Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Jesus goes teaching and preaching in the Synagogues – Matthew 4:23-25

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Jesus goes teaching and preaching in the Synagogues – Matthew 4:23-25 – 05/11/2016

Matthew 4:23 (ESV) And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

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

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

V23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Jesus went all about his mission from the get go, he knew the customs of the day that would allow visitors to teach in their synagogues and can you imagine being there and hearing the most holy words be read by the author himself? These Galileans did not know how blessed they were! Where better to start his ministry than the very house that they dedicated to God?

We read that Jesus was both teaching and preaching and although we have lumped them together in modern Christianity there is quite a difference in what he was doing, let’s look at that here…

  • Teaching – was where he was delivering the content and explaining what the matter meant.
  • Preaching – Is giving exposition on the scriptures and this is why the ESV uses the word proclamation because he was proclaiming the truth of what was written and its literal fulfillment in flesh before them. Who could argue with that?

In addition to his verbal ministry, Jesus was also healing people and was becoming quite famous for healing and I do wonder if people were coming to Jesus just looking for the temporary fix, you have to remember though that Jesus can see the heart and he knew who wanted what from him. Jesus did not seek fame and was simply looking to display the power that he had over sickness, and he had a genuine compassion for those who sought his help. We see what types of people in the next verse…

V24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, epileptics, and paralytics, and he healed them.

As stated above people wanted to meet the man who was healing all these people and his fame spread as far as Syria and they brought him to the author of all creation and he was able to demonstrate in a powerful way that he had power over creation and who better to fix someone than someone who was there and saw the original draft when the world was created.

I read this verse and it gives me great hope because as a spouse of someone who has a chronic pain issue and it reinforces my belief in the power of prayer because I know that Jesus can heal according to his will and here we see in a historical record written by a man who was so meticulous that the Romans had him collecting tax for them. He even goes as far to catalogue the types of people that Jesus healed. I love passages of scripture like this when I hear the skeptics argument that “the Bible is so vague”.

I also love that Jesus is mentioned to have healed people who were “demon possessed” and showed that he was indeed greater than he who was in the world. It was also a glimpse into the ease that Jesus will make all things new in the book of Revelation.

V25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan.

Such as his fame attracted the numbers and here is a lesson for Pastors and leaders who worship the idea of having a mega ministry. I would state to you that it is not wrong to have such a united movement of people all pointing in the one direction as long as it is all about Jesus. I would state to follow Jesus example when he had the multitudes.

HE TAUGHT THEM! The temptation is there to not “go against the grain” or “talk about things that will lose numbers” Jesus never did that and Jesus frequently taught them the truth. Jesus wasn’t into impressing them with “holy tricks” or “miracles” he was looking to change their hearts and that is still the case today, if you have not accepted Jesus into your heart then I would urge you to get in contact and I would love to speak to you more. We are not promised tomorrow and the point of this blog is to introduce you to your Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses one through twelve of chapter five studying when teaches the part of scripture known as the beatitudes. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

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

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:42-47 – Devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers

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The ACTS Files – Acts 2:42-47 – Devoted to teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers – 03/28/2016

Acts 2:42 (ESV) And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Thank you for clicking on this recent installment of “The Acts Files” and this article is the new believer’s response to “Peter’s Sermon”. We see here how the church started and look at lessons we could use today. My prayer is that I present these scriptures in a manner that is edifying and worthy of the God I wish to serve. Let’s look at these in a line by line and verse by verse format starting in verse forty two…

V42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

After 3000 were added to their number we learn something really dynamic about this new and fledgling church and that was that they were not just about the Pentecost experience. They devoted themselves to teaching and desired to know more. They were keen to know all about this messiah Jesus and searched out the information, they were single minded in their devotion to seek out the truth of God from the apostles teachings and doctrine. This is paramount in the spiritual maturity and development of the new church that they get their doctrinal ducks in a row. That they be unified in a common faith and nail the basics from day one. That way they can avoid contentious arguments.

Not content with that basic fundamental, but they continued in fellowship, they invested in one another in a real way that we just don’t get in the Western church. In the Bible study I started under the direction of God I instituted a safe place where people could be real, not polished with a “Sunday smile” Much like a recent article (link) that I did talking about the comfort of God and the need for us in fellowship to be comforting one another and bearing one another’s burdens (another article in Galatians) and so fulfilling the law of Christ, see the full text in Galatians 6:2

Galatians 6:2 (ESV) Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I get all of my best ideas from the Bible! I want to see that idea replicated in our churches that we are real, that we are honest at where we are even if it sets us back in our ministry goal. Imagine the power that could be unleashed if we are proactively praying for the burdens that we do not know about. If you believe in the power of prayer and restoration then what is stopping you? If you don’t trust your church leadership then maybe it is time to reconsider going to that church.

And lastly, they broke bread and prayed together like a real family. Do you have any idea what an honor it is to be invited to dine at another’s table? The Greek word “koinonia” means participation, communion, fellowship, harmony and sharing in a common bond. Is that the type of association you are looking for in your church? Let me tell you that it starts with you! Yes it would be beneficial if the leadership of the church bought into it but if you set the example then that may be enough to start a change of culture in your fellowship.
They broke bread and prayed, with that common bond they also shared a common faith and when the people of God came together they were strengthened by prayer and for me that is a non-negotiable in any fellowship that I wish to participate in that prayer is important. They had such a strong foundation even though this was the first draft of the church, how simpler our lives would be if we followed this basic formula for church planting!

V43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.

After all of the foundations were laid for a dynamic work of God it is hardly surprising that God blessed it! Often times we will try to push things along in our own speed and wonder why it is not what we thought it would be. How often do we cover it in prayer in the belief that God can handle this and leave the results up to God?

The evidence is in the reaction that awe (or fear) came upon every soul, a true conviction of the wrongdoing of man and a genuine repentance and also many signs and wonders were done and what tangible evidence of the blessing and power of God!

V44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

How I long for that in any fellowship I attend! They showed hospitality, served one another and looked for commonality in the fellowship they shared. Many of these new believers traveled to get to Jerusalem so the inhabitants would have shared their space and much more as we read below…

V45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Would you do that for your fellow believers? Sell your prized possessions for Jesus? Is there something you wouldn’t give up for Jesus? Maybe something you might want to look at there. I am of course not asking you to sell your stuff for Jesus but look at the change in people’s lives that helping their fellow brothers and sisters in the faith was better than having some expensive trinket in their house. Jesus was evidently number one in these people’s lives because their actions were fruit of their beliefs.

Some may equate this to an early form of Communism but in my view it cannot be described like that because it was something that was undertaken by the individual believer and was voluntary as we don’t see the apostles or leaders telling them to do so and we will see in Acts 5 what happens when some folks decided to fake benevolence on a grand level.

V46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Some people might be uncomfortable with this level of interaction but I love this idea. They were all singing from the same sheet, they realized that they were meant to be together, the early church did life together and it wasn’t what we are used to with only having a weekly interaction, so much more can be achieved in growth, in reality and in that common bond. They lived together, worshipped together, ate together and had great joy together. Sounds great huh?

For those of you who poo poo the idea and state “that could never work in today’s society” I am here to tell you that it can. I was part of a missions plant church in Glasgow that promoted these very ideals and it came from the Pastor down to the newest person in the church where if you wanted this level of involvement you could literally go through the week and fellowship all week if you wished. It got to the stage that we were bummed if we went more than 3 days without seeing someone from church. That was in 2007 not 37 AD!

You will also notice that those who received from others abundance received with “glad and generous hearts” and we observe that there was no drama from either the ones who gave or the ones who received. There appears to be no “lording it over” a fellow believer those who had more than others and the ones who required assistance praised God for having favor on all the people. We see no-one starving because the command to “love one another” was played out beautifully and literally in this new church blueprint.

God added to the number daily, what is important not that he added to the physical numbers but he added to the maturity of the believers also. What was not to like about this church? They looked after their own, they had a common bond and they loved one another. They had their doctrinal ducks in a row, they fellowshipped and they covered everything in prayer. If I ever set up a church plant I know this would be the formula that I would want to use and follow the will of God and leave the results up to him!

Lord willing, in our next article in Acts we will look at Acts chapter three verses one through ten where Peter and John encounter a lame man on their way to prayer. 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

Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus

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Teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

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

Apologies (in advance) for the long introduction)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets get to the passage huh?

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

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

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

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

Point by point through this passage

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

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

Why it is encouraging to me

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

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

What is stopping you dear Christian?

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

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

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

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

TEACHING AND PREACHING THAT THE CHRIST IS JESUS

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

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