Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: Scotland

When football clubs become voices of political ideals and religion


When football clubs become voices of political ideals and religion

For my US readers I am talking about (Soccer) football…

This blog is a strange one coming from me as I do not usually go into current affairs (with the exception of a few posts about Scottish Independence) and I am even curious whether this post will even reach the blogosphere after I type it. The reason for this is because simply that this is not the reason why God pressed on my heart to use my writing and it is not the reason for this website. The reason for this website is to do bible studies and get some doctrine out there that will help people find their messiah Jesus Christ, not to discuss something that will probably blow over in five minutes.

That being said, I am a product of the West Central Scotland where the names “Rangers” and “Celtic” are much more than football clubs. There is a traditional mentality (right or wrong) that the two sets of customers for supporting of these Scottish Football institutions should be separated by denomination. That the Rangers are only for the Protestants (or Proddies in West Scotland slang) and Celtic was “the Catholic club”. (Which I find ironic as “Catholic in its truest sense means universal”)

Why did I write this?

Celtic are coming in for criticism for their display against the Israeli team Haepol Beer Sheva where many of their most vociferous fans held up Palestinian flags and have since fell foul of the UEFA rule that states the following…

“The European governing body’s rules prohibit the use of “any message that is not fit for a sports event, particularly messages that are of a political, ideological, religious, offensive or provocative nature”.”

And to use a phrase of my new homeland the USA “This is not their first rodeo” because they have been looked at EIGHT times and found to be wanting based on UEFA’s guidelines for supporter conduct.

I know the folks that want to diss Celtic at any costs will bring up past behaviors’ such as flying the flag of the Irish Republic, other dubious flags, singing songs of Irish history that would be classified as “rebel” or “dubious” really won’t help in this discussion and I know that people will want to draw a IRA-PLO link that may or may not be there but the nuts and bolts of it is Celtic are a business, a business that has had a drop in attendance due to Rangers being liquidated and starting again in the 4th tier.

They have had 5 years of the league not having much of a challenge and the company side of Celtic could really do with not alienating potential clients and there are many who do not have the stomach to hear terrorist songs or political displays. I know the guys in the Green Brigade could not care less about the plc’s bottom line but they would do well to remember the pre Fergus McCann days where the team was almost wound up with a crumbling stadium and mounting debts, Celtic were technically insolvent.

Fast forward to present and they now have 60,000 seats in a decent stadium that 95% of the seats offer a decent view. If they ever brought up the main stand to the same level as the rest of the stadium they would have around 80,000 (potentially more with the introduction of safe standing) and all the seats would then have an excellent view due to the offending support pillars no longer being needed. However that is unlikely to happen if the team continues in a league with no discernable title challenger. As stated previously they are not filling their current stadium so why spend millions building more seats.

It’s just banter!

Some will dismiss this as banter, such as “Argentina” chants when a Scottish team plays England but this really is not actually banter as there is a real conflict between the people who are loyal to the flag that they are taunting the Israelis with and the state of Israel. It is anti-Semitism at its core and if it was meant to be humorous then it missed the mark worse than an Anton Rogan clearance.

The “Celtic song” has the following lyrics…

“It’s a grand old team to play for, it’s a grand old team to sing, if you know your history”…

Let’s look at the history then, it is interesting they used the term “FREE PALESTINE” as this is blatantly incorrect because the state they wish to be recognized as a nation turned down the last opportunity to become a nation when it was offered by the UN in 1948. (The same time Israel became one) and the state of British Palestine actually was a flag which was sky blue and white halves with a gold Star of David. (I did not see any of them in the Green Brigade section?) Perhaps they do not “know their history?”

Celtic’s history – the poor man’s club

Celtic are known for championing causes and they have done many benevolent acts such as turning over their stadium for charity events and they were founded as a club to help those poor families in the East End of Glasgow, many of whom happened to be Irish and much like clubs in Dundee and Edinburgh, they became the club championed by the Catholic supporters and in some cases the Irish immigrants in those relevant cities. Unlike Rangers who would not proactively sign a Roman Catholic (and the first high profile signing was in 1989 when ex Celtic player Mo Johnston signed for Graeme Souness) conversely when Celtic had their greatest achievement in 1967 they had a few non-Catholics playing for them.

I really do not get the fascination with the Palestinian cause, I get that most of the Celtic fans are “cultural-Catholics” and couldn’t tell you the name of their local priest but even with the most basic of biblical knowledge they will know that God still has a special place for Israel so why are they actively choosing to go against the God that is a major part of the faith that they champion being such a big part of their identity?

Celtic or Rangers – Which one are you?

Actually neither! I come at it from a slightly unique point of view as I used to be employed by Celtic in the retail division and as hard as it may be to believe for the most ardent “Old Firm” fan but there was once upon a time someone who was known to be a “Proddy” and who used his “Sunday name” William and he answered the phone in most of Glasgow’s branches of the Celtic Shop and also the Mail Order line at some point in his Celtic career, and guess what – Celtic Park did not crumble! John Barnes was the manager around the time so the fans were preoccupied with what was unfolding (or not) on the green stuff in the middle of the stadium rather on me in the retail section.

Actually I only had an issue once and that was from two wee guys with Northern Irish accents and they were having issues spending a “Northern Bank” 20 pound note and it was a new girl on the cash desk who I had to approve this as Northern Irish money is legal tender in parts of the UK. (The girl had never seen one before so she called me over to make sure it was legit) and during the transaction they inquired why a Catholic would be called “William” to which I replied “Actually I am a Presbyterian” as I handed the kids their change, the look they gave me was priceless and symbolizes what happens if you project your prejudices on your kids.

To call myself a Protestant in those days of my life would be a slap in the face to those who set the reformation in progress, stalwarts like Knox, Wishart, Luther would not have recognized my life as “Christ like” and it was simply a cultural attachment more than an active church going/relationship with Jesus type of thing.

So how come you do a Christian blog now?

That has all changed and I am the worst type or “Proddy” as I am one of those annoying ones that is a “true believer” one that couldn’t really care what tribe you belong to on a Sunday as long as you truly worship the messiah you claim to represent. Really that is all that matters! There would be nothing to divide over if it wasn’t for that fundamental faith, if you are clinging onto that and not even attending the church you represent then you are not what you claim to be. Confusing stuff huh?

I moved passed the buildings of worship and found the reason behind it all and that was Jesus Christ, I worship at a new cathedral and that is the throne of grace. I don’t attend Scottish football anymore but that is because I live in the USA and my closest MLS franchise is some 200 miles away in Los Angeles.

You are a Zionist

Not as far as I know, I love the State of Israel because I believe that God is not finished with them yet, however many within that state have still to come to a knowledge of their Messiah. Do I think that Israel does everything right? Absolutely not as it is governed by men who make mistakes, there are faults on both sides in the Middle East conflict. I am not anti-Palestine, anti-Arab or anti-Islam because I believe that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) but that can be resolved by finding Jesus as your Messiah.

Something to say?

I welcome debate but comments like “IRA loving” Terrorist supporting” PLO loving” or other fun stuff like that really won’t add to debate and often times I won’t even let them through! Feel free to comment otherwise though!

Please make your own application as needed.

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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Trump vs Clinton/Sanders America gets the choice that it has chosen

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Trump vs Clinton/Sanders America gets the choice that it has chosen

This is an unusual blog for me to talk about such a non-Christian issue as the upcoming election. I try not to get involved in side issues like this because they usually only cause division but I feel that as a first generation immigrant from Scotland who really has no say in the ballot box, this is really the only outlet for me to have my voice so please bear with me.

First – a piece of humor!

Politics is a combination of the following

“Poly” – Many
“Tics” – Blood sucking creatures

Makes sense now huh?

What is my bias?

I am a Brit abroad, deep in California and commenting on a legal immigrant basis who if you knew my history of my paternal grandfather voting all of his days for the Socialist Labour Party and my maternal grandfather being an active campaigner for the Labour party and a member of the NUR (National Union of Railwaymen) my father was also a union representative in the steelworks where he worked, I too had a union card in places where I have worked in Scotland so your first inclination is that I would favor the DNC nomination. If that is the case then read on…

I am not in fact in favor of the DNC nomination as I am actually more Conservative in my political views in the US. In Scotland I campaigned for the Scottish National Party in an effort to secure Scottish Independence and in the US if I was polled based on the beliefs of what would work best for America as a country I would state that I was Republican in nature.

Let me say at this point that neither party is exclusively the party of God (Again I could be funny and quote Psalm 12 – “the wicked walk on every side”) nor does either party represent uniquely “Godly politics” or I understand why people dependent on conscience would favor either party and I am more commonly seeing politicians no longer catering to my demographic, as the world has got more worldly we see the parties following what the popular tide is. It is no longer stating what you believe would be best for the country; it is more about what sells at the box office and will get your elected. The bill of sale for the souls of those involved has long since been redeemed.

Why do I care in the first place?

Because this is my home, the home country of my wife and the love of my life and also the home country of my daughter. Whilst I cannot truthfully be called an “American” as I was born in Britain I regard myself as a “New American” because I pay taxes here, contribute here and I have a heart for seeing America become great again.

What do I mean by American becoming great again?

I am not criticizing I truly am not, however if we look introspectively we know that things could be better and speaking uniquely from a Christian point of view I doubt very much whether Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders will make all that much of a difference in our country because we as a nation need a revival where our hearts are turned to Jesus and I hold neither of these “political saviors” up as someone who will suddenly make America the greatest nation to live in again. There is a quote from the musical Evita that says “eventually we get the Government we deserve!” and you can make your own application from that!

I don’t want Trump and I don’t want Hillary!

As a Brit I really should start a “revokation of independence” petition due to your choice of nominees to be your leaders! (That was humor) However…

I am sorry Bernie but it is not likely you will get the DNC nod!

For me it is a two horse (or donkey) race for the White House and unless Donald Trump does something crazy like appoint Ted Cruz as his VP then I doubt the GOP will be united against him but let us look at the candidates one by one.

TRUMP – Not at all popular among many grass roots long term supporters of the GOP, this may be to his advantage or it may work against him, conversely some long term Republicans that I never in a million years would have thought were going to support him have thrown their weight behind Trump.

His supporters are caricatured as unknowledgeable, fed directly from Fox news and RINO’s (Republicans in Name Only) and has polarized a group called “NeverTrump” supporters. Folks who would normally have voted for a lamppost if it was up for nomination for the GOP ticket and should he win he would need to do so and convince those NeverTrump folks as well as a percentage of swing voters that he was the lesser of two evils between him and Clinton.

One thing is for sure, if you would rather “anyone but Clinton” then whilst he may not be your first choice, a vote for any other than Trump is most likely to result in a Clinton victory. She may very well win anyway but if the Republican base as a whole will not vote for the guy the party aligned themselves to then it will hand victory to the opponents because there is no organized replacement and if there remains none then it will split a vote and default victory will be a Democrat one.

CLINTON- Everyone knows the former First Lady and wife of the 42nd President William (Bill) Clinton and everyone knows her experience in a political setting in both State and National politics. She is not without controversy and she is a long standing “anti-Republican” and in my view would be the Republicans worst nightmare on Election Day should she be elected.

She knows the system, is very much part of Washington and also knows that as long as she debates above mediocre against Trump then the raging dumpster fire that is the split in the GOP vote will lead her to victory all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

Ironically if she does get convicted (highly unlikely I know) of wrongdoing through the email scandal before the elections would Bernie get a consolation prize of being allowed to run or would the nomination fall to Hillary’s VP nomination?

The problem as I see it

Is that I can no longer tell the difference between the Democrat and Republican parties! The Republicans are no longer the party that elected Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Regan (in beliefs or the fruit of those beliefs) has certainly not been great with their choice of nomination. I said in my last blog on this subject that if the GOP did not thin out the herd from the five candidates that were running at that point that a Trump victory was assured. Below is a quote from that article…

“Perhaps the Republican establishment are hoping for a solution to what I said in the second part of this article and a solution to the fact that there are just too many candidates and Trump is capitalizing on the fact that people who are similar in campaign stances (such as Carson and Cruz) have not banded together to get their people voting for the one ticket in order to try to win more delegates. In this scenario I would see the following pairings

Cruz/Carson and Rubio/Kasich

Then and only then would someone come close to matching the Trump bandwagon. In my view this should have been done at least a week before Super Tuesday to maximize the opportunity for the one who is progressing to send his voters over to his preferred candidate. I am being blunt because before Super Tuesday only Cruz or Rubio could catch him based on donations and impact in various states.”

They have elected candidates that are more similar than they are different and I have not seen anything like this since 1997 in the British Elections for the Westminster Parliament where Tony Blair swept to victory as the UK fell for “New Labour” when they decided to abandon their formally socialist principles and out Conservative the Conservatives. It certainly worked as they were seen as the most viable alternative but since then they have been more alike to the Conservatives than they have been separate. Perhaps it is not just an American phenomenon maybe it is worldwide?

I chose to abstain or “no” vote

That is your democratic right as an American (or qualified citizen) and I would not condemn you for doing so because it is your right to use your vote in whatever fashion you wish. I do say though that in such a tight race this may be the few times where your vote may actually count. I would say this would be the same as when you change to Libertarian or Green from GOP or DNC as neither of those two parties really have a shot of getting the top job so you may be letting a candidate that you disagree more with getting in.

The choice as I see it

Is either Trump or Clinton, it is down to which one you despise least and honestly I see the dilemma because they are certainly not my choices and the DNC will favor Clinton because for the last 8 years we knew this was coming however the GOP have done this to themselves and due to that it may find itself unelectable in this election and America needs a balance. It needs a strong Republican Party (or at least a Conservative party) that will stand up for America. I hope this is not the beginning of the end for the GOP.

The only way to “make America great” again

Is TRUE REVIVAL, America needs to do what it says in 2nd Chronicles 7:14 and “humble themselves and pray, then God will see from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land” We need redemption in this land, a true turning from our sins and accepting of the free gift that is our salvation through Jesus Christ and a true repentance from the wrongs we have done. We need to pray individually, as families, as communities and as cities from the lowest paid man in the city to the most affluent business man. From the homeless man who has nothing to the President who has everything, we need to all get right with the Lord and then we will become the greatest nation in the world again. The verse quoted is below…

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

For me…that is waaaaay more important than who America elects to be the 45th President.

In closing

I am truly grateful I am not allowed to vote, I pray for you America because I know this is temporary and regardless of who is in the Oval Office I know that my King is Jesus.

God bless you all
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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

Why Christians should J’adore Paris

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Matthew 5:4 (ESV) “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

It has been quite a week hasn’t it, last Friday we learned of multiple assaults on the French capital Paris that were attributed to a terrorist group called ISIS. Personally having been there I know that it is a beautiful, vibrant and a city that is very proud of whom they are and it is a city that is no stranger to being attacked in such a violent manner.

As Christians it is difficult not to get caught up in the idea that “the perpetrators must pay” and “revenge is the only option” and whilst I am not surprised nor unhappy that France chose to retaliate within 48 hours and I would never criticize their national policy, I do feel that as Christians it is as the verse above states our job to comfort the mourning.

This attack was not just an attack on France it was an attack on our way of living. It was a reminder and a reinforcement that we do have people out there who do wish to harm us and wish us harm. As Tony Blair stated on the day of 9/11 when he said “We are all Americans today” I would say that “Je suis Parisiens” (We are Parisian) And for me that is why it has hit us on a level that we have not been hit since that fateful day in September 2011 and made us remember how we felt on that day.

Jesus spoke the words above as part of a greater sermon called “The Beatitudes” where Jesus said some words that were quite revolutionary at that time of Roman occupation where the mourning were not comforted, the meek were not inheriting the earth, the merciful did not always receive mercy. Jesus spoke words directly from heaven and touched men’s hearts in a way that empty religion could not. We as Christians should do likewise.

This suffering is temporary

Romans 8:18 (ESV) For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Paris you have been given a sucker punch right to the gut of the heart of your country and I pray for you and yours at this time. They have struck right at the heart of a city that was just beginning its weekend at the core of national pride, the national stadium where the beloved “Les Bleus” were playing an old foe Germany in an association football match to warm the team up before the big games in the same city the following year.

I grieve for those people who lost loved ones in the 129 souls that perished that night between the various places that attacks took place. My prayer is that they knew Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and I pray with condolence and sympathy for you oh loved ones that you may find comfort in the “great comforter”.

I take solace in that I believe there will have been more people praying for France this week than at any other time since WW2. I stated on my Twitter feed this week the truth that is pictured above that “The last time France had so many allies was WW2” and despite the great sufferings you experience and grief is a real heart wrenching thing to go through, but there is Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ and I pray for the nation of France to turn to Jesus at this dark time.

I shared this week on my Facebook wall the incredible testimony of my brothers at Calvary Chapel Paris who met for a service two days after the attacks and they did not just have an increase in numbers but in the fragility of death being so close it allowed people to examine where their faith was. It really made people look at the truth of Paul’s writings in 1st Corinthians 15…

1st Corinthians 15:54 (ESV) When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

I would urge you that behold now is the accepted time and now is God’s day of Salvation, (2nd Corinthians 6:2) and if you are not assured of your place in heaven I would urge you to either contact me to discuss or please let a pastor or minister know and we would be happy to talk you through accepting Jesus into your heart and being born again.

He heals the broken hearted

Psalm 147:3 (ESV) He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

And this is the truth of the whole Bible that there is no hurt, there is no valley to deep, to depths in which we can plunge to that would not be able to be healed by God. I serve a big God that created us in his image, knows our innermost parts before we were knitted in our mothers wombs one who cares about you regardless of the wrong you have done or how far you think you have travelled to God, he is willing to have a relationship with you, that is why Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins.

This message is for the Parisian as much as it is for the ISIS terrorist that you today could be in heaven if you put your faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus said in the Gospel of John chapter 14 verse 6 that “he is the only way to heaven” no one comes unto the father (God) except through him. I pray for a true revival in the city in a movement that moves hearts and minds and the nation repents and follows Jesus Christ. I read the following in 2nd Chronicles 7…

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

And this is my prayer, an abundance of prayer in Paris and a healing of the land! Please know my Parisian friends I do grieve with you and lament that this had to happen to you and as a Scotsman I have a special affinity towards the French due to our shared royalty and history. Most Frenchmen I have met have been good sorts and a credit to your country and my overall opinion of your country is favorable due to time spent there and people met. I have a great love personally for Paris as a city and have my own personal feelings about the attackers.

To any Muslims looking in

Jihad is not the answer! ISIS is not the answer! Jesus Christ is! He is the Son of the one true God and he spoke about how to recognize his true disciples and that is “if you had love for one another” (John 13:35) There are no virgins awaiting you in Paradise and you do not have to kill infidels in order to be assured of celestial paradise. I would love to speak to you regarding a relationship with Jesus. I pray for you and grieve that you have not found him as your Savior.

I pray this article was a blessing, feel free to share, comment or like on whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

WE ARE EXETER – The City Harmonic Concert October 29th 2015

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WE ARE EXETER – The City Harmonic Concert October 29th 2015

Those crazy Canadians

If you ever get the chance or opportunity to go see the band “The City Harmonic” then I would advise that you please do, they are much more than four “Weird Canadians” (Their words and not mine) from Hamilton, a place that is as well known for its steel industry as it is it’s football team (Tigercats) and based on the testimony I heard last night this formed a big part of the history  of why they were touring North America with their “We Are” tour, and in the latest leg of this tour when last night they visited my home town in Exeter, CA.

Back to the Great Commission

There are not many bands that come through here (Small population of just over 10,000) so we have to give much kudos to Michael Guzman of the Church of God, Exeter for being able to make Exeter one of the stops on this great tour and for the band for making the tickets so affordable. On a personal level this confirmed so many things that God has been speaking to me that we should as Christians be working together for the glory of God and fulfilling Matthew 28 and going out and making preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ the number one priority. Michael was keen from the start that this be Exeter’s event and not a Church of God event and all of the relevant publicity spoke of “Churches together” and I find this great and I will explain the reasons why below.

Unified evangelism

The Gospel of Jesus should be brought forward in a unit as opposed to a pincer movement! I know that is Army terminology but there is an element of truth in the fact that there is “strength in numbers”. If that means further ecumenicalism then I would have to say to those who are scared of working with those outside of their particular flavor of Christianity the words of Christ himself when the disciples warned of someone who was doing the work of Christ in Jesus name but was not part of their particular group…

Luke 9:49 (ESV) John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

Reinvent the wheel?

People have issues in doing joint projects due to minor differences in theology. Here is tge thing, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time, many churches will be doing similar things. Let us look at it from a non-Christian point of view; a non-Christian does not understand the subtle differences between Baptist theologies or they couldn’t pick a Lutheran out of a lineup or a Calvinist from a Catholic and all they know is that it is “Christian” in religion and in definition and they will not care what branch of Christianity that this viewpoint belongs to and will often times use something a denominational leader says as something to beat the whole of Christianity over.

Cheap as chips?

Let’s use an analogy that is a little fun but gets the point across well. Let us replace the denomination name with flavors of chips. So rather than stating I am a Baptist or Presbyterian, we will state I am Salt and Vinegar or I am Barbeque, which by definition are all potato chips but again they are different flavors. (A good question to ask would the “cult of potato chips be Cheetos or Funyins eaters?) Would we split over a chip flavor as easily as we split over a preferred order of service on a Sunday or in the case of Seventh Day Adventist the day of the week that you prefer to go to church?

Align with those on the same mission

At this point I would have to state that it is important to align ourselves with people who are on the same mission as us and not “join forces for the sake of joining forces if the ones you seek to align with are not on the same mission as you” and I have to confess that I am a big fan of the Apostle Paul, a man who started off his journey persecuting Christians to the point of death as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus, then he had a blinding light and was brought to task by his Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) and then spent much of his written work appealing for unity in the body. A favorite writing of mine is as follows…

1st Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)  I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

You could say the same truth lies at the door of the modern Western church as it did when Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. Bear with me for a second and you will see where I am going with this, replace the word “Paul”  or “Apollos” with your brand of church for example “I am a Methodist” or “I follow Calvin” and you will see how relevant this is to the modern day believer, we are instructed to be of the “same mind and judgment” and let us do that, let us preach the gospel straight from the pages of the word and let the Holy Spirit impact the lives of the people we touch. Let the revival start with me, with you the reader. Let us strengthen our homes, let us be like Joshua and let there not be a decision “As for me and my house WE WILL serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)

Families on and in mission

Here is where the gloves come off and we need to read the truth that we need to be families ON mission and families IN mission. Please know that we are not perfect and we will fail, we will sin, we will fall and we will fail but we will love! John 13:35 states that this “is how we will be identified as his disciples, by our love for one another” This could be as simple as having people over, this could be mentoring people in the word, this could just be as simple as doing your job to the best of your ability and being a Christian in the workplace in every transaction you do. There will be times where the mission of Christ is strong and there are times that you have to focus more on the family but we should be “working at it all to the Lord heartily and not to a human master” (Colossians 3:23) We have to use the skills that God has blessed us with and use it all to the glory of God. My wife is a gifted musician and leads our house in worship on a Sunday evening and I love that she has the heart to do so, I know that I am stronger when I am doing what I am called to do by the Lord, I have the gifts of encouragement, teaching and mentoring.

What about the concert?

Getting back to the concert, it was beautiful to see the great local choir made up from many local churches, great to hear of the pastors and leaders who met together to coordinate to help move the needle for Jesus in our small community and was great to see the three pastors who came up and prayed over the community that this not just be a concert but actually be a small part of an ongoing movement to spark revival in the City of Exeter and beyond. And that is my heart, like these Canadians I come from a “Steel town” in that beautiful land called Scotland and my first job was an apprentice welder in a place very close to the original Hamilton in Scotland. I recognized the place that they came from and the heart that they had to get the churches and the people of God together and get all of us Christians pointing in the same way as regards to evangelizing our local area. When Jesus stated the great commission and gave us the task to “go out unto the world and preach the gospel” there was no caveat that stated “only if they have the same eschatology or hermeneutics”. The music was wonderful and most definitely a joyful noise to our Lord. The words were impactful and certainly pierced any remaining hardness in my heart and swept away any inhibitions that I had about being on mission in my small town. I genuinely felt God speaking to me and it was a true oasis in the desert as it was a break from real life and a good opportunity to have that mountaintop experience and realign priorities that may have got messed up otherwise. The question I have is why are we not on that mountaintop more? Let us get back on point with what God is trying to do in our lives and be that blessing to others and let the Lord replenish us from that stream of endless living water.

What flavor of Christ are you?

I find it such a shame that we lead into conversations about our faith by stating our particular branch of Christianity (and example would be I am a Presbyterian) before we identify ourselves as Christians and because we have become so entrenched in our differences we do not even think that the church across the road may be willing to pull our resources and do a community outreach. We have to start thinking in terms of changed hearts as opposed trying to get people in the doors on a Sunday. These are words of lamentation and I am working through my own issues and my own baggage that I have self-loaded in this area.

Quantity or quality?

Personally if I was a pastor, I would rather have 40 committed, connected family like believers in my church than 400 folks who barely knew each other and do not operate in any small groups, individual ministry or mentoring in order to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” because that 40 who are reaching out and being missional, teaching the converts and then sending them out to witness to others will be much more efficient in the work of the ministry in the area where God has planted them. I love small groups, so much so that I have one in my house on a Sunday evening, we go between 3 and 17 dependent on what night it is. We follow the example of our Messiah Jesus who had a small group of 12 disciples which he invested in, he mentored for three years and sent them out to change the world, as his disciples we should do likewise.

Closing benediction

My prayer is that you read this and get excited to partner with me to change my small town; I would still like to partner with you if you live in a different town. My priority is revival in three places…

My home – I want to be like Joshua, my house will serve the Lord
My neighborhood – I want to be a light to my neighborhood and preach the gospel to whomever God sends my way
My town – Exeter is a lovely place but imagine Exeter on fire for Jesus? Wow what a thought and I want to be a good and faithful servant to the mission the Lord has given me.

Exeter is where I live now and I would go so far as to say it is my home town, Scotland will always be where I grew up but the Lord has given me Exeter as a mission field. I have no idea why I landed here except through God’s will but I know there are people who share my desire to make a change in my city.

One thing I know is that my Christian brothers and sisters in Exeter is that we are more similar than we are different, it is right that we should be praying for our brothers and sisters regardless of where they congregate on a Sunday, we all have the same Savior and WE ARE ONE. WE ARE ALL ON THE SIDE OF JESUS and WE ARE EXETER.

I pray this was a blessing, an exhortation and I have no desire to lead a movement, simply be a motivator or facilitator in moving the needle towards helping my town find Jesus Christ. If you find this a blessing, like, share or comment on this article or feel free to publicize this on whatever social media platforms you use. I love you all and want to see my small city on fore for Jesus.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

See also

A vision of clarity for the church (part 1)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 2)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 3)

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Judgment on False Teachers

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Judgment on False Teachers

Thank you for reading this 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 three of the first chapter of Jude.

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude is keen to get to the point of why he was writing the recipient of this letter. We learn from the first sentence that the people who are receiving this letter are…

1) Beloved
2) Brothers in the faith (common salvation)
3) To contend for the faith
4) Have caution against ungodly people
5) To know the reason why they were ungodly
6) Having reaffirmation who the Lord was

Jude starts the letter “Beloved” he affirms that the folks who are receiving this letter are people that he is writing to in love. The content of this short letter deals with some pretty heavy stuff so this was not your average “church newsletter” and packs quite a theological punch. This is why Jude reminds them in the first instance that they are “beloved” and when you are counselling people it is always fruitful to establish that what you say is done in love.

Those of you who know me personally know that I do a bible study in my home and my wife brought up a wonderful point when she said (and I am paraphrasing) “when she is asked for advice she has the choice of ‘making someone happy’ or giving them ‘good biblical advice’ and Jude does the latter, he is confident that the people who are receiving this letter will take this advice from him.

We go on to read “although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation” which tells us the reader that the letter he was planning to write did not happen and events at the destination of the letter necessitated a different subject matter to be written about. Reading between the lines this would be why Jude started the thought with the word “Beloved” and tells us that Jude may have been writing this with a heavy heart or to say another way, this may have been a letter that he was not looking forward to writing.

We have all been in this situation where we have had to be honest with people on a subject matter that may not go down to well. What I see from this letter is that Jude was a man of great biblical integrity and he was willing to speak the truth at the expense of feelings. Today’s church could do with a dose of this as we tend to be “seeker centric” or wishing to court “popular opinion” and our churches tend to be numbers driven and programs driven as opposed to allowing God’s word and the Holy Spirit to change people’s lives.

This letter may be small but it is a dynamic letter in the form of a sermon. Both on this blog and in person I have shared in the past that I spent over six months in this letter with a previous pastor and due to that time I rediscovered how to study the bible for the maximum benefit to my Christian walk. It is the word of God and God working through people that changes people’s lives. I was won over to the Christian faith because I saw the love of those around me, and because I knew I was accepted and loved, I took what they had to say about the errors in my life in the way that it was intended to be received.

I am grateful that Jude was sensitive to the Holy Spirit and took the “road less travelled” both in my personal development and the fact this letter made it into canonical scripture tells me that it will have impacted many more people that the intended recipients. The lesson here is that no matter how small your service in the Lord may be, it could have the profoundest effect on someone and may change the course of families for generations to come.

I am a product of this, because of the love, correction and exhortation I received at that Calvary Chapel in Glasgow, Scotland my life drastically changed (for a fuller account please check out my “testimony” page) and this helped change the life not just of me, but it helped my marriage and now my daughter is growing up in a house where Jesus Christ is of the upmost importance. That all came from a wee missions church that averaged between 20-40 people in Scotland’s largest city.

Jude goes on to say what the new subject matter is “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” And from this we understand that Jude was writing to a church (or assembly) that was on the verge of splitting due to internal strife’s and divisions. Jude is preaching against practices (or doctrines) that were toxic in that church. I am sure many of you could make modern day applications based on individual experiences.

The word contend also means to strive, to agonize, to really reach for it is in the context of an athletic competition where all competitors are extracting every last ounce of everything they have to struggle for that prize, likewise our Christian struggle is continuous and that contending for the faith may not be a one-time deal.

Jude starts this thought with advising the necessity to write and the written correspondence was an appeal for them to contend for the faith. This is obviously written to the leaders of that assembly and the content alludes that it was for general distribution and we are aware that Jude wishes to get the doctrine straight before he deals with more “secondary issues”. I love this as Jude is showing great wisdom as this is not always how we problem solve in the fellowship today and it is to the detriment of our fellowships.

Jude writes to believers and we know this because of the term “common salvation” is used; it is common that they have this in common, that they are likeminded in who they believe is the Messiah and who they have put their faith in. Their Salvation is what they have in common and they have understood and believed that which was said in John 14:6…

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

We all get saved in the same way, there is no VIP lounge or Captains table for people who earn a certain amount or have been that better a Christian. It all starts with brokenness and individual contrition as well as a desire to no longer be at odds with your creator. Jesus stated that you “must be born again” you have to make that individual commitment and despite how much I love my daughter, my brother or whomever I cannot be saved for them. If it isn’t a “common salvation” then I would go so far as to say that it isn’t salvation at all.

There is contention that is true, but if we do not do what Jude does and set a standard for the theology and get the “doctrinal ducks in a row” then we solve nothing by just solving the individual contention and “smoothing things over” We have to keep the main thing, the main thing. The reason and purpose for the letter is firstly correcting the doctrine, and Jude understands the importance of getting this basic, but yet foundational part of the assembly correct. One cannot underestimate the importance of getting the doctrine correct especially as it relates to Jesus. We have also to be careful who we allow to dominate the doctrinal conversation. Jude goes on in verse 4 to say the following…

V4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

It is worrying that these people have crept in and crept in un-noticed, if they were that ungodly then surely they would have been noticed and they were the classic “wolves in sheep’s clothing” to give the folks in the fellowship the benefit of the doubt, they may have been fine actors, they may have not been picked up as quickly because they were likeable or they may just have been able to be a “man to all the people” and let folks hear what they wanted to hear in order to “fit in”.

People like the folks who are “man for all the people” or accepted due to “likability” are difficult to deal with from a personal respect as people do tend to be respecter of persons towards those folks and personally I have been passed over for ministry due to situations like this and it was hard when it all went south. (As inevitably it does)  Jude when he is talking about these people he is not talking about the “Sunday only Christians” who turn up like sheep and don’t do a great deal, he is talking about the guys who are involved and are like a nuclear bomb going off in the heart of the fellowship because they are in the “in crowd”

These guys may look “picture perfect” but they disregard God on the inside, the advice they give sounds Godly but leads people away from God and they go as far as to deny the messiah himself Jesus Christ. Like the analogy I gave before, the truth will win out, it will eventually go south. I say with no boasting that I have seen quite a few “likely lads” that were rated by men to do great things and they all went the same way. Most aren’t even attending any fellowship, this is why it is important to be honest with who you are and what you are, church is not a career and it is not a ladder to climb, your ambition maybe delaying someone who is called to something of you barge in to get “a job” or “a position”.

We read that these men had both doctrinal problems as well as moral problems; they really were a cancer on the fabric of a thriving church. They should be in the gallery learning, being counselled and helped instead or at the front making a mockery of the leadership and leading people away and astray. This is not to say that we should not show grace to those who error, Jude is not stating this in the slightest and what Jude is stating that if the heart remains corrupt and unrepentant then there is a bigger problem at hand. These people were not simply in honest error, they were leading folks away with deliberate malice. We have to be careful when we use the comparison of how great God’s grace is as opposed to the corruptness and wickedness of an unrepentant human heart. This is why they go on to deny who the messiah is, we are not specifically told how they did it but we do know that they did. These people need prayer as God will give them an opportunity to repent, although based on what we read here I have no idea if they will or not.

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.
SDG
TGBTG
TTE

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

The Law, The Legalists and The Ungodly

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

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

Let’s start in verse eight of the first chapter of First Timothy.

The Law is good but use it lawfully

Leaders have to be careful about who they allow to do the ministry of God in our assemblies. But more on that should the LORD tarry long enough for me to do Chapter 2. Paul continues his thought in verse 8.

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

Paul is keen to advise that the law that God gave is still a good law, it was created by a perfect God and was and is and is to come God’s perfect standard. There is nothing wrong with the law itself, the law is purposed with exposing the wrongdoing of the heart and shining a light on the personal sin of the sinner.

Paul writes to the Galatian church in chapter 3…

Galatians 3:11 (ESV) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—

And also…

Galatians 3:24 (ESV) So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian,

Legalism or loving conviction?

The law was designed to convict the heart of the wrongdoing person, it was never meant as a club to beat someone with in a legalistic fashion. We are commanded to use the law lawfully. Yes, by all means hold your brother accountable in a loving way if he has fallen into error and correct doctrine and apostasy, but don’t use it as a substitute for walking by faith or use it to keep showing us righteousness.

Personally, if I was on the receiving end of such legalism and law clubbing, I would lose confidence in my faith very quickly and begin to question if the salvation that was done by Jesus on the cross was in fact enough for me to be saved. I know that it is but the standards set by God in the law were there to point to the one who would live a life according to what the Father said the law was.

I said this was a continuation in thought as when we looked at “sound doctrine” I touched on “sinful actions” and here again we see that the two are conjoined. If we do not have our doctrine straight it is far easier to fall into actions that will be problematic.

Really we have to have balance; I am not stating that we should not have standards, or that Gods standards are not correct, we have to live a good life according to biblical standards but this does not make us justified before God, save us from our sin or get us to heaven.

Who are the ungodly?

Paul then gives quite a list of types of people that would fall into this category. I will be contrary to many commentators and not spend much time on the list. The lost is somewhat self-explanatory. Many folks have used this passage for their own ends to prove a point against whatever sin they were preaching against that week.

Paul’s list is as follows…

1) Those who strike their fathers and mothers
2) For murderers
3) The sexually immoral
4) Men who practice homosexuality, 
5) Enslavers
6) Liars
7) Perjurers
8) Whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine

Paul lists the top 7 sins that folks were practicing in that area and in that time. He also leaves the last category for folks who do things that are contrary to a life lived in sound doctrine.

Paul is wise in doing so as people will try to use guidelines like this as a means to justify their wicked actions. (Well, what I am doing is not on Paul’s bad list) and this would be a mistake as we are approaching this with the wrong heart and trying to avoid repercussions as opposed to willingly serving and keeping ourselves clear of these things to glorify God.

Loving legalism

We have to be careful to not be in love with our own legalism as if the actions we do will justify us as much as the grace of God. It is important to not do these things and not be tainted by the world, but we can turn our actions into a semi-false doctrine of its own by claiming that it in some way will give us holiness.

Stay where you are planted

Paul lists what was going on in Ephesus and lists common behaviors and lists why it is important that Timothy remains where God has planted him regardless of the difficulty in his current mission. It does remind me of when Jesus spoke on the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13…

Matthew 13:1 (ESV) That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.”

You can judge for yourself what type of ground Ephesus was, it certainly was not fertile soil, there was some growth but there was also a lot of the culture influencing the church and even today that is an area of concern in many churches. (I would be interested if you would state what seed you think the Ephesian church is in the comments and why)

It is easy when things get difficult to try to seek an easier place to serve the LORD. I write this as a man who is currently in a foreign country. I was born in Scotland and live in California in the USA. The only “service” I do for the LORD is a small bible study where I open up my house to allow folks to discuss the bible on a Sunday evening. (Obviously I write this blog and I am a father and husband)

I have found it harder than I would back home to have opportunities to serve as people simply don’t know me and coming from a missions church background where it was all hands on deck, I miss being in the thick of serving regularly. It would be easy to go somewhere else, but the truth is I haven’t been called elsewhere yet. (If it ever happens at all) Leaving would be contrary to God’s plan for this part of my life and I may miss out or delay valuable lessons God has for me.

Legalism versus the gospel of glory

We spoke on legalism and the replacement of real righteousness, legalism or works based faith cannot bring you one centimeter closer to God, but the “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted” can. Paul saw himself as a keeper of the flame, a guardian if you will of that true gospel that it be preserved, not perverted and kept the true word of God. He wanted the truth to remain the truth, untainted by error, what a mission!.

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

Double the volume in Dundee, Scotland

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Double the volume in Dundee, Scotland

In today’s Scottish newspaper the Daily Record we read about the Scottish university “The University of Dundee” introducing a “2 Pint glass” in order to reduce waiting times at the University bar. Let’s look at this further.

Ephesians 5:11 (ESV) Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible,14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we read the warning to “not get drunk with wine” because that is “debauchery” and I would tend to agree with this.

Where are you coming from?

If you have read my ” testimony ” page you will understand where I am coming from on this one. I have had in my past a very unhealthy attitude towards alcohol and as embarrassing as it is to admit one’s faults on such a public setting, I was and remain to this day a recovering alcoholic.

My “wild day’s” were between the ages of 18-26 and I did untold damage to my internal organs with my copious consumption of alcoholic beverages. Please do not think that because I write this article from California, USA that I have no concept of what the drinking culture is like in the UK (or more specifically Scotland).

The reason I write that is that you may dismiss the article after seeing the ethos of what this website is about and skimming the headline as some “out of touch temperate bible thumper” with an axe to grind over the “demon drink”. That is not the case.

Please drink responsibly

My issue was not one of supply and demand but one of greed and lack of moderation. If I had the money then I was out on the town. If I had the opportunity to shovel a two pint tumbler down my gullet I would be dead now, no questions asked.

The problem in Scotland is that there are two camps of drinkers. Let’s look at them both:

Responsible imbibers

A rare breed I assure you, the ones who take one or two beers and do not damage themselves or others. Usually are folks who are into home brewing and craft beers. This is not really the crowd this news are aiming for. This crowd usually don’t drink their liver to oblivion and usually remember the nights,  the tastes of the beers and would not thank you for basing volume over quality.

Binge drinkers

That’s the category I fell into (sometimes literally) where I would drink 12-14 UK pints a night, lose hours, nights and in some case have very few recollections of the night outs that I had.

The crowd I hung around with, we were all the same, drinking alcohol was just another way to show off and be a pre version of “YOLO”. I ran with rugby fans, football (soccer) and NFL fans and a large part of what we did was done in bars.

I was the crowd this is aimed at and I did lament when when I did this that the largest glass I could get was a pint (568ml) but I know that if I was drinking a 2 Pint glass my night would be over in an a few hours.

For this crowd, quantity over price price is king, you have places like Weatherspoons and the Pound Pint bar in Manchester England is the crowd they are going after.

Poor Students

It is a student bar, it I was known for cheap beer, up and coming bands and a clientele mainly of medical students who will have less beer money than your average adult in Dundee. Certainly drinking in there would be less expensive than drinking on the Perth Road or the City Centre. (Even although I am a Glaswegian, I support one one of the city clubs called Dundee United)

Having been there, all I can say is it is a bar, beer is bought, beer is consumed, sometimes there is music, sometimes not, people drink a lot and sometimes make bad decisions there. The language you here is much the same as any other bar in the city. Really I am not singling the University for criticism for selling beer, I just question if this is a good idea for the well being of their students.

Sober for a decade,  what are my thoughts on alcohol?

I am very much a live and let live person and as long as you are not doing it to get drunk or buzzed then I have no issue with you having a beer.

Do I do it? I don’t as I have had an issue prior. As I don’t drink alcohol I will not hang about in bars anymore because let’s face it, drunk people are annoying when you are sober!

Although I have chosen abstinence,  I would never preach that it it’s the only way to go, I still get tempted at things like family parties or formal occasions but have learned that it is best for all concerned if I do not.

One of the reasons I don’t is that I never know if I was going to cause others to stumble, you never know what someone’s weaknesses are and we absinthe told in the book of Romans to not stumble our weaker brother.

Other addictions, but I have the odd beer.

People with a personality that is weak to addiction in one area are more likely to stumble in others. If you have had issues with drugs then I would choose alcohol very carefully (if at all)

I say that as i have seen folks switch one addiction for another, really there is no sense in this as they are no better off than they would have been if they had stayed on the drugs. (Perhaps more legal in the eyes of the law)

Everyone needs a crutch

I would agree with that! We were not built to handle the stresses of this life alone. We were also not meant to use artificial stimulants like drugs or alcohol.

You see, we were created to love one another and to worship God. Check out our “Creation” and “Gospel” sections If you don’t know what i mean.

You have hope and life has meaning!  JESUS CHRIST died for your sins and wants you to spend eternity in heaven, you have a choice, choose God or not.

I don’t agree with that!

Then please comment below and let your feelings be known. Also if you agree or disagree, feel free to share this link, I am keen to get feedback from all walks of people.

I pray this article was a blessing, please share, like and comment below as the LORD leads you.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Six – December 6th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day 6 – December 6th

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

In the last few days we have looked at the genealogy of the Messiah and we have found that Jesus Christ meets the criteria having being a descendent of both Abraham and Isaac, now we look at the prophetic claim that he will be of the descendent line of Jacob. We find this in the book of Numbers in chapter twenty four.

Numbers 24:17 (ESV) I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.

We know this messiah as Jesus of Nazareth, who is called the Christ. The person speaking is Balaam and we read that he could “see him, but not now”. He knew that he was coming but not in a time that he could see. Jesus is called the following:

1) A Star
2) A Scepter

Now a star is bright, it illuminates the darkness; we learn this in the creation account. A star is a glorious light, sent from afar to give light and direction where otherwise it would be dark and desolate. What a picture of a coming messiah!

The scepter is the stick with a ball that you see in places like Royal palaces, such as Buckingham Palace in England, castles where the royal ascent is present, such as Edinburgh Castle in Scotland where the Scottish Crown Jewels are present. (Can you tell I am British?)

The last place you will see a scepter is the place where decisions are made. In the British House of Parliament, between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition there is a scepter, a sign that what they are discussing in this chamber has the blessing of the current monarch of the land.

So you see, the scepter is a symbol of the messiah’s majesty, of his regal authority. (Much like it is in the UK, the Queen will not sit in every debate, she will merely open and close the parliament and her aides will leave the scepter as a symbol of her patronage of the power held within) It gives us a picture of the ruling Messiah that is Jesus Christ.

This verse goes on to say that he would go on to defeat all of the territories beyond Israel. This will happen in the book of Revelation. In the messiah’s first coming he was the suffering sacrifice, he will return to signal the end of the world. This part of the prophesy is still to come.

Who was Jacob?

In the book of Genesis we read about Jacob and his brother Esau, let’s look at Genesis chapter twenty five.

Genesis 25:19 (ESV) These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” 24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom. ) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

I love the story of Jacob because it is both glorious and tragic at the same time. It is glorious because God chose him to continue the line even although he was not the first born (as was the custom at that time) and verse 23 advises that “the older shall serve the younger”. But all too soon it turns tragic.

I am encouraged though by the tragic nature as Rebekah and Jacob did not learn from Abraham and Sarah trying to “help God along”. It seems that there is a faith fault in this DNA strand. This is encouraging to me as I am a mess up a lot. My DNA strand is faulty through sin! I suffer from not trusting God enough. As good as I may read on here, I will be honest and say I don’t get it right all the time. Jacob was not chosen because he was perfect, (or Esau because he was worse than his brother) Paul confirms this in the letter to the Roman church in chapter nine:

Romans 9:10 (ESV) And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

So between verses 30-34, Esau sells all that he has and all that he is going to have for a bowl of stew and some bread. (My wife makes awesome soup but i have never done that!) But the sin does not end there. Let’s look at what happens when Isaac dies:

Genesis 27:1 (ESV) When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” 5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.” 14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. 18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed! 28 May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” 30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. 39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. 40 By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.” 41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45 until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” 46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.  If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

The nuts and the bolts of this is that Jacob being the flawed man that he is he decided to con his father into believing that he was his brother in order to steal his brothers blessing. I have no idea whether the father was ever aware that Esau had sold his birthright or not, but he was certainly expecting Esau to come in and be blessed.

When we deceive, often times we have to add deceit on top of deceit in order to cover up the original deceit. How much easier would it have been had Jacob just allowed God to fulfil his promise to him? The real encouragement to us all is that regardless how we mess up, we can still be used by God. Jacob was eventually called Israel and the nation of the same name came through him. They were literally the children of Israel.

So where do we find this genealogy in the New Testament?

We see this in the beginning of the book of Matthew chapter one.

Matthew 1:1 (ESV) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,

Jesus qualifies through the genealogy of his literal mother Mary as well as his legal guardian Joseph. How very God that he made sure there was no doubt that Jesus was indeed his boy. Again God is the God of keeping his promises, regardless how much we mess up! That to me is the encouragement in these verses.

I haven’t conned my brother out of money, I haven’t stolen the family fortune, but I have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 6:23) but I am forgiven for what I have done and you can be too. The answer is Jesus and co-incidentally he is also the reason for these articles and also the reason for this Christmas season.

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