Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: Colossians

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

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BIAY – Bible in a year – December 11th 2015

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This article is part of a series called Bible in a year, for the full year please check out our BIAY home page, or for December check out our December page.

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

Today’s scripture is as follows:

Colossians 1-4.

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

Am I a DISCiple now? Maybe a FRISBEEterian!

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Am i a DISCiple now? Maybe a FRISBEEterian!

Disclaimer – this is a bit of a personal blog and if you do not actually know me or like the sport of Disc Golf it might not be as interesting for you so I apologize in advance.

As you may know I took up the sport of disc golf around July of this year when a good buddy of mine wore me down. That is not technically true but he first asked me if I ever played some 14 months earlier and I mocked him a little, and when we eventually went it was because we were no longer meeting as regularly as we had been so I thought it would be a good way to hang out and have a chat, so the idea was my idea to play that first time.

What a long intro huh? But since that day in July I have enjoyed playing this weird sport called Disc (or Frisbee) Golf, it is very much a minority sport and the DG community is small in the US but in most metropolitan areas there will be courses that you probably have never seen or been to, you may have spotted the curious baskets (much like the one pictured above) and wondered what it is and what it is used for.

It is a unique game, frustrating to play but for all of it’s challenges it has a redeeming quality that does make you want to try it again. It is a great stress reliever due to the effort that you put into throwing the disc as far as you can (much like a driving range at golf) and an awesome way to get out for a walk and get some fresh air. It is surprisingly inexpensive to play with many parks having a low entry fee or be free to play and a lot of the equipment can be bought somewhat cheaply, a new single DX disc from Innova can be bought between $7.99-9.99 USD and some sets of three discs can be bought as cheaply as $25. Discs are classified like golf clubs with groups such as drivers, mids and putters. Personally the bulk of my discs came as hand me downs and the people that show you the sport may or may not be as generous as my DG mentor.

So why is this on a Christian blog? Well I thought right away if I am going to invest time with this how can I do this to the glory of God? The most obvious solution to begin with was by “inking” my discs. “Inking” is when you mark your discs as yours, either by putting on your name, phone number or PDGA number in the vain hope that if you lose the disc the finder will be honest enough to return it to you. I have found discs and called numbers in the past, often times I am just instructed to keep said disc, especially if it would be problematic to return it. When I inked mine I put my name, my phone number and also a bible verse to help at least get the word of God in front of people if I lose a disc.

The game is simple, the terminology is the same as golf and you will “tee off” from an assigned spot (in my local course it is a concrete slab) and aim for a target usually between 175-400 feet away. Most courses will have a “par” (number of throws to get the disc in the basket) and the scoring works in the same way that golf does and most local DGC (Disc Golf Clubs) will organized tournaments or leagues where you can hone your skills and get better. I am a casual player and probably will always be that, I have never “aced” (hole in one) or played a “par round” so I doubt I will ever enter a tournament and I am okay with that.

I find DG to be a little like the Christian life, it is frustrating when I do not increase my knowledge as quickly as I would like and being a guy I want to know how it works, am I using the right equipment? Is there a better way to do this? Am I applying my knowledge in the right areas? Would mentoring help? And the failure I feel when I miss a 20ft putt when I have the right tools to complete the job is akin to when a brother fails when you have invested so much in him and just want to see him succeed and grow in God. (The latter is more meaningful obviously as it deals with real life and the former is just a game)

Like Christianity it can be a dangerous sport, I read recently a lady who lost vision in an eye in Manhattan Beach, California recently won a $3 million settlement due to being struck with a stray flying disc. Unlike Christianity I doubt I will ever be persecuted for playing disc golf. I had my six year old on the course a few months back and had to be watchful because she wouldn’t know to watch out for discs and I have had a close call once before in a public park where a family were using the basket as part of their picnic station in a public park and I didn’t see them until I had “teed off” and I was happy that the direction that I had thrown it was away from the family.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians we are reminded the following…

Colossians 3:5 (ESV) Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

And this is my point, we get all bent out of shape as Christians trying to fill every second of every day with “holy tasks” and that is good to do but we have to have some leisure time, we have to have some down time, we have to have some Sabbath rest. We should be looking to kill everything that is mentioned in verse 5, and substitute that with what is in verse 16. Verse 17 and verse 23 (I have Col 3:23 on the back of one of my discs) reminds us to whatever we do, we do it in the name of Jesus Christ, that is why I ink my discs as I do, I also pray for opportunities to meet new people and share Jesus with them on the DG courses. I also have to watch my conduct when I am playing because I want to be a living example for non-Christian DG players and cause them to question my life.

These are just a few random thoughts put together into an article, I pray that you were edified, encouraged and if you are also a Christian disc golfer or have questions for the author then please comment below.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

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Be a Christian in the workplace

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

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

Let’s start in verse one of the sixth chapter of First Timothy.

Give masters their due honor

1 Timothy 6:1 (ESV) Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

But I am not a slave?

Yes you may not be a slave under the terms written about here, however I do ask you one quick question. “Are you employed?” “Do you have a contract of employment with someone?” “Are you bound to be there a certain hour level a week in order to retain employment?” If the answer to these questions is “yes” then these circumstances apply to you.

Your masters in this case are your supervisors or your bosses; do we give our employers their due honor? Are we respectful in the workplace? Does our actions when we are supposed to be diligent at work reflect the faith that we hold dear?

Does our lives and the way that we tackle the work the LORD has blessed us with (because there is a lot of unemployment and if you do not respect or love your job there is a line of people that will happily fill in for you and let you go elsewhere- make no mistake, having a job, any job is a blessing!) make others wonder and want to explore the faith we hold dear?

Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Colossian church in chapter three…

Colossians 3:22 (ESV) Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Again more confirmation from the pen of Paul a good biblical truth. We as Christians are supposed to be a good example to the world around us. Paul writes and states that we should be working for our employers as if the LORD Jesus Christ was our direct supervisor.

Are we a walking advert for Jesus? Are we an advert for hiring Christians? Are we diligent in a way that when we work other see Christ in what we do and even our work itself is a silent testimony to our Savior?

Are we only working when we are watched? Are we respectful of our bosses? Do we arrive on time? Do we work hard within our parameters? Do we try to excel in all we do? Are we praying for the success of our companies? Really we are trying to glorify God in all that we do! 

Conversely, to quote the Christian Scientist Kent Hovind “We are all serving in one way or another, but are we serving as a bad example?” and that could be the case for our individual walks, are we causing unbelievers to not work hard as they are following our bad example?

What if my boss is a believer?

This command so far talks under the assumption that the employer is not a believer, but Paul also covers what would happen if your manager is a believer and stands next to you at church?

V2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

I ask myself this question when I look at this line of scripture, “Would I shirk off if I worked for my father?”, “Would I slack off if my boss was my brother?” “Would I disrespect a member of my family?” If the answer is no then why would we do it if our manager or our company owner is a believer?

I love the show “Duck Dynasty” it is by far one of the best shows on TV. I am not the usual demographic for this show as I am not Southern, full bearded, a hunter, a gun fanatic and I rarely am seen outdoors. I am what Phil would call a “yuppie”. But the show does make me “Happy, Happy, Happy” when I watch it. Compared to most other things on the TV it is decent, wholesome and it is an honest to goodness family who loves the LORD and always has God in the center of what they do.

One concern I have though is the work ethic of the two younger brothers Jase and Jep and the example they give of Christian work ethics. The boss man Willie seems to work hard and has to consistently reign in his brothers as they goof off, go hunting, go fishing, disappear in the middle of the day and encourage the non-family members who work alongside to do likewise. It makes for good entertainment I guess but it doesn’t paint Christians in a very good light in the workplace.

Before the DD fans invade this place and say I am slamming the show, I am not! I just wish this part of the show was done better because I love the show and have many seasons on DVD and I am 99% happy with the show and believe the characters to be awesome believers, they just let themselves down in this area!

My boss will show me Christian grace!

That is a misnomer and I would have a hard time with a boss that would do so. Slacking off and taking advantage just because your boss is a Christian is a really bad abuse of a fellow brother or sister in the LORD. We should want to work just as hard if not harder for our brother in the faith and ensure he has a roof over his head to as we would for a non-believer! Using someone’s faith as an excuse to be lazy is not on!

Hence why I entitled this “My boss will show me Christian grace” and I hear of the converse part of that also when someone gets laid off or sacked because they were not fulfilling what they were supposed to be getting paid for the cry is “They are supposed to be a Christian”. “Where is the love?” and people do not examine their own role in why they were let go.

We are called to love one another; we should show that love by being in submission to the authority that God has placed us under. We are part of a missionary team (along with the boss) to show the work ethic of the Christian and we should be blessing our brother with our hard work and being one that he would look to promote due to our diligence and hard work.

On the subject of promotion, we shouldn’t be looking for any special favors because our boss is a brother, we should be working at 110% to make sure that any progression is not viewed with contempt and is above reproach. We should be the top of our game and working to the best of our abilities at all times.

Teach and urge these things

Paul finished this part with the words “Teach and urge these things.” and you can see why, in the Roman era we had quite a mixed group coming through the church we had slaves and free, rich and poor men, Jews and Gentiles, Romans and non-Romans and in the church we did not have these distinctions. The church was the one place a slave could talk to a free man, a master could talk to a poor man and a former Jew could converse with a Roman all as brothers in Christ.

Regardless of the status of the person, regardless of the background or ethnicity they had one thing on common, the faith in Jesus Christ.  Paul expected that regardless of whom they were outside of the assembly, that in their Christian dealings they would be treated the same way. It was Timothy’s job to teach these things to everyone regardless of rank, file or association of the member.

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

Happy Labor Day (no I didn’t mis-spell it)

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Just a quick blog to wish you one and all a “Happy Labor Day”  As a foreigner to the US it has always been a source of mirth to me that on “labor day” many people do not actually work. (At least on the careers that provide income)

I added that last part in because I saw it as a day to get some stuff done around the house and spend it with some extended family.

Whatever you do and however you spend it, please praise the LORD and do all things unto the LORD (Colossians 3:23)

God bless you one and all, and I pray that you have a blessed day. Please consider liking, sharing or commenting on the article.
TGBTG
TTE

Westboro Baptist Church are at it again

Colossians 4:5 (ESV) Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

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Source – Christian Today (Australia)

Regular readers to my blog will observe that yesterday I spoke of the need to pray for the family and friends of  Robin Williams,  the actor who committed suicide on Monday.

One controversial group who calls itself a Christian church does not agree. I am of course talking about the Westboro Baptist Church.

I am not one to bash fellow believers in the LORD, however I do have a hard time with these guys. I do agree that we are supposed to be willing to share the truth about our beliefs with the world,  we are commanded to be “salt” and “light”, but I do wonder if they are achieving much for the kingdom of God with their tactics.

The reason they wish to do so is that Williams played a gay man in the movie “The Birdcage” and also for the cross dressing scenes in “Mrs Doubtfire” where he dresses up as a nanny to enable him to see his kids during a messy divorce.

For those of you who are new to Westboro,  I would urge that you do not take my word for it and do a quick search engine site search on four simple words “Westboro Baptist Church protest” and you will see that the church and it’s followers are one issue radicals who march up and down the country (and sometimes go international) to spread a message that “God hates gay people” and “God hates the military”.

As most of you know, I live in Central California in an area that is very patriotic, mostly Republican voters who have an almost country style of living.  The church threatened they would picket two separate military funerals in my area,  I wandered over to see if there was anything that could be said to them, they chose not to come to the one I attended due to local community and local Sheriffs support for the family.

Here is my deal, by all means stand against the sins of this world, but picketing funerals who are packed with people who are already hurting and are not in a place to receive any message, far less a controversial one like the one you are peddling really helps no one.  Yes it gets your name in the media, perhaps that is the aim after all.

If that is the aim then Jesus addressed this when talking to the Pharisee guys who wanted to proclaim Gods name and Gods truth in public and on the street corners where they could be seen by many as “they already have their reward” which basically means that you are doing it vainly or for yourself and their is no eternal or heavenly value in what you are doing.

You do not have to believe me on this one, a quick Web search on the WBC (I do not wish to directly link to their website) will take you to their website (Even the domain name is inflammatory) where they celebrate such things as “soldiers that God has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, pickets conducted by WBC,  cities that have been visited by WBC, weeks that WBC has held daily pickets on the mean streets of doomed america, people whom God has cast into hell since you loaded this page, gallons of oil that God poured in the Gulf, national debt of doomed america, people that God saved in the flood, people that God killed in the flood, Jews that will be saved in these last days and lastly nanoseconds of sleep that WBC members lose over your opinions and feeeeellllliiiiiings.” These guys are truly displaying the love of Jesus huh?

Let me correct some faulty doctrine here, God is love, God does not hate homosexuals,  military people or anyone. God hates sin however and should we choose to let our time on this earth expire and not choose to reconcile with God, then we will be apart from him forever. Take this from a guy who has most likely never met you, however has made it his life’s goal to tell you that Jesus loves you, so much that he died for you,  so you can be reconciled to God,  Nothing more, nothing less, we are the ones with a choice to make,  we can choose eternal life or not.

People who read this who are fans, family and friends of Robin Williams,  my hope is that Robin took Jesus as his Saviour prior to death, because really not much else matters beyond that. The fame, the Oscar,  the many awards, he can’t take with him and his eternal destination has already been decided, you on the other hand can still choose.

God bless you and I hope this is a blessing,  please prayerfully consider liking, sharing or commenting on the article.
TGBTG
TTE

Do it as if you are serving the LORD!

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Do it as if you are serving the LORD!

Colossians 3:23 (ESV) And whatever you do, do it heartily, as unto they Lord, and not unto men

I see different variations of this story from time to time where a new pastor will come into a church that has not been introduced to him. The announcement is made to all the church family, this announcement has really been promoted so that lapsed members, people who only come on Christmas and Easter can get the chance to be there for the “new guys” first sermon, create a good impression and let’s try to get a full house.i

Anyways, just before (maybe about 20 minutes) the service starts, a down and out homeless figure appears on the steps to the church, stinking of urine and alcohol. The church elders, rather than helping the guy, maybe help him to sober up, maybe invite him to church? They try to shoo him off. Maybe the sight of him may upset the folks who don’t often come, or maybe the new pastor. The homeless guy hangs around, tries to speak to the folks coming in, not begging, just saying hello, and passing the time, out on the street, outside the church gates.

The people by in large don’t talk to him, seem embarrassed to be there. Some are nasty, some cross over the street to avoid even passing by the smell coming off this guy. Everyone fills into the church; he maybe has had a kind look from about maybe 1% of the congregation. (Never mind some actual dialogue)

He shuffles up the steps in his broken shoes and shuffles towards the door of the church, the briefest of handshakes happen between the elder to tried to escort him off the premises, decides not to cause a scene and tries to sit him at the back out of the way with about 2 benches segregating him from the nearest “God-fearing” parishioner. The man decides he wishes to sit with the people in the middle of the church. Again, not wishing to cause a scene, the elders allow the man to not be impeded.

The final insult occurs when he sits next to this well dressed family, who when they smelled what was coming off his clothes, got up and moved elsewhere. The church is getting rather anxious, the previous pastor used to be behind the lectern prior to the first hymn beginning. An elder (who wasn’t involved in the door issue) leads the congregation in the first hymn.

The same elder asks the congregation to give a round of applause for the new pastor who shocks the congregation by standing up in the body of the church, the “new guy” is the homeless man, the new pastor walks to the front of the church, takes off the stained clothes to reveal a shirt, tie and clean trousers. He replaces his “homeless shoes’ with his own shoes and begins to address the crowd.

He teaches on “The Good Samaritan” and also on forgiveness, because he saw the “non-Church” “non-Sunday” side of many of his new parishioners, they viewed him through societies eyes, rather than through the eyes of Jesus. There was no love, no compassion and he knew what word God had sent him to do there as a new pastor.

Before we all get on our moral high horse and state “I would never do that!” We all have our hot buttons, we all have our areas that we put barriers up to help people, maybe people are in a sin that you find worse than others? Maybe people are drinking themselves to death? Maybe people are dependent on substances? Maybe people are in a job where they sell themselves? NO-ONE should be beyond help! We weren’t with our multitude of sins.

I say this as someone who has been an outsider most of my life, as the song goes “everybody needs compassion” and I am not perfect in this area, instead of praying “LORD get me outta this” pray “LORD give me the words to help this person” We should do it as if we were serving the LORD.

Matthew 25:31 (ESV) “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

We should go all “Downtown Abbey” on the least of these; we should serve them as if we are serving Jesus Christ, the King of Glory himself. If the LORD moves us to help these people, we should do it with all of our heart, not just with our scraps. I am sure the guy who is really destitute will be overjoyed at you throwing a quarter at him (or to him) but if you could help him with $5 without hurting yourself financially, how much more of a blessing would that be to the recipient.

God bless and i pray this was a blessing, help, encouragement or challenge, please comment below.

TGBTG
TTE

Happy Father’s day from TTE

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Dad and I, building a fence, 2014

Happy Father’s day from TTE

3 John 1:4 (ESV) I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

As i begin to write this, I have to state that I am not the perfect father. I am not even a Catholic Priest (It’s a joke!) However, I do know where I have learned from, what I am still learning and hurdles I have yet to get over. My heart in this is to serve would be fathers, current fathers and prospective fathers in a Bible study on what the Bible has to say about a small part of fatherhood.

If I was to write an article on fatherhood what covered all that the Bible had said with quotes from wise Christian men, comments I have made (note I do not put myself in the former category) and a word by word study giving each word the respect and honor that each words deserve, it would be a volume that Britannica would be proud of.

I put this verse as the title verse is that I have a desire that my daughter (and any other children that the LORD blesses us with) know that they are loved, unconditionally, the same way that I am loved by God. And when my daughter sings Christian songs or “teaches me” (not really but she lets me know what she had learned either in home school or Sunday school) recent Bible verses learned, it swells my heart up in a way that is difficult to describe.

But my one desire for my daughter, is that she grows up knowing the truth about the Bible, (I fail in this area as far as regular Bible study goes with my daughter) that it is the living word of God and that it’s life changing pages are the best gift that has value far beyond the temporary things that we hold dear. Jesus said in the book of Matthew:

Matthew 7:9 (ESV) 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!

We have to always do well by our kids, that is not to say if they ask for candy every day they get it, but we have to be guardians for them, give them good gifts, feed them up both spiritually and physically. The beauty is, we get a new chance every day that the LORD trusts us with our children. We have to be faithful custodians.

We have signed my daughter up for dance and soccer, I want my daughter to be healthy and have all the opportunities she can have, we are also in the process of Foster/Adopt in order to try to give a child that has not had the chances our daughter has had, an opportunity to be part of a family.

I get my perspective on fatherhood based on the fatherhood I see from God the father and how loving, how faithful he is to his children, regardless of whether they love or care about his love, he is always there. We have to make the choice whether to follow him or not.

Joshua 24:15 (ESV) And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

This is a verse that is on my wall in my home and as head of the home it is my job to fortify my walls against attacks. It is my responsibility to teach my daughter, disciple her and love her and show her the real Jesus. I have to keep learning what it is and how God wants me to use my life and be a living testimony that this is for real.

We should always love our kids, shouldn’t provoke them to rebel against us.

Col 3:21 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

We should instill discipline (some of us need to learn it first) and instruct them in good doctrine and good theology, we must have compassion a real heart wrenching love for them that states you would do anything for them, I am tested in this when my kid won’t go to bed and it is late!

Psalm 103:13 (ESV) As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Here we have to learn from the father, love as the father loved us.

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

That is my goal for my life, walking in integrity; I want blessings for my children and my children’s children.

I hope this was a blessing for you
God bless and TGBTG
TTE

Should Christians celebrate April fools day?

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Let me begin by saying that I love a laugh as much as the next man, so much so that I texted my wife this morning about something that had happened in the house and I didn’t have time to resolve it before I left for work. She thought it was an April fool’s joke! Such as my love for good humour.

What about the 9th Commandment?

Well in Exodus 20 we do read the following:

 

Exodus 20:16 (ESV) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

 

The term “false witness” has been changed to “lie” but it means so much more, false witness means also to gossip, talebear, slander, create false impressions, silence against accusations you know to be false or questioning the motives behind ones actions to cause contention.

Wow? Anyone else guilty? We also read in Colossians 3:9 “not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds” so in this circumstance I agree that it is not good to lie.

I often hear the argument that we should “do unto others as we would be done unto” I would agree that being blunt with the truth is not helpful as we are also advised to be compassionate one to another.

Is it good to lie for fun? Well let’s read on and we will let you decide for yourselves.

April 1st through different lenses

Imagine a day when it was okay to lie, it would be perfectly acceptable to spread the most fanciful and scandalous tales in an effort to dupe people into believing that your tale was true. When it was exposed as a lie, urban legend, a story or untruth you could simply blame the calendar and advise that the reason for this fabrication in the first place was because of the actual date the story was spun.

Okay, I am being a little melodramatic but this essentially is what April fools day is! Before I became a Christian I loved April Fools Day and used to scan the redtop newspapers (One of the few days I would buy a few of them) to search for the stories that were fake and trying to decipher which ones were real and which ones were not.

Satan loves lies

For me, April fools day is the best day for Satan to launch an attack, defenses are down, and lies are widespread, everyone is expecting wild and fanciful stories and some of the lies and slander may well stick.

Am I anti humour?

Actually no! I would urge that you check my Facebook and Instagram to see that I love a good laugh. A good laugh can keep you healthier, lower stress and encourage better mental health. So the benefits from a health standpoint are able to be shown from a health perspective.

I love to laugh, so much so that sometimes I go purple and forget to breathe (which presents its own problems) so I have to be careful what I watch as I do love to laugh. I also like to be the comedian. There is no greater high than either of the following:

1- Teaching the word of God to someone and they get the rich gems that God has given you to share
2- Telling jokes and having folks rolling about laughing at something you have said.

I am very much like Chandler in the TV show Friends, I have the awkwardness of humour, sometimes funny, sometimes obvious, I tell corny jokes, I tell jokes too frequently. I am not always comfy with awkward silences and use humour as a defense mechanism for some of my other shortcomings and my humour filter does not always work.

So, Should we celebrate April fools as a Christian?

That is really up to you. For me, it is all down to the heart, if you have no conviction that you should not then please do not abstain on my behalf, however if you have been convicted that you should not then I would advise that you follow where God is leading you.

God bless you all and TGBTG
TTE

Redeemed like Onesimus?

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Philemon 1:1 (ESV) Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. 8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Benediction

Philemon 1:1 (ESV) Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2 and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We learn from this passage that Paul wrote around the time of Acts 28, whilst he was in jail. I find it great that he lists himself not as a “Prisoner of Rome” or an “Apostle in Christ Jesus” this verbiage tells me a few things about Paul. It tells me firstly that he was happy to be in prison for Christ’s sake. In the passages of Colossians 3:23 and 1 Corinthians 10:31 we see the heart of how we are to serve, regardless of our circumstances.

It is a fantastic insight into Paul’s commitment also, Paul was beaten, imprisoned, threatened, bullied, despised wherever he went and eventually killed for the name of Jesus, how much more committed can you get! On the TTE Facebook page I shared the expression that Chinese believers had and the way they treated their first ever Bible. It was eye opening to me as I have at least 7-8 copies of that book in my house and to my shame I have never treated it in the precious fashion that these believers had. Like Paul, these guys are persecuted for their faith, in the 20th Century! Many of them had only single pages to read, so getting a whole bible was akin to winning the lottery for these people.

Paul has his companion Timothy with him also, Timothy is mentioned as I am sure that he would be familiar to the church in Colossae, Timothy at that time had been travelling for some time, which explains the co-laborer status. We read that this letter is addressed to three people.

 

Philemon – Who hosted a home church and was previously Onesimus master
Apphia – Philemons wife
Archippus – Philemons son

 

Now what I am unsure of is who dealt with the day to day running of folks like Onesimus. It may have been dealt with by any of the three. Unlike Paul’s other letters, whilst they had a recipient, they were meant to be shared, this letter has a familiar tone to it and reads like a letter to a man and his family concerning the contents of the letter. We also read that Philemon had his church in his house. He appears to have been wealthy, having slaves. Matthew 18 tells us that “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

This speaks to me, because as Christians we have to have our church like a home, a place of worship for our LORD. Unity in doctrine and the bible being the centerpiece of the home as opposed to being open for special occasions, filling ourselves and then going out on mission to where God has placed us to spread the love of Jesus Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit. At present my wife and I are going through a reading plan to enable this and our marriage has never been stronger.

Blessings to you my brother

…3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ…

Paul gives a typical Pauline greeting, Paul advises that he prays regularly for the recipient. As Christians this is very important that we pray for one another (whether we are in each others favor or not) In 1 Thessalonians 5, we are told to “Pray without ceasing” it is really that simple. If you feel far away from God, get in prayer and talk to him. Spend quiet time listening as well as talking; if you want to be more Christ like, you have to spend time with him. Paul is thankful that he knows Philemon and it is for the reasons listed in verse 5. Philemon has a good report. Philemon shows the characteristics in Titus 2:8-10 when we are looking at the qualities of a “Bishop” (or overseer) in the church as regards to his tongue and his doctrine. Jesus himself intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25) how much more should be interceding for each other, prayer isn’t barred by distance.

Philemon has love and faith, first for Jesus and them for the people that he had been trusted to lead. When you become a leader in the church of Jesus Christ, you are in a position of trust. Many things you do will be unseen, but any mistakes you make will be magnified. Philemon has a good report, which tells me that he led well. Paul’s prayers were that Philemon would see “every good thing that is in us” and that is something we could all do with, realizing where we came from and the work that has been done in us already by Christ. (As well as things we need to work on) No two people will have the same story and we have to learn which parts of our stories glorify God.

Appeal for Onesimus

…7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. 8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. 21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say…

I started Onesimus appeal here as Paul speaks of the “refreshing of the saints hearts” and I get that where I am in my life at present. I have recently found a new love for “koinonia”, time spent with people of similar doctrines for the purpose of edification and fellowship, some may say sharing also. As any good leader does, Philemon was proactive in meeting the needs of the folks he was leading. Many leaders cause themselves unnecessary issues by being reactive leaders and only spring into action when they need to put out fires or diffuse anger. This is destructive as it invites problems.

Paul states he is bold enough to command, however he gives Philemon the opportunity to make good choices. Paul has a real Pastoral father’s heart here. Paul gets to the “meat and bones” of the letter by stating he is asking a favor, however he is asking in love rather than being an overbearing commander, how awesome is that! Paul appeals to him in his present status, he is in jail and he is an old man. Perhaps he was stirring up sympathy or loyalty from Philemon; however it is clear that he is asking in love as opposed to “pulling rank”.

He appeals for a man who was previously in servitude to Philemon and had offended his master by escaping. Based on when the letter was written it would be logical to assume that Onesimus escaped to Rome, where he met Paul in the later days of his imprisonment and became over time of use to Paul. Paul taught him in his present state, led him to conversion, disciples him in the word of the LORD and as a keen student, Onesimus grew to be useful. Onesimus served Paul as if he was serving his master and was fulfilling the role that Philemon would also have gladly assumed. I have no idea whether Onesimus sought out Paul or whether the LORD engineered their meeting, Onesimus escaping was probably the best thing that could have happened to him.

Paul alludes to this is verse 15, supposing that this might have been the reason he was allowed to come as far to meet Paul (in a straight line the distance is 858 miles, but the actual journey is probably much further) So for this man Onesimus to go to such lengths to get away tells us he was not there voluntarily. Also with the way that he left you can imagine that the very name of Onesimus would invoke a strong reaction in Philemon’s heart, let alone having him in front of him delivering a letter. I doubt he was received well before the letter was presented.

Paul asks him to not just be restored to Philemon’s good graces, but restored as a fellow equal and brother in Christ and not a slave (v16) Paul alludes that there may have been an issue of Onesimus owing Philemon something, whether by debt or theft (v18-19) Whatever his crime, Paul advises that he knows what he did and was requesting forgiveness, Paul lastly asks that he be received as if he was Paul himself. Wow! He is really asking a favor huh? You have to remember, Onesimus left in disgrace as a slave that had went away, and he had no rights of ownership prior to this letter.

Paul returns Onesimus to Philemon (v12) a man in chains returns a former man in chains to the man he was in servitude towards so that he maybe forgiven. What a picture of what Christ has done for us. Regardless of the wrong, regardless of the amount of debt, Jesus paid it all! Paul was very confident that Philemon would do as he said.

Closing remarks

…22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Paul is confident that he will see Philemon again, so has requested that he have a place prepared for him. This also verifies the closeness between the two that having Paul staying would be like having one of the family over. Philemon was very hospitable. He then goes to mention many of the same folks that are mentioned in Colossians 4:10-17, which confirms that the letter was sent to the same place.

Why is Onesimus important?

I honestly don’t know! Some commentators have Onesimus being the same Onesimus as a future Bishop of Ephesus, whilst that may not be true that would be an awesome end to the story and the Bishop of Ephesus was still within a conceivable lifespan of the Onesimus in Philemon.

Personally, I think it’s the account of redemption, the story that a guy who had done wrong by his master could not only be redeemed, but redeemed both in social status as well as redeemed as a brother in Christ. For me that is a true story of hope and a reason I love this Epistle so much.

I pray that this Bible study was a blessing to you and I welcome comments below.
TGBTG
TTE