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Showing posts from June, 2015

Doctrine Revealed in Action

Scripture

Titus 2:1   But as for you, teach what is consistent with sound doctrine.  2 Tell the older men to be temperate, serious, prudent, and sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.

Observation

There must be consistency found in sound doctrine, and that consistency is to be found in a person's actions or behaviors. These are pointed out in the second sentence. Sound doctrine is to be revealed in a life of temperance, seriousness, prudence, “sound in faith, in love, and in endurance.” Words are empty if they are not supported by the actions of the preacher.

Application

We may speak about doctrine, argue about doctrine and preach doctrine, but if we do not live doctrine our words will ring hollow.

Much time can be spent weighing in on issues of the day. We can write and speak about our opinions but there is a danger that this will so occupy our time that we forget that we are to be living out our doctrines. Our lives are living testimonies to that which we truly believe.

What does…

Sandals and Silver

Scripture

Amos 2:6        Thus says the LORD:
    For three transgressions of Israel,
        and for four, I will not revoke the punishment;
    because they sell the righteous for silver,
        and the needy for a pair of sandals—

Observation

Amos had already listed the abominable activities of Israel’s neighbors but now he was pronouncing judgment on Israel. The people of God had become just as vile as the people of the world.

In this verse two activities are listed for which Israel must be punished. The righteous are sold for silver, a foreshadowing of Judas’ plot when he sells the Messiah for thirty pieces of silver. The poor and needy are sold off as cheap bribes — as cheap as a simple pair of sandals.

These are the transgressions of God’s people, willing to lose all that God had promised for silver and sandals.

Application

Jesus told us that the law boiled down to loving God and loving neighbor. This is what the Israelites had violated. Selling the righteous for silver, the implicat…

Just the Usual Invasions

Scripture

2Kings 13:20   So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year.  21 As a man was being buried, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha; as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he came to life and stood on his feet.

Observation

While Elisha was living the Moabites had not attacked but now, probably a couple of years after his death, they went back to their normal practice. Evidently after his death there was no one with his power in the land and the enemy felt that it was safe to go back to their normal practice.

The usual invasions happened in the spring. This was just a common occurrence, that springtime was the time for war and without the presence of the man of God, the enemies went back to their normal activities and the people of God had to endure the usual invasions.

Application

There will constantly be those who are ready to invade and so the point is not really about th…

Keeping Your Perspective

Scripture

Jonah 4:9   But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the bush?” And he said, “Yes, angry enough to die.”  10 Then the LORD said, “You are concerned about the bush, for which you did not labor and which you did not grow; it came into being in a night and perished in a night.  11 And should I not be concerned about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also many animals?”

Observation

Jonah had preached to the prophesied to the people of Nineveh regarding their destruction. Unfortunately, as far as Jonah was concerned, they repented and then God in his compassion decided not to destroy them. Jonah had been gaining God’s perspective along the way because he had told the Lord that he feared that he would have compassion on the people. Jonah was not concerned about the people but about himself — his own reputation.

God provided a bush to provide comfort fo…

Living into the Promise

Scripture

Joel 2:28        Then afterward
        I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
    your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
        your old men shall dream dreams,
        and your young men shall see visions.
29     Even on the male and female slaves,
        in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Observation


The prophecy of Joel had included a time of terrible destruction for God’s people but then a time of victory when little by little everything that had been destroyed would be once again built up. The promise of the Father included a new era that would occur after the rebuilding. It would be a time in which the Spirit would be poured out, not just among the Israelites but among all people.

God’s promise of the Spirit would destroy all human barriers. No longer could the walls of this world serve as a barrier to God’s work. Instead the Spirit who would be poured out on all flesh. Both sons and daughters would prophesy, there would be dreams and visions and even male and…

Contentment

Scripture

1 Timothy 6:6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment;

Observation

John Wesley said that godliness with contentment was “the inseparable companion of true, vital religion.” There is a concept here that truly is inseparable. The word for contentment has a root in the idea of self-sufficiency of an inward focus, of being all sufficient unto one’s self, not as a lack of desire for outward things. If the goal of one’s self is godliness, then the inward focus of sufficiency is based on a personal relationship with God in which we are being formed in his image.

Contentment comes when all of life is focused on the goal of becoming like Christ. We are content because the world can no longer distract us from what is truly important in all things.

Application

What is distracting you today?

I could list a myriad of things that could be on my mind. Sometimes I have trouble in the morning keeping focused on my study of the word because I’m making a mental list of…

The Sanctity of Ordination

Scripture

1 Timothy 5:22 Do not ordain anyone hastily, and do not participate in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.

Observation

It could be that Timothy had a rather generous spirit, and was not as discerning as he ought to have been regarding ordination of those to the ministry, or restoration of those who had fallen. The warning here is to slow down and monitor the process so that you do not end up participating in the sins of others. Ordination is not to be taken lightly, but is sacred within the life of those who are called.

Application

You can purchase your ordination on the internet these days for just a few dollars. We watch mass marital ceremonies on television done by celebrities who have been “ordained” just for this purpose. The entire process has become one which society views very lightly. But the church should not. The church should heed these words and not ordain hastily.

Ordination to the ministry is for those who have been called by God and have been affirmed by the …

How Much Are You Working Out?

Scripture

1 Timothy 4:8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Observation


There is value to caring for our physical bodies but this must be proportionate to training in godliness. In the Roman world physical training was a big deal and hours could be spent on working out and becoming extremely physically fit. This activity would only have temporal results. If Timothy were to apply the same energy to becoming spiritually fit, prepared for godliness this would benefit him now and for all eternity.

Application

Working out is an important feature of our contemporary lives. Many people that I know make a specific effort to work out at least 3-4 times a week. They may do this in a variety of ways including going to the gym, riding bikes, walking, or running. All of this takes intentional time and effort, along with some self-discipline.

While this much time is being set-aside for physica…

Loving Your Enemy into Discomfort

Scripture

2Kings 6:20   As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, “O LORD, open the eyes of these men so that they may see.” The LORD opened their eyes, and they saw that they were inside Samaria.  21 When the king of Israel saw them he said to Elisha, “Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?”  22 He answered, “No! Did you capture with your sword and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let them go to their master.”  23 So he prepared for them a great feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no longer came raiding into the land of Israel.

Observation

The king of Aram had come to attack Elisha but God had provided a way of rescue. Elisha prayed and God surrounded him with his own guard of protection. When the eyes of the people were opened they were stunned by what they saw surrounding them.  But then they were blinded and Elisha led them into S…

The Failure of the Successor

Scripture

2Kings  5:27 Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you, and to your descendants forever.” So he left his presence leprous, as white as snow.

Observation

Elisha has his servant there beside him in his ministry. Gehazi has been privileged to watch the power of God flow through Elisha’s ministry. The latest miracle, the healing of Naaman has been astounding. The man was completely healed of leprosy and was leaving the country as a new man. He was grateful and wanted to give thanks. Elisha wanted God to be glorified.

Sadly, Gehazi didn't follow the example of Elisha who was mentored by Elijah. Although he had every opportunity to observe, partner in and learn all that God was doing he got caught up in a moment of greed. Naaman had brought all kinds of gifts with him when he came to ask for healing. Elisha accepted nothing and yet, Gehazi saw an opportunity.

Greed took over the heart of Gehazi and he followed after Naaman and told a lie to get some of the gifts from him.…

Succession Planning

Scripture

2Kings 2:13   He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.  14 He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

Observation


Elisha had been following Elijah, learning from him. Now, he followed him to the place where Elijah left this earth. As Elijah left his mantle fell from him and Elisha picked it up. It was the transference of the prophetic cloak, from one to another. It was the badge of the prophet’s office and he put it on and wore it. It was a token of the Spirit which was also to fall on Elisha. He was to be Elijah’s successor and the mantle became an outward sign to all that he had been chosen, while the Spirit gave him power for the task.

Application

Spiritual succession planning is vital and should be intentional. Elijah c…

And a Lion Killed Him

Scripture

1Kings 20:35   At the command of the LORD a certain member of a company of prophets said to another, “Strike me!” But the man refused to strike him.  36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, as soon as you have left me, a lion will kill you.” And when he had left him, a lion met him and killed him.

Observation

Ahab the king had been continually disobedient to the commands of God. Now, a prophet was to confront the king regarding his disobedience and unwillingness to strike down one of his enemies. To get the message across the prophet needed to be wounded. Approaching another prophet he shared the command of the LORD to strike him. The man refused, probably because it seemed like such an odd request and maybe out of compassion, and yet, it was disobedience to the command of God. To speak to Ahab, the prophet needed to have a wound. Because of the disobedience of the one prophet he was told a lion would kill him, and that’s exactly what happen…

What Are You Wearing?

Scripture

Col. 3:12   As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Observation

This message is addressed to those who are already followers of Jesus Christ and Paul utilizes the wording, “holy and beloved” for they are special titles “used of Israel as God’s own possession in the Old Testament and of Christ in the New Testament.” (New Bible Commentary) As God’s holy children, we are to resemble Jesus Christ, clothing ourselves on a daily basis with Christlike characteristics. The result is unity within the body of Christ for overall we are clothed with love.

Application

Sometimes I wish that I had a uniform and could wear the same thing every single day. To my dear Sal…

The Foolishness of Self-Imposed Piety

Scripture

Col. 2:20   If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations,  21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”?  22 All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.  23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.

Observation

Following a list of rules — the “do not taste, do not touch” list is foolishness. Paul reminds us that these may look like they are wise but they never get to the root of the problem — of “self-indulgence.” The root must be dealt with through the work of Jesus Christ. We are to live for Christ, focused on him and not on the things of the world. Self-imposed piety is foolishness without Christ.

Application

During my formative years it seemed as if all the conversations aroun…

As If It Had Been a Light Thing

Scripture

1Kings 16:31   And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshiped him. 

Observation

Ahab found it easy to do evil, as if he didn’t really think about it. He shirked off his responsibility and simply walked in the ways of those who had done evil before him. Then, again without thought he married Jezebel, a woman whose name is synonymous with the worst of all evil. Finally, without considering the consequences to his people he went and served and worshiped Baal. All, “as if it had been a light thing.”

Application

Unfortunately there aren’t very many “light” things in life. There are consequences to the decisions we make in life, and especially those regarding the choice between good and evil. To think that it is a light choice to follow and walk in the sins of someone who has gone before is simply foolish. To not take time to conside…

Disagreement in the Church

Scripture

Phil. 4:2   I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord.  3 Yes, and I ask you also, my loyal companion, help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, together with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

Observation

The church in Philippi had been founded by women and more than likely continued to have strong female leadership. Two women in the church, Euodia and Syntyche seem to have had some kind of disagreement that was hurting the entire congregation. It doesn’t matter whether the leadership is male or female, if there are conflicts, it’s not good.

Rather than saying that this was simply inevitable, Paul addressed the problem. Disagreement in the church should be dealt with and the two in question should “be of the same mind in the Lord.” Sadly, it appears that they could not come to that place of union on their own and so Paul implored another faithful worker to help them. These…

Imitation

Scripture

Phil. 3:17 Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.

Observation

Paul saw Jesus Christ as the great example for his life. He wanted to be more and more like Christ — he wanted to know Christ! He lived his life imitating Christ, but then went on to urge those whom he had discipled to imitate him. Christ followers were to be living examples for others. Imitation of Christ and of those reflecting Christ was to be the norm.

Application

Shop for a good purse these days and you may be wondering whether you are seeing an imitation or the real thing? Sometimes we encounter knock-offs so good we don’t know if they are the real thing or not. They have imitated the real thing to the point where the differences are hardly detectible.

Christ-followers are to be incredible imitators of him! The likeness to the original is to be so great that people will have to inspect to see where there may be differences.

There is a synergi…

Servant Leadership

Scripture

1 Kings 12:6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the older men who had attended his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7 They answered him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he disregarded the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him and now attended him. 9 He said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus you should say to this people who spoke to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us’; thus you should say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. 11 Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father discipline…

It Has Been Worth It All!

Scripture

Phil. 1:12   I want you to know, beloved that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel,  13 so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ;  14 and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.

Observation

The people of Philippi had sent Epaphroditus to care of Paul. They loved him dearly and were concerned about his condition. Now, he lovingly responds to the people of his congregation, letting them know that he is tolerating all that he has experienced. Not only has he tolerated it, but he believes that God has used it to allow him to minister to more individuals. He has reached people whom he never would have reached in any other way and he has become bold in speaking the word. As far as Paul is concerned, it has been worth it all!

Application

I find Paul’s attitude quite …

Yes, He Loves You!

Scripture

Song 4:9        You have ravished my heart, my sister, my bride,
        you have ravished my heart with a glance of your eyes,
        with one jewel of your necklace.
10     How sweet is your love, my sister, my bride!
        how much better is your love than wine,
        and the fragrance of your oils than any spice!

Observation

Song of Solomon has been read through many different lenses, one of which sees it as an allegory representing God’s love for his bride, the Church. While this takes it into a communal sense, it is the people of God who make up the Church and there is also the potential for an individual representation here for the the believer.

We are invited into a deeply personal and loving relationship with our Lord. It was Jesus who reminded us that we are to love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. While we are to love him, that love flows from an intimate relationship with him. Yes, the Lord loves you and me and the love language of this scripture i…

A Living Dog is Better than a Dead Lion

Scripture

Ecc. 9:4 But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.

Observation

As long as we are alive we have the hope of knowing Christ and his salvation. Therefore the hope for the vilest of persons is great. The “dog” that is alive has the hope of salvation, while the noble “lion,” who may have enjoyed a life of personal righteousness, power and wealth has nothing if they are dead. Once dead, no matter who you are, there is no hope.

Application

This takes us away from perspectives which may be embraced by the world, or even by Christians. We tend to reflect upon and respect those whom we view as being “noble.” The Lion, throughout life, receives an amount of healthy fear and respect from those whom he encounters. He is considered great and worthy of our honor.

In comparison to the lion we have the stray dog. We find them in numerous places, wandering the streets, sleeping under buses, hiding under a rock and always scavenging for somethi…

Filled to Overflowing

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Scripture

Eph. 3:18 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Observation

Paul’s prayer is for God’s people to know the very nature of God. All are called to the holy life, to become participants in God’s nature and to reveal his holiness to the world. As such, we are all the saints and drawn into a holy and loving relationship with God.

This love is greater than anything that we can imagine in the human realms, larger than the temple dedicated to Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world! No matter the great knowledge that has developed in the Greek world, God is even greater. And God’s people can be filled “with all the fullness of God.”

Application

Ephesus was known for the great temple dedicated to Artemis. People traveled from all over the world to see this incredible wor…

Using What You Have

Scripture

Ecclesiastes 2:14     The wise have eyes in their head,
        but fools walk in darkness.

Observation

Wisdom leads us into a deep contemplation over life and what ultimately results. It is true that in the end we will all die, and yet there is a way in which we may all participate in the journey. We may use the gifts which we have received from God, or not.

The wise with eyes lift their heads to the face of God. They seek his face, his wisdom and leadership, the path illuminated with the light of God reflected in their own vision. The fool chooses not to use the resources that God has given, instead keeping their head down and walking in darkness, bumping into the temptations and stumbling blocks that life throws into the path.

Application

The resources that are necessary for life are provided for us but we must take advantage of them or they will simply be wasted. The saying of wisdom is fascinating because all have been given eyes, it’s simply whether they are used or not. Wi…

A Diverse Temple

Scripture

Ephesians 2:21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord;  22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Observation

In the past God had inhabited his temple in Jerusalem. He was there among the Israelites, but when Christ came and died on the cross everything changed. The kingdom of God had come to the earth and no longer was God to dwell in the temple made by human hands, but through the Spirit, to live within his people.

The beauty of this new temple was that it was made up of lovely and diverse members. On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out the many nations of the world heard the word, responded and their lives were transformed. Now, the Apostle Paul was affirming the way in which the entire structure of the new and living temple, the “already” of the kingdom of God was being built and held together in the world.

Application


We are to be a continual and on-going re…

Bless the Lord at All Times

Scripture

Psalm 34:1     I will bless the LORD at all times;
        his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2     My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
        let the humble hear and be glad.
3     O magnify the LORD with me,
        and let us exalt his name together.

Observation

David wrote this Psalm after he had feigned madness before Abimelech. His enemy was still in hot pursuit and yet, David took the time to praise the Lord. Blessing the Lord at all times became a feature of his life. He was able to see God’s intervention in even the most difficult of circumstances and in and through this, he was able to worship and praise God.

Application

The idea of blessing the Lord at all times may feel rather foreign to us. There are certainly times in life when I don’t feel like blessing the Lord and being angry and grumpy seem well justified. However, when we give into and justify our anger and frustration we only seem to become more angry and frustrated!

Blessing the Lord at all times is…

The Proverbs 31 Church

Scripture

Prov. 31:10
    A capable wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.


Observation

This “Ode to a Capable Woman” is generally interpreted to be about a terrifically capable and faithful wife. However, commentators have also noted that one can interpret this as a reflection on the bride of Christ — the Church. Taken in this way it becomes a foreshadowing  of what is to come. The Messiah, the Bridegroom, will come and will establish his Church — the Bride. She will be the ultimate Proverbs 31 woman, the capable bride of Christ.

Application

Just imagine what would happen if churches around the world adopted the Proverbs 31 woman as a template for themselves! There are plenty of activities in which to be well-grounded, all pointing to the health of the family members and as a positive reflection on the husband — Christ.

Let’s read a few portions and substitute in the relationship of Christ and his Church.

A capable Church who can find?
    Such a Church is far more pr…

Speak Out!

Scripture

Prov. 31:8     Speak out for those who cannot speak,
        for the rights of all the destitute.
9     Speak out, judge righteously,
        defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Observation

These are the sayings of King Lemuel and reflect the ways in which he is to lead. Those who find themselves in positions of power and authority have a responsibility to speak up for those who are weak.

The orphan, the widow and the stranger are those who have no voice. They don’t know how to argue for their own rights and without a voice they can easily be forgotten. Responsibility lies on the shoulders of the person who finds themselves with a voice. Use your voice. “Speak out for those who cannot speak.”

Application


As Christians we have a responsibility to “speak out for those who cannot speak.” This is our Christ-likeness in action. Not only is this advice or select words of wisdom from the Old Testament, we see this lived out in the life of Christ.

Jesus spoke up for the woman caught …

But There Might Be a Lion Outside!

Scripture

Prov. 2:13     The lazy person says, “There is a lion outside!
        I shall be killed in the streets!”

Observation

This Proverb sounds something like a plot from a Dr. Seuss book. Instead of tending to the work to be done, the lazy person is full of excuses. Every possible negative consequence is imagined and this one is so ridiculous that it practically makes one laugh,“I really can’t go to work today because there just might be a lion outside!”

Application

True, there might be a lion outside, but the chances of you running into a lion today are pretty slim! However, this is the way in which we cope with things we don’t want to do. We come up with excuses to satisfy our conscience.

We do this in regard to our spiritual lives and responsibilities as well. What if God is calling us to go into a place of mission and ministry that is not comfortable for us? We may come up with our own similarly ridiculous excuses.

When God calls, we are to respond. Imagining every single negativ…