For Your Information…Hebrews Chapter Three

This chapter is broken down into three segments of verses that inform us of the dignity of Christ, warns us of the danger of unbelief brought about by sin and the need to stay faithful to Christ…following him with a steadfast zeal.

Christ is the Messenger sent to us by God. This truth resting firmly on our  faith is revealed to us through Christ and He is the hope we have for a better day. Christ is many things. He is the Messiah and is anointed to both the offices of Apostle and High Priest. He is Jesus, our Savior, our healer…the Great Physician. Consider if you will what He is to us now…what He will be to us hereafter and forever. The Jews have always recognized the faithfulness of Moses and held him in the highest of esteem. Moses was a faithful servant but Christ was the eternal Son of God. Here was a point of separation. They were being told that Christ was the Master of this house, of His Church, His people, as well as their Maker. They must follow the ways of Christ, be steadfast and possess perseverance throughout this journey, until the end. All our thoughts of Christ and his salvation will bring us more wisdom, the need to love others and confidence and obedience.

There are days when we can be provoked into something we would not usually do, days that we give in to our temptations. A Christian knows that he is totally dependent on God’s will and guidance in his life. To ignore that is to provoke God. When we harden our hearts we open the door to the sins that abound in our world. We have all seen or have known someone whose sin has destroyed their life and the lives of those around them, this should serve as a warning to all of us. All sin but especially that which is committed by professing Christians not only provokes God but grieves God greatly. God is not given to wrath or does He rush to justice…God is gracious and gives us every opportunity to change and repent. Those who persist and are impenitent to His grace and forgiveness will risk the wrath of God from which there is no rest. If we allow ourselves to distrust God, we may fall away and soon desert Him. We have all heard the saying there is no promise of tomorrow, we must make the best of this day, make it God’s day. There is not one Christian among us that will not or does not need another Christian’s help. There are none among us, no matter how low they may have gone that do not deserve our care for their standing in the faith, their safety and health, all God’s creation is our responsibility. Sin comes at us in many different ways and it takes more than just our eyes to recognize it. Sin can appear fair, but it is vile. Sometimes it seems pleasant but it is destructive, promising much but giving nothing. Our deceitful behavior to hide the sin hardens our hearts and souls. One sin leads to another and with each sin that follows, it become a habit. We must beware of sin.

Christians are sometimes referred to as the Saints and are therefore made partakers of Christ. The things of the Spirit, the nature, graces and the righteousness, the very things that are the life of Christ. We are interested in all things Christ, all He has done or will do. The same spirit and faith we set out with to attain, learn and live the ways of God we should maintain until the end. Staying strong,  having perseverance in the faith is proof of our sincerity. Hearing, studying and learning the word and doing so often is a means of salvation. If we do not do the above we are weak and open the door to temptation and the Divine wrath. Obedient faith makes us partakers of Christ and His complete salvation. We should not put our trust to the things of this world, opting instead to be part of the true believers living to be part of that final day and eternal salvation. Sin is defeated by the power of our faith and in that faith lies the power of the Spirit and the glory of our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

Life is Good

jk

Into the Presence of God

In the very first four verses of the 2nd chapter the author makes the case for the salvation we dare not neglect. We must be attentive to things we have heard. The word spoken through the angels has proven itself to be true and those who neglected it have paid a price. How is it possible for us to neglect that which came from the mouth of our Lord and further guaranteed by those who heard it from his lips? As we read through these first four verses there are two things presented here. There is the revealing of the law as presented by the Angels, or better said the Ten Commandments. To fall away from those laws brought immediate and just punishment. Then came the revelation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God and that being the case, it far more greater than that from the Angels. Considering that the revelation through the Son is greater than that of the Angels, we can with confidence be assured that the punishment and judgement will be harsher. We need to be mindful to what has been shared with us. Sometimes the pressures of this life allows that which matters the most to be overwhelm by the daily stress and pressures of life. This Christian revelation given to us is unique in its origin. It came direct from Jesus Christ. There is no need for guessing or stumbling around in the darkness looking for an answer…It is the voice of God himself coming to us in Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews makes it plain that it has come from those that heard it direct from the lips of Jesus Christ. This is not second hand information and can only be passed on by those who know Christ. We cannot teach that which we do not know. This revelation of the Christ has proven to be effective. From it has come signs, wonders and deeds of power. Christianity has the ability to make bad people good. The wonder of or proof of Christianity is that it does change lives. One of its most convincing facts would be the uplifting and visible changing of morals, indeed a miracle that all can see and is still happening this very day.

As we read on in verses 5-9 the writer starts with a quotation from Psalm 8:4-6. Interesting here is the fact that this reference to Psalm 8 which in its totality is to human beings, there is no reference to the Messiah. The next thing we find here is that a translation of a phrase in Psalm 8 literally means the son of man. I find there is indeed evidence in scripture that God addressed Ezekiel more that 80 times as the son of man. We have become so accustomed to the phrase son of man and hearing it we tend to always accept that to mean Jesus. In Hebrew son of man means just simply a man. First we know that God gave Adam dominion over ‘the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth’. (Genesis 1:28) Returning to Psalm 8 verse 5 we find when translated in the original Hebrew it reads …they, being human beings, are made a little lower than Elohim and Elohim is the regular word for God. How great is that! But then the good news is interrupted by the fact that while we were meant to have dominion over all things, the situation is quite different…we do not. We find ourselves losing to our frustrations and the circumstances we face daily. We are regularly defeated by our temptations and cower in our weaknesses. We are bound, we who are to be free, are slaves to our sins. This is not what was meant to be.

We end these verses looking at what was to be. We are not what our Lord intended us to be. Enter now Jesus Christ… He suffered and died on the cross, rose and entered into glory. All that suffering, death and glory was for all of us. Think about it. He died to free us of frustration, bondage and weakness to sin. He died that we might have that dominion that should be ours, as given. He died that through Him we might become what we were originally created to be. We see our actual condition…frustration instead of control which leads us to failure instead of glory and that through Christ we can be what we were meant to be…most importantly, without Christ we will never be as intended. 

Where to begin the end of this chapter? A one word summary of these last verses 10-18 would be simply Suffering. Consider this verse:

Hebrews 2:10

10 It was fitting that God,[i] for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 

The writer uses one of the great titles of Jesus, the pioneer of glory…the word used arche ̄gos simply means head or chief. There is one basic meaning applied to this word would be someone who begins something so others may enter into it. This is a person creates a path for others to follow. This is Jesus who made a path to God for us to follow. How did this come about? The scriptures tell us Jesus was perfect, God made him perfect. The verb used here is teleioum, translates to the adjective teleious which translates usually to perfect. New Testament usage was often used to describe sacrifice which was without blemish, fit to be offered to God. But if we go beyond that the simplest way to get to the meaning to be applied here is… for us that does not mean we are perfect but instead describes a person who is fully capable of carrying out the purpose for which he or she is designed for. So in that vein it means not so much perfect as having been made fully adequate for the task as designated. What Hebrews says however is that Jesus being made perfect is completely able to take on the task of being the pioneer of our salvation.So let’s bring this chapter 2 to a close with these thoughts…

-He established His identity with us through his sufferings.

-His sufferings tells us he has sympathy for us, he feels our pain.

-Because he is God incarnate, Jesus can really help us. He has met our sorrows, faced our temptations, thus he knows exactly what we need.

 

Life is Good 

jk

Let’s Draw Near

Hebrews 10:19–22:

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh) . . . let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith

The past few weeks I have written about discipline and prayer. Both are an avenue to establish a closeness with God. This week The Pew is going back to the book so to speak. In the weeks to come we will draw from the Book of Hebrews one of my favorite books to read.  

I look on prayer as a conversation between myself and God. I believe that we need more of a conversation between the church and the Bible. There are many things to talk about that we find in the Bible pertaining to the liturgy, purpose and the relationships that define the Christian faith. There are many voices that join the conversation, invited and uninvited. The language used, the conclusions reached and the level of participation depend on the community of people involved in the conversation. Not all people are equally engaged, some preferring to remain silent and regrettably some are silenced by the more influential in the conversation. So as we get into this study about people, church and the Bible, keep in mind there needs to be a willingness and ability of all involved to hear and carry on this conversation. There are some interesting facts about this book. One thing to note is that Hebrews has not always had a stronger or more influential voice, so to speak, in the conversation between the church and Bible. We do not want to give the impression that this letter has been silenced or put aside totally. Many a church uses Hebrews 13:20-21 as a benediction…

Benediction

20 Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Now there are many other occasions in many congregations that Hebrews is invited to speak through the written word. We just happen to notice that the invitation to do so is not extended as often to Hebrews nor is it afforded the attentiveness such as is given to Romans or 1 Corinthians. 

The Book of Hebrews opens with a statement of faith. In these first four verses we find what I call buzz-words that establish the very roots of this book. Read again the pillars of truth written here. God spoke, has spoken….in the past, in these last days…to our ancestors, to us….by the prophets… by a Son. There is a noticeable shift that takes place in verse 3. We read in verse 2 of God’s relation to the Son and in verse 3 we read of the Son’s relationship to God. To sum up these first four we must look closely at the time this book is written and of course later translations. We are to remember that the subject of our Christian faith is God. The Christian church at this point has some semblance of order of worship and faith precepts. This raises an interesting point. When taking the gospel to those who don’t acknowledge God, the teaching of Christian theology relating to the person, nature, and role of Christ is in a sense beginning a bit early. Here at the start of this book we are reminded that in the beginning, God…. Even if the discussion will eventually move to Christ, the Holy Spirit or the church. The writer states, not assumes, the centerpiece of the Christian faith is God… God does speak to his people and his revelation is the cornerstone of both Judaism and Christianity. Some would believe that there could be an issue of continuity between Judaism and Christianity, that being a whole other story. Over the years the issue if discontinuity was struggled with but here in this book of Hebrews we find in chapter 1 verse 1 how that issue will be addressed.  There is another image of the early church as being poor, and unlettered people at the margins of society, that image is shattered in these first four verses. The writer makes it clear that this is written for what we might consider second-generation Christians.(2:3) Much of what we read here was passed on by those who had actually heard the Lord speak. Those to whom it was written were for the most part not new to the Christian faith. (5:12) They are encouraged to look back on former days. (10:32) Looking back they would see the many heroic figures who suffered for the word, this would be a great inspiration for their community of believers. (13:7)

To do an online study of Hebrews using a blog as the platform is not practicable. Instead we will look at a few of the chapters and hope that this will encourage you to read this book. This was always one of the most beloved books back in the day. There was quite a bit of pushback to keep it out of the new Testament. There is no definitive decision as to who actually wrote Hebrews, there are several names put forward by biblical scholars but to make a long story short…in order for the book to be included in the New Testament it was attached to the writings of Paul and thereby gained inclusion. So now with these small items out of the way, let’s look at the first chapter of this book.

First there is the wonderful revelation found in verses 1-4. In past times God had revealed Himself through the prophets, He now reveals himself through his Son Jesus Christ. The deity of Jesus Christ, God incarnate shines forth brighter than the sun in the sky. Jesus, the Creator, Sustainer and risen Savior, is better than the angels. In verse 5 we find Jesus the supernatural Son for he is both the Son of God and God the Son. We willingly worship the only God. Even the angels of heaven are told to worship Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, verses 6-7. In verses 8-9 a mystery is put forth that the human mind is unable to understand. Jesus has an eternal relationship within the Trinity with God the father. As said the human mind is unable to understand this without the teaching of God’s revelation found in the scriptures. Verses 10-12 present the fact that within the Trinity, Jesus created the world. We close this chapter with verses 13-14 revealing that it is the Father’s will that the Son shall reign from the right side of the throne. Leaving to be understood that the Angels are there to minister to those who will become saved.

I am grateful you joined us today and hope you will return. May God bless you and your loved ones, bring family together and in a larger sense…May the Family of God, the Community of Faith and all who follow the way, remain strong by His presence and grace.

Life is Good

jk 

For Paul…EveryThing is From God

Thessalonians 3: 11-13

As I completed last weeks blog before closing the book my eyes wandered to the remaining verses in this chapter. These are very simple verses but they give us a look into the thought process of  Paul. For Paul God is everything, the beginning, the end, the all consuming director of his life. Paul wants very much to go to Thessalonica and he prays too God to open a way for him to do just that. Paul is unique in practicing what he preaches, and we would do well to be a living example of allowing God to be our guide in  our life decisions. In the ordinary day to day occurrences of our life we tend to put God aside, believing we can manage things well enough. When things do go bad we cry out to him knowing we cannot get through it without his presence. Here we see Paul looking to God to lead him to and through something as simple as a routine journey from Athens to Thessalonica. To have a God directed life we must keep company with God and prayer is as good a way as any to stay in touch, so to speak.

The impossible Assignment…

The basic failure of being able to live a Holy life is that we try to do it on our own. We fail in relationships because we chose not seek His leading or just don’t try to allow God to lead us in all aspects of our ordinary day to day activities. Paul prays that God will enable the Thessalonias to fulfill the law of love in their daily lives.

Matthew 22: 37-40 NRSV

37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Love for One Another… Romans 13:8-10 NRSV

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

There is the continued emphasis on the importance of prayer in the Christian’s life, the establishment of a sustainable relationship with God. As we have noted the person who starts their day without prayer is saying, “I got this, I can handle this on my own”. Likewise when we go to bed at night without prayer we are saying that we can bear on our own the consequences of our actions that day. Our failure to live a Christian life is trying to live it without God, an impossible assignment.

In summation Paul’s pleas and instructions are meant to keep the people in righteousness so they might stand before God and be judged and not be afraid or ashamed. We must prepare to meet our God and the only way to do that is to have a relationship with him and live with him in our lives everyday. In Paul’s mind at this writing was that the second coming could occur any day…That applies to us this very day…He is coming back…Are you prepared?

Life is Good

jk

The Spirit And Heart of A Pastor…An Emulation of Worth… I Thessalonians 3: 1-10

The Thessalonians had been going through times of tribulation and afflictions and Paul has sent Timothy with assurances of encouragement and to let them know that such problems were normal for the Christian church. Paul also has a real concern knowing that it is times like these that Satan will move in and tempt the people to abandon their faith and be susceptible to compromise. When Timothy returns he brings good news of their faith and love. They do remember him and long to see him and his fellow workers again. Paul also has problems and this good news comforts him greatly. Within Paul there is a joy in knowing his converts are standing and glorifying Christ. There is joy and rejoicing, he is grateful too God for these Thessalonians. He prays constantly that God will direct his way to them, he desires to see them and help in strengthening their faith in Christ. Paul prays that their love for one another grows and they will establish a need for Holy living. Christ is coming again and with his Saints.

At 77 years of age I have a tendency to look back and fondly remember the years past. For most of my generation those were the best years. The simple life of the fifties, the excitement of a new generation stepping up and the challenges of new ideas and though we did not see it then the acceptance of dissent as a mark of social and cultural growth, which has unfortunately taken the place of reasonable debate as to the value of the path to be followed. We have, my generation, seen the marginalization of Christian values and the removal of God from our schools and other public forums. Interestingly enough I have seen one constant in all this cycle of change….The Pastor And The Flock…  Thessalonians 3:1-10 gives us some insight into a Pastors heart.

This world we live in is full of evil, evil brought about by evil people. Here is the hard part. We will never be able to talk with or mingle with people unless we like them. If our contact with others is one of  conformation there will be no chance to minister to these people. If we began each day despising people or just disliking them, we will never have the chance to save them. A Pastor has a real God given ability to like all people…Pastors have a genuine affection for that which God has created. There is a pastoral anxiety, the anxious wait to see how a member of the flock turns out. The hours of prayer and time invested in the sharing of the word and teaching of the precepts of the church. The joy of a soul saved and looking to their faith to carry them through the evils of this world. Even Christ watches and follows, it is humbling for us to realize that there are those who watch out for us, pray for us and are anxious for our well being here on earth and in heaven. We must learn not to be so quick to criticize and condemn others for their actions. Our first priority should be to help save them from their faults and mistakes. Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica not too just inspect the church but to give them the help they needed. A Pastor knows that the first duty of any Christian is to help. Ours is a faith of hope, love and never condemnation.

A Pastor is a person of joy. Paul has been told that the church is doing well and Paul finds joy in their ability to stand firm. We should understand this easily. There is the joy of a parent or even a mentor in the success of those we taught and encouraged, knowing they will stand the test of time. Prayer and a Pastor are one in all things. A Pastor at the foot of the cross pleading for the needs of his flock is a divine blessing. We will never know in this life how much temptation, sin, pain and hurt has been done away with or minimized by the prayers of Pastors and people of the faith. In our world today the curse of this virus is keeping many of us from fellowship but even then we can still pray.

Affection, anxiety, help, joy and prayer are the heart of a Pastor. We know that there are certain gifts given by the Spirit and each one of us are different in that respect. Consider this if you will. We all can’t be Pastors but how much better would this world be if we had The Heart of A Pastor.

Pray for our Nation and the community of faith the world over…

Life is Good

jk

The Lesser of Three…The Church at Colossae

Colossae was located 120 miles east of Ephesus in the Lycus River Valley in ancient Phrygia, part of the Roman territory of Asia Minor.  It was one of a triad of cities in the area (the other two being Laodicea and Hierapolis), resting at the foot of Mount Cadmus.  Its biblical significance lies in the fact that the book of Colossians was addressed to the church here (Col 1:2) and that Philemon lived in this city.

What is the price of Christianity? What is expected of those who chose to follow Christ? What are the responsibilities of the Church? The towns of the Lycus Vally numbered three and at one time all were of equal importance, Laodicea, Hierapolis, and Colosse. At the time of this writing of Paul they were part of the Roman province of Asia. I add this to aid in painting a picture of  time, place and circumstance. As people of the faith we must acknowledge that things change and we will face things in our day that continue to challenge the church, it’s teachings and the authority of God’s word. We know a great deal of history about this area and in Revelation 3:17, John wrote that Laodicea was rich and in need of nothing. It is important to note that these lands between the River Lycus, for all the natural problems of nature, were capable of supporting three very thriving industries. The area was recognized as the greatest center of the woolen industry in the world. Laodicea was famous for its production of garments of the finest quality, as well as dyeing of cloth, the town of Colossae was famous for this type of industry.  Hierapolis became a trade center and was famous for its spa. You could say that Laodicea was like a county seat of the area, the political center of the area. Colosse in its day was as great as the others, it controlled the roads to the mountain passes. As great as these cities were in time they passed away and even though there are still discernible ruins of the once great buildings of two of these great cities not even a stone remains to mark the possible location of Colossae. It holds a dubious place in biblical history as being the most unimportant town Paul ever wrote a letter to. Our reason of interest in this chapter in Colossians and this town of Colosse is the dispute that rose there about this developing heresy, which left unchecked could be the ruination of the Christian faith.

This is a church that Paul had not himself founded and he had never visited it. While history shows that this is true, there is no doubt that the founding of the church was his doing and on his instructions. While Paul was in Ephesus for three years the whole province of Asia was evangelized, both Greek and Jew had heard the word. Our focus today, Colosse was only 100 miles from Ephesus and thus during that campaign of expansion the Colossian church was founded. I have decided to cover as much of this book as possible and in no particular order, there being only four chapters. To start with I share with you from the Concise Commentary written by Matthew Henry, the book overview.

This epistle was sent because of some difficulties which arose among the Colossians, probably from false teachers, in consequence of which they sent to the apostle. The scope of the epistle is to show, that all hope of man’s redemption is founded on Christ, in whom alone are all complete fulness, perfections, and sufficiency. The Colossians are cautioned against the devices of judaizing teachers, and also against the notions of carnal wisdom, and human inventions and traditions, as not consistent with full reliance on Christ. In the first two chapters the apostle tells them what they must believe, and in the two last what they must do; the doctrine of faith, and the precepts of life for salvation.

Our study today focuses on the situation that is developing at the church in Colossae. There seems to be an influx of false teachers and teaching which has prompted the church to reach out to the apostle. The result being this epistle we study here in Colossians. The serious nature of the situation at this church is evident in the letter Paul has written to them. In the first four verses of chapter 3, Paul exhorts the Colossians to be heavenly minded. As Christians they are free from the ceremonial law, they have the freedom to be closer to God in their obedience to the word. Earthly things are contrary to heavenly will, an undue affection for earthly things will weaken our will to live a holy life. You who are born again are dead to sin, its power over you is broken. It is through the power and grace of God that it has been subdued in your life.  Those of you who have the Holy Spirit dwelling in you know the shame of  the lusts of the flesh and are able to despise these earthly things. The living water Christ promised us flows into our souls and strengthens us, gives us hope. Should we not look forward to that happy day of redemption and the coming of our Lord? This shall be ours when we set aside the affections of this world and live for Christ.

In verses 5-11 the instructions are blunt and strong. Paul says those members who are inclined to the things of this world should be shamed. They are to be suppressed because they are like weeds in a garden and if not destroyed they will destroy everything around them. We must be continuous in our opposition to all corrupt things and carnal indulgences. Paul addresses the need to avoid all instances of sin, lusts of the flesh, coveting the things of this world to the point they become a form of idolatry. Paul makes it clear that if we do not kill these things in us, they will kill us. Consider that the gospel brings to us the rule of right reason and conscience and stills our appetite and passion for things of this world. To be strong in the faith requires that Christ be our only Lord and Savior, he is our all and our hope and happiness.  We read in verses 12-14, chapter 1 of Paul speaking of his gratitude for the blessings which Christians receive in Christ. Two points to be made here. One being that God has given to the Colossians a share  of the inheritance granted to God’s people, those that love Him and do his will. There is a comparison to be made with the words Paul spoke to Agrippa in Acts.

The work given to me is to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sin and a place among those who are sanctified by their faith in God. (Acts 26:18) 

The Jews had always been God’s chosen people but now the door has been open to all people of all races. Those of us as Christians, have been brought into the Kingdom of Christ. In Greek the verb is methiste ̄mi. This was a much more than just a transference it was a rescue. It meant moving from darkness to light, from slavery to freedom, from condemnation to forgiveness and set free from the power of Satan to the power of God.

Verses 15-23 in chapter 1 are a testimonial to the adequacy of Jesus Christ. They are simply the reason for being, the Alpha and the Omega, the completeness of all things.

-He is the head of the Church

-He is the beginning… the first born from the dead

-He is supreme in all things

-We are reconciled to Him because of the blood shed on the cross.

Paul tells them they must remain grounded and strong in the faith, not forgetting the hope of the gospel which you have heard and is being proclaimed to every creature under the heaven. It is a sure fact that Christians are a rather lazy lot in defense of the faith. It might be a bit more kinder to simply say that most of our minds only think as much as they have to. Whatever was happening there had a big enough footprint to get their attention and it could well be as in other situations that this opposition to the faith, the false teachings and such were doing damage to the spiritual health of the Church. All of us have a habit of not appreciating what we have till we see it slipping away. So it is with the Colossians at this Church. They are being confronted with some dangerous heresy, which has led them to realize the riches of orthodoxy. One of the wonderful things about Christianity is that with and through the Holy Spirit it can produce new riches to meet a new situation. One of the players in these cases of false teachings were the Gnostics. We have a similar problem in the church today, granted there are some differences between now and then but they are intended to weaken the word. These Gnostics which means the intellectual ones, were not happy with the simplicity of Christianity. They would much more prefer it to be a philosophy. It is important to understand that in that day other philosophies were very popular at that time. See the picture?…Are we not as the Church constantly seeking other ways that weaken the authority of God’s will and doing so by accepting certain heresies? Returning to chapter 3, the balance of which Paul gives instructions or rules if you wish for Christian households. To close out this weeks time in the pew I go to chapter 4, verses 5-6.

Behave yourselves wisely to those who are outside the Church.

Buy up every possible opportunity.

Let your speech always be with gracious charm, seasoned with the salt of wit, so that you will know the right answer to give in every case.

Chapter 4 is a set of final instructions in which verses 5-6 caught my attention. We are, most of us aware of how to behave in church and our home. Paul sets about to instruct the people of the church at Colosse three brief instructions for the lives of Christians in the world.

  • Christians should behave themselves with wisdom and tact when interacting with those outside the church. We must learn when to or not to speak to others about their behavior or beliefs, never assuming an attitude of superiority or severely criticizing them. People will not be bullied or argued into Christianity. A much more effective approach is so very simple. We must let our lives be an example, we must show Christ to others in our daily lives and treatment of all people, to the point they too would desire to be such an example.
  • This next one is short and to the point, an action verb if you will…seize…every opportunity to work for Christ and serve others daily. Every day life presents the opportunity to witness for Christ but the truth is many do not seize the time and the natural occurrences that everyday life offers. God’s people should always be on the lookout for these opportunities to serve and witness.
  • The last point is one that is assigned as a common trait of Christianity. There is a lack of charm and wit if you will in the way Christians come across to other people. There is a dullness and lack of laughter, a kind of sanctimonious outlook on life and other people. We spend a lot of time talking about what you should not be doing and not enough about the blessings and joy of a Christian life. There are many little sparklers in living a life of service to Christ and to the people of God. There is laughter, joy and assurance of better things to come.

Thank you for being in the Pew this week and hope you will come back.

Life is Good

jk

Deuteronomy 8…. Exhortations and Cautions

Chapter 8 is interesting as it gives us what we can expect in a relationship with God. Obedience continues in our study, with the reminder that all of God’s commandments are to be observed and followed. The basis bringing enforced by the Lord’s former dealings with Israel and his promises to them. It reminds of a need for the holy fear of God that encourages our obedience. It is better said in this way. The holy and reverent fear of the Lord motivates God’s people to worship him with their whole being. People who truly fear God will praise and honor him. They are reminded to look back on the providence and grace of God as He led them through the wilderness. The hard times which in some cases were an embarrassment that brought attention to their actions that were a deliberate rejection of God’s law. They should be mindful of the fact they had done nothing that would recommend them to this position of favor. They are reminded that they were given food and clothing even in their time of disobedience. They were not to look to dishonest means to supply their needs. Moses encourages them to trust the Lord for He is faithful to provide their needs. Again he stresses the rebukes they had been under and even then they did not go without. They must put the past behind them, look to Canaan which the spirit has filled with His gifts and graces. This is the good land, a land in which nothing is wanting and where there is the fullness of joy.

Moses calls to their attention the prosperous condition of the land, reminding them to give thanks in all things and to remember their benefactor. He then warns them that there is always the danger that  prosperity will give way to pride, forgetting God and having a strong sense of well being which can lead to carnal actions and thoughts. To embrace the world brings with it the anxiousness and troubled thoughts about the many things that are prevalent in today’s world. There is point to be made here. In many ways the poor recognize where the supplying of their needs come from. They seem to know that these things come from the Lord in answer to a prayer of faith. They have no difficulty in trusting him for their needs. Consider this…We all will experience changes and trials in our lives. Was it  Divine Providence, that placed Israel in the place they were now? Consider this…they will be better off as a nation and people who have been humbled and tried by their God. All of us have times that expose our weaknesses and folly and even for some, our depravity. Giving and receiving is a measure of our spiritual health. All of God’s gifts are the result of his plans for his people. Moses repeats the warning he has often given to the people, there are fatal consequences for forsaking God. Those who follow others in sin, will follow them to destruction. If we do as sinners do, we should expect to fare as sinners fare.

Join us in The Pew next week as we continue to study the things we as people of the faith should know and practice. We will be working in Colossians chapter three.

Life is Good

jk

 

Deuteronomy Chapter 6…The Way

Some say the church today has lost its discipline and at times its’ reverence for God. Today we continue to look at the need for discipline and the importance of respect and reverence to the One True God. In the last two verses of chapter five…

32 So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33 Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.

The only way to be happy is to be Holy. For those who are righteous their days will be happy. The believer should delight in study of and keeping the commandments of the Lord God. Now we will move onto chapter six. There is a persuasive to obedience, exhortation to obedience, obedience taught and the sharing of the precepts, along with instructions to be given to their children. We will break this chapter down into four sections.

Verses 1-3

The “commandments” denote the moral law, the “statues” the ceremonial law and the “judgements” the law as decided by judges. Moses taught only that which God commanded him to teach. We are reminded of that principle in

Matthew 28:20 – teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

It is a good thing that there is a fear of the Lord in us and even in our children. Because religious faith and righteousness advance and secure the prosperity of any people. The great commandment is found in these next verses.

Verses 4-5

Deuteronomy

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

You might say these are the first principles of faith and obedience. Jehovah, the true and living God, the only God, He is the one God.  There is the unity of the Godhead. Happy are we to have this one God, we desire no other. We all know this is the first and great commandment, we are to love Him, and all things we do as our duty to him are to be done in love. To love God with all our heart, soul and might means we do so not just by word and tongue but inwardly with truth and strength of heart. He is to be loved above all things. To love Him with intelligence and the understanding of why it is we have such good cause to love Him.

Verses 6-16

These verses will give us the things we must do to maintain our religion within our hearts and houses.

  1. Meditation…the word of God must be in our hearts in a way that our thoughts and actions reflect the power of God’s word.
  2. The religious education of children, being careful and exact in teaching them. Repeat things to them, taking care to teach these truths to them and to all under your care.
  3. When talking of these things you must be pious, reverent and serious. Do this for the benefit of your children, friends and companions, taking all opportunities to share the plain truths and laws of God and things that bring you peace.
  4. Reading and studying of the word on a regular basis, telling them to write the words of the law on their walls, in scrolls of parchment worn on their wrists and head. The intent being that the word was always available to them, it was familiar to them, thus keeping us from sin and directing us in our duties. A warning to not forget God in times of plenty, not allowing ourselves to become complacent and unmindful of the Giver. There is always the danger that good times will tempt us to neglect our Christian duties, we must guard against this. We should never be ashamed of our religion nor seek to remove ourselves from its duties.

Verses 17-25

It is important to be religious, without diligence we will miss our salvation. Living a Holy Life is wise, it must be our way of life. Godliness is the way to comfort in the life we now live, we must live our life for God’s glory. Having a spiritual mind helps us to understand the goodness of the holy law of God and shows the sinfulness of man requires a relationship with a Savior to prepare his heart for salvation. There is a plan here and it is simple in its direction. We must honor the law and be in perfect obedience to His Son, Jesus Christ. There is also the need to bring back those who have fallen away, offering them repentance, faith, forgiveness and the renewing love and grace of God.

I have enjoyed these chapters in Deuteronomy and plan to continue them. I am leaving next week’s blog open for now to explore some other areas of scripture. I get few comments or feedback and would appreciate your opinion as to what you would like to explore. You can comment at the bottom of this blog or send me an email  kcarp4211@gmail.com

Life is Good

jk

Deuteronomy Chapter 2…

We will also break this chapter down into three segments. In verses 1-7 the Edomites are to be spared and as we move into verses 8-23 two more the Moabites and the Ammonites are to be spared. To close out this chapter verses 24-37 specifically instruct that the Amorites are to be destroyed. We will start by having a closer look at …..

Verses 1-7.

We found that only a short account of Israel in the wilderness is given. God deals with them by pointing out their murmuring and unbelief but works to prepare them for Canaan. He does so by humbling them for their sin, embarrassing them for their lack of enthusiastically following God’s directives and seeking comfort in him. Although Israel has been long in waiting for deliverance and growth, it is coming at last. But God had another lesson for them to learn and understand. They must forgive their enemies in Edom. They must not use the covenant as an excuse to seize all they could lay their hands on. Religion must never be used as a cloak to hide injustice, they must not take from the Edomites because the people of Israel have a God they can depend on. We should never use questionable means to obtain what God has provided and to do so with great joy, for it is by divine providence that God gives us what we need.

Verses 8-23

We read in these first verses the origin of the Moabites, Edomites, and Ammonites. Moses also speaks to something older than these. He tells of the Caphtorims and how they drove the Avims out of their country proving what uncertain things worldly possessions are. The world and its people change, there will be decrease and there will be increase, there is no earthly guarantee of continuance of things as they are. Then an unusual turn. They are cautioned not to meddle with the Moabites or the Ammonites. This is a good example for us to ponder over. God gives and preserves outward blessings to wicked men; these are not the best things, he has better in store for his own children. (Matthew Henry)  Sometimes we are concerned with other people, are resentful of their life when we should be celebrating the fact that God has much better things for his people. Leave judgement and justice to God.

Verses 24-37

God forbids the people to mess with the rich countries of Moab and Ammon. He gives them the possession of the country of the Amorites. It is plain that by not doing what God forbids, we will retain our obedience. One basic truth we sometimes overlook is that the earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof. He can do what he pleases, with it and give whatever part of it to whom he pleases. God has assured the Israelites that the land should be theirs but they must contend with the enemy therein. What God gives we must endeavor to get. There is a whole new world waiting for Israel, a land that will bring much joy. To better understand this we must consider that we, today, are wandering in a wilderness of sin and carrying our transgressions as we travel on this earth. Just like the Israelites we too will leave this wilderness to a better place, we also have a covenant, the cross and our Savior’s resurrection. We must be earnest in keeping the Spirit within our hearts for we will be spared the wrath to come. This inheritance cannot and will not be affected by revolutions of this world or our world of earthly possessions.

Thank you for joining us this week. I want to express my thanks  to the folks in Germany and other countries for joining us in The Pew each week.  Stay strong in the faith and stay safe.

Life is Good

Jk

Study Materials: Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy…A Book of Many Names

Thank you for joining us this week. Deuteronomy is a unique book where we read of the man and the event that establishes the religion and faith of Israel and tells us of the divine calling and destiny of Israel. The existence of Israel even today is bound up in its faith. There is the assurance of God, the reality of his existence and his chosen people.As we began our read we must take note of the lack of responsiveness of the people. They wandered for 38 years, a whole generation had passed because a majority of Israelites had not the courage and faith to follow their calling. They were a faithless generation. This fact should cause us to take a hard look at our direction in life and our response to the calling of Christ. Do we wander in a faith of convenience or do we labour in the call of our Lord and Savior? If we learn anything from this book it should be that the call to faith is essential for every generation.

This series on Deuteronomy will be a challenge for all of us. It is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, credited to Moses and it is the ending book or scroll of the Pentateuch, also referred  to as the first five books of the Bible. This first five are also referred to as the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible. In chapter 17: 18-20 it is indicated that this could also be a second law.

Deut: 17- 20

18 When he has taken the throne of his kingdom, he shall have a copy of this law written for him in the presence of the levitical priests. 19 It shall remain with him and he shall read in it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, diligently observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 neither exalting himself above other members of the community nor turning aside from the commandment, either to the right or to the left, so that he and his descendants may reign long over his kingdom in Israel.

When you get into scripture study, especially as a layman, you are confronted with a number of rabbit trails that lead to a number of rabbit holes. Rabbit trails are the many directions that the information can take you, then leaving you stranded in a hole of contributing thoughts. I hope to avoid this and spare you this confusion. Sometimes referred to as the Book of Laws, the theological community finds that description to be inadequate. The book describes itself by content as being composed of law but also containing instruction, directives, guidance, and adds also that it is made up of decrees, statues and ordinances, Deut: 4: 44-45

44 This is the law that Moses set before the Israelites. 45 These are the decrees and the statutes and ordinances that Moses spoke to the Israelites when they had come out of Egypt, 

There was one reference that caught my attention…and without going into detail that might take us down one of the many trails here I offer an insightful thought from the NIB page 272 which says that this book could be considered as a comprehensive guidebook for Israel to live as the people of the Lord God. If we want a comprehensive term to describe what we will find in the book it most likely would be polity. I found Webster’s to have the best definition… the form of government of a religious denomination. So far we have discovered that the book of many names is a possibility when discussing Deuteronomy as we have referenced it as the last book or scroll in the Pentateuch, the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint or Greek Bible, and the one that was most familiar to me, a book of laws. These first five books make up the first part of the Hebrew Bible and lay the foundation for what we have come to know as the Jewish Nation. They provide the catalyst for the heirs of Abraham who are considered to be bound by a covenant to the Lord God through Moses on Mt Sinai as to how to live their lives as people of God. At this point I think it best to move on into this book. We start with Chapter 1 vv. 1-5.

Moses spoke in the wilderness before crossing the River Jordan into the promised land. The expanse and totality of this land that they are to live in is stated as simply “beyond the Jordan”. Moses prepares to introduce a divine law, for it stands above the “law of the land” or the “law of the King”. This is a law intended for the entire nation of Israel. We read in Deut: 6:20, that even the children are to be taught the law and are expected to respond to it in a proper manner. We read also v. 4 that Israel can win victories when obedient to the law. We began in the first chapter which I will break down into three segments.

Let’s look at vv. 1-8.

Moses recounted to the people all that God had given him. Here they were at Horeb, only eleven days from Kadesh-bernea. How could this be? They had wandered for forty years due to their disobedience and bad conduct. Had they now come to understand the value of and need for obedience? If so, they might be ready to go forward. How many times have we as church or as a believer been disobedient to God’s will in order to do our will? But God in his wisdom and mercy having brought us into hard times knows when we have been tried enough. When God commands us to go forward his word and law sustains and encourages us.

vv. 9-18

Moses reminds the people they now have in place a body of fundamental principles and law by which they are to be governed. He then says that my and your presence here is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. We have good laws that have been given to us and good men to carry them out, in these things are the proof of God’s goodness to the people of Israel and the care of Moses.

Vv.19-46

To paraphrase Moses he says to the people….You have gone through so many trials, come through that terrible wilderness and now you are so close to that happy settlement in the land of Canaan. It must have been hard on those hypocrites to find their work for naught, to be so near to the kingdom of God. The core of all this was an unbelieving heart. Had any of them ever looked into the Holy Land and understood that for it to be a good land they must go into it? The problem is that disbelief springs forth from a disobedience to God’s laws. Can they not give thanks for God’s  mercies received, confess and seek forgiveness of their sins, renew their covenant to God and seek the courage to renew their service to God? Do you reading this today perhaps believe that as a nation we also should do the same?

On our own plans don’t always work out but here we read that with courage in the exercise of our faith as we go about our duty to our calling and to follow the Lord fully, when we look past the opposition we will triumph and firmly hold onto our promised blessings. 

Life is Good

jk

Resources: New Interpreters Bible Volume 2

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary/ Deuteronomy