Devotional · Old Testament · Psalms

Let Me Tell You a Story – Gardenias

let-me-tell-you-a-story.jpg

I love the smell of gardenias, and living in the south as we do, we have the climate to grow those bad boys. A few years ago, my wife recognized my hankering for the smell of gardenias and bought four or five plants for our back yard.

A few years passed and this year, the “hills were alive” with the essence of gardenia. It was glorious. For approx. 2 weeks, the plants exploded in blooms, and the yard was awash in the most glorious aroma. I ended up sitting on the grass for periods of time, just downwind from one particular plant that produced more flowers than leaves. It was truly unbelievable. One of those times when the goodness of God was experienced in a very unexpected way.

Since then, my wife and I have been busy with a number of tasks that have drawn us away from the back yard, but yesterday I had a reprieve and entered our gardens out back. Our nectarine trees are full of fruit, so much so that we have had to brace the branches from snapping off – our peach tree lost the central trunk three years ago from too much fruit on it! The plums are actually producing fruit this year – a first!

God is good, and the fruits of our labor in the back yard is a reflection on the work of God in nature.

But as I mentioned earlier, the gardenia bushes were my first target, hoping to smell that smell again, but alas, the bush had browned out. The bush was still plenty healthy, with vibrant green leaves, and plenty of life, but the flower had browned. out.

Sad day to say the least, but I decided I wanted to smell that smell again, so I got my pruning shears and started “hacking” (pruning for those of you who are knowledgeable of horticulture!).

As I mentioned above, this particular bush had been thick with flowers, so the hacking was fairly extensive. As I hacked and hacked, I thought of the next crop of gardenias and the joy it would bring, and also of the last crop of gardenias and the surprise and delight we experienced with the flowers.

And then I thought of Psalm 1, where the saint is described as having seasons of fruit bearing, but that the leaves were evergreen (See Psalms for Psome – Psalm 1). This gardenia produced such an abundant harvest of flowers, and in such an unexpected time, but the season of the flower had passed. After all, it was but for a season. The leaves continued, showing life, but the fruit / flower was but for a time.

And as soon as that thought settled in my mind, John 15 also nudged it’s way into my thinking, especially when I considered that my hacking was fairly aggressive.

If my wife had been there, she may have asked my to take a little less “off the sides”, if you know what I mean. No, this bush, to produce again, needed to be aggressively hacked, reduced in size so the root stock could support vigorous growth in the future.

As God may be “hacking” at your life consider two take aways from my day in the back yard.

First – Occasional Fruit Bearing

Psalm 1 speaks of seasonal fruit bearing, and yet consistent green growth. A consistent growth based on a plants roots near to the source of water, and yet fruit bearing in its season.

Secondly – Maximum Fruit Bearing

John 15 speaks of the Master gardener “hacking” at our lives for the purpose of greater fruit bearing, whatever that fruit bearing may consist of. He may be aggressive in His “hacking” at times, but His purpose is to get rid of the brown flower – it has served its purpose – and for the bush to produce fresh flowers that will please the gardener and visitors of the garden. As the hacking hits home, remember that the hacking doesn’t hurt the root, simply the branches. Not the invisible, only the visible. Not the life, but the evidence of life at one time.

Remember the importance of the root. And hack away!


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Bible · Faith · Jesus the Messiah · Old Testament in New Testament · Prophecy

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies – Prophecy #157

Bible Scroll

The prophecy of the Lord Jesus for our consideration and edification, written centuries prior to His earthly existence is

Prophecy #157
Description
The Seed of David (the fruit of His Body)
Old Testament Prophecy
 Psalm 132:11
The Lord swore to David a sure oath
    from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body[a]
    I will set on your throne.
New Testament Fullfillment
Luke 1:32
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
 Act 2:30
Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,

If you are just joining this blog, or are a first time visitor, welcome to Considering the Bible. We would like to offer a document that provides over 350 prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament for your consideration.

I make no claim to be able to comment on every one of these amazing prophecies in the future, but will occasionally bring one to the readers attention for their edification.

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Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – 1 Timothy 5:11-15

The security of the believer pops up often in the Word, under various topics.  The general topic in this post is the widows list.

Widows in the early church commanded a large part of the concerns of the apostles writing when discussing church issues with Timothy.  Not only did Paul direct Timothy about the support of deserving widows, but the danger the young widows fell into if included.

Paul actually commanded Timothy to refuse to “honor” (or assist) the young widows!

If I understand the situation, the churches would aid widows by supplying the widows needs. The list would contain the names of the widows being assisted and Paul is trying to define the character of a widow that is deserving of inclusion on the list.

Conditional Security

Lets read the passage before we dig in.

1 Timothy 5:11-15

But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith. Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not. So I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander. For some have already strayed after Satan. – 1 Timothy 5:11-15

Security Problems

Some may imagine that the description above is simply Paul’s way of keeping young widows free from being on the “widow list”, locking into some benefit from the church, but not able to maintain their faithfulness to the Lord.  Since the young widows have not been tested (like deacons – see 1 Timothy 3:10 – “proved”) they may slip from a faithful lifestyle to that of being idle, tattlers and gossips.

What shocks me when I read a passage like this is that of these Christian widows, some have turned aside after Satan.  That can’t be good no matter how you slice it.  Unless, of course, the doctrine of eternal security is true, where a Christians security is based on a single act of saving faith, and lifestyle, character and conduct have no bearing on a relationship with Jesus.

As a matter of fact, when the Lord called His disciples, He did so using the same terminology Paul uses of the widows turning aside after Satan.  A very interesting passage reflecting this is found in Matthew 16.

But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:23-24

When Jesus states If any man will come after me…. it is the same term Paul uses of the widows actions toward Satan. Those who follow Jesus are commonly considered Christians.  If a Christian follows Satan, is that person still a Christian?

If I am thinking properly, and a Christian maintains their identity as a Christian while following Satan, it empties the power of the original call on the disciples.  When Jesus said to follow, He meant to follow HIM, not simply follow anything or anyone!

But what I find even more interesting is the previous verse, where Jesus tells Peter to get behind Him.  When Paul tells of the widows turning aside after (or behind) Satan, some word studies explain that the term is identical to Jesus telling Satan to get behind Him.

So let’s get this picture clear – widows who once followed Jesus are beginning to follow after (behind) Satan.

Jesus simply commands Satan behind Him.

You see – Jesus is in charge of all – He has all authority – He is the only One risen from the dead, never to die again.

Following anyone else is foolhardy, and in the end,  life threatening. He is the only One placed on King Davids throne, reigning  over the Church and all creation. Security is found in the person of Jesus, and following Him is the key.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 38 – A

Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart. This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

As mentioned in our introduction Psalm 38 is a psalm of David in sin. The next two posts will consider…

  • David’s experience under God’s hand
    • Verses 1-10 with verses 17 & 18 giving a summary.
  • David’s experience with men
    • Verses 11-16 with verses 19-20 supplying a summary.

In verses 1-10, David gives us his experience in relation the the Lord, his God. One subject that David does not resort to is excuse making. He does not deny his sin. Denial of sin is not the intent of David’s cries. He is addressing the what, not the why of his experience in this psalm

Lets look to the Psalm

1 A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering. O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath!
2 For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me.

Anger and wrath. David realizes the effect of his sin on his relationship with the God of Israel. He is not denying the anger, or the justification for the wrath, the slow burning wrath that is welling up in God towards His servant. He is asking God, his God, to relent, to find mercy. Discipline is actively working in David, Gods arrows reside in David, a wounded warrior. David expresses his condition as an enemy of God, one who is at war with Him, and who is currently wounded with a God’s weapon of choice.

Both the “arrow of God” and the “hand of God” is pressing into David, a relentless piercing of a dart in David and a terrible pressure is on David, constantly present with the King of Israel. The King of Israel is not privileged in his stand with God. It doesn’t work like that in the Christian life. Sin will be exposed! As a matter of fact, he is more responsible since His ministry and work for God is so public!

Sin will be exposed. Sin may be forgiven. Guilt may be absolved, but the repercussions of acts of sin are deep, painful and may be long lasting. David, in the following portion, describes the deep, painful experience of God’s displeasure in his life. His spiritual life is in shambles and his entire existence has lost purpose. Everything he has desired is now up in smoke, and his greatest confidant has become a most powerful enemy.

His existence is tragic. Take a moment and consider.

3 There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
5 My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness,
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning.
7 For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

David, the sweet poet of Israel, is using his skill in describing his pain. Festering wounds (like on a battle field) and no soundness of flesh. Is he describing actual physical wounds on a battle field or describing the battle weary condition of his spirit? You be the judge, but I can’t help but see this as David’s inner life, his connection with God being in tatters!

It is interesting that at this time in his life, David was, to all appearances, peaking! He was the King of Israel, and had consistently led his armies to victory. Saul had been defeated, and the nation was unified. The potential for greater dominion was almost indescribable. He had promises directly given by God for his dynasty.

And yet, he was feeble and crushed, groaning out pleas of mourning and sorrow. How different our inner life may be from our appearances.

Take note of this truth, my friends. As we rub shoulders with our brothers and sisters on a Sunday morning, we get the impression all is well in everyone’s life. Not until we gain trust through relationship do we begin to know what is going on inside a brother! And this relationship is only begun in a church meeting. For trust to grow, we have to walk with a brother, share with a sister, do coffee, have lunch, attend to hospital visits, discuss loss jobs, assist in sickness, and experience disappointments.

If you are like myself, we naturally turn away from the pain of others, from those who are “under judgement”, whatever it may be. This is the recipe for a surficial Christianity, where we convince ourselves everything is good, while we sink into a despair and loneliness, a self deception that will cause us to experience our own inner battle.

David has opened up and given us a chance to view his thoughts, fears and struggles. We are reading the writings of a man looking to God, looking for relief, a ceasefire!

9 O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes–it also has gone from me.

How conflicting it must have been that the One David was in battle with, is the very One to which he longed for, that he sighed for. God is the All in All, and His position in our lives is multifaceted. He is not a simple deity that we have constructed in our vain thoughts, but the God of the heavens.

David is on his last legs. He has described his festering wounds, heavy burdens, his mourning and groaning, his failing strength and the light of his eyes – the light is gone!

17 For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me.
18 I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin.

David was ready to fall. Constant pain and sorrow were all he could see in his future. There was no hope in his own efforts, and his longing for God was ever present. What conflict! What a dead end for him.

Until confession was offered, there was no resolution. Confession of sin before his holy and loving Father is the only resolution David had.

It is the same for us my friend. It is the only way we may find our way back from a time of rebellion, back to experiencing His loving kindness.

At the risk of repetition, lets consider the last two verses as a conclusion, reminding us of the Kings plea before the Almighty.

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

The King was heard. Amen.


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Bible · Faith · Jesus the Messiah · Old Testament in New Testament · Prophecy

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies – Prophecy #156

Bible Scroll

The prophecy of the Lord Jesus for our consideration and edification, written centuries prior to His earthly existence is

Prophecy #156
Description
To come while Temple standing
Old Testament Prophecy
 Psalm 118:26b
    We bless you from the house of the Lord
New Testament Fullfillment
Matt 21:12-15
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.

He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them.

But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,

If you are just joining this blog, or are a first time visitor, welcome to Considering the Bible. We would like to offer a document that provides over 350 prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament for your consideration.

I make no claim to be able to comment on every one of these amazing prophecies in the future, but will occasionally bring one to the readers attention for their edification.

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Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – Romans 11:29

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. – Rom 11:29 ESV

In the midst of a discussion on the security of the believer, it is important to find passages that deal directly with the topic.

Many believers who follow after the eternally secure (OSAS) teaching find support in the passage we are looking at.  God’s faithfulness is emphasized in the passage above, but the application of the truth to the security of the believer seems to be misapplied.

You see, a characteristic of God (His faithfulness) is revealed in this passage, but the object of God’s faithfulness is the nation of Israel, not the salvation of the individual believer.

Regarding the security of the believer, the passage is not particularly comforting.

Conditional Security

This verse is found near the end of Paul’s eschatological (end time) discussion (Romans 9 – 11) on the Jewish nation.  Paul is addressing the complex topic of God’s faithfulness to the nation of Israel, and how the church is relates to the promises given to the nation of Israel.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Lord made promises to the nation of Israel.  To be considered faithful, God must keep the promises to those who are of the nation of Israel.

But that is the point.

Security Question

How can the promises to the nation of Israel be taken away without reflecting adversely on the faithfulness of God?  Is God an “Indian giver”?  (I have actually heard this type of accusation in church about the character of God.)

Earlier in the passage, Paul defined Israel as the people of God, those faithful to His covenant, such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Such as Peter, James and John.  Such as Simeon and Anna in the Temple, Zechariah, Malachi, Hosea and the host of prophets and believers that were in the physical nation of Israel.

In other words the remnant.

The Israel of God.

Today we call this group of believers the Church.

By the time Paul gets to the last few verses of Romans 11, he is making his closing argument.  God’s gifts and calling are without repentance.  All those who follow the Messiah receive the gift and calling of being of the nation of Israel, with all of its promises and benefits.

But please notice that it is God’s gift and calling that are without repentance.  Since it is a covenant between two parties (God and the believer), we cannot assume the second party in the agreement has no bearing on the successful completion of the covenant.  Paul is defending God’s faithfulness to the covenant, not the believers responsibility in the covenant.

Earlier I mentioned that the passage gives little comfort to the eternally secure position. It is important to remember that this topic had to be addressed due to the loss of covenant that the physical nation of Israel was experiencing in the early days of the church.  As a matter of fact, the reason the physical nation of Israel lost the privileged status of the Sinaitic Covenant was their constant rebellion against the covenant the nation entered into with God.

The faithlessness of the physical nation of Israel resulted in the loss of covenant privilege.  Paul is reminding us that we cannot shift the blame to God, or assume God’s faithfulness will ignore rebellion.

The Babylonian and Roman seiges on Jerusalem seems to lay that false security to rest.

Consider.


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Bible · Faith · Jesus the Messiah · Old Testament in New Testament · Prophecy

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies – Prophecy #155

Bible Scroll

The prophecy of the Lord Jesus for our consideration and edification, written centuries prior to His earthly existence is

Prophecy #155
Description
The Blessed One presented to Israel
Old Testament Prophecy
 Psalm 118:26a
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
New Testament Fullfillment
Matt 21:9
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

If you are just joining this blog, or are a first time visitor, welcome to Considering the Bible. We would like to offer a document that provides over 350 prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament for your consideration.

I make no claim to be able to comment on every one of these amazing prophecies in the future, but will occasionally bring one to the readers attention for their edification.

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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 38 – Intro

Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart. This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 38 is a psalm of David in sin. He exists in the midst of knowing his own sin before the Lord, of the adultery, the deception, the murder. He has fallen, and is wallowing in a cesspool of condemnation, both in his thoughts, emotions and feelings.

This psalm is a second in a series of psalms that catalogues David’s writings while he is in the throes of his estrangement from God. Psalm 6, our current Psalm, Psalm 51 and Psalm 32 gives us an overview of King David’s struggles in processing through this self inflicted personal and public tragedy. This psalm provides David’s inner doubts and despair, much like Psalm 6, but prior to his full confession and repentance in front of the Living God in Psalm 51.

This psalm may be considered seeing two “persons” impacting David and his sin.

First off, David describes his Experience with God. We will look at verses 1-10 and summary verses 17 & 18 in our next post. A concluding post will look at verses 11-16, recording David’s Experience with men. Verses 19-20 will supply a summary regarding men and their “mercy” (ahem) towards David.

The last two verses caught my attention this morning, and I would like to settle on them for a wee bit. It is a common refrain through the psalms that although many psalms start out in sorrow and in pain, each psalm ultimately ends with hope. This particular psalm describes a saints heart when in despair, a hope the saint may have while under trial, while being abandoned, while alone and under conviction of sin.

Let’s take a moment to read the last two verses and consider.

Psalm 38

21 Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me!
22 Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!

Take note my friends, that David, in the midst of all the pain and loss he describes in the verse 1-20, knows Who to call out to. He knows the One that can be approached, that will act. He calls out to God, claiming three names in his relationship with him.

He calls out to God as

  • LORD (Yᵊhōvâ)
    • The God of the covenant, of the promise. David call’s out to the One who initiated relationship, who pursued and promised.
  • my God (‘ĕlōhîm)
    • The name Moses used to describe the all-powerful creator of all things. The One to whom nothing stands in the way, the One to whom David claims as his own, his God, his powerful God
  • O Lord (‘ăḏōnāy)
    • A reference to David’s personal Master, his Lord, not just the Lord, but his own Lord. Even in the midst of his pain and distress, he never disowned his Lord. The very pain he went through may have been because he hung on, he persevered with a faith that accepted his sin, that owned his culpability and brought it before his Master.

But let us not stop with the three primary names David refers to in his closing plea. He also tags on “my salvation” and I realize I may be taking license in my next statement, but consider.

Many times in the Old Testament, God is referred to as the salvation of the nation of Israel and of individuals. Two verses as examples.

But Israel is saved by the LORD with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity. – Isa 45:17

It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. – Lam 3:26

Let’s remember whom God has designated as the One we are to look to for salvation, for His very name is Jesus.

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” – Mat 1:21 ESV

When David tagged on “my salvation”, was he looking to the One who would walk amongst us, live a spotless life, speak truth to hearts and experience physical, emotional, spiritual sufferings we know nothing about. I like to think he was.

My salvation is found in no one else, not even my own self effort or supposed obedience to any moral code I may have erected in my mind.

David was in the midst of his deepest failure, and in the middle of this deep valley of despair, he looked to Him who was the salvation of Israel, and did not promise to “do better”, or “act nicer”. No – his trust was in someone outside of himself, in the ever living One.

Jesus is worthy of our trust. He is the only One we can approach in the midst of our sin, whom we can have confidence in that He will not utterly reject us.

He is good. Look to Him in your despair, in your pain, in your disappointment. He has suffered beyond our comprehension, understands deep despair, and disappointment and is waiting there for us.

Truly, He is good!

I do hope you will join me as we begin at the beginning of this psalm in our next posting. (I think I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself!) Hope to hear from you – Thanks for visiting!



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Bible · Faith · Jesus the Messiah · Old Testament in New Testament · Prophecy

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies – Prophecy #154

Bible Scroll

The prophecy of the Lord Jesus for our consideration and edification, written centuries prior to His earthly existence is

Prophecy #154
Description
The rejected stone is Head of the corner
Old Testament Prophecy
 Psalm 118:22-23
The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
This is the Lord’s doing;
    it is marvelous in our eyes.
New Testament Fullfillment
Matt 21:42-43
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

If you are just joining this blog, or are a first time visitor, welcome to Considering the Bible. We would like to offer a document that provides over 350 prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament for your consideration.

I make no claim to be able to comment on every one of these amazing prophecies in the future, but will occasionally bring one to the readers attention for their edification.

Hopefully you will follow “Considering the Bible” and begin an interaction with us


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Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – Philippians 1:3-11

Philippians 1:3-11

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,

4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,

5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.

8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment,

10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Recently I attended a Sunday School class that was decidedly of the “once saved always saved” persuasion and we were spending some time in the passage below.  Once we arrived at verse 6, the teacher mentioned how important this passage was and how he found comfort in it.  He was exulting in the good work of God, that is, to supply Christian security to believers based solely on initial faith at the moment of conversion.

But I had questions.

I don’t think Paul is addressing the eternal security of the believers in Philippi.

He is writing to one of his very favorite church groups.  The context is their fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.  Lets break this down a bit.

When Paul mentions fellowship, what is he talking about?  The word Paul uses for fellowship can also be translated as partnership, or participation.  The Philippians were partnering with Paul in the gospel.  Is it simply the fact that they were Christians like he was and therefore they had fellowship?

Possibly.

But why is he defining the time limits so precisely, why does he have the ending clause of “from the first day until now”.  I think when Paul uses “now”, he is referring to a very specific partnering, but is being incredibly delicate.

Out of all the churches planted by Paul, the Philippians had one (of many) qualities that made it stand out from the rest.

They loved Paul.

And he was reminded of this love on numerous occasions.

Consider what we know about the first day of Paul’s experience with this group of people.

Acts 16:15

And when she (Lydia) was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

Acts 16:33

And he (the Philippian jailer) took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately. 34 And he brought them up into his house, and set meat before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God.

Also, the last time Paul visited with the fledgling church, after his release from the jail.

Acts 16:35-40

35 But when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go.
36 And the jailor reported the words to Paul, saying, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore come forth, and go in peace.
37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men that are Romans, and have cast us into prison; and do they now cast us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and bring us out.
38 And the serjeants reported these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans;
39 and they came and besought them; and when they had brought them out, they asked them to go away from the city.
40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

These three passages teach us a number of important characteristics of the Philippian church.

They were an inviting church.  Both of the main characters of the church (Lydia and the jailer) invited this trouble maker into their homes.  I did a quick review of the book of Acts and could not find another church that was as inviting to the apostle.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t find any church that expressly accepted Paul into their lives as the Philippians did.

Verse 35 to 40 need a bit more background to understand what possibly happened during Paul’s final moments with the church.  You see, the Philippian church was a Roman colony and as such had the Caesar’s eye on it more so than some of the other churches in the area.  A government town.  Paul, I think, used the injustice of the beating and imprisonment to broker a deal with the leaders of the City.  I think it may have went something like this.

Paul “You realize I am a Roman citizen and the beating and imprisonment you subjected us to was highly illegal”

City Official “Please leave our City without tattling on us”

Paul “The law of the Romans strictly forbids the beating and imprisonment of a Roman citizen without trial”

City Official “Please leave our City without tattling on us”

Paul  ” I have friends in the City that I care deeply for”

City Official “?”

Paul “Do we understand each other?”

In the final moments of Paul’s time with the Philippians, he may (or may not have) mentioned that he had discussed some issues with the city officials,  He definitely encouraged the new believers, sharing the love of Jesus with them and saying their goodbyes.

But wait – remember in chapter 1, verse three, where the apostle state they have shared in the gospel from the first day?  It is obvious that the Philippians shared with Paul and his companions their homes, their lives and their goods.

Wow – Carl – there is nothing in the previous passage that says the Philippians gave of their goods to Paul.

Granted, that may be a stretch, but they loved him and I think they gave him some moolah, you know – cash.  Also, if you look at the end of the book, specifically verse 15 of the fourth chapter, you will find that this church was the only church that supported Paul when he left them behind.

Consider

Philippians 4:10-19

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
14 Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.
15 Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only.
16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.
18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

So lets get this straight.  The Philippians supported Paul at the following times
* When he left the Philippian church the first time
* Twice in Thessalonica
* At least one in Corinth
* At least once in prison (the reason for the writing of this epistle)

Wow – Carl – there is nothing in the previous passage that says the Philippians gave of their goods to Paul in Corinth.  (My my my –  nothing gets by you now, does it?)

Consider

2 Corinthians 11:9

and when I was present with you and was in want, I was not a burden on any man; for the brethren, when they came from Macedonia, supplied the measure of my want; and in everything I kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.

Paul could take gifts from the Philippians since they loved him.  (They were not questioning Paul’s motives or reluctant in supplying his needs as some others were.

So, lets get back to the original issue.

What is the good work that Paul is referring to in the beginning of the book?

I humbly submit that he is referring to the Philippian church actively partnering in the gospel through supplying the apostles physical needs.

The “once saved always saved” teaching simply isn’t there!

Guess we will have to look somewhere else for that teaching!

Maybe a commentary?


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Devotional

Let Me Tell You a Story – Head Coverings

let-me-tell-you-a-story.jpg

In my pilgrimage through this Christian life, I have attended a number of denominational churches, some of which adherer to the practice of a head covering of the ladies heads.

The passage referred to by my brethren friends is found in 1 Corinthians 11:13-15.

Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. – 1Co 11:13-15 ESV

Many times I discussed this topic with a good friend who believed it’s modern application, and though I never fully understood both sides of the argument, I did seek to come to a settled conscience.

Of course, their were distractions, such as the couple who strictly followed this practice, but when out of the church meeting, it was obvious who was the head! Or when a fellow believer could not worship since I was not leading my wife into submission by forcing her to wear a covering.

But as I said, these were distractions, and not a basis upon which to understand the text. Eventually we moved from the town we were in, settled in Texas, and the issue faded away since we no longer attended this type of church.

Fast forward over 20 years, and as I was driving home from work on a Tuesday afternoon, lo and behold, I tripped over a podcast call “The Naked Bible” by Dr. Micheal Heiser. The podcast intrigued me since I understand our modern thinking is not what the prophets and apostles were speaking to, and if I can understand the audience the Bible writers were speaking to, I might find better understanding for myself. This is Dr. Heisers intent. And this is where the podcast on 1 Corinthians 11:13-15 gave me some clarity.

Dr. Heiser’s message speaks of the 1st century’s Greco-Roman’s understanding of a persons hair in relation to reproductive activity. It is an amazing study of which I am thankful to have found. Note that the material in this podcast is sexual in content and it may be wise to restrict it to times when no children are present.

Naked Bible 86: The Head Covering of 1 Corinthians 11:13-15

The relevant information begins about 10 mins in, and although the discussion is close to an hour long, I found it to be very illuminating.

Let me know if you listen and of your thoughts. Perfect for a listen as you travel on your way to or from work.

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Bible · Faith · Jesus the Messiah · Old Testament in New Testament · Prophecy

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies – Prophecy #153

Bible Scroll

The prophecy of the Lord Jesus for our consideration and edification, written centuries prior to His earthly existence is

Prophecy #153
Description
Messiah’s Resurrection assured
Old Testament Prophecy
 Psalm 118:17-18
I shall not die, but I shall live,
    and recount the deeds of the Lord.
The Lord has disciplined me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
New Testament Fullfillment
Luke 24:5-7
And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?

He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,

that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
 1 Cor 15:20
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

If you are just joining this blog, or are a first time visitor, welcome to Considering the Bible. We would like to offer a document that provides over 350 prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament for your consideration.

351 Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

I make no claim to be able to comment on every one of these amazing prophecies in the future, but will occasionally bring one to the readers attention for their edification.

Hopefully you will follow “Considering the Bible” and begin an interaction with us


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Bible

What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean –Who is Glorified?

Decades ago, when I was just a youngin in the Lord, I was befriended by a mature believer. Golly, it was so long ago, I forgot his name, and yet his witness has stuck with me.

He was a safety shoe salesman, hocking his wares from construction site to construction site in a large panel van. He covered a large geographical region, and was often on the highway. As we got to know each other, he would find me occasionally reading my little New Testament, and would help me in understanding the Word.

One passion Frank had (let’s call him Frank), one passion he had was to speak in tongues. Now remember, I was very young in the Lord, and primed for any teaching. I had little to no discernment and found I gave men much freedom in their influence over me. (In other words, I didn’t test the teaching like I needed to!). I was entranced by his witness, listened to his stories and enjoyed his friendship very much.

Frank would drop by and tell me glowing stories of the Lord personally teaching him mysteries and truths that were modern day messages for him, and all he could reach. He was so charismatic (I mean that in both his personality and theology), it was hard to think objectively.

Until he spoke of a time he was driving down the 401 (North America’s busiest freeway), between Windsor and London Ontario, and was slain in the Spirit. Wow! What is it to be slain in the Spirit Frank?

Frank described the utterances he spoke, of his shaking and his visions. His visions, that required his eyes to be closed. While on the busiest highway in North America. While travelling 100 km/hr. In a large panel van!

Golly. Something don’t sound right!

He spoke of the Spirit guiding him into all truth and of the mysteries the Spirit was revealing in the last days, of the Spirit working through the gift of tongues to bring about revival and renewal, of the Spirit Spirit Spirit.

Such heady stuff!

Enter George.

I may have spoke of this fine believer earlier (See Story Time – Christian Accountability – Obey) He is a humble man that loved the Scriptures and I appreciated his willingness to discuss topics or questions I had. I described my relationship with Frank, and some of the stories he had told me. George simply took me to John 16.

13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. John 16:13-14

He mentioned that according to this passage, Jesus describes the Spirit of God as the shy member of the Trinity, One who emphasizes Jesus and not Himself. He will guide, speak, declare and glorify the Son. Self speaking seems to be omitted from the list of tasks the Spirit will perform, since the Master tells us that “he will not speak on His own authority”

Chatting with and listening to Frank was exhilarating, mystifying and attention grabbing. But there seemed to be a bunch of self in the story.

Let us look to the Lord Jesus, and let Him determine who is to be magnified. And who is to guide, direct, speak and glorify Him.


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Bible · Faith · Jesus the Messiah · Old Testament in New Testament · Prophecy

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies – Prophecy #152

Bible Scroll

The prophecy of the Lord Jesus for our consideration and edification, written centuries prior to His earthly existence is

Prophecy #152
Description
His character-Compassionate, Gracious, et al
Old Testament Prophecy
 Psalm 112:4
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
    he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
New Testament Fullfillment
Matt 9:36
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

If you are just joining this blog, or are a first time visitor, welcome to Considering the Bible. We would like to offer a document that provides over 350 prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament for your consideration.

351 Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

I make no claim to be able to comment on every one of these amazing prophecies in the future, but will occasionally bring one to the readers attention for their edification.

Hopefully you will follow “Considering the Bible” and begin an interaction with us


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 36 – F

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 36

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.

David breaks forth in prayer. He is walking in the steadfast lovingkindness of the Lord, and is asking for a continuance of this love for the ones who know Him.

To ask God to “continue” His steadfast love is to ask God to “stretch it out”, or to lengthen out this steadfast love David experienced. And yet the psalmist, David himself, speaks of the steadfast love of the Lord as being from everlasting to everlasting in Psalm 103:17.

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, – Psalm 103:17 ESV

Here we see a glimpse of a saint praying for something that is a reality. David is praying for the extension of the Lord’s steadfast love into the future in our verse above, and yet in the 103rd psalm, David teaches us that the same steadfast love is constantly on those who fear Him. Is this some sort of contradiction?

Lets read the two passages side by side and consider the message of both.

Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you… Psalm 36:10

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him… Psalm 103:17

This “contradiction” disappears in the careful reading of the two texts, as it often is true of apparent contradictions in the Word. Notice that David is praying in Psalm 36:10 for the experience of the steadfast love of the Lord to be stretched out, to continue with the saint who knows the Lord, who is in relationship with the Alpha and Omega.

In Psalm 103:17, David is stating a fact of the steadfast love of the Lord as being “on” the saint. Experience of the saint is not considered in this verse, simply a statement, awesome as it is, of the constant, continual truth of the love of God towards those who fear Him. The lovingkindness of the Lord is on those who fear Him. A fact we can depend on, believe in, find comfort with, even if may not be experiencing the steadfast love of the Lord.

And yet we sometimes (often?) find that our thinking of the lovingkindness of the Lord is distorted, somewhat stilted or twisted. Sometimes, in our “fear of the Lord”, we see Him as One who “lords it over us”, who is scary, somewhat unapproachable, far far away, and even dangerous.

But if I am reading David’s prayer of the 36th psalm correctly, this experience of the steadfast love of the Lord must be a pleasurable, fulfilling, desirable, enticing experience. Else why would he beg for the continuance? And this continuance of the experience of the steadfast love of the Lord is the subject of his prayer, he is seeking to continue to experience this love in his life.

Fear and love, both combined in our experience with the Lord. Fear of the Lord and the steadfast love of the Lord. The fact of His continual love and the desire for the continuance of experiencing His love.

What is missing in my thinking? We all know that our experience and the truth may be completely at odds with each other. I think this is the issue I am considering. Many of my times of living in fear has taught me that it is often not based in truth. I recently posted a time in my life of learning this relationship of fear and truth in Let Me Tell You a Story – Horsehair. In this experience, a single lie settled in my thinking and controlled my thoughts for weeks!

To experience the steadfast love of the Lord is dependent on truth. Imagination, group think, logic and reasoning on their own may only cripple us regarding God and His ways with us. For us to continue to experience the steadfast love of God requires our fear to drive us to truth, to the Word where we find One who approached us, entered a dangerous condition, suffered through terrors, fears and torture, offered up His very life and finally died a cruel death on a bloody cross.

His is the life that had the steadfast continual love of the Lord on Him. He feared the Lord, and the Lord’s love was on Him. He trusted in this truth, even when the experience was excruciating, dealing a death blow to His life.

As we walk this pilgrim way, we need to remember this double pronged truth. Truth that the steadfast love of the Lord is on those who fear Him, and of our need of prayer to experience His love, to be controlled, filled and rejoicing in His love.

He is good.

Let us remember He is a completely different type of love than we naturally understand.


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Bible · Faith · Jesus the Messiah · Old Testament in New Testament · Prophecy

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies – Prophecy #151

Bible Scroll

The prophecy of the Lord Jesus for our consideration and edification, written centuries prior to His earthly existence is

Prophecy #151
Description
A priest after Melchizedek’s order
Old Testament Prophecy
 Psalm 110:4
The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
    after the order of Melchizedek.”
New Testament Fullfillment
Heb 6:20
where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

If you are just joining this blog, or are a first time visitor, welcome to Considering the Bible. We would like to offer a document that provides over 350 prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament for your consideration.

351 Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

I make no claim to be able to comment on every one of these amazing prophecies in the future, but will occasionally bring one to the readers attention for their edification.

Hopefully you will follow “Considering the Bible” and begin an interaction with us


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Bible

Simple Thoughts – Ignorance

Occasionally I will be dwelling on a verse or passage, ruminating on the message, (or to be honest, wandering off into some undisciplined daydreaming), and the Lord will bless me with a truth that is so obvious, so fresh and such a blessing that I just want to share it with you.

I will admit it. This is a post concerning ignorance, of my ignorance, or at least of my realizing my ignorance about ignorance. What are you talking bout Carl? Give me a chance to try to explain!

I was recently listening to a podcast called the Naked Bible, and the commentator (Mike Heiser) was describing how the Messiah was not clearly defined in the Old Testament.

Now, as a believer, looking back at the Old Testament and considering passages such as Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Genesis 22, passages such as these shout to me of the One who came to deliver us. But hindsight is 20/20, my friends, and to a first century Jew, who knew the Old Testament, the clues were not so obvious! We must remember they did not have the privilege of the understanding the Messiah while on earth, the Spirit of God to enlighten us, the resurrection event, or any historical teaching that has given us this clarity.

During this discussion on the podcast, Dr Heiser reiterated the ignorance of the first century population, especially of God’s nation being ignorant, as being an intentional act on God’s part. The message to the Old Testament saint came in small spurts of shaded truth describing the Coming One, often identifying a particular aspect of a His life or mission, or was a description of an earthly messiah like King Cyrus, that a New Testament author could refer to as a shadow of the True Messiah.

This provision of truth for the first century Jew created numerous religious thought, each religious group looking to their favorite passages to support their thinking. And ignorance was rampant!

And Jesus came to the middle of this ignorance and shone a light so bright, no one could take it in! The light was blinding, to the point that no one could clearly see the truth. And this was intentional on God’s part.

What?

Consider 1 Corinthians 2:6-8

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. – 1Co 2:6-8 ESV

Did you catch it? None of the rulers of this age understood the wisdom of God which was decreed before the ages.

But why Paul? Why was this wisdom of God not comprehended, understood or perceived by the rulers of this world?

This was intentional on the part of God. If they understood, they would NOT have crucified the Lord of glory. When this “penny dropped”, my mind exploded!

As an aside, as believers, we do have the capacity to frustrate Him.

Find peace with Him.

If the Father had clearly revealed the plan of rescuing the world, the world would have frustrated Him! In the world’s wisdom, we would have frustrated God in our own rescue!

Isn’t this a common refrain? Consider Peter when he heard of the Master’s death.

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” – Mar 8:31-33 ESV

If Peter had his way, he would have frustrated the will of God.

How incredible is the wisdom and love of God towards us who know so little, who think so wrong, who trust so poorly and who love so weakly. He is good, even in areas he restricts from us.

Let us not forsake His loving kindness and remember that love is for others and not ourselves.


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Devotional · Hymns · Old Testament · Psalms

Psalms for Psome – Ps 36 – E

My wife and I are reading through the Psalms in our evening reading and occasionally a nugget of the Psalms jumps out of the page. Don’t you love it when, after years of reading the “Old Book” passages become alive, reinforcing old teachings or simply warming your heart.

This is the book of Psalms, and it is rich.

I pray I can communicate a portion of the blessing we receive from this wonderful book.

Psalm 36

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

God’s Goodness to His Own People

David now breaks forth with the experience of the saint, the one who knows the steadfast love of the Lord, and how precious this love is to the saint. The earlier verses described a state that creation existing in, and yet did not appreciate the love of the Lord, those who did not understand or accept this love.

David now speaks of those who have come into covenant with the Lord, whose steadfast love is a constant in their lives. How precious this love is.

Precious

This particular word David uses (yāqār), refers to something that is rare or costly. Let’s consider what David may be saying.

Rare

The first time this word shows up is in 1 Samuel 3:1, where the word of the Lord is described as rare.

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. – 1Sa 3:1 ESV

Is David seeking to inform us that the lovingkindness of the Lord is “rare”?

In the time of Eli, the word of the LORD was precious / rare, in that it was uncommon, not a recurring, consistent occurrence. No word of the LORD had been given to man for quite a while, as a matter of fact for decades, and it was precious or rare. To be precious does have a component of rarity, but I see this rarity in that the love of God is of a completely different quality than that of any other love.

God’s lovingkindness is not rare or precious simply because it appears unavailable. This is the result of our blindness and rejection. No, the lovingkindness of the Lord is bountiful. The very next two verses in our psalm speak of the abundance of a feast, and of drinking from a river. These are not descriptions of scarcity!

Costly

This same word that David uses in describing the lovingkindness of God in Psalm 36, is also used of Solomon’s palace foundations. The foundations of the palace were costly stone.

The foundation was of costly stones, huge stones, stones of eight and ten cubits. And above were costly stones, cut according to measurement, and cedar. – 1Kings 7:10-11 ESV

So what is David trying to communicate to us? The steadfast love of the Lord is precious, (of a different quality) and costly.

Costly. To be expensive. The lovingkindness of the Lord is costly, but to whom is the cost associated. During the time of David, for the Lord to provide guidance or protection, cost Him. His honor and glory were often dragged through the mud in being associated with the nation of Israel, and with the occasional actions of His greatest saints. He is a God who stoops down to His creation, who associates with the lowly and poor, who exercises a patience and care for His people that we do not understand or often consider.

Of course the saint, as a beggar looking to the Master, could claim a cost in exercising patience for the Lord’s assistance, but we often forget that any assistance is an act of love toward us. Maybe the saint could claim a cost related to discipleship. This is and always will be a reality. This may be an accurate statement, but I’m not sure this is where David is going.

The cost associated with the lovingkindness of the Lord is the cost that the one who loves pays. For the Lord of glory to humble Himself for a small nation in the middle of three continents, with a young shepherd boy raised to King, and promised an never ending dynasty. This is a costly love committing to a young shepherd boy, whose children would eventually commit acts so vile that the kingdom would be lost, and one of those children would be born in a nation under the thumb of Rome, in a manger, with a cross in His path.

Let us remember the preciousness of the love of God, of the quality of the love He has for us, and the cost He paid to flood our lives with His lovingkindness. Let us not consider our cost to high, for if we do, it may be that we have forgotten of the preciousness of the love of God. His love is of a completely different character than our understanding of love, and the cost of His love was His very life.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!


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Bible · Faith · Jesus the Messiah · Old Testament in New Testament · Prophecy

Old Testament Messianic Prophecies – Prophecy #150

Bible Scroll

The prophecy of the Lord Jesus for our consideration and edification, written centuries prior to His earthly existence is

Prophecy #150
Description
David’s son called Lord
Old Testament Prophecy
 Psalm 110:1
The Lord says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
New Testament Fullfillment
Matt 22:44-45
“‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet”‘?

If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?”

If you are just joining this blog, or are a first time visitor, welcome to Considering the Bible. We would like to offer a document that provides over 350 prophecies of the Messiah found in the Old Testament for your consideration.

351 Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus Christ

I make no claim to be able to comment on every one of these amazing prophecies in the future, but will occasionally bring one to the readers attention for their edification.

Hopefully you will follow “Considering the Bible” and begin an interaction with us


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Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

Bible

Simple Thoughts – Self Esteem

Occasionally I will be dwelling on a verse or passage, ruminating on the message, (or to be honest, wandering off into some undisciplined daydreaming), and the Lord will bless me with a truth that is so obvious, so fresh and such a blessing that I just want to share it with you.

Recently, I posted a “What Jesus Probably Didn’t Mean” post, a post that speaks of the humility of the Holy Spirit. During the writing of that post, I got to thinking about an old teaching that was associated with an earlier post in the series, a post that speaks of loving our enemies.

To top off this emphasis of a particular truth I have been thinking on, a certain Bible passage has “inadvertently” been grabbing my attention. Let’s consider a number of translations for this passage

[Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. – Phl 2:3 KJV

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Phl 2:3 ESV

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, – Phl 2:3 NIV

The key phrase that stuck in my “craw” was “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves”, and this phrase, along with the previously mentioned influences, reminds me of the importance of others in relation to me, myself and I.

How do you relate to you?

  • Do you think highly of you? Are you smarter, stronger, wiser, prettier…. than everyone else?
  • Do you treat yourself better than the non-you out there?
  • Do you seek to love you in order to love others?
    • This is actually encouraged in some Christian circles under the guise of the self esteem teaching. Self love is the very antipathy of Christian discipleship, and is a struggle to be fought, not a goal to be pursued.

The number of verses that speak to how we relate to ourselves, to other believers and those outside the Body are scattered throughout the New Testament, dang the Bible is chock full of ’em. Humility and a preference for others is a hallmark life characteristic of the Master. He gave up comfort for others, sleep, dinners, convenience, – He gave up His life in order for others to have life! His actions show His attitude towards His own self.

As a matter of fact, Matthew provides the only self description Jesus gave of Himself that I can find in the Word.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. – Mat 11:29 ESV

He does not describe Himself as omnipotent, all wise, God in the flesh, holy, eternal or any of the terms we might ascribe to the One who walked among us. No – He says He is gentle. He says He is lowly in heart. He opens up and describes His inner person to us.

Lets take a moment to consider both of these terms.

Gentleness

As many may know by now, my first research tool is Blue Letter Bible for searching, word studies, definitions and additional information. In researching “gentleness” I tripped over the following paragraph from “The Outline of Biblical Usage, by Larry Pierce”. (Meekness and gentleness are the same Greek word in this description.)

Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time (Isa 41:17Luk 18:1-8). Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God’s goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Gal 5:23). (emphasis mine)

Nuff said. Mr. Pierce stated the point that needed to be said!

Lowly in Heart

Lowly in the greek is the word ταπεινός (tapeinos), and has the complex meaning of – wait for it – lowly. Or of low degree, cast down, of low estate.

The word itself doesn’t seem complicated, but it is hard to accept for us who seek to find significance in our world, to find our place in our world in relation to others. Where do we fit in and where is our “position” amongst others. How “high” do you consider yourself in relation to your peers?

My friends, consider yourself and how you relate to others. When someone is talking, do you interrupt and tell YOUR story? Do you ignore offering the last piece of pie to others prior to consuming it for YOURSELF? Do you grumble inside because Aunt Bertha came over during the time YOU wanted to watch the football game?

Many moon ago, the prophet Jeremiah had an assistant, by the name of Baruch. This fellow was known by all to be sympathetic to the “traitor” Jeremiah, and had delivered Jeremiah’s message of King Jehoiakim’s dethronement and death twice to the King! He was the prophet’s assistant and had placed himself in great danger. But at one point, Baruch had fallen into a “Woe”

“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: You said, ‘Woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’ – Jer 45:2-3 ESV

If only Baruch knew he needed to love himself more, to esteem his own self greater than others in order to find self fulfillment and satisfaction.

Or could that be the problem? Is Baruch thinking of himself only, or at the least that his own self is the highest focus of his thoughts?

I think maybe so, since the Lord Himself comes back to Baruch with the following injunction.

Jeremiah 45:5 And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not… 

My friends – self love is a trap that constantly needs more and more attention – it can never be satisfied! I can’t help but think of Proverbs 27:20 when I consider loving me.

Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, and never satisfied are the eyes of man. – Pro 27:20 ESV

Feeding an animal that is never satisfied is a loosing battle. Give up now, and consider others for the Lord Jesus sake. Do not seek great things for yourself, but walk humbly with God.

Love Him and not yourself

One final verse for my gentle readers to consider.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. – Rom 12:16 ESV

How utterly backwards to the message we hear from our culture!!!


Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.

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