Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: vain

Unless the LORD Builds the House – Psalms 127

wpid-downloadfile-4.jpeg

Unless the LORD Builds the House – Psalms 127 – 04/23/2016

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

Psalms 127:1 (ESV) Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Thanks for looking at our Psalms Saturday article; I plan to go through this Psalm verse by verse starting in verse one…

V1 Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

How many times have you done this on a personal level as a Christian? You receive confirmation that you are called to a certain ministry and rather than waiting for God to fully open all the doors you try to force the issue on your own and start to do what the Psalmist said, you quite literally “labor in vain” and even if you are doing “things FOR God” you can run up against a brick wall because you are not doing it IN God then it is just blind effort.

If we use gimmicks, finance programs or man made deals that promote “ministry growth” that exclude the Lord and the Holy Spirit, then it is just blank numbers and not exactly moving in the spirit of God. We may have success in the short term and may even “look the part” but there will always be something missing.

The point of what I am saying is that God has a better plan for you and knows what is best for you way more than you do, he has seen the blueprint for your life and knows what would happen in any set of given circumstances. So when we labor and struggle and worry in our own effort then it is futile, sometimes it may work and sometimes it may not but would it not be far better to trust the Lord?

V2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

We have this culture that “the early bird catches the worm” and that if we do everything with haste and cram more and more into our lives then we will somehow manage to get enough boxes checked to give us an enormous sense of wellbeing. We get up way to early, go to sleep way too late and do not rest and wonder why we fail more than we succeed. That is not God’s plan for your life! We are not supposed to eat the bread of anxious toil! If you are stretched beyond what you can handle then take it to the Lord in prayer.

I am not saying to be lazy but I am saying that we are given a rest that we do not use often enough and I am not saying just sleep or taking frequent naps. I am talking about being so stressed that we cannot fulfil our mission that God has given us. That stress comes not from God and you can be rest assured that if it is pulling you away from what God has planned for you then it is not from God. It is from the other guy! I don’t know about you but I do not want him having victory in any part of my life!

V3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

This is a hard one to comment on because my wife and I have had issues in this area so I will obviously tread carefully as I am aware readers may also be sensitive to this subject. I am tremendously grateful for my beautiful daughter and it took so long for us to get her and it does sting a little I have not been able to give her a sibling but I am remaining blessed in what the Lord has done for me and the prayers he has chosen to answer and I pray that if you have struggles in this area then your prayers are answered. Obviously I am not saying that they will be answered or a “thus sayeth the LORD” but please know I do know what you are going through.

Children are a heritage, that much is true and there are no stronger ties than family. When I got married I assumed wrongly that my wife would be the only girl that was to hold my heart, I of course was quite wrong and I have a kid that truly is the apple of my eye and from the moment she first cried in that delivery room I was sold. My daughter truly had me at hello. Don’t get me wrong there are times where she has attitude like any other child but she is a living breathing human with her own thoughts, her own personalities and sometimes they will do things that are contrary to what you would have them do, but they are still yours and sometimes they display like a mini-mirror qualities that you would rather not look at in yourself! The fruit of the womb is truly a reward and sometimes a way for God to teach you.

V4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

The Psalmist uses the picture of a warrior and arrows in his hand. That true joy will be found in the relationships that God has us in. God ordained in Genesis 2 the idea of a marriage and shortly afterwards along came children. From Cain and Abel we saw that God’s plan all along was to have us in relationships and I have found true happiness in the arms of the two folks that love me for me with no agenda and with the purest form love. You will find your true value when you are embraced by a loving child who has been waiting all day for you to walk through the door. My advice (and it is advice I have not heeded myself) is to make sure that they are your priority until they want to go play. Yes you may have 100 tasks to complete by the end of the night but you will never get today back again and your child will never be this age again!

V5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Like this warrior in this account we are in a battle for our kids, whether we are like me and have one, or whether we are like Jim Duggar and have 19, you are blessed when you have children and like that warrior going to battle he would much rather go into battle with a full quiver with that back up than go our empty handed. That is not to say that the amount of children you have is a measure of your faithfulness, I have no explanation why God opens and closes wombs when he does but I trust in his plan, whether it is to my benefit or not!

Lord willing, in our next article in the book of Psalms 1 where we look at the friends we keep and having delight in the law of the LORD. 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

A warning against False Teachers

image

Warning Against False Teachers

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 three of the first chapter of First Timothy.

Remain in Ephesus

3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. 5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Paul commends Timothy to remain in Ephesus, as stated earlier Timothy had a really tough job and he was urged to stay there to combat heresy. This encouragement is evident that he had done well so far, but God was telling him to have Timothy stay in Ephesus; continue the work until he was called elsewhere. 

Ministry is hard, you will be attacked both spiritually and mentally, I have seen good Pastors forfeit wealth, material success and sometimes have health considerations due to remaining in a certain ministry. That is faith, true faith to stay the course because all that is telling you to is that still small voice from God guiding your path. This is even more so when all of the material evidence points to escape being the only option.

Affliction goes with the territory in ministry, sometimes it is seasonal, and some of us are blessed with a permanent state of affliction. Whatever God has us go through he will give us what we need to get through it. God will allow us to be in difficult situations, often times it is to show us lessons that we need to learn. One of my failings is failing to pray for patience to get through the trials I face and my prayer usually involves the theme or tone of “Get me out of this LORD!” rather than “Show me what I need to learn and in your own time LORD let me learn and then deem me worthy to be removed from this trial”.

Why had he to remain? Simply to keep the doctrine straight! To teach no other doctrine, to make sure that the church as a whole avoided heresy and to preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul had preached to the Ephesian church and told them straight from the horse’s mouth the correct doctrine. He had set out in his own teachings a certain set of beliefs that were correct and he was keen that the Ephesians stay in the solid doctrine that he established.

Keep the doctrine straight

Paul was very concerned with keeping the doctrinal “ducks in a row” as God is concerned that we believe and what we believe. He is concerned what we believe about him, what we believe about Jesus and also what we believe about truth. Just like the times in which Paul was writing in, (Roman times) they were a very polytheistic society with many “truths”. Paul would be writing in the face of this and advising a singular truth based on the life and doctrines of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This will be offensive then as it is today, there is only one way to heaven and that is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot get there through the teachings of Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius or the Dahlia Llama. None of these other folks died for the sins of the world, there was only one person in the history of the world able to do this and that was Jesus Christ.

Teach no other doctrine

Paul was not worried about Timothy’s doctrine but the doctrine of those around him. He was commended that “you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” he was then given his instructions to stand up against those who wished to teach “different doctrine” this doctrine was obviously contrary to the message and it must have been tough for Timothy. You have got to stop these falsehoods in the church, command if you will because this doctrine was not up for debate; he was to charge it to these certain persons.

Like any heresy it grows arms and legs, and Paul states “nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.” Timothy was to cut this out at the root because not only were they deviating from the true doctrine of Jesus Christ, they were taking doctrine and applied untruths, myths and applying things to it was never meant to mean.

I will give them the benefit of the doubt and state that I don’t think in the main it was malicious, they were not preaching against Jesus, but they were focusing on the wrong things. If we get distracted in minor points of theology it can be more distracting and can often times do more harm than good.

Gentiles keeping the Law

A prevalent problem in the early church was the Jewish believer trying to force Gentiles to try to keep the law and applying a further burden upon them. Paul was very vociferous against doctrines like this as it caused more harm than good. We do this today in our over complicating of the gospel message and attempting to over intellectualize the message to make it seem more complicated than it actually is.

Jesus+ doctrine

Another fear is the Jesus+ doctrine, this is where most cults error and advise that in order to attain higher spirituality you have to have Jesus plus something else.  The problem with this Paul states quite clearly that “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” they are removing the truth of edification from God for the thrill of a speculation from man.

The truth of the edification from God is pure and truthful, where the man is a created being from God and he is not honest and truthful, man is corrupt and will produce a short term thrill while the idea is new, but is nothing but a distraction or a corruption of Godly edification. The rewards are much less and really are profitless and rob you of a much greater blessing.

Pure heart, good conscience, sincere faith

Going on from this we read “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” And Paul shows the loving shepherds heart that he has for these folks, this is important as we have many “fakers”, “part-time believers” or “Sunday legalists” in our bodies today, people don’t change! Jesus called them “white washed tombs” (Matthew 23:27-28) because they looked great on the outside but were dead inside.

We have to check ourselves first and make sure that we are doing this and that we are approaching our doctrine with a pure heart. When Jesus was on this earth, the people he had the most issue is the people who should have known better. It was the ones who knew the law but they approached it with a wicked heart and used it to justify their behavior as opposed to using it to bring you closer to God. It was all about “looking holy” as opposed to “being holy”. Even although we are not Jewish, we still have Jewish type legalists, misunderstanding the doctrines and are “warriors in the church” but “silent outside”.

Examine the harvest

In order to check ourselves we have to examine the fruit in our lives to make sure there is nothing “poisoning the well” A good question to ask is “Are you being changed by God’s word or are we using it as a rulebook that we realize we cannot measure up to and attempt to work our way into God’s good books and deny our sincere faith in order to try to please God by our own efforts.

Vain discussion

V6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

When we get sidetracked, confused and sidetracked into vain discussion (some versions have idle chatter) then we go further down the track of going away from God. Some churches by focusing more on “man-made rules” than “God inspired doctrine” have done this and found themselves in all manners and areas of compromise.

Vain discussion can also be over analyzing of scripture and as stated before taking it into tangents it was never meant to go in or applying man’s wisdom and taking it places it was never meant to go in. It can lead to some interesting discussions but the fruit is questionable as does it really do what it intended to and bring you closer to God? It may very well be entertaining but can erode from the message that God is trying to tell you.

When people get “puffed up” and have something to say about scripture that makes them seem holy, they may desire to be a teacher. In Paul’s day it was the people who were pulling the sheep astray and the very ones involved in the vain discussions (the last people who should ever be allowed near the front of the assembly) they let individual pride, ambition and desire to be known take over from any good they possibly could do as servants because they seek to serve their ambition first and God a distant second.

My or thy will be done?

Please do not confuse this with a holy calling, but anyone desiring to be a teacher should really look at the qualifications in chapter two, examine them with an elder or someone you trust and prayerfully consider whether that it is a calling or whether you are working in “my will be done” as opposed to “thy will be done”. We will go deeper into this when we look at the qualifications much later.

This leads to a conclusion that we could all see coming “without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions” we see these people not seeing their own folly and also not seeing the potential damage they could be doing to the body of Christ as a whole.

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