Taking the Epistle

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The ACTS files – Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way – Acts 3:1-10

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The ACTS files – Peter and John went to pray, they met a lame man on the way – Acts 3:1-10 – 04/11/2016

Acts 3:1 (ESV) Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article looks at an account where Peter and John went to pray and God used them in a mighty way. 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 chapter three verse one…

V1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

I have been looking forward to this passage of scripture for some time, the reason for this is that it brings back happy memories of my Sunday School days back at the Gospel Hall in Roberton Street in Chapelhall back in Scotland. In common with many Sunday Schools of that day we sang a song that was based on this passage of scripture, the lyrics were as follows…

Peter and John went to pray;
they met a lame man on the way.
He asked for alms and held out his palms,
and this is what Peter did say:

“Silver and gold have I none,
but what I have give I thee.
In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

He went walking and leaping and praising God,
walking and leaping and praising God.
“In the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”

Which is a simplistic approach to what happened here in this scripture and I am a simple guy so that suits me fine. (Perhaps we should stop the article here) Nostalgia is a wonderful thing and I am sure that if I went back to that hall being an adult those benches, whilst familiar would not seem as long or as large. I am also sure I would have many memories of lessons learned and happy memories of somewhere that was part of my growing up and very much a safe place for me as a child. You see, as an adult I realize what a sacrifice this family did for where they lived, the loved that generation enough to go collect them from their various homes andddliver them there and back so they could hear about Jesus. Awesome testimony!

I love the words used by Luke the Physician that states that Peter and John began this account by stating that Peter and John were still observant of the “hour of prayer” that they took every opportunity to be in communion with God. They wanted to be immersed in prayer for the mission that they were on. I don’t doubt for a second that they would have taken any opportunity to spread the gospel of Jesus if the occasion arose or were questioned by the assembled leaders that were there. (If you have read ahead you will know that God was going to give them that very opportunity) I believe that these guys were truly on mission because they were going into a place that could conceivably be fairly dangerous for them. Whatever the reason they went there, we know that they did and they went there, they went to pray and they went at the ninth hour. (3pm)

V2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.

Luke even narrows it down to the very gate that they entered in. This was no fable or made up account that was designed to embellish this new found faith. The veracity of the details listed tells us that this is a true account. Josephus described the self-same gate made of brass from Corinth and was over seventy feet high and was regarded as beautiful.

Back in those days there was no welfare state as the Romans would not be seen to be encouraging the idea of the Government giving money to those who could not support themselves so the ones who were unable to asked alms (donations or free will offerings) from the folks who were going to prayer and today was no different.

V3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms.

The poor man thought he was seeing two devout Jewish men so he decided to ask for support from those whom he thought might be able to help him. This practice was established even at the time of Jesus as he had a lot to say about the Pharisees and the way they gave alms and their hypocrisy…

Luke 11:37 (ESV) While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. 42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.” 45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

And what Jesus was saying was that they loved to look religious and get the “holy kudos” from the ones whom they wanted to notice them. It was a self-congratulatory pat on the back kind of deal and these type of people were those who instituted a noise being made when a larger donation went into the temple. It was the same when they gave to the poor, there was no humility or care for the person, and it was all about how holy they looked. I am sure this man knew this but he needed the help and he had no pride left and was reduced to asking passersby for spare change in order to make sure that he could eat that day. He was hoping for some coin to fix a temporary need but look at who God put in front of him. I can only imagine how much he must have prayed to God about his infirmities and I can only imagine how soul destroying it must have been to have to do that on a daily basis, seen as the lowest of the low and being at everyone’s feet level having the dust of the world in your face day after day.

V4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”

He asked for something that was going to fix his immediate need however God had much bigger and better plans for that man. Peter decides to engage the man and asks for him to look at them, the man then has enough faith to know that he would be receiving something from this interaction (Imagine the level of people who just walked by him or stepped over them as they were too busy with him to get to their “religious duty”. That pricks my heart because sometimes we can be like that and be too busy with “doing things for God” to actually do the ministry that God has called us to.

Another question I have is do we have faith like this man? This man was at his bottom, you can’t get much lower than breathing in the dust of the people who view themselves as better than you and begging for scraps not much unlike a dog seeking the favors of those who God has put on their hearts to give. Pride stripped away and reliant on the good grace and mercy of God and knowing that whatever he receives really comes from God.

What do we expect from God? How strong is our faith? If we had all of our comforts stripped away and it was just you and God would you have enough faith to expect God to provide for your needs? God will and wants to bless us much more than we are often times willing to ask. This man was hoping for some small coin to maybe buy some food but God had a plan to make him whole.

Peter had no money that was true, but he did have the authority to heal the sick and that was given to him by Jesus (Luke 9:1-6) and Peter rightfully attributes the healing to the one who healed him rather than seeking an audience or claim any credit.

There are two parts to this sentence that I would like to highlight…

  • I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. – God was above the temporary cash flow issue that man required to solve this man’s problems, when we look at our issues from our elevation we often times cannot see how God would remedy our situations.
  • In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk! – God was going to do a supernatural work in his life that even the most religious scholar could not explain logically. They couldn’t explain what Peter did because Peter acted in faith based on what was inside him. Peter knew how to heal the sick in Jesus name because the Holy Spirit prompted him to do it.

V7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.

As soon as Peter said “rise up and walk” the man went from being lame to being whole. Strength filled his legs and God strengthened his bones and this was achieved and noticed by the man when Peter took him by the hand and had him literally standing on his own two feet. We see enormous faith in Peter in lifting him up knowing he was healing him and the man in allowing himself to stand on his own two feet when he previously had not been able too. Can you imagine what this man was feeling, the hope, the expectation and finally being able to walk and how amazing that was? Let’s see how he was reacting…

V8 And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.

Not exactly quiet about it was he? Here is how he celebrated…

  • And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, – He associated himself with the ones who had shown him Jesus.
  • Walking and leaping – He wasted no time in using this new found gift from God, how do you use your gifts from God?
  • And praising God – He attributed the praise to the one who healed him, we don’t read about him “walking and leaping and praising Peter”

V9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

What a living, breathing testimony! There was no denying who the guy was who they thought he was as they had all seen him at the gates, he was recognized (v10) as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate and we read in Acts 4:22 that he was forty years old at that point and God used that time of faithful obedience to prayer by Peter and John as a gateway to healing this man of an infirmity that he had suffered for four decades. Do not discount the simple obedience that you have to God’s will in your life, you may not see it but God may be placing you where he needs you to be to do a mighty work in His name!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses eleven through sixteen when Peter begins speaking in Solomon’s portico as people begin to ask questions about this miracle. 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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God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2nd Timothy 1:1-7

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God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2nd Timothy 1:1-7 – 03/04/2016

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 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You 3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

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

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Second Timothy.

V1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

Paul starts with a typical Pauline greeting calling himself and apostle of Christ Jesus and I doubt there would be many who would argue this fact, but what he said next is what makes the declaration interesting, he states that he is an apostle “by the will of God” and not according to self-ambition or some man declaring that he should take that position. God placed Paul in that ambassador role in order to eventually reach the Gentile world. The mere fact that you are reading this webpage is a continued fruit of that work.

Remember John 3:16? God so loved…the world! Paul was the guy who was going to be the missionary to take the gospel of Jesus beyond the traditional borders of the Jews. He as a Roman citizen had license to travel anywhere within the Roman Empire and this facilitated travel in a way that could not have been possible if that Empire was not still at large.

What are you doing “…by the will of God” What is your role? Are you a worship leader? Chair stacker? Prayer warrior? Encourager? Counselor? Regardless of how grand our servantlike you view your place in the kingdom of God we all have callings and a position that we need to play in the field and much like a team sport, if you are not in your position you will not take part in a victory that is assured for you.

Paul writes about the “promise of life” and this more extraordinary considering that Paul is imprisoned in Rome at this time and this time he is facing a sentence of execution and this letter is written after his re-arrest in Rome. So he is writing from a prison cell in the most desolate of conditions, imprisoned by an empire that is not known for their humanity for criminals and he is still writing letters of hope? How mind blowing is that for anyone else? This is the equivalent of a guy on death row who has become a Christian sending out letters to exhort those who still have liberty to believe.

V2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You

Paul addresses this letter to Timothy who he describes as his beloved child, in our articles we did on First Timothy we examined the close relationship that Paul had with Timothy and Timothy was really like a relation to Paul and Timothy was very much a student of Paul. The words “grace, mercy and peace” are also used in the other pastoral letters 1st Timothy and Titus and this is a good reminder that these three things are required for leaders just as much and if not more than churches do. Pastors/leaders are men like the rest of us who have struggles like we do and require all three in greater portion. Spurgeon states the following…

“Did you ever notice this one thing about Christian ministers, that they need even more mercy than other people? Although everybody needs mercy, ministers need it more than anybody else; and so we do, for if we are not faithful, we shall be greater sinners even than our hearers, and it needs much grace for us always to be faithful, and much mercy will be required to cover our shortcomings. So I shall take those three things to myself: ‘Grace, mercy, and peace.’ You may have the two, ‘Grace and peace,’ but I need mercy more than any of you; so I take it from my Lord’s loving hand, and I will trust, and not be afraid, despite all my shortcomings, and feebleness, and blunders, and mistakes, in the course of my whole ministry.”

V3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

Paul harks back to a time where his ancestors served God with a clear conscience and a clear heart when they approached God in the correct repentant manner, it certainly makes me think if I am more like the Old Testament Jewish believers who had a genuine fear of God and wanted to atone for their sins or have I come into the realms of the Pharisee who makes their worship to God a show and do it for their own selfish ends in order to seem holy?

Quite a question to ponder huh? Paul backs up this thought by stating his own spiritual integrity by stating that he remembered him constantly in his prayers both day and night and yes I do understand that Paul was in prison so there was precious little to do in there, however we in our own human nature will find ways of distracting ourselves if we allow our flesh to take over. Paul shows the volume and quantity of his prayers and that is to be admired. I would commend this to be a model in our own prayer lives, how about when you drive round your neighborhood, why not pray for the streets and houses as you pass them? How can you increase your prayer life?

V4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.

Paul remarks that their parting was tearful, not in a bad way as Paul writes with such favor however it is clear that these men missed the company of one another and that seeing Timothy would make him filed with joy. We have to ask at this part what makes Paul happy. He answers below.

V5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Paul is happy when he is reminded of a sincere faith that Timothy had and it made Paul happy to see the will of God unfold in young men like Timothy and if we are teachers we must also have that goal, to invest in the Timothy’s that God places in our way, to assist the students who want to do his will, to mentor those who are younger in the faith and start them mentoring others to.

Paul references the strong belief of women who were pivotal to Timothy’s faith, we cannot underestimate the place that we have in our children’s lives in showing them whether our faith is genuine or not, in the book of Acts we learn the following…

Acts 16:1 (ESV) Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

So Timothy had a less than ideal home situation, the head of the home was not a believer and he was taught the faith by the female in the home. He was also well thought of by the folks who shared the same common faith he did and that is important, in those days it wasn’t like today where you may see your fellow church members once a week. In those days they lived together, they saw each other often and they were involved in each other’s lives, so if he had a good report then that meant that he was the real deal, people saw the faith was genuine from the fruits of the walk of the individual in person.

This is why Paul is sure that it dwells in him also, it is not enough to say “well my descendants had faith, I will be okay” I cannot get into heaven based on my father’s faith or my grandfathers, in the same way my daughter has to choose for herself also. As much as I would wish to be saved for her, she has to reason for herself that this faith is real. It is my job to be the real deal to her and show her that this is real. Paul reminds Timothy more in verse six…

V6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,

Paul exhorts Timothy to use the gifts that God has blessed him with and be bold for Jesus Christ, we learn this in the first epistles to Timothy and Paul starts this epistle the same way and as leaders we have to be bold, be willing to stand in the way of contentious issues and I totally understand because I am also like Timothy that I am not in favor of being confrontational so I understand any angst that Timothy may have in a real and primary fashion.

Paul is encouraging him to not do this as sometimes the leader has to stand in conflict and resolve falsehoods that come into the church, challenge immoral behaviors and apply tough truths from scripture in love. Paul urges Timothy to stir up those gifting’s and be effective for use in his kingdom. We are not robots or zombies, God does gift us but allows us to use the gifts according to our talents but use them according to our willingness or drive. I know gifted pastors who would have a much better ministry if they were more driven or stirred up.

Paul said this should be through the laying of hands and that is something we should not neglect and we should use this common way even today in the commission of our people and asking them to either grant gifts, confirm gifts or commission them for the work of the ministry.

V7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

God has supplied all the tools that Timothy needed in order to fulfil his calling that God has given, he has also given us a spirit which is not of fear and that the fear he faces is not from the Lord, his timidity is his own character but through prayer and supplications he will be strengthened in the Lord. I guess I am so passionate about this because I know that it is true and I know from personal experience that God does strengthen when I need it.

God has also given us a spirit of power, love and self-control; let’s look at these separately…

  • Power – We are empowered by God when we are doing his will and we have the creator of all things backing us up as we are the tool being used for his glory.
  • Love – This power is not a controlling power, it is a power of love, we love, we serve, we are different to this world and we pray for others that persecute us.
  • Self-Control – We are calm, not in a state of emergency or panic, we are not swayed by the rigors of this world. We are in contrast to that spirit of fear.

Don’t you agree that that spirit of fear is such a poor substitute for the riches that God wants to do for us? We are all different and are at different stages with the Lord however God wants us to be bold in the things we are called into. We have to get up, stop being lazy (me included) and get to what God has planned for our lives, for some that will be harder than others and for some it will be a step of faith. If we do indeed step out in God’s will, he will use us far more exceedingly than we could ever dream of.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we look at verses eight through fourteen when Paul encourages Timothy and continues to strengthen Timothy by these exhorting words. 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 two) – Matthew 3:3-12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will continue to look at John the Baptist and we will see that John gets a visitor wishing to be baptized and despite protestations by John, he allows him to be baptized I love this scripture because prophetically and theologically it is such a great passage of scripture that I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless – Titus 3:8-11

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Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless – Titus 3:8-11 – 02/25/2016

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

Titus 3:8 (ESV) The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. 9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Paul continues his thought in the middle of this letter in verse eight; let’s look at the text on a verse by verse basis…

V8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

In the last article we looked at those who were foolish and disobedient, and Paul reminded those to be submissive to rulers and authorities and gave some great characteristics of how a Christian should be especially in a society that is not “Christ-friendly”, Paul continues this thought and finishes it with this sentence, he was insistent that the Christians focus on what is important.

We are all called to a battle, a heavenly war if you will and as soldiers in that battle against darkness we all have to stay on task. We are fighting an enemy who is relentless in his pursuit against the people who have chosen to follow the messiah Jesus Christ; I know from personal experience that my most trying times where I have been spiritually attacked have been when I have been deepest in the trenches following the will of God in my life.

We are to be devoted to good works, that is what we are saved for, we are called to be different to this world, as the world gets darker we are supposed to shine as beacons of light that point towards our Messiah Jesus. Paul goes on to look at our conduct as Christians…

V9 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.

Paul goes back to the beginning of his letter and almost brings it full circle and continues the thought that began when he spoke of the things that should not be taught, Paul uses a word for “avoid” that literally means “point the other way” and that is possibly a better understanding for us. My advice to the modern day Christian is the same, ask yourself a question “will this debate matter in five years?” or “Is this debate worth the people it will cost me?” and often times that will change our minds in getting involved in discussions that we really have no business being in.

We usually do this electronically these days as opposed to in person, when we add our fellow brothers and sisters onto our Facebook/Twitter/Instagram accounts we give them access to ourselves and sometimes that access leads to viewpoints that are different, most often in the areas of theology and politics, just because they sit near you in a building on your preferred day of worship (most of us Sundays) does not always mean that they mirror your stance on every issue.

The Pharisees were tremendous at causing dissention and creating “holy laws” (or cultural laws) in addition to the already unattainable Law of Moses and often times they created these great religious discussions to flex their theological muscles and show how much they knew. That also happens today and as Christians we should avoid any discussions that stoke individual pride even if we are doing so “for God”. If the motivation (and be honest now) is prideful or the motivation is to show how holy you are then it will have little worth.

Quite often we see the mission of God as discussions like these and we neglect the basics such as “loving our neighbor” or “mentoring up a weaker believer” claiming that we are simply too busy to do these simple works when we are tying ourselves up in great theological disputes that will often cause contention and very rarely win a soul to Christ.

And lastly we should avoid contention for the sake of contention. I have friends who are young earth, some who are old earth, I have friends that are pre-trib, I have friends that are post-trib and I respect and value their friendship enough that I won’t keep tagging them in article that are against their viewpoint on these issues that are contentious. If they have known me for more than five minutes they will know my individual stance on these articles and how I back that stance up with scripture. I find that most drama can be avoided with a little care on the instigators part. Here is what Paul says about these types of people…

V10 As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, 11 knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

We all have those folks, we maybe know those folks, and we maybe are those folks who could cause a fight in an empty room. Even as you are reading this I bet you are casting your mind to some folks that you could think of who are like this. Paul is not using this as an excuse to cut someone loose that is contentious (I have seen this passage of scripture used to shun someone who has less popular viewpoints in the hope that the person eventually gets the message and leaves) but more as a guideline that they should not be shunned as stated earlier, that we should be pursuing that person who has gone his own way.

We should be warning him multiple times yes but we should not give up on him. Jesus paid such a high price for our Salvation and we should be doing all we can to welcome him (or her) back if they decide to repent and wish to be part of the church again. Often times the leaving of that person is done in such a way that the person would never be able to be returned to fellowship. Obviously that should be avoided and we must love even in tough love and often times that is missing when situations like this happen and people with axes to grind against churches will often feel “unloved”. (It may or may not be the case but we have to take that idea out of the water)

Obviously, if the person is unrepentant and has to go then so be it, but it should not be the first option. If he chooses to not partake of the communion of the saints and chooses the route of self-condemnation then let him go. I would go as far as to say minister to him from a distance in prayer in the hope that he returns to his messiah and also in the hope of correction of doctrine also. His choices are between him and God now.

Lord willing, in our next article in Titus we look at the end of the chapter and see how Paul concludes this letter to Titus in chapter three verses twelve through fifteen. 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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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.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Deal with the soul first and then the sin

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Tale of two viral blog articles

In the last few weeks I have had two articles that have went “viral” (by my standards) which have addressed two issues that the Internet were talking about. I am of course talking about commentary on the situations with Josh Duggar and the accusations of molestation and also the Vanity Fair cover that displayed and introduced Bruce Jenner as Caitlyn.

I have appealed in both of these articles that we pray for these people and I would go further and state that we should pray without ceasing. Josh Duggar, his sisters and his other victims all required prayer and I do wonder whether this public shaming of Josh does not victimize the victims as much as the perpetrator. Some are doing it out of compassion for the family, some are really doing it because they hate Christians and want to see the show off the air and there are some are doing it just to gossip and slander.

Josh Duggar has had less “abuse” from the Christian circles and I believe that generally there was a good feeling towards the family prior to this news being broken because of the show and the fact that Josh is now a born again Christian make him less of “fair game” in the eyes of the Christian bloggers but the same cannot be said of Bruce Jenner.

In Bruce’s case it is open season on him from the Christian point of view and many are judging him as if he is a brother in Christ, he may very well be but his actions recently suggest otherwise. My earlier blog about his situation I spoke about the need to deal with the soul first and that is my priority for Bruce or anyone who is still in their sin. They need to come face to face with their messiah, repent of their sins, then and only then can we look at the sideshow of what their lives are like.

Keep the main thing the main thing

We have to remember as Christians to keep the main thing the main thing! We are here primarily to “Go forth and make disciples” and in that commission we are not to be shy, we are to be bold in our proclamation that Jesus is the messiah and that the words in John 14:6 are true that only Jesus is the way, only Jesus is the truth and only Jesus is the life and that no-one came to the father except through him.

Closer to Jesus or further away?

We have to examine our conduct and ask if what we are doing (especially online) is bringing people closer to Jesus or further away to Jesus. Are we serving the LORD with our words or ourselves? It says in the book of Jude that we have to have wisdom and “have compassion on some” but also have discernment to “save others with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” and we have to be discerning on how we evangelize and present the gospel. 

Read the article before you comment

For this purpose I am saddened when I read people who comment on social media, not appearing to have read the article and commenting things that border on hate, they fail to grasp that he is in the world and of the world, the world by in large has been accepting of his procedure and call him words such as “brave” and “courageous” and Christians fall into the trap of appearing to have the moral high ground when all the world wants to see if the Christian condemning the sinner so they can report that the Christian behaved the way that they thought they would.

Prayer comes first

We need to pray for this and other situations because these two situations come on our media screens, social media newsfeeds and news reports because these people are “famous”. We live in a world that is fallen, the sin upon sin upon sin upon sin that has been the case since the Garden of Eden has allowed us to distance ourselves that far away from God that we are completely alien to the purpose of why we were created and that was to glorify God.

Bruce won’t find peace in his surgery, in the change he has made and the pharmaceuticals that he has consigned himself to take. He will only find peace through Jesus and I pray that he will fall to his knees, repent and follow the one true messiah, I pray that for the whole family, I pray that for the whole Hollywood circus, I pray that for the whole of the USA and lastly I pray for the world to come to repentance in Christ Jesus.

Pray not Pharisee

We need to be more like Jesus and less like the guys who wanted to condemn and kill him! It is easy to get lost in our Religious-ity and that in our mind look for the “right answer” or the “holy answer” but we are called to love first, evangelize unto repentance and then make disciples and allow them to repeat the process.

As stated a few days ago in a previous article that we need to make prayer the first priority, it is the most dynamic weapon in our arsenal and often times it is the one that is least used. It is amazing how much your countenance changes towards a person when you are genuinely praying for God’s blessings, praying because they hate you, (that is the toughest one) praying that they repent or praying for their walk with Jesus. We are to be recognized as Jesus disciples because of our “love for one another”.

I am not saying don’t deal with sin in the brethren

If a brother is in sin then respectfully deal with it as you would in Matthew 18, but we love to “name and shame” in our culture as if by tearing someone down we somehow raise in righteousness, I see this in churches where brothers become “ministry rivals” and friendships are scorched due to ambition coming before serving. 

We have to check our motivation why we do these things. I was once asked by a pastor “What was your motivation for …” and when I answered it allowed him to tailor his advice to the situation, in many cases when gossip occurs we have to ask whether we are fanning the flames or putting out the fire. Often times we can make it worse when we pass on a “95% true statement”.

There is a lot to read here and I apologize, should I have not covered anything, if there are any questions or anything that you feel should be added or you simply wish to have your voice heard then please comment below. If you liked this article and you wished to know when new articles are posted then please either “follow this blog” at the top right hand corner of the screen, like our social media pages or bookmark this site in order to find us again. Lastly I would appreciate if you would please share or like as God leads you to on any social media sites or blogs you use.
SDG
TGBTG

Hey Jude, are you a bondservant?

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

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Jude.

Jude 1:1 (ESV) Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

I have quite the history with the book of Jude, when I first rededicated my life back to Jesus I went into a discipleship program with my then pastor Matt McGoldrick at Calvary Chapel Glasgow and we spent the best part of 7/8 months on the book of Jude learning how to study the bible in an inductive way.

In the Christian church today we either have one of two camps; we either have “lack of knowledge” or “Pharisee like knowledge” with very little balance. It is an issue in the church today that we have such wide chasms of knowledge.

Lack of Knowledge 

We see the lack of knowledge on one hand you have what we read in the book of Hosea…

Hosea 4:6 (ESV) My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Being Gentiles we should have learned from the mistakes that the Jewish people have done before us, but regrettably we have not. Many folks who call themselves Christian have not studied the word and do not have a decent foundational knowledge of what they represent and therefore are ineffective at winning souls for the kingdom of God. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy we read… 

2nd Timothy 2:15 (ESV) Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Some translations have the phrase “study to show yourself approved” and it is important to be spiritually fed enough in order to grow in your relationship with Jesus. You see, conversion should not be the end of the story, but merely the beginning of a new chapter.

It does sadden me when I hear of some testimonies that culminate in the believer being saved. I once heard a great sermon by Pastor Martin Tatton of Calvary Glasgow City (link in the sidebar) which asked that very question and made me question my own testimony because I used to do the same. It is truly an injustice to the life that has been changed by Jesus Christ as it sounds like life was a party and then it all stopped when I became a Christian.

Truth be told I am not (I still am DNA wise) the man I was before and my life is a lot better than it used to be when I used to drink myself senseless and party and waste copious amounts of money of selfish pursuits. I have a great wife, a lovely daughter and a marriage that I could never have wished for.

If you would have told me 15 years ago that I would be leading a bible study in my home, happily married, a father and being blessed beyond all measure by a God that I had rejected but he never gave up on me it moves me to happy tears. I have this pursuit for knowledge on his word and a thirst to know more of him, but I pray that it is not a “Pharisee like knowledge”.

Pharisee like Knowledge

So it is fair to say that I know the book well, but like everything in the Christian life it is not enough to simply have head knowledge, the Pharisees in Jesus day knew the scriptures so well that they could look at a parchment paper of a Torah and let you know if a stroke was out of place. However they did not let the words pierce their heart.

It is possible to know the theology and have such head knowledge that it becomes cold facts and therefore it is not living, it is cold, dry and dead. It is with great lament that I read of people who teach theology and wax lyrical about great and mighty things of God, know way more than I do and could out debate me and are way smarter than I ever will be but have missed the point of the whole thing. They are atheists!

Jude 1:1 (ESV) Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

Jude describes himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” and in that statement shows his humility, he could have written “a servant of our messiah and my half-brother Jesus” and been accurate, however he chose to address himself as a servant.

This shows great humility on the behalf of Jude. Can any of us honestly state that if they were a blood relation to Jesus they would not speak of it? But to give himself that lower place shows great character of a man and reminds me of what I read in the book of Proverbs…

Proverbs 25:6 (ESV) Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, 7 for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble

And also spoken by Jesus in the book of Luke… (The parable of the wedding feast) 

Luke 14:7 (ESV) Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jude does exactly this; he humbles himself by choice to the role of servant. The word servant is also translated as “bondservant” in this case one who has given up his own will to take up the role of a servant (or slave) for his master. So Jude is a slave to the gospel of Jesus Christ by his own free will and is completely subservient to his master and will follow the will of him as opposed to his own.

An application for that for us would be “how much of a bondservant are we?” I must admit that there are still things in my life that I have not given over fully to God and that is not a boast but an admission of guilt.

Also Jesus did call into question the importance of earthly brethren in Mark 3 and Luke 11, perhaps this was part of the reason why Jude did not feel the need to introduce himself as the brother (or blood relation) of Christ. Jude calls himself instead “the brother of James” James was an important leader in the Jerusalem church and author of an epistle.

Jude is mentioned in the gospels in the books of Matthew and Mark (Matthew 13 & Mark 6) as the brother of Jesus, Jude did not believe in Jesus until after the resurrection. (John 7:5 & Acts 1:14)

Jude addresses this letter “to those who are called” and this letter is still addressed to Christians everywhere. Jude will deal with issues that are not easy to hear and he categorizes them in 3 ways. 

1) Those who are called – Jude addresses it to the called, God has placed a calling on our lives, we have that choice as people to answer that calling, for some it will be into ministry, some it will be evangelism but whatever our calling we have to get to it and do it with all our hearts.

2) Beloved in God the Father – John 3:16 starts with the words “For God so loved the world” and that is a truth of the gospel, God loved us that much that he would give up his son Jesus to die on the cross for us to buy our salvation.

3) Kept for Jesus Christ – some versions say preserved in Jesus, and that we have protection in Christ and we are his children.

We have the same choice as Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden, we can choose to go with God’s plan for our life, accept the free gift that is Salvation and live after his will or don’t. One way leads to eternal life, the other leads to the lake of fire, simple huh?

V2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Jude greets the recipient with three wishes and that the three wishes are multiplied unto them. This shows Jude’s heart to the recipient that even although what he writes would be painful to swallow; he is doing it in love.

1) Mercy – We all have a need for mercy, for we all have fallen short of the glory of God due to our sinful nature.

2) Peace – This life is tough but we do not have to bear it alone we have access to an unlimited supply of the most perfect peace that a man can ask for, often times we do not ask and try to bear Gods burdens instead of our own.

3) Love – We are called to love, this letter is a love letter, doesn’t seem like it but sometimes the most loving thing we can do is be honest with someone.

Jude asks not just for theses blessing but he asks that they be multiplied unto them. What a heart that guy has for his recipients.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Fifteen – December 15th

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

Today we look at a prophecy that speaks about the messiah being falsely accused. You have to remember that Jesus being both God and man, he was completely flesh but at the same time completely God. He was a sinless man. In order to secure a conviction some people were going to have to lie.

Psalm 35:11 (ESV) Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know.

David is writing in two ways in this Psalm, he is referring first to his personal adversity, but on a grander sense he is talking about the coming messiah and how he was going to have people talk about him.

Jesus was never going to be convicted in a just court. In order to have enough to sentence him to death there was going to have to be some testimony that was embellished. People were going to have to lie. People were going to have to start with a truth, embellish it and they were even going to have to break one of the Ten Commandments to do so.

Lets look at the Ninth Commandment in Exodus 20…

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

Can you imagine the hatred and desire to see Jesus gone and to really stop making them look bad – I mean we are the holy ones, how dare this upstart who is not one of us talk with authority and actually try to bring people closer to God. And he comes from Gailiee of all places. We are starting to lose the people and our individual position. Yes, this Jesus has to go! (Paraphrasing from the Pharisee)

False witness against the true witness

Lets see how this refers to Jesus

Mark 14:53 (ESV) And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.

Jesus is standing before the Sanhedrin, it is the third time he has faced accusations when Mark picks this up. He is standing in front of the men who were deemed the “holy ones” of Israel. Surely he would get a fair trial in front of these guys. I mean, this was the religious guys who held everyone else accountable to the law. Surely he will be found innocent?

Kangaroo Court

By Jewish standards, the trial of Jesus was a mockery, Jesus had no protection. It is what we call in my home country a “kangaroo court”. The ones who began these proceedings began it with the intention of sentencing Jesus to death. They did exactly what Eve did in the Garden of Eden when she started with what was actually said and added subjecture to it.

V57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’”

Here is where they differ from the truth, what Jesus actually said was in John chapter two.

John 2:18 (ESV) So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus didn’t say he would build a new temple, at no point did he add in that the temple that he was referring to was the one that took 46 years to build by hand. He was referring to the resurrection and his body on earth that would not see decay but be lifted from death on the third day.

Jesus being God was never going to rip down the temple that was dedicated to his father. It simply does not make sense. Even the Romans would regard the destruction of a religious or holy place as bad practice.

Couldn’t even agree in which lie they were telling

Here is how we know the trial was a mockery. In any decent legal system they have a way to quash a conviction, acquit someone or pass a not guilty verdict if they cannot prove the accusers correct. You will have heard the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” this was the opposite. Jesus was seen as guilty before it began.

Being the third trial, at this point they were going through the motions in order to make a decent enough story to take to the Roman area commander, known as Pontius Pilate so they could justify their actions by saying “we had had a trial according to our laws and he is guilty” when of course we see that the opposite is true.

Verses 55, 56, 57 and 59 show the compelling lack of evidence to warrant a public execution. If this was fair, it would stop the trial in it’s tracks right here. The defense would not have even taken the stand as the prosecution was unable to build a case against him.

Of course, there was a greater plan at work, Jesus was surrendering himself to be the atonement for the sins of the world because “the Father does not desire that any should perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:17)

The religious leaders were only interested in their own gains, but God used these people who were “professing him with their mouths but far from him in their hearts” (Matthew 15:8)

Jesus went through all this so we can go to heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Fourteen – December 14th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Fourteen – December 14th

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

Yesterday we looked at the prophecy that the messianic was going to be betrayed,  from the scriptures that we read we discovered that the betrayer was one of Jesus hand picked disciples called Judas Iscariot. 

The prophecy spoke that the messiah would be betrayed, it also spoke of a potters field being bought for that same price, a slaves price of 30 pieces of silver. Let’s look again at the verse in Zechariah.

Zechariah 11:12 (ESV) Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD, to the potter.

Let’s catch up with Judas

Judas is a troubled soul at this point, he took the money and betrayed the messiah. Let’s look at the verses that conform the prophecy in the twenty seventh chapter if the gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 27:3 (ESV)  Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

Whatever you win, whatever you lose

Verse three reminds me of the song by the British rock band called “Status Quo” called “Whatever you want” which has the lyrics…

“Whatever you want
Whatever you like
Whatever you say
You pay your money
You take your choice
Whatever you need
Whatever you use
Whatever you win
Whatever you lose”

Remorse or repentance?

We read that when “Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders” he seems more concerned with the consequences of his actions than the actual sin itself. Some translations have the word as “remorseful” this tells it’s own story.

His heart was guilty on what he had done, that is remorse as opposed to repentance.  He acted next out if self guilt, this is where sin turns to tragedy.

Judas the nobody

Judas really was a nobody until Jesus selected him, he had three years of being in the Inner sanctum of the messiah’s teaching, saw many miracles and heard Godly teaching direct from God himself and he still missed the point.

Judas was also keen for the mission to be accepted by men and the times we hear him speaking up were on the ways Jesus was different to the other holy leaders.

Judas suffered from wanting to be associated with the Godly things but perhaps not be holy himself. He solicited the people he looked up to (for he religious leaders) and tried to find a way in by being useful to them.

He also did this at a price. Judas wanted to he his being regarded as a partner in this enterprise. I have no idea what Judas thought was going to happen but I bet he did not think it would escalate as quickly as it did.

Atonement or regret?

We could finish the article there and it would be sufficient. However we read that Judas tries to undo the wrong by paying the money back. Perhaps in atonement but mainly in regret.

I have been there,  been rescued from my bad decisions but still had consequences due to my sins, I am overweight due to previous bad good and health choices,  I have been poor due to bad lending decisions in the past and had to pay back instead of build wealth. I am sure we all can think of ways we have been delivered but still had consequences.

Holy reasoning

He used the holy law to try to return the money. He wanted to give the money back saying it was wrong for him to take it, obviously Jesus captors had no interest either way whether Judas profited from his crime or not, they already had what they wanted.

Judas, even after all this actually tells the truth about Jesus “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” this shows me two things.

1) His remorseful heart – Judas of a week ago would have turned this into profit by having his testimony bought.
2) The profound effect that Jesus must have had on him, that he could not slander him and declared that the charges against him (Jesus) were false.

Judas at no point accused Christ of anything, when he betrayed him his question was “what’s the price to deliver him?” Not at any point was there a discussion regarding the guilt of Christ. (That did not exist)

Obviously he panics when he realizes what has been put in motion cannot be stopped, he tosses the money on the floor and comes to a sad end.

Judas sad demise

Judas goes and do what desperate people do, come to a desperate end. Between here (verse 5) and Acts 1:16-19 we get exactly what happened to him, let’s read what Peter says in Acts 1:16-19.

Acts 1:16 (ESV) Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”18 (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the field was called in their own language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

So he hangs himself, eventually either by decomposition or gravity taking hold the hung body falls from the tree and bursts open. They were in a Jewish holy time so I doubt anyone would defile themselves by handling a dead body so he could have been up there in the baking sun for several days. 

The field of blood

Aptly named huh? Sin always has it’s end results and this is unlike any other. Judas is recorded as being remembered to this day and having property named after him. I bet that it was not what he wanted to be known or remembered for.

The compound interest of sin

Judas caught himself in sin, he chose not to repent and compounded sin upon sin. He never resolved the issue with God and became that anguished that he ended up taking his own life when he tried to reconcile a load that he was never designed to bear.

Sin is like a high interest loan from a loan shark. Once you cash out,  you may the balance and then much more. Often times sin compounds on sin and this is eloquently shown in this passage of scripture.

One of my first jobs as an adult was working in a bank and the idea of compund interest is that you earn interest on the interest on the borrowing, sin rarely pays back like for like.

Two deaths, two different outcomes

Two people in this section of scripture died this weekend, both had starkly different outcomes

1) Judas – died in his sins by his own hand with no peace with God.  Eternally he is separated from God.

Judas to me is an example that even if you are not following God,  he can still use you to fulfill the plan of God. The same could be said for the Pharisees and the Romans.

2) Jesus – died for the sins of the world a sinless, blameless man, at perfect peace with God. Rose again three days later and now eternally with God.

We all are going to end up either with or without God for eternity. Which outcome do you choose?

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

No excuses, because every one of you judges

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No excuses, because every one of you judges

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Both are hypocrites

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

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

The “heart” of the matter

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

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

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

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

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