The Rules of War

June 17, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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In Matthew Chapter 10 we can see the King giving power to His workers.

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

Matthew 10:2-4

They are listed in pairs because Jesus sent them out two by two. They would go forth and confront people, some of whom would become upset.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 10:32-33

Open proclamation of Christ is a key element of being a Christian.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

The Bible does not teach that God throws believers in hell if they don’t witness often enough, but it does remind us that He is able to throw people into hell, and He will throw unbelievers who have rejected Christ into hell, and, therefore, we should not fear anyone or anything more than we fear Him.

Before salvation we were at war with God. There was enmity between us. We hated Him and He was mad at us. When we surrendered, we switched sides. Now we are still in a war, but we are on the winning side. God can’t lose.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:34-39

In a war, even the winning combatants suffer, but it is a privilege to suffer for the winning side – for Christ. All the troops will be honored, but the wounded or the prisoners will be even more honored. There is no middle ground with God. We’re either on His side or rebelling against Him – fighting for or fighting against.

Three Things to Bring to Sunday School

March 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, Matthew | 15 Comments
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What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light: and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops.

Matthew 10:27

There are some challenges that come with being a Sunday School teacher, and, honestly, I’m not very good at it. However, I admit that I do like the perks that come with the responsibilities. For one, there is a built-in motivation to not only read a portion of Scripture each week, but to actually study it in depth and try to be prepared to teach and answer questions about it. As a teacher, I am sometimes thought of as a person that other people can talk with about the Bible – and I love talking about the Bible.

My favorite thing about being a Sunday School teacher, though, is probably the idea that I get to be “useful.” All Christians should want to be useful, and by “being useful” I mean being used by the Lord in His work. What Christian would not want to be used by God in helping other Christians to grow in the Lord?

One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that we don’t get to be useful on accident. We must be prepared to be useful.

Matthew 10:27 speaks of the Christian’s duty to tell people openly (in daylight) what the Lord has told him in private (in the night). It also tells us to tell people openly what the Lord tells us in our ear (in secret). Attending church is a super-important part of living the Christian life. But it is not enough. The Lord wants to speak to us corporately, but He also wants to speak to you one-on-one – and at places in between. Where will you get a Word from God when your child gets into trouble? Or when one of your co-workers or relatives comes to you with questions about his or her troubled marriage? When you attend a church service or a Sunday School class, and the Word of God is preached or taught, that is one of the ways that the Lord speaks to you. He speaks to you personally, but He also teaches you things that you will be able to use to help others.

As a Sunday School teacher, I like to stress three things that every student needs to bring to class:

1. Bring your Bible.

A sword can be somewhat of a handy weapon, I suppose, even if you are not especially skilled at using it, but you would never go to sword practice without your sword. Your teacher or your preacher (hopefully) can tell you what’s in the Bible, but if you’re going to tell others what’s in it, you must get used to having one in your hand.

2. Bring a friend.

Sunday School is supposed to be a time of fellowship, family, and unity. Inviting a friend to Sunday School is the very least you can do for the Lord. That person you’ve invited a thousand times but still hasn’t come may just say yes on the 1001st time – you never know!

3. Bring your offering.

I’m not talking about a money-offering – that’s usually done in the church service. I’m talking about some kind of non-monetary offering. It may just be an an offering of yourself – a willingness to serve. It might be a willingness to bring donuts or orange juice to class. It might be arriving early to set up the chairs. It might be something that God has shown you from His Word during the week that will be a blessing to someone else who is hurting. Whatever it is, if God has called you to be in a Sunday School class, He’s called you to do more than just attend. Sitting in class and soaking up knowledge is a good thing, but sitting and soaking can lead to souring. Don’t come to Sunday School empty-headed, empty-handed, or empty-hearted. Sunday School may be the place where God will show you exactly the area in which he wants you to commit more of your time to ministry.

Get a Life

October 19, 2011 at 9:24 am | Posted in Common Expressions, John, Resurrection | 7 Comments
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“Get a life.” Has anyone ever given you this strange piece of advice? Maybe you were speaking to someone about receiving Jesus as his Savior, or about his relationship with God, or about coming to church or getting involved in Sunday School. Obviously exasperated, he told you, “Get a life! Stop bugging me about all that religious stuff.”

Christians are more interested in the Life than “a life.”

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6 (emphasis added)

Those who have the Life want to tell others to get the Life. When someone tells you to “get a life,” it is a snide way of saying there are many choices about how to live, and you are choosing the wrong way. But the born-again believer knows there are only two choices when it comes to eternal life. You will trust Christ and receive it or you will reject Christ and be denied it.

There are a number of ideas in the Bible which seem paradoxical from an earthly, finite point of view. For example, those who have been redeemed from slavery to sin have true freedom even though they are slaves to Jesus Christ. At the same time, those who are enslaved to sin often believe themselves to be free. It works much the same way with the concept of spiritual life and death.

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

Romans 8:6 (emphasis added)

The “dead” do not know they’re dead.

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:1-2 (emphasis added)

I couldn’t find the expression “get a life” in the Bible, but the Bible does talk about “finding” life and “losing” life.

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Matthew 10:39 (emphasis added)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (emphasis added)

The Bible says very specifically that Jesus is the way to the kind of life that is stronger than death.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

I John 5:11-13 (emphasis added)

Jesus is not only the way to life. He is the Life.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25-26 (emphasis added)

The issue is not whether you will “get a life.” The real issue is whether you will believe and receive THE Life.

Faithful to Him and to Each Other

April 25, 2011 at 10:51 am | Posted in Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

Christians should be reliable and trustworthy in ministry. Even as others rely on us, we must remember that we, too, rely on Someone ourselves.

II Chronicles 16 tells about Asa, the king who ruled Judah for about 40 years. He was mostly a good king, a Godly king, but near the end of his reign he had trouble remembering on Whom to rely. He entered into a treaty with Benhadad, king of Syria, because he didn’t trust the Lord to give him the victory.

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

II Chronicles 16:7-9

No matter how much success we have with our ministry, and no matter how much we come to trust in the ways we minister and find motivation, we must remember to trust the Lord. We must remember to give Him the credit and the praise. We must remember to be faithful to follow His Word and His doctrine, and not to try to rely on our own personal beliefs.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

Ephesians 1:22

Christians are stewards and servants – first and foremost to Christ – but also, in many ways, to those to whom we minister. We need to have a desire to promote spiritual growth – growth in the form of maturity and in the form of closeness in fellowship.

When I Corinthians 4:2 says that faithfulness is required in stewards, it means that, obviously, unfaithfulness is not an option.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

Each person has different talents and abilities, but every Christian has the ability to be faithful.

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

II Corinthians 10:18

I am glad that we are not responsible for commending ourselves. I’m also glad that the Lord’s acceptance of us is not conditional on the approval of others. What we’re seeking is the commendation of the Lord Himself.

We all are members of a body, and every member is important. For the body to function at full capacity, all the members should be faithfully working.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. I know that sometimes Christians can tend to overemphasize organization. The Body of Christ is more of an organism than an organization, but an unorganized organism would not live very long! Therefore Christians need to work together and get along with each other. We are valuable to each other, and, in a sense, we are even valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

When Jesus received the authority granted to Him after the Resurrection, He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will, but I am “valuable” to Him in the sense that He loves me and that it pleases Him to use me to accomplish His will.

Discipleship Lesson 8: The World

April 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 47 Comments
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I. Why does the world oppose Christians?

A. The world opposes Christians because the world opposed Christ.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 15:18-19

B. The world opposes Christians because Christians are supposed to live for Christ.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

C. The world opposes Christians because there are two spiritual families that are at war with each other.

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Galatians 4:29

D. The world opposes Christians because the world’s system is opposed to Christ.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

II. How does the world oppose Christians?

A. By using those closest to Christians.

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

Matthew 10:35-36

B. By cooperating with Satan in using unredeemed sinners against Christians.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:2

III. How can a Christian get the victory over the world?

A. By showing love, kindness, meekness, and gentleness to others.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18

B. By pleasing the Lord.

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Proverbs 16:7

C. By faith in God.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:4-5

D. By returning good for evil.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

E. By choosing our friends wisely.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20

F. By renewing our minds every day in the Word of God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

IV. How should the world view Christians?

A. As sincere, by our actions even more than our words.

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

B. As set apart and different.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I Peter 2:9

B. As open and honest.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

II Corinthians 8:21

C. As people who love unbelievers, but know what we ourselves believe.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

I Timothy 3:7

V. How should Christians view the world?

A. The way a pilgrim views a strange land.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:13

B. From the viewpoint of a citizen of Heaven.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:20

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 2:6

C. As a mission field.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

VI. Questions

A. What three institutions has God ordained for man in this world?

The family, the government, the church.

B. Where is a Christian’s home?

In Heaven.

C. What is the principle of “separation” for a Christian?

To be in the world, but not of the world. Not to touch the unclean thing.

VII. Memory Verses

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:15-16

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

Calling Witnesses (Part 1)

March 2, 2011 at 10:16 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Salvation | 10 Comments
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One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Deuteronomy 19:15

Lord, the testimony of Your Word is so plain, so clear. I pray that Your Spirit would make it even clearer as we read it. I pray that no one would be confused. I pray, Lord, that You would present us with the clear choice You always have: to reject You or trust You. To doubt or believe. To obey or rebel. I pray that even the rejecters, and the doubters, and the rebels would have a clear understanding, but, by Your power and Your divine will, I pray that all would repent, believe, trust, and obey. In Jesus Christ’s name, Amen.

And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.

Mark 14:55-65

Witnesses can be unpredictable. Generally, the testimony of many is more convincing than the testimony of one. I have seen instances where a parade of witnesses – all expected to testify for someone – actually ended up testifying against that person. You might be reading this as someone who has heard the testimony of at least one witness who has testified before you of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone, at some time, has told you that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God; that He lived a perfect, sinless life; that He died on the Cross for the sins of the world; that He was buried; that on the third day He rose again from the dead; that He was seen by hundreds of witnesses – physically, bodily resurrected; that He ascended to Heaven; that He lives today, ready, willing, and able to save the souls of all who trust Him; that – even today – even RIGHT NOW – if you will repent of your sins, believe these things about Him are true, call upon Him to save you, and receive Him as your Savior – He will place His seal on your eternal soul, He will be your Lord and Savior, and you will one day go to Heaven, to be with Him forever.

Maybe you have heard these things from at least one witness, but yet you remain unconvinced. When I ask you if you know for sure that you will go to Heaven one day, your answer is:

“I hope so.”
“It depends.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Nobody can know that.”
“If others in my church are going, I’m with them, because I’ve done what they’ve done. If they’re going, I’m going too.”
“I’m trusting the fact that I’ve been baptized.”
“I’m trusting my own good deeds and good works.”
“I’m trusting Brother So-and-So or Sister So-and-So or Pastor or Minister or Father So-and-So – if they’re going, I’m going too – I’m at least as good as them.”

In case someone reading this remains unconvinced of the Truth, I intend to call a number of witnesses. I could call on many to testify for the Lord – to proclaim the wonderful change He has made in their lives. But instead I want to address those who may have heard those types of testimonies before yet remain unconvinced.

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 14:2-3

If you are not seeking God, what are you seeking instead?

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Philippians 2:21, emphasis added

You want your own way instead of Jesus Christ’s way. Therefore, instead of calling witnesses for the Lord, I will call witnesses against you. These are not “hostile witnesses.” They are not testifying against you because they are mad at you. They love you. In fact, they are in a great state of anxiety over the condition of your soul. They long to see you saved. But make no mistake – while you refuse to surrender to Christ their testimony is “against” you.

FIRST WITNESSES: TRUE CHRISTIANS

When I ask them about what it is like to be a true Christian, you will observe something remarkable: They know about their future rather than wonder about their future. If you are a child of disobedience, you may have slandered these witnesses. You may have called them a “bunch of hypocrites.” You may have heard them say they were Christians, but then you saw them commit a sin, and it made you doubt their authenticity. Or you may have ridiculed these witnesses: “Here comes Billy Bible. Here comes Holy Roller Susie.” You may may have even persecuted these witnesses: “Get out of here with that religious talk.” Maybe these witnesses are the types of people who offend you because they appeared to be “too Holy” – too much interested in talking about God. But let’s get the roles straight: You are the rebel; they are obedient. Rebellion pays tribute to obedience in the form of insults, mocking, and threats.

In their testimony you will notice both a surety and a fear. Not a fear of you, but a fear for you. They have a fear of the horror of your sin and the price you must pay for your sin if you will not trust Christ. For if you die without Christ, your future is almost indescribable – and indescribably horrifying.

We don’t say much about hell these days, but the Bible is clear.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

II Corinthians 5:11

These witnesses have a fear not only for your future, but also a fear of their God. That fear is a blessed fear. It is the fear of a son’s fervent desire to please his father. These witnesses – because they do fear God – do not fear anything else. On the witness stand they testify lovingly toward you, and they tell you that if you do not fear God, you must fear everything else.

Would you cross-examine these witnesses? Would you ask them, “Why should I trade fear of death, fear of eternity, fear of hell, for fear of your God?”

They will easily answer with irrefutable truth. They will say, by God’s power, my fear of Him has given me a peace that defies your ability to understand.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7, emphasis added

They will say, “I know I have a Master, and that makes me a servant, but who would not want to serve a Master Who has died for His servants, and who wants better things for them than they want for themselves?”

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28; 30

These witnesses have established a strong case against the unconverted, but I have many more witnesses to follow, which I will continue calling next time.

The Dangers of Fatherhood

August 24, 2010 at 11:33 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, Genesis | 6 Comments
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In Genesis Chapter 33 Esau and 400 men are coming to meet Jacob. Jacob was afraid. He feared men more than God.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?

Isaiah 2:22

Jacob managed to get past Esau without the violent incident he feared, but he treated Esau as an obstacle, not an opportunity.

And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money.

Genesis 33:17-20

Delayed obedience is not really obedience at all. In this case, delayed obedience proved very costly for Jacob. Here are three good principles to remember about obeying the Lord: Obey immediately. Obey sweetly. Obey completely.

Jacob should have been going to Bethel instead of hanging around Shechem.

And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.

Genesis 33:20

Elelohe-Israel means “God, the God of Israel.” This sounds like a name that honors God, but God wanted Jacob and his sons at Bethel. Bethel means “House of God.” We need to remember that our homes should be God’s homes, but our homes are no substitute for the “house of God,” a local church fellowship.

Genesis Chapter 33 ends with the name of the Lord, But His name is not mentioned once in Chapter 34. Jacob’s new name, Israel, is not even used. It is the chapter which contains the account of Dinah, and it is difficult to tell if she was raped or seduced. Perhaps it was the first “date rape.” It is a strong reminder to fathers not to let our daughters be put in that situation. One of our society’s greatest disservices is convincing women they don’t need men for protection, and compounding it by failing to train them to protect themselves – especially by staying out of dangerous situations where they will be alone and vulnerable.

These Shechemites were wicked. Sex of any type held no shame to them. Jacob’s sons were out with the flocks.

And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.

Genesis 34:1

Dinah went to hang out with the women of the land. Here is the result:

And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.

Genesis 34:2, emphasis added

And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister:

Genesis 34:13, emphasis added

The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

Genesis 34:27, emphasis added

The pagan practice of the Canaanites/Hivites was to treat immoral intimacy as a very common thing. Dinah was “defiled” – violated – and made to feel dirty.

Jacob’s sons plotted vengeance. Dinah’s name meant judgment, and, boy, did these men of Shechem meet judgment! Jacob’s sons were justified in being angry, but Simeon and Levi were not justified in using deception. They used the sign of the Covenant as a means of deception.

Why did the men of Shechem agree to do what they did? One reason is that they were perverts who were probably into mutilation, anyway.

And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

Genesis 34:30

What I practice in moderation, my children may very well debase themselves in to the point of excess. The actions of his sons brought shame to Jacob, even though they are viewed as heroic in Jewish tradition. The bride price that David paid for Michal was 200 Philistine foreskins which he took from the dead and gave to Saul. (I Samuel 18:27)

The last verse of Genesis 34 is a question:

And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

Genesis 34:31

This question goes unanswered – maybe because Jacob would have been two-faced to condemn them for practicing deceitfulness, considering his own history.

Jacob was probably between 97 and 100 years old when he finally obeyed God by heading on to Bethel. (He had left home at 77.) The death of Isaac is recorded in Genesis Chapter 35, and he was probably 157 when he died. Chapters 37-40 record events that occurred while Isaac was still alive. Isaac was 180 when he died.

Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

Genesis 35:2-4

As spiritual leaders, fathers must instruct their households.

And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.

Genesis 35:7

We are to make our house the house of God, and worship God as the God of our house. We should do what Jacob did: look for God to meet with you.

And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.

Genesis 35:14

Pour your life out before Him.

Tips for Teachers

August 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, II Corinthians | 6 Comments
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Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

II Corinthians 3:1-3

Christian teachers are to strive for excellence – to be the very best teachers we can be – not necessarily the best there are – but the best we can be. We may not have the most expensive materials or the fanciest facilities. Our students may not have read the lesson. In fact, they are more likely to read the teacher than the lesson. So we must make sure we are good “letters.”

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

“Fervent” is more than “not slothful.” We are to prepare our lessons while being mindful that we are serving the Lord. Don’t prepare just for the students – do it for the Lord.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Colossians 3:23

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs 8:17

Planning ahead of time makes for smooth-sailing on the day of the lesson. Take some time thinking about and planning your routine.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

As a teacher, be reliable. This is more than not missing the teaching time. It includes being trustworthy as a person. We want our students to grow in number, in knowledge, in maturity, and in fellowship and closeness.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. A living body is an organism, but a disorganized organism will die. Therefore, teachers need to work together with each other and with those in other ministry positions. We need to work together and meet together. Not only are we valuable to each other, but we are valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

Right after Jesus proclaimed His authority He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. But their enthusiasm must have been somewhat dampened when He told them what this authority meant, and how they were to use it. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will. Teachers have a target on them. We may only influence our students for an hour a week. They may be “taught” by someone else all the rest of the week. That’s going to lead to conflict once in a while between us and their “other teachers.” Just like some parts of the body protect other parts, we need to be loyal to each other. One of the reasons we value each other so much is because we know the Lord values us, and we are under His protection.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

It’s natural to start off life as a child, and it’s natural for a new believer to start off as a child. But teachers, like good parents, not only love their students, but want to see them grow up, too. Proper growth comes about from feeding (the Word), exercise (getting them involved in service), and instruction (the teaching itself.) To encourage others to grow, we need to make sure we’re growing ourselves.

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Romans 2:21

If students outgrow teachers, teachers are going to have trouble teaching them.

Thrown to the Wolves

June 10, 2010 at 8:55 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 4 Comments
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To “throw to the wolves” once meant to divert attention from, as in the story of the young bride and groom who were flung from a fleeing sled to keep the pursuing wolves busy while the other occupants of the sled escaped. Another origin of this phrase is found in one of Aesop’s fables, in which a nurse threatens to hand her charges over to a pack of wolves if they continue to misbehave. Today, this phrase is used to refer to being abandoned or dismissed to a bad fate.

Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, and to destroy souls, to get dishonest gain.

Ezekiel 22:27, emphasis added

Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.

Habakkuk 1:8, emphasis added

Her princes within her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they gnaw not the bones till the morrow.

Zephaniah 3:3, emphasis added

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

Mathew 7:15, emphasis added

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

Mathew 10:16, emphasis added

Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Luke 10:3, emphasis added

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.

Acts 20:29, emphasis added

The character of Biblical wolves can best be described as “ravening,” a word which comes from the root “rave,” and which used to mean: to show signs of madness or delirium; wild conduct; aggressively boisterous; furiously rabid.

Thus, the strong Bible command to beware of false prophets. Inwardly they are ravening wolves. This refers mainly not to future-telling prophets, but to religious preachers and teachers who have ulterior motives. One reason to beware is that, as brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a duty to defend our fellow Christians. The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, will hold off a whole pack of wolves, and can even wound them and drive them away.

The Degrees of Estimation

January 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Posted in I Peter, Uncategorized | 15 Comments
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Christians have clear instructions from the Word of God on how to relate to the authorities the Lord has ordained to govern us. These instructions can be found in numerous passages of Scripture, but I Peter 2:17 is a good summation: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”

Notice that Christians are generally to esteem others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3), but to different degrees, and with different types of deference. All men who are worthy of honor should be honored (Psalm 8:4-5). Other Christians (“the brotherhood”) are to be loved (Ephesians 1:15). Christian love is an active love, a giving love, and a love which carries a sacrifice of self, and a true desire that the recipient of love will grow in Christ-likeness (Hebrews 6:10). The king, or, in modern terms, the high-ranking government official, is to be honored in his office, regardless of personal politics (I Samuel 24:6-8).

The highest esteem – fear – is reserved for God (Matthew 10:28). This encompasses all the other forms of esteem – honor, love, reverence, etc. – and speaks of a very real desire to please a loving Father who wants to give good gifts to His children, but is not overly hesitant to chasten in love. Biblical fear of God is an often misunderstood and unpopular concept in today’s culture, but it is a great comfort for the true believer and lover of the Living Word. After all, the fear of God is both the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10), and the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).

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