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That’s Me – Ephesians

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Saturday’s Special – My daily goal is to not let my work get the way of reading my Bible. As a preacher, you might think this is strange. Don’t I read the Bible in preparing to write sermons, classes, and articles, and such? Yes. But. Sigh. I have discovered, rather too late in life, that “just” reading is far more important than I realized. It is more important than reading other books about the Bible; and more important than studying to prepare for you as part of my work. For example, today I have to finish a magazine article (the deadline is today), plus finish Sunday’s preparation (class, sermon, bulletin), and still hope to have time to visit for a gospel meeting (a friend is preaching). Unlike before, I did not let my busy schedule be an excuse to not read. Today I read Ephesians.

Most footnotes of Ephesians 1:1 include, “Other manuscripts omit ‘at Ephesus.'” That means this was likely a general epistle Paul sent places where there were Gentile Christians. “That’s me”, I reminded myself.

Then in chapter 2 Paul speaks of “we” and “you.”; Jews and Gentiles. But this time I was like the Jews, the religious folk who were raised in a good religion, who despite their religiosity: “We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of the our flesh and thoughts, as we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also” (Ephesians 2:3). “That’s me”, I reminded myself.

Chapter 4 didn’t do my spiritual ego much good either: “All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). “Shouting” is something I did at my children just this week. From a fleshly view, they deserved it. From a fleshly view, I deserved to be yelled back at. From a godly view, I should have spoken more quietly and set a better example.

Our goal must be to set time to read without stopping to studying and dissect the text. There must be time for serious study; but there must be time for serious reading too. Don’t forget though, that reading is not for the purpose of staying on schedule. It’s to take the time to digest big amounts of God through His word, and to think, “That’s me.”


The Woman Who Interrupts (Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48)

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

There is a woman who interrupts another story. This “interruption” is real in the sense of historically accurate; but it is also symbolic (at least to me). Sometimes interruptions are annoying, and other times life-changing.

Jesus is approached by a leader in the synagogue; an important man. She is not important, at least as viewed by most. The leader’s daughter is dying. Again that is more serious than this woman’s issue who interrupts; except maybe to her. As selfish as that sounds, that is the reality for all of us. OUR problems are not necessarily bigger or smaller than others, they are OURS. The closer we are to anything the more intense it is.

The story that interrupts is Jesus healing the bleeding woman (or “woman with an issue of blood” and other variants) (Matthew 9:20–22, Mark 5:25–34, Luke 8:43–48). Her bleeding issue was not only physical, but social and spiritual as it caused her under Mosaical law to be unclean. Mark even adds she had spent everything she had on the doctors to no avail (5:26). Can you imagine the emotional pain all of this inflicted upon her? Let’s count the ways again: 12 years of chronic health problems; 12 years of socially being unaccepted; 12 years of not being able to attend religious services; 12 years of running through her finances; 12 years of all of this weighing on her mind.

No wonder she was desperate enough to believe! “If I can just touch His robes I’ll be made well!” (Mark 5:28) Belief, which is acting trust, is often the oxygen of the desperate.

So what is your “issue”? What is interrupting your goals, happiness, or peace of mind? 1. Health; 2. Family problems; 3. Job status; 4. (Lack of) Marital problems; 5. Aging – finding their purpose; 6. All of the above?; 7. Combination of the above? 8. Something too private to share? 9. Something you are unwilling to even admit to yourself?

Let me just add a personal note here. Let me share with you that my back pain is more than just physical pain. There is the realization of how much I have lost in time the last several years. There is the wondering of whether or not I will ever get pain free. There is the possibility that I will never again be able to do things I once enjoyed. All of these play on my mind. Chronic physical pain leads to Chronic emotional pain.

Going back to the woman, almost all of her issues were taken away. Almost. There is no indication Jesus filled up again her bank account! Plus, she will never get back those 12 years of life and all the joys that fill one’s life. Twelve years gone. Just that is enough to drive some to depression.

So what about us? Are we still waiting for these interruptions of life to become non-issues? Here is where my answers might not be as comforting as much as the comfort this unnamed lady received. Strangely, admitting that brings some comfort.

First, take comfort that Jesus took time for her and did not consider her an unimportant interruption. Second, take comfort in that the parables are more than indications of divine compassion. Miracles, signs, and wonders are real-life parables. The word for “well” (Mark 5:28) is sozo. It is the same word used for “save.” The parables shine the light on a greater “healing,” an eternal solution to life’s issues and interruptions.

So what about us? Sadly we might have to live a life filled with less than we want; even if we want it for God’s glory. What we can do is: 1) Find ways to glorify God in the conditions we are in. This must be even if it is a lifetime of blindness, blind for the glory of God to heal (John 9:1-3). 2) Glory in the reality that sin is not longer interrupting your relationship with God. Spiritually, you have been made well. 3) Finally, give thanks to God that he is always willing to be “interrupted” so that you may “touch” God’s ear in prayer. 4) Acceptance is realizing God’s grace is enough (2 Corinthians 12:9). Contextually that grace is for Paul the grace of his apostleship. For us it is the acceptance that God’s grace – our position in His kingdom – is enough. It is enough that God lets us serve God. That is a needed interruption in this world of sin. God using us might be enough for someone to reach out in desperation for spiritual healing.


Prayer in Nehemiah

Friday, June 9th, 2017

We are using Nehemiah to study prayer. Here is a list of the prayer passages with a description of each which helps us understand various types and occasions of prayer:
Prayer in Nehemiah
1. Preparation Prayer – 1:4-11
2. Prompt Prayer 2:4
3. Persecution Prayer – 4:4-5
4. Protection Prayer – 4:9
5. Promise Prayer #1 – 5:13
6. Pastoral Prayer – 5:19
7. Power Prayer 6:9
8. Perceptive Prayer – 6:14
9. Praising Prayer#1 – 8:6
10. Petitioning Prayer – 9:1-4
11. Past and Present Prayer 9:5-37
12. Promise Prayer #2 – 10:28-39
13. Public Presenter Prayer – 11:17
14. Praising Prayer #2 – 12:24
15. Praising Praise #3 – 12:31
16. Purity Prayer – 13:22
17. Pardon Not Prayer – 13:29
18. Pleeful Prayer – 13:31


Genesis to the Gospels

Monday, April 24th, 2017

On the 6th day God created man. On the 7th He rested. All this after on the 1st day God said let there be light.
On the 6th day God incarnate died as a man. On the 7th He rested. After this a great light appeared at the tomb as He who is the Light of the world walked out of death.
The OT is the NT concealed; and the NT is the OT revealed.


An Eugenics Program – Acts 17:11

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Each church needs a eugenics program. Properly defined, eugenics is, “the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. Developed largely by Francis Galton as a method of improving the human race, it fell into disfavor only after the perversion of its doctrines by the Nazis.” If you like Star Trek, think, “The Wrath of Khan.” Spiritually defined, this describes a certain group of people in the Bible, who I have to admit, I never really understood their description until now.

In Acts 17:11, the Bereans are describes as “noble-minded.” This comes from the Greek “eugenes” which literally means noble. Translations which aim for accuracy over literalness translate this as “open-minded” which is the point of Luke. Philip’s translation has “generous-minded” which is based upon nobles having the characteristic of generosity. So why did Luke choose “eugenes” and how does this apply to the Bereans?

Luke chooses this word as an example of that society and cause and effect. Literally it refers to someone who is of high or noble birth and therefore the effect is one who has the mindset of nobility. Remember to whom this society it was written to, which was not a republican democracy. It was ruled by nobles. They, in theory, ruled for the benefit of the society including making judgments about right and wrong. Think of in Jewish times royalty and elders sitting at the gates (Proverbs 31:8-9,23). In that sense, Freiberg defines it as “as a commendable attitude, open-minded, without prejudice.” In this sense, “Eugenes is used not only for noble birth but also for noble sentiments, character, morals” (preceptaustin.org/acts_17_commentary#nm).

In this sense of “eugenes,” each church needs to seek for those who are looking for the truthMonday’; and to cultivate being generous of mind about others and the scriptures. As to studying, this means being open-minded and able to make proper judgments based upon God’s evidence. This is how the Bereans were noble-minded. In this sense, the church needs a eugenics program.


Luke 23:40-41 – The Faith of the Thief

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

“What about the thief on the cross? He had no outward manifestation of his faith.” This statement was made to me when doing evangelism at our Coffeehouse Evangelism by someone who believed baptism was not necessary. So we revisited the thief on the cross.
That believer said, “Don’t you even fear God, since we are undergoing the same punishment?” (Luke 23:40). Who is undergoing the same punishment according to the thief? “God”.Who is he suffering with on the cross? Jesus. This thief confesses Jesus to be divine. Then the confessor says, “We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). Now this man confesses his sin showing repentance. He also confesses Jesus to be a man showing his belief in the incarnation, however elementary.
While obviously he was not baptized while hanging on the cross, and that can be further investigated, the argument that there was not outward manifestation of his faith is shown to be wrong by looking at the evidence. Faith is not just in the head. Faith is lived, even if as with thief, with his last breaths.


The New Exodus (Acts 2)

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Jewish tradition states the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 took place on the same calendar day as God came down on Sinai to deliver the Law to Israel. Historically then in order: 1) the Israelites “plundered” the Egyptians; 2) The Israelites crossed the Red Sea; 3) The Israelites received the Law.
When we come to Pentecost the order is reversed: 3) The Jews heard the Gospel message; 2) Those who received the message were baptized (Paul compares baptism to crossing – 1 Cor.10:1ff); 1) The Christians share all their belongings together. The Day of Pentecost is the New Exodus.


Psalm 25:3 – Waiting

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Psalms 25:3 (CSB) No one who waits for You will be disgraced; those who act treacherously without cause will be disgraced – If we see two groups of people, we see correctly. However, if we only see that the first group will not be disgraced…then we are missing an important reality that many ignore. Some ignore it based upon false religion or theology. The two realities for the first group are: 1) Those who trust God will not be disgraced; 2) Those who trust God must wait until that time they will not be disgraced. It is the last part that is necessary for us to see also, or else we will not endure. The pleasant end is not the only reality. Waiting is often filled with much disgrace from those who act treacherously without cause. Unfortunately local congregations are filled with such people too, as is obviously the world (which the treacherous “church people” are also part of). They will get their “reward.” But in the mean time we have to suffer while we wait. But so did our Lord. So don’t give up while waiting. The reward is grace!


The Talmudic Messiah – Mark 1:39-45

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Why There Is No God (Psalm 10:4)

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Reading different versions spurs different thoughts due to the different wording. For example, Psalm 10:4:

  • CSB – In all his scheming, the wicked person arrogantly thinks, “There’s no accountability, since there’s no God.”
  • NASB – The wicked, in the haughtiness of his countenance, does not seek [Him.] All his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
  • ESV – In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
  • NET The wicked man is so arrogant he always thinks, “God won’t hold me accountable; he doesn’t care.”
  • NIV – In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

These five are quite different, although there are similarities. Sometimes Hebrew is difficult to translate. Regardless of the translation, all versions teach truth taught elsewhere. One take on a literal word-for-word translation reads,

  • The wicked, according to the height of his nose, he does not seek, there is no God, all his thoughts.”

According to the NET Notes:

The phrase “height of his nose” probably refers to an arrogant or snooty attitude; it likely pictures one with his nose turned upward toward the sky in pride. One could take the “wicked” as the subject of the negated verb “seek,” in which case the point is that the wicked do not “seek” God. The translation assumes that this statement, along with “there is no God,” is what the wicked man thinks to himself. In this case God is the subject of the verb “seek,” and the point is that God will not hold the wicked man accountable for his actions. Verse 13 strongly favors this interpretation. The statement “there is no God” is not a philosophical assertion that God does not exist, but rather a confident affirmation that he is unconcerned about how men live morally and ethically (see v. 11).

Thinking God does not care or does not exist rationalizes or soothes the conscience for those wanting to be in charge of their moralities. Some atheists willingly admit this is a major reason for their atheism:

Aldus Huxley: “The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do….For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation … from a certain system of morality” (Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means).

We Christians must watch ourselves that we too don’t form conclusions based upon what we want morally or doctrinally. God is the deciding factor, and we must keep reminding ourselves of that; or else we are no better than those who don’t believe because they want to be god.



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