Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Does God give only good gifts? – Matthew 7:7-11

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Pic – Daddy daughter date circa 2014

Does God give only good gifts? – Matthew 7:7-11 – 07/01/2016

Where am I going with this?

This is top of my mind this week due to my child having her birthday; it is a bookmark of a reminder of another year of blessings with the cutest kid I know and lamentations that I see some of me in her. It also reminded me of a teachable moment that happened at a birthday party five years ago. I want also to look at the gospel of Matthew as the text for this verse…

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

Imagine the scene…

You are at a birthday party for a toddler who appears not to be enjoying the birthday party and especially seems not to be enjoying getting gifts, now as someone who is older this puzzles you because at your parties that is the highlight. Let’s look at it from the toddler’s point of view…

You are now the toddler and this party has been a stressful affair, everyone your parents know has handled you, cuddled you, loved on you and despite the highlight of having ice cream and cake they are now playing this weird game with you where they all sit around you in a circle, take pictures of you, your dad is milling around with a video camera and now you mother and grandmother are playing this weird game with you where they make you rip off the paper of toys and once it is unwrapped they take it off you and make you unwrap another toy, which they again take away from you, you feel frustrated and have no other option but to scream and cry.

Was I really abusing my child?

Before someone calls CWS on me, the child was unwrapping birthday presents and they were all played with at some point in the shelf life of the toy. But from the child’s perspective this was torture, she saw something fun that seemed appropriate for her to touch and then her parents didn’t allow her to do what she wanted and in some cases blocked her from carrying out her will so she vented her frustration at her father and mother.

Of course we had a plan and we could see more than she could in her situation and we would restore these gifts to her and after the unwrapping was over she asked in her own way and we let her play with stuff.

Have you ever felt like that with God? Never? Well you are better than me then because I will be honest and say I am a whiner! How many times have you went to God first and asked in faith expecting an answer, now it may not be an answer you like but I like to know why or at least know the reason what is happening to me. I know and I trust in God however I do like to complain!

God is the giver of all things, our finances, our possessions all that we have set up as our “mini idols” it is all his and we are simply custodians of what he has trusted us with, Jesus introduces us to the giving nature of God and shows us that his gifts are much greater than the gifts that we would give each other and he uses the purity of heart as a good contrast. We have to also understand though that God will not allow things to happen that are our rampant heart’s desire because they would ruin us. (Do we ask for serpent like things that really would not help us or glorify God? Could that an example of how close or far away our hearts are to God’s will) The gifts that he gives to us are always good as God wants the best for us.

How good is that gift?

The answer to that question is confirmed in a scripture in the epistle of James…

James 1:17 (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Again we have confirmation that God grants good gifts only, please don’t take from that I don’t mean that we are exempt from bad things happening to us because I have certainly had “teachable moments” but many have been caused due to paths I have started on. Does that mean we will all win the National Lottery or all have Ferrari’s? If it would corrupt us and ruin us then I doubt God would allow that as a “gift”. He may allow financial pressure to be released on you but there is no guarantee of “free money”.

James describes it as not just a good gift but also a perfect gift and we see that God is only interested in gifting us with things that will be good for us. I liken it to fast food where I know that a cheeseburger tastes good but I also know that if I eat the same unhealthy thing three times a day for the rest of my life I will harm myself. How many cheeseburgers are you praying for? Maybe time for an assessment of your wants and needs in your prayer life?

Are you grateful for what you receive? I know many (I am in that number) who will have a 911 prayer request that God has granted me and then later I forget to be grateful to God in prayer, he does not require that and he sees my heart and knows that I am grateful but in the same manner I would consider it good manners to than someone who has blessed me how much more should I thank Him to whom all blessings flow?

James concludes with the idea that God is constant, never changing, no variation and you know where you stand with God, there is no “gifting’s based on whether God is having a good day” God is already more mature or all-knowing and wiser than we will ever be, there is no need to change and another thing that is constant is the good nature and giving nature of God, it is something that is assured because he is that good, good father!

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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The LORD’s prayer – Part 1 – Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name

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The LORD’s prayer – Part 1 – Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name

Matthew 6:9 (KJV) After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Like any good piece of mail a good prayer has an address. If you were mailing a letter would you send it without first writing on the envelope and alerting the mailing service to the destination of the intended correspondence? What success would you give of even receiving it back if the front had no destination or sending address? Would you do likewise with an email? It won’t go without a recipient email address and also the same with a fax, without a fax number it will go nowhere. Whilst God is eternal, omnipresent and outside of time and our constraints I would not send anything out without assurance that my intended recipient would receive it.

So Jesus had just finished saying how we should not be doing good deeds in order to be seen to be doing good deeds. (Self-promotion of how spiritual if you will) He used the example of sounding a trumpet whilst giving and now he goes onto a subject very close to his heart which is prayer. If we are praying to flatter men or to impress our peers then think on it like this. Are you actually praying to God or insulting God? I would speculate that it is the latter and I do not know about you but I do not want to be knowingly insulting God. What Jesus said was like all aspects of conviction Jesus did not say this to make others feel bad, he said it as an exhortation and now he wishes to teach on how to do it according to the fathers will. He was not interested in condemnation but correction in this case. Whether we choose to be condemned or corrected is completely up to us.

When we are praying we need to remember the wisdom that we find in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 5 verse 2 which reads…

Ecclesiastes 5:2 (KJV) Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

It is a conversation between God and you and in the same way that you would not babble with your best friend I would heed the example in Ecclesiastes that states do not do lengthy prayers for the sake of being heard, be real with God and be honest, let him see what he already sees in your heart is in your prayer life. What a glory to your relationship with God if you are willing to submit that much that you are in such submission that you let everything go and let it all out. That is true Christianity there and you would really be a man after God’s own heart.

Jesus addresses God as the “Father” we are praying to a loving father who has allowed us into a relationship to call him a title that is family. The Jews would consider that too close, too intimate and they would have a hard time with this. He is a father in heaven, ruler, full of majesty who is worthy of all glory, honor and attributed to all holiness. He is called “Our Father” which gives us all access to the same father; it is like we are in our churches, a community of believers that have a direct line to heaven, it reminds me of the lyrics of the song “What a friend we have in Jesus” when it states…

“All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!”

Jesus closes by giving due respect to the name of God. “Hallowed by your name” comes all the way back to Exodus 20:7 where we are told to not use the name of the LORD in vain. Jesus does his job by guarding the good name of God and reminding us that His name is holy. It should be hallowed. It speaks of separation from profane things, dedicated to God, consecrated, purify, to be cleansed, it is sometimes translated as “sanctified” and by using this word we are reminded that there is no spot or blemish on the name of God. His name should be treated with absolute care. (Greek word – hagiazo)

Jesus knows what he is talking about as far as the name of God goes, he was there at the beginning of creation and even when we are tried beyond what we can bear, God is still God and he will still be holy and just, his ways are far above our ways and I doubt many of us will ever suffer as Job suffered and in the book of Job at the end of the book Job challenges God on his plan for Job’s life and let’s look at the response…

Job 38:1 (KJV) Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb? 9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? 12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place; 13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

Regardless of how “high and mighty” we think we are with God we could not hold a candle to who God is. Even the smartest intellects of man still have not been able to create as God did. His name is holy and deserves to be hallowed.

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

TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty Four – December 24th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Twenty Four – December 24th

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

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would be seated at Gods right hand. We read this is the book of Psalms chapter sixty eight and one hundred and ten which both are awesome pieces of prophetic scripture…

Psalm 68:18 (ESV) You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there. 19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation. Selah 20 Our God is a God of salvation, and to GOD, the Lord, belong deliverances from death.

Like so many of these prophesies, David writes about his individual situation before and after this piece of messianic prophecy. When I read this piece of scripture I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church in chapter four verse eight where Paul quotes this as referring to the messiah Jesus of Nazareth. (The Christ) I have attached the first 10 verses for context of the full manner of scripture:

Ephesians 4:1 (ESV) I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

From this piece of scripture we see fundamental basic Christian doctrines, there is One of the following.

1) One body
2) One spirit
3) One LORD
4) One faith
5) One baptism
6) One God and Father

Paul confirms that Christ ascended but also writes that “he led a host of captives” which would be the Old Testament saints into the glory of heaven. The sacrificial system that came before Jesus was good, but it only temporarily put away sin it was never meant to grant eternal life. Jesus died for the sins of the world, past and present. When sin was conquered then the faithful of old were led by Christ into glory.

1st Peter also confirms that only the blood of Jesus (not of the animal sacrifices) was enough to “pay the ransom of sin” here is the verse in full:

1 Peter 1:17 (ESV) And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Going back to Psalm 68, the best explanation I have heard for this was said by the founder of Calvary Chapel Chuck Smith Senior when he said…

“But hell, prior to the death of Christ, was separated into two compartments. One compartment was of suffering for the unbelievers; the other was a compartment of comfort by Abraham for those who were trusting in the promises of God and in the fulfillment of God’s promise. Now these Old Testament men of faith all died in faith not having received the promise, but seeing it afar off they held onto it and they claimed that they were just strangers and pilgrims here. And they were just looking for a city which hath foundation, whose maker and builder is God. Now when Jesus died, He descended into hell. He who has ascended is the one who first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth. And when He ascended, it is then that He led captivity captive. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 61, the prophecy concerning Christ, it said, “He is going to set at liberty those that are bound and open the prison doors to those that are bound.” Set at liberty those that are chained, open the prison doors to those that are bound. Those that were bound by death, waiting with Abraham for the promise of God. When Jesus died He descended into hell and He preached to those souls that were in prison. The glorious fulfillment of God’s promise. The redemptive program is complete. The blood has been shed, whereby your sins are now put away once and for all. And now with their sins put away, they can ascend into the heavenly scene. So when He ascended, He led the captives from their captivity. And then He gave gifts unto men. That is, within the church, He gave gifted men as apostles, as prophets, as evangelists, as pastor teachers, for the perfecting of the saints. So, Paul quotes this in Ephesians 4, and of course, it just ties together a whole group of scriptures. Luke, the sixteenth chapter; Acts, chapter 2; and Ephesians, chapter 4; and the reference there in Peter where He went and preached to those souls in prison; and Isaiah 61. So you can look those up and find them tied together.” Credit – Pastor Chuck Smith Snr. Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa C2000 Series

Explained it way better than I ever could. Let’s look at Psalm one hundred and ten:

Psalm 110:1 (ESV) A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I  make your enemies your footstool.”

This gives a great insight into where Jesus is in the kingdom of heaven. At present he is sitting at the right hand of the father, which is why it states The LORD says to my Lord. Father God is speaking to the Son and gives the messianic promise also that his enemies will be trampled underfoot.

One Messiah – Two comings

Skeptics of the bible raise the question and claim that this could not possibly apply to Jesus as he did not trample his enemies underfoot when he died on the cross. I would say that it had a partial application during his first coming (conquering sin and death) and will be fully fulfilled in his second coming.

This verse is quoted as a Messianic Psalm in the book of Matthew chapter twenty two:

Matthew 22:41 (ESV) Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying, 44 “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”’? 45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Jesus had been questioned by the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Herodians about different points of scripture and always had given answers that were straight from God and had exposed flaws in their theology and now Jesus asks the Pharisees a question when they were all together. He came to them when they were at their strongest, they loved to debate great points of scripture and show themselves holy among their peers.

He asks a question about himself as he knows that they do not believe that he is the Christ. You see, Jesus was a threat to these guys, they quoted the Rabbis who had gone before them when they interpreted the scriptures, Jesus did not. Jesus spoke with authority straight from the father and these “holy men” knew that he was different.

In asking this question he could see where their hearts were, whether they were asking for knowledge sake or whether they were genuinely seeking. Jesus asked a similar question of his disciples in which the Spirit revealed to peter who Jesus is.

Jesus used the thing they held upmost, the scriptures to demonstrate who he was. He knew they were going to answer “The Son of David” because that was one of the great titles of the messiah (See the earlier blog on this title) It is unknown whether they did not know of Jesus lineage and that through this mother and mothers husband he qualified as a “descendent of David.

The part they didn’t get was that the messiah was both human (Son of David) and divine (LORD of David) which is why they could not answer Jesus. Jesus accurately shows them that the Son of David was also the messiah; the messiah was also the LORD God coming with all authority given to him by the Father. And let’s look at Mark chapter sixteen that shows that he was actually lifted up…

Mark 16:19 (ESV) 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.

What a fulfillment of scripture right here in the book of Mark (and also in yesterday’s verse in Luke chapter twenty four) He quite literally went to “prepare that place for us” and he fulfilled prophecy right there and then.

Jesus is in heaven at present and he desires that you join him. As we look at Christmas and draw an end to our advent series, I ask that you examine closely the claims of the messiah, hopefully the case that I have put forward in these twenty four parts will in some way to resolve some questions you had about who Jesus is.

December 25th is the day we hold in memory to remember the one who came to die for our sins and was the author of the faith that bears his name (Christian) My hope to you is that you get a Christmas gift that cannot be bought but it is worth more than gold. I of course refer to the gift of eternal life.

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

Letter to my princess (from a loving father)

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

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

 

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

 

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

Dearest Daughter,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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