Hello friends, I pray you had a great day in the house of the Lord yesterday. We had a great service in Ottawa-I could really feel the presence of the Lord in our service. We were honored to have many guests. The last few weeks I have been doing a series about how we can find Christ in the book of Psalms (even though it was written long before He appeared on the earth). One of our elders is going to finish up that series this upcoming Sunday. After that, I am starting a 4 week teaching on 1st and 2nd Timothy. So, for my blog, I want to start looking at those books in anticipation of the upcoming series. For today, I want to look at who Timothy was...where did he come from and how did he become so trusted in the early church.
1 Timothy 1: 1-2
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Paul calls Timothy "my true child in the faith," a person could not get a better recommendation than this, in my opinion. According to most reputable sources, Timothy was in his late-teens or early twenties when he first joined Paul. We do not know how he met Paul, but it is thought that it happened during Paul's first missionary journey, around the town of Derbe and Lystra. Apparently Timothy was with Paul when Paul wrote a number of his letters (that now comprise some of the N.T.). Paul recognized that Timothy had a rich heritage, a very faithful mother and grandmother. The Lord had obviously blessed Timothy with a special anointing, a soft heart, and the ability to effectively communicate the gospel of Christ.
Paul's letters to Timothy were instructions on how to run the church properly-and to not allow others to "look down on him, because of his age, but set an example for others to see" (1st Tim. 4:12). Imagine the pressure that Timothy had on his shoulders as one of the first pastors to lead a church. He had a massive responsibility and had a very high amount of accountability. Timothy would set the example on how to pastor a church, while Paul taught about the importance of accountability for leaders in such a position.
Over the next few weeks we will be looking at some of the instructions from the Apostle Paul. The main theme of 1st and 2nd Timothy is all about the importance of healthy, balanced, and Godly doctrine. The early church did not have the N.T. (like we have), they relied heavily on guys like Paul to instruct and teach them in "The Way."
Hello friends, I've been busy this week preparing for a house full of guests and making sure I get my church and schoolwork done. I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends this weekend. On Monday I talked about David's statement: "I shall not want." Today I want to continue our look at Psalm 23, focusing specifically on the phrase:
"He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake."
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus talks about the narrow and wide gates that a person can choose to walk through:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it."
This passage in Matthew is what comes to my mind when I read vs. 3 of Psalm 23. David says that the Lord guides him along the path of righteousness. It is this path that leads to the narrow gate that Jesus mentioned. I think most Christ followers know how important the path of righteousness is-and that we must rely on the Lord to lead us. We do not have to be Christians long to figure out that our own path and our righteousness will only lead to the wide gate. It is the statement that David makes after this that I think most of us struggle with: "For His name's sake."
Why are we led down the path of righteousness? Or, what about an even deeper question: Why are we on this earth? This is a big, somewhat philosophical question that has been argued in the secular and religious arenas throughout human history. If in fact, you believe that we are a cosmic accident, then I can understand why you may believe that humanity has no purpose-after all, we are just a freak accident and will eventually disappear. In this case, it makes sense that we should collect and consume as much as we can and gain as much glory as humanly possible, all for ourselves. If, however, you believe that we were created, then it must have been for a reason. Quite honestly, I believe that David gives us our answer in Psalm 23. The reason that you and I choose the narrow gate and choose to be led down the path of righteousness, is because we recognize that we were created for one purpose: to give glory to our Heavenly Father. All that we do should be "for His name's sake." The more we recognize that we were created for a specific purpose, the easier it is to live that out. The idea behind Psalm 23 is complete dependence on God, and a recognition that all good things come from Him; because of this wonderful fact, all glory and honor belong to Him. God Bless.
My goodness, it has been some time since my last entry! I did not preach this past Sunday, as a result, I let time slip by without doing any blogs. That said, we are back on the train this week, continuing the series "Jesus in the Psalms." In this series we are looking at different chapters in the book of Psalms in which Jesus is referred to-in other words, Messianic Psalms. Two weeks ago I taught on Psalm 110. So, in preparation for my sermon this upcoming Sunday, I want to explore Psalm 23. Let's take a look at this well known chapter.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Today, I would like to focus on vs. 1: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."
Verse one could be a sermon all by itself, but I want to focus on the latter half of vs. 1. David makes a declaration in the first part of vs. 1-that the Lord is his shepherd, then the second part of vs.1 is the result of the declaration; because the Lord is his shepherd, he shall not want. What does David mean when he says: "I shall not want?" This statement packs a lot of punch if you think about it. How many of us do not want for anything? How often do we find ourselves (myself included) saying: "boy, I would really like...(fill in the blank)". I'll mention a very unspiritual example from my own life. I enjoy playing video games...it's something that I've always enjoyed. In times past, there is no doubt I played too many games. It can be a fun hobby, and a great distraction from the troubles of this world if kept in balance. Well, a year or so ago a new video game console came out on the market. Because of the supply chain shortage, the electronic components needed to make these consoles are in short supply-thus the console was in short supply. From the moment they hit the market I told my wife that I really wanted the new PS5. I would talk about it (too) often. Eventually I did get my hands on one...but my "wanting" did not stop there-then I "wanted" a game or two. My "wanting" never has an end. Most things in life are this way. Especially here in the U.S., we are constantly "wanting" whatever gadget, car, toy, or money, just to name a few. From my point of view, when David says "I shall not want" he means 2 things:
1. The Lord is the one who supplies all of his needs.
2. He desires nothing more than what the Lord provides.
As a follower of Christ, I can think of little else that provides a greater challenge than "I shall not want." To live our lives in such a way that our desires match perfectly with the Lord's provision is a high bar indeed. As I sat down to write this sermon and was flushing out the deep meaning behind some of David's statements, I felt much conviction. Would that every believer live in such a way! God Bless.
It's Friday! To me, this does not mean much, but to my wife, it's a very happy day-as she will have the next 2 days off. I pray you all are well-let's wrap up our look at Psalm 110. If you have not read my previous two entries, I would encourage you to do so, as today is the conclusion of my thoughts on Psalm 110.
The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” 2 The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” 3 Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to you like dew from the morning’s womb.4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. 7 He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.
As I pointed out a couple of entries ago, Psalm 110 is a Messianic Psalm that points to Christ as a King and a Priest. I have covered the importance of Melchizedek-but what does this have to do with us today-living in the United States-a country without a king, and our faith-that does not have a "priesthood." Some of this imagery is lost on those of us in the U.S.
Well, a king is a person with the ultimate authority-someone who has unlimited authority-their very word is law. On Sunday, I will lay out some of the power that the new King of England will have-if he ever chose to exercise it. A priest is someone who represents us before God the Father-think of this person as our advocate or lawyer-the one who argues on our behalf before the Judge-the person who had our best interest at heart all of the time. So, not only is our Savior our King (the person who holds all power and authority), but He is also our Priest (someone who only wants the best for us). Since Jesus holds both of these offices-we have nothing to fear in this life, or in the next. We must really grab ahold of this idea and realize the gravity of the situation. We must always fear and respect the King, but be grateful that the King is also our advocate-the One who always has our best interest at heart. Praise the Lord for this. Be encouraged today and know that we serve the King of kings and the ultimate, perfect, High Priest.
It's been nearly a week since my last entry...I've been busy with school stuff, as my new semester has just begun. My sermon this Sunday (the 11th) is on Psalm 110. David is the author of the Psalm, and references a might King, who will also be a priest-like Melchizedek. If you have not read my last entry, I would encourage you to do so, as this is a continuation of last Wednesday.
In my last entry I talked a bit about Melchizedek-a king/priest mentioned in the book of Genesis Ch. 14. Today, I would like to take a look at Hebrews Ch. 7.
Heb. 7: 1-10
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. 3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.
4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment [a]in the Law to collect [b]a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these [c]are descended from Abraham. 6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected [d]a tenth from Abraham and [e]blessed the one who had the promises. 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.
Hebrews 7 lays out something utterly fantastic! When God established the nation of Israel, He set up a family line that would serve as priests. God also set up a kingly line-that would rule as kings. We never see one person have the title of king and priest throughout the history of Israel. According to what we can gather, from both Genesis, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 7-God also created a separate priestly line-outside of the nation of Israel. This line served as both: King and Priest. Melchizedek was not Jewish, he was a Gentile. This family line was created before God made his covenant with Israel, before the great patriarchs (Isaac and Jacob), and way before the Law of Moses. This line preceded all of these things. So, when David declares in Psalm 110: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” David is saying that the coming Messiah will be for the Gentile and Jew. Not only that, but the Messiah will also be a King-again, not just for Israel, but for all people.
In my next entry, I will talk about why this matters, and how Jesus has fulfilled this role in the life of the believer.
It's mid-week already-how time does fly when you are having so much fun! Next week OFA will begin Wednesday evening services-I look forward to this, and believe that God will move mightily. Today, let's begin to look at the next series I will be doing on Sunday mornings (beginning in the 2nd week of September). We will be examining how we can find Jesus throughout the book of Psalms. Jesus is often portrayed at King, Priest, and as the Son of Man.
The Lord says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” 2 The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” 3 Your troops will be willing on your day of battle. Arrayed in holy splendor, your young men will come to youlike dew from the morning’s womb.4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth. 7 He will drink from a brook along the way, and so he will lift his head high.
This is an example of a "Messianic" Psalm. Melchizedek is what is referred to as a "type of Christ." This particular Psalm is discussed in Hebrews Ch. 7; The author does a "running commentary" on what Psalm 110 is talking about. I would encourage you to look at both, Psalm 110 and Hebrews Ch. 7-to get a better understanding of what David was talking about when he wrote the Psalm. This is what we will be discussing at length on Sept. 11th. For now though, who is this guy, Melchizedek?
Melchizedek was the king and priest of an ancient city named Salem. His name means "king of righteousness." In Israel, the king and priest duties were separate, they were never held by the same person. The writer of Hebrews points to Melchizedek as being the forerunner of Christ-who occupies the king/priest role in our lives. We even see this man offer up "communion" to Abraham, to celebrate a military victory. Psalm 110 points to an eventual King that will be just like Melchizedek-we know now, David was talking about Christ.
More on this in the next week.
Hello friends, I pray that you had a great time in the the Lords house on Sunday. At OFA we talked about John Mark-and how spiritual immaturity can lead to problems in our lives. I will finish up my thoughts about J.M. today.
One of the scriptures that I used in my sermon on Sunday is from the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 5: 12-14
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
Thankfully, John Mark did grow in his relationship with the Lord; we know this because later on, Paul recognizes how useful J.M. is in the work of the ministry. Imagine though, if John did not mature-we probably would not have the gospel of Mark.
Spiritual maturity is not gained by osmosis-just because we go to church, or are surrounded by mature believers, this does not mean that we have done the work necessary to consume meat, instead of milk. We must all walk our own path of maturity. For most of us, this has much to do with our modes of thinking-the things we fix our minds on. We must pray, and ask the Lord to help us fix our minds on things from above, not on earthly things. God Bless.
Today we will continue our look at John Mark. I started this series on my last entry-so, if you have not read that, I would encourage you to do so. Let's talk about why John Mark left Paul and Barnabas about half-way through their first missions journey.
13 Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John left them and returned to Jerusalem.
Paul had trusted John Mark (JM) enough to take him on this important assignment from the Lord. Yet, about half-way through, JM decided to leave, and went to Jerusalem. We do not have the immediate reaction from Paul, but we know (from later in scripture) that Paul was very upset at JM. So, why would JM leave? There are 3 popular theories (and many other that are not so popular) as to why this happened.
1. JM simply decided that the work was not for him-so he decided to leave.
2. JM was offended that Paul was becoming the leader of the group, rather than his relative, Barnabas. If you remember, when the 3 men were in Antioch, God commissioned the two men-but Barnabas's name was used first. Perhaps JM thought that Barnabas would be the leader.
2 While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
If you read the account of their first journey in Acts 13, it becomes clear that Paul is the stronger leader-maybe JM didn't like this-so he left. Or, maybe it was:
3. JM became scared when the group came upon their first sign of spiritual resistance-so he left.
We do not know the reason that JM left-but to me, the third reason makes the most sense. Let's look at what happened that may have caused JM to abandon the group:
Acts 13: 6-12 (this entry is a bit longer, but important)
6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet whose name was Bar-Jesus, 7 who was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence. This man summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for so his name is translated) was opposing them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, fixed his gaze on him, 10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord? 11 Now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and not see the sun for a time.” And immediately a mist and a darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking those who would lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord.
Now, imagine if you are JM-a younger Christian that has (no doubt) seen miracles-but perhaps JM has never really seen such spiritual resistance close up. Much like when Jesus has to cast demons out of people-those around what witnessed it sometimes got scared. Maybe JM just didn't know how to process what he observed-and became frightened. I believe this is the most likely scenario as to why JM left-and it also explains why (as JM matured) that he and Paul became reconciled. We will talk more about this in my next entry. God Bless.
Happy Tuesday. It's been a few days since my last entry. I've been enjoying some much needed rest after a few weeks of being very busy. At OFA we are doing a series that examines a 4 characters from scripture. This upcoming Sunday we are going to look at John Mark. I thought I might spend this week (here in the blog) preparing for that message.
11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12 And when he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 When he knocked at the door of the gate, a servant-girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, because of her joy she did not open the gate, but ran in and announced that Peter was standing in front of the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was so. They kept saying, “It is his angel.”
In these passages, Peter was just delivered from prison via an angel of the Lord. As soon as Peter is free from the jail, he immediately goes to the house of a friend. This friend was the mother of John Mark (J.M.). This is the first time we see J.M. mentioned in scripture. Interestingly enough, there was a group of people gathered there, praying. While it does not specifically say that this group was praying for Peter, I think it's safe to assume that was the case. This text does not give any more information about J.M.-only to say that we was obviously known to Peter's inner circle. I love this story story in Acts-Peter gets miraculously freed from prison-he goes to a friends home-but the person who answers the door is so overwhelmed to see him, she runs back to her friends, rather than open the door. Of course, the people do not believe her at first-but they will come around rather quickly. Think of the excitement in the room. Can you imagine being there at that moment? Christians were being persecuted at this point-I'm sure that they thought Peter was going to be killed or in prison for the rest of his life.
So, who is this John Mark fellow? Although he is not one of the main characters in the N.T., he plays a very important role in the life of Paul, Peter, and Barnabas. J.M. is thought to be Peter's scribe and interpreter. It is believed that he wrote the Gospel of Mark, which was Peter's account of his time with Jesus. There are some who believe that J.M. went on to establish the first church in Africa-but that is merely conjecture, we do not know for sure. Regardless, we can learn much from J.M.. As we will see, J.M. did not always make the best decisions-just like you and I. Stay tuned for more about John Mark.
Happy Saturday friends, I pray you are having a great weekend. Today, we are wrapping up our look at Romans Ch. 14. If you have not been reading since the beginning of this particular "series," I would encourage you to go back and read the last few entries-else, today might not make sense.
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way. 14 I know and am convinced [f]in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but to him who thinks anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 For if because of food your brother is hurt, you are no longer walking according to love. Do not destroy with your food him for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be [g]spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then [h]we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. 20 Do not tear down the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are clean, but they are evil for the man who eats [i]and gives offense. 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. 22 The faith which you have, have [j]as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.
In the last few verses of Romans 14, Paul sort of switches gears a bit. This is the part of Romans 14 that is the most ignored and/or overlooked. People read vs. 13-then turn off their brains and go on autopilot. It's important to remember what Paul is talking about in this chapter-new believers who still struggle with following O.T. law. I do understand how many people take the first part of Romans 14, and apply it to modern day issues of conscience. I also think that in certain instances-the beginning part of Romans 14 can apply. More often than not, this chapter is used 2 ways:
1. The younger generations to claim that we (fellow believers) are not to judge...period. The young people say things like: "only God can judge."
2. "Mature" Christians defending their freedom in Christ- with alcohol, gambling, or other things that are traditionally looked down upon in Christian circles.
Neither one of these fit the context of Romans 14. While drinking alcohol is a matter of personal conscience, it's not a matter of being overly legalistic at all-it's the opposite, I would argue. Modern Christian society is not like the early church, where new believers come in, having already been steeped in a religious tradition-like Judaism. Most new believers struggle with carnality, not with being overly legalistic-this is why we must use caution when trying to apply Romans 14 to our modern society.
Lastly, and I will wrap up our look at Romans 14 with this: those who use this chapter to defend their "freedom" in Christ simply ignore Paul's instructions at the end: 21 It is good not to eat meat or to drink wine, or to do anything by which your brother stumbles. Here, Paul is saying that if you are doing something that has the potential to make someone stumble-then don't do it. When our "freedom" in Christ causes someone else to stumble, that "freedom" becomes a sin. Laura and I once left a church because the pastor was open about the fact that he drank alcohol. They even had alcohol at their yearly fundraiser (for the missions project the church sponsored). When Laura and I learned this, we spoke with the pastor, letting him know that we could not attend because I should not be around a bunch of people drinking. This didn't phase him at all-his "freedom" in Christ was more important. I've never met a Christian (that was ok with drinking alcohol) that said: "your right, my drinking could cause someone to stumble...I won't do it."
We must be careful when using scripture (like Romans 14), always understanding context, culture, and the intent of the author.
This was a longer entry, but I wanted to finish up. Also, if you are a Christian that enjoys some occasional alcohol-I am not judging you. I'm just relaying some of my experiences. We are all accountable to the Lord for our thoughts, decisions, and actions. We must all make sure our freedom does not make someone else stumble. God Bless.