Tags: Biblical prayer, Biblical prayers, commentary on Psalms, Heman, importunity, Luke 11, prayer, Psalm 88, purpose of prayer, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
In part one we saw that Heman, the psalmist of Psalm 88, prayed openly. Now we see that he also prayed obstinately.
O lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before thee:
Mine eye mourneth by reason of affliction: LORD, I have called daily upon thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee.
But unto thee have I cried, O LORD; and in the morning shall my prayer prevent thee.
Praying day and night, praying with tears and grasping hands, praying first thing in the morning, as though the Lord would hear our prayers before He even (figuratively, of course) begins HIS day – this is what is called praying with importunity. And, while it may be an annoyance to us when someone pesters us this way, it does not bother the Lord.
And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
This asking and this seeking and this knocking is an insistent, faithful, and strenuous calling out to the Lord in prayer, which may very well incline Him to respond. Regardless of whether He grants our plea or not, though, it pleases Him because it teaches us dedication and persistence, and because it brings us to intentionally spend time with Him in the awareness of His presence.
Next time we will see that Heman even prayed obnoxiously!
Tags: Biblical patriotism, family of faith, family of God, immutability of God, James 1, Matthew 12, patriotism
There are both responsibilities and privileges that come with being a part of the family of faith. Last time we looked at the privilege of citizenship. Now we will see the responsibilities that come with the privilege of patriotism.
Patriotic citizens of an earthly nation are loyal to their nation; patriotic citizens of God’s nation and family are loyal to their King and to each other.
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
Patriotic citizens of an earthly nation are willing to work for the good of their nation; patriotic citizens of God’s nation and family are willing to sacrifice themselves for their King and each other. Patriotic citizens of an earthly nation “hope” that their leaders will do a good job so they can support them; patriotic citizens of God’s nation and family KNOW that their King will always do what is right and good.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Next time we will see the privilege of participation.
Tags: Biblical faith, Biblical servants, commentary on Mark, Jesus Christ, Jesus the Servant, Mark 6, Sunday School lessons on Mark, true faith, Word of Faith
And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him.
Jesus returned to “His own country,” meaning Nazareth. It had one been one year since He had been there.
And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?
Jesus, returning to His home synagogue, was now famous. The people must have known about His miracles through word of mouth, since He had not done them in Nazareth.
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.
So, here we find the Servant encountering unbelief – a lack of faith. People “stumbled over Him” – they were scandalized by Him. They knew Him, so they should not have feared Him, but they could not explain Him, so they did fear Him. He didn’t fit into their framework. Sometimes we say that people fear the unknown, but what people really fear is the inexplicable.
In this episode from Mark 6 we also see the difference between today’s fictional version of faith as a mystical force which activates God and somehow “enables” Him to work – to do what WE want Him to do, such as heal us or give us money or get us out of trouble – and real faith.
Remember, in the Book of Mark, we are studying Jesus in the role of Servant. We would expect a servant to serve (and He does), but we would also expect a servant to bring us what we want (and He does not always do this). Jesus is a better Servant – the greatest Servant of all time. So, as He serves us, He brings us what we really NEED – what is BEST for us. Since He is the greatest Servant, He brings the greatest service: forgiveness, freedom, and fulfillment.
Faith is not believing for what we want. Faith is believing that Jesus will bring us what we really need, and it is shown by active belief – acting in accord with Him supplying our needs, not our wants.
And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 4, Apostles, Biblical sarcasm, Christian ministry, commentary on 1 Corinthians, humility, ministers, pride, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
Previously we learned that ministers must be managers.
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2
The word for “ministers” in 4:1 is hyperetes – the under-rowers on a Roman trireme – the lowliest of the low. They are workers who exist only to serve. While it is true that the Apostles were ministers who revealed the mysteries of God, they did not see themselves as overseers rationing out food so that no one gets too much or too little. They saw themselves as slaves driven to reach the destination of greater knowledge and greater intimate relationship with Christ.
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
I Corinthians 4:6
There were other factions causing division in the church at Corinth, but Paul used himself and Apollos to set an example of humility. Just as the puffiness of pride will destroy a marriage, so it will also destroy a church family. Puffiness is emptiness masquerading as fullness, and it is a symptom of pride. The Holy Spirit here does a better job deflating egos than Tom Brady does deflating footballs.
For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?
I Corinthians 4:7
Who made me different from anyone else? God did. What do I have that I did not receive? Nothing. Why am I proud of it if it was purely a gift? Because I forgot I am a Know, and not a Know-Not, and I thought I could steal a little of God’s glory for myself (or at least distribute some it it to somebody I really admire).
The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to engage in some biting sarcasm.
Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.
I Corinthians 4:8
The “us” he referred to was the Apostles. He was suggesting to the Corinthians that, since they seemed to believe they had outgrown their teachers, perhaps they could teach the Apostles. After all, Paul and the Apostles were just out on their mission field, in the world, fighting to the death for Jesus, that’s all.
For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.
I Corinthians 4:9
The “spectacle” was the last part of a gladiator show, when only the too-drunk-to-leave or the really poor or the most-depraved stuck around to see slaves and criminals fed to beasts. The main events were “contests” – these were just spectacles
We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.
I Corinthians 4:10-13
It’s as if Paul was saying, “We’re just out here putting on a show, being humiliated, laughed at as we suffer, but you’ve got this whole Christianity thing really figured out . It’s really about sitting around trying to show off whose teacher has the most knowledge, and trying to brag about how smart you are.” He was being honest about his own hardships, persecution, and suffering, but he was also driving home the point that meekness is of the utmost importance in managing the knowledge and gifts given by God for the purpose of Christian ministry.
Tags: Bible catechism, Catechism, children's Bible studies, children's Bible study, children's catechism, Christian parenting, parenting, rote memorization, tests
Most children don’t like to answer lists of questions because it will seem to them as if they are being given a “test.” However, the purpose of this catechism is not to simply drill your children on their rote memorization chores (although rote memorization is a good teaching/learning technique). The real purpose of it is to engage your children in discussions about what the Bible teaches, how it addresses all of life’s biggest questions, and to utterly convince them of the absolute supremacy of God.
Children’s Bible Catechism
Question 1: Who made you?
Answer: God made me.
Question 2: Who made everything else?
Answer: God made everything.
Question 3: Why did God make everything?
Answer: For His Own glory.
Question 4: How was everything when God created it?
Answer: It was very good.
Question 5: What went wrong with everything God created?
Answer: Sin brought the curse of death into the world.
Question 6: What is wrong with you?
Answer: I was born a sinner, and I have sinned against God.
Question 7: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is violating God’s law.
I John 3:4
Question 8: What is the punishment for sin?
Answer: The punishment for sin is death.
Question 9: Since you are a sinner, how does God feel about you?
Answer: Even though I am a sinner, God loves me.
Question 10: Who is the Author of the Bible?
Answer: God the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible.
II Timothy 3:16
Question 11: How did the Holy Spirit write the Bible?
Answer: He wrote the Bible by using people.
II Peter 1:21
Question 12: Can the Bible ever be wrong?
Answer: No, the Bible is the Word of God, and God cannot lie.
Question 13: Why can’t you see God?
Answer: God is too holy for me to see Him and live.
Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He sent his Son.
Question 15: What did Jesus do while He was here on earth?
Answer: He lived a perfect, sinless life.
Question 16: How was Jesus treated here on earth?
Answer: He was hated, rejected, and falsely accused.
Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Question 18: What happened to Jesus after He died?
Answer: He was buried and then rose again on the third day.
Question 19: Where is Jesus now?
Answer: He is in Heaven with God the Father.
Question 20: Why did Jesus do these things?
Answer: So God can forgive me for my sins.
II Corinthians 5:21
Question 21: When did God forgive you for your sins and give you eternal life?
Answer: When I believed on Jesus and called on Him to save me.
Question 22: How will you live for Jesus?
Answer: By loving Him and doing what He says.
Tags: anniversary, Bible studies, blogging, blogging about the Bible, Christian blogging, Christian blogs
Today marks the 8th anniversary of The Deep End. Thank you to everyone who has subscribed, read regularly, shared some of the posts, followed faithfully, or offered prayer support. I’m pleased (not proud!) to report that I’m still going strong. Anything could happen, but I have no plans to stop adding new posts. I am thankful that God has provided me with a Bible and the desire to study it. If anyone has received a blessing related in any way to this blog, all the praise and glory must go to Him. He is an amazing, gracious, loving, and faithful Lord.
In honor of the occasion, here are links to some of the categories that were added over the past year:
Tags: 1 Corinthians 3, Biblical gardening, commentary on 1 Corinthians, commentary on Psalms, farming, gardening, Jeremiah 17, Psalm 1, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians, Sunday School lessons on Psalms
You may have heard the term “church planting.” We tend to describe the work that goes into the establishment of a local Christian church assembly in a new location with this agrarian terminology because this was how the Holy Spirit taught Paul and the first Apostles to think of it.
Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
I Corinthians 3:5-6
It makes sense that, in doing the work of ministry – in winning new converts to Christ and in establishing local churches – that the planting comes first, and then the watering. Anyone who knows anything about farming or gardening would know that it makes little sense to water a seed, and then bury it in parched earth. That does not mean, however, that the watering is less important than the planting. Both are vital to the laying-down of foundational roots and new growth.
The word translated as “watered” in I Corinthians 3 is potizo, and it does not mean to simply pour water on something for the purpose of getting it wet. It has the idea of “watering” in the sense that a herdsman “waters” cattle. It is the pouring of water as an offering, invitation, or encouragement to DRINK.
When we are “watering” new converts, we don’t want to blast them with a fire hose in the hopes of getting them clean, and we don’t want to dunk them merely for the purpose of a spiritual bath. We should water them with the Word of God, with kindness, love, fellowship, camaraderie, and encouragement.
Our desire is to grow strong trees, drawing their hydration from the life-giving water of Christ Himself, not fleetingly-damp tumbleweeds, who sipped in enough moisture to barely count as vegetation, only to be blown away, out of sight and out of mind.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.
Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
Tags: church family, church membership, citizenship, Ephesians 2, family of faith, house guests, household of faith, strangers, the Christian home, the home
Previously we looked at how people get into the family of faith, and some of the responsibilities that come with being part of the family of faith. Now, as we examine some of the privileges of being part of the family of faith, we will see how God prepares His family.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
The “therefore” in Ephesians 2:19 refers back to:
That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Before Christ abolished the division between Jews and gentiles, and before He slew the enmity between God and men, men were considered “strangers.” But those who have entered into the family of faith are no longer strangers – no longer people who have no place – no longer complete outsiders without any legal right to be where they are. Nor are they mere “foreigners” – people who are allowed to stay in the space which encompasses the household, but are not really part of the household. In other words, those who truly come to Christ by grace through faith are not mere sojourners or house guests, so we who are already part of the family of faith may tell them to make themselves at home. Perhaps you have told a guest in your house to “make yourself at home,” as a courtesy, without really meaning it. A person who truly “makes himself at home” in your home is liable to go through your underwear drawer, drool on your pillow, ransack your medicine cabinet, drink all your grape soda, and reprogram your DVR! We issue the invitation, but there’s an understanding that we don’t mean it literally. But when God welcomes you into HIS family, He really DOES mean it, and, in Ephesians 2, He is saying that, now, as part of the family of faith, we also have become part of the “nation” of God, and not only one nation “under” God, but the “citizens” of God’s own universal nation (earthly and Heavenly), so that we have the privileges of citizenship, one of which is the idea of a new patriotism that we will develop next time.
Tags: commentary on Mark, Jesus Christ, Mark 4, Mark 5, miracles of Jesus, parable of the seeds, parable of the soils, parable of the sower, Sunday School lessons on Mark
Jesus taught in parables, and, though some of the crowds that heard Him would have tried to judge the parables, the truth is that the parables judged the crowds.
And he taught them many things by parables, and said unto them in his doctrine, Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred.
Some people who hear the Word of God have hard hearts. Many people and ideas and attachments have trod on these hearts before, and have hardened them the way the earth will become packed and hardened on heavily used walkways. Some people who hear the Word of God have shallow hearts, where it appears to take root briefly, but in reality it is not really “received” on a level where it takes deep roots, and it shrivels and dies under the heat of persecution. Some people who hear the Word of God have crowded hearts. They are full of the vain things of this world, and there is no room for the seed to be truly received. However, some people (praise God!) who hear the Word of God have hearts that have been plowed and prepared and broken up by the Holy Spirit. Here the Word of God takes hold and begins to produce fruit and multiply.
In Mark Chapters 4 and 5 Jesus the Servant showed through four miracles how we are to be good servants in times of danger.
First, He calmed a storm. Good servants should not be afraid of storms because Jesus has promised us victory.
And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.
Good servants should not be afraid of storms because Jesus is with us in the storms.
And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?
Good servants should not be afraid of storms because Jesus Himself fears no storms.
Second, Jesus cast demons out of a man and into a herd of pigs. Good servants need not fear Satan because he and the demons are under the control of our Master. We can seek to serve the demon-possessed or -influenced or -oppressed because our Lord is stronger.
Third, Jesus healed the woman with the issue of blood. Good servants need not fear disease for all the reasons having to do with storms and Satan, AND for the reason that we do not lose our Lord even if we lose our health for His sake. We know that there is great opportunity for sick people to exercise faith, even if they have imperfect faith.
Fourth, Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter from the dead. Good servants need not fear death because, for the one with faith in Jesus, death is not eternal.
And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 4, commentary on 1 Corinthians, duty of ministers, fiaitfulness, judging, management, stewardship, Sunday School lessons on 1 Corinthians
Christian ministers must be managers.
Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2
Managers must be faithful. Faithfulness trumps:
2. Common Sense
But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
I Corinthians 4:3
Managers must be prepared to receive criticism from those under their authority, but a manager must also be answerable to (and judged by) the owner.
For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.
I Corinthians 4:4
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
I Corinthians 4:5
The timing was wrong; they were judging before the time. The motive was wrong; they were judging the hidden counsels of the hearts. The standard was wrong; they were seeking the praise of men rather than the praise of God.