Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Brower on Judges

Judges 2:12-21, 3:2
Questions about Judges:
   > Was Barak faithless?
   > Was Gideon right or wrong w/ the fleece?
Flavor of the book of Judges:
   > Cycles of sin & redemption
   > Look for God in it

Joshua (victory) --> Judges (Cycles/victory) --> Ruth (Individual judges)
   > Joshua is what should be
   > Judges and Ruth are what really is
"Is God getting the glory in my life right now?"

Division of Judges
1-3:5 = Intro
   > Ch. 1 = Why? Man'd view (carnal)
   > Ch. 2 = Why? God's view (spiritual)
3:6-16 = Cycles
17-21 = Nature of defeat (idolatry/immorality)

"In man's total unfaithfulness & immorality, God remains faithful. No matter how deep or evil the unfaithfulness."
"Learn to have victory in the small things so sin doesn't build up until you're overwhelmed by the other gods."

What does spiritual warfare entail & what is the discipline of God?
(3:2) Teach war: we must learn spiritual warfare
   > Life is a struggle
   > Discipline of God
(2:14) When a believer is living in sin, God is angry.
   > Obedience gives God glory, disobedience doesn't
   > Spoiler: work that doesn't satisfy them
   > No victory: besetting sin
     God wants victory HIS WAY => God gets the glory
(2:15) When nothing works out...
   > Ask: Lord, is it me? The Lord loves you so much He tries to tell you through experiences.
   > Why? For repentance... to put you in a place of blessing.
"The enemy that you don't kill now will come back to be your king."

Man's View
(1:1-2) Good start: they fight
   > Victory + Bride + Desert = Needs
   > Need a spring
   > Asked for it
(1:19-34) Could not drive them out
   > End up being kicked out.
   > Partial disobedience is a downward spiral.
(1:30,33,35) TRIBUTE -- benefits
   > Rationale: reasons for disobedience = convenience.

Learn about war
(Joshua 5:13-6:2) They, in obedience, knew war was impossible. But when the Angel of the Lord fights with them it was easy.
"I'd rather have someone stronger than me fight my battles."
(2:1-3) War is terrible when fighting on your own.
   > When you disobey, you fight alone & will never win.
   > Get ready for sad days.
   > God needs the glory every time.

"Do we want to obey the Lord? When we do, God will bring the victories."

Matthew 8: Repentant Faith

> Jesus
> Great Multitudes
> Leper
> Centurion
>Peter's Mother in Law
> Many demon possessed
"_" Isaiah
> Scribe
> Disciple(s)
> Demoniacs
> Demons
> Whole city

1. Down the mountain (1-4)
2.Capernaum (5-17)
   > Peter's house (14-17)
3. Sea of Galilee (18-27)
4. Gadarenes (28-34)

Analysis: 6 events of Faith
1) Leper: Faith realizes God's power & sovereignty.
   > Faith makes confession.
2) Centurion: Faith recognizes that God's Word is final.
   > Faith is credulous.
[Andrew commented on the irony of the Romans believing Christ when they would nail him to a cross later.]
3) Mother in Law: Faith resigns itself to God.
   > Faith makes concession.
4) Disciples: Faith renounces whatever potentially holds it back.
   > Faith is conscious.
5) Stormy Sea: Faith rests in God's plan, even when resolution is not clear.
   > Faith is comfortable.
[Joe noted that earlier in the chapter great faith is mentioned, now it's juxtaposed with little faith.]
6) Demoniacs: Faith remains faithful even without support.
   > Faith is consistent.

3 types of people that are presented
2 Jews
   Leper is positive
   Mother in Law is neutral/positive
2 Gentiles
   Centurion is positive
   City of Gergesenes is negative
2 Disciples
   Questioning is negative
   In the storm is negative

Conclusion: "Note that we do not talk about Faith acting on it's own, this is Faith reacting to Christ's real presence."

Hosea: Craig Fritchey

Hall Of Faith: The Prophets
Hosea I

Jews considered Hosea > Isaiah
Theme = Redeeming Love of God
   > God never gives up
(H.) married Gomer knowing that she would be unfaithful.--choice.
   > Same with God
History of Israel: God delivers from Egypt => Israel has holy area and groves/high places too.

Prophecy in Hosea: Scattering of the people (2:18-end of chap)
   > Israel was scattered but kept identity
   > Did not follow idols from the Macabees on.

We as gentiles are even worse without the law.
   > Rom. 5:6 - Sinners, enemies are reconciled to God.

Quote about God's perseverance in love: "You don't wanna be a creeper, that's the human way. But it's not that way with God. You could say, in a very respectful way, that He's a creeper. He will always pursue you."

Quote about introspection: "There comes a time in our lives when we have to put the harlotry away."

Eph. 5:8-14: We are light--walk as children of the light.
   Put aside sin -- hard-core bad things
   Put aside weights -- Indifferent things that hurt the relationship
   "Put away wishy-washy, casual Christianity."

Hosea 2:16-20: Becoming a husband from a master
   > Love and intimacy in the relationship
   > To know Him as we are known (1 Cor. 13)

[Reggie commented on Hosea's acceptance of the commission. No struggle to accept, had faith that it's from God. No assurance that it will be positive in life. No assurance of instant blessing.]

Judge Wisely: Matthew 7

Repentance in judgement.
Same characters and scene as prevalent in Matthew 5 & 6.

Questions on Vs. 1-6
   > Should we, as Christians, judge?
   > Condemn?
   > Discern?
We are to be marked by equality in our judgement. We are to repent before judging.
   > Jesus shows us how to judge wisely
     He shows repentance in judgement
     Shows what to judge

1. Choose your desires (7-12)
Ask yourself, "what is it that I really want? Is it pure?"
   > Don't fool yourself
[Joe said sometimes you can be taken away w/ modern convenience. We should be asking for a broken relationship.]

2. Choose your path (13-14)
There is a right and wrong choice--make sure you've chosen correctly.

3. Choose your influences (15-20)
We are easily swayed by people
   > Be careful who you listen to.
[Joe said when someone errs, approach them rightly, and be ready to correct and reconcile.]

4. Choose your actions (16-23)
Is your confession influencing your profession and vice-versa?

5. Choose your foundation (24-27)
Foundation = Rock = Jesus Christ

[Joe commented regarding the preeminence of Christ: Christ was an authority, separate from other teachers.]
[Andrew commented regarding the importance of good choices: Bad apple = Bad bunch.]

Conclusion: We, as Christians, must always judge. We must discern between right and wrong and are obligated to choose rightly. We must choose to honor our Lord rather than dishonor Him. The first place we need to look and judge is in our own lives.

1 Thessalonians 5 Thomas Wheeler

About the tribulation.

  Chapter 1:10. Wait for Jesus.

  Dan iel 9:24-27. Tribulation is for the Jews.

     7 years & trouble at the half way point.

Chapter 4

  (1-8) faith

  (9-12) love

  (13-end  hope

Chapter 5

  Verses 12-16 = 7 public commands

     Love for workers & elders

          Respect authority

          Go out of your way to keep them informed.

     Be at peace with each other.

     Don't be unruly.

     Comfort each other

     Upholds the weak

     Don't render evil for evil

          Catch evil impulses, judge and put them away.

Verses 17-22= 7 personal commands


  Pray: goes against our sinful nature.

  Give thanks in everything.

  Yield to the Spirit

  Don't despise prophets

  Hold to good

  Abstain from evil

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thomas Wheeler - Thessalonian Sanctification

1 Thessalonians 1
(5) Our Gospel...
     Not another: there were many going around.
     It is distinct, because it brings power--the power of God.
          "(Needed) to change a life that is self-oriented to a life that is focused on others."
          Given the moment we trust Christ.
(6) Joy from the Holy Spirit
     Real, supernatural joy.
(8) "God's primary method of evangelism is a changed life."
     We are a new creation, this refers to personal sanctification.

1 Thessalonians 2
(15-20) Takes note of persecution.
     God's sovereignty is trusted, there is no need for retribution.
     Spiritual warfare, we are sometimes beset by spirits.
     Our great hope = people. Even in the midst of tribulation. We need interaction with people.

1 Thessalonians 3
(2) Paul sends Timothy since he could not go himself.
     (P.) was hindered, but (T) was not.
(6&7) Faith & Love
     (F) w/o (L) is insufficient.
     There must be mutual (L) and concern for one another.
(12) What does Paul say about love?
     "We never get to a place where we don't need to continue increasing in it."
The Three Essentials
          Achieved through the work of the Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 4
(1) Paul taught them:
     (3) The will of God
          Sanctification: To be set apart, not to neutrality, but to God.
          Wheeler used the illustration of My Heart, Christ's Room
          Be serious with sin
     (4) We are a testimony to God with our bodies.
          Be proactive about the Christian life.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Faith starts with F: Life of Daniel

A Few Facts
   Daniel was one of few who did not have flaws recorded in scripture.
   He was a contemporary of Ezekiel, who considers him an example of righteousness.
   Daniel is a writing prophet, he does not interact with Israel actively as compared with other prophets.
     > It is speculated that he was influential in securing Cyrus' decree for the return of the people.
   Foremost theme in Daniel is God's Sovereignty.

6 Incidents of Faith

1. Dealing with Food (Dan. 1:5-8)
   Daniel is young and takes a small, humble stand. He does not demand religious tolerance or proclaim his God, he asks for a temporary test of 10 days (Dan 1:12) to avoid defiling himself with the king's food. God blessed them both in health and in knowledge (Dan 1:17).
        Faith does not need to be pushy.

2. Dream of the Figure (Dan 2:1-5)
    Note that Daniel was in trouble before he knew what was going on (Dan 2:12-15). He did not panic, however, he responded to the shocking news by requesting time, assuring the king that he can get the interpretation and holding a prayer meeting.
        Faith recognizes where the power comes from.
3. Fiery Furnace Incident (Dan 3:13-19, 25)
     This is the second life-threatening instance in a very short period of time. Here, there is no time or need for more prayer. Bowing down to idols is obviously wrong, there was no need to wait for instruction from God, they already had it. There was no room for compromise.
        Faith finds confidence in God's principles.
[Dan marveled that Nebuchadnezzar, after all this evidence, simply consented to the Hebrew God. He only had tolerance for Him, rather than devotion.]
[Calvin continued this thought with the fact that Nebuchadnezzar was simply supportive, but did not own God as his God.]
[Walter wondered how much time passed between the furnace and the lion's den. He wondered if people would have heard and remembered this instance.]
[EDIT: Scholars say that there were around 66 years between the two incidents.]

4. Dream of the Felled Tree (Daniel 4)
     Written by Nebuchadnezzar, perhaps as a testimony of sorts. When he calls Daniel in to interpret, Daniel is troubled (Dan 4:19). (N.) tries to console him, but the interpretation will be bad for (N.). Daniel had an obvious concern and love for (N.), and does not want this to come to pass. The truth can be difficult to say and may hurt. Daniel, as God's prophet, must deliver the message. Daniel also provides (N.) with some advice (Dan 4:27), something he does not do in any other interpretation. Daniel does not mince words, but is not abrasive or condemning.
        Faith need not be abrasive, it is always humble.
[Calvin notes the irony in the occurrence related in the passage since even the animals know who their God is and (N.) had to become like an animal in order to learn.]

5. Fingers of God (Daniel 5:32-End)
     Note that Daniel did not work for honor, he worked for God's glory and out of respect to the king which God has set up. Daniel diffuses a potentially explosive situation mainly with the help of the testimony he had built up. Before actually interpreting the writing, he exposes the sin and proclaims judgement. This is the closest that Daniel comes to resembling a fiery OT prophet. We as Christians can call out sin, but the closest to pronouncing judgement we may come is by adding the caveat, "if you do not repent." This is because God's grace is great, and He is willing to receive a repentant sinner.
        A well-built testimony of Faith only grows bigger.

6. Den of Ferocious Lions (Daniel 6:10-13)
     This is Daniel's greatest moment. It is no coincidence that Daniel says the least at this time. He lets his walk  do the talking for him. He continues his godly routine of prayer. Prayer fosters a strong relationship with God. Also note that faithfulness to God does not equal disparaging the government (Dan 6:21). Daniel obviously disagreed with the edict. Daniel even practices civil disobedience. But his respect for government stays intact.
        Faith does not have to speak, but it must act.

Three-Fold Spiritual Life

1. From chapters 2-7 Daniel interprets dreams for other people. He Foster's wisdom in others. In other words, he is a minister.
2. From chapters 8-12, Daniel's dreams are interpreted to him by an angel. He is a Follower of God's things. He is learning.
3. Throughout the book, it is apparent that Daniel has a healthy prayer life. His Fellowship with God is constant.

Three Things I Learned

1. Daniel was related to king David (1 Chron. 3:1)
2. Daniel's reactions were appropriate for his circumstances.
3. Daniel was a prophet without interacting with the people: lead with actions.

Key Principles

Be sensitive to the Spirit, he uses your circumstances to further His influence.
Pray when you can, but when there's no time, make sure you take a stand for God's Word.
Ultimately, God is your judge (meaning of Daniel's name). While He positioned everything as they are (thus, demanding respect) total devotion to Him is required above all else.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Frank Gomez, Sr.: Testimonies

On preaching at funerals, "Say what you gotta say so they don't feel we have an agenda."
> Speaking from experience, as he and his friends are known as religious people.

When people approach him with consolation, his response is, "Yes, they are in a better place. But do you know Who they're with?"

John 3:1-3
> We are born from above. We must reject all others and embrace Christianity.

Jeremiah 23:16-19
> (F.)'s fear is that ppl will think he is making things up, like Jeremiah.
> There is no need for interpretation with Black & White verses.
> With our style of lay preaching, our pocket is not affected by our message.

2 Corinthians 4:1-5
> (P.) has the same worries. He makes sure he is very clear with the reader.

Conclusion: We are a big example to a lot of people, and they're always looking. Let's be ready.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Closure: Matthew 4

> Jesus
> Spirit
(R) Devil
> The Tempter (devil)
< Devil
(R) God
"_" Moses
"_" David
> Angels
(R) John (the Baptist)
"_" Isaiah (the Prophet)
> Simon (Peter)
> Andrew (his brother)
> James (son of Zebedee)
> John (his brother)
> Zebedee
< Zebedee
> Multitudes

           Same area he was baptized in.
     Holy City
           Jerusalem. Herod's temple = Addition to God's plan & Unnatural (retaining walls).
     Exceeding High Mountain
           Cliffs of Jerico, presumably.
     Galilee = Region, like saying "South Florida"
     Nazareth --> Capernaum = towns, like "Pembroke Pines, Perrine" 
     (Zabulon / Naphthali) = Tribes of Israel, kinda like counties "Broward, Dade"
           Ancient trade route between the two was called "Way of the Sea"
     Sea of Galilee
           Capernaum was right on the sea. Served as Jesus' home-base.
           Traditionally, they stayed in Peter's house (Mt. 8:14)
     Galilee, Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, Beyond Jordan
           Areas to the East, South, & Southeast.
           Underscores Jesus' popularity. Note that Samaria is not mentioned even though it is sandwiched between these regions. Displays the unpopularity of the Samarians (no contact with them). Also coordinates with John's gospel and the fact that Jesus was not famous there.

When? End of first year of ministry, beginning of the second.
     Yr 1 = Preparation (wilderness / Cana)
     Yr 2 = Popularity (Galilean Ministry)
     Yr 3 = Persecution (Jesus retires from public eye)
     Passion week = (Death, Entry, Resurrection)
          - Dr. Gary Cohen

At this point, Jesus is about to make a name for Himself.

First Things: Spiritual Warfare (1-11)
     Holy Spirit leads Him into temptation (he had no lust to lead him)
     Temptation itself is from the devil.
          He picks on our weaknesses (spiritual, physical, emotional, mental..)
     Making bread from stones
          There is nothing morally wrong with this. The only problem is a bad source.
[Jonathan states that our reliance is to be on God, not anything else.]
[Joe related this issue to one of dominance, where Satan was trying to dictate to Jesus what to do.]
     Pinnacle of the Temple--Jump!
          Quotation from Ps. 91:11-12: omitted a part that implies in ordinary ways.
          That portion of the temple was unplanned by God and supported by unnatural means. It is a picture of what Satan was trying to do: 1) make Jesus do something that was not according to His Father's will and 2) bring attention to himself in a superfluous way.
          The only test we can serve to God is in our tithe: Mal. 3:10
     Worship of Satan
          Absolutely contrary to everything that God had instituted.
          Satan is not dumb, though he is very delusional.
     God can supply our every need -- He chooses to supply Christ's need with Angels.
[Andrew pointed out the irony of the fact that if Christ followed Satan, He would have eaten bread, but by going through temptation, he received heavenly sustenance.]

The Galilean Ministry Begins (Rest of Chapter)
We have Jesus' first message recorded here: Verse 17
     Same as John the Baptist's message. Had they heard it before? NO.
     Jesus confirm's John's message. Repentance is the core of the gospel.
           It is a complete turn away from one thing, towards another.
           It's not: To believe Jesus came, A temporary show, A facade used in Church
           Repentance: This is your life, changed
Repentance: A microcosm (18-22)
     Jesus calls them, how many fishermen heard but did not respond?
     (20, 22) They left their nets (Profession), boat (Possessions) & Family (Paternal Relations)
          Follow Christ = He fills those roles.
Beginning of a Ministry (23-25)
     Christ's ministry is outlined here in 3 parts: Teaching, Preaching & Healing.
           Preach = to tell what  (you must repent)
           Teach = to show how  (how to repent)
     General healing in this passage, the message is what's important.
            Christ heals in order to remove roadblocks to repentance. For us to repent, a miracle must occur.
Good news, repentance is possible!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Prophet Elijah. Reggie Thayil

1 Kings 16:29-19:21 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Based on Hebrews 11:32-34
Where is Elijah in this passage? Consider...

(18:17-19) Who is the troubler?
There are two camps/ideas about the root of (I)'s problems
(21) Faltering b/w the gods... there's a lot of ignorance.
Causes Elijah to feel all alone
(40) Elijah sees major victory

Everything turns by Chapter 19
(4) (E) prays for death --> major low point
He gets comfort from G
(10) He feels loneliness / aloneness
Even though G is with him.
(E) desperately needs G's compassion

We want to be like Daniel, with great faith and devotion, but we are more often like Elijah: weak, made strong.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Proverbs 13 - Calvin Fritchey

Verse 1: Wise Son = Listen to Dad
> Receive your Father's teaching and get a full, long, peaceful life.
> If a son thinks they know everything, they may reject their (F) teaching.
> Don't despise your (F) teaching or rebuke--it's for your good.

Verse 12: Hope Deferred
> It is when someone promises you something, but you have to wait for it.
> Our hope is not something earthly. (Our hope is set in heaven)
> Our hope is the Lord Jesus & He does not disappoint.

Verse 24: Discipline, Do I Hate My Children?
> Here is means actual physical deterrent: Spanking
> Kids will learn, their foolishness will leave.

Verse 13: The World's Teachings Are Contrary to God
> Sometimes kids need to be made to do something.

My Conclusion
> W/ God's Word we can be wise children and good parents, making sure we call the right things good.
> Rest in the hope we have in Christ

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Closure: Matthew 3


> John (the baptist)
          Greatest prophet
          Related to Christ
          Knew the past (Word of God)
          Prophesied in his dress & diet
          Provided new prophesy
"_" Isaiah (the prophet)
> Crowds
> Pharisees
> Sadducees
(R) (Father) Abraham
(R) One (Jesus Christ)
(R) Holy Spirit
> Jesus
> Spirit of God (Dove)
))) God (Voice only)


     Wildernes of Judea
          20 mile stretch from the Jerusalem-Bethlehem Plateau to the Dead Sea
          This is the Area of the Qumran Community, producers of the Dead Sea Scrolls
          It can be inferred from the locale that in addition to Pharisees and Sadducees, we also have the Essenes involved in the Spiritual landscape of this chapter.
     Jerusalem, all Judea, Region around Jordan (locals gathered around)
     The Jordan River
     Galilee --> Jordan
          Galilee is far North. Nazareth is in Galilee (Jesus of Nazareth fulfills prophecy)

"In those days..." When?
     Approx. 30 years after chapters 1&2
     How do we know?
          John the Baptist is Jesus' cousin
          Jesus is grown and beginning his ministry


1. Verses 1-6. John & the Crowd
     John was an authority
           He had the word of God
           He had confidence in the word of God
           He was not ashamed of his clothing, diet... anything
     Why Baptism?
           Important symbol for the Jews: ritual purifications. They had personal baptismal baths (Mikvet) in their homes which both men and women used.
           All gospels start with this symbol -- Synoptics show it as happening, John presents it as a memoir.

2. Verses 7-12. John & Religion. BUT
     The message changes -- not his authority
            God's word stands firm
      The (P.) and (S.) should have known God's Word better -- Vs. 8
             Let God affect your life = bearing fruit
      Spirit & Fire
              Christ gives his Spirit to those who believe
              Reject his Spirit, all you can get is his fire. Christ's judgement is likened to a flame of fire. See that the passage goes on to describe judgement.
[[Joe mentioned that in Revelation, Christ's judgement is so intense that the people cry out for rocks to crush them in order to avoid facing it. But there is no escape for the unjust.]]
[[Andrew pointed out that the (S.) denied the Spiritual realm, effectively placing them at odds with Christ.]]

3. Verses 13-17. John & Jesus
     This is the only time John backs down in humility.
          Our knowledge and intimacy with Christ should lead to humility
     Why was Jesus baptized?
           Not for his sin/repentance
[[Andrew suggested that Christ's baptism was an expression of humility.]]
           3 suggestions: (1) Christ was associating with repentant Israel, proving it was a good thing, (2) He was confirming John's ministry & (3) Jesus was fulfilling His Father's will.
     Jesus's first words in Matthew are in verse 15 = Fulfillment
           Jesus receives confirmation in the form of His Father's pleasure. This is direct fulfillment of Psalm 2:7

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Samuel the Prophet

Consider this:

Samuel was a witness to the departure of the glory of God at the hands of the High Priest's sons. He had no role models. The High Priest was weak and did not know the voice of the Lord. His peers were corrupt and used the things of God for their own advantage.

In light of Samuel's life, let us consider our own positions in Christ. We at Bible Truth Chapel, my home assembly, looked back on 100 years of ministry in the city of Miami, Fl. this past weekend. We have had many, many godly influences in the past.  Looking around this evening, I realized that we have many, many godly men of God in our lives today.

Further, note that Samuel remained faithful despite not having a visible symbol of God's glory. In the physical sense, Samuel and us are quite similar. We have no visible symbol of God's glory. However, when we consider this further we find that we have the advantage in this area as well, in the Holy Spirit. Remember Christ prayed that we believers be glorified with the same glory Christ possesses. We have the glory of God indwelling us.

Let us be faithful to our Lord with all that He has given us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

1 Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Verses 1-2. Paul continues his mantra of respect. Wherever you find yourself there's always an opportunity to show respect to others. In the previous chapter, Paul said leaders need to respect those under them. Now, Paul says if you are under someone else's authority, you must respect that person. Respect is reciprocal.

Verses 3-6. Paul points out how to spot a false prophet--he respects no one. He is conceited, which means he does not respect other people. However, as a conceited person, his inflated perception of himself is not reality, thus, only serves as another form of disrespect. In the end, this selfishness does not allow this man to understand how things really are. Paul points this out in a truly poetic fashion. The conceited man thinks "godliness" is a tool for his own gain. But the truth is that when one one's goal is real godliness, then they truly reap rewards.

Verses 7-12. Paul continues in similar vein, pointing out the biggest weakness in human history: money. The love of money and all the power that money causes man to do all kinds of evil things. Note that Paul doesn't say "don't do" without giving an alternative. Replace those evil things with wholesome things. Go from destruction to building up.

Verses 13-21. Lest we forget who this is for, lest we think that Paul speaks of his own authority, lest Timothy (or any other leader) blindly follow a mentor, Paul lets us know who is really behind all of these instructions. Our Lord is who is behind everything. Our Lord is the one whom we strive to please. Our Lord is the one we want to be like -- hence the term Godliness. This charge is serious. In light of the seriousness of our Lord, everything that the world considers important suddenly loses gravity. How sad it is that people who profess godliness, miss the mark so egregiously. Finally, a reminder that grace is a key to the Christian life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

1 Timothy 5

1 timothy 5 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Verses 1-2. Here Paul lays out an "easy" way to show respect to all in the assembly. He tells Timothy not to sharply rebuke an older man, but to appeal to him as a father. He then applies these paternal terms to other members of the assembly (younger men & women, Older women). This instruction is easy to remember, though difficult to practice. It is difficult to practice because while the instruction to not sharply rebuke carries over to all 4 age/gender combinations, so does the directive "in all purity." Note that Paul is not saying not to rebuke others (see v. 20), he only restricts the manner in which it is done and the spirit (pure) in which it is done.

The benefits of a gentle rebuke are obvious -- psychology would tell us that the approach is key when trying to correct poor behavior. However, the real challenge is to remain pure. Many times have I tried to correct a brother or sister. Most of those times I have failed to approach the offender in an appropriate manner. The rest of the time (or so it seems), I had impure (read: selfish) motives. I trust that God's will was accomplished, however imperfect His tool was.

Verses 3-16. Immediately, Timothy has to put this respectful rebuke into action. The issue of the widows is a case study which Paul uses to illustrate his point. Timothy is instructed by Paul to honor the widows who are widows, and correct an issue with widowhood which was prevalent in this assembly. He had to tell them what they were doing was wrong and then give them alternate behaviors which would be more acceptable. (Note that a sinful act is always replaced by a holy one.) All the while, he had to treat them as mothers/sisters and in all purity.

People hate to be corrected. Timothy was not in an enviable position at all. Even if Timothy did everything right, he would probably still endure harsh, unholy criticism from the congregation. However, leaders in the assembly must be subjected to that from time to time for the sake of the glory of God.

Verses 17-25. But while the work is hard, Paul says the reward is great as we remain faithful to God. Verse 21 is a key when considering the goal of leadership: maintain God's principles and don't be partial. In other words, respect God while respecting fellow man. Shall we take it so far as to say follow the greatest two commandments, Love God & Love Man? That would seem right.

If we keep those two strait, then the rest will follow. Clear sins are clear enough to judge. Hidden sins will come out. Obvious good will be praised. God will bless good thing done in secret. All we are called to do is be faithful.

Friday, September 10, 2010

1 Timothy 4

1 timothy 4 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Verses 1-5. Here Paul continues his previous argument regarding prayer. In fact, this is the best reference we have to the practice of saying grace before eating our meals. By giving thanks to God for the food we eat, we bring a few things to the forefront of our remembrance. 1) Our dependence on God almighty. By saying grace, we acknowledge that God provides all good things to us. We check our pride and further develop our faith in Christ. 2) As a direct result, we are driven to gratefulness. We thank God for something simple like a meal, but overall we know that all good things come from Him, including our salvation. 3) Knowing that we are saved by Him, we know that we are not saved to live as we choose, but we should be His instruments. As we try to follow Him we will avoid falling away from the faith and into our own agendas. May God help us as we live for Him.

Verses 6-11. Now Paul tackles the discipline needed by the believer. This is a natural progression, as prayer itself is an exercise in discipline. We must constantly consider what it is we believe and why. In this way we sharpen ourselves. Verse 10 gives us our reason: because we see our hope in God (to be like Him, read: Godliness) and strive to achieve this goal.

Verses 12-16. Now Paul gives a few practical tips for leaders. Namely, 1) make sure the scripture is read, 2) exhort the believers, 3) teach the believers and 4) use your spiritual gift effectively. Note that it all starts with the reading of God's Word--but it does not end there. Too many times we feel that God's Word stands alone. That the reading of God's Word is all that is needed. While I would never argue against the effectiveness of God's Word, I would argue that God's Word is always accompanied by an instrument of God's choosing, namely, the teacher. The teacher, as Timothy is instructed, exhorts, teaches and brings his spiritual talents to the table. Using this combination, God's Word is effectively used.

God desires to use man to further His message. That is incredible!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

1 Timothy 3

1 timothy 3 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Here Paul gets into Church leadership requirements. The requirements are that an Overseer, Deacon, and Women must be Godly. Note that the Overseer and Deacon were to be men.

Two main points in Pauls argument are that Church leaders 1) must be Godly leaders in their home and 2) must have gone through testing and come out strong.

Verses 4 & 5. These verses clearly state that the Church leader must be a Godly leader at home first. If a man cannot control his own household, how can they control the flock? If one cannot lead their own blood -- people who should be the most compatible with -- how can they lead neighbors, friends and perfect strangers? Further, a man is most honest in his own home. The traits exhibited by his household will permeate anything else he leads.

Verses 6 & 7. Here we see that the Church leader must be able to stand against testing. Tests will surely come. The devil loves to test leaders with their pride and and the things done in secret (outside the church). The Godly leader will be able to recognize this, and realize that their personal actions are important in the grand scheme of things. One cannot give themselves up to the devil in any part of their life and still expect to be a Godly leader. Verse 10 reiterates the command to Deacons, stating that after they go through testing and remain beyond reproach, then they should be appointed as leaders.

Verses 14 & 15. Here we have Paul's mission statement. This is the reason why he wrote this letter: so we can know how to behave in God's house. We must behave God-like.

Verse 16. Paul follows up with what I like to call the Godly Nutshell. This is a description of the effectiveness of Christ's mission to earth. Each of these six items point to the Godliness of Christ's work. Everything He did was right and produced results. Knowing that He has begun a good work in us is truly an amazing thought. In case anyone thinks that Godliness is something unattainable, must consider Christ and His will for us and then realize He will perform it. He will, if we let Him.

Friday, September 3, 2010

1 Timothy 2

I remember praying for everybody in the whole world to be saved. I remember my father tearfully adding an Amen after my prayer and nodding with approval. I did not pray that all men be saved ever since.

Theologically speaking, it is ridiculous to thin that all men will be saved. Even that all men could possibly lay aside their pride and trust on the Lord Jesus. But God certainly wills that all men be saved. He is not only willing, but he is able to stretch out his grace to cover them.

Here in the second chapter of Paul's letter to Timothy, Paul stresses the importance of prayer to the life of a Christian leader--it is essential! Paul tells Timothy to pray for everyone, that they may lead Godly lives. One cannot truly lead a Godly life until their sin problem has been dealt with. God wants to be the one to deal with this issue.

Now here we have these two concepts -- God's provision for salvation and man's desire for independence--creating palpable tension one with another. What could it possibly mean? Are we to conclude that God's will is not strong enough to accomplish it's goals? Are we to conclude that man will be forced to accept grace despite his attempts to avoid it? I say no to both accounts. Remember that Timothy was an instructional letter written to a leader. Prayer fosters an attitude in the one who utters the prayer. By praying for all men's salvation, you cultivate a heart of compassion--the heart of an evangelist. Once a church leaders realizes that he truly desires for all men to be saved, he then realizes God's heart, and becomes transformed more into His image.

It is in this vein that we approach the last portion of the chapter. Paul switches gears (but not direction) with the word "likewise," and turns to women. He asks the women to watch how they dress and approach the assembly meetings. Again, Godliness is the point of his instruction. Note that Paul simply asks the women to take their place in the role God had laid out for them from the beginning. Therefore women truly experience Godliness when in the role God prepared for them, and the same rings true for men.

Recently, a little girl was asked to bless the food. She had been wanting to do it for a long time, so in the privacy of the home she was asked to say grace. Everyone thought it was going to be a short, simple prayer for the food, and then we could get to eating. She proceeded to bless the food, bless each person sitting at the table by name and prayed that everyone in the whole world would be saved. As she prayed, I must admit that I began to get antsy, wondering when she would end. But I remembered my Child-like prayer for everyone in the world. I contrasted that with my cold theological sophistication.

My eyes were not dry by the final amen.
That final Amen was mine.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

1 Timothy 1

This passage beautifully lays out Timothy's mission. From verses 1-7 we glean Timothy's comission from Paul, verses 8-11 describes man's nature even within the Church, verses 12-17 remind's us of God's work in this world, and verses 18-20 encourages us that God's grace is much greater than all our sin.

Verses 1-7. We learn from these verses that Timthy was comissioned by Paul to stay in Ephesus. Paul did not just tell him to stay and vacation in Asia Minor, he had work to do. Timothy was told to ensure that the Word of God went out, unpolluted by sinful men. Note that he was given the measuring stick for profitable discussion--love. Love as defined by 1) purity, 2) good concience and 3) faith. Purity is for the present, conscience for the past and faith for the future. Paul warned against malicious false prophets--people who know better and still teach their own agenda. Note, people can be sincere and sincerely wrong, but if they do not respond positively to instruction, they should be disciplined.

Note, this passage also validates the idea of commission. I.e., one can be given a job by a Church leader and should strive to accomplish this goal as God's servant. Paul took a calculated risk by placing the Church at Ephesus in Timothy's care. But it was a wise decision because Paul had invested a lot in him and ended up getting great return.

Verses 8-11. Here Paul goes into man's nature. We are all depraved and in need of the law. The law shows us a reflection of who we are. Since the law is true, we know that our estate is helpless indeed. No wonder we need god shepherds to guide us. No wonder we need one who is in touch with the Great Shepherd.

Verses 12-17. Lest we think all hope is gone and be discouraged, Paul reminds us of God's grace and mysterious ways. Of course, the greatest example of this is Paul himself. Sometimes leaders get discouraged when all they do is discipline and weed out people who stubbornly continue in their ways. Paul was stubborn in his day. But God had other plans. God took him and transformed him to something useful. Be encouraged.

Verses 18-20. Yet more encouragement is offered to Timothy. Not only is God in the business of making realities out of the impossible, but he supplies power to endure. God is faithful to us always. If we were to respond to Him in the slightest way, he can stretch our proverbial mustard seed into mountains of power. But sometimes we do not respond, that's when we end up shipwrecked. Loved by God, but still with a life in ruins. Either way, God is faithful. God's plan is for our good and in making good out of depraved man, He is glorified.

Friday, August 6, 2010

1 Timothy. Intro.

1 Corinthians 4:16-18, 1 Corinthians 16:9-11 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Timothy is an interesting character. I have yet to run across a passage in which he utters a word, but he is continuously put forth as an example. His duty, expressly charged by the apostle Paul, was to be a positive influence on the people of Corinth. He sends greetings to all churches, but no sermons are recorded. His gift does not seem to be preaching by any means, he seems to be an administrator who teaches with his actions.

Timothy clearly earned Paul's respect. It is interesting that he considers Timothy a son to him, though they are very different indeed. Paul is the outspoken preacher man who moves from town to town. Timothy is the one who is assigned to stop in the city and be an example of decent, Christian living.

In Timothy we see the importance of strong Christian leaders within the assembly. At least one strong leader can take a wayward church like Corinth, and be the tool God uses to minister to and refine them.

Paul truly sees Timothy as a son in the faith. He is protective of him. He re-confirms Timothy's commission. He, the one who was the beloved, respected preacher, gave his personal stamp of recommendation to Timothy. This kind of commendation could go a very long way.

Paul told the Corinthians not to despise him--a sentiment echoed to Timothy directly. It is easy to despize the spiritual man. Perhaps he's too strict. Perhaps he seems not strict enough. Perhaps he goes to church too much. Perhaps he does go to church enough. Perhaps he is too young or too old. There's always a reason to despise the one who represents the truth.

Let us not be too arrogant to listen to the truth.

Friday, April 30, 2010

1 Thessalonians 5

1 thess 5 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Paul opens this portion with a warning. The Lord's return will come suddenly. The Lord's return will catch many people off guard. Note that Paul does not claim that this passage is an end-all explanation of what will occur in the end times. This is simply a glimpse into the future, and an exhortation to remain faithful.

Notice the Gothic Dualism in Paul's exhortation as he contrasts the light and darkness, the day and night, the  awake and the sleeping. Obviously, one state is at an advantage over the other. The one in the light can see better than the one in the darkness. The one in the day is more aware of his surroundings that the one in the night. The one who is awake is conscious, the one who is asleep is unaware. Paul encourages the believers, saying that they have the advantage over their oppressors. One day, everything will be turned around. We will win in the end. They will be caught and their foolishness will be exposed for all to see.

But what are those things that we should be doing as awakened people who enjoy daylight? Paul closes the epistle with those instructions exactly. He says we should appreciate those who labor over us (12)--Church leadership. Appreciate them for their diligence and instruction. Look out for each other (14) and try to deliver what they need. Always find a way to do good (15) regardless of the situation you are in. There are three things we should always do: rejoice, pray and give thanks (16-18) because God wants us to. Be sensitive to the Spirit's continual leading (19-22). Don't ever be downcast, because God is working in you to improve you (23-24) and He will always succeed in the end.

That's the most encouraging word a believer will ever hear.

Friday, April 16, 2010

1 Thessalonians 4

1 thess 4 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

In this passage Paul exhorts the believers in an area they are failing in, encourages the believers in an area they are successful in and informs the believers in an area they are ignorant in. This is a model that would serve us well to incorporate if we find ourselves in a position where we are mentoring another believer. It is sometimes easy to find something wrong in another people, but it is a different story when trying to find a positive. Harder still is determining what a believer errs in ignorantly, or if they realize these beliefs fly in the face of solid teaching. In that case, the error becomes more than ignorance, it is insubordination to the Holy Spirit.

Verses 1-8. Here Paul takes on the task of correction. He informs the believers that sexual immorality is not pleasing to God. He goes beyond just rehearsing a list of dos and don'ts though, he tells the Thessalonians why. The reason is because God wills that we be sanctified. God wants our physical lives to be pure -- to be a reflection of what God has declared us to be on the inside. Our purpose is to be cleansed, not to indulge in filthy deeds. God does not give us rules without purpose. There is always some higher morality or lesson to be learned when God gives us a fact. In this case, it is the value God has for our bodies.

Verses 9-12. Paul makes sure he notes the love the saints have for one another. A genuine love. A pure love. A love taught them by God Himself. Again, love is not just good for it's own sake, it takes on a more dynamic role as a proper representation of Christianity as a whole. We are ambassadors for God, God is love, we should love as well. We should have love for all, beginning with the saints and continuing with all others.

Verses 13-18. Finally Paul acknowledges and corrects an erroneous idea that was believed by the Thessalonians; the belief that once one dies they are gone forever. For the believer, death is a resting place until God raises the body again. The metaphor of sleep shows us that death is no more of a challenge to our great God than a nap. Notice the point of this correction: comfort. Be comforted. Do not stress. Do not worry. Find comfort that in the end, God reigns supreme. That is the point of eschatology -- God's in control. I am a Pan-millenialist: I believe everything will pan out in the end because God is in control.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

1 Thessalonians 3

1 thess 3 - Passage Lookup - New International Version -

The more I read this epistle, the less hard Theology I find and more basic survival and encouragement prevails. Paul is not instructing the believers as much as he is encouraging them to continue in the basic faith. One must grow and develop in the stage they currently find themselves in before they can take on more.

Verses 1-5. Here, as in every location, stresses the importance of Godly role models and leadership. Timothy was sent to the believers to strengthen and encourage the believers. In other words, to make sure that they had a grasp of the basic things on the faith and to make sure that they can continue on believing in Christ.

Note also that God overcomes in every situation. Perhaps Satan won a battle here or there. In fact, the very presence of persecution was a victory for Satan. But he has not, nor ever will win the war. Christ emerges victorious in every circumstance, even in Thessalonica.

Verses 6-11. It becomes obvious through these verses that Paul truly invested a lot of Spiritual stock in the people of Thessalonica. He truly cared for them and wanted what was best for them. In fact, Paul expressed this sentiment many times in his epistles. God's workers should be invested in God's people. It should never be the other way around. That is not to say that the assembly should not support God's laborers, but God's people should not be enslaved to them. Paul, and his company, was excited to see the church in Thessalonica make progress.

Verses 11-13. Paul wants to go and see the church. There is nothing like personal discipleship. One can read letters, books and blogs, but there is no better way to learn than at the feet of someone who knows more than you do. Perhaps there is someone who can teach you something about the scriptures. Perhaps there is someone you can teach about the scriptures.

The trademark of God is His love. The trademark of Christ is His act of love. The primary fruit of the Spirit is love. The greatest of the three: Faith, Hope and Love is Love. A true believer who is not suppressing God's interactions with him should exude love. Love for the believers. Love for the world. Paul wants to see love overflowing in the assembly.

Now Paul prays for strength. Strength is needed in this world. The believer needs to grow and gain strength so they can take on deeper things.Further, the believer needs to grow and gain strength so they can grow closer to the image of God's Son, Jesus Christ. The believer is being sanctified, and the only way to fuel that process is by growing in strength. Knowing God through His word and communication. Application to daily life. Confession and repentance when he fails.

Again, Paul closes the chapter (actually the editors ended the chapter) with a reference to the return of Christ. It is a sure thing. We want to be found faithful to Him upon His return. Is the goal to be fully sanctified when He returns? I would say yes. Is anyone going to be fully sanctified on this earth? I would say no. But that does not provide any excuse for anyone to neglect the working out of our salvation with fear and trembling.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

1 Thessalonians 2

Paul takes some time in this portion to defend himself and his authority in preaching the gospel. Paul uses one major weapon to do this: his testimony.

Paul repeats phrases like, "you know how we dealt." By doing so, he relies on his impeccable presentation, free from impure motivation or any semblance of wrongdoing. We should behave the same way. We should be able to tell coworkers and schoolmates the exact same thing. And they should have no evil charge against us.

Paul states that he has been entrusted with the gospel. That is, entrusted to keep it as it was revealed to him -- to preserve it. Paul did not change the gospel to suit his needs. He prented the gospel that meets man's need.

Further, the goal is not man, man's praise or their own betterment. The goal is Christ, first and foremost. There is no other goal but to please God Himself. May I be so pure in my service to the King.

Next, Paul uses the family model to illustrate his relationship with the Thessalonians. He uses children, Mother, Father and later on Orphan.

Verse 7. Paul states that they behaved like children before the Thessalonians. That is to say, they were not aggresive. Verse 6 states that they had authority to assert their prerogatives. But they didn't. They decided to be meek and take the low place while presenting the truth in love.

Verses 7-9. Paul then flips the script with the next metaphor which likens the Thessalonians to children and himself as their mother. Here, he is explaining how he took on a nurturing role, encouraging growth by making sure the environment was the best he could make it for them.

Verses 10-12. Now Paul takes on the aura of a father. A father who urges his son to do better, thus making him proud. And the greatest thing the Thessalonians could do is live lives worthy of God.

Verses 17-20. Finally, lest he be accused of thinking himself above the Thessalonians, Paul considers himself an orphan when separated from the believers. He truly considers them as brethren, and separation from them is difficult. Paul genuinely means it when he calls the believers his joy and crown.

Perhaps there are people you should commit to more fully in the local assembly.

Friday, March 12, 2010

1 Thessalonians 1

1 Thessalonians 1 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

I find it interesting that this entire epistle, save for the final two verses, is written in the third person. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy are speaking together, as one, to the assembly in Thessalonica showing solidarity (unity) in leadership. This is important as is serves as a model for the Church. We are to be one. But more importantly, our leadership should be on the same page. That is not to say that the leaders need to be clones of one another, but the leadership should be close enough to one another that they know how each other thinks and feels concerning a situation, and they can work together as one.

This unity could also prove to be important given the history of the founding of the Church at Thessalonica. This was a Church that underwent grave persecution by Jewish leaders. Judaism is an ancient religion with a strong foundation (both numerically and spiritually). Paul, Silvanus and Timothy working together could have provided a strong support system for the believers, letting them know that there is a global body of believers fighting the good fight with them. In fact, this truth remains even today. Christianity is a strong religious system with many believers in many countries. This provides security of doctrine and great support for one another.

After a typical Pauline greeting complete with Grace & Peace, Faith, Hope & Love, the writers dive into assurance in verse 4. Knowing: it is a great fact that the believer can rest assured in the promises of God. He can know them.

The first thing we can know that we are loved of God. He sent the ultimate sacrifice when He sent His Son to die for us. We are greatly loved by God. We can know this, we can rest in it.

The second thing we can know if that God has chosen us. Now, without getting into the Theological implications of predestination, we know that there are a few reasons why God would choose us. He would choose us because He finds pleasure in us. He would choose us because He desires to bless us. He would choose us because He desires fellowship. In other words, God places a certain value on mankind and this value compels Him to choose man. We are not given enough details to know if He has only chosen a few men or all men and how that reflects on His character.

How do we know these things? How can we rest assured in these promises? We know because God came with sufficient power to save us: verse 5. He came with full conviction -- He really wanted to show our need. If He came only with partial or fleeting conviction, then we may not really think we need Him.

We also know these promises are true because they are lived out in good examples. Paul, Silvanus and Timothy acted as ambassadors to the Thessalonians, and they proved how blessed a life lived for Christ could be. Not only so, but in persecution, the Thessalonians learned the Joy of the Spirit which can flow through the worst of circumstances. This, in turn, made the Thessalonian believers out to be examples to all of Greece of how a steady believer should behave (indeed their fame had spread across the region) -- all this in relatively new Christians. All this was made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It has been said that each chapter in the epistles to the Thessalonians contains an eschatological reference and it comes here in verse 10. In this reference we find the promise of final redemption, salvation from the wrath to come. This is ultimate rescue from judgement and glorification. The wrath of God will destroy all of creation. However, those who trust in Christ will be glorified like Him. Remember, Christ was raised and never saw corruption. We have that promise in store for us as well.

Intro to Thessalonians

Acts 17:1-15 - Passage Lookup - New International Version -

Keep in mind that Thessalonica was a vibrant metropolis. The population, scholars say, reached 200,000 civilians. That constitutes a major city. Hence, there were a lot of people and a lot of ideas floating around.

In that large population there were a lot of Jews. The Jews apparently had great influence on the city as we read in Acts. So much so, that they were able to raise a legal ruckus against the new Christians and persecute them mercilessly. This persecution forced Paul to leave without building the strong foundation that he had customarily built in other places he evangelized in.

Note that Paul has his comfortable starting point in verse 2. Paul likes to start by preaching in the temple. This is no wonder because of his background, Paul knew the Jewish religious like the back of his hand. He was experienced in it.Why not use your strengths and training (education) to further the kingdom?

Note also in verse 2 that Paul reasoned with the hearers. He engaged them. He explained to them. One must be familiar with their subject matter before they can engage and reason with others on it. How well do we know the scriptures? Are we able to reason with others concerning Christ? We should be so familiar with Him (and His Word) that we can speak of Him comfortably in every situation -- especially those situations we excel in.

In verse 4 we have the initial conversion of the crowd: some Jews, God-fearing Greeks (ie. those who had converted to Judaism) and not a few women. I find it interesting that women have been mentioned a lot in the book of Acts as the initial place where Christianity took hold and in the epistles as leaders of the assemblies in the various evangelized cities. This is a significant alteration of the common view of women in the ancient world. Women were second / third class citizens in the ancient world, but in Christ, all are equal and significant.

The large city turned violent against Christianity and a peculiar statement is found in verse 6. Luke uses a peculiar description for "city officials" that was not common in the literature of archaeology. In fact, many have cited the use of this word as evidence that Luke may have been fabricating things. Ancient Thessalonica was located on the site that current Thessaloniki now stands. Recently, an arch was found with an inscription using the very word Luke used in this passage. It is a verification of the historical accuracy of the account Luke delivers in Acts.

The charges pressed against the believers in the town were, of course, ridiculous reaches on the theology and practice of Christians. While Christ is the ultimate authority for Christians, we are also clearly commanded to be subject to earthly rulers in all moral leadership. Civil disobedience is not a common occurrence, it is the exception. And such disobedience should be done in a peaceful manner.

The account of the Bereans is important because of the reaction the Thessalonians had -- pursuit. The Thessalonians pursued Paul and Silas to Berea and persecuted the Christians there. In short, Thessalonica was hostile to Christianity because of the Jews. So rather than attempting to infiltrate Christianity, they openly opposed it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Colossians 3

Colossians 3 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Paul shows his analytical tendencies in this passage. It logically follows that IF we have been risen with Christ, THEN we should seek those things that are heavenly. Our position should be reaffirmed by our practice. Too bad we seem to have to convince ourselves that this is how things work, because it doesn't. While this is how things should work, we still must actively seek those things which are above and simultaneously shun the baser things of earth.

Verse 10: Paul recognized the completion of a cycle in this verse. God creates man in His Image. Man sins and by the time Seth is born scripture says he was born in the image of his father, Adam. Now, in Christ, the image has been restored to a godly one.

Verse 11: Consider the radical nature of this statement. This is not the age of tolerance. This is the age of Jewish separation and legalism. Greek intellectual superiority. Slaves being considered less-than-men. Paul says that in Christ everyone is equal. There is no difference because all are condemned naturally and all can be redeemed by Christ.

Not only is there no difference in God's eyes, but now there should be no difference in your eyes as well. We are to be a community of believers with Christ in common. Since Christ should be everything to us, we, in essence, have all things in common. This attitude should reign in all that we do one with another, that the brotherhood of believers be shown to be the most important earthly institution--established by God Himself.

Verse 16: I find it interesting that Paul urges the believers to teach and admonish with songs before he instructs to sing songs. The songs were used as an affirmation of doctrine in the assembly, they were the liturgy. Without Bibles, the lyrics of the songs would be used for teaching core beliefs concerning Christ. Most of Paul's letters are believed to be sections of songs used to commemorate Christ's core actions.

Verse 17 sums up Paul's argument concerning social relationships, whatever situation you find yourself in treat it as though you were in that situation with the Lord. Christ should be such a large part of our existence that we cannot function without Him at the forefront of our consideration.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Colossians 2

Colossians 2 - Passage Lookup - New International Version -

The chapter begins with Paul reassuring the believers who have not met him personally that what they are believing and following is the truth. He tells them the very reason he is writing: that they would be encouraged and take heart, be united in love, have the full riches of complete understanding & know the mystery of God. This is the key to the epistle. This is Paul's thesis. He wants to make the Gospel clear, and in the clarity of the Gospel we can be encouraged to continue believing.

Christ is central to the Christian faith. Everything begins with Him. Everything ends with Him. Everything consists by Him. We receive Him & continue to live in Him. We are rooted & built up in Him. Therefore, any system of belief that does not center around the person of Christ cannot be the truth. This means if Christ is left out, it is wrong. If Christ is still there, but on the periphery, it is still wrong. Nothing can be true, regarding a faith tradition, without the centrality of Christ.

Paul continues to show the beauty of Christ in all things. He is the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Christ is fully God. He always was and always will be. He never left it anywhere, though he suppressed it for a time. But Christ is not only God, but man. While there never has been a time when Christ was not God, there was a time when He was not man. Christ became man to redeem mankind. Scripture never says that Christ put off his humanity, hence, He is still fully God and fully man. The fullness of the Godhead bodily He is.

Only man could redeem mankind, because man had sinned to bring the curse to mankind. That is why the person of Christ (His nature) is so important. There is a righteous requirement for the redeemer, and Christ satisfies every single one of them.

Next, Paul speaks to the legalistic tendencies that mankind tends to take part in. He begins with the "do's" and ends with the "don'ts."

Paul says not to be held hostage to any ritual. Specifically, do not let people's judgement affect your decisions regarding religious activity. Note that He does not ban any of these things altogether. He simply says not to hang your beliefs on them--because that would push Christ aside. If the ritual draws you to the person of Christ, then it is to be encouraged. Paul says not to focus on "doing" more than focusing on Christ.

Further, Paul continues in the next portion, since we are associated with Christ, we are free enjoy our life on earth. There are things which we would be restricted from in our own human wisdom that there is no need to restrict any longer. Asceticism is not the lifestyle that Christ requires--though there is nothing wrong with performing acts of Asceticism (fasting, denying yourself of a pleasure for Christ). While it is not forbidden, it is not something that should be central, only Christ is central. Paul says not to focus on "avoiding" more than focusing on Christ.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Colossians: Intro and Chapter 1

Introduction:  Paul passed by Colossae during his third missionary trip recorded in Acts 18. He never stopped in Colossae to preach or establish a mission there. He mostly passed by the city en route to Ephesus. Colossae was likely highly influenced by the believers in Ephesus, and many have noted that the themes discussed in the epistle to the Ephesians and those discussed in the epistle to the Colossians are very similar. In fact, many have said that they are identical with emphasis being placed on a different part of the message. Ephesians, it has been said, is a letter about the BELIEVER'S STANDING in Christ. While Colossians is a letter about the believer's STANDING IN CHRIST. Either way, both are about our position as believers. Praise God, we are found in Christ.

Chapter 1. Paul opens the letter emphasizing the will of God. This will take shape throughout the chapter. He then introduces two prayers.

Prayer 1: verses 3-8. Paul's first prayer is thankful for three things regarding the believers: their faith, love and hope. Faith is in Christ and His work on our behalf. Love is to be exercised on one another in the church. Both the faith and love are borne out of the hope of the Gospel. The hope of redemption for all mankind--even all creation. Without a hope of this magnitude, neither faith or love would do any good here on earth. These three characteristics (most commonly read in 1 Corinthians 13) are the pervasive character traits of the believer. The believer should exhibit these characteristics while on earth. Especially in light of the Gospel. The Gospel never fails, our hope is in a sure thing. God's Word always ha its impact when it goes out.

Prayer 2: verses 9-14. Paul's second prayer is on the believer's behalf. It is an instructional prayer describing what the believers should do next. Paul gives a 4-part description of what the believer has/does. 1) Paul urges the believers to grow in the knowledge of God's will. Believers are to constantly grow in wisdom and knowledge of God. Paul told them they could do it because they had the Spirit of God assisting them. We should be growing even more so because in addition to the indwelling of the Spirit, we have the scriptures--otherwise known as the Sword of the Spirit. 2) Next, Paul tells the believers that they should lead lives worthy of the Lord. We are told elsewhere to be holy as God is holy. We are to live our lives to please God. Paul says that the way to do this is by doing good work and knowing God better. When we do good works in an effort to please God after being saved, it is something pleasing to Him. We are to learn about God Himself, this is different than the other bit of encouragement to grow in knowledge, this refers to Theology; the study of God's nature. As we learn God's nature, we learn why God is pleased as we do certain things. Then we can learn to do everything in a manner that pleases Him. 3) Next, Paul urges the brethren to increase in strength and might for endurance purposes. We are not said to endure when things are easy. Endurance is a term applied when things are tough and we still fight through them. What gives the believer the ability to endure the hardships is faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. It is the thing that we can strengthen and build little by little. Then, when the storm comes we can rest in the promises that we have believed. 4) Paul finally encourages the believers to give joyful thanks to the Father for redemption. This is worship, the believer's highest occupation. This is the ultimate response of a sinner to his savior. This is the response of a believer who is right with his Lord.

Note above that the Father provides redemption. Theologically, He sacrificed His Son. In essence, He paid with the currency of Christ Jesus' blood to buy us back from evil. Christ's role was to be the perfect sacrifice, the one whose blood was shed. This is clarified in verse 22.

In verses 15-23, Christ is called the Firstborn of All Creation and the Firstborn of the Dead. In other words, He is the preeminent one. He is the head. Technically, Paul has also called Christ the Firstbord of the Church in here as well, we know elsewhere Christ is called the Firstborn of Many Brethren. Christ, by virtue his redemptive work, is above the natural realm, the eternal realm and the spiritual realm. He is above every realm one can imagine. He is the Firstborn. He is the fullness (vs 25). When filled with Christ, we are full of the hope of Glory (vs 27).

Verses 28 & 29. The chapter closes with the following three terms: Proclaim, Admonish & Teach. We proclaim so we know who He is. We admonish each other so we know what is wrong. We teach one another so we know what is right. The goal is to become mature in Him. That is the reason we strive this way. That is what Paul lived for.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Philippians 4

Philippians 4 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Paul ends the epistle with gentle, but pointed, encouragement in the faith. I suppose this is the very definition of the word encouragement. It 1) has a point. There is a goal--the other's benefit. Paul wants to stimulate a positive behavior in the Philippians. And 2) it is gentle. True encouragement is all about the relationship. Paul knows his audience. It becomes very clear as you read this chapter that Paul truly knows the Philippians. Hence, he knows what tone of voice will work for them. Too many times believers instruct one another without taking into account the personality of the other person, so it is taken wrong. People end up offended and hurt. That is not true encouragement, that is chastisement and there certainly is a place for that. But Paul here wants to encourage the Philippians in a few areas.

1. Be of one mind. The KJV uses the term yokefellow here, bringing to mind the image of 2 beasts united together with one purpose--to serve a master. Paul states that divisions and strife should not be the norm in the assembly. They should be rare. The two ladies had previously been united in their work for the Gospel, but something happened. Paul makes it clear, to be united with Christ invariably leads to unity with one another. Trivial matters fade and real issues can be resolved. Remember the seven unities of the Spirit.

2. Be joyful. It is no wonder that the joy has gone from this assembly. Where there are strivings and discord, where is the room for joy? There is none. We cannot be joyful until we find ourselves right with Christ and then right with our brothers. After that, joy should flow through us. Remember the fruit of the Spirit includes joy.

3. happy. That comes after "Don't worry..." Paul says, "Be anxious for nothing." We have the mightiest power in the universe bending over to hear our requests and take care of us. Why should we worry and be anxious? Just let Him handle it! Obviously, we can never be freed from our natural tendencies to be concerned over certain issues as long as we are in these mortal circumstances. But when concern begins to impair us, we know that we have held it too far. Remember that peace is also a fruit of the Spirit.

4. Be holy. We have been called apart. We have been given special favor and with this favor we have also been commanded to live up to our high calling. Throughout the book we find little pointers on dealing with our mind, here Paul states it outright. He tells us what the litmus test is for our thoughts. What kinds of things should be entertaining our minds? What should we meditate / dwell on? Let the Spirit exercise self-control.

Paul ends the book by giving his personal thank-yous to the Philippians. He acknowledges their concern for him as well as their actions on his behalf. The church in Philippi was the only one to give Paul financial / physical support at one point in time! Way too often we are with a cause in sentiment, but not with our wallets. What greater cause to join than the Gospel of Christ? May we be able to put our money where our mouth is like the Philippians, and store up treasures in heaven.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Day that the Lord has Made. Psalm 118.

A major question in this Psalm is this: Who do you place your trust in? Is it the true God? Is it man? Or is it some abstraction of your mind? Let us explore Psalm 118 and see what it has to say.

Verses 1-7
The writer urges his audience to give thanks to the Lord. Why? because his lovingkindness endures forever. I have heard it said that his love is so great that simply love could not describe it; love had to be merged with kindness. Love has the ultimate best interest in mind, kindness looks more to the present state of things. But God love also considers the present state of affairs and affords some comfort to where one is right now. I love the progression of this passage. The writer targets Israel as the people of the promise. God's goodness to the nation as a whole is evident in the covenant made between Himself and the people. Then the writer targets the house of Aaron, the high priestly line. The family within the tribe, within the nation, within the World that God chose to be direct intercessors between the people and Himself. He urges them to give thanks for His goodness. They, of all people, should give most thanks for they have seen more of God's goodness. Finally, God targets those who fear Him. These are the culmination because not only have these people been shown great favor, but they understand the significance of this favor. There are those of the House of Israel who did not realize the favor God has shown them, so they do not fear the Lord. There are those of the House of Aaron who did not realize the favor God has shown to them, so they did not fear the Lord. But to those who realize God's favor--to whatever extent it has been revealed--those will recognize and give thanks. May we give thanks for the favor God has shown to us.

Verses 8-13
Here the writer turns his attention to mortals and declared how much greater it is to trust God than them. Again, he describes 3 forms of man. The first is simply the common man. This is any ordinary person, perhaps an equal. Perhaps one who is stronger or more noble. But to trust in a mere mortal is not as desirable as trusting in the Lord, for He is above man. The next form is of  prince. A nobleman. One who has authority over other men. One who can turn men towards or against another. This man is more to fear earthly-wise than the common man. But God still trumps the prince. In His eyes, the prince is still merely mortal, and the mere mortal is always below Him. The final form is of the mob. Scripture uses the term: Nations. While a prince may be feared, an angry mob the size of many nations is most frightfull. But God still reigns over them, and they are subject to His will. God's will is steady and sure. He will always cause things to turn out just right. So long as you are in His will, He will help you.

Verses 14-21
How do I know the writer is in God's will? Because of the next passage. Not only does the writer make it clear that he relies on the Lord, but he uses one specific word repeatedly: salvation. There are two things that occur when someone is saved. 1) The person realizes that they are in trouble. One must acknowledge the need for a savior before they can be saved. Even those who were unconscious when they were saved, by identifying themselves as saved from something they admit that they were helpless and 2) completely subject to the will and mercy of someone else. Not only subject to the will and mercy of another, but one who is in a much better situation than they are. One who is greater. The writer has just established the fact that his God is in a different league than all of mankind. He is the author's salvation. The author has submitted himself to his God's will. And that's a good place to be--though he had to endure discipline in the process.

Verses 22 & 23
These are the famous Messianic verses embedded in this passage. And, being a Christian, I cannot help but interpret the cornerstone as the only begotten Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ. And look at this situation as yet another example of misplaced trust. The Pharisees of the New Testament placed their hope in God. The God of wrath. The God of judgement. The God of the Law. Their view of God was one-dimensional. Their God was influenced by their theology. This is a very dangerous predicament to be found in becuase while they claimed to trust God, they trusted a false god and bypassed Christ, who is the true Messiah. They followed after their imagination of what God would be like and in the process they took God's true form and nailed it to a cross. But, in doing so Christ was exalted and now draws all men to Him. He came to the Jews, and as a result of His interaction with the Jews He was introduced to the entire world. It is a marvelous thing. His will truly is greater than our imagination. Let us always be mindful of that.

Verse 24
And now the text and title of this post. Now that we know the context, we can rejoice in the day the Lord has made. He made the literal day. We rejoice in His power over the entire natural realm because He is creator of all He made you alive in this day, because of His lovingkindness you are conscious to smell, see, taste, hear and feel. Because of His sacrifice this day can be truly enjoyed without fear of future judgement, because of our great salvation. We trust in the True God, the God of every day.

Verses 25-29
Notice the change in person that occurs in this last section. The author begins with the third person 'we' and ends with the first person 'I.' Here is the last person who has tasted and seen the Lord's goodness and feared Him. The writer personally owns God's salvation and praises Him with his lips. May we always do the same.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Emancipation to Christ's Yoke (Galatians 5:1-8)

[Points from last night's message.]

I began last evening's message by reading the second part of the Emancipation Proclamation. This is a powerful, famous declaration made by the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. In it, he declared that (almost) all slaves living in Rebellious states were free. He did so using the authority granted to him as Commander-in-chief of the US Army and Navy.

In Galatians 5:1, we are encouraged by Paul to stand boldly in the Liberty which Christ has established for us. We are no longer slaves. He has come to set us free. We know from John 10 that if the Son set us free, we are free indeed. This freedom is established by the Lord God Almighty. While Lincoln used his Authority as Commander of a great Army, Christ's authority is that of the Creator of all things. His power is unlimited. He chose to use His power to ensure that we can be set free.

One major criticism of Abraham Lincoln's proclamation was that it was not a legal document. By using the military as his authority he bypassed an opportunity to make a more powerful statement--he could have used Congressional power. By using congressional authority, he could have set a real legal precedent which could have been followed by more Congressional sanctions against Slavery as an institution. Christ's declaration of our freedom does not stand only on the merit of His Omnipotence, is also stands on the legal footing of God's justice. In Christ, the legal requirement of the Law has been satisfied. He is the perfect substitution. He has taken the punishment that our Sin demanded. Scripture calls this Justification. Hence, we are set free based on both Christ's power and His representation.

Throughout the New Testament we find the word "Yoke." The yoke is a symbol of bondage. And animal is fitted with a yoke that is set up with a cart or sometimes with another animal. The yoke requires that the animal carry a burden. What yokes are we saved from? Which yokes do we like to try on for size? The rest of the message covers these topics.

There are at least 4 yokes that scripture speaks of. When I discuss these yokes I will use the format, "The yoke of association with..." I chose this format because the yoke always links one with something else. The yoke will be linked with another beast and/or a cart or plow of some kind. In essence then, the question is: who are you associated with. Who is your master?

1) The yoke of association with the Flesh. Galatians 4:21-31. In the direct context of Christ's pronouncement of our Liberty, Paul used a picture from Jewish history. God's promises and blessing resided with the Freewoman, not with the woman of bondage. This is a black-and-white issue. Everyone has been born under this yoke. There is no escaping it. We are born in the Flesh. We are born Children of the Bondwoman. We had to satisfy the requirements of the Law. That was the burden we bear. The Wrath of God was looming over our heads. Praise God, He created a way to make us His own Children in Christ. Now we are born Free. We need not carry the yoke of association with the Flesh. We do not need to satisfy the lusts and impulses of the Flesh any longer. Note that this is a yoke for unbelievers, the rest refer to believers.

2) The yoke of association with the Sinful. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. This is one of the two passages that most people think of when a yoke is mentioned. Notice my title for this yoke is different than the above. This passage, as mentioned earlier, was written to believers urging them not to associate with sinners. Paul tells the believers to come out from among them and be separate. He tells them not to establish bonds with sinful people. Why is that? Because their yoke is hard to bear. Their yoke is designed to weigh you down and make it impossible to please God. The burden linked with this yoke is guilt.

3) The yoke of association with the Legalist. Galatians 5:1-4. As one studies the Pauline epistles, they cannot help but notice that the issue of Legalism seems to always raise it's head. In fact, the Judaisers were a major problem that the early Church councils dealt with. This can be read in Acts 15. Their conclusion can be found in verse 10. The Church decided, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, that the Law had been fulfilled. The purpose of the law has been achieved. We are now under grace--freed from it's obligations. But there are people who would put us back under the Law. Perhaps they choose a different law. Maybe their law sounds more Christian like: go to every Bible Study, Payer meeting, Youth Group Session, etc... Maybe it's about taking role. Maybe it's about having a certain stance on politics or fringe doctrines. These are man-made lists and they are burdens we were never called to bear.

4) The yoke of association with Christ. Matthew 11:28-30. These are the blessed verses that everyone thinks of. Christ's yoke. Notice that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. This is a definite contrast with the previous three yokes. This is not a threatening taskmaster. This is a loving Lord. Notice also that he does not only remove a burden, He places one. But the burden is light. It is light because he assists you.

Philippians 4:1-9 illustrates how this works. Of the many themes of Philippians, two stand out from this passage. 1) Unity. 2) Joy. After reading the book, one cannot help but notice the great deficiency the Philippians had in joy. Paul urges them over and again to Rejoice. The reason for their lack of joy is because they were not united in their focus on Christ. The Yokefellows were not focused on their Master, so they were traveling different paths and straining their relationship -- unity. Maybe they tried on the yoke of Sinfulness. Maybe the yoke of Legalism. They were being pulled in different directions. The discord brought strife. When the focus is on Christ, most problems simply melt away. The problems that remain are the truly serious ones. Those problems can be resolved as long as both parties are truly focused on Christ.

Hence, we have been set free. Free from the burden of the Wrath of God. Free from the Burden of Guilt. Free from the Burden of Our Own Creation. Let us be faithful to the Lord and his light burden. To focus on Him always and strive to please Him.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Philippians 1-3 (From Previous Blog)

Phil. 1
This beloved book begins with a greeting from Paul. In this greeting we see that the assembly at Philippi is well organized with a 1) body of believers, 2) Overseers an 3) Deacons. Everyone has a place and everyone knows their place. The structure of the assembly is very important, and the fact that everyone respects the leadership is crucial. This initially stands in contrast to the first known converts in Philipi according to Acts 16. Namely, Lydia and the Philippian Jailer. However, upon further review, we see that these two characters may have actually pointed to strength in the assembly.

Lydia attended the Women's prayer group by the river. She was spiritual and Paul deemed her to be faithful. She was a businesswoman (a seller of purple fabric), so it may be assumed that she had a good sense of leadership and how to run things. Further, she was able to lead spiritually, as she led her entire family to a saving knowledge of Christ. It is a controversial thing to mention a woman as a leader, but that need not be. A simple study of Priests and Prophets will put this issue in proper perspective. Both were ordained by God. However, Priests were to be only men, and were to function only in the Temple. Prophets (or Judges) could be both man and woman, and were useful vessels for God in other settings. Hence, Lydia was a leader in the Church at Philippi, though not necessarily a vocal leader in the assembly.

Likewise, in the case of the Philippian Jailer, he lead his entire family to the foot of the cross and they believed on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. This shows that the strong assembly begins with a strong home. Then a strong home simply flows out into the assembly and, in turn, the Church. The Roman Soldier was also very well trained in the concepts of heirarchy and the virtue of good leadership. Hence, was both willing and able to lead and to be submissive.
Perhaps the assembly needs more leaders in submission. Remember that submission is never synonymous with supression. When submitting, one must clearly pronounce what they believe, but humbly respect the authority of the person God has placed over them. And so we should let the Deacons and Elders know how we feel concerning a situation, and reassure them that we will honor their decision.
Paul continues by explaining to the Philippians how he is greatly encouraged by them. Everyone needs encouragement in the Lord. He lays out 1) the joy of being with godly people, 2) the unification believers with in the gospel, 3) the promise that God is fashioning us, and 4) the affection that Christ teaches us to use on one another. He expounds on these points through the example of his emprisonment, which God used for the furthering of the gospel message.

Paul, in verse 15, tackles the issue of those who preach the gospel with selfish ambitions. He, in short, argues against the censorship of such persons. Obviously, he is not promoting the practice of any strife within the assembly of God's people. What he is arguing against is the silencing of solid gospel messages based solely on the assumption of the preacher's intent. He would prefer that the preacher be sincere in his message. But as long as the preacher presents an accurate message to lost souls. What good would quieting the speaker do? God controls the effectiveness of His Word, not the man. Many times a preacher may give an eloquent, fruitful message and become a believer many years later. If being a Christian is not even a criteria for fruitfulness, why would correct motives?
What Paul's argument boils down to is confidence in Christ to work all things out according to His plan. Christ is the center of Paul's joy. Christ is why he advises not to silence any preaching of the Gospel on any gray-area grounds. Paul also touches on the 1) efficacy of prayer, 2) reinforces te faithfullness of Christ, 3) the attainability of joy in a life devoted to Christ, and 4) a glimpse into the blessings God has in store for the believer once they depart this life.
Phil. 2
"Therefore," Paul begins this chapter, "if there be any encouragement in Christ." He says so because in the previous chapter he expressed what great discomfort he has gone through in Christ's service. Paul is able to find all of his encouragement in Christ. Consider that this is the apostle who was in jail (in Philippi no less) with Silas, and found a way to express his joy in Christ by singing hymns unto the Lord (Acts 16). The IF in this passage can also be read as SINCE.

Note the operative words in the first verse: encouragement, consolation, fellowship, compassion. Each of these has one things in common, listen to how these words work in real life. X encourages Y. X consoles Y. X & Y fellowship with each other. X has compassion on Y. The commonality is community. We need one another to make it through this life. Paul goes on to explain this dynamic through the chapter.

Note verse 2, Paul's joy will be complete when the believers are of one mind. He then explains what being of one mind means, namely: 1) acting out on the same love, 2) communing with the same God and 3) focusing on the same goal. These are the steps, Paul says, to being of one mind in the assembly.
The product of following these steps is humility. By (1) loving one another, we are to humble ourselves in favor of our brethren. We are not to look out for our own interests only, but factor in the best interests of others in every decision we make. By (2) cultivating a close relationship with God, we humble ourselves in His presence and should submit ourselves to His service. If everyone in the assembly were to draw closer to God, we would naturally draw closer to one another. By (3) focusing on the same goals, we become united in purpose, and humble ourselves to achieve the ultimate prize. In fact, we have a holy mandate to reach the lost, baptize them, disciple them & Remember the Lord. When we focus on the main goals, we leave ourselves with more things held in common and less to argue about.

Paul brings up the example of our Lord Jesus Christ and demonstrates how He humbled Himself in His incarnation. He is the ultimate example for those who claim to be little images of Him. It is clear that Christ met these three criteria in His mission to earth. He came to earth in love, in unity with the Triune Godhead & focused on the goal of the redemption of mankind. All of this produced Humilty in the Lord Jesus.
Lest we begin to feel that this process is simple, Paul reminds us that the exercize of our Salvation is laborious. We need to work, because God is working in us. Therefore, we should not grumble because whatever occurs in our lives is orchestrated by God. Everything that happens is full of Divine purpose. While at the present time the refining process seems excrutiating, the end result will be worth the work--because the one working on us is the Perfect Artisan. He will not be mocked. He never makes a mistake. The final product will be both useful and asthetically pleasing to Him. You can rest assured about that.

Paul closes the chapter anticipating to send a living example to the Philippians in th person of Timothy. His intentions are identical to Pauls. Timothy displays love for the Saints, close communion with Christ and a clear vision of the goal of the Christian life. Epaphroditus, again, is a living example of the humility resulting in like-minded unity given the fact that he came close to giving the ultimate sacrifice of love: his life.

Phil. 3
Paul again encourages the believers to rejoice in the Lord. He would not urge them to rejoice if they already experienced joy in the Lord. Hence, he pleads for them to find their joy in God. A literal interpretation of agape (the word commonly translated as Godly love in the scriptures) is, "to fing joy in the pleasure of others." In other words, it is a conscious act of determination. Further, you are determined to be pleased only when joy is found in another--Paul suggests that we be pleased in God's joy. This opens interpretation of this passage up to a host of answers to the question: what brings joy to our Lord?

The first of which is worship. We, as believers, can worship God as He wants to be worshipped. We can please Him fully by giving Him the devotion He deserves in the manner He desires. These are two distinct points when discussing worship. 1) We worship Him because He deserves to be worshipped. He is Almighty God and demands worship. He is All-Loving, and request only your devotion. He has both inherited and earned our worship. 2) We worship Him in the manner that He desires. The manner is, namely, humility. That manner, by the way, has always been the same. He has always required humility in worship. However, as Paul so eloquently describes from his own experience, that which God had set up quickly became about the capacity of man and confidence in his own ability. This is not the spirit in which we are to worship. Only the spirit of humility truly pleases God and allows us to experience full joy.

A third theme in this chapter is that of purity. Pauls urges the Philippians to beware of dogs, evil workers and the false circumcision. He wants to make sure that we are not conforming to the world. He instructs us not to set our mind on earthly things because that is what those whose end is destruction do. (Naturally, he means for us to set our minds on things above.) He wants us to keep unspotted from the world. To remain pure. To be holy, as God is holy. In short, to immitate Christ. To make our goals the same as His goals. In the end, our humility and purity will be realized and traded in for glory--the glory of Christ Himself. It will happen on the day that Christ subjects all things to Himself.

In short, when His pride and joy are revealed complete.

His pride and joy = us.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

Mailing List