Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved – 2nd Timothy 2:14-19

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Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved – 2nd Timothy 2:14-19 – 05/13/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2 Timothy 2:14 (ESV) Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 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. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

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 second chapter of Second Timothy.

V14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.

In true Pauline fashion we see that Paul instructs the younger man to not get distracted with things that would take him away from the word of God. That is the basic job of the pastor is to keep his “sheep” focused on God and I do lament that we have moved away from doing life together as Christians. Paul was reminding Timothy to keep the things that were spoken of in the last blog article first and foremost and then follows a command.

He tells them to not quarrel about words, to not get into unprofitable arguments and in this election year I see that we do that more and more as Christians, we get mad about things that really ae not worth getting heat up about. It is not worth it to cause contention in the church of Jesus Christ over things that do not matter. As Paul states, it does no good and only ruins the hearers.

Paul touches on a little of what we find problematic in our relationships today in that we are to not strive or quarrel about words and there is nothing wrong with standing up for the truth however the issue comes when we wish to debate points that are irrelevant n the great scheme of things and we care more about defending our own small theological point than the greater work of the Lord. That then causes harm in relationships because often times these exchanges are not done in love.

V15 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.

This is the most famous part of this scripture but I prefer to quote it with the verse behind and often times the verse in front in order to get the context of what Paul is saying. People have oft quoted this verse as a badge of honor to show how much they study the word and this verse being the reasoning why. It is good to study the word and that is commendable but it should not be a “kudos point” in our Christian walk. Let’s look at this the way Paul intended.

  1. Do your best – Sometimes this is translated as “be diligent” and much as we looked at when we looked at Psalm 123, God looks for us to be diligent, to be studying when we are not feeling it and in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2) If we are not enduring then it may be time to check out motivation. If it is for us and not for the Lord then we have our reward already! (Matthew 6)
  2. To present yourself to God as one approved – And God’s opinion is the only one that matters, people will come and go and popularity is a fleeting fad of a swaying opinion that will either be in your favor or not. Pastors will often times not be the most popular people in the building (especially if they are doing their job right) and what Paul states here is true on this level.

    Like much of 1st Timothy Paul exhorts Timothy to get himself approved and get his doctrinal ducks in a row as he wasn’t called to get others approved, which will come as he is equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4) But as a leader he needs to make sure he is being refreshed as much as possible, that is why I try to get to at least one conference a year that has sound biblical teaching from men I trust.

  3. A worker who has no need to be ashamed – Have you ever done a job where the boss is watching and suddenly your “work rate” improves, so how many of you feel sad now that you have admitted that to yourself. Remember you have a heavenly boss that sees everything you do, so how holy do you feel now? Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want shown on a big screen cinema for all your family and friends to see?

    Yes we are saved by grace and not by works but it is encouragement to be diligent as we have that natural reaction of shame to our sin that stems back to the Garden of Eden because let’s face it, it is embarrassing when your work is examined and it is shown to be deficient.

  4. Rightly handling the word of truth – and this is the roof on the house, the topping on the cake and quite frankly the reason for the diligence. As a leader he had to know what it said the reason why it said it and be able to explain it to someone who either had a strong Jewish background in the law or no religious background whatsoever. He had to be able to explain the gospel truths to everyone who would receive it. It is tremendously important that the Pastor understands the correct meaning and application to the scripture before he teaches it. We see why in the book of James…

James 3:1 (ESV) Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

That scares me, even just teaching or preaching on a bible study or writing these articles means that I would be called a “teacher” and if ever a title was placed on someone who was more undeserving it is here. I see myself not as a teacher but more as someone who wants to make the scriptures more accessible to as many as possible.

V16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.

We need to be careful if we are seen as a teacher to not lead people away from the word of God. As leaders and by default we will have people looking up to us, it is not something that I chase or desire but it happens a lot. One thing we need to be careful is to not lead people astray with our actions. If you are a leader in authority you will be looked at and scrutinized. Let me give an example of this…

At a youth group I attended when I was much younger I was invited (along with the rest of the group) to the leader’s apartment building where we had youth group that evening because the church was unavailable. Where I was sitting in that guys living room I saw his CD collection and then started to think, if he likes these bands then they must be okay. I never saw his DVD/VHS collection but if I had then I might have used that to justify bad choices in my life based on what he had. Do you see where I am going with that?

We need to avoid vanity in our preaching also and avoid anything that promotes us. I find it a lot when I am speaking to fellow bloggers or pastors who have written a book that they can be very “promoting” of their own works. (I have been guilty of that also in the past too so I am speaking as much to me as anyone else!) There really is nothing as holy as the word of God and despite any good or relevant points that I make on these articles I pray that I always point you to the word of God first.

Teaching that is in place or dilutes the word of God may be popular for a season but it is not a substitute for the real thing. It is what will lead people further away from Godliness and the cancer will spread like gangrene and Paul gives two examples of this by naming two offenders to show Timothy what type of people he was meaning. We see our old friend Hymenaeus from 1st Timothy 1:20 but he appears to have a new partner in crime in this letter.

What were Hymenaeus and Philetus teaching? Well according to Paul they were teaching that the “saying that the resurrection has already happened” and were teaching incorrect doctrines regarding the End times and despite having started in the correct position they allowed themselves to become incorrect in their doctrine stating that Jesus had already returned. We have to base our faith on sound doctrine and not man’s opinions in order to be correct scripturally. Due to this incorrect doctrine they were causing others to have problems in their faith.

Some people may be okay with some unconventional teaching and methods and I am all for reaching people for the gospel, however if we stray into heresy and teaching that is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ then I will have an issue with that. People start to believe a version of Jesus that is not the Jesus of the bible and that is not okay. Also it the heresy does not have to affect everyone, if they are upsetting the faith of some that is bad enough.

V19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

In typical Jewish writing style we see that Paul goes from the negative to the positive and he states quite boldly that despite the attacks on the faithful word of God, He has a firm foundation and that foundation will stand up to the scrutiny of skepticism and false religion. That is a good question to ask yourself is that do you stand on that firm foundation when under attack by those who wish to trash your faith? Or do you stand on that firm foundation that cannot be shaken?

Paul takes his thoughts from Numbers 16 verses 5, 26 & 27

Numbers 16:4 (ESV) When Moses heard it, he fell on his face, 5 and he said to Korah and all his company, “In the morning the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy, and will bring him near to him. The one whom he chooses he will bring near to him.

And

Numbers 16:26 (ESV) And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones.

Because the Lord knows who are his, notice that it says the Lord knows, not us! I genuinely think that we will be surprised by who we see in heaven and who we don’t because many of us will not be our true selves when we are with other believers. We are called to be his and we are also called to true repentance and a life change when we enter that relationship with Jesus. We need to turn from our sins and depart our iniquity as Paul states. That is my MO here at TTE is to either help you into a relationship with Jesus, help you find a decent bible teaching church and partner with you in growing in Christ and if you are a believer I pray these studies help you grow deeper in Christ because let’s face it! It is all about Jesus!

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we will look at the verses eight through thirteen of chapter two where Paul talks being a worker approved by God, having read ahead I love these scriptures and 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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Psalms Saturday #14 – Psalms 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked

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Psalms Saturday #14 – Psalms 1 – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked – 05/07/2016

Psalms 1:1 (ESV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

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

V1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

To look at this appropriately we have to look at the Hebrew word “esher” which is the Hebrew word for “Blessed” and that talks mainly of happiness and contentment. Gives a much fuller meaning to the text don’t you think? If we replaced the word “blessed” with fulfilled or contentment then you will see what the Psalmist is driving at. I say that having read this Psalm many times and not bothered to dig any deeper than the words on the page. We see three things that make a man happy and content…

  • He walks not in the counsel of the wicked – The company you keep is important as you will modify your behavior to match the ones that you are trying to impress. When I became a Christian I slowly lost the friends that I had clung onto in my wilderness years because they did not want to do what I wanted to.

    Conversely now I take great delight in a Wednesday morning meeting I have at a local coffee house with likeminded believers as we sharpen each other and keep each other accountable. Finding friends like that is vital as you progress through your Christian life. The counsel you keep affects the way you think.

  • Nor stands in the way of sinners – Not just the counsel you keep but if you are living your life in the way of sinners then you will do what they do. The friends you have affect the way you behave. If you have trouble with alcohol will you still go to the bar rooms 4 times a week?
  • Nor sits in the seats of scoffers – If you dwell with the scoffers and mockers you will become just like them, you will start to belong there and it will erode your Christianity. How can you be happy and blessed in your Christian walk if you are always criticizing or tearing down (and often times this can be fellow Christians)

Like most Jewish poetry the Psalmist offers a contrast in the next verse and does not stop with what we should not be, but continues in what we should be. We see that “his delight is in the law of the LORD” that he is happy in the whole counsel of God, not just the first five books, that the word of God is a delight in his life and if you are not happy or excited to study the word of God then you may need to take a barometer of where you are as a Christian. Is there a hunger, a desire or even a willingness to get in the word regardless (and in some cases especially) of the circumstances?

This hunger us that real that “on his law he meditates day and night.” And that puts me to shame personally and that is something I want to do always, I do however ponder the word of God and a lot of thought and prayer goes into personal study as well as the articles here and I know that the crux of what he is saying is that we ponder it, understand it and commit it to our hearts and lives. I just wished that I did it day and night!

V3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

We see with the correct application of scripture the Psalmist uses the picture of a tree that if it is planted next to a place that will allow it to be fed, then it will continue in strength and it prospers and the application here would be that with that correct grounded knowledge of the word of God that has been meditated we will continue to grow and thrive in our Christian walk. Paul makes the same comparison in the letter to the Galatian church…

Galatians 5:19 (ESV) Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

The fruit comes naturally from the tree because of what is going into the tree (streams of water) and I would ask would the same tree be as strong in say a desert where the water supply was a bit sparse? Or would it be more like a tree that is all withered and dead? Then you have to examine what type of Christianity you have, is it a by the cool streams or is it a desert Christianity? How strong is your tree? Will it withstand a few storms or will it break in the first sign of trouble?

V4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Again we see an example of the opposite. Have a look at this passage in Jude…

Jude 1:12 (ESV) These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

As strong as the tree is, the wicked are not strong. To understand what chaff is it is the shell that has to be removed before the grain is useable for the purpose intended, traditionally one of the ways of removing chaff from grain was to allow the air to go through and it separates on its own. I am convinced that this was not used in accident as it is the polar opposite and a good reminder that although we are in the world we are not of the world.

V5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

And we are concluding with these remarks and the Psalmist uses terms that we are familiar with from the book of Daniel when he spoke to King Belshazzar…

Daniel 5:13 (ESV) Then Daniel was brought in before the king. The king answered and said to Daniel, “You are that Daniel, one of the exiles of Judah, whom the king my father brought from Judah. 14 I have heard of you that the spirit of the gods is in you, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom are found in you. 15 Now the wise men, the enchanters, have been brought in before me to read this writing and make known to me its interpretation, but they could not show the interpretation of the matter. 16 But I have heard that you can give interpretations and solve problems. Now if you can read the writing and make known to me its interpretation, you shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around your neck and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” 17 Then Daniel answered and said before the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another. Nevertheless, I will read the writing to the king and make known to him the interpretation. 18 O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father kingship and greatness and glory and majesty. 19 And because of the greatness that he gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whom he would, he killed, and whom he would, he kept alive; whom he would, he raised up, and whom he would, he humbled. 20 But when his heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly, he was brought down from his kingly throne, and his glory was taken from him. 21 He was driven from among the children of mankind, and his mind was made like that of a beast, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. He was fed grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, until he knew that the Most High God rules the kingdom of mankind and sets over it whom he will. 22 And you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, though you knew all this, 23 but you have lifted up yourself against the Lord of heaven. And the vessels of his house have been brought in before you, and you and your lords, your wives, and your concubines have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored. 24 “Then from his presence the hand was sent, and this writing was inscribed. 25 And this is the writing that was inscribed: Mene, Mene, Tekel, and Parsin. 26 This is the interpretation of the matter: Mene, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; 27 Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting; 28 Peres, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” 29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed with purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made about him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar the Chaldean king was killed.

Scary stuff huh? How is your relationship with God? Have you taken up his free gift of salvation so you are not found wanting? We see that the Psalmist talks about sinners in “the congregation of the righteous” and we will see the ones who persist in their sins and do not wish to change their lives peel off from our church congregations in the short term, however I do also believe that we will be surprised with some of the folks that we thought we would see in glory who were as religious as religious could be and did not know Jesus as their savior, that is scarier stuff!

V6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

I have peace like a river that I am being guided by the creator of heaven. I know that whatever befalls me in this life and however I am chosen to be removed from it that I have a loving father waiting to welcome me home with the words I long to hear “Well done my good and faithful servant” but I do lament for those who are my neighbors, in my streets and in my city and the cities that are close by me who tonight are dying in their sins. One thing is assured is that you have that choice to choose heaven or to reject God and deal with those consequences for all of eternity. My prayer is that if you have not done so then please contact me and I would love to talk to you.

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we will look at Psalms 13 looks at the sorrow of David and trusting in the Lord through trials. 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

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

Psalms Saturday #11 – The LORD Is in His Holy Temple – Psalms 11

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Psalms Saturday #11 – The LORD Is in His Holy Temple – Psalms 11 – 03/26/2016

To the choirmaster. Of David.
Psalm 11:1 (ESV) In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain, 2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence. 6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

This Psalm is awesome in its praise and thanksgiving to the LORD. I love this because it gives great examples of praise and thanksgiving despite the obvious peril and danger in Davids circumstances and my hope is that you please enjoy this great Psalm of praise, although it is just five verses it is rich in teaching and encouraging moments. I aim to look it all five verses on a verse by verse basis beginning in verse one.

V1 In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, “Flee like a bird to your mountain,

Royal fugitive

Have you ever been in bother, on the run? David prior to becoming king was on the run from the existing king Saul. He was consistently hunted; he was a fugitive from royal law and at this part of his life was literally scampering for his life. His advice from those close to him we read in the text is to “flee like a bird to your mountain” But David shows great faith in God. He states confidently and profoundly “in the LORD I take refuge” He knew where to put his trust! This poses a question in my heart to you dear readers in that who do you have your trust in? Is it man with his ideas that will fail despite the good intentions or is it God who knows the “master plan”? David mocks this idea and states confidently “In the LORD I take refuge” (or have my trust) He was not going to rely on his own fears but take solace and refuge that God has this.

True mark of a man of faith

That is a true mark of a man of faith! He would rather face the oncoming danger with the LORD at his back than do it without the LORD and do what seemed like the obvious solution, to tuck tail and run and save his own skin. David knew (a man after Gods own heart remember) that the advice, although given in love and quite possibly with the best possible intentions, it was not the path that he would chose to follow.

Good heart – bad advice

V2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart; 3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

Verses 2 & 3 show the advice given by his friends, like I had said earlier, the advice may be well intentioned but if it is not within Gods plan for your life then it is bad advice. God had already promised the throne to David, Samuel had anointed him and David knew his purpose was to be a mighty king. He also saw the hardness of Saul’s heart and learned from the mistakes of others. Yes there was a real and present danger but for me the overriding faith in God, in his provision and He is the one that David puts his faith and security in because of the earlier prophesy that he would be King tells you a lot about the heart of David, yes he made mistakes but this is what he was made of. When a man is threatened with the loss of what he holds dearest you will soon see what his priorities are.

David’s friends really play on his fears, they have tried to get him scared of the dangers he can see as well as the dangers he cannot. Perhaps there was a little piece of self-preservation, perhaps they wanted to manage a situation to have him removed from danger, whatever the cause was if you are walking in fear and not trusting in God then you will not step out in faith when God calls you.

The Foundations are destroyed

We read this when they state “if the foundations are destroyed” Saul was the first and only king that Israel had had up to that point and he ruined the throne at the first attempt right down to its foundation. His friends were also questioning why a righteous man would take such a poisoned chalice.

What can David do? Actually quite a lot if he has God on his side, as bad as Saul was for the throne David could bring a nation back into revival. Never shirk from a task you are called to just because it seems too big! Is there a task that is too big for your God? My God is not that small. Circumstances are just that, it is only a short sighted view of the present and I serve a God that can change things in the blink of an eye.

Seen versus Unseen

Can you imagine the internal turmoil he must have been going through? Balancing the advice of the seen against the faith of the unseen. He had unshakable faith at this point of his life and we can learn a lot from him in relation to how deeply we cling to a steadfast faith in the LORD. He is in the gravest of circumstances and still clings to the promises of the LORD knowing that his will is best for him.

V4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. 5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence

God got this!

David knew he was going to be looked after by God; he describes the heavenly situation with the calmness of a man not in danger. He describes what the LORD sees in verse 4. Its very much like the Facebook graphic I saw earlier this week that describes this well “God is like Oxygen, you can’t see him, but once you have him, you can’t live without him” Very profound in my opinion.

The LORD’s throne is in heaven, his ways are way above our ways and he gets the grandstand view of our lives while we are in the thick of the action (to use a rugby analogy) this answer that the LORD’s throne is in heaven is David’s answer to the question “What can you do?” David defers to the one he has unshakable faith in. He speaks only in terms of what he is absolute in.

He uses the following examples of how the LORD has this…

  • His eyes see – Even if you don’t think so, God sees, God is watching out and God cares, this is why David is concerned with more than just saving his own skin, he is looking at a bigger picture because of the faith that he has that God is truth and keeps his promises.
  • His eyelids test the children of man – In keeping with that faith that the LORD is in the driving seat, he states that tests will come, that we should be like James tells us “counting it all joy when we are in the midst of trials”
  • The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence – God isn’t just watching, he is patient and will eventually right the wrongs. He does care and David uses his situation as a teaching moment and states that God sees the violence that is before me and he will deliver me because of the promises he has made me.

God v man and why they are different

V6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup. 7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face

Verses 6-7 really are self-explanatory, David answers the foundations question by stating that the LORD sees, will test and he doesn’t like what he sees. The LORD will deal with it in his time. This is a timely reminder to us all, one of the most frustrating parts as a Christian is wanting God to work on my time as opposed to his perfect timing.

The LORD will deliver justice, but David elects to stay on the side of justice and stay on the LORDs side. David knows that if he stays the course and follows God’s will he will get rewarded by getting what he is promised. I know Christians that are frustrated because they believe they are “entitled” when they do not go all in with God. God will reward righteousness more than he will reward rebellion.

This is the test of faith, not trying to “help God along” or not submitting to God’s timing in a potentially damaging situation. From David’s perspective there was only one course of action and to trust God because of all that he had been promised and the afore knowledge that God does not lie. His answer of faith should be an example to us all who will try to manipulate situations to achieve God’s will when God had a much better plan for our lives.

Often times we have to learn patience and sometimes we just have to slow down to match God’s pace. But most of all if we are in trials or don’t understand we have to seek God diligently and have the faith that David does, then we will not fear. Whatever out trials are, God has this!

Lord willing, in our next article in Psalms we look Psalm 125 which speaks of trusting in the LORD, the LORDs faithfulness and the importance of righteousness, all in all a terrific Psalm and I hope that you don’t miss it. 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