Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Category Archives: Psalms

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

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

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And

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

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

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks being a worker approved by God, having read ahead I love these scriptures and I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we will look at Psalms 13 looks at the sorrow of David and trusting in the Lord through trials. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

Trump vs Clinton/Sanders America gets the choice that it has chosen

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Trump vs Clinton/Sanders America gets the choice that it has chosen

This is an unusual blog for me to talk about such a non-Christian issue as the upcoming election. I try not to get involved in side issues like this because they usually only cause division but I feel that as a first generation immigrant from Scotland who really has no say in the ballot box, this is really the only outlet for me to have my voice so please bear with me.

First – a piece of humor!

Politics is a combination of the following

“Poly” – Many
“Tics” – Blood sucking creatures

Makes sense now huh?

What is my bias?

I am a Brit abroad, deep in California and commenting on a legal immigrant basis who if you knew my history of my paternal grandfather voting all of his days for the Socialist Labour Party and my maternal grandfather being an active campaigner for the Labour party and a member of the NUR (National Union of Railwaymen) my father was also a union representative in the steelworks where he worked, I too had a union card in places where I have worked in Scotland so your first inclination is that I would favor the DNC nomination. If that is the case then read on…

I am not in fact in favor of the DNC nomination as I am actually more Conservative in my political views in the US. In Scotland I campaigned for the Scottish National Party in an effort to secure Scottish Independence and in the US if I was polled based on the beliefs of what would work best for America as a country I would state that I was Republican in nature.

Let me say at this point that neither party is exclusively the party of God (Again I could be funny and quote Psalm 12 – “the wicked walk on every side”) nor does either party represent uniquely “Godly politics” or I understand why people dependent on conscience would favor either party and I am more commonly seeing politicians no longer catering to my demographic, as the world has got more worldly we see the parties following what the popular tide is. It is no longer stating what you believe would be best for the country; it is more about what sells at the box office and will get your elected. The bill of sale for the souls of those involved has long since been redeemed.

Why do I care in the first place?

Because this is my home, the home country of my wife and the love of my life and also the home country of my daughter. Whilst I cannot truthfully be called an “American” as I was born in Britain I regard myself as a “New American” because I pay taxes here, contribute here and I have a heart for seeing America become great again.

What do I mean by American becoming great again?

I am not criticizing I truly am not, however if we look introspectively we know that things could be better and speaking uniquely from a Christian point of view I doubt very much whether Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will make all that much of a difference in our country because we as a nation need a revival where our hearts are turned to Jesus and I hold neither of these “political saviors” up as someone who will suddenly make America the greatest nation to live in again. There is a quote from the musical Evita that says “eventually we get the Government we deserve!” and you can make your own application from that!

I don’t want Trump and I don’t want Hillary!

As a Brit I really should start a “revokation of independence” petition due to your choice of nominees to be your leaders! (That was humor) However…

I am sorry Bernie but it is not likely you will get the DNC nod!

For me it is a two horse (or donkey) race for the White House and unless Donald Trump does something crazy like appoint Ted Cruz as his VP then I doubt the GOP will be united against him but let us look at the candidates one by one.

TRUMP – Not at all popular among many grass roots long term supporters of the GOP, this may be to his advantage or it may work against him, conversely some long term Republicans that I never in a million years would have thought were going to support him have thrown their weight behind Trump.

His supporters are caricatured as unknowledgeable, fed directly from Fox news and RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only) and has polarized a group called “NeverTrump” supporters. Folks who would normally have voted for a lamppost if it was up for nomination for the GOP ticket and should he win he would need to do so and convince those NeverTrump folks as well as a percentage of swing voters that he was the lesser of two evils between him and Clinton.

One thing is for sure, if you would rather “anyone but Clinton” then whilst he may not be your first choice, a vote for any other than Trump is most likely to result in a Clinton victory. She may very well win anyway but if the Republican base as a whole will not vote for the guy the party aligned themselves to then it will hand victory to the opponents because there is no organized replacement and if there remains none then it will split a vote and default victory will be a Democrat one.

CLINTON- Everyone knows the former First Lady and wife of the 42nd President William (Bill) Clinton and everyone knows her experience in a political setting in both State and National politics. She is not without controversy and she is a long standing “anti-Republican” and in my view would be the Republicans worst nightmare on Election Day should she be elected.

She knows the system, is very much part of Washington and also knows that as long as she debates above mediocre against Trump then the raging dumpster fire that is the split in the GOP vote will lead her to victory all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ironically if she does get convicted (highly unlikely I know) of wrongdoing through the email scandal before the elections would Bernie get a consolation prize of being allowed to run or would the nomination fall to Hillary’s VP nomination?

The problem as I see it

Is that I can no longer tell the difference between the Democrat and Republican parties! The Republicans are no longer the party that elected Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Regan (in beliefs or the fruit of those beliefs) has certainly not been great with their choice of nomination. I said in my last blog on this subject that if the GOP did not thin out the herd from the five candidates that were running at that point that a Trump victory was assured. Below is a quote from that article…

“Perhaps the Republican establishment are hoping for a solution to what I said in the second part of this article and a solution to the fact that there are just too many candidates and Trump is capitalizing on the fact that people who are similar in campaign stances (such as Carson and Cruz) have not banded together to get their people voting for the one ticket in order to try to win more delegates. In this scenario I would see the following pairings

Cruz/Carson and Rubio/Kasich

Then and only then would someone come close to matching the Trump bandwagon. In my view this should have been done at least a week before Super Tuesday to maximize the opportunity for the one who is progressing to send his voters over to his preferred candidate. I am being blunt because before Super Tuesday only Cruz or Rubio could catch him based on donations and impact in various states.”

They have elected candidates that are more similar than they are different and I have not seen anything like this since 1997 in the British Elections for the Westminster Parliament where Tony Blair swept to victory as the UK fell for “New Labour” when they decided to abandon their formally socialist principles and out Conservative the Conservatives. It certainly worked as they were seen as the most viable alternative but since then they have been more alike to the Conservatives than they have been separate. Perhaps it is not just an American phenomenon maybe it is worldwide?

I chose to abstain or “no” vote

That is your democratic right as an American (or qualified citizen) and I would not condemn you for doing so because it is your right to use your vote in whatever fashion you wish. I do say though that in such a tight race this may be the few times where your vote may actually count. I would say this would be the same as when you change to Libertarian or Green from GOP or DNC as neither of those two parties really have a shot of getting the top job so you may be letting a candidate that you disagree more with getting in.

The choice as I see it

Is either Trump or Clinton, it is down to which one you despise least and honestly I see the dilemma because they are certainly not my choices and the DNC will favor Clinton because for the last 8 years we knew this was coming however the GOP have done this to themselves and due to that it may find itself unelectable in this election and America needs a balance. It needs a strong Republican Party (or at least a Conservative party) that will stand up for America. I hope this is not the beginning of the end for the GOP.

The only way to “make America great” again

Is TRUE REVIVAL, America needs to do what it says in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 and “humble themselves and pray, then God will see from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land” We need redemption in this land, a true turning from our sins and accepting of the free gift that is our salvation through Jesus Christ and a true repentance from the wrongs we have done. We need to pray individually, as families, as communities and as cities from the lowest paid man in the city to the most affluent business man. From the homeless man who has nothing to the President who has everything, we need to all get right with the Lord and then we will become the greatest nation in the world again. The verse quoted is below…

2nd Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

For me…that is waaaaay more important than who America elects to be the 45th President.

In closing

I am truly grateful I am not allowed to vote, I pray for you America because I know this is temporary and regardless of who is in the Oval Office I know that my King is Jesus.

God bless you all
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Unless the LORD Builds the House – Psalms 127

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Unless the LORD Builds the House – Psalms 127 – 04/23/2016

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

Psalms 127:1 (ESV) Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

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

V1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

How many times have you done this on a personal level as a Christian? You receive confirmation that you are called to a certain ministry and rather than waiting for God to fully open all the doors you try to force the issue on your own and start to do what the Psalmist said, you quite literally “labor in vain” and even if you are doing “things FOR God” you can run up against a brick wall because you are not doing it IN God then it is just blind effort.

If we use gimmicks, finance programs or man made deals that promote “ministry growth” that exclude the Lord and the Holy Spirit, then it is just blank numbers and not exactly moving in the spirit of God. We may have success in the short term and may even “look the part” but there will always be something missing.

The point of what I am saying is that God has a better plan for you and knows what is best for you way more than you do, he has seen the blueprint for your life and knows what would happen in any set of given circumstances. So when we labor and struggle and worry in our own effort then it is futile, sometimes it may work and sometimes it may not but would it not be far better to trust the Lord?

V2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

We have this culture that “the early bird catches the worm” and that if we do everything with haste and cram more and more into our lives then we will somehow manage to get enough boxes checked to give us an enormous sense of wellbeing. We get up way to early, go to sleep way too late and do not rest and wonder why we fail more than we succeed. That is not God’s plan for your life! We are not supposed to eat the bread of anxious toil! If you are stretched beyond what you can handle then take it to the Lord in prayer.

I am not saying to be lazy but I am saying that we are given a rest that we do not use often enough and I am not saying just sleep or taking frequent naps. I am talking about being so stressed that we cannot fulfil our mission that God has given us. That stress comes not from God and you can be rest assured that if it is pulling you away from what God has planned for you then it is not from God. It is from the other guy! I don’t know about you but I do not want him having victory in any part of my life!

V3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

This is a hard one to comment on because my wife and I have had issues in this area so I will obviously tread carefully as I am aware readers may also be sensitive to this subject. I am tremendously grateful for my beautiful daughter and it took so long for us to get her and it does sting a little I have not been able to give her a sibling but I am remaining blessed in what the Lord has done for me and the prayers he has chosen to answer and I pray that if you have struggles in this area then your prayers are answered. Obviously I am not saying that they will be answered or a “thus sayeth the LORD” but please know I do know what you are going through.

Children are a heritage, that much is true and there are no stronger ties than family. When I got married I assumed wrongly that my wife would be the only girl that was to hold my heart, I of course was quite wrong and I have a kid that truly is the apple of my eye and from the moment she first cried in that delivery room I was sold. My daughter truly had me at hello. Don’t get me wrong there are times where she has attitude like any other child but she is a living breathing human with her own thoughts, her own personalities and sometimes they will do things that are contrary to what you would have them do, but they are still yours and sometimes they display like a mini-mirror qualities that you would rather not look at in yourself! The fruit of the womb is truly a reward and sometimes a way for God to teach you.

V4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

The Psalmist uses the picture of a warrior and arrows in his hand. That true joy will be found in the relationships that God has us in. God ordained in Genesis 2 the idea of a marriage and shortly afterwards along came children. From Cain and Abel we saw that God’s plan all along was to have us in relationships and I have found true happiness in the arms of the two folks that love me for me with no agenda and with the purest form love. You will find your true value when you are embraced by a loving child who has been waiting all day for you to walk through the door. My advice (and it is advice I have not heeded myself) is to make sure that they are your priority until they want to go play. Yes you may have 100 tasks to complete by the end of the night but you will never get today back again and your child will never be this age again!

V5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Like this warrior in this account we are in a battle for our kids, whether we are like me and have one, or whether we are like Jim Duggar and have 19, you are blessed when you have children and like that warrior going to battle he would much rather go into battle with a full quiver with that back up than go our empty handed. That is not to say that the amount of children you have is a measure of your faithfulness, I have no explanation why God opens and closes wombs when he does but I trust in his plan, whether it is to my benefit or not!

Lord willing, in our next article in the book of Psalms 1 where we look at the friends we keep and having delight in the law of the LORD. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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The LORD Surrounds His People – Psalms 125

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The LORD Surrounds His People – Psalms 125 – 04/09/2016

A Song of Ascents.

Psalms 125:1 (ESV) Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore. 3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong. 4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts! 5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!

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

V1 Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

This seems very basic; those who trust on the LORD are like the mountain in which Jerusalem was built. The Psalmist states that this mountain will abide forever and cannot be moved and that is correct because when the Lord Jesus comes back he will rest on the Mount of Olives and split it in two. Interestingly as regards to Mount Zion we read that in the most recent 1948 war it was he only part of the city to stay in Israeli hands for the duration of the conflict.

V2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people, from this time forth and forevermore.

Using the mountains as an example the Psalmist uses the verifiable geology of the city of Jerusalem to paint the example that the LORD is always around his people, The LORD is always watching out for his people and this is no temporary thing. It was the same from the beginning and will be until forevermore. Let’s see what the Psalmist says in Psalm 139…

Psalm 139:1 (ESV) O LORD, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. 7 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! 9 If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

God knows us inside out, he is acquainted with our ways far better than we are and knows us better than we know ourselves. As much as we may want to at times we cannot deceive him as he perceives our motives in the purest of fashions. He wants to bless us and desires that we follow the plan he has for our lives. I am reminded of the piece of prose called “footprints” and I am reminded that during my roughest times is when there was only one set of footprints because I could not bear the journey I was on and God carried me through it. Did I do everything perfect? No, but that did not stop the LORD surrounding me. From personal experience I know that this is true.

V3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest on the land allotted to the righteous, lest the righteous stretch out their hands to do wrong.

This verse speaks of a desire for the wickedness to pass from the land allotted to the righteous and that is an awesome prayer but I do ask and confess that “do we know what we are asking?” I too look forward to the day where the LORD will make everything right in the second coming

V4 Do good, O LORD, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!

And I wish this myself all the time, that those who are upright and walk according to God’s plan for their lives be extended some special blessing and I have a desire to see them really do well in their lives and I do sometimes forget what Jesus said in the book of Matthew…

Matthew 5:43 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

I am convicted in my heart because it is only human nature to want the best for those who tick our wee boxes as far as our own moral conduct and theological biases and I have also seen some Christians not wish fellow believers well if they have slight differences in biblical hermeneutics. I pray only for re-correction of funky doctrine or Salvation if they are not saved. The book of Second Chronicles has the following passage…

2nd Chronicles 7:14 (ESV) if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Pray for those who persecute you and pray for those who hate you, you wouldn’t believe the healing that can happen if we just submit it to God. The hearts that can be softened (on both sides) if we do what Jesus told us to do when he said in the above passage in Matthew 5 verse 44

Matthew 5:44 (ESV) “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,”

And that is the heart of Christ and also the heart of the father. Imagine a world where we prayed for those who hated us, served them as if they were our best friend, we all gave our tithes gladly and then gave more out of our abundance, we opened up our homes to non-believers to let them see Christ in action, imagine that impact. We could truly change the world!

V5 But those who turn aside to their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be upon Israel!

This is the truth; if people continue in their sins then they will be choosing their own eternal destination. For your afterlife you have one of two options, you can choose to go with God into heaven or the LORD will lead the others away with the evildoers. The Day of the LORD as it is called in the bible is a real event and it will happen, until that day I am committed to praying for those who stand against me and I pray for peace to be upon Israel also.

Lord willing, in our next article in the book of Psalms 127 where we look at a song of ascents of Solomon which looks at the folly of building without the LORD, it is a fantastic Psalm and one of my personal favorites so I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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The Devil (didn’t) make me do it – Matthew 4:1-11

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The Devil (didn’t) make me do it – Matthew 4:1-11 – 03/29/2016

Matthew 4:1 (ESV) Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to 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 one of chapter four.

V1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

We go straight from God being very pleased at Jesus and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove to Jesus being tempted by the very adversary of God. (The Devil) I entitled this the way I did to try and poke fun at the idea that is somewhat popular that when we sin we say “The Devil made me do it” and often times we give the Devil way to much credit, I would put it no higher than our sinful nature made us do it.

Jesus volunteered for this mission so he knew at some point he was going to have to face the rebellious one and when he did it would have to be mano a mano, one on one. Jesus went from those soothing cool waters in the Jordan to the wasteland of the Middle Eastern desert which is described as wilderness, so no-one goes there and it is not regularly tended or farmed.

He goes from being blessed by the Father to being attacked by the tempter and I love this passage of scripture as Jesus did not have to do this because he was sinless, however he chose this to identify with the temptations that man would go through. There is some discussion among bible skeptics whether this verse is contradictory to a verse in James so let’s look at that…

James 1:12 (ESV) Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

The verse that is often questioned is verse 13, but even looking at it in context with the rest of the verses it is quite easy to see what James is referring to. Jesus was not being tempted by God, but the Holy Spirit was leading to a place that temptation could occur. Paul states that Jesus overcame these temptations to identify with man. Let’s look at two verses…

Hebrews 2:17 (ESV) Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

And also

Hebrews 4:14 (ESV) Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

How awesome is that! We have a great high priest that has suffered when tempted (or tested) directly from the Devil, the dark side brought out their biggest guns against him but yet Jesus emerged victorious. How much more does that strengthen your faith that greater is he that is in you than the one who tempts you?

V2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Talk about testing someone to their limits? How would you be after forty days and forty nights with no-one but the devil for company? He was beyond simple hunger pains and was at the end of what a human body could handle. If the devil was ever going to get him then it would be now.

The idea of a forty day fast is not an unusual one in the Bible. Both Moses and Isaiah fasted in the Old Testament…

Exodus 34:27 (ESV) And the LORD said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” 28 So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments

and also

1st Kings 19:4 (ESV) But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” 8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

This was not done for personal pride or just to show that the person going through the fast could in fact do that, it was done as a period of drawing closer to God the Father and learning dependence on him. Much like the modern day festival of “Lent” was supposed to be like but if the heart is not correct then it can just be a ritual. (Learn more about that in this blog article) Jesus overcame everything that was put in front of him because he WAS God. All others who did this had to rely on or come closer to God.

V3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Thus comes the first temptation, the Devil knew his body was weak so he attempted to show him what the flesh cried out for and that is often times how the Devil will try to tempt us. Some translations have the words “When the tempter came” and it is important to remember it is not a case of if the tempter will come but when. He desires nothing more than to seek and destroy and cause doubt in the heart of even the strongest believer. He desires to tear ministries down by using people’s weak spots and will do what it takes to push people’s hot buttons to entice them into sin.

We have to be careful most often when we have our “mountaintop experiences” because we can be sure that the Devil is trying his upmost to tunnel under us and bring us down. Personally, I have had some of my hardest times as a Christian just after some of my greatest spiritual victories and I caution ALL believers to be watchful during those times that we do not believe the hype about ourselves as humility is often a lesson learned after the fact!

Jesus answers him, not just simply palms him off or slightly disagrees but actually answers himself with the following scripture…

Deuteromony 8:3 (ESV) And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

Jesus used the word of God correctly and in context to do battle with the Devil. The Devil might have known the word but Jesus was the correct application of the Word. He was “the Word became flesh” (John 1:1) and this was not going to work with Jesus as he was sinless and could resist the devil and everything he was about to offer and as we see in the next few verses that the Devil kept upping the ante to see if the Holy One could be corrupted…

V5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Make no mistake about it, the Devil can quote scripture until the cows come home and he can manipulate and twist the very holy words of God to suit his own ends. This time he buffeted Jesus to see if “the pride of life” was in him at all.

He suggested that Jesus throw himself off the tallest building in the region and speculated that God would save Jesus if he was to do such a public show of God’s power. He stated that in scripture “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” To suit his own ends he misquotes Psalm 91 which reads…

Psalms 91:9 (ESV) Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge — 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

There is no mention of the end of the sentence in verse 11 and as you can read the whole verse is said in a manner to prove a point it was never intended to. That is often the case when scripture is used to stretch a point. Jesus responds with …

Deuteronomy 6:16 (ESV) “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

Jesus correctly applies this scripture against Him. Satan continues one last time…

V8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

He decides to test the loyalty of Jesus to the Father by trying to go for the tri-unity of God, this is his big pitch and he knows that if this is successful this is a game changer. He waits until the last test and offers his all that he can for the patronage and worship of Jesus. I am sure he understands why Jesus is there and it shows something of the arrogance and pride of Satan that he thinks that this will be successful.

You will notice that Jesus does not dispute ownership of all the kingdoms of the world. Satan proposed a swap, Jesus worship for the world to be returned because in the psyche of Satan he desires to be worshipped as God is. And if the Son of God, who is God himself was to worship him…That would be off the charts for him! Of course Jesus is the Son of God and part of the tri-une God and he sends him away stating the basic tenants of the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:1 (ESV) And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before me. 4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Jesus was not going to miss the cross to bow down to Satan, yes he would have redeemed the world but he stuck to God the Fathers plan for his mission and he handled temptation and gave us a great example how to deal with temptation because we see in the last verse of the passage that we are studying how Satan reacted after being denied by Jesus and using all that he had against him.

For me the real sobering thought was the thought about how my actions mirrored either Jesus and the devil and I think of ways that the devil could have “knobbled me” and it is certainly points that require prayer. I pray that it does likewise for you dear reader.

V11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Jesus was more than up to the task, we only read of those three temptations but Jesus stayed pure and fulfilled those forty days and forty nights being attacked by the devil Jesus fulfilled what is written in the book of James when it is written…

James 4:7 (ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

And as true as the word of God is, that is what happened, Jesus knew that the devil would use manipulation, lies and deception to try and turn him from God’s plan for his life and as his followers we can expect nothing less from the “father of lies” and I know that the further I stick my neck out for God the larger the target on my back becomes. We should use the same weapons that Jesus used against Him, God’s word rightly divided. That is the only truth that can stand against his lies.

God sends the angels promised in Psalm 91 but only after Jesus had defeated the devil. Angels came and supplied the needs that Jesus required; they are there as messengers as opposed to any other application of ministered. Jesus dealt with the devil with no outside help and it makes me think of the final battle in Revelation where we will watch Jesus take on all comers and defeat them all. What a day that will be!

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

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

Psalms Saturday #11 – The LORD Is in His Holy Temple – Psalms 11

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Psalms Saturday #11 – The LORD Is in His Holy Temple – Psalms 11 – 03/26/2016

To the choirmaster. Of David.
Psalm 11:1 (ESV) In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

This Psalm is awesome in its praise and thanksgiving to the LORD. I love this because it gives great examples of praise and thanksgiving despite the obvious peril and danger in Davids circumstances and my hope is that you please enjoy this great Psalm of praise, although it is just five verses it is rich in teaching and encouraging moments. I aim to look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis beginning in verse one.

V1 In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,

Royal fugitive

Have you ever been in bother, on the run? David prior to becoming king was on the run from the existing king Saul. He was consistently hunted; he was a fugitive from royal law and at this part of his life was literally scampering for his life. His advice from those close to him we read in the text is to “flee like a bird to your mountain” But David shows great faith in God. He states confidently and profoundly “in the LORD I take refuge” He knew where to put his trust! This poses a question in my heart to you dear readers in that who do you have your trust in? Is it man with his ideas that will fail despite the good intentions or is it God who knows the “master plan”? David mocks this idea and states confidently “In the LORD I take refuge” (or have my trust) He was not going to rely on his own fears but take solace and refuge that God has this.

True mark of a man of faith

That is a true mark of a man of faith! He would rather face the oncoming danger with the LORD at his back than do it without the LORD and do what seemed like the obvious solution, to tuck tail and run and save his own skin. David knew (a man after Gods own heart remember) that the advice, although given in love and quite possibly with the best possible intentions, it was not the path that he would chose to follow.

Good heart – bad advice

V2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Verses 2 & 3 show the advice given by his friends, like I had said earlier, the advice may be well intentioned but if it is not within Gods plan for your life then it is bad advice. God had already promised the throne to David, Samuel had anointed him and David knew his purpose was to be a mighty king. He also saw the hardness of Saul’s heart and learned from the mistakes of others. Yes there was a real and present danger but for me the overriding faith in God, in his provision and He is the one that David puts his faith and security in because of the earlier prophesy that he would be King tells you a lot about the heart of David, yes he made mistakes but this is what he was made of. When a man is threatened with the loss of what he holds dearest you will soon see what his priorities are.

David’s friends really play on his fears, they have tried to get him scared of the dangers he can see as well as the dangers he cannot. Perhaps there was a little piece of self-preservation, perhaps they wanted to manage a situation to have him removed from danger, whatever the cause was if you are walking in fear and not trusting in God then you will not step out in faith when God calls you.

The Foundations are destroyed

We read this when they state “if the foundations are destroyed” Saul was the first and only king that Israel had had up to that point and he ruined the throne at the first attempt right down to its foundation. His friends were also questioning why a righteous man would take such a poisoned chalice.

What can David do? Actually quite a lot if he has God on his side, as bad as Saul was for the throne David could bring a nation back into revival. Never shirk from a task you are called to just because it seems too big! Is there a task that is too big for your God? My God is not that small. Circumstances are just that, it is only a short sighted view of the present and I serve a God that can change things in the blink of an eye.

Seen versus Unseen

Can you imagine the internal turmoil he must have been going through? Balancing the advice of the seen against the faith of the unseen. He had unshakable faith at this point of his life and we can learn a lot from him in relation to how deeply we cling to a steadfast faith in the LORD. He is in the gravest of circumstances and still clings to the promises of the LORD knowing that his will is best for him.

V4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence

God got this!

David knew he was going to be looked after by God; he describes the heavenly situation with the calmness of a man not in danger. He describes what the LORD sees in verse 4. Its very much like the Facebook graphic I saw earlier this week that describes this well “God is like Oxygen, you can’t see him, but once you have him, you can’t live without him” Very profound in my opinion.

The LORD’s throne is in heaven, his ways are way above our ways and he gets the grandstand view of our lives while we are in the thick of the action (to use a rugby analogy) this answer that the LORD’s throne is in heaven is David’s answer to the question “What can you do?” David defers to the one he has unshakable faith in. He speaks only in terms of what he is absolute in.

He uses the following examples of how the LORD has this…

  • His eyes see – Even if you don’t think so, God sees, God is watching out and God cares, this is why David is concerned with more than just saving his own skin, he is looking at a bigger picture because of the faith that he has that God is truth and keeps his promises.
  • His eyelids test the children of man – In keeping with that faith that the LORD is in the driving seat, he states that tests will come, that we should be like James tells us “counting it all joy when we are in the midst of trials”
  • The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence – God isn’t just watching, he is patient and will eventually right the wrongs. He does care and David uses his situation as a teaching moment and states that God sees the violence that is before me and he will deliver me because of the promises he has made me.

God v man and why they are different

V6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

Verses 6-7 really are self-explanatory, David answers the foundations question by stating that the LORD sees, will test and he doesn’t like what he sees. The LORD will deal with it in his time. This is a timely reminder to us all, one of the most frustrating parts as a Christian is wanting God to work on my time as opposed to his perfect timing.

The LORD will deliver justice, but David elects to stay on the side of justice and stay on the LORDs side. David knows that if he stays the course and follows God’s will he will get rewarded by getting what he is promised. I know Christians that are frustrated because they believe they are “entitled” when they do not go all in with God. God will reward righteousness more than he will reward rebellion.

This is the test of faith, not trying to “help God along” or not submitting to God’s timing in a potentially damaging situation. From David’s perspective there was only one course of action and to trust God because of all that he had been promised and the afore knowledge that God does not lie. His answer of faith should be an example to us all who will try to manipulate situations to achieve God’s will when God had a much better plan for our lives.

Often times we have to learn patience and sometimes we just have to slow down to match God’s pace. But most of all if we are in trials or don’t understand we have to seek God diligently and have the faith that David does, then we will not fear. Whatever out trials are, God has this!

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we look Psalm 125 which speaks of trusting in the LORD, the LORDs faithfulness and the importance of righteousness, all in all a terrific Psalm and I hope that you don’t miss it. 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
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Abraham justified by faith – Romans 4:1-12

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Abraham justified by faith – Romans 4:1-12 – 03/20/2016

Romans 4:1 (ESV) What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

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 one of chapter four…

V1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

Paul continues on what he was saying in Romans three and uses Abraham as an example to show his point. Abraham was known as the father of the Jewish people and was revered and esteemed by the Jewish people. Paul knew what he was doing when he chose this example. If Paul was looking at addressing the American people he would probably have used a similar analogy by using some of the names of the Founding Fathers.

V2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

After introducing Abraham he makes the question on whether Abraham was justified by works and whether he could boast in the good things that he has done, Paul comes back to Romans 3:23 and states that no he could not boast before God because we are all sinful by nature and have not and cannot attain God’s holy and perfect standard on our own.

V3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

And like any good teacher Paul bases his argument on scripture, he shows where it states that he was not indeed justified by works, but by belief and it was counted to him as righteousness. In context I have attached the scripture below…

Genesis 15:1 (ESV) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

I love how Paul takes away any notions that Abraham was somehow exempt from the rules that the rest of mankind had to follow and that by the same train of thought he would have had to look at the possibility that God makes exceptions from his holy nature which of course is preposterous.

Abraham is never mentioned as being “perfect” but only mentioned as being counted as righteous and the reason for the righteousness was based on the action of the belief of God. I would say that Abraham sought after God’s will before the Law was given in the same manner that we would make deposits in a financial institution Abrahams credit worthiness or righteousness was high with God because God saw the heart of Abraham and knew who he was and that is why he was declared righteous.

You will notice that it only mentions how God saw Abraham and not how his fellow man saw him. This is convicting for me because man will look at the external package first and I am no different. I have been surprised by who God has used in the past and it is very God to use someone whom the world didn’t think much of. I am very much in that camp because often times I have been passed over for things (both in the world and in Christian circles) because of assumptions that people have made on limitations they perceived me to have.

V4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

Paul uses the idea of a salary to compare and contrast the idea of grace versus works because as we know (those of us who have accepted Christ) that grace is a free gift given to those of us who does not deserve it. I often laugh internally if I hear someone praying “Oh Lord- give us what we deserve!” I then back away a little in case God takes them literally.

If a system of works was correct then that would mean that we were owed something by God, in which God would be in debt to us (in this case for a salary) I am uncomfortable with that because it puts you on some severely shaky theological ground. It is true that works will come as fruit of faith but I do not see that faith will come from God being in our debt.

V5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

Paul agrees with the above hypothesis by stating that belief is greater than works as the one who does not work but believes will have his faith counted as righteousness. Seems obvious huh? Not always though as Gods ways are higher than our ways. We are to believe in the one who justifies the ungodly (God himself) who grants grace and mercy to all who do not deserve it. God justifies us as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross where he took the punishment for our sins.

God is holy and hates sin, and he hates separation between his beloved creation and Him so he loves us enough to justify us despite our sin but we have to want to be saved. There is no “catch all solution” I do not doubt that God justifies the ungodly but I marvel at the sheer miracle that he does. (Going back to getting what we deserve!)

King David is mentioned and this is beautiful because he was described as a “man after God’s own heart” but he was a sinful man who committed murder and adultery but he was a man who strived after God and repented of his sins. (Sound familiar?) He was a man who understood sin, the impact and the repercussions of that sin and the relief and weight that is lifted off you when you are truly forgiven. If King David were judged based on his works, he would be sunk but the just God convicts him based on his belief as none of us can atone for our sins on our own.

V7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

And should God forgive your sins by belief (and He will for the truly repentant) then you truly are blessed because this forgiveness is based not on your nationality, genealogy, social status or where you were born it is based on your relationship with God. The sins are not just forgiven but they are covered and removed from sight! These verses are a quote from Psalm 32…

A Maskil of David.
Psalm 32:1 (ESV) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Make no mistake about it God should count our sin but we truly are forgiven and regardless of how holy we think we are we all stink and reek of sin, some of us smell a little better than others but we are all in the same boat. I am reminded of the following parable by Jesus…

Matthew 18:23 (ESV) “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

We are all debtors to God in relation to sin, sin is the debt that we cannot possibly pay and without Jesus we are in that hopeless situation. The good news is that the gospel is for everyone. This is why David was quoted because if we could work it off then we would all be at it like little worker bees and that would be easier and more palatable for the human mind, however God has decided to bless everyone who will just have faith and turn to him. Paul continues…

V9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

The beauty of it is that we can do nothing for God but we have great joy in the grace of God. It truly is a blessing for us, not just the Jew but also the Gentile and uses Abraham as an example why circumcision, whilst it being a sign of obedience is not the be all and end all of entry into heaven. Paul asks a logical question if circumcision is the key to salvation and that question is “When was Abraham justified? Was it before or after circumcision?” and as we have looked at before we see that Abraham was justified in Genesis 15 and let’s now look at Genesis 17 when he was circumcised…

Genesis 17:9 (ESV) And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

As you can tell I like to back up the claims that I make with scripture to back it up! Paul states quite clearly that Abraham was circumcised AFTER the blessing and Paul closes this part of scripture with the following…

V11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

So the sign was exactly that A SIGN! He was to do this to show an outward sign that he was with God. As Christians we are reminded that the circumcision we go through is that of the heart and in remembrance of this please observe what Paul said in Romans 2…

Romans 2:25 (ESV) For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

You see if we wish to burden ourselves with the Law then we will be held accountable by the Law, Paul explains that in Galatians 5…

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

The Christian faith is not a case of Christ+ (Christ and something else) What I mean is that Jesus was serious when he said “I am THE WAY” he is the definitive article, Son of God, part of the triune God and the only one who could be sacrificed for your sins. Just as today, the Jews of that day used circumcision to prove that they were in some way the true descendants of Abraham. Paul flips this on its head by asking “Why are you not walking in faith like Abraham did?” or “If you are Abrahams descendants then why are you not following in his footsteps?”

Lastly what Paul was stating was culturally sensitive as the Jews did not like the Gentile proselytes referring to Abraham as the father or their descendent. (That was their thing) And now Paul states that classification is available to all who are reconciled to God in Christ. That we have a share in Abrahams blessings, what a bountiful God we serve.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses thirteen through twenty five when we explore the promises that we looked at today being realized through faith, which is really a part two of what we look at today. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

Psalms Saturday #10 – His Steadfast Love Endures Forever – Psalms 100

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Psalms Saturday #10 – His Steadfast Love Endures Forever – Psalms 100 – 03/12/2016

A Psalm for giving thanks

Psalms 100:1 (ESV) Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

This Psalm is awesome in its praise and thanksgiving to the LORD. I love this because it gives great examples of praise and thanksgiving and my hope is that you please enjoy this great Psalm of praise, although it is just five verses it is rich in teaching and encouraging moments. I aim to look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis beginning in verse one.

V1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!

This verse even although it is only a few words long really speaks to me on a personal level. One of my personality faults is that I am like Chandler in the TV series Friends and I apply nervous humor to situations and one of my “common jokes” is my inability to sing in a manner that is beautiful to others. I often joke that I “make a joyful noise!” and I will give you an example of this below…

The church I attend on a Sunday had a real worship leader problem due to the Senior Pastor being unavailable, one of the worship leaders being sick and another was out of town and my wife, even although she was getting over sickness stepped into help, when she texted the Assistant Pastor she joked that I could sing and it was met with much hilarity.

We have to realize with worship that God care more about the heart of the worshipper than the exterior package. One of the things that put me off church when I was a young seeker bouncing between churches (see my testimony page for a fuller description) is one church I went to which was described as a “Charismatic church” where the ones who were held us as the “best worshippers” or “so full of the spirit” were also the ones who could turn on the “joyful noise” like a faucet (tap) and usually lived the most worldly lives outside the church and only came for the experience and were not deeply grounded in any faith as they all left within a few years and lived in the world, never to return to Jesus.

I say this not in a judgmental tone but one of concern for those folks, I did likewise but I also returned. I say it also because we have to check our hearts that we are not doing what Jesus accused the Pharisees or religious people of…

Matthew 6:1 (ESV) Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Yes Jesus speaks about giving and praying but he also touches on practicing your righteousness before other people and we have to be genuine in our worship to God and if we are weeping we are weeping, if we have our hands up and look worshipful then let us be worshipful in the inside too because we all need honesty and transparency and really need not to be fake and I pray for us all that we are the same through the week as we are on a Sunday morning when all the people we worship with see us being “worshipful”. It should be a life of worship as opposed to an hour a week and the Psalmist goes on to talk about how we should serve the LORD.

V2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!

How should we serve the LORD? With gladness of course! I would go so far as to say that if you are serving the LORD with grumpiness or with a less than stellar attitude then I would ask for the good of yourself and the people you are serving then please take a time out from serving. Often time’s people are called to serving and I know from personal experience from when I was trying to “trudge on” and becoming “burned out” that folks were not volunteering to take my place because they saw that that ministry was covered. So you may very well be doing harm to yourself but also to the ministry at large.

If that continues then you will get what I call the “cataloguing Christian” where they start to list the ministries they have been involved in to puff themselves up, make themselves feel good and justify why they are griping about their present circumstances that in many cases they have volunteered for. This leads to the ones who people are relying on not actually wanting to come to church and you will rarely see these people coming into the presence of the LORD with singing! If you are reading this and questing what I am saying then please take a look at your own church and have a look at how many folks are shouldering most of the burden and that will give you an idea where you can help.

How do we avoid this? Well it can be two fold…

Leaders

We should not be just looking to “fill spots in a roster” and we should be looking to fill positions with people who are suited to what we are asking for, a decent example you would not ask someone who is horrible with kids to take a class of 6-8 year old screaming kids.

We should also look for willing but capable people to fill spots and train then up well by giving them decent support and while they are learning have a safety net where they can “fail on a small scale” as a learning curve.

We need to be observant for “burn out” and if someone is doing six months in a row doing Children’s ministry and not getting any fellowship then they may very well get burned out.

We can’t be pressuring people into doing something, whether it’s doing a task, giving or making someone feel like they are being pressured into doing something.

Volunteers

Be honest about your callings, don’t be pressured into something and be willing to help and try things out, if it is not for you then be honest about it and help to find someone to replace you.

V3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

He deserves our songs of praise because he is good, he is God and he really has that divine right to worship, it is what we were created for and this is also why the Psalmist calls us “his people and the sheep of his pasture”.

The Psalmist also states that “he made us” and that is true. If you have been following along in our bible studies in the book of Genesis you will know that we were literally made from the dust of the ground. We have to realize that the very breath in our bodies is a gift from God. When we fail to acknowledge this and give God the true place he deserves it leads to a self-worship that is unfulfilling and often leads to disappointment.

Who do you live for? Is it you or is it God? We are his people and we are the sheep of his pasture and like any good shepherd he knows his flock. Everything we have been provided has come from God. We read in Psalm 24 the following…

Psalms 24:1 (ESV) The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, 2 for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, does that change the way you view your surroundings? The meat you eat were made my animals created by God, the plants you eat were made by God, the water you drink was made by…you guessed it. Is it any wonder the Psalmist continues with…

V4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Feel like a benefits or a welfare case yet? That is not my intention but we are like the 30 something who still lives at home because Mom and Dad are cheaper than the real world! Then if we get a bump in the road we whine like a 3 year old! Often times when we get mad in our own first world problems it is not due to a major catastrophe it is due to something that has upset us that we will not even remember in five years!

On the flip side we should enter his courts with praise and here is why! Even if you are the poorest person in your church, living from paycheck to paycheck but just paying your bills, you are being provided for and God has seen you through it. You are still much wealthier than many are in developing countries.

V5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

And this is why we praise the LORD, because he is good, he loves us, his faithfulness is forever and his love endures forever. This is all from the father of truth so you can be guaranteed of the validity and truth of what is said.

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we look Psalm 125 which speaks of trusting in the LORD, the LORDs faithfulness and the importance of righteousness, all in all a terrific Psalm and I hope that you don’t miss it. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

The ACTS Files – Acts 2:29-35 – Peter’s Sermon (Part three)

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:29-35 – Peter’s Sermon (Part three) – 02/29/2016

Acts 2:29 (ESV) “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part three in a three part series of verses which are collectively called “Peter’s Sermon”. I personally love these verses because it shows the work done in the life of the Apostle Peter from when he denied Christ at Passover to this dynamic preacher at Pentecost. (Time elapsed was less than two months!) My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse twenty nine…

V29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

Peter continues his sermon by continuing to reference King David and the Messiah Jesus and he states quite clearly that what was mentioned in the previous article (link) was not talking about David as some believed at that point, and this is why he states this quite clearly. The original author David is both dead and buried and did not come back to life, so the author is not speaking of himself and is in fact speaking of the only one who did die and come back to life – JESUS! Peter states the evidence is there for David’s burial as his tomb was still with them and if they wished to seek it out and validate the truth of that statement, it could easily be done.

V30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

Peter takes great care to mention the following…

  • David the Prophet – We see further in the sermon why Peter calls King David a “prophet” as opposed to just King David. It is important to mention that despite David’s many faults, he was still very much a “man after God’s own heart” and despite any thoughts of whether he was worthy or not.This is encouraging for us all on a personal level as I am sure there are things that we have done that we are not proud of. Maybe not in the realms of adultery or murder to cover up that adultery but I am sure that there are things about our lives that we would rather were not publicized. We are no or less worthy as David because as sinners we are short of God’s standard. Thankfully we are saved by grace and not by works, lest any man should boast.
  • God swore an oath – Peter is keen to remind us of the trustworthiness of God, when God gives an oath or make a promise then you know that the God of truth who cannot lie will tell you the truth and what is promised will happen.
  • Prophecy of descendent on his throne – Yes this was fulfilled in the short term when Solomon ascended to the throne but it had greater implications as we read in the gospel accounts of the genealogy of Jesus that he was not just from the line of David in his maternal mother Mary, but also in his legal guardian Joseph.
  • He foresaw the resurrection of the Christ – He saw not just the birth of a messiah that would come from his line, but the mission complete, that the messiah was going to come and fulfil the scriptural prophecies regarding the resurrection.

In case you are in any doubt who Peter refers to, he names that man in verse 32…

V32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Peter makes it abundantly clear that it is Jesus, the Son of God that he is talking about, and that Jesus and his deeds would still be known as it was only a short time since Passover. Peter makes it crystal clear that Jesus was the only one who could have fulfilled that prophecy in the book of Psalms and gives the following reasons why…

  • He was raised up – We see the evidence for this is Acts one, where Jesus literally went up to heaven.
  • He had witnesses to this fact – Peter and the other followers of Jesus who had followed him to the end were indeed primary witnesses to this fact. If this was a Jewish court there were sufficient witnesses to prove the case.
  • He was exalted to the right hand of God – In order to avoid any question of “where is Jesus now then?” Peter answers before the question arises.
  • He received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit – The example of this had just happened! Talk about having a water tight case for the theology, there was irrefutable evidence that had just happened moments earlier.
  • David did not ascend into heaven – and here is where we learn that it certainly wasn’t David, David’s body was still where it was buried. He was not in heaven.
  • He called Jesus Lord – and lastly, we look at how David viewed Jesus. He called him Lord.

And as much as King David was revered, Jesus was more worthy of all praise, honor and glory. He is coming back and his enemies will be thrown down. Reading the book of Revelation as a Christian makes me anxious and wanting Jesus to come back, how do you feel about the end of the world? Are you anxious because you are unsure your eternal destination or are you willing the Lord to return?

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we look at verses thirty six through forty one where we look at the response of the crowd. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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