Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Jesus goes teaching and preaching in the Synagogues – Matthew 4:23-25

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Jesus goes teaching and preaching in the Synagogues – Matthew 4:23-25 – 05/11/2016

Matthew 4:23 (ESV) And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse twenty three of chapter four.

V23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Jesus went all about his mission from the get go, he knew the customs of the day that would allow visitors to teach in their synagogues and can you imagine being there and hearing the most holy words be read by the author himself? These Galileans did not know how blessed they were! Where better to start his ministry than the very house that they dedicated to God?

We read that Jesus was both teaching and preaching and although we have lumped them together in modern Christianity there is quite a difference in what he was doing, let’s look at that here…

  • Teaching – was where he was delivering the content and explaining what the matter meant.
  • Preaching – Is giving exposition on the scriptures and this is why the ESV uses the word proclamation because he was proclaiming the truth of what was written and its literal fulfillment in flesh before them. Who could argue with that?

In addition to his verbal ministry, Jesus was also healing people and was becoming quite famous for healing and I do wonder if people were coming to Jesus just looking for the temporary fix, you have to remember though that Jesus can see the heart and he knew who wanted what from him. Jesus did not seek fame and was simply looking to display the power that he had over sickness, and he had a genuine compassion for those who sought his help. We see what types of people in the next verse…

V24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.

As stated above people wanted to meet the man who was healing all these people and his fame spread as far as Syria and they brought him to the author of all creation and he was able to demonstrate in a powerful way that he had power over creation and who better to fix someone than someone who was there and saw the original draft when the world was created.

I read this verse and it gives me great hope because as a spouse of someone who has a chronic pain issue and it reinforces my belief in the power of prayer because I know that Jesus can heal according to his will and here we see in a historical record written by a man who was so meticulous that the Romans had him collecting tax for them. He even goes as far to catalogue the types of people that Jesus healed. I love passages of scripture like this when I hear the skeptics argument that “the Bible is so vague”.

I also love that Jesus is mentioned to have healed people who were “demon possessed” and showed that he was indeed greater than he who was in the world. It was also a glimpse into the ease that Jesus will make all things new in the book of Revelation.

V25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Such as his fame attracted the numbers and here is a lesson for Pastors and leaders who worship the idea of having a mega ministry. I would state to you that it is not wrong to have such a united movement of people all pointing in the one direction as long as it is all about Jesus. I would state to follow Jesus example when he had the multitudes.

HE TAUGHT THEM! The temptation is there to not “go against the grain” or “talk about things that will lose numbers” Jesus never did that and Jesus frequently taught them the truth. Jesus wasn’t into impressing them with “holy tricks” or “miracles” he was looking to change their hearts and that is still the case today, if you have not accepted Jesus into your heart then I would urge you to get in contact and I would love to speak to you more. We are not promised tomorrow and the point of this blog is to introduce you to your Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses one through twelve of chapter five studying when teaches the part of scripture known as the beatitudes. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

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

A Song of Ascents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12 – 03/02/2016

Matthew 3:3 (ESV) For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse three of chapter three.

V3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

In the last article we dealt with an introduction of John the Baptist and who he was and now John introduces himself by quoting Isaiah 40:3 and in the previous few paragraphs we get an idea of who John was genealogically and Matthew draws this comparison (also made in John 1:23) and John was clear in his mission. His mission was that as a prophet, to warn and to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. To create an understanding of their sin as a forerunner to Jesus, John knew his role as the warm up man and not the main event.

The idea of make his ways straight comes from what would be done for a visiting monarch or visiting royalty that the route that would be travelled would be prepared and be mended to make sure that the visit and journey was as smooth as possible. The hearts of the people were like the wilderness that John was preaching in, they had to be prepared and smoothed out and I have seen it with my own life and own eyes that often times the one who prepares the hearts and sows seeds is not the one who harvests.

V4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John had a rather odd attire, personality and diet; (he literally lived off what God provided in the wilderness – locusts and wild honey) he dressed and spoke like an Old Testament prophet He took his fashion sense straight from the books of Isaiah, here is Old Testament confirmation of this…

2nd Kings 1:8 (ESV) They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

He was prophesied as coming prior to being born by Malachi…

Malachi 4:1 (ESV) “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Now you understand why great care is told to tell the story of his birth! John knew who he was, what was promised and why he was on the mission he was on. If we had the attitude that John had of Jesus first – I second and just think for one second how more effective our ministries would be for the Lord. Often times we struggle because we feel entitled to some kudos in the role of the ministry. The more I do ministry and the more articles I prepare and the more lessons I teach I realize that it is not about me but the one I am following.

The last part talks about the fruit of John’s ministry, John was blessed by God and was given fruit in his ministry as evidence of his obedience. People were realizing that the words he were speaking were from God, they were convicted in their hearts and were confessing their sins and more importantly they were willing to put that conviction into action and actually make a life change. John convicted these people of their sins and they responded by the outward sign of faith in baptism, and this became so famous that it reached the ears of the ones who were the religious establishment. Let’s see how John deals with the religious establishment…

V7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Talk about putting a target on your back! John takes on the ones who are perceived as being the “holy ones” with a righteous anger that came straight from heaven. As much as they were different groups in that the Pharisees and Sadducees and had huge theological differences, they came together to see who this new guy was who was convicting them of their sins. The Pharisees believed in the Law and the righteousness that gave you a local and moral spirituality and be seen as being closer to God by doing so. The Sadducees were more worldly and normally the Pharisees would not be teaming up with them but this new threat to the status quo had to be looked at, perhaps they were seeing if they could align this popular prophet to their tribe or cause?

John responds as they arrive calling them snakes, he mocked their genealogical arguments that they were righteous because of a lineage of birth as opposed to personal repentance or sacrifice. Even if they had come to be baptized to look as if they were prepared for the coming messiah we see that John concluded that like everything else they did that it was to put on a religious show and reminded all who were there that the important. John wanted to see that they had repentance on their hearts as well as their lips.

He reminded them of the wrath to come and who it was from. God was about to send his son to preach words direct from the Father and that this Messiah would come and shine the light of God into their lives and tell them of some really uncomfortable truths. They will not survive that wrath and the only way to sustain is to flee from it. He lastly uses the analogy of an axman, getting ready to chop out the unrepentant branches of that olive tree and graft in those who would repent (see Romans 11 for the culmination of that picture) John then advises why he was baptizing…

V11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

And John again states that he is not the main attraction and when you are in ministry it is very easy to be lifted up and people to hold you higher than you should be held up. John remembers his place and states that he is not worthy to perform the tasks of the lowest servant in a house. What a heart to have and it certainly challenges me about my heart when I take on tasks that I have been allowed to do for the Lord, he culminates that and shows his heart in his words in John 3:30 when he says that “He must increase and I must decrease” and we have to remember that in ministries where you are giving a public recognition, that it should not be about you but the Messiah you serve! John brought them to a place of repentance but he was not the one who would save them.

John finishes by telling those in attendance about the judgment that is coming and to be prepared for the Messiah and his coming because he was going to come in judgment. John brought the water baptism but the messiah and only the messiah was the only one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, if you have been following along in our series “the ACTS files” then you would see the fulfilment of that prophecy that was first stated in the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:14)

He speaks of the wheat and the chaff, the wheat would be the harvest that is useable by the Lord and pure and he will purify those who were pure, not by their own efforts but by the grace of God and the repentance of their hearts and the chaff are the ones who choose to live in their wickedness and never repent. Chaff is the unusable, inedible residue that the agricultural people used to separate from the good stuff using a form and allow nature to blow it away from the stuff that was kept as good. A question to ask yourself is are you wheat or chaff?

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will continue to look at John the Baptist and we will see that John gets a visitor wishing to be baptized and despite protestations by John, he allows him to be baptized I love this scripture because prophetically and theologically it is such a great passage of scripture that 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
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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12 – 02/17/2016

Matthew 3:1 (ESV) In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse one of chapter three.

V1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew now moves on from his narrative away from the childhood of Jesus and leaves that account with Jesus growing up in Nazareth in the last article in this series (link here) and begins looking at the child who was promised of Zechariah and Elizabeth called “John the Baptist” so let’s look at who he was. We are introduced to the foretelling of the baby John in the gospel of Luke…

Luke 1: 5 (ESV) In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

So we understand this baby will come and grow into a man who will have the “Spirit of Elijah” Luke carries on in the first chapter of Luke when he accounts of the birth of John the Baptist and a prophecy by his father…

Luke 1:57 (ESV) Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

Luke 1:67 (ESV) And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

And here is where we carry on the story in Matthews Gospel and John’s message was not one of hearts and flowers and if modern day folks who examine preachers and assess whether their message would be very “seeker friendly” would find John wanting. John had a simple message because he knew his role in ushering in the Messiah. It was his job to call whoever would listen to repentance, but not repentance for the sake of John, he was requesting a true repentance of the heart and a turning back to God for all people.

His message was so in unison with his messiahs mission that his first words were the same as Jesus, both started their missions calling the ones who had gathered to listen to “repent” and that gives an indication of how far the world had sunk away from God’s plan. That message is still relevant today because we need to lose ourselves and seek the Lord while he may be found and to call upon him while he is near.

John states this by saying “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and that is just as true today than it was then, Jesus is coming again soon and the anticipation of that second coming of the Messiah should excite us to continue our kingdom work down here. John’s main message was not the repent, but he reason for the repentance.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will look at part two of the introduction to John the Baptist where we pick up in verse three and see what John actually preaches and the heart behind that, I would hate for you to miss it and the riches that will be revealed in that bible study. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23

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The return to Nazareth and Jesus the Nazarene – Matthew 2:19-23 – 02/03/2016

Matthew 2:19 (ESV) But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. 23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse nineteen.

V19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

God again spoke to Joseph through a dream by way of an angel of the Lord, much in the same way as he was told that Mary had not been unfaithful, also in the same way he was told to flee to Egypt in the first place and we again see Josephs remarkable obedience to what he now trusts to be true.

We don’t see from the text how long he was a refugee in Egypt, however we do see that there was enough time elapsed that Herod was dead at the point of return. We know that Jesus was still classified as a child so he would not be regarded as a young man (around the age of 13) We see in a few verses that Herod had been succeeded by his son and from research on the man, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree on that son.

Interestingly we see the way that the people are listed; the child is always listed before the mother in importance. We see that prophecy is being fulfilled because Jesus was called to be the messiah to the people of Israel first, he cannot do this if he is not back in Israel.

V22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

We now see Herod’s son is now in place as king over Judea, much like his father Herod the Great he was a puppet king under the Emperor Augustus, he was regarded as a man much in the same vein as his father, he is noted mainly by the Jewish historian Josephus.

Most of his battles internally were with the Jewish leaders of the day, he was the king who placed a golden eagle over the temple door with the Jewish leaders saw as blasphemous and was known for killing rivals and those who opposed his decrees. Here is a quote from Wikipedia on this matter”…

“Herod defended his works and offered an attack on his predecessors, the dynastic Hasmoneans. Herod killed all male lineal successors of the Hasmoneans. The Pharisees had long attacked the Hasmoneans as well, as having parentage from Greeks while under bondage. This racial slur was repeated by the Pharisees through the rule of Alexander Jannaeus and Queen Salome.”

He ruled for less than a decade and made enemies on all sides, he was replaced in 6AD with a Roman appointed governor. (You may remember that was the title of Pontius Pilate) and this is enough to tell you that the man’s reputation alone was enough to make Joseph rightly anxious about going there. Joseph decided to go back to the place where it all began for Mary and him. This made sense in a cultural basis going back to where they would have a support network.

V23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Interestingly enough they went into another province run by a King Herod, but this was the brother called Antipas who was regarded as a ruler with a much milder mannerisms. He went to an area that was not as densely populated with Jewish religious people, Galilee was the area that had a more broad spectrum of Jewish and Gentile mix, it was a fishing area and in this area which was not as highly regarded as the great city of Jerusalem it would be where the messiah of the world would grow up.

This touches me on so many levels, how many times have we seen God not using the things that we regard as remarkable and the things that we think God will regard because they are beautiful to man’s eyes, God sees them as nothing. It is true in my life also. I am an unremarkable man, however God has allowed me to be part of some really cool things in his name, I never think that it is me by any means. I consider myself to be a type of Nazareth, not much to look at but desiring to be used by God.

Joseph chose to go to the place with the bad reputation. When Philip is introduced to the messiah and finds out he hailed from Nazareth – He questioned and asked “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46) He also chose to go to the place that knew the strange circumstances regarding Mary’s conception and how Joseph was not the earthly father of Jesus. Talk about starting the child off with a disadvantage.

It was very much the will of the Father that the child would fulfil prophecy, and when he was alive he was not known as “Jesus Christ” but simply “Jesus of Nazareth” and because of this his followers were sometimes called Nazarenes (see Acts 24:5)

Acts 24:5 (ESV) For we have found this man a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.

Jesus would be in small town life, if Joseph was gone then Jesus would be expected to fill in as man of the house, be faithful in his trade (his father’s trade) and be diligent in the small things prior to embarking on his ministry journey. This is a great lesson to us as we figure out what God’s plan or calling is on our lives. The encouragement is to be diligent, be faithful in the small things and be prepared for when God is going to open that door to whatever ministry he has planned 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

The ACTS Files – I know our wine is strong but it’s only 9 o’clock! – Acts 2: 5-13

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The ACTS Files – I know our wine is strong but it’s only 9 o’clock! – Acts 2: 5-13 – 01/18/2016

Acts 2:5 (ESV) Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this series of verses are probably the ones most quoted in a charismatic/speaking in tongues type assemblies and I have seen some great teachings on these verses and some not so great. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse five…

V5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

Pentecost attracted men from all parts of the earth who just had to be in Jerusalem at that appointed time. We see that they were not originally from there as they were “dwelling” and being there on a temporary basis, I would imagine they would have arrived for Passover and would leave after Pentecost, however they were there for a much more divine appointment to just celebrate a Jewish festival and this happened at the end of their time in Jerusalem. God ordained this to happen to the biggest audience possible that would disperse to their own lands with this new gospel. Look at how they were going to be touched by God…

V6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.

Let’s get this correct…THEY HEARD THEM SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE! This was the Tower of Babel reversed, God opened the ears of the people there supernaturally and they heard it spoken in words that they understood. I have no idea how they were seen by a multitude, perhaps they were on elevated ground, perhaps they were on a balcony, the text is not clear what is clear is the following…

• There was a sound that made the multitude come together
• It caused bewilderment that they spoke in their native tongue

Luke goes on to explain why…

V7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

They recognized these men as Galileans, possibly by their accent, possibly their dialect. Being a Scotsman in America, I speak the same language as the people who are from here but the way that I speak identifies me as Scottish.

This does not cause bewilderment, amazement or astonishment; they realize that as a business language I also speak English, this was a supernatural occurrence that God did for his glory. Luke goes to great lengths to explain the vast nature of the amount of possible tongues that would have been heard that day in verse nine…

V9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

What glory to God that so many different tongues were spoken and so many folks understood the message that was being given to them about the praises of God’s glory, God willing we will look at Peters Sermon which begins in Acts 2:14 and see what was being said to these people. God was outreaching both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians also. Everyone that was in attendance was able to hear about this Messiah!

Isn’t it amazing that God used men who were seen as uncultured, brash and uneducated? As a Scottish guy who barely passed high school with no college level education I am buoyed by this news that if you are willing, if you are where God wants you to be then he can use even the rawest of materials and turn them into something beautiful. In my case he used a man who was brash, uncouth, a drunkard who looked after number one (I could have been Galilean) and turned him into a man who lives to study and teach the word of God, a man who loves his wife and loves his daughter, what a testimony and what a Savior!

Based on what they had witnessed here, this was not your usual Pentecost! The people began to ask questions about what was going on around them, let’s look at verse twelve…

V12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

And here is where we get our title from, I actually blagged it from a musical hero of mine called Sammy Horner and a band he played in called “The Electrics” and they had a song called “Visions and Dreams” which many of their fans (well at least 5 of us) thought this was their Sargent Pepper or Bohemian Rhapsody. Anyways, waaaaay to long an introduction as usual!

The question they asked was a legitimate question, it was obvious that something supernatural was happening so a question of “what does this mean?” is not to unreasonable a question. This was not answered at this time but should we get to Peters sermon then you will see that Peter answers the question. They were accused of being drunk but as we read it was only the third hour of the day (9am) and it is not uncommon when God moves that he is mocked. I hope and pray that we get to the next article to hear Peters sermon.

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

Pentecost – Can I Get a witness?

Pentecost – Can I Get a witness?

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Acts 1:3 (ESV) He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4 And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Meanwhile in the first century Jerusalem…

Imagine the scene, the guy you have been following around for the last three years because you believed he was the Messiah is arrested by local law enforcement, betrayed by one of your closest friends for money! Everyone both locally and nationwide is talking about his death, there are several eye witnesses.

Then the unbelievable happens, three days later, he appears again, ALIVE! You know it is him because you have been a step behind him for his whole ministry, you have been in earshot of every word he said, you may not always have grasped the meaning, but you were there.

He hangs around for just over a month, appearing to smaller crowds (1 Cor 15:6) and affirming to the faithful that he is actually alive and rose from the dead. You can see (and Thomas wanted to feel) the wounds in his hands, you get that he came back to show he was who he said he was!

Now he says this, you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit! Well he hasn’t been wrong so far and now you realise that he is God! We are given one instruction, stay put in the city we are in, that’s not to hard huh? Then they will fulfil Isaiah 43:10.

Fast forward to the 21st century

Can you imagine what the disciples had gone through in the last 50 odd days? If they would be getting diagnosed in modern times they would have all manners of PTSD.

They are so happy Jesus has come back, they realise that he is who he said he was so they ask the obvious question to the Jew of that day “when will Israel be restored”. You see, like Herod and so many other Jews, they focused on the prophesies that spoke of the messiah returning to re-establish his Kingdom and were looking for the messiah to overthrow Rome.

Jesus answers plainly, the kingdom you may not know, but the power from the kingdom you will get shortly! It wasn’t too long before the prophesy was fulfilled.

Acts 2:1 (ESV) When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

Nowadays, I use social media to get the word of God out, I find it the easiest way to connect and tell a few thousand folks within a few seconds and be a witness to how Christ has changed me. Based on this sites stats, people have viewed the “testimony” page more than any other page (not including blog posts)

This was social as opposed to social media. God chose a time where there was no MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or any if that fun stuff, he also chose a place where everyone who would be seeking God would be and at a time where they would all be in that city.

These devout men, who would already be of good reputation in their own lands, would come back with this story of how the Holy Spirit same down and how these men communicated to them each in a way they would recognise (all simultaneously) – Talk about Christianity exploding on a geographic scale! This was the great commission being fulfilled in one act.

What so many people miss in tho passage and focus on the act of speaking in tongues is that the disciples had two tasks

1) be in the place I told you to be in (Jerusalem)
2) wait until I tell you to wait.

We can learn so much from that, from their simple obedience came Pentecost! Simple huh?

As Christians we have to live by the spirit and not by the flesh, we read the following in Galatians:

Galatians 6:8 (ESV) For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

So to recap, be obedient, be where God tells you to be, live by the spirit and not grow weary! Let us all go and be witnesses now!

God bless you one and all and Happy Pentecost
TTE