Sunday, March 31, 2013

Disorderly


2 Thessalonians 3:7-11 KJV
For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.

The word disorderly is a military term that means, "out of rank". It isn't necessarily unlawful, but may mean something as simple as
  • Not being in your place
  • Not fulfilling your duties

I am reminded of the ancient Greek Hoplite soldier. He was not a professional but a member of the community. When called upon he would armor up and take his place in the battle line. The Hoplite battle strategy reminds me of Ephesians 2 where each member is fitly framed together.
  • His fellow soldiers depended in him being in place
  • His family and town depended on him taking his place

Disorderly would be the opposite of virtuous.

The Christian life is that of a spiritual soldier. Each one of us has a place. We don't write the rules neither do we change them. Our task is to do them.

The most honorable thing a Christian can be is in his place. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Traditions


2 Thessalonians 2:15 KJV
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

  • Because of their calling
  • Because of their deliverance from the Tribulation
  • Because of the judgment coming on those who would not obey the Gospel
The Word exhorts the believer to hold the traditions we have been taught.

Many Christians believe that, since the Jews held their traditions above the Word of God and were rebuked of the Lord, then we are better to hold no traditions at all. The position is as an errant one as it is extreme. It is the careless Christian who removes those landmarks his fathers planted and changes those traditions his teachers gave him. It is a mistake with a huge price tag.
  • It doesn't mean that the one who changes is lost
  • It does mean he contributes to the slide of the faith into laodiceanism

There are some things we can see have been done wrong by earlier generations of Christians but the answer is not to throw away everything we have been taught. The answer is to carefully hold on to those things that remain lest we also let them slip.

To recover lost ground at the expense of what ground we hold is never wise. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Reasons to Cheer

2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 KJV
We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth;
So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

Paul gave two reasons to be thankful for these Christians and one reason he boasted about them to others: 
Because their faith grew exceedingly
Gill writes:
“Their faith was not a faith of miracles, nor a mere historical faith, or a counterfeit and temporary one, but the faith of God's elect; which is the evidence of things not seen, of an unseen Christ, and the glories of another world; that grace by which a man goes out of himself to Christ for righteousness, life, and salvation; by which he is justified, and by which he lives on Christ, and walks on in him as he has received him.”

Because their charity abounded
This charity was “toward each other.” I take the position that charity is a unique sort of love a Christian has for his or her church. These Christians abounded in that charity.

Because of their patience and faith during persecution and tribulation
Paul assured them that their suffering was a token of the judgment of God and that it would be returned upon those who had persecuted them. Suffering is never pleasant. But to patiently endure it for Christ's sake, believing that God will use it for His own glory and to not strike back for our own protection; this is something all heaven takes note of. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Labor, Lead and Love


1 Thessalonians 5:12 KJV
And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you;

We have in this verse the three duties of the pastor, in other parts of the Bible described as
  • Shepherd
  • Bishop and
  • Overseer
Here described not by office but by work.
  • He is a laborer
  • He is a leader and
  • He is an admonisher

His work is labor, real work
It is exhausting and draining both to the body and spirit.

His work is leadership
He provides direction and rule.

His work is also one of warning
He is to point out dangers in the current course of ones life.

I see in this passage three positions of the pastor relative to his congregation:
He is among them
He is not a lord over them. He is an equal to them. He mixes with them as an example and as a peer.

He is over them
Not in the sense that he has some special power they do not possess but he does have an office they do not possess. He is equal to them, but he has been charged with leadership for them.

He is to care for them
To admonish requires compassion and care. He loves his congregation. He would never choose to harm them but only to help them. If his warnings seem firm or blunt it is only in proportion to the danger he sees for them. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More and More


1 Thessalonians 4:1 KJV
Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.

1 Thessalonians 4:10 KJV
And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;

This chapter uses the phrase "more and more" two times. It is obvious then that the Christian life is not to be considered a stagnant one, but an ever growing one. Paul wasn't in Thessalonica long but he was there long enough to have taught them those commands that are most basic to faith. From there, he told them they should simply grow more and more.

How we practice the faith is a relatively easy thing.
  • We take what we have been taught and we grow with it
  • We do what we have been taught to do and
  • We do it better and
  • We do it more
As we practice our faith we will learn more doctrine and more truth. We will discover more application of Biblical teaching. We simply add that to those things we grow in.

The Christian life is not to be a shallow knowledge of a few doctrines but an ever more intimate knowledge of all those things that God has prepared for us.

It is a lifelong pursuit of spiritual perfection. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Answer to Trials

1 Thessalonians 3:2-5 KJV
And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

Paul's preaching would certainly not be popular today as he warned people that they must suffer. But knowing that it must happen in no way created in Paul apathy towards it. He sent Timothy to Thessalonica, he said, for three reasons:
  • To establish them
  • To comfort them and
  • To know their faith

Trial is a part of life and it is most surely a part of faith.
  • In some cases trials cause people to shrink back
  • In other cases it causes them to quit completely, but
  • In the best cases trials bring growth and elevate faith to new levels

The answer to the challenges of trial is not to protect a person from them, for then we would never see the fruit of those whose trial brings such amazing growth. The answer is
  • To care for the one in trial
  • To seek to establish and strengthen them in their trial and then
  • To be a comfort for them as they endure their trial

Monday, March 25, 2013

Any Hindrance to the Gospel

1 Thessalonians 2:14-18 KJV
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.
Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

The Apostle is giving his description of the contest he had experienced in Thessalonica. Though the Gentiles there experienced oppression and persecution from their own countrymen Paul's trouble came from the Jews who had forbidden him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles that they might be saved. Paul extended that trouble to a spiritual level and exclaimed that the problem was Satan's hindrance.

And so we may view any hindrance to getting the Gospel to a lost soul. It is the work of Satan.
  • When a border prevents a missionary from crossing it is Satan's hindrance
  • When a religious group refuses to welcome a missionary into a community it is Satan's hindrance
  • When violence breaks out and missionaries are forced to flee (or worse) it is Satan's hindrance
  • When economic problems prevent a once generous congregation from giving as they once did, it is Satan's hindrance
  • When a people who used to support missions turn inward and selfish, it is Satan's hindrance 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

One Way Street

Daniel 9:18 KJV
O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies.

Daniel 9:26 KJV
And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

There is a striking contrast between these two verses.
  • In the first Daniel prays not according to his own righteousness but depending upon the mercies of God
  • In the later, Messiah is cut off not for His own sins but for another's

Man depends upon the mercies of God because he is not righteous. God, who is all righteous, pays the absolute price because He is absolutely merciful. Our relationship with God is completely a one way street.
  • From God to man flows freely mercy and grace and forgiveness and pardon
  • From man to God flows … only need

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Best Governments

Daniel 7:21-22 KJV
I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.

A truth that holds consistent through the Bible is that the kingdoms of this world prevail until Christ comes. These earthly, worldly kingdoms are at their very best, only the works of sin filled men.
  • They use people and wear out the saints
  • They exist in pretense to bring order but they always end up devouring their own citizens
Daniel served in and loved the kings of two empires (although I do not believe he loved Belshazzar, but only his father, Nebuchadnezzar). But even then his loyalties were to the Lord as is evidenced by his prayers even after being ordered not to pray.

A Christian must always see himself as loyal only to the Lord.
  • His nation
  • His country
  • His government
is at very best, flawed and corrupted.

He may pray for and even love those who lead, but
  • His only loyalty must be to the Lord
  • His faith must be upon the Lord and
  • His service must be for the Lord 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Trustworthy Citizens

Daniel 6:26 KJV
I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.

Darius knew of whence he spoke when he said that God's kingdom would never be destroyed. Darius had personally defeated the previous kingdom of Babylon and, as the preceding events had unfolded, witnessed the seeds of weakness and destruction in his own kingdom. He ruled the greatest empire of his day but could not prevent petty jealousy among his own cabinet or the execution[1] of his most valuable staff member. As powerful as he was, he recognized his own sense of powerless.

Enter now, the God of Daniel, who was able to override the plans of manipulative men and save the life of His righteous follower.

No kingdom or government of men is worthy the loyalties of men. Our loyalties must always be toward God. Only then will we make trustworthy citizens of any nation.



[1] Though through God this execution was unsuccessful.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

There Must Be the Fall


Daniel 3:23 KJV
And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

The three Hebrews are remembered for the amazing deliverance of the Lord from the furnace. There they were, walking in the midst of the fire, and even greater, the Son of God was walking there with them.

But it must be remembered that, before this amazing deliverance there was first an awful trial.

Before they could walk in the midst of the furnace they first had to fall down into the furnace.

  • No doubt many amazing deliverances have been lost because the prospect avoided the preceding fall
  • No doubt many a would be victor has never been discovered because he would not first experience defeat
Of course the three never did surrender to Nebuchadnezzar's demand to bow before the idol. Their submission was to God. Though it appeared they were defeated, they were in fact only falling to be caught up into the blessings of the Lord.

Submission to the Lord is the precursor to victory in life. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Every Man


Colossians 1:28-29 KJV
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

  • Warning every man
  • Teaching every man
  • That we may present every man

The labor of the Gospel is a labor geared toward every man. We find ourselves in a position where, though we have a congregation to minister to, our work is not done because it does not yet include every man.
  • It is a high expectation
  • It is a daunting expectation
  • It is an unlimited expectation

One might say
  • It is an impossible and unrealistic expectation

But it is a reasonable goal because anything less would be careless of souls.
  • If one man can be left out
  • If even one could be forsaken of us
then anyone may be forsaken of us. We would quickly degenerate into concern only for those we are pleased to have concern for. We could develop preferences for certain people which would then lead to prejudices against certain people.

The Bible places no boundaries on our responsibilities. We must reach every man. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Certain Symbolism


Ezekiel 47:1-2 KJV
Afterward he brought me again unto the door of the house; and, behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: for the forefront of the house stood toward the east, and the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar.
Then brought he me out of the way of the gate northward, and led me about the way without unto the utter gate by the way that looketh eastward; and, behold, there ran out waters on the right side.

I understand that this chapter has its fulfillment in the Millennium when Christ sets His feet on the Mount of Olives and water proceeds to the Dead Sea and brings it to life. I understand any types and metaphors we find in any passage are subject to a huge degree on human speculation and care must be taken. But I find in this chapter such symbolism that it seems appropriate at least for meditation and consideration

The house equals Christ
  • It will be His coming when the water proceeds from the Temple
  • It was His first coming when He referred to His body as a temple
All life proceeds from Him. Nothing is that hasn't been made alive through Him.

The river equals the Holy Spirit
Flowing out of Christ and proceeding to bring life and regeneration to all who are born again.

The fishers may equal the Apostles.
They are the foundation upon which the work of Christ is built. It was to them directly that Jesus said "Follow me and I will make you to become fishers of men."

The fruit trees would equal the churches
Not one church as the Catholics claim it, but multitudes of churches
  • Following the stream of the Holy Spirit,
  • Deriving their lives from it and
  • Producing fruit through it
Symbolism is only beneficial for training and motivating purposes. There is no doctrine here but only a picture of the doctrine that already exists in the New Testament. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Compromise and Worldliness

Philippians 3:18-19 KJV
(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)

The Apostle believed it to be proper to tell those he loved about, and to warn them about, professing Christians who are enemies of the cross. Various commentaries confirm that he is referencing believers and suggest they are Judaizers. If this is so, their tactic is employed even today by those who take a gospel ministry and pervert it. They do not create a work of their own; they are only able to ruin one that has been created. The key to the passage is that Paul, though weeping, kept warning those who would listen about professing Christians who become enemies of the Cross through compromise with the world.

I know what it is like to weep over loved ones who have become enemies of the Cross through worldliness. Not that they have quit their profession of faith, or even their work of ministry, but that they have so compromised it with worldliness that it is no longer a work of the Lord. It is not a grief that may be gotten over. I weep as I warn others about it again and again. Years now have gone by and the tears are as fresh today as they were in the beginning of the perversion. I cannot quit weeping over it because I cannot stop telling others and warning them.

As children of God we must take note of those who walk the way we were originally taught, and follow them carefully, because there are many who would love to take the people of God and lead them down a path of compromise and worldliness. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sorrow Upon Sorrow

Philippians 2:27 KJV
For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.

The book of Philippians is a book of joy and rejoicing. This is where we hear "Rejoice in the Lord alway and again I say rejoice." [1]
This is where we hear, "Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." [2]
But Philippians does not deny the natural sorrows of life when suffering.
The Apostle was suffering.
  • He was in prison
  • He had lost a good deal of companionship
  • He had seen Demand forsake him and
  • He had grieved that Epaphroditus was sick
God's mercy had been shown to Epaphroditus in healing him but also to Paul. He confesses his sorrow would have been compounded by the loss.

Sorrow is normal and natural. It is a part of what it means to be human. It is right and proper and healthy to sorrow. But it should never stifle us. God's mercy is always available and God's grace is always sufficient.

Sorrow when appropriate. But in sorrow seek the Lord. Find his grace for strength and recover joy.



[1] Philippians 4:4
[2] Philippians 4:6

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sharing With People

Philippians 1:7 KJV
Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.

The Christian life is not about people, but it is about sharing with people. So Paul, who is merely an messenger and instrument used of the Lord both sees himself as tied into the work of God and sharing it with others. He expresses three possessions
  • My heart
  • My bonds
  • My grace
 In every case the possession goes back to God
  • His heart was filled with compassion for these believers because God had given him a heart for the Gentiles
  • His bonds were real and the product of his ministry
  • His grace was his as God had given him grace both to serve and to suffer as he did
 In every case his possession moved forward to the believers at Philippi
  • His heart was filled with love for these saints
  • His bonds had offered them occasion to ministry to him as he had ministered to them
  • His grace had extended to them so that they were partakers of the very grace that sustained Paul in his trouble
 And so is the gospel of Christ. It is passed from faith to faith. One who has received from the Lord becomes the channel whereby another receives. One day the one who has received will testify he received not from the channel but from the Lord and will become a channel in his own right. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Love With Faith


Ephesians 6:23 KJV
Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

What an interesting phrase. It is a closing remark but carries the tone of a command. "When you love, do it with faith." The word “with” is a preposition used as an adverb. It describes an action and is sometimes translated “after” and “behind.”

The principle then is simple; we are to love with our faith
Faith becomes the enabler of our love and our love is to be preceded by our faith. Believing God is the catalyst for love. Love should never override faith. We do not love others before our faith but we have faith in God and therefore love others.

This priority between love and faith will change the influence love has upon us
Many people have love ahead of faith and are drawn down paths of spiritual destruction because of it. They make their decisions based upon the emotional influences of love and abandon principles of faith as a result. On the other hand, if faith in God is our priority (as we see it ought to be through the Ten Commandments) we still love others, perhaps even more intensely, but we never put that before the Lord.

We serve the Lord first and consequently we are better able to love, and lead others to love as well. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

God Has Done This Thing


Ephesians 5:8 KJV
For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:

The Bible does not say these believers were once in darkness but now are in the light, he says they once were darkness and now are light. They have not simply moved
·         From one place to another but
·         From one state of being to another

This could not be mere semantics. It is not a slip of the anointed pen. It isn't six in one, half a dozen the other. This is a deliberate and meaningful difference and changes the whole meaning of Christianity. A Christian is not simply someone who has changed positions; he is someone who has been changed fundamentally. He is a new creature.

This also bears out the absolute conviction that he did not do this himself.
·         A man can change from a dark room to a light one
·         A man can choose to go from a state of ignorance to one of education but
·         A man can never choose to change the sort of being he is
A miracle is implicit here. A law of nature has been broken. What cannot happen, has happened. Darkness has become light. God has done this thing.

Praise be to God.