It has been said that, "life is one long process of getting tired."* Well, yes, if it's done right. Nobody likes insomnia, so that can be a good thing. I always loved the feeling of laying my head on my pillow knowing I had earned my bread.
2 Timothy 3:10-11 But you have fully known my doctrine, manner of life,
purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, Persecutions, afflictions, which
came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but
out of them all the Lord delivered me.
This is an odd bit of a letter from Paul to his young mentee Timothy. I like it because we hear Paul saying, [Ah, but you know me well, Timothy. You know what I teach, how I live my life, why I do what I do, my reasons for believing, how I suffer, who I love, the limits of my patience, what I've gone through in this world, and how the Lord brought me through it all.]-My paraphrase
Paul was transparant to those he mentored. He lived a transparant life. This does not mean that his life was perfect. It means he didn't hide his problems from Timothy. the key words here, for me, are purpose, and delivered. First, I like hearing Paul talk about his purpose. I hate purposlessness. God gave us a spine. I believe we need a purpose for living. But, the word delivered may be mistaken to mean something that it doesn't. It does not mean delivered in the sense that Daniel was delivered from the Lion's Den. He did not escape unscathed. He was beaten, and stoned, and suffered greatly. This deliverance was the kind you overcome by suffering through and coming out the other end intact in your faith. Yes, that is being an overcomer. And, therein is our purpose in this life... to overcome, with our faith intact. We will need it you know.
*Samuel Butler Quote
Galatians 3:7-9 Know you therefore that they who are of faith, the same
are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would
justify the Gentiles through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham,
saying, In you shall all nations be blessed. So then they who are of faith are
blessed with faithful Abraham.
The actual references for this "sermon preached by Scripture" are Genesis 18:18, Genesis 22:18, Genesis 26:4. No, the Gospel is no "new thing," but was ordained from the foundation of the worlds. This has great impact on the validity of Scriptures, and ties in both with the statement of Jesus that he came to fulfill Scripture Matthew 5:17 and with the endorsement of the Old Testament by Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16.
Today, we have three of the worlds religions that came from Abraham's children; Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. These religions cover 55% of the world's population.
This means that the words spoken of God in Genesis saying that all nations would be blessed of Abraham, that sermon is believed by three religions. That's a good starting point for faith in any country. God is the God of the whole world, not just we Gentiles/ modern Christians. It is quite egocentric to assume that the Old Testament is finished and fit to be torn out of the Bible or discarded. Yes, the Bible is definitely to be considered as a whole. It has its proper place there in the gospel story, the Good News of Christ. If you are going to understand the cross, the trip begins in the Old Testament, there on the back side of Calvary.
Can you identify the connection between these men?
---------- Click the word "More" for the answer and the rest of the blog or scroll down if you don't see the word "More." :) (It depends on how you entered the page.)
There are many things we are told to love in the Bible... love your neighbor as yourself... husbands love your wives...etc. But, there are some things of God's that are named as lovable in Scripture. Yes, we are warned not to covet things belonging to other people, but we have blanket permission to love, to obsess over the things of God. If you are looking for a new obsession, here are a few things to get excited about.
10. Psalm 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
9. Psalm 40:16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.
8. Psalm 69:36 The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.
7. Psalm 70:4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.
6. Psalm 119:119 Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love thy testimonies.
5. Psalm 119:127 Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
4. Psalm 119:132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.
3. Psalm 119:159 Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness.
2. Psalm 119:165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
1. 2 Timothy 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Ok, so this is only four things named here, you say. It looks like God was obsessed with them as well. His salvation was mentioned 2 times, His name 3 times, His Word was mentioned 4 times in the various forms (testimonies, commandments, precepts, and law,) and His appearing was also mentioned once. Side note here - does "testimonies" sound less threatening of a title than the other three labels for the Word? Well, it's not. People died for their testimony, including Steven, Paul, John the Beloved, and Jesus Christ Himself.
Do you love His appearing? Do you love His salvation? His name? His Word? You know you do. You can't help yourself. Everything about Him is just so lovable! But, like they say, love is a verb. You can't love His appearing without working for the soon coming King. You can't love His salvation without having... and sharing it. You can't love His name without wearing it. You can't love His word without living it.
But, be forewarned...obsessive behavior is not cool. You probably won't have to worry about setting a bad example, because many people will not follow your lead. Expect to find yourself in the Zealous Minority.
Psalm 1:6; the way of the righteous
Psalm 37:18; the days of the upright
Psalm 94:11; the thoughts of man,
1 Corinthians 3:20; the thoughts of the wise
2 Timothy 2:19; them that are his.
2 Peter 2:9 how to deliver the godly
God knows much more than we know.
Aside from these things that the Lord knows, is what appears to be an oath in Joshua 22:22 "The LORD God of gods, the LORD God of gods, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know..." It is similar to the modern saying, "The lord knows my heart." But, the most beautiful reminder is Psalm 139:1, the whole Psalm. God knows us better than we know ourselves because He is ever with us, and always has been, from the "get-go."
The only question remaining is, do we know God?
God knows exactly what he is doing with your circumstances. When things are happening, that's a sure sign God is working in your life. Remember how Paul felt in prison? Yes, he had visitors, but he sent them out to preach the gospel, not being satisfied with his own quota of words spoken for Jesus' account. Apparantly, he couldn't say enough to satisfy the fire shut up in his bones. Jeremiah 20:9
The aged Paul was incarcerated, yet carried on a ministry from prison. 2 Timothy 4:10:17 He had Demas, Crescens, Titus, and Tychicus, all young ministers responsible to him, stationed at different communities nearby, spreading the gospel. He appeard to be very lonely, as anyone would be sitting in a nasty jail cell. And only Dr. Luke was in town with him at that point. He would have probably sent him out preaching if he hadn't needed a doctor for his frequent ailments. (And, Luke did often preach... an evangelist.)
But, more than Paul's lonliness comes out in this little passage. The Coppersmith, along with the other craftsmen, were the ones who stood in court against Paul, since he was bad for business. Much of their craft was in the production of idols, and Paul revealed the ignorance of worshipping idols in his sermons, thereby cutting demand. It seems that the would-be witnesses for the defense were in short supply as Paul stood trial and gave his answer. But, notice he listed the Lord as the only witness who stood up with him, giving him strength to reveal the Gospel on trial.
It was getting cold weather, and Paul was often cold at night, to have thought about the cloak he had left at Troas the previous Spring. You can almost hear the sweet fatherly pleading in Paul's voice for his "son-in-the-gospel" Timothy to bring him his cloak and his books. He missed having those books, and especially the nice parchments. How nice it would be to have something to read here in this dark cell all alone. The Bible parchments would be wonderful!
Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:9 that though he was locked up, the word of God was not locked up with him. Psalm 147:15 God's Words can run from a cold, lonely prison cell, and reach the corners of the earth. When you face trials and struggles, remember the purpose of God behind your suffering. Jeremiah reminds you that God has been thinking about you, and He's got a plan... Jeremiah 29:11
But, the biggest gem here in Paul's plea is that he asked for Mark to be brought into his service of the gospel; John Mark, who apparantly ran away naked the night Jesus was arrested. (The soldiers tried to arrest Mark too, but he ran so fast he slipped out of his robe the soldier had grabbed.) Mark 14:51-52 Mark had also gone with Paul and Barnabas on their first Missionary journey, but turned back when they reached the mainland, for what reason we can only imagine. (It may have had something to do with the stoning and beatings Paul so often received by people who heard him preach, or maybe the "wild beasts" they encountered.) We do know that Paul was angry about Mark deserting the field, and later when Barnabus wanted to take the repentant Mark on the second journey with them, Paul and Barnabas came to a head about the matter. Both men stubbornly refused to give in, so Barnabas took Mark and went one way, and Paul took Silas and went another, splitting the field in half, doubling the path of God's word. My how the Gospel runs! Imagine how God can take even our petty squabbles and multiply the Gospel through them.
But, here Paul the prisoner has reached the point of forgiveness and called for Mark to come to him. What changed his mind? Why did he decide Mark would now be profitable for the Gospel? Mark had worked in later years as an assistant for Peter, and had transcribed the book of Mark from not only his firsthand memories, but from what Peter told him, during their later work together. Since Paul and Peter's imprisonment was closely concurrent, Paul would have known about the work Mark did for first Barnabas, and later with Peter. And, I imagine he had a lot of time to think about Mark, all alone there in that cell. Paul suffered greatly, but performed a great ministry for the Lord. His work and words have multiplied throughout the world. We have two-thirds of the New Testament from his pen. We also have most of our procedures for church government, family relationships, and personal conduct from his writings. History records that when Paul was finally condemned to death, and was led across the field to the chopping block on the Ostesian Road, he broke into a run, laying his head down readily for the blade. It seems he had somewhere to go in a hurry.
2 Timothy 4:13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come,
bring with you, and the books, but especially the parchments.
I find it a delight to see large churches and cathedrals around the world. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what it is I enjoy about seeing these buildings. We saw a beautiful curch while touring Savannah this past weekend. St. John's Episcopal Church is nestled under giant oak trees like those draped with Spanish Moss seen on Bay Street. More than the building itself, (since the walls, steeple, and doors seem almost small compared to the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church down the street on East Harris) it is ultimately a sense of something "spiritual" or something ethereal being present among the cover of those trees that draws me.
The church I would most like to see is Ulm Cathedral in Germany. It is the biggest in the world and has 13 bells. But, it looks like a storybook fairytale castle. There is so much to be said for organized religion, for and against. Personally, I like to study the buildings, books, and artifacts of Christianity. I know people who seem to be disillusioned about organized religion as a whole, and I understand their reasons. But, I see religion in all its trappings as man's reach for God.... a visual sign of how men have attempted to reach to heaven.
Those last words are meant rather ironically, since God is reaching to man already, even before man reaches upward to heaven. Man reaches for various reasons, beginning with Cain and Abel, continuing through the Tower of Babel, and right down to our last trip to church, rolled up to the altar in a casket.
2 Timothy 4:13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when you come,
bring with you, and the books, but especially the parchments.
So, you want to go to heaven? How are you getting there? In what ways are you reaching? Looking at the passage from the Bible I posted at the beginning, I see an old man, as death is approaching, sitting in a cold, dark prison. He asked of few things from Timothy, only an old coat to keep warm, a stack of books from his personal library, and some dear parchment/ papers he had written. (They may have been blank parchments on which he intended to write, but more likely were letters he had received in a time without email or cell phones...his only method of correspondence.) Imagine your Father writing you asking you to send some things he needs in his final days. This was Timothy's mentor, a Father Figure in his life. I feel so sad for Paul here. He was cold in prison. He needed a cloak. But, more than that, he just wanted his books and papers. God bless Paul! He wouldn't have despised the books and buildings of religion. No, he was busy building churches, and writing the books of our cannon. He took delight in the things of God. Now that he has reached paradise, God has given him the desires of his heart.
Psalms 37:4 Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the
desires of your heart.
I find this verse ironic because man tends to clasp whatever his fingers reach for. Men who long to build a church for God usually do so, in the same way that men who long for a pint or a joint usually find those wherever they are looking. We usually reach the desires of our heart, don't we? But, if we are desiring the things of God, we have to look beyond the things of God, to God Himself. If we take delight in Him, He will give us Him, what we wanted all along.
Some people like to think of the Old Testament as a collection of parables. Unfortunatlely, this bleeds into "Christian" thought as well as atheists. The problem lies in education, or exposure. Men have always been exposed to the ideas of their friends, their families, and their teachers. It is natural in a multicultural society to see some blending of religions. This even occured in the Bible. Some God fearing people actually had false idols in their homes. They were worshipping God, and idols together, like one of the Micahs in the Old Testament, who had a personal Priest and some personal idols.
The same is true with evolutionary teaching today. Many times kids are exposed to so much teaching in schools, that they don't even realize when a scientific theory conflicts with creation teachings in the Bible. Like the Big Bang theory for example. But, I will write more on evolution/creation later. But, the Bible itself, which is the infallable Word of God, has come to be doubted and dissected by many in our world today. This is a sad situation because our faith in God often rests in what we know of Him. How can we believe in a God we have never heard speak? How can we hear without a preacher? How can he preach without a word to preach?
Romans 10:14-15 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not
believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how
shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be
sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the
gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
If the Bible is to be taken apart and twisted into a collection of parables and errors, then we have no basis for believing anything that has been preached. The Bible is given to testify of the living God through His Word. It has been said that a man is only as good as His word. We have not seen God in the flesh, nor the flesh of Jesus. How can we know Him without His written and preached Word? In essence, people who don't believe the Bible is infallable, inspired and preserved by God, are believing in God without believing in His Word. That is an impossibility. How can you believe in me, if you don't believe my words? What is it about God that you believe, if not His word? Its fine to say you believe He exists. But, if you can't believe in His Word, and you can't believe that He would keep His word infallable, then you are doubting His omnipotency. If He gave or inspired His word to be written, and allowed it to be lost in translation, filled with lies, or otherwise distorted, then He is not very powerful. Basically, to deny the authority of scripture, is to deny the truth of God's delivered Word.
Saying the Bible is a collection of Parables is like saying the internet is a network of chatrooms. There are chatrooms on the internet. But there is so much more. Likewise, there are parables in the Bible. But, the Bible is written in a number of genres. There is poetry, History, Sermons, Speeches, Manuscripts, Prophecy, typology, and parables, of course. But, notice that all the parables are labeled as parables specifically. There are types and symbols, too like in the Revelation of John, but we are given the actual symbol / reality coorespondance as in when he says that the 7 stars are the ministers of the 7 churches in Jesus' hands and the 7 candlesticks are the 7 churches...Jesus is standing in the church. John labels the symbols consistantly. Not all symbolism has the answers given, but it is presented as a mystery. This does not mean the Bible is a collection of mysteries.
There is a big difference in the Parables of Jesus and the rest of the New Testament. He specifically calls them parables and stories. But, He isn't calling the whole Bible a parable. If that were the case, then we have a parable of a man telling parables. An example of old testament parable-telling can be found in both Judges 9 -The Parable of the trees and the Bramble, and in 2nd Kings 14 -The Parable of the Cedar and the Thistle. I always found them humorous examples of war politics (much like the relationship between America and the Soviet Union when we were operating under Senator McNamara's MAD Doctrine in the 70's. Mutually Assured Destruction is definitely an adolescent game of chicken.) These are short anecdotes found in political speeches between leaders and soldiers to make their braggadocious points with metaphors. Again, if the Old testament is a collection of Parables, then we have a parable of a man telling a parable.
My favorite examples of poetry are the Hebrew Chiasms. There are a number of those, but I think my favorite is found in Acts 17:24-25, which is part of Paul's sermon on Mars Hill to, ironically, men who did not believe in his God.
"God that made the world and all things therein,
seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth,
dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing,
seeing he giveth to all life, and breath,
and all things;"
Notice that it is like a rising and falling crescendo. It begins and ends with God making everything in lines 1 and 6. Then lines 2 and 5 have parallel thoughts, and lines 3 and 4 say the same thought.
There are great sermons in the New Testament especially. My favorite is probably Steven's sermon
(which got him stoned) and Paul's sermons and Peter's too...I guess they all are
my favorite examples. They are fun to read. Some, like many sermons today, can be quite lengthy. Jesus' sermon on the Mount is definitely the crown jewel of sermons.
Solomon gave a Speech of Dedication for the Temple, and Jeremiah wrote a manuscript, which was burned by
the first King who read it. He had to have his notes reconstructed by his assistant. My favorite historical books in the Old Testament are those of the Kings and Chronicles. Of course, the two Samuels and the towo Kings were at one point called the four books of the Kings, because they are in sequence as the history of Israel. But, they cover the same historical period as the two Chronicles,but the Chronicler is recording the history of a nation, emphasizing the deeds of Israel and it's kings, while the 2 books of Kings (and the Samuels) deliver the deeds of God and the prophets, with the emphasis on the miraculous wonders of Israel's God. They will zoom in on an event that seem insignificant in Israel's history, which the Chronicles may leave out. One is decidely political and the other is a religious work. I have a neat book that is a Harmony of the Kings and Chronicles, much like a Harmony of the Gospels. Very useful.
What are you listening to right now? Me, or my written words? Which one do you agree or disagree with...me, or my written words? A man or woman is only as good as their Word...and so is a God...whether He is speaking or writing. Think of the Bible and what it holds. If it truly holds the Words of a God, then it is truth. If it is not a true Word, then it is not of God's making, because Jesus claimed to be Truth.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is
profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in
Job 32:8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the
Almighty giveth them understanding.