HOW DO I STUDY THE BIBLE? – Leviticus

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    Let us randomly grab HOW DO I STUDY THE BIBLE?
Leviticusa book of the Old Testament to illustrate our point… Leviticus, a book not known for being at the top of our “favorite books” list. Here’s how we would recommend approaching a study of this book.

    First, consider the historical context. Leviticus 1:1 begins by saying that the Lord spoke to Moses from the tent of meeting. This verse tells us a few things. First, Moses is the recipient and the transmitter of this message from God. Leviticus forms a part of the broader “law of Moses” so that he is the author of the book. That indicates to us that Moses wrote Leviticus while the Israelites were assembled around Mt. Sinai, if not during the 40 years of wondering in the wilderness.

    The book as a whole was written to and for the whole nation of Israel. That suggests this point: even as the tribe of Levi was to teach the nation of Israel the law, the nation of Israel was to hold the priests accountable for fulfilling their responsibility as well.

    Secondly, decide on the limits of your chosen passage. Most modern translations break the text into smaller “bite-sized” paragraphs. My NASV, for example, has Leviticus 23 divided into 11 smaller paragraphs. If you were studying Leviticus at home, by yourself, then you will have (likely) started with 1:1 and worked your way to this point. That is the best way to study.
But, let’s suppose that we are here in Leviticus 23 and we have arrived at 23:23-25. This paragraph is an isolated paragraph, to some degree, because it begins with “Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,” and then verse 26 also begins: “The Lord spoke to Moses saying…” That shows that 23:23-25 is a separate idea. While we will interpret every paragraph within the overall context, we can study this individual paragraph by itself.

    Become thoroughly acquainted with the paragraph. Read it and reread it and read it again, in several translations and in different languages if you have the ability. You are listening to the Holy Spirit speak. It will benefit us to see what God expected out of Israel and ask ourselves how those principles could make us a stronger Christian.

    Analyze the sentence structure and the flow of the passage. In our chosen text, we see that in verse 23, Moses writes that God speaks to Moses. In verse 24, Moses is commanded (for surely that is the force of the verb “Speak;” it is, in fact an imperative in the Hebrew), to speak to Israel and share the following information.

    A time frame is given in verse 24: “in the seventh month, on the first day of the month…” Here is one place where your Bible study helps can be beneficial. What was the Israelite calendar? That is, what else was going on during the seventh month? You can do your own research by looking up “seventh month” in your concordance. You could also look up in a Bible encyclopedia (like the ISBE) an article on the Israelite/Jewish calendar.

    By the same token, we have the word “rest” in verse 24. My marginal rendering has “lit. sabbath rest.” What do other translations have? This gives you potentially another word to study in your concordance or encyclopedia.

    God says this assembly is a “holy convocation,” announced to the nation of Israel by the blowing of trumpets. What type of trumpet was this? Do some research and imagine in your mind what is happening when the Israelites fulfill these regulations. It can help make the events more real and memorable in your mind.

    Verse 25 also has an imperative: “You shall not do any laborious work.” As you read and study on the “sabbath rest,” you will come to better understand what “laborious work” referred to. Verse 25 has another imperative in it as well: “you shall present (lit.) a fire to the Lord,” that is, “an offering by fire.”

    Fifthly, analyze the grammar. I have pretty much done that already in looking at the commands in the text. Here, you are asking yourself what the verbs in the text are; what the subject of the verb is and the objects of the verb and perhaps indirect objects. How does the sentence fit together? We are not wanting to study grammar for the sake of grammar but in order to better understand the intention of the original author.

    Analyze significant words. I have also already hinted at this point. In our passage, some of the words we might want to do some deeper studies on might be: “rest,” “holy convocation,” or even “sabbath.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words is a good source of information for those who cannot do studies in the original languages or William Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words.

    Seventh, research the historical and cultural background through the use of encyclopedias and so forth.

    Eighth, what are the broad theological themes presented? In our text, we have the idea of inspiration: The Lord spoke to Moses. Revelation – Moses speaks the message to the people. Obedience to divine commands. The idea of rest. The idea of worship. The idea of an assembly, a “holy convocation.” The idea of work. Those are some of the ideas that we have touched on in this particular paragraph.

    Ninth, consult commentaries to see if you have missed anything. Notice how far down the list is consulting the works of other men! You are wanting to learn from your own study and not rely on what other men have said. There is a place for commentaries and they can be quite beneficial. But, you will be better enriched and your studies will be remembered longer if you do the bulk of your research for yourself.

    Tenth, in this step, you ask yourself what the message meant for the original audience. When you can answer that question, then you know what the message is, in principle, for us today.

    For example, in broad terms, we are looking at these three questions:

        a. What does the text want us to know?

        b. What does the text invite us to feel?

        c. What does the text call on us to do?

    I have gone through this text with my own family and asked my two teenage daughters to make a list of some lessons they learned, as NT Christians, from Leviticus 23. Here are their answers:

    1. The OT laws were specific rules required by God, in order to be pleasing to Him. The same is true with us.

    2. Holiness of the people of Israel was important. They were told to “afflict” themselves.

    3. These rituals were to be done “perpetually.” They could not be done once and then forgotten. They must be continually practiced.

    4. Remember what He has done.

    5. Take care of others.

    6. Take a break. Pause and reflect on God. We should have times to set aside from work to focus on God.

    7. Some might go even further and do more. There were a lot of days to celebrate one’s relationship with God.

–Paul Holland

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Jeremiah 27-28

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  • The prophet Jeremiah was told to make the type of yolk worn by oxen.
  • In Jer. 27:2 this is called “bands of bars.”
  • After Jeremiah made this ox yolk he was told to wear it.
  • Agents from several kingdoms (Moab, Edom, Tyre, etc.) had come to see the king of Jerusalem.
    1. It appears these kingdoms were worried about Babylon (verse 6).
    2. Babylon was a noteworthy threat, so these kingdoms were talking about unity to stay safe.
  • America has significant problems and turmoil; if we can’t see the problems daily, we can read about them.
  • Jeremiah’s day also had its share of turmoil.
  • Let’s read and then break down Jer. 27:5-7 – READ
  • At the end of verse 5 God spoke about using this power in the affairs of men.
  • In verse 6 God’s prophet said what God was going to do: He would let Babylon rule.
  • Babylon would be God’s “servant.”
  • We may most often think about human beings being a servant of God.
  • Some would look at the church as being a servant of God.
  • God is also able to use NATIONS to do His will.
    In verse 7 Jeremiah said “all the nations” would come to serve Babylon.

    1. UNTIL God determined Babylon should no longer be in power, it would be the major power.
    2. At the proper time – when God so willed – Babylon would be overcome.
    3. Verse 8 READ
  • God said His will would be done.
  • Verse 9 – READ
  • Saying someone is a liar is a strong accusation; Jeremiah did not hold back – verse 10 – READ

 

AS WE LEAVE THIS CHAPTER AND TURN TO THE NEXT, WE ENCOUNTER A MAN (HANANIAH) WHO DECIDED TO OPENLY CHALLENGE JEREMIAH’S PREDICTIONS.

 

  1. Jeremiah said God would not break the yolk of bondage from Babylon until the proper right time.
  2. Hananiah said this was not true – he said there was not really much to worry about.

 

  • 28:10 – READ
  • This verse needs to be contrasted with what we started with in Jer. 27.
  • After the false prophet removed & broke the yolk, the “word of Jehovah” came to Jer. (verse 12).
  • The “word” Jeremiah received from God is found in verses 13-14 – READ
  • The word “rebellion” is used to describe Hananiah.
  • This chapter ends by saying this false prophet died.
  • Sometimes God has asked people to do what we might view as unusual.
  • As we look at this chapter we are reminded of how there are people who will deny what God has said.
  • In our time some will say certain Bible verses do not mean what they say.
  • If a person denies a Bible truth, don’t get upset.
  • Don’t question truth because someone is affirming error.
  • From the two chapters examined we also see a great lesson about God’s power.
  • God has the power to fulfill His will in the world.
  • Acts 17:26 – part of the reading – says God has “appointed seasons” and given “bounds of habitation” for countries.
  • This is another way of saying what Jeremiah affirmed —
  • God has a plan when it comes to the rising and demise of countries.
  • God also has a hand in far how countries go as far as boundaries.

    Jeremías 26-27

    1) Se le dijo al profeta Jeremías que hiciera el tipo de yema usada por los bueyes.
    2) En Jer. 27: 2 Esto se llama “bandas de barras”.
    3) Después de que Jeremías hizo esta yema de buey, se le dijo que lo llevara.
    4) Los agentes de varios reinos (Moab, Edom, Tiro, etc.) habían venido a ver al rey de Jerusalén.
    A) Parece que estos reinos estaban preocupados por Babilonia (versículo 6).
    B) Babilonia era una amenaza digna de mención, por lo que estos reinos hablaban de unidad para mantenerse a salvo.
    5) América tiene problemas significativos y agitación; Si no podemos ver los problemas diariamente, podemos leer sobre ellos.
    6) El día de Jeremías también tuvo su parte de la agitación.
    7) Vamos a leer y luego derribar Jer. 27: 5-7 – LEER
    8) Al final del versículo 5 Dios habló de usar este poder en los asuntos de los hombres.
    9) En el versículo 6, el profeta de Dios dijo lo que Dios iba a hacer: dejaría que gobernara Babilonia.
    10) Babilonia sería el “siervo” de Dios.
    11) Podemos pensar más a menudo que el ser humano es un siervo de Dios.
    12) Algunos mirarían a la iglesia como si fuera un siervo de Dios.
    13) Dios también puede usar las NACIONES para hacer Su voluntad.
    En el versículo 7, Jeremías dijo que “todas las naciones” vendrían a servir a Babilonia.
    A) HASTA que Dios determinara que Babilonia ya no estaría en el poder, sería la potencia mayor.
    B) En el momento oportuno, cuando Dios así lo quisiera, Babilonia sería vencida. C) Verso 8 LEER
    14) Dios dijo que Su voluntad se haría. 15) Verso 9 – LEER
    16) Decir que alguien es mentiroso es una acusación fuerte; Jeremías no se detuvo – versículo 10 – LEER

    A medida que dejamos este capítulo y volvemos al siguiente, reunimos a un hombre (HANANIAH) que decidió desafiar abiertamente las predicciones de JEREMIAH.
    A) Jeremías dijo que Dios no rompería la yema de la esclavitud de Babilonia hasta el momento adecuado.
    B) Hananiah dijo que esto no era cierto – dijo que no había mucho de qué preocuparse.
    2) Jer. 28:10 – LEER
    3) Este versículo necesita ser contrastado con lo que comenzamos con Jer. 27.
    4) Después que el falso profeta sacó y rompió la yema, la “palabra de Jehová” vino a Jer. (Versículo 12).
    5) La “palabra” que Jeremías recibió de Dios se encuentra en los versículos 13-14 – LEER
    6) La palabra “rebelión” se usa para describir a Hananías.
    7) Este capítulo termina diciendo que este falso profeta murió.
    8) A veces Dios ha pedido a la gente que haga lo que podríamos ver como inusual.
    9) Al mirar este capítulo se nos recuerda cómo hay personas que niegan lo que Dios ha dicho.
    10) En nuestro tiempo algunos dirán que ciertos versículos de la Biblia no significan lo que dicen.
    11) Si una persona niega una verdad bíblica, no se enoje.
    12) No cuestione la verdad porque alguien está afirmando el error.
    13) De los dos capítulos examinados también vemos una gran lección sobre el poder de Dios.
    14) Dios tiene el poder de cumplir Su voluntad en el mundo.
    15) Hechos 17:26 – parte de la lectura – dice que Dios ha “designado estaciones” y dado “límites de habitación” para los países.
    16) Esta es otra manera de decir lo que Jeremías afirmó:
    17) Dios tiene un plan cuando se trata del surgimiento y desaparición de los países.
    18) Dios también tiene una mano en la medida en que los países van tan lejos como fronteras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conquering Anger

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    A man and his wife were spending the night in a hotel. The next morning, they prepared to return home. The wife loves to recycle and hates to waste anything. Leftover soap in a hotel room, for example, is thrown in a small plastic bag and taken home. That particular morning, she removed the soap a little too early. The man had to use the bathroom and reached for the soap to wash his hands but it was gone. His patience was already a little thin so his reaction was to clinch his fists and go “r-r-r-r-r-r.” That was the extent of his outburst. But it was enough to make his wife feel bad about what she had done and she ran to get the soap.

    Perhaps that is as good as “controlling anger” gets among humans. Perhaps Jesus would not even had done that. What would you have done? Better? Worse? Yell? Call names? Curse? Throw something?

    Controlling anger is one of the hardest behaviors for humans to manage but without it, chaos, wars, and murder ensue. At the least, relationships are damaged, sometimes irrevocably.

    How can we control our anger in a way that honors our Savior and keeps relationships intact? Here are some suggestions:

    Make up your mind that you are going to control your anger. Godly behavior begins in the mind with the decision to reflect Christ in every way. If you are one who has trouble controlling your anger, think about what life would be like if your anger did not control you. Monitor your body’s reactions; detect the slightest hint that you are getting angry and then “nip it in the bud.”

    Force yourself to never express anger in physically destructive ways, such as throwing things, punching, pushing, or destroying property. Put yourself into a “time out,” at least mentally. You may have to walk away from a tense moment or conversation. Simply inform the other person that you need some time to cool off. You are responsible for how you respond. Do not allow someone else to push you to lose self-control (Eph. 4:26-27). 

    As with so many of our sins, one root cause of anger is pride or selfishness. People do not agree with us; we get mad. People do not meet our expectations; we get mad. People do not understand us; we get mad. Work on not being so competitive. You don’t have to win every argument, even if you are right. You don’t have to correct other peoples’ mistakes all the time. You don’t have to have your way all the time.

    Address your communication problems. Understand: 1.) You do not always communicate as clearly as you could; 2.) Other people (including yourself) do not always understand as clearly as they should; 3.) Sometimes we say things without realizing exactly what we have said; 4.) Others do not always realize that what was going through their minds is what came out of their mouths. Be patient and work on communicating more clearly.

    Learn to forgive. The sooner you forgive others, the quicker and healthier you will be in control of your own emotions. Pray for guidance. Pray for strength to overcome your anger issues. Talk to others about how they control their anger. Share with them a scenario in which you lost your temper and ask them how they would have handled it differently.

    Finally, strengthen your love for other people. If you truly love your spouse, friends, etc., then remind yourself that they do not deserve the tongue lashing that you might feel like giving. Your relationship with them is more important than the brief reprieve you might feel if you just “get it out.”

–Paul Holland

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A Lesson from John Kelly and Donald Trump

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    If there’s one thing you can say about the nascent Trump administration, it has not been weak in drama. Reince Preibus. Anthony Scaramucci. John Kelly. These are some of the names that have been in the news within the last week or so. Jim Geraghty, writing on the National Review website, shares an incident that happened recently that illustrates for us an important lesson on human nature (http://www.nationalreview.com/morning-jolt/450049/flakes-criticism-trump-not-enough-new-york-times?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=170801_Jolt&utm_term=Jolt).

    It is true that Donald Trump’s ego is as big as his bank account. I suppose the two go together naturally. Yet, the strength of his ego is neither unique to him nor to someone of his wealth. Humans, in general, have pretty strong egos. Which can make it hard to correct them.

    A week or so ago, President Trump named John Kelly as his chief of staff. Kelly is a retired general from the Marines and has been described as a “whip-cracking” general. He served three tours in Iraq. Perhaps his great strength at this point in time is that he is not afraid to speak truth to power. Maybe he is just what the country needs for a White House that seems bent on shooting itself in the foot through a lack of self-discipline. 

    In this one incident, related by Geraghty, General Kelly insisted everyone leave the room so he could talk to Trump alone. Trump refused at first but then relented when Kelly insisted. Here is Geraghty’s take on the event: “Kelly didn’t want anyone else seeing him disagreeing so strongly with the president. Judging from this, when Kelly thinks the president is making a mistake, he’s going to make his views exceptionally clear, but not in a way that undermines the president or implies insufficient respect for the office. Considering how temperamental Trump can be, and the fact that this blunt exchange didn’t lead to Kelly’s dismissal, we should also recognize that perhaps the president is more willing to listen to strong disagreement than his reputation suggests.”

    Jesus tells us that if we know of a brother’s sin, we should “show him his fault in private” (Matt. 18:15). Few people like to be corrected publicly. It seems to be human nature that if we are “attacked” publicly, we will “save face” and defend ourselves, perhaps even digging in our heels at that moment. We might think more seriously about our actions later, in private, but we tend not to want to admit publicly that we are wrong.

    Thus, the strength and the importance of making these intense confrontations as private as possible. “Even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness” (Gal. 6:1). This, too, suggests a private or small gathering. Give the person time to process the correction. Give the person time to respond privately before making changes publicly. Do you suppose that God knows human nature? That we respond better to correction if it is done privately?

    Keep these thoughts in mind if/when you need to correct your children. Or your spouse. Or someone at church. Or the President of the United States.

–Paul Holland

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Modern Challenges to the Ancient Faith: Apathy

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A preacher was disappointed that things were not “happening” in his church, so he asked one of the influential deacons – “What is wrong with our church? Is it ignorance or apathy?” The deacon responded, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”

Apathy is a serious problem in the Lord’s church – too many Christians simply don’t care what the church is or what it does. Indifference is a challenge that faces the Lord’s church today just as much as it did the Israelites.

Indifference leads me to not study the Bible and pray at home like I should. Complacency motivates my heart and my mind to think that I’ve reached a level of Bible knowledge that is sufficient for me. Or it motivates me to think that since God knows what I need anyway, it is not necessary for me to pray.

Indifference leads me to neglect worship and other church-sponsored activities – whether fellowship activities or evangelistic activities. It may be that I am so wrapped up in the world that I become indifferent to the church and its work. Jesus portrays the seeds that were sown among the weeds as being choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life (Luke 8:14).

Indifference means that our love for Christ, like some in the early centuries of the church (Matt 24:12) has grown cold.  Like the Christians in Laodicea whose works were lukewarm, because of indifference (Rev. 3:15). The Christians in Ephesus had left their first love (Rev 2:4). These Christians were still worshipping together. John writes that they were working, toiling, persevering, and testing those who called themselves apostles but found them to be false. But they had left their first love. It is quite possible for all the machinations of the Church to be in full working order while at the same time the spirit of love and zeal which first set it moving is on the decline.

What leads us to apathy or indifference? In some, as we see in the parable of the sower, it is absorption in worldly affairs. In others, it is the influence of worldly companions. In some, it is intellectual doubts, having penetrated the mind through unbelieving and skeptical books. In others it might be the chilly atmosphere of the church itself. In some, it might be a sinful lust, some ungodly desire that has not been totally mortified in the flesh and it makes its reappearance.

But no engine will continue to run long after the fuel has gone out. There are enemies of the cross today as insidious as ever. If we love our redeeming God, if we love our sacrificial Savior; if we love our inspiring Holy Spirit, if we love the church of our Lord which He bought with His own blood, then we need to renew ourselves, rejuvenate ourselves, and reapply our shoulders to the grindstone and get to work. Losing zeal for the work of the church takes the sap out of the tree.

Consider these passages which illustrate where we need to be zealous in our love for the Lord: leading (Rom. 12:8, 11), forgiving (2 Cor. 7:11), giving (2 Cor. 9:2), benevolence (Gal. 2:10), good works (Titus 2:14 & 1 Peter 3:13), preserving unity (Eph. 4:3), studying God’s word (2 Tim 2:15), and remaining faithful (Heb. 4:11; 2 Peter 1:10; 3:14).

The cure for apathy is:

  1. Trusting in God, trusting in Christ, trusting in the Word.
  2. Obeying God, obeying Christ, obeying the Word.
  3. Following God, following Christ, following the Word.
  4. Honoring God, honoring Christ, honoring the Word.
  5. Working for God, working for Christ, working in accordance with the Word.

    Paul Holland

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Joy for the World How Christianity Lost its Cultural Influence & Can Begin Rebuilding It

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    There are many reasons why the church is not growing in modern times as it did in earlier times. Some of those factors are external and we have little control over them, such as an increasingly antinomian culture. Some of those factors are internal; we lack the “fire in the belly” for the lost as perhaps we once did.

    Greg Forster has written a book with the title of this Daily Droplets in which he argues that Christianity has lost its influence in our society because we do not live a life of joy around our non-Christian friends. Building on Paul’s interaction with the philosophers in Athens in Acts 17, Forster writes: “we are as believers to both listen to and also challenge dominant cultural ideas, respectfully yet pointedly, in both our speech and our example” (pg 15).

    Through his book, Forster wants to challenge and encourage Christians to engage our society with the joy that comes from being a Christian. “The centerpiece of my answers,” he writes, “is the joy of God. …Christianity… needs to rely on what truly makes it distinct – the work of the Spirit in our minds, hearts, and lives” (pg 18). The joy that comes from being a Christian, the joy brought into our minds and hearts through the Holy Spirit’s word in our lives (Rom. 14:17) should make us “happier, but also wiser, humbler, more patient, and so forth” (pg 19).

    Forster was actually trained in political science and has been a political activist since he was a teenager. It is from that perspective that he writes, “Christians should show the world (in the right way) that Christianity makes life work better. …I call this holistic Christian life, ‘the joy of God.’ When I say joy, I don’t mean an emotion. I mean the flourishing of the whole person in mind, heart, and life” (pg. 58).

    Reminding the reader that Jesus was/is prophet, priest, and king, Forster suggests that Christians, by our personalities, can fit into one or more of those “categories.” A prophet shares God’s message. The priest brings reconciliation. The king is steward over another’s resources. He then dedicates one chapter to each category in an effort to inspire Christians with abilities in those areas to use them joyfully for the service of the community and our broader country.

    In the final three chapters, Forster focuses on three areas in which Christians can particularly exercise a joyful influence in our spheres of influence, particularly by showing others that these areas are spiritual areas, not just physical. Those areas are the sexual relationship, work, and citizenship.

    In “Sex and Family,” Forster writes: “What we really need is for Christians coast to coast to become models of marital blessing, starting with their own homes but reaching out and blessing marriages around them as well” (pg 209). 

    In “Work and the Economy,” he says, “Treating people with dignity causes them to do better work and produce more value. But at the same time, setting high expectations for productivity is essential to treating people with dignity” (pg 221). In that chapter, Forster argues that work is a spiritual discipline, which makes it ideal for being susceptible to Christian influence. At the same time, Christians need to strike a balance between being generous and being focused on productivity.

    In the chapter on citizenship, Forster calls on Christians to involve ourselves in our communities at all levels – nation, state, region, county, city, and neighborhood. It is certainly a relevant question to ask: If the church where you worship were to close its doors, would your neighborhood notice? Would they care?

    Frequently, elders will ask their preachers to do something that involves them in the community, such as being a member of the Lions Club, for example. That is a good idea. But not just for the preachers. The more involvement Christians have in our society, the more opportunities we all will have to share the joy of Christ with the world.

–Paul Holland

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God’s Perfect Will Ephesians 5:15-20

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    One reason Satan has such a strong influence over us is because we do not act first. We are not “proactive” in our approach to life. Too many people think that God’s will in our lives is not understandable and so they live as if they have to fight Satan alone. But the fact is, we have God’s will. We can know God’s will and we need to learn God’s will and share it with others.

    According to Paul’s letter of Ephesians, the “perfect will of God” is the salvation of man, in the church of Jesus Christ, through Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.

BE CAREFUL HOW YOU WALK – 5:15-17:

    Verse 15 begins with the word “therefore”. Paul is drawing a conclusion. “Therefore, be careful how you walk.” Why? Back in the previous paragraph, notice verse 6, Paul says: “Let no one deceive you.” We can’t be deceived by others who do not understand what the will of the Lord is.

    An “unwise” man is one who does not want to know that will or does not want to walk according to that will of God. But a wise man does. 

    Verse 17 contains the command, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” The will of the Lord is understandable. I know so many Americans believe, because Christians seem to like to argue over religion, that the will of the Lord is simply not understandable. I believe our arguing has turned a lot of people off of Christianity and closed the door of the church to a lot of good, moral people. But really, there is no reason to argue over the will of the Lord. Paul here says that the will of the Lord is understandable. So Paul calls on us not to be foolish but understand – seek to learn – the will of the Lord.

BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT – 5:18-20:

    In verse 18, against one of those vices of mankind that keeps us from understanding the will of the Lord, Paul says do not be drunk with wine. Why? Because in the inebriation of drunkenness, there is “dissipation (NASV).” This word refers to our behavior as it shows a lack of concern or thought for the consequences of our behavior. It means “senselessness.”

    Instead of being filled with wine, however, Paul says to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit. If you want to know the will of the Lord, you have to have the assistance of the Holy Spirit. Paul had already said back in chapter 3 that the Holy Spirit had revealed the will of God to Paul so that he could write it down and you and I can know the will of God by reading what Paul has written. When you are under control of the Holy Spirit, you do not lose control; instead, you gain greater self-control (2 Tim 1:7).

    Here in this text, Paul says that we are “filled” with the Spirit when we sing His message to each other in worship. In fact, through four verbs in verses 19-20, Paul tells us what it means to be “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    One of the great strengths of the Christian’s life is to allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His word, His message, and then allow that message to influence our minds and our behavior. When we praise God in song on a regular basis, our doubts and the darkness of a sinful world will easily evaporate.

–Paul Holland

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Lessons from a jury trial (part 1)

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Jury Trial

 

  • JURY SELECTION.
  • 2 Cor. 5:10 says we must ALL stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
  • Have we ever wondered if people will be praying at the end of time judgment?
  • 2 Cor. 5:10 tells us prayers will have no effect at the end of time.
  • Acts 17:30,
  • Paul said God has appointed “a day” in which He will “judge the world.”
  • The trial at the end of time will not be rescheduled. No one will be excused for a short or long time.
  • The trial took place as scheduled and it contained A LOT of details; LOTS of notes were taken.
    1. Imagine being judged for things DONE IN THE BODY which are embarrassing, sinful, and public.
    2. We have expressions about “airing dirty laundry in public.”
    3. 1 Cor. 4:5 says Jesus will bring the “secret things to light.”
    4. What men thought would be hidden from all and forever will be clearly revealed.
  • The alleged victim was asked for some details she could not remember.
  • God is not like us; He never forgets anything because He knows all.
  • With the judgment at the end of time, there will be no “hard cases” –
  • The judgment bar of Christ will not have all the back and forth bickering seen in human courts.
  • Some will try to object on the Day of Judgment (Mt. 7:22 – Lord, “but DID WE NOT”) –
  • The case being described had a key witness recalled to rebut the defendant’s testimony.
  • At the end of time there will be no need to find or recall witnesses; any necessary facts will be available.
  • I was surprised at the small number of people in the courtroom for every day of this trial.
  • At the end of time, we will find a lot of people present.
  • Paul (2 Cor. 5:10) said ALL will be there. From the first person born to the last; no one will be absent.
  • For the most part, the jurors I sat with believed the prosecutors failed to prove their case.
  • The difference between reasonable doubt and NO POSSIBLE DOUBT.
  • 2 Cor. 5:10 says judgement will be based on THINGS DONE IN THE BODY.
  • Judgment will not be based on what people claim or want someone to think.
  • Behind the judge was a wall; on this wall was nothing but a sign with one word: INTEGRITY.
  • God has integrity, but much, much more. His judgment will be perfect in every possible way.
  • Jurors were asked if they could and would vote based on the law instead of feelings.
  • If we are not in a right relationship with God, we need to correct that and correct that today.
  • SLIDE
  • The jury room where I spent several hours buzzed with activity.
  • People were allowed to think, dig, ask questions, and likely walk away with newfound knowledge.
  • The Bible class can be and should be one of the greatest highlights of our week.
  • We can calmly think, reason, discuss, and draw conclusions about a book better than any civil/criminal trial.
  • I would strongly encourage you to take each of those reasons and find a way to overcome them.
  • SLIDE – the judgment is coming – are we ready?

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One Aspect of the Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

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    The fruit of the Spirit is found in Galatians 5:22. The Greek word translated “faithfulness” (NASV) is simply the word “faith.” But, there is a difference between “faithfulness” and “faith.”

    Faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something.” We trust, having complete confidence in God, even though we cannot see him. That is faith.    

    Faithfulness – “the quality of being loyal, constant, and steadfast.” In other words, faithfulness is being dependable, constant.

    Some people’s faithfulness, or loyalty, lasts only as long as the blessings flow. A wealthy old man was enthusiastic about marrying his lovely young bride but sometimes wondered if she might marry him just for his money. So, he asked her, “If I lost all my money, would you still love me?”

    “Of course I would still love you,” she retorted. “Don’t be silly. But I would miss you.”

THE ORIGIN OF FAITHFULNESS IS THE NATURE OF GOD:

    As the Israelites were getting ready to cross into the Promised Land, Moses told them, “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; but repays those who hate Him to their faces, to destroy them; He will not delay with him who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. Therefore, you shall keep the commandment and the statutes and the judgments which I am commanding you today, to do them” (Deut. 7:9-11).

    The Hebrew word translated “faithful” here is actually a verb, a passive verb and the verb is “trust.” So, Moses is saying God is the “being trusted” One. You can trust God. Why? Because He doesn’t change.

    To say that God is faithful is to say that God is real. He is firm, stable, reliable, dependable, upright. Can cannot be unfaithful to His own nature. Therefore, He must be consistent.

THE EXAMPLE OF FAITHFULNESS IS JESUS CHRIST:

    Jesus Christ is, of course, God in the flesh. In which case, we would expect to see the same unchangeableness, infinite faithfulness in Jesus Christ while He was in the flesh on earth. The Hebrew writer tells us: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

    How do we see Jesus being faithful while He was on earth? First, Jesus was dependable in fulfilling the responsibility that the Father sent Him to fulfill, even though it meant death on the cross (John 17:4).

    Secondly, Jesus was dedicated to that task so that when it arose, Jesus praised those who were otherwise His enemies (Matt. 23:2-3) and He rebuked those who were otherwise His friends (Matt. 16:21-23).

    So, Jesus was faithful, dependable while He was on earth. He is our example of faithfulness – being dedicated to the truth of God regardless of whether it supports one person or another. Christianity is not a popularity contest. It is the pursuit of honoring God, and if we do that, we can also be dependable.

YOU AND I CAN BE FAITHFUL:

    1. Remember that God has a reward for those who are faithful –  1 Samuel 26:23 – “The Lord will repay each man for his righteousness and his faithfulness.”

    2. Fear God; it will stimulate faithfulness – Nehemiah’s brother, Hanani, is said to be a “faithful man and feared God more than many” (Neh. 7:2).

    3. Don’t ever lie! “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal faithfully are His delight” (Prov. 12:22).

    4. Stay faithful to God’s word – “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6).

    5. Remember that greater blessings will come if we stay faithful: “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).

    6. Just stick with it! 

    Let us be reliable so that God can trust us with the blessings and the Gospel He has given into our hands.

–Paul Holland

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No Ordinary Family

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The spiritual health, and to some degree the entire health, of our families depends on an obedient submission to God’s will. God’s word gives us our purpose for life and guidelines for Christian living, including our families. Let’s talk about having an “extra-ordinary” family…

Young people often think or ask themselves, “What is life all about?”  or “Why am I here?” Members of extraordinary families ask themselves those questions, just as the rest of humanity does. But Christian families find answers to those questions in the Good Book.

Solomon said in Proverbs 9:1: “Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars.” Solomon is saying that a good, solid house, we might say an “extraordinary family,” is built on wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. Wisdom has its source in God and in the fear of the Lord. Knowledge comes from the Word. Understanding integrates the two.

“Seven” is a figure of speech for the majestic house Wisdom has built. It indicates that which is complete or appropriate. Let’s take a closer look at seven “pillars” or “columns” of an extraordinary family…

SEVEN “PILLARS” (+ ONE EXTRA) OF AN EXTRA-ORDINARY FAMILY:

  1. Love. When children see love, they feel loved. Love recognizes that there is a real equality between husband and wife in the marriage relationship (Gal. 3:28). That is relative to our inherent value, of course, not to our role or function in the marriage relationship. But in Ephesians 5:25, Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church.
  2. Obedience. Children have a will to choose, the will to decide, the will to sort out, and the will to select. Parents need to guide them in choosing a godly purpose for their choices. If our children are going to be different from the world, they have to be parented differently from the world. Obedience is a lifestyle.
  3. Respect. A home built on wisdom is a home whose purpose is to respect. When children are taught to respect mom and dad, they are taught to put worth and value on someone else. It is acting politely and obediently and speaking kindly to them and about them.
  4. Gentleness. Godly parents are parents who are not easily irritated. It causes others around them, especially children, to feel like they have to walk on egg shells. Godly parents are not harsh in how they deal with each other or their children. Gentleness is tenderness.
  5. Discipline. An extraordinary family is a home in which discipline is used. Fathers must exercise self-control even as they are teaching their children self-discipline. Discipline needs to be implemented in the context of instruction, with thoughts toward the long-term.
  6. Wisdom. Knowledge is learned. Wisdom is given from above. We need to teach our children the word of God. Teaching God’s wisdom never occurs in a vacuum. You cannot teach what you do not know and you cannot impart what you do not possess.
  7. Responsibility. Our children will never know the value of hard work unless they see it at home demonstrated in us as parents. Our culture denigrates the Christian work ethic. To many people, work simply finances their pleasure. But that’s not God’s attitude toward work (Eph. 6:5).
  8. Let’s throw in an extra “pillar” to make our house more than complete: Godliness. The apple never falls far from the tree. Leaving a spiritual legacy begins with the personal character of every dad. Who we are determines what we leave behind. Godly children come out of godly homes where godly fathers & mothers live godly lives. We cannot leave what we do not live. We cannot pass on what we do not possess. Having a purpose in life begins deep within ourselves with our own daily walk with God.

Spiritual well-being is a very personal, day-to-day matter in extraordinary families. We need to be committed, as a family, to a spiritual lifestyle that is livable. You can have an extraordinary family if you build your family on God’s seven pillars of wisdom.

–Paul Holland

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