Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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The LORD’s prayer – Part 5 – And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

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The LORD’s prayer – Part 5 – And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 6:13 (KJV) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

As we close our series on the Lord’s Prayer we see that looking back it has been a well thought out prayer and we close with what the musically aware people would call a “crescendo” we have learned that God’s name is to be hallowed, God is always on his throne in heaven, that His kingdom comes on earth and heaven, why we pray for our provisions and lastly we learned why forgiveness is key. Now we end with temptation and why that is such an issue.

Fresh from the devastating revelations of the Ashley Madison hack and many people who teach God’s word being found online in a place that many would not have expected them to be, we realize that temptation is rife even in our churches. I am not going to labor the point here other than to say that this is a timely reminder of human nature and how far removed we are from the nature of God, even if we are immersed in doing his works. I urge you that even although you are reading a man’s words, do not follow the Pastor unless he is following the Master and at some point every man will let you down.

We are all tempted, my wife shared recently a link that was called “Why porn ruined my life” and that is just a common temptation, we are tempted to cheat financially on people, emotionally on people, we could cheat on our spouse, whether emotionally or actually, either way the hurt is still there, we could be tempted by food, tempted by self-indulgence, tempted by debt in fact there are temptations that I have not even thought about but it is true as the meme I read on Facebook which when quoted stated “The devil will not come to you wearing red and carry a pitchfork, he will come to you and promise you the desires of your heart”

That is as true today as it was when the world was created, in Genesis 3 Man only had one rule and the Serpent attacked that one rule right away and he did it by temptation, he twisted the words of God and coaxed the woman into quoting God into saying something that God didn’t actually say, from then on the temptation was set, temptation blossomed into sin and mankind was separated from God. That is how serious temptation is.

We cannot behave like Adam and Eve did and succumb to temptation, we must be more like Joseph when he was tempted by the wife of his master Potiphar, Let’s read from the book of Genesis…

Genesis 39:1 (KJV) And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. 5 And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. 6 And he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. 7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? 10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.

It is important to look at what Joseph did here! He was a slave, he was a servant in his master’s house, due to his diligence he was given authority over the house and the one thing he was not allowed was his master’s wife. His master’s wife was like the woman from Proverbs 7; she attempted to make herself alluring and offered herself on many occasions to Joseph. Joseph followed God’s plan and not his and even although he would most likely have got away with the sin he was being tempted into, he chose the righteous path. Are you like Joseph? If you could get away with it would you?

Joseph suffered in the short term for being righteous, he spend a couple of years in jail where he worked diligently and then was trusted with looking after the other prisoners, what diligence and what humility that man had to follow God’s will even in the most dire circumstances! He was there until God gave Pharaoh a dream and again Joseph was again blessed more than he ever was before, God placed him in charge of the country! What a testament to following the will of God.

God will never tempt us but will allow us to periods of testing to allow us to grow, let’s look at 1st Corinthians 10…

1st Corinthians 10:13 (KJV) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

God will not give you a sufferance more than you are actually able to withstand, however you have the option through free will of embracing sin and going against God. James also talks about this…

James 1:12 (KJV) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

James paints a picture of what I was saying that temptation is the foundation for sin, you have the option at this stage to endure the temptation or go with your own lusts, allow yourself to be enticed and then allow it to grow into sin and sin as we know brings for death. Regardless of how good the temptation is, if it is not of God then please and I beg you do not do it! If we are praying to be removed from temptation and we are removed then we will be removed from the evil one. (Who wants to destroy you!)

And lastly we have a reminder that “: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” And he is, he was and is and is to come, Holy is the LORD! One day we will be in glory with him and all of the struggles that we face today will pass away. What a day that will be! Anyone else looking forward to that one?

I pray that this article has been educational, challenging, convicting and exhorting, I pray that you received it well and please feel free to like, share and comment on whatever social media you wish as the LORD leads you too.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Fifty shades of what…?

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Fifty shades of what?

John 15:12 (ESV) “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

In case you have been living under a rock and are unaware of a “certain film” debuting this weekend (Valentines weekend) called “Fifty shades of Grey” about the best selling book series which follows the BDSM lifestyle of a certain Christian Grey.

For those of you who do not have a Christian conviction or those who do not live a Christian life will probably see nothing wrong with the movie that talks about the degradation of another human for the purposes of sexual gratification.

What is love?

The verse above talks of the purest type of love, everyone who reads this will be confronted with this sentence, the man who said these words died for your sins. His name was Jesus Christ and he died for the sins of the world knowing that some would reject him. He even knows if you accept of reject him and he also knows what decision you will make after reading this article.

The Bible talks of three types of love, two of which we will cover in this article. The loves we will cover are the love of “eros” where we get our modern day erotic word from, and “agape” which is a self sacrificing serving love and this is what Jesus is talking about here.

The rest of the article will focus on “eros”.

Lust not love

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Here is where I differ from many Christians who feel compelled or feel led by the LORD to write about this topic. I am not going to do a “Father Ted” type protest that involves standing at the cinemas waving placards with such slogans as “down with this sort of thing”. (The British and Irish readers will get the reference to the popular TV show in the 90s called Father Ted).

What I am going to do is attempt to “in love” explain the difficulties that I have with this premise of a film. You see, as I type this I am looking at my five year old little girl playing in my living room and as a father it makes me realize that those women are someone’s daughters.

I have read a few commentaries and many are off base, declaring this as “an alternative love” and a “liberation of the boundaries in the bedroom” I find this hard as I love my wife and I would state that we are pretty liberated. I love her for who she is and our attraction is not just based on how we feel when our bodies rub up against each other.

The Bible has a definition of love also

Paul writes in the 1st letter to the Corinthians

1st Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

From verse 4 onwards, we learn that love has the following qualities

1)    Patience
2)    Kindness
3)    Not envious or boastful
4)    Not arrogant or rude
5)    Does not insist in its own way
6)    Not irritable or resentful
7)    Not rejoice in wrongdoing
8)    Does rejoice in truth
9)    Love bears all things
10)   Love believes all things
11)   Love hopes all things
12)   Love endures all things
13)   Love never ends (some translations say Love never fails)

Does that sound very much like the synopsis of “fifty shades of grey”? In all honesty no!

Defenses of the film

Most of the defenses of the film (or books) state that it is perfectly okay as the degradation has been administered with the consent of the “victim”.

Define “consent” because from my understanding these people have been subjected to emotional abuse to where they no longer have worth. If someone is in that frame of mind they will not exactly be consenting in a true fashion.

I really don’t see patience, kindness and I sure don’t see “not wanting their own way” I say this with all reverence of God’s word.

Will I see the film?

Probably not, there is very little in the film.for me. Am I telling you to not see the film? Actually not, I am not the Holy Spirit and would never want to be.

I am certainly not going to “get a wedgie” that the film is out,  and i would urge others not to either, the reason i say that is that it does very little good and does nothing to further decent conversation as to why you believe that the content is bad and in all reality bears little fruit.

Obviously I don’t endorse the content of the film and I do hope that it is not as successful as the filmmakers hope that it will be, regrettably sex sells and already I am reading of DIY stores having extra supplies of things such as rope and training staff on “sensitive conversations”.

The actors themselves who were acting in the film even are said to have “no chemistry” and have gone on record as being uncomfortable with what they were paid to do in this film.

The situation needs prayer

Obviously it goes without saying that this message is not a Christian one so we need to pray for the folks who feel the need to go see this movie,  pray for the singles, pray for the ones who are married and pray for their marriages.

I love you all and I pray that this page was a blessing to you and please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you.
TGBTG
TTE

All along the watchtower – a morning with Jehovah’s Witnesses

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All along the watchtower – a morning with Jehovah’s Witnesses.

1 Peter 3:14 (ESV) But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

This Saturday morning just past, we had a visit from some local members of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was pretty much arranged from last week when the LORD gave me an opportunity to redeem myself for the first time I met these people.

Rubbish first impression

The week before I was not prepared to receive visitors, my wife was ill, lying on the couch and I saw them as an unwelcome distraction on my front porch. Really I was trying to get rid of them so I could attend to my wife. They (It was two ladies the first time) were persistent and I agreed to meet them again Saturday just passed. (3rd January)

I mention this as I wish to give a balanced account of what happened. I am not wishing to record that I did a wonderful or super theological thing and also wish to show that I didn’t do it well the first time. If this was a test from God, I most certainly flunked it the first time.

God is good all the time and he allowed me a do over and I am truly grateful. When the lady I saw the first time came back, she brought an older gentlemen who within a few minutes of discussing with him advised us that he had been a JW since 1978.

Doing what I was created for

I love it when people come to my door and ask me to talk about Jesus. (It doesn’t happen all that often so this is an opportunity made of 24 karat gold) When people from the JW’s or the LDS church come to your door and try to teach you another gospel that is contrary to the word of the LORD, take it as a tremendous opportunity to give witness to the gospel that you believe in.

Hence the feature verse. Several years ago I came across an apologetic evangelist called Charlie Campbell and his ministry called “Always Be Ready”. He spoke at the local Calvary Chapel in Visalia about the dangers of the Emergent church; I was that impressed that I checked out many of his other apologetic talks. Unsurprisingly he has one also on the Jehovah’s Witness organization.

So between the first time (the previous Saturday) they came to my door and the second I read up in what they believed, possible topics I could engage them in and we were ready.

Discussion topics

They came by and their opening line was about relevance of world topics such as the Paris attacks. They then focused in on how similar our beliefs were and tried to sound out if we read the bible. We also confirmed that we would be using a copy of their bible (New World Translation) we confirmed that we did read the bible and when they were discussing their beliefs they touched on a few areas that they have unique beliefs. (Compared to Christians)

1) A non-belief in a literal hell
2) A belief that everyone will be with Jesus regardless if you have chosen to believe or not.
3) A denial that Jesus was God or the trinity as a whole
4) A belief in “soul sleep”
5) A two tier heaven

Where do I start? Well my wife was keen to use their translation of the scriptures to avoid “translation difficulties” and this allowed us to focus on the topics that mattered.

1) A non-belief in a literal hell, 2) A belief that everyone will be with Jesus regardless if you have chosen to believe or not & 4) A belief in “soul sleep”

These three beliefs tied in together in the discussion that we had, they pushed the belief that regardless of the actions that you took in this life, you would not be separated from God, that there would not be an actual hell that you would go to.

This begs the question “why did Christ die?” if it was not for the substitution of our sins, my wife was the driver in the conversation and allowed them to state their case clearly and concisely in order to get where they were coming from.

We didn’t get to this scripture due to time constraints, however I was trying to get to John 14:6 where Jesus advises that “I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the father but by me”.

This doctrine ladies and gentlemen is a lie from the pit of hell. The bible advises the existence of a literal separation from God, that those who choose to separate themselves from their creator will get their wish. Once you enter a posthumous state, time is up and the choice then has been made, there is no cooling off period (or soul sleep)

3) A denial that Jesus was God or the trinity as a whole

We had the most fun with this one, the gentleman hypothesized “well who can really tell when Jesus came about?” So I took him to John 1:1, albeit in the New World Translation they have changed the wording from “God” to “a god” trying to remove Jesus as the Son of God.

It is important to see where they are coming from before you enter into that discussion, I then took them to Genesis 1:1 to show that the plurality of the word used for God shows more than one entity involved in creation, the fact that the Holy Spirit is mentioned by name and the fact that God (Father) says phrases such as “let us make man in OUR image”.

The last scripture I took them to, to show this was in the later part of the book of John (John 20) where Thomas, who originally doubted fell to his knees and stated “My LORD and my God!”

The interesting thing that they did do is they brought up Isaiah 9:6 and really tried to labor the point that he was only a “mighty God” and that “many people who were renowned in those days were known as gods” Of course my wife and I (mainly my wife at that point) were defending the position that we have a much higher view of Jesus being both God and man.

Because of their beliefs they also do not belief in a resurrection for Jesus. They believe that Jesus was a created angel as opposed to the propitiation for our sins. They do preach Jesus but not the Jesus of the bible. They attempt to remove the deity of Christ, ranking him as similar to an angel.

5) A two tier heaven

They kept referring to a “ruling class” and “everyone else” in heaven, so they do believe that there will be different zones in heaven dependent of what you believed at the time. I am assuming (this wasn’t explored due to time constraints) that the JW’s will be in the ruling class and that everyone else will be in the lower tier of the glory of God.

Perhaps I am misquoting them when I say heaven, they spoke about living on a paradise earth as opposed to a literal heaven.

So if everyone is in the presence of God at the end of the road, what is the point in what they are doing?

Well I had to look into that further as I did not explore that further at the time of the conversation. The JW’s believe that you have to be a baptized participating member of their organization in order to get a type of works based salvation. (Paul refutes this in Ephesians 2:8)

We did not get into their belief in the 144,000 also, I was hoping to but again we only had 40 minutes and we packed a lot into that time.

Treat them in LOVE

Most people try to get rid of JW’s as quickly as possible (like I did the first time) but I have learned from my error. These guys, whilst I believe that they are in error and are putting their faith in something that will not achieve what they hope it will, are still people and still require the love of Christ.

1 Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Here is the deal, I can be as convincing as I can be by stating things that make sense to the mind but I do not have the power to save someone. I can be used by God to witness to these witnesses (see what I did there?) however it is only through belief in Jesus Christ and the individual accepting his free gift of grace can he be saved.

Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Follow up?

Is really up to them, they have an open invite to my door anytime, however the chap who had been in the faith since 1978 was getting a little frustrated when we stated our beliefs. My hope and prayer is that they do come back; I love situations like this as I enjoy having an open invite to state my belief in Christ Jesus and my wife really is tremendous and was literally glowing when stating her faith. She truly is a blessing and really led the line at the beginning.

They stated that they would come back and left a “Watchtower” magazine that they would discuss with us upon their return. One hopes they do, if they have to do door to door time as part of their works based theology, I would much rather that they did it with us that would give them questions to stretch their faith than someone who may become a convert.

I have a great deal of love for them and prayed a lot for them over the weekend.

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

TTE Advent Calendar Day Seventeen – December 17th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Seventeen -December 17th

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

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would be a Nazarene. We read this is the book of Isaiah chapter 11…

Isaiah 11:1 (ESV) There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

What a picture of the coming messiah! That he came from the stump of Jesse (The end of Isaiah 10 talks about the tribes being shewn down) so this stump of Jesse would birth Israel’s greatest human king, the man known historically as King David.

I love this prophesy as it honors David’s father and shows humility, had he started with David many more would have taken notice, but he grew that branch out of Jesse and gave honor to him.

I love the prophetic implications as the line of David had not been on the throne of Israel for at 600 years at that point, wouldn’t you say that was a dead stump? Who else but God could spring life in something that was considered dead? And to give it the life that is life – the Messiah!

Jesus the Nazarene

Let’s look at the gospel of Matthew chapter twenty three:

Matthew 2:23 (ESV) And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Nazareth was not a great place to be from, as humble as coming from the stump of Jesse was, if you were from Nazareth you were pre judged. Let’s look at this in scripture in the Gospel of John:

John 1:43 (ESV) The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

The answer from Philip was typical of the attitude of that day, people from Nazareth were not regarded well, were not seen as valuable. The messiah who would be humble and rejected by the very people that he came to save. Interestingly the Hebrew word translated Branch sounds like “Nazir” (neser).

How does this make him a Nazarene?

The honest answer, because Jesus said it does! Let’s look at Paul talking about his conversion in Acts twenty two:

Acts 22: (ESV) 3 I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. 6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’

So we have it confirmed from Jesus, he was Jesus of Nazareth. We also read in Acts twenty four in Tertullus accusations against Paul to Felix:

Acts 24:5 (ESV) For we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes:

So we see quite clearly that the term Nazarene was prophesied, used for Jesus and his followers. The term Christian came much later, Jesus in many ways came and redeemed the name of the Nazarene because from humble roots he was born into humble surroundings into an area that was much maligned and not regarded as anything.

To the scoffer this would be regarded as foolish, however Paul writes about things such as this in his first letter to the Corinthian church, which reads:

1 Corinthians 1:27 (ESV) But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;

Still think you are too small and insignificant to be used by God? He allowed his son to come from an area that was humble, live a life that was perfect, allowed him to die in the cruelest way possible and raised him to life three days later to buy your freedom. You are worth that much to God.

Jesus went through all this so we can go to heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

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

TTE Advent Calendar Day Twelve – December 12th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twelve – December 12th

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

Isaiah 40:3 (ESV) A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Thanks for visiting and reading our article today. Today’s article is very similar to a few days ago when we spoke about John the Baptist, we look at it from the prophecy standpoint that the messiah will have a fore runner.

We went into detail a couple of days ago regarding the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6 and we also confirmed this in the New Testament when we looked at the Gospel of Matthew chapter 11. Lets look at the passage of scripture in Isaiah.

We read that “A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” We know this is of course John the Baptist. The words that are written advise that this messenger will be preparing the way for the LORD, who is the messiah, the historical figure we know as Jesus Christ.

We also learn that he is crying out in the wilderness, for me I have always wondered whether this is a physical wilderness as in will he only preach in the desolate places or is it a spiritual wilderness, will he only preach to those who are spiritually barren in heart. I personally think it is a bit of both, we will read in Luke 3:6-9 that he addressed the ones that the world saw as holy, but in all truth their hearts were far from God, we see this in how they dealt with the messiah who was sent to atone for their very sins.

This phrase “prepare ye the way of the LORD” makes me think of the current monarch of Great Britain Queen Elizabeth II. When she is due to travel on a royal procession and her route is known to local authorities certain preparations take place before she makes that journey.

All vehicles are removed from the streets she is scheduled to go down, the public are placed behind barriers, police, army and bomb disposal units sweep the area to ensure the monarchs safety and the way is prepared long before to facilitate a secure, safe and comfortable journey for HRH.

This is a modern day example of what is spoken in verses 3-5, our king (Jesus) is a much better king than any sinful monarch. We have to also prepare our hearts for the LORD too, verse 5 talks about how all flesh shall see the glory of the LORD because he is the only one who can change our hearts and allow us to be with him for eternity.

Let’s look at Luke…

Luke 3:1 (ESV) In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’” 7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

We learn almost to the year of when this happened due to Luke’s timeline in verses 1 & 2. Romans had their calendar listed as to who was Caeser (Tiberius) we get further validation on the governor (Pilate) the local king (Herod) another king in the area (Philip & Lysanias) and who was the high priests (Annas and Caiaphas) we have 5 validations of the point of history we are speaking of. Who said the Bible was vague?

Luke does this to appeal to all audiences and peoples; he lists the Roman leaders from the top down, then the royal leaders and lastly the religious leaders. Luke was keen to be relevant to whoever sought to know about the life of Jesus Christ.

This is an application for me, making the gospel available to everyone. I listened to a song that had the lyric “Jesus paid much to high a price, so we could pick and choose who should come”. We as the body of Christ have to reach everyone regardless of their social status or reciprocal value. We are called to “make disciples of all nations” not called to make disciples if they have a credit score of 600 and above.

We have an almost Pharisee like view sometimes when it comes to witnessing when in fact in many cases it is the ones who are at rock bottom and have nowhere else to turn will be more receptive to a gospel that offers hope. I don’t begin to understand why some people have had such a rough life but I do know that we have a caring God who can rescue us if it is his will.

I mention the “Pharisee in me” as that is who John was talking to. The ones who thought that they were alright with God because they did their wee holy tricks and rituals and got great praise from men due to being the loudest prayers and the most often being spiritual to be seen to be spiritual.

I love how John starts his sermon, if he was Scottish he would be saying “Ya bunch of snakes” great way to get their attention huh? Imagine if you went to church on Sunday and your pastor started with that line! Or even started with the line “What are you doing here anyway?” it doesn’t strike as very friendly in today’s all inclusive “let’s not offend anyone” gospel.

He wasn’t there to flatter, to puff up those who already had a high opinion of themselves; he was doing as it says in the epistle to Jude…

Jude 1:23 (ESV) save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh

These were holy men sure, but they were also stained by their inner sin. You have to realize that it is not the sin that we make known to other men that will destroy us, it is the sin that we keep deep down in our hearts that we refuse to let go of. That is the real destroyer of mighty men of God. Jesus called the self-same men “whitewashed tombs”.

I love how he brings up the very argument they would use to grant themselves righteousness, they would say that “Abraham was their father”. Much as I would love to ensure all of my families’ security in heaven, unless they make their own decision for the LORD, then they shall not be with me in paradise. That is painful as I do have love for them, for example my older brother, he is my sibling, but simply being my sibling is not going to change his eternal direction if he does not choose Jesus for himself.

This is especially important for Pastors Kids, trusting in a legacy is futile as we all own our eternal direction, we all have that same opportunity that Adam and Eve had, to choose God or reject him. John goes on to say that God could repeat creation and raise children from the stones and the earth. (Logical in my opinion that’s where they came from in the first place) and he really gave them their place in the scheme of things. They thought they were so lofty and righteous and really they were not. John who was empowered with the spirit of Elijah saw right through them.

The last part is that he advised that they should be bearing fruit, John could see that in their lives they were not showing any fruit. Lets look at two verses which show you what I mean. The first is in Galatians chapter 5…

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. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

I really need not comment as I already am making a list of the stuff that I don’t always bear fruit upon. Make no mistake about it, I am certainly not looking for moral victory on the stuff I get right! Let’s look about how the bible defines love. One of the best definitions is in Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthian church in chapter thirteen…

1st Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing

Really I could be like these Pharisee men and look the part, even do works that God will allow me to do, but if I don’t love I have missed the point completely. Even if I am killed for my faith and give the ultimate sacrifice, I have nothing!

Jesus preached about love more than anything else, because God is love. God does not desire that any should perish but all should have eternal life. That is why he sent that aforementioned messiah that John prepared the way for. His sacrifice as the second Adam gave us the opportunity to be reconciled to God; it is not up to us to take him up on his offer of salvation.

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

Letter to my princess (from a loving father)

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This is a letter that is written to my daughter from me, her father,  the man who was blessed to have been given custodianship from God. This letter is not in any format other than the way it rolled off my mind and onto the page. At the time of writing this, my daughter is 5 years old and behind my wife, the love of my life.

I compare the love I have for her to the love God has for us, the main difference is that God is perfect and I am far from it, I am reminded this in the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus says the following:

 

Matthew 7:7 (ESV) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him

 

Really I am writing a love letter to the wee lassie who has become such a blessing in the lives of my wife and I. The quoted text is the letter to my princess.

Dearest Daughter,

1st Corinthians 13:1 (ESV) If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;fn6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

I write to you as your father, the one who has been granted a unique place in your life and your heart. You see, what you see before you is what has been provided for you by God. Your very existence is a miracle that I am grateful to the LORD that he answered the prayers of your Mother and I,  he not only answered our prayers but confirmed it was him through scripture. You are an answer to prayer and our miracle.

I fulfill many roles in many people’s lives, to your cousins I am an uncle,  to one I am a brother, to mommy I am a husband and to Nana and Papa I am a son. But to you I am your Daddy. It is a task I take on with nervousness and also with pride.

Psalm 113:9 (ESV) He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!

I am the man that you will compare all other men too, I am your first true love and I will always be there for you.  I will embarrass you, I will correct you, I will try to mould you into a young woman of God and hold you tightly until a man comes calling that is worthy of you. He will be a man who is much better than me and he will love, honor and cherish you.

I will be intrusive, I will shield you from harmful things, we will argue, but as long as I draw breath I will do what’s best for you. The liberals reading this will hate this, the conservatives will love it, but I do it for you, not public opinion.

Psalm 127:3 (ESV) Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward

I will be your first date, you will know a sense of your worth as a beautiful young woman and I will set in you standards and expectations that ensure you know to be treated by one who desires to win your heart. I will ask you to trust my advice in the matter of young men and please know, anyone who gets that opportunity will get a treasure that is worth more than any precious metal or jewel.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

It is my job to introduce you to Jesus Christ, to show you my redeemer. I have to love a life that shows that he is real, in my speech, in my decisions and be an example to you.

You will grow up in a Christian home, I hope (God willing) to be an example to your children and to leave you my theological library when I am gone. I had a Godly grandfather and it was such a delight to visit him and despite his failing years, the word of the LORD, hymns and psalms made him light up like a Christmas tree.

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord

I want you to learn from my errors, because I love you and don’t wish you to repeat and go through what I had to due to my bad choices.

You will have electronic devices, but we will set standards for usage and we will always have your password. We do reserve the right to revoke this privilege.

Deuteronomy 6:6 (ESV) And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

You will be home schooled, because your mom and I believe that it is best for you, you will always have friends and will.usually be ahead of the learning curve.

Regardless of the number of dollars in our bank account,  the amount of cool things in our house, wherever we live or whatever is going on as a sideshow, you will know that you are loved,  that Jesus loves you and we will always look out for what is best for you, perhaps not what you desire at that time, but we humbly ask for your trust that we have your best interests at heart.

Proverbs 20:7 (ESV) The righteous who walks in his integrity—blessed are his children after him!

I love you and in the same way God loves us you will always be my princess
Your Daddy

Proverbs 4:1 (ESV) Hear, O sons, a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, 2 for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching. 3 When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, 4 he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. 5 Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. 6 Do not forsake her, and she will keep you

I know this is not a usual post, but I pray this was a blessing and please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Do we treat the Bible as the precious document it is?

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Do we treat the Bible as the precious document it is?

We in the western world are very blessed. We have a Bible in almost every room in our house. I certainly have at least 5-6 Bibles in my house that are either on my bookshelf or have barely been read. If we were to look into impoverished nations, such as those in Asia and Africa where they have only ever owned a few pages at a time in their native language, and see what they look like if they were to get a whole book of the Bible, like a Gospel of John or a New Testament, never mind a whole Bible, will make you think about your faith, your relationship with your Bible and hopefully inspire you to change. Here are a few scriptures I have chosen to ask the question above.

We need reminding to study and why

2 Tim 2:14 (NKJV) Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.

It is a sad indication that we don’t treat our Bibles the way we should. If we did, my new country (USA) would be in a state of revival that would make the Azusa Street Revival seem like a conservative “run of the mill” Sunday.

The graphic is of course amusing but it is meant to cause a point. I borrowed the graphic from a local pastor who I know quite well (Pastor Bob Grenier – Calvary Chapel Visalia) off his Facebook, sorry Bob!

The graphic however got me thinking and made me wonder about my own life, do I “study to show myself approved” as much as I should? I read the Bible sure, but how am I in the areas that really matter. How am I in personal readings? Do I study enough? Do I study with my wife as a couple? Do I lead by example when it comes to Bible reading? How do I engage my child and raise up the next generation of Christians? What example am I to the folks that God has allowed me to be head of that home?

Challenging stuff huh? I am not as bad as the graphic but I am certainly a long way from where I believe God would like me to be. It is not easy to publicly say that and it truly chafes at my inner being to admit. I like to be like everyone else and claim that I have it all down, but I am a fallen man, who fails his wife consistently (let’s be real here) but has been forgiven by God and also by his wife!

Continuing in the Scriptures

2 Tim 3:14 (NKJV) But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Starting a Bible plan is only the start; I have started, re-started and turned over enough leaves to fill an autumn. My wife calls me the “startup guy” because i am great at getting things moving, ministries started (I launched the church I attended since 2007’s Facebook & Twitter in 2009 before passing it on earlier this year) and then pass on the baton to someone else. Of course she is right, but I wish I had more staying power at times.

It is imperative that we teach the precious children the precious scriptures. These are not just words on a page, this book is the most maligned, most attacked, most martyred book ever, it contains the Word of God. The words that should guide your life as a Christian, as the verse says it “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”

The world is going to teach them anything but the Bible, such as programs to ban school bible classes. We have had no official representation in schools for the Bible since 1962. If the kids are not getting the Bible in their homes (whether that home is Christian or Non-Christian) then they most certainly are not getting it at school.

I am a little bit of an enigma in that respect, until recently my dad did not care for the word. I was sent to a Brethren Gospel hall for Sunday School and I learned a basic foundational knowledge from there, I did not get beyond a basic knowledge as I did not follow up in the word (always have had a Bible) and didn’t read it because my parents didn’t. God rescued me from myself by sending a wonderful woman (see my Testimony page)

How deep is the Word?

Deut 11:18 (NKJV) “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. 22 “For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him—23 then the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.

This is critical, we have to memorize the word, write it on our hearts, we have to bind them as a fabric of our every being. (I don’t know about you dear reader, but I am being flogged by the words today and realizing my shortcomings) God promises blessings if we abide in his word.

I like the idea of writing them on your “doorposts and gates” having reminders all around your home who you serve and the standards that you must keep. In my house when you walk through the door I see the words “FAITH HOPE LOVE” which of course refers to our family verse 1 Corinthians 13:13, all around my house are different scriptures to help remind our family that when the trials come, and they will, the God is in control and all this other stuff is temporary (see my blog on trials)

The promise to drive out our enemies is one I like, what we have to realize though is that is in God’s time. Often times he will “purify us in the fire” longer than we would like. When I get trials I usually sink to my knees and pray for deliverance. What I should be praying for is open eyes to see what lesson I am being taught here.

Destroyed for rejecting knowledge

Hosea 4:6 (NKJV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

God has written down his plan for your life (mine too) and we have the same choice as Adam and Eve. We can choose to reject God’s plan, discard the knowledge that is in the Word of God, reject God’s plan for your life and forget God’s law. There are two things I would like to say here, if you are giving up on God completely and going away from the faith, then that is tragic.

Secondly I see people who are in ministry, try to take on more than they were ever equipped to take on, the counsellor is soon in need of being counselled, the preacher should really sit down and learn for a season. The prayer has a dry prayer life and is pumping a dry well publically. The minister is living life based on what he knows of the words of God as opposed to the Word of God and he is falling into a hole that very soon will either lead to apostasy or leaving the faith.

I pray for those folks. I see so many folks sitting with their little “cyber guns” waiting to shoot at a minister, a pastor or someone in ministry that either has gone off the rails or is about to. Instead of getting down, getting humble and praying for those folks, honestly wishing their brother does not fall. They sit with a “Grinch-like smile” and take great glee at uncovering their sin in the same manner as Noah’s son Ham, where he could not wait to tell his brothers of his father’s shame. (Gen 9:20-23) Are you like Ham? Or are you like Shem and Japheth? (There are whole ministries dedicated to being Shem or Japheth’s)

What is the Word of God?

Hebrew 4:12 (NKJV) For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

I pray that as you read this, it is not my words which impact you but the Bible verses. That is the point of this whole blog/website. The word of God is center stage. I have no “show to steal” as i am just a lay person (a nobody) giving what God has put on his heart. I have no official ordination or tie in or promotion to any church/assembly or group. I write just as me.

That being said, in studying for articles like this one, my heart does get pierced. It speaks to me in a way that no other man made document has. It is a refiner, a mirror to show your imperfections and what you need to do to fix it. I am a knucklehead so I need to be told everything many times over to allow it to resonate. This is why I believe that God wrote it down for us. So that we can’t say, well if only God would tell me what he wants for me to do with my life. In the words of Answers in Genesis founder Ken Ham “Well there is this book…”

How to receive the word

Acts 17:11 (NKJV) These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

Now we understand the importance of the word, how do we receive it? We have two options

1) Receive it in a passive way, possibly like you are doing now
2) Receive it in a fashion like the Bereans (v10 states who they were)

The Bereans were studiers of the word, they pulled apart the scriptures and were what we would call these days and Inductive Bible student, they found out what it meant, they liked for ways to apply it to their lives, they examined the evidence and found the truths, they looked for each spiritual nugget and how it meant to their lives.

My prayer is that God make me like a Berean!

Some comfort in the Psalms

Psalm 119:105 (NKJV) Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path

Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

Some comfort to end on a light note, the Word of God is there to help us be “lights in the darkness” and our Bibles are what keeps the light shining bright, we need to treasure these scriptures as they have been diligently been prepared (by hand until the later part of the 16th century)

We need to have the word engrained in our hearts; it allows us to claim victory over our struggles.

God bless and I pray this was an exhortation and a blessing to you all
TTE

Ten Commandments through the eyes of the Epistles

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Your mission field should you choose to accept it

Ten Commandments through the eyes of the Epistles

In a previous article I spoke of Agape love and gave a brief definition of what it was, when beginning this study I decided to take a short look at something Christ said. This question occurred when the Pharisees (The teachers of the Law, the ones who should know better) were questioning him about what the greatest commandment was.

Jesus answers in the gospel of Matthew 22:35-40 when he says:

 

35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

I find this wonderful and what a teacher our LORD was, broke down the 10 Commandments in one sentence! (If you wish to read the 10 Commandments they are in Exodus 20:2-17)

10 Commandments in a paragraph

I am no way as good a teacher as our LORD so I will try to do this in a paragraph. (I also studied this a lot as I wanted to write a book on the subject) The first 4 Commandments refer to your relationship with God. (Verses 3-11) The last 6 refer to your relationship with others. (Verses 12-17)

You can’t love people the way God wants you to until you first love God.

How so you treat your neighbour?

Lets have a reality check here folks, I was in a meeting recently with a local Pastor and we were discussing an issue that was divisive in the church at large and I eventually said to him “we all have to own how we treat each other!” (This was 2014 and it was concerning two Christian brothers at opposite ends of Christendom as far as how they reach people for Christ)

Jesus himself advised this self same point in the Gospel of Luke 10:29-37, so many of us become a “Diotrephes” and become puffed up and start to think we are the main show when we are simply the tolls used by the master craftsman.

The thing that strikes me today about that parable is it is the ones who have been overlooked for the “show ministries” that are making the difference to the guys who are in the ditches, Praise God for those with a Samaritans heart that just get on with it and have the heart to do it for Gods glory and not for the praises of men.

Those folks to me are showing the real Christ, those guys who show Jesus’ love and not judgement to the guy in bondage to drugs, to alcohol or whatever their vice is. That to me is true agape love.

Verses that show the value of keeping the last 6 Commandments

Lastly, we have further reading in the Scriptures that show the principles of the Ten Commandments in other parts of the Bible. They are below:

Respect authority – Ephesians 6:1-3; Romans 13:1-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Protect Life – Deuteronomy 19:11-12; 1 John 3:15

Protect Marriage – 1 Corinthians 6:13-18; James 4:1-4

Respect Property – Exodus 22:1-15; Malachi 3:8-10

Honour Truth – Zechariah 8:16-17; Ephesians 4:29-32

Reject Greed – Psalm 106:13-15; 1 Timothy 6:9-10

Love is showing them Jesus

In conclusion, I want to share that it is great to love people on this earth and attend to their day to day needs, but if we really wish to love them we also have to show them Jesus.

To do the first would be like performing the role of a triage nurse in an ER room to a gunshot wound victim. Whilst your role is important, if they don’t have surgery they will not survive. We have to book the person we are agape-ing (is that a word?) in For a “Salvation-ectomy)

Step 1 – Bear them in love

We read in the book of Ephesians the following words:

Ephesians 4:2 (ESV) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

That is what we were talking about before, this applies to our relationship with believers and non-believers, if you clean a man up when he is at his lowest, he will listen to you when you try to show him a better way.

Step 2 – preaching is not just words

2 Timothy 4:2 (ESV) preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

You notice the word that is in both verses “patience” I love this because when I was in sin, I loved it! I was Mr. I can drink more than you, I can eat more than you, I can party more than you.

The person you are “agape-ing” may still be there, they may have one foot in both camps, they may still be in sin, you have to teach them honestly sound doctrine and show them the reason you are there and why you love.

Step 3 – Have compassion but save by fear

This point is summed up beautifully in the Epistle of Jude:

Jude 1:20 (ESV) But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Some will believe when they hear of Jesus love, some will believe because they do not wish to spend eternity in the lake of fire! (Revelation 20:11-15)

Hell is real folks! Lets not forget, as Christians our MO is to keep as many folks out of there as possible. We are to be missionaries to where God has planted us, and to do what he has called in our lives.

I pray this was challenging and an exhortation to you! God bless you and TGBTG
TTE

All you need is agape

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Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NKJV)

Not just an introduction this time

By now most of you will have read the “Introduction to 1st Corinthians 13” that I posted a few days ago, I felt moved to do more of an inductive study on the words in this passage as this has been an important area in my Christian life and it may be of help to others.

If you have studied the book of Corinthians you will understand the Corinthian people were people of excess. When they lived in a carnal lifestyle they were very carnal, when they became spiritual they were really spiritual. This can be an issue today, that we become distracted by being gifted by God. If we are given the gift of tongues, then that is a blessing but let it be used appropriately. Gifts are meant to edify, not cause confusion.

Division?

Recently, a well known Christian pastor called John MacArthur held a conference called “Strange Fire” condemning a whole bunch of charismatic movements. (Including my very own Calvary Chapel) Whilst there are some practices that I am uneasy with in some of these movements, there are some good things coming out of these movements so in my opinion it is not fruitful to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”

Use of Spiritual gifts

I say this as I have seen some “wacky things” in the name of using spiritual gifts, I have seen pastors command their people speak in tongues all at once with no interpretations, I have also seen folks taking seizures in the LORD. I am not discounting the gift of tongues, but I do admonish people to use it biblically. In some churches the gift is a means to say “you have arrived at a greater level of Christian” Tongues are shown in the bible, notably in Acts 2 and Revelation 5, but we cannot be abusing these gifts and cheapening them to make ourselves look holier.

We have to also not to be distracted by attaining these gifts. I have seen people devote entire prayer lives to attaining the gift of tongues, not increasing in Gods word or opportunities to reach the lost, but a self seeking agenda to seem spiritual. Sadly they are not also praying to increase in love to those who are against them. They wish for the gifts but don’t have love, sound familiar huh?

Annoying noise

The term “sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” indicates an annoying noise. Do you think thats what God hears? Is it no coincidence that or LORD Jesus was hardest on those who should have known better (Pharisees) due to their grand gestures but empty hearts. When I started my journey as a Christian, I didn’t want to set out to be a Pharisaical one! Did you?

We have to realize that these are gifts, its like recently I (as in me and my wife) bought our wee princess a doll from Disney’s “Frozen” did she do anything to deserve that? Possibly, did we do it because we love her? Definitely. How much greater gifts would we get from God?

Super Christian?

If we had the gifts of prophecy, knowledge and faith, we may think that we have become a “Super Christian” but what we have been gifted from God really in many cases have no relevance of our worthiness. We are all still sinners, albeit redeemed sinners. We also have to have the correct motive and the will to use the gifts for the glory of God. It is right that it says they are irrelevant without love.

The idea of faith moving mountains can be found in Matthew 17:20 in the words of Christ. We have to get the balance between love and the gifts, not to seek first the gifts and get the point of this; the love should be the motive behind using the gifts.
Let’s look at Biblical love:

There are four words used for love in the New Testament. Eros, Storge, Philia, Agape, lets look at them in basic terms.

Eros – Physical love between a man and woman, where we get our modern day “erotic”
Storge – Family love, like what I have for my daughter
Philia – Brotherly love, deep friendship
Agape – Self giving love, without demanding anything in recompense, a sacrificial, absorbing love.

Paul unsurprisingly uses “agape” so this leads me to a question. How often do we agape one another? Now we have defined this do we “have not agape?” this leads us into actions mentioned in the passage.

Actions without meaning really are also not useful.

…And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing…

I think that charity to the poor is great, not that it means much but I recently gave a sandwich to a guy outside McDonalds who was severely down on his luck, this guy was the genuine article. I have never seen someone be so grateful over a sandwich that cost me under $2. I pray that he is sustained and that he finds Jesus.

Jesus told a rich man to sell all that he had and follow him (Matthew 16) It is good to shirk some of our comfort zone, but please do it with the right heart and if we are doing it, do it in love.

The last one is hard also, if I give myself to me martyred… I was talking last night about Scottish Christianity and in particular about George Wishart being burned in St Andrews for the heresy of Protestantism. If he had no love it would mean nothing.

Nuts and bolts

We have to get our heart right and love in an agape fashion. (Sounds easy huh?) All of what is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 are good things, if used in the way God intended. God wants the best for us and we have to have the heart of agape love to use what God has given to us as gifts.

Lastly, I love this music video, hope you enjoy.

God bless you and I pray this was a blessing.
TGBTG