Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: Jesus

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.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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A warning against False Teachers

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Warning Against False Teachers

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 three of the first chapter of First Timothy.

Remain in Ephesus

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Paul commends Timothy to remain in Ephesus, as stated earlier Timothy had a really tough job and he was urged to stay there to combat heresy. This encouragement is evident that he had done well so far, but God was telling him to have Timothy stay in Ephesus; continue the work until he was called elsewhere. 

Ministry is hard, you will be attacked both spiritually and mentally, I have seen good Pastors forfeit wealth, material success and sometimes have health considerations due to remaining in a certain ministry. That is faith, true faith to stay the course because all that is telling you to is that still small voice from God guiding your path. This is even more so when all of the material evidence points to escape being the only option.

Affliction goes with the territory in ministry, sometimes it is seasonal, and some of us are blessed with a permanent state of affliction. Whatever God has us go through he will give us what we need to get through it. God will allow us to be in difficult situations, often times it is to show us lessons that we need to learn. One of my failings is failing to pray for patience to get through the trials I face and my prayer usually involves the theme or tone of “Get me out of this LORD!” rather than “Show me what I need to learn and in your own time LORD let me learn and then deem me worthy to be removed from this trial”.

Why had he to remain? Simply to keep the doctrine straight! To teach no other doctrine, to make sure that the church as a whole avoided heresy and to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had preached to the Ephesian church and told them straight from the horse’s mouth the correct doctrine. He had set out in his own teachings a certain set of beliefs that were correct and he was keen that the Ephesians stay in the solid doctrine that he established.

Keep the doctrine straight

Paul was very concerned with keeping the doctrinal “ducks in a row” as God is concerned that we believe and what we believe. He is concerned what we believe about him, what we believe about Jesus and also what we believe about truth. Just like the times in which Paul was writing in, (Roman times) they were a very polytheistic society with many “truths”. Paul would be writing in the face of this and advising a singular truth based on the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This will be offensive then as it is today, there is only one way to heaven and that is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot get there through the teachings of Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius or the Dahlia Llama. None of these other folks died for the sins of the world, there was only one person in the history of the world able to do this and that was Jesus Christ.

Teach no other doctrine

Paul was not worried about Timothy’s doctrine but the doctrine of those around him. He was commended that “you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” he was then given his instructions to stand up against those who wished to teach “different doctrine” this doctrine was obviously contrary to the message and it must have been tough for Timothy. You have got to stop these falsehoods in the church, command if you will because this doctrine was not up for debate; he was to charge it to these certain persons.

Like any heresy it grows arms and legs, and Paul states “nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” Timothy was to cut this out at the root because not only were they deviating from the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, they were taking doctrine and applied untruths, myths and applying things to it was never meant to mean.

I will give them the benefit of the doubt and state that I don’t think in the main it was malicious, they were not preaching against Jesus, but they were focusing on the wrong things. If we get distracted in minor points of theology it can be more distracting and can often times do more harm than good.

Gentiles keeping the Law

A prevalent problem in the early church was the Jewish believer trying to force Gentiles to try to keep the law and applying a further burden upon them. Paul was very vociferous against doctrines like this as it caused more harm than good. We do this today in our over complicating of the gospel message and attempting to over intellectualize the message to make it seem more complicated than it actually is.

Jesus+ doctrine

Another fear is the Jesus+ doctrine, this is where most cults error and advise that in order to attain higher spirituality you have to have Jesus plus something else.  The problem with this Paul states quite clearly that “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” they are removing the truth of edification from God for the thrill of a speculation from man.

The truth of the edification from God is pure and truthful, where the man is a created being from God and he is not honest and truthful, man is corrupt and will produce a short term thrill while the idea is new, but is nothing but a distraction or a corruption of Godly edification. The rewards are much less and really are profitless and rob you of a much greater blessing.

Pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith

Going on from this we read “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” And Paul shows the loving shepherds heart that he has for these folks, this is important as we have many “fakers”, “part-time believers” or “Sunday legalists” in our bodies today, people don’t change! Jesus called them “white washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27-28) because they looked great on the outside but were dead inside.

We have to check ourselves first and make sure that we are doing this and that we are approaching our doctrine with a pure heart. When Jesus was on this earth, the people he had the most issue is the people who should have known better. It was the ones who knew the law but they approached it with a wicked heart and used it to justify their behavior as opposed to using it to bring you closer to God. It was all about “looking holy” as opposed to “being holy”. Even although we are not Jewish, we still have Jewish type legalists, misunderstanding the doctrines and are “warriors in the church” but “silent outside”.

Examine the harvest

In order to check ourselves we have to examine the fruit in our lives to make sure there is nothing “poisoning the well” A good question to ask is “Are you being changed by God’s word or are we using it as a rulebook that we realize we cannot measure up to and attempt to work our way into God’s good books and deny our sincere faith in order to try to please God by our own efforts.

Vain discussion

V6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

When we get sidetracked, confused and sidetracked into vain discussion (some versions have idle chatter) then we go further down the track of going away from God. Some churches by focusing more on “man-made rules” than “God inspired doctrine” have done this and found themselves in all manners and areas of compromise.

Vain discussion can also be over analyzing of scripture and as stated before taking it into tangents it was never meant to go in or applying man’s wisdom and taking it places it was never meant to go in. It can lead to some interesting discussions but the fruit is questionable as does it really do what it intended to and bring you closer to God? It may very well be entertaining but can erode from the message that God is trying to tell you.

When people get “puffed up” and have something to say about scripture that makes them seem holy, they may desire to be a teacher. In Paul’s day it was the people who were pulling the sheep astray and the very ones involved in the vain discussions (the last people who should ever be allowed near the front of the assembly) they let individual pride, ambition and desire to be known take over from any good they possibly could do as servants because they seek to serve their ambition first and God a distant second.

My or thy will be done?

Please do not confuse this with a holy calling, but anyone desiring to be a teacher should really look at the qualifications in chapter two, examine them with an elder or someone you trust and prayerfully consider whether that it is a calling or whether you are working in “my will be done” as opposed to “thy will be done”. We will go deeper into this when we look at the qualifications much later.

This leads to a conclusion that we could all see coming “without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” we see these people not seeing their own folly and also not seeing the potential damage they could be doing to the body of Christ as a whole.

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

Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus

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Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Acts 5:17 (ESV) But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council, all the senate of the people of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Apologies (in advance) for the long introduction)

For me this is a super exciting piece of Scripture. Not because my predecessors in the faith suffered, but more that it is proof that once you become a Christian, it is not all light, airy and fairy, that God will act like some big genie in the sky and grant all of our wishes because we are “the real ones”, there are 2 reasons why God won’t do that:

1)    The heart (even the Christian one) is deceitfully wicked and we would be corrupted easily if that were the arrangement.
2)    We really have no idea what we want and what is best for us. I liken it to a toddler who is throwing a fit because there is no apple in the fridge and the store is closed, we may want it but it will not be fulfilled.

Which is why, for me at least, (and hopefully for you also) that the “name it and claim it” preachers are wrong, you know the guys, the ones who promote a prosperity driven gospel, a gospel that is good when you are making bank from it. The type of messages that contain notions such as “whatever you give God, he will give you TEN TIMES back” (I think they mean a super spiritual reverse tithing celestial building society account with the creator)

Now I am of the belief that you cannot out give God, however my faith is not dependent on me owning a Mercedes Benz, wearing Nike trainers, a Ralph Lauren shirt and a pair of Levi Jeans. Such faith will see very quickly your mettle. To quote a good old Scottish saying you would disappear like “snow off a dyke” (means when it gets hot the snow will not endure the change in conditions and melt on the top of a wall not built by cement)

This is something we are still learning in the Western church, the mission church, where we quite literally have to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” (otherwise the Pastor would do everything) with the possible exception of small churches/house churches and smaller church plants, people are hiding in plain sight, either not serving or not having their gifts used by inept leadership at the local church level.

Now I have a confession to make, I stink at evangelism! I can quite literally talk someone’s ear off for hours on end about topics that will not matter and have no eternal relevance (or relevance in the next five minutes) but if you had me cold call on a person to discuss eternal life, I try hard but I am not relevant, unless they have similar struggles to what I have had. I understand the pull of addiction, I understand what a sinful life is, I understand what it is like to have your brain think the dishonest route is the primary route, I have been through that and I emphasize with those people. I get what they are going through,

Lets get to the passage huh?

Apologies for the random thoughts, but as I look at my Mac Book and see the time on the top right hand corner it currently reads 02:33 AM, I am currently writing this while caring for my sick child, I have been sick all this week and I think that I gave it to her. This article will either be one of the best I have written, or one of the worst.

As I ponder this I am reminded of an account that I heard when listening to a radio program I catch most days on my way home from work, the radio host said that a prominent preacher that he respected was having a conversation with him and he reminded him of a poignant truth.

He said “Remember the Donkey” to which the host replied “The Donkey?” and the preacher said, “Even the Donkey knew the celebration and palm leaves were for the one he was escorting into the city”

We have to remember that! As much as we may get kudos, or thanks for a message delivered, we are simply the vessels that God chooses to use. In the same way I can do most jobs around my house far quicker and far easier flying solo, it is so much fun to show your kids how to do stuff. That is why God uses us to do his work!

Point by point through this passage

Can you imagine the scenes in this story, lets break it down.

1)    Religious people get jealous, they are not getting the kudos (maybe not being seen as the holy ones anymore)
2)    Prison time for the Apostles, if we can’t shut them up then we will lock them up.
3)    Heavenly jailbreak, doors flung open and they are told from above to keep preaching.
4)    Obedience, they went out and preached again
5)    Brought back before the religious rulers and accused
6)    God or man? Whom should I follow?
7)    Jesus is proclaimed and the full counsel of the gospel is delivered
8)    Religious leaders consider their options, jail cannot hold them
9)    If it is of man it will fail, if it is of God it will not
10)  Went from house to house proclaiming Jesus is LORD

Why it is encouraging to me

Because I don’t face a religious court for proclaiming Jesus Christ is LORD. No one has sued me for my opinions or what God has put on my heart for me to say. I stick to Conservative Christian theology mainly so I doubt I will ever end up in the situation of these apostles.

I kind of wish I did though, in the Western church we have lost our edge, I feel that although we are called to a battle, perhaps a heavenly war as it were. I do wonder about the urgency we have to save souls. I am not tarring all Christians with the same brush, I do think that sometimes we blow it unintentionally, but there are times when we are missing clear open doors to help someone and talk to them about Jesus. (I am talking to me first)

What is stopping you dear Christian?

In this historical account, the apostles are tried, convicted, jailed, released, threatened, beaten and then they continue on with their mission. Have you faced any of that in the last year? I know I sure haven’t, I haven’t even been mocked for having the beliefs I have. So really, with no gun to my head or knife on my throat, I have erred in this task.

Please be reminded (or if you did not know then please be aware) these are not educated men, they are tradesmen from Galilee, some fishermen, a physician and a tax collector. Jesus did not choose 12 Pharisee best of the best scholars who were brave men and fantastic orators. He chose the man in the street, the coward, the wimp, the doubter, most famously he chose the betrayer and then much later he chose the former persecutor to evangelize the Gentiles.

What I am saying is that despite the reputation you believe you have or the ways you have excused yourself from service with God. God wants you to do your part, when Moses tried to use the “slow of speech” argument, God had none of that! Pray about what you are called to and get in there and get dirty doing the LORD’s work.

I love how the last verse is worded. “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” No breaks, no me time, no reassessment of priorities, every single day, wherever they were, temple, market, street, whoever’s house they were allowed into they had one purpose and one purpose only:

TEACHING AND PREACHING THAT THE CHRIST IS JESUS

I really need to reevaluate how I spend my time, how about you? That’s the challenge in this 2000 word article should you chose to accept it. Some will see it as good words and pass over it, some will ponder it a little while and have no resolve to implement it, but others will pray, meditate on these words. They will look for application and seek God’s will how they too can be teaching and preaching as often as possible. I pray you are in the third category.

God bless you one and all and I pray that this was a blessing for you, please like, share or comment below and please share this article on any social media platforms that the LORD leads you too. If you have any comments about this or any other article then I would commend you to use the comment function at the bottom of the page.
TGBTG
TTE

Pastors – Let us treat the “City of Houston” biblically

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Pastors – Let us treat the “City of Houston” biblically

Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 5:38 (ESV) “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

The idea of this article is perhaps to shed a little balance and take away emotion from something that is obviously a highly charged issue.  I will gladly share my bias here, I am a Conservative Christian blogger (duh, if you are here you will most certainly know that) who actually has a “dog in this fight” to use a British term. I have friends who are in the process of establishing a church in the very city that I am blogging about.

I have relative safety from this in the fact that I am blogging about this from the safety of my own home in Central California and have no ties to the City of Houston or any of its entities. As it stands at the moment my local authority has not requested any teaching that I have done or any pastors that I have been associated with.

Persecution?

This heading is rightly a question as I am a little unsure as I have heard many provocative remarks regarding whether this is “persecution” or not. The fact is that an elected official is using power that she has in order to air personal grievances. I am of course meaning the Mayor of Houston and her crusade to request copies of sermons (or as it was later requested “public speeches”)

This was done to find out if any of the pastors had taught a biblical perspective on issues of a LGBT nature, the mayor Annise Parker (which a lot has been made out of the fact that she is a lesbian, however I deem that irrelevant) has made it a personal goal to single out five pastors for “special treatment”.

I don’t necessarily call it persecution as I don’t see that I see in many other countries where biblical teachers are being dragged through the streets and tortured for even professing the name of Christ. These guys have freedoms that pastors in former communist and current Muslim countries would dream of, they have financial backing, many get paid to pastor and they can meet out in the open safe in the knowledge that the next convert may or may not be a Judas and sent them to their death.

So in the truest sense of the word it is not persecution.

Do as the verse says

We are told in the above verse that “And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” give her the sermons, give her as much literature as she wants and needs, don’t send her bibles! listen folks. I follow a BIG GOD who has told me that this in Isaiah 55 (That the word shall not return empty) Here is the full discourse for balance.

Isaiah 55:6 (ESV) “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. 12 “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Here is the crux of what i wish to say, I believe that there is some reason behind why she is asking to have these sermons, in her mind she is doing her own bidding, however I would not count out that God may be orchestrating something bigger. God has done this before remember,  one of the greatest evangelists was the Apostle Paul, who up until his conversion just shy of Damascus in Acts 9, was the Pharisee Saul who tortured and killed Christians.  (In fact he was on his way to do likewise when he was converted)

If Jesus can come face to face with a murderer and a man responsible for a lot of the first century persecution,  he certainly can work this situation to the glory of God using the ones who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)

Final thoughts

We are told (again by Jesus) in the book of Matthew

Matthew 28:19 (ESV) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

So my prayer to the pastors is to let them have the sermons. (Most are available on the church websites) and be available to counsel those who have questions. Embrace those who breathe evil against you are no show them the love of Christ.

I pray for the government officials that they find the knowledge of the one true messiah. His name is Jesus Christ and he is the LORD.

Jesus said in John 14:6 that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It is through him and him only that you can have eternal life.

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

I am no “Patriot” but I do “Hail to the Chiefs”

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I am no “Patriot” but I do “Hail to the Chiefs”

Like most males based in America, I love me a little MNF (Or Monday Night Football for those who do not speak NFL) but I try to restrict myself to when my team are playing and I have it as more of a treat than a Monday night ritual. As you may have guessed by the title and picture that I have placed on the top of this article, I am a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

I must have some sort of NFL style Stockholm syndrome by choosing a team that I have never seen live in the Superbowl (I was born in 1977) and who quite often lose in the playoffs, but I am a loyal guy and once I saw an aging Joe Montana throw snaps in the Red, white and yellow uniform, I was hooked and instantly loved the game.

A few years later in the country where I lived in Scotland we got the NFL Europe and we got a team called the “Scottish Claymores” and I continued to like this “foreign sport” along with about 10,000 other die hards until the team ceased operations in 2004.

When I moved to the US I continued to like the game and although I live no-where near KC, I have kept up with what is going on with a team that I have formed an association with and a team that has given me a great deal of joy, a great deal of frustration and a great cause of my mood swings.

Last night was a good night to be a Chiefs fan and it is hard because there is a tradition that we do at Arrowhead that I am not too fond of, this may sound hypocritical as I was not born in the US or am I a US citizen, however I am not a fan of the tradition of concluding the American national anthem with “The land of the free, in the home of the CHIEFS!” I am a really big fan of my team but I do think there are some things that you shouldn’t mess with. The US is a wonderful country and one of the greatest things about this place is that they are proud to be American.

Play by play, the Chiefs played better than the Patriots, won 41-14, they set a new Guinness record for noise and despite the fact I started the game about an hour after the rest of the country. (I had errands to run and I had the game DVR’d) I still finished it about the time the rest of the US and I was getting more and more excited as the game was drawing to a close.

This made me think, imagine getting into a state about a game that I have no control over and that for half of it I was cheering after the play had occurred, (even if I was in the stadium I would have little to do with the outcome on the field) when I don’t get in a state about the things that matter, things like I wonder how many of the 76,000 seats last night were occupied by people who were assured of going to heaven by having Jesus as their Saviour.

Please do not think I am against sports and enjoying yourself, that is not the case. I love watching football and love to see my team win, however I do realize and recognize that “tribal worship” like that is not exactly a good thing. Since I have been in California, I have seen folks check their smart phones to check scores whilst in church, rush out of church to get home to see their game or in some cases (and I have done this) when the church service collides with a game, not went to church.

That’s when you have to do some examining our natural face in the glass (as James would say in his epistle) and pray about what the LORD wants you to do. This maybe an emotive subject as I know many Christians who love the NFL and I know the teams they follow but precious little else about them, that is tragic and we do tend to wear our sports teams jerseys like some sort of cultish pride.

I am not against watching football on a Sunday, Monday or whatever day you choose to, but I do have some advice, last night when I DVR’d the game, I got through it in just over an hour as opposed to the nearly 4 hours I usually set aside. This is not a guilt trip and I am as much talking to me as anyone but when was the last time you spent nearly 4 hours in prayer and worship to the one true king? (Jesus Christ)

I do not wish to get all legalistic and we are all free to make our own choices. I can no easier see your heart as I can your motives in what you do, I have no idea what your daily walk with Jesus is like, however I do like to throw up warning flares and hope that the Holy Spirit uses these writings to fulfill the will of God. There is no anti sport agenda here as I love Rugby, Soccer, Football and Baseball. In fact if my “religion” was sports results then I would have been a happy worshipper with Dundee United, Glasgow Warriors and the LA Dodgers all winning recently.

It is like most things I guess in the Christian faith, all down to your heart. If it becomes a consuming passion in your life then it is clear that you need to take a step back and a step closer to Jesus.

From this member of the Red Tribe I pray that this blog is edifying, challenging and thought provoking, please feel free to comment, like or share below, God bless you one and all
TGBTG
TTE

Have a little Compassion

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Matthew 25:35 (ESV) 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

Have a little compassion

I don’t normally use this blog to promote other Christian organizations (perhaps I should as we are all the body of Christ) but this is an organization that is very close to my heart as it combines the love of Jesus with the wellbeing of children that really need our help.

My wife and I have supported Compassion International since 2006, we have a sponsored child from Uganda, we first got involved with compassion after visiting visiting a booth at the Scottish Christian festival called “Frenzy”.

Compassion are an awesome charity that facilitates communication between the sponsor and the sponsored child, distributes money just not for the child’s education but also has programs that will help out the community at large.

Of course many programs do this, however what attracted me to these guys and the reason I have stayed with them (Apart from our “African daughter”) I’d the strong emphasis on honoring Jesus name in everything they do.

I do not get anything for promoting them, this is an advert which is written without prior consent of Compassion and I do not get reimbursed in any way.

Over the years I have help “Compassion Sundays” at my church and have manned and staffed Compassion booths in my local area at concerts as diverse as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith and Chondra Pierce.

Sponsoring a child is very easy and surprisingly affordable. (Works out to be about $38 a month/just over a $1 a day)

You can learn more about sponsoring sponsoring a child here

God bless you and I pray that you share, like or comment below
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

No excuses, because every one of you judges

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No excuses, because every one of you judges

Romans 2:1 (ESV) Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

We read in chapter one the sinfulness of the heart and how far man had gone to get away from the righteousness of God. This is somewhat expected by those who are novices or do not know what Gods word states, however, as we revealed in our last devotional at the end of the 1st chapter, these folks actually knew better.

Romans 2 starts the same way with the same thought pattern and states that the one in iniquity is one who “judges”, they are one who sits in a seat of authority. In this time, much like today we had two types of people who judged

1) The religious judges
2) The worldly/Roman judges

In both cases, they saw themselves as the authority, the religious judges used the 613 laws to justify their position, the Roman or worldly judges used the law of man to justify his position. By both standards they could pull themselves up and declare themselves “righteous” and “fit to judge”. Neither were looking to God as the absolute authority and using man made positions (even positions of faith) and both would have placed themselves above the “immoral people”.

I think it is awesome that Paul wrote this having come from the zealous, law worshipping, Christian persecuting, and Pharisee background that he did. He saw the massive difference between “empty religion” or a “law keeping relationship with God” and the freedom that exists within the Christian life.

Paul isn’t just looking to expose the wrongdoing, he wants them to change their ways. He uses the very thing the hold the dearest, their moral superiority and compares it to the absolute, the law of God and shows how far they fall short of the perfect standard and the only way it can be achieved through the messiah.

Does anyone face that objection today? From “Moral Non-Christians” stating that they are good?

Both are hypocrites

You see, keeping folks in check in love (discipleship) is okay in God’s eyes as you are doing it for the benefit of the recipient. The advice is non-judgmental and done under the assumption that even if the person who is discipling has a struggle, it is a struggle that is not done in a hypocritical nature.

These folks were judging, but practicing the self-same things behind closed doors. Jesus called these type of people “whitewashed tombs” who look great and holy on the outside but reek of death internally where it really matters. Paul is speaking to the ones who know better when he speaks in verses 2-5. 

The “heart” of the matter

 …Is of course the heart, their hearts were hard, they had the knowledge, they should have had the wisdom, they know God was long suffering and slow to anger and quick to love. But Paul tells them they are storing up their own judgment and they need to repent.

The Christian is no better than the sinner! They have just realized that God has been better to them than they deserve, that God sent a solution to the problem that man created. That despite the mockery, the ignorance and all that man can throw at God; God is perfectly willing and able to forgive. God has come 99% of the way, we just have to complete that 1% and accept the free gift that is freely available from a loving father God.

This is what sets the Christian apart, our willingness to serve God out of gratitude that he was so gracious to us. We still mess up, still sin, but we humble ourselves and repent.

If you seek a relationship with Jesus, then please contact a local bible believing church, if you need help I would love to help so please contact me on the details on my contact page.

God bless you one and all, I hope this has been a blessing and I pray that you like, share or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Are you in the “Self-preservation society”?

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What is the “Italian Job”?

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

Anyone who knows me well will know that as a young adult, one of my favourite movies was the 1969 version of “The Italian Job”. (Famous for the Mini chase scenes) I loved the movie as a British classic movie. It is a very strange movie where the “good guys” are actually a band of petty thieves, controlled by a crime lord who is still in jail and aided by a computer genius who are attempting to rob an armoured truck and steal millions of $ worth of gold bars on the day after England play Italy at football.

The “bad guys” are the guys who are trying to stop them. These consist of The Mafia who do not want a crime on Italian soil done by foreign criminals and the Italian police who just don’t want crime happening at all. The film was filmed using real people in the city of Turin in a real traffic jam. (Saved on extras I suppose)

If you were planning on watching the movie then please look away, I may spoil some things for you. The film was filmed prior to the EU being formed so the premise was that if they made it over the alps into Switzerland and deposited the money in a Geneva bank, they would have got away with it.

I liken this to the Christian life a little, we have committed crimes against God, it is called sin, and in our own little way, we are going on a dangerous journey (not in a speeding bus heading over the Swiss Alps) but if we are still without securing our eternal salvation, we are heading to the lesser of two possible outcomes.

You see, when we pass from this earth, there is one of two outcomes for us, we have an eternity with God, or an eternity separated from God in the lake of fire. This is where the Italian Job comes in.

The theme song of the Italian Job was “This is the Self Preservation Society” and this is what I urge you to do my friend and my reader. I urge you to secure your eternal destination. Because I can assure you, if you do not commit, if you don’t join a holier version of the “Self-preservation society” it will be decided for you.

There is no sitting on the fence, this may be hard to read, but if you are not with God, you are against him. We have the same choice as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we can choose to go with God or go against him. Should we choose the latter, we also choose what eternal future goes with that!

We have to do what is stated in Acts 16:31, and “believe in the LORD Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (paraphrase) begin on that day to day walk with Jesus Christ and live for him. Going out and telling the world about his good news and how he died for your sins.

The Italian Job (the film) finishes with the “good guys” getting cocky and the driver begins to take chances on the road, mis-times a turn and the bus goes into a tailspin. The bus is left hanging over the end with the people at the font of the bus and the gold pulling the bus over the edge. In the last scene, the main character instructs the men not to leave the bus and he tries to drag the gold towards the centre. This leaves the bus balancing scarily on the edge.

Are you like that today? Life is pulling you over the edge? Something in your life is weighing you down, chasing after what you value is leading to your doom. The people you need to help balance your life are all looking to exit out the door leaving you to fall. Are you at rock bottom? Cry out to Jesus! He is the great healer.

You may still have the consequences of your sin. I do! I am overweight! However you can be forgiven and start to live your life with meaning and purpose that goes beyond your own life. I recently heard a sermon based on a father of the Antioch church whose legacy has lasted over 2000 years.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing, an exhortation and a challenge
TGBTG
TTE