Survey of Jude

Survey of Jude

Jude is especially important to the modern Christian as it pertains to the dangers that we face as the end times draw near. Jude expressed a severe opposition of the Roman Church’s idea of Docetism.  Docetism is a heretical doctrine that denies the real humanity of Christ.  Of importance is the urgency of Jude in proclaiming that the original doctrines of the Apostles are being perverted by false teachers that have already infiltrated the church.  Jude further warns that the great apostasy prophesied, for a sign of the end of times, has already begun. Jude warns us that we must contend for our faith!

Key Verse

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude 1:3 (KJV)

Authorship

The letter itself designates the author as “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,” (v1).  During the time of writing, the name Jude (Judas) was very popular. There is Judas Maccabaeus who was one of the heroes of postexilic Judaism; Judas the son of James (disciple); Judas Iscariot (disciple and traitor); Judas the Galilean (acts 5:37); Judas of Damascus (Acts 9:11); Judas called Barsabbas (Acts 15:22); and Jude the brother of James.  In 230 AD Clement believed the author to be Jude, the brother of Jesus.  Jerome in AD 392 also wrote that the author was indeed Jude, the brother of James and half-brother of Jesus in writings for the early Catholic Church.  It is safe to assume that the author is the half-brother of Jesus and the brother of James mentioned in Matthew 13:55. (Acts 15)

Historical Settings

Jude is closely related to the book of 2 Peter, as allot of the contents are the same.  It appears that either 2 Peter was used as a source for some of Jude or vice versa.  The book of Jude is believed to have been written between 60 and 80 A.D.

Major Themes

Jude first exposes false teachers in the church v5-16, then denounces their spirituality and describes their character v8-16. The author also gives examples from Israel’s and mankind’s past on how the Lord deals with rebellion and immorality. The examples used show how a few false teachers and nay-sayers lead many into judgement from the Lord. (Gen 19:24; Duet 29:23-29) Jude then exhorts believers to living holy lives in true faith and prayer in the Holy Ghost. v17-23.  In his benediction Jude reassures the believers that they are safe in their salvation through Jesus.

Doctrine

The main point of doctrine in Jude is that all revelation has been given, there is no other doctrine of salvation, other then what has already been delivered by the Apostles.  They should guard their faith against anyone who tries to change what they already know to be true.  Note every believer is equipped or mature enough in their faith to deal with false teachers.  In order to protect the flock, false teachers should be guarded against, identified, and confronted. True believers are preserved, yet if we do not want to stumble then we need to firmly rely on Jesus and walk correctly not for salvation, but to avoid chastisement and to express our love and gratitude towards our savior.

Short Outline

I.  Introduction (Jude1-4)

II. False Faith (Jude 5-9)

  1. Examples
    1. Israel (v5)
    2. Fallen Angels (v6)

3.  Sodom and Gamorrah (v7)

4.  Cain, Balaam, Korah (v11)

      3. Character of False Teachers (v8-10)

4.  Results of False Faith (v12,16,19)

III. True Faith (Jude 20-25)

  1. How to contend for the faith (v20,21)
  2. How to respond to false teachers and their followers (v22,23)
  3. Encouragement (v24,25)

 

 

References

King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print.

The Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 12. New York: Abingdon, 1982. Print.

Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Vol. 2. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2008. Print. Ephesians-Revelations.

Survey of Genesis

Survey of Genesis

Genesis means “origin”, and as such is a fitting name for the book.  It is the history of all humanity.  Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch.  This portion of scripture covers the beginning of creation, sin, civilization, and Israel.  Genesis is comprised of a series of short stories that cover a time period prior to Adam to the death of Joshua in Egypt.

Authorship

Genesis is commonly referred to as the first book of Moses.  Moses is accepted as the author of the five books of the Pentateuch.  There are several scriptural references in both the old and the new testaments that refer to Moses as the author even though the book itself is anonymous in origin.  It is believed that Moses wrote the book drawing on oral traditions and historic writings of his time, under the divine inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

Major Themes

The book of Genesis can be divided into two general parts.  The first portion describes the early history of mankind and his relationship with God.  The second portion gives specific examples of individuals whom God chose to reveal himself to.  Both sections show the divine grace God has shown to man both as individuals called and as a whole as His creation.  Genesis shows how God has always had a plan for mankind and that man was created with a specific purpose for God.

Doctrine

Important theological themes of the book of Genesis include the following doctrines:

  • A living, personal God
  • Man being made in the image of God
  • The fall of Mankind and Original Sin
  • The anticipation of the redeemer
  • The covenant promises with Israel

The reoccurring pattern in shown in Genesis is one of (1) Sin; (2) Judgement; (3) Grace of God; and (4) the consequences of sin.  Of importance to note is that God always provides mercy and grace even in judgement.

People

Genesis covers a long time period in history and begins with the story of Adam and Eve and the fall of mankind.  Then moves through the stories of Cain and Able, Noah, and on up to the patriarchs of Israel.  These include Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the covenants God made with them to secure a people devoted to Yahweh.  Genesis warns us of the dangers of sexual immorality and the evilness that can lurk in men’s hearts. Genesis concludes with the provisions God made for the growth of Israel from a tribe to a nation under Joseph and the Egyptians.

Short Outline

  1. The Beginnings (1-11)
  2. The Story of Abraham (12-25)
  • The Story of Isaac (25:19-26;35)
  1. The Story of Jacob (27:1-37:1
  2. The Story of Joseph (37-50)

References

King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print.

Longman, Tremper. “The Book of Genesis.” Introducing the Old Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. N. pag. Print.

Survey of Jonah

Survey of Jonah

The Book of Jonah is one of the few books of the Bible that is actually written about a prophet, with the prophet being the center of the story.  In the story, Jonah received a commandment from God to go to Nineveh and preach what the Lord would tell him to preach.  Jonah, however; did not immediately do what the Lord had required him to do.  Instead Jonah went the opposite direction.  Jonah rebelled from God out of prejudice and selfishness.  Jonah knew that if the people of Nineveh were to hear the message of the Lord that they might repent.  Jonah also knew the Lord, and that He is merciful.  Jonah knew that God would have mercy on the people of Nineveh if they repented.  In his rebellion, Jonah has to be chastised severely.  Jonah then repents and cries out to the Lord for deliverance. The Lord, in His mercy, gives Jonah a second chance to go to Nineveh and deliver the message the Lord tells him.  The story of Johan is referred to by Jesus himself as a sign that the story of Jonah is a revelation from God concerning the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah.

Authorship

Jonah is accepted to have been written by the prophet himself, although there is no direct evidence of this.  The story itself is anonymous, as the story does not identify the writer or when it was written.  It is believed that the story took place around 760 B.C. In 2nd Kings 14:27 Jonah is connected with the reign of Jeroboam II of Israel (793-753 B.C.). There was a plague in 765, an eclipse in 763, and then a second plague in 759 that may have made the Ninevites prepared to receive the preaching of Jonah.  The theory for this is that the signs of the plagues and the eclipse would have been seen as judgements of God and would have prepared the hearts of the Ninevites.  The king calls for fasting and repentance and the Lord hears their cries and shows mercy, even though, none was promised in the preaching of Jonah.

Historical Settings

Nineveh is probably the most famous of the capitals of Assyria.  Nineveh became the capital of Assyria during the reign of King Sennacherib (705-681 B.C.).  During his rule the empire expanded and became prosperous.  Nineveh was strategically located east of the Tigris River and 250 miles north of Babylon, in a very fertile region.  Nineveh was the center of worship of Ishtar, the fertility goddess.  The size of Nineveh as revealed in the bible (Jonah 3.3 and 4.11) was over 120,000 people and took approximately 3 days to walk across.  Scholars believe the circumference to have been from 55-60 miles.  Some of the inventions we use today that come from Nineveh during this time period are, locks for doors, a time system that kept track of time in a 360 degree circle, paved roads, the first postal system, and flush toilets and aqueducts.  Military leaders were known for being exceptionally brutal, and used terror to keep areas under control.

There are a number of miracles in the story of Jonah that are also reflective in the gospels. That include the calming of the sea, Jonah’s being in the belly of the whale for three days, and the grace shown by God to his servant Jonah. These also include the following by chapter and verse:

  • Calming of the sea (1.15)
  • Preparing of the great fish (1.17)
  • Throwing up of Jonah on dry land 3 days latter (2.10)
  • Preparing of the gourd (4.6)
  • Preparing of the worm (4.7)
  • Preparing of the wind (4.8)
  • Salvation of the people of Nineveh

Doctrine

There are twelve doctrinal issues that can be drawn from the story of Jonah.  James in the epistle of James 1:15 tells that sin in its ultimate form brings death. “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1.15) Sin comes from our own selfish desires.  This is then the root that sin has in our lives, that we only seek what is in our own interest.  This is the problem that Jonah had.  Even though he wanted to rid the world of the wickedness of Nineveh and therefore remove a threat to Israel, God had other plans.  Quite possible, God chose the Nineveh, because He knew they were among the most evil people on the earth at that time.  In showing them mercy to the people of Nineveh, He lets us know that it is not by our own works that we deserve mercy, but by his grace. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;  which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3.5-7) Even as this is a direct show of the mercies of God towards us, no matter what the condition of our life, the portion of Johan being in the belly of the whale was given to us as a testimony of the resurrection of Jesus.

Matthew 12:38-45 tells us that Jesus confirmed the importance of this story.  Jesus told the scribes that the sign of his being the Christ was the sign of Jonah being in the belly of the whale.  Jesus used this story as a fact that Jonah’s plight in the big fish was accurate and true, and as it was, so would his death, burial, and resurrection.  Even more so, if you look at this, Jonah then went and preached and the people were saved.  Well the apostles, after Jesus’ ascension, went and preached, and people were saved.  “How then shall they call on him in which they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10.14 KJV).

12 Lessons from Jonah

  • Sin always has consequences (Jonah 1:4)
  • Sin always affects others eventually (Jonah 1:5,8)
  • It is a sin to serve God in the wrong place (Jonah 1:3)
  • God’s chastening can be unusually strong (Jonah 2)
  • Pay your vows (Jonah 2:9)
  • Our God is the God of a 2nd chance (Jonah 3:1)
  • God is more merciful than some of us expect him to be (Jonah 3:9-10)
  • God blesses the city whose king orders them to turn to God (Jonah 3:5-10)
  • It is possible for an entire city to get right with the Lord (Jonah 3:5-10)
  • Suicide is nearly always a selfish act (Jonah 4:3)
  • We should be merciful to others as God has been merciful towards us (Jonah 4:10-11)
  • If you don’t believe the story of Jonah then you don’t believe the Gospel (Matthew 12:38-45)

God’s mercies with Assyria did not end with this story.  Even though, later in time he still had to judge Nineveh, when they were finally conquered their people were not wiped off the face of the earth.  Instead they were ruled by other nations, like Babylon.  Assyrians were among the first converts listed by the early church.  Assyria became a thriving Christian community that still exists today.

Short Outline

  1. Jonah Fleeing, 1.1-17
  2. Johan Praying, 2.1-10
  • Jonah Preaching, 3.1-10
  1. Jonah’s Lesson, 4.1-11

References

King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible: King James Version. Chicago: Moody, 2008. Print.

Longman, Tremper. “The Book of Jonah.” Introducing the Old Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. N. pag. Print.

“Ancient Nineveh – Background Bible Study (Bible History Online).” Ancient Nineveh – Background Bible Study (Bible History Online). N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Dec. 2016.

Immanuel

I remember one night, when I was very young that I had a terrible nightmare.  I had dreamed that my dad passed away.  I was in such turmoil, I woke from my nightmare, tears streaming down my face.  My heart was in such pain and agony.  I laid there looking into the darkness.  The dream was so real, that I didn’t know if it had actually happened or if it was just a dream.  I laid there and cried.  I wanted to get up and go to my dad’s room, but I was afraid he wouldn’t be there.  Even remembering the dream now, brings tears.

Finally I got up and walked to my parent’s door.  There room was right next to mine, but it seemed forever as I slowly crept into the hallway.  I stood there for a long time, wiped my eyes and took a deep breath. Gently I grabbed the handle and twisted the knob.  If he was there I dared not wake him up.  Quietly I opened the door, there was my mom lying asleep, she slept closest to the door.  I looked over for my dad.  My heart fell, he was not there.  I stood there frozen.

Then I heard him whispering from the kitchen, “Hey little buddy, what’s wrong?”  Man! I turned and saw him standing in the entrance to the dining area, and ran and put my arms around him and cried.  He picked me up and held me tight.  I told him about my dream.  He took me and laid me back in bed, and told me, “You don’t need to worry, I am with you, right here.”  Then he laid beside me until I fell asleep.  When I awoke the next morning, he was still there.  He was late to work, just to let me know he was with me.

I never miss the point in that.  It may seem silly, but every time I read in Matthew 1:23 where the angel tells Joseph that Mary is having a baby sent by the Lord and that he will be called Immanuel (God with us), I can remember the security of the feeling of my dad saying that he is with me and his big arms holding me, and how good it felt to wake up and know that he loved me enough to stay with me through the night.

This is the same love that our heavenly father has for us.  This year when you read the Christmas story and read through the verses, remember that God not only came here to be with us while Jesus was incarnate , but that he is risen from the grave, and that He is still with us.  When your done reading about the wise men and the shepherds, and the little baby in the manger turn over and read Matthew 28:20 where Jesus says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Kiss your loved ones, and tell the Lord, thanks for always being there, even when He didn’t need to be.

Merry Christmas,-Harvey

 

Believe Not Every Spirit

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:  because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

John the Apostle warned the early church, that there were false teachers out there in their midst.  There were people who, would mislead the teachings that they had already received.  We have so much out there today, that people who call themselves Christians, try to sell us, that which does not come out of the Bible.  In fact they will put a twist on what is actually in the Bible and use our own ignorance of scripture against us. They will try to tell us that God, the Almighty One is at our beck and call.  That He is just a great djinn in the sky that grants our every wish, or if we just claim it, He will give it. God is not at our beck and call!

God told Job “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if you have understanding.” (Job 38:4)  Again God told Moses, I AM who I AM in the book of Exodus. No sir God is not someone who is just conjured up to give us a new car or a new house.  God is not at our beckoning.

“I am the Lord: that is My name: and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.” (Isaiah 42:8)

This is the same thing the serpent did to Eve in the Garden of Eden when he tempted her.  He twisted her understanding of what God said verses what He meant. This is nothing new, it was even evident in the times in which the Apostles were still living.  The first epistle of John is believed to have been written between 85 and 100 A.D.  This tells you how long these cults have been around.  Many have just changed their names, but they message or twisting of the truth is the same message as it was thousands of years ago.  These false doctrines were, and are still causing problems in the church today.  Many professing Christians are be led astray by these false doctrines.

John tells us to be discerning.  We should scrutinize and examine every claim that is laid to the spirit.  We as followers of Christ are allowed and expected to use discretion on what someone tells us is scripture. There are organizations that call themselves Christian, and even publish bibles and go door to door giving away their bibles and additional materials that in the heart of their religion, deny the deity of Christ.  There are other religions and schools of thought that say that Jesus, did exist and, and that He was a very good man, and that he was even a prophet, but they deny that He is the Son of God.  They deny the need for His sacrifice.

(2) Hereby know you the Spirit of God:  Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: (3) And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof you have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4: 2-3)

Christ is a Greek translation for Messiah, the anointed one of God.  Confessing Jesus does not just mean that you acknowledge that He was a good man or just a prophet.  Jesus is the Son of God, thus says the Lord, “This is My beloved Son: hear Him.” (Luke 9:35)  Anyone who comes in the Spirit of God confesses that Jesus is the Son of God.  If they do not, then do not listen to their doctrine.  They are from the antichrist and the Spirit of God is not with them.

Jesus said, “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”(Matthew 24:11)  So as the scriptures says. Don’t be worried, we have been warned that these things would happen.  Instead we should test every spirit.  How do we test every spirit?  Well we already mentioned it earlier when we mentioned the fall of Eve.  We have to study the scriptures. Be in a constant attitude of prayer, and encourage one another in sound doctrine.

Get yourself into a good church that teaches from the Bible.  A good Bible teaching church will use the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments as its source of exposition.  2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 

We are to be diligent with the Word of God and always reprove everything against the Word of God.  Know what the Lord says about things that are in your life, your community, and your relationships.

“Continue you in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; (15) And that from  a child you have known the holy scriptures,  which are able to make you wise to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Encouragement

Hebrews 10:19-25

These scriptures focus on some very important principles on what we have in Christ, and our responsibilities as individuals and as a church toward one another. We have (1)Boldness to enter in to the Holiest of Holies by the blood of Jesus Christ. (2) A freshly slain and living way to through the veil. And (3) A great High Priest over the House of God. Because we have such important gifts from God the Father, we have certain responsibilities that we are to focus on as individuals and as a church. They are to:

  • Draw Near
  • Hold Fast Our Confession
  • Consider One Another
  • Assemble Together
  • Exhort One Another

The responsibilities covered in this scripture are the foundation of church life. Church life is not just showing up once or twice a week and being entertained for an hour or so and then going out to eat at a restaurant and never considering the impact of Christ in our lives and in the lives of our brethren.

We are invited into the very presence of God. That way is made possible because of the covering we receive from the blood of Jesus. We are able to enter into the Holy of Holies to do service to God. The Levitical High Priest could only enter the presence of God once a year. The purpose was to offer sacrifices for the House of Israel for sins they had committed throughout the year. In the book of Exodus the process for the priests to enter the Holy of Holies is outlined. The clothes that Aaron and the priests were to wear had to first be washed with water. Then Aaron was to be robed and anointed with a specially made oil. Only after the washing, the robing, and the anointing could Aaron enter the presence of God with confidence that he would not be destroyed. This complete sacrificial system was superseded by the complete sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. Jesus is our cleansing, sanctification and access to the Father. His living sacrifice is what gives us boldness to enter the presence of God.

Our sins are therefore, not only covered, but removed from us. Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Do you know that no matter how far east you go, you can never find the west? Nor can you find the east from going west. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12) Jesus became the great High Priest, because of his righteousness toward God. Now that Jesus is risen He is continuously before the Father offering up prayers and interceding for us. This gives us a clean conscience by which we can enter with confidence in to the presence of God.

Draw Near

            The Lord Almighty had extended salvation to us, and an invitation to renew our fellowship with him. We must move on past the basic milk of the gospel. We have to move on to the meat and potatoes of our relationship with God the Father. Genesis 5:24 says that “Enoch walked with God.” Genesis 6:9 says that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.” We have the same ability right now. Jesus had made it possible to walk in the presence of the Creator of the Universe! – Amen! We can draw near to God and into his very presence through prayer, scripture study, and fellowship. “And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (Hebrews 8:11) We have become priests to God, and there is now no veil between his presence and our priesthood. We need to come to God with a “true heart” and in “full assurance of faith.” A true heart has full faith and acceptance that one can into the presence of God.

Hold Fast Our Confession

These times we live in are hazardous to Christians. Groups like ISIS are torturing and killing Christians by the truck load. Hostility towards Christians and the scriptures is toxic even here in the United States. Christians are losing their jobs, educational opportunities, and freedoms of open worship all across this country. Sharing the Love of Christ is often met with “hater” rhetoric and standing up for your Christian faith can even lead to civil and criminal charges in many states.

Now this should not surprise us, Jesus made more than one warning that we would be mistreated and persecuted for embracing Him. I will not expand on it here, but read Matthew 24: 4-13 to see what Jesus warned we would face in the last days. But remember the importance of taking up his cross. “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or shat shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Sond of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels: and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”(Matthew 16:24-27) (Matthew 24:4-13) (Daniel 7:13-14) Keeping in mind that this is our end game, we should assist one another and keep each other’s sufferings and needs in mind. In case you missed it, Jesus is RETURNING – Amen!

Consider One Another

In the 17th chapter of John it is recorded that Jesus prayed for us. “I pray not that You should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from evil… Sanctify them through Your truth, Your Word is truth.” (John 17:15) Jesus not only prayed for His apostles, but for every believer in the world and anytime. If it is so important for our savior to consider our needs and to pray for us. How much more should we pray for one another in our daily lives. In James 5:16 it says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Assemble Together

Assembling together is not just something to be done on Sundays. The assembling with believers is mandated over and over in the New Testament. Assembling together puts us right in the presence of Jesus. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) Assembling together gives us a support structure through accountability and encouragement.

I am a recovering alcoholic, and as such, I cannot go and hang out with old friends who drink. Instead I have to be around other recovering alcoholic and abusers. My old friends are still living in there destructive lifestyle and would only encourage me to return to my old ways. I would be foolish to put myself in that situation. It is not that my old friends wish me harm. They just miss the guy I use to be.

But those who are striving to leave the old ways behind, and know the consequence of failure, are more likely not to let me return to my old ways. In addition, they can more readily see the signs of when someone is on their way to return to drinking or abusing. Then they can intercede and stop me from making a foolish mistake, in a moment of weakness, which could cost my life. In fact the first signs that someone is recovering is that they stop going to meetings, and stop communicating with their sponsor. It is very simple. “Birds of a feather, flock together”; so this gives us strength in numbers.

Exhort One Another

Living a life for Christ, even in American, can have its hazards. It takes courage and love to go our on a daily basis and talk to people about Christ. Even in environments where your expected to. Ministry takes a lot of overcoming insecurities, and self criticisms. Preaching the gospel, caring for the poor and homeless, the elderly, diseased, and those imprisoned takes personal sacrifices. These sacrifices include time, money, family relationships, employment, and sometimes social status. Wow, just thinking of it can be daunting.

Without encouragement fellow believers would fail. Encouragement is more than just patting on the back and saying hang in there. Encouragement is interceding for one another, supporting one another financially, and reinforcing the heart and mind with scriptures. Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Some other scriptures of encouragement are: Psalm 9:9, Psalm 23:4, Palm 25:22, Matthew 11:28-29

So in closing, I encourage you to pray one for another, do not forsake the gathering together with believers, remember the sacrament of the breaking of bread, and draw close to Jesus. “And let the peace of Christ rule your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body, and be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15) – Amen!

 

References

Newell, William R. Hebrews, Verse by Verse. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1987. Print.

Strong, James. The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996. Print.

Carson, D. A., Douglas J. Moo, and Andrew David Naselli. Introducing the New Testament: A Short Guide to Its History and Message. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010. Print.

King James Easy-reading Study Bible. Goodyear, AZ, 2002. Print.

Henry, Matthew, and Leslie F. Church. Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Genesis to Revelation. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1961. Print.

Get Back to the Basics

Sitting here watching the rains come down by the gallons, I wondered away in thought.  It is kind of scary how far off our thoughts can get.  Well at least mine.  We have been reading in 1st Corinthians and I wondered.  How could the first century church get to far off from what the gospel was about?  I mean, the Apostle Paul is still alive, and writing to them.  They had Apollos, Cephas, and other spirit filled followers, of the Way, right there with them.  Paul even sent Timothy to follow up with them and make sure that they were following the teachings they had received.

Jesus commanded us, as believers, to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe ALL I’ve commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The word observe has several meanings, but they all come down to follow with the eyes of the mind and stick to correctly, or conform ones actions or practice to.  So another way of putting it could be that Jesus said to teach them to conform to the commandments I gave you.  This is what discipleship is.  With that in mind.  What are the most important commandments of Jesus?

If we took all of his teachings and commandments, and the way he lived his life and put it all together, what would be the result?  What are we to conform our lives to?  Now I’m talking to believers, those who have repented, confessed Jesus as Lord, taken up their cross and are followers of the Way of Christ.

Does anyone remember what kind of house Jesus lived in?  Wasn’t it the biggest one on the block?  Wasn’t his chariot the newest thing out of Rome?  Does anyone recall when he was on the Mount of Olive and he said, those who are rich are welcome in the kingdom and the poor need to wait outside?  Well if you remember all these things you have a very different version of the New Testament then I do.

No he said that the Son of man has not where to lay his head.  He walked almost everywhere he went.  He said it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven then for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.  He said if you give to the poor and the hungry and visit the prisoners, then you did so to him.

So what is the command?  Couldn’t he just come out and say it?  I can be pretty thick headed.  Hmmm… Well, thanks to Jesus thinking of me, and how I would need to have my hand held all the way, he did tell us very plainly.

When Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?”  He not only answered, plainly, but went the extra mile.  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all our mind.  This is the first commandment.  And the second is like unto it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39, KJV)

Once again Jesus reiterated, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35 NIV)  By these two commandment, everything Jesus wanted us to observe is made perfect.

Just to make sure we understood how important these commandments are Jesus tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”  So… In loving the Lord we keep his commandments to love the Lord your God and to love one another.  But how do we love the Lord?  How do we express the way to love the Lord?  We live in a world where all we are taught is how to love ourselves.

Let us start with something basic.  Most of us being selfish, still know how to show love to our children, a spouse, a sibling, a pet, a close friend, or to parents.  I know, not all at the same time, but we have at least a starting point. You can express love to the Lord in the same way you express love to one of these that you do love.  Now this is only a beginning and meant to get you to find your own ways to express love for the Lord.

  • Give Thanks
  • Do Things For Him
  • Spend Time
  • Shut Up and Listen
  • Give Praise and Brag on Him

Give Thanks

Let’s start with being thankful. Expressing thanks to someone you love just for being there is a great way to show your love.  I love the fact that my wife is there for me, even when she doesn’t realize it, her presence lifts me up.  Sometimes I just reach over and tell her, Thanks for no reason.  When my son cuts the grass for me, I tell him thanks, because he did not have to do that.  When my wife brings me diner, and yes she does bring me diner.  I know in this day and age that is not the norm, so I thank her for it without fail.  She is not my servant, but shows her love for me in this manner. The Lord does things for you all the time, even when you do not know.  Show your love and appreciation by thanking him, as often as you need to. You should thank Him, as soon as you think of it.

Do Things for Him

That brings us to another point.  Do things for the Lord that He enjoys.  I help my wife with cooking, and dishes, and other household chores.  I make her little drawings, I by her flowers for no reason.  So what are some things we can do for the Lord?  Funny you should ask, because he told us in Matthew 25: 34-40,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”

Spend Time

I love to just sit on the bed, or go for a drive with my wife and just enjoy being with her.  I love sitting on a peer with my son and fishing, or just being in the presence of my family without the phone in my hand, or theirs.  Just spending time with them lets them know they are important to me.  Spend time with the Lord.  Get up early and go to sit by the water and just enjoy His presence, or have a cup of coffee and meditate on His goodness.  Spend time with him and let him know you enjoy the time he has to spend with you.  Enjoy his voice.

Shut Up and Listen

Most of the time I spend with family is sitting in the living room or at the dinner table and they just talk about their day.  Most of the time they talk to fast I can hardly keep up with the conversation, much less add my own thoughts.  I often have to stop them and make them start over so I can understand.  They laugh at me a little sometimes, and sometimes they even repeat what they said, to make sure I know what was went on with them.  But just taking the time to listen, and try to understand is another way I show my love.  I care about what they are trying to say, even if I don’t always understand it the first time.  Spending time with the Lord in Prayer and study is a very good way to not only learn more about God, but to show Him that you love Him enough to try to understand Him.  Remember the Lord says to Seek and you shall find.  Ask and it will be given.  Set a specific time of day just to spend in prayer and study His Word.

Give Praise and Brag on Him

When my wife gives me a pat on the back, or brags about me to others, “Boy Howdy!”  I love it because I know she thinks about me, when I’m not there.  I will honestly tell you my wife is the best cook I have ever known.  I mean, I will lay money on it.  She knows it and so does everyone else.  I love to brag at work and tell everyone the latest culinary masterpiece that she developed in the cooking channel that is our kitchen.

The same way is with my son’s playing of the trumpet, everyone in the stadium knows that he is the best trumpet player in the band, and it they didn’t know before I got there, they do when I have left.  Or that my other son is the hardest working, biggest hearted man I know, who will literally give you the shirt off his back. The gentleness in his heart makes me cry every single time I think about him.

This is the way we should brag and praise the Lord.  Hey! Your God is the one who SAVED you from death.  Y our God is the one who formed you in the womb. our God is He who provides everything you have.  Your God is He who parted the Red Sea, and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  He is the creator or all that is see and unseen.  He is coming back to wipe away the heavens and the earth and create a new heavens and earth, and guess what, your gona have a front row seat!  Praise God! Brag in Him. “ I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;  I will tell of all your marvelous works.” Psalms 9:1

Knowing that someone loves you is euphoric.  We are created in God’s image.  The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are one awesome God and deserve our love and our outward expression of love. So rejoice in the Lord and brag about being His beloved.  “For the Lord gives to His beloved even in their sleep.” (Psalms 127:2) Don’t take Him for granted.  Tell others how much He loves you and them.

This is only a short list of ways to love the Lord your God.  I am sure you have already thought of many more.  It is time to move away from the milk of the gospel and onto to cereals of the doctrine of love in Christ Jesus.  There is no division in Christ.  If you are a follower of Jesus there is no Jew, Catholic, or Protestant.  We are one church.  We are all baptized in to one resurrection, and by His love they shall know we are one in Him.