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Monday, December 9, 2013

Psalm 13: Consider And Answer Me

Psalm 13: Consider And Answer Me

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Digging deeper: The Gospel

  • Galatians 4:4-7
  • Ephesians 1:3-10
  • Ephesians 2:1-7
  • Colossians 1:13-23

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Psalm 12: The Godly One Is Gone

Psalm 12: The Godly One Is Gone

To the choirmaster: according to The Sheminith. A Psalm of David.

Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.

Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, "With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?"

"Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
I will now arise," says the Lord;
"I will place him in the safety for which he longs."

The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

You, O Lord, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever.

On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

Digging Deeper

THE SHEMINITH: sheminit "shem-ee-NEETH" (probably an eight-stringed lyre); from shemini (eight)

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Psalm 11: The Lord Is In His Holy Temple

Psalm 11: The Lord Is In His Holy Temple

(To the choirmaster. Of David.)

In the Lord I take refuge;

How can you say to my soul,
"Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord's throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

The Lord tests the righteous,
but his soul hates the wicked
and the one who loves violence.

Let him rain coals on the wicked;
fire and sulfur and a scorching wind
shall be the portion of their cup.

For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.

Psalms 11:1-7 (ESV)

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

  1. To whom is David speaking when he says, "You"? A person? A devil? A circumstance?
  2. What modern foundations of or life, speaking politically and morally, do we see threatened with destruction?
  3. Faced with trials and threats of danger, David realizes that he has only two options: take refuge in the Lord, or flee like a bird. "Take refuge" means to flee for protection, or to confide in. "Flee like a bird" means to hop away and fly; it also can mean to nod or shake the head in pity or scorn.
  4. What are some practical ways in which a Christian can take refuge in God?
  5. In what ways to we "hop and fly" or "nod and shake" when we are faced with trouble?
  6. What situation have you recently experienced in your life that has made you want to "flee like a bird"? What would it take to change flight into faith?

The Lord is holy, He sees and tests us, he hates the wicked and He loves the upright. Thumb through your Bible and share some verses that show God's mercy and grace toward us in Jesus.

Examples

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (ESV): "You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

Isaiah 53:11 (ESV): "By his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities."

Romans 4:3-5 (ESV): "What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness." Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness."

Testing

"Test" is not often felt to be a positive experience. Academic testing can be stressful, full of anxiety and fear of failure. However, the word comes from the process of analyzing metals. Rather than seeking evidence of poor quality or defect, a metal tester sought proof of purity and genuine worth.

"Test" fits well with the emotion conveyed by "see" and "loves". The Lord gazes with love upon those who have proof of purity.

Job 23:10 (ESV): "He knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold."

Psalms 66:10-12 (ESV): "You, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance."

Proverbs 17:3 (ESV): "The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts."

Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV): "I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."

Isaiah 48:10 (ESV): "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction."

1 Peter 1:4-7 (ESV): "You, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Psalm 10: Standing Far Away

Psalm 10: Standing Far Away

"Why, O Lord, do you stand far away?
Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.

"For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, There is no God.

"His ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.

"His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;

"He lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.

"He says in his heart, God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.
Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted.

"Why does the wicked renounce God and say in his heart, You will not call to account?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.

"Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till you find none.
The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land.

"O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

Psalms 10:1-18 (ESV)

What do you think?

  1. With what question does David begin this psalm, and what answer is given him?
  2. What have you asked of the Lord, yet have not gotten an answer?
  3. In this psalm, what changes David's frustration and despair into faithful exultation?
  4. In prayer, is asking "Why?" an exercise in hopelessness? Should Christians avoid asking God "Why?".
  5. Is it difficult for you to imagine Jesus as the future Ruler of all the world, "breaking the arm of the wicked and evildoer", destroying those who now strike terror throughout?

Digging Deeper

Psalms 9 and 10 together follow an acrostic pattern. In the Septuagint, the original Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, these form one psalm.

The contrast between these two psalms is striking. Psalm 9 applauds God's righteous, stern judgement upon the nations who act wickedly, forgetting God, afflicting others. It ends in a war-like call to arms:

"Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you! Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men!"

Psalms 9:19-20 ESV

Psalm 10, however, begins in frustration and despair:

"Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?"

Psalms 10:1 ESV

Much of Psalm 10 describes the wicked:

  • Arrogantly pursecuting the poor
  • Greedy for gain
  • Proudly cursing and renouncing the LORD

David sees himself as having no strength to resist the wickedness around him. He regards himself to be part of the helpless poor, the murdered innocent people, the children made fatherless.

However, we see an image of David suddenly standing resolutely near the end of Psalm 10, raising his fist against the wicked, calling loudly for help from the only One with power sufficient to destroy the lion-like wicked people around him:

"Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; forget not the afflicted."

Psalms 10:12 ESV

David joins together Psalms 9 and 10 into a single song, proclaiming "Arise, O LORD!"

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Psalm 9: Forever Enthroned

Psalm 9: Forever Enthroned

"To the choirmaster: according to Muth-labben. A Psalm of David.

"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

"When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish before your presence.
For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne, giving righteous judgment.

"You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish;
  you have blotted out their name forever and ever.
The enemy came to an end in everlasting ruins; their cities you rooted out;
  the very memory of them has perished.

"But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice,
  and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.

"The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
  for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

"Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds!
For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

"Be gracious to me, O Lord! See my affliction from those who hate me,
  O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
that I may recount all your praises, that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
  I may rejoice in your salvation.

"The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
  in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.
The Lord has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
  the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.

"Higgaion. Selah

"The wicked shall return to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

"Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail; let the nations be judged before you!
Put them in fear, O Lord! Let the nations know that they are but men!

"Selah"

Psalms 9:1-20 (ESV)

What do you think?

  1. How can Christians rejoice in God's righteous judgement, while still allowing Christ to show in them His compassion and love?
  2. In what ways have you felt comfortable in "giving thanks to the LORD with my whole heart", in being glad and exulting in God? Have you danced? Skipped? Hollered? Is "moderation in religious ecstasy" a virtue, or a vice?
  3. What do you know of the Lord's name (His character, fame and reputation) that makes it easy for you to trust Him?
  4. David describes only two "gates" available to us: a gate to death, and a gate to salvation. According to this Psalm, what determines our ultimate destination? What New Testament references support this?
  5. David offers but one remedy for godless humanity, one hope for their salvation: fear. What can Christians do to encourage sinners to fear God?

Digging Deeper

"Muth-labben" means "To die for the son", probably the name of a popular song. It was derived from two words meaning "to die or kill" and "a son, the builder of the family name". "Muth-labben" occurs only one other time in the Bible:

"This is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever." Psalms 48:14 (ESV)

"Forever" is the same Hebrew word as "Muth-labben".

Acrostic Pattern

Originally, Psalms 9 and 10 together probably followed an acrostic pattern, every other stanza beginning with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, although existing manuscripts show some gaps in the sequence.

"Higgaion" and "Selah"

"Higgaion" means a murmuring sound, from a word meaning to murmur (in pleasure or anger) or to ponder. It most likely was a musical cue for the choir leader.

"Selah" means suspension, as in a pause in the music. It comes from a word meaning to hang up or weigh. David's use in this psalm is probably intended to give emotion emphasis to what had just been said.

"Just cause"

"Just cause" means "a verdict and judgement", from two words meaning "to judge or pronounce sentence" and "to rule". David is applauding God's power, wisdom and righteousness in judging wicked nations who forget God, who put themselves in the place of God. David aligns himself with God, counting God's enemies as his own.

"The nations"

"The nations" refers to foreign nations, Gentiles. It is derived from a word meaning a thick mass or horde, whether of people, animals or insects.

"Gates"

"Gates" means an opening, as in a door or gate. It is derived from a word meaning to split or open, as in acting as a gatekeeper.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

1 Timothy 4: The Value Of Godliness

1 Timothy 4: The Value Of Godliness

1 Timothy 4:1-16 (ESV)

What's gone before...

Paul described our faith in Christ as a mystery, urging the church in Ephesus to make Christ the foundation of their godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world and taken up in glory.

Moving on...

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.

"If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.

"Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."

1 Timothy 4:1-16 (ESV)

Departing from the faith

Paul described faith in Christ as a solid foundation upon which a person may safely stand. To depart from faith in Christ is to step off the firm foundation of God's design.

Departing from faith in Christ makes a person vulnerable to the influence of deceitful spirits and demons.

Why would God allow people to depart from faith? Why would God not immediately punish or destroy rebels? Why allow rebels to be born in the first place?

God tests our hearts

Paul connected faith and conscience with testing in the previous chapter:

1 Timothy 3:9-10 (ESV) "They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless."

God examines our thoughts, desires, motives and beliefs:

Proverbs 17:3 (ESV) "The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts."

Jeremiah 17:10 (ESV) "I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds."

A faithful heart welcomes God's testing:

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) "Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!"

Why would David, the writer of this psalm, desire to be tested? Is there any evidence that David believed that he was sinless and therefore would pass God's tests easily?

The story of David's life shows clearly that he would have been the last person to claim righteousness of his own. David welcomed God's testing because he depended upon God's mercy and grace, and he did not want his grievous ways to come between him and his God.

God reveals His power, wisdom and goodness, yet does not force us to worship Him. He tests us, allowing us to remain on the foundation of faith in Him or to step off in devotion to lesser gods: deceitful spirits and demons.

Faith untested has no value.

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."

The testing is not for His benefit...the results of the test do not add to His knowledge. The Creator of time and space already knows our hearts and actions. The testing is for us, to confirm to us that we are living by faith. Faith untested is only a pretty picture on the wall...it has slight connection to reality and it can easily be removed or exchanged. Faith is confidence in God's promise, regardless of our present, temporary situation. When we can look past our present condition and look confidently towards future fulfillment of God's promise, we will experience the blessing of a tested faith.

Hebrews 10:32-38 (ESV) "But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."

Job 23:10 (ESV) "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold."

Devoted to deceit

Paul described the consequence of departing from Christ: devotion to deceitful spirits and demons.

Devotion is good, as long as the object to which a person is devoted is good. Christ is the Son of God, Creator of the universe, and Savior of sinful people. Devotion to this truth is good.

It is possible, however, for people to reject that truth and devote one's self other people and other faiths.

The Greek word for deceiver is planos, from which we derive our English word, "planet". At first glance a planet in the night sky appears the same as a star. But stars follow a set path in the sky, remaining fixed in recognizable patterns and constellation. Early star gazers realized that some "stars" appeared to wander out of the path, roving about in seemingly random directions. To be a "planet" meant to be a person who wanders from the path directed by the Creator.

To be devoted to deceit means to pay close attention to something that wanders without an ultimate purpose or goal. A tramp or hobo is not necessarily an impostor, but their carefree wandering is related to the deceitful plans of an impostor. An impostor hopes to entice others to follow him away from truth. Those who are attracted to an impostor will gradually forget or confuse what once was true, substituting truth for a false sense of satisfaction and security.

To depart from faith in Christ is to leave the solid security of truth and seek guidance and support from misleading, deceitful, roving spirits and demons.

Ironically, Jesus Himself was accused of being a deceitful, roving impostor:

Matthew 27:62-64 (ESV) "The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, After three days I will rise. Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, He has risen from the dead, and the last fraud will be worse than the first."

Years later the apostles of Christ were also called deceitful, roving impostors:

2 Corinthians 6:3-4,8-9 (ESV) "We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way...through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known..."

Jesus and the early Christians were scorned and attacked because their preaching was a departure from the traditional doctrine of the Jewish priests.

Now Paul is warning the church at Ephesus to beware of impostors in their midst who were urging others to depart from from the doctrine established by Jesus Christ.

Consequences of departing from faith in Christ

People influenced or controlled by deceitful spirits and demons can become insincere liars with seared consciences. One specific consequence observed by Paul was a radical departure from God's created design for marriage. Rigid rules of celibacy extended even to control of people's diet. Paul reminded the church in Ephesus of the truth: Everything created by God is good, meant to be received with thanksgiving.

Seared conscience

A person's "conscience" refers to their self-awareness, their knowledge of the moral rightness of their intentions and actions.

Paul is vividly describing the loss of self-awareness and perception of rightness that results from devotion to deceitful spirits and demons. Insincere liars perverted two of the most basic truths established by God from the beginning of creation: marriage and food.

Genesis 2:21-24 (ESV) "So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."

Genesis 1:29-30 (ESV) "And God said, Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. And it was so."

Genesis 9:3 (ESV) "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything."

Irreverent, silly myths

"Crone-like" means to appear as an old, thin, ugly woman. The word "crone" comes from an Old Northern French word, caroigne, meaning carrion, the decaying flesh of dead animals.

Paul expanded upon the issue of being influenced by deceitful spirits and demons, describing some people's faith in "irreverent, silly myths". His description pictures an old, thin, ugly woman, as ugly as death, who lives by the dictates of ficticious tales, such as stepping on a crack in the sidewalk, crossing paths with a black cat, consulting psychics and horoscopes, and fearing shamans.

Godliness: the opposite of "irreverent, silly myths"

1 Timothy 4:6 (ESV) "If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed."

Faithful, good doctrine results in emotions, thoughts and behavior which reflect godliness:

1 Timothy 4:7-12 (ESV) "Train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."

Godliness

A person's sincere reverence or adoration for God produces piety. "Piety" means the quality of being religious or reverent, as in acts of piety and charity. Godliness, or piety, refers to the outward, observable behavior that results from an inward desire or belief.

"Godliness" is behavior that gives evidence of sincere faith.

Godliness is the result of faith, but it's not an automatic, or easy, result:

1 Timothy 4:10 (ESV) "For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

Our English word, "cope" comes directly from this Greek word. Christians must "cope" with fatigue, hard work and even pain, as they work out their faith here on earth. Godliness can be fatiguing, difficult and even painful.

Compounding the problem of pain of living a godly life, Christians may experience rejection and scorn from other people. Why should Christians "toil and strive" for godliness, seeing that it most likely will involve fatigue, hard work, pain and scorn?

1 Timothy 4:8 (ESV) "For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come."

Paul assures us that godliness is worth the pain. Godliness is of value, in every way. Godliness has value for us here on earth, as well as for our resurrected life in heaven in the presence of God.

The value and promise of godliness

The good news about Jesus Christ, the gospel, is a promise from God concerning Himself: God pledges something good for those who rely upon Jesus for their salvation and sanctity. The good that God promises is for our life here on earth right now, and it's good for our future life in heaven.

The "living God" is the "Savior of all people": Jesus Christ. Genuine faith in Christ is essential for Christians, and it produces a desire, and the power, to live in a way that reflects what we believe about God and His design for our lives. Our speech, our conduct, our demonstrations of love, our expressions of faith and our habits of purity are all to be an example of the truth revealed to us about God and ourselves. Every example of godliness is intended by God to be of value: helpful or serviceable, both now and in heaven in His presence.

Paul urged Timothy to work at godliness:

1 Timothy 4:13-16 (ESV) "Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Devoted

"Devote" in this reference is the same as used in verse one of this chapter. The opposite of devoting one's self to the influence and teaching of deceitful spirits and demons is to devote one's self to God's word. Paul's exhortation was to Timothy, as the pastor of the church of Ephesus. However, Timothy's life was to serve as an example to all the Christians. Every believer in the church was to follow Timothy's example and devote themselves to God's word. They were to read Scripture, exhort and teach others. All of the believers were to practice reading, exhorting and teaching, immersing themselves in acts of godliness.

Where is the pay-off? What will a sincere believer who practices godliness get in return for the fatigue, hard work, pain and scorn they may experience?

Salvation

1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV) "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers."

Godliness, although at times difficult, even painful, will protect a person from loss and injury that is even more destructive. Here on earth there exists the potential for tremendous loss and injury for those who recklessly abandon godliness: drug addiction, prison, fights, poverty, disease, depression and insanity.

There are, of course, "acts of God" which bring tragedy upon all people, godly and ungodly. There are accidents, injuries, disease and violent assaults which God allows even upon people of sincere faith in Christ. Yet, everything which befalls a sincere believer must first be filtered through the hands of our completely powerful, utterly good, everlastingly loving God and Father in heaven.

The foundation of safety in this world is sincere faith in Christ and godly behavior. When God in His wisdom determines that godly people must suffer loss or injury, they must retreat to the pillar and support of their faith: Jesus has purchased for us a home in heaven, with safety assured for eternity, with glory and joy that will go beyond our time of trouble here on earth.

Godliness provides good things and a safe life here on earth, to a limited degree. When good things fail and life becomes painful and dangerous, we can retreat to our hope of eternal joy and safety in heaven in the presence of God, thanks to the good news of Jesus Christ.

What truths about God, or ourselves, does this passage reveal?

  • God allows people to depart from the faith, devoting themselves to spirits and demons.
  • Devotion to deceitful spirits and demons damages and perverts our conscience.
  • A perverted conscience allows our intentions and actions to radically contradict God's design.
  • Genuine, faithful hope in God brings the desire and ability to strive for godliness.
  • Salvation follows persistence in godliness.
  • Godliness brings valuable, yet limited protection for us now on earth.
  • Godliness brings valuable, unlimited protection for us in heaven.

What must we do to obey the truth revealed in this passage?

  • I will accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
  • I will trust God for blessings and safety here on earth.
  • I will trust God, even in times of loss, pain and sadness, for blessings and safety in His presence in heaven.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Jesus: All Authority And All Power

Jesus: All Authority And All Power

Mark 1:21-34

What has gone before...

Mark 1:14-20 - Jesus began his preaching ministry, urging people to repent and believe in the gospel, the good news of God's kingdom. He called four fishermen as his disciples: Simon, Andrew, James and John.

Moving on...

"And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.

"And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are...the Holy One of God.

"But Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be silent, and come out of him!

"And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.

"And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

"And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons.

"And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him."

Mark 1:21-34 (ESV)

Capernaum

These five men, Jesus, Simon, Andrew, James and John walked along the shore of the Sea of Galilee and came to Capernaum, a city on the northwestern shore of the lake.

Today Capernaum is a destination for tourist and religious pilgrims visiting the ruins of walls and foundations and the remains of a Jewish synagogue.

Jesus taught with authority

When Jesus visited Capernaum, the synagogue was still standing, used daily for worship and teaching. At his first opportunity, Jesus entered the synagogue and began teaching, astonishing the people with his authority.

What did Jesus say or do that overwhelmed his listeners with astonishment?

This word, "authority", is the same used for a commander of soldiers, or the ruler of a kingdom (Mt 8:9, Lk 23:7). The word is used to describe the divine power to punish or forgive sin (Mt 9:6). This word can refer to the power to cast out demons and heal sickness (Mt 10:1). Jesus would later directly claim that "all power is given to me in heaven and in earth", using this same word (Mt 28:18).

Jesus used this word when he claimed the power of life and death (Jn 10:18). In his prayer to God the night before his crucifixion, Jesus praised his Father in heaven for giving him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom God gave him (Jn 17:2).

The apostle Paul prayed, thanking God for God the Father's power "in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come." (Eph 1:19-21).

Jesus expressed his authoritative, divine power...not with a loud voice, or a bright light, a halo or even a miracle...but by his teaching.

Jesus Christ spoke the words of God as if he had written the words of holy Scripture, as if he were God himself! This struck the people with astonishment! The Greek text here brings to mind the idea of being flattened to the ground with astonishment.

The people were accustomed to being taught by scribes, religious scholars who preserved holy Scripture through the centuries by copying the originals by hand, word by word. The scribe's skill and sole purpose in life was to faithfully, accurately reproduce the holy words of God. But it was not their words. When they taught the people, it was without power, without conviction, without any expectation of change or effect in their listeners. They spoke in a scholarly, professional manner, as if the author of their holy text was absent, or on sabbatical, or passed away.

Luke records a vivid description of the way Jesus taught:

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Luke 4:16-21 (ESV)

Jesus spoke to the people as a prophet, not as a professional scribe or teacher. A prophet proclaimed the message given to him. He is the mouth by which God speaks to men, speaking in God's name and by his authority.

Jeremiah was such a prophet, speaking centuries before the birth of Christ. God spoke directly to Jeremiah, appointing him to be a prophet:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV)

Jeremiah protested:

"Then I said, Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.

"But the LORD said to me, Do not say, I am only a youth; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.

"Then the LORD put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the LORD said to me, Behold, I have put my words in your mouth."

Jeremiah 1:6-9 (ESV)

Such was the authority with which Jesus spoke, and it astonished his listeners.

As confirmation of Christ's authority over life and death, heaven and hell, Mark described God bringing a man into the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. The man entered and cried out,

"What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are...the Holy One of God."

Mark 1:24 (ESV)

Jesus has authority over demons

Jesus was a stranger in this town. His hometown was many miles to the south. None in the town of Capernaum would have had any reason to know Jesus. To the Jews gathered in the synagogue that day, Jesus was simply a stranger who had wandered into town and begun teaching.

How did the man know the name of the hometown of Jesus? What made him think Jesus had any authority or power to destroy. Why did the man refer to himself in the plural: "us". Everyone else in the group was astonished as Jesus, but this man alone called him the "Holy One of God". Why?

Mark describes this man as having "an unclean spirit":

There are only brief references and mysterious descriptions of the unseen world of angels and demons. The instances in which we'll find unclean spirits mentioned in the Book of Mark could lead us to believe that demon-possession and satanic powers were common occurrences.

"Satan" means an opponent. "The Satan" is the created being that is the arch-enemy of all that is good. Satan is The Attacker, The Accuser. Satan, the Serpent.

The prophet Isaiah proclaimed the word of God, taunting the king of Babylon in a manner which implies that Satan had entered the king, using a human body to influence the world:

"You said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."

Isaiah 14:13-14 (ESV)

This satanic pride resulted in war with God:

"Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world-he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."

Revelation 12:7-9 (ESV)

God banished Satan and the ex-angelic demons banished from His presence, imprisoning them on earth in a gloomy darkness called "hell":

"God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment."

2 Peter 2:4 (ESV)

Loosed on earth, yet still under the ultimate rule of God, Satan and his demons hate and fear God. Without form they attempt to indwell, manipulate and influence humans to ignore or reject God's authority.

"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, I will return to my house from which I came.

"And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation."

Matthew 12:43-45 (ESV)

The "house" that the unclean spirit seeks is human.

Demons will not bow in worship and obedience, and they hate all who do, yet they know they are cursed and they fear their condemnation by God. Matthew describes demons cringing before Christ:

"What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?"

Matthew 8:29 (ESV)

Such is the condition of the man described in the Book of Mark.

Jesus rebuked the demon, commanding it to be silent and come out of the man. The man gasped in convulsion, his body tearing in violent spasms, screaming an explosive shriek, and the demon departed.

There is no such thing as demonic “worship”.

"Worship" by definition means recognition of value, appreciation of good. Demons have no good. They've rebelled against God and left the only source of good they might have enjoyed. Satan has no good, no value, in which others may worship. Satan has no power of his own, he owns no good of his own.

The demon recognized Jesus. The demon understood the power and authority held by Jesus. But the demon did not worship Jesus. The demon saw no good in Jesus, nothing worth desiring or pursuing.

The demon's words of recognition and understanding had no value. No demonic words or wisdom can help or do good in any way, to any person, in any situation.

The crowd was amazed. They were stupefied with astonishment. Jesus taught holy Scripture as if he were God himself. Even demons submitted in obedience to his words of command.

And the fame of Jesus spread everywhere throughout the region of Galilee.

Jesus has authority over disease

"He left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them."

Mark 1:29-31 (ESV)

Leaving the synagogue with the people's mouths hanging open, dumbfounded and amazed, Jesus and his four disciples went to the house of Simon and Andrew, most likely because it was supper time. As soon as they entered the home, they found that Simon's mother-in-law was in bed, seriously ill with fever. Jesus held the woman's hand, helped her to stand up...and the fever left her!

People desired Jesus

"That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him."

Mark 1:32-34 (ESV)

Word spread, and by nightfall a huge crowd had gathered around the house. Everyone in the city who was sick or oppressed wanted to see Jesus. Standing in the doorway, Jesus healed many who were sick, and he cast out demons from many who were oppressed."

What truth about God, or ourselves, does this passage reveal?

Jesus Christ, born to a simple family in Bethlehem, raised as carpenter's son in Nazareth, baptized in the Jordan River as God's Son, preached holy Scripture with authority, commanded demons with sovereignty, and healed sickness with power.

Jesus Christ has global, universal, sovereign authority and power in heaven and earth.

Jesus is Lord.

Demons cringe and obey. Sickness vanishes and life returns.

What can frustrate a man like Jesus? What circumstances are beyond his control? What disasters can threaten him? What governments can control him?

The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome:

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Romans 8:35, 37-39 (ESV)

Jesus Christ has global, universal, sovereign
authority and power in heaven and earth.

What will you do?

What must change in your life if this passage is true, and it's from God? How will you obey the truth of this passage of holy Scripture?

God may be using this passage to bring you to a point of decision and commitment right now, or He may be preparing you for a situation that's ahead of you, perhaps later today, or tomorrow, or next month. Or perhaps this passage is a reminder of what God has already done in your life. Perhaps this passage is an opportunity for you to thank God and praise God for the power he's allowed you thus far to walk in obedience to the truth.

I desire that you pray right now, where you are, either in humble obedience or thankful praise. Silently, in your own heart, tell Jesus what you know is the truth about him and about yourself. Tell Jesus what you will do from now on, or what you will continue to do, in obedience to the truth revealed in His word today. It may help you to form your prayer by beginning with the words, "Jesus, I will..."

What will you do, or continue to do, to obey this truth?

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Monday, October 21, 2013

1 Timothy 3: The Mystery of the Faith

The Mystery of the Faith

1 Timothy 3:9

What has gone before...

Paul described a second level of church leadership: deacons. The definition of the word, as well as the context, imply that the early church had appointed specific people to assist or act as "waiters", supporting whatever was needed to be done.

Deacons were to have some, but not all, of the character qualities listed for overseers. The term "deacon" was applied to a wide variety of people, implying that nearly every one in the church who helped or served could be called a deacon.

Moving on...

Paul describes our faith in Christ as a "mystery":

1 Timothy 3:9 (ESV) "They [deacons] must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience."

Early in His ministry Jesus referred to "the secrets of the kingdom", using the same word that Paul used:

Matthew 13:11,13,15,17 (ESV) "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given...This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand...For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them."

The Mystery of Godliness

Paul ended this chapter by describing his purpose in writing to Timothy:

1 Timothy 3:14-16 (ESV) "I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory."

Paul viewed Timothy as the lead pastor, the primary overseer of the church in Ephesus. Timothy's main task would be one of correction. In chapter one Paul urged Timothy to "remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine."

However, the letter was intended to be read, or heard, by all of the Christians in the church. Paul desired that this group of believers "know how one ought to behave in the household of God."

"Household" means a dwelling place, but the word implies the family which lives together in that dwelling place. Paul's concern is not for "church behavior", as if there were rules for people entering a building of worship. Rather, Paul's heartfelt desire was that the people of God knew how to behave appropriately as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus.

To be a Christian, to be "born again" or "saved", means to belong to God's family. That "belonging to" begins with a call from God, to which those that hear and desire will respond to.

To join a church means to gather together with others who have also responded positively to that call from God. Together, the people of God's household, the "called out ones", form a spiritual support for truth: truth about God and truth about people. A Christian church should see itself as having a rock-solid foundation of truth that never changes and never fails.

Truth

"Truth", for many people, is a moving target, dependent upon one's circumstances, culture and mindset. Style of dress, language, food and music can never serve as the hallmark of a genuine Christian church. What things do form rock-solid, unmoving truth?

Paul defined truth as "the mystery of godliness":

1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV) "Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory."

Paul declared that "the mystery of godliness" is the only rock-solid, unmoving truth upon which a Christian church should be founded.

Godliness could be described as a mystery because only recently had the complete truth about Jesus Christ been revealed to the world. Before His birth, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ was described by prophets in parables and shadowed references.

Godliness here means the truth of Jesus Christ shining brightly, fully revealed, through the lives of believers. Godliness is our response, our obedience, to the truth of Jesus.

"Piety" means the quality of being religious or reverent. It means obedience to one's beliefs, acting in accordance to our faith, walking our talk. Paul lists six defining truths which form the rock-solid, immovable foundation for any Christian, and any Christian church:

  • Jesus was manifested in the flesh
  • Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit
  • Jesus was seen by angels
  • Jesus was proclaimed among the nations
  • Jesus was believed on in the world
  • Jesus was taken up in glory

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Psalm 8: How Majestic Is Your Name!

Psalm 8: How Majestic Is Your Name!

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Psalms 8:1-9 (ESV)

Digging Deeper

"The gittith" was a type of harp; from a word meaning "inhabitant of Gath". Gath was one of five chief cities of the Philistines (Joshua 13:3).

"Majestic" means wide, large or powerful, from a word meaning to expand, to be great or magnificent.

"Name" means the honor, authority or character that belongs to a specific individual. It includes the sense of high position and reputation.

David described two kinds of glory. The "glory" of God (verse 1) means grandeur, to have an imposing form and appearance. The "glory" of humans (verse 5) means weight, in a good sense: splendor or copiousness (abundant, plentiful).

David describes God's form and appearance to be wider, larger and more powerful than anything on earth or in heaven.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

1 Timothy 3: Serving Well as Deacons

1 Timothy 3: Serving Well as Deacons

1 Timothy 3:8-13

What has gone before...

Paul warned Timothy to avoid appointing an inexperienced Christian to a position of leadership. The warning focused on comparing a newly sprouted plant to a newly converted believer, emphasizing their need for a deep, healthy foundation upon which to lead others.

Moving on...

1 Timothy 3:8-13 (ESV) "Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus."

In this section Paul introduces a second level of leadership: the deacons of a church.

With the introduction of this office of leadership, distinct from that of "overseer", we are thrust into the world of "Church Government".

Deacons

We've looked at "overseer", which means superintendent, one who "peers about", inspecting and watching out for the health of an organization. "Overseer" occurs in the New Testament only five times. "Deacon" means a servant, one who "runs" to serve others. This word occurs 30 times in the New Testament, most frequently translated in KJV as "minister".

"Deacon" was used to refer the the twelve apostles, Roman government leaders, Jesus Christ, a woman in the church, demons. Both Paul and Timothy were described as "Deacons".

Mark 9:35 (ESV) "He [Jesus] sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, - If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all."

Romans 13:3-4 (ESV) "For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good."

Romans 15:8 (ESV) "Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness."

Romans 16:1-2 (ESV) "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well."

2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (ESV) "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness."

Ephesians 3:7-8 (ESV) "Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."

Other Titles

At least six terms are used in the New Testament to refer to leaders in the church:

With all of these words from which to choose, Paul selected only two for his exhortation to Timothy and the church at Ephesus: "Overseer" and "Deacon". Look at the following chart and discuss how the two offices differ and how they are the same.

Overseer and Deacon: What's the difference?

Overseer

  1. Above reproach
  2. Husband of one wife
  3. Sober-minded
  4. Self-controlled
  5. Respectable
  6. Hospitable
  7. Able to teach
  8. Not a drunkard
  9. Not violent
  10. Gentle
  11. Not quarrelsome
  12. Not a lover of money
  13. Manages his own household well
  14. Dignified
  15. Keeping his children submissive
  16. Not a recent convert
  17. Well thought of by outsiders

Deacons

  1. Dignified
  2. Not double-tongued
  3. Not addicted to too much wine
  4. Not addicted to dishonest gain
  5. Clear conscience
  6. Tested first
  7. Blameless
  8. Dignified wife
  9. Husband of one wife
  10. Manages children and households well

Distinctly Deacon-ish

Four characteristics might be seen as unique for deacons since they use distinctly different words:

Feeding the Church of God

Only one specific function can be found for the office of overseer:

Acts 20:28 (ESV) "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."

Titus 1:9 (ESV) "He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it."

Titus 2:1 (ESV) "But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine."

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Psalm 7: My Shield Is With God

Psalm 7: My Shield Is With God

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning the words of Cush, a Benjaminite.

O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
lest like a lion they tear my soul apart,
rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.

O Lord my God, if I have done this,
if there is wrong in my hands,
if I have repaid my friend with evil
or plundered my enemy without cause,
let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it,
and let him trample my life to the ground
and lay my glory in the dust.

Selah

Arise, O Lord, in your anger;
lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;
awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.

Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you;
over it return on high.

The Lord judges the peoples;
judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness
and according to the integrity that is in me.

Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
and may you establish the righteous -
you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!

My shield is with God,
who saves the upright in heart.

God is a righteous judge,
and a God who feels indignation every day.

If a man does not repent,
God will whet his sword;
he has bent and readied his bow;
he has prepared for him his deadly weapons,
making his arrows fiery shafts.

Behold, the wicked man conceives evil
and is pregnant with mischief
and gives birth to lies.

He makes a pit,
digging it out,
and falls into the hole that he has made.

His mischief returns upon his own head,
and on his own skull his violence descends.

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness,
and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalms 7:1-17 (ESV)

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Psalm 6: How Long?

Psalm 6: How Long?

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments; according to the Sheminith.

A Psalm of David.

O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
nor discipline me in your wrath.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.

But you, O Lord - how long?

Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
in Sheol who will give you praise?

I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.

All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

Psalms 6:1-10 (ESV)

Digging Deeper

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Psalm 5: Give ear to my words, O Lord

Psalm 5: Give ear to my words, O Lord

To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David.

Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies;
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.

Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.

Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels;
Because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.

For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.

Psalms 5:1-12 (ESV)

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Monday, September 9, 2013

1 Timothy 3: Not A Recent Convert

1 Timothy 3: Not A Recent Convert

1 Timothy 3:6-7

"[An overseer] must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil."

1 Timothy 3:6-7 (ESV)

Plant Growth

"Recent convert" brings to mind the image of a newly sprouted plant.

RECENT CONVERT: neophytos "neh-OF-oo-tos" (newly planted, a young convert; "neophyte"); from neos ("new", youthful, fresh or regenerated) and phyo (to "puff" or blow; to swell up; to germinate, grow, sprout or produce)

PUFFED UP WITH CONCEIT: typhoomai "toof-O-o" (to envelop with smoke; to inflate with self-conceit); from typho (to make a smoke, to slowly consume without flame)

Condemnation of the Devil

CONDEMNATION OF THE DEVIL: krima diabolos "KREE-mah dee-AB-ol-os" ("crime", a decision against a traducer: Satan); from krino (to distinguish, decide, try, condemn or punish) and diaballo (to traduce); from dia (the channel of an act) and ballo (to throw)

DISGRACE: oneidismos "on-i-dis-MOS" (contumely); from oneidizo (to defame; to rail at, to chide or taunt); from oneidos (notoriety; a taunt or disgrace); related to onoma (a "name"; authority or character)

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Psalm 4: God Of My Righteousness

Psalm 4

God Of My Righteousness

To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

A Psalm of David.

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have given me relief when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!

O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame?
How long will you love vain words and seek after lies?

Selah

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself;
the Lord hears when I call to him.
 
Be angry, and do not sin;
ponder in your own hearts on your beds,
and be silent.

Selah

Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many who say, "Who will show us some good?"
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!"

You have put more joy in my heart than
they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Psalms 4:1-8 (ESV)

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