderer, we just have to agree on the price!”

Paul then makes a list of how people have problems reconciling faith in Jesus with a love of money. He writes the following “It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs”.

This is exactly what we have been talking about as far as the lack of satisfaction. I liken it to having a choice between grabbing a soda and grabbing a water when you are working outside when it is 104F. One of these drinks will satisfy your thirst and another will give you a brief respite before making you thirst again. Only the water will hydrate you and this is similar to the living water that we have access to.

John 4:7 (ESV) 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.”

Which is exactly what Paul is writing about, we cannot have reliance on the temporary things of this world but our reliance must be on the one who delivers “living water”. We have to base our lives on that solid foundation, our messiah Jesus Christ.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Four – December 4th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Four – Dec 4th

The LORD shall be from the line of Abraham

Thank you for reading our fourth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

In the last few days we have looked at the claims of the Messiah Jesus Christ and certain prophecies that show him to be the Messiah that was foretold in the Old Testament. In previous blog articles we looked at the claims that he would be born of a woman, born in Bethlehem and also born of a virgin. Today we look at the claim that he would be from the line of Abraham.

This is foretold in the Old Testament in the book of Genesis chapter twelve; lets read from verse one…

Genesis 12:1 (ESV) Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God makes a promise to Abram (as he was known then) and God is truth. Can you imagine being Abram, with a name that means “father of many” and here he was advanced in years with no children. (God, in Genesis 17 changes his name to Abraham “father of many nations”) Such was the man’s doubt that his wife Sarai and he did not initially believe when they were promised a son. They tried to do Gods work for them and Sarai gave her Egyptian maidservant Hagar (Genesis 16) and another nation was born through Ismael. (I will touch on this in a few minutes)

I have always been blessed by the story of Abram/Abraham, he had to literally be told to go by God and leave his father’s house. He was at least in his 8th decade (verse 4) when he was told this. He was to go with his wife to a land that was to be shown to him. At this point he still resided in Ur of the Chaldees.

Talk about the ultimate mission’s trip! God says “go but I am not telling you where!” for me that is the ultimate leap of faith. Would you do likewise?

He is told “I will make you a great nation” not just a big family but a great nation. God promises that the name of Abraham will be great. Today we still talk about Abraham in three of the religions of the world.

Judaism talks of Abraham as the father of the faith, and through him came the children of Israel. This is also addressed in many of the epistles as the Jews had faith in their status as Abraham’s children above all else.

Christianity recognizes that the Messiah came through Abraham (the point of this article) It does not discount the Jewish history but sees it fulfilled through Jesus of Nazareth.

Islam sees Abraham as the father of their faith also, but through the lineage of Ishmael. (Remember that other people)

Abraham is a big deal as you can see. We read “and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” and this is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to heaven; he will bless both the Jews who believe and also the Gentiles. The Gentiles shall be justified by faith. We read that in Galatians 3:8-9…

Galatians 3:8 (ESV) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

God speaks to Abraham for the second time

Genesis 22:15 (ESV) And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” 19 So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.

Abraham waits so long for a son, he was 100 years old. Imagine waiting for 25 years on a promise. He watches the boy grow into a young boy and he is asked of God to sacrifice his son. I can’t imagine this in my wildest of dreams but look at the faith of a man who will trust God in the face of a direction I am sure he did not want to do and a path he cannot see the way out of. I have to say that I doubt I would do likewise.

Isaac appears in this story like a sacrifice and God knew the heart of Abraham and knew that he would follow God and his promises. In that same way we see the fathers heart and i know God was thinking ahead to the time where he would offer his own son as a sacrifice to end all sacrifices.

Confirmation in the New Testament

God confirms this to us in the first verse of the first book of the New Testament through the pen of Matthew.

Matthew 1:1 (ESV) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

That is how important that this is true and accurate. People who cast doubt on the trustworthiness of the bible will cast doubts on the following categories…

1) Genesis
2) Prophecies
3) genealogies

In all three areas the Bible has proven itself time after time. In many cases historians verify the biblical account by such means as archaeology and historical evidence to back up the claims of the Bible. In many cases these scientists have no theological reason to prove the bible correct.

God in his wisdom decided to take the time to insert this genealogy into Matthew’s gospel in order to validate this prophecy. We also see further validation of this in the Epistle to the Roman church.

Paul’s validation of the gospel of Jesus

Simply being being a “Son of Abraham” is not enough to get you into heaven. Look at what Paul writes to the church In Rome…

Romans 9:1 (ESV) I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

That is heavy stuff huh? Paul would accursed himself in order to save his brothers. That is the heart of an evangelist.

Just like Paul’s brethren, you too can be in communion with Christ.  My prayer is this article is the beginning of a new life in Jesus. I hope that you are challenged by this apologetic article and begin to examine the claims of the prophecies of the messiah. 

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

At the name of Jesus…

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At the name of Jesus…

Philippians 2:1 (ESV) So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

DISCLAIMER: – The above verses are quoted to give the full counsel of what was written about and give context, in this article I will mainly look at verses 9-11.

Relevant today as it was then

This is the reason I do this blog, verses like this! Paul writes to the church at Philippi and writes this encouraging, challenging, exhorting and wonderful letter that is as relevant today as it was when the ink was still wet on the parchment that was being delivered to the recipient.

If I could have one prayer in my life, I would pray to have the heart of Paul, regardless of how he was treated, maligned, how he was spoken about, he displayed the love of Christ. He was who he said he was. He was NOT PERFECT, however, when he claimed that he was a bondservant, a willing participant in yoking himself with earthly bonds and affliction for the gospel of Jesus Christ. This guy was beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned on several occasions and really had a life that most folks would have chucked it long before a trial in Rome. That’s the kind of faith that I want to have!

Being maligned, mis-spoken and disliked (I have a smidgen of this and I whine like a puppy wanting attention!) faced with death, imprisonment and danger every step he made, did that make him a better Christian? Possibly, but it gave an urgency that we do not have in todays “men of faith”.

Let’s get real

Let’s get real here! People are dying in their sins every day, by the thousands. Like a huge scoop into the trash can that is called hell that is the lake of fire that leads to eternal perishing and separation from the creator God. Can you imagine eternal torment? In the same way I can barely get my head around how awesome heaven is going to be, I have the same trouble imagining what hell is going to be like for those who do not choose eternal life in heaven.

I once had a conversation with someone at a place that I worked at where he was not a believer. He responded quoting verse 10 of this passage that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” and he said to me, perhaps not understanding the gravity of what he was saying.

Yes the verse does state that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” it does not say that once they state that they will be given a free pass into heaven. Yes they will be confessing the truth of who Jesus is, many will be doing so in despair as they realize that they have no time to repent.

Paul is not declaring a “universal salvation” as some of the cults who base their doctrine on works and associate their works as being part of that unit, but merely stating that no-one will be served the judgment that they have chosen themselves without being faced with the reality of who Jesus is. Regrettably, my former colleague did not take that well and he chose to inform me that “I will believe what I want to believe and you do likewise”, I am hoping that before his time on this earth that he changes heart.

In heaven, in earth and under the earth

We read that is states “in heaven and on earth and under the earth” speaks about the whole timescale of the world. In my younger days I learned a hymn which I love to this day. The chorus went like this:

“What a day that will be, when my Jesus I will see,
when I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace,
and then he’ll take me by the hand, and lead me to the promised land,
what a day, a glorious day, that will be!”

Paul pulls from a scriptural reference in Isaiah 43:25 which reads:

Isaiah 43:25 (ESV) By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.

And all those who have passed before, that are passing today (also those alive when the LORD returns) and are passing in the future have a choice to make, the same choice that Adam and Eve had. They have the choice to follow God’s plan for their lives or to reject it.

Jesus Christ is LORD

Jesus stated in John 14:6 that he was “the way, truth and life and that no-one comes undo the father, but by him”. That is the truth. Regardless of what you have heard from other religions, other creeds, other gospels that have Jesus down as anything other than the SON OF GOD, then they are wrong. I am sorry if this offends you but I have to be honest in this matter.

Whether you choose to admit this freely while you have time, or whether this situation that we are describing here applies to you, it does not negate the truth of the matter, that Jesus Christ is in fact who he said he is. If you do not read any other part of the bible in your lifetime, what you have read at the top of this page is enough to show you who Jesus is. These verses show that the religion that the LDS (Mormon) church, the Muslim (Islam) and any other faith that has Jesus down as an angel, a brother of Satan, a prophet or anything that demines him as the Son of God, then that is wrong.

I also left the prior verses to show Paul’s original point that the reason that he suffered, that they suffered, the reason they required encouragement, the reason to love one another, to serve one another, to esteem others greater than themselves, to look out for others before yourself is that Jesus was (and is) LORD.

To the glory of the father

The last part is awesome “to the glory of the father” which is what Jesus and his mission to earth was all about, to give glory to God. To be what God required which was an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world.

My prayer is that folks will read this, look at their Christian life, see how it matches up, and if you are not a Christian, then I pray that it leads you to question in your heart who Jesus is.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing, please prayerfully consider liking, sharing or commenting below.
TGBTG
TTE

Prayer is the answer

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Prayer is the answer

Philippians 4:5 (ESV) Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Before we begin I have to explain one thing! I am a guy! I never learn anything the first time over, I usually have to go over or go through something at least three times before I have it in the memory banks as a lesson learned.

It is not that I wish to go through the same things over and over again it is just one of my many character flaws. No one is prefect and I most certainly am not. (For independent adjudication of that fact you need go no further than my wife’s testimony)

So why is it that I have to go through the prayer test over and over? I am sure that I am not the only one (and I would love to hear from you if you do this also) that knows that in trials the first port of call is prayer with a reverent heart and a contrite spirit, however after passing it to God I still want to hold on to it as if God cannot handle my little request that while it is monumental in size for me, it is but a vapor in Gods eyes.

We should heed the words of Paul to the Philippian church, that we should not be anxious, that when we take it to the LORD in prayer we realize that he has got this, one way or another. He will always answer our prayer, might not be in the way we want but we will get an answer.

If we do this properly, let go and let God do his will and have faith that Gods plan is the best one for our lives. What I mean is truly let go and accept Gods peace then we will be where God wants us to be.

Application

I recently was in this place, perhaps this is why this is top of my mind at present. My family had a need and we were fervently praying about a way out from that need, we thought we had a way out but for a long time that wasn’t happening. God showed up in a big way, in his own timing and if this was a test of my resolve or belief that God had this, then u am not so sure I passed.

When I was rescued, I was joyful, but also floored on what a gracious God I serve (sometimes better than other times) I was in awe how yesterday’s mountain was nowhere to be seen disappearing in my rear view mirror.

I am not saying this because one situation went the way I was hoping for, often times I don’t realise I have been rescued until much much later when the crisis is a distant memory and the waves that threatened to sink my ship have subsided and calm is restored and I realise that like I do with my daughter when she is scared, my Abba father is holding my hand through the trials and pain.

This is not health, wealth and prosperity teaching, just simple faith that whatever your burdens, prayer is the answer I have found to instilled peace in my wretched and worrying heart.

Find out what Gods will is for your life and pray for that will to be done, then he will do much more exceedingly more through you than you ever would have done alone.

I pray this was a blessing and please share, comment or like as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Careful of your motivation…

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Philippians 1:14 (ESV) And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. 15. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 16. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, 19. for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20. as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Be Bold

…14 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear…

You will observe here that I will start and finish on the same point, “Your best sermons are quite often not spoken” Let me give you a scenario that was in a sermon I listened to.

A family sits down to dinner, the father gives a beautiful prayer, thanking the LORD for another day to serve him, for his beautiful wife, for his awesome kids, for the raise he just received and for the continuing provisions to provide such a wonderful meal, he thanks Jesus and says Amen.

He then asks his five year old to pass the ranch dressing, the five year old is like any other five year old and is super clumsy and knocks over his glass of water, the father proceeds to flip out at him as he the water crashes all over the table as he finishes passing the dressing to him.

Which sermon will those kids remember?

Paul remarks that the Philippian believers see what is at stake with Paul’s suffering, and it is encouraging that rather than shying away from the very words that could spell their doom, they are becoming more bold. They are living out the great commission in Matthew 28.

That hurts from my point of view, I am not under pain of death and I struggle to do this on a daily basis. I should be as I have the testimony of Paul and see the genuine joy that Paul had in his trials, the faith that Paul had that regardless what happened God would take care of him, either by deliverance or death and lastly, that Paul was almost as effective in prison as he was when he was making tents. I wish I was more Philippian in this case.

Preach with good will & Don’t be selfish

…15. Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 16. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel 17. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment…

This is as relevant today as it was when the ink was still dry on the paper. When we get involved in ministry it has the capability of being something that can harm us. We may place the ministry itself above what it is supposed to be and we can make it an idol and have this instead of investing in time with God.

It is hard as the human nature in us wants to see “tangible results” whether its people through the door, lives changed are we doing more than the place down the road, or whatever barometer we measure success by. By doing so we can not leave ourselves as ready to deal with the open doors that God is placing in our lives. We can get self important and prideful. We can see the place down the road as a rival and not a “co-laborer in Christ”.

It does make me wonder, if they are approaching it with a heart of rivalry, were they happy Paul was out of the picture? Did they see it as their time in the sun? Strikes me as a question that could be the case, the heart is a wicked thing and sometimes if we allow ourselves to be puffed up we start seeing it as our ministry rather than Gods. You have to look at the sincerity of the person’s heart when they serve?

Not all were like that though and some preached with “good will” let me be that guy, let me not feel entitled, cut me down if I get to big for my boots! It may seem ironic that I am typing this on the World Wide Web for others to see, but I will be honest with you, it is not about me bringing this to you. If you knew me you would understand. I am Mr. Foot in mouth guy! I am rarely understood when I speak to people, so this is a happy medium to get out what the LORD is putting on my heart. I am not much of a writer and my punctuation could be a million times better, but I am hoping that you see through that and take the points I am making.

Ambition is okay as long as it is pure hearted. We can’t be all about one eye on how we look as well as how we present the LORDS precious word. We cannot be selfish. I see this in today’s Christianity in the form of denominationalism; we have our wee camps that we will covertly have our wee digs (or criticisms) at. We can’t want our fellow brothers in Christ to lose or to “go down” We have to pray for those who have the same mission as us, even if we have minor theological disagreements. God doesn’t have a huge scoreboard and we are not a “good and faithful servant” based on results of souls saved or numbers through the door.

We should be more like Paul and not really care who brings souls into heaven, I don’t know this for certain but I doubt there will be a “Methodist only”, “Lutheran only”, “Catholic only”, “Presbyterian only” sections in heaven. We will be too busy giving God glory to worry about little things like that.

Word never returns void

…18. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,…

This is how I know that Paul was not into rivalry, he was on point always, to get the gospel out with a remarkable urgency. That was what he rejoiced in, it is what made him happy, he was truly devoted. He knew that God would judge the hearts of the ones in error. He rejoiced for two reasons:

1 – They were motivated to preach the gospel
2 – They were advancing the kingdom and Christ was being proclaimed

Which brings us to “the word never returns void” If I am digging my yard I can still use a tool with a slight imperfection. I will still get the job done! They were still presenting a true gospel, (because I believe Paul would have said so had they not!) In some cases, they just did not have their heart right.

How sold out are we?

…19. for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20. as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain…

Man, after reading and writing this I am pierced by my own personal failings, perhaps I am too hard on myself but I like to be brutally honest and say I don’t like trials, I don’t like to be tested. I certainly wouldn’t like jail and I do wonder what I would be like if I was in Paul’s shoes?

I would love to say that I would take it on the chin and not be a Jonah But I fear that I would be a big whiner! Perhaps what I need is a little persecution to rid me of some of the stuff that stops me from being as effective. (That is not an invite)

Paul is quite content not to be delivered from this deal, we see in Acts 16:11-40, Paul was delivered from a temporary jailing for preaching the word, he was thrown in jail and God used this jail time to bring the gospel face to face to the Philippian jailer and his family.

That’s how I would like to wrap this bible study up, we have to sometimes see the bigger picture. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) Perhaps a temporary trial that we face maybe what saves someone from a life of sin and allows them to see a work of God in your life. let me reassure you that often times our strongest sermons aren’t spoken. They are the example that we show to that fallen person. We don’t always get it right. We have to allow God to work in our lives (sometimes without interference) and sometimes that is the hardest part of obedience.

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God bless and TGBTG
TTE