Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Does God give only good gifts? – Matthew 7:7-11

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Pic – Daddy daughter date circa 2014

Does God give only good gifts? – Matthew 7:7-11 – 07/01/2016

Where am I going with this?

This is top of my mind this week due to my child having her birthday; it is a bookmark of a reminder of another year of blessings with the cutest kid I know and lamentations that I see some of me in her. It also reminded me of a teachable moment that happened at a birthday party five years ago. I want also to look at the gospel of Matthew as the text for this verse…

Matthew 7:7 (ESV) “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Imagine the scene…

You are at a birthday party for a toddler who appears not to be enjoying the birthday party and especially seems not to be enjoying getting gifts, now as someone who is older this puzzles you because at your parties that is the highlight. Let’s look at it from the toddler’s point of view…

You are now the toddler and this party has been a stressful affair, everyone your parents know has handled you, cuddled you, loved on you and despite the highlight of having ice cream and cake they are now playing this weird game with you where they all sit around you in a circle, take pictures of you, your dad is milling around with a video camera and now you mother and grandmother are playing this weird game with you where they make you rip off the paper of toys and once it is unwrapped they take it off you and make you unwrap another toy, which they again take away from you, you feel frustrated and have no other option but to scream and cry.

Was I really abusing my child?

Before someone calls CWS on me, the child was unwrapping birthday presents and they were all played with at some point in the shelf life of the toy. But from the child’s perspective this was torture, she saw something fun that seemed appropriate for her to touch and then her parents didn’t allow her to do what she wanted and in some cases blocked her from carrying out her will so she vented her frustration at her father and mother.

Of course we had a plan and we could see more than she could in her situation and we would restore these gifts to her and after the unwrapping was over she asked in her own way and we let her play with stuff.

Have you ever felt like that with God? Never? Well you are better than me then because I will be honest and say I am a whiner! How many times have you went to God first and asked in faith expecting an answer, now it may not be an answer you like but I like to know why or at least know the reason what is happening to me. I know and I trust in God however I do like to complain!

God is the giver of all things, our finances, our possessions all that we have set up as our “mini idols” it is all his and we are simply custodians of what he has trusted us with, Jesus introduces us to the giving nature of God and shows us that his gifts are much greater than the gifts that we would give each other and he uses the purity of heart as a good contrast. We have to also understand though that God will not allow things to happen that are our rampant heart’s desire because they would ruin us. (Do we ask for serpent like things that really would not help us or glorify God? Could that an example of how close or far away our hearts are to God’s will) The gifts that he gives to us are always good as God wants the best for us.

How good is that gift?

The answer to that question is confirmed in a scripture in the epistle of James…

James 1:17 (ESV) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Again we have confirmation that God grants good gifts only, please don’t take from that I don’t mean that we are exempt from bad things happening to us because I have certainly had “teachable moments” but many have been caused due to paths I have started on. Does that mean we will all win the National Lottery or all have Ferrari’s? If it would corrupt us and ruin us then I doubt God would allow that as a “gift”. He may allow financial pressure to be released on you but there is no guarantee of “free money”.

James describes it as not just a good gift but also a perfect gift and we see that God is only interested in gifting us with things that will be good for us. I liken it to fast food where I know that a cheeseburger tastes good but I also know that if I eat the same unhealthy thing three times a day for the rest of my life I will harm myself. How many cheeseburgers are you praying for? Maybe time for an assessment of your wants and needs in your prayer life?

Are you grateful for what you receive? I know many (I am in that number) who will have a 911 prayer request that God has granted me and then later I forget to be grateful to God in prayer, he does not require that and he sees my heart and knows that I am grateful but in the same manner I would consider it good manners to than someone who has blessed me how much more should I thank Him to whom all blessings flow?

James concludes with the idea that God is constant, never changing, no variation and you know where you stand with God, there is no “gifting’s based on whether God is having a good day” God is already more mature or all-knowing and wiser than we will ever be, there is no need to change and another thing that is constant is the good nature and giving nature of God, it is something that is assured because he is that good, good father!

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

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God shows up and man is ashamed – Genesis 3:8-13

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God shows up and man is ashamed – Genesis 3:8-13 – 05/03/2016

Genesis 3:8 (ESV) And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

This article is designed to be a slightly more in depth article than I did in the “creation series” elsewhere on this website, Lord willing I hope to look at the full creation week and examine the case for a Biblical creation from the mindset that the bible is accurate and a honest and truthful source of history in how we came to be here. I am not here to attack other mindsets as I appreciate that not everyone shares my view of a biblical history and I do welcome lively debate on the subject regardless of your thoughts or beliefs on how the earth was made.

In order to look at this from a biblical context we must first look at the text in question starting in chapter three verse eight…

V8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

This is it! You can hear the dramatic music playing…God has come back into the garden and the ones who were the main focus of the story have become the villains due to the sins they have committed. God who loves his creation wanted to be with them because before this man and God were together and in constant communion and they were together in a close relationship that today man could only dream of.

God is described as walking in the cool of the day in a natural familiar phrase which suggests that this was a regular occurrence and that the fellowship they shared was familiar. That God was here for his regular afternoon stroll in the garden where he knew he would find his beloved creation.

God, who knows all things, knew of the sin of Adam and Eve before he took that stroll in the garden, but God who loves his children wanted to deal with it immediately. As a parent I understand that idea and I do likewise if my daughter misbehaves and punishment is imminent.

Man’s reaction is expected, they were ashamed, they knew that the temporary coverings would give the game away that they suddenly knew that they were naked and they decided to try to hide from God. They were feeling shame, embarrassment and dread for the first time in their lives and it did not feel good. They are now realizing the full weight of their sin as the one they wanted to go to with any problems they might have is the very one that they hid from now!

V9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

God asks the question “where are you?” in a concerned tone when he cannot find them in the same manner I would had my daughter be lost from my sight for more than a few seconds (Yes I am that parent) and despite the fact that he knew exactly where they were and what they were feeling we see the very nature of God that he waited for them to come to him because he knew of their shame and dishonor.

V10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

And here we see the distance between God and man, we see from that point man hid himself from God and let’s be honest; man is still doing that today. The only ones who are not hiding as much are the ones who have taken Jesus as their Savior. Today the ones who run are those who do not want to listen to God, his Word or the plan that God has for their lives. Do you relate to any of that? Please do not think that I am not saying that we should not “fear God” but my fear of God is a healthy one which is based on the holiness and it is based on the reverence that I have for God and my desire to serve Him to the best of my ability and in the will of God.

V11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Up until this point Adam had the opportunity to appeal to the judge for “good behavior” by “fessing up” and taking ownership of what he had done and essentially broke the only rule he was given up until this point. He chose not to and God had to then ask him they question they were both dreading. This was where the conversation was going to get waaay uncomfortable for the man.

Adam had two options here…

  • Own the sin and plead mercy from God
  • Try to blame someone else

Much as none of us want to talk about it, we all sin and because of that we do “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and you notice that God wasn’t interested in what they were wearing or not wearing, the shame they felt or the fact that they hid from him. He wanted to deal with the sin. Adam shows which of the above 2 options he chose in the next verse…

V12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Like any primary schoolyard in any country you see Adam acting like any first grader who gets caught on a place that he shouldn’t be, he looks for anyone who was with him to shift the blame to. As Eve is the only candidate he decided to say “it wasn’t me, it was that woman that you gave me.

Adam blamed the following for his sin…

  • Eve for being there
  • God for sending him Eve

God addresses Adam because he is meant to be the head of the home and he was supposed to be responsible, Adam displays ineptitude in leadership and caused his whole household to sin. There is a lesson there to every man who is married and the head of a home that we have that extra responsibility and I pray for those women who have had to assume the “head of the home” role because their husbands have either left the next or have remained and been unwilling to undertake the role that God had placed them to be in. I say this as a former “Adam” as I in the past and to my shame have not always been a strong head of the home and it had an impact on my home. It was not too late for me and I pray that men who are like this read this article and repent to God and their wives and lead their home in the way God intended.

This may seem obvious but it is not appropriate for Adam to blame God for sending him the woman or blame the woman because God gave the instruction to Adam and not Eve, Eve was deceived and Adam willingly took the apple and sinned. There is a note to us today in our prayer lives that when we talk to God, do not do what Adam did and try to dress up our sin as not sin. Please know that when you pray God can see your heart as well as your words. Even if you dress it up in “holy words” He can still see your MO, your motivation and where your heart lies.

V13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

And learning from Adam we see that Eve continues the circle of blame to the serpent. Actually this is correct and whilst she may have had a point she had a certain amount of responsibility. The facts of the matter were that she was deceived but she also knew of God’s command and chose to go against the wishes and commands of God.

That is the issue of Eve that she knew better but allowed herself to be in that situation where she could be entrapped into sin. Like so many of us who allow temptation to take hold of their hearts, she edged in closer and allowed the serpent the opportunity to trick her into misquoting God, she was then entangled in her own words and caught in a situation where until she took that first bite she was still in communion with God.

When she took that action she allowed sin into the world and so started a chain of events that separated man and God, God’s original creation was no longer “very good” and many generations later we see what we have today and we also see the reason why Jesus had to come in the first place and that was to redeem man from many generations of sin by his sacrifice at Calvary. Today’s world is a very pale copy of what God had intended for his creation.

Lord willing, in our next article in Genesis we will look at verses fourteen through twenty four in chapter three when we realize that all sin has consequences and the consequences of that original sin can still be felt today. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

Christ Jesus came to save sinners

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Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners

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 twelve of the first chapter of First Timothy.

He has judged me faithful

Paul goes on to write…

V12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul makes it personal; he talks about his own testimony. Revelation 12 advises that the accuser will be thrown down by “The blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony” see below for full counsel of God…

Revelation 12:9 (ESV) And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death

Do not underestimate the power of your testimony! In sales people buy from people, if you can show in your life the reason for your faith, if you can show that your testimony does not end at conversion but there is a daily, life changing work being done in your life, that will cause people to question this faith and see that it is real. Paul speaks honestly who he was and what he did and where he was in that day.

Paul thanks Jesus because he has judged him faithful, he could see right into Saul’s heart that day on the road to Damascus, he knew who he was picking. Jesus hand-picked Paul for that mission, to reach the gentiles for Jesus Christ. He was counted, he was called as faithful, and he was one who was able to be used of God.

Correct attitude towards service

Paul has the right attitude towards his service; he often called himself a slave, a bondservant or Jesus Christ. One who volunteered himself into a life bound by service unto God’s will for our lives, Paul demonstrates a faithfulness that shows that he was completely compliant to his mission on earth. He was completely sold out on his main priority, furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul shows that regardless of where God has planted us, we can be faithful where we are at. We have to be faithful in the small things first and then as we grow God will test us and stretch us into further works for him. This is why it is vital we don’t beg for deliverance every time we are tested or tried, how are we meant to learn and grow in God if we never learn or grow in God?

Paul was in ministry (or service) he made tents during the working hours and spread the Gospel at every opportunity, he was not only in ministry when he spoke in the Synagogues. He was in ministry when he was sewing a tent, when he was chained to a Roman, wherever God had him.

This is a phenomenal lesson to us all as some of us will not serve unless we are a position to be noticed. Jesus spoke about those types of servants and advised the ones who sought the praises of man “had their reward already” and that is a real danger to us all as many good ministries have been damaged or torched by individual pride.

Useable > talented

We have to be useable, not necessarily talented but most certainly useable. I am no great theologian, but God has put a desire in my heart to research and write about his holy word. I am no great teacher, but God has given me people willing to come with a thirst to hear the word of God (not me) I am not really talented in many areas but I want to be used for his glory as opposed to mine.

I am not at all good with public kudos I am sure I have shared that before; when a pastor or leader shouts my name from the front of the church I do get a wee bit embarrassed and tend not to enjoy it. I am a behind the scenes guy who is just as happy stacking chairs as I am teaching a bible study. I am not saying this because it is one of the few things that I have right however we should try to bloom in God where we are planted for his glory first.

God’s choice = Glory to God

God knows how to pick them doesn’t he? Paul describes himself as a “former blasphemer and persecutor” but this is what I love about the bible, God picks the unlikely candidate to show that it was him that did it. He picked the leading thorn in the side to people of “the Way” the one that if there had been a Billboard Chart of top 100 feared Pharisees Paul would have been “Top of the Pops” every time.

He took this man and gave him a place in the front line, he knew Paul’s heart, knew how faithful he was and how faithful he would be and rather than let his past be a hindrance, he put him to work as a front line missionary in one of the most dangerous territories in the world. His conversion was not the end, but merely the first step in a new life as Paul the apostle rather than Saul the persecutor.

He was given an audience with the LORD and he states that he was “formerly” Paul shows that the grace of God was enough not just to get him into heaven but to wipe away the wrongs of the past and qualified him for service in Christian service. Paul shows Timothy that his past didn’t disqualify him; he states that he did it in “ignorance” God used Paul in spite of Paul, his greeting here to Timothy was that he should remain despite how inadequate he felt.

Who is worthy of service?

This is a common occurrence in Christian ministry, that people will try to disqualify themselves because they deem themselves unworthy. Truth is, none of us are actually worthy however in spite of us, and God will still find a way to use us. As imperfect as we are, as incapable as we may think we are God knows who we really are and that is why he has called us. We are called not because of who we are, but by God’s grace. We should take heart from Paul’s experience that he received mercy as opposed to judgment.

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