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A biblical journey through the epistles

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Psalms Saturday #14 – Psalms 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked

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Psalms Saturday #14 – Psalms 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked – 05/07/2016

Psalms 1:1 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

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

V1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

To look at this appropriately we have to look at the Hebrew word “esher” which is the Hebrew word for “Blessed” and that talks mainly of happiness and contentment. Gives a much fuller meaning to the text don’t you think? If we replaced the word “blessed” with fulfilled or contentment then you will see what the Psalmist is driving at. I say that having read this Psalm many times and not bothered to dig any deeper than the words on the page. We see three things that make a man happy and content…

  • He walks not in the counsel of the wicked – The company you keep is important as you will modify your behavior to match the ones that you are trying to impress. When I became a Christian I slowly lost the friends that I had clung onto in my wilderness years because they did not want to do what I wanted to.

    Conversely now I take great delight in a Wednesday morning meeting I have at a local coffee house with likeminded believers as we sharpen each other and keep each other accountable. Finding friends like that is vital as you progress through your Christian life. The counsel you keep affects the way you think.

  • Nor stands in the way of sinners – Not just the counsel you keep but if you are living your life in the way of sinners then you will do what they do. The friends you have affect the way you behave. If you have trouble with alcohol will you still go to the bar rooms 4 times a week?
  • Nor sits in the seats of scoffers – If you dwell with the scoffers and mockers you will become just like them, you will start to belong there and it will erode your Christianity. How can you be happy and blessed in your Christian walk if you are always criticizing or tearing down (and often times this can be fellow Christians)

Like most Jewish poetry the Psalmist offers a contrast in the next verse and does not stop with what we should not be, but continues in what we should be. We see that “his delight is in the law of the LORD” that he is happy in the whole counsel of God, not just the first five books, that the word of God is a delight in his life and if you are not happy or excited to study the word of God then you may need to take a barometer of where you are as a Christian. Is there a hunger, a desire or even a willingness to get in the word regardless (and in some cases especially) of the circumstances?

This hunger us that real that “on his law he meditates day and night.” And that puts me to shame personally and that is something I want to do always, I do however ponder the word of God and a lot of thought and prayer goes into personal study as well as the articles here and I know that the crux of what he is saying is that we ponder it, understand it and commit it to our hearts and lives. I just wished that I did it day and night!

V3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

We see with the correct application of scripture the Psalmist uses the picture of a tree that if it is planted next to a place that will allow it to be fed, then it will continue in strength and it prospers and the application here would be that with that correct grounded knowledge of the word of God that has been meditated we will continue to grow and thrive in our Christian walk. Paul makes the same comparison in the letter to the Galatian church…

Galatians 5:19 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The fruit comes naturally from the tree because of what is going into the tree (streams of water) and I would ask would the same tree be as strong in say a desert where the water supply was a bit sparse? Or would it be more like a tree that is all withered and dead? Then you have to examine what type of Christianity you have, is it a by the cool streams or is it a desert Christianity? How strong is your tree? Will it withstand a few storms or will it break in the first sign of trouble?

V4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Again we see an example of the opposite. Have a look at this passage in Jude…

Jude 1:12 (ESV) These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

As strong as the tree is, the wicked are not strong. To understand what chaff is it is the shell that has to be removed before the grain is useable for the purpose intended, traditionally one of the ways of removing chaff from grain was to allow the air to go through and it separates on its own. I am convinced that this was not used in accident as it is the polar opposite and a good reminder that although we are in the world we are not of the world.

V5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

And we are concluding with these remarks and the Psalmist uses terms that we are familiar with from the book of Daniel when he spoke to King Belshazzar…

Daniel 5:13 (ESV) Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. 14 I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. 22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. 24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.

Scary stuff huh? How is your relationship with God? Have you taken up his free gift of salvation so you are not found wanting? We see that the Psalmist talks about sinners in “the congregation of the righteous” and we will see the ones who persist in their sins and do not wish to change their lives peel off from our church congregations in the short term, however I do also believe that we will be surprised with some of the folks that we thought we would see in glory who were as religious as religious could be and did not know Jesus as their savior, that is scarier stuff!

V6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

I have peace like a river that I am being guided by the creator of heaven. I know that whatever befalls me in this life and however I am chosen to be removed from it that I have a loving father waiting to welcome me home with the words I long to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant” but I do lament for those who are my neighbors, in my streets and in my city and the cities that are close by me who tonight are dying in their sins. One thing is assured is that you have that choice to choose heaven or to reject God and deal with those consequences for all of eternity. My prayer is that if you have not done so then please contact me and I would love to talk to you.

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we will look at Psalms 13 looks at the sorrow of David and trusting in the Lord through trials. 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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If we endure, we will also reign with him – 2nd Timothy 2:8-13

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If we endure, we will also reign with him – 2nd Timothy 2:8-13 – 04/29/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 2:8 (ESV) Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, 9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

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 eight of the second chapter of Second Timothy.

V8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

Paul continues his epistle to Timothy by asking him to be in remembrance who the faith is based on, that he should not forget that Christ was the very cornerstone of the faith and if he was forgetting then Paul was going to spell out the reason why Jesus should be remembered. It was not likely that Timothy would forget because he would be proficient in sound doctrine before Paul would allow him to teach on his own.

Jesus who rose from the dead should be front and center of the doctrine of Timothy’s assembly. I would go so far as to say that it should be the number one priority of every assembly. Paul states the credentials of Jesus the Messiah reminding him that he was of the line of David, thus fulfilling prophecy and he was raised from the dead. Death could not hold him in the grave, we see Paul reminding Timothy that the whole Old Testament pointed towards Jesus as the messiah.

Paul writes here that he had taught Timothy the history of the Messiah and the gospel message when he taught him and Paul reminds him that the fact that Jesus was resurrected was part of the glorious message and that this had not to not bury (no pun intended) this in the message and that it should be part of the evidence for the faith (to quote Josh McDowell).

V9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

Paul states that by sharing these truths this is what has made him a prisoner, there was no Mercedes Benz, no luxury yacht and no flash lifestyle of ease for this trailblazer of the gospel he suffered and was bound in chains as if he was a criminal. He wrote this letter of encouragement and exhortation whilst being in chains, Paul had a peculiar but wonderful attitude that we could all learn from because o what he states next.

He acknowledged that they could chain him up, attempt to break his spirit and stop this evangelist from travelling through these Romans lands spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, however he could not stop the truth of the Word of God from reaching peoples ears and as long as there were people like Timothy teaching the true word and not being discouraged or diluting the gospel then the Word of God would never be changed. Paul himself although he was limited in his geographical reach being chained up as a prisoner, we know that Paul preached to those who were guarding him and he literally would use any opportunity to sow a seed for Jesus. That convicts and challenges me that although I do what I do under the direction of the Holy Spirit, I do wonder what I am missing?

The same is true today because when Christians are persecuted and forced underground we see that despite the very fact that these people often times have no bibles, no real pastoral help and often times if they share the gospel they are risking their lives we see that the gospel thrives in those areas because it is real life and it is a matter of life and death. The Word of God cannot be chained by anyone and Praise God that is the case!

V10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Paul isn’t complaining here, he is stating fact, he does it for God certainly but he suffers for God’s people also. He had one mission and one concern and that was to see people join him in heaven, that they may obtain that salvation through Christ, see them in a relationship with Jesus, be strong in the faith and in the end to be with him in eternal glory. What a mission and if we are not on board with that then we really have to question our mission on this earth. If you are not then you need to look at the stuff that you have allowed you to get distracted (look at verse 14 of this chapter if you think this is just my opinion) because I am sure that there are some folks that still need to hear about Jesus love in your life. I know I have some in mine!

V11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

Paul finishes this part with a trustworthy saying; you know that he is being honest here because he goes to great lengths to tell you he is. This passage is not really a popular passage among those pastors who like to give “motivational messages” every Sunday and Paul states that we are called to go out but not always called to return. There may come a day when we have to pay that ultimate price for association with Jesus Christ and I personally think that day is closer today than it was yesterday.

I say this because of the context of the passage and that Paul has endurance before death and denial and faithlessness afterwards. Paul is staring at the business end of a Government that wasn’t all that friendly to those who followed Jesus of Nazareth so it is fairly probable that his own sacrifice was on his mind as well. Imagine that you are confident that you will only get one letter out to Timothy before you are executed for your faith, I am sure that you are going to take all of your swings and make sure that every bullet in your barrel is spent before that letter leaves for him, that is exactly what Paul is doing here.

We are also told that if we endure, if we struggle on in the faith regardless of the odds and despite how bleak it seems then we will also reign with him. The most prevalent example I can give of this is the man who despite everything, despite how bleak this appear is the man who still prays in faith for a promise that he had from God even although he is in the pit of despair and any logical mind would tell him that it is not happening! Whatever trial we are going through we have a much greater reward in store if we endure.

If we deny him then we will also be denied and that is a very stark and frightening warning which makes me want to do all I am commanded to by God and fulfil all that he has for me in my life. I do not want to miss a thing and I do not want to live in a way that would deny my Savior. Jesus states the same in Matthew 10:33

Matthew 10:26 (ESV) “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

If we are faithless he will remain faithful and my life is testimony to that. I have had times in my life when I walked away from God and was not faithful but my Savior remained faithful to be and I was truly a prodigal son. (See Luke 15:11-32) God knew that he would be the faithful one in his relationship between man and God, even Abraham when the Abrahamic covenant was made, God was the one who made the covenant and did all the hard work and lastly we see this confirmed in Revelation 14.

Revelation 14:12 (ESV) Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

In our own lives we have to do our best to not turn people from Jesus based on what we do, we are to not serve as a bad example of what a Jesus person would be. We should be diligent, we should work hard, we should be honest and that way when we tell people of Jesus and his love for us we will be more credible and genuine because we won’t attract gossip and have to deal with character questions.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks being a worker approved by God, having read ahead I love these scriptures and 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

Psalms Saturday #11 – The LORD Is in His Holy Temple – Psalms 11

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Psalms Saturday #11 – The LORD Is in His Holy Temple – Psalms 11 – 03/26/2016

To the choirmaster. Of David.
Psalm 11:1 (ESV) In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

This Psalm is awesome in its praise and thanksgiving to the LORD. I love this because it gives great examples of praise and thanksgiving despite the obvious peril and danger in Davids circumstances and my hope is that you please enjoy this great Psalm of praise, although it is just five verses it is rich in teaching and encouraging moments. I aim to look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis beginning in verse one.

V1 In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,

Royal fugitive

Have you ever been in bother, on the run? David prior to becoming king was on the run from the existing king Saul. He was consistently hunted; he was a fugitive from royal law and at this part of his life was literally scampering for his life. His advice from those close to him we read in the text is to “flee like a bird to your mountain” But David shows great faith in God. He states confidently and profoundly “in the LORD I take refuge” He knew where to put his trust! This poses a question in my heart to you dear readers in that who do you have your trust in? Is it man with his ideas that will fail despite the good intentions or is it God who knows the “master plan”? David mocks this idea and states confidently “In the LORD I take refuge” (or have my trust) He was not going to rely on his own fears but take solace and refuge that God has this.

True mark of a man of faith

That is a true mark of a man of faith! He would rather face the oncoming danger with the LORD at his back than do it without the LORD and do what seemed like the obvious solution, to tuck tail and run and save his own skin. David knew (a man after Gods own heart remember) that the advice, although given in love and quite possibly with the best possible intentions, it was not the path that he would chose to follow.

Good heart – bad advice

V2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Verses 2 & 3 show the advice given by his friends, like I had said earlier, the advice may be well intentioned but if it is not within Gods plan for your life then it is bad advice. God had already promised the throne to David, Samuel had anointed him and David knew his purpose was to be a mighty king. He also saw the hardness of Saul’s heart and learned from the mistakes of others. Yes there was a real and present danger but for me the overriding faith in God, in his provision and He is the one that David puts his faith and security in because of the earlier prophesy that he would be King tells you a lot about the heart of David, yes he made mistakes but this is what he was made of. When a man is threatened with the loss of what he holds dearest you will soon see what his priorities are.

David’s friends really play on his fears, they have tried to get him scared of the dangers he can see as well as the dangers he cannot. Perhaps there was a little piece of self-preservation, perhaps they wanted to manage a situation to have him removed from danger, whatever the cause was if you are walking in fear and not trusting in God then you will not step out in faith when God calls you.

The Foundations are destroyed

We read this when they state “if the foundations are destroyed” Saul was the first and only king that Israel had had up to that point and he ruined the throne at the first attempt right down to its foundation. His friends were also questioning why a righteous man would take such a poisoned chalice.

What can David do? Actually quite a lot if he has God on his side, as bad as Saul was for the throne David could bring a nation back into revival. Never shirk from a task you are called to just because it seems too big! Is there a task that is too big for your God? My God is not that small. Circumstances are just that, it is only a short sighted view of the present and I serve a God that can change things in the blink of an eye.

Seen versus Unseen

Can you imagine the internal turmoil he must have been going through? Balancing the advice of the seen against the faith of the unseen. He had unshakable faith at this point of his life and we can learn a lot from him in relation to how deeply we cling to a steadfast faith in the LORD. He is in the gravest of circumstances and still clings to the promises of the LORD knowing that his will is best for him.

V4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence

God got this!

David knew he was going to be looked after by God; he describes the heavenly situation with the calmness of a man not in danger. He describes what the LORD sees in verse 4. Its very much like the Facebook graphic I saw earlier this week that describes this well “God is like Oxygen, you can’t see him, but once you have him, you can’t live without him” Very profound in my opinion.

The LORD’s throne is in heaven, his ways are way above our ways and he gets the grandstand view of our lives while we are in the thick of the action (to use a rugby analogy) this answer that the LORD’s throne is in heaven is David’s answer to the question “What can you do?” David defers to the one he has unshakable faith in. He speaks only in terms of what he is absolute in.

He uses the following examples of how the LORD has this…

  • His eyes see – Even if you don’t think so, God sees, God is watching out and God cares, this is why David is concerned with more than just saving his own skin, he is looking at a bigger picture because of the faith that he has that God is truth and keeps his promises.
  • His eyelids test the children of man – In keeping with that faith that the LORD is in the driving seat, he states that tests will come, that we should be like James tells us “counting it all joy when we are in the midst of trials”
  • The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence – God isn’t just watching, he is patient and will eventually right the wrongs. He does care and David uses his situation as a teaching moment and states that God sees the violence that is before me and he will deliver me because of the promises he has made me.

God v man and why they are different

V6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

Verses 6-7 really are self-explanatory, David answers the foundations question by stating that the LORD sees, will test and he doesn’t like what he sees. The LORD will deal with it in his time. This is a timely reminder to us all, one of the most frustrating parts as a Christian is wanting God to work on my time as opposed to his perfect timing.

The LORD will deliver justice, but David elects to stay on the side of justice and stay on the LORDs side. David knows that if he stays the course and follows God’s will he will get rewarded by getting what he is promised. I know Christians that are frustrated because they believe they are “entitled” when they do not go all in with God. God will reward righteousness more than he will reward rebellion.

This is the test of faith, not trying to “help God along” or not submitting to God’s timing in a potentially damaging situation. From David’s perspective there was only one course of action and to trust God because of all that he had been promised and the afore knowledge that God does not lie. His answer of faith should be an example to us all who will try to manipulate situations to achieve God’s will when God had a much better plan for our lives.

Often times we have to learn patience and sometimes we just have to slow down to match God’s pace. But most of all if we are in trials or don’t understand we have to seek God diligently and have the faith that David does, then we will not fear. Whatever out trials are, God has this!

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we look Psalm 125 which speaks of trusting in the LORD, the LORDs faithfulness and the importance of righteousness, all in all a terrific Psalm and I hope that you don’t miss it. 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

Abraham justified by faith – Romans 4:1-12

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Abraham justified by faith – Romans 4:1-12 – 03/20/2016

Romans 4:1 (ESV) What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” 9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. 11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

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 or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

Let’s start in verse one of chapter four…

V1 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?

Paul continues on what he was saying in Romans three and uses Abraham as an example to show his point. Abraham was known as the father of the Jewish people and was revered and esteemed by the Jewish people. Paul knew what he was doing when he chose this example. If Paul was looking at addressing the American people he would probably have used a similar analogy by using some of the names of the Founding Fathers.

V2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

After introducing Abraham he makes the question on whether Abraham was justified by works and whether he could boast in the good things that he has done, Paul comes back to Romans 3:23 and states that no he could not boast before God because we are all sinful by nature and have not and cannot attain God’s holy and perfect standard on our own.

V3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

And like any good teacher Paul bases his argument on scripture, he shows where it states that he was not indeed justified by works, but by belief and it was counted to him as righteousness. In context I have attached the scripture below…

Genesis 15:1 (ESV) After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 2 But Abram said, “O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” 3 And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

I love how Paul takes away any notions that Abraham was somehow exempt from the rules that the rest of mankind had to follow and that by the same train of thought he would have had to look at the possibility that God makes exceptions from his holy nature which of course is preposterous.

Abraham is never mentioned as being “perfect” but only mentioned as being counted as righteous and the reason for the righteousness was based on the action of the belief of God. I would say that Abraham sought after God’s will before the Law was given in the same manner that we would make deposits in a financial institution Abrahams credit worthiness or righteousness was high with God because God saw the heart of Abraham and knew who he was and that is why he was declared righteous.

You will notice that it only mentions how God saw Abraham and not how his fellow man saw him. This is convicting for me because man will look at the external package first and I am no different. I have been surprised by who God has used in the past and it is very God to use someone whom the world didn’t think much of. I am very much in that camp because often times I have been passed over for things (both in the world and in Christian circles) because of assumptions that people have made on limitations they perceived me to have.

V4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due.

Paul uses the idea of a salary to compare and contrast the idea of grace versus works because as we know (those of us who have accepted Christ) that grace is a free gift given to those of us who does not deserve it. I often laugh internally if I hear someone praying “Oh Lord- give us what we deserve!” I then back away a little in case God takes them literally.

If a system of works was correct then that would mean that we were owed something by God, in which God would be in debt to us (in this case for a salary) I am uncomfortable with that because it puts you on some severely shaky theological ground. It is true that works will come as fruit of faith but I do not see that faith will come from God being in our debt.

V5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

Paul agrees with the above hypothesis by stating that belief is greater than works as the one who does not work but believes will have his faith counted as righteousness. Seems obvious huh? Not always though as Gods ways are higher than our ways. We are to believe in the one who justifies the ungodly (God himself) who grants grace and mercy to all who do not deserve it. God justifies us as a result of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross where he took the punishment for our sins.

God is holy and hates sin, and he hates separation between his beloved creation and Him so he loves us enough to justify us despite our sin but we have to want to be saved. There is no “catch all solution” I do not doubt that God justifies the ungodly but I marvel at the sheer miracle that he does. (Going back to getting what we deserve!)

King David is mentioned and this is beautiful because he was described as a “man after God’s own heart” but he was a sinful man who committed murder and adultery but he was a man who strived after God and repented of his sins. (Sound familiar?) He was a man who understood sin, the impact and the repercussions of that sin and the relief and weight that is lifted off you when you are truly forgiven. If King David were judged based on his works, he would be sunk but the just God convicts him based on his belief as none of us can atone for our sins on our own.

V7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

And should God forgive your sins by belief (and He will for the truly repentant) then you truly are blessed because this forgiveness is based not on your nationality, genealogy, social status or where you were born it is based on your relationship with God. The sins are not just forgiven but they are covered and removed from sight! These verses are a quote from Psalm 32…

A Maskil of David.
Psalm 32:1 (ESV) Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Make no mistake about it God should count our sin but we truly are forgiven and regardless of how holy we think we are we all stink and reek of sin, some of us smell a little better than others but we are all in the same boat. I am reminded of the following parable by Jesus…

Matthew 18:23 (ESV) “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. 24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ 27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ 30 He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. 31 When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. 32 Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ 34 And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. 35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

We are all debtors to God in relation to sin, sin is the debt that we cannot possibly pay and without Jesus we are in that hopeless situation. The good news is that the gospel is for everyone. This is why David was quoted because if we could work it off then we would all be at it like little worker bees and that would be easier and more palatable for the human mind, however God has decided to bless everyone who will just have faith and turn to him. Paul continues…

V9 Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? For we say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. 10 How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised.

The beauty of it is that we can do nothing for God but we have great joy in the grace of God. It truly is a blessing for us, not just the Jew but also the Gentile and uses Abraham as an example why circumcision, whilst it being a sign of obedience is not the be all and end all of entry into heaven. Paul asks a logical question if circumcision is the key to salvation and that question is “When was Abraham justified? Was it before or after circumcision?” and as we have looked at before we see that Abraham was justified in Genesis 15 and let’s now look at Genesis 17 when he was circumcised…

Genesis 17:9 (ESV) And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

As you can tell I like to back up the claims that I make with scripture to back it up! Paul states quite clearly that Abraham was circumcised AFTER the blessing and Paul closes this part of scripture with the following…

V11 He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, 12 and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

So the sign was exactly that A SIGN! He was to do this to show an outward sign that he was with God. As Christians we are reminded that the circumcision we go through is that of the heart and in remembrance of this please observe what Paul said in Romans 2…

Romans 2:25 (ESV) For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. 26 So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 27 Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. 28 For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. 29 But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

You see if we wish to burden ourselves with the Law then we will be held accountable by the Law, Paul explains that in Galatians 5…

Galatians 5:1 (ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

The Christian faith is not a case of Christ+ (Christ and something else) What I mean is that Jesus was serious when he said “I am THE WAY” he is the definitive article, Son of God, part of the triune God and the only one who could be sacrificed for your sins. Just as today, the Jews of that day used circumcision to prove that they were in some way the true descendants of Abraham. Paul flips this on its head by asking “Why are you not walking in faith like Abraham did?” or “If you are Abrahams descendants then why are you not following in his footsteps?”

Lastly what Paul was stating was culturally sensitive as the Jews did not like the Gentile proselytes referring to Abraham as the father or their descendent. (That was their thing) And now Paul states that classification is available to all who are reconciled to God in Christ. That we have a share in Abrahams blessings, what a bountiful God we serve.

Lord willing, in our next article in Romans we will look at verses thirteen through twenty five when we explore the promises that we looked at today being realized through faith, which is really a part two of what we look at today. 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 ACTS Files – Acts 2:29-35 – Peter’s Sermon (Part three)

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:29-35 – Peter’s Sermon (Part three) – 02/29/2016

Acts 2:29 (ESV) “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part three in a three part series of verses which are collectively called “Peter’s Sermon”. I personally love these verses because it shows the work done in the life of the Apostle Peter from when he denied Christ at Passover to this dynamic preacher at Pentecost. (Time elapsed was less than two months!) 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 twenty nine…

V29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.

Peter continues his sermon by continuing to reference King David and the Messiah Jesus and he states quite clearly that what was mentioned in the previous article (link) was not talking about David as some believed at that point, and this is why he states this quite clearly. The original author David is both dead and buried and did not come back to life, so the author is not speaking of himself and is in fact speaking of the only one who did die and come back to life – JESUS! Peter states the evidence is there for David’s burial as his tomb was still with them and if they wished to seek it out and validate the truth of that statement, it could easily be done.

V30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.

Peter takes great care to mention the following…

  • David the Prophet – We see further in the sermon why Peter calls King David a “prophet” as opposed to just King David. It is important to mention that despite David’s many faults, he was still very much a “man after God’s own heart” and despite any thoughts of whether he was worthy or not.This is encouraging for us all on a personal level as I am sure there are things that we have done that we are not proud of. Maybe not in the realms of adultery or murder to cover up that adultery but I am sure that there are things about our lives that we would rather were not publicized. We are no or less worthy as David because as sinners we are short of God’s standard. Thankfully we are saved by grace and not by works, lest any man should boast.
  • God swore an oath – Peter is keen to remind us of the trustworthiness of God, when God gives an oath or make a promise then you know that the God of truth who cannot lie will tell you the truth and what is promised will happen.
  • Prophecy of descendent on his throne – Yes this was fulfilled in the short term when Solomon ascended to the throne but it had greater implications as we read in the gospel accounts of the genealogy of Jesus that he was not just from the line of David in his maternal mother Mary, but also in his legal guardian Joseph.
  • He foresaw the resurrection of the Christ – He saw not just the birth of a messiah that would come from his line, but the mission complete, that the messiah was going to come and fulfil the scriptural prophecies regarding the resurrection.

In case you are in any doubt who Peter refers to, he names that man in verse 32…

V32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

Peter makes it abundantly clear that it is Jesus, the Son of God that he is talking about, and that Jesus and his deeds would still be known as it was only a short time since Passover. Peter makes it crystal clear that Jesus was the only one who could have fulfilled that prophecy in the book of Psalms and gives the following reasons why…

  • He was raised up – We see the evidence for this is Acts one, where Jesus literally went up to heaven.
  • He had witnesses to this fact – Peter and the other followers of Jesus who had followed him to the end were indeed primary witnesses to this fact. If this was a Jewish court there were sufficient witnesses to prove the case.
  • He was exalted to the right hand of God – In order to avoid any question of “where is Jesus now then?” Peter answers before the question arises.
  • He received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit – The example of this had just happened! Talk about having a water tight case for the theology, there was irrefutable evidence that had just happened moments earlier.
  • David did not ascend into heaven – and here is where we learn that it certainly wasn’t David, David’s body was still where it was buried. He was not in heaven.
  • He called Jesus Lord – and lastly, we look at how David viewed Jesus. He called him Lord.

And as much as King David was revered, Jesus was more worthy of all praise, honor and glory. He is coming back and his enemies will be thrown down. Reading the book of Revelation as a Christian makes me anxious and wanting Jesus to come back, how do you feel about the end of the world? Are you anxious because you are unsure your eternal destination or are you willing the Lord to return?

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we look at verses thirty six through forty one where we look at the response of the crowd. 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

Psalms Saturday #9 – Psalms 93 – The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty

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Psalms Saturday #9 – Psalms 93 – The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty – 02/27/2016

Psalm 93:1 (ESV) The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved. 2 Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting. 3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. 4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty! 5 Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

This Psalm is awesome in its praise to the LORD. I love this because it gives titles that should only be ascribed to the LORD, please enjoy this great Psalm of praise, although it is just five verses it is rich in teaching moments. Let’s look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis beginning in verse one.

V1 The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.

I love and rejoice when I read these words and I thank you firstly if you are spending your precious weekend reading these words. Let’s look at how the Psalmist refers to his LORD to set out the tone of the Psalm…

  • LORD – He calls him LORD (All Capitals) the name above all names and as rich as our language is, we still do not have the words to describe how majestic God is. The author of the words of this precious book that we read and a constant thread throughout scripture that is never contradictory.
  • Reigns – To the writer of this Psalm, his LORD is ruler in his life, he is in charge and in control he has total devotion to the LORD of all creation.
  • Robed in Majesty – Think of the finest king you can imagine and you are no-where close. The one who alone is worthy of All gory, All honor and All praise, then you are getting closer.
  • Strength – Do you have confidence in your countries foreign policy? Do you have confidence in being a world superpower? What about the defense policy? The Psalmist is using the same confidence that is displayed in Psalm 20…

    Psalm 20:7 (ESV) Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God

    We have moved on a little from using chariots and horses but I am sure you will get the picture that whatever strength you think that your nation has, it is nothing compared to the strength of the LORD.

  • World is established – He is the one who made everything in 6 days! It was established as to his measurements and his criteria, nothing is there that he did not request.
  • Never be moved – It will never be moved except at the LORDs command.

Getting a picture of how big and awesome He is yet? If not then please read on!

V2 Your throne is established from of old; you are from everlasting.

He is beyond time, he is established before “old” was, he will be established after everlasting is. The prophecies of the Old Testament he could see them happening when the prophets were moved to predict them. He is outside of time but yet he made time. He had the birth of Christ planned when Micah was prophesying what city he would be born in. He established the law as an example to the people of his perfect standard knowing that he would send a redeemer to save them because God’s standards were so much above our own. The Psalmist now gives examples of how big God is…

V3 The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their roaring. 4 Mightier than the thunders of many waters, mightier than the waves of the sea, the LORD on high is mighty!

Now we have an example of the power of God, that he can even control the floods and the waves of the sea. He can lift up the floods and make the waters roar. If you have ever stood at a shoreline with a child you will know of the worry that swells up inside of you if a wave comes in that is mightier than you would like. (For me if the water is going to hit her kneecap then I pull her out) and that is nothing compared to the type of wave the LORD can begin to send.

The terms are very descriptive and describe the situation rather well. Terms like “mightier”, “thunders”, “lifted up their voice” and “lifted up their roaring” tell of a God who has the ability to allow the waters cover the earth such as in the days of Noah, but in his benevolent grace he restrains the waters from doing so. This is classic Jewish poetry to demonstrate the point of why the original declaration of the LORD being mighty is in fact correct. The Psalmist speaks greatly about the strength of the LORD but what about the LORD’s character?

V5 Your decrees are very trustworthy; holiness befits your house, O LORD, forevermore.

The Psalmist talks about the HONESTY of the LORD. His words, his commands, his decrees are very trustworthy. You can trust his words and the words that are written in his name are words you can quite literally build your life upon. Lastly we see the term “holiness befits your house” and that is very apt, God is holiness, he does not lie and his perfect standard is way too perfect for us.

He does not lie and he is that holy that he hates sin, which is why he made provision for you to escape your sins by faith in the messiah Jesus Christ. Jesus is the only way to heaven and God desires you to be in heaven and as the Psalmist says that is not a temporary state but will be forevermore. There are two ways that you can travel when you die, you can have an eternity without God with eternal death and suffering in the lake of fire or you can choose eternal life with God in heaven. God is that just a God, he allows you to choose for yourself.

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we look Psalm 100 and an awesome Psalm of praise. The Psalmist used such wonderful terms as “mighty”, “majesty”, “everlasting” and “holiness” all words which are very befitting a glorious God. 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

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.
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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:22-28 – Peter’s Sermon (Part two)

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:22-28 – Peter’s Sermon (Part two) – 02/15/2016

Acts 2:22 (ESV) “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is part two in a three part series of verses which are collectively called “Peter’s Sermon”. I personally love these verses because it shows the work done in the life of the Apostle Peter from when he denied Christ at Passover to this dynamic preacher at Pentecost. (Time elapsed was less than two months!) 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 twenty two…

V22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.

Remember in the last article (link here) we had stated that peter was being bold, this is exactly what we meant by that last remark. Peter could have had such a dynamic sermon just by quoting from the prophet Joel and would certainly have had a lot of public kudos by finishing there, but God knew Peter and knew that that man who so often put his foot in it in a wrong way was about to give a brave declaration that publically set a target on his back from the religious people of the day.

He addresses them “Men of Israel, hear these words” and Peter wanted to make sure he had the crowd’s attention and spoke with authority, he spoke with urgency with a message that would quite literally save their lives. He talks about someone who the people already knew. The fame of Jesus of Nazareth would certainly not have died down some 50 odd days after his death. Peter starts by stating the common ground about who Jesus was, the fact that they agreed that he was “attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst” and he built his sermon from there.

Peter goes on to say that Jesus death was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” and that God knew that the people would “crucify and be killed by the hands of lawless men”. Peter does not miss and hot the wall and states that “You killed this man who was innocent and sent by God and you had no reason to do so” he was not concerned with giving a “seeker friendly” message and he was not looking to be a people pleaser but he was looking to save those who were there, regardless of the consequences, lets contrast this to Peter’s last act when the Lord Jesus Christ was alive prior to crucifixion…

Matthew 26:69 (ESV) Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

This is a man strengthened by spending time with the resurrected Jesus, spending a crazy amount of time in prayer, being on one mission with the disciples and being filled by the Holy Spirit. If you think that you cannot be used by God because you are not as dynamic as Peter here, I am here to say you are probably correct, you cannot do it on your own, however if you are obedient to the small things and give it all up to God, he will accomplish things in your life that you couldn’t even dream was possible.

V24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

Here is the left hook, Peter tells the people, you did your worst to the best of your limited ability but Jesus was always going to conquer death, Peter uses the same term that would be describer for birth pains, God raised him up to fulfil the prophesy that is listed in the following few verses and can be found originally in Psalms 16.

V25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

It is quoted as the words of David (King David) and as stated prior it is lifted from Psalms 16:8-11 and you can believe that Peter got three years of intensive bible instruction of the Old Testament so you can be sure that the Messiah taught them from the scriptures.

Jesus is described as that lamb without blemish who was the only one who was able to be called “the Holy One” the one who lived a perfect life, was a perfect Savior and was the only one who was able to reconcile man to God. The Psalm also prophesied that the “Holy One would not see corruption” this states that he would not be in the grave long enough to start the decaying process and the Messiah Jesus Christ rose on the third day. We celebrate this at the Christian festival of Easter. Because of this our soul will not be abandoned in its sinful state to Hades (or Hell) and that is the glorious news of the gospel.

Although Jesus took the punishment of the sins of the world he is described in the passage as the one who “made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.” Jesus was rewarded by the ascension to the Father and that is where he is today, living, loving and interceding on your behalf today and pleading with you to have a relationship with him. If you have a relationship with him he desires for you to have a deeper relationship with him and if you do not know him as your Savior he desires to have to begin one.

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at part three of Peter’s sermon where Peter concludes the sermon by showing the prophetic nature of the messiah Jesus Christ by showing his lineage to King David and it truly is so dynamic that I would hate for you to miss it. 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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Psalms Saturday #8 – Psalms 70 – O LORD, Do Not Delay

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Psalms Saturday #8 – Psalms 70 – O LORD, Do Not Delay –02/13/2016

To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering.

Psalms 70:1 (ESV) Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me! 2 Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt! 3 Let them turn back because of their shame who say, “Aha, Aha!” 4 May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” 5 But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!

This Psalm is both a plea for help and a prayer for deliverance, although it is just five verses it is rich in teaching moments. Let’s look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis beginning in verse one.

V1 Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!

How many times have you felt like this? Whether the trial is great or the trial is small we want deliverance as quickly as possible. Can I be so bold as to put to you something that might not be all that popular? Could it be that God is allowing you to go through whatever trial you are going through to be a teachable moment in your life in order to build you up for something greater yet to come in your life?

I most definitely can identify with this. Who can’t? Who actually enjoys trials? Who has not been frustrated with “God’s timing” when it has been slower than your timing (or what you would like your timing to be!) Regardless of the size of the issue and regardless if you will look back in a few years’ time and be ashamed that that stressed you out, the issue is big enough at that time to cause you to plead and to beg with the one you know can deliver you.

And that is the beauty of this, when the chips are down and you are reliant on who you believe can deliver you, your faith carries you home to that loving father God. It is said that in a fire you understand what is important in your life and what you are willing to leave behind. When you are in the fire you look to deliverance, it is important that you chose the one who can deliver you!

V2 Let them be put to shame and confusion who seek my life! Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor who delight in my hurt!

This is a righteous prayer, he wants the ones who are persecuting be put to shame and confusion and emphasizes the real harm that they want to do to him. They are said to be seeking after him looking to take his life. I am taken back by the restraint in the petition that he is not asking God (whom he knows could deliver according to his will) to “nuke them” to “wipe them out” or to “allow them to draw their last breath” and he does not seek the same medicine for those who seek his life. (At least not in these verses)

And we see this example when David is fleeing from Saul and twice has the opportunity to take Saul’s life and relents and does not. We may not be going through persecution to wipe that other person out. The Psalmist simply seeks to have them shamed, confused and dishonored. He appears willing to allow them to live.

V3 Let them turn back because of their shame who say, “Aha, Aha!”

They are saying “Aha” and not calling on the name of a Norwegian 80’s band! (Perhaps his opponents were calling him to “Take on me?”) They are being mean in their speech. It is a mean way of mocking and being derogatory and the manner of speech indicates a certain amount of gloating and goading.

Have we not all been victim of that these days due to the instant nature of the internet and the rise of social media, the slightest silly thing that we say can leave us with “egg on the face” with a period of longevity that would simply not be the case in the case of something that was said privately.

I have learned this the hard way and had to do some embarrassing back tracks and even this week I was teased about something that I posted nearly ten years ago and the reason I bring this up is that we are all blessed with astounding memories and some of us are blessed with better recall than others. I am unfortunate that when I make a “boo boo” I make a memorable one that people tend to remember. I am sure that as you are reading this you are recalling something that you have done in this manner?

V4 May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you! May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”

And here is the praise portion of the Psalm; the Psalmist does not forget that God is worthy to be praised despite the current trial or issue that befalls him. A decent question to ask is “Do you praise him in the storm?” or do you snivel and whine because things are not rosy in the garden?

Are you being persecuted for the sake of your faith or for another reason? I ask this because sometimes we cause our own drama and we are our own version of a live “Jerry Springer show” I ask this because you may not feel like rejoicing in the name of the Lord because you may not actually be seeking Him and I doubt that you will be glad in Him if your focus is all about you.

This shows the heart of the Psalmist that he wants to praise God even although he faces the pain of death! What faith is this? Do we see such faith in our modern day comfortable Christianity except on the mission field. This month we rejoiced at the release from an Iranian prison a man who I am sure we all have been praying for called Saeed Abedini and we read of how the man endured beatings because he was a faith that was not accepted in the country that he was arrested and yet he still remained faithful.

V5 But I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay!

He starts with “LORD make haste” and ends with “LORD, do not delay” and in case you are in any doubt of the urgency of this petition then we really should not be after seeing the urgency that begins and ends this Psalm. Timing truly is playing on the Psalmists mind. If the Psalmist was British he would be saying “Get on with it!”

He does reiterate that his God is “his deliverer” and he would be the one to get him out of this grave situation he is in. A good question to ask in this manner would be are you that confident when you go through the trials of life? Is your hope in your deliver? Do you have faith that you will be removed from danger when God’s timing happens?

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we look Psalm 93 and an awesome Psalm of praise. The Psalmist used such wonderful terms as “mighty”, “majesty”, “everlasting” and “holiness” all words which are very befitting a glorious God. 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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Psalms Saturday #6 – Psalms 15 – Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?

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Psalms Saturday #6 – Psalms 15 – Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill? – 01/16/2016

Psalm 15:1 (ESV) O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? 2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; 3 who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

This is a Psalm of David known as the man after God’s own heart and I love this Psalm due to its simplicity and humble let’s look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis.

V1 O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill?

What a question asked by David… who can sojourn (or abide) in your tent? It is a tremendous theological question and really shows the heart of David, the desire to be in step with God, step by step and day by day shows a great desire in the heart of David to be close to his God.

Israel had a “church and state” kind of deal also where in the tent went the Levites and the priests who were the servants of the Lord and as King he was entitled to many things but he was not entitled to offer sacrifices to God. (The Tabernacle was spoken of in Exodus 25-31 and was a temporary meeting place while the Exodus from Egypt was happening.

David examines the heart of the one who wishes to dwell with God in the next few verses, interestingly the first time in the tent it is more of a guest, when he speaks of the “holy hill” it is more of a dwelling, a living there as if it is as home to the person as it is God.

V2 He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; 3 who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend; 4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but who honors those who fear the LORD; who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5 who does not put out his money at interest and does not take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.

Here are the attributes of this man of God…

• Walks blamelessly – What business does God have with one who is disobedient and refuses to walk according to his ways? (See Leviticus 26 & Deuteronomy 28 for ideas on blessings and curses for disobedience)

In the Christian life we see that conversion is only the first step on a journey with our redeemer and we have certain attributes that we will display as a child of God and follower of Jesus Christ, whilst we all fall short of the glory of God, we have to have our heart right when we do mess up, true repentance is key to walking blamelessly with God.
• Does what is right – David goes further and states that this man of God will do the right things in actions and show by is actions evidence of his faith. Although we are not saved by works, we will have fruit of the spirit as evidence of a changed life in Jesus.
• Speaks the truth in his heart and does not slander with his tongue – Amen and I wish this was more common in today’s church where we spoke the truth and do not slander. Having been in teaching ministry I have to confess that we would have much less drama and much less division if we were more careful with how we use our tongues. Jesus himself stated that the tongue is a good indicator of where you are in your heart in the Gospel of Matthew 12:34 when he said “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
• Does no evil to his neighbor – Basic Ten Commandment stuff here where he does not seek to do harm to his neighbor, perhaps not one who he has strong affinity for but certainly one who he has a sphere of influence in and can observe how “authentic” his relationship with God is.
• Does not take up reproach against his friend – Someone who he has let in as a friend and not just a friend in name, he is commanded to be a good friend, to have that friends back to be that true friend, in both this category and the last we see this also taught in the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:44 when we are commanded to “love both our friend and enemy”
• Despises vileness & honors those who fear the LORD – This has been misinterpreted a lot and is used by Christians as a stick to beat others who haven’t quite given up all of their vices but starting off in the Christian life. It is true that in order to stand for good we have to oppose evil however we are to oppose those who are living in open rebellion to God. Ones who are open and unrepentant in their wickedness. We have to respect those who fear the LORD, it does not say those who are perfect, or those who are blameless but those who fear the LORD.
• Swears to his own hurt and does not change – What a man huh? He does not change even though it may hurt him or he may not gain and most probably lose out of the interaction. That is true steadfastness and to be honored.
• Does not extort/lends money for profit – On the flip side that he does not do transactions for gain, extort or con others for profit. So if a brother gets knowledge that another brother has to sell things on the cheap, he does not take advantage and low ball offer him, he gives a fair price for what he is buying.
• Does not take a bribe/perjure the innocent – Again another Ten Commandment basic instruction, he does not take money to defame someone’s name, he does not lie or spread false witness against someone. This of course is a foreshadow of what happened to Jesus in his trial. Why would any of his followers want to do to someone what happened to their Messiah?

What a list huh? David states that “He who does these things shall never be moved” he shall be steadfast; he will be secure in the Lord. We are not called to love the world or the things of the world, we read this confirmed lastly in 1st John 2:15…

1st John 2:15 (ESV) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

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