Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: Calvary Chapel USA

Joshua had BIG shoes to fill – Joshua 1:1-8

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Joshua had BIG shoes to fill – Joshua 1:1-8 – 07/12/2016

Today’s devotion looks at Joshua and we have all had the situation where we have had to follow someone who was influential, imagine you are following the guy that the LORD gave the tablets of the law to, the guy who followed the LORD into leading the exodus of people out of slavery in Egypt. Let us look at the commission of Joshua in the book of Joshua…

Joshua 1:1 (ESV) After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Those of you who know me will know I love the book of Joshua and also I have big feet and therefore BIG shoes. (US size 13) The book of Joshua has everything that you would want in a modern day novel; it has spy stories, epic battles spiritual lessons and reliance on God as well as the consequences for going against God. When my local Calvary Chapel in Porterville started studying Joshua on a Tuesday night I don’t think I missed many of the lessons such as my admiration for the book.

Moses was blessed that even despite his rebellion (Numbers 20) the LORD let him see the Promised Land, (Deuteronomy 34) he had been told prior that he would not set foot in it but he was blessed in that he was able to at least see the fruit of his labor prior to his death.

Just as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses were given promises from God; Jacob was also made a promise from God. Can you imagine the comfort that is to Joshua because as stated at the top of the article, he had BIG shoes to fill? He was replacing the man who had led the children of Israel out from slavery in Egypt. The first thing that strikes me about this passage of scripture is that God keeps his promises, let is look at what God promised…

  • Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. (V2-4) – God gave instruction to GO! When God directs your steps and has chosen you for a mission that he is allowing you to do then you best do it! This was no vague promise; he even told Joshua the area in which he was entitled to go. This may upset some who want to take away land from Israel but God drew the boundary long before many of these arguments were thought up.
  • No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. (V5) – Have you ever uttered the words “If my God is for me then who can be against me”? This is exactly what God was telling Joshua.
  • Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them (V6-7) – There is a difference between being strong and courageous in our own might and being strong in the LORD and He was telling him to be courageous but he was also saying that he had to do it according to the Law. He had to have no fear but lean on the LORD and his statutes.
  • This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (V8) – Lastly we have confirmation that the mighty leader with big shoes to fill had to be in the scriptures both day and night, they had to be a priority in that man’s life if he was going to lead God’s way. A good question to ask in application would be regardless of the extent of leadership you have been given, whether you are a Pastor, a small group leader, Sunday school or children’s leader, husband, or even a single man it is imperative that you are in the scriptures and it is a priority for you.

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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Genesis Two – Day Seven – The Seventh Day, God Rests – Genesis 2:1-3

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Genesis Two – Day Seven – The Seventh Day, God Rests – Genesis 2:1-3 – 02/23/2016

Genesis 2:1 (ESV) Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter two verse one…

V1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

This is the day where a line was drawn in the sand. This verse shows that creation was a one off event and that God had finished creating it all. When he created the earth, the plants and even the humans, he created them fully grown and we read that the plants were blooming, the trees were bearing fruit and the man was fully grown. We read in the biblical accounts that there were no babies until the days of Cain and Abel.

V2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

The interesting thing about this account is that God is so big that he did not have to rest, he could have gone on creating for an indefinite amount of time if he wished, however the seven day example that God set out was an example for us as humans. He rested as an example that the creating work was done and we need to look at our own lives and make sure we are taking time for rest.

I say this because I am as guilty as the next man of taking on tasks or jobs that I have no business taking on. I do over-schedule, sometimes I do under-deliver and I do not take enough rest and God, who knows what is best for us designed the week for us to have a rest. It is good for our physical, our emotional and obviously our mental health.

God knew what was best for us and this was even in the days before electronic devices that consume our lives and take us almost like a prisoner. (Perhaps that is why they are called “cell phones”) and I saw good evidence of that this week when I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Every exhibit that I went to I found myself almost being rude and guarding my own little section of the glass where my family were trying to see the exhibits due to the “selfie culture” where folks would barge in front of you to try to get a picture or video of the animals rather than actually view them with the beautiful eyes that God gave them. I actually watched one of the keeper talks through someone else’s cell phone because the lady did just what I said earlier.

I am not against electronic devices and I own a cell phone, PC and a tablet but I do feel that we do need to take a Sabbath rest from these devices because we are becoming a culture of artificialness. I will give you an example where I am the butt of the joke if you will…
On Sunday I went to Calvary Monterey where I got up early and opened my tablet to google maps to map out my journey, I took the same tablet to church in lieu of a notepad and bible and for most of the next two hours I relied on an electronic device to guide my way, read the bible and to take notes based on the sermon text.

We need to unplug ourselves and rest but not for the sake of being lazy, we are supposed to remember God on our day of rest because it is a gift from God. God is not a tyrant or benevolent dictator, yes we are on God’s cycle of seven days but we are to realize that the seven day week is a foreshadow to the rest that we have in our messiah Jesus Christ, you see that even from the dawn of creation God had made a plan for a redeemer. Let’s look at verse three…

V3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

We see the Sabbath mentioned again in Exodus 20…

Exodus 20: 8 (ESV) “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

In the Law given to the children of Israel there was a provision made for the Sabbath, again God was looking out for the children of Israel as they had just come from the worst slavery imaginable in the country of Egypt under the Pharaoh where they literally worked from dust till dawn making bricks out of straw, often having to forage for their own building materials building the great cities of the Egyptian empire, is it any wonder that the God who loved them so much had told them to literally “take a day off”.

Certain churches that are Sabbath keepers will have the Sabbath as holy as the teachings of Jesus but fail to realize the rest we are supposed to have in Jesus. There is a whole side issue of whether you should take a Sabbath, what day should it be? And that for me is a secondary issue. Paul makes this clear in the book of Colossians chapter 2…

Colossians 2:16 (ESV) Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

And who is to argue with the Apostle Paul, there truly are better things to focus our attention on and can we not address the sins in our lives with the same vigor and zeal that we rush into arguments like this? Let’s look at what Paul wrote to the Galatian church…

Galatians 4:8 (ESV) Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.


We have to be careful to not make the sacrament holier than it actually is. It is an observance and if you are convicted by God to keep a certain day over others then great. I know many pastors that take Monday as a day off because as you would expect they work on a Sunday. Lastly let’s look at what is written to the Hebrew church…

Hebrews 4:9 (ESV) So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

We have that Sabbath rest; remember I said that before – in our messiah Jesus. I put it to you that every day should be set apart for God and we should be living in that great commission to go out, evangelize, tell people the good news and allow the Holy Spirit to convict hearts and be an example that changes people’s lives. We are to go make disciples and show them who we are in our messiah Jesus Christ, who is in?

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we look at the creation of man and woman as we continue in chapter two in Genesis starting at verse four going through to verse nine. 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

What are the benefits of a small group bible study?

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What are the benefits of a small group bible study?

Matthew 18:19 (ESV) Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Words of Jesus)

Those of you who know me will know that I have been blessed to be hosting a Bible study in my home and despite my presumptions about how I was going to bless others with some good verse by verse, line by line and precept upon precept teaching that was not at all what God had planned for us.

Yes that has happened, we have been going through a series that we created called “Why does God allow pain and suffering?” and we also did a three part series which included baptism, Lazarus being raised from the dead and lastly the account of Philemon. But it has not been what I thought it would be in my mind’s eye and God had a much better plan for the group than I did. For me it was confirmation that his ways are always higher than my ways and sometimes that is okay.

The word is still being taught but these people are bringing themselves. I did not know them before God brought us together but he has orchestrated people who are raw, honest and if they are struggling they will tell you so, if they need you they will let you now and when they bless you they truly do, some bring food, some bring gifts and others bring their heart and I feel blessed to be a tool that is used by God in this manner, none of this is me and I am not integral to this at all, but I am open to whatever God will ask me to do in facilitating and leading this group and I am blown away by the koinonia that is being formed and the community that is being built for his glory!

A recipe for a good small group has to have the following…

a) Covering in prayer
b) Honesty
c) Trust
d) Sound doctrinal teaching from the bible
e) Strong leadership (maybe more than one so that the conversation is not one sided)
f) Accepting others as themselves
g) Love for one another
h) Community minded (actually wanting to spend time with each other)
i) Buy in from everyone

I would include worship in there but that is personal preference.

No small group is perfect

We are all imperfect people and we are not perfect, no small group will have all these elements and even if it does, there will be people who place themselves on the fringes and different personality types will gravitate towards the personalities they are attracted to. We have to love one another regardless.

So what are the benefits?

The benefits are many – here is my experience from a teaching and a member standpoint.

Member

a) You can “chime in” when you have a question, the group can afford to go as slow as the slowest member.

b) You can help (with the leaders permission) to assist someone with doctrinal issues (either in the group or externally)

c) You go so much deeper than you could ever go in a Sunday message; some groups I have been in have spent 90 minutes going over the riches in 3-4 verses.

d) You are forced to think about the scriptures in a more intensive, more inductive way.

e) You grow together, relationships are formed and it becomes an actual community.

f) You get “real time” with people who maybe are not showing their “Sunday smile”.

Leader

a) The studying of the scripture is done based on an inductive style and you glean a new understanding of the text, the fact of the matter is that you study differently when you are studying personally and you are studying to teach something.

b) You are blessed when people “tune in”, “answer your questions” and understand the simple truths of God’s word.

c) When you formulate questions, you are doing a form of self-apologetics, questioning and strengthening your faith that is good for your personal growth.

d) God strengthens you for the task ahead, if this was being done only in my strength it would have faltered shortly after it began.

e) God strengthens your family, my wife and I have never been this in unison and the “little things” are seen as that.

f) People who may be intimidated by “going to church” are less intimidated by coming over to XXXX house.

It works in big and small churches too

Small churches – You may see a bigger % of buy in from a small church than a big church as you have an existing community and this maybe an opportunity to either have fun, fellowship or study the bible in a deeper fashion, it could also be used as a “wading pool” for potential leaders/teachers as led by the lead pastor or leadership team.

Larger churches – once a church reaches a certain size and multiple services then it will be impossible to get around everyone at church on a Sunday morning so the logical solution is a “Community group/small group format” again this could be used to find out who is willing/able to teach but it will be pivotal to help relationships grow and allow folks to connect, grow together, mentor and network.

I don’t know what the perfect model is & I cannot teach!

There is no “this is the perfect model and you have to follow it verbatim” because different things work for different fellowships and people are different wherever you go. Who would have thought that he would had a guy who was born in Scotland with a heavy accent open his doors to a bunch of Californians and God would bless it in ways that were beyond anything we could ask for. It is his group not mine and he will do with it what he pleases and my only input is to be faithful to what he is telling me to do.

I am not a seminary trainer preacher, I am preaching by the will of God, the blessing of my church, a lot of study and a great love for people and a desire to see people saved and growing in a relationship with Jesus Christ. If anything my wife is the talented one, she leads worship and takes care of any kids that come and teaches a children’s church. We truly are stronger as a missionary team and I am blessed because I have been open to what God wants to do in my life!

God is calling me to start a small group so now what?

a) Talk to your pastor/leadership of your local church – I am hoping they will offer prayer support and be a backup should you need it. I am comforted that the leadership at my church (and a few others) is praying for the group as a whole.

Secondly I am hoping that if they have any issues with you starting a study that may or may not be connected to the existing fellowship then they may bring the concerns up in a loving way.

b) Cover it in prayer – It might seem obvious but check, check and triple check that you are doing what God wants you too.

c) Check your motivation – Again might be obvious but check why you are doing this, is it to save new souls/invest in others? Is it to become a Pastor one day? Are you more interested in being noticed than investing in people?

d) Get stuck in! – The harvest is plenty and the laborers are few, we could do with more good men (or women if you want to lead a women’s study) and regardless if you want to facilitate already churched people or whether you want to invest in those who either do not know Jesus or are thirsty for more I would say that once you find out where God has placed you and wants you to go after then do it as Colossians 3:23 says “do it heartily as to the LORD”.

I pray this wee article was a blessing, a challenge or an exhortation please share, like or comment as God leads you too. Also if you like the articles then please follow my blog at the top of the page or join our social media pages.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

Judgment on False Teachers

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Judgment on False Teachers

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

Let’s start in verse three of the first chapter of Jude.

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude is keen to get to the point of why he was writing the recipient of this letter. We learn from the first sentence that the people who are receiving this letter are…

1) Beloved
2) Brothers in the faith (common salvation)
3) To contend for the faith
4) Have caution against ungodly people
5) To know the reason why they were ungodly
6) Having reaffirmation who the Lord was

Jude starts the letter “Beloved” he affirms that the folks who are receiving this letter are people that he is writing to in love. The content of this short letter deals with some pretty heavy stuff so this was not your average “church newsletter” and packs quite a theological punch. This is why Jude reminds them in the first instance that they are “beloved” and when you are counselling people it is always fruitful to establish that what you say is done in love.

Those of you who know me personally know that I do a bible study in my home and my wife brought up a wonderful point when she said (and I am paraphrasing) “when she is asked for advice she has the choice of ‘making someone happy’ or giving them ‘good biblical advice’ and Jude does the latter, he is confident that the people who are receiving this letter will take this advice from him.

We go on to read “although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation” which tells us the reader that the letter he was planning to write did not happen and events at the destination of the letter necessitated a different subject matter to be written about. Reading between the lines this would be why Jude started the thought with the word “Beloved” and tells us that Jude may have been writing this with a heavy heart or to say another way, this may have been a letter that he was not looking forward to writing.

We have all been in this situation where we have had to be honest with people on a subject matter that may not go down to well. What I see from this letter is that Jude was a man of great biblical integrity and he was willing to speak the truth at the expense of feelings. Today’s church could do with a dose of this as we tend to be “seeker centric” or wishing to court “popular opinion” and our churches tend to be numbers driven and programs driven as opposed to allowing God’s word and the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives.

This letter may be small but it is a dynamic letter in the form of a sermon. Both on this blog and in person I have shared in the past that I spent over six months in this letter with a previous pastor and due to that time I rediscovered how to study the bible for the maximum benefit to my Christian walk. It is the word of God and God working through people that changes people’s lives. I was won over to the Christian faith because I saw the love of those around me, and because I knew I was accepted and loved, I took what they had to say about the errors in my life in the way that it was intended to be received.

I am grateful that Jude was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and took the “road less travelled” both in my personal development and the fact this letter made it into canonical scripture tells me that it will have impacted many more people that the intended recipients. The lesson here is that no matter how small your service in the Lord may be, it could have the profoundest effect on someone and may change the course of families for generations to come.

I am a product of this, because of the love, correction and exhortation I received at that Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, Scotland my life drastically changed (for a fuller account please check out my “testimony” page) and this helped change the life not just of me, but it helped my marriage and now my daughter is growing up in a house where Jesus Christ is of the upmost importance. That all came from a wee missions church that averaged between 20-40 people in Scotland’s largest city.

Jude goes on to say what the new subject matter is “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” And from this we understand that Jude was writing to a church (or assembly) that was on the verge of splitting due to internal strife’s and divisions. Jude is preaching against practices (or doctrines) that were toxic in that church. I am sure many of you could make modern day applications based on individual experiences.

The word contend also means to strive, to agonize, to really reach for it is in the context of an athletic competition where all competitors are extracting every last ounce of everything they have to struggle for that prize, likewise our Christian struggle is continuous and that contending for the faith may not be a one-time deal.

Jude starts this thought with advising the necessity to write and the written correspondence was an appeal for them to contend for the faith. This is obviously written to the leaders of that assembly and the content alludes that it was for general distribution and we are aware that Jude wishes to get the doctrine straight before he deals with more “secondary issues”. I love this as Jude is showing great wisdom as this is not always how we problem solve in the fellowship today and it is to the detriment of our fellowships.

Jude writes to believers and we know this because of the term “common salvation” is used; it is common that they have this in common, that they are likeminded in who they believe is the Messiah and who they have put their faith in. Their Salvation is what they have in common and they have understood and believed that which was said in John 14:6…

John 14:6 (ESV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

We all get saved in the same way, there is no VIP lounge or Captains table for people who earn a certain amount or have been that better a Christian. It all starts with brokenness and individual contrition as well as a desire to no longer be at odds with your creator. Jesus stated that you “must be born again” you have to make that individual commitment and despite how much I love my daughter, my brother or whomever I cannot be saved for them. If it isn’t a “common salvation” then I would go so far as to say that it isn’t salvation at all.

There is contention that is true, but if we do not do what Jude does and set a standard for the theology and get the “doctrinal ducks in a row” then we solve nothing by just solving the individual contention and “smoothing things over” We have to keep the main thing, the main thing. The reason and purpose for the letter is firstly correcting the doctrine, and Jude understands the importance of getting this basic, but yet foundational part of the assembly correct. One cannot underestimate the importance of getting the doctrine correct especially as it relates to Jesus. We have also to be careful who we allow to dominate the doctrinal conversation. Jude goes on in verse 4 to say the following…

V4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

It is worrying that these people have crept in and crept in un-noticed, if they were that ungodly then surely they would have been noticed and they were the classic “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to give the folks in the fellowship the benefit of the doubt, they may have been fine actors, they may have not been picked up as quickly because they were likeable or they may just have been able to be a “man to all the people” and let folks hear what they wanted to hear in order to “fit in”.

People like the folks who are “man for all the people” or accepted due to “likability” are difficult to deal with from a personal respect as people do tend to be respecter of persons towards those folks and personally I have been passed over for ministry due to situations like this and it was hard when it all went south. (As inevitably it does)  Jude when he is talking about these people he is not talking about the “Sunday only Christians” who turn up like sheep and don’t do a great deal, he is talking about the guys who are involved and are like a nuclear bomb going off in the heart of the fellowship because they are in the “in crowd”

These guys may look “picture perfect” but they disregard God on the inside, the advice they give sounds Godly but leads people away from God and they go as far as to deny the messiah himself Jesus Christ. Like the analogy I gave before, the truth will win out, it will eventually go south. I say with no boasting that I have seen quite a few “likely lads” that were rated by men to do great things and they all went the same way. Most aren’t even attending any fellowship, this is why it is important to be honest with who you are and what you are, church is not a career and it is not a ladder to climb, your ambition maybe delaying someone who is called to something of you barge in to get “a job” or “a position”.

We read that these men had both doctrinal problems as well as moral problems; they really were a cancer on the fabric of a thriving church. They should be in the gallery learning, being counselled and helped instead or at the front making a mockery of the leadership and leading people away and astray. This is not to say that we should not show grace to those who error, Jude is not stating this in the slightest and what Jude is stating that if the heart remains corrupt and unrepentant then there is a bigger problem at hand. These people were not simply in honest error, they were leading folks away with deliberate malice. We have to be careful when we use the comparison of how great God’s grace is as opposed to the corruptness and wickedness of an unrepentant human heart. This is why they go on to deny who the messiah is, we are not specifically told how they did it but we do know that they did. These people need prayer as God will give them an opportunity to repent, although based on what we read here I have no idea if they will or not.

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

Hey Jude, are you a bondservant?

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

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

Jude 1:1 (ESV) Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

I have quite the history with the book of Jude, when I first rededicated my life back to Jesus I went into a discipleship program with my then pastor Matt McGoldrick at Calvary Chapel Glasgow and we spent the best part of 7/8 months on the book of Jude learning how to study the bible in an inductive way.

In the Christian church today we either have one of two camps; we either have “lack of knowledge” or “Pharisee like knowledge” with very little balance. It is an issue in the church today that we have such wide chasms of knowledge.

Lack of Knowledge 

We see the lack of knowledge on one hand you have what we read in the book of Hosea…

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

Being Gentiles we should have learned from the mistakes that the Jewish people have done before us, but regrettably we have not. Many folks who call themselves Christian have not studied the word and do not have a decent foundational knowledge of what they represent and therefore are ineffective at winning souls for the kingdom of God. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy we read… 

2nd Timothy 2:15 (ESV) 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.

Some translations have the phrase “study to show yourself approved” and it is important to be spiritually fed enough in order to grow in your relationship with Jesus. You see, conversion should not be the end of the story, but merely the beginning of a new chapter.

It does sadden me when I hear of some testimonies that culminate in the believer being saved. I once heard a great sermon by Pastor Martin Tatton of Calvary Glasgow City (link in the sidebar) which asked that very question and made me question my own testimony because I used to do the same. It is truly an injustice to the life that has been changed by Jesus Christ as it sounds like life was a party and then it all stopped when I became a Christian.

Truth be told I am not (I still am DNA wise) the man I was before and my life is a lot better than it used to be when I used to drink myself senseless and party and waste copious amounts of money of selfish pursuits. I have a great wife, a lovely daughter and a marriage that I could never have wished for.

If you would have told me 15 years ago that I would be leading a bible study in my home, happily married, a father and being blessed beyond all measure by a God that I had rejected but he never gave up on me it moves me to happy tears. I have this pursuit for knowledge on his word and a thirst to know more of him, but I pray that it is not a “Pharisee like knowledge”.

Pharisee like Knowledge

So it is fair to say that I know the book well, but like everything in the Christian life it is not enough to simply have head knowledge, the Pharisees in Jesus day knew the scriptures so well that they could look at a parchment paper of a Torah and let you know if a stroke was out of place. However they did not let the words pierce their heart.

It is possible to know the theology and have such head knowledge that it becomes cold facts and therefore it is not living, it is cold, dry and dead. It is with great lament that I read of people who teach theology and wax lyrical about great and mighty things of God, know way more than I do and could out debate me and are way smarter than I ever will be but have missed the point of the whole thing. They are atheists!

Jude 1:1 (ESV) Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

Jude describes himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” and in that statement shows his humility, he could have written “a servant of our messiah and my half-brother Jesus” and been accurate, however he chose to address himself as a servant.

This shows great humility on the behalf of Jude. Can any of us honestly state that if they were a blood relation to Jesus they would not speak of it? But to give himself that lower place shows great character of a man and reminds me of what I read in the book of Proverbs…

Proverbs 25:6 (ESV) Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, 7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble

And also spoken by Jesus in the book of Luke… (The parable of the wedding feast) 

Luke 14:7 (ESV) Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jude does exactly this; he humbles himself by choice to the role of servant. The word servant is also translated as “bondservant” in this case one who has given up his own will to take up the role of a servant (or slave) for his master. So Jude is a slave to the gospel of Jesus Christ by his own free will and is completely subservient to his master and will follow the will of him as opposed to his own.

An application for that for us would be “how much of a bondservant are we?” I must admit that there are still things in my life that I have not given over fully to God and that is not a boast but an admission of guilt.

Also Jesus did call into question the importance of earthly brethren in Mark 3 and Luke 11, perhaps this was part of the reason why Jude did not feel the need to introduce himself as the brother (or blood relation) of Christ. Jude calls himself instead “the brother of James” James was an important leader in the Jerusalem church and author of an epistle.

Jude is mentioned in the gospels in the books of Matthew and Mark (Matthew 13 & Mark 6) as the brother of Jesus, Jude did not believe in Jesus until after the resurrection. (John 7:5 & Acts 1:14)

Jude addresses this letter “to those who are called” and this letter is still addressed to Christians everywhere. Jude will deal with issues that are not easy to hear and he categorizes them in 3 ways. 

1) Those who are called – Jude addresses it to the called, God has placed a calling on our lives, we have that choice as people to answer that calling, for some it will be into ministry, some it will be evangelism but whatever our calling we have to get to it and do it with all our hearts.

2) Beloved in God the Father – John 3:16 starts with the words “For God so loved the world” and that is a truth of the gospel, God loved us that much that he would give up his son Jesus to die on the cross for us to buy our salvation.

3) Kept for Jesus Christ – some versions say preserved in Jesus, and that we have protection in Christ and we are his children.

We have the same choice as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, we can choose to go with God’s plan for our life, accept the free gift that is Salvation and live after his will or don’t. One way leads to eternal life, the other leads to the lake of fire, simple huh?

V2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Jude greets the recipient with three wishes and that the three wishes are multiplied unto them. This shows Jude’s heart to the recipient that even although what he writes would be painful to swallow; he is doing it in love.

1) Mercy – We all have a need for mercy, for we all have fallen short of the glory of God due to our sinful nature.

2) Peace – This life is tough but we do not have to bear it alone we have access to an unlimited supply of the most perfect peace that a man can ask for, often times we do not ask and try to bear Gods burdens instead of our own.

3) Love – We are called to love, this letter is a love letter, doesn’t seem like it but sometimes the most loving thing we can do is be honest with someone.

Jude asks not just for theses blessing but he asks that they be multiplied unto them. What a heart that guy has for his recipients.

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

Will Christians ever run out of people to share the gospel with?

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Will Christians ever run out of people to share the gospel with?

Matthew 28:16 (ESV) Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Those of you who follow me on social media will be aware that my wife, my child and I took a short vacation to the central coast of California recently. I love going to the beach and visiting at the ocean as it has certain refreshing qualities that allow me to forget problems and issues that come by on a day to day basis. It is also good for us as a family to make good and happy memories with each other.

Often times, I vacation in Cambria and Morro Bay in California and this time was no different. I have history there as my wife and I honeymooned there and I have many happy memories in that small part of the Pacific coast. What was different is that this time I had the opportunity to visit with a friend of mine who pastors the Calvary Chapel in Cambria. What may be surprising is that the message was not the message I will tell today, but something that came to me on an early Saturday evening as I am making sandcastles with my daughter.

The beach is a curious place, regardless of when you visit it is never going be exactly the same, the creator God who fashioned the universe simply by saying it, the one who measured the heavens with the span of his hand sent a tiny (by his standards) wave to shape and reshape the shoreline of the beach.

Can we count the sands of the beach? Or the salt in the water that comes and moves the particles to and fro, refreshing them, cleansing them and placing them where God desires them to be at that appointed time? The answer is obviously no, but God knows the number.

We are like those particles, our lives have meaning and when we do what we are meant to and connect with our creator God then we fulfil what God has for us. Christians have one task in this world and often times we don’t do that well, sometimes we get caught in a sideshow. Sometimes we do the “holy things” and get involved in arguments that we believe are for God, sometimes they are sometimes they are not.

An example of this is from my own personal archives, I have been guilty in the past of posting on social media about an issue that will generate discussion; I justify it to myself as I am “getting people talking” but really I am generating discussion to flex my intellectual and theological reasoning muscles. Whilst it is good to share the gospel, doing so in such a prideful way is by far not the best way to introduce Jesus to them. These discussions can degenerate very quickly and are often a deterrent to people looking to search out God.

One job, you only have one job!

Revelation 12:11 (ESV) And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Our job is to share the love of Jesus Christ by sharing with those that the LORD has given us opportunity to speak to. I make a big thing of learning the names of the checkout people at my local supermarket, building a relationship with them, cracking jokes, putting them at ease, wearing Christian T-shirts and always looking for a way to talk about Jesus in a way that will be receptive.

I am also called to host a bible study with my wife in our home, this world is hurting so bad and my wife felt a calling on our heart to talk about pain and suffering using biblical characters as examples, it is such a blessing to serve and to share with people. I have a great love for the people in the city that I now call my home and my desire is to introduce as many of them as I can to Jesus Christ.

I apologize if this sounds like a commercial for myself, it truly is not. The unfortunate reality is that many Christians (me included) do not take most of the opportunities that God places before them and if we as Christians were to do so, we could literally be the difference in people’s lives.

Personally, I cannot be saved for anyone else! All I can do is be the vessel used to carry the living water to the participant. The Holy Spirit will prick the heart of those hearing it and people have the same choice that Adam and Eve have, they can choose to follow God’s plan or choose to not follow God’s plan.

This world is not my home; I am just a passing through!

Here is the deal, this world is temporary! Once we pass from this life it is too late to talk about our “eternal future”. As much as I love my new home in my adopted country, if the LORD was to move me on, I would be personally sad but I would comply as the LORD has a plan for my life.

I take great solace and inspiration from the prophet Jeremiah, who was 40 years in ministry and no one listened to him. If that was me I would be very discouraged and questioning my mission left, right and center. Jeremiah did not, he just kept right on to the end of the road, he knew that God was using him and his life, he did not know why but he knew he was being used by God.

We have to be compliant like Jeremiah, we can’t want to do the work of God and move God along, God will do things in his time. When you are following God’s will obedience is key, we don’t always see the big picture so we don’t always see why God moves in the ways that he does.

What about the title?

Matthew 9:35 (ESV) And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The answer is obviously no. As Jesus said, the harvest is plenty but people are not doing the work. When I think about the city that the LORD has placed me in or some 11,000 souls. I know that I cannot save one of them, but the LORD will put me in touch with many of them as I go around my daily life.

Pray for me (and one another)

My prayer for me is personal boldness, order in my life so that in season and out of season I will reflect the LORD in all that I do, take the opportunities that I am given to represent Jesus, give testimony on how he has changed my life and I pray for wisdom to say what needs to be said and not say what does not need to be said.

Folks, we need to get out there and engage the culture positively for Jesus Christ. I am reminded of a song I used to sing as a high school student back in Scotland…

“Be bold; be strong, for the LORD our God is with you”

God will always open doors for us, we have to stay on mission and always be ready to give a defense for the faith that we have in Christ Jesus (1 Peter 3:15) Sharing Jesus and allowing someone to make the choice to go to heaven is showing great love. I certainly do not hate anyone enough to condemn them to an eternity separated from God.

I pray this was a blessing and please share, like or comment below
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 Twenty Three – December 23rd

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty Three – December 23rd

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

Today we look at the prophecy in the book of Psalms chapter twenty four which is an awesome piece of prophetic scripture and speaks that the messiah will ascend to heaven…

Who is this King of Glory?

Psalm 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. 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. 5 He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah

I am reminded of a song that we used to sing at Vision Calvary Chapel of Porterville which has the words of verse 8 verbatim. The messiah (Jesus Christ) had been through death and reappeared to his disciples, but there was still one last act to do while on earth and that is to ascend into heaven where he is today.

One of the questions that is asked by those who have not studied the Bible is “Where is Jesus today?” well I would point them towards the following verses in Mark and Luke, these explain better than I ever could where my messiah is today.

One Psalm – Two parts

The 24th Psalm is a wonder to me, like many Psalms it is one in two parts, part one is verses one thru six and part two is seven through to ten. I love that in the beginning of the Psalm in verse one and two he confirms the creation account and in verse three it asks “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?” in verse four he answers “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” and verses six and seven talk about the righteous reward.

Jesus confirms this in the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter five:

Matthew 5:8 (ESV) Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Part two speaks of the messiah and asks “Who is this King of glory?” it also mentions the gates of heaven and the ascension of the LORD as well as the invitation for him to come home. Reminds me of the hymn I used to sing at Sunday school:

“This world is not my home; I am just a passing through,
My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue,
The Angels beckon me, from heavens open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore”

Make no mistake about it, heaven was open and willing and waiting for the messiahs return. We read that the messiah gets two distinct names that are befitting his majesty. He is called THE KING OF GLORY and LORD OF HOSTS, two very regal and majestic names that could barely do him and his glory justice. Let’s look at the book of Mark to see how he ascended.

Ascension (Part 1) Mark’s Gospel

Mark 16:14 (ESV) Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.

So when Jesus came back it was not all hearts and flowers, like any good teacher he had to deliver a tough lesson to the eleven remaining disciples (twelve minus Judas Iscariot) he had to “rebuke them for their unbelief and hardness of heart”. Can you imagine this? They have spent three years with the best bible teacher ever to walk this earth, they have seen him die and be brought back to life and they still had unbelief?

Suddenly I don’t feel bad about having doubts on occasion about trivial things that happen in my life! Jesus makes sure that they are accountable for believing what they had been taught, don’t get me wrong it is a supernatural thing to hear and unless you had some sort of confirmation that it was correct it would be a tough one to swallow, but these guys had been in Jesus inner circle, they were well warned about what was going to happen.

They are given their (to use a British Army term) “Part one orders” They were to be the beacons of light to the world, they were the new evangelists and go to everyone proclaiming Jesus message. This is still the Christian’s commission today; we are to share Jesus with whoever God puts in our path. We are commanded to make disciples and those who believe will be saved. It is our job to be the tool used by God; the Holy Spirit convicts the heart unto repentance.

Jesus then ascends to heaven and sat at the right hand of God (where he is today) He promised that he was going to prepare a place for us (John 14:3) and to make intercession for us (Romans 8:3) He is in the right hand of the father to show his place in the order of heaven, much higher than the angels. Jesus also ascended leaving the Holy Spirit to minister to us; we are not alone or cut off from God waiting for his return.

The disciples followed Jesus command and “went out and preached everywhere” we do know historically that the gospel was not spread much beyond Jerusalem until after the Christian persecution.

Lastly we read that “And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.” I love this and this is where we mess up a little today in church, in the original blueprint the preaching came first and then the signs and wonders came after. The stuff that could change people’s lives was allowed to be the foundation and then the supernatural stuff follows to confirm the message.

Ascension (Part 2) Luke’s Gospel

Luke 24:50 (ESV) Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Luke being a physician is a little more clinical on his witness account of what happened next, he gives the exact location that Jesus left them, (Bethany) he listed what he was doing (lifting his hands and blessing his disciples) and what happened afterwards.

Jesus took his place as his last act on this earth prior to the second coming to assume the role of the disciples High Priest. Jesus spent his life blessing people and with the power and love that came from these hands, this blessing was for real.

As he was blessing them he went home. This was no ET moment, this was the culmination of forty days of intense ministry for the disciples and appearing before witnesses to prove the resurrection, even as he was leaving the earth he was putting the finishing touches on the disciples preparation for ministry without Jesus.

Jesus literally fulfilled the ministry of “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” (Ephesians 4:12) what greater example we could have but Jesus himself?

They had great joy knowing that Jesus mission was complete; imagine if Calvary had been the end? There would be no Christianity! They returned to Jerusalem (at least until the persecution) and went to the temple and kept in prayer and praise to God. They really believed that it was true and they now lived as public followers of Jesus. By attending the temple they wanted to be in God’s house, in his ministry and in his service. This is a true example of lives changed by Jesus.

Jesus went through all this so we can join him in 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 Eight – December 8th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day 8 – December 8th

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

In the last few days we have looked at the genealogy of the Messiah, we have narrowed it down from a woman, to a virgin, to being born in Bethlehem, to being from Abraham, Isaac,  Jacob and also from the tribe of Judah. Today we look at the promise that he would come from the lineage of King David.

2 Samuel 7:11 (ESV) And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

This promise to David that the LORD would raise up an offspring after him had both near prophetic and further prophetic implications. The line of Saul was gone as God had allowed David and his family to reign. (You have to remember it was the people of Israel who wanted a king against Gods advice and Saul was chosen as the first king)

God had committed to bless Israel and seek their best interests at heart, God knew that Israel would not always be faithful and I am sure had made provision for this. God did remove Israel from their place due to unbelief and David’s line due to their sins; we read this in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah.
We read in verse 13 that David’s offspring would build Gods house, David was a man of war, a king that fought mightily for God, God chose Solomon, not because he was perfect but he used Solomon to build the temple. How much of a blessing is it for David to know that his line will build God a magnificent house.

The further implications speak of the messiah, that he would come from the line of David and that his throne will be established forever. This tells us that it will not be a king with a finite amount of years on this earth. We read this further in the book of Jeremiah chapter twenty three.

Jeremiah 23:5 (ESV) “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

Who could be more “righteous” than the messiah, kings are flawed. Saul sinned, David sinned, Solomon sinned… Need I go on?

Here is where we lose our friends at the Jehovah’s Witness halls. I say this as this verse speaks about Jesus in the same terms as being one with the father. In the context we look and acknowledge that it is speaking of that messiah.

The founder of Calvary Chapel Chuck Smith talks of this in his C2000 bible commentary series when he says:

“Who is that righteous Branch that God shall raise up from David? Who is that One who is coming and will reign in righteousness over the earth? None other than Jehovah Shua who will then be called Jehovah Tsidkenu. Jehovah Shua is another name for Jesus, Yashua.”

Really says it much more eloquently than I ever could. The saving of Judah is a redemption, a future restoration if you will. John 3:16 tells us that “God so loved the world…” and we can be part of that redemption to if we believe and come to a living faith in the messiah, Jesus Christ.

This is the only Government I trust in, a non-corrupt, justice driven fair society run by the one who is truth with no phony election promises, sign me up!

Forever Government?

Let’s look at the book of Isaiah for confirmation of the longevity of this Government.

Isaiah 9:7 (ESV) Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

We read again, on the “throne of David” we read the two standards of his reign will be…

1) Justice
2) Righteousness

For the true followers of Christ this will be wonderful, it will be a wonderful kingdom ruled by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Can you imagine being ruled by the “servant King”? a king that is not corrupt and gives far more than he could ever receive in return. A king that is willing to suffer the worst humiliation and cruelest death to allow you to be with him forever.

Jesus will bring peace because there will be a final battle, we will be called to a heavenly army and we read in the book of Revelation that he will wipe out the enemy himself. There will be no border invasions or need for a non-partisan foreign policy. He will reign and reign forevermore.

Basically, imagine all that is wrong with man-made power, flip it on its head and then you get close to what Jesus throne will be like.

How do we know this is Jesus?

We read the following in the book of Luke chapter one…

Luke 1:26 (ESV) In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

The physician Luke talks about what familial history the messiah will have, he will be regarded as a “son of David” and will rule over the “house of Jacob” forever. he will have no beginning and no end.

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. We read in Revelation 22 the following…

Revelation 22:13 (ESV) I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

I think we can safely say that Jesus is the one spoken about in these texts, the one that has no beginning and no end. The one who will reign forever, He is named in teh text in Luke as Jesus of Nazareth (called the Christ) and we have further confirmation in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Romans 1:1 (ESV) 1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord

Paul introduces himself as an apostle, who was set apart on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) when he was literally “blinded by the light” Paul gives a genealogy list of who Jesus was, confirmed that the verses we looked at earlier in this article were promised by the prophets in the scriptures. (At this point they only had the Old Testament)

He also confirms WHO Jesus was he was the following:

1) Descended from David
2) A man who took on flesh
3) Son of God
4) Resurrected from the dead
5) Our Lord

He is this and much more, Jesus is the only way to heaven. In Acts chapter sixteen verse thirty one we read of a man who was tried to the point of suicide. He was a Philippian jailer who was charged with guarding the apostle Paul. He fell asleep and was awoken with an earthquake, he wakes up and see’s that all of the cell doors are wide open. He is shamed and decides to take his life, as he lifts his sword Paul alerts him that he stayed behind.

He then asks “what must I do to be saved?” knowing they were indeed telling the truth and were sent by God. And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” If you have not done so, you have that choice today, if you have been sliding backwards – Repent! God loves you and will welcome your obedience with open arms.

These are only a small handful of scriptures that point to a messiah coming from the line of David, I chose only the relevant ones in order to keep the article readable and at a length that someone investigating the claims of who Jesus was could get a concise article. Should you have any questions then please contact me and I would love to share further.

Can you tell that I desire to have you join me in heaven?

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

Thanksgiving week – Day six – Calvary Chapel’s in my area

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Thanksgiving week – Day six – Calvary Chapel’s in my area

Firstly, I should begin with how thankful I am that you are reading this, this series was started a few days later than I was hoping but I had committed to a week of blogs and content. (The days were switched round of course)

Secondly, if you like what you read then please share any articles, pages or the links to any content that you may find useful to your newsgroups.

Why Calvary Chapel? 

Well to be honest with you, it is what I like. Plain and simple. I have done the denomination deal when I was exploring Christianity when I was younger. I attended Charismatic,  Presbyterian, Baptist,  Episcopalian and Brethren at some.point in my life. In this experiment I would have to say I liked the lively worship of the charismatic church but needed more word focused studies.

I left the church for many years (see my testimony page for more information) and when I was dating my wife, she suggested we attend the local Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, Scotland.

Church should be like life, in balance, different people find different levels of balance and although I recommend Calvary chapels,  I would not take you away from a church that is healthy that you are plugged into.

Are all Calvary Chapel churches the same?

Very much not, Calvary Chapel churches tend to reflect their pastor in many was, they all adhere to the Word of God,  they all share the same distinctives,  they all have a lead pastor, but I have never been in two that are identical.

Here’s to you

Here is a shout out to those Calvary Chapel churches in my area, you have all been a positive influence in my walk and you have all encouraged me.

Vision CC of Porterville – attended between 2007-2014 large church in Porterville,  California. These guys have a huge heart for lost in the area God has placed them. They reach out many times a year to the local apartments with food, Christmas presents and dinners for thanksgiving. Last year they did a service in the courtyard of the apartments.

They also have active women and mens ministries to help equip.the saints for the work of the ministry. Here’s to you – Pastor Ryan, Kurt and Bob.

They meet at the Veterans Memorial Building on West Olive Street at 10 am every Sunday.

Calvary Chapel Tulare – awesome church in Tulare, smaller in numbers than Porterville but a real community church where everyone is family.

They have an awesome youth and childrens ministry, a great seniors ministry at a local rehab hospital,  the men meet on a Wednesday for coffee, exhortation and koinonia.

Recently they have had a pastor change so here’s to you Pastor Jake (who departed) and Pastor John.

They meet on O Street in Tulare every Sunday at 10 am and Thursday at 7 pm.

Calvary Chapel Visalia

The biggest Calvary Chapel in the area and has been around for about as long as I have been born. I know these guys from men’s events, bible studies, services I have attended, VBS I have sent my kid to and quality time spent with the Pastors here, both verbal and even shared meals with them.

These guys have so many programs it would would be impossible to talk about them in one article.  Here’s to you Pastor Bob & Mike.

They meet on a Sunday, Avenue 264, Visalia at 8.30 am and 10.30 am and Wednesday night at 6.30pm

Calvary Chapel Hanford

This is one I have been in closer contact from this year on. The pastors there Geno, Gene and Jacob are awesome, such an encouragement.

They also meet Sunday and Wednesday.

The reason I talk about Calvary Chapel today is that I was an atheist who really didn’t live a Christian life prior to being brought into a Calvary Chapel where I heard the bible being taught verse by verse and precept upon precept. It changed my life and I pray that it will change yours too.

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