Ministers Must be Meek

January 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 1 Comment
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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).

fooled-again

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.

Children’s Bible Catechism

January 4, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 1 Comment
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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.
Prove it.
Genesis 1:27

Question 2: Who made everything else?
Answer: God made everything.
Prove it.
Exodus 20:11

Question 3: Why did God make everything?
Answer: For His Own glory.
Prove it.
Romans 11:36

Question 4: How was everything when God created it?
Answer: It was very good.
Prove it.
Genesis 1:31

Question 5: What went wrong with everything God created?
Answer: Sin brought the curse of death into the world.
Prove it.
Romans 5:12

Question 6: What is wrong with you?
Answer: I was born a sinner, and I have sinned against God.
Prove it.
Psalm 51:5

Question 7: What is sin?
Answer: Sin is violating God’s law.
Prove it.
I John 3:4

Question 8: What is the punishment for sin?
Answer: The punishment for sin is death.
Prove it.
Ezekiel 18:4

Question 9: Since you are a sinner, how does God feel about you?
Answer: Even though I am a sinner, God loves me.
Prove it.
Romans 5:8

Question 10: Who is the Author of the Bible?
Answer: God the Holy Spirit is the Author of the Bible.
Prove it.
II Timothy 3:16

Question 11: How did the Holy Spirit write the Bible?
Answer: He wrote the Bible by using people.
Prove it.
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.
Prove it.
Numbers 23:19

Question 13: Why can’t you see God?
Answer: God is too holy for me to see Him and live.
Prove it.
Exodus 33:20

Question 14: What has God done for you so you can have eternal life?
Answer: He sent his Son.
Prove it.
John 3:16

Question 15: What did Jesus do while He was here on earth?
Answer: He lived a perfect, sinless life.
Prove it.
John 8:29

Question 16: How was Jesus treated here on earth?
Answer: He was hated, rejected, and falsely accused.
Prove it.
Isaiah 53:3

Question 17: How did Jesus die?
Answer: He was crucified.
Prove it.
John 19:18

Question 18: What happened to Jesus after He died?
Answer: He was buried and then rose again on the third day.
Prove it.
Acts 10:40

Question 19: Where is Jesus now?
Answer: He is in Heaven with God the Father.
Prove it.
Hebrews 10:12

Question 20: Why did Jesus do these things?
Answer: So God can forgive me for my sins.
Prove it.
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.
Prove it.
Romans 10:13

Question 22: How will you live for Jesus?
Answer: By loving Him and doing what He says.
Prove it.
John 14:15

Eight Is Not Enough

January 3, 2017 at 4:49 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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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:

The Flood
The Family of Faith
Mark
I Corinthians
Hosea
Biblical Eyesight
Amos

Wise Watering

January 2, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 3 Comments
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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.

watering-can

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.

Psalm 1:1-4

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.

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Family Privileges

December 30, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Posted in The Family of Faith | 2 Comments
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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;

Ephesians 2:19

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:

Ephesians 2:12

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.

Serving without Fear

December 27, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Posted in Mark | Leave a comment
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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.

Mark 4:2-8

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.

Mark 4:35

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?

Mark 4:38

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.

Mark 5:39

Ministers Must be Managers

December 22, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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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:

1. Appearance
2. Common Sense
3. Style
4. Willingness
and even
5. Ability

Managers must please the owner – even when it makes them unpopular.

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

In the church at Corinth there was no shortage of judging going on, and judgment in itself is not a bad thing, but it was wrong judgment.

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.

Here’s a Quarter, Thanks to the God Who Cares

December 20, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Tomorrow (Deo volente) my beautiful, intelligent, loving wife and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Well, I’ll be celebrating, anyway. Due to financial constraints it may not be all that much of a celebration for her, but we’ll see. 25 years is one of those “big” anniversary markers, but I’m not really sure why. I suppose it’s because of the association of the number 25 with the idea that 25 is a quarter of a century. This makes sense in a larger historical perspective, but has anyone since the days of Noah and Moses lived long enough to be married for 100 years? Not likely. The truth is, my wife deserves to be honored, cherished, and celebrated for every single year she has had to put up with me, and, realistically, for every single day that made up those years. I could not, in my most focused and vivid analytical planning or my wildest dreams, have come up with a wife so wonderful. Only God could have created her.

I am always thankful when God answers my prayers, but He did not answer my prayers concerning what kind of a wife or marriage I thought I would like to have. No, He has done way better than that. Whether we are talking about her faithfulness, her godliness, her dedication, her kindness, her sense of humor, her beauty, her intelligence, or her skills and talents as a mother, what I asked God for fell way short of what He has done. In a striking paradox, not only is she reassuringly consistent, but she manages to surprise me each and every day.

I praise the Lord for the wonderful gift of my wife, my marriage, and the myriad and untold ways in which He has blessed it by His grace. May we, as spouses, friends, parents, and covenant-partners, draw closer to Him and glorify Him with our marriage, in the name of, and for the sake of, Jesus Christ.

Here are a couple of previous anniversary notes which still apply:
Marriage: The Long and the Short of It
One Crazy, Wonderful Day

A Child’s View of God’s Supremacy

December 16, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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As Christian parents we should want the children that God has entrusted into our care to be utterly convinced of the absolute supremacy of God. And, although it may be hard for us to accept, the lesson that God is absolutely supreme may have to be learned in times of trial, struggle, darkness, and even affliction. Remember, we are raising these kids for Him, and, having entrusted them to us, He wants US to trust Him with them.

It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

Psalm 119:71

We must bring the Scriptures to bear in our parenting, and we must confront our children with the Scriptures in times of suffering and despair. Learning God’s “statutes” (principles and precepts) will assist us in teaching them to find comfort in Him. They are just as important as a rod of correction in discipline, and more so in times of affliction that already involve pain, because we do not wish to inflict additional pain where pain has already been inflicted from above or allowed by God through circumstances.

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:7-10

Let us not, as parents, exhaust all our prayers on deliverance. Let us reserve some for the recognition – and acceptance – of humbling thorns in the flesh. And let us teach our children to pray through them, and recognize God’s strength supplanting their own perceived strength.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

I Corinthians 10:31

We should think of this well-known verse as a reminder to try to utterly convince our children of the absolute supremacy of God, but, in its context, it is not so much a verse of victory as it is a statement of defiance by the Apostle in the midst of persecution. People were speaking evil of him and his teaching, and, rather than worrying about safeguarding or defending his reputation, he was concerned with God’s glory. For our children, the “whatsoever ye do” would include getting picked on and made fun of, as much as it would include a scraped knee, a lost purse, or the disappointment of not being invited to a best friend’s birthday party. There is no conviction of God’s absolute supremacy when we see Him only as supremely in charge of granting our favorite blessings.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

Psalm 73:25

This is a general and true statement. No created being will make a good “God.” But it is also a desperate realization. Our children must learn to think Biblically. They must not see God as all they need (although He is), or even as all they want (although that would be great). They must see Him as all that they have. In a world of vanity, deceit, hypocrisy, anarchy, uncertainty, and unpredictability, God is the God of Heaven (eternity, the sweet by and by), but He is also of God of all the Earth (the nasty now and now). He’s the God of our church, our home, our car, our refrigerator, our little league team, our vacation, and our toy box. I’m no longer talking about just looking for illustrations or spiritual lessons; I’m talking about seeing God as supreme – both better than anything AND above anything AND truly our All-in-All.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

Psalm 27:4

God is so holy that no man can see Him and live. However, if we are doing our job as parents, our children should have a burning desire to see God – to “behold His beauty” – to “enquire” of Him and ask Him otherwise unanswerable questions. In teaching and preaching the Gospel to your children, tell them that God DOES want them to see Him – and look what great lengths He has gone to, to make it happen!

Power in Many Voices

December 13, 2016 at 2:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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This title of this post is from a sermon on Nehemiah 5:7 called “Witnesses Against You.”

When he found that his own words were scarcely powerful enough with them, he gathered together the people, and let them all have a voice, for in the many voices there was power.

Charles Spurgeon

Certainly it can be convicting, and even alarming, when a vocal majority holds a different opinion from you, especially if they are shouting you down. A saturation of voices reiterating a common topic or theme on a daily basis can also invade our minds and intrude into our thought processes. For Christians, as December 25 draws nearer and nearer, and as even the secular voices in society begin to allude to the Incarnation of Christ – either directly, indirectly, or in a counterintuitive effort to obscure it – we should seize this opportunity to glorify our Savior.

When everyone wants to commercialize or secularize one of the key doctrines of our faith, it doesn’t make us happy, but at least it gives us a doorway to witness. This holiday season, add your true voice to the many popular, but false, voices, and trust in the power of God and His Gospel to get people to think about what it means that the King of Glory came down from His Heavenly throne to rescue rebellious sinners.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

John 1:14

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