Bear with me for a moment. I have not consulted the biblical commentaries nor even my ESV Study Bible notes, and I haven’t searched the Christian blogosphere for other opinions. I’m going to toss this out there and see what comes back. In John 9 Jesus was talking about the least and greatest, and then…
John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9:49-50, ESV) Continue reading →
Moses was born during the time the Hebrews were enslaved to Egypt, and male children were being thrown into the Nile. Because Pharaoh’s daughter had found Moses floating in a basket and raised him as her own, he grew up in the house of Pharaoh. Moses became the product of two cultures; his adoptive mother immediately identified him as Hebrew and found a Hebrew women to nurse him. (Which just happened to be, if you believe in that sort of thing, his real mother.) But he was raised as a prince of Egypt. He had a crisis of identity when he saw a Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian, one of his own people (Ex 2:11) and he struck and killed the Egyptian. The very next day he tried to resolve a conflict between two Hebrews and was asked who appointed him as judge. ”Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” The Hebrews rejected his leadership because they identified him as a member of Pharaoh’s house, and after learning of the Egyptian’s death at his hand Pharaoh sought to kill him. This is when he fled Egypt for Midian, where he laid low for the next 40 years. Continue reading →
I like to build to a point, but I’m going to come right to it. Through the Bible God calls people into his service that are, for lack of a better term, screwed up. No one used by God in some great way has their act together. Consider a few examples; there are many others.
In Genesis 15:6 Abraham becomes the first person of faith. He believed God, and God counted it to him as righteousness. He is lauded in Hebrews 11 for having the faith to offer his son Isaac. But before Isaac was born he father Ishmael by the Egyptian servant Hagar. He lied twice about his wife Sarah was his sister. A role model of faithfulness, perhaps not so much for other things. Continue reading →
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. -Matthew 7:24
Jesus says that everyone who hears his words and does them is like that wise man. Verse 26 describes the man that hears those same words but does not do them. (Read the full story here.) There is a obviously a difference between hearing and doing. There is even a difference between believing and doing. Faith is belief in action, and it is the action of the believer that makes all the difference. Continue reading →
The goal of Christians is to be conformed to the image of Christ. The reason we ask “What would Jesus do?” is to put ourselves in the right frame of mind to be Christ-like in our decision making (Philippians 2). We know from reading the Gospels and the letters of Paul that we are to think like Christ, to have the heart and mind of a servant, to be humble, to love as Christ loved, and so forth. Like John the Baptist we must make less of ourselves and more of Christ. Realizing that we can never become perfectly like Christ, the goal is to continuously work at it. As we get closer and closer, others should be able to see Christ in us. They were called Christians first at Antioch why? Because the followers of Christ at Antioch sounded and acted like the one they were following.
Ephesians 3 mentions one way to be Christ-like, which I had never noticed before. Read Colossians 1, noting verse 19 that says “For in him [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…” Jesus was incarnate deity, the person of God robed in a body of flesh. One aspect of Jesus Christ is that he was full of God. Now look at Ephesians 3, a short chapter in which Paul reveals the mystery of the Gospel. In particular:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. -Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV
There are many things we can choose to fill ourselves with; Paul says we should be full of God.
By modern standards, 2 Timothy 1:8-12 is something of a run-on sentence. I am going to break my own rule and quote only a portion of the complete thought:
“…who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace…” 2 Tim 1:9
That is the verse I quoted to the church the night I announced my call to preach, and still one of my favorites in all of scripture. I have just finished reading 2 Timothy, and like Reading 1 Timothy will be sharing some of the more prominent passages. The format is a little different, and I will be sharing more of my own comments. Continue reading →
Timothy was a young pastor being mentored by the Apostle Paul. Half the books of what we call the New Testament were letters written by Paul, many of them to specific churches (Ephesus, Corinth, Galatia, etc.) but some to individuals, such as Timothy, Titus and Philemon. 1 and 2 Timothy could almost be thought of as early “minister manuals” but there are also instructions for selecting deacons, supporting widows, and to all believers to practice godliness.
1 Timothy is a mere six chapters. Here is a link to 1 Timothy 1 at ESV Bible. If you click “listen” a disembodied voice will even read it to you. At the end of chp 1 simply click “1 Timothy 2″ to go on. Bible Gateway has many different English versions. (I would rather folks read any version of the Bible than not read at all.) Below are some of my favorite passages, but I highly recommend the entire book, which can be read in a matter of minutes. *emphasis in bold are my own
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17 ESV) Continue reading →
Paul wrote to the Corinthians “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18, KJV)
This is one of those occasions where I prefer the King James translation. The ESV uses word of the cross instead of preaching, and chooses folly over foolishness. The meaning is unchanged. For those of us that have been Christians for many years, or perhaps in church our whole lives, we worship at the foot of the cross. We sing hymns about the cross, decorate our churches with images of the cross; we glory in the crucified savoir. Paul reminds us to never loose sight of the fact that to the world, to the unsaved, to those hearing the gospel for the first time – it sounds foolish. Continue reading →
I’m going out on a limb here. Maybe it’s getting late and this will just be the Diet Pepsi talking, but I would like to share a thought.
I recently met a blogger named Joe Derbes, author of Everyone’s Entitled to Joe’s Opinion. I don’t know how much of an influence Michael Spencer was to him, but his blogroll credits Michael with being his new favorite Christian author. I have certainly said before that I blog because of Michael Spencer. I know that one student of Mr. Spencer says the same thing. How many others are there? The Internet was teeming with tributes to Michael in the days following his passing. How many people out there blog, or perhaps blog with a different message or purpose, as a direct result of the original Internet Monk?
I can’t write a new post without considering how Michael would evaluate that installment. I miss the constructive criticism; he made me a better writer. He helped shaped my current view of systematic theology. And tonight I can’t help but think of this: that’s kind of like Jesus. Jesus taught multitudes of people, and 12 in particular were privy to special teachings, prayers and examples. Jesus taught them, told them to follow in his footsteps, and then left them. Two of the disciples wrote Gospels (and perhaps Mark was dictated by Peter). Peter lead the others in starting the Christian church at Jerusalem. Paul did just about the same thing. He planted churches across Asia minor and southern Europe, training leaders and then moving on. His letters to Timothy still guide church leaders today.
That’s the Christian model. A teacher, a pastor, a blogger – in this case – not only does his job but teaches others to do the job as well. Even as Paul was ministering he was training others to be ministers. Even during his earthly ministry Jesus sent the Apostles out to preach and work miracles. When the human life is spent the work continues. The church grows. The gospel goes forth. We need to think now about the future generation of leaders that will be following our lead. Heaven and earth will pass away but the Word of the Lord endures forever.