Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: Pharisees

Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17

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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17 – 04/13/2016

Matthew 4:12 (ESV) Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

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 twelve of chapter four.

V12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.

The “he” that is referred to in this article is of course referring to Jesus. Because of Matthew’s gospel and this verse we see the reason why Jesus withdrew into Galilee and why he was there before choosing his first disciples. We see that it was the arrest of John was the event that prompted the movement of Jesus.

This is one thing I love about the bible, the knowledge and treasures to explain details that may not seem correct or perhaps little pieces of scripture that seem simply “for information purposes only” and may be seen as the writer supplying more information than is necessary but these small pieces of an otherwise scriptural puzzle will show up inconsistencies as no longer inconsistent. I see this touted quite often as an inconsistency of the bible as to “why the messiah appeared in Jordan and then in Galilee at the same time?” and this may be too much explanation but I am here to help resolve such matters. Often times the folks who tout inconsistencies in the bible simply have not researched the scripture in full and pieced together the timeline.

I do find it interesting that the messiah retreated to an area that was disregarded by the Jewish state, one that was regarded as uneducated, cosmopolitan and worst of all polluted by Gentiles! From this area Jesus would pick many of his disciples as common, salt of the earth people. These people were tradesmen, fishermen or agricultural people. I recognize this type of people as for the last eight years of my life I have lived in Central California.

V13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

We read that he left Nazareth and that was a sad, sad story that we see explained in full in Luke 4…

Luke 4:16 (ESV) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Consider the scene – The town the Messiah had earthly family in he chose to grace his hometown Synagogue and showed them face to face that he was the literal fulfilment of those prophecies (read verbatim from Isaiah 61:1-2) that they all knew so well and were praying for to be fulfilled, HE WAS THERE, IN FRONT OF THEIR VERY EYES and they threw him out of the very place they prayed for him to come to! From a theological point of view it is tremendously sad.

Even the move to Capernaum was done to fulfill scripture; you may recognize the quoted text as being lifted straight from Isaiah 9:1-3…

Isaiah 9:1 (ESV) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

And then we see the focus of Jesus mission and the beginning of the preaching mission of Jesus…

V17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There are three parts to this sentence and I would like to focus on these separately…

  • From that time Jesus began to preach, – I love the Greek word “kerussein” which speaks of a heralds proclamation from a King or royalty and how fitting is that Jesus uses this at the beginning of his teaching ministry because he was heralding a life giving message from one who was far greater, far holier and far better than an earthly king.Jesus was also a healer who taught with “authority, not like the scribes or Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29)

    Matthew 7:28 (ESV) And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

  • Saying, “Repent, – Jesus very much continued the message that John had preached in the same place (Matthew 3) and therefore completing what John had said by announcing that the messiah was coming and of course Jesus WAS the Messiah!
  • For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. – Here he was! The living embodiment of heaven standing in front of them, if they only know that the star of the morning, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and the majesty that stood before them, they would rightly have fell on their face and worshipped him like he deserved.

I love that the first words in his ministry were these because we all have to come to that same place, fall to our knees, repent and be forgiven of our sins. Then and only then can we begin that journey with Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses eighteen through twenty two of chapter four studying when Jesus called his first disciples. 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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Agape Bible Study text – Good Friday – “Ear” today and gone tomorrow

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Agape Bible Study text – Good Friday – “Ear” today and gone tomorrow – 03/25/2016

Last supper has just happened, remind the folks of what was spoken about last year.

John 18:1 (ESV) When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.” 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Main points from this text…

  • Verse 1) Jesus made it easy to be captured, he retreated to a place that Jesus “often met with disciples” (verse 2)
  • Judas procured a “band of soldiers” Here is how a Roman Army detachment was made up

Roman Army definitions
Centurion – Was in charge of at least 100 soldiers
Legion – Reserves would count a Legion of 500 conscripts or 600 soldiers in times of conflict, bear in mind the time or revolutions and revolts (such as the revolt of the Maccabees) and the nature of the uneasy Government in Israel at that time it is fair to say that that number would have been 600.
Band – a tenth of a legion, Legions were assembled in battle into bands that were ten across.

Judas brought up to 60 soldiers of the empire that was so highly trained that it conquered most of Southern Europe, the Middle East and much of the Northern Coast of Africa. They were taking no chances having the following group marching into the garden some 60 soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and Pharisees. I think that it’s fair to say they would be noticed.

The reason for this is simple, this is not the first time Jesus was close to arrest, they sought to arrest him in John chapter 10 chapter 39 but that was while he was teaching so that would have been during the day, so they are taking no chances now doing this away from the crowd with excessive force.

In the UK it is quite often for children to say “you and whose Army?” if they believe that they are quite superior to their opponent or “come back with all your friends and we will make it a fair fight?” if they are boasting, Jesus was showing that in both those scenarios he was mightier Because Judas was flanked by the might of Rome, can you imagine how proud he must have been having been able to muster up that kind of back up? There are times when we rally and rally and think we are on the right side, this is one of those times! Can you think when you have done this?

• They asked for “Jesus of Nazareth” Jesus said “I am he” twice (verse 6 & 8) the He is italicized so it was not in the original transcript and was added later by the translators. So Jesus was saying I am.

• Jesus says “I am” and the excessive force brigade fall backwards – In a pretty humble declaration of who had all the power in this scenario, what a declaration that you can come with your mighty army but you have nothing on Jesus Christ and for me it is a foreshadow of the final battle in Revelation.

• Despite having all the power, Jesus submits to his father’s plan – The following phrases let me know that Jesus knew this was his time “if you seek me, let these men go” and “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

• Peter cuts off Malchus ear, this is important in the next part of scripture…

John 18:15 (ESV) Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16 but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17 The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” 18 Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

John 18:25 (ESV) Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

Jesus told Peter that despite his boasting he would deny that he even knew him before the end of that day (see John 13)

John 13:36 (ESV) Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Peter was not under major duress when he did this, but he was scared because the guy he believed was the Son of God had just been arrested and all of his friends scattered in various directions. From Peter’s situation this was as grim as it got, he was brave enough to follow to see where they took Jesus but he stood out with the door far away to not be pulled in and easily enough to escape if the situation got too hot, but close enough to hear what was going on.

Many of us live our Christian lives like Peter, brave with a sword (in the church assembly and often the loudest voices where they can get “Christian kudos”) but cowards where it really matters, when it is not popular to stand with Jesus, and in Peters case a coward before a servant girl (v18) who was sent out to collect Peter to draw him in to where Jesus was.

Peter is scared and tries to blend in at this point and uses the fire to warm himself and to merge into the background, unfortunately the fire lights up his face and the guys who had been in the garden with him (who made the fire in verse 18) less than a few hours previously ask him if he was there. (Remember Peter had cut one of their ears off so they are gonna remember him!) and Peter denies a second time.

Then lastly a relative of the “earectomy” who in all likelihood was right next to him when it happened and certainly would have heard about this because in those days if you lost an ear in battle, if they were able to reattach it we know there would be a mark of some kind. Jesus fixed it whole so that in itself is noteworthy.

Peter relies on himself and his courage fails for a third time and immediately the rooster crows (like Jesus said it would) and Peter cries because of his love for the Lord and he knows he blew it! Just like Peter, we have blown it in so many ways and again just like Peter we have been redeemed, some of us have not taken up that gift of salvation and others are not living according to God will in our lives. As we take communion please think about confessions, things that you need to change in your life and if you need to then beg Jesus for forgiveness of your sins.

Communion text

Explain relationship with Jesus and give a chance to repent of sins

1st Corinthians 11:23 (ESV) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

Let’s take a moment in prayer and let’s take the Communion together as a family

Take the bread

Take the cup

We come together to proclaim not just Christ’s death but also the resurrection of Jesus that we symbolically celebrate on Easter Sunday and make an invitation to church on Easter Sunday.

What is the value of circumcision? – Romans 3:1-8

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What is the value of circumcision? – Romans 3:1-8 – 01/24/2016

Romans 3:1 (ESV) Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” 5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) 6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world? 7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner? 8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

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 1 of chapter 3…

V1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?

Paul asks a series of questions starting with this one and the thought follows from the previous article where we finished chapter two, “here” is the article. Paul debates in that article whether possession of the law would save a Jewish person still in their sins and starts with this question. Paul answers this in verse 2…

V2 Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

Paul extols the rich history of the Jewish relationship with God, they were given the “oracles of God” his word before the mission of Jesus Christ, they were his chosen people and were meant to be the ones that showed the gentiles the way to communion with God. God made covenants with them, he gave them his supreme law and Paul goes on to talk about the blessings and curses the Jewish people received based on their faithfulness to him…

V3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?

Paul makes provision for the fact that not everyone in the Jewish faith would always be faithful, God is God and God is perfect. An example of this would be when he covenanted with Abraham that he was the one who took the covenant and walked where Abraham could not have. God will continue to be faithful regardless of our personal faithfulness and as a Christian who has been grafted into the family of God and not one of the natural branches I find that incredibly encouraging.

God when he loves us or works in us is not doing a futile work, yes he knows who will accept him and who will not and this is something that we can carry on today in our evangelism efforts we know that there will be those who will reject the promises and faithfulness of God and will go on believing a lie. The gospel will not fail because not everyone will receive it, Our place in the battle (the battle of course belongs to the LORD) is to be ready and willing to be in the place that God places us and ready to be used as a tool in his arsenal.

GOD IS FAITHFUL – Basic John 3:16 stuff here, God does love the world and that was the reason for Jesus sacrifice and regardless of your past you can still have a future and a use in the service of God. As much as I look good on here in the words I type, I wish I was as faithful to the service of God as I want to be. I fail and mess up as much as anyone who is reading this. (And possibly much more)

V4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.”

And that is the flip side of what we are talking about, for as unfaithful and untruthful and messed up by what we have experienced in this world, God is the reverse, in as much as we are liars God is truth and the simple fact that we are so unrighteous goes to show what a righteous God we serve. We cannot attain the heights of God or even hold a candle to his holiness but God will justify us and that is a brief look at the grace of God.

We cannot earn this or attain it, Jesus scoffed at the very notion of this stating that our “righteousness would have to exceed those of the scribes and Pharisees” meaning that we would have to keep as many standards as they did but do it with the right heart realizing that we are saved by grace as well as works, works should be the fruit of our salvation but completing a checklist will not save us.

V5 But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.)

And Paul goes on to make the point that I was touching on the last paragraph that our unrighteousness shows the righteousness of God, he then goes on to ask if God is unrighteous to inflict wrath upon us? We have to look at it from angles that have been wrongly justified in the past for this passage of scripture

• My sin gives God a job to do – to judge me! – This is incorrect as God does not desire that we sin, he desires obedience more than sacrifice (Read the book of Hosea if you need further clarification on that one!)
• My sin gives him glory, so I should go on sinning in order to be forgiven – God is a loving father who wants the best for his kids and I know that as a father if my child at age six was still making baby mistakes then I would be concerned for her development. We understand this but yet this is how many of us live our Christian lives.
• God cannot conquer xxx sin that I have – How big is your God? Are you serving he same one I am that created all that we see here in six literal days? What is your sin to this Big God? How big is your belief?

Let us get one thing straight here – God is not unrighteous in his wrath, your wickedness is still your wickedness, you have to own that! By our own efforts we are separated from God, if we choose to remain on that path then God is righteous in giving you your “due reward” for your rebellion against him. We have the same choice that Adam and Eve had in the Garden of Eden to follow Gods plan or not.

Tonight in my bible study we are looking at Genesis 27 and the account of Jacob and the fact that he deceived his father by lying and presenting himself as Esau in order to steal the birthright from his brother Esau. In this scenario Jacob could present himself by stating “I sinned to allow your prophecy to be fulfilled, why would I be judged on this?” but as stated above his sin is still his sin, just because God used it to his glory does not make it any less his sin or less culpable.

V6 By no means! For then how could God judge the world?

Paul uses the world as an example. Make no mistake about it, the world will be judged and Paul knew that a day of judgment was coming where God would judge the evil and restore the good. The Jews knew the difference between righteousness and evil, the difference between being on Gods side and not. Where they erred was they believed that because they were Jewish they would automatically be counted as righteous.

V7 But if through my lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, why am I still being condemned as a sinner?

Paul states that through his lie God’s truth abounds to his glory, so if what Paul does, even if it is not truthful it increases the glory of God then would it be justified and okay in God’s sight? This may seem odd but Paul gives reason behind this thought process in verse eight…

V8 And why not do evil that good may come?—as some people slanderously charge us with saying. Their condemnation is just.

Paul’s teachings were misinterpreted and twisted to make it sound like he was trying to pervert the teachings of God. However Paul goes on to explain here (and in the next article God willing) that the purpose of sinning for the sake of sinning or living a life in sin in order to perversely glorify God is not just alien but downright the reverse of what God wants in your life. Paul did not teach this but it is what was reported and accredited that it was said that he was teaching these doctrines.

We have to be careful in our doctrine that we don’t preach “free grace” in that we can live the lives that we want because we know that in the end up God is going to forgive us. That to me at least is not living the Christian life; we are not seeking to be like Christ and looking to grow at a healthy rate in our day to day relationship with Jesus. Paul preached (and we have evidence in the written epistles) that God will forgive our sins and give us salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not a works based check the box Levitical law system.

Paul agrees with them that they would be right to condemn such teachings; we have grace that we will be forgiven but we have to look at the heart of our sin. When we sin with a sin that we keep falling into, be honest and ask yourself “why did I plan to do this?” because we have accepted salvation and the things of this world, although they be appealing is a toilet bowl compared to what we are promised by God. We cannot serve two masters because we will love one and hate the other. If we choose to live such a life in unrepentance mocks the God that you claim to love so much. Looking forward Paul goes to look at how righteous we are in verses nine through twenty, I pray that God willing we get the opportunity to look at this together.

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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Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law – Romans 2:25-29

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Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law – Romans 2:25-29 – 01/10/2016

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.

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 25…

V25 For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision.

Paul draws a close to the second chapter of the book of Romans by stating that if you break one little aspect of the law, the rest of it becomes irrelevant. He gives both sides of the conversation in the above verse; the argument from the Jew will be that he is justified by the Law. That his salvation is based on the very fact that he is a child of Abraham and a follower of the precepts and creeds of his forefathers.

Then we see the counter argument, if this is the case then you have to keep ALL of the commandments, this is also backed up by the words of Christ when he states in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 5:17 (ESV) “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

And again in the Epistle of James…

James 2:8 (ESV) If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Convinced yet? We are not saved by our works because like it or not we are fallen creatures, we may have the best intentions in the world but we have weak fleshes and despite a spirit that may be willing we will not always follow through in what we know is right and correct. I know for sure I could not keep 613 rules and regulations. (I struggle to keep New year’s resolutions more than 5 minutes) so what we are looking at is a matter of the heart, what is your core? Where is your heart? Are you righteous in your outward appearance or are you cleansed within? This all seems rather complicated but please read on.

V26 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.

And Paul writes here and plays on their prejudices by stating if that is the level playing field we are on then would the Gentile not be judged by the same rules as the Jew? If there was a Gentile proselyte so devoted to the things of God that his righteousness far exceeded those who were “of the law” would he not be as justified?

A ceremony will not save you, having a Godly father, grandfather or relation who is praying for you will not save you, you have to make that choice for yourself. My greatest desire in life is to see my daughter and my brother walk in the life giving faith that I have found in Christ Jesus but they have to make their own choice. I pray that they pour into the Word of God and have a desire to grow in a day to day relationship with their Messiah Jesus Christ and have them know that if they were the only ones on the earth, Jesus would have died for just them.

I have grouped the last four verses together because they are simply one thought and as stated a ceremony will not save you, simply by having what is in the country I have adopted as my own a standard medical procedure. We read here that the heart is the most important part of the day to day relationship with Jesus Christ and you can all be a Jew inwardly because of that circumcision of the heart. And believers in Jesus Christ have the Holy Spirit as a helper, we were promised by Jesus that we would have a helper and he keeps his promises.

We have to be careful that we heed the warning at the end of this passage that we are not doing the work of the Lord for the praises of men. We must be careful that we are not doing it with a boastful heart or a wish or desire to appear holy. We must be searching for the praises of God and not the praises of men. We see the evidence in what type of fruit is in our hearts, Jesus warns of these types of people in the gospel of Matthew chapter six …

Matthew 6:1 (ESV) “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Basically, run away, flee from any type of “look at me” thoughts that may come across your mind when you are doing ministry. It is always the people who you least expect it, but it may very well be you if that is something you struggle with. If you get peeved because you did not get kudos for a job well done then it may well be you.

These verses that talk about the circumcision of the heart and the simplicity of the gospel make me feel all evangelical and make me want to go spread the word with an increased fervency in my neighborhood. I want to see my neighbors get saved, I want to see the street I live on get saved and I want them all to be mentored by God honoring, God fearing men and women and go out and reach others in their sphere of influence. I want to move the needle in my city for Jesus Christ and pack the churches in my town with people on fore for Jesus Christ.

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
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus

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Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

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

Apologies (in advance) for the long introduction)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets get to the passage huh?

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

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

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

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

Point by point through this passage

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

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

Why it is encouraging to me

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

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

What is stopping you dear Christian?

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

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

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

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

TEACHING AND PREACHING THAT THE CHRIST IS JESUS

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

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

Would you eat before coming home for your dinner?

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Would you eat before coming home for your dinner?

1 Thessalonians 4:3 (ESV) For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8 Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Can I say this once to begin with, God wants his people to be pure. He designed a framework for us to work in because as he made us in the image of God, he knows our DNA, he knows what makes us tick, he knows what is inside of our heart. He sees the evil thoughts, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of our life. The crazy thing is – He loves us anyway!

Have you ever had that one friend that you baulked at being around, they drove your spirit down, they rubbed off on you, their humour was crass, you felt dirty after spending time in their presence. I can only imagine that God must be like with us, however, unlike us he has compassion on us and wants us to get better and become more like him.

Purity is important, the reason I write this is that sin starts always in the same way, it starts in the same way a flower does, it blossoms a seed, now the seed is your sinful thoughts, your desires, unless they are fed, watered they will wither and die (much like a flower) however if you feed it, it will grow.

Thoughts are thoughts; it is what you do with them that counts! You have one of two choices; you can dwell on them, crave them and then start sliding on that muddy slope to eventually begin to act upon them. Or you can extinguish the fire while it is still kindling. Coming from a state which is known for its forest wildfires, it is far easier to extinguish a smolder than a 15 acre fire.

What is love?

We have to be careful with the word “love” because in many cases, when we are fed things from the media machine that gives us our information, love actually means lust. Modern day love quits when the going gets tough, when the thrill is gone or when it just gets too tough.

Let me be clear, it can happen but does not happen often, we won’t often find love in our current culture called the “hook up” culture, where it is “free love” on steroids, it is all down to what floats your boat at the time, self-gratifying, self-pleasing, erotica where they may disguise it as seeing each other for dates, but it really is about what they do for each other’s lusts.

But I have never cheated, I am ok right?

Depends on your heart, Jesus states to the “righteous in deed” crowd called the Pharisees that if you “lust after a woman with your eyes, you have committed sin with her in your own heart”. This is not a Bill Clinton moment, there is no opportunity to ask us to “define what we mean by relations” It is cut and dried. It is down to your heart and what is currently churning through there.

We are asked to control our own body, (let me just say that women are not exempt even although it states “his”, women have lusts, desires and all that fun stuff to!) both internal and external, our eyes, our thoughts, our actions, our reproductive organs (yes I mean what you think I mean) which is the reason for my title “Would you eat before coming home for your dinner?”

What I mean by this is that God gave us those desires, they are natural desires. he also gave us a way to fulfill those desires by ordaining the union of marriage between one man and a woman in order that we may fulfil those needs in each other.

Lust like most sins is an appetite, if you are married and you know you have a good home cooked meal ahead of you, would you drive thru and get dollar menu knowing this will make you not eat what your loving wife has prepared for you? Why would you do likewise with your other appetites?

What about us singles? Are we off the hook?

No, not really. As singles you are commanded to be pure! If there is something that helps or empowers you to stumble, then don’t do it. If you can’t be left alone on the internet then do go on it, if there is a TV show that causes you to stumble then don’t watch it. If there is a book that inspires a thought life that will lead you to burn, then don’t do it.

TV shows and movies are dangerous if you fail in this area, you have to analyze why you watch some shows, is it because of a certain actor? If you are in a relationship and you start to compare your partner (spouse or dating) to that person, the real person will never shape up to the airbrushed person on the screen.

I always tend to avert my eyes (and I get teased for it) if there is something questionable on the screen, I want my wife to be the object of my affection and desires. I fail in so many other ways, I don’t need to add another to my pile of faults.

On Sunday, I was reminded that you can burn thirty years of good solid Godly ministry service with one indiscretion that is brought to light. People will not remember all of the things that you did to advance the kingdom of God, they will always see you due to that one act (or more if there was more)

We have not to be consumed with our lusts, so that it possesses us. We cannot be “called to holiness” if we are semi filled with our lusts. Light cannot dwell with darkness; there is no “Ying/Yang” in a hunger for holiness.

We are reminded at the end of this passage that should we continue in our sin, we set ourselves against God and not man! Personally, I find that a scary place to be! I would not wish to set myself against the one who created the earth and universe in 6 days. Makes me feel how small I am compared to God.

God will not be mocked, he knows our hearts, and he knows the ones who are trying to skirt his laws, to get as close to sinning but not actually sin. To push the envelope (usually in the name of exercising their “liberty in Christ”) and will have grace on those who genuinely try to live a life in holiness.

God bless and I hope this a blessing, a challenge and please comment with any views you may have
TGBTG
TTE