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Idiffeence Or Compassionate Action?

                                 March 17 2013

 Jesus’ story defines “neighbor” in the most rigorous of ways. Any person in need is your “neighbor,” even if he is a member of a race that is a traditional enemy!

 The Samaritan story illustrates love for neighbor. The Mary and Martha story illustrates love for God. Martha was busy preparing a large meal for Jesus and His disciples. Mary ignored her sister and sat at Jesus’ feet, the traditional place of a disciple.

Jesus’ rebuke might be paraphrased, “Just a casserole, Martha, not a smorgasbord.” Love for God is expressed best in listening and responding to Jesus’ words, not in busily doing “for” Him.       

  (Luke 10:25-37)    

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ Arial;mso-fareast-language:JA”>‘your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.”29 But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

         If we speak of eternal life, and the way to it, in a careless manner, we take the name of God in vain. No one will ever love God and his neighbour with any measure of pure, spiritual love, who is not made a partaker of converting grace. But the proud heart of man strives hard against these convictions. Christ gave an instance of a poor Jew in distress, relieved by a good Samaritan. This poor man fell among thieves, who left him about to die of his wounds. He was slighted by those who should have been his friends, and was cared for by a stranger, a Samaritan, of the nation which the Jews most despised and detested, and would have no dealings with. It is lamentable to observe how selfishness governs all ranks; how many excuses men will make to avoid trouble or expense in relieving others. But the true Christian has the law of love written in his heart. The Spirit of Christ dwells in him; Christ’s image is renewed in his soul. The parable is a beautiful explanation of the law of loving our neighbour as ourselves, without regard to nation, party, or any other distinction. It also sets forth the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward sinful, miserable men. We were like this poor, distressed traveller. Satan, our enemy, has robbed us, and wounded us: such is the mischief sin has done us. The blessed Jesus had compassion on us. The believer considers that Jesus loved him, and gave his life for him, when an enemy and a rebel; and having shown him mercy, he bids him go and do likewise. It is the duty of us all, in our places, and according to our ability, to succour, help, and relieve all that are in distress and necessity.

Summary

JA”>Jesus has left Galilee and His itinerant ministry will now focus in Judea. He sends 72 followers ahead to warn that God’s kingdom is near and laments over those cities where He has preached and been rejected . The messengers return, excited at their new power over evil spirits. But Jesus is joy-filled at the salvation of those who have chosen to believe in and follow Him .

JA”>Questioned by an expert in Old Testament Law, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan to show the full extent of the Law’s demands on the believer. For love for God and neighbor require unlimited commitment to meeting needs . Later, at Mary and Martha’s home in Bethany, Jesus gently rebukes the harried Martha for her anger at Mary, who expresses her love for God by listening intently to Jesus .

 

Half-Hearted Interest or Total Commitment?

Luke 9:20-26, 57-62                                           March 10 2013

 Each Gospel records this miracle and this command of Jesus. It’s not enough for us to see the needs of others. Being aware makes us responsible.

JA”>On Peter’s confession, the meaning of “losing yourself,” and the Transfiguration.

         1. Peter’s testimony to Christ, Self-denial enjoined.

(Luke 9:20-26)      

Luke 9:20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.”21 And He strictly warned and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

                  It is an unspeakable comfort that our Lord Jesus is God’s Anointed; this signifies that he was both appointed to be the Messiah, and qualified for it. Jesus discourses concerning his own sufferings and death. And so far must his disciples be from thinking how to prevent his sufferings, that they must prepare for their own. We often meet with crosses in the way of duty; and though we must not pull them upon our own heads, yet, when they are laid for us, we must take them up, and carry them after Christ. It is well or ill with us, according as it is well or ill with our souls. The body cannot be happy, if the soul be miserable in the other world; but the soul may be happy, though the body is greatly afflicted and oppressed in this world. We must never be ashamed of Christ and his gospel.

  (Luke 9:57-62)      

JA”>Luke 9:57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”61 And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.”62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

JA”>Here is one that is forward to follow Christ, but seems to have been hasty and rash, and not to have counted the cost. If we mean to follow Christ, we must lay aside the thoughts of great things in the world. Let us not try to join the profession of Christianity, with seeking after worldly advantages. Here is another that seems resolved to follow Christ, but he begs a short delay. To this man Christ first gave the call; he said to him, Follow me. Religion teaches us to be kind and good, to show piety at home, and to requite our parents; but we must not make these an excuse for neglecting our duty to God. Here is another that is willing to follow Christ, but he must have a little time to talk with his friends about it, and to set in order his household affairs, and give directions concerning them. He seemed to have worldly concerns more upon his heart than he ought to have, and he was willing to enter into a temptation leading him from his purpose of following Christ. No one can do any business in a proper manner, if he is attending to other things. Those who begin with the work of God, must resolve to go on, or they will make nothing of it. Looking back, leads to drawing back, and drawing back is to perdition. He only that endures to the end shall be saved.

Summary

JA”>We now near the end of Jesus’ time in Galilee, and there are yet many places needing His ministry. So Jesus commissions His twelve disciples, empowers them to preach and to heal, and sends them out . As they travel they hear much speculation about who Jesus really is . Later, after Jesus had fed thousands with just a few loaves of bread and fishes , the disciples reported the people’s gossip and Peter, speaking for them all, acknowledged Jesus as the Christ . The disciples were correct—but following Jesus would not be easy, for it meant surrendering one’s will to God and so “losing” the old life in exchange for one that is different and new . Jesus’ transfiguration, just a few days later, prefigured what Christ’s own self-surrender would mean: after the cross there would be a return to glory. The implication is clear. Glory awaits us when we too surrender fully to the Lord . When we do we will learn a new way to greatness . But to choose that way we must pay the price and put God above all human values .

Tradition or God Work?

 

Tradition or God Work ?

Matthew 15:1-11,17-20                      March  3 2013

 In the centuries before Christ, Jewish sages (rabbis, teachers of the Law) had concentrated on applying O.T. Law to every aspect of Jewish life. Their goal was to “build a hedge” around the Law, explaining each command’s implications so thoroughly that no one would break it being unaware. This intent, motivated by deep respect for the Scriptures, seems commendable. But in fact it represented a dangerous approach to Scripture and created a legalistic attitude which in fact distorted the Law’s intent.

JA”>Jesus draws attention to two flaws in the approach, which had been enthusiastically endorsed by the Pharisee party. First, tradition had taken on the authority of Scripture itself, so that in fact the “commandments of men” were often substituted for—and even contradicted—God’s commands. Second, in focusing on what man must do to keep the Law rather than on what God graciously does for man, the hearts of the legalists became cold. Religion became a matter of externals rather than of personal relationship. Jesus’ focus on people and on servanthood threatened the structure that tradition erected and so aroused the active hostility of the religious elite.

 Possessions might be “devoted to God” but used by the owner as long as he or she lived. The “gift” was thus a legal fiction, that gave a person an excuse not to use his possessions to help a parent or other relative in need. In effect this interpretation of the O.T.’s teaching on vows allowed a person to “legally” subvert God’s intent when he called for His people to honor (respect, support, care for) parents.

 The O.T. calls for believers to be ritually clean in order to approach God. Later the prophets applied the imagery to one’s moral as well as ritual condition. Here Jesus focuses on the moral, but shifts emphasis. It is not immoral acts that make a person unclean. It is an unclean heart that expresses itself in wicked and immoral acts. We don’t need to clean up our lives. We need to let God cleanse our heart. Then our lives will be clean.

JA”>1.Jesus discourses about human traditions.   (Matt. 15:1-11)      

JA”>Matt.15:1 Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying,  2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” JA”>3 He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’ mso-fareast-language:JA”>‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me   or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. 7 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: mso-fareast-language:JA”>8 draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their mso-fareast-language:JA”> mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;mso-fareast-language:JA”> And in vain they worship Me, mso-fareast-language:JA”>Teaching Arial;mso-fareast-language:JA”>doctrines the commandments of men.’” JA”>      Additions to God’s laws reflect upon his wisdom, as if he had left out something which was needed, and which man could supply; in one way or other they always lead men to disobey God. How thankful ought we to be for the written word of God! Never let us think that the religion of the Bible can be improved by any human addition, either in doctrine or practice. Our blessed Lord spoke of their traditions as inventions of their own, and pointed out one instance in which this was very clear, that of their transgressing the fifth commandment. When a parent’s wants called for assistance, they pleaded, that they had devoted to the temple all they could spare, even though they did not part with it, and therefore their parents must expect nothing from them. This was making the command of God of no effect. The doom of hypocrites is put in a little compass; “In vain do they worship me.” It will neither please God, nor profit themselves; they trust in vanity, and vanity will be their recompence.

(Matt.15:17-20)                 

font-family:Times;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;mso-fareast-language:JA”>       Matt. 15:17 Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? 18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

JA”>Christ shows that the defilement they ought to fear, was not from what entered their mouths as food, but from what came out of their mouths, which showed the wickedness of their hearts. Nothing will last in the soul but the regenerating graces of the Holy Spirit; and nothing should be admitted into the church but what is from above; therefore, whoever is offended by a plain, seasonable declaration of the truth, we should not be troubled at it. The disciples ask to be better taught as to this matter. Where a weak head doubts concerning any word of Christ, an upright heart and a willing mind seek for instruction. It is the heart that is desperately wicked, color:windowtext;mso-fareast-language:JA”> , for there is no sin in word or deed, which was not first in the heart. They all come out of the man, and are fruits of that wickedness which is in the heart, and is wrought there. When Christ teaches, he will show men the deceitfulness and wickedness of their own hearts; he will teach them to humble themselves, and to seek to be cleansed in the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.

Summary

JA”>Jesus’ miracles stimulate worship from His disciples . But they generate only hostile antagonism from His people’s religious leaders, who again challenge Christ on the basis of traditional interpretations of Old Testament Law .

JA”>Jesus in turn challenges tradition, showing that the rabbis’ approach to Scripture has actually distorted and nullified God’s Word . “Cleanness” is no matter of ritual observance, but a matter of one’s heart . Again Matthew uses contrast. He tells the story of a pagan woman whose faith is rewarded and thus reveals the futility of the Pharisees’ legalistic approach to religion . The chapter ends with another story of contrast. While the Pharisees argue about the Law’s minutia, Jesus expresses God’s concern for human need by feeding thousands .

 

The Reward of Endurance

 

The Reward of Endurance   

2 Timothy 2:1-13                             February 24 2013

JA;”>Even before the N.T. was complete, basic truths were understood, entrusted to reliable men, and passed on unchanged to the next generation.

JA;”>The word is used here as a euphemism for “Christian.” Paul is in chains, but gladly endures that others may hear and respond to the Gospel promise of salvation in Christ.

JA;”>Suffering can be endured if we are convinced it is for a good purpose. In fact there is a glory in suffering, if the purpose is great enough.

     The last two “if” statements here have caused some confusion. The Gk. words for “disown” are also translated “deny.” In some places they mean “decisive rejection of Christ” but in others have the sense of “a fall from fellowship.” Thus, Peter’s denial of Jesus was not a final rejection, but a temporary withdrawal. It is best to take this passage as a warning: If we abandon fellowship with Jesus, His withdrawal of fellowship with us must follow. Even so “He will remain faithful” to His commitment to save us, “for He cannot deny Himself.”

1. The apostle exhorts Timothy to persevere with diligence, like a soldier, a combatant, and a husbandman. (2 Tim.2:1-7)      

JA;”>2 Tim.2:1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 3 You therefore must endure  hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. 5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. 7 Consider what I say, and  may the Lord give you understanding in all things.  

JA;”>As our trials increase, we need to grow stronger in that which is good; our faith stronger, our resolution stronger, our love to God and Christ stronger. This is opposed to our being strong in our own strength. All Christians, but especially ministers, must be faithful to their Captain, and resolute in his cause. The great care of a Christian must be to please Christ. We are to strive to get the mastery of our lusts and corruptions, but we cannot expect the prize unless we observe the laws. We must take care that we do good in a right manner, that our good may not be spoken evil of. Some who are active, spend their zeal about outward forms and doubtful disputations. But those who strive lawfully shall be crowned at last. If we would partake the fruits, we must labour; if we would gain the prize, we must run the race. We must do the will of God, before we receive the promises, for which reason we have need of patience. Together with our prayers for others, that the Lord would give them understanding in all things, we must exhort and stir them up to consider what they hear or read.

2. Encouraging him by assurances of a happy end of his faithfulness.

(2 Tim. 2:8-13)      

JA;”>2 Tim. 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.11 This is a faithful saying:

mso-fareast-language: JA;”>12 If we endure,We shall also reign with Him.He also will deny us.13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

JA;”>Let suffering saints remember, and look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God. We must not think it strange if the best men meet with the worst treatment; but this is cheering, that the word of God is not bound. Here we see the real and true cause of the apostle’s suffering trouble in, or for, the sake of the gospel. If we are dead to this world, its pleasures, profits, and honours, we shall be for ever with Christ in a better world. He is faithful to his threatenings, and faithful to his promises. This truth makes sure the unbeliever’s condemnation, and the believer’s salvation.

Summary

JA;”>What will it mean for Timothy to follow the pattern of commitment set by the Apostle Paul and to teach that pattern to others?  Three images provide insight. A committed Christian is like a soldier in his ability to endure hardship . He is like an athlete who keeps in training for competition . He is like a farmer who works hard in expectation of enjoying the harvest .

JA;”>Paul is very clear that commitment to the Gospel is likely to result in suffering . He is also clear on the need to remain fully committed . Actually commitment calls for a disciplined attention to service and Scripture that many have been unwilling to give . This is not unexpected, for everyone uses cheap dishes as well as expensive chinaware. But it’s important for us to “cleanse ourselves” that we might serve the more noble function . Finally, commitment calls for the most rigid self-control, not only in fleeing evil desires, but also in maintaining a loving attitude toward those who oppose our teaching, with prayerful reliance on God to change the heart of the lost .

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The Practice of Godliness


The Practice of Godliness

1 Timothy 4:7-10;Titus 3:1-9                               February 17 2013

Timothy was “brought up in” the truths of the faith. Paul’s pointed advice makes it clear that “truth” is not simply something to be believed, but to be lived. Thus Paul emphasizes the importance in any ministry of not only commanding and teaching truths, but also of setting an example by living them. We have not really grasped Scripture’s truths until they begin to find expression in our lifestyle.

1. Several directions, with motives for due discharge of duties.

(1 Tim.4:7-10)      

1 Tim.4:7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. 10 For to this end  we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.

Outward acts of self-denial profit little. What will it avail us to mortify the body, if we do not mortify sin? No diligence in mere outward things could be of much use. The gain of godliness lies much in the promise; and the promises to godly people relate partly to the life that now is, but especially to the life which is to come: though we lose for Christ, we shall not lose by him. If Christ be thus the Saviour of all men, then much more will he be the Rewarder of those who seek and serve him; he will provide well for those whom he has made new creatures.

     2. Obedience to magistrates, and becoming behaviour towards all, are enforced from what believers were before conversion, and what they are made, through Christ. (Titus 3:1-9)      

      Titus 3:1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. 9 But avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless.

Spiritual privileges do not make void or weaken, but confirm civil duties. Mere good words and good meanings are not enough without good works. They were not to be quarrelsome, but to show meekness on all occasions, not toward friends only, but to all men, though with wisdom, James 3:13 . And let this text teach us how wrong it is for a Christian to be churlish to the worst, weakest, and most abject. The servants of sin have many masters, their lusts hurry them different ways; pride commands one thing, covetousness another. Thus they are hateful, deserving to be hated. It is the misery of sinners, that they hate one another; and it is the duty and happiness of saints to love one another. And we are delivered out of our miserable condition, only by the mercy and free grace of God, the merit and sufferings of Christ, and the working of his Spirit. God the Father is God our Saviour. He is the fountain from which the Holy Spirit flows, to teach, regenerate, and save his fallen creatures; and this blessing comes to mankind through Christ. The spring and rise of it, is the kindness and love of God to man. Love and grace have, through the Spirit, great power to change and turn the heart to God. Works must be in the saved, but are not among the causes of their salvation. A new principle of grace and holiness is wrought, which sways, and governs, and makes the man a new creature. Most pretend they would have heaven at last, yet they care not for holiness now; they would have the end without the beginning. Here is the outward sign and seal thereof in baptism, called therefore the washing of regeneration. The work is inward and spiritual; this is outwardly signified and sealed in this ordinance. Slight not this outward sign and seal; yet rest not in the outward washing, but look to the answer of a good conscience, without which the outward washing will avail nothing. The worker therein is the Spirit of God; it is the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Through him we mortify sin, perform duty, walk in God’s ways; all the working of the Divine life in us, and the fruits of righteousness without, are through this blessed and holy Spirit. The Spirit and his saving gifts and graces, come through Christ, as a Saviour, whose undertaking and work are to bring to grace and glory. Justification, in the gospel sense, is the free forgiveness of a sinner; accepting him as righteous through the righteousness of Christ received by faith. God, in justifying a sinner in the way of the gospel, is gracious to him, yet just to himself and his law. As forgiveness is through a perfect righteousness, and satisfaction is made to justice by Christ, it cannot be merited by the sinner himself. Eternal life is set before us in the promise; the Spirit works faith in us, and hope of that life; faith and hope bring it near, and fill with joy in expectation of it.

Summary

Titus’ ministry is to be one of organizing local church leadership, silencing false teachers, and instilling an appropriate Christian lifestyle. What happens in a church where such a mission is successful? Paul suggests that Christian people will prove to be good citizens of the secular state . They will also be deeply rooted in God’s love and in response will “devote themselves to doing what is good” . In addition the church will avoid unprofitable disputes and purify itself of warped and divisive individuals . With all this said, Paul closes with a few personal remarks and with greetings to Titus from those who are still with Paul .

 

The Character if Leadership

 The Character of Leadership  

1 Timothy 3:1-15                       February 10 2013

JA”>“The word is episkopos, which is frequently translated in older versions as “bishop.” A study of N.T. texts suggests that it is used as a synonym of presbuteros, elder. Thus “bishop” and “elder” refer to the same person, the same office.

JA”> The phrase has been interpreted to rule out the possibility of a divorced person holding this office but, interestingly, not to rule out a widower who has been remarried. Most commentators agree, however, that it simply means monogamous: a one-woman kind of man who is totally faithful to his wife.

       These verses list 15 qualities to consider when selecting elders. Note that the qualifications do not mention seminary training or possession of any particular spiritual gifts. Instead they are character qualifications. Spiritual leaders are to be the kind of person that Christian teaching is intended to produce. Let’s show great care in choosing godly persons as our spiritual leaders and not be influenced by the wealth or social status that attract men of the world.

JA”>Elder character traits in brief .

Above reproach: Totally faithful to his wife.

A one-woman man: Totally faithful to his wife.

Temperate: Sober, careful, and deliberate.

Self-controlled: Disciplined, reasonable.

Respectable: Modest, honorable, well-behaved.

Hospitable: One who welcomes visitors.

Able to teach: Able to explain and apply.

Not given to drunkenness: No tendency toward wine.

Not violent: Not hostile, antagonistic.

Gentle: Kindly, reasonable, forebearing.

Not quarrelsome: Not combative or contentious.

Not a money lover: Cares for people, not things.

Good manager of his family: Directs family life.

No recent convert: Mature and humble.

Of good reputation: Admired by outsider

1.The qualifications and behaviour of gospel bishops.(1 Tim. 3:1-7)      

JA”>1Tim.3:1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a  bishop, he desires a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

JA”>If a man desired the pastoral office, and from love to Christ, and the souls of men, was ready to deny himself, and undergo hardships by devoting himself to that service, he sought to be employed in a good work, and his desire should be approved, provided he was qualified for the office. A minister must give as little occasion for blame as can be, lest he bring reproach upon his office. He must be sober, temperate, moderate in all his actions, and in the use of all creature-comforts. Sobriety and watchfulness are put together in Scripture, they assist one the other. The families of ministers ought to be examples of good to all other families. We should take heed of pride; it is a sin that turned angels into devils. He must be of good repute among his neighbours, and under no reproach from his former life. To encourage all faithful ministers, we have Christ’s gracious word of promise, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, color:windowtext;mso-fareast-language:JA”> . And he will fit his ministers for their work, and carry them through difficulties with comfort, and reward their faithfulness.

14.0pt;mso-bidi-font-family:Times;mso-fareast-language:JA”>     2.   (1 Tim. 3:8-15)      

1 Tim.3:8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth

JA”>The deacons were at first appointed to distribute the charity of the church, and to manage its concerns, yet pastors and evangelists were among them. The deacons had a great trust reposed in them. They must be grave, serious, prudent men. It is not fit that public trusts should be lodged in the hands of any, till they are found fit for the business with which they are to be trusted. All who are related to ministers, must take great care to walk as becomes the gospel of Christ.

Summary

JA”>Paul now moves to discuss elders, who do have the role of issuing authoritative teaching in the local church. Eldering is a noble task  which requires the elder to have a developed Christian character . Deacons also are to be “worthy of respect” and demonstrate maturity in the faith . The church of God is such a special fellowship, the very household of the Lord, that people must conduct themselves in it correctly . Surrendering to the wonder of it, Paul introduces another brief poem which may be one of the earliest creedal statements of the church .

JA”> 

 

The Truth of the Gospel , A Pray For Vera

A Pray For Vera , She recovering and doing Ok at this    time Sleeping Thanks to the Lord . Lots Of Pray

The Truth of the Gospel (Evangelism Lesson)

1 Timothy 1:3-7,12-20                                        February 3 2013

 The Gk. word gnesios means “genuine.” Timothy had faithfully served with Paul and proved himself ( Phil. 2:22 ).

These are most likely the “Jewish myths” mentioned in Titus 1:14 . Religious literature of the period shows many treated the O.T. genealogies as a source of symbolic truth having to do with the apocalypse. This approach stimulated endless arguments and drew the speculators further and further from the true meaning and intent of Scripture.

 Paul’s command to stop false teachers is intended to restore an emphasis on Gospel truths. Commitment to truth purifies the heart, cleanses the conscience, and produces unhypocritical faith—and this results in love for God and others. Don’t brag about your doctrine. Unless that doctrine has changed you from within, you’ve missed its meaning.

 Paul’s point is hard to miss. Law says “You shall not. . . .” Yet we only say “Don’t” when a person is already doing something wrong. If no one committed adultery, for instance, why pass a law against it? So law is directed against sinful people and has no relevance to the truly good who never do such things anyway.

Paul’s point is that the Gospel works an inner transformation, and its “sound doctrine” directs us into a lifestyle of holiness and love. Why then become involved in those endless discussions about the Law that marked 1st-century rabbinical Judaism and characterized the false teachers who sought to distract believers from a healthy focus on Christ?

Proper use of law . Paul defines the proper use of law in Rom. 3:1-20 ; law is to convict sinners and demonstrate their guilt.

  Paul notes that he was “faultless” as far as keeping Moses’ Law was concerned . Yet here he admits that he was also a violent (hybristes) person. Perhaps Paul is remembering how he “consented” to Stephen’s death. We don’t have to actually strike another person to be hostile, hating, and thus violent. Even though his persecution of the church let him express his violence in a “lawful” way, Paul now sees within himself all the corruption that marks society’s lawbreakers. Clearly in his own case the Law was no help in making him good. It only helped him conceal his sinfulness from himself.

If we keep on trusting and keep on doing what is good, we like Timothy will realize our potential.

1.    The apostle salutes Timothy.  (Timothy 1:1-4)  

Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope,2 To Timothy, a true son in the faith:Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord. 3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, 4 nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.

Jesus Christ is a Christian’s hope; all our hopes of eternal life are built upon him; and Christ is in us the hope of glory. The apostle seems to have been the means of Timothy’s conversion; who served with him in his ministry, as a dutiful son with a loving father. That which raises questions, is not for edifying; that which gives occasion for doubtful disputes, pulls down the church rather than builds it up. Godliness of heart and life can only be kept up and increased, by the exercise of faith in the truths and promises of God, through Jesus Christ.

2.The design of the law as given by Moses. (Timothy 1:5-11)      

Timothy 1:5 Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, 6 from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 7 desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.8 But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust.

Whatever tends to weaken love to God, or love to the brethren, tends to defeat the end of the commandment. The design of the gospel is answered, when sinners, through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ, are brought to exercise Christian love. And as believers were righteous persons in God’s appointed way, the law was not against them. But unless we are made righteous by faith in Christ, really repenting and forsaking sin, we are yet under the curse of the law, even according to the gospel of the blessed God, and are unfit to share the holy happiness of heaven.

3.    Of his own conversion and call to the apostleship.

(Timothy 1:12-17)      

 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

The apostle knew that he would justly have perished, if the Lord had been extreme to mark what was amiss; and also if his grace and mercy had not been abundant to him when dead in sin, working faith and love to Christ in his heart. This is a faithful saying; these are true and faithful words, which may be depended on, That the Son of God came into the world, willingly and purposely to save sinners. No man, with Paul’s example before him, can question the love and power of Christ to save him, if he really desires to trust in him as the Son of God, who once died on the cross, and now reigns upon the throne of glory, to save all that come to God through him. Let us then admire and praise the grace of God our Saviour; and ascribe to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons in the unity of the Godhead, the glory of all done in, by, and for us.

4. The obligation to maintain faith and a good conscience.

(Timothy 1;18-20)      

Timothy 1:18 This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

The ministry is a warfare against sin and Satan; carried on under the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of our salvation. The good hopes others have had of us, should stir us up to duty. And let us be upright in our conduct in all things. The design of the highest censures in the primitive church, was, to prevent further sin, and to reclaim the sinner. May all who are tempted to put away a good conscience, and to abuse the gospel, remember that this is the way to make shipwreck of faith also.

Summary

Paul addresses this letter to Timothy, a young coworker he has sent on a troubleshooting mission to Ephesus . Timothy’s mission: to silence false teaching so that the Gospel’s truth might produce its fruit of love . Too many would-be teachers of the law prattle on without knowing what they’re talking about. They fail to realize that laws are passed against sins—and thus are irrelevant to the good men who would not break them anyway!

As for Paul, he is eternally thankful that God saves sinners and transforms them into His servants . In fact, Paul sees himself as history’s clearest example that God’s mercy reaches the worst of sinners, a source of hope for others wanting to believe and receive eternal life . No wonder Paul breaks out in a doxology of praise! As for Timothy, he must hold on to faith and a good conscience and so fulfill his promise .

Haggai; A Message of Hope

 

Haggai ; A Message of Hope   

Haggai 1:2-9;2:1-9,10-19,20-23                            January 27 2013

The precise references to dates in the reign of King Darius, well known from secular history, allow us to date Haggai’s ministry in 520 B.C. . The prophet briefly sketches the struggle of the little Jewish community to exist during the 18 years since their return from Captivity and yet criticizes them for self-centeredness. They build their own houses, but let the temple, the house of God, remain a ruin . God’s word is clear and simple. The economic difficulties they have experienced are a message from God, a warning to put God first in their lives .

The response of the governor and high priest and of all the people is immediate. They obey and within three weeks the whole community is hard at work, intent on completing the temple of the Lord .

1. Haggai reproves the Jews for neglecting the temple.

(Haggai 1: 2-9)      

Haggai 1:2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built. 3 Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? 5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.7 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. 8 Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. 9 Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.

Observe the sin of the Jews, after their return from captivity in Babylon. Those employed for God may be driven from their work by a storm, yet they must go back to it. They did not say that they would not build a temple, but, Not yet. Thus men do not say they will never repent and reform, and be religious, but, Not yet. And so the great business we were sent into the world to do, is not done. There is a proneness in us to think wrongly of discouragements in our duty, as if they were a discharge from our duty, when they are only for the trial of our courage and faith. They neglected the building of God’s house, that they might have more time and money for worldly affairs. That the punishment might answer to the sin, the poverty they thought to prevent by not building the temple, God brought upon them for not building it. Many good works have been intended, but not done, because men supposed the proper time was not come. Thus believers let slip opportunities of usefulness, and sinners delay the concerns of their souls, till too late. If we labour only for the meat that perishes, as the Jews here, we are in danger of losing our labour; but we are sure it shall not be in vain in the Lord, if we labour for the meat which lasts to eternal life. If we would have the comfort and continuance of temporal enjoyments, we must have God as our Friend. See also Luke 12:33 . When God crosses our temporal affairs, and we meet with trouble and disappointment, we shall find the cause is, that the work we have to do for God and our own souls is left undone, and we seek our own things more than the things of Christ. How many, who plead that they cannot afford to give to pious or charitable designs, often lavish ten times as much in needless expenses on their houses and themselves! But those are strangers to their own interests, who are full of care to adorn and enrich their own houses, while God’s temple in their hearts lies waste. It is the great concern of every one, to apply to the necessary duty of self-examination and communion with our own hearts concerning our spiritual state. Sin is what we must answer for; duty is what we must do. But many are quick-sighted to pry into other people’s ways, who are careless of their own. If any duty has been neglected, that is no reason why it should still be so. Whatever God will take pleasure in when done, we ought to take pleasure in doing. Let those who have put off their return to God, return with all their heart, while there is time.

2. Greater glory promised to the second temple than to the first.

(Haggai 2:1-9)      

Haggai 2:1 In the seventh month, in the one and twentieth day of the month, came the word of the LORD by the prophet Haggai, saying, 2 Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, 3 Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing? 4 Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: 5 According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not. 6 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. 8 The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. 9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.

Those who are hearty in the Lord’s service shall receive encouragement to proceed. But they could not build such a temple then, as Solomon built. Though our gracious God is pleased if we do as well as we can in his service, yet our proud hearts will scarcely let us be pleased, unless we do as well as others, whose abilities are far beyond ours. Encouragement is given the Jews to go on in the work notwithstanding. They have God with them, his Spirit and his special presence. Though he chastens their transgressions, his faithfulness does not fail. The Spirit still remained among them. And they shall have the Messiah among them shortly; “He that should come.” Convulsions and changes would take place in the Jewish church and state, but first should come great revolutions and commotions among the nations. He shall come, as the Desire of all nations; desirable to all nations, for in him shall all the earth be blessed with the best of blessings; long expected and desired by all believers. The house they were building should be filled with glory, very far beyond Solomon’s temple. This house shall be filled with glory of another nature. If we have silver and gold, we must serve and honour God with it, for the property is his. If we have not silver and gold, we must honour him with such as we have, and he will accept us. Let them be comforted that the glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former, in what would be beyond all the glories of the first house, the presence of the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lord of glory, personally, and in human nature. Nothing but the presence of the Son of God, in human form and nature, could fulfil this. Jesus is the Christ, is He that should come, and we are to look for no other. This prophecy alone is enough to silence the Jews, and condemn their obstinate rejection of Him, concerning whom all their prophets spake. If God be with us, peace is with us. But the Jews under the latter temple had much trouble; but this promise is fulfilled in that spiritual peace which Jesus Christ has by his blood purchased for all believers. All changes shall make way for Christ to be desired and valued by all nations. And the Jews shall have their eyes opened to behold how precious He is, whom they have hitherto rejected.

3. Their sins hindered the work. (Haggai 2:10-19)      

Haggai 2:10  In the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, 11Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, 12 If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. 13 Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. 14 Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean. 15 And now, I pray you, consider from this day and upward, from before a stone was laid upon a stone in the temple of the LORD: 16 Since those days were, when one came to an heap of twenty measures, there were but ten: when one came to the pressfat for to draw out fifty vessels out of the press, there were but twenty. 17 I smote you with blasting and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD. 18 Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid, consider it. 19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, as yet the vine, and the fig tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive tree, hath not brought forth: from this day will I bless you.

Many spoiled this good work, by going about it with unholy hearts and hands, and were likely to gain no advantage by it. The sum of these two rules of the law is, that sin is more easily learned from others than holiness. The impurity of their hearts and lives shall make the work of their hands, and all their offerings, unclean before God. The case is the same with us. When employed in any good work, we should watch over ourselves, lest we render it unclean by our corruptions. When we begin to make conscience of duty to God, we may expect his blessing; and whoso is wise will understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. God will curse the blessings of the wicked, and make bitter the prosperity of the careless; but he will sweeten the cup of affliction to those who diligently serve him.

4.The kingdom of Christ foretold. (Haggai 2:20-23)      

Haggai 2:20And again the word of the LORD came unto Haggai in the four and twentieth day of the month, saying, 21Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I will shake the heavens and the earth; 22And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.

The Lord will preserve Zerubbabel and the people of Judah, amidst their enemies. Here is also foretold the establishment and continuance of the kingdom of Christ; by union with whom his people are sealed with the Holy Ghost, sealed with his image, thus distinguished from all others. Here also is foretold the changes, even to that time when the kingdom of Christ shall overthrow and occupy the place of all the empires which opposed his cause. The promise has special reference to Christ, who descended from Zerubbabel in a direct line, and is the sole Builder of the gospel temple. Our Lord Jesus is the Signet on God’s right hand, for all power is given to him, and derived from him. By him, and in him, all the promises of God are yea and amen. Whatever changes take place on earth, all will promote the comfort, honour, and happiness of his servants.

Summary

The chapter contains three encouraging messages Haggai gave the returned exiles during the months of work on the new temple. The first message was a promise that, despite its smaller size and less expensive decoration, the glory of the new temple would surpass that of Solomon’s . This prediction surely came true, for Jesus Himself walked and taught in this “second temple,” enlarged by Herod.

The second message is in the form of a lived parable. Haggai asks the priests a technical question about the Law. The question and its answer drive home the fact that the mere presence of a holy place among the people does not make them holy. In fact they are defiled by sin and indifference. Yet now that they have put God first, the Lord will bless .

The final message is addressed to Zerubbabel, who represents David’s royal line. When God shakes the nations at history’s end, the One whom Zerubbabel stands for, the Christ, will exercise God’s authority on the earth .

Habakkuk:A Message of Faith

Habakkuk: A Message of Faith                  

Habakkuk 1:1-3,5-6,13;2:1,4-6;3: 2,17-19            January 13 2013

Habakkuk

    The subject of this prophecy is the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem for the sins of the people, and the consolation of the faithful under national calamities.

    1.The wickedness of the land. The fearful vengeance to be executed. (Habakkuk 1:1-3,13;Habakkuk 2:1)

Habakkuk 1:1 The  burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw. 2 O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. 3 Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand my watch. And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. The Heb. concept of “listen” means more than simply hear. There “to listen” implies “to respond.” Habakkuk knows that God hears his complaint. What he cannot understand is why God does not act in response to his plea.

        In this case God explains to the prophet—for our instruction. You and I typically will not know just why when there seems to be no answer to our prayers. But we can be sure that God does hear and has reasons for any apparent delay.When these terms are used in the O.T. without reference to some specific foreign enemy, they typically characterize conditions among God’s people. Despite Josiah’s religious reforms, there had been no moral and social transformation. Habakkuk has been driven to a conclusion that we should remember: Conversion with transformation is imitation.Habakkuk determines to wait until God answers his second complaint . And answer God does!

     2. Habakkuk must wait in faith.(Habakkuk:1:5-6;2:4-6)

Habakkuk 1: 5 “Look among the nations and watch— Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days  Which you would not believe, though it were told you. 6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation. Which marches through the breadth of the earth,To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.

Habakkuk 2: 4 “Behold the proud,  His soul is not upright in him;  But the just shall live by his faith. 5 “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine,He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as  hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations. And heaps up for himself all peoples. 6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases.What is not his—how long? And to him who loads himself with  many pledges’?

When tossed and perplexed with doubts about the methods of Providence, we must watch against temptations to be impatient. When we have poured out complaints and requests before God, we must observe the answers God gives by his word, his Spirit, and providences; what the Lord will say to our case. God will not disappoint the believing expectations of those who wait to hear what he will say unto them. All are concerned in the truths of God’s word. Though the promised favour be deferred long, it will come at last, and abundantly recompense us for waiting. The humble, broken-hearted, repenting sinner, alone seeks to obtain an interest in this salvation. He will rest his soul on the promise, and on Christ, in and through whom it is given. Thus he walks and works, as well as lives by faith, perseveres to the end, and is exalted to glory; while those who distrust or despise God’s all-sufficiency will not walk uprightly with him. The just shall live by faith in these precious promises, while the performance of them is deferred. Only those made just by faith, shall live, shall be happy here and for ever.

  3.His firm trust in the Divine mercy.(Habakkuk 3:2,17-19)

    Habakkuk 3:2 O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy. in the stalls—

    Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree may not blossom,  Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail,  And the fields yield no food;  Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength;  He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

    When we see a day of trouble approach, it concerns us to prepare. A good hope through grace is founded in holy fear. The prophet looked back upon the experiences of the church in former ages, and observed what great things God had done for them, and so was not only recovered, but filled with holy joy. He resolved to delight and triumph in the Lord; for when all is gone, his God is not gone. Destroy the vines and the fig-trees, and you make all the mirth of a carnal heart to cease. But those who, when full, enjoyed God in all, when emptied and poor, can enjoy all in God. They can sit down upon the heap of the ruins of their creature-comforts, and even then praise the Lord, as the God of their salvation, the salvation of the soul, and rejoice in him as such, in their greatest distresses. Joy in the Lord is especially seasonable when we meet with losses and crosses in the world. Even when provisions are cut off, to make it appear that man lives not by bread alone, we may be supplied by the graces and comforts of God’s Spirit. Then we shall be strong for spiritual warfare and work, and with enlargement of heart may run the way of his commandments, and outrun our troubles. And we shall be successful in spiritual undertakings. Thus the prophet, who began his prayer with fear and trembling, ends it with joy and triumph. And thus faith in Christ prepares for every event. The name of Jesus, when we can speak of Him as ours, is balm for every wound, a cordial for every care. It is as ointment poured forth, shedding fragrance through the whole soul. In the hope of a heavenly crown, let us sit loose to earthly possessions and comforts, and cheerfully bear up under crosses. Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry; and where he is, we shall be also

Summary:

Habakkuk, who calls himself “the prophet,” may also have been a Levite who eagerly participated in Josiah’s reforms, but was troubled by the moral laxity that he continued to observe. While his work is not dated, his reference to the unexpected emergence of Babylon as a great power even then taking place persuasively suggests he ministered during Josiah’s reign. Habakkuk retreated to one of the mountaintop stations from which guards watched for the approach of enemy armies. But Habakkuk looked back over his own nation’s countryside, determined to explore the reasons why God permitted the injustice that was rife in Judah’s society. We too need to take time out to meditate and to struggle with life’s important issues.

Robert G OHaver
deacon@ohaver.net
cudeacon@gmail.com
deaconrob33@earthlink.net
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